[Transcript of interview with Colleen Martin, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]

This is recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s 2010 Big Read.  And I am with Colleen Martin, and today is March 13, 2010.  Colleen, would you like to tell us a little bit about your family heritage today?

Well, I would love to.  I would like to tell you about, first of all, my mom and dad.  My dad was Irish.  He was born in Kansas, I don’t remember exactly the city, but he was born in Kansas.  And when he was a child they moved to Mound City, Missouri, and he was raised in Mound City, and that’s north of St. Joe.  And my mom was born in Limon, Colorado.  And she, her family, actually her dad, his family was from San Angelo, Texas, and had moved to, I guess, moved to Limon, Colorado.  My mom was born in Limon, Colorado, and I believe, grew up there, I think at one time though they did move to Greeley.  And she was living there later on.  My dad, living in Missouri in Mound City, I don’t really recall exactly what he did, you know, as he was growing up, but during the Depression he joined, I believe it was the CCC corps, or whatever, and he was sent to Colorado and that’s where he met my mom.  I think the two of them met at a dance when he was out there.  And they fell in love and they got married, and they lived in Greeley, I think, and then moved to Colorado Springs.  And I, oh, there were six of us in the family.  Actually, my mom and dad had seven children, but I had a sister that was born, I believe, in 1939 that as an infant died of pneumonia.  And I had two brothers, and I have three sisters.  My oldest brother was born in 1937, and sadly, died in 1976 of a stroke.  They had been treating him for Bell’s Palsy.  But he did die of a stroke, and that really was hard on my mother.  And then my little brother was born in 1950, and sadly, he passed away in 2000.  He had damaged his liver as a teenager, and a young, you know, he was kind of a hippie and had gotten into drugs and things, and he damaged his liver and so he died in 2000.  The four of us, the girls, I’m the oldest.  I was born in 1942.  Jacqueline was born in 1943.  Priscilla was born in 1945.  And then my baby sister, who is now 63, was, she was born in, I believe, 1947, and her name is Dulcie.  And that in Spanish means candy or sweet, so she, in fact, my mom used to call her Dulcenea so that was really a sweet, little girl.  So, anyway, so my mom really instilled in us a spirit of, you know, we didn’t have a lot when we were children, and, but she wanted us to reach for that star.  And she encouraged us, we, because, well, because of her and my dad, we were active in church.  I can remember going to Sunday school and going to Black Forest to camp and different things, and then also, music was really important to my mom.  She sang, and she was in the choir; she just really gave us a desire to do those kinds of things.  And so, and also, art was really something that she appreciated.  My older brother and I took art lessons at the fine arts center for a couple of years, I guess, during the summer; we rode the bus and went over.  And she just really wanted us, you know, to have an interest in that.  And, although, one time we did skip, and instead of going to the arts center we went to the kiddie show on Saturday morning.  And I can’t remember if my mom found out about it or not, but anyway, we did that, and we didn’t have, as I said, we didn’t have a whole lot when we were, you know, growing up.  My dad worked hard.  A lot of times he’d work two jobs.  My mom was a stay-at-home mom and my dad became a plumber and then he worked at ____ Air Force Base in Colorado Springs and was, you know, did the plumbing and stuff and did actually, I think became the supervisor later on.  But he had been, I think he was a plumber and that kind of work, for about thirty years.  And our first home was, actually, a man in Colorado Springs had bought several army barracks that had been out at Peterson Field and had bought land and then had lots that he had set up with the buildings on them.  And my dad refinished the inside. He put knotty pine up in it and stuff, and then he also dug the cesspool by himself, no backhoe, and I can remember when he was digging that hole that us kids were out there messing around and picking up the dirt clods and we were throwing them at him.  And, you know, really when I think of it now, he didn’t have any kind of support or anything in there that, I mean, the thing could have caved in on him, but he did that and he took care of the plumbing and everything.   I mean, he was really, he really worked hard, and I think that was probably why he passed away when he was only 68 or 69.  But he really, like I said, he really worked hard.  And my mom, again, with the music and things, I learned to play the violin when I was a child and went on clear into high school.  I was never first chair; I was, I played second violin, but it was really fun.  I loved it.  And I sang in choir, and I tried out for the madrigals that they had, and I made it, so, and I tried out for cheerleader one time but I didn’t make that.  But, we just really, you know, even though we didn’t have a lot my mom and dad both tried to instill in us a, you know, just a desire to do better and so we, we just, it was just really sweet.  My mom was really, you know, really quite the lady and she liked to dress; she never wore slacks, she always wore a skirt.  I think most women did in those days too.  And, I don’t know, then after, they did buy another house, later on, just down the street from where we were living and had a basement and everything.  And we had neighbors that I can remember, the Morgan family lived next door to us, and, in fact, my first boyfriend, I think, was Gordon Morgan.  And so anyway, we, I wish really, that my mom, you know, since she was Mexican, I wish she would have taught us Spanish, but I think during that time, especially, there was probably a lot of discrimination kind of thing, and so she never taught us Spanish but I really wish she would have.  The only time she ever spoke Spanish was to her sisters so that we wouldn’t understand what she was, what they were talking about. And so we, I don’t know, we just had a fun time.  I had cousins that lived down the, you know, not too far from us, and we would get together and do fun things.  And Easter time and Christmas time was always, you know, were always real special in our family and my mom, like I said even though we didn’t have a lot, we always had a Christmas tree and decorations and all this and we just, you know, we just had a lot of fun.  At Easter time, you know, we always colored Easter eggs and did our little Easter egg hunt.  And I remember too that we used to go occasionally on a picnic up in Austin Bluffs and my mom, like I said, would wear a skirt and nylons and her, and she’d sit there, just you know, and, but we had good time doing those things.  And I have visited Mound City and seen, you know, where my dad grew up. In fact, I remember one trip that we made to Mound City, and I saw my grandma.  And she, I remember when I was there, that I was, I don’t really remember if it was a tricycle or a bicycle, that I was riding, I think it was probably just a tricycle, riding down the hill and somehow it tipped and fell and I split my head open.  And I don’t know, and I think, if I’m not mistaken that my grandma fainted and I think I had a cousin that passed out too when I, when that happened, but I think I still have the scar.  But we had a good time that time when we went to visit Grandma.  And my mom’s mother passed away; she had gotten, I think, ovarian cancer, and I think probably I was a baby, you know, when she passed away.  But I don’t know, we just, Colorado Springs was a beautiful place to grow up and I met my first husband when he was stationed at Fort Carson.  And he was originally from Minnesota, and we did live in Colorado Springs for a couple of years after we got married but we did go ahead and move to Minnesota and I really enjoyed living up there and my mom wasn’t happy when we moved.   In fact, when we moved she didn’t come out to say good-bye to us, she was very upset, but she did get over it and my mom and dad came up and visited us a couple of times when we were up there and so, you know, it was, it was nice. And I still keep in touch with my sisters. I have a sister that lives in Oregon, Dulcie.  And Priscilla lives in Texas.  Jackie lives in Reno, Nevada and we, you know, keep in touch, call each other and all.  I have four children.  I have three sons and a daughter.  My daughter lives in San Angelo, Texas, which was really something when I found out that my, you know, my mom’s dad’s family had come from San Angelo, and I have a son that lives in Corpus Christi, and my youngest son lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and my oldest son lives in Minnesota, north of Duluth and Two Harbors.  And they all really like where they’re living.  I wished they lived closer but it’s always fun to go visit them, and we just, you know, keep in touch through, well, I’m on Facebook, that kind of thing, and that’s fun to keep in touch with my grandkids, and with my kids.  And of course I come to the library and use their computers and I do my emailing here too and forward silly things back and forth to each other.

Well it sounds like you have a wonderful, rich history.  You mentioned a music background.  Would you like to sing a song for us today?

Well, I would love to.  I love musicals and one of my favorites is the “King and I”.  And I love the song that Anna sings to the children about getting to know you, so I’ll go ahead and sing that.

[sings “Getting To Know You” from “The King and I”]

Colleen, that was beautiful. 

Why, thank you.

Thank you so much for meeting with me today.   This has been Dana Scott, interviewing Colleen Martin at the Library Station.  Thank you, Colleen.

[Transcript of interview with Colleen Martin, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]