[Transcript of interview with Dorthy Frazier, 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.]

Interviewer: "Recorded as part of the Springfield Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read Recollections and Connections with Dorthy Frazier and this is March, 10 2010. Okay Dorthy, do you have any memories of the Depression."

Dorthy: "Well other than the fact that we were just real poor; and my daddy worked for fifty and seventy-five cents a day, walked for three or four miles to work and back before daylight and after dark, and let's see we got welfare done from Hartville."

I: "How old were you when you, when your family, in the Depression? Do you remember?"

D: "Well, let's see I was born in 1927 and I think the Depression really hit about thirty something. So I was about three or four years old. I wasn't in school part of that time but anyway we had a rough time of it. We pretty much starved but we had chickens. We had eggs and chicken meat. We didn't have pigs and cows and stuff like that but we got by."

I: "When and where were you born?"

D: "In that little log cabin that I showed you the picture of."

I: "Where is that located?"

D: "That log cabin is located between Mansfield and Hartville. On the Pea Ridge Road, a little of the Pea Ridge Road, it was on a mail route. Lest we had a mail man and milk man that went by."

I: "What were some of your favorite memories growing up?"

D: "Just the fact that we walked to school and fought on the way up there and fought on the way back. We carried our lunch to school in a lard bucket. We walked three miles to school and stayed all day to play ball and all those many many things. Then walked back home and got in to our home clothes. Now our school clothes weren't much better but that's all right, they were clean. That was the one thing about it all."

I: "Did you ever get in trouble as a kid?"

D: "Oh, I probably did."

I: "What were some of the things that you did as a kid that you got in trouble for?"

D: "Well, to be honest with you I can't remember. You always forget the bad stuff."

I: "So when you were growing up what was the normal day for you?"

D: "Well, we got up and had to carry water a long way up a hill. If mom was gonna wash that day, on her wash board and tub, then we carried the water up and she heated in a big ol' black kettle outside. Then we, she, washed outside, or inside according to the weather. Then we put it on the cloths line and I helped. When I was little I remember I hung the handkerchiefs up. We had handkerchiefs not kleenexes. We didn't know what a kleenex was."

I: "Would you do all this before you went to school?"

D: "Oh no. We got up and done that and mom hard like a dog all day. She baked her biscuits and put an egg or a piece of bacon or whatever we might have, a piece of fat back or whatever. Then we went to school and came home and she always had something fixed for us to eat. Then we went out and carried in wood and got chips to start a fire with. We had our chores to do. Then we had to go get the cow and bring her up, one or two if we had two. I didn't milk until I was bigger. The boys and mom milked. Anyway we kept busy. It kept use out of trouble"

I: "What was school like for you? What was a normal school day like?"

D: "Oh, you just went to school and played and then she rung the bell. Then you went in and sit down and was nice. Then she called fourth grade or third grade and we all went up to a recitation bench."

I: "What's that?"

D: "Okay, so you never heard of it. It was a big long bench. We took our book and we lined up, and if Suzy sat here and I didn't like Suzy then I could get up and move over here. But anyway we behaved."

I: "So what would you do after you sat on the bench? Would you do your school work there?"

D: "She would say "Dorthy would you read about Dick and Jane?" and I would say "Yes.". So I would stand up and read Dick and Jane, "See Dick. See Dick run." all that stuff. I used to know those books by heart."

I: "So would you do that for the whole class, stand up and read?"

D: "Stand up and read. She would say "Betty Lou you read." And my brothers she would say if he was in that class, for him to read. Stuff like that. We had a good school. We only had one teacher I despised and she thought she was so nice. I had to walk three miles to school come winter or snow. I think the school district said I had to attend a certain amount of days, twenty-four or forty-two or some such. I lacked just two or three days and she flunked me so I had to go back. That was in the fourth or fifth grade. We had a real bad winter that winter."

I: "What was you favorite subject in school? Did you have a favorite subject?"

D: "I kind of liked Geography. And on Friday evenings after the last recess we would have a spelling bee or a geography contest or something like that. Those were the two main things, they were learning for us.  When we had a geography contest we would right on the board Wichita. If we knew or didn't we would stand up and holler or wave our hands. Wichita, Kansas. So we'd have to tell them where it was "Wichita is in Kansas blah blah blah". That was the last hour, hour and a half, of school on Friday. That was our regular meeting."

I: "So then on the weekends what would you do? Like what kinds of games did you play as a kid? What did you do for fun?"

D: "We played hoops and roller."

I: "What's that? What's hoops and roller?"

D: "It's a hoop that comes of a little wagon. Everything was broken down at our house. It was a stick like this and had a little petal on it. We would just walk up and down the road."

I: "Pushing the wheel."

D: "Yeah, and trying to keep it, you know. Then we'd play marbles and we dug little holes out and flipped our marbles in there. We played hide and seek thing like that. I was the baby of nine kids. They were much bigger than me. Anyway me and Elis and Emmet we'd play hide and seek stuff like that."

I: "What was it like growing up with all those brothers and sisters?"

D: "Well, my sisters were already grown and married by the time I came along but my brothers they protected me from other people. But if they wanted to beat up on me they did. They didn't whip me or anything. One thing about it was they liked to go fishin'. Well I didn't care to dig the worms but I didn't want pick them up. So they'd say "Dorthy, come on out here and we'll dig worms." So they'd let me have the hoe and boy I did the work. They leaned over and put them in a bucket so they could take'm to the river."

I: "That sounds like a lot of fun."

D: "That's a boy for you. That's a brother for you, get you interested in it then walk off and leave you diggin but I'd dig'em up and say "There's a worm" and they pick it up. But I didn't play with worms I tell you for sure and I still don't."

I: "Did your family have any special traditions that you did or special traditions at the holidays?"

D: "No, …"

I: "Did you have a favorite holiday?"

D: "…No we were lucky to have a stocking to hang up. Daddy thought he was real rich if he got us a stick of peppermint candy to put in it. We didn't give stuff like we do now, you know. If we needed a pair of sock we got them in July if we needed them in August. But if it was possible mom would, mom and dad, get us something. Daddy got me a great big two foot doll one time. Oh, that was the most beautiful doll I ever saw. And it played Jesus two different years in Pea Ridge School. I'd carry it up to Pea Ridge School and they would put it in a manger. I played Jesus."

I: "Oh, that's funny. How would you celebrate your birthdays? Did you have a favorite birthday?"

D: "If mom had an egg or two that she could use the she would bake us a birthday cake. It wasn't decorated but it was a cake. But we didn't have fancy gifts or anything like that."

I: "Would you invite friends over…

D: "Oh no."

I: "…or was it just a family thing?"

D: "Gosh no. It was just a family thing between use kids because it was half a mile out here to these people and half a mile out to these people. And these people's kids were so much older than we were. So anyway we had some friends over here we played with and they might have come out and eat with us, I don't remember that. But we didn't celebrate like they do now twenty kids runnin around."

I: "What was it like raising your own kids when you became a parent? Do you have any favorite stories you'd like to share about your own kids?"

D: "No. He was just like me he had his mean time but he was a good kid and I will say one thing all the teachers at school, but one, liked him. Just like me. Anyway she didn't like him at all. So I traipsed right up to the school and he said "Mommy, she don't like me" I said "Ah no" he said "She don't". So I talked to another teacher. This other teacher told me she's real hateful. So we got that taken care of. I went right up to Ms. Mildred, or what ever her name was, and told her what the situation was and boy I hadn't even got out the front door tell she was back there hopped on that old lady Chapman's back and rode her for a mile or two. After that she treated him right because she had a boy the same age. He went to another school but he just flunked everything he had. Well I have to say Jimmy was a good student and that was what all his teachers said that. After that she was nice to him and nice to me but we had to go to the principal about it first. And I'm the old gal that walked up there and told her how the land laid, and so forth and so on."

I: "What did you do for a living after you grew up and got older?"

D: "Well let's see. I first came to Springfield and worked at Crank's Drug Store Fountain for a year. Then I went to Commercial St. and worked over there for a year and a half or two years, then don't remember where else. Anyway I worked at Lily Tulip., worked there five years. Then later on, when my husband died, I could get enough money to stay at home and take care of Jimmy and be a mother to him. Cause I had to go back to work when he was two months old. Cause my husband was in Mount Vernon in the TB Sanatorium. So he was down there and I had to go back to work and hire a baby sitter. I had two baby sitters and one of them left town. She liked him but the other women she just adopted and he adopted her. It was granny then from the jump go."

I: "Was that normal back then that you had to go back to work…"

D: "Oh yeah."

I: "… because I think of women back the staying home?"

D: "A lot of women went back to work. Well Lily Tulip just came in and opened up."

I: "Do you remember what year that was?"

D: "Fifty two I believe, fifty three, some where around in the fifties."

I: "So it was normal for women to go back to work?"

D: "Yeah, Lord there was a hundred more women that worked out there, more or less. Yeah, they hired a baby sitter, cause they paid well enough to hire a baby sitter. Guess how much I paid my baby sitter."

I: "I don't know, how much?"

D: "Twenty five cents an hour."

I: "Really."

D: "But I got, when I worked at Crank's Drug store. I got Thirty five cents an hour and I paid room and board down on National. So we made it."

I: "I'm curious. You said you made thirty five cents an hour and you paid room and board. Do you remember how much it was?"

D: "Now when I was making thirty five cents an hour I didn't have a boy. I hadn't gotten married yet, hadn't had a baby yet."

I: "But you said you paid room and board. Do you remember how much that was?"

D: "If I had a roommate I paid about five dollars a week. But if I lived in a private room, which I did, she would put somebody else in there to make it easier on me for a while the kids were going to school, they went to college. It was right across from the college, SMS. Let's see thirty five cents an hour at the drug store, then forty five then fifty. Boy when I started working at Lily Tulip I got, gosh, seems like two dollars an hour. Oh, Was I rich. But I was married then so anyway."

I: "So you mentioned your husband a few times. When did you get married and how long were you married?"

D: "February the twenty first 1951, no I've forgotten when now fifty one or somewhere along in there. He lived six years I believe then he died. So when I got social security from him I quite work so I could stay home with my son. Spend some time with him cause he was in the Sanatorium when Jimmy was born, he wasn't even there when Jimmy was born. We had to take him down there, after I had been able to take him down there. Some of our friends took us down there."

I: "What was your wedding day like?  Did you have a ceremony?"

D: "Well, let's see. We had a real fancy one. We got up that mornin and he went uptown and rented a car and we went to Harrison, Arkansas and got married. We stayed all night in Harrison, Arkansas. Came back the next day and I went to work at the restaurant at four in the afternoon. He didn't have to work that day but the next day he went to work and that was our honeymoon. We had a real fancy wedding and I've still got the dress."

I: "You do?"

D: "Uh huh."

I: "Where did you get it? Do you remember how much you paid for it?"

D: "I probably paid about six or seven dollars. It's still in the cedar chest I guess. I haven't looked in the cedar chest in years. I also think we still have his suit up stairs. I don't throw anything away, and I still have his hat, you can tell. I wouldn't ask you to my house for anything, you'd get lost you'd never get out. They'd need you here at the library and they couldn't find you."

I: "So I'll ask you one more question before we are done. You're a good story teller. Were there any stories passed down through your family? Were your family good story tellers as well?"

D: "Daddy could tell you any kind of a story. I mean he could just look at you and say "What'd you want to hear?" He'd talk about the wagon; he made a little wagon one time. Just little stuff like that, no big stories. And mom's family was just kind of on the other side of the fence. They didn't not like each other, but everyone had there own jobs. They didn't have time to visit and stuff like that all time."

I: "Well Dorthy our time is up. Thank you so much for coming in and letting me interview you."

D: "Aren't you smart, aren't you an intelligent girl now.

[Transcript of interview with Dorthy Frazier, 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.]