[Transcript of interview with Glen Elson, 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:  This is a recording, is part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s 2010 Big Read.   And the date of this recording is March 2, 2010.  My interview is with …,

Glen Elson:  Glen Elson

Interviewer:  I’m sorry, Glen.  Glen, how old are you?

Glen Elson:  I'm 92.

Interviewer:  92, and how long have you lived in north Greene County, or the Ash Grove area?

Glen Elson:  Well, right there all my life.

Interviewer:  All your life.

Glen Elson:  Yeah, except 52 months I was out in the Service.

Interviewer:  Ok, I’m going to ask a lot of different questions that kind of jump all over the place.

Glen Elson:  Yeah.

Interviewer:  But the first question I want to ask you is about any recollections you may have or family stories about the Depression?

Glen Elson:  Yeah.  Well, of course, I lived all through the Depression.  I mean, I have my, of course, I lived, I was born between Bois D’Arc and Ash, Willard, and I lived there until I was 5 years old on a farm with my parents.  And I had an awful tragedy.  My parents got killed when I was 5 years old at Bois D'Arc on a train, the train hit the car.

Interviewer:  At the crossing right there at …

Glen Elson:  We was going to the church that morning.

Interviewer:  Were you in the car?

Glen Elson:  Yes, and my, I had two brothers and a sister in the car. My sister was only 6 months old.

Interviewer:  Ok.

Glen Elson:  And, so, and after that, why I went and lived with my uncle and aunt.

Interviewer:  And you were six at the time, correct?

Glen Elson:  I was five

Interviewer:  Five at the time.  Ok.

Glen Elson:  I lived between, or lived on a Willard route, and it was between Ash Grove and Willard, where they lived on their farm.  And, well let's see, it was in '22 when this wreck happens, and of course, I started school, I went to grade school at Yocum School.  It was a little school out here on 160.  The building was there at where the road goes to Bois D'Arc …

Interviewer:  And that was your grade school?

Glen Elson:  Yes

Interviewer:  And where did, did you go to high school?

Glen Elson:  Yes, I went to Ash Grove High School.

Interviewer:  Ash Grove High School

Glen Elson:  I graduated from Ash Grove High School

Interviewer:  Ok, what year was that?

Glen Elson:  1936.

Interviewer:  1936.  How did you feel about the Depression?

Glen Elson:  Well, of course like West said, we didn't know any different, everybody just didn't have anything, and we just, but one thing about it we never went hungry.

Interviewer:  You never went hungry.

Glen Elson:  I appreciate the way you told that to.  We don't know what hungry is.

Interviewer:  I understand that.

Glen Elson:  And we raised our own, had our own milk and everything, you know, eggs, and chickens, and all that.

Interviewer:  So …

Glen Elson:  We always got by.

Interviewer:  Other than farming did your father, uncle I guess it was who was raising you, did he have other jobs to produce income and cash?

Glen Elson:  Yeah, he did.  He was a carpenter.  He done carpenter work.

Interviewer:  Ok

Glen Elson:  But it was rough.  I think he made 35 cents an hour

Interviewer:  35 cents,

Glen Elson:  Yeah.

Interviewer:  Yeah, all right

Glen Elson:  But that was pretty good then. Of course, I worked on the farm, I worked for him you know, sometimes I'd make 50 cents a day and I thought that was pretty good spending money.

Interviewer:  Sure.  I am fascinated with what two things that changed your life, and one of them is what I asked Mr. West about was what did electricity do to your life?

Glen Elson:  Well, actually, I mean, we never had electricity when I lived on the farm.  'Cause there's another tragedy we had in the 30's by an uncle who lost his farm where we lived and we moved to town in 1936, and that's the first electricity we had.

Interviewer:  Ok.  Moving to town, Ash Grove, right?

Glen Elson:  Ash Grove, yeah.

Interviewer:  Ok. 1936.  Ok, so you didn't have, what was life like without electricity?  What did the young men do to enter …

Glen Elson:  Well, you didn't think anything about it; because you just were used to it.

Interviewer:  Right.  Did you go to bed early?

Glen Elson:  Yeah, yeah I think we did.

Interviewer:  Ok.

Glen Elson:  We didn't have any, well I don't remember what we did do but …

Interviewer:  When did you get married, or when did you meet your girlfriend?

Glen Elson:  Well I didn't get married 'til I, I got married in 1956, I was about 39 years old when I got married.  And, of course, I met my wife, she was a divorcee, she'd been married before, and she had an eight year old girl. I met her in Springfield, and she was formerly from Morrisville.

Interviewer:  What year did you get drafted?

Glen Elson:  1941. March 2, 1941.

Interviewer:  And when did you graduate from high school

Glen Elson:  1936.

Interviewer:  So what did you do from 1936 to 1941

Glen Elson:  Well, I, when I got out of high school, I put the second school bus on here in ash grove.  And I had a, I'd also, well before that, in the summer I drove an oil truck for St. Clair here, and then after I had the school bus I went into the oil business myself, delivering gas and coal oil and stuff like that to these farmers.

Interviewer:  And so you get drafted in 1941, and when did you return to the Ash Grove area?

Glen Elson:  Well, it was 1945.

Interviewer:  1945, so, I don't want to go into any detail of this.  Were you in fact George Patton's driver?

Glen Elson:  Oh, no. I was just, I belonged to, I was with the 502 car company and it was attached to the Third Army headquarters, and that's what we done, we drove for officers, and I did drive for him, oh, about three or four times, I guess, pick him up at the airport and things like that, you know.  It was one of the easiest jobs I ever had in the service, I think, because a lieutenant set right in the seat and told me every move to make.

Interviewer:  [garbled] I'm sure they did.  So you meet your wife in 1956, so you were back in the ash grove area about 11 years before you got married, so what did, what were you doing there, here, I guess, during that time?

Glen Elson:  Well after I got back out of service I did go back driving an oil truck for [garbled] and after that I went, I worked for Ford.  I was a parts manager at Ford down here, [garbled] Ford. 

Interviewer:  And when did you retire?  In what year?

Glen Elson:  Well I retried in 1980.  I was, I did start at 7 on the mail route, in, oh it was 1956 or somewhere along in there I think, anyway I subbed on a route for about 22 years, and then I went on a regular carrier before I retired.

Interviewer:  So you retired as a postal worker, then, right?

Glen Elson:  Yeah.  In 1980.

Interviewer:  Well let me ask you about a little bit about downtown Ash Grove.  What kind of businesses were on Main Street that you remember and what are some of the things that you did as a young boy and as even a young adult in the business area of Ash Grove?

Glen Elson:  Well, I know the Main Street was full of, it seemed to me like at one time we had 5 grocery stores on main street, and had, I remember Zumwalt's hardware there at the end where the unique [garbled] at now.  And at one time they had, there was an undertaker, well it was Brim's, over that store there.  And it just, I mean, I just, I remember the grocery stores we traded at was called [garbled] but there was a Spencer store here then, and several, I don't know, Brook's down to the west end.  I think there was 5, at least 5 grocery stores here.  And a lot of the things I done when I was a young man; I remember they had a skating rink down there on the highway, where the vacant lot's at [yes] at the highway down there.  I don't know whether you remember where the skating rink …

Interviewer:  No, I don't remember that at all.

Glen Elson:  I used to do, I used to skate a lot down there.  That was one of the main things in my life, and then we had, at one time, we had two theaters here and that was quite the entertainment.  And I went to shows about every Wednesday and Saturday night.

Interviewer:  Oh, yeah.

Glen Elson:  Yeah.

Interviewer:  Do you have any favorite stories about, oh, a best friend you might have had in high school, or right after high school when you were a young man, and what would you guys do for to pass the time?

Glen Elson:  Mm hmm.  Well, we did, I mean I don't remember any certain one, but we went to car races, and we got, one thing I remember is, I seen this Donald Nixon the other day and he was telling me about how we went to shoot the golf balls at, you know, over at [garbled] and I’d forgot about that.  And we done different things, we went to Doling Park some, you know, and just things like that.

Interviewer:  I want you to return to your, to the tragedy in your life with the loss of your parents, apparently your brother and sister, did they escape injury too?

Glen Elson:  Well, yes, they did.  I always think my oldest brother; he got a head injury pretty bad and he was in a hospital a few days, [ok] but he got over it all right.  But the rest of us was real fortunate we didn't.  My brother next to me was older than my sister to his left, and they never got a thing out of it.  I got a little scratch on the head here, about all I had.

Interviewer:  Ok, happened on a Sunday, apparently going to church?

Glen Elson:  It was on Sunday morning, yeah, right …

Interviewer:  Where were you going to church, do you know?

Glen Elson:  At the First Baptist Church there in Bois D'Arc, …

Interviewer:  In Bois D'Arc, right, ok.

Glen Elson:  still where it is now.

Interviewer:  All right.  We're about to the end of this.  Is there anything that you have on your mind that you would like to say or to talk about?  Anything you can think of?

Glen Elson:  No, not necessarily.  I mean, else I've had a good long life, I might say that…

Interviewer:  Well you have had a good life.  You …

Glen Elson:  And I have good health.

Interviewer:  You have very good health.  You're very alert, that's great.  That's terrific to hear your stories.  When did you buy your first car?

Glen Elson:  Well, the first car that I really loved, and it was the best car forever, was a '38 ford.

Interviewer:  And how old were you when you got that?

Glen Elson:  Well, I was around 21.

Interviewer:  About 21, ok

Glen Elson:  Yeah, of course I had a few old model T's, that's the only thing we had back then.

Interviewer:  When Pat Hurley and I grew up, we were coming up in the late 50's, and we were kind of car crazy, I'm sure.  Were young men in your time all into cars and driving?

Glen Elson:  Oh yeah, we knew every car on the road; knew what model it was and everything.

Interviewer:  Well, Glen, I appreciate your time.

Glen Elson:  Ok

Interviewer:  Thank you very much.

[Transcript of interview with Glen Elson, 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.]