[Transcript of interview with June Richter, 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.  Broadcasting an interview with Mrs. June Richter.  The date is Saturday, March 13, 2010.  Welcome, Mrs. Richter.  I'm so glad to interview you today.  I guess I'd like to start to ask you about where you currently live.

June Richter:  I currently live south of Bois D’Arc, Missouri just south of 266.

I:  And can you tell me a little bit about where you live and why it's special to you?

J.R.:  Where I live is actually a century farm.  It was owned by my husband's grandparents and we have, or I have, lived there 64 years.

I:  Wow.  64 years.  So how many generations are currently, or have lived, on the property.

J.R.:  Well, this property would be, I guess, the fourth generation

I:  Ok.

J.R.:  On this property.

I:  Wow.  And so your entire family are farmers.

J.R.:  Yes, ma'am.

I:  Mm hmm.  Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood, or first of all what year were you born.

J.R.:  I was born in 1921 northwest of Walnut Grove, Missouri.

I:  All right.

J.R.:  And I was raised on a big farm there and we raised cattle, hogs, sheep, and my father also dealt in mules.  And my grandfather's place was the headquarters for the hog butchering every year.  We also had threshers come there and every year we'd shear the sheep.  My job was to jump in the wool sack.

I:  And tamp it down?  Tamp down the wool?

J.R.:  Yes.

I:  How funny.

J.R.:  It was quite a greasy job but I did that.

I:  How fun.  And did you have siblings?

J.R.:  I had two sisters.

I:  Ok.  And you were, where did you fall in the family?  Were you youngest, oldest?

J.R.:  Ma'am?

I:  Were you the youngest? The oldest?

J.R.:  No I was the oldest.

I:  Oh, the oldest sister.  All right.  What's your favorite childhood memory?

J.R.:  Oh my goodness, I have a lot of those.  My favorite was probably tagging my grandpa; I went with him everywhere.  And my father was away a lot, he bought cattle and he would go to other states and so I was with my grandpa most of the time.  I was born at that place and I, my daughter lives there now.  We still own the property.  And then part of my childhood memories was visiting my great-grandmother across the field and I would walk over there, take her bouquets of violets and we would have visits.  And now my grandson lives there and his baby son will be the 8th generation on that place. 

I:  Wow.  That's your favorite memory of childhood is, was tagging along with your grandfather?

J.R.:  Yes, I think, I think that would be it.

I:  Was your life hard as a child?  I mean, did you have cars, how did you, what was it like?

J.R.:  Well, yes, we had cars.  In fact I learned to drive a Model A Ford.  I started driving when I was 12 but I have driven a Model T that belonged to a neighbor. 

I:  Wow.

J.R.:  It was fun. 

I:  Yeah, I bet.

J.R.:  But we rode horses a lot. We rode horses to town and to Bible school, and all over the country.

I:  Right.  How old were you when you first learned to ride a horse, or do you remember?

J.R.:  Oh, quite young.  And my grandchildren, and children were all really young when they started riding horses.  In fact, my granddaughter just was the champion header and heeler for the, in the pro rodeo.

I:  Oh, wow.

J.R.:  Yes, the world champion.

I:  That's neat.  Carrying on the tradition.  It's gone on a long time.  Well then tell me, as you got older what did you, you know, first what was school like for you when you were a kid?

J.R.:  Well, of course, I walked to school almost two miles.  And then I went to high school in Walnut Grove, Missouri and the bus starting running then, of course, when I was in high school.  And it was very different than now.  I was on the basketball team but it's so, so strange the way they play now and the way that I played and then the costumes they wear. 

I:  Yeah.

J.R.:  So much different.

I:  What did you wear when you were on the basketball team?

J.R.:  Well, they were just kind of like bloomers. 

I:  Yeah.

J.R.:  Only, well, really short, but above your knees.  But now, of course, they wear them clear down to their…

I:  Baggy,

J.R.:  Baggy.

I:  Yeah

J.R.:  But it looks funny.  It's quite different.  But I loved school and then later on, of course I attended, which was SMS when I started it was actually STC.  I think it's changed about four times.

I:  What does STC stand for?

J.R.:  State Teacher's College.

I:  Ok, and so did you become a teacher?

J.R.:  Yes.  In fact, I taught in this one-room school that I went to school in.

I:  Oh my goodness.  So you went to a one-room schoolhouse when you were a kid.

J.R.:  Yes, ma'am.  I went to the one-room school and I taught in that same school and now I own the property, I own the schoolhouse.

I:  Wow.  I guess there still aren't students going there.

J.R.:  No, no, it was consolidated years and years ago.

I:  Wow.  So did you attend all, like up through 6th grade at the one-room schoolhouse?

J.R.:  The bus started running when I was about in the 5th grade I think,

I:  Ok

J.R.:  So then my father paid tuition for us to ride the bus.

I:  To go to the public school?

J.R.:  To go to the school in Walnut Grove.

I:  How many kids were in the one-room schoolhouse?

J.R.:  Oh my goodness, oh probably 25.

I:  25 kids of all ages?

J.R.:  All ages, all classes.  And then when I taught there it was probably around 20.

I:  20.

J.R.:  And it was very hard because you would have one class over in one corner and another class in another corner and…

I:  Trying to teach to all

J.R.:  …you had to do all that in one-room

I:  That was amazing.  Did you have air conditioning?

J.R.:  Oh heavens no. In fact we had this old stove, we got froze part of the time because it was burning coal and we just couldn't keep that coal in there. It would really get cold. But…

I:  Oh my goodness.  Were there things about teaching in a one-room schoolhouse that you liked or was it really a lot more difficult?

J.R.:  Well, it was, it was probably difficult but we didn't know the difference.

I:  Right, you didn’t know.

J.R.:  I mean, that's just the way it was but then of course recess I played ball with the kids. They liked to play baseball and they thought that was strange that a teacher would play baseball, but I loved it, I did.

I:  I bet they loved that too. 

J.R.:  Yes.

I:  That's neat.  So how old were you when you met your husband?

J.R.:  Oh, I met him when I was in high school.  This year I will go to my 71st high school reunion.

I:  Oh, my gosh.

J.R.:  They're having it in June, and I would have been married 68 years this year.  I met him in my last year of school.  He went to Ash Grove High School.

I:  Ok.

 J.R.:  And I went to Walnut Grove, which, it wasn't very far apart.

I:  Right.

J.R.:  We met that way.

I:  And what was significant about the early years of your marriage?

J.R.:  Well the early years of my marriage, we were married on a Saturday night and he went to the Army on Monday.  So I went ahead and taught school that year, and, but they let me get out early and I went to Oregon then and lived with him.  Of course he wasn't there all the time, he was at camp, but he would come in.  I had a little apartment there.

I:  Did he go to war?

J.R.:  Yes, he went and he was in overseas 18 months and that was in '42.

I:  And did he talk much about his experience over there?

J.R.:  Well, yes, he was captured and he was lucky that a German officer let him escape.  And this is another long story, but we have visited the German officer in his home and he came and spent the whole month of September with us in 1973.

I:  Wow.  So your husband and he had a lifetime friendship?

J.R.:  Yes, absolutely, after that. And we didn't know it but later on we found out that they put him in prison for 15 days on bread and water for letting my husband escape.

I:  Wow.  But he just did it because he knew it was the right thing to do.

J.R.:  Yes, and in his interview here when he came to see us, I think it was Frank Farmer that interviewed him, and he told him he would do it over again.

I:  Wow, that's amazing.  What a neat story.  What's your, and when you look back at your life, what was the best time of your life?

J.R.:  Well, I think, of course, growing up was interesting.  I’ve always been in church.  I went to church and Sunday school up at the little country church up Grove.  And I now go to Center Baptist and I'm active there, and I had a great life at home with my children and my husband.  We rode horses all the time, and we had trail rides, belonged to the 4-H club, and had trail rides.  Lots of children went on these trail rides.  And we raised sheep.  That was one of the main products that we had.

I:  And if you could give somebody advice about life, just any, impart any wisdom to someone at this stage in the game, what would you, what would you say?

J.R.:  Well, I'd say just be your true self and trust in the Lord and try to do the best you can.

I:  And you sound like you, you are pretty, from what I hear, are a pretty fearless person.  You've taken a lot of risks in your life, have you not?

J.R.:  Oh, I probably have.

I:  Yeah, yeah.  What is the best risk that you took that really paid off?

J.R.:   I don't know.  The worst risk …

I:  Or just a good one that you're glad you took.

J.R.:  Well I don't know if it would be, we climbed to the top of St. Peter's Cathedral, I don't know if we were supposed to or not, but my husband and I did that when we were over in Italy.  It was great to look down from up there and see all that construction.  I don't know how they ever did that.

I:  Oh, yeah.  It's amazing.  That is so neat.  So you went to somewhere that other tourists have not been.

J.R.:  Yes.

I:  Wow, what were you thinking when you were up there?

J.R.:  That wasn't on the list.

I:  That wasn't on the tour? Yeah.

J.R.:  We were ready to see the German officer so we had that day to spend …

I:  Oh, ok

J.R.:  … and we took advantage of that. 

I:  Well and was that your, how many times have you been to Europe?

J.R.:  Twice.

I:  Twice.

J.R.:  The first time we went it was exactly 25 years to the day we were following their campaign of duty and going all through Italy on this bus, on this tour bus, and then that’s when we got to meet the German officer.  And when I met him he said, “well, I didn’t kill him June and I didn’t let them kill him.”  And I said, “Well, I certainly appreciate it.”

I:  Yeah.  Right.  Wow, and I think you’ve made some attempts at trying to compensate his family, haven’t you?

J.R.:  Yes,

I:  Yes, and you’re still in contact…

J.R.:  I still correspond with his daughter, yes.

I:  Is there anything else you want to share about your life or experiences that you’d like to pass on?

J.R.:  Oh, I just want to say how proud I am of my grandchildren, well of course my children first, then my grandchildren, and now my greats.

I:  Wow.

J.R.:   And I’m blessed to have 6 great-grandchildren. They’re all beautiful healthy grandchildren.

I:  And what do you hope for their future?

J.R.:  Well, I hope that the world will be a better place than it is right now.  I’m concerned about the way things are at present.  And I hope that there won’t be another war, but my grandfather told me the only reason he would want my son not to be a boy was every 20 years it seemed like they go to war, which is just about true.

I:  That’s right.  Well June it was very, very interesting talking to you today and I really appreciate you coming in.

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 at thelibrary.org.

[Transcript of interview with June Richter, 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.]