[Transcript of interview with Kathleen Stevens, 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.  This is the Library Station recording Kathleen Stevens’ podcast; the date is Saturday, March 13.  Welcome to the library Mrs. Stevens.

K.S.:  Thank you.

Interviewer:  Let’s get started by asking you a little bit about where you grew up.

K.S.:  Ok. Well, I was born in Miami, Florida but when I was almost 12 years old we moved to New York, and so I consider that I really grew up in New York, in a suburb right outside New York City.  And it was, in the end it was a good move for me.

Interviewer:  Mm hmm.  What decade did you grow up in, your childhood years?

K.S.:  Well, I was born in the ‘50s and we made our move to New York in 1967.

Interviewer:  Ok, all right, where did you live in New York?

K.S.:  In a little town called Pelham, in Westchester County, and that’s where I attended high school and graduated from high school.

Interviewer:  How would you describe your childhood if you, if somebody asked you to describe what your childhood was like?  Was it…

K.S.:  Well I think it was fairly typical if there is such a thing as typical at the time.  It was a good childhood especially down in Florida when I was younger the weather was so nice all the time that we basically lived outside.  And I really did like it down there, and when we had to move I was pretty heartbroken to have to leave but in the end it turned out to be the best thing for me so I was really glad, in hindsight that it had, that it had happened.

Interviewer:  Right. What brought you to Missouri and the Midwest?

K.S.:  Oh yeah.  My husband and I were living in San Diego at the time and we knew that we did not want to stay there but we really didn’t have a good idea of where we wanted to go.  We felt like we wanted to be out in the country. Certainly we had not lived out in the country before but that’s what was attractive to us at the time.  And so one way that we picked, besides looking at maps, one way that we thought might be a good idea to find a place to live was looking through the classified ads for real estate in the Mother Earth News magazine.  So we kept seeing these ads for the Ozarks and I had actually never heard of the Ozarks but the land always seemed so reasonably priced.

Interviewer:  Mm hmm.

K.S.:  So we said ok, let’s go check it out.  So from San Diego we called one of the realtors who had an ad in the magazine and she was located in Willow Springs, Missouri, so we made an appointment and got in our car and drove to Missouri and looked at a few pieces of property and the day after we arrived here in Missouri we bought the second place that we had looked at.  Which was about 12 miles outside of West Plains, and so we left our car here in Missouri, and took the bus back to San Diego so that we could drive our little moving van out together.  So we got out here and lived out in the country for 7 years and then decided it was time to move on to some place a little bit bigger so we came to Springfield in 1985.

Interviewer:  Wow.  So what did you do to make a living those days, back in West Plains?

K.S.:  Well my husband is a land surveyor so he surveyed mostly, but, you know, there were times when he did have to take odd jobs.

Interviewer:  Right.

K.S.:  Such as working in the saw mill one summer and that was pretty tough but he did what he had to do.  And I was home raising children.

Interviewer:  Yeah.  Right.  Wow.  Well, I’ve heard that you and your husband have had some adventures in your lifetime.  Would you like to share those adventures with us?

K.S.:  Well, sure.  Back in 1976 we were 20 years old and had been married less than a year. We were still living in New York where we grew up.  And we decided that we wanted to take a trip around the country.  We, we knew we did not want to stay in New York permanently so we thought this would be a good opportunity to see the rest of the country and maybe decide where we would want to live so we packed up all our belongings and put them underneath my parents’ ping pong table where they fit quite nicely, and got in our car with our tent and traveled around the country for three months.  We didn’t go through every state but we went through most of the states.  And when we were heading back east, back toward New York, we were in Ohio and we thought boy, we’re getting pretty close to New York and we still haven’t found any place that we want to live permanently so we were in Columbus, Ohio and we thought well, let’s just see what they have here.  So we were staying in a campground, which we did for most of the three months that we were on our trip, and my husband started looking at the classifieds for a job and he found one and he got an interview and they gave him a job.  So just to make sure that it was going to work out he did go to work for a couple of days from the tent in the campground.  And while he was at work those couple of days I found an apartment.  So we drove back to New York, unloaded beneath, you know our stuff from beneath the ping pong table and moved to Columbus, Ohio.  And there we lived for a little less than 2 years.  But in our travels around the country we were on the road for three months and the entire trip cost us $800.

Interviewer:  Oh, my gosh!  Wow!

K.S.:  The campgrounds were very affordable at the time and so half of that was for gasoline, and half was for groceries and camping.

Interviewer:  Unbelievable.

K.S.:  So, and it was quite a time.  We really had a good time.

Interviewer:  Did you meet some interesting folks on your journey around the country?

K.S.:  Not so much.  We, we pretty much avoided people, really.

Interviewer:  Kept to yourselves.  Mm hmm.

K.S.:  Yes, we did.  We didn’t go to where there were a lot of people, so.

Interviewer:  What was the most beautiful part of the country when you think back, what impressed you at that time?

K.S.:  I really enjoyed the forests in Washington and Oregon.  They were the big, really beautiful.  But we saw, you know, the mountains in Montana were gorgeous.  It was just a very good time.

Interviewer:  It sounds like fun.  Any other adventures from your marriage with kids years?

K.S.:  Let’s see, now I don’t, did I talk about what brought us to Missouri?

Interviewer:  Yes.

K.S.:  Ok.

Interviewer:  Mm hmm.

K.S.:  Well, I have a little bit of a story about the first time that I had met my husband, although I can’t really say that I actually met him then, so much as we were in 8th grade and he was in my music class.  And I didn’t know him, we didn’t know each other at the time, but he caught my attention because he was less than interested in music class and a little bit more interested in being disruptive.

Interviewer:  Right.

K.S.:  So, and I just remember thinking at the time, so many times, what is with this guy?  So immature, and you know, I just thought it was kind of ridiculous, really, the way he was behaving.  So anyway the semester ended and music class ended and I didn’t give it another thought for quite a, you know, at all really, and three years later when I was in 11th grade I went to a party and when I walked in the door there were two guys from school in the living room playing a game of chess.  And so their game ended and I started talking with one of them and we were clearly interested in each other, and sure enough, that was the guy from my music class three years ago.  But, needless to say, he had matured considerably.

Interviewer:  Right, not so disruptive.

K.S.:  No.  So, and so we started dating, and that was actually 38 years ago this week.

Interviewer:  Oh, wow.  And so you’re still married and going strong.

K.S.:  Yes, we’re going to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this summer

Interviewer:  Ah.  Wow.  What’s been the best part of your time together in your marriage?

K.S.:  Well, of course, we, you know, we of course had our ups and downs, and raising children was one of the best things that I have ever done but I must say it’s very nice now that they’re all grown and right now I would say is one of the better times.  It’s just been very nice because not only do we have our time together still we also now get to enjoy our adult children.

Interviewer:  Right.

K.S.:  So.

Interviewer:  And you probably have a little more money.

K.S.:  Yes, yes, yes, that’s true.

Interviewer:  Mm hmm.  How many children do you have?

K.S.:  I have three children.

Interviewer:  Three.  And do they live around here?

K.S.:  No, not really.  My oldest is in San Jose, California. He’s a software engineer for Yahoo.

Interviewer:  Wow.

K.S.:  And my daughter is in grad school in Columbia, Missouri.  And my youngest is about to graduate from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.

Interviewer:  Wow.  So you really do have them on the right path, their own lives.

K.S.:  I’d like to think so.

Interviewer:  Yeah.  Mm hmm.  So, do they like to ask you stories about your early marriage before they came along or are they curious?

K.S.:  I think they’re a little bit curious, when we bring it up, but they, I don’t think they’ve really asked too much about it.  But when I feel the need to share, I do,

Interviewer:  Good.  Good.  Well, if you are advising a young couple who’s just getting ready to get married about marriage, what would, what would you say?  What’s the best piece of advice or wisdom you could impart?

K.S.:  Well, it’s nothing new, but communication.  Couples need to be able to communicate, and that doesn’t mean just talk at each other but understand each other.  And that really, truly is the most important aspect.  There’s many, many others of course, but being able to communicate effectively really is important.  And, and of course, respect.  Once you’ve communicated you’ve also got to respect what the other person is saying.  And, and you know what, if you need some counseling, go get it.

Interviewer:  Get it. Right.  It’s out there.

K.S.:  Yeah. Yeah.

Interviewer:  Well, that sounds great. And what do you think your husband would describe as his most favorite time in your marriage?

K.S.:  Well, I think he’s enjoying himself at this particular point as well.  Nine years ago he joined a band, and they’ve got a gig in a little while, so that’s always fun.

Interviewer:  Are you a musician as well?

K.S.:  No, no I’m not.

Interviewer:  Ok.

K.S.:  So maybe he did pick up something from music class.  I’m not sure.

Interviewer:  Maybe that’s right, it wasn’t so bad after all.

K.S.:  Maybe not. 

Interviewer:  What does he play?

K.S.:  He plays percussion instruments, a little keyboard, and he sings.

Interviewer:  And what’s his band called?

K.S.:  Blue Plate Special

Interviewer:  That’s a good name.  That’s a good name.  Well, thank you so much for talking with us. 

K.S.:  You’re welcome.

Interviewer:  We really appreciate it.

[Transcript of interview with Kathleen Stevens, 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.]