[Transcript of interview with Roberta Drain, 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.]

Recorded as part of the Springfield Greene County Library District's 2010 "Big Read".  We are speaking today with Roberta Drain.  The date is Friday, March 12, 2010.

Good morning, Roberta.

"Good morning". 

Now Roberta, I hear you have a story about your childhood that you might be willing to share with us.

Roberta Drain:  Well, it wasn't my childhood; it was my oldest daughter.

Narrator:  Oh that's fine.

Roberta Drain:  Yeah, she went; had to go to the doctor and when we got home she was kind of quiet all afternoon for her.  And then eventually she said "Mommy, why did the doctor eat the ice cream off the stick before he put it in my mouth".  (laughter)  The doctor got quite a kick out of that.

Narrator:  She didn't like that empty stick in there.

Roberta Drain:  No, she didn't realize what that tongue depressor was.

Narrator:  How many children did you have?

Roberta Drain:  Three.

Narrator:  Three children; all girls?

Roberta Drain:  No, the oldest was a girl.  She is gone.  She had cancer.  And, then I have a boy and another girl.  ("I see").  My youngest girl is gonna be up to see me; well, on my birthday.  (Oh, that's good).  The 20th of this month, March.  ("Do they live close by")?  Just my son and the daughter that's coming up lives in Texas.  ("I see").  North of Dallas.

Narrator:  Where did you grow up, Roberta?

Roberta Drain:  On a farm in Northwest, Mo.

Narrator: So, what city would that be close to?

Roberta Drain:  Well, you know St. Jo (Joseph)?  That's the big city.  Then you go north there to Maryville and I lived at a little town east of there called Ravenwood, Mo.  A real small town.

Narrator:  Do you remember the population?

Roberta Drain:  It was just under 300; 297 or something.

Narrator:  About how many people were in your class in school?

Roberta Drain:  Thirteen in my graduation class and that was after they combined two schools. 

Narrator:  Oh, so they sort of consolidated.

Roberta Drain:  Consolidated Ravenwood and Parnell.  And, I think Parnell had three seniors when they consolidated with us and we had the others.

Narrator:  Were any of your classmate's people that you had gone to school with all of your life?

Roberta Drain:  One boy was.  I went to a little one room country school house and I had gone to school with him all twelve years.

Narrator:  So, what was school like back then?  Tell me a little bit about your high school.

Roberta Drain:  Well, it's still a small town.  So, quite different from what the large cities are.  They have a lot less subjects.

Narrator:  Did you enjoy school?

Roberta Drain:  Oh, I loved it.

Narrator:  What was your favorite subject?  Do you remember?

Roberta Drain:  Oh, math or spelling.

Narrator:  Well, now that's interesting.  A lot of times if you are good at spelling you're not so great at math and vice versa.

Roberta Drain:  A lot of women are not supposed to be good at math.  But I took algebra, advanced algebra, geometry, trigonometry (laughter)

Narrator:  Oh my goodness, you really did like it.

Roberta Drain:   Just because I liked it.

Narrator:  What did you plan to do when you graduated from high school?

Roberta Drain:  I used to say I was gonna be school teacher.  But, unfortunately, I got married instead.

Narrator:  Ah ha.  How did you meet your husband?

Roberta Drain:  Oh, I had known him since we were just little kids.  My parents and his parents and a whole bunch of people used to get together at peoples' houses and have dances.  And, my husband's parents provided the music.  And, my husband played - guitar when he was just a little bitty thing.  And that's really how we met.

Narrator:  Now, people had dances in their homes?  "Yes".  How did that work?

Roberta Drain:  Yip.  Just moved back the furniture in a couple of rooms.  'Cause there wasn't really many people there.  Had an old-fashioned dance.

Narrator:  Did you bring food?

Roberta Drain:  Yeah, we did.

Narrator:  What kind of things did you have?

Roberta Drain:  Well, people would bring sandwiches and then whoever‘s home they went to would furnish Kool-Aid, tea or something.  Yeah.

Narrator:  Well, that sounds like fun.

 Roberta Drain:  And, I learned to square dance when I was probably about eight years old.

Narrator:  Who taught you?

Roberta Drain:  My Dad.

Narrator:  And who taught him?

Roberta Drain:  I don't know.  Cause he was fairly good age when I was born.

Narrator:  Now did you do clogging with that?

Roberta Drain:  No, just square dancing. And then square dancing back then wasn't like it is now. You had a caller that called the dances and people just followed what he said.

Narrator:  That sure sounds like a good time to me.

Roberta Drain:  Oh we had a lot of fun.  I loved it.

Narrator:  Now did you have dances at your school when you got older?

Roberta Drain:  Uh, when I was in high school we had school dances.  And my husband and his Dad played for those too.

Narrator:  I know you said your husband played the guitar; what did his Father play?

Roberta Drain:  Uh, mostly mandolin. 

Narrator:  And then did he have a fiddle player too?

Roberta Drain:  He also played the fiddle; the mandolin player.  "Oh, I see".  And there was a man that played the banjo.  We didn't have a drummer.  I can't imagine a dance without a drummer but we didn't have one.

Narrator:  Well, somebody else had to keep time.  I guess.

Roberta Drain:  I guess.  (laughter)

Narrator:  So, you met your husband when you were children ("umm hum") and got married.  What did the two of you do for a living?

Roberta Drain:  Well, after he got out of the Army he drove a milk truck for a few years.  And, after we moved down to South Missouri he was a diesel mechanic worked on  heavy road equipment.

Narrator:  And, you took care of the children?

Roberta Drain:  Yes.  I did work at Sears later in life.  "Did you enjoy that"?  Oh yeah, I worked in the catalog department about thirteen years.  "Oh, that was quite awhile".  That was after the first girl was grown and married and the second two were older.

Narrator:  That must have been so hard to lose a daughter to cancer.

Roberta Drain:  It was just three years ago.

Narrator:   Oh, I'm so sorry.  "Thank you".  Were you able to spend time with her? 

Roberta Drain:  Hum, not much in the later years because I was here.  But, in the earlier years, yes. 

Narrator:  What were your children like as children?

Roberta Drain:  Ornery. (laughter)  No, they really weren't I shouldn't say that.  But a,  just kind of average I guess.  "Were they good students"?  Um, average.

Narrator:  But a little naughty sometimes?

Roberta Drain:  Nah, never!  (laughter) 

Narrator:  Do you remember any stories about when they were little?

Roberta Drain:  Well, I told that one about the oldest girl when she was little.  "How old was she at the time"?  Oh, about three.

Narrator:  Did they also go to a small school; small town school?

Roberta Drain:  Well, we lived in Joplin which was big city.  But, the grade school was a small school.

Narrator:  What about family vacations or … Family…

Roberta Drain:  We were campers.  Yeah.  Bought a boat and a camper and the kids learned to water ski and it was a lot of fun teaching kids to ski.  (laughter)

Narrator:  Well, it's not likely you'll make it up on the first time.  Did any of your kids do that or did it take awhile?

Roberta Drain:  Oh, I think my son came up the first time he went out but the others it . . . well, the oldest daughter got married right out of high school so she was gone by the time we had a boat and camper and was camping and skiing and all that kind of stuff.  But, I enjoyed lovin' just watchin' kids learn to ski.  My nephew 6 foot 3 I think he is and he was gonna learn to ski and he would stand up awhile then he would set down awhile and drag his fanny in the water awhile and then he would stand up awhile (laughter) and we could hear his mother and cousin in the boat we could hear them laughin' clear back on the island where we were.  (laughter)  "Oh, that sounds like fun".  Yeah!  "Sounds like it was a big family affair".  "Does that sound right it wasn't just immediate family but you had other relatives come"?  Well, after we moved to Joplin we were the only ones down here.  But, his sister and my brother and them would come down occasionally.  Yeah.

Narrator:  Do you remember any special holidays when you were a child?

Roberta Drain:  Special holiday?  Oh, not in particular.  Like I said we grew up on a farm and didn't celebrate holidays nearly as much as what we do today.

Narrator:  So, what did you do for Christmas; at Christmastime.

Roberta Drain:   Oh we just had gifts and things that part of it was about like now.  "Did you have a tree"?  Yeah.

Narrator:  Any special family traditions around food or dinners or those kinds of things?

Roberta Drain:  Used to have a dinner once a month at different relatives that took in the birthdays for everybody that month.  And, I know the month that my brothers birthday and that night I went in the hospital and had an appendectomy about 10:00 "oh my goodness" or 11:00. (laughter) I had been "that was an eventful day". Yes, I had been riding the horse, pitchin' horseshoes and carryin' little kids around; it just got too much for my appendix.

Narrator:  How long were you in the hospital?

Roberta Drain:  About five days I think.

Narrator:  I think nowadays you're probably in and out.

Roberta Drain:  That's true.  My youngest daughter was in and out overnight.  And now, I don't know they may send you home before you get out. "Maybe so"  (laughter)  My daughter always had to have, the oldest daughter, had to have the children cesarean and the last one they wanted to send her home the same day.  One of the nurses was really upset she said "well, why don't we just meet 'em in the parking lot and help them have this baby and send 'em back"? 

Narrator:  It probably feels like that sometimes.  "Yeah".

Narrator:  How was having your babies?  Were you in the hospital?

Roberta Drain:  Yes, I was.

Narrator:  And how long was your stay?

Roberta Drain:  Five days I think with each one of them.

Narrator:  Oh my goodness, that just doesn't happen anymore.  Did they sedate you or anything or did you . . .

Roberta Drain:  No, I didn't want to be really and my doctor that delivered the last two didn't believe in it.  I was sedated with the first one. 

Narrator:  Was your husband allowed in the room with you or did he even want to be?

Roberta Drain:  I don't know if he was allowed to be back then or not but he wasn't.

Narrator:  They didn't used to do that. 

Roberta Drain:  Nope.  But, I got a feelin' he probably wasn't allowed to be.

Narrator:  You're probably right.  Are there any other stories you would like to share with me today, Roberta?

Roberta Drain:  Well, I can't think of anything right off alone; how much more time have we got.

Narrator:  I think we are just about ready to head out.  "Good".  Thank you very much for coming and talking with me today.  "You're welcome".  I appreciate it.

[Transcript of interview with Roberta Drain, 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.]