[Transcript of interview with Wilma Parrish, 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.]

Q: This recording is part of the Springfield Greene County library districts 2010 Big Read. Today’s date is March the second of 2010, and I’m going to interview Wilma Perrish, and she is ninety-two years old. Thank you, Wilma, for spending some time with me today, we’re going to have some fun here. The first thing I want to ask you is how long have you personally lived in the Ash Grove area?

Wilma: I think it’s three years.

Q: Okay.

Wilma: I live with my son, two sons.

Q: Okay, and before moving to Ash Grove where did you live?

Wilma: Willard.

Q: How long did you live in the Willard area?

Wilma: Oh, twenty some odd years.

Q: Okay, so let’s just say twenty for starters, okay, but prior to that where did you live?

Wilma: Walnut Grove.

Q: Okay. Were you born in South Missouri?

Wilma: Well, I was born in Morrisville, Missouri.

Q: Okay, Morrisville. Okay. Do you know much about how your grandparents or parents ended up in the Morrisville area? Where did they come from, do you know?

Wilma: I really don’t know, but they been at ? farm for years. They had four hundred acres.

Q: Is that where you were born?

Wilma: Uh-huh.

Q: You were born in Morrisville, apparently, obviously at home.

Wilma: ? I was five years old when we moved to a little country place called Luck.

Q: Moved to Luck. You’re the second person that I’ve talked to today that has their roots in Luck.

Wilma: Yeah.

Q: So you moved to Luck at five. What did your parents do?

Wilma: They’s farmers.

Q: They’re all farmers, okay. Any of those folks work outside the home, other than they’re just farmers, right? All right. Now, how many brothers and sisters did you have?

Wilma: I have… there was six of us altogether, but one girl died at nine years old.

Q: Okay, so six.

Wilma: There’s five of us.

Q: Alright, now I don’t know if I asked you this previously, but you are ninety-two, correct?

Wilma: Mmhmm.

Q: Okay. Alright, so as a young girl did you so, if you moved to Luck at around five you went to school in and around Luck, right?

Wilma: Mmhmm.

Q: So tell me about school, when you went, and how far did you go and….

Wilma: Well, about two miles, we walked.

Q: Every day?

Wilma: Mmhmm.

Q: Did you have snow days?

Wilma: Yeah.

Q: You had snow days, okay.

Wilma: Anyway, we had a neighbor that’d come by and pick us up, had a little daughter, so he came taked us on bad days, and my dad would take me.

Q: Would they drive?

Wilma: Uh-huh.

Q: What were the roads like in those days?

Wilma: Well they was no good.

Q: They were no good, right, yeah.


Q: So how long did you go to school in Luck?

Wilma: Eight years.

Q: Did you have any education beyond eight years?

Wilma: I started high school, and quit, I’m sorry.

Q: That’s okay. Did you quit, did you go to high school in where?

Wilma: In Walnut Grove.

Q: You went to high school in Walnut Grove, okay, and how long did you go, a year, or….

Wilma: It wasn’t quite a year.

Q: Wasn’t quite a year? So after you leave high school, what do you do?

Wilma: I helped my dad work in the field.

Q: You worked in the field?

Wilma: Gathered corn, and….

Q: Okay.

Wilma: Harness the mules.


Q: Okay, and at what age did you marry?

Wilma: I was twenty.

Q: Tell me about meeting your husband. What was that like?

Wilma: Well, I met him at school.

Q: School?

Wilma: High school.

Q: So, you left high school at what age, fourteen or fifteen, does that sound about right?

Wilma: Or sixteen.

Q: Sixteen.

 Wilma: No, I had to review one year, so I was… they sent both of us to high school. Me and one of my sisters.

Q: Okay.

Wilma: And that was the wrong thing for them to do to me,

Q: Why do you think that?

Wilma: Well, they, I don’t know, they just thought we needed to go together.

Q: So you met your husband at high school, so did you have like a three year courtship, or how did that go?

Wilma: Well, he’d write to me a lot.

Q: Uh-huh. Okay.

Wilma: Yeah.

Q: Was it love at first sight?

Wilma: Not really, but it got to be.

Q: Oh, sure. So, how old were you when you got married?

Wilma: I was twenty, I think, yep.

Q: Twenty, okay, I was just checking my notes, here, so what year was that, at twenty?

Wilma: Thirty-seven.

Q: Nineteen thirty-seven. That means you were born in twenty-seven?

Wilma: No, I was born in seventeen.

Q: Nineteen seventeen, right?

Wilma: Yeah, seventeen, uh-huh.

Q: Right, okay. So where’d you get married at?

Wilma: Well we went to the courthouse to get married, and I had to be twenty-one. We didn’t know that, so we had to come back to Walnut Grove and this man that went to church, we married in his house.

Q: Was the courthouse you’re telling me in Springfield, was that where you went?

Wilma: Mmhmm.

Q: So you went into Springfield. So how’d you get away with getting married at twenty?

Wilma: Well, I didn’t. I had to get my parents, and I could’ve told it wrong, but I did do it.

Q:  No, that’s good, that was good. So you got married in thirty-seven.

Wilma: My birthday’s the first day of December and that was… I just lacked a few days of being I could’ve been twenty-one, but I did do it.

Q: Okay, well when were your children born?

Wilma: In forty-two and forty-six. Well, I had one, I had a baby before that, and he was a blue baby, and he didn’t live but about a year.

Q: Okay, were your children born in a hospital?

Wilma: No.

Q: So born at home, okay. And obviously you were born in home. Okay. What did your husband do for a living?

Wilma: A farmer.

Q: He was a farmer. Did World War II have any impact on your marriage life? Did he get drafted, or….

Wilma: Well, he almost did, but he couldn’t hear out of one ear, so he didn’t pass.

Q: Okay. Alright. So then you spent much of your life as a farmer in and around Morrisville. And where did your children go to school?

Wilma: Walnut Grove.

Q: Same school you went to, I guess.

Wilma: Well, I went to a little country school first, in eighth grade. There’s a store there and a church house.

Q: One of the things I’d like to spend a little time talking to you about is your life during the Depression. What are your memories of that?

Wilma: Well, we raised a garden and we did get hungry, but a lot of people did, but that’s the only way we could live is what we raised in the garden and it was a dry year, too.

Q: There was a drought a couple years during the Depression.

Wilma: And we used to, we ate a lot of mackerel.

Q: So, how about food during the wintertime? What would you do, can?

Wilma: Yeah.

Q: So you would, what are some of the things you would can out of your garden?

Wilma: Tomatoes and beans, and green beans, and pumpkin, and pressured it.

Q: Did you eat, what about eating meat during the Depression, what did you, how did you do that?

Wilma: One year we ate that mackerel. Didn’t butcher a hog or beef.

Q: What occupied your time during the Depression? Was it all work or did you have some leisure time too?

Wilma: Well we had some leisure time.

Q: And what would you do then?

Wilma: Oh, take the boys and go to Grandma Ross’s, mostly, and his parents.

Q: So mostly what you did for leisure was obviously all centered around the family then?

Wilma: Yep.

Q: So you didn’t travel much from home, from any great distance.

Wilma: No. In later years we went to California, though, but that was before he got sick.

Q: Right. When do you go to California? About what year?

Wilma: Well, let’s see. Barry was fourteen, I know, and he was…

Q: It’d be about nineteen fifty-eight?

Wilma: Yeah, probably. We sold our cows and hay and chickens, and my dad was bad sick in California, so we went and stayed that winter.

Q: Okay, so you traveled to California in fifty-eight, what was the reason that you went to California?

Wilma: Well, my dad was sick and we just wanted… my husband said we’d just sell the stuff and go out there and stay for the winter.

Q: Did your husband get a job out there or anything? What did he do out in—

Wilma: Yeah, he worked on a chicken farm, and then he’d burn, or he’d get stuff on him ???? to keep it from freezing, that was a dirty job.

Q: So how long were you in California?

Wilma: We came back in March.

Q: Just a brief time.

Wilma: We went in the fall.

Q: Right, so you stayed six months or so, something like that. Did you sell your farm when you went to California?

Wilma: No.

Q: So the purpose of going to California was to help your father who was ill, and so you come back to the Morrisville area again. So all of your adult life your husband was a farmer, correct?

Wilma: Yeah, well in the later years when he got old enough to retire, he’d work at the farm club in Walnut Grove so many days and always ????

Q: All right, so what was he doing in Walnut Grove? What was his job like?

Wilma: Delivering feed. He had a truck.

Q: So you were a homemaker all your life then, right?

Wilma: No, the time we went to California I worked that winter. We went to… Anyway, I made pies at a picture window. I rolled dough out.

Q: And you did all this at a window? In a bakery or something like that?

Wilma: Yeah.

Q: Oh, that’s wonderful. So you must have got pretty good at baking pies, right?

Wilma: Yeah.

Q: What’s your favorite pie to make?

Wilma: Well, they was chicken pies.

Q: Oh chicken pies, okay, I gotcha.

Wilma: And I’d have to ask through the window and take care of the money.

Q: As you were raising your family in the Morrisville area…

Wilma: I didn’t raise them there, it was in Luck.

Q: In Luck, rather, I’m sorry, at Luck.

Wilma:  No, I’m sorry, I take that back, it’s not Luck either. They’s born in Walnut Grove. ????

Q: Okay, and they went to school again in the Walnut Grove area, your children did.

Wilma: Mmhmm.

Q: Okay. Alright. As you were growing up in this area of South Missouri, even as a young girl and even as a young mother, did you have any family traditions that you always did around holidays or anything that sticks out in your mind? Things you did?

Wilma: Well, on holidays we usually went to my home or my husband’s home.

Q: Uh-huh. What was the traditional Thanksgiving meal like in nineteen fifty? Same as they are today? Same ol’ stuff?

Wilma: Yeah.

Q: Well I was, I came from a family that had all of these traditions, like my grandmother would always make certain pies or cakes on certain holidays and I remember mincemeat pie which I just could not eat at all.

Wilma: I did like mincemeat pie when I was a child.

Q: I wasn’t quite sure I ever- and even today, I’m not quite sure…

Wilma: And ?????

Q: Yeah, you’re right. I remember that too.


Q: It’s interesting to me in interviewing you folks that you lived pretty rural, so growing up as young kids, I’m talking very young kids, you really didn’t have a lot of friends other than family so you just…

Wilma: We played in the barn a lot.

Q: Oh, yeah, I’m sure you did that. All right. Well, do you have a anything else you’d like to add, any stories that you remember, that may be of interesting to young people today? You’re a remarkable lady, you know, that at ninety-two years old you’re in great shape.

Wilma: Well, I’ve got arthritis a lot. Goes up my arm and I can’t walk good.

Q: Well, you got in here pretty good, I thought, so… Well, I guess we could end this interview, and I just want to tell you thank you for spending time with me today, I enjoy your friendship and your stories.

Wilma: Thank you.

Q: So thank you very much, Wilma.

[Transcript of interview with Wilma Parrish, 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.]