Oral History of Margaretha Nichol Sawyer
as told to Roberta Benor
Q (Roberta Benor): This is Roberta Benor of Let Us Remember. The date is August 2, 2003. Please give me your name and address.
A (Margaretha Nichol Sawyer): My name is Margaretha Nichol Sawyer. I live at 4020 Seventeenth Street, Northwest, Washington, DC.
Q: What is your date of birth?
A: I was born on September 11, 1914.
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born in Pittsburgh. At that time, my mother had her babies in the hospital in Pittsburgh. I lived in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Emsworth.
Q: How do you spell that?
Q: Do you know the name of the hospital in which you were born?
A: No, I donít know that.
Q: What is your first memory?
A: One thing, when I was about a little over three years old, I had a mastoid operation. I remember being in the hospital, and I remember my father would come in with oranges and feed me sections of oranges. Then one time, his company sent a plant. It was a Dorothy Perkins rose bush, and afterwards, we planted it at the house where we lived, and it grew and grew and lasted for many years. One thing I remember, I was looking at the plant. It was over on my right. Then I wanted to change my position in the bed, and I asked the nurse to change the plant over to the left side. Of course, it was a heavy plant, and she couldnít do that. But at that time, I was very disappointed that she wouldnít move the plant.
Q: What color were the roses?
A: They were pink, pink roses.
Q: Is that your favorite flower?
A: Yes, it is, uh huh.
Q: Because of that episode?
A: Well, it might be. I donít know why.
Q: Letís talk about your father. What was his full name?
A: Walter Herd Nichol.
Q: Do you know when he was born?
A: He was born on April 3, 1776.
Q: Maybe 1876?
A: 1876, yes. [Laughter]
Q: Where was he born?
A: He was born in the north side of, Alleghany I think they called it, Pittsburgh. Alleghany.
Q: When did his family come to America?
A: Iím not sure right now. We have that information, but I donít know where that is.
Q: Do you know from what country they came?
A: Iím not sure of that either.
Q: Was it England?
A: It was more like Scotland, I think. Scotland.
Q: What did your father look like?
A: He was a very handsome man, I think. As long as I could remember, he had white hair. He was twelve-and-a-half years older than my mother. So he was in his middle thirties when they got married. So I always felt he was a very nice looking man.
Q: How tall was he?
A: He was about five, eleven.
Q: What business was he in?
A: He was a wholesale grocer. He would sell groceries to big organizations and institutions, like a carload of blueberries maybe or something like that. He dealt in great quantities of food. And he worked for Alan Kirkpatrick Company.
Q: Did the Kirkpatrick Company purchase from the farmers?
A: Well, it was mostly canned goods that they purchased. It was all canned goods that I remember.
Q: What was his title in the company?
A: I donít know if he had a title.
Q: What kind of living did he make?
A: We were pretty well, we were well off, not too well off, but at one time we had a maid for awhile. We called her Hattie, and then the children said Hattie, the Beaver Falls, we used to call her, Hattie, the Beaver Falls.
Q: Why did you call her that?
A: I donít know. Beaver Falls was a town six miles from our place, [Laughter] but we just happened to say that. But anyway, my father worked during the Depression, though I donít think his income was as high as it had been. But he was able to work all during the Depression.
Q: What kind of disciplinarian was he?
A: Well, there were four girls in our family, and the boy was in the middle of our family. And it seems that anything that Chuck would do to us or we would imagine he did to us, as soon as Daddy came home, we would tell Chuckie did this, Chuckie did that. So my father would take Chuck up to the bathroom. He had to tell him to lean over the tub, and he would whack him with the razor strap. So my brother still remembers that. So the girls were all the time the tattletales.
Q: He didnít so that to the girls?
A: No, he didnít do that to us.
Q: Were the punishments warranted?
A: I donít think so, no. [Laughter]
Q: Did you ever apologize to your brother about it?
A: Yeah, we did tell. Weíd tell him we were sorry that he had all those whippings through the years.
Q: What are some other memories you have of your father?
A: When I got older, he and I would take a walk every Sunday afternoon. We would take a walk, and weíd go up the hill, up in the undeveloped area where there is a big path through the woods. And we would always have a walk, Sunday walk. I always adored that. Weíd hold hands and go for a walk.
Q: What kinds of conversations did you have on the walk?
A: I canít remember anymore, but Iím sure we talked about just different affairs and things that had happened in the neighborhood.
Q: Did you ever know his parents, your grandparents?
A: No, they died before, well I was pretty young when they died, and so I never really knew them.
Q: Do you know what caused their deaths?
A: Iím not sure just what they died of now.
Q: Letís talk about your mother. What was her full name?
A: Her full name was Margaretha Fenderich, and then Nichol was her married name. And she was born in 1886, I think my father was born in 1974, 76, and Mother was born in 1886. She went to Goucher College for two years, and when she was there, once a week he would send her a box of candy she always shared with her sorority sisters.
Q: This is Goucher College in Maryland?
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: How did they meet?
A: Well, they were members of the same church, and my father told some of us that he saw my mother growing up, and finally when she was eighteen, he realized she was full-grown and a lovely women, so he got interested in her and taking her out.
Q: Do you know where they went on dates?
A: I donít know. In those days, they were pretty well supervised, I think. Iím not sure what they did, where they went on dates.
Q: Do you know how your father proposed to your mother?
A: No, I donít know that.
Q: What is their wedding date?
A: December 20, 1920, I believe it is.
Q: Well, you were born in 1914, soÖ
A: Oh, no, no, thatís not right [Laughter]. 1909 it is, yeah.
Q: Do you know where they were married?
A: They were married in Pittsburgh in the rectory of a Presbyterian minister.
Q: That wasnít their church?
A: I think she was a Methodist. They both had gone to the Methodist church. My motherís sisÖironically, their parents were against his marrying my mother, because they felt he was too old for her, but it worked out fine.
Q: So they got married defying the parents?
A: Iím not sure, I just know that they were married at the rectory of a Presbyterian minister.
Q: Do you know what your mother wore?
Q: Were there picture from the wedding?
A: Oh, she had a very lovely woolen suit, yeah I remembered it.
Q: What color?
A: It was more like a rust color.
Q: Did she carry flowers?
A: I donít know about that.
Q: Where did they go on a honeymoon?
A: I believe they went to Philadelphia.
Q: What memories do you have of your mother?
A: Mother was a very, very beautiful, sweet woman. She died very early. She didnít want to live, she kept saying she didnít want to live long, too long, because her mother, who died at the age of eighty-five, developed, as you would call or say now, Alzheimerís. So Mother didnít want to live to that age and lose her mind. But she developed cancer, and it spread through her body, and she died at the age of sixty-three.
Q: What kind of cancer?
A: We think it started in a lung, because each time they would take a picture of her lung, that black spot was bigger. My father got a lung specialist to come in, and my father always felt that if they had removed that lung, maybe she would have lived. But I donít know, in those days, that they were that successful in doing things like that.
Q: Was she a smoker?
A: No, she didnít smoke, but at that time Pittsburgh was a very filthy city. Youíd go outside, and youíd see the soot going through the air. My husband often said when he was in college and his mother would send his fresh laundry, and heíd put the white shirts down on his bed and heíd come back a couple of hours later, theyíd be covered with little pieces of soot. So it was really bad.
Q: Was the soot from the coal burning or from the steel mills?
A: Well, it might have been from both. Iím not sure.
Q: You said your mother was beautiful. Was she very tall or short?
A: No, she was about five, two.
Q: What color hair and eyes?
A: She had brown hair, but then that turned grey when she was quite young, too.
Q: What kind of cook was she?
A: I said to Mother, ďLook at how many (when I was growing up), donít you get tired of cooking morning, noon, and night, day after day after day?Ē But she was a good cook. When we were old enough, weíd go out the back. There were a lot of elderberry bushes, and we would pick the elderberries, and she would made elderberry jelly, which is just so good. And weíd watch her with that big bag and letting the juice run down the pan.
Q: Did you make wine from the elderberries?
A: No, we never made wine, no, no.
Q: What else did she cook?
A: She used to bake doughnuts. We loved the doughnuts, especially the little holes that she would cut out and cook that. And then weíd love to eat those little holes.
Q: Was Sunday dinner special in your home?
A: Yes, we used to have, weíd often have leg of lamb. We all enjoyed the lamb. And we had chicken. But it was amazing. My father loved the fat on the lamb and would eat that, but he never, he lived to the age of eighty-five, and itís amazing to us that his cholesterol count must have been pretty high eating all that fat.
Q: From what did he die?
A: I think it was just deterioration of everything. I think the final thing was infection of the muscle of the heart, but he was having kidney trouble and different things like that.
Q: Where are your parents buried?
A: Theyíre buried in Pittsburgh at Uniondale Cemetery in Pittsburgh.
Q: Did you know your motherís parents?
A: I didnít know my grandfather, my motherís father, but I knew my motherís mother, Grandma. She lived to the age of eighty-five, and she was alwaysÖWhen we went to high school, my brother and I would eat at my grandmotherís house, which was near the high school. And my grandmother would always say, ďAre you a Christian?Ē She always was worried whether or not we were true Christians, and she would say, ďAre you a Christian?Ē
Q: That was something important to her.
A: Uh huh.
Q: You said your mother went to college. Was that unusual for that day and age?
A: Not many girls went to college in those days.
Q: Did she, because she was particularly smart or she wanted a certain career?
A: She didnít want a career. I donít know how her parents happened to send her there or how she picked Goucher. I donít know about that.
Q: Did she work outside of the house at all?
A: No, she never worked outside.
Q: Did your father go to college?
A: No, he didnít go to college, but he was very wellÖhe used to read quite a bit. Iím not sure. I think he just went to high school, but he did a lot of reading, and he was very knowledgeable about a lot of things.
Q: Letís talk about the birth order of your siblings. Who is the oldest?
A: The oldest girl just died in June. She was ninety-one years old. We called her Dodo. When I was a little girl, I couldnít call her, her name is Mary Frances. She was named after her two grandmothers. I couldnít say that. Somehow I said Dodo [Laughter], and that name stuck for ninety-one years. So she had two sons. One was in the Air Force. He was killed in a collision of airplanes after being in Vietnam and being on that tour of duty, came back and was here in the United States. He was killed in an airplane collision when he was an instructor here, an airline instructor, and somehow the planes collided.
Priscilla: That was in Arizona, wasnít it?
A: It was Arizona, yeah.
Q: This was Priscilla speaking.
Q: What was her husbandís name?
A: He was Thomas W. Dana.
Q: And the next child in your family?
A: I was the next child.
Q: Okay, well weíll go in much more detail for you. And the next child.
A: The next one was Charles Fenderich Nichol, and he was the only boy in the family. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon, and he never married. We all said he had too much of girls [Laughter] when he was growing up. He didnít want to get married. So he is a favorite uncle of all the grandchildren right now.
Q: And the next child?
A: The next one is Carolyn, and she is about eight years younger than I am. She had three children, and she married a dentist, and she lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Q: What was his name?
A: His name was George William Thomas. He died about fifteen years ago.
Q: And the last child?
A: Is Maisie, Maisie Ruth Nichol Wills. She was the last child, and she just had an operation recently to replace her hip.
Q: Her husbandís full name?
A: William Wills. William R. Wills. Iím not sure of the middle name. It is ďR,Ē but I donít know, Iím not sure right now what that ďRĒ is for.
Q: How many years apart from the first child to the last?
A: From 1912 to 1970, so that is what?
Q: No, when Maisie was born, what year was that?
A: She was born in 1970.
A: No, no.
Q: You were born in 1914.
Q: And then there wasÖ
A: Maisie was born in 1930.
Q: 1930, So from 1912 to 1930, thatís a large number of years for childrearing.
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: How did you children get along? You mentioned about getting your brother in trouble. What are some of your other memories?
A: No, we all enjoyed being together, when we can meet. Chuck lives in Pittsburgh, then Carolyn lives in Richmond. The older sister lives in Williamsburg, so we didnít get to see each other very often, but we tried, any special birthday, we would try to meet in Fredericksburg at a restaurant to get together to celebrate.
Q: Which restaurant?
A: At one time it was called Big Boy, and then I think the last was Dennyís. It changed many times.
Q: So that was equidistance.
A: Yeah, abut the same from Washington to Fredericksburg and say Richmond to Fredericksburg,
Q: Letís talk about your childhood memories. How were birthdays celebrated in your home?
A: Well, there were a lot of children in the neighborhood, I mean on our street, and so weíd all get together and have ice cream and cake and sing and play games and things like that. We often did that. I remember we lived on the big bluff over the Ohio River, so weíd see boats going up and down the river many times a day. And right next to the river was the railroad, so weíd hear the whistle of the train and the whistle of the boats. Today when I hear a whistle like that, I immediately think of the days when I grew up in Emsworth next to the river.
Q: How was Christmas celebrated?
A: Christmas now we still marvel at what Mother and Daddy did. They would get the kids to bed. Then they would get out the tree and decorate the tree. Then they would get out all the presents and the stockings and fill the stockings. We still donít know how they all did that Christmas Eve. And many years, they would put a big board over the sofa in the living room and then stack up all the presents of the five children, so we really had a wonderful time in those days and always looked forward to Christmas.
Q: Do you remember some favorite toys you received?
A: I always asked for a doll for a present, and every year up to the age of twelve, Iíd get a new doll, something that was in the news in those days.
Q: Did you have a favorite doll?
A: I liked all the dolls. I remember the little Bylo doll that I had, and itís funny, after I moved down to Washington, after I was married, I didnít bring any dolls down. But as it turned out, our oldest son bought the old family home. And up in the attic, he found a lot of things. He never found any dolls of mine, and I often wonder. Well, I guess we gave them all to the Goodwill. I often wished I had saved some of those dolls.
Q: Did you play house with the dolls or have tea parties?
A: Oh, yes, and then my father would build a little house out in the back yard, and I would always get my brother to go in there first thing in the morning to clear out any spider webs before I would go into the little house.
Q: How big was the house, the little house?
A: It was just a little, just about that big. It was just one room, but we had a lot of fun playing there. It had a door and a window and things like that.
Q: How was Easter celebrated?
A: Well, weíd all have baskets and get candy and things like that.
Q: What role did religion play in your childhood?
A: It played a big part in our childhood. We always went to Sunday School every Sunday, and we went to church services when we got older. We were members of the Methodist church in Ben Avon, the next town over, where they had the Methodist church.
Q: What are your other childhood memories?
A: There were about twenty-four children living on that little street. After dinner, we would all run out, and there was an empty lot across the street, and weíd play baseball or different games, and we enjoyed it. We all had a good time. One day when Iím not sure what age, somehow I came down with diphtheria. Now I wondered how I ever got that, but all the children had to get a shot so that they wouldnít come down with diphtheria.
Q: How long were you sick?
A: Iím not sure how long. It was too long, I donít think.
Q: What position did you play in baseball?
A: Oh, I donít remember that.
Q: Was that your favorite sport?
A: We liked that, yes.
Q: Do you still have friends from that neighborhood?
A: Most of them have died already. My best friend lived a block away. Her name was Jane Cummings, and we would get in contact with each other. For a whole block, we had a string from my bedroom over to her bedroom, and then put a nail there, and it came back like this. And we would pin notes to each other on that string in that way to get notes to each other.
Q: Was it like a clothesline?
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: And it moved back and forth?
A: Yeah, back and forth, yeah.
Q: What kinds of notes did you exchange?
A: Oh, just talk about anything, nothing special.
Q: Was she in school with you?
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: What was the name of your elementary school?
A: Emsworth Public School.
Q: And you went there through eighth grade?
A: I went there through the seventh grade, and then somehow, I wonder why he did that, my father thought Iíd get a better education if I went to Latimer Junior High School on the North Side Pittsburg. So for my eighth grade they moved me up to Latimer Junior High School, so I went there eighth grade and ninth grade. I didnít know anybody when I started there. I didnít have any friends, but finally we got pretty friendly with other people.
Q: How did you get to that school?
A: We would ride up with my father. He worked with the company on the North Side, and we had just a couple of blocks to walk to school. So then I went to Alleghany High School, which is just about four blocks from there. I went there for the tenth grade. Then after that, I went to the Ben Avon High School. When my older sister was fifteen, she came down with polio, and so it was quite a struggle for the family to see her be so crippled. Her arms were affected mostly. And my father fixed up some pulley system to get her to raise her arms up and down. He would mark on the wall how far she could get her hand up. That was an inspiration to us that if you just keep plugging away, youíll probably overcome some handicap. Anyway, she was out of school for a year, so when it was time to go back to school, she decided to go to the school of Ben Avon, the high school. Since our borough didnít have a high school, we could go to that school or up in town, so she picked the Ben Avon school, and after she started why other people went, and a couple of years later, I went to that school, too, which is the neighborhood school.
Q: This is Tape 1, Side B. Letís ask a little more about Dodo and the polio. First of all, when she got the polio, did you have to stay away from her?
A: Yes, we did. We had a big sign of the quarantine on our door. Dodo went when she was fifteen. Her grandmother and an aunt, I think two aunts, went to a place in Ohio for a vacation. They invited Dodo to go with them. Shortly after they got back, Dodo developed this terrible headache, and then she just went down and down. We notified the family doctor, the childrenís doctor, and he came, and thatís when he diagnosed it as polio. Of course, we werenít supposed to go into her bedroom. We had a curtain on the door just like this one here to shut off the entrance. Iím not too sure about all this, but Chuck remembers that we went up to our grandmotherís house to stay while she was recovering.
Q: Your motherís mother?
A: Yes, uh huh. So of course, we were devastated by that, and there was so much in the news at that time about polio and about people who had to spend their life in an iron lung.
Q: She never had to go into an iron lung?
A: No, she was pretty lucky in the kind of case she had. Just her arms were affected. But that was bad enough.
Q: Were children told to stay out of the lake or the river during that time?
A: I donít think they were, not that I know of. I know they felt something being in the water was definitely at fault.
Q: And no one else got polio in the neighborhood?
A: No, nobody in the village, no.
Q: So we have you in high school now. What kind of student were you?
A: Well, [Laughter] I got nearly all Aís in the junior high school and Alleghany High School, and apparently, I didnít get quite, I think they were more strict at Ben Avon High School, but I did well enough.
Q: Did you have a favorite course?
A: I used to love Latin. I like Latin very much. I liked mathematics, too.
Q: You are smiling now. Why did you like Latin?
A:[Laughter] I donít know why I liked that, but I felt it was so interesting.
Q: Can you say something in Latin?
A: No, I canít. Brickinall ackwall farmquaw. The farmer carries water. [Laughter]
A: You have to practice, Kara, if you want to remember. You have to keep going over it to remember anything.
Q: Kara is here also. We didnít mention that. What did you do for fun in high school? Did you go to the movies? Did you start dating?
A: I never dated very much. I donít know why.
Q: So what did you do for entertainment?
A: Well, on our street, some of us, the girls, would go to the movies. The school had them every Friday night, had movies every Friday night. So weíd go to that.
Q: Did you have favorite movie stars?
A: Dorothy Pickford in those days was the outstanding one that I remember.
Q: You graduated from high school in what year?
Q: So it was really in the height of the Depression?
Q: How did that affect you? You said your father still made a living.
A: Yes, uh huh. I remember putting cardboard in my shoes. Where thereís a hole, Iíd put cardboard in my shoe. But I donít know if we couldnít afford a new shoe or what, but I remember going to college and my father would give my sister, my older sister, Dodo, and me two dollars, and that was for our lunch. And we would spend this ten cents for our lunch. I would get two pieces of toasted nut bread and a cup of coffee for ten cents. Then the rest of the money I would save to buy a pair of stockings. When I had enough money, Iíd buy a pair of stockings.
Q: How much did stockings cost?
A: I donít remember now. It might have been two dollars, but I am not sure.
Q: They were silk stockings?
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: Did they have the seam up the back?
A: Yes, uh huh, yeah.
Q: Were you considered well dressed?
A: Oh, I donít know. Well, we were adequately dressed. Not maybe well dressed.
Q: How did you wear your hair in high school?
A: Well, letís see. I donít remember. [Laughter]
Q: Was it long or short?
A: No, it was short hair. Yes.
Q: What made you decide to go to college?
A: Well, I donít know. All the girls on the street were going to college, and Dodo went to college. She went to Goucher College for two years, then she finished at Carnegie Institute of Technology. So, well, I went off to Alleghany College. I got a scholarship there. Well, it was just a hundred dollar scholarship, and I went there for two years. Then I transferred to Carnegie Tech.
Q: What was your major?
A: I majored in Clothing and Textiles. In the meantime, I was interested in sewing, and I made a lot of dresses. Mother would give me some dresses that she had outgrown or just didnít want anymore, and I would cut them down or fix them up and wear those. Then I have a cousin that was teaching school, and she had some good-looking clothes, and she gave them all to me when she was tired of them. And I enjoyed fixing those up and wearing those.
Q: What was her name?
A: Her name was Martha Morrison. Her mother was my fatherís sister, Jenny.
Q: Did you have a fancy dress you loved, like a party dress or a dance dress?
A: No, I canít think of that.
Q: Did you go to your high school prom?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: With whom?
A: Oh, I was so scared I had to ask somebody to take me to the prom, and we knew the Watkinses, who was a friend of Daddyís for many, many years. One Sunday, we went up there to visit the family. And so there was Junior Watkins, and I asked him to take me to the prom. And he said he would. But it was terrible getting up enough [laughter] courage to ask him about that.
Q: What color was your dress?
A: It was a blue georgette dress, yeah.
Q: Where was your first kiss?
A: Oh, [Laughter] I remember when I was twelve years old, there was a family in the neighborhood, what was the name? Higgins family, the boys were really on the ball. [Laughter] So one time we were all out playing and James came out and kissed me. So I ran home, and I could hardly sleep that night. I was all excited about it. [Laughter].
Q: Did he kiss you again?
A: No, no.
Q: What did you enjoy about college?
A: I enjoyed the girls who were in my class. Weíd go around together and enjoyed all that companionship. And then once a year, weíd have a style show at the Kaufmannís Department Store. And the teachers of our class would pick out certain outfits for us to make and then model those in the style show. I remember that when I was a senior, they gave me, I had a beige skirt and a beige jacket and with all this intricate stitching on. I copied a coat from up in the exclusive department of the Kaufmann store. I had to go up and see how they did that stitching. Then I did it all around by the edge of my coat. And that was really a time-consuming thing. It was really a big project. But I enjoy doing that.
Q: Do you still sew?
A: Yes, I still like to sew. We have a sewing group at my church, and every year we make about sixty Raggedy Ann dolls, and Iím in full charge of that. So Iíd get the women. I embroidered the faces of the dolls, and the women will stuff the arms and legs. And then I would sew those on the body. Then they stuffed the body. Then two women like to put on hair, the yarn hair, and they do that. I make most of the clothes for the dolls and the little pinafores. So Iíve been doing that for a good many years, and weíve made thousands of dollars from those dolls.
Q: Did you make clothing for your children?
A: Yes, I did. I made some little outfits when they were little. And I made those little dresses for yourÖI made your wedding dress, and I made prom dresses or something, yeah.
Q: Did you ever use patterns?
A: Yeah, I used patterns and sometimes just improvised.
Q: Now fashion certainly has changed over the years. When you were a teenager, there were flapper outfits, and then later in the thirties more shirtwaist dresses. Do you have a favorite type of dress, style of dress?
A: No, I still like the shirtwaist dresses, yes.
Q: What do you think about the changing hemlines?
A: Now thatís interesting. I like them longer, but some of the young people, they wear them very up high. Priscilla used to wear them real high when sheíd go to work. I was so embarrassed. When sheís walk down the street, I think, ďOh, sheís going to work in those short dresses!Ē I could never get her to lengthen that hem. But she got through okay.
Q: What do you think about the style nowadays of the bare midriff?
A: Oh, I donít like that at all. I think thatís going a little bit too far.
Q: Whatís the favorite dress that you ever made?
A: Iíd say that maybe the favorite one it was, and I copied it from a, it was just shortly after graduating from college, and Dodo was getting married. So I showed her a picture of this dress, and she liked that. So I made that for her for her wedding dress.
Q: What was the material?
A: It was a georgette. And it had bands of striped material, another band of gathered material, another strand, so the whole lace was made like that. And she looked beautiful in that dress.
Q: Was there a veil?
A: No, she just wore a flower in her hair.
Q: Was the dress white?
Q: Where is that dress?
A: Oh, Iím sure she has discarded that. She kept it for a good many years, but I donít know what happened. Thatís the one that just died.
Q: Did you make your own wedding dress?
A: Yes, yes I did.
Q: What did that look like?
A: Oh, that was just a white silk dress.
Q: Do you still have that?
A: I still have that, yeah.
Q: How did you decide to make that one for your wedding?
A: Well, it was just a small wedding we had, and I used a Vogue pattern to make it like that. Priscilla wanted something off-white, and I was looking around for material. Jerry had a sister who rented rooms to foreign students. They often gave her like material or like a sari, that is like seven yards of material. So before her marriage, we happened to be up there. I said, ďMarie, do you have any material I could use for Priscillaís wedding dress?Ē And she gave me this piece of, it was a little bit off-white, and it had all this, not embroidery. It was all woven in the design was the green, so she had that white. Down here was green woven in, a woven design, and then a little edging around the neck and around the sleeves. And she looked lovely then.
Q: How beautiful.
A: Uh huh.
Q: Do you have memories of movie stars being well-dressed? Did you have a favorite movie star?
A: I canít recall. I donít remember anything about that?
Q: Did you pore over fashion magazines to look at the styles?
A: Yeah, I liked to look at that. Uh huh.
Q: Which ones did you read?
A: I looked at Vogue Magazine most of the time.
Q: And you used Vogue patterns?
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: What kinds of sewing machines did you have over the years?
A: I had a Singer for a good many years that I brought from my home. It was my motherís, but she wasnít sewing, so when I got married, I took that with me. Then a couple of years later, we bought another sewing machine from Singer, and I had that for a good many years. In fact, I gave that to my granddaughter, Gina, not Gina, Jennifer. But some of those old Singer machines were just wonderful. Then about eight years ago, I got a Bernina sewing machine. I can write the alphabet and do all kinds of fancy stitches with it.
Q: It is amazing how times have changed.
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: Now we mentioned your wedding gown, but we didnít talk about your meeting your husband, so we need to do that. How did you meet him?
A: Well, he was a student, senior, when I was a senior, though heís four years older than I am. He started school in 1930, but he had to drop out for a while, because of finances, so it turned out that we were both seniors at the same time. He worked through when he went through college. He was a bus boy, I guess youíd call it, in the restaurant where we ate lunch.
Q: What restaurant?
A: Well, it is right on the campus. I forget what it was called. It might have been the Carnegie Inn, but I am not sure if thatís the name, or Skibo. Anyway, he worked there, and one of his jobs was like a busboy to clean off tables of everything. So finally one day, his friend introduced us, and as we were walking back to campus, he asked me if I would, invited me to a Civil Engineering Dance that was going to be two weeks from then. So I went to the dance, and that started the whole thing.
Q: What is his full name?
A: Gerard Ivanhoe Sawyer.
Q: How did he get the Ivanhoe middle name?
A: In those days, they would ask the godparents to suggest a name. His aunt had just read the book, Ivanhoe, so she suggested Ivanhoe, so thatís how he got the name Ivanhoe.
Q: What did he like about you?
A: [Laughter] I donít know.
Q: Well, why did he ask you to the dance?
A: [Laughter] I donít know. I was attracted to him before I met him, and I think he was kind of attracted to me. But we, somehow, I donít know.
Q: What attracted you to him?
A: He was a dark and handsome, with his white coat on, the dark hair, dark eyes. He was good-looking, tall, dark, and handsome.
Q: What did you talk about?
A: Oh, just about, I canít recall the subject.
Q: When did you know he was the one?
A: I think almost from the first.
Q: How did he propose?
A: He said one day, we were dating, he said, ďWill you wait five years [Laughter] for me?Ē I said, ďYes.Ē Well, he had so many debts. He had to pay back to the sisters that lent him money to go to college. Carnegie Tech had given him a thousand dollars at the end there. So he wanted to get all these bills paid off before he could get married.
Q: Did he give you an engagement ring?
A: Yes, uh huh, and he gave me a watch which I am still wearing. Before we were married, he gave me a watch, and I am still wearing that.
Q: Ohhh. How did you tell your parents you were engaged?
A: Well, they didnít like it at all. They didnít like it because he was a Catholic, and I was a Methodist. So they put up a lot of objections for awhile, but they finally accepted him, and itís worked out okay.
Q: Where was the wedding?
A: The wedding was in the rectory of Saint Paulís Cathedral in Pittsburgh. We were just in the library. It was just a small number of people there, mostly neighbors and some relatives.
Q: What was the date?
A: February 22, 1941.
Q: Washingtonís Birthday?
A: Yes, uh huh!
Q: Did you become Catholic?
Q: How did he feel about that?
A: It was all right with him.
Q: Where was your honeymoon?
A: We went to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Hershey Hotel in Pennsylvania. And itís an interesting place. He was working at Glen L. Martin at that time in Baltimore, and he met some people from Hershey. They were telling him about this arrangement about the man that started the chocolate company and built the Hershey Hotel. He would take boys who were orphans or half-orphans, and kind of raise them in this little cottage. There would be a couple there whoíd have them looking after the boys. Then the boys got training, and they went to high school and college. So Jerry thought that was such a good, interesting thing for that man to do. So we just went to the hotel, and it was just a gorgeous place. And it is still in existence. And on our sixtieth wedding anniversary, we went there for a weekend.
Q: Had it changed much?
A: Of course, some of the people are different and different things, but they still have that same beautiful circular dining room. Oh, everything, the buildings are the same as it was. But it was just an interesting place to be.
Q: How long was your honeymoon?
A: We had only three days, but I stayed there for a week, I stayed in Baltimore for a week. Then I went back toÖ
Q: Wait, you were in Hershey for the honeymoon?
A: Yeah, we were there for three days. Then we went to Baltimore. When he went to work, he went back to work, and at the end of the week, he took me back to Pittsburgh. He lived in Pittsburgh until the following September. He came up about every two weeks.
Q: Why was that?
A: Well, I was working, and I had promised to stay during the summer.
Q: Where were you working?
A: I worked for the Irene Kaufmann Settlement House in Pittsburgh.
Q: What is that?
A: It was on Fifth Avenue. Itís not there anymore.
Q: What kind of establishment was it?
A: Itís like a community center. They take in, they have all different classes. I taught sewing and handcrafts for girls about eight years old. And then I taught sewing to women in the afternoon. For three years I did that. Three years.
Q: How did it feel to be married?
A: Well, it was quite different. It took a while to get adjusted to it, but it worked out okay.
Q: And then when you finally moved to Baltimore, where did you live?
A: No, just a month before I was to go down there, we had rented a house, a brand new house, Cape Cod house, for twenty-five dollars a month. Can you imagine that? So he knew that when the war was over, they would be laying off just about everybody, because they hired so many engineers. And he worked on the B-26, something in the bomb bay or something. So he came down to Washington in the Bridge Division, Highway Department, to see if there were any openings. And there was in the Bridge Division. And they hired him, and so just a month before I came to Washington, he had gotten this new job, so he looked around for an apartment. And he found one on 16th Street, 3426 16th Street.
Q: By what cross street?
A: Newton. So we rented that. We had a one bedroom apartment, and we lived there for seven years.
Q: How much was the rent?
A: It was fifty-five dollars a month, so we had that low rent for a good many months. So then at the end of seven years, we had bought this lot and built a house and moved in. But we had three children in the apartment.
Q: When was your first child born?
A: She was born September 13, 1942.
Q: And her name?
Q: And the next one?
A: Stephen born December 4, 1943. Lowell born July 12, 1945.
Q: And the next one?
A: The next one was Priscilla. Thatís when we moved to the house here. Priscilla was born September 8, 1950. Mark April 24, 1952. Jonathan August 21, 1955, Timothy April 15, 1957.
Q: Why did you stop at seven?
A: Well, I was getting too old. I had Timothy, I was forty-two-and-a-half years old [Laughter].
Q: How did it feel to have such a large family?
A: Well, I donít know. We had certainly enjoyed those cute little babies. In the apartment, it was pretty rugged, because I had no way of washing all those diapers, or getting them dry. I could wash them in the sink, but to get them dry, I didnít have a washer or a dryer in the apartment there. I still donít know how I got them all. I was always happy when the cold weather came, and we could turn on the heat and you could dry the clothes pretty quickly.
Q: Did you have to boil the bottles, also?
A: Yes, we had to boil everything, sterilize everything, yeah.
Q: How did you make friends in the neighborhood?
A: Well, there were a few, most of the people who lived in the apartment were older couples, but there were a few younger couples there, and then I joined the Methodist church about a mile away, and there were a lot of young women there.
Q: What is the name of the church?
A: That was Francis Asbury Methodist Church.
Q: Are you still a member there?
A: No, we disbanded about twenty years ago. We didnít have enough members to keep on going.
Q: And then which one did you join?
A: I go to the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church. It is over across the street from American University.
Q: And your husband went to the Catholic church?
A: Yeah, heís a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Q: How did you mange having the two separate religions?
A: Well, all the children are raised Catholic. There are just not many differences between the Methodists and the Catholics. Well, there are some that are, that kind of gets fundamental, but we just donít argue about it, so you just accept it. Thatís all.
Q: What kinds of things did you do with the children? Did you take them to the park? Did you have other friends come to the house?
A: When we lived in the apartment, I would take them out for a walk. There was a little park about three blocks away, and Iíd take them there, and sit there with the children, and theyíd play around with the other children.
Q: How did they get along with each other?
A: They got along pretty well, yeah, uh huh. The two youngest boys, though, they fought all the time, Jonathan and Timothy. There was always fighting, physical fights, yeah.
Q: Who won?
A: [Laughter] I donít know, maybe Timothy, yeah. But now theyíre the best of friends.
Q: How was it to cook dinner for so many people every night?
A: [Laughter] I donít know. I just managed somehow. I donít know. But like hamburger was ten cents a pound. The little store nearby, youíd send them, weíd go over there, and it was really, itís amazing how the prices have changed from those years. You can hardly realize there is much difference now.
Q: Did you go on vacations with the children?
A: Yeah, somehow my husband had a budget, so he had everything down how much to save, how much to give to charity, the church, how much for food, how much for clothing.
Q: This is Tape 2, Side A. We were talking about the fact that you had your children, when you lived in the apartment, you had three of them. How did you manage in a one-bedroom apartment with so many children?
A: It was pretty awful. [Laughter] We hoped that when anybody came in and they would see the closet door, they would maybe think that there might be another bedroom in there. But anyway, we were pretty crowded, and the manager of the apartment would make comments every once in awhile, ďAre you looking for another place?Ē But they really could have put us out, because thereís too many people in that one small apartment. But they were big rooms, and we were right on the first floor. Somehow we managed. I donít know how [Laughter]. But the biggest worry for me was keeping the kidsí clothes clean. I sent out sheets and towels to the laundry to be laundered, but for the childrenís clothes, Iíd wash myself, but trying to get them to dry, that was the big problem. Sometimes, weíd go out at night. There was another couple in the building. They had a little baby boy. He was about the same age as Julie. His name is Marshall Winoker. So we would trade off. Like if we wanted to go out, why weíd, well that was just when I think we just had one baby, weíd put Julie in the baby carriage, wheel her over to their apartment, and she would sleep at night while we were out at the movie or something. And they would do the same thing. Theyíd bring Marshall over in their baby carriage, and weíd watch him during the night while they went out. So that helped us a lot so that we could get out. We also had a nice couple who lived nearby, Buven and Evelyn Tucker, who came from Texas. They were good friends for many years, but then he had to go into the Service, and she moved away. So weíve heard from them every year at Christmas with the exception of the last two years. We feel that they probably both died then. We never heard about it, but we often wondered about it.
Q: You mentioned that you went out to the movies. Did you ever go to the National Theater?
A: No, we didnít. Later on, we went to a lot of things at the Kennedy Center. We got the season tickets there. Jerry and I liked to go to that.
Q: What kinds of shows did you enjoy?
A: We liked all the orchestras, the different orchestras and leaders coming in. And we liked the ballets. Those were the ones we picked to go to.
Q: Describe Washington in the Ď40ís and Ď50ís.
A: When we came here, there was a lot of discrimination, like the Negroes had certain bathrooms to go to, certain water fountains to use. It seemed strange to me, because when I was in school in Pittsburgh, we went to school with Black children. Jerry did, too. But down here in Washington, it was quite a surprise to us to see that. And then one time when a couple came from Pittsburgh, we went sightseeing in the bus, and we were sitting in the back of the bus. And the driver kept turning back and telling us to move up front, that we werenít supposed to sit in the back there. Well, we couldnít understand what he was talking about. We just stayed there. But the black people were supposed to sit in the back. Then, even in churches the Black people were just discriminated against. It was just hard from us from the North to realize some things like them were taking part in the South.
Q: When did things begin to change?
A: I think even before, I think it was 1964, when they did away with segregation in the public schools. A couple of years before that, Bishop Boyle here in Washington opened all his schools to the Black students. He did it before the government changed its mind.
Q: How did you feel about that?
A: I felt that was the right thing to do, but some of the members or women in the area, they took their children out of the school right away and got them into a school where there would be all white children.
Q: Were the department stores segregated, also?
A: Apparently like the bathrooms were. They had to go to certain ones.
Q: What were some of the big stores in those days?
A: There was Woodward and Lothrop, and there was also Hecht Company. There was Landsdown, Kahn, Palais Royale. Theyíre all gone.
Q: Where did you do your shopping?
A: Iíve always gone to Woodward and Lothrop. Now I have to go to Hecht Company now.
Q: You miss it.
A: Yeah, uh huh.
Q: What did you enjoy about it?
A: Oh, just the atmosphere was so nice, and then always at Christmas time, they had such beautiful windows out to see and beautiful decorations inside, good merchandise, so it was hard to get used to others.
Q: Where was your husbandís office?
A: For many years, he worked in the District Building. Then later on, they rented space in the Presidential Building. It was over there on Twelfth Street. He was there for a good number of years.
Q: Twelfth near where?
A: And Pennsylvania Avenue.
Q: How has the Mall changed downtown?
A: Theyíre just building and building and building. More things on the Mall. I havenít seen that new building of the World War II Memorial, but thatís going to be a huge thing. Itís too bad theyíre building up so much on the open space, I think.
Q: Was your husband in the military?
A: No, he classified 4 F.
A: Somehow he had a rapid heartbeat, and when we went in for a physical, they would get the men to jump up and down. Then take it. They wouldnít let him jump up and down, because his pulse was so high before he even started. Why I think it was all nervousness that caused it, but they thought it was something else, I guess, so they classed him as 4 F.
Q: How did you feel about that?
A: Well, I was glad of that.
Q: How did he feel about that?
A: Well, I think he was kind of relieved, because it would be hard for me to get along with young children. And then one of his brothers had died in the Battle of the Bulge.
Q: Who was that?
A: His name was Avila.
Q: How old was he?
A: Iím not sure what his age was.
Q: Who were the other siblings to Jerry?
A: He comes from a family of eleven children [Laughter], so you donít want all of those names. But they are all gone, and he is the only one left.
Q: Where was he in the birth order?
A: He was in the middle of the family.
Q: Did you see the family often, his side?
A: Yes, we would often go up there like on a vacation to stay with the family.
Q: When you say ďgo up there,Ē where was that?
A: Lowell, Massachusetts.
Q: You took all your children up to Lowell?
A: When we had about three, we went up there. [To Priscilla:] Did we ever take you up there?
Priscilla: Remember also we went to Cape Cod, and they would go down to Cape Cod, also. I remember.
A: Yeah. Weíd often go to Cape Cod for a vacation, and then some of the members of the family, of Jerryís family, would come over to visit us or rent a cottage nearby.
Q: What did you enjoy about being at Cape Cod?
A: Oh, I liked to go around and look at everything, and I liked that water, getting into the water.
Q: Where else have you traveled?
A: Jerry and I went to the Canadian Rockies. Weíve been to Paris and went on the Rhine River, and where else? The Far West, we went to Arizona.
Q: Do you have a favorite place in the world?
A: I like Switzerland.
A: I guess because Edward Fenderich in the 1800ís came here from Switzerland came over here, and itís such a beautiful place, clean, and looks like people take good care of their country and then see the mountains in the distance. Itís beautiful there.
Q: If you could be transported to any place today, there would you want to go?
A: [Laughter] I donít know. Iím satisfied staying right here.
Q: Okay. Well, here is a beautiful house. You said you bought the land.
Q: Who planned the building of the house?
A: Jerry is a civil engineer, and so he drew up the plans of the house. He kind of kept copying a house I think in the newspaper or something. So we built this and moved in, and by 1948, and we had three children, and already the house was too small, because it just had three bedrooms. And Iím so glad that most of the grandchildren have a bedroom of their own. And thatís more than our kids had. A lot of them were doubled up, maybe three in a room.
Q: Do you have any special pieces of furniture in the house?
A: I have a few pieces that were mine, and I have a little Martha Washington sewing table, just about that wide, and then I have a dressing table that my father gave my mother when I was born. So I have that. I have a marble top table that had been my grandmotherís, and I have a couple of chairs in the living room that had been in my grandmotherís house. So I like that.
Q: What is your favorite room in the house?
A: [Sigh] Oh dear. Well, I guess Iíd say the bedroom, because I have two pieces there, old pieces that I have in there.
Q: How was your health during your lifetime? You had many children. Did you have any problems having the children?
A: No, I didnít. I was just nauseated for, you know, a certain period. But thatís all. Iíve had pretty good health.
Q: Did you have any miscarriages?
A: I had one miscarriage between Lowell and Priscilla.
Q: How did you feel about that?
A: I was kind of disappointed, but I think thatís something you get over with quickly.
Q: Were the babies all born in the hospital?
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: The same hospital?
A: Jonathan was born in Doctors Hospital, which is no longer there, and the, where was Timothy born? A lot of them were born at Garfield Hospital, but I donít know.
Q: They should have given you a Frequent Flyer Pass for returning!
A: Yes, uh huh, yeah.
Q: Did you have any other health problems?
A: No, but I had to have a hysterectomy maybe seven years ago, and then I was having some heart trouble. It was like palpitations of the heart, and I went to a cardiologist that after a year or two with a stress test said that I needed some open-heart surgery, so I had to have a valve replaced and also they said I needed six bypasses. I donít know if they really did six bypasses, but anyway [Laughter] that was really the worst things that I had.
Q: Did you feel as though you had a new lease on life after the bypass?
A: Oh, yeah. I felt very good.
Q: We talked about Priscillaís wedding dress. Letís talk a little bit more about her wedding.
Q: Well, Priscilla didnít want to get married in Sacred Heart Church. She hadnít been there for some time. But she had been a pupil at Villanova University. So she said, what was that now? We didnít know where to have the wedding. She said something about, well anyway, I looked around for a, I stopped in at the American University, the Kay Chapel there, to see if she could be married there. I found the priest, what was it, Father, ah, do you remember? Anyway, I talked to him, and he would perform the ceremony, so we picked that, that we had signed up the reception at a building there at American University, so we were glad that we could do that.
Priscilla: Mom, could I say something? I thought Sacred Heart Church would not marry me, because I had moved away, and I was up at Villanova. Thatís what I always remember.
A: Oh. Well, they would marry you. You wanted a choir. We didnít have a choir.
Priscilla: [Laughter] I didnít know that.
A: Oh, I thought you said you didnít want to be married there. Well, anyway, it worked out okay.
Q: What are your memories of the weddings of the other children?
A: Julie had been working out in Milwaukee or Racine, I guess it was. And she was going to go back here for a wedding, and I made the arrangement at Sacred Heart, and two weeks before she called me up and said, ďMother, Iím in the hospital. I have hepatitis.Ē So we had to cancel everything here. Then a couple of weeks later, we went out there, and the doctors let her leave the hospital for an hour or so to get married. Then she had to go back to the hospital. So we had it there. And we took Timothy and Jonathan with us, because they were going to be the altar boys. They had planned to be altar boys.
Priscilla: And me.
A: And you were going to be the maid of honor.
Q: Any other wedding memories from the children?
A: Steve was the first one married. The oldest boy, Stephen, was married in Pittsburgh, and Kathy was just twenty years old. Her mother had to sign for her to get married. I donít remember much about that wedding.
Q: How about Lowell?
A: Lowell was in the Service, and he was married at Sacred Heart, and it was just a handful of people who came. His auntís parents lived out in Leisure World, so he had a luncheon there.
A: Mark, we went up to Reading. He was married in Reading, and a lot of the family were there, came to it. It was nice, and the reception was at Howard Johnson, and Howard Johnsonís, I think, closed the week later, so something like that. They told us that would be the last big affair theyíd had there.
A: Jonathan just got married, well, it would be ten years now. He was older, I think it was thirty-five when he got married. We went out to Boulder for the wedding, and that was kind of a small wedding, but very nice. And Gina and Kara were there in the wedding. You wore fancy dresses, Yeah. How old were you then, about six?
A: Five! Five years old.
Q: Timothyís wedding?
A: Yeah, that was a big affair. Timothy married a girl just up the street. He had known her for years. I think when they were two and three or something, they knew each other. We had the reception at the Capital Hilton down there on Sixteenth Street, and they had a big luncheon and dancing and things like that.
Q: Letís give the spousesí names and the grandchildrenís names. Weíll start with Julie.
A: Julie married Charles Krier, and she has Andrew and Jennifer for children.
A: Stephen has Tracy, Lisa, and Stephen Junior.
Q: His wifeís name.
A: Lowell, Anne. They had Vicky, Carolyn, and Jay.
A: Priscilla has Gina and Kara.
Q: Her husband.
Q: His first name.
A: Mark married Denise, and they had Adam, Louise, and Jordan.
A: Jonathan has Allison and Melanie.
Q: His wifeís name.
A: It is Lynn.
A: Timothy married Maria Miceli, and they have Samantha and Frank.
Q: It is remarkable that you can say all of them without notes. So is there ever a time when everyone is together?
A: A couple of years ago we had a big reunion outside Reading.
Priscilla: Didnít we have one for Dadís ninetieth birthday?
A: Yeah, at OíDonnellís. Yeah, they all came for his ninetieth birthday.
Q: How long ago was that?
A: That was about three years ago.
Q: Was he in good health then?
A: Yes, uh huh.
Q: How is he doing now?
A: I think he is improving, but he has been through a lot. We noticed that he had black marks on the side of his foot, and nobody knew what it was. The podiatrist noticed it first. Then I took him to the family doctor, and he said, ďIím not sure.Ē He said, ďIt might be a melanoma, but youíll have to go to a dermatologist.Ē I took him to a dermatologist, and he said, ďI donít know what that is, but Iíll take a little specimen of it.Ē He sent it in. It came out it was melanoma, so that the dermatologist sent me to a plastic surgeon. So I took him there, but I donít think the plastic, I should have questioned him, because he said he was going to cut a big piece of flesh, so it wouldnít spread, run through his body. But as it turned out, it hadnít spread. But I should have said do a smaller amount or something like that. Or if we just let it go, how long could he live with that if it spread. But I didnít question him. But he did a good job when he cut it out. It had just healed up now. So all that time he wouldnít put his foot down, but then after two days after that operation, he had a seizure, and that left him unable to walk. And the physical therapist couldnít work on it with him, because he wouldnít put his one foot down. So now just recently, his foot is all healed up, and the physical therapist got him started walking again, so he can get up on his walker and walk around the house. He canít do very much, but at least he can get up and walk around a little bit.
Q: Are you grateful to have the help?
A: Oh, yes, yes. Well, it is a very expensive operation, and I think we have too much, a little bit too much.
Q: It is really remarkable to look back over the fact that you had seven children. When you had those babies, it was fashionable to keep you in the hospital for a long time after each birth.
Q: How long did you stay?
A: I think it is about two weeks, it was. Right at first, then the last, I think I only had two days.
Q: Did you consider that a vacation in the hospital?
A: No, I was anxious to get home.
Q: Did you nurse the babies?
A: I did the first five just for a short time and then gave it up as the babies didnít seem to be thriving very well.
Q: Did you deliver under anesthesia?
Q: For all of them?
A: I remember the doctor saying when I went, ďWeíll make this as easy as possible. You wonít have any pain.Ē [Laughter] I just went along with what he was saying. I didnít realize I shouldnít be doing that. Anyway, they all came out healthy.
Q: Was Jonathan born without anesthesia?
A: Yeah, because the minute I got to the hospital, he was born. So I almost didnít get there in time.
Q: Letís talk about your activities at your church. You said that nowadays you are making the Raggedy Ann dolls. Throughout the years, what were some of the other activities in the church?
A: United Methodist Women, we have circles. Thatís a small group of women who meet once a month, usually at membersí homes for a little program and some refreshments. Weíve always enjoyed that. Then once a year, we have a bazaar. Each circle has some kind of a booth to staff. I am in charge of the sewing group, where we make dolls and aprons, pillows, little odds and ends for the bazaar. We make little bags for children going to camp, little ditty bags or the drawstring bags, and also we make little cosmetic bags for little products to give to women at the House of Ruth. We give them a little gift at Motherís Day or Christmas.
Q: Who was Francis Asbury? The church is Francis Asbury Methodist Church. Who was he?
A: He was one of the early Methodist ministers, and he went around the United States on a horse preaching and trying to start churches.
Q: The family didnít go to your church. They went to your husbandís church. How did you feel about that?
A: Well, Iím used to that. But they often came over to some of the programs we had. I remember the last day of Francis Asbury, you [Priscilla] came over. I think you were in high school. You came over to be, youíre in the picture, because our church is on Sixteenth Street, but the membership was going down. We didnít have any young people. So we had to sell the building. So thatís what we did.
Q: To whom did you sell it?
A: What we did was kind of merge with St. Markís Church out in Rockville, so they, I think when they sold the building, they got the money for it. But thatís what we did with it.
Q: What is the importance of religion in your life?
A: I think religion is very important in a personís life. You have to rely on God. You have to remember to pray to God to ask for help. You have to feel that you have to account for your life when itís over. It is amazing to me how many different religions there are in life, and I donít think you can find a fault with any of them. All people are sincere in their beliefs, and I think what you learn when you are young, that stays with you, and itís hard to change later on in life.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: Well, I donít have much of a future. [Laughter] I donít have many more years to live, so I just hope that I can stay the course. We never thought weíd live this long. Jerry always used to say he hoped he could live to ninety-two. Now here he is at ninety-three, so we donít know what the future holds. Now my older sister lived to ninety-one, and I think maybe thatís the all Iíll live, so thatís just a couple of years away.
Q: Do you fear death?
A: No, I donít, but I was saying to my brother Chuck, he said, ďeverybody wants to go to heaven, but they donít want to go right now!Ē [Laughter]
Q: What is the importance of family on your life?
A: Oh, I feel sorry for people who donít have any children or any relatives.
Q: This is Tape 2, Side B. I was asking you about the importance of family in your life, and you said about feeling sorry for people who donít have a family.
A: Uh huh. Weíve been very fortunate. Our children have all stayed close to the family, and they all seem genuinely interested in their parentsí welfare, and they help as much as they can. They visit us, even though some have long distances to travel, so we do feel honored that they are that close to the family, to the parents.
Q: What has this process of retelling you life story meant to you?
A: It made me think back to a lot of things that Iíve almost forgotten about, and I think Iíll try every once in a while to recall things that happened in the past, so that I wonít forget them.
Q: What advice do you have for your children and your grandchildren?
A: Ohhh, just for them to try to live a good life, to be honest and trustworthy. I think it is important to have a good character, that you can be trusted in what you say and what you do at all times.
Q: What is the best thing you ever did?
A: Oh my goodness! Iíll say marry Jerry [Laughter].
Q: What would he say?
A: He would say the same thing [Laughter].
Q: How do you want to be remembered?
A: Ohh, well, as a good mother, good sister, honest person. I guess thatís how.
Q: Thank you. It has been a pleasure to listen to you.
A: Thank you for taking time to question us. I think thatís a great idea for Priscilla to have you come and record everything.
Q: Iíve enjoyed it.