Geraldine Marshall

(Disclaimer: To the best of our knowledge, the information provided in this oral history interview is accurate. We do not make any representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.)

Oral Interview with Geraldine Marshall

Conducted by Dan Hartman, Veterans’ Memorial Hall Program, St. Louis County Historical Society

Recording Date: Unknown

Recording Place: Unknown

Transcriber: Susan Schwanekamp, St. Louis County Historical Society

Transcription process funded by a grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation

DH: So we’ll begin the oral interview. My name is Dan Hartman and I’m going to be doing the interview today and this is Geraldine Marshall. Geraldine, if you could say your first, middle and last names, and spell your last name, just for the record.

GM: Geraldine Margaret - wait a minute, don’t start right there. What name do you want?

DH: I’m asking if you can give your maiden and…

GM: Geraldine Margaret Hanson Delbern and Marshall. O-N. What else did you ask?

DH: And Delbern is just Delb-o-r-n?

GM: B-E-R-N.

DH: Glad I asked. And Marshall is…?|

GM: S-H-A-L-L.

DH: OK. Then we’ll start the____ interview part. Where were you originally born?

GM: Duluth, Minnesota.

DH: What part of the city of Duluth were you born in?

GM: West End.

DH: West End?

GM: I think it was on Elm Street.

DH: OK. Were you born in a house or were you born in a hospital or….?

GM: In the house.

DH: Wow.

GM: _______didn’t go too much to the hospital. They had the doctor come to the house.

DH: And what year was this?

GM: 1919. January 22nd. And I weighed 4 pounds. That isn’t very much.
DH: What were your parents’ names?

GM: Margaret Hanson. Her maiden name was Shosie – s-h-o-s-i –e – and my father’s name was Oscar Hanson.

DH: And did you know – did they both grow up in the United States or did they come from overseas?

GM: My mother was born on Park Point and my father, I think, was born at Fish Lake, down in….outside of the Cities, I believe that is.

DH: So your family has been in the area for a long time?

GM: Oh, many years. Yeah.

DH: And do you where their grandparents, their parents came from?

GM: My mother’s parents came from Canada – Charles Shosie and Phoebe Gagne. And they married down here in Duluth. And I don’t know the other part of my family. My father’s mother was – she, that was Anna Hanson and she ran a boarding house on 1st Avenue West between Superior and 1st Street. And that’s all I know there. I didn’t see much of them.

DH: So, as a kid growing up, what was your parents’ ethnic background? Were they Norwegian, or Scandinavian, or….?

GM: I don’t hear you.

DH: Sorry. What was your ethnic background? Your parents, were they Scandinavian, were they German?

GM: My mother was all French. My father was Swedish. I don’t know if there was part Norwegian in there, or all Swedish.

DH: OK. And when you were growing up as a kid in the West End was it a fun place to grow up or…?

GM: I don’t remember too much; I was too young.

DH: OK. All right.

GM: And of course my mother was the breadwinner, she went to work when I was very young and my brothers were older than me but not much older. And my mother and father had a problem in_________ so my mother left and took us kids with her. And she had to support us. And maybe I shouldn’t tell all this.

DH: That’s fine.

GM: Is it? And she had to support us. She got a job right away. She worked all her life.

DH: Do you remember what she did for a…what was her job?

GM: She was a candy dipper – chocolate dipper, I mean. And she worked and she was a – she tended bar one time and then, but the most time she worked for was Garnard’s Paper Box Company. And that was – she worked for them for many years. That was her – that was where she retired from. These other little jobs were just odds and ends.

DH: And what did that company do, exactly?

GM: They made candy. Fancy candy. Boxes for Garnard’s over in Superior. That was a candy - place to sell candy. Chocolates. And they made fancy boxes for them. And for Diamond Tool. Wrench boxes and lightweight boxes. No corrugated or anything like that.

DH: Wooden?

GM: No, they were cardboard.

DH: Yeah, lightweight.

(Other person in room asks for spelling of Garnard’s here.)

GM: That’s G-a-r-n-a-r-d-s, I think.

DH: So when you were growing up as a kid, were there any activities that you guys you did for fun, or any…?

GM: No, I was climbing trees and that stuff. And that was fun. I was kind of a tomboy, but I had two older brothers, so …that’s the reason. And that’s about it. I didn’t play with dolls very much. And that kind of stuff. And we moved out of the West End and lived in Woodland after the two boys got out of the Home, out of the Children’s Home. That was the Bethany Home, over on 40th Avenue West. That was many years ago, it wasn’t like the Home there in recent years.

DH: How old were you then, at that point?

GM: I wasn’t in school yet. But I was, maybe a year later I started kindergarten.

DH: OK. And how was it there? Was it..? (Note: Unclear if he is asking about the Home or about the West End house or where they moved to in Woodland.)

GM: I was never happy there. My two brothers were all right. They had, you know, they had each other, anyway. And they met a very good friend there – when they moved out of there, this other kid was, too, and they all lived up in Woodland. And he lived with his father – his mother had passed on. And of course my two brothers lived with my mother and her second husband. So my aunt took me. Because I ran away from there all the time. I wanted to get out of there, as young as I was. And I would cry whenever my mother came – I wanted to go back home with her. So finally, my aunt says “I’ll take her and she can live with us until you’re ready for her.” So that’s what I did. I went and lived with my aunt and her family, till I was about 8 years old.

DH: So this was actually during the 1920s. Before the Great Depression?

GM: No, no. It was Depression.

(Other person adds: “Just tough times, I think.”)

DH: So the 1920s to you was just as bad as the 1930s were.

GM: Oh, yes. Nobody had any money and nobody knew they were poor, because everybody was the same.

DH: I’ve heard that commonly, from other people I’ve interviewed, that a lot of people didn’t realize the Great Depression was on, because times were tough before that, too.

GM: Yeah.

DH: Would you agree to that, or…? So why did you run away all the time? What was the…?

GM: I wanted to be home with my mother. That’s where I wanted to be. I was quite young, you know. And I couldn’t because my mother was working, and there was no such thing as babysitters and all that kind of stuff. And so that’s about the end of it. And I stayed with my aunt until I was about 8 years old. And she – one day I was crying, and she said “What are you crying for, Gerry?” and I says “I want to go home!” And she says “You call your mother.” So I did, and my mother came down that evening and took me and I can remember we went to a movie and then from there, we went home. We lived in Woodland at that time.

DH: Do you remember where in Woodland?

GM: 3545 Allendale Avenue.

GDH So you remember pretty well. How did you like Woodland, versus the West End, then?

GM: Oh, Woodland was fine. It was fine, you know. And there was a lot of friends. In fact, Judge Magney, Judge - I think his name was Charles - he had a son, and he was named Charles – and we used to play _____when my two brothers were over, they didn’t, but I played with him and they had a daughter, Marion. She was a very nice girl and I used to play with her. And that was only about a block and a half from where I lived. So, it was a lot of kids up there. And you could enjoy.

DH: And you, do you remember Judge Magney very much, or…?

GM: Yes, I do! I went for a ride in his big limousine. Mary asked if her friend, me, could go and they were going out to their cabin, and so he said “Yes”, so Mary and I sat in the back and I think it was him and his brother in the front seat and they had one of these boards that go across the back of the seats in the front there, it goes right across, and I remember, we were hanging on to the cords. Just a long cord that was attached to the front seats. And we were up there and her younger brother was with us, that was Charles, that was named after his father. I shouldn’t get into too much of that.

(Other person: That’s fine.)

GM: And so anyway, we spent the day up there and every fly or every bug that was flying, Charles had to swat. His father would give him a penny for every one he could get, you know! But it was nice. They were nice people. Very nice.

DH: And going back a little bit about Woodland. What’s different about Woodland today to back then?

GM: I don’t know. I’ve been up there, not too long ago, and it looks to me – I can still find my house. It’s right up by Mankato Avenue. It used to be a __(?) __ home right down on the corner of Mankato that goes up the sidewalk, one block – it was quite a long one. We lived on the top of that.

DH: OK. Yeah.

GM: There were girls there, too. A family of three girls.

DH: And so, I mean when the Great Depression hit in the late 1920s was there a visible difference in the community, or not really?

GM: Not really. I didn’t notice. My family lost their home, so that was a big difference. Before that, my stepfather wanted to buy that house that was vacant, next door to it. About one or two houses next to that. And my mother didn’t want to sign, because she was afraid, you know, of losing the house. But anyway, she did and they moved in there and they didn’t live there too long, and they lost that house. So, it was a bad move. So then we had to move back down to the West End.

DH: And you were not happy to move back to the West End?

GM: No. I lost all my good friends.

DH: How old were you when you had to move back?

GM: I don’t know – maybe 10 or 11.

DH: So where were you going to school at this time?

CM: Cobb School.

DH: And where would that be today?

GM: It’s still up in Woodland. I don’t think it’s a school anymore, though. I’m not sure.

DH: And how do you spell that?

GM: C-O-B-B.

DH: Just like it sounds.

GM: Two “b”s.

DH: And…growing up in the 1930s, movies became very popular. Did you ever go to many movies?

GM: Oh, yes. When I lived with my aunt and uncle and their family, my uncle was manager of the Strand Theater, down on Superior Street, and that’s many years ago. And when he wanted to take him and his wife – anything to do in the evening – of course, she was working all the time, you know, in the ______ house, but she would go down there and my cousin Jimmy wasn’t – this is Jimmy over there (identifying third person in the room), but he wasn’t born at that time but Lois, the daughter, was. And her and I would go with them and they’d put us down in the front row of the movie house and we’d sit there and watch all the old cowboy shows – whatever was on, you know? And we seen more movies than any other kid in Duluth, I think. But anyway, it was interesting, and then we would walk home. They lived on 10th Avenue East and 2nd St.

DH: And did you have any movies in particular that you really liked?

GM: I can’t put my fingers on any of them. They were just old cowboy shows. Lot of that stuff. They’re showing a lot of that today, on TV. Not that I would recognize.

DH: And so you went to Cobb Elementary School. Then where did you go for middle school?

GM: Then I went to West End, you know. I went to Lincoln. I went to another one – I think it’s Ensign – on 11th St. Isn’t that Ensign, up there? (Question asked to Jimmy.) It wasn’t very long, because I was almost ready to get out of that school. And then I went to Lincoln.

DH: And how did you like these schools?

GM: They were fine.

DH: You had a lot of friends there, I would imagine, too…?

GM: There was a lot of kids. When you’re young, you do that. You have a lot of friends from school.

DH: Any story in particular, that you think would be good for the record, or….?

GM: No, nothing.

Did you live further up, in early Piedmont Heights, up there? (Asked by Jimmy)

GM: Yeah. Oh yeah.

DH: How old were you then, Gerry?

GM: Must have been 13.

DH: So you moved from the West End up to Piedmont Heights. Well I knew the neighbors up there. I used to play with the girls that were there. Jumped rope and all this kind of stuff. Go swimming in an old swimming hole. And ________ road. And first road to go off 24th and you turn in….

Do you remember the address for that house? (Unclear who is asking this.)

GM: No, I don’t. I don’t remember how quite how long we lived there, either. I don’t think it was too long.

DH: Okay, at that point, where did you move to next, in town? Where did you move after the Heights?
After Piedmont?

GM: From Piedmont? It must have been back down in the West End.
DH: What was the high school that you eventually attended?

GM: I didn’t finish high school.

DH: OK. Where did you start high school, then?

GM: I went to Lincoln, and that’s it. That doesn’t have to be in there, does it?

DH: No.

Do you remember some of the grocery stores around the West End? On Piedmont Avenue there was one you used to mention – Genetta’s. You remember that one? (Asked by Jimmy.)

GM: No.

DH: When you got your groceries, where did you used to go?

GM: In the West End?

DH: Yes.

GM: John’s Grocery Store. They were on 21st Avenue W. and 3rd St. There was a bakery and they had a meat market. They had everything there.

DH: And did they know you there.

GM: Oh, yeah. My grandmother lived there for many, many years. And we lived next door - my mother and my brother and me – lived right next door to my grandma, so we were there, too. In fact, that’s where I lived during the war.
DH: Now, during the Great Depression, in the early 1930s, FDR had been elected as the new President and a lot of people started listening to these Fireside Chats. Was common amongst your family and your friends, or was that….?

GM: I remember those things. I think Roosevelt was President for about four terms. Four different times. And when he had died I remember going outside and just standing there, on 21st Avenue with just the sickest feeling – I didn’t know what was going to happen, you know. He was in so long, that….Truman came in after him, though.

DH: And you think Roosevelt did a good job as President, or was that…?

GM: Roosevelt?

DH: Yeah.

GM: Oh, yes.

DH: He put everybody back to work. The poor ones. WPA and all that stuff. And what was that place up on the North Shore? My oldest brother went up there, because there was no place for them to work. So they went up there and cut trees - and I can’t…

DH: The CCC?

GM: Yeah, that’s what that was . You know more of that than me!

DH: People were very happy to have these?

GM: Yes. Oh yes. Sure. It was a way out, then, because you were doing nothing before that and all of a sudden you have a little bit of money coming in, and that makes a big difference.

DH: When you lived in the West End, Gerry, do you mind if I interject (another question by Jimmy), do you remember much about Lincoln Park? And that big pavilion and the festivals.

GM: Not too much. That was over, further, and I never went over…that was about on 28th, I think. And I never went over that far. I just was around 21st and St. Clement’s Church and all that.

DH: At what age did you begin working?

GM: About 16.

DH: Who did you first work for, here in town?

GM: ______Paper Box, I think. No, I had odd jobs – babysitting and doing housework – they paid $3.00 a week. I remember that. That was terrible pay, but what can you do?

DH: Yeah. But eventually you worked for the same company that your Mom…..

GM: Oh yeah, I worked for the same company and in the meantime I worked for a dress shop and a dime store and the dime store was in the West End. I don’t remember too much about that.

DH: Just for people who may not know, what is a dime store?

GM: What is a dime store?

DH: Yeah.

GM: Well, it’s a smaller store with cheaper items. Nothing is too expensive. Everything was reasonable. And they handle everything. And that’s about it.
Jimmy: Was that over on 28th, there, Crane’s? Variety store, or was that a different variety store?

GM: That’s a different one.

DH: What was the name of the dress shop that you worked for?

GM: It was something like the one in West Duluth. This was in the West End.


GM: And I don’t really remember the name of it, but this was during the war and this was where I went before I went down south to live with my first husband. And I just did this, because I quit Van Dyke’s (??) for a while. But every time I quit or anything, they had me coming back. The job was always there.

DH: And what did you do there? What was your job at Van Dyke’s?

GM: I ran just about every machine they had. Just everything. A printer ….it’s kind of hard to tell. You’d have to see them to explain what it was…____where you put a lot of cardboards in like this and put ‘em in there to cut the corners and we had big corners cut out of there and you put ‘em on this big machine that would go up and down without stopping. And that’s where you had to be….knowing what you’re doing.

(Asked by Jimmy): Did they make cigar boxes?

GM: No. Not anything like that. This was all cardboard.

DH: So I’m going to move you back a little bit. When did you…where and when did you meet your first husband?

GM: I had been visiting a friend of mine, about half a block away from my house. We lived on Michigan Street then. My mother and my one brother and the other brother was married then. And so I was coming home and these two fellows were going up the stairs, going up to see my brother at home. So I knew one of them. I didn’t know the other one. So that turned out to be my husband. He says “Oh, that’s for me!” And he hollered it so loud, you couldn’t help but hear it, as I was coming along. And then I walked up to go along the step to the porch and from the porch to the second floor apartment was another big mess of stairs. These were all inside. So then, Walt, that was the friend – I knew him – he was laughing to beat the dickens, because they knew I was going to come along right up behind them. And so that’s just what happened and when we got upstairs, Fred was so surprised to see that I was right up there. And must have felt foolish or something. But I don’t know. I didn’t pay much attention. So that’s how I first met him. And then a couple of weeks later, a whole group of us went out and I went with him, then, for the first time. And we went to Superior. In some old car that we had. Anyway, it was the main day out and from then on we just kind of kept going a little bit, like that.

DH: So how long were you guys dating before…?

GM: It was either late 18 or early 19. I can’t quite remember, but it was right in there.

DH: Was he older than you, or was he…..?

GM: Yeah.

DH: By how long?

GM: Two years.

DH: Two years. OK.And at that point did he already join the military or was he….?

GM: No. Uh uh.

DH: But he was very involved – very athletic in high school. Is that correct?

GM: Oh yes.

DH: And did you ever to any of his – he was probably out of high school by the time you met him - ?

GM: Yeah.

DH: So what were some of the places you would go for dates?

GM: We did go to many formal dances and that’s what they used to have in Duluth. A lot of dance halls. And that’s what you would do. You know – where are you going to go? At night. And so that was the entertainment. That and the movies. And the NorShore Theater was just starting then.

DH: And what were some of the dance halls you would go to?

GM: Up on 1st Street – I don’t know the name of it. What they were called.

Jimmy: Woodman Hall, did you ever go to the Woodman Hall? On 21st?

GM: No. I never knew they had dances there. My mother made a 50th wedding anniversary party for my grandparents and she rented the Woodman Hall, on 21st Ave. West. And all the people came and Grandma had a corsage and Grandpa did, too. And the two of them looked so nice. And that’s how that went.

(Asked by Jimmy): And where did your grandpa work? Do you remember?

GM: He was a boilermaker. He worked on the tugs. And – yeah. Going out on Lake Superior. He worked there ever since he came to Duluth.

DH: And to go back a little bit. Is there any funny stories that you remember from when you were dating your first husband, or anything? Do you have any kind of a funny story for the future record, or…?

GM: I don’t really know. I can’t think! Today.

DH: And – so – where did your first husband’s friend work at, here in Duluth? (Note: From subsequent talking it seems like the question may really have been about her husband, not her husband’s friend.)

GM: He worked on the ore docks and on a train thing, (they told him) when he come back from service to report, right away, and he would get his job back. But I don’t know. That must have been the railroad. But, of course, it didn’t turn out that way?

(Asked by Jimmy): Did he go to college, after high school?

GM: I thought he had a scholarship, to play football down there. At the University, in the Cities. But I’m not sure about that. But I’m not sure about that, so I don’t like to really say it.


GM: But he went to college down there. I just came across this note – I think you got that, Charlie. (Note: So is it Charlie or Jimmy, who is in the room during the interview?)And got sent from the President of the college down there, that they had just found out Fred was missing. And they sent this note to his parents. And I have it here. I just came across it today.

DH: I’m going to back you up a little bit, here. So at what point did he…how did he eventually propose to you? And how long were you guys dating at that point, I guess?

GM: We must have been going together a year. And then, he came over after work one day. I had just gotten home from work. And he said, let’s come down to the West End and I want to see something down there. And I said “Sure”. I think I even had work clothes on. And I went down there with him. And he said “Let’s go in here.” And it was a jewelry store. So we went in there, and he looked at stuff there, and it was rings. So he said something about “What do you think of this one?” I didn’t know. I didn’t know what he was doing, really. I had a hunch, but I didn’t really know, because he never said anything, so anyway, he said to pick something out. So I did. And it wasn’t a big expensive one. It wasn’t the cheapest, either. So it was in the middle. And that’s how come I knew. And walking back up the hill, there, on 21st, I said “My God! What is my mother going to say?” I was worried about my mother, because I was paying board and there was money going around, you know, it wasn’t much, and my mother was getting older. And anyway, he says “Don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to her.” He did. And that’s about what happened, there.

(Jimmy or Charlie question): Do you remember the name of the jewelry store?

GM: Yeah. It was - oh, God – I’m tired, or something. Johnson’s. Arnold Johnson. That’s what it was.

(Jimmy or Charlie question): What street….?

GM: It was right on Superior Street.

(Jimmy or Charlie question): And what avenue? GM: Just down below 21st, there. Just in that section there.

DH: So how long were you engaged before…?

GM: A year.

DH: And where did you get married?

GM: St. Clement’s Catholic Church.

DH: And where is that?

GM: 21st Avenue West and 3rd Street. Everything was real built (??) around there.

DH: And did you guys go on a honeymoon or did you have any…?

GM: Just to the Cities.

DH: And was he going to school in the Twin Cities at that point, or…?

GM: No, he was through. That’s why we waited a year, so he would get out of the University there.

DH: Oh, okay.

GM: So then he was out, so that’s what happened. And I thought he was there two years, but I’m not sure on that, so I don’t want to say anything if I’m not sure of it.

DH: Did he, had he joined the military at any point in this?

GM: Not before that. But he did. He joined and I never knew it.

DH: He didn’t tell you?

GM: No, he didn’t. But he flew those small planes at the airport here in Duluth.

DH: Did he tell you about that?

GM: Oh yeah.

DH: Did you ever fly with him?

GM: Oh no. I’m afraid of height. That’s why I’m on second floor. No, I don’t like to be way up in the air. But I would have got used to it. (??) He would be flying up there, and he’d be tilting the wings, and everything else, and finally my friend, a neighbor girl down South, would say “That’s him, there, Gerry.” So, I’d look up and sure enough, there he was, up there tilting them wings, and _____let him know that it was right over the place where we lived.

DH: And where was your first house together?

GM: 11th Avenue East – that was in Duluth. 11th Avenue East and 3rd or 4th Street.


GM: Charlie, you know where it is?

Charlie: I think it was 1103 E. 3rd.

GM: We didn’t stay there very long before we went and stayed with my mother. Then first thing you know, he got called to go into service.

DH: And about how long was that after you got married?

GM: Not very long.

DH: A couple months, or a year…?

GM: No, it was a year.

Charlie: Did he enlist, or did he get…?

GM: He enlisted.

DH: And so, was he sent down – he wasn’t sent overseas yet, he had to go through some training first -?

GM: He was in training about two years.

DH: And where was he – did you follow him where he went, or…?

GM: The first place was Montgomery, Alabama. And Decatur, Alabama. I think it was about two months we stayed. At first he couldn’t get off the base, you know. But it seemed like two months. Of course I could be wrong about that, too. At each place. And first thing you know, you’ve got orders to move on. So there was two places in Alabama, that was ______, Montgomery, Alabama, and Decatur, Alabama. Then there was Augusta, Georgia and Sebring, (?) Georgia. And then there was Lincoln, Georgia. Lincoln, Georgia and Augusta, Georgia.

DH: Do you know what year he signed up for this? Was this ’43, ’41?

GM: ’43.

DH: OK. And so I’m going to back you up and ask you kind of a different question. December 7, 1941 was Pearl Harbor Day. Do you remember that day much? Do you remember where you were, or how you found out about it?

GM: Oh yes. I was right here in Duluth. I was walking up to see my oldest brother. They lived in the downtown area. You had to walk up hills, to get there. And that’s where I was. And that was another sad feeling when that happened. Just an awful feeling. And of course, there wasn’t TV, so you had radios, but the radios were going all the time, with what was going on.
But that’s where I was. I was going up to see my oldest brother and his wife. And they lived downtown.

DH: So you heard it on the radio.

GM: Yeah, the radio. No TVs, or anything like that.

DH: Yeah. And I’ll move you back to where you were, back in ’43. So where did you guys move on…how was it for you, to go to all these different…?

GM: That was fine. It was fine. There was one cadet wife who’d be driving the car and she’d get a load of us cadet wives, because we’d all be going to the same place, and we’d all get in that car and we’d go, she’d drive and we’d go to the next place. So there was no problem. You were never alone, you know.

DH: Yeah.

GM: Taking a train or a bus, or anything.

DH: So it was a pretty good support group.

GM: Umhm. It was. They were all very nice girls.

DH: I imagine they were from all over the country, too.

GM: Yes, they were.

Charlie: When Fred enlisted, Gerry, was he an enlisted serviceman, and then shortly after, he became an officer? He had two service numbers, (?) and then they found out he was a pilot?

GM: No. No. He had to go all through that training. And I think that was two years. If it wasn’t, it was close to it. It was a long time before he, when he graduated from the cadets, that’s when he got to be an officer. Before that he wasn’t. He was just a cadet.

DH: So you spent time in Alabama – where else in these two years did you go?

GM: Alabama and Georgia. Valdosta and Macon, Georgia, and the other place was Severn, Florida (?). And that was the place where you got your orders and they shipped you all different places. His happened to be Spokane. But he went to another place before that, and while he was at Spokane he went to Pendleton, Oregon, and then back to Spokane. It was kind of rough when he moved – those last ones.

DH: Yeah. So what was he finally assigned to? What was his position, I guess?

GM: He was a pilot.

DH: And was there a certain kind of plane he was flying at this point?

GM: B-17.

DH: And – help me follow along on this journey. At what point – it was almost two years before he was sent overseas – I guess the training part. How much time was he still in the States before he was sent over, I guess - ?

GM: Well, all along we traveled around in the South but in different places and then to Spokane and to – there was another place in Washington – these are real jerk places, you know. There was no city, or anything. But you’d have to go there, and you didn’t stay there two months, I’m sure. While he was in Spokane, most of that time was for training, you know, and getting ready to go over and all this stuff. But there was time when you had time off and a group would get together – not too many – and we’d take a bus and we’d go to Coeur d’Lane, Idaho and go gambling over there.

DH: Was that pretty fun?

GM: Oh yes! That was great. Because that breaks up all that everyday stuff, you know, and something to do. And exciting. So that’s what used to go on.

DH: So did all the wives used to go together or was it you and Fred, or…?

GM: Fred and I were married and his co-pilot and his wife were married but I never met her. In fact, I didn’t meet the co-pilot, either. But those two were married, but you never would see them around in the group. But Fred used to be with all the enlisted men and he would be great with them. And the hotel in Spokane, we used to go downstairs, there was a bar downstairs, for a meeting place, and that’s where we would go. The whole group would be there. They would stay up in the hotel room and we would play poker, for dimes. And that was good, too. And then we’d go down and have a drink, or something. Not heaving drinking, in any event.

DH: And I kind of want to ask this question: describe Fred a little bit. For people like me, who have never met Fred, how would you describe him? Was he a funny guy or was he…..?

GM: He was a happy guy. He was very outgoing and lots of fun. He liked fun. That’s the type of person he was. He was not a quiet man, who’d sit back from the crowd. He was right out there in the beginning. And he was a beautiful singer. He sang when we were some place in the South one Christmas Eve. And he asked the priest if he could sing that Christmas song, “O Holy Night”. And the priest said yes, so he got up and we were sitting in the balcony and he went back then, when it came to that part of the Mass, and he sang that and it was just beautiful. And it’s such high notes. Long notes in there and it was just perfect. Beautiful singer.

DH: (Unintelligble question) So he was_________

Charlie: Beautiful singer. In high school, Gerry, was he in one of the singing groups in the high school – Denfeld?

GM: Yes. He was everything in school. Everything. I just came across some, what the teachers said about him. Just notes, you know. And it was very nice. He was a wonderful man, really. He was great. I was crazy about him! I shouldn’t say that. I don’t want the world to know that. It’s different with just you two here. It’s fine to……I’m not ashamed of it. I’m very proud of him.

DH: You should be.

GM: Very proud. He was just a good person. Very nice. Very polite to everybody.

DH: So what did Fred think of all these different trainings? Was he okay with it, or what was his thought on all this?

GM: You mean, was he anxious to get ready to go overseas?

DH: Sure.

GM: Yeah, he was anxious for all of that. But he bumped into a friend of his when he was in England and it was far from the base. They used to have a place that they went. I don’t know. I was never there, but this was what was told to me when some of the group came back. And he met – in fact, this fellow seen me at the bingo room and he came over and says that he met Fred. He bumped into him at this place over in England. And he said that Fred had told him _____ something about feeling something bad was going to happen, I think_____ and he talked this way, he was a football player just like him – they both went to Denfeld together. And how true, I don’t how if people had premonitions or what. I think he had a premonition and I had a sick feeling, too.

DH: At what point did he get sent overseas? Where did he go in England, or…?

GM: I don’t know. He wasn’t over very long. Maybe in September?

(Charlie says 1943.)

GM: In ’43 he went over. Maybe September.

DH: And did you move back with your Mom in Duluth, then?

GM: Oh, yes. I went there, I was back before he left. He was there just a few days more and on the way back – he called me from someplace in Nebraska. And that was a place where they stopped and got new clothes, new jackets, new everything, for getting ready for what they were getting into overseas. And he called from there, and that’s the last I heard. And when he was over there, I wrote letters every single day. I come home from work and Charlie’s mother came up a few times, and she would sit at one end of the table and me on the other and she would write to my brother. That was her husband. And I wrote to Fred. All those letters and not one was…they never got any mail over there. They went on that mission. None of them heard from any of them.

GM: So you never got a letter back from him?

GM: I never got a letter back. Oh, yes, yes, I did. But he never got my letters. And the crew never got any letters.

DH: How long did it take you to find that out?

GM: It didn’t take very long, because I was in tough with the wife of the navigator. And she had said, too, that they didn’t get any mail. And she also told me she had one little girl and she was going to have another baby and her husband didn’t know it. So when I wrote to him – he was taken prisoner, see – so when I wrote to him, that’s the first he knew his wife was pregnant and going to have another child. So – and then, the mail started getting to him, too. None of the crew got any mail. That’s an awful thing. No mail. No nothing. Never hear from back here at all.

DH: And so, what were some of the things you were writing him about?

GM: Just everyday things. Still working and telling him about different people. That’s about all you could write. And gave him my salutation at the end. And that’s about it.

DH: And you said you got some letters from him, though, right?

GM: Yeah. I got letters from him. And the last letter I got, I burned it. I couldn’t stand to look at it. I don’t know what was wrong with me. And the letters – I just curled them up and threw them into the fire.

Charlie: And that’s when you got the official word, that he was …

GM: Yeah. That’s when I got the “missing in action”. Umm hmm.

DH: So when he was writing to you, what was he writing to you about?

GM: Just what they were doing, you know, and how far along they were, when they were going on that first mission. That was the first mission he went on, and this is what happened.

DH: Were you and your mother back here trying to follow what he was doing overseas, on a map at all?

GM: Oh, God. When I got home from work, the first thing I did was – I got a little radio from down at Anderson Furniture – that was a great store and it’s still there. And it was an RCA and that was a new brand, then _____years. I had a (sounds like “subscription”) and I could get England, that big clock they got, there (Big Ben) and I could get their news and I would listen like it depended on my life. Normally I didn’t get any ____but I was listening to that. There was nobody there – just my mother and I. But yeah, that’s where I got all my news.

Charlie: When you were notified, was it by telegram, or was it by military people who came to the house?

GM: No – they came later, but the first was the telegram. The phone rang and I answered it and she started to tell me about it and I knew. I knew before I ever got the telegram – she started to tell me that he was missing in action. And then she cut it all off, because they’re not supposed to do that.

Charlie: A military operator?

GM: No.

Charlie: Western Union?

GM: And so, anyway, they came up with it then, and that’s what it was, you know, that he was missing in action. And that was New Year’s Eve. And I never can forget those dates. They’re (stuck) in your mind, you know. But that’s what that was. This girl that was going to – had one girl and was going to have another baby –she would call every now and then. She lived down in South Carolina. And she would call and she’d say – she called the day that her husband was taken prisoner. And she called me and told me that Ed was taken prisoner and was in a prison camp. So she says “Did you hear?” And I says “Nothing.” And she says “You will hear.” And that he’s probably in another prison camp. And that gave me tons of hope, you know. But it never came. So that’s where that was. But at least she heard - there were several of them that bailed out at one time, one after another, and they were all taken prisoner. And they all had – everyone had been shot and some were real bad off, but they were all taken prisoner and put in a hospital by the Germans, which was a good thing. And then they were put in a prison camp, and the prison camp was just horrible. According to that book that daughter (?) had. And I never heard anything, and slow but sure the mail from the War Department kept coming. And of course they never found him. Then later, I didn’t know anything until 2000. All these years, he was still missing in action. And there was no place in Duluth to put his name on, you know, to honor someone like that, or any of them. There was no place. They’ve got a little thing out here in West Duluth. But that is really nothing, compared to what these guys did.

Charlie: Should you mention, Gerry, that you never even got a U.S. Flag?

GM: No I didn’t. But we wouldn’t over – Charlie took us – over to the Superior Bong Memorial, and I put his name over there. And my niece took a picture of it – I’ve got it up on the wall. And he was still missing in action. And that wasn’t too long ago. That isn’t even 10 years, is it?

Charlie: No.

GM: No. So there was no place, here, where you could put them in. So anyway. In England, they had his name on a monument.

GM: Oh, yes. I’ve got a lot of pictures of that. English….

DH: You never had anyone come from the military to your house, though?

GM: After the war, it wasn’t after the war either, but the co-pilot’s wife had written to me and asked if I had gotten any money back from when they cleared out the men’s belongings, you know. I said “no”. And I don’t think I even answered her. But anyway, I had nothing. Just the uniform, nothing personal. So I never did…but she…right after that, the army came to see me and I told them about this incident and he says “if you get anything back, don’t send it to nobody; it must belong to him – and so you keep that, whatever comes back”. But nothing ever came back. But what they saw was seven other men bailed out and they were all taken prisoner and they were in there, I forget now how many months, it was a year and a half anyway. And…I lost my train of thought.

DH: Did you and the other wives – did you talk to each other much during this time?

GM: During the war. When the war ended, I went down and seen, was in touch with these fellows that were taken prisoner. And the first one I went down to see was Daryl Hoff (?) and he had very little to tell me, so I thought “well…”

Charlie: What state was that in, Gerry?

GM: Ohio, I think. And so anyway, I was going to make another trip down to South Carolina to Ed Rowan (?) and I was going to go down there, but I started getting sick. And of course, I have the tremors. That’s when everything started to…when I got the tremors, it was at that time. I didn’t feel good at all, so I thought I better go home. So I didn’t go down there. But ______told me – he wrote the most beautiful poem about this – the men that were killed. It’s in the book. Did you ever see that book?

DH: Yeah.

GM: And the poem is just beautiful.

DH: Did you visit California, also?

GM: Hum?

DH: Did you go to California, to visit the Garder family?

GM: Yes. I didn’t go. My mother went. She was going out there to visit her sister and her husband – my aunt’s husband. And so I told her when she went, to get in touch with Mrs. Garder. Her son was killed, too. He was a radio operator. He went down in the North Sea and was pulled away by the strong winds and drowned. He couldn’t lift his parachute out. And so injured. So – my mother did and she met his mother – Garder’s mother.

Charlie: What city did they live in, in California?

GM: Long Beach, California.

DH: I’m going to bring you back to during the war, itself. Were you still working at the paper box company?

GM: Yeah. I worked there all that time.

DH: And had things changed at all in Duluth during WWII? Were women taking on jobs that they weren’t before? Describe the home front, here in Duluth, a little bit, if you can.

GM: Things were really picking up, more. Of course, the war made that, because of the industry – the ships and stuff that they were building. And like right here in Duluth, the boats. So people were getting better incomes and doing better. And it was the same, really. It didn’t do much for me, either way. Because I was just going to work and coming home. And I can’t tell you, I don’t know. And I didn’t go out much during that time. But then after I started to go a little bit. Started circulating around. But it’s a long time before you start moving around that way. But Duluth has always been a good place to live, I live.

DH: Do you remember the boats being built, you remember a little bit more activity during WWII.

GM: Yeah.

DH: And did you later on ever have a Victory Garden, or anything of that nature?

GM: No. We were just in a little bitty apartment, with three rooms. Just her and I.

DH: Do you remember the rationing at all, or…?

GM: Oh, yeah. The meat and bacon and stuff like that. That was rationed. And I don’t know what all. Of course, my mother bought the groceries. I didn’t buy much in the stores and all that. You could only buy so much and that was it. Whatever was rationed out. You could only get a little bit of it. Of course other people were doing the same thing.

Charlie: What about silk stockings? (Laughter) Could you get those?

GM: I don’t even know. I know I remember buying nylons and silk sox. I don’t remember silk sox, really.

DH: And so, the last question, I guess – Is there any more, or any more stories or anything you remember happening that you think would be good to have on the historic record in relation to your time in the home front, or your relationship with Fred, or anything you want to say that hasn’t been said?

GM: Well, when I first met him, he used to peddle papers for the Budgeteer. Is that a story, then?

(Unintelligible response from DH.)

GM: Yeah. He used to peddle them and every Friday night he would get paid with the theater tickets – what the other Orpheum show was. And we would go to the movie. That was when he were just got to knowing each other so much and we’d go to the show house and he’d have the tickets and we’d sit in the show house and watch the movie and he’d buy these cheap candies. They’d always used to sell popcorn or candy or something. And he’d buy that stuff and we’d sit there and watch the movie and eat the candy. I’d be over at the candy place there and he’d be in it and it was just, it reminded me, I thought of this not too long ago – just a couple of kids, that’s what it sounds like. And that’s what it was. There was nothing… it was just ……

Charlie: So when Fred made his Budgeteer deliveries, they paid him with show tickets.

GM: Yeah, yeah, that’s what he got paid with. It wasn’t very much, but it made entertainment for us.

DH: I have a couple of last questions. The famous wedding dress. When did you buy it, and where did you get it here in town or…?

GM: I bought it at Bud’s (?) Dress Shop.


GM: And I bought it…I put it on layby, because my wages were small, you know. And I put it on layby and I must have put it on about six months before…the date was set but nothing, you know…and it must have been on quite a while. And it was a beautiful dress. And I paid $25 for it. And it’s hard to believe – such a pretty dress for that kind of money. But that’s the way things were. You could buy groceries for little or nothing, you know. 10 cents for a loaf of bread. And today you’re $3 and something for one loaf of bread. But everything has changed. It was cheaper then. And the dress – it was very pretty. And they delivered it the day before the wedding. And it hung on a double hanger and we hung it up and it a big, long train, you know. And my mother helped me into that dress. And my grandfather gave me away. And I’ve got to show you a picture of them. It’s on the wall over there. Such happiness! And my brother was in the wedding party and Fred’s best friend, Arby Kerry (??) – he was already married and they had one little baby by then. And on my side there was Fred’s sister and my dear friend. She’s at St. Ann’s right now. She’s still living, too. She was the maid of honor. I don’t know how many years. Lots of years.

DH: So this is my last question – a happy question. When WWII was officially announced that it was over, were you pretty happy about it, or was the – people celebrating?

GM: They were celebrating. Horns were blowing and tootin’ and everything else.

But I still had that sad, sick feeling. It was a sad feeling. I was glad the darn thing was over, you know?

DH: Yeah.

GM: But it was just a sickening feeling for me. The same thing when Roosevelt died – I told you, just that sad feeling.

DH: Yeah.

GM: That’s the way it was then, too. I was glad it was over, but then other things set in and it’s not that great. But it was happiness for everyone around. They were just celebrating – happy. And on TV – we got TV in by that time, I think. I can’t quite remember that – I don’t know. I can’t – maybe not. But, see, maybe these are old pictures that they put in. And everybody is _______just full of people. And they’re all so happy. And Duluth was just as bad. But I just stayed in my house there. I didn’t go no place. But it was – everything was great – we should have been very, very happy. To see that war go. But I was happy – mixed emotions, I guess.

DH: Well, thank you for a long day for the interview today. It was a very good one, so thank you.

GM: You think it was?

DH: Yeah, I do.

GM: Really?

DH: Yeah.

GM: I didn’t say anything very funny. I want you to take a look at my ________________ (recording ends)

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