The following interview is published with the subject's permission.by Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in Swanville MN, on a farm. And I was born on the farm. My mother had a midwife, and I was born August 1, 1930.
Q: Where were your ancestors from?
A: My dad's ancestors were from Czechoslovakia, and my mother's . . . Now my mother was born in Ohio, but her parents came from Czechoslovakia.
Q: Do you know why they immigrated to the United States and what that
experience was like?
A: Well, my mother's . . . I don't know why they came, but my dad came because his parents wanted the kids to come to the America for a better life, and so they sent all three kids to the United States. And, like I said, they each gave them 100 dollars,1 and they sent them over when they were 18 years old.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Swanville MN, on a farm.
Q: What was your childhood like?
A: Well, it was different from nowadays, that's for sure. Living on a farm you didn't have your electricity or your telephones or no modern conveniences. We went outside to the bathroom-like in the winter time. And so like I said, it was just a totally different life than people live nowadays. This was what you call roughing it. You go to the bathroom outside, and you didn't, you didn't horse around, we'll put it this way. And of course you didn't have running water, so naturally you didn't have a bathroom. You couldn't take a nice shower. You took a bath in a square tub, with about six inches of water in it, and you had to heat the water on top of the stove.
Q: What was it like for your family during the Great Depression? Were
you worried about money during those years?
A: Well, there again I don't remember too much of the Depression because, like I say, I was young yet. But I remember they always talked about it, how hard it . . . you know, how hard it was. But like I say, myself I didn't really go through it that much because . . . And then remember, living on a farm we had our food, 'cause my mother would raise vegetables, so we had our food. And even if we didn't get all the meat we wanted, but still they would butcher something. The people that suffered the hardest were people that lived in the city, like my husband's parents. When all of a sudden when the Depression came, he2 couldn't find a job. And so you just lived on, well you'd go to work for a place for a day, and then there'd be nothing for another month, and then you'd go do something for a day . . . And the people in the city had a terrible time because of the Depression, 'cause naturally it took their money, and they didn't have any money, plus they couldn't find a job. But of course my growing up on a farm, we weren't as affected, 'cause at least we had food to eat, and we had a house to live in. So it wasn't so bad-in that way it wasn't so bad.
Q: What was it like to live through World War II? What did you experience
during that time?
A: World War II. Now that one I remember pretty good, 'cause I was probably about 11 years old when the war started. And I'll have to tell you a story about that one. I can remember when they would train at Fort Snelling, which was a, kind of a . . . well it still is running now,3 they train soldiers there. And they would come by with the airplanes, and my brother and I, we would be trying to get the cows in to bring them in to milk, and they would come by with their planes and buzz around, you know, and scare the cows, you know, and here my brother and I are running out there like crazy to gather them. And they were probably up there laughing their heads off, you know, thinking it was really fun. And I can remember the men-the older men, like in their twenties-going off to war, and some of them didn't come back. I can remember those days. And of course naturally . . . Of course now, remember, in those days we didn't have the TV's to watch, so everything was just on what you heard on the radio. So that part I do remember. Like I say, mainly of we would listen to the radio about the war. And like I said, there was a lot of . . . a lot of men didn't come back.
Q: How did that experience through the war affect your life?
A: I don't think it really affected my life, because nobody in my family went into the war, and I think I was a little bit too young yet for it to really affect me in that, you know, in that way.
Q: What did you think about the development and use of atomic weapons?
A: Well, I remember there again, we heard about it, and I suppose we thought it was OK because it ended the war. I mean, I guess, you know, at that time you weren't thinking of the destruction of what it did. You were just thinking of that it was gonna end the war. And I guess that's about . . . But you gotta remember that, like I said, we didn't get the news like you do now. And that part I think's so different. And of course the paper, I was really too young yet; I really wasn't interested in reading the paper yet.
Q: At the time, what did you think of the reestablishment of the nation
of Israel in 1948, and what significance do you now think that event held?
A: You know what-the funny part of it-that one I don't really remember. But there again I said it was a little bit of a lack of communication, so there was a lot of things that you didn't really hear. If you didn't listen to the news, you just didn't hear about it.
Q: Did the Korean War in the early 1950's affect you personally?
A: The Korean War really didn't affect me, but I know a lot of men that went off to war there, a lot of young people. They would've been like my age, you know. But, personally it didn't really affect me.
Q: When the USSR launched Sputnik in 1957 what did you think? Did it
worry you at all?
A: No, I think most of us (by this time of course we had more communication), I think we all thought it was great. I mean we all watched it, you know, to go off. You know of course by that time . . . let's see, what year would that be? 1957? See by that time you already had a TV so you could watch it going off, so that was . . . that was interesting. In fact, when I was in Florida, we went where they launched, you know, the space shuttles. And the first one, it was just a little, tiny little thing, and then each year, each time they'd get bigger and bigger and bigger, bigger, bigger. But the first was just a little, a little thing. It was real interesting.
Q: During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, were you afraid at all?
A: I think, that one there, I think everybody kind of was a little bit afraid of it, 'cause, if you remember, Cuba is very close to us. It's only 99 miles,4 and you never knew what could happen, you know. But thankfully nothing did, but it sure was awfully close.
Q: What do you think the outcome of that crisis said about our country's
A: At that time it was very good, 'cause that's when Kennedy was president.
Q: Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963?
How did you feel?
A: Where was I? Well, at that time of course, I was still on the farm. Well, no, no, no, no. I was not. I was in Minneapolis. Oh, that was a terrible thing. I don't exactly remember, but I remember watching it on TV, and everybody was really affected with that, the men, I think, more so than the women. The men, they just were torn. Like my father-in-law and my husband, I mean, they just sat by the TV just like a bunch of zombies to watch everything, you know, everything and anything. So I think it affected an awful lot of people, but I think it affected probably more the men than the women. But I did watch it too, like the funeral, and, you know, I think we all were just glued to the TV. Thankfully we had TV at that time, but they weren't color. They were just black and white.
Q: What did you think about the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1975?
A: Well I think most people thought it was a very senseless war. In fact, when that war started, of course, like my oldest son, he already was old enough to go in. And a lot of the boys in the neighborhood were all old enough to go in. And so that did affect a lot of the people. About that war . . . like my son, he did go into service, but by the time he went in it was just about over with. But there was a lot of them that had to go in, and it was just such a senseless war, a horrible war.
Q: Did you watch on TV as man first walked on the moon in 1969? How
did you feel?
A: Well certainly. It was super-to think that you could go and do all those things.
Q: Where were you when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were
destroyed on September 11, 2001? What did you think, and how did you feel?
A: Where was I? I was sitting in my chair. I was eating breakfast, in fact. Just turned the TV on, and I was eating breakfast, and all of a sudden I seen this on TV. And honest to God, I mean, that was probably the most horrible thing you could've ever seen. Of course, remember now, this was all on TV, and while this was on TV, a lady seen it, you know, and she said, "Oh my God!" And she just about . . . she just screamed. And then, of course, within minutes after that the other one came. Oh that was a horrible thing. And, of course, I mean there again we were all glued to the TV.
Q: How has life changed over the years-for better or for worse-and
what do you think has brought about that change?
A: For the better . . . I think it's a lot easier for people nowadays, I mean they can go to school and get their education and buy things. But then again, it's for the worse too, because prices are just going crazy. You know, I mean, it's nice that everybody's earning more money; I mean that part is nice.5 But at the same time everything costs them more. Like just even to buy a house nowadays. I mean, it just costs a fortune to buy a car, buy anything!6 So in that way it's worse.
Q: What do you think about the technological advances made during you
lifetime, such as advances in transportation, television, and computers? What
invention came as the biggest shock to you?
A: Oh my goodness gracious. What invention came as the biggest shock to me? There's been you know . . . well, you talk about in my lifetime. Now let's go back to when I first said that when I was little, we didn't even have electricity. And we had radio, but it was a battery radio. You would put a great big car battery on it. OK, so since that time we've had televisions, we've had, well there again, your microwaves, your video cameras, almost everything! And, of course, your cell-phones. Back in my day, our telephone out on the farm would've been the kind that you see-their antiques nowadays-and you would crank them. And now isn't that quite a difference from these cordless phones. And, I mean, the technology has been absolutely overwhelming in the years that I have lived-in the last fifty years-just, just overwhelming. You don't even know where to start with that. It's been wonderful. I can't imagine living back-you know, way back-like in my parents' days without these things. Well, like I say, for instance at night, you know, as soon as it starts getting dark, we would have a kerosene lamp-in fact, I still have one downstairs-for light. Well that meant if you wanted to read or anything, you couldn't see. So I remember getting electricity. I'll never forget that in all my life. We finally got electricity, and, of course, we didn't know where the lights were gonna be on and where they were going to be off. And we were running around the farm like a bunch of nuts, you know, turning switches on and off, and lights, and oh my goodness, it was absolutely super. You missed out on all that fun. [listen to that last part in Mp3 (199kb) or WMA (55kb)]
Q: What do you think have been the most significant changes in the
world or in America during your lifetime?
A: I think it would be man going up to the moon would be one of the big ones. I mean that's absolutely remarkable, I think. And then from then on, I think just all the technology there is nowadays-like I say, like the cell phones and your video cameras and it's amazing. And then now, they can even get a cell phone, and you can even get a picture on the thing. My goodness! I mean, what next? I think it was just all the technology-it's absolutely remarkable.
Q: How have the changes in American culture and families since the
1960s impacted you and your family?
A: Well, families I don't think are as close as they used to be. That is one bad thing. I think families years ago were much closer than they are now, because, there again, everybody is running here and running there. And the TVs, you know, I mean, you gotta figure, a lot of people don't even sit down in their own kitchens and watch TV anymore. While they're eating they go sit down and watch TV when they're, you know . . . they're eating when they watch TV, I should say.7 And I think people don't communicate like they used to. I mean, like even when my kids were growing up, they didn't go to too many activities. But we always sat down at the table and ate, you know, like the dinner meal (maybe breakfast not so much), but like with the dinner meal everybody still would sit down . . . now you do, but that's very unusual, you know, for the whole family to sit down. And I think that part is kind of bad. People are just running too much.
Q: What religious beliefs do you hold, and how have they affected your
A: Well, of course, I was born Catholic, and I'm still Catholic. I mean I probably don't practice the faith like I should, but I still do believe in the Catholic faith, you know, and I will never change, you know.
Q: Do you think it is important to study history? If so, why?
A: Well certainly you gotta study history. I mean this is how you find out what happened in the world before this time, and the next generation can read what's happened now; so history's very important.
up 1The children were each given 100 dollars from their parents-they did not each receive 100 dollars from each parent.
up 2"He" refers to Ann's' father-in-law.
up 4Cuba is actually only about 90 miles from U.S. shores.
up 5According to the timecapsule at dMarie.com, the average income when Ann was born in 1930 was 1,612 dollars per year. Compare this to the average income of 71,032 dollars per year in 2002! (This infromation was accessed on 23 January, 2004.)
up 6According to the timecapsule at dMarie.com, when Ann was born in 1930, a loaf of bread cost eight cents; gas cost 24 cents per gallon; a car cost 525 dollars; and a house cost 7,146 dollars. In 2002 a loaf of bread cost one dollar and two cents; gas was a dollar and forty-four cents per gallon; a car cost 23,500 dollars; and a house cost 234,700 dollars! (This infromation was accessed on 23 January, 2004.)
up 7She meant that instead of sitting at the table together and conversing, people now watch TV while they eat.
As an interview, the following disclaimer does not appy: