The following interview
is published with the Charotte's permission.
by Rit Nosotro
First Published:: 2003
She was 83 years old at the time of the interview.
Q. When were you born and in what location?
A. March 5th, 1921 in Minerva, Ohio on Valley Street. Our house was pretty big, but I don't remember much about it. Shortly after I was born we moved to another house in the same town not too far away.
Q. What nationality are you? Where are your ancestors from?
A. Well I was born in America, but my father or granddad's parents…I'm not sure which…came over from Brittony, France. My Grandmother's, Elizabeth McCloskey's, parents or grandparents came over from Ireland, I don't know much about them though I believe they died before I knew them. My Mother's ancestors, the Poynters1, came over from England, I'm not positive when but I know that it was before my Mother's parents. Somebody said that some money was left to them in England, but they would have had to live in England to get it…I know that they wouldn't do it and remained in America…I'm not sure about the sum of the money though. I really don't remember anything about my other ancestors, I never heard much about them, so the extent of my knowledge rests mostly in the Debee's2
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. Minerva until I was in 6th grade when I moved to Liverpool for a year and then we moved back to Minerva. Potteries had closed in Minerva and that's why we moved to Liverpool, this was during the Great Depression…terrible days…but we lived with my Grandma, Anna Mae, on her farm. During the school year I stayed with my Aunt Bertha and went to my Grandma's on the weekend. I remember when I lived with Aunt Bertha and Uncle Louis's brother had twins and one was sick so my Aunt Bertha took her in. When they finally took her back she was in a awful state, she wanted to stay with my Aunt. I know that my Aunt loved her until the day she died, her name was Dorothy, and I know that she loved my Aunt Bertha all her life too. It was sad times…
Q. What was your life like as a child? Why types of things were popular?
A. I was very happy I think…I had nice friends, the Rutledge girls, Ruby and I were very good friends but she died when she was a freshman in high school, kidney failure. She had two sisters Margie and Helen, as far as I know Helen is still living. The Jones girls lived next door, and the Grunder girls lived across the street. I used to spend weekends over there until they moved away. Louise used to come over and walk to school with me every day. – I couldn't wait till the Potters Picnic, my father was on the picnic comity and I got free tickets to all the rides in the park. Fun, fun, fun…they gave away prizes at the end of the day…I don't think I ever won anything, but my Aunt Jane won a car and your Granddad won 2nd place in the baby contest. We really didn't play with much of anything, you know we would take a branch and pretend that it was door. Us kids pretty much just used our imaginations. I remember when our neighbors got a refrigerator and I thought it was the most wonderful thing because you could make ice cream in it. That was the first time that I ever saw a refrigerator.
Q. Do you remember the Great Depression? What was it like?
A. Absolutely, and I can tell you stories that would…well I want to tell ya…you would have shoes that didn't have any heel and they would be Cuban heels but you would wear them down. You might have two nice dresses, I had two for school and I remember my mother burnt one one day on accident and we had to patch it. She felt so bad, and I felt bad for her. They were terrible times but my mother always seemed to manage. She always seemed to have money if you needed it… she was a great person. Everybody in the whole family owed her money, and she was always willing to lend it out. She always seemed to have it if you needed it, and we weren't very good about paying it back, I don't think any of us were. Her brothers always did the same thing, never paying it back, if my mother cared she never told anybody. She could do anything around the house, unlike my dad, if you needed a plumbing job done…she would do it…electrical things…she would do it. My dad wouldn't do it, but mom sure did, and she was a spotless housekeeper too. Nobody had anything, or hardly anything. The older men had jobs on the railroad, but the younger men…there was nothing. FDR came in; no wonder people thought of him as a savior, we had nothing to eat. I remember people taking potatoes skins to work to eat for lunch; it was an awful, awful time. Nobody has an idea of how bad it can be…
Q. What was life like during WWII? Was anyone you know/knew in the
A. Oh yes, George…my cousin…he would be Aunt Bertha's son, was in the war. My husband had goiters at the time and he worked on the railroad so he was unable to go since he was in the hospital. I remember rationing… ketchup you couldn't get…to get sugar and flour etc…you had to have a coupon. So we would take the coupons to the grocery store and get what we were able to get. I remember that during that time they were using all the nylon for parachutes, so none of the women could get any hose to wear. So we had to use this liquid and paint it on our legs instead. My husband was going through a lot of sugar at time from making koolaid for his goiters; I guess you need to drink a lot for it because he went through so much liquid. His mother had six kids at home and they didn't use all of their sugar so they would give us some of theirs. I had a lot of friends in the war. A friend of mine down the street, her husband was in the March of Carregador, against the Philippians, he never made it home. It seems that just about anybody you knew was in the war, if I think about it, it seems that the list would go on forever. I remember one thing in particular during the war. My mother was working in the steel mill that was here in Alliance, and this guy was their boss and he sat in the corner and did nothing all day. Well my mother finally got so mad at him that she told him off, and the guy took his badge off and put it on my mother. She called him all kinds of names too…I don't image they were very pretty either. My mother was a worker, and she believed in a days work… I never saw anyone work as hard as she did.
Q. Do you remember Pearl Harbor? How did you feel when you heard the
A. Yes, it's the one date in my lifetime that I'll never forget…I remember when it was, whom I was with, and what I was doing. I was between Canton and Alliance on route 623 in the car with Mildred and George Williams and we heard it on the car radio on the news. Over 2,000 people were killed…They bombed the Arizona and it sunk into the Ocean, we left the bodies of all the men on it in the ship and just considered them dead. I know that tourist go over there today to see it…they never raised it up out of the water. I felt terrible when I heard, it just something that you'll always remember. I think I was too young to really feel too much, but it was bad time.
Q. Where did you get your first job?
A. I worked on Saturdays and Jake's, a grocery store, I worked from eight-o-clock in the morning to around eleven at night. I got two and half-dollars for it. Then I went to work down at Vandergrifth, another grocery store, and I got ten dollars a week for that. I worked there for about a year and a half…I think my hours were about from 9-5 and I got half a day off on Wednesday. And of course I was off on Sunday.
Q. When Sputnik was launched by the USSR in 1957 what did you think?
A. I think that I was concerned a bit, but I think that we always had the feeling that the US would catch up and we could always do it. I still feel like that today.
Q. During the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 how did you feel? Were you
A. I don't think that I was afraid, I don't remember being afraid. I think we did…or I did…have faith in JFK…he was a great president. I don't really remember much about it, well I remember it but I wasn't really concerned about. I think that I felt safer with Kennedy than with anyone else.
Q. Who was your favorite president during your lifetime?
A. FDR, between him and JKF I would say they were my favorites. I think that I just felt safer and more comfortable with those two. With FDR he brought us out of the Depression and JFK, I can't explain it really…I just liked him…I thought that he was going to do great things but then they killed him.
Q. Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated and how did you feel?
A. Oh, terrible! I…was at the hospital. Russell was having surgery that day and I was there with him. But I felt terrible, awful! It was a very sad time, I remember that, and there were so many things that they didn't know and weren't telling us. And a few days later Jack Ruby shot the guy that they said killed Kennedy, and it was really a tragic event, the whole thing. Now a days there so many rumors about what really happened and who was part of it…that we just don't know.
Q. What's your opinion on the Vietnam War (1964 – 1975)?
A. I don't have much of an opinion about it. I think it was a lot of nonsense to begin with. All those boys shouldn't have had to go over there and fight like they did. I wasn't a protestor or anything, if the president said so then I backed the president, but I didn't agree it. I wasn't going to let the soldiers down or anything though.
Q. How did you feel when man first walked on the moon in 1969?
A. Proud…that we did it. And the guy was from Ohio too, so I'm sure that contributed to my pride. I don't remember were I was, but I did see it on tv, I know that I was up here in Ohio, but I can't remember exactly where I was, probably in Minerva somewhere.
Q. Where were you when the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, 2001?
Were you afraid?
A. I was talking to your mother on the telephone. She was in Florida and I was up here over at the house. She called me to ask me a recipe when all of sudden we heard the news and talked about a bit, then she told me she should would call me back. When she called me back and we discussed it a bit, I remember she told me that she was going to go and take you out of school. I remember being very relieved that she was bringing you home. I felt better about that, but I was very sad about what happened. It was very upsetting… pretty much everyone was upset. The world's in an awful mess right now, I wouldn't be president if they gave it me. I sure would like to be somebody that had a say in what was to be done once in awhile.
Q. Has your life changed for better or worse over the years? Why?
A. Well…uh…I really don't know if my life has done anything at all. I guess you could say that it's gotten better; I have you and you mother and your uncle. I lost my husband though. I've met a lot of fantastic people working at the school4 years ago…kids that I'll never forget…I hope some of them remember me. Yes, I guess it's gotten better. As long as you're alive, it should be. The thing is, I'll look back over my life…you know I'm the only one in my direct family that's left. At least from my time…I have you and your granddad, and your mom, and uncle, and grandmother. But all the people from when I was young or younger are pretty much gone. There are good things and bad things…I just don't know which it is…
Q. Do you think that America has changed for the better or worse over
A. Worse, I worry about it…very much. I don't know if it's going to survive. If you can get the people to pull together like they did when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor and everyone lined up to join the service it would be better. It's a good thing to or we would have never survived that, but I don't think that we could do it again. Everyone's too selfish and wants things their own way. It would take a miracle to bring it back together again like it should be. I thought that they might make it back together after the Twin Towers, and for a little while they did, but now it's back to the way it was. I mean look at how they pulled together and raised money for the families…it was a start…but I think that they even fought about the money too.
Q. What do you think about America's situation with Iraq? Do you think
the President is handling it well?
A. No, I don't think that he's handling it well. Like I've said, once he committed himself to it I'll back him, but I don't think that he's done well. I think that it's only going to get worse over there; I don't think that it's going to get better. He doesn't have a chance…I think that he means well, but maybe if he would think for himself once in awhile instead of depending on others he would do better. Don't get me wrong I think that he's a good person, but I think that he's getting the wrong information from the wrong people.
Q. What religion are you? And how do you feel about your religious
A. I'm a Protestant, at the First Christian Church. I feel very comfortable with my beliefs, my church has offered everything that I think a church should and I think that it always did things accordingly. However, I do feel that churches differ according to the people. I believe in God without a doubt though, and I really can't imagine life without God and Jesus. He's been a part of my life all my life, since I can remember.
Q. Do you think it is important to study history?
A. Oh yes! Hopefully we'll learn by our mistakes in the past. How many things could have been better if they had been done different? Maybe next time around we'll have done better. I think that the best thing we can learn from it is to learn from our mistakes.
up 1 Poynter's – Charlotte's mother's maiden name, quite a big family
up 2 Debee's – Charlotte's father's surname
up 3 Canton and Alliance are small cities located in North Eastern Ohio - route 62 is a large highway in Ohio, that runs between Canton and Alliance – it runs even further but it just applies to Canton and Alliance in this case.
up 4 Miami Christian college, Charlotte worked there for about 6 years as a cook with her mother.
As an interview, the following disclaimer does not appy: