Maryt the agency was already established at that time. Esther: Yes

advertisement

ESTHER COX

InteMewed

by Mary

Sather

27 l4inutes

May

24, 197.3

M.ary;

Speaking with I&stht~r Cox. The date is }lay 24th, 197.3• Participating in the recording is Ma:roy Sather. How long ago did you come to New Richtncmd?

You moved to New Id.ehmond from •• •

Mary: And town did you come from?

Esthe:ro Sheldon, Wisconsin.

Mary: And did you come for a specific ... purpoee?

Esther~ We came to take over the Ford Agency t which we bought from :Er·nie Bell.

Maryt the agency was already established at that time.

Estherc Yes, uh huh. When we bought it it

·Was inactive and Ford Motor tusked us to take it over. t.ia.ry; Had you had an agency in

Sheldon?

Esther: Yes, yes. It was a smaller town-a smaller agency,

Max•yt So this was a step ahead? (laughs)

Esther

1

A step ahead. l>1aryt reactivating

.a business was maybe a little tough. Howu.what was a good week*s work at tbavtime? How

many

cars would

you

have hoped to sell in, say • a week o:r a month?

Esther: I suppose 10 new ears a month, p(n•haps was a good month, the first year we were here. Would have to be. Because there wasn•t any business. Wa had

Mary:

Now did you sell just ears or did you sell trucks tmd ever}lthin.g else?

Esther: Cars and trucks.

Maryc

Eva:r~hing put out by the Ford Motor Compa:n.y,

Esther: Yes, yes.

Ma.r.n

Were there any other cal'S

I in town. • •8nY other agencies. • •

.E8thert Yes, there was different ones, Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac was ax·onnd ther1..:.,

I suppose so.

Mar,rt

So

you were in a competitive business.

Esther: Oh yes. They were all established,

Maryi Now. where did you first·· start out?

Esther: In what is now

Doboy ...

Mat'f# In the Elgin plant.

Esther

i

Is that Elgin? f-!a.rys

Right

near •••

right across the street .from Krueger•

s?

That

Building?

Esthe:rt Yes. yes, that had been the Fo:x·d garage and.- .that's where we operated the first ••• eight years •• ,from that 'gal~age.

Mar.y: You had the trl-eountr agency plus the mechanic and .repair service thezh

Esther: Yes. Yes.

~iary:

O.K. Now, you wex·e yourself involved in tht'hu

Esthert Yes, the boOkkeeper.

Maeyt

The Bookkeeper• and. were right there all the time.

Esther: Yes. tong hours.

Mary: Now-well

1 that• s very intet·esting. ..1hat soxt of hours did you have to put in then? Has that changed much?

Ef3ther l

Oh, we opened at seven and closed. unever earlier than ten.

Mary;

All the time?

Esther: Including Sundays. f4axyt

Oh, it was open on SuudaYth

Esther; That's right •

Mary:

For Heaven sakes. l didn•t think that happened untU ... later years,

that

businesses stayed open on Sundays. Was that true of all the garages at ttiit time?

Esthe.N \

I would believe so. I'm not sure, but I would believe so.

Marya

Oh well, th~~· s veey interesting. liow.uthe cars then were considerably

'different •

Esthel~~~

Yes. The t4odel

A, of course, om· big selleJ." thert.

~iary: The Model A.

Esther; Yes. And we thought it was quite a car then.

Marya Do you

reeaU

applooxblately how much a Model A sold for at that time? The approldma~e cost?

Eethert I·WOuld

say

300 dollars.

Ma;ryt Was that with all the attachments

or

did you sell extra ... extra things toot

Esther: Yes, we always sold extras then, yes. If we could get a stripped model, which was the be~at eelle:r

1n

Dep:reesion years. l do:n•t :recall exactly, but

I believe it was somethine; like 300 dollars.

Marys

That was a ... we•d consider it a good buy now. (laughs) :r•m eve it was ve:t'3rdi:f'ficult

tor.

maey of the people ....

Esther;

That's right,

Ma:ryt Did you have a credit. pltm'f

Esther: Yes,

F<n"d

Motor had a credit plan. Andu.there was a credit company.

Mai'Y1

Did most of the people menage

to

make their p~ents

Ol' did you have to take back •••

?

Esthe:ra Oh.uduring llepr·ession years tnmy times you bad l!'epossessiona. Many times

it

was rather rougb, •• reposeeeeion.

!4aryt

I'm

SU:t"(h

We., .were talking about caxts the other

4ey and we were saying that the early care

you

had

to ••• back up

the long

bills.

Esther•:

Yes. Not with the

Mod.el A, but the Model T they did.

Maeyt The

Model /! was an improvecl •••

Esther: It was an improved ••• a great improvement over the Model T. (both laugh)

· l often heat·d local people tell about the years and years they 'backed up the

Stillwater hill.

Maryt

There was something about the. •,

Esther: It was eo steep.

Marya And there was no preseu:re ... no pump on the fuel tank or &omething ... worked by gravity, I guess.

Maryt

The Model

A was an enclosed car wasn•t it?

Esthert Yes.

Marya And the Model T' s were open.

Esthert They were open, with side cuxtainlh

Marys So you didn't get quite so dirty in the t~del

A• (laughs)

Etathei'I

No• not qUite eo dirt~,

At the time we thought they were great.

Mary:

Now, they had a eelf'•sta:J:i:.er on these too, didn't they?

Esther& Yes.

Marys \'las it the

Model T that had to be cranked?

!

lJfary: And someone was telling me there were many broken arrruh mlcyl

Because they would backfire and,,.

Esther: Some of them would start hard and the:t•e were times that ... one thing I neve:r did . was c:rank one 1 .

Marys Oht didn't you?

Esthert No, (both laugh}

Mary; You eat in the .cax· and waited, huh?

Esthers That's 1-ight.

Mary:

O,K,

We were talking ..

,just a couple of minutes ago you mentioned the

Depression a couple of times, 1934 would nave been right in

the

middle of

it.

Esther: Yes, it was,

Maeya Can you tell me a little bit about your reeollect1ons of' the Depression years? The ••• prices were very very

low •• ,

was very hard to , get •

Maryt

Can you remember the,.,comparable price on a dosen eggs or something like that?

Esther t

On a what?

Mary:

Ott a dosen eggs? Of course you p:t'Obably didn•t buy eggs from the $to:res then, did you?

-;-

Esther: We usually bought them from farmers and like that. I

aon•t

recall the p;dee of

it,

howevel' I x·ecall the

pl"ice

of meat which wathupez·ha.pts.utwenty cents a pound for what we pay a dollar-and-a-half for now. But i.t seemed as

hard

to.,.harder

to

buy

it

then

than

in

later years.

Mary: Do you

1·emembez· what

the •••

Eeth<::u:·: I can remember all of us going out to Opal's which all the old-timers would

remember, getting ••• eating spot near Rivers Edge, and

getting

a beautiful,

beautiful steak

for

60

C«nts •••

huge.

Macyt

'that

\"las the whole meal.

Estbert

That wae the entire meal,

6o

cents.

Marys And eve;cything with

it .•

Esthe;N

·Everything with it-salad• french friee• coffee• all fox· 60 cents.

Mary: Not bad, (laughs)

Do you recall what you would have paid in salary for one of your mechmdcs per month at that time? Could you could remember but I'm just trying to figure out, •• a comparable wage, •• what would have been

a monthly wage •••

Esther:

I really csn•t

recall ...

l4ary$ You think it's hard to

:rece.ll

that,

Esther; Yes. it is ••• I haven•t even looked at the books for so many years. living corlditions would you have run into dur·ing the De-

pression

years? Were there

many people.,,?

Esthert Rents were vf!lry lqw, as well

&fll evtlrything else. We paid like 25 dollars a month rent for a four-bedroom home.

Marya

The whole house.

Esther: The whole house, The entire house for 25 dollars a month, so things were was cheap. t4aryt Yes, you be.rl:.. Do you recall that tbe:re were many people out of' wcn:·k in New

Richmond? isthert Very tnanJ•

Yes, very many. It was easy to get help,

-6-

Mal--yc How d.i.d they handle the situation to take aare of tbeae people who didn't wave an;r wo:r·k?

Esther: ~lell* it was of cou:rse much hax·der to get Relief in those years than it is now. It wa.a quite di:f'!'icu.lt. There always were &ofl,le who there was much red tape to get

it

and there was unemployment also, but that was only .a pe:t·eent of what they were earning so it was pretty bard for a whole family to live on .unemployment in those days too.

Mary:

Do you recall the banl<:s cloed,ng? That must have happened when you wex·e in

Sheldon.·

E$the:r• Oh yes, yes. Yes, I well :remember the banks closing. toia:ryr··-'was that •••

?

Esthert And that created quite a difficulty .f'oz~ everyone. It was quite some time bei"o:re from your mos1ey. Tightened up for· quite a while

am

th!At made all husiness poor~

Mary:

,'fheH.that must have been quite

.a .shock to everybody. Did you kind of wake up one monw1g . tmd the be.nka were closed?

:Esther r That t s right, that • s right • We bad no wa:rning • mary~

No. warning.

Esthert ,.,that. I r.eoall. tfo, we didn't•

Mary: Did you

have

a radio at

that

time?

Esther: Yes, we did.,

But as I :·ecall we didtl•t get too good of reception and perhaps only a few stations. tlEi didr1't get

Marys

Was the px·ogratnming on 24 hours a day

J.il'e it is now, or did they Just run certain hours?

Esther:; Just certain hourth

I don't think we had any afte:t" perhapts.ueleven or possibly mi,d,night, until morning. f4ary: Uh huh. You :~trere talking about it was easy to get help.

Esther t

Yes.

Mary; Did you have household help as long as you were wol•kizig?

Esther• Yes,

! did. Yes, I did. And that was ... that wasn't bard to get eitbtu:·.

Mar·yc Was this he:Lp that moved in or did they used to come in?

E$thez·• Both ways

I bad it. I had some that came every day and I had some that lived with

us.

Maryt

Can you z·ecall how much you had to pay to get ... (laUihs) ...

. these numbers are veey difficult

1 aren't'' they?

Ssthert No,

~

,aon•t.

Not at Ill. After all the

years,

.I just forget.

Marys

Tha.t•s :right. lnas it usual for women to be world.ng full-time then,

Esthert

Not no, it wasn•t. There were very few women whO were working full-time then•

There

.were many women that perhaps helped out a few hO\U's a day • but there were very few that worked a full day.

Mary: You said that were on.-.that 't«>men that were on salaries during that time ... had to quit if th61 got mat"ried.

Eathel'l That•e right. There were vecy few married women that kept their jobs

Ma:ryrafter they wereu.f.IIost o.f them quit and stayed home.

Was that a law or was it just a sort oi' ... a. standard policy?

Esther: It wasn't a law but it was a policy, I thir1k

1 and a rew stayed on hut not manY-just a ,very very few women that worked tull-time.

Max·y: What have you noticed since you•ve lived 1n New aicb1nond., a lot of changes are gradual, but what have you par·t:i.cularly noticed over the years?

Esthe:rt I've always enjoyed living in New Richmond. I thought New Richmond was

Mary: veey

1dnd to us. Vet.7lovely peopleu.and I've always call~

it

homth

Youu .you have noticed that there has been some growth.

Esthert Oh, very much so, yes. Therefore, as

! i

f,

J

),

it

grew ... and would bring other peopJe,

;

{:\

:in. • ,it expanded in many ways, ae far as social functions and everything elsef\f: waan*t as many cliques as there used to be, so to speak, f .

P'

~··

J,,

! ••• thoroughly enjoyed living here. Well,,.way back before my time there were

~rimarily

two

nationalities ••• or three nationalities here.

Macyc

And

that

wathu

'

' '

Esther; That was the Irish and the Norwegian and. the Swede· and they were ••• there

W$.S always a li.ttle ... a little feud going on-mo:re or lEHss-espee:ta.lly with the

)'O'Ullgtu.~ yo'UngeterfLin school;; like

that.

But as years

went

on

&nd more people moved in • tha.t k.Uld of., •

Maryt

It sort

of

faded

away.,

Esther: Faded away.

Mt.U7J

»ut

yeah, when you first came, t·bese three nati~ties pretty much kept

;.:' distinctly to themselves? Flldrly mueh ao?

Esthert Fairly much

$0•

However, they were all very kind to us and we didn*tu• didn~t exactly belo:n.g to

arq

of

them.

Marys

But

it.,..took

awhile for everybody to get integrated.

Esther: !hat's l'ight,

that•s

right,

t>taey:

Now,

when

your

bQys were growing

up

in

liew

Riel':lt:nond~un•did.uthex•e

weren't

quite as many things for the kids to do.

There wasn•t a swimming pool ...

Esther~ They swam in. the Widespread•

Marys night up in the Widespread.

Esther;

Right up in the Widespread. (both laugh)

~larys Did they have the swimming beacb organized th$1? Did they have the ropes and tbit:tge? n

,or did your kids just go right up end. u

Esthe:rt No, ub uh. When we originally came there was nothing. Along

1n the

~:r, later summer, then it was alwars a difficult time because o£ wh$t the;y used to call "Dog D&)'ls•• and the . green on the ri. ver and you had to insist ·

·that they not go swimming for a certain length of time, which was hard on

.j,

..

! yoqsters, because they loved it.

Marys !he Widespread ha.s been turning green

tor

many years.

Esther:

Oht yeth Nothing like it is now.

But it would get gx-ee;n and just wasn't

safe £or swimming,

Max·yt 5o what did. the ldda do during. u?

Esther: Oh, they skated. They'd take their brooms and their shovele and go up and!·

Ma'ryi

'!'hey skated up at the Widespread too,

Esther:

Oh yes. They

went

swimming. They played l:'tall as they do now,

I'm

sure there wasn't an.vwhere neu the x·ecreation that•a offered now but it seemed to me they kept buS, •

Marya

These were i l l unorganized things,

Est herr

Only unorganized, that • s right •

~~ary.

Just

went

out and ...

Esther;

Just went out ana., ••

Mary1

A

group of•••

Esther: A group of their f:t'iends and. • .I think ••• I think they were perhaps as happy as you.ngsters are now-maybe more so, than they are with the orgmlized.

Mary•

I'm inclined to agree with

,.Ou. {laughs) Now one thing we do have to finish wM,t yea:i.' then did you move out of that building? l~twn. ••

Esther

I

You meanu • t4arys

When you started out you were in the building aeross from

Krueger's.

Esthert' Yet:;. We moved out oi' there irl • 40. uin '41 and then we were building a.."ld we moved into that in

'42•

Ma.cyt

The build:ing in in the.--.

Esther&

Well; we moved out in

'42

and we moved up there in

'42 is

\'lhat we did.

M~cy1 Youu

.you built

the

building behind Standard Oil.

Esther t

Standard Oil, uh huh.

Macyt And

that.uis that still

:t•efetted to

as

the

!·f &

L? Building?

Esther: It' s our

b\:cl.lding

but

it •

s refex·red to as

t-4

&

t.

Mary# Oh, u.':t huh.,

Esther~

But

it

was our building.·

\~e built it andu

.leased it to

~1

&

:r,. nave for . ye&l~$ and years and yea:ra.

\

1

Mar71 Oh, I see. I didn•t even realize that was a CO.ll: building.

Esther: uthad to do that.-.was too small.

But 1n wartime JOU Just couldn't get material.fh

Mar;yt

So you put up what you could.

Estbert Uh huh• And we got by in

it

but~ it was much much too small $rid we mew we had to do something different

SO•••

M&.t7$ And then you put up the present building.

Esthert·. We moved in

there

in

'lt/J•

Maryc In 1949•

lathers We

built

that in *48.

Maryt What is the address on that.uthat's South Knowles. almost down past Somerset

Road--it's

right

at Somerset Road

and

South

Knowles isn't

it?

Maryt

Oh, so.-.well

1

I think that

to

locate it for ow:· purposes it• a one building

beyond the

JayCee

Mall.

"Esther t

'430.

Mary: 430 South I(nowles.

Esther# Uh huh, yes. . lilaeyt

When you mentioned that ~~,. was tough to get materials during the. • .w()l,~ld War

:;-:~;;·~:\:··

II, that sort of reminds me of another subject. You people &ll went th:r·ough difficult times in the Depression and then rou had World War II.

\!Tar

II.

MaX7t And what do ,.ou ree~l about

"~~_(·

~~orld

Wa:r· II? I vaguely remember rationing.

Esthe:t"# Uh huh-that was rough• we had rationing and of cour" we were ehort of help. Wade had been with us eve:r since we eeme to New Riehmol+(i. ena. ••• was alw31s yQur right-hand man,

.....

_

~ust always web._ a wonderM person, and he went

Ma:ry• !his was Wade

~J'ohnson.

Esthert JohntJOn, uh huh.

Maeyt

He•s back world.nshutook hirn backu•

lsthert Came back f:rom

war

1

came back to work for us and is still with us. You can imagine-be 40 years if he*d worked for

U$ outside of the wartime, you know.

Mau·yt

Uh huh.

Esther: :But it· was veey herd to get good h~p in wartime. It was hard to get etn"a and you knowt for a while they didn't make ears.

Ma.eyt

The

Cal' business was mayb~t not the business to be in during the war· years.

El!Jthera

Oh,. it was tough because you eouldn*t get any

new

earai you

know. ·

They wer~

alotted-you

had

a

tew

and

that

was

it.

And of course, used ears tl!Gl.d f~r a premi:um which. •

.,ou were out of used ears in a short tim.-you eoul.dn

•t

get 'em.

And they were ratioriitle; new ew:·e so-..

Mw:•yt

Did they ratio11 tix•es and gas?

Esther I And· car~; too.

Ma.r~n

And gas•

Esthera Oh, gas. l'Je don•t mention that! (both laugh)

~iary:

We're back to it asa.U1•

Esther: Oh, it• e a terrible thing.

Dad,

$0 generous • .,.it he knew you well and you came in and said naee, I just don't have wny ticket left and I have to go all the way to Amery-and could I get by with two gallons of gas-." "Yeah, yeah.•• Do you know that the dq they · called it off we didn't have enough tickets in our place to buy

100 gallons of gas? We would have just had to close if it had lasted any lor~er

• And you see gr&duaJJ.y-everfbody comes. And somebody comes and wants 20 gallolls end only have tickets enough for l.O or 12, and he never could say no, so we were short and short and short and short and.-.three days bef'o1·e it was called off I said

"Wellt I don't know what y-Gu•re going to do for the next load

or

gas, you just don't have any tickets•" "I don•t either, but I guess it•s easier to close the station than to say no•"

So tha:t.• s what probably we would have done.

Marys

You were saved by ·the beU;,

-12•

:Esth(!lrc Yes.

You

can

imagine on top

of all your other work, had to hmJ.g

on to

··-··

those silly old tickets and not only collect your credit card and take your

.money

and give your slip and all that crap, you still had to hang onto those· tickets and

make sure

you

got •em,

Mary: You had to

turn

in your tickets,

eo

they would give you ...

Esther: !es, we had to turn them

in

before the oil man would give you

f!J1J.'!

gas.

you

any gas. Food was ratie>ned too, wasn•t it? Certain things.

Meat •• ,

Esther; Oh, sure,

Ooftee,.,sugar•••

Maeyc

t•ieat • .

Butter?

Eethert Butter. Oh, just evecyth:hng.

:t

was exceptiomuJ.y fortunate.

My sister, by the ·way is comin(g todq,

.lived

With me.

Her

husband was in s&•vice.,

.m1d she was a :nurse ·and she had a little bo;r.-ubab;r.uand she came and lived with me about three months• In the meantime, both my parents were still li'Ving,

They were both sick and they came to live with me, When

;you

have that big a household ~u get by much easier on rationing than with just two or three

Mar;rr people.

on.

tor

H$8.VM sakes.

Sstherr You know,

like for instance, you bake a eake-wel.l, you bake a cake if there • s two people, but if there • e a fifth or a sixth ;yot. • d still bake a cake

too.

And then-everything goes i'arther when there•

s a

larger fmnily.

That t

s

·my redeeming feat\U"e in wmime when I had this house.ttal.

Ma..ry# Each person was alotted so many papers or couponlh••

El!ri:.hers

Each person, uh huh, yes.

You got tokens and all these tokens-when you bought you had to tum in

your tickets,

you

know,

for meat, or for sugar, oh ever,Jt.hinthuMust be

aU,

~fax-yt·

Now..,.clothing was not rationed ae I X..ecall, but you just simply couldn't get certain thingat•• lsthert No, you couldn't get certain things, But no, it wacm.•t rationed.

Maey1

It

Will impossible •

Esthert Yes,

it

was hard. I learned one leeeon then that I never forgot~

(coughs)

I hope

that

isn•t on.

Ma:ryt tee, it's on.

Est-her's story was real :interesting and we didn't reall;y have to turn off the mae~~ at

aU.

Now, tell me what you were Just eqing ab()ut charge acco\lllts.

Esther& Well, I lea:med then that it was ase to have a charse account and,..,.

_hosiery

was rationed and stores couldn't get it.

They

saved it for their charge cust-omers. If you didn't .. have a charge account ther wouldn't sell it to

you.

So therefore I opm1ed sewral c~ge accounts.

Maeyt

Opened •em all over, huh?

tethers

Opened thfml

all

ever. (both laugh)

Mary;

I'll haw to

:r~bcu." to

tell that to

rq

huebar1d•

Esthet>t It is cond.eal., you know, t<>.uis it off?

Maryt

~Iot it•a still on and we a.x·e $till tal~. .,.Another thing

I :t?eraember

Esthet't t~o, that was hard too,. Very hard.

Maey-c

Ju.&t certain things on

lwld-..weU,

t!lQse

were

tough times and • .-

Eetbel~t

. They were hapPY time£h I guess everybody was sort of in the ll!lame-.. predicatnent 8lld

·SO everybody got •lone;.

Mary:i When everybody is in something together it's easie,r.

Eather: It's easier, much easier.•

Maryt Then you•

re not 'ije

odd

man out •

·.··~

Esther: And smnetimes l think it ·was good for young people.

M$l7: The•.•

.the

tough

times.

l&the:N 'fo bout! don't

think

they l'etnem'ber

it.

I dGn*t think young$ters like

-14mine

:ree.~w what it was aU about and ·1et I believe they remember a certain amount·

ot

it,

which is-which is good:.

Mary: It wae mqbe a little eaeier to raise

children

then

than

it is now.

Estheri

~~ay'be.

It

wouldn't mu:'prise mth

Maryc Well, this hae b$en a 1/eey pleasant visit

lather,

and thank you very much,

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