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SUBJECT; RENDLER (R) jc
INTERVIEWER: DEBBY BOWMAN (B)
B: This is Debby Bowman interviewing Mrs. Rendler; Mrs. Rendler...
R: I'm 77 years old.
B: And how long have you lived in Gainesville?
R: Uh, going on ten years.
B: Okay, well, uh, where were you born, tell me something about
your town where you were born.
R: Well, I was born in New York City, but I, I didn't live down where
I was born, very long. I, my family moved to the Bronx, and I went-to
school in the Bronx, but that was way back, and uh, the Bronx was a lot
different/than it is now.
B: Well, tell me something about the schools, y'know, like from the
things you did or your teachers.
R: Well, I remember before we moved up to a little village in Westchester,
uh, I went to a larger school down in the Bronx, and uh, um, the uh teachers
were very,um, patient and had a lot of um, had a lot of uh fun with the children,
we played games and sang songs and I remember one time I had to go to the
assembly where the grown-up children were, and sing a song with the little
and we had one of our daddy's handkerchiefs and they made knots in each
corner and made a cap and we were the waves dancing on the...
B: Oh, wow.
R: ...the sea. Then we moved to the, uh, Westchester village where I
went through school, and uh, that was uh, more or less like a country school,
although it was a red brick building, a large building, but uh, we had up to
t he 8th grade and then you graduated into high school. And um, it hap-...
so happened that uh, I was valedictorian of my class so I, I uh, went to
normal college after I graduated, I happened to pass the exams, and uh, I
went to normal college. It has since changed; now it's uh, Hunter College
in New York. But uh, I travelled from Westchester then down to Hunter
College, each day.
B: At your school did you have, y'know this little country one you're
talking about, did you have to drink out of water they went out and got;
did you have a little stove to keep you warm in the winter or what?
R: No, it wasn't that sort; no, it wasn't quite that countrified, but uh,
all the classes were in the one building, and uh, um I don't remember too much
about water, but I do know that we had um, uh facilities in the building; it
wasn't like a regular old-fashioned country, uh, school, where they had
wells and such; we did have running water in the building.
B: Well, uh, a lot of people talk about their old times in school, like um,
their, you know, they'll talk about dipping pigtails in ink or something...
B: ...uh, do you remember like, one of your first uh, well what do you
want to call it, boyfriends, or something...how, how you showed each other
you liked each other, or uh...
R: Well, frankly, I never had...was too much interested in boys...
R: ...I was a book worm, and I wasn't hooked, and uh I do know when I
first went to that,uh, school in the Bronx, uh some little boy must have
had a crush on me, and he came and brought me a bunch of flowers...I was
only there just a couple of days, and I didn't know what to do with them, so
I stuffed them in my desk, then I brought them home in the afternoon to my
mother and I said well, I don't know what these are for, but I said, I...
I don't remember the little boys name, but I said he brought them to me, and, and
insisted that I keep them. But uh, I don't remember the boy after that...I don't
know, he probably got discouraged because I just wasn't interested in boys at all.
B: Well uh, did you work when you got out of school, or did you work at
any jobs during that time?
R: No, no, in those days we didn't have jobs after school; un uh.
B: What about when you started college?
R: Well, no, see I had quite a long distance to travel; I went on the
subway and the streetcar to get to the college, and the college was getting
so terribly crowded that we were put in, what they called annexes, sometimes
some of the school buildings around New York City would have an extra room or
two, and they'd put a couple of the classes from the college in these rooms,
and we would have to travel on the subway to get to these places.
B: Uh, do you remember of any of your friends working, how much it...
y'know, they get paid an hour, compared to now, you know, uh?
R: I really wouldn't know. I really don't recall that. In those days
we didn't think about the hours, we thought about the weekly salary, that was
it, you know...
R: ...we didn't think of the hours or the number of hours.
B: Well, okay.
R: I remember the first job I had...I worked for the Consolidated Gas Company
in New York City, and uh, I had uh, relative from the family that lived...that
worked in this office, and she was uh, going on a vacation, and they wanted to
get somebody in there to take her place while she was gone. And they asked me
outcome in. I was going to a business school at the time. And uh, I came in and uh
she showed me what to do, I mean I worked with her for a few days, and then she
went away, and I had to take over, and I was scared to death, and uh, uh, that uh,
because I only worked half a day, I only got ten dollars a week.
B: Oh (laugh).
R: But, but uh, but uh, as I uh, as I progressed, why, the salary went
up a little bit each yar, they'd give you a little advance. But those
days, we were glad to get ten dollars. (laugh)
B: (laugh) Yea, right. Well, like, back in those days when it came
to uh your parents, and restrictions they put on you, like dating or something
like that, uh, hw different was it then, I mean, like did you have to be in,
like ten, or what?
R: Definitely, definitely. Well, of course, while I was going to
school, I didn't have...go out at all. I had several girlfriends that
were in the neighborhood, as I say I never was too much for going out with
boys; in fact, we just didn't do that, but the girls used to go out/weekends
we'd go to the park or we'd take long walks, do things together on weekends.
We didn't even have automobiles in those days.
R: But uh, later on after I went to business, then I was allowed some
freedom; I would go out um, to um a show, in those days we had vaudeville
shows,/to the theater where they had plays; I can remember being um,
Morette Taylor in um, oh, dear, what is the...where she flys around in the
B: Uh, Mary Poppins?
R: No,dear, no.
R: It was Peter Pan.
B: Peter Pan, oh yes. (I don't even that show that.)
B: Yea, well, what time would you have to be in then, do you remember?
R: Well, um...
B: Did you have a certain time?
R: There was no special time, except I was supposed to come home right
after the show; I wasn't supposed to stay out after the show. But see, we were,
we were handicapped because we always had to travel on the subway or the
trolley, because I lived in this little village, which was not built up and
didn't have too much in the way of uh travel.
B: Well, uh, then if you're, y'know, like uh, kinda that far away, what
were some of things you did, you know, for fun, the kids, games or, you know
like uh, throwing beans or things like that; did you have those?
R: Well, we used to, we used to uh sew together; I had one special
girlfriend that um, had a machine and we used to make a lot of our clothes;
we got a lot of fun out of that because we were quite a lot alike and we
...everybody called us the sisters because we looked alike and we usually
dressed alike, or similarly, so that we looked like twins. And um, uh, there
were a couple of other girls who were neighbors who lived in adjoining houses
and the four of us used to go around together and, as I say, on weekends we'd
uh, take walks, hikes, and uh, uh, I don't mean, real ambitious walks, but
just around the...it was country, and we'd just walk around the country.
B: Oh, okay, let's see...Oh, about the clothes, then, what do you think
about like y'know, the long dresses and everything, then what do you think
about them coming back now? Y'know, like girls wearing long dresses or real
short skirts or...
R: Well, I think um, young girls look wonderful in short skirts...
B: (laugh), wow.
R: I really enjoy them, I do. And uh, I think that if they care about wearing
the longer ones,, why, that's up to them, I think as long as they feel
comfortable why that's what they should wear. I think modern times, at least
these times, people shouldn't have to stick to one fashion if they don't care
a bout it.
R: I won't tell you what I think about the older women in the short
B: (Laugh). Yea, I can see that.
B: Well, uh, well, back in, when you're in your town when you were a little
younger, uh, how did they have their meetings; did they have like town meetings,
or where they met in a building, everybody, or did they vote for their mayor...?
R: Well, this section had, this sectio+ad uh, only, just shortly before
we moved there been um taken in by the city of New York, in the burrough of
the Bronx, so that we really had part of the county government in our little
town, 'cause it had been the county seat, and we still had theold county
court house, but it also had cityolice and uh, uh city government, part of
the city government too. So, that uh, it wasn't like a country village-that was
entirely isolated; we were part of the city, actually.
B: Well, did you have a lot of trouble, I mean, during that time, you know
like, I guess lately you've had a lot...
R: No, in those days, I don't remember anything like that, not at all.
B: Um, as you got a little older, like uh, when you first met your husband,
how did you meet him? What happened?
R: Well, I told you I worked for the Consolidated Gas Company, and I wa s in
an office downtown New York on Irving Place, and this wasn't a very nice
neighborhood, and, and the girls that I ate lunch with, uh, and I used to
walk quite a distance to go to eat lunch. Sometimes we'd go down to
Wanamakers, or sometimes we'd go up around 23rd Street, and this meant
quite a long walk for us. So one time my daddy was talking to me about
a little German restaurant that he and some friends used to go to when
they came down to New York on business. And he said, why don't you try
this little restaurant. So uh, one day, I got my nerve up and I
dragged one of my girlfriends in with me, and uh, we sat over in a
corner on the side and uh, um it was a very nice place, they had a...
it wasn't fancy, but it was run by a German family, and they had, in
the rear of it they had apiano and there were drums and evidently -at...
in the evenings when people came to dinner, they may have had music, of
course we were there in, at noon time, and uh, there were people that
came in there that evidently uh, uh knew the proprietor and had the same
tables every day, and my girlfriend and I enjoyed the first time we went
in there and I, uh, we said well we'd come back. We went in there a couple
of times and noticed that the same people kept coming back all the time,
just seemed more or less like a family affair. And uh, we got a kick out
of it, we got a kick out of it. (Forgot?) Anyway, um, um, around this
center table, a group of tables, there were a number of men who came in
every day, and um, they knew each othbr real well, and uh, couple of them
I believe were travelling men, and weren't always able to come in. But uh,
several of those that uh were regulars got to know us. And uh, my girlfriend
didn't care much, too much about the German cooking, so I decided I would
go alone. And uh, through that I met my husband who was one of these men that
sat around this table. And after I had, we had talked, they,..when there 'd
be a vacancy at their table, they'd call me over and ask me to sit at their
table with them. So then he'd walk me back to my office, and then uh, with that
uh, we became more friendly and uh, he asked me whether I would go out wit h
him, on a weekend, um I don't know whether it was Saturday or Sunday.
Well I said uh, can I ask my girlfriend? And he said sure, so I asked my
particular girlfriend from Westchester whether she would like to come, and
she asked her friend. So there were four of us that went together. I don't
remember just what we did; I think we went to Coney Island the first time, and uh,
then uh:. later on, my, uh husband, my friend, asked whether we wouldn't like
to go out, he had a friend who was a travelling man who had been on trip down
south and he-met a girl from Fort Smith, Arkansas, whom harried and brought
up to New York. Well, she was so strange; she didn't know a soul in New York
except his family, and of course they went into an apartment by themselves
so she was stranded, and uh, my husband asked, my friend asked me if I wouldn't
go to see this, uh, Jenny, because she was so lonesome; her husband was, had
to go off on trips, of course, and he was afraid that she would really want to
go back home, wouldn't want to stay. So uh, my girlfriend and I went to see
Jenny several times, and then when Jack came back from his travelling trip,
the six of us went out together. And uh, in those days, they had trips that
went from New York City up the Hudson, and I can remember the first time we
went out together, we went out on one of these boat rides up the Hudson and
then came back, and we had a lot of fun, because Jack was very lively, he
was a sort of a dry wit and uh, he was full of the dickens; his wife was
a beautiful girl, and a little on the plumpish side, but she was a very, very
sweet girl, and we felt so sorry for her because we knew she was terribly
lonesome. So we got to see quite a lot of her, and as my husband, as my
boyfriend and I got to know each other better, why, we became engaged and then
later got married, and uh, the six of us, still kept doing things together,
although my girlfriend only got married after I did, the one from Westchester, but
uh, we had a lot of fun together and used to do a lot of things together.
B: Well, how long were you, uh...how long did you know your husband before
you got married?
R: Oh, let me see, must have been, oh, over two years. But um, we uh,
shortly after we were married, um, he had to go to Arizona, and uh, we left...
we went to Chicago and spent a couple of nights, a couple of days with uh
some friends of his, who had been in New York formerly, but uh, had moved
to Chicago, and uh, they took us on a trip down around the GreatLakes, the um
Lake Michigan, and uh, we camped...not camped, we picnicked on the way,
and then came back that second night, and then um, we made up, we got the
train and went on down to Phoenix, Arizona, and we spent about six months
in Arizona. And while we were there, we went to see a friend of uh, my
husband's mother, who had come from Switzerland on the same boat my husband's
mother some years before, and she was going to meet her sweetheart who had
a homestead out in the, the real desert outside of Phoenix. And we went
dowh to see her, and they lived in a...well, you couldn't call it a building,
it was more like a tent, uh, enclosed with uh, wooden frame, but it was
nothing but uh, looked like bagging around the outside and then, and then the
netting on the top. And he was telling...this man was telling us when he
first went there, when he came to the United States...he was also from
Switzerland...he said uh, he went out there...he decided he was going to
Homestead, and if they lived and worked the land for a certain length of
time, it's theirs, so he had 160 acres, he had been there for several years,
and uh, he had sent for his sweetheart, and she came. She didn't know what
she was getting into, of course, and they had three children, and uh, there
were two boys. One was about 6, I would imagine, the next one 4, and they
had a little girl about 1-1/2 old; she was a darling little baby, who
still writes to me, by the way. And keeps in touch. But uh, we went out
there several times to see them, and one time he asked...he wanted to
treat us, andhe asked whether we ate watermelon. Oh, watermelon, we said,
you don't have watermelon out here; this was in the Fall, really towards
Winter. He said, well I happen to have one, he said, that I've been saving.
They had no refrigeration, but he had kept it under the house, and uh, he
cut that watermelon and it was the sweetest thing...it wasn't very large,
not like we get/here in Florida, but it was a watermelon, and to think that
it was grown in the desert in a climate that had no, no water...the only
water they got was if a (some) shower should come, or if some water flows
down from the mountain range that was way off in the distance, I don't know
how many miles, but they said sometimes water did come through, from down,
from this rain, come down through the, um, desert, and uh, they were not too
far from the Grand Canal that supplied the water, irrigation in Phoenix way.
But see, it didn't flow up their way. They couldn't get it their way. So uh,
it was just so near and yet so far, because they couldn't have it; they couldn't
use it. But um, he worked very hard, anhe had a number of other children afterwards,
but both those two boys lost their lives in the Grand Canal when they went in to
swim. The one was just a child when he died, and the younger boy had gone all
t he way home, instead of trying to get help near by. He had run all the way
home to try to find somebody to help the brother, who was in the water. And of
course the child was drowned. And um, this younger one, was a grown young man...
he was in his twenties, and he dove practically in the same region,/same area
of the Grand Canal, and he lost his life too.
B: Oh, my father one time at school, and they went down to a big thing
like that, to swim in, and they dove off a cliff and the were
so rocky, y'know, to because the rock's really big.
But uh, you were talking about the watermelons, do you remember
the kids, or the guys talking about stealing watermelons, or do you...
or did they do that then?
R: Oh, I was, I spent a vacation with some who, some of my family
who lived on, out on Long Island one time, and there was a farmer near
by that, well it was really the father of one of these youngsters that was
in the, the crowd that was sitting around my aunt's porch, and uh,
it was evening, it was getting dark, and the...one boy said, oh, let's have
some watermelon. And I said, oh, how are you going to get it? He says,
I know how to get it, he says, I know where some good ones are. So, I
think it was the son of the farmer. So, he went out and he came...he and
the other boy came back and they each had a nice big watermelon. Of
course there was a real crowd around. My aunt had a number of children,
and I was a visitor, and there were several other visitors from the
neighborhood, so we really had...we really had a lot of fun, and uh,
I didn't, I didn't/steal it, but I helped eat it. (laugh)
B: (laugh) Did he get caught?
R: No, no, no. They had plenty of them, so I don't think it,
unless the father said something to him, y'know, outside, but I mean,
we didn't know anything about that, he didn't tellus.
B: What about Halloween; do you remember some of the tricks they'd
play on people during Halloween.
R: I don't remember Halloween so much in those days, to tell you
the truth. I don't remember that we made so much of it as, you know,
as they have in more recent years.
R: Thanksgiving was a time when the youngsters used to dress up and
go around and go from door to door, but uh, Halloween they didn't do very
much in those days.
B: What about for Christmas, did you, did you have your fireplace
or anything, or did you, or uh, did you have your, y'know, the tree and uh...
R: We always had a tree, I can remember the first Christmas I can
remember. Uh, I don't remember whether we had a tree, but I was...must have
beenonly a baby, but I can remember my mother had dressed a doll for me, and
my father came in, he was so anxious for me to see that...there must have
been a tree...see what Santa Claus had brought. It woke me up, and I was
so pesty, I wouldn't look. (laugh) Well, I've been reminded of that many
many times through the years. But then I can remember the, the first one
I really remember, is a tree that, uh, was sat in the corner of a room,
in the living room, and my mother's younger sister, who was like a big
sister to me, uh, used to come and stay with us, and she was with us at
this time, and we all took hands and we sang songs around the Christmas
tree, and uh, one of my aunts was there who used to sing, used to talk
in German and she/sing' some of the German Christmas songs. But I can...
and that, that tree had candles on it, and my mother was scared to death
for fear the tree would go over or we'd tip one of the candles over.
B: You made your own decorations?
R: I don't remember the decorations, really. I really don't
remember. I think I used to make these rings, the chains, out of papers.
B: Yea. and popcorn?
B: Did you do that?
R: No, I don't remember popcorn.
B: It snowed up there, didn't...right?
R: Yes, oh yes, uh huh.
B: Did y'all, y'know, go skiing a lot, or sledding?
R: No skiing in those days, no, but we used to do a lot of
B: And then...
R: ...and uh, when I lived in Westchester, we had some wonderful
little places where there were hills and the hills went off into the,
what we used to call the um, well, it wasn't woods and it wasn't swamp,
exactly, but it went down a long, and there were some nice bumps in
between, you know, and the boys used tojust love that. I had a couple
of brothers that grew up with me, and they just used to love that.
B: Well, you said you lived in Gainesville about 10 years. Um,
have you noticed any real great changes, that happened during the time
that you lived here?
R: The only changes, real changes that I've noticed is that it's
grown so, in fact, I've known Gainesville now for over 20 years, going
on 23 I guess, 24, but uh, it has grown tremendously, I can remember when
University Avenue had the park-like center all along the way, and up
and d own on both sides was this park. Of course, they needed the room
for the traffic, so that was all done away with. All I can say is, it
certainly has grown.
B: Well, okay, um, this report we're doing is kinda on the
good life. If you had a chance um, to do anything you wanted to do, or
live wherever you wanted to, you know, as a good life for you, where would
this be? Or, now what would you like to do? Just for your good life;
something you'd really like to do.
R: Mmhmm. Well, of course, I'm rather old to be thinking about
changes, but uh, I, I think no matter where you live, you can have a good
life for yourself, and uh, I would want to be where my family were, that
would make a good life for me. And uh, I think, they tell me the North
has changed a great deal, so I don't know whether I would want to go back
there, I think I would just as leave stay where I am, and be near my
B: If you had a chance to travel anywhere, where would you go?
Anyplace you could visit?
R: I think I would like to go around the United States. See more
of the United States.
B: Well, okay, um, guess that's all. Thank you very much.
R: Well, you're very welcome, very welcome. I hope I've helped
you some, that's all.
END OF INTERVIEW.