Interviewee: Jeanette Harp
Interviewer: Connie Llewellyn
Date: June 2, 1988
L: This is Connie Llewellyn, and I am interviewing Jeanette Harp at her home in
Gainesville, Florida. Today is June 2, 1988. This interview is for the Florida
State Museum Oral History Project. We are going to be talking about the history
of the Junior Welfare League of Gainesville. Good morning, Mrs. Harp.
H: Good morning, Connie.
L: I would like to start this morning by getting some information from you. What is
your address here?
H: 2805 NW 83rd Street D-416, and the zip in Gainesville is 32606.
L: Thank you. Now for a little biographical information. Where were you born?
H: In Quincy, Florida, in Gadsden County. It is about eighteen or twenty miles west
L: And what year were you born?
H: 1910. It is easier to figure out my age by just subtracting ten from the current
L: What were your parents full names?
H: My father's name was Daniel Alexander Shaw. My mother was Mary Elizabeth
Love, but she was called Bessie.
L: And were they from Quincy?
H: Yes, and they were both born there and their parents were born there, so we go
a long way back. We are real Florida crackers.
L: You are real, true Floridians.
L: How did you come to live in Gainesville?
H: Well, let me think. My father was in the tobacco business in Quincy. When that
went bad, he got Mr. Keeter, who had worked for him for many, many years, to
go in with him in the Ford business [Shaw & Keeter Ford in Gainesville]. My
father lived about six years after he moved to Gainesville. He and my mother
moved in the latter part of 1924. I said I was not moving, so my mother said, "All
right. You can stay here at my sister's until Christmas. Then, when Christmas
comes, you can come to Gainesville, and we will live there." We did not have
much argument. That was the way things were in those days. That was the
L: So you were about fourteen when you came to Gainesville?
L: When Christmastime came, were you ready to move to Gainesville?
H: It was not a matter of whether I was ready or not--that is what I had to do.
L: That was the end of your extension?
H: Yes. So I went to high school here for a year and a half.
L: At GHS [Gainesville High School]?
L: Tell me what the earliest thing is that you remember about your life.
H: Well, some of the happiest memories I have were when my father moved us out
of Quincy for a while. At one time, he moved us when I was a babe in arms to
Hartford, Connecticut, where he introduced the growing of shade tobacco up
there on the Connecticut River Valley. They are still growing it up there, but they
have quit growing it in Gadsden County. He was the one that started growing
tobacco under shade. That was just for the wrappers of cigars. I do not
remember that move.
Then he moved us to a little community, a little settlement across the Georgia
border near Bainbridge, Georgia. It was called Amsterdam, and we lived there
until I was five. I have such happy memories there because I was free and
enjoyed being free. I do not really remember very much detail, but I had such a
warm feeling about it.
My father talked to the school board about county school taxes, and he told them
that if he did not have to pay school taxes, he would see that he would pay for a
school teacher for the white children and a school teacher for the black children.
So my two older sisters went to school in a little one-room school house. He
found a college graduate, a lovely lady, to teach the school there, and she lived
with one of the families there. There were several families of white people, and
she lived with one family and taught school.
I was so anxious to go to school, but they would not let me. Finally, one day,
they said I could go to school with the two girls. When I got there, pretty soon I
wanted to go home. The teacher said she could walk me back to the style.
There was a style over our fence. Do you know what that is?
L: Yes. Tell us anyway.
H: A style is steps that go up to the top of the fence and then down on the other
side. They left me there on top of the style. Then I got to thinking, I am scared
to go back to school, because there may be a bull out there on the road. And I
was scared to go down toward the house because we had a vicious duck that
would bite me and chase me; I was scared of "Sonny Boy." I was also scared to
stay up on the style because I thought there might be a wasp's nest under it. So
I yelled and yelled and yelled for my mother. I do not know if she ever heard
me. I do not remember the end of that story, but I was a very spoiled little brat.
L: I guess that was scary.
H: But I liked living out there and the way it was.
L: Well, that is interesting to me that your father made that suggestion to the local
government that they hire a teacher for the black children as well as for the white
children, because that was in the 1910s.
H: Well, it was up to my father. Yes, that was in the early part of the 1910s.
L: That is an interesting attitude to have had at that time is the point I am making.
H: Yes. They grew tobacco on several farms there, and he was in charge of it.
Then they had a packing house. They had the big barns to dry the tobacco in,
and then they put the cured tobacco in the packing house. Black ladies sat at
tables and sorted them leaf by leaf and packed them in cases. Then they had to
be put in a warehouse to cure them or season them. I do not know what you
call it. It was quite a labor-intensive kind of thing. They used all kinds of
poisons in the warehouse, to be sure, so that no bugs would eat up the tobacco.
One time there was a terrible explosion in the packing house, although I do not
remember much about that. But when I became ten years old, that is the age of
hero worship, and I was afraid my father was not a hero. So I asked him, "Papa,
were you ever a hero?" He had to think a minute, and he said, "Well, one time,
when they had that explosion, I went into the packing house to get some of the
drums out so they would not explode any more." And I thought, well, he is a
L: When you did come to Gainesville? You said you just went to high school for a
year and a half, and then you finished.
L: What do you remember about growing up in Gainesville, the time that you were
here in school.
H: Well, that is a very brief memory. I enjoyed the friends I made.
L: About what size town was Gainesville when you came?
H: It was, I think, 10,000 population, and the University was 2,500.
L: A good bit smaller than today.
H: Yes, and it was nice. We girls all got in cars and rode up and down University
Avenue. The boys out there had no place to go except right down to the
Courthouse Square. There was a drug store there, and they sometimes went
down there into the drug store or did any shopping downtown. University
Avenue was not paved. We rode up and down, and if anybody was hitching a
ride, we would give them a ride. Then, if they were hitching a ride back, we
would pick them up and give them a ride back. Of course, we knew a lot of
them, and they knew a lot of the girls.
When we had these meetings of the Junior Welfare League, I do not even
remember where we met to begin with. We might have met at the [Gainesville]
Woman's Club, because it was a branch of the Woman's Club at that time, I
L: It was sponsored by the Woman's Club.
H: When we would get out of a meeting, we would drive to that drug store, sit
outside, and order a Coca-Cola. They were a nickel, and there was curb
service. We would sit in the car and drink our Coca-Colas and rehash the
meetings. Lots of other young women had come there, too.
L: It must have been quite the gathering place.
H: Yes, the drug store was the gathering place, inside or out in the parking lot.
L: Well, now, this was in the 1930s, when the Junior Welfare League was being
H: Oh, yes. That was a lot later.
L: This was during the Depression, then.
H: I finished high school in 1926.
L: What did you do when you finished high school?
H: Well, I was sixteen, and my mother thought I was too young to go off where my
other two sisters had been. I did not want to go there, anyway, so she sent me
to a little Presbyterian college in DeFuniak Springs, [Florida], called Palmer
College. It is not in existence now. My mother knew the people who were
running it. In fact, the man who was the president was a relative, and we knew
some of the other people there. So she felt that in my immaturity I could survive
Then after that I did go where the two other girls had been, to Agnes Scott
College in Atlanta. I went there haltingly and rebelliously. But I had to do
everything they told me those days. It is different from the way my one child is.
L: So were you at Palmer College for one year?
H: One year, and then I went to Agnes Scott for four years. I sometimes suspect
other things of my mother. I think probably Agnes Scott would not take me. I
know some of my courses were not acceptable, like home economics, which they
did not count as an academic course. Maybe they said they did not want
anybody that young. I do not know what it was. But I have a feeling that she
had applied for me and that they said, "No, she needs more credits." So, I took
some courses at Palmer, and they were accepted as high school credits, I guess.
All that was beyond me, but looking back on it, I have some real suspicions. So
I finished there. It was too hard. I did not care for that academic pursuit.
L: Oh, really. What did you finish in?
H: I think it was English and psychology.
L: How did you like going to school in Atlanta?
H: Well, I loved being in Atlanta, but I hated school work from the beginning to the
end. But when I did graduate I wept, because I hated to leave that life and get in
the real world.
L: There is a change.
L: What did you do when you finished at Agnes Scott?
H: I came to Gainesville and taught school for two years.
L: Where did you teach?
H: The only elementary school in town, which is now called Kirby Smith.
L: Was it called Kirby Smith then?
H: No, it was called Eastside Elementary School.
L: What grade did you teach?
H: I taught the fourth grade.
L: How did you like that?
H: Well, I loved the children. Mrs. Metcalf was the principal. She separated the
children into homogenous groupings, and I had the cream of the cream of
Gainesville. They are some of the grandmothers in Gainesville now. They
were all so eager. Years and years later, Rodney Bishop, who taught there, too,
as did Shirley Lazonby, asked me, "Jeanette, do you think you were a good
teacher?" Well, I had never thought about that. I told her, "Well, I do not know.
let me think." Then I said, "I do not know if I was a good teacher or not, but I
know the children enjoyed it."
L: Well, that sounds like a pretty good sign to me.
H: They were just delightful people. They were just adorable. But I did not like the
life of a school teacher. In those days, any teacher who smoked or had a drink
was fired. That is just to show you what the attitude toward teachers was. We
were just servants of the public. We were under a tight reign, and I did not like
it. So I decided I would go back to school.
I went to Emory. I took a year and got a master's in I guess you would call it
clinical pathology or laboratory something, bacteriology, hematology all that. It
was taught with the sophomore medical students. Then I decided I would go to
New York and work up there. That was every girl's dream in those days. But I
could not do that. I was told I could not. Here I was, about twenty-two, and I
was still controlled. Can you imagine? It is amazing how uncontrolled my
L: How did you feel about it at that time? I know you are telling me now that you
think it is incredible that you allowed yourself to be controlled, but how did you
feel when it was happening?
H: I did not like it, but I just thought I had to obey. Isn't that stupid?
L: Well, it is not fair to judge something in a later period of time something that
H: Well, after Janie, our daughter, had taught here for several years, she decided
that she was not going to teach any more. She told her father and me that she
was going to drive up to Indianapolis to Mike Mays' wedding. Mike is a relative
of ours. Then she was just going to take off and go to San Francisco, going all
around up in the northern part of the United States. She was going to visit a boy
there that she had met when she was in Geneva she worked for a while in
Switzerland. He was a Czechoslovakian, and he and some of the young people
had gotten out of Czechoslovakia when the Russian tanks came in. He had
seen his friends run over. Anyway, she wanted to go see Igor. My husband
said, "Now, Janie, if you want to go out there with somebody else, you may, but
you may not go take that trip alone." And she said, "Daddy, you know I am an
adult, and I am going." What a contrast that was daughter and mother.
L: You are making a good point. About what year was this, just to give us a
H: I am trying to think how old she was. She was born in 1947, had finished
school, and taught several years, so I would say she was in her mid- to
top-twenties. She knew she was an adult. That is what she wanted to do, so
she did it. She really got to liking country music, because that was all she could
hear on the radio.
L: During the trip, you mean?
L: Did she have a good time?
H: She is glad she went. She stopped in Illinois with a relative of ours one night.
He persuaded her to buy a tent, so she bought a tent and slept in the tent one
L: That is really adventurous.
H: She said she really was glad when she got to Igor's place because she had not
talked in so long. She said all she could do was talk a blue streak, and she just
talked and talked and talked.
L: That is a very interesting comment, though, on women and the times in which
they lived. I think that is valuable. You were telling me that you sent yourself
back to school to get this master's, and then you wanted to go to New York. But
you did not go; they would not allow you to go.
H: My father was not living anymore. He had died quite a bit before that. He died
when I was a junior in college.
L: What did you do instead of going to New York?
H: I got a job at the University in the Animal Husbandry Department.
L: So you stayed in Gainesville?
H: Yes. My mother lived alone, and she had spent a year back in Quincy while I
was in Atlanta at Emory. She looked so much worse at the end of that year than
she had when she left Gainesville, and I could not go off and leave her right
away. I felt that way. Then I think she blossomed out some more. I think she
liked Gainesville and did not really want to go back to Quincy. Anyway, that is
the answer I guess to what you asked. I stayed in Gainesville. After I worked
at the University for a while, I quit that and worked at the Ford garage in the
bookkeeping department. I did not grease the cars. But I gave up all my higher
education and learned to do a little bookkeeping.
L: How did you like that?
H: Well, I did not like the hours I worked. That is what I will get to about the
League. I worked six days a week and sometimes on Saturday night until 10:00.
It was terrible. I was not very active in the League, you can imagine.
L: You had a time problem.
H: This is how that problem ended. There was a couple here in Gainesville named
Lester and Evelyn Hale [Lester Hale was vice-president for student affairs at the
University of Florida], and she was from Louisiana. Well, my husband is also
from Louisiana. He was stationed toward the end of the war in Jacksonville and
came over to see Evelyn and Les Hale. They introduced us, and then we got
L: So this was in the 1940s then?
H: Yes, we got married in 1946. I was thirty-six and he was thirty-eight. We were
married just after my thirty-sixth birthday, so I was pretty young. [laughter]
L: Yes, and you were certainly pretty. I know that because you still are. I want to
talk a few more minutes about the 1930s, and then we will start talking about the
formation of the Junior Welfare League. You were living in Gainesville most of
the time during the 1930s, during the Depression, right?
H: The Depression nationwide was 1929, but I think with our family it was before
that. There was some terrible plant diseases that attack the tobacco, and the
bottom dropped out.
L: For farmers in general.
H: Yes, in that place. So that is why my father got out of tobacco farming and went
into the Ford business. He looked around, and he got Mr. Keeter to go in with
him to do a lot of the work. He more or less backed it up. But Mr. Keeter was
certainly a wonderful friend to him, and to my mother and us children after my
father died. From then on he never quit doing for us.
L: How did the automobile business do during the Depression? Were people able
to buy cars?
H: I guess so. I was not in on that too much. We survived.
L: They must have bought cars.
H: Well, we certainly did not have anything when we came here. Mama had always
charged everything everywhere she went. He told her, "Do not get anything you
do not have the cash to pay for." So we were really scrimping; we had a rough
L: A whole lot of people did.
H: Yes. He asked Mr. Keeter to please see that his girls got an education. He had
Parkinson's disease, so he knew ahead of time that he would not be there long.
When he died in 1930, I guess the girls had already finished college.
L: I was just wondering what your impressions of living in Gainesville in the 1930s
during the Depression were. Were there soup or bread lines?
H: Oh, no, I do not think there was anything like that. In fact, I guess the most I felt
it personally was when I was in college, because I got so little spending money.
It was not nearly enough, and I really resented it. I had very little appreciation
for my parents. It is amazing.
I was going to a dance, and I just had to have a new dress. A friend of mine
who was in school there said that she lived in Atlanta her father taught at
[Georgia] Tech. She said, "Jeanette, I have a charge account at such-and-such,
a little shop. They have really attractive clothes, and they are not terrible
expensive. Go in there and get what you want, and charge it to me." I was so
thrilled! I went in there and found this great little black evening dress that was
fourteen dollars, and I charged it to Mary Breedlove. I wrote my parents and
asked them to please send me fourteen dollars to pay her for something I had
charged to her. I got a blistering letter from my father saying, "Do not ever
charge anything else to anybody as long as you live." Well, he enclosed the
money, and I had the dress.
L: Were you back in Gainesville by the mid-1930s?
H: Yes, I came back and taught school in the school year that ended in 1932 and in
1933. Then I went back to school up in Atlanta, and I finished there in 1934.
After that, I came back here in 1935 to the University.
L: And this is when the Junior Welfare League was being formed in Gainesville. I
believe you were a charter member.
L: Tell me a little bit about that group and how you all were formed.
H: I have no idea how we were formed. I think that Aunt Carrie and her nieces just
started telling different ones about forming it and seeing if they wanted to be a
part of it. They told some of us, and I was included.
L: I see. Now, Aunt Carrie was Mrs. McCollum. Who were her nieces?
H: They were Kitty Kincaid and Louise Kincaid. Kitty is now Mrs. James Feiber.
They have another sister, but she was not living in Gainesville. Her name is
Mary Fuller. I do not really know how I got in, but the group of friends all got
together, more or less. It was a little town and just a bunch of people. We were
going to start doing welfare work, so we named ourselves the Junior Welfare
League. I guess the first thing we started on was the lunchroom.
L: I believe that is right, the lunchroom project at Eastside.
H: You can find out from people who were really involved in it. I was not; I did not
do any of these jobs. We had to put in a certain number of hours, and we were
assigned what we could count as hours and what we could not. I was not able
to participate in the lunchroom project. We had a well-baby clinic later, and then
there was a dental clinic. All these dances and silver teas and things that we put
on, which you can read about in the scrap book, were to raise money. We did
not solicit money from people, but we invited them to come and pay.
L: Were those very successful events?
H: I think so.
L: And you reached out to the whole community, not just your club?
H: Oh, yes. We would sell tickets. Anybody that would like to come could come to
any of those things.
L: I am curious how the silver tea got the name "silver tea."
H: They would put silver in a little bowl.
L: Oh, silver money.
L: That is cute.
H: That was the way they did it. In those days we did not give folding money
because that was too much. This was before inflation.
L: Right. So you had a lot of money-making projects?
H: We had to, because we had to buy all the groceries. The girls themselves
cooked the food. I think they eventually did get some paid help. But to begin
with, they did it all. The only thing I remember doing was going out with Rodney
Bishop and interviewing the mothers of families, like social service workers. We
interviewed them to assess that they were eligible for a free meal.
L: Tell me a little bit about that. I have not yet talked to anybody who knew about
that part of it. How did you structure the interview, and what were you looking
H: We were so flat footed, and we did not know what we were doing there,
especially me. But I tagged along with Rodney; she did most of the interviewing.
I was amazed that we could go in and ask people such personal questions in
order to find out if they were working or were gainfully employed. All of this is
quite personal, and I found it most uncomfortable.
L: How did the people seem to feel about it that you were interviewing?
H: They did not seem to mind. They wanted their child to get some food. It
worked out all right.
L: What other sorts of questions did you ask?
H: I think it was mostly about their financial situation.
L: So that is how you determined who qualified for the program.
H: That was all, as far as I know. Some of this is just my imagination. You see, at
this point in my life, a lot of my brain cells have deteriorated.
L: Now, Mrs. Harp, you know I do not buy that.
H: Well, I am glad, but it is the truth.
L: With your work schedule, how did you make your hours that were required?
H: Well, once in a while I would have to get a typewriter and do some typing for the
League at home. I was not a typist, and I hated to sit down and do more desk
work after doing it all day. I was not really into it because I could not be into it
After I had been in it for two or three years, they needed a president. I know
they asked quite a few different people to be president, although not one of them
told me that she had been asked to be president and she turned it down. Well,
they finally got to the bottom of the barrel, and I said, "Sure, I would be glad." I
was glad because that made all my hours. So I was the president for one year.
Then I resigned, and that was pretty drastic.
L: At that time it was a big step to take.
H: It was too bad, but I just simply could not keep it up.
L: Well, there was a time commitment involved, it sounds like.
H: Oh, yes. You had to work and produce, and I was not productive enough and
could not make my hours. I have this number in my head that we had to
produce ninety hours, but that was for the year. It does not sound like so much
now. But you do not run it that way now, do you?
L: That sounds about right. I know they have changed it from a certain number of
hours. Now you work on a project basis. You select a placement and do
whatever that project entails. Some jobs are heavier hour-wise than others.
H: You know, I am amazed at the young women today who are in the League and
working and doing all these things. So many of them have careers and families.
I think it is amazing how they spread themselves around in so many areas. I
do not see how it is possible.
L: I guess they have a lot of energy. You are right. You were a career woman
and taking on this responsibility for volunteerism, just like women today who are
career women and have children to be responsible for. It is a big step.
H: Well, I did not have anything to do. I lived with my mother, and I did not take
any responsibility at home whatsoever. The only thing I did really for her was I
was her chauffeur. She never learned to drive, so when I had the time I would
take her to get things she needed and do things that she wanted to do.
The year before I was president, there was a lot of tension between professionals
and non-professionals. I was categorized as a professional. Anybody that
worked was a professional. The ones that were married and did not work could
make all the hours. They could not stand it that professionals did not to do as
much work as they did, and we could not stand it that we had to work so much
and do the same. Before I was president there was some squabbling. I guess
in any group of human beings there is some squabbling. Somebody said she
did not think some of us worked enough. That is one reason I decided I was not
going to work any more than I was doing, and that I just better call it quits.
So often at our general meetings there was so much discussion on what was
brought up and so much pro and con going on that I heard some criticism about
it: "Why do they not get things a little better organized and not have so much
yakking." So when I got to be president, I decided at the board meeting that we
would bring up whatever needed to be brought up among the board members,
and then we would make a recommendation to the members, open it up for
discussion, and vote. Somebody came to me later and said, "Do you know what
people are saying about you? They are saying you railroad everything through."
L: You cannot please everybody, can you?
H: I said, "Well, I meant to do it." That is the opposite of what was fussed about
last year, so they fussed about this this year.
L: What did you do in your year as president? What were your duties?
H: Nothing. I have not ever done anything. I do not know why you keep saying
you are going to get some real meat out of this. I cannot remember if there was
anything; my memory has totally evaporated. All I can tell you about is that we
changed the constitution almost every meeting. I think one of our businesses
was to amend the constitution. We would bring up whatever needed to be
brought up. I cannot remember any of our problems.
L: So you were really the organizational person for the group.
H: That is how I played it, I guess.
L: Since it was still a very young group--you must have been the third president, so
it was just three years old there was still a lot of ironing out to do.
H: We had not found our way, probably. And we had to change back and forth. I
really do not recall anything about what our goals were or what our problems
were at that time.
L: You were talking about the fact that there were professionals and homemakers in
the group. How would you say the split was? Was it half and half?
H: I guess they were mostly homemakers.
L: What size group are we talking about here?
H: I think it started off at about thirty-five members. How many are there now?
L: I would say about 150, but that is a gross estimate.
H: This is a little town. We knew everybody, and these were our friends. I am
sure that in this group now you probably do not know everybody.
L: Well, I am no longer an active member, but even four years ago when I was, you
are right, you really do not know everybody. If you make an effort, you can
recognize a face and name together.
H: This was sort of a fun thing. We enjoyed it, and we enjoyed seeing each other.
I am sure that the ones who were free to work at the lunchroom worked hard.
The ones that helped start clinics, I am sure, put in a lot of hours with that, too.
It was a real wonderful job. I cannot imagine doing such a thing. The
government took over these things eventually.
L: But it was your group that identified the need and set up a program to fill the
H: I have a feeling that Mrs. McCullum everybody called her Aunt Carrie was our
inspiration, our guide, probably. She was a wonderful organizer, and she was a
wonderful club woman for many, many years. I think she was a state president
and something else and something else. Then she joined the National Catholic
Women and eventually became the national president of the National Catholic
L: I have read several newspaper coverages of her career.
H: So I would imagine she had a lot to do with our training and our projects and the
creativity part of it. We were just flapping along behind her probably, except
there were some people that knew better what they were doing than I did.
L: I am sure, as you said, that some people had more time to put into it than the
people who were working. What other sorts of jobs did they give the women
who worked? You told me about taking typing home. I can understand things
like the lunchroom, which has to be done in the middle of the day, that somebody
who has a daytime job could not do that. Was the Welfare League fairly flexible
in what they needed and the times they needed so that people could make their
hours? Did everybody that worked take home typing?
H: No. I see what you mean. All these parties that were fund raisers took a lot of
organizing and a lot of work, like decorating and selling tickets. When we put on
Follies Rolling Rhythm and themes like that of course, we had to get the
programs. Then I think we sold ads in those things. The members who worked
could do all this kind of stuff in their spare time, and they could go to these
parties. There were dollar dances. That brings it back to me all these dances
and those kinds of things that we had that do not go on any more. We had tea
dances, Halloween dances, and all this stuff, and that took a lot of work. People
who were working could work at that at night.
L: I see. That is exactly what I was asking for. Tell me a little bit about that first
Follies. You said it was called Rolling Rhythm?
H: Yes. Well, I cannot tell you too much about that. I was in it.
L: What did you do?
H: I was the comic relief.
L: Tell me about that.
H: Well, between acts they always have to have something between acts when the
curtain is down. Bill Thompson was my partner. I think he was at the
University. I really do not remember much about it, but we were sort of like
dumbos. I think we carried a rope he held part of it and I held part of it and
we dragged it. We just walked like the Three Stooges, the stupid ones, or like
the three stupid people in the Newhart TV show [Larry, his brother Daryl, and his
other brother Daryl]. We just walked across the stage very slowly with a stupid
look on our faces, and it just broke the audience up.
L: I bet it did.
H: From then on I was sort of famous around town. If anybody saw me, they would
just laugh. I was typecast right away as being a stupid idiot, and everybody died
laughing when then saw me. That was my debut on the stage. Did you have
professionals come to train the dancers?
L: Yes, they do. Cargill, a company out of New York, comes down.
H: Yes, that is the way they did it. I do not know the name of it, but the man would
come down and interview us ahead of time. Then he would tell us how many
dancers to get and how many men to do this. They were the directors.
L: Was that the only Follies you appeared in?
L: You quit after the first one?
H: Maybe we did not have another one, or maybe that was the only one we had
while I was still a member.
L: Was it a one-performance show, or did you do it two nights?
L: I bet the club made a lot of money that way.
H: Yes, and I think they still do.
L: I think they do.
H: This is just my own reaction to home-talent things. The best thing about it is in a
small town where you know the people, this is the way it was. Now, with the
town as big as it is and the membership as big as it is, I do not particularly enjoy
these shows because I do not know the people in it. I think half the fun is
knowing the ones in it.
L: That is true. That is a big part of it. Tell me a little about the salvage shop.
Was there a salvage shop early on?
H: Yes. I think we called it the Salvage Shop. What do they call it now?
L: They call it the Thrift Shop.
H: Then we called it the Salvage Shop. I think they were two different things. Yes,
we had that, but I really cannot tell you much about that. I think it was on Union
Street, what is now SW 1st Street, just off of Main Street going west.
L: How far away from Main Street is it?
H: The next block. I think it was right down there.
L: Is that close to where Rice's Hardware is?
H: Yes. But I really do not remember exactly where it was. I did read that Miss
Betty Miller let us have the building free. She owned it.
L: How often was it open?
H: Just on Saturdays, I think.
L: So some of the women who worked during the week could maybe work there,
H: Yes. We did not have any paid person working there at all.
L: How did you accumulate the goods to sell in the salvage shop?
H: Just asked. The girls brought some themselves, and then the word spread that,
like the Salvation Army or Goodwill, we would like to have used clothing. I think
that was all to begin with just clothing. Are there other articles today?
L: They also have household items, like linens and kitchen goods, but the largest
part of it is still clothing. Children's clothing is a really big part of it.
H: My church has what they call a clothes closet, and they have a big supply of all
kinds of clothes. It is so well organized. It is amazing. I guess the League's
L: They try to keep it organized. It is large. Things like your church's clothes
closet and the League's Thrift Shop serve an important need in the community.
I guess they use it for people who have fires or bad luck of one sort or another.
H: I do not know if there is any qualification.
L: Tell me, when you all formed the League, was it an open-ended membership, or
was it until you were a certain age or for a certain number of years?
H: I think you could not be in it after you were thirty-five. Also, your life in it I think
was seven years. I am not sure about that.
L: So you served for seven active years or until you were thirty-five.
H: I think that is the way it was. Maybe if you were over thirty-five you are not
eligible for membership to begin with.
L: So was it mostly younger women who belonged?
L: What would you say was the average age?
H: Well, we had members in their early twenties, in their middle twenties, and then
on into their early thirties. Then it would peel off.
L: From the questions you have asked me that I have answered, it certainly sounds
like the group is very different today from the way it started out. I think I have
asked you all the questions I have. Do you have anything you would like to
H: No. I have gone way overboard on a lot of things that were not relevant.
L: I appreciate your talking with me. I have enjoyed it. Thank you very much.
H: Well, it was not as painful as I thought it would be.
[End of the interview]