CGP Community Stories

Barbara Mulhern, November 16, 2011

Title

Barbara Mulhern, November 16, 2011

Subject

Education
Reading
Cooperstown, NY
Childhood
Values
Great Depression
Social classes
World War II
Skiing for women

Description

Barbara Harrison Mulhern was born September 26, 1925 in New York City. Her father, Francis French Harrison was a doctor and her mother, Carlotta Creevey Harrison was a college educated housewife. Barbara grew up in Cooperstown in the 1930s during the Great Depression and World War II with a brother and a sister. Barbara talks of the social dynamics of Cooperstown in the 1930s and how those dynamics were changed by the Second World War. Education was always a large part of Barbara’s life. She attended The Knox School, Smith College, and the Radcliffe Summer School for Publishing Procedures. Barbara went on to teach at Knox and spent some time in publishing. She also served on many different boards of education. She has worked tirelessly to better the educational system and talks extensively about the value of education and what it has meant to her over the years. Barbara married Francis Arthur Mulhern on March 6, 1949 in New York City and they had six children together over the years. Barbara talks of her childhood, the values that shaped her, and the values that she passed on to her children. Even at 86 years old Barbara skis: she discusses her love of skiing and how it has been and still is a major part of her recreational and family life. At the end of the interview, Barbara talks of her future goals and of changes she would like to see in the world.
Barbara’s interview translated well into written form. I have eliminated false starts for ease of reading. I included non-verbal communication such as laughter in brackets to aid the reader in interpretation of the transcript. I do, however, highly suggest listening to the recording to best understand the dynamics and the tone of the interview.

Creator

Jenna Neumann

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta

Date

2011-11-16

Rights

New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
28.8mB
audio/mpeg
28.8mB
audio/mpeg
28.8mB
audio/mpeg
4.2mB
image/jpeg
8mB

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

11-069

Coverage

Upstate New York
1925-2011
Cooperstown, NY

Online Submission

No

Interviewer

Jenna Neumann

Interviewee

Barbara Mulhern

Location

663 Keyes Road
Pierstown, NY

Transcription

Cooperstown Graduate Program
Oral History Project Fall 2011

BM = Barbara Mulhern
JN = Jenna Neumann

[Start of track 1, 0:00.0]

JN:
This is the November 16th [2011] interview of Barbara Mulhern by Jenna Neumann for the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s Research and Fieldwork Course recorded at 663 Keyes Road in Pierstown, New York. Barbara, would you tell me about your childhood growing up in Cooperstown in the 1930s?
BM:
Where would you like me to start - my earliest recollection?
JN:
Your earliest memory.
BM:
Well, we used to live on what is now Pine Boulevard – it was called Pine Street at the time. It was a rental house, my dad was a doctor at the hospital. My mother was a lady who stayed at home who had people who cooked for her and a maid. When we first came here, I had a younger brother. We came in the late 1920s and in 1930 my sister was born. So there were three of us: me, my brother, and my younger sister and we lived there on Pine Boulevard until 1934. I remember living in that house. When I see that house today, I still remember living in that house. I remember playing on that wall that is still there in the front of the house. I remember my dad and mom’s cars there. Actually I remember the living room – what I remember is my parents and my great-grandmother talking about the Lindbergh kidnapping and I was absolutely horrified because I was absolutely certain that all three of us were going to be kidnapped at any moment. That is one of my earliest recollections of being aware of the outside world. It really frightened me. I guess it really upset a lot of adults at the time. Now that I think of it, it must have been really awful. We lived there as I said until 1934. My parents built a house right near the hospital. It is now called Harrison House, it is part of the hospital complex; it is one Beaver street. [Currently: 1 Atwell Road] [cough] They bought the property in the early 1930s. They built the house over the winter of 1933 and 1934. We moved in July of 1934. One of the things I remember most about living in that house is about cars because Cooperstown was…most people did not have cars. My family had two cars. When I learned that my dad was hired by Bassett hospital with the clause in his contract that he had to make house calls and he had to provide his own automobile. But, in those days, people typically did not use their cars in wintertime. Cooperstown was pretty much self-contained. Everybody walked everywhere. They used to say “down-street” when they went to Main Street. My mother told me if I ever said that she would probably kill me. So I was not allowed to use that expression. But everybody else went down street and they got their groceries and their clothes and everything was as I say, we were totally self-contained. What I remember about my dad’s car, it was delivered to the house every morning by the gas station that Plymouth Dodge people, which was the Mohican Garage. Mr. Thayer [William J. Thayer] or Mr. Fowler [Harry W. Fowler] brought my dad’s warmed car up to the house and he drove it to the hospital across town from Pine Street to where the hospital is now with his medical bag and he was ready to make house calls day or night. And then he came home at five o’clock and they would come around evening and walk up the hill, pick up the car, and take it away and store it at night so that it didn’t stay out all night, particularly in the wintertime. I think he probably left it out in the summer. But I do remember this matter of him having this car that was brought around in the morning and taken away in the evening. And if he got a call from the hospital saying that somebody needed him in the middle of the night he had to call the garage, Mr. Fowler or Mr. Thayer, and they would get out of bed and go to their garage and get my dad’s car and bring it to him so he could go and make a house call. I think of that kind of life in a small town that just doesn’t exist anymore. It is so sort-of self-contained. Everybody sort-of cared about everybody else. And we did have another car. My mom had a car and I have pictures of us getting a Christmas tree. It was a little convertible - I think we would all kill to have it right now. I think it was yellow. And it had a little rumble seat – anyway, I do remember that part. Now I don’t remember a lot about it except walking to school until I guess through the third grade. I went to school and it is now what is Bassett Hall, which is part of the hospital right on Beaver Street. And it was the Saint Christina’s school. It was an orphanage run by Episcopal nuns, and I went to school there from the first through the third grade I believe. I do remember the interior of the building a little bit, as a matter of fact I walked in that building about ten years ago and I walked into a room that I know I had in the first grade. It all came back to me. I could see the things on the wall and I could see a lot of things. We used to play jacks in the halls. Anyway I went to school there. I would walk from Pine over to the school, my brother and I every day. I had a (very strict and) good education from the Episcopal nuns who were strict. I do remember that and I also remember being in awe of eating a meal there and watching the nuns with their long sleeves on their robes, or whatever, holding their sleeves to keep them out of the food as they would pass the food around. They would have to have three hands to be able to operate with those long nun robes or whatever they call them. Anyway, I don’t remember any religious education at all. I know there is a chapel in that building that is still there. But I do remember the gym and I remember playing outside in the back in what is now the parking lot. Anyway, then when we moved to Beaver Street for some reason, we changed schools and we went to the public school, which was Cooperstown Central School on Chestnut Street. It is where the Cooper Lane apartments are now. It was a yellow brick building. It was K- 12. Everybody walked to school except the kids who lived outside of town and it was all farm kids. Almost nobody lived outside the village limits at that time. They lived in their own little communities. If they lived in Fly Creek, they went to school in Fly Creek, they bought their groceries in Fly Creek and so on. There wasn’t this communication that there is now. I went to school there from fourth grade through the sixth grade, and I don’t remember much about that particular school. My parents were both college graduates and very interested in our education and they saw to it that we read a lot. We read a lot of books, we read a lot about the world and I remember so clearly some of the farm children not realizing that there was anything beyond what they knew, because, of course, radios were very few and far between. There was no television. They had no way of knowing. Their lives were circumscribed by the farm they lived on and coming in to Cooperstown for school. The stores stayed open on Friday nights and they would come into town. Sometimes on Saturday nights – I’m not sure about this, but they did stay open one night a week and the farm families would come in their trucks or whatever and do their shopping. But the young children, their lives were circumscribed by their farm life and getting on the bus and coming in to school.
[Track 1, 09:23.1]
JN:
Did the farm children know about the Lindbergh kidnapping?
BM:
Did they what?
JN:
Did they know about the Lindbergh kidnapping?
BM:
I am sure they did not.
JN:
How did you find out about it?
BM:
I remember standing behind the couch listening to my parents talking to my great-grandmother about it. I remember sort of sitting there. Our maids used to get the Daily News. My parents of course got the New York Times or the New York Herald Tribune, but the maids used to read the Daily News and some of the other scandal sheets which I used to read too. Oh my Lord, what I learned to read.
JN:
So it was from a newspaper that you found out about the…
BM:
Well no I think I heard - I just overheard the conversations.
JN:
Ok.
BM:
I was interested in their concern about it and how it happened, and I know my mother was deeply concerned because we had a family connection with Mrs. Lindbergh’s family. My grandfather, my mother’s father, and her father were close friends at Columbia, I believe, when my grandfather was in medical school, Dwight Morrow was in the…I don’t know what school he was in, maybe law or something like that, but they lived together in a post-graduate apartment. Dwight Morrow was Mrs. Lindbergh’s father. And she had gone to Smith as my mother had gone to Smith so there was a connection there and I think this is probably why my parents were concerned. You know, I can’t blame my mother when somebody she knew loses a child, making all of those headlines. Speaking of crime, I also remember walking with my mother from the house on Pine Street to the house on Beaver Street: we walked through what was then the jail yard, where the sheriff’s office was. The prison isn’t there anymore, but there was a prison there and I remember seeing Eva Coo (You can look her up.) Eva Coo was a famous criminal. She had had a court trial here and been sentenced to death. When I saw her, she was coming out of the jail and being put into some kind-of van or something or truck or whatever to be taken down to Sing Sing prison to be executed.
JN:
Oh my gosh, what did she do?
BM:
Oh, she ran over a couple of guys [laugh] with her car. [laugh
JN:
[laugh] So some people did have a car then! [laugh]
BM:
Yes, some people did have a car. [laugh] Yeah, yeah you might want to look that one up. There is a book, there are several books about her, but I did see Eva Coo which is a sort of weird recollection. My mother asked, do you know who that is?
So anyway, where were we? We were talking about farm children – do you want me to go back to there?
JN:
Sure.
BM:
Um…
JN:
How isolated they were.
[Track 1, 12:51.6]
BM:
School. I don’t remember a lot about those grades. I know that my sixth grade teacher had a bad automobile accident. Speaking of cars again. Actually my memory about the few cars, I think that started to change. This was the deep depression. In Cooperstown itself there was a merchant class which was sort of the elite class of the year-round population, and then the people who worked in the stores and worked in the gas stations and so on. Now, as I said the other day, and I keep repeating this because it is so hard to believe for me now. That everything you could do and buy whatever you needed year-round was right here. You didn’t go to Oneonta or to New Hartford, or to Albany to go shopping – it was here. There was a woman’s clothing store, men’s clothing store, sporting goods store, jewelry store, two drug stores with soda fountains. Church and Scott’s had little square tables with marble tops where you could get an ice cream soda for 15 cents. There were two hardware stores. There was a very good book store that not only sold books but they had a little rental library; they had really popular books that the village library wasn’t buying because they were not quite what the library wanted to invest in I am certain. If you wanted to ship your trunk to college or to school there was a Railway Express office on the Main Street. There must have been at least four grocery stores, if not more. And there were little corner stores on Railroad Avenue and on Elm Street, and I can’t remember if there were any more. I know where those two where because one of them is still there. And then of course the train came. The passenger train was pretty much finished by the time I start remembering since I remember a special ski train coming in, but there was a freight train that came in to Bruce Hall. Going to Bruce Hall was considered going almost out of town.
[Track 1, 15:23.4]
JN:
Where is Bruce Hall?
BM:
Bruce Hall is at the end of Main Street, toward Fly Creek. Do you know where Mohican Flowers is? No? If you go up Main Street to the very end, Mohican Flowers is on the left and then Bruce Hall is a big lumber yard and now hardware store but it was mostly a lumber yard at the time I remember, building construction materials, and past that is the copy shop and you turn left to go to Fly Creek.
JN:
Um hm
BM:
That’s where the workmen went to get their plumbing supplies and stuff like that but literally you could buy pretty much anything on Main Street. You didn’t go anywhere and there were people who never went anywhere. So there was this merchant class and the people who worked in all of these stores and there was a summer population and the big houses you see on the outside of Cooperstown were mostly seasonal houses along the end of Main, Woodside Hall, and Lakelands, where the Paulsons live now, and the houses on Estli Avenue.
JN:
They were vacation homes?
BM:
They were summer homes. People came for the summer. Summer was a verb. You summered in Cooperstown or Saratoga or wherever but yes, people would come with their staff, with cooks and maids and all of the children, and the governesses and so on. Most of my friends who came for the summer had governesses. We didn’t have a governess. We did have a nanny for a long time. We didn’t call her a nanny but she was our nurse for many years. My mother did not do much of that – that was not her thing. In any event, so, we had in Cooperstown we had people who ran all of these stores, obviously these were people who made good money for themselves but they did not go away on vacation much. They had places along the lake. On the west side of the lake, where Route 80 is now – there were many big summer cottages and these people whose names were part of the buildings on Main Street all had rather big camps on the lake and the mother and the children would go out and live in the camps and the dad would commute possibly by car, often by boat down to Cooperstown. The families would live “up lake”: it was called – “up lake” as opposed to going “down street”. I don’t know how those linguistic things happened but they did. Anyway, so the shops were open probably from 9-5pm. I remember they closed at five. When the noon whistle blew, people walked home for lunch. Mr. Lippitt, we will say, of Lippitt Jewelers walked up the street and probably his wife was there with lunch ready for him. I don’t think my dad came home then because he was at the hospital and his hours were not a bit like anybody else’s, but we children walked home for lunch and came back to school at one when I was in the public school. I think I ate lunch at school when I was at St. Christina’s
JN:
With the nuns?
BM:
Hmm?
JN:
With the nuns?
BM:
With the nuns, that’s why I think I know that they didn’t get their sleeves in the gravy. [laugh] I can see them now with their black sleeves hanging down with one hand here reaching for things… I don’t remember walking back and forth, but I do remember walking home from school from the house on Beaver Street, walking back and forth at lunchtime through the snow. We were never taken to school. We always walked. I look at children now who are delivered by bus within Cooperstown, and I am dumb-founded because I don’t ever remember getting a ride to school past the first grade except occasionally in the later part of my life when I went to another school. Occasionally when my father was going in that direction if I could catch a ride with him, I did in the early morning but odds of that happening were slim. So, there we are, let’s see, we were talking about…
[Track 1, 20:36.7]
JN:
How did the community cope with the Great Depression? How did it affect…?
BM:
I think it affected everybody but you have to remember [cough] that this community is an unusual community because it has always had from its very beginnings a… I don’t want to say godfathers, but fairy godmothers or godfathers or whatever. For a while it was the Cooper family and since the late nineteenth century it has been the Clark family, who have seen to it that there was employment for people and I have been told that the people of their town, they considered this their town, is sort of like living in a company town, it still is.
JN:
How so?
BM:
Well, it is where the money is. Jane Clark wields a very big stick at NYSHA [New York State Historical Association], at the Baseball Hall of Fame, at the hospital [Bassett Hospital], and just everywhere.
JN:
Hm.
BM:
Money talks.
JN:
Hm.
BM:
Singer Sewing machine had a lot of money. And so I do know that the Clark family was both Mr. Stephen and Edward Clark. Edward Clark saw to it that the hospital got re-opened in the late twenties but that started before the 1929 Wall Street debacle. It was he who saw to it that the hospital kept running, Edward Clark He died in 1933 and fortunately his family realized that having the hospital here was important and kept it open. It would not have happened if the Clarks had not been there. You know this is a very different community for that reason, because the family was always there. And I am told, I don’t now how true it is, that one of the reasons that the Baseball Hall of Fame was built in the middle of the 1930s was Mr. Clark realized that if we could put something here that would bring people here to Cooperstown and employ people as it was being built it would help with the economy. I know it was true that the first Edward Clark built the Kingfisher Tower that is on the lake and that was in the late nineteenth century when he first came back here. It was partly to see to it that the local people were employed in the building project. [cough] So, yes of course the depression affected Cooperstown, but I think less than a lot of other places because there was this presence there always watching over the community to be sure. They took care of people, they employed a lot of people themselves. There were greenhouses and stables and things like that. They employed a lot of people. Then of course the hospital, to run a place like that you have to have nurses, maids, cleaning people. So that all of those things I think helped keep the economy from being as disastrous as it could have been and was in other places.
[Track 1, 24:29.3]
JN:
Did the Great Depression affect your family?
BM:
Not as much as my… Yes, because my father came from a family that had some money and there was less, let’s put it that way. I do remember them being very concerned when they started to build the house – they didn’t know if the hospital was going to be able to continue – there was always concern but it didn’t affect us so far as we were not impoverished or anything like that. We probably had to cut back a little bit but it wasn’t serious.
JN:
To go on a slightly different route, what were some of your family rules that you had to abide by as a child – did you have rules that your parents had?
BM:
My mother wasn’t exactly into child rearing. At the table we would sit up straight. What I remember is the house on Beaver street. We had dinner promptly, more or less promptly at around 7 o’clock every night. We were clean and dressed up for dinner and my mother dressed for dinner. It was served in the dining room and no elbows on the table and we would always use the right forks and we were very strictly brought up as far as manners and so on and so forth were concerned. It was not much opportunity for any kind of delinquency, and we were given a lot of freedom for playing. That house on Beaver Street, the house is on the level of the hospital, but there are three acres down by the river. We played in the water, we built stuff with lumber we found down in there, we had total freedom. So they were not strict but they were strict about the meals and table manners and other kind of manners, but besides that we had total freedom. We were wonderfully free.
JN:
Was this typical of families in Cooperstown?
BM:
Um
JN:
These rules?
BM:
I don’t know, probably no. You have to realize that I told you that there was this merchant class. Those people had probably gotten their businesses from their parents and had probably lived here a long time. Probably had not been college educated. In the late twenties when the hospital was started up again you brought in a layer of people who were highly educated. Doctors are pretty highly educated. Their wives tend to be pretty highly educated. I was going to talk about the demography. They became a different layer. There was not much mingling between the hospital people and… This used to be true even when I was a young adult. Not a lot of mingling between the hospital people and the other people of Cooperstown. There were definite layers of society in Cooperstown. There was no getting around it. There was the layer of people who did stuff for other people. There was the merchant class, the people who owned all the shops. Along with it was a layer who had other aspirations for their children. We went away for spring vacation – other people didn’t. We went down to visit grandparents in New Jersey and New York and things like that. And my friend Lib would visit her grandparents in Boston. Our lives were not circumscribed by the Cooperstown life. These people were imported, if you think about that. The seven attending physician, the first attendings at the hospital, all came from elsewhere and made their own little society because they had to do what they had to do to be physicians and so on and so they had not much to do with that other part of Cooperstown. And then there was the other layer of the summer people who were here from June to Labor Day and that was a whole other layer. They all belonged to the Country Club. Because many of the hospital people had gone to college with some of those other summer people we became sort-of half part of that but not-really.
[Start of track 2, 00:00.0]
BM:
We were always sort of in-between. I remember my friend who came for the summer said to me once when we were well grown up, “I never figured out quite how you figured in Cooperstown when I was a child.” she said.” I just never figured that out,” I thought. “Well that’s funny that she even thought about it.” We were sort of, as I say, in-between. So, we went to school locally but not for long actually. There were other schools in Cooperstown in addition to those I mentioned. You want me to go there, to talk about schools?
JN:
Sure.
BM:
In addition to the nuns at St. Christina and the public school on Chestnut Street, there was a small boys’ boarding school in buildings on the corner of Pioneer and Elm Street called the Beasley School, and my brother started going there probably in the sixth grade. He did not spend a lot of time at the public school. I started going to the Knox School for girls in the seventh grade. The Knox school for girls was in the Otesaga. It was a girls’ boarding school. There were about a hundred and some students, faculty, [cough] and it was a complete little world unto itself. At the time there was a separate building – it had a gymnasium in it with basketball courts and a stage, a dormitory for the maids. The faculty lived in the main building with the students. There was a riding stable where the public school is now. The green barn where the buses are kept was a riding ring at that time. The school took in a few day students. My friend Elizabeth McIver and I started there in the seventh grade and I was there until I graduated in 1943. I came back and taught there after I graduated from Smith. So I spent a lot of time walking from Beaver Street over to the Otesaga and back.
JN:
What did you teach when you came back to teach?
BM:
History and English. So I spent seven years at Knox. Six years as a student and one year as a teacher. I got an extremely good education but that also separated me from anybody I had known in the public school. My friend Lib, whose father was a surgeon, and I went there together in the seventh grade. We were the only students in the seventh grade. In the eighth grade there were two boarding students, so there were four of us in the eighth grade. We had up to about ten or twelve in the ninth grade and so on. You can imagine we got a pretty good education. We started French pretty early. Six years of French.
JN:
Who ran the Knox school?
BM:
Mrs. Houghton and Mrs. Phinney. The Knox school still exists. It stayed here until the middle fifties and then it moved to St. James, Long Island. It is now co-ed. Of course we were not allowed to talk to boys but it is now co-ed. And I guess doing pretty well. My friend Lib and I, our lives were circumscribed by our school and our family. Both our mothers were college graduates and they saw to it that we had extra curricular stuff. When we weren’t in school we were very often encouraged to do things that stimulated our brains. So we were sort of kept apart from a lot of what other children were doing. So my growing up in Cooperstown was probably very different from a lot of other people’s.
JN:
You said that your parents had aspirations for you kids – what were those aspirations?
BM:
Well, it was assumed that we would get good educations and go to college, which wasn’t always true then in Cooperstown, which is the reason we were taken out of the public school system; because the public school here at that time was not geared for college preparation. It was strictly to give some kind of education to the people that I talked about - it was totally different. And that has changed a great deal since the hospital got really big – there were a lot more of those, we were known as hospital brats, there were a lot more hospital brats and so those parents became involved. Unlike my parents who sort of divorced themselves because they, well it was a different time. In the running of those things the school changed because the parents of those children said – hey if I get on the board of education I can change something and they did. So that changed a great deal. So yes, we were expected to A.) Do well in school and B.) Go to college. Of course the war came along and kind-of changed our college educations, my brother’s and mine slightly, but not a lot.
[Track 2, 06:18.3]
JN:
How did it change it?
BM:
Well, I was at Smith from 1943 to 1947 and the war didn’t end until 1945 and there were Waves for instance at Smith, there was rationing, you couldn’t travel. Just getting back and forth to college was kindof a big deal because there was gas rationing and there was not a lot of public transportation between here and Northhampton ,Massachusetts My brother went to boarding school. After he left the Beasley School, he was sent to boarding school and he accelerated at the boarding school; they had summer school so they could get finished sooner so the guys could get into the service. All of that changes your whole… Going to college was very different when the whole country was at war. A lot of both curricular and I think other kinds of changes within the colleges. A little bit off the subject here I think probably.
JN:
Did your brother go to war?
BM:
What my mother?
JN:
Your brother.
BM:
To war…yeah… when he became old enough, yes. He started at Yale, as soon as he turned 18 which was just as the war was about to end. He was in the Navy briefly, but the war ended in 1945 and by August it was all over. He was still in the Navy I think for a few months after it ended but he didn’t have to go overseas and get shot at or anything like that because he was too young. He didn’t turn 18 until 1945 it would have been. So in fact, yes and no. [laugh] He did go to war but not really. So do we go back to where?
JN:
Tell me about your mom, Carlotta.
BM:
My what?
JN:
Your mother, you said she wasn’t partial to child rearing.
BM:
Her father was a doctor who practiced in New York City. She grew up in a house in the East 40s in a brownstone house that I still remember. They had a summer place in Connecticut. And she went to a very nice girls’ school in New York City called the Brearley school where you get an extremely good education. My mother’s family were all intellectuals. My grandparents had all gone to college. And my great-grandfather was a publisher and knew many people who were very famous in New York so she grew up in that world as an intellectual snob. She was truly an intellectual snob. I don’t mean that in a totally derogatory way but she was. She had very little use for people who did not use their brains, and she was quite outspoken about it and people who remember her remember that about her I think. So, she married my father who was an intern in 1924, and they lived in New York City. He had enough money so they could marry. It was very unusual for interns to be married at that time, very unusual. They had to get permission to get married actually.
JN:
Why?
BM:
Yeah, very unusual.
JN:
Permission from whom?
BM:
Permission from the chief of staff of the hospital they were working at. So when he graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons he started his internship and by the time I was born he was a resident in Bellevue in New York City and they lived in New York City. I don’t know what she did with her time. When I cleaned out her house after her death, I did find a list of things she needed to have for my layette. She was not exactly the coolest housekeeper in the world, I’ll tell you that – she always had people do things for her. Anyway, I found out she must have had maids who took care of things in their apartment in New York, course I don’t remember that at all. I do know that when we came here we came with Ellen the nurse. I came by boat.
JN:
Really?
BM:
I did. My dad came here whatever year it was, I think it was 1928 but I am not certain. 1928 or 1929. My dad was up here, came here to get things settled, rented the house on Pine Street, and then my mother followed some time after. And we came from New York City to Albany on the overnight boat, Ellen the nurse, my mother, my brother, and myself. The reason I know this is I remember falling out of bed. [laugh]
You can have this picture because I have it. My dad came in this car here. See this old Buick. We drove across Route 20 and came to Cooperstown. So that’s that very house – you’ll see it to this very day. You can have the picture because it is just a xerox of what is in the scrapbook but it is sort of cool.
JN:
Yeah. Thank you.
BM:
So my mom, quite what she did with her time I am not certain. She read a lot and her best friend was the mother of my best friend. That woman had gone to Radcliffe and my mother had gone to Smith. They had a lot in common and they spent a lot of time together I think. They spent a lot of time being sure that those two children and my brother and myself were read to. The winter got long one year, I think we were down with whooping cough or something. There was a big thing about astronomy and my mother got a hold of a bunch of books from New York and we all learned a lot about astronomy and stuff like that. This happened all the time. In the summer time we had special little courses. We learned how to make puppets, and we learned how to make jig saw puzzles. We were stimulated all the time, but on the other hand we were given a lot of free rein to do what we wanted to do. My dad was busy in the hospital always. When he came to Cooperstown of course he was really young. He became a person of some note I would say, and he became the chief of medicine eventually. But during his years here my dad went to war. He had been in the First World War, lied about his age. When he and Doctor McIver decided that they were going to join the medical group from Albany in the Second World War he had a little problem because the army thought he was too old. He really wasn’t but he had lied about his age for the First World War so they had to straighten that out. He was in the army from right after Pearl Harbor until November of 1945,. He came home before Christmas after the war was over but he had been gone for a long time, which changed my life too. I didn’t get along particularly well with my mother in those years, although I was a teenage daughter, now that I think about it. We were less of a high priority in her life than we might have been if my dad had been home. But she was really missing him a whole lot. She wrote a letter to him every morning. She didn’t do anything before she wrote the letter to him in the morning. We might as well have been not there. I understand now but I did not understand it at the time: she was really lonely, [sigh] it was very hard for them, for her. Also, because she had not learned to be a housewife, she had to learn those skills. Because of the war, the people who had worked in our house did not work there anymore. They went to get jobs in places where they could make a little more money and do a little bit more for the war effort than serving meals to my mother, me, and my brother, and sister. And so we were y living in a rather large house without a lot of help which changed things. The gardener was no longer there and if you look where that house is, you realize that what is now all parking lot was a lovely lawn and gardens and whatnot – somebody had to take care of it and I learned a lot. I learned a lot during the war. My mother didn’t learn to cook as well as I finally did learn how to cook, but she became very involved in the war effort. First of all before we went into the war with things like Bundles for Britain, and then she became very involved with the Red Cross. That’s where she turned her energies. And she was very involved. She started a blood bank which is now the Syracuse blood bank – she started that from here. She was very community minded in her own way. And she did a lot for the community in a very quiet way. She and my dad did a lot for the community quietly. She was for many years not really part of it but I think the war changed that because everybody was going in the same direction. Whatever class – that changed a lot and that changed everything in the United States, the war did. Because the kids who had been on the farm, who had never been off the farm, as I said to you earlier, were suddenly sent to Chicago for boot training and then on a ship for the mid-Pacific. These were kids that did not know the Pacific was there. So the war really changed an enormous amount, it changed this country in ways you cannot understand until you think about what it was like before it started. And I think that I’m not wrong in saying what a tiny little world most of the people who lived in Cooperstown lived in during my childhood. It was really – that was it, a very small world. As soon as these kids went away they never came back the same. You don’t come back, once you’ve traveled you are not the same - so it changed a lot.
[Track 2, 19:01.0]
JN:
Tell me about the Bundles for Britain Program
BM:
All I can remember is, I don’t remember anything more than my mother knitting these socks, sea-boot stockings they were called. They were long and made out of natural wool and came up over the knee for the British sailors to wear. And I don’t remember much for Bundles for Britain except that she made these socks and they went to the British Navy. I don’t remember any more than that but I know it existed.
[Track 2, 19:36.9]
JN:
What role did your father have in the war?
BM:
In the war he was the chief of medicine of what was the 33rd general hospital. It was based from Albany Medical Center. It had been a unit in the prior war and was reactivated for World War Two. Doctor McIver, who was chief of surgery here, and my father both went to war at the same time. They went, I believe in 1942, yes. Spring of 1942 they started out and he, my dad, was chief of medicine for that unit. They first were stationed in Virginia, then they went to South Carolina, where he was stationed when I was a senior at Knox. Right after I graduated in the summer of 1943 they went across the Atlantic, and landed in Africa, at Casablanca. Then they went across northern Africa on the train to Bizerte where they started a hospital. Bizerte is just south of Sicily, and they were there just as the invasion in Italy started, first in Sicily and then Italy. They opened their hospital just as that invasion was starting. And then the hospital followed the troops up the boot of Italy as far as Leghorn. Their last hospital was in Leghorn. By that time he was the chief of that hospital and closed it down in the fall of 1945 and came home. Does that answer your question?
JN:
Mmmhmm. The chores that were left behind for you to do…
BM:
I got pretty good with a push lawn mower – there was a lot of lawn. I’m a pretty good tree pruner. We did everything. We washed the garage, we did some of the cooking. My mother was not very famous as a cook. I learned a bit about cooking. We were not completely without help during the war because a woman who had been working for us got a job across the street at the hospital and she lived at our house and did some of the chores. She would work say from eight to four and then she would come home and perhaps get dinner for us or something like that. I don’t quite remember, I just remember that Ruth was part of our lives for most of the war until she married I think. We did everything around that house that needed to be done pretty much because there were no other people. Chores were not part of our lives until the war came. Chores were… we were coddled I would have to say but when the war came things changed really drastically. But I can remember mowing that lawn with a hand lawn mower and if you look how big that space is – it is pretty big.
JN:
Were those chores self-imposed or did your mom…
BM:
No, they had to be done and we were there. And as a matter of fact there was one summer and I don’t remember what year it was. One summer she was down with him in Columbia, South Carolina and we were running the house. For better or for worse, I think we must have been sixteen and fifteen or something like that and my sister was younger. We did what we could do because we had to get groceries by bicycle because we weren’t driving or anything like that, besides gas was pretty much hard to find and so it was different for us. It made a big impact.
JN:
Did you still have two cars at the time?
BM:
Yes, we did. My mother had her car and I do know that when my dad was overseas, although it was forbidden at Smith College, I was allowed to take his car to college. I stashed it away, the college didn’t know about it. Because it was easier than having somebody drive me over there and drive me back it was a 150 something miles and so yes, they kept my father’s little blue car. Yes we did have two cars, it was a two-car garage in that house - it doesn’t look like a garage now. But, yes, that was different. By that time cars had come into being. As I was saying we had pretty much always had two. My father’s car was dedicated. We almost never rode in my dad’s car. It was really dedicated to the fact that he was dedicated to taking care of people from it. Occasionally I would go on house calls with him but my mother never drove it and we weren’t old enough of course to drive it until he had gone to war. He was gone, not overseas yet but he was not here. So, but yes, she kept both cars during the war.
[Track 2, 25:12.9]
JN:
Tell me about going on house calls with your dad.
BM:
It was cool. I wasn’t asked to go very often. Now of course people don’t think anything of living out here, people did not mostly. There were houses out here but it was not real populated. Occasionally he would let me come along with him. Once I remember going into someone’s house – an old farmhouse and I can remember the old stove and it smelled and all I could remember is I could not wait to get out of there [laugh]. I’m sure it was a house that was never aired or anything like that. I can remember a wood stove, and I can remember it being very hot in the kitchen and the woman of the house looked concerned. I guess it was her husband who was sick, I have no recollection. I do remember driving on country roads with him, and the people were really kind and sweet to me. I was not very old, but they were really nice and it was an amazing experience. At the time of his death, many people came to me afterwards and told me that they remembered him coming to their houses when they were ill many years before that. It was very interesting. My dad and I were, I guess you figured this out already, closer in many ways. Although he too grew up in a house where his parents had not been touchy-feely either– he grew up I guess with all kinds of maids – I never really asked but I know there was enough money there. Everybody pretty much had live-in help in those times. He kind-of didn’t know what to do with children, those small people that were around his house, but when I became interested in what he was doing, he couldn’t wait to share it with me and he used to occasionally take me on house calls. And, when I got older, just before he went to war I used to go across the street and he would show me his lab and things like that. He was a researcher as well as a caregiver. And I became very interested in medicine actually because of that, for a while. But he was a… well we didn’t play baseball or anything like that. That was not what we did.
JN:
Did he ever have you help on the house calls in any way?
BM:
No. No, I was just baggage [laugh]. And there were times I didn’t get out of the car. He pretty much knew the situation, and he would have me sit in the car. I had a book or something like that. But that didn’t happen very often because I was always doing my own thing, as children do, but occasionally I would be there and drive out to wherever. And of course coming out as far as you came out today was quite a long journey in those days and not easily done. The other thing I was thinking about the war. I worked on a farm that was not far from here in the first summer of the war. A bunch of us helped with the cauliflower, Lester Hanson’s cauliflower farm and picked green beans. That was actually was my first sort of a real job. We got money for doing that. That was in fact my first real job not far from here, just out of sight over the hill.
JN:
Did you drive there?
BM:
Actually yes, by that time I had just turned sixteen and I was allowed to drive the other kids, the younger kids who also worked on the farm. I can’t believe we were all these under-age kids, doing what we were doing. But we were. Yes, I drove the whole bunch of them, there were six of us who came. I drove my mother’s, which is bigger than my father’s, car. Yes. And because we were working on a farm we were allowed to get extra gas so we could work. I guess you know there was gas rationing.
[Start of track 3, 00:00.0]
BM:
We got gas so that we could go and I could take this whole group of kids who were a little bit younger than I was. Yes, you are right, I did drive out there. That was my first driving experience, and why the State of New York let someone that age drive a whole carload of other younger people, all misbehaved and of course no seatbelts…wouldn’t happen now.
JN:
What was the work-day like?
BM:
It was probably eight to four or something like that. It was sort of early in the morning I remember it being wet on the fields in the morning and it was hard work. And we brought our lunch. But he was, the farmer was desperate. He grew cauliflower pretty much for export, it wasn’t for local use. It was grown here because the climate was right. It went to New York City. We harvested and crated it, and then it went on a truck to New York. Do you have a question?
JN:
Yes, what did people do for fun in Cooperstown? You said that there were schools and anything you needed…
BM:
Well, let’s see. I can tell you what my parents did. They played tennis. My father played golf when he first came here but when we moved to the house on Beaver Street he stopped. They were members of the country club and played tennis. My dad somewhere early on in the early 1930s got interested in skiing and he and some other people and my mom used to go out and cross country ski on the hills. That was before the war started. My dad and some other people were very interested in starting a ski tow, and we had a ski tow not far from here. In the wintertime, I can’t tell you what other people did in the summertime, although I guess the merchant class went up on the lake in their boats. In the wintertime when there was serious ice on the lake, there was a serious fishing colony out by Cooperstown every year. The people bring their little fishing huts. They do that where you come from too – don’t they?
JN:
MmmHmm
BM:
Well, it was very big here too. It no longer is. You will see them out there now – they bring tents and they pop them up and they are there for the day and gone by the end of the day, which I find very odd. But for years I remember a whole fishing colony out near Cooperstown. People would take their cars out there and race around in their cars in the wintertime. Just to get out in the wintertime. There has always been a gym in Cooperstown. The fieldstone building which is now part of the Hall of Fame was where the gym was when I was growing up until the 1960s. Recently, fairly recently, that was a gym and a pool and squash courts and so on. People in the wintertime went on hikes with a man by the name of Cap Smith. My childhood was quite separate from other people’s because my friend Lib McIver’s parents, the surgeon who went to war with my dad, had a farm out on the Cornish Hill. We used to spend our weekends out there, Lib and I, her parents, her sister, we would spend the whole weekends out there. We had a pond and a little garden and stuff like that. And so we were out there just being kids. And behind my house playing in the out-of-doors. I don’t remember much being inside besides reading and being read to. Occasionally I was allowed to listen to the radio, very occasionally. I don’t know what my parents did. My dad didn’t have a lot of free time. He worked a lot, There were many demands on him. And I don’t remember what my mother did with her days, I know she ordered the food and the cook cooked it but I couldn’t tell you what else she did. Of course I know what she did during the war. I guess she read books. [laugh]
[Track 3, 05:14.5]
JN:
What values did your parents find important to teach to you and your brother and sister?
BM:
Money. Thrift. Good manners. Please and thank you. The value of reading as a lifestyle, and I think the usual. We were not church-goers, but I think we were brought up fairly strictly in the “thou-shall-nots.” They were pretty strict about us learning all of those things, we were very well disciplined actually. Respect for our elders. We were very lucky, now that I think of it I was one of the luckiest children there ever was. I had both sets of grandparents, not only wonderful parents, but I had both sets of grandparents, and one set of great grandparents and I adored my great-grandfather. I thought he was wonderful. He was an intellectual, a publisher, meeting interesting people. He had a very quiet and unassuming way of getting along in the world. I think that was something he passed on to me. And I think the intellectual thing was probably to me was just a matter of asking questions and never being quite satisfied that you know everything because you don’t. [laugh]
JN:
What did you adore most about your great-grandfather?
BM:
He read to me. He read Uncle Remus. I’ll show you a picture of him or two. He was a white haired gentleman, he looked sort of like Mark Twain, he had been a friend of Mark Twain. He saw to it that I was introduced to all kinds of books. He read Kipling to me, he had known Kipling, and he read Kipling to me. He read all kinds of things to me. Not often I mean, we only visited him once in a while. And he came to visit us very rarely but he was, well even now you can tell, he was sort of the light of my childhood years: he knew I had some intellectual curiosity and he fostered it, which was kind-of cool.
[Track 3, 08:18.0]
JN:
How have those values shaped your life?
BM:
Oh, I think they absolutely changed my life. From the time I was began school, I loved school. I loved Knox. You are not supposed to, but I really loved school. I love learning. I love all kinds of things and that carried me through my college career and I think even raising kids and so on and so forth. I think they would tell you, my children would probably tell you, that that was one of the things that came to them from me I think that is probably the reason my children are doing what they do because they all sought what they could and they are doing very well at it. But I think, now the intellectual curiosity and those kinds of values are the most important thing I can remember.
JN:
Tell me about getting your Bachelor of Arts from Smith College in the 1940s.
BM:
Well, first of all I went to Smith because it was expected of me, because my grandmother had gone to Smith and graduated in 1901. My mother had gone to Smith and all of my female relatives had gone to Smith and so it was not a choice. As a matter of fact after I took the college board exam (my mother was staying with my father at the army base) I remember coming out of that thinking, “I wonder what would happen if I didn’t do too well on those college board examinations and I didn’t get into Smith” because nobody told me there was any other place. It was just expected. So, I went to Smith. And I was not a particularly good student. In the first couple of years, I didn’t try particularly hard. I sort of thought I was going to coast through it until I realized I wasn’t going to unless I put my mind to it and then I became really interested in it again. I think the reason I liked Knox so much was that I was good. I was better disciplined and because I liked school I was always sort of head of my class and so on and so forth. I found that when I went to Smith, of course, everyone else had been top of their class too, I wasn’t quite the large frog in a small puddle that I had been at Knox. I wasn’t all that good the first couple years and then I found what I wanted to learn which was history and writing and so I got a very good education. I did very well the last year I was there, in fact, I was asked to come back and be a teaching assistant for one of my history professors, so I did alright. But I had already signed a contract to come back to Knox so I couldn’t take that job. And so anyways, yes, I got a very good education, which you might expect, which I have used, I hope, to some advantage.
[Track 3, 11:49.3]
JN:
How was a woman’s obtainment of a degree viewed at that time?
BM:
It was considered a good way to get an engagement ring so you could marry which I wasn’t ready to do. When my mother went to college in the 1920’s women didn’t go to work. When my grandmother’s class went to Smith at the turn of the century, they were learning to be missionaries and get out into the world. They were much more apt to get out into the world than the women of my mother’s generation who just went back home and got married and raised children, just as. That had passed by my time. Because of the war, going out and getting a job after college was sort of half expected of you and you were sort of prepared for it. Not really, not with a liberal arts education, but I did go on. I went to Knox and taught for a while and then I was in publishing for a bit before I married, but many women of my class at Smith did go out and have been in careers ever since. I was not one of them. After I married in 1949, I spent a lot of time dealing with what needs to be done in the community when your children are growing up. I never went back to a paid job after I married.
JN:
Do you have regrets about that?
BM:
Hmmm?
JN:
Do you have regrets?
BM:
No. I hated going to work. I hated going to an office. I have been a volunteer in many, many things, I have done a great many things. I have served on many boards. The biggest job I ever had was on the Board of Education. As soon as my children got into the public school system in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, I realized that there was room for improvement in the public school system, and I became very active in education because education is what I think is most important in all of our lives. When I realized that there was room for improvement, I became active in school affairs, and eventually served on the Board of Education for many years because it was important to me that my children got the best that they could out of what was being offered. Both my husband and I had gone out of our communities to private schools of different sorts, and we deliberately had chosen to live in a community in New Jersey that was famous for its good schools so that we would not feel obligated to send them to a private school. But once we made that decision and were living there I realized that I could perhaps be something that would help in the community. That’s way away from Cooperstown though, are you are asking this about me or?
JN:
Mmhmm. [laugh]
BM:
[laugh] Ok, we have gone miles from Cooperstown.
JN:
How did you meet your husband Francis?
BM:
Skiing [laugh] I was teaching at Knox that winter after I graduated from Smith and I was on my way to Boston to interview for a school job because I wanted to get out of Cooperstown. And, I stopped to go skiing for the weekend and decided that I really didn’t want to live in Boston. In the course of that I met the man who became my husband.
JN:
Did you run into him on the ski hill? [laugh]
BM:
Well no, we were staying at the same lodge. We actually both of us had known the people who run that lodge and never met before and we met. I can remember Alive Vaughan saying to me, “Oh we have someone coming for the weekend you’re really gonna like”. – which is, to me, like the kiss of death. [laugh] Turned out not to be. [laugh] We did, we hit it off, and we were married a year later in New York. By that time I had gone into, changed direction as it were and decided that school teaching probably was not going to make it for me. That’s why I took this course at Radcliffe in publishing procedures, which is still in existence today only it is in Columbia. And I went to New York and had a brief career in publishing. Got married and got over having to go to work. I really did not like a nine-to-five job. It was not my thing.
JN:
What most attracted you to Francis?
BM:
We never called him that, we don’t use the first name at all, he was always called Arthur.
I don’t know! He was an Irishman who was very bright and had a great sense of humor. We had a lot of things in common and because he was very different. His background was very different from mine, perhaps that was part of the attraction, I’m not sure.
JN:
So you called him Arthur?
BM:
Yeah
JN:
Tell me about when Arthur asked you to marry him.
BM:
When we married?
JN:
When he asked you to marry him.
BM:
Oh, we were doing something in New York, we were sitting at a bar on 96th Street. It sort of came about and we agreed to do that.
JN:
Tell me about your wedding.
BM:
Wedding. Well, he was a Catholic. That was part of the problem. He was a Catholic and I was brought up as, my parents, my mother was possibly an atheist but probably, agnostic. She really didn’t believe in all of that stuff and my dad had been brought up within a church going family but he was no longer going to church and the idea that I would marry a Catholic in the days when you really had to bring up your children as Catholics and birth control was absolutely N.O. I think my dad and mom were a little bit concerned about that. But anyway, we planned to get married and we realized there were going to be obstacles, the obstacles were considerably more than I think they are now. One of them was that the priest here, I wanted to be married in Cooperstown, the priest here said that you have to get married in the church and I didn’t want to, I wanted to get married in our house on Beaver Street. That was going to be an issue, so finally we just decided oh the hell with it, excuse me, let’s get married in New York City. So we decided to get married in New York City. We were married in the rectory of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, not in the cathedral but in the rectory. On a Sunday afternoon, very quietly, just family and then a small reception at a house at some friend’s of my mother’s at a house in New York and we went skiing. [laugh]
JN:
You and Arthur had six children, did you always want a large family?
BM:
Yes. I really did. I realized in my college experience I had a professor who had a big family and we were very close friends and he and his wife and I were very close. My roommate and I used to baby-sit for their big family and I thought there was something about this – the interaction of the six children as opposed to the three of us… that I thought was really wonderful and I really did want to have a big family. And I was really lucky because I had three boys and three girls.
JN:
What were the most challenging aspects of raising your children?
BM:
Money. [laugh] We didn’t have any when we started. I hadn’t had a lot of experience being a housewife because I didn’t have exactly a perfect role model. So, just getting by I think the first few years was challenging but fortunately we had supportive parents, his parents were very good about lending us money to buy a house and we just got by. I had never, I don’t think I, well, I did baby-sit for the Bailey kids at college but I didn’t have much experience with that either, but you know, it is new to everybody so you just do it.
JN:
What values do you hope your children learned from you and Arthur?
BM:
The same things I was talking about earlier – the intellectual curiosity and education, good manners, the usual “thou-shalt-nots.” Just getting along with people in the world and so on. I think the educational thing is important. I know I see it in my young children – it’s reading to the children and all of that to just keep them going and to be good citizens.
JN:
What is your most treasured memory of being a mom?
BM:
Actually, you mean when the children were small or just in general?
JN:
Just in general.
BM:
Well, I will tell you. My children famously first of all, they all are very strong and have very strong opinions. They all pretty much think they know everything and when they get together it is quite an interesting thing because they are now, well some of them are over 60 now so they have opinions. They have OPINIONS. And they don’t always agree with one another and when we get together sometimes there is some friction and there are certain amounts of disagreement. But two years ago I was having to have some major surgery and the children rallied around in a way that I could not believe. By the first 24 hours they had worked out a schedule of who was going to be here with me for weeks on end, and I guess it is that rallying around that has to be the most treasured thing I could bring from that because I think it shows that I did something right you know? [laugh] Along the way. And actually even when I turned 80 they had a wonderful party for me, they had great posters made of all the photographs from all these albums. They scrounged around and found them. They treat me very well now and I am very happy about that. And their children are, my grandchildren are pretty great too – you know.
JN:
So Barbara, you are 86 years old, correct?
BM:
Yes my dear, I am.
JN:
And you said on your CV [curriculum vitae] that you still teach PSIA [Professional Ski Instructors of America] level one
BM:
I retired actually, I still have my pin. I am still legally a teacher but I retired when I turned 80 teaching skiing. I still ski.
JN:
You still ski?
BM:
I skied last winter. I don’t know whether I am going to this winter or not because you may have noticed that I have a limp and I have a hip that I should have replaced. I am having a little trouble getting body in shape to go skiing, but we are going to see about that. Anyways yes, I started teaching skiing when I was in my 70’s.
JN:
Wow.
BM:
I was bored. I was living in Vermont in the wintertime. I skied all my life. I started to ski when I was about six or seven which was very early in those days. And my husband and I met when we were skiing, we went skiing on our honeymoon, and the children all know how to ski, and I have three children who are ski racers, and so it has been very much a part of my life. It was the biggest recreational part of my life. And after my husband died, I skied in Europe for a while on trips and then I went to the Rockies and Canada and so on. One winter I decided that, hey, you know, why go on two week or three week trips, why don’t you just spend the winter someplace where you can ski all winter, you know? You can do that, you don’t have to stay in Cooperstown. So I went to Vermont and about the third winter that I was there I decided I was bored. I really needed more to do than get up in the morning and slide down the hill. And so there was a poster up at the ski resort saying they were looking for instructors for next year and it said you don’t have to be a very great skier but you have to like people and want to teach skiing and I thought well that fits. I am not a really great skier but at least they would teach you what you need to know and so I applied and I got the job, paid job. And there were lots of us and so the next winter I went and learned how to do that and I got my national pin after the first year of teaching when I was 73. [laugh] And I taught all those years. When I turned 80, well first of all two things happened, I just really didn’t want to do it anymore. I was living on the ski mountain and the man who owned the apartment was not going to be able to be there anymore and so I lost my spot on the mountain and I was so spoiled that I decided that I wouldn’t do it anymore.
[Track 3, 28:14.3]
JN:
What are your goals for the future?
BM:
I don’t really have many. I want to live through the winter without getting my hip replaced. But, I may have to have it replaced. I would like to see…I have one grandchild I hope I’ll see graduate this year, I am really concerned. Of course I would love to live long enough to see all of the grandchildren and how it all plays out but I know I am not going to so I don’t have many goals just keep going from day to day and hope I can still walk around and live a little for a while. How can I have goals when I know what the end is, you know, it is not so far away, I know that.
JN:
But you were just skiing last winter. [laugh]
BM:
[laugh] I know, [laugh] and I am hoping to ski again soon [laugh] but we will see. [laugh] Yeah, I take care of my own lawn here, I take care of most of the outside here, not all of it no, but I do mow. If I have to, I get on my tractor and plow the snow a little bit. I like to keep healthy and keep my friends. One of my things I do best now is making a lot of new friends because all of my friends are dying, all of my age group are dying and so I am kind-of alone as far as that goes. I have no friends. Did you go to church, I missed you know, did you go to church on Sunday?
JN:
I did.
BM:
Were they nice to you?
JN:
They recruited me to the choir! [laugh]
[Start of track 4, 00:00.0]
BM:
Are you Soprano?
JN:
I’m Alto.
BM:
Alto, so you are in the back.
JN:
Ah-huh.
BM:
Huh.
JN:
Next week.
BM:
Oh it’s great – you will love it – I did that for a long time until that year that I had that surgery and the only reason I don’t do it now is that it is a commitment that I don’t feel I can make because, frankly, when my children are here, or when I have guests here who haven’t been here for a long time, giving up my Sunday morning I just can’t do it if they are just here for the weekend. I think that is kind-of a prerogative of old age. There are a few and that is one of them. I was the altar guild lady at St. Mary’s for a long time, but I don’t have any responsibilities there right now and so I just go. I’m glad you went. Didn’t you like Father Kyle?
JN:
MmHm.
BM:
Yeah. What brand of religion were you brought up in?
JN:
I was brought up Lutheran.
BM:
Lutheran?
JN:
Mmhm.
BM:
I’m not surprised. There’s not so much difference between the Lutherans and the [Episcopalians], they are close I guess. Well, that’s lovely.
JN:
I have one more question for you
BM:
Yeah? I’ll try.
JN:
If you could change anything in the world, what would it be and why?
BM:
Anything in the world?
JN:
Yeah.
BM:
I would like to change the American view that we can intercede and do anything in the world. I frankly think the reason that the Islam world feels the way they do about us is because we have been pushy and so I think we ought to learn how to not be that way. I think the fact that the Islam world and the Christian world and the Jewish world seem to be loggerheads with one another is all wrong. I think that we should all pull back and just let everybody be as they would like to be and I really believe that we are part of the problem - that we as a nation are part of the problem. That we are a bit aggressive when we shouldn’t have been and we are arrogant and we think we know more than anybody else and we are not liked by a lot of people in the world. I don’t think it is the fault of the people that we are not liked, I think it is the fault of our country. So if I could go back I would tell George W. Bush that he should not have bombed Afghanistan and I would not have been in Iraq. And I woke up this morning and I heard that we are establishing a naval presence in Australia and I think why are we doing that, why? And I have not researched the answer for that yet – but my reaction was, we have enough problems right here. We should be solving our problems here and we should be turning our efforts to loving one another in the world rather than dropping bombs and being an evil presence. So that would be my, that is a very big thing but that disturbs me more than anything. I know that by the end of my lifetime it is not going to change very much and I find it very interesting. I have traveled enough to Islam countries, not many, but enough to know that those people, by and large, are no different than we are. But you know there is a lunatic fringe everywhere and unfortunately the lunatic fringe is what we have seen at 9/11 [September 11th, 2001] certainly and I understand why people feel the way they do but I don’t think it is right. So that is where I am.
JN:
Thank you Barbara for your time.
BM:
You are very welcome. It was a pleasure. You have digressed quite a lot from old Cooperstown. [laugh]
[End of track 4, 04:20.3]

Duration

30:00 - Track 1
30:00 - Track 2
30:00 - Track 3
4:20 - Track 4

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps

Files

Citation

Jenna Neumann, “Barbara Mulhern, November 16, 2011,” CGP Community Stories, accessed August 20, 2019, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/110.