July 10, 2002
Hanson: Hi Sue, tell me something about your grandparents, your maternal
Payne: I get to look at my notes, right?
Hanson: Absolutely, anytime you want.
Payne: My maternal grandparents. My grandfather was a captain in the US
Army and he was a veteran of the Spanish American War. He was a pharmacist
on the island of Alcatraz when it was an army prison and I have a gold
nugget he dug out of the Klondike in Alaska.
Hanson: OK, let me ask you this, are there any stories about the Spanish
American war and what he did in that war. I know you have that he was
in the navy, or I’m sorry, in the army. Do you know if he saw any
battles, do you know if he was under Pershing, any kind of information
Payne: You know, I really don’t. I have a letter that his brother
wrote that was printed in the newspaper in Washington (state) and that
gave a fantastic background of being in the Philippines and being on San
Juan Hill. My grandfather was quite a bit older, 15 years older than my
grandmother when they were married and they met at Fort Dodge in Iowa.
And my grandmother was a, loved horses, as did my grandfather and there
was an old horse at Fort Dodge that they knew my grandfather wanted to—oh,
this is not good. No this isn’t the right story. (Tape paused)
On my dad’s side, he was born in San Francisco his father was also.
His father before him came from Ireland to San, well the gold rush California
and settled in San Francisco by 1860. And I also was born there, so I’m
really proud of being a third generation San Franciscan.
Hanson: You should be, not many people are born in this state.
Payne: Right, let alone that city. And my mom was raised in San Francisco
and she was the secretary for an insurance company after her high school
and that’s where she met my dad who is, followed his father in the
footsteps of the insurance business. During World War II my Dad served
on Treasure Island in the navy. He went in 1944, and they didn’t
take him earlier because of poor eyesight, but he could count the money
in the vault on Treasure Island so they did use him after all. And after
the war in 1946, my folks moved to southern California. We spent a summer
in a mountain cabin up in Crestline. And those are good memories, blue
jays and squirrels and falling out of a bunk bed. And my first Betsy Wetsy
doll-and my only Betsy Wetsy doll. (laughter)
Hanson: Okay, let’s go back a little bit. Do you remember what insurance
company or agency that they worked for? Or what kind of insurance they
Payne: His father was very high up in the North British Mercantile Insurance
Company. My Dad was in North American, he was in Pacific American Insurance
Company. Then here in San Bernardino he opened, he went into a partnership
with an established agency. And he sold everything except life insurance.
Hanson: Okay, so it’s fire, casualty kind of insurance, homeowners.
Things like that, auto.
Payne: Exactly. No auto.
Payne: Oh, well wait a minute. I’m not sure. Fire, casualty, theft.
Hanson: Personal kind of insurance. Buildings, residences, personal residences.
They [parents] met in San Francisco through the business.
Hanson: And she was a secretary?
Payne: Yes, at that time she was, yes. She enjoyed it but I think that
the role that she—she really ended up staying at home in spite of
not wanting to. She would have liked to work.
Hanson: Why did she decide to stay home? When you were born she decided
to stay home?
Payne: Because I think my dad decided she needed to stay home. (laughs)
I really do. She worked 49 hours a month in the insurance agency at $1.00
per hour and if she had worked the 50 hours then she would have had to
claim taxes and so they thought this was the way to avoid all that. But
I know she loved being out in public and when I was young that certainly
was a good outlet for her and—
Hanson: And what year did they get married?
Hanson: And then your Dad went into the navy 5 years later. What did he
do in the navy? Do you know where he was in the navy or what ships?
Payne: He was in Farragut, Idaho and at Treasure Island. And he went in
in 1944 they only needed him for that last year. And he would have had
a partial disability so he wasn’t sea worthy.
Hanson: Tell me what Treasure Island was and what was done on Treasure
Payne: Treasure Island is the midway point between San Francisco and Oakland
in the San Francisco Bay. I believe that Treasure Island is man made and
it’s attached to—it’s half of a larger island, Yerba
Buena, and in the middle of the island the bay bridge span hits.
Treasure Island was a major naval shipyard and up to the present about
the time here in San Bernardino that Norton Air Force Base was closed
down Treasure Island also was closed down and it just now is becoming
part of the Golden Gate National Park system I believe. Don’t quote
me on that.
Hanson: So your dad left the navy and moved to southern California. Why
did they move from San Francisco to southern California in 1946?
Payne: Business opportunity, climate, and probably family I’m supposing
but we had a very close cousin. As you’ve already seen from my paperwork
I have no brothers or sisters. Neither my mother nor my father had brothers
or sisters. My father had a cousin four years older than he who played
big sister from infancy to the time he died and she passed away two weeks
ago. She was 95 and she spanned all the generations that possibly could
in our family. And she continued being a very aggressive, very controlling
person and maybe we don’t want that on the tape, something negative.
I really do believe that part of the idea of getting away from family,
getting away from all of the aunts and the controlling family members,
getting a fresh start. It was a new beginning for them and they did not
want to raise me in the city.
Hanson: Why not?
Payne: I suppose probably for all of the typical reasons-too congested,
too crowded, too dirty.
Hanson: So they thought southern California was a better option.
Payne: Definitely. And it probably was for them.
Hanson: Okay, and you said you were at Crestline for a year.
Payne: No, three months.
Hanson: Oh, I thought you said a whole year. See, I’m not listening
Payne: And I may be off a year on that. It might have been the summer
of 1947 because I completed my kindergarten in La Crescenta so we did
move to southern California in 1946, lived for a year in La Crescenta,
moved to Crestline while my parents purchased a home in San Bernardino.
Hanson: What do you remember about Crestline? I know it was a long time
ago and it was only three months, but you said there were some good stories.
Payne: I do have good memories of that. I can remember climbing stairs,
stairs and stairs every time we went to the grocery store. We’d
have to carry things home my mother never drove, so we always walked.
We were right on the main street. If you drive into Crestline today you
would turn right and you would go down a little hill and the cabin we
rented was a very large one and the living part was at the top of the
hill up stairs. (laughs) And I really loved it-squirrels and blue jays
and the outdoors that I really hadn’t been exposed to and mountains.
And walking, everyday walking.
Hanson: So that fresh air, outdoor mountain kind of idea.
Payne: And it was a very small community then, maybe one place to eat,
one place to shop. Just one main street.
Hanson: So you moved to San Bernardino and I assume you started school
here in San Bernardino.
Payne: I started the first grade.
Hanson: Do you remember anything about grammar school?
Payne: Oh, lots.
Hanson: Tell me about first grade in San Bernardino. What school were
Payne: The first through sixth grade Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.
And I was in the Brownies probably in second grade. (tape paused) OK,
I’m glad we had a pause because I do remember first grade now. (laughs)
I won’t skip to second immediately. First grade, a little girl named
Judy told me there was no Santa Claus. Its funny I really can remember
her name and I doubt if I could remember any else’s from the first
grade. (both laugh)
Hanson: What kinds of things did you do in first grade did you learn how
to read, did you have penmanship, did you practice cursive writing or
did you just do printing? Everyone does things different.
Payne: I may be wrong, it seems to me printing until third grade. I had
a good reading background in kindergarten. I was always quick to read.
Hanson: Okay, what was your reader in first grade?
Payne: Oh, yes. See Spot run, Dick and Jane.
Hanson: Fun with Dick and Jane. (both laugh) We all remember those.
Payne: Yes, and boy was I happy to get to Nancy Drew. (both laugh)
Hanson: Okay, now, you said in second grade, when you got to second grade
you joined the Brownies.
Payne: I joined the Brownies and the reason I mention that is that the
Brownie leader and Girl Scout Leader was a teacher at Woodrow Wilson and
very well known. And I remember Sandy McLaren through all of those many
Hanson: And that was the Brownie Leader?
Payne: Right. She was the kindergarten teacher, Brownie and Scout Leader.
And I’m very fortunate, Joyce, that I have contact with several
of my schoolmates from that time.
Hanson: That is wonderful.
Payne: Can we, you know, these quick little memories that happen. Going
to school in the morning half the year and the afternoon the other half
year. So obviously it was split session. Don’t think we really thought
of it as that then but half a year I’d wave at Jeannie going to
school and the other half we’d pass each other coming home. Now
we try to get together two or three times a year. It is. It’s fun
to share those memories.
Hanson: It’s nice that you can keep friends for that long.
Hanson: So, what did you do in Brownies?
Payne: Lots of badges, but if we skip to Scouts, that’s Girl Scout
Camp and that was the love of my life. My parents were not campers. They
were not outdoors people. We would spend one to two weeks each summer
at Oceanside and so camping was a highlight. And as we became scouts Sandy
McLaren would make arrangements to take us up to Girl Scout camp in the
winter also so we would have a few overnight stays during the winter as
well as summer weeks. Loved that.
Hanson: What kind of things did you do at camp?
Payne: Rode my first horse, swam in my first lake, hiked and slept outside
overnight for the first time. Washed my hair in a waterfall for the only
time in my life (laughs), which means I was polluting our Redlands water
supply. (both laugh) You were going to ask me where the camp was. And
it’s up in the San Gorgonio wilderness area, Barton Flats.
Hanson: Okay, give me some directions.
Payne: We would go out what is 38 through Redlands through Mentone toward
Big Bear. In other words, from San Bernardino we’d go east up into
the mountains. We’d always stop at Igo’s. That was a very
famous stop on the mountain road. We would all be allowed to buy a candy
bar. I don’t think we drank Cokes and things in those days. I may
be wrong on that, I don’t remember soda pop. But I do think we were
all able to buy a candy bar. Maybe we bought little squares of milk. Probably
something like that. And then on up to Barton Flats and, of course, the
camp is still there today. And our activities were crafts in the camp,
lots of socialization, and I needed that very much.
Hanson: Being an only child.
Payne: Being an only child. As I got older, that’s where I discovered
I needed to wear a bra because the girls told me. (both laugh)
Hanson: Okay, so you found out you needed a bra at Girl Scout camp. What
Payne: Oh, well. That was one of my growing up experiences in San Bernardino
when I insisted to my mom that I needed a bra, she got on the telephone
and called Harris Company and made an appointment for me for a personal
fitting. Which was growing up.
Hanson: Unique. (both laugh) Interesting story. Most girls don’t
get a personal fitting. (both laugh)
Payne: I didn’t get a very flat bra, either. (both laugh)
Hanson: Okay, anything else in Girl Scout camp that you found out?
Payne: I found out that the camp leaders played poker because in the middle
of the night when we were up on a weekend winter camp, we were all bedded
down in the nice, big lodge in our sleeping bags. The generator quit,
the lights went off. And the men who were there as our escorts, the fathers,
had a big poker game going with some money. And they were extremely upset,
and of course, we found out about what they were doing. (laughs)
I learned how to wash dishes, too. I learned that you put the silverware
in the sink first then you put the dishes in the sink later. My mother
couldn’t stand it. (laughs) I’m glad, Joyce, that you reminded
me all that we really learned at Girl Scout camp. Setting the table, that
is still important to me today to have so many of those skills. The sewing
and the braiding rugs, and braiding pine needles and learning the basics
of basket weaving, and all of those things were very, very important.
Then we all thought we were bored, but now I look back and realize that
we weren’t bored at all.
Hanson: Well, it was the basis for a lot of crafts that we do today. Any
kind of knitting, any kind of embroidering, and kind of quilting is based
on what we learned when we were kids and a lot of that came from Girl
Scouts by earning those badges.
Payne: It did and the tea towels that always had Monday wash, and Tuesday
iron, and we embroidered all our cute little Sun Bonnet faces on those
in scouts. And you know, I think at that time Monday was washday and Tuesday
was ironing day, and Wednesday was baking.
Hanson: Every day had a function. All the tasks had to be laid out for
the week and that’s the way it was done.
Payne: Yes, it was.
Hanson: Okay, any more memories of Girl Scouts that you can think of?
Any friends that you made in Girl Scouts that you still have?
Payne: Again, the group of ladies that I see occasionally, at least twice
a year. Last year we went to San Francisco together, ten of us. Then there
were four of us who were in scouting together out of that group of ten.
Hanson: Oh, that’s good. So you all managed to stay together through
a lot of different activities. That creates a good bond.
Payne: It does. I wish that were true. I’m the only one who returned
to San Bernardino after school. The majority are in Orange County and
Los Angeles area. So, very fortunate that we have been able to make those
contacts and catch up. I seem to not have had that growing-up-with-our
children years, but now we have the grandchildren years to work with.
Hanson: Okay, let’s talk about any other memories that you come
up with in grammar school, third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade. Now,
did grammar school go up to sixth grade?
Hanson: And then there was a graduation?
Payne: NO. You can tell I’m sounding a little disdainful. I think
we’re making too much of the graduations. I think the young people
need to recognize that education is continuing and school needs to continue.
You don’t just reach a graduation point and now it’s done.
It isn’t and we’re sending the wrong message. And I know that
pre-school has graduation ceremonies and they’re cute, but then
when you have graduation again from kindergarten and graduation from sixth
grade. Oh, well, sorry.
Hanson: No, I want your opinions. I want to know what you think. I would
agree, I think we overdo it sometimes, although I understand it’s
supposed to mark a transition, there are also negatives that come with
that for kids.
Payne: And there was. There’s a huge transition from sixth grade
to junior high. Which at that time from one teacher through the year to
lots of classes, a lot more responsibility, a lot more subjects. And puberty.
Hanson: Okay, let’s talk about some junior high things.
Payne: Okay, well. I think we were laughing about puberty, but junior
high really strikes me as learning about sex, about watching the Disney
movie in the gymnasium and having to tell the young boy who was the projectionist
that he had to leave. And then the teacher at that time didn’t know
how to run the projection equipment. I know now having training as a teacher
you don’t go into a classroom without knowing the basics. But, junior
high I really loved, I discovered a love of language, continued my love
Hanson: I see from your notes you made, you did some work with French
and Spanish as far as foreign languages. Did that come from junior high?
Is that where that started?
Payne: The Spanish from junior high definitely. One of my favorite teachers
was Mr. Mayo and I can remember him very vividly. Not too sure why, he
was a small gentleman but he certainly had a gift for making the language
fun. You know I’m trying to be very officious but the memories that
are coming back are nothing but silly. But I do remember in seventh grade
sitting behind a little girl named Pam and she would pierce ears while
we were in class. I believe that was our two period Social Studies class.
And I don’t know how she was able to do that day after day and not
be caught, but we’d all let her pierce, well, I didn’t, but
lots. We’d bring the ice cubes to school and we’d sit in front
of Pam during the class and she would take her needle and light it with
a match, boy she got away with a lot, a little alcohol and she’d
stick the needle in the ear. And we’d go home with pierced ears.
Hanson: Must have been a surprise to a lot of mothers. (both laugh) I’m
glad to know Social Studies still has a good reputation for not being
Payne: And seating children in rows. Alphabetical order, and I was a W
so I was always at the end unless the teacher would fool us and start
at the end, then I was at the beginning and equally unprepared. Let me
move forward into high school. I think I’ve lost my train of thought.
(both laugh) I didn’t have to hide. At least my folks didn’t
really sensor things. We were talking about moving on to high school where
I really finally learn, I did get some sex education from Peyton Place.
Grace Metalious, I believe. I still think that was one of the best books
that ever came out of the fifties decade. We would pass certain pages
around in gym class, but I’m glad that we don’t have to hide
things like that today. I’m glad that our young people, start out,
hopefully, more knowledgeable. Much easier to be honest with your own
children than to hide.
Hanson: High school, favorite subjects?
Payne: Definitely Spanish. Had a wonderful teacher and took Spanish all
four years and that became if you’d want to call it my clique in
high school. That really became where I felt most comfortable. There was
a small group of us. And Walt Oliver, if I can use names, is now the chairman
of the Spanish department out at Cal State and he and I went all through
those years of Spanish together.
Hanson: Favorite teachers?
Payne: Lots, definitely two English teachers and again, Mr. Winsor the
Spanish teacher. Two English teachers. Ruth Lewis, very well known here
in the community. The other was Martha Stoebe, and she married a year
later and I can’t remember, Miller. Mrs. Miller. And I believe she
needed to leave Pacific High School where we were because married couples
could not teach at the same school and she married one of the teachers.
But, fell in love with Shakespeare and I can’t even read Shakespeare
today, I need Mrs. Lewis back here to help me.
Hanson: Tell me about Mrs. Lewis.
Payne: Well, I think she made everyone in the classroom feel very comfortable,
very wanting to learn. She really made all our classes exciting. She was
an excellent teacher. And her subject was English, but I’m sure
that we probably skirted life topics as well in the classroom. Very gentle,
had a lot of poise, and I said that she remained an influential person
in the community, certainly among educators. She was a teacher when I
was at Pacific and I graduated in 1959. She was a counselor at Cajon High
School and my son’s counselor in 1982. We might have to edit that.
You notice I’m not bragging about my math skills. (laughs) And I’m
an auditor today. (both laugh)
Hanson: So, she’s had a long career in education.
Payne: She had a long career in education unfortunately she is deceased,
however we can find her name here in the California Room. She donated
all of her high school annuals from San Bernardino High School, some from
Cajon, lots from Pacific, well I guess was Pacific High School annuals
that have been donated. And talking to one of our staff reference librarians
he remembers Mrs. Lewis as a counselor at Pacific. So, she hit many generations
of us, influenced many of us.
July 19, 2002
Hanson: Good Morning, Sue. Today, as we talked about, we’re going
to talk about your grandparents and your family, and I’m just going
to let you talk about them. If there are any follow-up questions I’ll
try to intervene, but otherwise, I’m just going to let you go.
Payne: Okay, that sounds good. As I told you, you’ll have to stop
me from rambling. Maybe I will, and -. I’m an only child myself
and both my mother and father were only children. I have inherited the
effects of both their families, I’ve been very fortunate, and I’ve
shown you through the home here this morning and some photos and some
other relics. We’ll talk about a few of those. On my mother’s
side I was very fortunate to be - extremely fortunate to be - extremely
close to her mother, my grandmother, who lived in San Francisco all her
adult life when I knew her. My grandfather I knew very slightly. He was
born in 1874, he was a young man in the US Army in the Cavalry, and he
had served some years in Alaska and as a pharmacist’s mate, I believe,
on the island of Alcatraz when Alcatraz was a US Army prison. And I do
remember a story that grandpa told. The boys, these were all the boys
to him. The milk cow somehow got loose and slipped down the chute, the
laundry chute, into the water off the island and Grandpa decided which
boys would be capable to go out and swim and bring the milk cow into shore.
And they were heroes it was wonderful story.
Hanson: So, no one’s ever escaped from Alcatraz including a milk
cow. (both laugh)
Payne: And he spent many years in the Philippines prior to being assigned
to Camp Dodge, Iowa. I believe that or Fort Des Moines is where he and
my grandmother met. And I have a wonderful newspaper clipping called “The
Romance of the Rifle Range,” and it tells the story of their secret
marriage. Grandma had just graduated from high school, which was very
special. In the trunk in the back room, I have her actual sheepskin graduation
certificate. I mean it’s really sheepskin. Grandma and Grandpa lived
in the Philippines for approximately three years after they were married
and then came back to the United States, came to the west coast and built
a home in San Francisco. That’s where my Mom comes in and eventually
me. (both laugh) So, we’re San Franciscans that way. On my Dad’s
side, unfortunately both his parents were gone when I was born. They were
an entire generation older than on my mother’s side. My father’s
mother was born in 1870; my mother’s grandmother who I knew very
well also was born in 1870. In fact, if we slip back to the maternal side
for a moment, my great-grandmother died the eve of her 104th birthday
and grandma made it to within a month of her 100th. So, I have some longevity
Hanson: Long-lived family.
Payne: On Grandpa’s side, I’m sorry, on my Dad’s side,
his father was born in San Francisco and was in the insurance business.
A very successful man in that field and his father came from Ireland during
the potato famine. I haven’t learned very much about him. I do know
that he was the lone passenger on a brig out of Salem, Massachusetts,
came around the horn, and up the San Joaquin River, no, okay, up through
the San Francisco Bay to Grass Valley. You pick the river, the American
Hanson: I’m not sure.
Payne: Okay, Sacramento River, we’ll go for that one. (both laugh)
And he brought the first underground quartz mining equipment into California.
So, that gives me a clue that he was a miner before he left Ireland. And
by 1860 he had left the mines himself to gold fields and moved into San
Francisco onto Rincon Hill which was the nice place to live at that time,
then over to Van Ness Avenue where his so-called “mansion”
was dynamited to stop the forward progress of the fire after the 1906
earthquake. And if I get to take a bite of my cake, it’s on china
and if I use a fork instead of my fingers it’s with silverware that
fortunate escaped the fire and earthquake.
August 16, 2002
Payne: Good morning.
Hanson: Today we’re going to start and finish with your maternal
Payne: Right, my mom’s mother and father. Both sides are very close
to me. Fortunately I knew my great grandmother very well and she was interested
in family history, so most of everything that we have has been passed
down from her. She was a very early member of the Daughters in the American
Revolution, so it was easy to trace back the family. I’m showing
you a picture of my title page. If you want me to read that I will.
Hanson: Sure, why don’t you.
Payne: Okay. “My mother’s family begun in 1986 with a heritage
of letters, photographs and family records so carefully kept by Great
Grandma Cobb and in collaboration with Grandmother Hicks, “the most
wonderful grandmother of all” and dedicated to Marcy, my daughter,
and to all the daughters yet to be.” I did that in 1992, and I had
fun combining computer graphics and photographs to put this album together.
I’m showing you a picture in 1942 when I was born in San Francisco
there were the four generations; myself being held by Grandma Hicks, Great
Grandma Cobb and my mom.
Hanson: Okay, very nice. That’s a very good picture.
Payne: It really is. Then in 1970 there are five generations; my daughter
Marcy, my son Dan, myself, my mother, Grandma Hicks and Great Grandma
Cobb. She lived another four years before we lost her. She died the eve
of her 104th birthday. She was fairly competent and comfortable up until
those last several months. Grandma Hicks came to San Bernardino in 1973
from San Francisco to live here in the city close to us. My mother died
very soon after that of cancer. In 1989 we moved Grandma Hicks into this
home. You’ve already seen her big quilt that she made and the furniture.
The bed that was my mom’s, mine and grandma’s and Marcy’s
and now her children. So that bed’s a five-generation bed upstairs.
This starts the family from London, England in the early 1600’s
to Newburyport, Massachusetts… I’m actually going backwards,
this is the family tree that I’ve generated off of “Family
Tree Maker,” with some graphics taking us back to George Little
and his descendants. The cradle that still exists that was made for his
child, and in Believe it or Not in Ripley’s (I think that was dated
1945), the farmhouse is the oldest farm in the United States still owned
by the original owners, George Little, who built it in 1657 still owned
today by Susan Little and her family. She opens it to family reunions
back in Massachusetts; I’ve been lucky enough to attend one of them.
It was fascinating to see his tailoring tools that were brought over.
There were some letters from his brothers in Barbados. This home is the
Coffin House in Newburyport, Massachusetts and it’s one of the most
important of the New England Preservation Homes built in 1657. George
Little’s son, Joseph, married one of the first women who was born
in this house. He married Mary. George Little’s other son married
Mary’s sister and George Little’s daughter married into the
family and a couple of generations later we all come back together again.
But I guess that’s not too unusual. Cousins and, there weren’t
all that many people.
Hanson: New England was sparsely populated.
Payne: I don’t know how quickly you want to go through this, but
here I have a sermon that was written or given, written and published
in the 1700’s by one of the grandparents. They’re all grandmas
and grandpas. I guess if one of these people hadn’t happened then
we wouldn’t be telling this story.
Hanson: That’s true. So your roots go back to New England as well
as San Francisco.
Payne: Yes. What amazes me is what still exists, the churches. Trying
to do so much research in San Francisco and having lost so much due to
the fire and earthquake, and having lost it because the family on my father’s
side, didn’t keep family mementos and this side of the family did.
What a difference.
Hanson: Which is typical New England.
Payne: I’ll keep going, you’ll see lots of graves, lots of
tombstones, which are fascinating to read. Okay, I want to deviate just
a little bit; the Milk family is very special in the sense that James
and John Milk were in Boston and in Portland, Maine as two of the original
settlers. Milk Street in Boston is where Paul Revere’s home is,
and right next door is my great, great, great, great, great grandfather
Milk’s home; and of course the street is named after him. Same thing
in Portland, Maine, which was foremost at the time. He built the longest
wharf in Maine at the time and Milk Street is still there in Portland;
I’ve been there. It is, it’s fascinating. Wonderful communications
that we get on the internet today. Somebody spotted my Milk family in
a family tree and mailed me, without even contacting me first, this document
which dates back to 1759 and it’s to Captain James Milk and it asks
him “In His Majesty’s Name,” this is colonial times,
you are hereby required to raise, if in your power, six able-bodied effective
men by enlistment in the intended expedition for the invasion of Canada.
And I treasure this document.
But how nice of someone. He said that I am the only surviving heir to
any Milk family that he has been able to locate, so I have that. Ebenezer
returned to Newburyport in 1783. I’m jumping. The Milk family, Moses,
it’s complicated as far as cousins marrying… James Milk married
Sarah Brown. Their child, Mary, married Moses Little, my direct descendent,
and they were first cousins and their child was Ebenezer Little. Moses
father, Ebenezer, married Sara Brown’s sister, Elizabeth, so there’s
a father/son married to two sisters. Then the brother, John, married Jane,
and I have not been able to find her mother. I think it’s Marble,
could be Maruel, Martin. Their child, James, married Edward Burbeck, and
he was a Son of Liberty. He helped throw the tea into Boston Harbor. And
his father built, did the woodworking (oh you’ll love this because
of your husband), he did the woodworking inside the Old South Church in
Boston. He was the captain in charge of the islands, Williams Island.
There is an island out in Boston Harbor and it was fortified to hold back
the troops from coming into Boston. So Edward’s father was in charge
of keeping the British troops from coming in. Edward’s child, Jane,
carried ammunition in milk cartons up Bunker Hill to the soldiers. Isn’t
Hanson: These are things that no one knows, so this is really new finds
for history. This is amazing.
Payne: Jane married Ebenezer Little, so we have… [phone rings] All
Okay, we’ll leave the Milk family in Boston. Here’s Ebenezer.
Again, we have lots of Moses and Ebenezers and I hope someday somebody
can show me maybe a little bit better way to keep track of each one. But
if you really need to find out who exactly was who, we can go back to
the family chart at the front of the book. Ebenezer moved to Campton,
New Hampshire and at this point my direct line of Littles left Newburyport,
Massachusetts and moved to New Hampshire. There are so many other Littles
that are still there in Newburyport, but this line went on to Campton.
As late as 1911 the home that he built existed, so again we’re still
talking about right after the Revolution. Again, his son, Ebenezer Little.
I’m going to confuse you here. Ebenezer’s son Ebenezer and
Ebenezer’s son Moses and Moses I know much more about. This is a
story from a letter that my great grandmother kept. “My grandfather
built a water wheel on the Wapsipinicon River, a fine fall for a dam.
One time, when they raised wheat they ground flour for 24 hours a day.
Later it was used as a grist mill, but dam and mill are no more. I was
baptized in 1884 below the dam.” Moses and Sarah were married in
New Hampshire. He went back from Illinois. He went to Illinois to the
frontier, came back, married Sarah Cook and for a wedding present they
were given this table that is in the living room. And I have quite a bit
of coin silver from Sarah. I showed you the hand-woven material that she
did. I have jewelry from her mother and most importantly, I have her mother’s
letters. This is Electa, so this is my great grandmother’s great
grandmother. I have her letters, and she writes to Little Eddie in the
Civil War. They’re just wonderful. When I went back to New Hampshire
with my husband, we met Robert Pulsifer. I met him, again through genealogy
research. You make so many friends and you meet family through genealogy.
That’s probably the best part of it is the contacts; the living
contacts you make and the things you share together, the interests, the
common interests. This is the home he lives in, built in 1798. It was
the Bartlett homestead. Great, Great Grandma Electa was a Bartlett. Her
babies are buried in the Campton Bog outside of this home. Shortly after
I met Robert he climbed into the attic of the home and he found pictures.
He found these photos of the family. They have to date back to the 1850’s
because Martha died in 1859. Martha was Robert’s great, great, great
grandmother. Oh, this little baby was dead in 1860, so how far back does
that picture go? These are, of course, computerized copies of the ones
that he has. These are letters Electa’s husband and herself, copies
of them. These are copies of the letters that I have in a safety deposit
box. I even have a letter that her father wrote when she was ten years
old, giving her the choice of staying through the winter in Newburyport
or going up to Campton; whether she wanted to put up with the winter in
Campton. She was only ten and she was a girl, so she was given an awful
lot of freedom for that time period. Born in 1797, well here it is, here’s
a copy of the letter. “P.S. You may recollect that Electa last winter
thought she should be contented to live at Newburyport, but almost ever
since her return of a good part of the time since she came home, she has
wished to go home again and live with Martha Cook.” So she wished
to go home and live in this home, which is still there. You know being
a Californian it’s hard to fathom this sometimes. My grandmother
gave my daughter a locket that belonged to that Martha. Well, we’ve
got more than one Martha in the family. This is the next Martha. This
was made by… this is what my great grandmother wrote. “Made
by Grandmother Sarah Cook Little before 1840,” and that’s
all done by hand. Now we’re getting more into modern times. This
lady is Gertrude and I’m showing you daughters. It just seems to
be a family album of daughters-to-daughters in the family. We stay with
the Little name, so that doesn’t completely happen, but these are
cousins and aunts and this lady was named Gertrude and my grandmother
was named after her. This is Edmund Cook Little. He was my great grandmother’s
uncle, and he was the youngest captain in the civil war and was wounded
and came home to die. He wrote many, many letters, beautiful letters.
Profound letters. I love this one, I just took this little bit. “Again,
I invite you not from the heights of Vicksburg, nor from the low marshes
of the Hudson, but from the cypress swamps of Louisiana opposite the city
of rebellion. If ever men suffered for their country, this army has done
it. Since we left Helena and Memphis they buried from one to five every
day, but our regimen has buried but one man since we left Helena. If I
live to get home I want to start to school as soon as is convenient and
I intend to lay up some money to pay my expenses, but you have no idea
how it costs an officer to get along, when on the boats our board costs
us $1.50 per day. I shaved off my mustache the other day and took quite
a bad cold. Affectionate Son, E.C. Little.” That’s just one
of them, but that’s probably the best.
He was so literate and he was so young. He was 19 here isn’t he?
He’s 18, 18 when he wrote that. Not even, he was 17 because he was
born in March of ‘45 and this is January of ’63. He hasn’t
yet turned 18. In the bedroom downstairs I have these frames hanging on
the wall of my grandmother’s needlepoint. She removed the original
photos that were in there, here they are; and if you’ll notice,
grandma left a note that Martha had just had a tooth pulled and was miserable
that day when the pictures were taken. But these probably date to maybe
the 1860’s-1870’s. The frames are beautiful, all hand-carved.
This is a family that I haven’t been able to completely trace, but
these are Connecticut people. Ipswich to Connecticut to Vermont, the Hoveys.
There is a book on the Hoveys and they do tie in to the Clevelands. Grover
Cleveland is a distant relative, not a direct descent/ancestor. Someday
I’ll invite you back when I learn more about Connecticut.
These are my great grandmother’s autograph books. This is her mother
and her father and this would be Sarah and Moses’ son, Charles and
he married the Connecticut lass, daughter of Martha Fish; and the Fish
of course is a well-known name, but I haven’t been able to trace
it back to the Mayflower. Elias Seabury Hovey, and the gentleman I told
you I received an e-mail from this morning is a Seabury, so it never stops.
When my great grandmother was ten, Charles, “a good square republican”
and his brother Ebenezer (we’ve got another Ebenezer), owned 320
acres of land in Littleton, Iowa. It was named Littleton because Moses
Little fell off the roof building a log cabin and died and he was so well
revered that they renamed this little hamlet Littleton for him, and it’s
still Littleton today. It’s extremely little, the railroad that
they always hoped for never came through.
“They were extensively engaged in the stock business, keeping 100
to 150 head of hogs, 50 to 100 head of cattle, 10 to 20 head of horses.
Mr. Little has at present the finest lot of fat hogs that was ever our
pleasure to see.” And that was in 1881 and he hung himself two years
later, and no idea why. But that’s something that my great grandmother
never wrote about or ever talked about. My grandmother, I have her little
notations throughout this album. Charles was handsome and noted for his
beautiful horses; a good catch. But the prim Vermonters had trouble accepting
Myra’s marriage to a farmer. I don’t think I put it in the
album, (no I didn’t) but grandma felt that his wife might have been
the one to drive him to the desperate measures he took. She knew her,
she knew her grandmother; she lived to be quite elderly. She died of complications
of a broken hip following an auto accident. Talk about changes in time
where she certainly saw the changes. I was fascinated that my great grandmother
was 50 years old when the radio first came into being, and she wasn’t
a bit intrigued by radios or horseless carriages or airplanes, trains;
she just took all that in stride. What she really missed were picnics,
square dancing, card playing (because the churches started to frown on
card playing), and the socialization, which is probably what you and I
will be talking about when we talk about the changes in our life and just
what we see. It isn’t the major landing on the moon, it’s
we don’t play cards anymore.
Here is a tatting handkerchief that was made for my Grandmother Hicks’
wedding and my daughter carried that in her wedding. She made it and there
she is making it.
Hanson: There’s another lost art form, tatting. My grandmother used
to do it and my mother used to do it, but I don’t hear of people
doing it anymore.Payne: I took my granddaughter to the San Bernardino
County Museum last month to see the photography exhibit and they had a
roomful of ladies tatting and they were there on purpose for the people
who came in to watch them do their work. And it was, it was fascinating.
This is a family again, and I’ll just get through here a little
bit since these aren’t direct family. Donald Little and his sister,
I just love that photo. Even if I didn’t know them I’d want
to put the photo in the album. Donald Little was awarded the Bronze Star
in World War II and after he retired from a life in the military he became
an Episcopal minister. I found him through an Episcopal directory of retired
ministers in homes. He and my great grandmother kept a long correspondence
and Grandma Cobb gave him Edward Cook Little’s letters, the Civil
War hero. He in turn gave those letters to the Iowa State Library, so
they’re preserved for everyone. So yes, again genealogy and family,
Don Little and I had a wonderful correspondence until he passed away.
Going to my great grandmother’s husband, this is Martin Riffle.
You might be able to help me date that 1875 if that’s a daguerreotype
type. His father, himself a good looking man. Look at the lady, the mother;
she died at age 32 and I look at that picture and certainly 32 years didn’t
wear well on her. Once again the Riffle family, this is my great grandmother
and great grandfather. Okay, this is Grace, this is Gertrude and this
is down into almost today. This is my grandmother that I keep talking
about, Grandma Hicks, and just wonderful pictures, children’s pictures.
They were so artistically done. We don’t do all that much better
today with all our modern technology. Look at all the cuttings and trimmings.
This is the Little barn, which is no longer. A picture of the turn of
the century, last century and pup. She remembers her father taking pup
down to the river and the end of his life and didn’t come back and
they never had another dog. Max! This is very vivid to me because Grandma
Cobb, when I was little, sat down and wrote on this picture and told me
the story about Dave and Max. She loved Dave, because Dave would always
Hanson: Now Dave, let’s be clear about that; Dave was a horse. We
don’t want people thinking, when they listen to this tape 50 years
Payne: Grandma loved lots of people and horses. There was a soft spot
in great grandma’s heart. Max was an integral part of the Riffle
family from the time they lived across in the military post in Des Moines
until his death in Tonganoxie in Kansas 20 years later. We’re talking
about turn of the century again, the early 1900’s. At Camp Dodge
Max had become too much of a pet and he couldn’t keep up with the
other cavalry horses so the boys told Martin (again my great grandfather)
he was up for sale. They covered him with mud, put a rock in his shoe
to make him limp and made him look terrible so that no one else would
bid on him. So Max moved across the street and continued to be visited
and petted by the boys in the post. It was largely because of Max that
the family moved to the farm here in Tonganoxie. Four generations rode
him, including my mother. I can just remember great grandma talking about
I told you I had a tidbit from what my great grandmother talked about, about her grandmother Sara. I want to go back for just a moment with Great Grandma Cobb and her father having hung himself, and left her mother with the four children. That Martin, born in Pennsylvania, who could remember the cannon shots of the Gettysburg Battle, had left an unhappy home condition when his father remarried; the so-called wicked stepmother. He came through with a team of mules to take to Colorado when he stopped at the farm and Grandma Myra offered to give him the farm if he'd stay and marry her daughter and that's how Sarah and Martin were married. You know great grandma never told me that exactly, that's what my grandmother told me. There may be more to it; it was a good marriage, a long one and productive one. Going back to her grandmother, Sarah Cook Little, after Moses died (he took pneumonia when he took his fall off the roof of the log cabin and died. He left Sarah with five little ones. Sarah remarried and great grandma left a note that that marriage never worked because she had no time for the bedding that the new husband demanded of her. I thought that was kind of interesting. She never used her married name; however in legal documents (wills and all) she had to use that name.
Hanson: So they didn't get along very well apparently.
Payne: No, I think he left shortly after. It's very possible that he left a wife back in Maine. I have traced his family, and when he left Maine he left under a cloud of being mentally, they didn't use deranged, but mentally upset. So that's a story that probably nobody wants to have dug out. These are photos that I had put in that were from my grandmother's effects, my grandmother, great grandmother and her sister Grace. Just interesting photos; gosh look hats, beautiful hats. Uncle Russell, great uncle Russell.
Hanson: Very fashionable.
Payne: My great grandmother did so much crocheting; in fact I guess tatting. Somehow I have missed, oh no I have the tatting here. This picture I love. This is a combination high school graduation with sheepskin diploma and wedding picture. The ring that she is wearing I have and my daughter wore in her wedding. Bill and I eloped to Las Vegas very quickly so I didn't think about any of these things and didn't really know about them either at that time. That's her picture and there's the letter about making her wedding dress. Here the romance and the rifle range was in the local newspaper: Sergeant George Hicks weds high school graduate. My best pal and her better half.
Hanson: It's interesting that they would put, 'weds high school graduate.'
Payne: Oh gosh yes. The idea that grandma…
Hanson: That a woman got her high school education.
Payne: Her sister also, Grace, became a librarian in Des Moines and that was her life's profession until she married and raised her family. But Grace did use her education. Grandma was very proud of her. Their brother, Russell, was too impatient to stay in school, but he was a stockman in cattle. We still use it today, Swift Premium, Swift and Company. And then the final picture of my grandmother, my mother and grandfather wearing the jewelry that I'm wearing.
Hanson: You said one of your relatives was one of the founding members of the D.A.R., one of the original members of the D.A.R. Tell me more about that.
Payne: Again, Great Grandma Cobb, and I do have a picture. I don't know, she was not a founding member; certainly it was very early, 1924 maybe. I would have to find out when the Daughters of the American Revolution was founded, but she was an early member.
I could show you the picture, it unrolls, a long scroll. We didn't touch on Grandpa Hicks who is fascinating also. I have his picture over there. That's his desk at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. He was born in 1874; he was several years younger than my grandmother. He lived a very active military life. He was in Alaska in the 1890's up at Circle City from 1893 to 1897. He was a surgeon without very much training. My grandmother kept the knife that he used to amputate limbs in her kitchen drawer, a big heavy knife. Her hammer was his knee jerk thing. What do you call that?
I could show you the picture, it unrolls, a long scroll. We didn't touch on Grandpa Hicks who is fascinating also. I have his picture over there. That's his desk at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. He was born in 1874; he was several years younger than my grandmother. He lived a very active military life. He was in Alaska in the 1890's up at Circle City from 1893 to 1897. He was a surgeon without very much training. My grandmother kept the knife that he used to amputate limbs in her kitchen drawer, a big heavy knife. Her hammer was his knee jerk thing. What do you call that?
Hanson: Check reflexes. Reflex hammer.
Payne: Yes, that was her hammer; that was her tool. I have his scalpels. He was a veteran of the Spanish-American war and also had retired but was called back in to World War I, so he is a veteran of both wars. As a small child (I don't remember this, I was born in 1942), but he contributed to the war effort when he was retired in San Francisco and would pull me along in a little wooden wagon and collect newspapers and magazines for the soldiers.
Hanson: He was the one who was in the Philippines?
Payne: He was in the Philippines. When he and my grandmother married they lived a year in Des Moines and then went to the Philippines for three years. Grandma kept diaries and he also kept a diary. They kept diaries together. They would write in each other's, and after they returned from the Philippines he had retired again. They lived in Chicago where my mother was born, well my mother was born in Vermont, but then they moved directly to Chicago. He retired again in 1918 somewhere, then they came cross-country. His family had ended up in the State of Washington. Grandma and grandpa bought a home in San Francisco in 1921. I have all the papers for that too.
One of my favorite memories of Grandpa Hicks is as a child he'd take me to Golden Gate Park and he'd always wear a hat, and we'd always go to the same park bench and this same little squirrel would come and scurry up his pant leg and sit in his hat and he'd feed the squirrel peanuts on the hat brim. There would be all the other squirrels around and he'd let me feed them peanuts very carefully; I couldn't do it like he could, but there was always that one would ride around and we'd walk along the paths and that squirrel would just sit in his hat until he was ready to leave. I loved that.
September 6, 2002
Hanson: I'd like to talk about the 1950's. Your memories of high school and
your friends and the kind of things kids did in the 50's to have fun;
more social history than anything else.
Payne: That sounds like fun to talk about. I hope I can remember some
of the good… it was really good for me. The fifties were a very nice time
to be around. In fact, before we turned the tape on I was telling you
that tomorrow I'm going to be meeting with a small group of friends from
high school; people I haven't seen since high school. I didn't even see
them in the two class reunions that I've attended since. In trying to
dig out a few old photographs I was telling my husband that one girl I
am going to be meeting was the only obese girl we knew in high school;
she stood out as being the very heavy girl and was very much teased. I
guess all of us who were her friends were very aware of her size. Her
mother had to make her clothes; she had lots of rick-rack to hide size
changes. I do remember that.
Hanson: Explain what rick-rack is because some people might not know what
Payne: Oh, it was a fabric trim that comes in different sizes. It's a
zig-zaggy pattern that our mothers would sew on our hems as she let down
a skirt or a dress to the next level you would sew a row of rick-rack
around the fold to hide the fold. Lane had lots of rick-rack on her skirts
and around the waist and - well maybe I don't know that for sure, I do
know that rick-rack was a tell-tell sign of clothes worn again. What has
amazed me Joyce is pulling out my pictures and finding Lane and myself
and one other girlfriend, one of my closest friends in high school. Lane
wasn't obese at all; she was maybe stout - chubby doesn't even fit. It
amazes me that what our concept of being fat was when I actually look
at that photograph.
Hanson: It's amazing how our perceptions change as we grow older.
Payne: However, that was our perception then and I realize it today, obesity
is a tremendous problem in all of us. (Laughing). Okay, the fifties; luckily
I started school here in the first grade and a number of us went to the
same junior high school and from junior high school we split - half of
my friends went to San Bernardino High School and half of us went to Pacific
High School and I lived on the street that was the boundary between the
two schools (Sierra Way), which from the 1850's on was the center street
in San Bernardino running north and south. It was Salt Lake, I'm not too
sure what it was with the Mormons, I think it was called Salt Lake Street,
actually it was Kirtland, Salt Lake was "E" Street, then it became "A"
Street and everything west is today "D" and "E" and everything east is
not lettered, but that is basically the east/west boundary for San Bernardino.
Hanson: Okay, so they changed it from Salt Lake to "A" to go with the
lettering and then they changed it to Sierra.
Payne: Sierra Way. I don't know when, (about 1928) but certainly it was
Sierra Way when I grew up and I grew up believing it was a major river,
and it did become a major water carrier in a heavy storm. One of my earliest,
well probably my earliest boyfriend, because we held hands -- that was
the extent of it, but we did hold hands, built a raft to deliver newspapers
and float down Sierra Way when we had a flooding condition. That was impressive.
Hanson: How old were you then? What grade were you in roughly?
Payne: You know that might have been junior high school; I'm not too sure.
It might have been sixth grade come to think of it. I kind of remember
still walking to Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and it would have been
definitely because that was when I was close friends with a friend named
Elaine who lived next to the school. I can remember Elaine and I and Don
(was his name), and she had a boyfriend and we actually held hands walking
down the street. I'm going to fast forward into junior high and then into
high school. What fifties are we talking about? I guess I was in high
school in '57-'59, the late fifties. Ask me a question.
Hanson: In high school when - we talked about favorite classes and all
that, so we want to skip over that. When boys and girls got together,
what did you do for fun? Were there school events that you went to? Was
that your primary area of co-ed mixing at first, say when you were in
the 9th/10th grade?
Payne: Okay, 10th grade was our high school because it was a three-year
high school. In junior high, the first mixing I remember was a dance program
here in San Bernardino that I think almost everyone attended - Margarita
Otera Russell's Dance Class. Our parents would have to drive us; none
of us would have been driving at that time, and we all hoped to find somebody
who would dance with us being girls - the boys would be on the other side
of the room and Mrs. Russell would make sure that they picked a partner.
She taught us ballroom dancing and the tango and polka. I don't remember
learning those too well, but I believe that's what it was. Basically social
graces as well, how to properly approach a person, how to introduce people
to each other and then there was an ongoing dance program. I didn't continue
with it, but several of my friends did. That might have been one of the
places where an awfully lot of us met our first long-term boyfriends.
In fact, one of the girls that I got together with last week in Orange
County met her husband at the Cotillion. That was an early way to get
acquainted. My parents belonged to the local country club and those were
some of my earliest social activities so I remember a masquerade party
and I won; I remember that. I wore my mother's blue Chinese pajamas. Oh
they were just beautiful, they were silk with gold threads. Oh gosh, other
activities. I had been involved in girl scouts; that didn't carry on to
boy/girl relationships. I did not belong to Rainbow, and that was an activity
the girlfriends I had were very involved, very involved socially.
Hanson: What is Rainbow?
Payne: I believe it's a program for young girls through the Masonic organization.
As the girls advanced in Rainbow they become Job's Daughters and eventually
Eastern Star and the men are the Masons and the Shriners. At my pre-teen
level of memory, it was lots of dress-up beautiful full-length gowns,
lots of pomp and circumstance, moving through the chairs of responsibilities.
I was lucky enough to be invited to watch some of those programs.
Hanson: What about school activities? Any school dances? Any kind of pep
club rallies or things like that that went on at school?
Payne: In high school yes. In high school I probably became more socially
active. I'd have friends who would be able to take me places or I'd be
able to stay at school and somebody could bring me home. My mother didn't
drive and my father, of course worked, so I was pretty much dependent
on other people for transportation. I was very involved in high school
activities from the beginning. The Sobobans was a really outstanding one
for young ladies. I think probably for more by academic achievement and
it was a social organization; we had breakfast meetings. All of these
organizations taught basic etiquette and we went to Ice Capades in Los
Angeles. We went to the farmer's market. We did really outstanding off-campus
things. As we were juniors we went to campuses at USC and UCLA, so it
was definitely academically oriented for us. There was an organization
called Pagettes that I really loved. We were ushers at all of the California
Theater Civic Light Opera events, so that was an opportunity to enjoy
Civic Light Opera events and gain some experience in working with the
public. I was involved in Spanish Club and that was my favorite class
in high school. Sports, we didn't have very much offered in sports. Tennis
was offered and I honestly don't remember what else other than we had
to participate in gym class. Help me.
Hanson: I'm just trying to think. Were there football games between the
high schools? Did you go to any of those? Back east there's a real rivalry
between high school football teams. We used to have our town's team versus
the next town team and it was a Thanksgiving Day rivalry. Did that happen
Payne: Yes it did. Pacific High School was the first high school built
after San Bernardino High School, which had been here forever, since the
late 1800's. So we were the first high school to open and of course there
was rivalry. Pacific's first graduating class was 1956 I think. So we
were the third graduating class and very proud of it. There is a "P" on
the hill at Perris Hill, which is still there. Normally the San Bernardino
High people would come over and somehow get rid of it and we would have
to put it back together. I didn't climb the hill and take part in any
of that. Football games were exciting. I don't remember dating too much
and going to football games until maybe my junior or senior year, but
that was certainly an activity that was very popular. I don't remember
going to any of the baseball games. I don't remember band, I wasn't involved
in any music, but music was a big activity with an awful lot of my friends
- either playing an instrument or singing in the choir. They were involved
in lots of weekend parades and events.
Hanson: So you weren't one of those cheerleader girls out there on the
Payne: I tried out for cheerleading and I didn't get it. I went home and
cried and I think that's just all typical of growing up. Hanson: You're
right. I think we all tried out for cheerleading and cried. Junior prom,
Payne: Nice memories of both of those. Let's see. I think I went to three
proms. As a sophomore I had met a Marine down at Camp Pendleton. A very
nice young fellow, he really was. My parents vacationed at Oceanside each
summer and that was how I met him. I assume I invited him to take me to
the prom. That doesn't make sense because I couldn't have invited him
as a sophomore; that might have been my junior year. One year was with
a blind date; a very nice young fellow and I would have liked to have
seen him again and didn't, I don't know why.
Hanson: We never do.
Payne: No. I don't remember too much about shopping for the dress, if
I went with girlfriends, if I went by myself. My mom wasn't a shopper
and I don't remember shopping with people. I remember kind of having to
do it on my own, and I don't know if I had very good taste.
Hanson: Do you remember what your dress looked like?
Payne: I can remember not liking a lot of the clothes I'd buy. I'd always
buy something big, and this was from my mom. She'd always buy something
bigger so you'll grow into it. I think I'd really passed that age of having
to grow into things, but I always bought a big size. I bought a size 16
of a dress that I had to keep for years and I never grew into it fortunately.
I remember a bunch of us did go to the beach after that. We had a wonderful
dinner. Prom always included a lovely dinner, usually at the Sycamore
Inn, which is in Rancho Cucamonga. The Sycamore Inn history dates back
into the 1800's here in the San Bernardino Valley. That's not the original
building, and certainly we didn't know that or care about that at those
times. Now it's historic just because that's where we went for our proms.
Hanson: It's a whole new history. Did your parents have curfew when you
were on dates? Did you have to be in at a certain time?
ayne: Oh it seems to me it would be 11:00, maybe 12:00, nothing unreasonable.
Certainly there wasn't much to do. If you went to a movie, we really didn't
have a place to go and get a coke and an ice cream. I really don't remember
pizzas then, maybe hamburgers, but there really wasn't much to do. When
the movie got out you either, well you usually went and parked somewhere,
and somewhere most often was up on Little Mountain up Arrowhead Avenue
that curves around Little Mountain, which was at the far end of North
San Bernardino then - which now is halfway between where we are an downtown
San Bernardino to the south. So there's another perspective and dimension
that has changed. But I do believe they still park there.
And there were a couple of other parking spots up in the San Bernardino
Mountains and growing up I can remember my parents taking me there to
see Catalina Island when the weather was especially clear. That would
be when the north wind was blowing. Now we talk more about the Santa Ana
winds, and they are different winds. My mom always talked about north
Outgrowing the comic books I was allowed to buy Dell Comic Books which
were 10 cents and my father always encouraged me to buy Classic Comic
Books for 15 cents. I was not allowed to buy Marvel Comics. When I graduated
from those I started buying movie magazines, and there were certain ones
that were just excellent. I think one was Photoplay, Silver Screen, something
like that. At any rate, I started keeping scrapbooks of my favorite people,
so that way we can date the movie stars or the movies. Debbie Reynolds
by far and away my very favorite, Jane Powell; so all of those, Debbie
Reynolds and Jane Powell movies. Elizabeth Taylor was older and she wasn't
"a nice person." I don't know who I learned that from. Eddie Fisher, Rock
Hudson, again we're back to the Jane Powell/Debbie Reynolds/Rock Hudson
era, Elizabeth Taylor, graduating to James Dean. I was devastated when
he was killed. That was probably my real crush on a movie star. So that
would be Giant, Susan Slept here -- that was a fun Debbie Reynolds movie.
Alfred Hitchcock movies were wonderful. That was way before Psycho. Vertigo,
Vertigo was especially, I loved that one, I loved Kim Novak, but at that
time when I was visiting with my grandmother in San Francisco and I did
have a group of teenage friends who had a car who took me to where Vertigo
was filmed. It was right under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
at what is Fort Point. They took me out and showed me the ledge where
she jumped to her supposed death, and that was just a few feet. But I
was just fascinated; I had never been under the bridge, just all of that
learning. So yes, that's one of my favorite movies and I don't remember
a thing about it. Movies and movie stars and keeping scrapbooks of my
favorite people - that was big.
Hanson: Did you see anything with Marilyn Monroe?
Payne: Oh yes, yes.
Hanson: Clark Gable?
Payne: I don’t remember. You know I don’t remember Clark Gable.
I know I never saw Casablanca. I certainly know I saw Gone With the Wind,
the fire scene and the scene of the devastation over the battlefield,
that and the dresses. Those lasted with me; that made a big impression,
plus Gone With the Wind was broken in two parts; we had an intermission.
Earlier than that, my mom for a little while would take me to the Saturday
matinees so we could see the sequels or the serials and Tarzan and some
westerns, but I don’t remember too much about that. Short sequels
and then one major movie and the news that came on the news toons or something
like that. Then cartoons, we always had a couple of cartoons, that’s
going back again. Oh, drive-in theaters. Okay, we’ll pass that one.Hanson:
You don’t want to talk about drive-ins?
Payne: No, I was probably awfully good.
Hanson: No skeletons in that closet.
Payne: There really aren’t, there really aren’t. I think my
friends were probably; all of us were pretty geared along the same paths.
Now I realize that that isn’t quite true, my best friend was actually
sleeping with Richard and I talked to her in January and said, “you
never told me that.” Well she never told anybody that then.
Hanson: Yes, it wasn’t something you talked about.
Payne: Oh no, but it couldn’t have been a really especially good
experience in high school for her, and the marriage eventually, they waited
and married when she graduated from Berkeley, but the marriage didn’t
last. In fact, we didn’t talk about sexual matters. Maybe some did
and I didn’t. I think that’s probably closer to the truth.
I do remember a girl telling me how odd she felt going to a movie with
a boy she really liked and trying to tell me a few of the details and
I wouldn’t listen to it. I do remember that about Margie, and she
went to a doctor to talk about what was happening to her, so that’s
interesting. I wasn’t there for her as a friend on that. One of
the community activities that was always fun was the Orange Show every
year. The rides, as we got older, my friend who was so-called “obese”
and I were the same size when I look at the pictures (almost anyway).
Hanson: Perception is everything.
Payne: I would go to the Orange Show with Lane and her family, and one year I brought home a goldfish and that was okay, but I needed to have a little black and white fish to keep the goldfish company and eventually they all ended up in the toilet unhappily. The next year I came home with a baby duckling and I think about that time my parents decided I had enough of friendship with Lane and her parents. We raised that baby duckling on the stove until such a time as my father suddenly found a friend who had a farm and this friend would love to have a duck on his farm, so if it was okay it would be such a better place for the duck to live, and I hope that that's true. An even earlier memory is the Covered Wagon Days that we had here in San Bernardino. That would be the late 40's; I would be maybe 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade. My father's insurance business office was in the California Hotel. The hotel had a suite of offices running alongside the building and his insurance office was there. Hanson: What street was that on? Do you remember?
Payne: Yes, it's on "E" Street. The hotel lobby and entrance faced "E" Street and the side went along Fifth Street. It's still a vacant lot now with olive trees that Mayor Holcomb planted on it. The north side, the north facing side of the hotel I don't believe had any buildings on it, or I'm sorry anything but maybe windows. That would be a blank side. South side had a very lovely alcove and arches and along the line of the Spanish architecture and a series of offices; real estate, insurance and a barber. That's what I remember. Oh, and a radio station. I don't remember the radio station, but Tennessee Ernie Williams Ford. I don't have the right name do I? Tennessee Ernie Ford. Where did I get the Williams? Tennessee Ernie was in my dad's office and invited me to his home by the golf course to see his new puppies, and I was just so impressed. I mean this to me was a movie star. I don't remember if we went and saw the puppies, I think we did. My memory is not clear on that.
Hanson: I didn't know he lived here.
Payne: He didn't, but he was visiting someone. I'm trying to tie in some of my memories with the community and with friends and you're telling me just to talk and I guess I can do that forever (laughs). Thinking again about Lane, my friend who is heavy is probably the best word, she was healthy looking at the picture. She did become heavier, but certainly not in today's terms. And, her father allowing me to bring home a baby duckling kind of ties in with something maybe we would want to talk about a little bit would be maybe the class distinctions in San Bernardino in the fifties.
I don't think I was ever aware of any, however, my parents did belong to the country club here, there was just one, and that obviously was a distinction right there. Talking about activities with other people, I did not hang out with the country club crowd. I didn't have a horse and they did. All the girls who lived on Valencia Avenue who were daughters of attorneys and doctors, judges; Jennifer's dad was a judge, Sandy's an attorney, Carolyn a doctor, Luann, I don't know what her father did, but they all had horses behind the grounds of their beautiful homes. I was invited in their homes, I wasn't excluded, but they weren't my closest friends once I was into high school. It was a very definite, I don't want to say clique yet, but definitely one group of maybe a little bit faster lifestyles. Certainly the fellows were all hanging out with those girls. My friends of choice were from blue collar working families. Thinking about it now, I wonder if that was part of the reason my folks were not happy with my friendship with Lane. Her father worked for Santa Fe Railroad. He probably had a very excellent job. Certainly he lived on Broadmoor; he probably was an official at Santa Fe, but he was railroad. My very close girlfriend's mother was a social worker and I guess I'm not a country club person and not living in a country club area, nor did we, but we did have a nice home in a nice neighborhood.
Hanson: Do you think your association with the country club had more to do with your father's business?
Payne: Yes, and golf. My mother and father loved to play golf, and that's the best thing for me that I did grow up having lessons. I knew how to play golf, but I didn't continue it in high school. I really didn't continue it very long. Once I learned, it wasn't something that girls did… a very famous professional golfer, David Stockton, was in my class all through high school. He and I went together to Margarita's Dance Classes. He certainly continued his profession of golf, and now here I am working for a manager, who was also part of the golfing crowd at the country club, but they were guys, they weren't girls. My parents were in a bad accident when I was junior high school age, and that ended their golfing. The social aspect of the country club meant that we ate dinner out there once or twice a week. I always had to choose between steak and shrimp. I never wanted anything else and I never knew which of the two I wanted more. That was an excruciating decision once or twice a week all of my growing up. It was kind of lonely being an only child and my parents were not - my mom was reclusive. She was a social drinker and became an alcoholic and mostly through the club association, that was where she had her chance to drink socially, but didn't handle it well. She didn't drive, so on the days that she and I would ride the bus together to the golf course, play maybe three holes of golf and then I'd go over to the swimming pool and she'd go in and visit with her lady friends. Usually somebody would bring us back home. At some point my father realized that we weren't using the golf facilities and that just was not something good for my mom, so we just dropped the country club affiliation. He continued being very active in Lions Club, so business-wise I think the Lions Club was more important to him. I remember being his guest when Ann Landers came to speak, and I think that might have been 1959. She came to our school and we saw her at the auditorium, and then she spoke at the Lions Club luncheon and I think only maybe two or three of us children (or whatever we were then)…
Hanson: Tell me what the Lions Club is and what they did.
Payne: Well the Lions Club is probably international, certainly national men's organization. Men, probably independent businessmen who meet on a weekly basis. They, like the Kiwanis and the Elks always would have a major charitable event to support and that would be the blind. In San Bernardino we have a large organization called Lighthouse for the Blind. They also did lots of fun things. They'd go down to Baja, California on fishing trips and my dad thoroughly enjoyed that and being the drinker he was, he didn't come back from one of those. He ended up in the hoosegow with a few of the other Lions.
Hanson: Roaring too loud.
Payne: Yes, roaring too loud.
Hanson: You would say then, I mean class-wise, that there was a definite division, or even at the age you were you could see the division among the upper class in San Bernardino and then there was definitely a blue collar division and then perhaps your family as professionals fell somewhere in-between.
Payne: Definitely in-between, definitely.
Hanson: So you didn't feel comfortable with the upper echelons let's say on Valencia. You felt more comfortable with the other people, but your parents saw a division between the blue-collar railroad workers and your group of people.
Payne: I think so. I think so. Again, my father was well liked and well respected in his insurance business, but he dealt with other businesses. His insurance was not life insurance; it was everything but life if I'm correct. I may not remember. Mostly buildings and structures and he had for a time insured the entire town of Ludlow, the entire town of Baker. He and I would go out to the desert and I loved those desert roads, up and down, up and down, just hoped that you'd fly off the top of the hill. So his associations stayed within the business. And my mom's associations were the social element. She was very active in an organization called Santa Claus, Incorporated, which is a charitable organization that year-round volunteers worked in a warehouse in downtown San Bernardino for a while and then they rented warehouse space out at Norton Air Force Base in east San Bernardino. Working to collect old and discarded toys, riding toys. There would be men who would volunteer to put the bicycles back together out of different parts and paint wagons put board games and jigsaw puzzles together and throw away the ones that were missing too many pieces, making doll clothes, knitting, and from an early age I started sewing mice, no I must have been doing that after I was married. But, from an early age I was involved with Santa Claus, Incorporated with my mom helping to wash dolls and wash fur animals. My mom also was involved with American Cancer Society. She was an excellent typist, excellent stenographer, and that was her career before she became just a housewife (strike the "just").
Hanson: Before she became a "full-time homemaker."
Payne: Right. Let's see, where was I going with that. Oh, Santa Claus, Incorporated, that is such an excellent example of upper class or class distinction and it still hasn't changed today from what I can see. At Christmastime there would be a huge luncheon and Christmas tree decorated by local businesses. The nurseries would donate a Christmas tree decorated and these trees would be raffled off. There is a name for this special event that continues now every Christmas season. At that time the Board of Santa Claus, Incorporated shines and comes forward and receives an awful lot of publicity and the organization deserves publicity; but the volunteers are never seen, they're always in the background. They're the ones who really help and still hold that organization together. If the women hadn't been there cleaning and making clothes, going to the different stores and getting donations from Woolworth's, underwear and socks and then helping, putting all this together, it's just a fantastic organization. At Christmastime it's your big name people in the community who have their pictures in the paper with the mayor and who stand at the door while lines of people come in for distribution. That bothered my mom. She was close friends with the organizer of the event and she was close friends with some of those upper echelon people, but there was definitely a distinction and I can't say it's blue collar or white collar; it's probably typical of every other organization there is. It's somewhat political, and I think that is probably the same in our day-to-day outlook here in San Bernardino. I don't think we pointed fingers at "wrong side of the track." We had a "wrong side of the track," but I don't think we really knew that, we growing up as teenagers. In fact getting together with my girlfriends last week, two weeks ago, we were talking about none of us were aware of color or race problems or differences. There were very few black people in our high school. One incident, I can remember standing in line and having two big black girls in front of me using fowl language that I had never heard, and that was not a good memory. The Hispanic community, large Hispanic community here in San Bernardino and I don't think that there was any question of our not mixing together. It's just the Hispanic community probably most of those students were at San Bernardino High School, because that would be the west side of town. But those that were at Pacific I don't believe were singled out as being different. Maybe they were, maybe if I looked back through my high school album and I say, "Oh I don't remember this person, or this person or this person then maybe that's exactly how it would be. But I don't think we knew that then.Hanson: Yes, it's awareness that comes as you look back. It's not something you consciously recognize at the time I think. I had something else I was going to ask. Oh, any Japanese students? Do you remember Japanese students?
Payne: No I don't.
Hanson: Just curious, with the end of World War II and people coming back from relocation camps. I was wondering if…
Payne: According to Masako Hirata, the Japanese students would have all been in the San Bernardino High School parts. And Pacific High would have taken over all of the new growth out into Highland. Del Rosa and Highland were the nice areas, Del Rosa especially. That was in a very nice area. It would have been up along the mountain here. So, before San Bernardino kind of ended like at Waterman.
Now no doubt there is a large contingency of Japanese students and Misako's younger sister was supposed to be valedictorian and that year the school decided it had to be a boy. I don't know if you ever talked to her.
Hanson: Yes. I sent her a letter, so I'm hoping to talk to her.
Payne: Oh yes, she told me that, and she's had so much company and didn't have time to fill it out.
Hanson: It must have been very lonely for minorities, being at a school where there are only a few other people that you can relate to. Was there ever a large contingent of Chinese here in San Bernardino that you're aware of? I mean historically?
Payne: Historically there was a Chinatown and it was on the site of the present Cal-Trans building, which is being demolished. A few months ago Cal-Trans offered to the public a chance to take a walk through their excavation, and they had been excavating the building sites of the old Stark's Hotel in Chinatown and they found cooking facilities, they found an awfully lot of old pieces of porcelain and jars and they dug out the privies; you could recognize the privy from the square in the ground (which would have been the junk pile). Yes, there was a large, there was a Chinatown here in San Bernardino, which probably came with the railroads which came early into San Bernardino. I have no idea what has happened to our Chinese population. I remember the one girl in high school, just one, and we had one outstanding businessman who has been outstanding and well known as long as I've been here. He continues to support young people with scholarships and certainly an older gentleman who retired from the restaurant, but he had years and years helped, Bing Wong from Wong's. Everyone in San Bernardino would know Bing Wong (of him). I don't believe that we have very many people of Chinese descent living here in San Bernardino. I wonder where they moved? Have they migrated toward Los Angeles? I don't think that they end up in the Santa Fe Railroad shops. But it's an interesting question. The Japanese stayed there's lots of agriculture, citrus and strawberries.
Hanson: That's an interesting question. Hopefully we'll get some people from that community to talk to us and tell us what happened.
Payne: We had a, and do have, a large Greek-American population in San Bernardino. They have a beautiful Greek Orthodox Church on Bunker Hill, which is in the south end towards Colton. I did go to school with lots of Greek-American families who are very well known here in San Bernardino, involved in the newspaper. They always seem to have so much fun. They're cheerful, big families, and I guess it's just coincidental that right now there's a movie that is so good called, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Everyone who has seen it has told me that they can identify with their family in some way. When I saw it, I saw it with a lady from, not Bulgaria, not Slovakia, okay, well one of the Slovakian countries; and she said it was just really the story of her own grandparents and parents. I have a friend who is Italian who said that, "Hey, that's our family." It's a great movie; I recommend it for everybody.
Hanson: I've heard it's a movie to see. We have a Greek family that owns the Mediterranean Restaurant I believe.
Payne: Tom Pinto? No, that's the Gourmet, and that's a Greek family. That's a longstanding. Let's see, I know who you're talking about.
Hanson: Peggy Hambly went to school with her I believe. Bernice I think is her name. But anyway, I'm going to meet with them next Wednesday for lunch with a group of Peggy's high school friends, so they're interested in talking with us too, so that will be interesting.
Payne: I remember I was so impressed when I worked for an ophthalmologist here as an adult, way past these years, the Greek Orthodox priest, the Catholic priest and Rabbi Feldheym I think (was it, yes I think so), the three of them went to the Holy Land together and they had a ball.
Hanson: Speaking of Rabbi Feldheym, what about the Jewish community here?
Payne: I would consider it a good size Jewish community from being an outsider. I did have a girlfriend in high school and I did go to temple with her. She was fun to be with and I enjoyed her showing me, I think it's the menorah on her door and learning a little bit about her religion. As far as I'm aware, I don't think any of us were - I don't think there was any distinction of religion in our groups of friends. I can remember a good memory in high school my senior year, we were all talking about where we were going to college or if we were going to be marrying the person we were going with, doing an awful lot of introspection at that time, and a lot of religious discussions on what do we really believe and which way we were going. I can remember day after day sitting in the high school cafeteria with Mike who was Catholic, questioning and going through a whole series of revelations of being Catholic. Donna wasn't part of that group, Donna was Jewish, but at that time I was interested in the Mormon Church. There was just a large group of us all talking about what our religious philosophies were as we were finding them. I don't think religion separated any of us. Now, it probably did socially outside of school, but not within school. And, back to being involved in high school activities, I was very involved in the Baptist Church as a youth leader.
Hanson: Oh you were?
Hanson: Did your parents know that?
Payne: Well they were supportive. They were supportive of almost everything I did. I was good, I didn't break curfew. I was honest; I didn't do things that I didn't tell them about (at that point in my life).
Hanson: Why Baptist?
Payne: Because my girlfriend, Elaine's parents would take me with them and of course, again I was always dependent on somebody else to take me somewhere. Since Elaine and her family were Baptist and I think Lane, and we're talking about Elaine here you know, and myself. None of my girlfriends here in the present day went to church there. It was a fairly large youth group. That's an interesting story. I don't know you want it on tape, but I'll tell you and then you can do it later. For two years in high school I went to the Mormon activities. We danced with everybody; with everybody of every age, they allowed me to join their singing choir. I don't know if I ever talked about being kicked out of second grade chorus? Back in second grade I wanted to join the Christmas chorus and no matter where I was everybody else couldn't sing, because I'm so bad. So, Mrs. Meyer had a parent/teacher conference and suggested to my parents that they help me get voice lessons and in the meantime she kicked me out of the choir, which was devastating to me because I loved to sing. So I did, I had a series of voice lessons. I sang Silent Night for two weeks and at that time the voice teacher suggested I have piano lessons. Well, I loved the piano. I loved filling in the squares on the paper, hitting the keys, I practiced; I was good, just awfully good, just goody-goody. After six months the teacher bought a… what is it called? The little pendulum that swings.
Payne: Yes, metronome. Six months later she took it home and quit my lessons. I was doing the best I could; it just wasn't good enough. But in the Mormon Chorus I was put between two extremely strong singers and I loved it. It's one of my favorite memories. At any rate, I just wanted very much to belong and couldn't believe what their church taught, so I went back to the Baptist church and became the president of the youth group. I guess it would be called more of a Southern Baptist leaning. It was a very strict Baptist Church. We had Calvary Baptist Church at the north end of town. That's where all of the, that was a very social church. The one that I went to was, I guess now I'd use the word fundamental.
September 13, 2002
Hanson: This is an interview with Sue Payne of San Bernardino, California and the interview is being conducted on September 13, 2002. Sue, last time we were talking about your interest, or your renewed interest in religious issues and religion. You were telling us a story about your work with the Baptist Church. Continue that.
Payne: Oh, let's see, back in high school my senior year I was president of our youth group at the Baptist Church, which probably was a Southern Baptist Church. I don't think they called it that. It was more fundamentalist than the cross-town Calvary Baptist Church. I had made a program for the youth group that we would study world religions. At that time when Life Magazine did series on Daoism, Buddhism and Hinduism and Christianity, Judaism, etc. had come out. The youth group was overwhelmingly supportive of the project. We had fun and our youth group grew and Sunday nights somebody would get up and talk about a new religion (new to us). It was a smashing success. Kids that were not normally known to be good in schoolwork really shined on this project. The only problem was that it was not popular with the youth counselors and they asked me if we could talk about just the Baptist religion. I disagreed and I didn't think that that was any fun at all. They went to the pastor of the church, and the upshot of that is that the pastor supported our program as the youth group in studying all religions. The church split down the middle. The end result was that the pastor was asked to leave and half of the following went with him. He ended up going into seminary and becoming an Episcopalian minister in Los Angeles, after some 30 years of being the head of the First Baptist Church in San Bernardino. That's sad and it probably was a straw that broke the camel's back. There obviously had to be other dissentions, other issues. But I do remember that as being quite traumatic.
Hanson: What was his name?
Payne: Miles Dawson. Very well known, very well respected in the community; just a nice, nice person of course.
Hanson: Why do you think they were so opposed to studying other religions, the faction that was opposed and ultimately split the church?
Payne: Very narrow minded fundamentalist teaching in the church. I left the church when I was younger and for two years I was very involved in the Mormon Church. I loved the activities; I loved everything but the religion; just too bad. I do remember our youth leaders in Sunday school telling us that the poor Indians in Arizona who didn't have the opportunity to hear about Jesus and they would not be saved. That was just ludicrous. But that was the type of teaching that was popular in that church and I'm certain half the congregation. Very fundamentalist, very basic Bible belt or at least what I would consider a Bible belt type of structure.
Hanson: So they looked at basically using the bible - taking it literally.
Payne: Taking it literally, absolutely. Darwin was not something that we learned in Sunday school.
Hanson: Let's move on and talk about some of your other memories. You said you had thought about some other things about high school and stories to tell me.
Payne: I have, I took a few notes. I am so lucky Joyce because I have contact with so many friends from grammar school and last weekend I became reacquainted with a friend that has been a thread through these interviews. Her name is Lane. She's the girl that I remembered as being so obese, and yet when we dug out pictures of us our first year in high school, she was maybe a little heavy, but so was I. We won't talk about where I am today, but Lane and I did get together for the first time since high school graduation, and she is extremely obese at this point. She is morbidly obese I guess would be the term. But we had a great time remembering, reminiscing together, and she and a mutual high school girlfriend and a mutual high school boyfriend and I sat for several hours and talked. I asked them questions, "What did we do when we entertained ourselves?" We all were knitting angora socks and angora dice in school and that's something I had forgotten. And the argyle socks, in fact when I look at my high school annual now I see all these people saying, "Keep knitting those socks, they're beautiful."
Hanson: See what we dredge up in these interviews?
Payne: Oh right! But that was very popular. I'd forgotten that. What was one of the other things? Oh, the board games; when we got together we played board games, Tripoli. I think I mentioned that to you and you didn't know about that game.
Hanson: No, that game I don't remember.
Payne: It's kind of a combination of hearts and poker and poker chips and cards. It's still out there. It's fun, and it was fun for a large group of people. One of the things that Joe Joe, you'd think he'd be Joe, but this poor guy, he was Joe Joe to us last week, remembered this… that none of us could ever wear green and yellow on Thursdays and I'm going to be asking you, is this something that was widespread or was this just in our community? Green and yellow, Thursday was fairy day.
Hanson: No, nothing like that I can recall.
Payne: Okay, I'd completely forgotten that and it was so important to us. So I said, well I'll ask because none of us knew and it was just part of those funny growing up things. You just didn't wear green and yellow on Thursdays.
Hanson: Now that I don't remember.
Payne: I don't think any of us knew what that meant to be a fairy back in junior high. Okay, I thought I'd ask. One of the memories that I dredged up talking to another girlfriend was growing up playing in fields, and something that Kathleen mentioned to me that her children never had that opportunity. When I think about it I guess my kids haven't either. To be able to go out in open fields and just play. As a youngster here in San Bernardino, our house is no longer on the corner; there are three houses that are built between our home on Sierra Way and the corner. But, when we lived there for several years, there was a lot full of little pepper trees and then a field. I remember playing in that and having so many memories of little trails or… anyway, that was a memory that others had too of being able to play out in the fields.
Hanson: There was a lot more open space back then.
Payne: More open space. Safe open space. You're backed up on the fields and the foothills of San Bernardino Mountains here in this beautiful home and I recognize the perimetry that my daughter and I used to run here in the foothills, and this is a recent memory so called as far as this interview. But the last time that she and I ran together alone, we came upon the body (dead body) of the shepherd who had been shot and killed. That's probably the end of feeling safe in our open space in empty fields.
Hanson: That's a definite loss. It's sad when that happens that you don't feel safe anymore.
Payne: Yes, you know we talk about not feeing safe at nighttime and I blame that more on my eyes. Now I think it's as much just not feeling comfortable being alone in the dark, a dark place. If we want to talk a little bit more about Lane I had quite a discovery in talking about cultural changes. One of the things I like so much about living in today versus yesterday is that we share more and we are able to talk about skeletons in the closets I guess we'd say. We're much more open with our problems and our sexual attitudes and persuasions and religious persuasions or whatever. One of the girlfriends told us last week that in 1995 (which would be a number of years after her parents had both died) that she discovered she was an adopted child. And she made that discovery partly through using the resources at Feldheym Library at the California Room. What a shock for her, and not to be able to discuss this with her parents. This is seven years now and she's still hurt and searching. She said she grew up as an only child as I did too. I told her I remember being pretty much dependent on her dad taking us places and she remembered riding the bus downtown to be able to get places. Her father was an authority and had his own office at Santa Fe Depot. She would love to go with him on weekends and he would take her into the roundhouse on occasion at the Santa Fe Depot. But why her parents never admitted to her of the adoption, she'll never know. She has since learned that her father also was adopted. She'll never know if he knew that or not. Her paternal grandfather she's still very proud of, although this is no longer a blood relation, but he was pioneer railroader who came from L.A. at the turn of the century. So it's been a railroad family. Her daughter is adopted from Mexico, and her daughter is so upset with grandma and grandpa who are since deceased that they never gave her mother the opportunity to feel special, wanted or chosen. Now my friend feels crushed and cheated. You know, that's sad.
Hanson: Sometimes in the short-run it hurts, but in the long-term it's better to know these things, and it's better that we're open and we discuss them now.
Payne: Oh absolutely. You're saying it better than I did. That's why I like this present generation more than the past. And, incidentally, my girlfriend, who was our other girl, ended up running the adopted services here for the San Bernardino County Public Services Adoptive Services. She said they are adamant with all their families to be honest and up front from the very beginning. Just don't ever wait, just let your children know from the very beginning.
Hanson: It's much better for them.
Payne: Yes. She has of course learned some details. It turns out that
the adoption was done through the Santa Fe Railroad out of San Francisco.
Her true family was also here in San Bernardino. She has an older brother
who was a schoolteacher in Colton at the time that she was growing up.
She has made some contact with that side of the family, but it's not a
very friendly welcoming contact. They knew nothing; she knew nothing.
Hanson: Yes, but that's one of the things about the 40's and 50's that wasn't positive, in the long-run wasn't something that was positive, that came out of that period. That's important to remember, because we often look back at the 40's and 50's as this nostalgic utopian era that we want to go back to and there are a lot of reasons not to go back there. So that's a great example of one.
Payne: When I was in college, when I graduated from high school I was engaged. I think we had that on the other tape and I did promise my parents to do my freshman year, to go to school at least one year. I went to U.C. Santa Barbara at Goleta and it was a very small campus. My mind was set on marrying and toward the end of that school year my fiancé returned to Mexico City and was arrested for having left the country and dodging the draft. At that point I heard nothing more from him. None of our letters crossed. I think I also was becoming just a little bit wiser, a little more hesitant on the decision to marry. I did leave school and I did get my very first job. I went through the telephone book, through the yellow pages. I sat cross-legged on my bed and started in "A" and got to "V" before I saw veterinarians and knew what I wanted to do, and that's exactly how I got my job. I called the first veterinarian, Dr. Childs and he and his wife were just deciding they needed their first assistant in their office in Rialto. Isn't that a coincidence? A beautiful coincidence. The entire time that I worked for them they always encouraged me, 'go back to school.' My girlfriend, Linda, with whom I spent last weekend, was moving from her dorm to an apartment at Berkeley and said, "Sue, come up and help me move." So of course I did. I went up one weekend and walked onto the campus at Berkeley. I absolutely fell in love with it. [tape paused]
Hanson: Okay, let's continue, you were talking about going up to Berkeley and you fell in love with the campus.
Payne: Oh I fell in love with the campus and it was arranged that my father would drive up and pick me up since I had ridden up with Linda in her car, and when my dad did I was so excited and told him I would very much like to come back to school and I wanted to go to Berkeley. He was thrilled, because he had some news for me as well that one of the attorneys in town had just been a guest of the family in Mexico City to whom I was engaged and that my so-called fiancé was at home and taking a young lady out to the opera that evening. It was a relief; it was such a relief for all of us because that was the end of that and I got back to school and I got involved in working with the Daily Californian, took a "D" in zoology so I dropped Daily Californian. I loved it and I had a whole new attitude of looking for something I can't live with, not some perfect ideal of what I wanted. Anyway, that's one of those growing up experiences, and I'm very, very fortunate that it worked out for me the way it did.
So I was at Berkeley for the next year and a half with the emphasis on French. I dropped my Spanish, but I really psychologically blocked Spanish out of my mind, which is too bad. I enjoyed my history and English and I didn't recognize that in myself. I just had a wonderful, wonderful education at Berkeley. The liberal arts demanded so much coursework in sciences and, with the exception of the physics class, every single class was demanding of me, it was important, and somewhere it's been useful. It opens your eyes to a lot, and between my sophomore and junior year I joined mid-term a sorority of very nice girls. It was Zeta-Tau-Alpha and it was a group of girls who shared most of my academic interests. It wasn't a socially privileged group of girls. When I moved into the sorority house my roommate was my husband's rodeo roping partner and that's how I met Bill. Judy invited me to Indio over Easter break and she and Bill were in junior rodeo competition. But Bill became the love of my life. My father, during that same Easter break, gave me the opportunity to spend the next year in France. There was a girl in the sorority who had just spent a year in Gernoble, France and I was telling my dad about that and he said, "Well would you like to do that?" I had never, ever, ever thought of doing anything like that. We didn't travel. In fact, that's a difference in our generations, between my own generation and my kid's generation, is that for me to have that year of experience abroad and doing so much traveling during that year; those were experiences and opportunities that not very many people have. I'd say just within the next generation, by the time my children were through school, once again, it was almost taken for granted that parents and children travel and have these opportunities. Anyway, for me that was a wonderful year. I fell in love with learning. That sounds so Pollyannaish, but I did. I just realized, my gosh here I am, I'm seeing ruins that were built 8000 B.C. in Crete. I'm standing on the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral listening to the bells ring announcing the new pope. I'm standing in a cathedral that was standing in the 1400's. I don't think until I married Bill and he took me to some Indian ruins (Native American Indian ruins in Arizona, big whoopee 1700 A.D. and they're rocks.) But you really can't force that perspective on someone else, you just appreciate having it, and now I appreciate the Native American ruins as well, but it's taken longer.
Hanson: It's humbling being in Europe to be in those kind of places.
Payne: Oh yes, and I was so enthralled and here I am speaking French, knowing some Spanish, picking up Italian very, very quickly deciding, now I'm going to work for the United Nations. I'd go to the local bank, I go to the local store, I go to the local hairdresser and they're speaking four and five languages fluently. That's another eye opener. Oh gosh, let's see, I went to Europe with Bill's blessing. He said do anything and everything you want to do; don't short yourself. Anything at all, just when you come home again we'll see how our relationship is. I know I love you, but I don't want that to stop you from having a wonderful year. He's so mature. Of course I was going to keep loving him; I didn't for awhile, because again I thought well this is going to be my life I'm going to teach, I'm going to work in the U.N. At that time they talked about putting another office in Vienna; I think that was the time period and I thought, oh I can do all that. But when I came home and got back together with Bill I fell back in love with him, and I was at Berkeley finishing up my last semester, filling out all of the papers, had rented the gown and Dan, my son intervened in that. When I tell that Bill gets a little embarrassed, but I'm not. Not at all, that is the best thing that could have happened to us, because at that time I'm thinking zero population growth, I'm not interested in children. I had never been around a child. In fact, when I brought Dan home from the hospital he was a preemie, he truly was a premature baby and I didn't touch him for the first 16 days of his life. I hadn't shown enough when I was pregnant for a lot of people to even know I had had a baby. I brought him home and my sister-in-law was showing me how to take a diaper and make a kite out of it. That thing would start at his shoulders, go down his legs and come back up to the top of his head. I hadn't a clue what to do and I'd never held a baby. So, it was rough. That was a real rough part of our life. I was very sick then and I just needed more help, and I had the help, I had it from Bill's family. Unfortunately, my mom and dad were in San Bernardino and they were just as uncomfortable around children as I was. But Dan was on every two hour around the clock feeding schedule, so that meant no sleep to me.
Bill was working, moonlighting two jobs, so he was doing what he could, but he didn't know what to do. I had this wonderful college education Joyce, but when we got married the first thing that Bill asked me to do was starch his white shirts, and I knew that his Levis were kind of hard, so I thought well I guess I starch those too and his Levi jacket and his shirts. You know so I went to the store and bought a bottle of blue starch, Quick Elastic I think it's called, and went out in the apartment in the utility room and put a little in with the water in the clothes and nothing happened. Well nothing happened and I kept putting more of this blue stuff in the water and nothing happened, so I put the whole bottle in and thought, "well I won't buy that cheap brand again." And I ended up hanging these things out on the clothesline. I went to work and came home and I peeled those things off the clothesline in Indio you know; this is March. When Bill came home he walked into the bedroom and he had standing in front of him his Levis, standing, a shirt standing on top of the Levis with the arms out and, yeah of course I put the underwear in, I didn't know. I really didn't know, so I had to learn how to starch clothes. But, that was one of the best memories. I'm trying to remember, there were three things that went off and on. Bill knew that he had a college-educated wife who knew nothing. Our apartment was upstairs and for the first few days we had a garbage disposal and so I put the food down it and turned the water on and that was fine. Well the third night I did that all the food came back up and I'm calling to Bill and I'm saying there's something wrong with the pipe and he's looking at it and he looks at it and he reaches underneath and pushes a red button and he turns the light switch on to the porch light and this thing goes on, runs by electricity and all the stuff goes down. I said, "What's that?" He said, "What's what?" I said that's our porch light. He said, "We don't have a porch." I didn't know that that ran by electricity, and we didn't have a porch, but that's what a porch light was in the house I grew up in, over the sink.
Our power went out one day when I was home in the apartment. I was ironing, I had a little meatloaf cooking in our toaster oven, I had the T.V. on, I had the air conditioning on and the power went out and I start to cry because the meatloaf will be ruined, I can't finish ironing Bill's clothes (I don't do that anymore, but I did it religiously then). I had no idea what to do; I mean that meant you couldn't flush the toilet, that meant that you certainly couldn't call on the telephone because the power's out. So Bill comes home to the apartment at the end of the evening and it was just one of those late nights for him. He walks in and I'm bawling, it's dark, he went in and he flushed the toilet (I didn't know you could do that). He said, "Well why didn't you call me?" I said, "Well the power's out." I had no idea that the telephone wasn't part of the power supply. None. And of course all it was a flipped switch or a circuit. Just next time you don't carry the ironing board into the kitchen when you've got everything else going.
I did know how to do French Onion Soup and I knew how to do a wonderful roast and I knew how to make my mayonnaise from scratch. He and I just didn't quite hit if off on the food. When we were first shopping I was not going to buy a canned good. We were going to eat fresh vegetables, fresh fruit. I still had that residual of, well you can do this in Berkeley too, we were a big city, you could go to the local market and buy your produce fresh. Certainly in France every morning I would be the first one up, go get the fresh bread; a wonderful way to start the morning. Then we would go to the market and get our fresh poultry or meat. So the first week that we were married and Bill and I went shopping at Safeway I think it was; I'm sure it was Safeway. I bought fresh brussel sprouts; I love brussel sprouts and you couldn't buy them in a small thing, you had to buy flats. I don't know why Safeway had everything in flats, so much of the produce was locally grown. So I brought home a flat of brussel sprouts and that first night I fixed us each six and Bill ate three. The second night I fixed us four and Bill ate two. The third night we were invited over to his brother John's for dinner and Bill took half a flat, I guess it was a half a flat, he took all of these brussel sprouts, packaged them up and he said, "You know my brother John loves brussel sprouts and this would be an awfully nice way to get acquainted with Martha, giving them this package of brussel sprouts," so I did. John was very polite, I didn't know him very well, he hates brussel sprouts, Bill hates brussel sprouts. That was the last fresh vegetable that Bill allowed me to buy at the grocery store. He really hates vegetables.