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Rural life of poverty
My brother, Frank, didn’t have any shoes.  He would go to school barefoot. When our older brother, Herb, was working at the mill, he had a pair of shoes and would let Frank borrow them occasionally. Once Frank was going to visit a little girl he liked, so he borrowed Herb’s shoes. When Herb had to go to work, he sent me to find Frank. I found him sitting with the girl in her front porch swing, and I said to him, “Herb has to go to work, and he sent me to get his shoes.” Frank was so humiliated. When he grew up, he’d buy new shoes almost every month — he had pairs he never even wore.

Life in a small town
We had a little movie theater in town and we’d walk about a mile down there and see movies on Saturdays. We sat on wooden benches and watched cowboy movies and Three Stooges comedies. I did enjoy it as a kid. I used to sit in the front row when I was maybe seven years old or six. It costs a nickel; once in awhile I’d get a nickel and go. That’s another case of segregation. The black people that came had to sit up in the balcony and the white people sat down below.

First house as newlyweds
The outlook for room rental was dismal. Vets were flooding back and going to college and marrying. I had saved, I think, $700 during the war that I had available. When I couldn’t find a house to rent, I looked in a trailer court. The trailers were parked, each of them right next to one another, thirty or forty feet apart. The only trailer park in town was on campus and fully occupied. The only choice I had, was to buy one already there with almost all my meager savings. I paid $620 for a 14-foot trailer, jacked up on concrete blocks, on a plot of land about 20 feet x 20 feet. This was to be our first home.

Norma remembering her mother
My best story that I love about my mother, is that they didn’t have a refrigerator, so they had window boxes back in Indiana. It was cold enough in the winter. And mother, before she’d go out, she’d cut a beet in half and that was her rouge.

[Jack] And then one time, Dad was going to teach her to drive a car. And she started down the street, made a right turn, and kept the right turn going, right into a rock wall that I’d spent a whole summer building. 

Mother never drove again.


Listen to an excerpt from the interview with Jack and Norma
about how they knew they had chosen the right person to marry.

Copyright 2018 Maggie MarkdaSilva