Life Memories of William C. Pringle

Tapes that William C. Pringle made for his daughter, K.C. Davy.

Table of Contents:

Mr. Spezzano

wcp0101 (1:37)

This section appears later on in the tape

About Death and Dying

wcp0102 (4:02)

You know, I was just thinking about the suggestion I made when you were home about making this tape. You indicated that you would like to have such a tape, but as I think about it now, it seems to be the thinking of an egotistical old man. So, I gave it a little thought, and finally decided that I was an egotistical old man, and I would go through with the tape.

You know that I have been never very sentimental about death itself. As I never concern myself about where I was to be buried, what kind of marker to be on the grave. In fact you mother is under instructions by me to spend the least possible amount on my funeral that she can get away with.

And please don't think of this is a morbid sense. What the heck, we're all are going to die, and three days from know I'm going to be 60, so I am certainly the most logical contender for the next one in our family.

As I said, I've never cared much about funerals and being buried. I've been to many funerals fo friends of mine, and relatives that I have grieved, and I have missed, and some I still miss. But, I was going to say "that's life", but it isn't is it? That's death. I suddenly started thinking however, when I started thinking about this tape, that probably the most undesirable condition would be to have lived X number of years upon this earth, and then you die, and nobody even remembers you. And you have made really no impression that could be remembered.

This would be very disturbing to me. I would like to think that while I am certainly no Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, or Hitler, that somewhere along the line that I have left some mark, some impression. And very frankly, I hope it's more than just this tape, because I'm going to be around for a while yet. But, I would like to share with you some of the things that I remember of my childhood and youth.

Born in Horden

wcp0103 (3:05)

Well, anyway, getting back to me. As you know, I was born in England, in my own home, or at least it started to be my home on September 27, 1914. My mother at the time was 34 years old, and it was customary at England for the county health department, or whatever they called it, to have a nurse come at least each day, and stay with the new mother and her new born baby. And, of course, that is what happened to me. And if I remember correctly, I have been told that the nurse who came to take care of me and my mother was nurse Pratt.

When she left, again I'm told, Aunt Lizzie, who at that time was 21 years old, came to stay with my mother and me to sort of take care of me and the rest of the house while my mother was convalencing. And perhaps that is why I turned out to be more or less her pet, and she certainly has been one of my closest relatives, as evidenced by my trip to see her in 1960. I might add at this time, that I shall always cherish the memory of that particular trip.

We lived at 104 New 7th Street Horden near Sunderland, County Durham, England. That was our mailing address. I guess their postal system was set up so that they needed a larger town to identify these small villages. Incidentally, Horder was a collierly or what would be called in this country a mining town. And I guess the one thing that distinguishes it from the mining towns of today is that there was only one building in the town that was not brick. And that was put up more or less temporarily during WWI, and finally became a club. In fact, it was called the Tin Club, primarily because it was made out of sheet metal.

Starting School in Horden

wcp0104 (2:42)

I don't really remember much about the first few years, but believe it or not, I do remember starting school at the age of five. In England, they didn't take the whole summer off. We had one month off during the summer, and I don't remember, but it was probably July, perhaps August, but I dont' know.

In any rate, I can remember my first day at school, or at least going to school. I was all dressed up in my little short pants, knee socks, and the little dink of a hat (the kind used by college freshmen today). But one thing that became typical in my life occurred on that particular day, but I was late. And when I got to the school, I was afraid to go in. I just sat on the steps and cried. I really don't remember whether someone noticed me and came out to get me, or someone going into school saw me and took me in, but obviously I did get to school. Now this was called Infant School, which in a sense corresponds with your kindergarden, except that it was not a play school. It was like your first grade. We learned our alphabet, the multiplication table, add and subtract, simple things like this. Actually in my case, I think I remember my mother telling me that I already knew the alphabet, and could count up to a certain amount, and knew something about multiplication tables. In any case, I was exposed now to a formal education system. I think I can say of that year, and every other year, that I was a fairly decent student, but I never really scored very well. My grades were not that impressive, but I guess I could be considered scholasticaly at the time, and the years through school as above average.

Some Early Memories

wcp0105 (2:43)

I can remember just a couple of people. I remember a Miss Best, who was my teacher, and she happened to be a boarder, or a roomer of the people who lived next door to us. I don't know if that ever got me any priviledges or not, but I do remember on one occassion Miss Best asking me to take something to school. She had given me an envelope, and it turned out that she was asking me to take it to school, and take it to the office. It was an envelope, however, and I associate that with the mail, so I dropped it in the mailbox. I never did find out what happened to it, or what was in it, but she was quite surprised when I told her what I had done.

I also remember a Jimmy Nyass. Actually, his was the only negro family in our town. And I can remember this, that I didn't even think of him as being any different, really until I came to America. He was just one of the kids. I was in his home many, many times, and he was probably in mine. We were friends.

I also remember an Albert Elliot. I can remember one amusing incident involving him. We came out of school one day, and we walked out together, and I decided instead of going home, that I would go to Albert's house to play with him. I remember realizing that this surprised him a little bit, but he didn't say anything, and I did go. And I found myself sitting on the front steps while he ate. It was then that I realized that it was only lunch time, and not the end of the day. I had to go back to school in the afternoon. I think I went without my lunch that day. Needless to say, my mother was quite concerned.

The North Sea and the Beach

wcp0106 (7:27)

I have told you many times that we lived near the North Sea. I have said it was about a half a mile, but since my visit in 1960, I'm sure the village of Horder was a little bit more than a half a mile from the sea shore. Perhaps the station, which lay between the North Sea of the village might have been about half a mile.

Incidentally, something that I hadn't thought of for quite some time. The shore was a typical shore, a sandy beach, but I remember that it was very clean. Little puddles would form on the beach in the sand, and they would actually be little puddles of quicksand. That is the only place I remember seeing it. We were always cautioned about the dangers of quicksand, but these were just small puddles, and I don't think they would even accomodates a boy of my size, so there was really no danger.

Up the beach, away from the sea, there was a cliff, and it was nothing but sand. At the top, there was a field or pasture. And I can remember the thrill we kids would get. We would go up into this field, and we would go back maybe 50 or 75 feet. And, of course, as you look towards the ocean, you were just looking from the top of the hill, and all you could see was the ocean quite a distance out, you couldn't see the beach. We would start running, and then take a flying leap out into space, into nowhere, and come down on this sandy slope, and slide to the bottom of the cliff. In any case, this didn't make my mother happy, because my clothes were always pretty badly stained.

Needless to say, I was never allowed to go to the beach by myself or with my playmates. About the only time that I would be allowed would be with my family, or some of my older cousins - the ones you have met, cousin Alec, Lottie or Lizzie, Ropson. On those occassions I can recall finding crabs - hard shelled crabs. I remember they were delicious. One other delacacy I will call it, and I'll put that in quotes, was a small sea snail called a Periwinkle. When the tide was out, we would find this periwinkles stuck to the rocks. My mother used to boild these, and in the process of boiling, the snails would come out of the shell. I can remember they were very tasty, very salty.

While we are on the subject of the beach, there was one thing that was quite hazardous, and more than once I was frightened. The beach itself was rather broad from the ocean back to the cliffs, but it varies in distances because of the contour of the cliffs. Some of them extended towards the ocean, and some formed sort of a bay arrangement where the beach would be three or four times as wide. But as you know, the ocean, including the North Sea, has tides. It is frightening how quickly the tide comes in and go out. I say go in and out, I guess it moves at the same rate, but you notice as its coming in, for that is where the danger lies.

For instance, and it has happened to me, we would be playing on the beach in one of these bay areas I have described where the cliffs are more distant from the water. When suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, we would be aware of the fact that the tide was coming in. These cliffs were absolutely unclimbable, if that is a good word, so the only way to avoid the water would be to run one direction or the other to get past the point, and then run away from the ocean or the sea. Because the water would come in so far, that the water would come up so far that it would take in all the beach. In fact, where the beach and the cliff meet, there could be several feet of water, much more than I as a child could handle. Very frankly, I can't remember anyone ever drowning there, but I'm sure people have. But, it was a constant source of concern.

One other thing I miss about the beach is the seaweed. It was a leatherly or plastic substance of no value so far as I know. It had not a very pleasant smell; in fact, it smelled just like salt water. I'm sure it had some use, but I don't know what it is. I was disappointed when I went back in 1960 and visited the beach. The beach was just dirty with oil slick and litter, and just very, very disappointing to me.


wcp0107 (2:58)

One other thing for which I was criticized occassionally. I was never allowed to act the same on Sunday as I was on any other day. Sunday was a day of rest. I was allowed to go out, but I wasn't allowed to play with any toys. For instance, if I had a tricycle, I wasn't allowed to ride it. I could just go out and sit or go for a walk. And incidentally, one thing we always did Sunday after lunch, Dad would take the papers up Ellison's bank, meaning hillside. It was just a field, or a meadow. As a grown man, it seems a bit odd now, but I would pick wild flowers, daisies. You would be in your joy, because there were acres and acres of English Daisies, buttercups,a nd cowslips. The English Daisy is something I've never seen here. The flower itself is just what you picture as a daisy, except that it was much smaller in diameter than you see growing here. And there were no leaves on the stem. The stems were thin, and without any leaves. In fact, we used to make daisy chains by splitting the stem, and sliding the next stem through it. In any case, that was about the extent of my allowed activity. But more than once, I would come back for tea time, and my mother would ask me: "Where have I been?" "Out" "What have you been doing?" "Nothing" and this sort of thing. "Have you been playing marbles?" which was strictly forbidden. I would usually shake my head, but I'm sure that my mother laughed on many occassions because all she had to do is look at the back of my hands, and the dirt would be literally ground into the knuckles, and one would have to scrub, really, and I mean scrub, to get the dirt out.

Uncle Bill

wcp0108 (4:08)

At that particular time in my life, however, I must mention my Uncle Bill. First of all, my father's father was married twice, and my Uncle Bill, Uncle Rop, and my father, were of the first marriage, and another one, Uncle Jim. And then my grandfather married again, and then Uncle Tom, David, Alec, and Aunt Lizzie were of the second marriage. I understand there was an Ellen, who died some time early in her life.

Uncle Bill was sort of the black sheep. He would disappear for months, or even a couple of years, and any given day he could turn up at our front door. And I do not know, and I don't think anyone knows, where he spent the time between those visits. He would come to our house, or Uncle Rop's, or maybe to his home. But he was sort of a hero to me, because he could tell such wonderful stories, I thought at the time. But he would do tricks.

One thing he would do, he would give me a penny to walk up and down in front of the fireplace with a stick of some sort over my shoulder like a rifle. And he would pay me a penny to sing:

The Boers have got my Daddy

My soldier dad.

I don't like to hear my mother cry

I don't like to see my mother sigh.

I'm going on a big ship

'Cross the raging main

I'm gonna fight to Boers, I am

And bring my Daddy home again.

Anyway, that was worth a penny.

He also did slight of hand tricks. And on one occassion, he put a penny in a handkerchief and by manipulation, of course, he made the penny disappear. He then folded the handkerchief again, and the penny reappeared. So, he handed me the penny to hold, and he worked with his handkerchief, then he asked me to put the penny inside the handkerchief where he was holding it. Then I did this, and with a little manipulation of the handerchief, out came a shilling. Now, a shilling was a lot of money; that was twelve pennies. He handed me the shilling, then manipulated the handkerchief, and indicated that he wanted me to put the shilling back in his handerchief where he was holding it. I shook my head, and put the shilling in my pocket, and that was the last he saw of it. That might have been all the money he had, outside of that penny he was getting from someplace.

Neighbors and the Decision to Move to England

wcp0109 (6:32)

We lived next door to the Mr & Mrs. Rowe, who lived to our left, and it was with them that Miss Best, my teacher stayed. She had a gentleman friend who used to visit her, (and gee, I haven't thought of this for years) and he had a collie, I remember a it a sable, although I probably wouldn't call it at sable at the time. But I remember this dog just wouldn't bark, or at least never did bark. It was extremely well trained, not as we think of it today in obedience necessarily, but he would have the dog sit and put a piece of meat on its nose, and tell it to stay. And the dog would stay until he got the command to take it, and then he would just flip his nose, and the meat would disappear. He would just catch it in mid-air. And I was so impressed with this.

And this dog and I became close. I was allowed to take it for walks. (Abnd gee, that reminds me of another story, but I'll tell you that in a little bit.) I was as proud as could be to walk this dog. And if I'm not mistaken, it would walk off the leash, it wouldjust walk along beside me.

On the other side of us, there was a family by the name of Hunter. Mr. and Mrs. Hunter, and Roy, who was about my age, maybe six months younger. We were in the same class in school. And a sister who was about four years younger, and her name was Lorna. And she was like a china doll when she was younger.

There is a custom in England surrounding the christening. The parents, or at least the mother, I would suppose, would make a cake. And in that cake they would put coins. And when they left their home to take the baby to the church, for the christening, they would take this cake along. In the case of a baby girl, they would give the cake to the first boy that they saw, and it was just the reverse in the case of a baby boy.

As I think back on it, I am sure it was prearranged very likely by both families. I was told to stand there by the Hunter's door, ad there I was when they opened the door, so I got the christening cake, which was quite an honor, really. I think what lay behind this was that if you chose the right person to give the cake, it would be a good omen for the baby. This is somewhat guess work on my part, however.

These Hunters were to become quite important to me. First of all, Roy had a birth defect. It was his left arm, I think, that he didn't have full use of. He underwent some surgery that corrected the problem to a large degree, but because of sheer habit, he carried his hand as he walked with his elbow bent, and his forearm across his right chest. And that was the way he would run, incidentally, swinging his arm from that position.

But it was the Hunters who came to America, I think it was 1921. They moved to the state of Indiana first, but then back to Parnassas, or what is now New Kensington. And it was their correspondence with my people, that caused my mother and dad to consider, and finally to decide to come to America. I came home one afternoon from school, and my mother and dad were sitting at the dining room table, with some papers in front of them, working with figures. I remember a conversation such as "Well we have so much money, maybe we can sell our furniture for so much, and maybe borrow this much."

The net result was, that in the September of that year, and this was early summer, we were on our way to America. The last night in Horden, we spent at Auntie Lizzie's home, and that was Uncle Rop's wife, and my mother's sister. I can picture this so clearly, we all left uncle Rop's house on fourth street, and we walked to the end of fourth street on the way to the station. There was a vacant lot there. There was a song that was very big at that time, the Shiek of Arabie. And the verse went something like this (just the first couple of lines)

Over the desert wild and free

Rides the shiek of Arabie

As I was walking across that vacant lot, I broke out into song:

Over the ocean wild and free,

Rides the Pringle family

Everyone thought I was pretty clever.

Empire Day and Becoming a Singer

wcp0110 (2:38)

Before I get ouside of England, let me tell you about my debut in the entertainment world. In April, there is a day set aside for celebration called the Empire Day. And traditionally, the school children would pick small bouquets of daisies, and make like a boutineer to wear in our lapels.

We had school as usual. I should say, we had school, but not as usual. In the afternoon, it was given to a patriotic ceremony. And this particular year, and the specific one not really known, but the plan was that Roy Hunter and I were to stand on a chair in the door to the music room, while one of the teachers played "God Save the King", and we were going to sing it. During our singing of this song, the students would march around the perimeter of the hall, saluting the Union Jack at the one end, and King George V at the other.

Lo and behold, at the very last minute, Roy Hunter got cold feet. So, Bill Pringle, or at that time, Willy Pringle, was lifted onto the chair, and sang his first solo.

I think of this often, and perhaps that is why I remember it so well. The difference that those particular few minutes made for the rest of my life. While I never became a professional singer, not in the strict sense of the word, in any case, that singing has stayed with me, and opened many many doors. It caused me to meet many more people than I would have otherwise. And I am very, very thankful for whatever small talent I had. In any case, I was now a singer.

Preparations for Going Out to America

wcp0111 (4:42)

In the preparation for the trip coming to America, and strangely enough, the accepted expression was, and probably is, to go out to America. So, while we were preparing to go out to America, passports were needed. And you've seen the passpart pictures, I'm sure, in our album. There was one with me, with my mother and father, and then a separate one with my brother and sister, and then there was a group one of the whole family.

We were sent some information from the shipping company to prepare our luggage. It had all been arranged. We each carried a small handbag and then there was what we called a cabin trunk. This was a decent sized trunk, not very deep. I don't really remember the dimensions, but it was made out of a fiber substance, what we would call fiberglass now, but it was probably a pressed straw material, reinforced with wood binding. Anyway, that was out cabin trunk, and that was to carry the clothing that we would wear during the week or ten days aboard ship. My brother and father had hand made wooden boxes for table wear, silverwear, bed clothing, and so forth. Now, as a child of nine years old, I picture these boxes as being huge, cubes of perhaps six feet along each side. I'm sure they were no where near that size, but anyway that was the mental picture that I had of them. This information we got from the shipping company had stickers, some with the word "Wanted" on them, and some with the words "Not Wanted". So, my father, being a logical man, reasoned that since the shipping company had sent these stickers, what they intended for the passenger was to put "Wanted" on the luggage that the shipping company wanted to put in the hold, and the "Not Wanted" stickers would be put on the luggage that the shipping didn't want, and consequently would be put in our cabins. And this, of course, was how our luggage was marked. The only things that weren't marked, of course, were the small handbags that we carried.

You have guessed by now, I'm sure, that my father was very much in error. The intention of the sticker was, that the passenger would put "Wanted" on the luggage that he wanted in his cabin, and "Not Wanted" on the luggage that he did not want in his cabin, and it would be sent down to the hold of the ship.

You can imagine our surprise, and I remember it well, when we opened the door to this small cabin, and right in the middle were these two large, wooden boxes. One was placed upon the other. And I think the reason of that is that there wasn't enough floor space to put them side to side.

We called for the Steward, of course, explained the mixup, and the boxes were sent to the hold. But we were not able to get our cabin trunk until we arrived in Boston. That cabin cake contained a birthday cake intended for celebration of my ninth birthday on the 27th. If I remember correctly, I finally cut that cake on the train somewhere between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Visiting Relatives Before Leaving

wcp0112 (4:53)

I'm pretty sure I told you this, but also as we were preparing to come to America, we visited many relatives that I had never known. I'm thinking about an aunt of my mother that lived in a town that I don't recall. Somehow the name "Whitley Bay" comes to mind, but I'm not sure, and its really not important to the story. Bear in mind that I was just a few weeks short of nine years old at the time. When I arrived with my mother to visit this aunt, and my mother and I went alone, I knocked at the door, and when the door opened, I couldn't see anyone. This aunt was so short, I was looking right over her head.

On another visit, we were visiting my grandmother, that was my Dad's mother. Incidentally, you will hear me say practically nothing about my mother's parents because I really didn't know them. Somehow, I remember visiting my grandmother once, but I don't remember anything about her except that she was sick. And she lived in a place called South Shields. That's my mother's mother that I'm talking about.

In any case, we used sort of as a base of operations, father's mother, that's my grandmother Pringle. Then relatives would come there to visit us, and we would go from there to visit relatives. On this particular case, we were going to visit our uncle Jim, and it was my Father's uncle. And many other relatives, including a Mary Pringle, gathered there to see us for what would very likely be the last time.

We were sitting there having tea, I suppose, or supper. Mary Pringle was sitting diagonally across the table from me. I looked at her face, and there was a strange look on her face, she was staring vacantly across the room, and her lips were quiverring. I was a bit frightened, really. Slowly she got to her feet, and said in a wierd voice, she said: "I have a message for Ethel Pringle. This message is from the gods." And for all purposes, as far as I was concerned, this Mary Pringle was in a trance. I have no way of knowing, I don't know to this day, just how real this situation really was. There are certain things about it that we laugh about now, but in any case she went on with the message to Ethel Pringle. First, she said that she was going to take a long voyage, and that we were going to have trouble with our luggage, but everything would turn out alright. I was very much impressed. I asked my mother and father just who was this person, and who was she. My people were simple folk, but I was told that she was a medium. And my answer was, that I thought she was a comedian.

As we think back on it, of course, the fact that she predicted a long voyage for Ethel Pringle is really insignificant, because the reason we were there was because we were getting ready to go to America. The second part of it certainly turned out to be true, due to the mistake in stickers I've already described to you. But I've asked myself since then, how can any family of five travel some four thousand miles and not have some trouble with their luggage. So, the whole thing might have been a complete fake. I will never know.

Sailing to America

wcp0113 (9:28)

We finally did board the H.M.S. Magentic. And I still have the bone handled pocket knife that my Dad bought with that name on it. In fact, when he died, that was the only thing I asked for. And its in my drawer right next to my bed right now. But, in any case, we boarded the Magentic.

This wasn't a luxury liner, but we went second class, and the accomodations were very, very good. I shared the stateroom with my mother and father. Tom had a separate one, and my sister Ethel had a separate one. They might have shared it with someone else, but as far as our family was concerned, they were not with us.

The trip over was most enjoyable. To my mother frightening in a way. She spent most of the time in bed seasick, and strangely enough, so did my brother. Not so much, but he was sick quite a bit of the way. My father and Ethel and I had no problems, except for just a few moments. I joined my father at the rail, and we were looking out at the ocean. And of course as the waves came up, the ship went down, and this illusion of motion, while there was some motion, most of it was exagerated merely because of the waves. This caused me to be a bit nauseous, and instead of just doing what everyone else would have done, I tried to make it to the cabin. Needless to say, I didn't quite make it, but other than that, I was in perfect health.

I had struck up friendships, or associations with Frankie and Dickie. And you have heard about Frankie and the "Frankie want a bun" kind of routine, so I won't bother you with that. I don't think I ever told you of this, however, the tree of us went into the men's room, and it was all ceramic tile. We went in there primarily to get a drink of water, but as young kids are, we started to act up, and put our finger to the faucet, and squirted water on each other. And the action got a little more violent, and a little more violent, until the extent that a glass was knocked out of my hand into the sink and it broke. I went directly from the washroom to the bridge. I remember going up many stairs, but in the navy they don't call them stairs or ladders. I was stopped by a man with considerable gold braid. and I asked to see the captain of the ship. He wanted to know why I wanted to see the captain, I don't know what his capacity was, but I held fast however, and said I had to see the captain. The man just turned away from me and spoke to someone in this very very tiny office, way up at the top of the ship. I heard him say that there is a young man out here that insists on seeing you, sir, or words to that effect. The man stepped aside, and I was ushered into this office where I met the captain of the ship. He wanted to know what I wanted, and by this time I was frightened. I knew I was going to be punished. My words stumbled, and I told him I had been in one of the washrooms and I had broken one of his glasses. Well, I'll never know his reaction to it, but he kept a straight face and made some comment that he certainly appreciated my honesty in coming to report this accident, then he said, "why don't you go down and break another one." The captain I'm sure didn't realize what he was saying, because I might well have done just that. However, I didn't, and the matter was forgotten. Well, it was forgotten as far as I was concerned, but I'm sure that the captain, remembered it for quite a while.

On one other occasion, Frank and Dick and I were playing hide and seek. I was running up this open - here I am again stumbling for the word - the ladder. They were just made out of open metal with one pipe on either side for a hand support. And being very short, when I started to run up this ladder, I remember reasoning that if I could get to the top and through that door, the boys chasing me would have no way of knowing which way I had gone. So, when I was about two thirds of the way up this ladder, I leaned to my left to see if he had come around the corner yet, I lost my balance and fell. Well, this might sound strange, but it is as true as I'm driving this car right now, that the length of my foot was just a little bit longer than the distance between the two steps. And when I fell, my shoe wedged between the two steps, and I hung head down over the side of this stairway. Well, but now my two buddies were there, and they were yelling for help. I remember this sailor coming up. He looked like an enormous man, but he just reached down, got me by the clothing at my chest, picked me up and set me down on the stairway, shook his finger under my nose, and said "Don't do that again", and my answer was "Do you think that I tried it?"

Meal times was something to experience. The three of us would go down to the dining room before meal time and take fruit from the table. My mother caught me at it one time, and scolded me, because this was not the thing to do. But the dining room steward was standing nearby, and told me mother to let me take whatever I wanted before meals, or during or after. Nothing that went onto that table went on more than once. So, if we didn't get rid of it, they would throw it overboard. From that time on, we had quite a feast.

Mentioning the throwing the food overboard, reminds me of a very pleasant site that I remember me from aboard ship. Incidentally, the second class compartments were right in the center of the ship, which is really ideal, because you get a cradle motion rather than an up and down motion. The first class was forward in the prow of the ship, and the third class passengers were at the stern, and their facilities were deplorable, really. The floors were not covered except with concrete, and then they had wood lattice work for walkways. And I understand that the rats were plentiful, and the water running under this wooden platforms or walkways. But being a boy we were not allowed anywhere except in our own part of the ship, but being a boy, we were all over. I can remember sitting at the stern of the ship, watching the porposes follow for the food that was being thrown overboard. I don't know how many of them there would be, because you could see the same one fifty times, but they just kept leaping out of the water in a straight line following the ship.

Arriving in America

wcp0114 (8:00)

Reaching America really was quite a disappointment. I been prepared to go into the crowded harbor of New York, and see the Statue of Liberty, but that wasn't to be. We landed at Boston. We arrived at Boston Harbor at about 4:30, and the dock hands quit about that time. In any case, we had to sit out aboard ship and extra night, and that caused us to land Oct 1, 1923. And from the ship, all you could see of Boston was hunks of clay here, hunks of mud there; a really unimposing sight, really.

We got off the ship, and the first problem of course was to locate our luggage. I remember my mother taking me and Ethel one direction, and my brother going another direction, and my dad going another direction. And all this luggage was just piled on the floor. Well, among the five of us, we were able to locate our two big boxes, and our missing cabin trunk.

We, of course didn't know anything about American money, but fortunately, while our speech was considerably different from the average man on the street, it was still understandable, and we could understand them with a little effort, so we could communicate.

My mother gave my sister, Ethel, some coins to buy fruit. If I remember correctly, she picked up two bananas, two apples, and an orange. And what I recall of the coins, now that I am acquainted with them, she had about a dollar and seventy five cents (I could be completely wrong at this). But when she took the fruit and held out her hand, he said "That's right, thank you" in broken English, and took it all.

We landed in Parnassus on Oct 3rd. That was another eventful experience. As I said, we had lived in a colliery or mining town in England, where there was not one non-brick residence, one unpaved street, or one alley or backstreet as we called them. And we landed at Parnassas, and when the train pulled out of the station, the Hunters, who met us in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia (probably Pittsburgh, but I'm not sure), anyway, they were with us on the train when we arrived in Parnassas, they pointed out this house that I was going to live in. It was a frame building, a wooden building, above a grocery store known as Swanks. It hadn't known paint for many, many a year. And I had the wildest urge to get back on the train to England. Boy, I came to the land of plenty, and here I am living in what I thought was little more than a shack. Actually, the inside of the apartment was not bad at all.

We lived with the Hunters about six weeks, and my parents finally found a house for rent up in Valley Camp, which is now part of New Kensington. It was the right half of a double house, or a duplex. And much to my chagrin, I found that we had gas lights. I think I had neglected to tell you that the summer before we left England, our houses were wired and we had electric lights. I can remember the man leaving when the job was finished, and my going over to the wall and flicking that toggle switch up and down, and the light coming on and on, and being amazed with the wonders of electricity. And of course, that was all the electricity meant to us was lights, there were no appliances.

Anyway here we are, in Valley Camp, on an unpaved street, in a wooden house, and only half of one at that, of course that was no shock, because in England there were nine homes in one, like a townhouse arrangement

The house was owned by a Miss Walker, and when went to see her to make arrangements to move in, I was present of course, and Miss Walker said she was not aware that there were any children. My mother said that there were three, but the other two were grown. I was nine, my sister was 18, my brother was 19. So, I guess I was the only one that she had any objection to. She cautioned me that if I were going to live there, that I was not allowed to throw things around the yard, such as stones and so forth. I'm sure she was thinking about broken windows.

While we were unpacking, my mother suggested that I could go across the street to a little store. I remember on the outside of the store, it carried the name "A. Spezzano". Mother suggested that I get a half a pound of boiled ham, and my dad added "get me a pack of Camels". I went over to the store, and there was noone else in the store. The man who waited on me, I learned was Mr. Spezzano. Mr. Spezzano wanted to know what I wanted, and I said "Ha' pound of boiled 'am and a packet a Camels" (very quickly with a thick British accent). And he roared, and he asked me to repeat it. And I said "A Ha' pound of boiled 'am and a packet a Camels". He wanted me to repeat it again, and I did several times, until I became aware of the fact that he wanted to hear me say it just to hear it. I said very, very deliberately then, (very slowly) "I want a half pound of boiled ham, and a packet of Camels." Well, of course I got my "Ha' pound of boiled 'am and a packet a Camels". I knew Mr. Spezzano for years after that. I was reading meters, even after I finished reading meters, In fact I think I would even be in the claims department, when I saw him the last time. He has since died. But I don't think there was ever a time that I went into that store, that I wasn't greeted with "Oooh, Johnny! Ha' pound of boiled 'am and a packet a Camels." But that was the price of being an Englishman.

Early School Life in America

wcp0115 (10:50)

The first six years in America were pretty rough years. Very frankly, I hated it. I dreaded the thought of going to school, particularly after we started to study the American Revolution. You know how merciless children of that age - this is from third grade to fifth grade - well, I say six years, so that's would be third grade almost into high school, or into high school. So, maybe I'm exagerating that six year bit, but for a long time, anyway, I hated it.

Oh, incidentally, while we still lived with the Hunters in Parnassas, I went to school for about six weeks. In third grade, I had come out of school in England in what we called Standard 3, which was third grade. And then when we moved to Valley Camp, the first school day after our moving, my mother took me in hand to a one room school building which was just next to this Spezzano's store. We went in, my mother talked to the teacher, the teacher found out that we were fresh from the old country (incidentally there were only two grades in that school building) so she suggested that my mother leave me there and see how I made out in second grade, and then she could decide if there should be any changes. Well, I was in school I think one day, and I took home with me a note from the teacher indicating that I should be sent up to Valley Heights grade, which was third grade. It was actually third through eighth.

I started up in third grade at Valley Heights school, and found myself the center of attention. I was asked to read for the class on numerous occassions, and I was sent to other classes, even fourth and fifth grade to read. Of course, I thought this was because I excelled in reading. And I don't doubt that I would pass in reading, but the real reason was they just wanted to hear me talk.

On one occassion I came across the word "calm", and I hestitated just for a moment, and I pronounced it "cam". The teacher stopped me and said that's not right, so I pronounced it "carm", and she said that wasn't right, and I proceeded to pronounce it every way but the right way. And after several pronouncings, the teacher said "William, you pronounce that word "calm", and I said "It can't be". She said "why not?" and I said "Because that's the way we say it in England." It just seemed logical to me, that the way everyone talked and the way I was laughed at I suppose (but I hope in a friendly way),, well that if you said a word a certain way in England, then it just had to be different in America. Well, as we all know, those two words "calm" and "palm" are pronounced the same in England as they are in America. Incidentally, I've often wondered why "half" and "calf" aren't also pronounced the same, but anywaythey aren't.

Incidentally, it was no easy job getting from home to Valley Heights school. I'm guessing it was maybe a little over a mile, all up hill going to school. And in cold weather, it was most uncomfortable. On one particular morning, I came out of the house, and boy I was just greeted with a cold blast. And I one of my neighbors and school buddies was just walking past the house at the time. He had already been walking for several blocks. When I just fell into step with him to walk up the hill, I found that he was crying. He was actually crying from the cold. I tried to console him, and I think that was an advantage to me, I was so busy trying to console him, that I didn't have to break down and cry, but I do remember that it was bitter cold.

It seems that for lunch, we always had the same thing. We got lunch at school, well, not lunch, we got milk at school. And you could get either milk or chocolate milk, and the chocolate milk was called 400, this is what I usually got. I don't remember paying for that. We might have, probably a nickle; maybe the school provided it, but I'm not sure. But, I was given a nickle to buy my lunch, and my lunch consisted of a bun, or what you would call a sweet roll. I remember it had maple nuts on the top, with a little maple icing on it. But that half a pint of 400 and the bun was my lunch.

I got along fairly well. It took me a long time to break my accent. There was a recess time every day, every morning and afternoon This is what we call in England play time. But on one day, it was raining, so we had to use up our play time, or recess time inside, and the teachers decided that we would play a game. Well, I had just came from England, and in England the teacher is the boss. I was amazed at the treatment or the reception the teacher got from some of the students, even as low as fourth and fifth grade. That they were questioned, and denied, and refused, disobeyed, and so forth. Not by me, however, when the teacher said something I listened and obeyed immediately. So, when the teacher announced we were going to play "Go in and out the window", while this was not very entertaining to me, it never entered my mind to refuse to play.

So, I took my place in the ring. Actually, the game was foreign to me, I didn't remember it at all, but I suppose you know the game, "Go In and Out the Window". To start the game off, the teacher was the one to go around the ring. So, she would go outside the ring formed by the students pupils or students , and then on the inside of the ring. We were all singing of course at this time. There is one line that goes "kneel down beside your lover", and the teacher stopped at that moment right in front of me, and knelt down right in front of me. And believe me, I was embarrassed.

But a kid, whose name I only remember as August, or Augie as we called him, (and he was a big kid), had refused to play, and he was standing in the doorway of our room just watching us. When the teacher knelt down beside me, he started to laugh and made some comment about teacher's pet. Well, I just left the ring and chased him inside the room. I don't know why I chased him, because he didn't need to be chased, but he was much too big for me, but I was furious, and embarrassed.

But, he had gone to the back of the aisle between the desks when I jumped at him, and this threw him off balance over backwards, so I was on top of him. I really couldn't him him very well because of the desks, and he couldn't defend himself very well because of the desks, so I'm sure there were no fatal blows stuck. A friend of mine and a friend of his had also gathered, and then the teacher came into the room, separated us, and made us all stay in after school.

I don't remember how long we were kept in, fifteen minutes I suppose, and then she released us all. And as I was walking down the steps to the outside door, I was putting on my cap, which I've already described as that little dink. I think I described it as the kind that the freshmen wore, but boy was I wrong. It was the kind of cap that the freshmen wore when I was in high school. But, I'm sure you know the kind of cap I'm talking about.

In any case, Augie came from behind me, and passed me and with one swipe of his hand, knocked my hat off. So, I called to him and told him that he had to pick up my cap, and he just laughed at me. I said "You pick up my cap or I'll see you outside", and he just turned around and walked outside. I picked up my own cap and met him outside. For the life of me, I don't know what happened. Because I was a little boy, and not very beligerent person, and fighting was not one of my habits, but we did start to fight. I guess we swung fists for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, and I still don't know what happened, but somehow my fist came in contact with Augie's nose, and blood just spurted all over. Augie started to cry, and he quit. Needless to say, I was a hero overnight. Augie was not really the class bully, necessarily, but he was a bigger kid. And the fact that I had beaten him in a fair fight had given me a little prestige.

Early Homes in America

wcp0116 (9:49)

We lived in this house about three years. One other thing that happened while we lived in this house, we used to swim down at the river. When I first went down there, I couldn't swim, but we were allowed to use the facilities at McCaul's beach without pay because Bill McCaul was a friend of mine. Just below McCaul's beach there was a sunken barge. And I can remember coming out of the river and walking up to a fire. And when I sat down on a log, someone commented about what happened to my foot. And when I looked down, the whole side of my foot was blookstained. In fact, blood was gushing. Apparently I had stepped underwater and hit a can or some sharp object, and had cut my foot from underneath my little toe to behind my ankle. And I really didn't know it, and it really didn't hurt, until I saw it, and then it started to hurt. There were a bunch of kids there, and four or five of them grabbed ahold of me and started to carry me home. And as I got closer to home, I started yelling, "put me down", "put me down", because I was sure that if my mother saw them carying me up, she would think that I had drowned. And that's exactly what happened, my mother almost passed out. The cut wasn't nearly so serious. I still carry the scar, but there's very little flesh at that part of the foot, so it really just cut through the skin.

We moved from there to 1717 Kenneth Ave. But before moving, I used to go to church at 11th street in New Kensington. I usually went with some of the Bradshaw kids. A.J. was the oldest one in that family, and there were his younger brothers and sisters. There was one block on Kenneth Avenue that we, being kids, used to make fun of a name on a door. It was Schunk, and of course we called it "Skunk". On this particular day, we were walking down to find the house where I was going to move. We got about halfway down the 1700 block, and I made the comment that we were getting close to that skunk house. Then Cynthia Bradshaw, who a distance ahead of us, turned back to me and said "don't laugh, you're living right next to them." I found that I lived at 1717 next to the Schunk family. Our house sat back a way from the sidewalk. All the rest of them were fairly close, so we had a front yard. We lived on the second floor, and on the first floor was a family by the name of Clarkin. They in years later became very very dear friends of ours. Mr. Clarkin was directly responsible for Tom getting a job with West Penn Power Company, and I've always given him credit for being indirectly, because of that, responsible for me getting a job with West Penn Power Company. In fact, when Tom started, I was only twelve years old, and my life's ambition at that time was to be a meter reader for West Penn Power Company. And I'll grant you that may not have been a lofty ambition, but nevertheless I did achieve it, which is more than some people can say.

We lived at this location for about two years. I was in fifth grade, and I went as far as seventh. I don't remember anything really exciting in those two years. I told you the story about the excitement of taking care of Ethel's kitten, and the job he did on the sugar basin. Well, this is where we lived at the time.

Probably the highlight of my career there was when I was in seventh grade, our particular class was to put on an assembly program. And the teacher had chosen the play called "The Man Without a Country". You may or may not remember this was a fictional story, of course. Philip Nolan being the man without a country. But strangely enough, it was written with such realism that I've talked to any number of people who really believed that there was a man without a country, and of course that's not true at all.

When she started to get the cast together, she talked to the young boy in front of me "Can you take the part of the man without a country?" and the little kid's answer was "I think so". The teacher said, "That's not good enough. William, can you take it?", and I said, "Yes, ma'm". So, I became the man without a country. And we practiced that play for weeks. One thing that had to be forbidden, of course, was in the original story, Philip Nolan, when he was faced with the charges of treason, he made the comment "Damn the United States. May I never see nor hear its name again." I wasn't allowed to say that, and in place of the word "damn", I was given the word "curse", and I had to say "Curse the United States ...". I really don't remember well enough to know if I would have been a star or not, because just before we were scheduled to put on this play, we moved to Parnassas. I must admit that I could have, at the invitation of the teacher, continued in school until after the play. But it would mean that I would have to walk a long way, so I chose against it. When I look back now, I realize that this was really unfair, not just to the teacher, but to the entire class. They had put a lot of work into this. As far as I know, the play was never put on.

It was in seventh grade, then, when we moved to what we chose to call it "Eckles Way". I think it was known locally Eckles Alley, but Alley was a bad word in England, and we called it Eckles Way. We lived there through seventh, eighth grade, freshmore, sophore years, even junior years. In fact, it was at that particular house that we were living at the time of my mother's death.

I'll always remember that house, and I'm sure I've pointed it out to you on at least one occassion when we've been driving on the bypass around New Kensington. It looked like a box car. The dining room, kitchen and bathroom were really in the basement, along with the laundry. I was so ashamed to bring friends there. Actually, the house was cozy enough and nice enough, except for the fact that I said you have to look up to see the ground.

It was while I lived in this house that I had my one and only birthday party. It was my seventeenth. Let's see, that would be 1931. That surprises me a little bit because I thought that we had moved before 1931. I must be wrong about the year, but anyway it was a surprise party. I was spending my evening with Ches Cooper. I've forgotten the details now, but we stopped at someone's home, and there was a message there for me from my mother to tell me that I had left my wallet on the dresser. I couldn't see why that was important because I didn't have any money, and I didn't have any drivers license, or any reason to have my wallet, but when I arrived home, a bunch of my friends were there, and I had my one and only birthday party.

Death of his Father

wcp0117 (4:40)

This story starts in the middle of a sentence. Perhaps there is more on the original tapes.

... but before she went to bed, she looked in on Dad, and she seemed concerned. Just as she entered the room, he seemed to sigh. She went over and leaned over him, then she went and got A.J. telling him that she thought that Dad had just died. Ethel told me that A.J. went and got a mirror and brought it in and held it in front of Dad's mouth and nose, and there was no sign of any breathing. And of course, he had died.

I was in the service at the time. Actually, in Ardmore OK. Of course, I came home for the funeral. But, now there was just the three of us: Ethel, Tom, and I. When it came time to divide up the spoils, so to speak, Dad had received somewhere around $1200 in insurance at the time of mymother's death. And I had been sending him my allotment. I don't really know the amount. I think they took $23 out of my pay. I know that for both of them, it was $50, and it was something less for just the one of them, so I don't know how much he was getting. But, while he was living at Ethel's he certainly had more money going through his fingers than he had ever gotten before.

I was disappointed on one occassion when Ethel mentioned to me that there was some friction building up because Dad never gave her any money. And I knew that he was getting an allotment check from me. So, I asked Dad at the end of one of my furloughs, very casually (Ethel didn't want me to say anything because she didn't want Dad's feelings hurt), but I thought I could handle it in such a way that there would be no ill will. So, as we stood in the station, he was more or less, seeing me off back to camp. I asked him how much it was costing him to live, and he said "What do you mean?". I asked him "How much are you paying Ethel for room and board", and he said he wasn't paying her anything. I expressed surprise and a little disappointment, and wondered out loud why, and his only comment was, "Well, they'll be taken care of".

And I suppose what he meant was that when he died, they would get what he had left. As it happens, that isn't what occurred. There was some $800 in the bank, which I still feel rightly belonged to Ethel. But, at my suggestion, we split it in half, and Ethel got half, and then Tom and I got half of the other half (in other words, the two quarters.)

In his personal belongings, the only thing I wanted was the knife that he had bought on the H.M.S. Magentic. He still had it, and I still have it now. Really, he had very few personal possessions. He had a watch, which Tom got. It was the end of the family, really. We've never been the same since, but I suppose that's not surprising at all.

Bill now has the knife. Mom gave it to me when we were going through his things. I had originally thought that Dad had bought it when he was a kid.

By this time, of course, I was in the service. Well, let's see: married. Mother died in 1942. Dad died in December of 43, so Bill would have been born at that time. Of course he was just an infant.

Actually, Bill wasn't born until 1944, so Pauline was pregnant with Bill at the time of his death.

Staying with Tom and Eva in High School

wcp0118 (3:27)

The years between moving to Parnassas when I was in seventh grade to finishing high school was somewhat in a turmoil. This was during the depression days, the early '30s. Dad was out of work. He had odd jobs: He worked for a contractor, he worked for the city on the streets for a while. I worked at Silverman's drug store. In the summer I got as much as $15 a week. That money was all turned over to my mother, and she would give me a quarter, or fifty cents for spending money. But when I think back at it, I worked about 18 months at Silverman's Drug store, and never had a day off. I worked 7 days a week. But, I really enjoyed the job, and it was good experience. While, in a personality sense, Mr. Silverman and I didn't get along perfectly, but I didn't know anyone else who did. But, I had 18 months of pretty good experience working for him.

I had to stay with Tom and Eva when my mother and dad decided that they would go down and live with Uncle Rop. The idea was that mother could keep house. Lottie, the oldest daughter, had gone back to England, and my dad would be looking for work there. He never found any, but they stayed with him for a couple of years. In the meantime, I stayed with Tom and Eva, but that didn't work out too well.

I was discovered by the school authorities to be a tuition student because my mother and daughter had moved to West Virginia. And I was about to be booted out of school because I certainly couldn't afford to pay the tuition. I don't remember how much it was, but later in Wilkinsburg it was $11 a month, but I never explored the cost in New Kensington High school, because there was no way I could pay it anyway. But a Mr. Lasher, the father of a friend of mine, Ernie Lasher, and a man of some influence, talked to the Superintendent of Schools, and I was allowed to stay. This was in my junior year, and just about at the semester time. It was slightly after the end of the first semester, that conditions were such that I decided that I wanted to go and live with my parents, so I quit school and went down to West Virginia.

Moving to West Virginia

wcp0119 (9:51)

I was down there for a couple of weeks, when someone down there decided that I should go back and finish high school. I suppose that would be my father, or maybe my uncle and cousins. I don't think it would be my mother because she wasn't very much impressed with high school education. She called all you learn a bunch of tommyrot anyway. In any case, I went down to Warwood High School and I know it was after the end of the first semester. I remember that because when I went into French class, they were just starting to study the present tense of the verb avoir. And we had started that the first thing in the first semester at Ken High. And I couldn't even give it, so I decided that if I hadn't learned that much in the first semester, I wasn't going to learn French, so I quit. I don't know what happened to my schedule, but I was never assigned a class. I would go to the library that served as a study hall, but most of the time I cut that class. Incidentally, it was the last class in the morning. It was at that school that I became acquainted with Harry Parshel. And you have heard that name. He is the gentleman from Warwood, WV that I visit occassionaly. In fact, he has visited us, and I'm sure you were home when he stopped to see us on one occassion.

But that meeting was something to remember. By the time I got through my signing up in the office, the first class had already begun. So, I was told to report to a certain class room. I'm trying to remember the teacher's name, I keep thinking Poorman, and I know it wasn't that, but it was something like that, and I later learned she committed suicide.

When I went into class, the teacher told me to put my books in this seat, which was the front seat of the row right beside her desk, and she would assign me to a regular seat after lunch. After lunch, she told me to take the seat next to the end in this particular row, and it was the row directly in front of her desk. When I walked back, I noticed that there was a boy sitting in the last seat, and I was sitting in the next to the last seat. There was a girl in front of me, and I don't remember really who she was. And that might surprise you, but I don't.

Anyway, as I sort of cocked my leg over my seat to sit down, Harry Parshel made the comment "Well, you're going to sit in front of me", and I just turned and looked at him and said: "No, you're going to sit behind me." This could have been the start of an unfortunately relationship, but it wasn't. It was the start of a very close relationship. Harry and I became very close friends, and still are.

It was also during this time that I came face to face with some of the racial problems. Now, bear in mind that this was 1932, and I was a junior in high school, and in the class of 33. But, the schools in West Virgina were segregated. They hadn't been up in Pennsylvania, up in New Kensington. And there were all kinds of black people that I considered good friends of mine. I'm thinking of Lanzo Dent, one of the best football players that ever came out of Ken High, Bertha Redd, Mary Fitzgeneral, and they were just real good classmates. In any case, this was not so in West Virginia. I always thought that West Virginia was part of the northern states, but in that issue they certainly were not. They had separate schools for the negroes, they had separate parts of the buses or public transportations for negroes, separate rest rooms for the negroes, and I had never been aware of this.

One particular morning, I got on the street car at, I've forgotten the stop numbers, but I think it was stop 27, which was Short Creek. They were large streetcars, with doors at each end and the middle. I got on the streetcar, and I walked to the first seat behind the middle door. And there was a young negro boy sitting in the position away from the window, in other words on the aisle. And, honestly, there was not a thought in my head of any race problems, or anything else, I just saw a vacant street there. I had to step in front of him, because there was no seat in front of us, because of the doorway. and I sat down next to the window, and as I sat down, he stood up. I didn't think much of it, except possibly that he was getting off at the next stop. I don't remember speaking to him when I sat down, but we went past a couple of stops, and just stood there, beside the seat where I was sitting. Finally I spoke to him and said to him "where are you getting off", and he said Wheeling, which was a couple of miles beyond where I was going. So, I said to him, "then why don't you sit down", and he looked at me and he said "Here?", indicating the seat next to me, and I said, "Yeah, where else?". So, he sat down, but rather cautiously. But we struck up a conversation, and chatted all the way to 17th street in Warwood, where I got off in front of the High School. I noticed nothing wrong. I didn't notice any change in atmosphere, any hostility, or anything really.

But that morning, Harry Parshel said "Are we going to meet next door during the third period", and I said, yes, we usually did. As I said, I used to cut the third period, and we would go to the choir loft of the Methodist Church next door and smoke. So, when we met there, Harry Parshel said "You caused quite a stir this morning." And I was honestly ignorant of the whole thing; I hadn't the slightest idea of what he was talking about. And I questioned him, and said "I don't know what you mean", and he said, "Well, the rumor around school is that you sat down beside a nigger." Well, this came as quite a shock. I don't remember my exact words, but I said this was true, that I had sat down besides a negro. It was also true, I thought, that this hadn't made me change one iota. I don't think it made me any worse, and I was just a sure that it hadn't made the negro any better, so I could see nothing wrong. I told Harry that I had had quite an enjoyable conversation with this young man, and I didn't see that I had anything to apologize for.

I'll never forget Harry, though. While he said that he didn't have any objection to this, he pointed out that if I wanted to be accepted in Warwood High School, that this kind of stuff would have to quit.

I told Harry that this was very regrettable, but if my popularity or my acceptance by the students of Warwood High School, was so flimsy that it wouldn't withstand this sort of thing, that I wasn't being accepted anyway. And while I was not a revolutionary, and I didn't come down to West Virginia to convert the whole populance, I also didn't come down to West Virginia to cause myself to be converted. But this was the way I had been raised, and this was the way I was going to live. And as I say it now, it sounds real noble, but at the time, I was quite indignant. And, contrary to what he had predicted, things didn't turn out they way he had predicted.

Popularity in High School in West Virginia

wcp0120 (4:40)

I was accepted by the students. In fact, there was, withing the student body, a group called the Dramatic Club. And this was considered rather an exclusive group; you had to be voted on, and the like. So, probably the first thing about me that became known, was that I did do some singing. The kids would gather around at lunch time, and we would sing, and sometimes I would sing. In any case, I was invited with join the Dramatic Club, with such dignitaries as Eleanor Steber, later to become a prima dona with the American Metropolitan Opera, who was a member of this group. She was a year ahead of me, but still a member at the same time. There was a Nancy Hill, who was a very, very beautiful young lady and she too, was a senior when I was a junior. She was tall by my standards, and slender. I learned since that she made herself quite a reputation as a model in New York. And, knowing her as a senior in High School, this doesn't surprise me one bit.

In any case, I think it is safe for me to say that I got along well enough, and I did not stop sitting and talking to this young negro. I didn't look him up, but there were any number of times that we found ourselves sitting together. And we always had a pleasant conversation.

Here again, I said quite earlier, that when I was five and launched on my singing career, that it was whatever talent I had along that line that created some of the open doors, if you will. I sang at various churches, high school dances, assembly programs, on the same bill, we'll say with Eleanor Steber. In fact, at the time, I think I was better received than Eleanor Steber, but only because Eleanor was much too high classed for a high school class; she was classical singer. I sang the songs that the kids liked, the popular songs, so it was only natural that, perhaps it wasn't I, but the songs that I sang that were accepted better than the songs that Eleanor sang.

I did not enjoy that particular part of my life. I liked school, and I spent an awful lot of time with Harry Parshel, and at his home. He was an orphan and lived with, really friends, but he called them mother and dad. Their name was Rosenlieb. (Now why should I remember that name?) But his father had died before I met Harry, and had left hima small fortune, a few thousand dollars, and he was to get an equal amount when he became 21. I don't think it wasn't anything that would make him independent, it certainly didn't because he worked all his life.

But Harry was a very enterprising young man, he was at least two years older than I. He had a small printing press that was hand operated and hand fed. I used to go down into his cellar where it was and help him. I used to set type, and run the press for him, and when I was still associated with him, he got an electrically powered press that was automatic, hand fed, however. By that I mean you had to put the papers in yourself, however you had to set up the press so that the printing would get onto the right place.

Moving to Peebles Apartments in Wilkinsburg

wcp0121 (2:08)

Before very long, Dad made some connection in Wilkinsburg, and I don't know through whom, or through what condition, but he got a job as a janitor for two apartment buildings called the Peebles Apartments, located on Peebles and Franklin. His only compensation was an apartment, which was a basement apartment consisting of really a bedroom, and another room that served as a kitchen, my bedroom, and a living room. So, the Pringles were not of the affluent society at this time.

I'm sure I told you this story before, but it was at this time that Eva was expecting her first child, and my mother went to stay with her, and sort of take care of her, and left Dad and me alone. At the time, it was believed that she had left no money, and Dad didn't have any, so we didn't have any food except oatmeal. And for four or five days, I had oatmeal three times a day. I can remember my dad trying to encourage me, telling me "Ah, this is good for you. It sticks to your ribs." But it was years before I was able eat oatmeal.

I don't recall this of my own knowledge, but it was sometime after I had met and married your mother, that she, too had heard this story, apparently from my mother. But the fact was that she had left money for groceries on the mantle under some clock or some figurine or something, and we went through the period without knowing that it was there. And I almost choke when I think of it.

Welfare and the CCCs

wcp0122 (5:01)

It was while we lived there that we finally succumbed to the evils of society and went on the Welfare. I can remember a case worker that used to visit us, frequently if not regularly, and I can remember the shame we all felt that we had to take money under these circumstances.

And it was at that time that President Roosevelt was elected, and he started in the summer of 1933 the CCCs, which was the Civilian Conservation Corps. One of the rules was that anyone on relief that had a son who was between 18 and 22 was expected that the son would to go the to CCCs.

I will always remember the preparation for that particular adventure. I was never too much concerned about being away from home, although I enjoyed being home, and I did not relish the thought of going to a camp such as had been described by the CCCs. However, I had no choice. My mother took me up to the five and ten to buy supplies and so forth. I was picturing that five dollar bill that I was going to get every month. And I thought I was going to be just about one of the wealthiest young man that ever was. Five whole dollars a month I was going to have to spend, all my very own.

So in the course of this shopping as I started to tell you, my mother would say, "well, we better buy some toothpaste", and I would say "Oh, I'll buy that", we should buy this, "Oh, I'll buy that", because of this enormous sum of twentyfive dollars. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

We met in Pittsburgh, but we went by train from Wilkinsburg into Pittsburgh, then we went from there to Sparrows Point. That's on the Chesapeak someplace, just north of Philadelphia, I believe. We were on the train for overnight, and the biggest part of a day, and I never saw a railroad car torn apart so. I don't mean destruction necessarily, but seats taken out of their place to form beds, and so forth. We got off the train at a station near this Sparrows Point, and then we were taken, I believe by trucks, to the camp. I can't remember the name of the camp, but I can't think of it, and its not that important. But I do remember sort of dragging into camp, and having the fellas who had already been processed in camp watching us walk into the general area down to the supply tent where we would get our supplies. And these kids were yelling such things as "Wait until you get the needle! They'll put it in here, and it will come out here." and they would be pointing to their arms and then pointing to the back of their shoulders, as if the needle was going to go in the front of the arm and come out the back.

And, K.C., I'd never seen such a sight. These men now, were all between 18 and 22, and I'm not exaggerating, they were dropping out of ranks like flies, just one by one, passing out. Part of this was exhaustion, being tired from the train ride, but most of it was emotional: a fear of this needle. Fortunately I was not affected, and another thing that is fortunate, I didn't have to get the innoculations until after I had had lunch. Many of the guys did have to.

Life in the CCCs

wcp0123 (9:43)

I can recall there was a young man in front of me, and I might be exaggerating, because I was only about five foot five, and weighed 110 pounds or something, but the man in front of me seemed like a mountain. He must have been well over six feet, and I picture him well over 200 pounds, and here again, because of my size, I might be exaggerating. But all the way down the line as we were approaching the attendent who was going to give us this shot. I think there were tetanus shots, and typhoid, and various shots anyway. All the way down the line he was poking fun of me: "Hey, Pringle, get out of that hole", or "Hey, Pringle, get off your knees." Well, as we approached where we were going to be administered to, we stepped in between two white coated attendents that just rubbed alchol on our arms, one on each time, and the next man put a dab of iodine on that same spot, and then the third pair of men had these needles and you got a shot in the arm on each side.

Well, this big guy who had been so mouthy, got within two positions of the men who were administering the alchol, and he collapsed. He just came right back into my arms. I couldn't really hold him myself, I held him up for a few moments until a couple of other guys grabbed him, and that was only a matter of seconds. We dragged him over to a bed and laid him down. And everybody got quite a kick out of his reaction after his demeaning me so much.

Incidentally, the idea of a shot or a vacination, or the withdrawl of blood never bothered me, and I went through that line like I had all the rest of them. And, sure, when the needle first pierces the skin there's a sting, and there's some after effect with some innoculations where your arm gets stiff, but it never really bothered me.

This was to be quite an experience for me. There were 200,and we were assigned to tents. There was a military man in charge. And bear in mind, this was a civilian conservation corps, and one thing they were very careful of was that in now way should it be connected with the military. It was only practical, however, that the military personnel should supervise it. After all, they had the knowhow, and the means, the areas, the camps, and so forth. I think the man was a sargeant, an much older man, Tony Kulik, and he was supposed to go with us. And somehow or other I became a friend of his, and I am sure that had he gone to camp with, I might have had what one would call a gravy train. It was not destined to be, however. Tony Kulik's name was scratched before we left. But, as I dictate this, I recall that I think I got two letters from him after that. And I've forgotten where he was from, but it was somewhere in Pennsylvania.

We spent I think a little over a week at this Sparrows Point, and then we were boarded onto a train, and went from there to Renova. And if you remember on one of our trips to Hidden Falls, we went that back way up 45, up through Snowshoe, and we went past the entrance to what is now State Camp. Well, that's where I was at camp. But we landed in the town of Renova about 4:00, 4:30 in the morning. There were Studebaker trucks with canvas covered backs or bodies on them, that would make trips some 22 miles from this state camp down to the station. So many of the trucks broke down that there was quite a delay getting us all into camp. In fact, I didn't get into camp until sometime after 5:00. If I recall correctly, I was almost exactly twelve hours in Renova. This was actually fortunate for me, because by the time I got up to the campsite, quite a bit of the woods had been cleared away, in fact, practically all of the woods around the company street had been cleared. It is said that at least a half a dozen of the early arrivers took one look at the camp, and then came back and quit.

We had to pitch our tents, and at that time, we had no flooring or anything, that was to come later. Our mess hall was a tent, in fact everything were tents. The first thing we had to do was put in wooden flooring, which we did rather promptly. And I can't say I enjoyed CCCs, in fact, just the opposite. And its funny, when I think back now, I can remember some very enjoyable times that I had. The fact remains that I didn't appreciate it while I was there.

I was in camp about six weeks, and our job was a reforestration job. And particularly, we had to cut fire trails. There would be teams of six to ten (I don't remember), and each one of them would be under the supervision of a man we called a ranger. These rangers were all local mountaineers, really, they really knew the woods. They supervised the cutting of trees for the protection against forest fires. Some of those mountaineers could tell some really wierd stories.

I was there about six weeks when I was offered the job as doctor's assistant, and from that time on, I really had life easy. I had very few duties. I had sick call in the morning, where I had to administer to the sick. Some of them, of course I held over to the doctor, but many of them I gave them a swab of iodine or an aspirin.

You've heard stories of sugar pills and so forth, but I've actually experienced this. A man would come in in the morning, and he would be real hoarse, and said he had a sore throat. I would look at his throat, and it may or may not be inflamed, so I would give him a handful of tablets out of a canister carrying the label "Aspirin". I told him to gargle with these two or three times a day. He would come the next morning and say those tablets didn't do him any good. So, I would go to the next canister, and if I can pronounce it correctly, it was "Sodium Solicilic Acid", and I would give him these, and tell him to gargle with these three or four times a day, and in some instances that would do the job. But in other instances the man come back the third day, or maybe he would skip a day, and come back and say his throat was no better, so I would go to the third canister that had the label "Salicilic Acid", and I would give him a handful of these, and tell him to do the same thing with these. And inevitably by that time, the man's throat was better, and he was quite grateful.

CCC Stories

wcp0124 (20:22)

The following segments were actually found on the "Musings While Driving" tape, but I think they were actually part of these tapes. This tape starts out in the middle of a sentence.

The entire section is quite long. You can listen to it in its entirety by clicking on the link above, or listen to the individual subsections using the links below.

Going to the CCCs

wcp0124a (7:16)

... but, I was going to do much talking, but I never expected to get onto a second tape, but this is only fifteen minutes a side, so I better cover a lot of ground.

It was during this period in the CCCs that I had several experiences that were novel. I had to treat a snake bite wound. I did it in the traditional fashion of taking a razor blade and cutting an 'X' across the wound, and sucking the blood and spitting it out. Then we went up the trail, and I found what I was told was the snake, and it was a non-poisinous snake, but nevertheless my efforts had been sincere.

We had signed up for six months, but the powers that be decided that they were going to cut the enlistment short to four months, and then give us all the opportunity to sign up for an additional six months. That was just too much for me, so I decided to quit.

Carl Packer

wcp0124b (7:17)

I just recalled two other experiences I had that I don't remember telling you about, that might be worth repeating. The first one was a fellow by the name of Carl Packer. He was about my size, sort of an odd person, didn't mix well with other people, other people made fun of him, I'm sure he wasn't very happy, he seemed to be a little mentally deranged, not necessarily retarded.

Cigarrettes of course were at a premium. They were only fifteen cents a pack, but many people didn't have very much money. I'm surprised to be able to say that my family sent me cigarrettes almost about every time they wrote.

Packer would come into my tent, and he would sit on the bed and watch me pull out a pack. I would offer him a cigarrette, and he would shake his head no. But then I would light a cigarette, and he would say "Give me next on it". Well, I don't know if you are acquainted with that expression or not, but what he wanted when I was finished with the cigarette, he wanted me to give the butt to him and let him finish it.

And I used to try to persuade him that it was okay to take a whole cigarette, he was welcome to it, but no, he never would take one, but he would always want next on it. But what he didn't realize was that I couldn't enjoy smoking a cigarette because his eyes followed my hand as I lifted the cigarette to my mouth, and brought it back down, and he would watch the smoke go up. He would sit there like a little kid watching smoke rings in the air, or something like that. So, the net result was that I would take about three drags out of the cigarette and give it to him and say, "Here, Carl, it's yours."

One evening, someone came running over to my tent, and said something had happened to Carl Packer; he was having some kind of a fit. So, I went over to the tent. He was on the end tent, about as close to the hospital that you could get, and I had a couple of the guys carry him over and put him on the extra cot in my tent, and then I sent for the doctore.

I sat down on the bed beside Carl, and his face was just twitching. The muscles of his body just seemed to be contracting and expanding, and he was making distorted grimaces with his face, as if he was in sheer agony. I tried to talk to him sort of quietly, trying to quiet him down, and I made the comment, "Don't think about it, Carl. Don't do that." and I meant this muscular reaction of his face. And all of a sudden, his face cleared up completely, and he looked at me as if nothing had ever happened, and he said "Do you think I would do it if I could help it?", and then he went right back to twitching his face. I was in a quandry, and didn't know what to do.

Fortunately the doctor arrived, Dr. Waddel. He examined him, and I don't really remember what he did, probably gave him some sort of medication. But he told me to keep an eye on him, and if anything happened, or he had any trouble, or any change occurred, to have him called.

So, I just sat in my bed and watched him for several minutes. He just laid there motionless, with his eyes open, but he laid there quite still. So, after watching him for twenty minutes or a half hour or so, I finally picked up a magazine, laid back on my bed and started to read. I no sooner had done that, and Carl got up out of his bed, as if nothing had happened, and started to walk out of the tent. I called to him, and jumped out of the bed, and caught him just as he was leaving the tent, and I led him back to the bed, and laid him back down. I said "Where were you going?" he said "I'm going to kill myself", "Kill yourself, how were you going to do that?" in the meantime, I had attracted the attention of someone else and sent for the doctor.

So about this time, the doctor had arrived, and I told the doctor what had happened, so he asked Carl about killing himself and how he was going to go about it, and he said he was going to hang himself. The doctor tried to explain to him that this wasn't a very simple thing to do. But Carl said he had a rope and a tree all picked out. And later we checked, and sure enough, there was a tree and a coil of rope right at the base of the tree.

Well, he quieted him down some, and then left him again with me. So, I sat on the bed again and started to talk to him. He was relaxed by now, and he didn't have this muscular contraction bit, but he started to tell me about his mother and dad. What a wonderful person his mother was, and how mean his father was, and how his father used to beat him.

The doctor had asked him if he had ever tried to kill himself before, and he said yes, he had. He was asked how he planned to do it, and he said he had cut his wrists, he locked himself in the bathroom and cut his wrists. And then it was later then when he was talking to me about how mean his father was.

Well, in a day or so, and in fact I was supposed to go with him to Walter Reid hospital in Washington. But, two officers drove up in a big buick that night, and they took him with them to the hospital.

Incidentally, he took with him my overcoat, and I never did get it back. Of course it was an army overcoat.

Incident at the Mess Hall

wcp0124c (7:56))

The other experience I had that I thought was very interesting, and again, I don't know what this boy's name was, other than he was from Trenton, or Trenton Heights. He was working in the kitchen more or less as a K.P., although this was his steady job, He helped prepare the food, and helped put it out, and helped serve it. At this time the mess hall was a tent. There was a wooden frame to support this tent, and then a canopy over the front area where the troops, I'll call them, walked past the service line like in a cafeteria, and they were served.

So, I happened to be in line, and I noticed the second man ahead of me had his tray, and there were two pieces of bread on it. And so he came to the man that I'm speaking of in the serving line, and he held out his tray, and the server put a pad of butter on the bread. As he looked away, the man picked up the piece of bread and turned it over, so now the butter in between the two pieces of bread, and he just held his tray there. Well, the server never thinking about it, didn't even look up, he just got his fork and gave the guy another piece of butter, and the guy continued on his way

Well, now it was man in front of me, and he held his tray out, and they gave him a piece of butter, and the man asked for a second piece of butter, and the server said "No, one to everybody." He said "You gave the guy in front of me a second piece of butter." The server just flew into a rage. In fact, he went completely berzerk. And he grabbed a butcher knife, which must have had a blade ten or twelve inches long, wooden handle. Of course the man dropped his tray and started to run. And as he ran right around the corner of the edge of the tent, there was a four-by-four supporting the corner there (a piece of timber). Just as he went around there, that knife hit that corner four-by-four and took a sliver of about two inches out. It hit blade first, and took about two inches off that four-by-four. If it had hit the man, it would probaly have hit him above the shoulders, but no matter where it hit him, it would have had to go into the man at least five or six inches, from the force that it was thrown. Well, the man as I sent went, asd I said, berzerk, and I was standing there, and he was taken to my tent, and Dr. Waddel was called.

And I watched one of the most interesting examinations. They had him stripped to the waist, with no shoes or socks on. The doctor first took the sharp end of a pencil and ran it from under his big toe, diagonally down across his foot to his heel, and the man's toes curled upward. And if you ever try it, you will find that the normal tendency of a normal person is for the toes to curl downward like in a claw fashion. Now, this is just one symptom of insanity, or some nervous disorder.

He then had the man stand up, hold his arms out at his side, and then bring his hands in front of him, the two forefingers extending, and he was supposed to bring those forefingers together. He was not able to do this at all. He missed by six or eight inches. In fact, in only two or three tries, he couldn't even put his arms out. He was told to put his arms out again, and bring his forefinger around and touch his nose. Well, he did that okay the first time, but then he started missing his nose, then he was told to try to do it with his eyes closed, and he couldn't even hit his face.

The other test,and the last one I remember, he had him lie down on the bed. He used a pencil with a sharp point on it, and a dull eraser on the other side. And while the man was lying there with his eyes open, he would touch different parts of his chest and abdomen with one end of the pencil or the other. And the only thing he asked of the man was to justsay "sharp" or "dull". And, of course, the first few attempts, if he touched him with the lead part, he would say sharp, if he touched him with the eraser, he would say "dull".

So, then he was told to close his eyes. And for the first two or three he was right, but after that, he was saying "sharp", "dull" with no respect whatsover with what was happening. In fact, he kept on saying "sharp", "dull" after the doctor quit touching him.

He was given to me to care for. I was supposed to keep him busy just doing odds and ends. On one occassion we were sitting in my tent, he on the extra bunk which he used, and I on my bunk, and we were playing checkers. And he seemed to be getting along, he had been there for about a week, and seemed to be quieted down, you could talk to him and he seemed rational.

But while we were playing checkers, an insect which we called a white faced hornet, (and incidentally, they had quite a terrific sting), but it flew past his face, and he just went off the deep end. I had to call the doctore to get him soothed down again.

He had become completely quiet, and seemed to be back to normal, so I told him to go gather some firewood. The mess hall used wood for their fires, and in fact we in the tents had space heaters or pot-bellied stoves I guess you would call them. I heard this commotion outside, and I went out. And this kid, well he was a pretty good size young fellow, probably a couple of years older than I. But he was dragging this tree. The but of this tree was about ten inches, and the height would be in accordance. And he was dragging this tree into the tent. Well, that's the really last thing I remember about that kid, and he was eventually shipped out.

A Chance of a Lifetime

wcp0124d (3:49))

It was then announced that while we had signed up for six months, they were shortening our enlistment to four months, and then giving the opportunity to sign up for six more months. I had decided that I had been willing to serve the original six months, but ten months was entirely too much. So I quit.

But one thing that I am reminded of while I was in the CCCs, I thought I had the chance of a lifetime. There was a lieutenant Polliard who was the base adjutant, incidentally he was quite a lush: he hit the bottle pretty hard, but he was a friend of Jack Pettis, who was an orchestra leader. At the time we were up at camp, he was playing at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh. I remember a fellow named Pat Harrington was his vocalist, and a girl vocalist by the name of Mary something or other (I've forgotten now).

But a bunch of us were in the storeroom one time. I remember Bill Black, Dick Simmers, a couple of other guys who played guitars, one fellow played a mandolin. And we were in the storeroom, and they were playing and I was singing. We were having a dance, and I was asked to sing, and had agreed to sing. I remember I was going to sing the song "Stormy Weather" and "Danny Boy", but the captain asked me if I would sing some popular song. It just seemed so out of the way to have a captain ask for this type of song - a love song, really.

But anyway, as a result of this, Leutenant Pollard asked me if I would like to audition for Jack Pettis, and of course I said I would be delighted to. He asked me if I could get off the folowing weekend. He was going into Pittsburgh, and would take me with him. Unfortunately, there were just two of us doctor's assistants, and the other man was already gone for the weekend, so I missed my chance.

But, when he came back, he said that he had arranged an appointment, and an audition, with Jack Pettis with me the next time I went back to Wilkinsburg. Well, it so happened that the next time I went back was when I took my discharge at the end of September. I called the William Penn Hotel and learned that just the week before, Jack Pettis had left Pittsburgh.

Very frankly, at that tender age, I'm pretty sure that I wasn't ready for the big times, because Jack Pettis was one of the big name bands. However, I didn't think I was that bad to chase him out of Pittsburgh.

Becoming a West Penn Meter Reader

wcp0125 (10:46)

Well, anyway I came home, and it was some time after that that we moved back to New Kensington. I think we moved up to the 1100 block of Lieschman Avenue, but of course we were at the rear of the lot, so that the front of our house entered onto an alley, which was typical of the Pringle family.

It was while I was living there that I was working at the American Drink Shop, that was a hash house, or restaurant in New Kensington. And a guy by the name of Dale Moore, a line foreman came in one day, and I asked him where he was working, and he said he was putting up steel on the Springdale Power Plant. I asked him if he needed a good man, and Dale said he did, and if I were to run into one, to let him know. So, the thing was passed off as a joke.

But, about a week later, Dale came in and he said "Were you serious about getting a job with West Penn", and I said, yes, very much so. Now this would be very late in November, or the first few days of December. He said go and see Frank Owsten, who was a division manager. He said "I think they are going to hire a meter reader." Well, this is of course, what I had wanted for ten years.

So, I did go to see Mr. Owsten and got an application for work. I turned in the application. At that time, Mary Hire (and you've heard me mention her name before, I'm sure) worked for West Penn Power Company, and she called me and asked me if I could come down for an interview on Monday. (I may have these days of the week wrong, but that's close enough.)

Well, I went down for an interview, and, to make a long story short, it was ... well, I'm not going to make it very short, it was quite an interview. Because I was somewhat disappointed; when I walked into the office, I expected to see everyone I knew, because I knew everybody that worked in New Kensington.

But instead, there was a tall, handsome, curly dark haired gentleman sitting behind the desk, another very distinguished gentleman, and the only other person, who I knew, was Mr. Chandler, who was the district manager. When I walked into the office, this tall, dark haired man came from around the desk, he came over and he shook hands with me and he said "You look enough like Tom to be two Pringles."

So, he started to conduct the interview, but he said that he was new to personnel, and he did not like to ask questions, and he asked me if I would just tell him about myself. I said, "Gee, where do I start", and he said "Well, start at the beginning", so I said "I was born.", and I went on to say I was born in England, and one thing led to another, and I told him when Tom was hired, I always wanted to work for West Penn Power Company. The interview went on in the usual way. Finally, this tall, dark haired man, who happened to be Bob McDonald, who is now head of the Allegheny Power System.

Charlie Woods was the second unknown man to me, but he was the supervisor of meter readers. So, he asked me what made me think I would be a good meter reader. My first answer was "I don't think so, sir, I know so.", and then proceeded to tell him why. And I remember saying that I had been associated with my brother, who had worked for ten years, and I knew that it depended on a certain amount of speed, and I was not a slow walker, it depended on adding and subtracting, and math was my good subject. It depended upon meeting people, and I had worked at restaurants, and grocery stores, newspaper boy, and I felt I had the ability to meet people. And I said, in short, that I knew, and I mentioned about eight or ten meter readers that had worked in New Kensington, and I said I couldn't help but feel that if they can do it, I can do it.

When I left that office, and this was somewhere around the eighth or ninth of December, but somewhere early in December, I wasn't wondering if I had the job, I was wondering when I was going to start. I did not know, that at this same time, they had interviewed fourteen applicants. I learned that later from Mary Hire. The only hint I had that anyone else was being interviewed, was when I walked out, there was a young fellow sitting at the front of the office, a kid I knew from school, whose name I haver forgotten. But when I left there, as I say, I wasn't concerned about "what" but "when". A couple of days later I got a call to go to the doctors for a physical, and I remember this was on Wednesday. I took the report from the doctor and took it down to Mr. Chandler, who was the district manager. He took one glance at the report fromthe physical, and he said "I see you have good eyes", and I said "Yes, sir." So, he said "When can you start?". I said "Well, I can start any time you want." he said "What do you mean?" I said, "Monday, if you like." He said "Aren't you already working now?", and I said "Yes, I was working at the American Drink Shop" He said, "Well, wouldn't you like to give them a notice?" I said "I've already done that." He said "How could you give them a notice until you knew you had the job." I said, "Well, I had given them a conditional notice. I had told them I was coming down to apply for an interview, and I didn't really know what was going to be expected of me, so I had given them a tentative notice to finish on Saturday." Well, that satisfied him, and I started to work on Monday morning.

Well, it so happened on Sunday, when I was not supposed to work, Tom and I (that's your Uncle Tom, of course) were going to go visit our relatives in West Virginia. At the last minute, one of my bosses at the American Drink Shop asked me if I could work on Sunday, because they were short handed and hadn't been able to replace me. Well, they had been very good to me, and I decided that I woud comply, so I told Tom that I couldn't go to West Virgnia. So, it being winter time, he took my 1932 Chevy Coach, and left me his 1931 Ford Roadster.

Well, Monday morning, I was there early (it might have been the only time I was early), I was standing in the front of the office waiting for the rest of the people to arrive, and suddenly the door opened, and there was my cousin Alec. He motioned for me to come, and I went over, and he said "Tom's wrecked your car." My first reaction was "How is Tom?" He said "He's okay." So we walked out, and Tom was sitting in Alec's car. He looked all shrivelled up in a way, but he had wrecked my 1932 Chevy on the way back from Wierton, in the morning, or at least it happened some time after midnight, on the morning that I started with West Penn Power Company, on December 14, 1936.

This was not amusing at all, but something amusing did happen as a result of this. Tom had left my car in a place called Wier Cove, it's part of Wierton now. I had telephoned them and authorized them to go ahead and make the necessary repairs. I rememer it was somewhere around $300. Of course, Tom had paid the repair bill. But one February day, after I had received word that my car had been repaired, I receive my new license, which would be the 1937 license.

Tape cuts off at this point.