California State University, Long Beach

Show simple item record Morales Clifton, Beatrice (b. 4/29/1915 - d. 12/4/1988) Berger Gluck, Sherna, interviewer 2021-04-01T23:08:54Z 2021-04-01T23:08:54Z 2021-04-01
dc.description SUBJECT BIO - When Beatrice Morales Clifton went to work at Lockheed in 1942, her life was forever changed. She had never worked outside the home before, and in fact going to Lockheed was practically the first time she had gone anywhere on her own. Born in Marfa, Texas, the last of three children, Clifton's family moved to San Bernardino, California when was still an infant. While still in high school, at the age of fifteen, she married a man twelve years her senior. By the time she left him at age eighteen or nineteen, she was already the mother of two. She had two more children with her second husband, whom she married in 1935. Although her second husband was a "good husband," he was very traditional and strongly objected to his wife taking a defense job. Although she initially defied him, she returned home when one of her children became sick. Not satisfied with her old way of life, she tried several jobs after the war and in 1951 returned to Lockheed Aircraft. Shortly afterwards, she divorced her second husband, and subsequently was married two more times, to men who worked at Lockheed. She continued working at Lockheed until her retirement in 1978, working her way up the pay scale. Clifton, a warm and exuberant woman, was an eager participant - almost as though she had just been waiting for someone to whom she could tell her story. Although she was open and communicative, it took her time to "warm up" to the interview. As a result, I decided to interview her in two longer sessions rather than the usual three. Once she did warm up, the words came rushing forth. All the interviews were conducted sitting at her dining room table in her modest home in a semi-rural neighborhood of Sylmar, which she shared with a companion and a dog. Her house was filled with her handiwork, including embroideries and ceramics. Her backyard, which was filled with flowers, was divided into a space for a large Winnebago and boat and a fenced area where she kept chickens and goats. TOPICS - family background; family life; childhood; and education;family life; education; menstruation; religion; marital relationship; husbands; childbirth; children; health; and work;husband and marital relationship; social activities; friends; children; family background; defense work at Lockheed; sexism; work clothing; and plant environment at Lockheed; en_US
dc.description.abstract INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - This is the first of two interviews with Beatrice Morales Clifton, conducted at the dining room table in her home in Sylmar. Although she was initially nervous when the tape recorder was started, once she warmed up, the words came gushing forth. 1/23/1981 en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents *** File: rrrbclifton1.mp3 Audio Segments and Topics: (0:00-3:23)... Brief interviewer introduction Clifton has very little recollection of her grandparents on either side of her family, or other members of her family who lived in Mexico. Her parents married young and had four children, three daughters and one son. Clifton was born while her mother was going through the "change of life." Because she was the youngest daughter in the family, her parents spoiled her. (3:23-5:13)... Clifton's parents met in Mexico while working in textile mill. They immigrated to the US in 1912-13 during the Mexican Revolution so that her father could escape conscription into the army. (5:13-7:52)... When Clifton's parents immigrated to the US, they settled in Texas and her father found work as a ranch hand. Her parents had already given birth to two daughters and a son by this time. The son was very ill when they moved to Texas and the rancher took him to the doctor to cure his illness. Clifton was quite a few years younger than her brother and believes that she was born when her mother was in her forties. When Clifton was a baby she dressed in pretty clothes given to the family by the rancher's wife. The family lived in a small house and the rancher and his family lived in a larger home on the ranch. Clifton's sister and mother helped the rancher's wife with household chores. (7:52-11:57)... Her father was happy living on the ranch in Texas, but her mother wanted to move to California. Although her father had initially been involved in ranching and farm life as a young man in Mexico, he had become a factory worker. Clifton was born on the ranch in Texas, but she does not know the circumstances of her birth. The family left Texas when Clifton was three months old. Her father's money was stolen during the train ride to California and they were forced off the train in Colton, California. They settled there for a short time until they earned enough money to leave the area. They moved to San Bernardino and her father went to work for the Santa Fe Rail Road shops. (11:57-15:40)... Clifton's second oldest sister was like a mother to her. When the family moved to Colton people often mistook Clifton as her sister's child. They were approximately fourteen years apart. Throughout her life, Clifton's sister treated her like a daughter and was very protective. Clifton's oldest sister died when she was twenty-three years old. Clifton's brother was also several years older than her. Because of this age difference, Clifton was considered the baby of the family and spoiled by her parents and other family members. As a young girl she visited family members on the weekends and they would give her money for the movies. She saved this money and during the week she was able to buy chocolate and other items that other children could not afford. (15:40-18:11)... Her family's house in San Bernardino was very small with two bedrooms. Her father built a small room with a shower near the house. Her mother cooked on a wood stove and gas was hooked up to the home at a later time. Her parents planted a large vegetable garden. During the summers her mother moved the wood stove outside and the family ate their meals in the backyard. (18:11-21:15)... Clifton had several neighborhood playmates. Most of the time, she played dolls and other sorts of games with the "colored" (sic) girls who lived near her. There were boys in the neighborhood, but she did not play with them. She often played by herself in a woodshed that her father made into a playroom. The neighborhood was racially mixed and included Mexican, Black and Anglo residents. While living in San Bernardino, she was not conscious of racial prejudice. Later in life she was accused by a Black co-worker of being prejudiced and this upset her because it was the way someone treated her that mattered, not the color of someone's skin. (21:15-23:13)... The primary language in Clifton's home was Spanish. Her parents understood very little English and did not speak it at all in the home. Clifton's brother spoke English and she learned the language through him as well as her Anglo playmates. She could not recall if she knew English by the time she went to school. She attended the same school as her brother and since he was well liked by teachers, they helped Clifton in her studies. A mixture of races and ethnicities attended her school and she was not teased because of her language difficulties. (23:13-25:01)... Clifton started school when she was six years old. She describes her school and how it was moved to a new location during her enrollment. The school was located several blocks from her home and she walked to school. (25:01-26:49)... Clifton's parents did not restrict her activities. Her father could not drive so they did not go on a lot of outings as a family. However, her brother had a car and often drove her into Los Angeles. Clifton's oldest sister was very popular and involved in social clubs and other activities. Her mother often accompanied her sister to dances; however, when Clifton's sister died her mother stopped going to these activities. Her mother thought that Clifton would carry on a similar lifestyle when she got older, but Clifton did not enjoy dancing and was not involved in social clubs. Clifton's father did not object to her mother attending dances and she was allowed to do whatever she pleased. End of tape. *** File: rrrbclifton2.mp3 (0:00-0:37)... Clifton was close with both of her parents when she was a young girl. Even though her older sister was like a second mother to Clifton, the two did not spend very much time together when Clifton was a young girl because her sister moved to Los Angeles. It was not until Clifton married and moved to Los Angeles herself that she and her sister began spending more time together. (0:37-3:49)... She does not recall being involved in very many activities while attending grade school. She did have girlfriends while she was in junior high school, but she did not invite friends to her home. When Clifton went to the movies, it was usually by herself. She started dating boys at a young age. Her first boyfriend was seventeen years old and she was thirteen years old. She thinks that she was "boy crazy" at that time and often met boys at the movie theater. She dated her first boyfriend for approximately four years, during which time she attended high school and he worked as a janitor and miscellaneous jobs. (3:49-4:37)... Clifton started menstruating when she was twelve or thirteen years old. Her mother did not discuss or prepare her for menstruation. However, she was not frightened when it occurred and learned that it was a natural function. She did not discuss these matters with her girlfriends because she did not have very many close friends. (4:37-6:33)... Even though Clifton and her family were Catholics, they did not attend church on a regular basis. When Clifton was a young girl she went to catechism after school and took communion; however, her home was not a place of constant prayer and worship. As with most things in her young life, Clifton accepted religion as a normal way of life and did not question her religious lessons. Her parents were not strict disciplinarians. Her brother was more likely than her father to decide what Clifton could or could not do and her father always supported his decisions. (6:33-15:14)... She wanted to marry her first boyfriend, but his income was poor and he wanted to wait to get married. The relationship ended following an argument about marriage. When she was fifteen years old, she met her future husband, a twenty-seven-year-old salesman who visited her home to sell tonics to her mother. A few months after dating, they were married in San Francisco by a justice of the peace. Although her parents were not happy that she wanted to marry so young, they did not oppose the marriage. Clifton gave birth to her first child when she was sixteen years old. Since her husband was a salesman he was constantly away from the home and did not see his firstborn until the child was three months old. Her husband was a philanderer and had a woman in every city where he sold products. She lived with his parents in East Los Angeles and often felt stranded because he left her alone and without any money. In retrospect, she believes that her decision to marry so young was foolish. She explains that it was difficult for her to plan a pregnancy because she did not know anything about reproduction. Even though Clifton's sister lived on the north side of Los Angeles, they did not see each other very often. Her sister struggled during the Depression; and was admitted into Olive View Hospital for lung difficulties. (15:14-22:06)... Clifton lived with her husband's mother, stepfather, and four sisters. She tried to make the most out of her living arrangements, but it was a difficult time in her life because her husband was never home and she struggled financially. Her husband continued to come and go from his parents' home and Clifton eventually learned that he was having another relationship with a young girl who was also pregnant. Clifton decided to leave her husband when she was in the hospital giving birth to her second child, The county provided her with a small home and clothing for her children. Her husband continued to visit her, but she refused to get involved in a relationship with him again. They divorced approximately four or five years after they married. (22:06-25:45)... After Clifton separated from her husband and moved into a home in East Los Angeles, she led a fairly solitary life with her children. She did not know anyone in the area and did not socialize with friends. She occasionally visited her sister in the hospital in Los Angeles. She attempted to find work, but did not like the jobs that were available. Her parents moved into her home after she divorced her husband. A family friend often drove her and her mother to visit her sister in the hospital. This man was romantically interested in Clifton and wanted to marry her. She decided to date him because he was nice and had a steady job as a janitor. It was important that she find someone to support her children because her ex-husband did not provide any money for his children, nor did he visit them. When she married her second husband (Julio Morales), they moved into a small house in Pasadena. *** File: rrrbclifton3.mp3 (0:00-2:00)... Clifton married her second husband (Julio Morales) around 1934-35. She gave birth to her third child in 1936. Her first two children assumed Morales' last name, but he never officially adopted them. She told her children about their biological father, but they wanted to keep their stepfather's last name. Her ex-husband was constantly with different women and probably fathered several children. (2:00-6:23)... When Clifton moved to Pasadena with her Morales, her parents also moved into their new home with them. Her father retired because of his age and difficulties with rheumatism. She and her husband purchased a large home in Pasadena with three or four bedrooms. They often socialized with friends and attended parties in Los Angeles or held parties at their home for special occasions and holidays. In 1936, she gave birth to another daughter and a son in 1937-38. Her life during the week was predominantly focused on raising her four children and caring for the home. On the weekends, her family socialized with friends and family in Los Angeles. (6:23-13:33)... Note: there is an interruption in the interview during this segment. Clifton had no intentions of working prior to WWII. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, she went to an employment office in Pasadena on behalf of her brother's adopted daughter who wanted to work in the aircraft industry. Clifton was told that her niece was too young to be working and needed to finish school, and they offered her a job, instead. She was hesitant to accept the position. When she informed her husband of her intentions to work in the aircraft industry, he opposed the idea. He did not believe that wives and mothers should work outside the home. However, she was determined to work and did not let him stop her. She decided to work for Lockheed at a plant in Los Angeles. She rode the streetcar into work every day. While working there, her youngest son was diagnosed with a heart condition and her oldest son contracted pneumonia. Clifton's husband immediately blamed her absence from the home as the cause of her children's ailments. At that time, she decided to quit Lockheed to stay home and care for her children. (13:33-20:36)... When Clifton was hired at Lockheed, she was told she would be doing "structural work," earning .65 cents an hour. She worked at Plant 2 located on 7th and Santa Fe in Los Angeles. When she arrived at the plant, she was taken to the fifth floor and assigned to a male co-worker to work with riveting P-38s. He was not a nice person and, like many of the other men, resented women working in the industry. He treated her condescendingly and when she made a mistake on her second or third day of work, he told her that she was "not worth the money Lockheed was paying her." Clifton became very upset and rushed off. A woman co-worker - a "tough" woman - followed her into the restroom and asked what happened. This woman upbraided the men for their behavior. Clifton was determined to excel at her job and quickly moved into working on other areas of the airplane. She describes her work riveting and bucking the "elevator" part of the airplane. (20:36-23:53)... Clifton was provided with a list of items she would need for her job, including: pants, low-heeled shoes, and various tools. She had never worn pants or low-heeled shoes before so it felt awkward at first. She always wore high-heeled shoes around the house, but when she started working the only time she wore high-heeled shoes was on the weekends if she went out with friends. She purchased a toolbox and all of the necessary tools through Lockheed. She was required to wear a hair net while she worked. (23:53-28:30)... When she arrived at the Lockheed plant, she was very scared. She had not been out on her own in this type of environment before nor had she ever been around so many men. However, within the first year of working at Lockheed, her attitude towards the environment changed and she became accustomed to the male employees and their behavior. She describes her impressions of the plant and her responsibilities. End of tape. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.rights This repository item may be used for classroom presentations, unpublished papers, and other educational, research, or scholarly use. Other uses, especially publication in any form, such as in dissertations, theses, articles, or web pages are not permitted without the express written permission of the individual collection's copyright holder(s). Please contact the CSULB Library Administration should you require permission to publish or distribute any content from this collection or if you need additional information or assistance in using these materials: en_US
dc.subject Rosie the Riveter Revisited en_US
dc.subject Women's History en_US
dc.title Clifton, Beatrice Morales (audio interview #1 of 2) en_US
dc.type Recording, oral en_US

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