California State University, Long Beach

Show simple item record White, Margaret (b. 3/8/1908 - ) Cleary, Cindy, interviewer 2021-07-28T17:48:15Z 2021-07-28T17:48:15Z 2021-07-28
dc.description SUBJECT BIO - Margaret White was born in Minnesota in 1905, the seventh of ten children. She worked as a domestic after she finished the tenth grade, until she married in 1925. Divorced three years later, and with a two year old daughter to support, she resumed work as a domestic, first in the Midwest and then in California, where she joined her sick sister in Long Beach in 1930. White returned to full time homemaking again in 1936 after her second marriage. Motivated by a sense of patriotism she sought work at the new Douglas plant in Long Beach in 1942 and worked until the massive layoffs at war's end. She viewed the work as a "God send," since it paved the way for her to be re-hired in 1950 after her husband's death. She continued to work at Douglas for the next nineteen years, until her retirement in 1970. The three interviews (totaling almost 4 hours) with White were all conducted by Cindy Cleary in White's home in Garden Grove. Although very personable, she was not altogether comfortable with the interview process, and seemed to have difficulty talking about herself. However, by the third and last interview, she had become more relaxed. TOPICS - family background; early work experiences; marital relationship; children; household chores; childhood; social activities; religion; farm life; and schooling;menstruation; family history; home life; gender roles; early work experiences; parents; marriage expectations; husband and marital relationship; childbirth; motherhood; divorce and social activities;migration; domestic service; marriage; daughter; family life; birth control; marital relationship; social activities; and homemaking; en_US
dc.description.abstract INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - Although White was more than willing to participate in the project, she was initially rather reserved and nervous, resulting in her often leaving sentences unfinished. This first interview with White seemed particularly difficult for her, particularly when she discussed painful memories such as her mother's death. She remained nervous throughout the interview and often left sentences unfinished. There is some buzzing noise in the background of side c. 10/5/1980 en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents *** File: rrrmwhite1.mp3 Audio Segments and Topics: (0:00-1:52)... White moved around a lot when she was a child on account of her father's position with the railroad. She was born in Minnesota and her family migrated to South Dakota shortly after her birth. White's mother died when White was fourteen. Her father moved the entire family, which consisted of ten children, to Canovas, South Dakota. White's father died two years later when she was sixteen years old. At that time, she felt compelled to go to work in order to help support the family. The only job available to her was housework. (1:52-6:31)... Eventually, White's siblings spread out and she went to live with an older brother's in-laws before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska to live with an older sister. She supported herself by doing housework. She met and married her brother-in-law's brother, and they had one daughter. Her husband was a womanizer who liked to dance and drink. She left him left him on several occasions and finally ended the relationship when her daughter was six years old. White then moved in with a younger sister and worked in flower nurseries to support herself and her daughter until she moved to California to help care for her older sister who was very ill. Note: White asked that the tape be turned off towards the end of this segment. (6:31-7:47)... White knows very little about her maternal grandparents other than that they were farmers in Minnesota. She once visited her elderly grandfather when she was a small child, but does not recall ever meeting any other relatives on her mother's side of the family. She knows nothing about her paternal grandparents, and only met one relative on her father's side when she was a young girl. It never occurred to her when she was a child to ask about her family heritage. She does not even know how or where her parents met. (7:47-9:02)... White was born on March 8, 1905 in Lake Benton, Minnesota. Her mother gave birth at home with the assistance of a midwife. White has six older siblings and three younger siblings; she does not remember anything about the births of her younger siblings. (9:02-12:15)... White spent the majority of her childhood living in Canova, North Dakota, a small town located near a railroad depot. Her family rented a four-bedroom home located on the main street of the town. Her mother was an excellent housekeeper and cook who was solely responsible for raising her ten children. White's father worked as a bridge foreman for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad, and was frequently away from home. White became very emotional while talking about her mother and declined to mention how she died. White's father died from liver disease while receiving treatment in a hospital in South Dakota. (12:15-16:06)... Even though he was away from home so often, White's father was responsible for disciplining the children. As a result, White feared her father, but she does not recall ever being punished by him. The family anticipated his return because he brought home specialty food items or clothes. They prepared for his return by thoroughly cleaning the house and the yard. White's relationship with her mother revolved around housekeeping and sewing activities. Her mother never spoke to her about puberty or menstruation. White learned about menstruation from her sister-in-law. (16:06-18:08)... Her father owned an acre of farm land. The children helped cultivate the farm by hoeing and tending to their potato crops. They harvested about fifty bushels of potatoes each season. Her mother canned vegetables from her vegetable garden, as well as wild berries picked by the children. The family also subsisted on fresh fish they caught in the river located near their home. There were gender divisions in terms of housework. However, while the girls in the family also were responsible for work outside the house, the boys were not required to do any housework. (18:08-20:49)... White talks about the games and activities she enjoyed when she was a child. She was not restricted in any activities because she was a girl. She spent the majority of her time with her siblings or her neighbors. (20:49-23:13)... White attended a one-room school in which all grades were taught. In addition to studying English, reading, writing, and arithmetic, she was on the basketball team. She quit school in the tenth grade to help support her family. White's parents were not well educated, but expected her to study and succeed in school. She often regretted not finishing high school, but felt it was unnecessary to return to school considering the fact that she did very well for herself without a high-school diploma. (23:13-26:53)... Other than visiting with neighbors, White's mother was not involved in activities or social clubs outside the home. Against her father's wishes, White attended the Congregational Church because there was not a Catholic Church in Canova. Family activities usually revolved around picnicking and spending time at the river. White and her mother enjoyed farm life and often walked to a neighbor's farm to be around their farm animals. End of tape. *** File: rrrmwhite2.mp3 (0:00-2:16)... White enjoyed growing up with a large family. Everyone had certain responsibilities in and outside the home. To a large extent, the family subsisted off the land. In addition to farming, they also fished at the river and hunted wild game. They raised chickens and, at one time, pigs. She learned how to sew when she was young, a skill she utilized after her daughter was born. (2:16-3:09)... Politics or women's suffrage were never discussed within her family. Suffrage was not viewed as an important contribution to a woman's life. Women were expected to get married and have a family. It was not acceptable for a married woman to work outside the home unless her husband died. (3:09-4:53)... White began menstruating while she was visiting an aunt in Minnesota. She did not tell anyone and used her petticoat to protect herself. The women in her immediate family used cloth rags as protection, which they washed and reused each menstrual cycle. Menstruation was difficult for White because she experienced terrible cramps. She often went to bed with a hot water bottle in an attempt to soothe the cramps, and occasionally vomited because of the pain. (4:53-6:16)... White dated one boy while living in Canova, South Dakota. She does not believe there were very many social activities available for young people of dating age. There was a movie theater in the town that showed a movie once a week, and White went to the movies when she could afford it. (6:16-8:43)... After White's mother died, her father continued to work for the railroad. The older children managed the home while her father was away on business. He treated the children better because he knew that they lacked their mother's care. When he died, White's younger siblings went to live with their older, married siblings, and White went to live with her sister-in-law's family. (8:43-12:16)... Working in domestic service was no different than the housework she did while living with her family. She considered herself a perfectionist with a strong work ethnic. She eventually moved to Beresford, South Dakota to work as a live-in domestic and assistant store clerk for a druggist and his wife. She digresses regarding her father's death, indicating that the family did not receive any death benefits from Chicago Northwestern Railroad following his death. Her father set up an insurance policy while he was a member of Modern Woodmen of America. The family received a little over $2,000 when he died, which was divided evenly amongst his ten surviving children. (12:16-14:11)... After living and working in Beresford, South Dakota for a few years, White moved in with her older sister in Lincoln, Nebraska. While there she did odd jobs such as working as a dime store clerk. After she left her first husband, she moved in with her sister and worked for Robertson's Detective Agency "shadowing" a woman. (14:11-18:39)... White met her husband while she was living with her sister in Lincoln, Nebraska. She knew him for quite some time because he was her brother-in-law's brother. They had a short courtship, during which they went dancing and enjoyed other types of social activities. Her husband worked as a truck driver and lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They were married in a small ceremony by the Justice of the Peace. White moved to Council Bluffs and they bought a small home. Shortly after they married, she got pregnant. She enjoyed being pregnant even though she was sick most of the time. When she gave birth to her daughter (Beverly Jean) on April 4, 1926, she was attended by her older sister and a doctor. Although labor and delivery was difficult, it was not as bad as she imagined. She nursed her daughter for nine months. (18:39-26:05)... She did not have any expectations about marriage. She did the best she could to care for her daughter even when she was having marital difficulties. She sewed all of her daughter's clothing and enjoyed being a mother and a homemaker. Her husband spent a lot of time with his daughter and did not want to lose custody of her when White left him the first time. She went back to him for the sake of her daughter, but their marriage ultimately failed and she filed for divorce around 1928 when her daughter was a year and a half. After the divorce, she and her daughter moved in with her sister, and she supported herself by doing odd jobs, including work at a dime store, at an investigation company, and live-in housework. (26:05-27:48)... Approximately two years after divorcing her husband, White began dating other men. Her social activities mainly involved dancing. She began dancing at the age of fifteen when she and her sister would take the train into other towns and go to dances. White also socialized with friends and neighbors while living in Council Bluffs, Iowa. End of tape *** File: rrrmwhite3.mp3 (0:00-2:56)... White confided in her sisters and friends about her marital problems. She moved in with her sister after she divorced, and supported herself by doing domestic service. Eventually, she moved out of her sister's home and found work as a live-in domestic. She also worked in flower nurseries during this period of her life. She moved to Long Beach, California to help care for an ailing sister., and resumed work in domestic service. She established a friendship network in Long Beach, occasionally dated, but most of her time was spent working and caring for her young daughter. (2:56-3:50)... White retained custody of her daughter after the divorce. Her ex-husband occasionally spent time with his daughter, and White usually supervised these visits. However, he was much more interested in running around and drinking to place any importance on spending time with his daughter. (3:50-10:23)... White met her second husband, Roy White, in Long Beach. The two married in 1932 when her daughter was six years old. Her husband was a quiet and "quick-tempered Irishman." She quit working when she married, and her husband supported the family with the salary he earned as a refrigeration engineer at the Home Ice Company in Long Beach. Although his wages were frozen during the Depression, he worked and received his salary on a consistent basis. He was very fond of White's daughter and frequently spoiled her with gifts. All decisions in the family were jointly made by White and her husband. However, there were restrictions on what she could or could not purchase for the family. He was not very sociable or talkative, nor did he enjoy White's favorite activity, dancing. White's husband had high blood pressure and died from a stroke after they were married for fourteen years. (10:23-11:43)... White did not want to have another child until she felt that her marriage was stable. Pregnancy did not come easy to her, and she never suffered any miscarriages. She used an unnamed medicinal form of birth control during her marriage. Her husband never pressured her to have a child because he was perfectly happy raising her daughter. (11:43-16:00)... She was not involved in many activities outside the home. Her activities were limited to a certain extent because of surgical procedures she had; however, she was vague about her medical problems. She was involved with her daughter's school activities and was a member of the PTA. White raised her daughter with many of the same principles she was raised with, although she was more open with her daughter than her parents were with her. Her daughter did not require a lot of discipline when she was growing up. . She prepared her daughter for menstruation and talked to her about similar topics. Her daughter did not begin seriously dating boys until after she turned eighteen. (16:00-18:39)... White and her husband participated in very few social activities outside the home. She gave up dancing because she wanted her marriage to work and her husband did not like to dance. She began dancing again about a year after her husband died. She digresses regarding her husband's devotion to her daughter and the activities her daughter enjoyed when she was a child. (18:39-22:33)... Although White and her husband rarely argued, when they did it was usually over demands placed on White by her siblings. White tried to avoid arguments with her husband because he was quick tempered. They never disagreed over child rearing issues except when he became overprotective or worried about White's daughter. She knew very little about her husband's background other than that he served in Germany during WWI and had no previous marriages. He was an unusual man because he cleaned up after himself, respected White's housekeeping abilities, and occasionally cooked for the family. She enjoyed marriage the second time around because it offered her and her daughter security and stability. Her husband died in 1950 when he was forty-eight years old and White was forty-three. She considered herself young and full of life with many years ahead of her. 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 White, Margaret (audio interview #1 of 3) en_US
dc.type Recording, oral en_US

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