California State University, Long Beach

Show simple item record White, Margaret (b. 3/8/1908 - ) Cleary, Cindy, interviewer 2021-07-28T21:50:17Z 2021-07-28T21:50:17Z 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 - expectations of defense work; application process; job training; job responsibilities; work clothing; working conditions; gender relations; work pace; transportation; social activities; job classifications; and attwages; 1951 strike; job classification; job skills and responsibilities; gender relations; lesbians; work force demographics; attitudes towards unionism; and food rationing;postwar lay offs; social activities; family life; daughter; husband; unemployment compensation; and retirement; en_US
dc.description.abstract INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - This second interview with White, like the first, was conducted in her freshly painted and newly furnished tract home in Garden Grove. White remained a bit reserved and nervous. 11/12/1980 en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents *** File: rrrmwhite4.mp3 Audio Segments and Topics: (0:00-1:53)... White learned about job opportunities in the defense industry from reading advertisements in the newspaper. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, she told her husband that she was going to apply for a job at an aircraft plant. He did not oppose her decision to do so. She did not have any expectations about war work prior to applying for a position, and the only thing she knew about airplanes was that they flew in the sky. Once she got a job in defense, she did not have any problems managing the double duty of work and home. (1:53-4:56)... White describes the application and interview process she experienced when she applied for a position at Douglas Aircraft. She was hired and sent to a training school for about three weeks, during which time she read manuals and practiced various mechanical procedures. When she began working at Douglas, the plant was not utilizing all of its buildings for airplane production. Eventually, the plant increased its operations and produced several war planes, including the B17, C47, A26, B26, and the A74. When she was hired at Douglas, she did not want to work in the office because she thought that clerical work required too much brain power and not enough hand work. She learned, however, that working in the plant required both skills. (4:56-7:30)... When White entered the training program, her class consisted of about thirty women. Even though she considered herself a mechanical person, she did not have very many mechanical skills when she began training. She knew what a hammer was, but learned how to operate many more tools as a result of her work at Douglas. She worked at Douglas for the duration of the war and was laid off in August 1945 when the war ended. She received twenty-six weeks of unemployment, which amounted to twenty dollars a week. She did not want to go back to work, but was forced to do so when her husband died in 1950. She reapplied at Douglas and was hired in 1951. (7:30-8:57)... White cleaned, shopped, and prepared foods for her family when she was not working. Her daughter was in school when she started at Douglas, and her husband was working three different swing shifts as a refrigeration engineer at the Home Ice Company. She took things in stride and was able to manage her domestic and work responsibilities adequately. White was not required to bring anything to work her first day at Douglas. The tools and supplies required of her job were provided to her by the company. (8:57-13:17)... Women hired at Douglas were required to wear a bandana on their heads to avoid getting their hair caught in the machinery. Their work attire consisted of pants and a blouse. Even though women were not supposed to wear any jewelry, White wore her wedding ring to work. She was happy about going back to work after her husband died because she enjoyed the work and the pay was good. When she was first hired at Douglas, and when she was rehired in 1951, White was assigned "pick up" work, which entailed repairing parts that failed inspection. She digresses regarding the transition from war airplanes to passenger airplanes at the end of the war. (13:17-15:00)... White talks about her expectations prior to reporting to work the first day. Her daughter supported her decision to work at Douglas, but she did not have any idea what kind of work White was doing. White purchased a tool box and several tools. The plant was equipped with tool cribs, but the company did not stock every tool that employees needed to complete their work. White kept her toolbox after she left Douglas and occasionally used common tools, such as a hammer or a screwdriver. (15:00-16:53)... White worked in Building 12 while employed at Douglas. The plant was noisy, particularly in buildings where riveting and drilling took place. Although people wore ear plugs, White does not believe that the earplugs adequately protected people's ears from the high noise level. White did not like the lighting in the plant. She implies that the lighting adversely affected her eyesight, indicating that she did not have to start wearing eyeglasses until she began working at Douglas. (16:53-18:38)... Even though it was her first experience wearing pants, White did not mind it. She thought it was best for people to wear pants on the job to protect their skin from getting caught in other people's drill motors. There were some problems with people accidentally getting drilled. She digresses regarding the large number of people employed at Douglas and how it affected production. (18:38-20:06)... White did not experience any problems working with men. She believes that some men resented women because "they were on a man's job...[and] getting their pay. Men were used to getting more money than a woman, but if you were on the same job as a man you got exactly the same pay as he did." Women looked forward to moving from a B job classification to an A job classification, but they could only do so after a certain amount of time on the job and if they could do the work. (20:06-23:17)... Douglas provided employees with a ten-minute break in the morning and one in the afternoon. However, the company was lenient and people often took coffee or food breaks in addition to the assigned breaks. The plant maintained a tight production schedule and often offered employee overtime in order to meet production deadlines. White did not work a lot of overtime because she did not have transportation to the plant. She was a member of a carpool and paid fellow coworkers a certain amount of money each week to transport her to work. In the late 1950s, women could only work two hours of overtime per day while men could work four hours. In 1957, employees were already working ten hours a day and an additional two hours was not a problem for her. During the war, she occasionally worked on Saturdays, but never on a Sunday. (23:17-27:18)... White befriended many people while she worked at Douglas. During the war, however, she did not participate in any social activities with her work friends. Her life at that time revolved around work and her family. Even though her husband occasionally helped her cook meals, he did not believe that men should do housework. White did not demand that her daughter to do heavy housework. Her daughter was responsible for cleaning up after herself and keeping her things in order. In retrospect, White thinks that she may have had some problems managing her home and working at the same time, but she felt it was her duty to work. Even when she began experiencing back pain and it was difficult for her to get out of bed, she felt obligated to report to work. End of tape. *** File: rrrmwhite5.mp3 (0:00-2:32)... Once White was received an 'A' job classification, she was offered a lead position. Even though she would have received a ten percent raise in pay, she turned down this position, because she did not want to be responsible for other people and the quality of their work. The company gave periodic raises that coincided with increases in the cost of living. (2:32-6:21)... White talks about the 1951 labor strike at Douglas. At the time, she was drilling frames for ten different jigs for the DC8. When the strike ended, she went back to work in the same capacity; however, a lot of people did not return to the plant. (6:21-7:32)... White got acclimated to her work environment and job responsibilities fairly quickly. She enjoyed her work and thought it was an educational experience. Her new job skills did not affect what type of work she did around the house in terms of repairing things; her husband was responsible for those tasks. (7:32-8:46)... She believes there were about nine people who worked in her area; however, she does not clarify how many were women nor does she recall how many people worked in the entire department. She talks about tasks, such as riveting and bucking, that required two people to complete. (8:46-9:57)... White was supervised by a woman lead. She did not notice any differences between the capabilities of male and female leads, but believes that men probably felt their knowledge and expertise was superior. The foremen were typically men, but there were sub-foreman positions occupied by women as well. (9:57-11:32)... She heard stores of men and women flirting with each other while at work, but she never saw this kind of behavior. When she returned to work after the 1951 strike, men who worked in her area during the strike wrote stories on the frames, which were "not good reading for women." She thinks that coworkers dated. White's sub-foreman once asked her out, but she did not think it was appropriate to date someone from work. (11:32-12:35)... White believes that there were a few lesbians employed at Douglas. She remembers one in particular who use to dress like a man. People secretly talked about women they thought were lesbians, but no one ever openly inquired or harassed these women. As long as a woman did the job she was hired to do, White did not care about her sexual preference. (12:35-16:25)... White discusses the racial demographics of the female labor force at Douglas. She does not remember any racial problems occurring at the plant, and believes that people who expressed their racial prejudices towards minorities would have been fired. Minorities, particularly Blacks, and people from Midwestern states flocked to California seeking opportunities in the defense industry. White enjoyed working in a diverse environment. As long as people worked hard, she respected them regardless of their race or geographic origin. (16:25-18:16)... White does not remember Douglas operating any special services for employees. She also was unaware of the security measures enacted at Douglas. She kept her mind on her work and was not concerned about these issues. She attempted to explain how cost-plus contracts affected production; however, she had difficulty describing cost-plus. (18:16-21:25)... White joined the union soon after she began working at Douglas. She strongly supported the union because it improved the wages and working conditions of its members. Although she paid union dues, she rarely attended meetings during the war. After the war, however, she became more interested in attending meetings and continued to do so even after she left Douglas. She never had to file a grievance with the union, and she credits the union for all of the pay raises she received while employed at Douglas. (21:25-22:47)... The money that White contributed to the family income did not give her more power over her husband. Unlike some of her family and friends, she did not consider her wages hers alone. Her and her husband's wages were consolidated and equally used to support the family. (22:47-23:53)... White found food rationing during the war fairly easy to cope with. She and her husband traded cigarettes with the man they bought groceries from and he supplied them with special foods and meats "under the counter." Even though White's husband drove her to the grocery store, he never went inside the store to shop with her. (23:53-25:55)... White learned how to drive a car in 1962. She never felt a need to drive prior to this time because her husband was content driving her around. After he died, however, it became increasingly difficult for her to find a ride to work. She stopped driving in 1970 because she was a nervous person and did not want to get into anymore accidents. At that time, her daughter became her main mode of transportation. End of tape *** File: rrrmwhite6.mp3 (0:00-1:12)... During the war years, White and her family often took family vacations to visit her husband's relatives in Texas and Michigan. Most of her family lived in Garden Grove and she visited them whenever she wanted. She has always had a close relationship with her family. (1:12-2:22)... Other than visiting her husband's family, White and her family occasionally drove to Lake Elsinore and picnicked. Her daughter was not preoccupied with a lot of social activities because White's husband worried about her. When her daughter graduated from high school, she started working at Buffums. (2:22-2:58)... White did not socialize with coworkers outside of work because she felt that she needed to be home to raise her daughter. When her daughter graduated from high school and started working, White began having more of a social life. (2:58-6:12)... White figured that once the war ended she would be laid off. She did not intend on looking for work after she was laid off. She returned to her life as a full-time housewife and did not have any problems dealing with this transition. Immediately after being laid off, she began collecting unemployment compensation. She did not plan on returning to the work; however, when her husband died it was necessary for her to do so. She returned to Douglas and retired after twenty-one years with the company. (6:12-7:37)... When White stopped working at Douglas after the war, she did not spend her extra time socializing or joining women's clubs. She digresses regarding her husband's reaction to her complaints about lazy coworkers at Douglas. 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 #2 of 3) en_US
dc.type Recording, oral en_US

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