California State University, Long Beach
 

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dc.contributor.author Nordquist, Olive (b. 3/13/1909 - d. 7/31/1999)
dc.contributor.author Berger Gluck, Sherna, interviewer
dc.date.accessioned 2021-07-30T01:41:30Z
dc.date.available 2021-07-30T01:41:30Z
dc.date.issued 2021-07-29
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10211.3/221243
dc.description SUBJECT BIO - Olive Nordquist began working at Lockheed in 1942 after crossing the US with her husband and small daughter one year earlier, attracted by the jobs opening up in the defense industry. The third of nine children, Nordquist was both and raised in the vicinity of Cushing, Minnesota. After a tumultuous childhood, when she graduated from high school in 1927, she went to Minneapolis to get away from home. After various short jobs, she started to work as a packer at a cheese company, and remained there until she married in 1937. Although she attended beauty college in the hopes of becoming an operator, she developed skin condition and was unable to continue working in this field. Instead, she managed a small farm that she and her husband leased while he commuted to an industrial job in the city. Nordquist worked in electrical assembly for three years until she was laid off. By then, the family had acquired a home in Hollywood which included several rental units. This is how she began her "career" of managing, renovating and maintaining properties. After surviving a non-communicative and unhappy marriage for twenty four years, Nordquist and her husband finally divorced in 1961. At that point, her daughter, who herself had several unhappy marriages and an abusive first husband, moved n with her. Although Nordquist was still an active woman with a wide range of interests at the time of the interview, her persona was rather subdued, almost depressed. After her three year stint TOPICS - family background and history; grandparents farm; parent's educational background and teaching careers; father's role as a business owner and community leader; childhood; siblings; religion; housing and living arradiscipline; childhood; siblings; living arrangements in town; childhood activities; clothing; schooling; teachers; relationship with mother; household chores; gender roles; and farm life;farm life; family life; childhood; schooling; mother's attitude towards education and gender roles; career expectations; mother's resistance to Nordquist's career pursuits; adolescence; social activities; physicalwork in Minneapolis; the Depression; social life; clothing and work attire; hairstyle; marriage expectations; courtship and wedding; marital relationship; living arrangements; living conditions; husband's work hist en_US
dc.description.abstract INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - This is the first of three rather lengthy interviews with Olive Nordquist, conducted in her home in Redondo Beach. Her home and dress both reflected her range of interests, activities and mechanical skills, with washing machines and other applicances in various rooms, that she was repairing. When I first contacted Nordquist to arrange the interview, her daughter answered the phone. It turned out that she was someone I had known in the early days of the women's liberation movement in Los Angeles. Nordquist spoke very slowly and it was difficult to draw her out. Her answers were almost relatively short and to the point. Nevertheless, she was cooperative and helpful and after the interview checked with her sister about some of their family history. 8/13/1980 en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents *** File: rrronordquist1.mp3 Audio Segments and Topics: (0:02-4:36)... Nordquist's maternal ancestors came to America during the Mayflower voyage. Her grandparents were born here and settled in Minnesota, eventually homesteading sixty acres in the 1890s, when her mother was four years old. They raised livestock and grew grain and hay to feed their herds. Nordquist remembers visiting her grandmother's farm when she was a young girl, helping to milk cows, gathering water at the well, and picking wild strawberries and fishing with her grandmother. (4:36-7:22)... Nordquist's paternal grandparents immigrated to Minnesota from Norway, where her grandfather owned a store and a farm. She never visited their farm and could not recall meeting them. Her grandmother was crippled with rheumatism and could not walk; her grandfather owned his store until he became sick and retired, at the age of eighty plus. Nordquist's aunt took care of him until she was shot and killed. (7:22-11:37)... Nordquist's father finished college and worked as a college teacher until he decided to open a general store. She believes that he gave up teaching because he could make more money operating a store. They lived in a logging community and he stocked his store with the necessary logging supplies. Her mother went through the eighth grade (sic) and then received a normal school education in preparation for a career in teaching. She taught in a country school until she married at the age of seventeen. She does not know how her parents met, but since their families lived only five miles apart, she assumes that they met in the community or at church. Both her parents and their families were religious and regularly attended Lutheran services (11:37-17:03)... Her parents married in 1904, by which time her father, who was twenty-four, was well established in the community of Cushing. In addition, to owning a general store, he managed the railroad and the lumber yard, handled the tomato and livestock shipments, and was the president of the bank. After her parents got married, her mother worked in the general store. Nordquist's mother had her first child in 1906, and eventually gave birth to another eight. [Note: although she only dates four here, in a later segment, she refers to nine.] Nordquist was the second, born in 1908. The family lived above her father's store until a fire broke out and burned down the store. After they rebuilt it, they moved into a home next door until 1916, when her parents purchased a farm and they moved to the country. (17:03-18:59)... Nordquist went to school in a one-room schoolhouse. She recalls that the eighth graders were considered "grown ups" and teased the younger children quite often. Because there were small schoolhouses located every two mile, children did not have to walk far to school. (18:59-20:47)... In the home Nordquist's parents built after their general store burned, the children shared a bedroom, with four in one bed and two in another. Eventually, Nordquist and her sister were able to sleep in a bed her parents put in the living room. They were relieved to have their own bed because some of their younger siblings had problems with bed wetting. (20:47-21:40)... Her family ate their meals together. She recalls the time she refused to eat bacon because she did not want to get fat. (21:40-24:17)... During the holidays, the school and the church organized programs. Nordquist's family attended church regularly when they lived in town, but after they moved to the country, their church activities declined, especially during busy farming season. There were times when they did not go to church because the children did not have proper church attire. Nordquist details the financial hardship her family faced when the bank treasurer embezzled money from her father's bank. As president of the bank, he was required to repay the money and this impacted her parents' ability to purchase new clothes and shoes for their children. When they owned a general store, her father did not have to pay for these items. (24:17-27:46)... When Nordquist was a child, her parents lived by the adage "children are seen and not heard." She grew up in a strict household and during meals, her parents discussed things, but their children were not allowed to talk unless spoken to. Her father was extremely busy and her interaction with him was usually limited to him saying hello or smiling. She believes that her mother did not like her; she was either pulling her hair or yanking her by the ear. Nordquist learned to stay out of her mother's way; but still was punished more than her siblings. Her younger brother's first words were "Oli did it." She admits that she antagonized her siblings and they were not bashful about telling on her. She believes that she got a whipping every night before bed. End of tape. *** File: rrronordquist2.mp3 (0:02-1:10)... Nordquist eventually realized that, inevitably, she would be punished whether she was good or bad. As a result, she began doing whatever she wanted because she felt that she might as well earn her punishments and make each one worthwhile. (1:10-2:27)... Her parents had a total of nine children. Nordquist was followed by a brother who died when he was a child. Her youngest brother was born after they moved to the farm, but while they lived in town, there were seven children to accommodate in their small, two-bedroom duplex. Four children shared two double beds in one bedroom, Nordquist and her sister shared a double bed in the living room, and her parents had their own bedroom where the baby slept in a crib. (2:27-6:42)... Nordquist was not close with any adults other adults besides her parents. She disliked her first-grade teacher, a man who liked her to sit on his lap when she read, which made her feel uncomfortable. She enjoyed spending time with her siblings, except for her younger sister who liked to tattle on her. They entertained themselves by playing games and making houses out of cardboard boxes. She was a tomboy and liked to play sports with boys. She always wore dresses and long stockings when she was a child. (6:42-9:36)... One of Nordquist's teachers noticed a change in her school performance after she moved to the country. Nordquist told her teacher that her mother was thinking about sending her to reform school because of her bad behavior at home. She felt like an outsider because she was always blamed for things she did not do. Her mother refused to listen to her when she tried to explain that she had done nothing wrong. Except for her and her younger sister, her mother treated the other children well. She attributes this to the fact that the other children they looked like her mother's side of the family, in contrast to her and her sister, who looked like the father's side. (9:36-12:19)... When they lived in town, Nordquist's household chores included washing dishes and sweeping the floor. Her parents did not allow the children to work or spend time in the store. When they moved to the farm, the children's household chores were divided along gender lines and her mother supervised the girls while her father supervised the boys. Her mother was main disciplinarian. (12:19-19:22)... When Nordquist's grandfather decided to move away, he sold his farm to her father. The farm was less than two miles from Cushing and Nordquist and her siblings enjoyed living in the country and having more freedom to explore. She recalls picking wild berries and mushrooms. She recounts several incidents of her mother using corporal punishment, wielding a willow switch that had a tendency to wrap around flesh and leave large welts. Her siblings got the switch once a while, but not nearly as much as Nordquist. She digresses to recount the time her eleven-year-old brother stole money from a post office box because he wanted to buy a bicycle. The government prosecuted him. To avoid reform school, he had to enlist in the army when he got old enough. (19:22-23:39)... Nordquist describes her chores when she lived in the country. Only the boys in her family were allowed to operate the farm equipment. Her father owned 480 acres of farmland, some of which he leased. He grew alfalfa and sold cream from the 100 milking cows he owned. By the time Nordquist was old enough to milk a cow, her father was using milking machines. In addition to the children helping out on the farm, her father employed a farmhand and extra help was hired during the busy farming seasons. (23:39-26:07)... Nordquist's family's farmhouse had five bedrooms on one side of the house and two on the others, which were used by the farm hands. Two children shared a bedroom and a double bed. The home had running water and electricity, but they had an outhouse. (26:07-28:01)... In addition to managing the household, Nordquist's mother milked cows, cultivated a vegetable garden, and stacked hay in the stalls. The girls also did physical labor on the farm, such as gardening and cultivating a cucumber crop when a local cucumber company hired them to grow vegetables. Nordquist and three of her sisters each tended a quarter of an acre plot on which they planted and picked cucumbers and pickles. End of tape. *** File: rrronordquist3.mp3 (0:02-0:38)... Nordquist and her sisters were paid for growing cucumbers and pickles for a local vegetable company. They used their wages to purchase their clothing. Her parents provided the necessities for her younger siblings. (0:38-2:00)... Nordquist played with the children from two families who lived within one mile of family's farm. It was not unusual for them to walk several miles to play with friends, but she had to have permission from her parents and could not go to their homes unless she was invited. (2:00-5:00)... Nordquist would rather have been at school than at home even though she did not excel as a result of not devoting enough time to her studies. Her favorite subjects were history and math. When she was in the third or fourth grade, she transferred to a new school which had a library and a basement for physical education. Her parents encouraged all of their children to finish high school and pursue a college education, though she seemed to push her daughters more. Nordquist believes that her mother felt that "she didn't have the opportunities that a man would have and that a woman needed more education." All but one of Nordquist's sisters went to college. (5:00-6:44)... Nordquist applied to a business school located approximately thirty miles from home. When a representative traveled to the farm to discuss her application, her mother told him that Nordquist was not interested. With her plans for business school derailed, Nordquist thought about pursuing a career in nursing, but her mother also rejected this idea. When she turned eighteen, she decided to move to the city, despite her mother's opposition and assessment that that she would be home in two weeks or begging on the streets. Nordquist told her mother that she would rather beg than come home. (6:44-8:21)... While in high school, Nordquist's social activities included singing in the choir and going to weenie roasts with her sisters. These activities were usually with a mixed crowd of boys and girls. She did not start dating until she was twenty-two years old. During these social functions, some of the girls went off with boys alone, but Nordquist and her sisters did not do this because they thought it was unsociable. (8:21-10:24)... Nordquist played baseball, basketball, and softball when she was in high school. Because the school was in another city, she had to board with families, earning her room and board by doing housework and providing child care. Her oldest brother left home when he was thirteen because his parents treated him poorly after he was caught stealing money. When they were old enough, her younger brothers went to agricultural school where they shared a room and cooked for themselves. (10:24-13:43)... Nordquist talks about the families with whom she boarded during her high school years. In addition to providing childcare for these families, she cooked and cleaned, but earned only room and board. Her parents paid for her necessities. She visited her parents occasionally and recalls how things changed during the years she was away from home. (13:43-15:05)... Nordquist's mother prepared her daughters for menstruation. Nordquist started her period when she was sixteen on the same day as her fourteen-year-old sister. Although no one in her family talked to her about sex education, she explains that it was not necessary because she grew up on a farm and was exposed to the reproduction cycles of farm animals. (15:05-21:05)... When Nordquist left home and moved to Minneapolis, her first task was to find a job. She plucked chicken feathers, canned pickles, and worked as a waitress, quitting when a male customer propositioned her. Following that, she got a job at Blumberg Cheese, gradually working her way up until she was moved into a clerical position in the office. She worked there for four years, going to business school in the evenings. She boarded with families, occasionally working for her room and board by doing household tasks so that she could save money to purchase clothing and pay for her tuition. (21:05-23:57)... After Nordquist moved to Minneapolis, her social life changed dramatically. She met a girlfriend who introduced her to the world of dancing and dating, and also met people at business school. She went bicycling and swimming with her friends, in addition to going to dances, which is where she met her husband. (23:57-27:05)... Nordquist's wages at Blumberg Cheese were .39/hour. She worked there until 1936, when she decided to enroll in beauty school, thinking it would easier to manage a marriage and a career as a beauty operator. Once she started working as a beauty operator, however, her hands became extremely irritated and she quit and decided to stay home. End of tape. *** File: rrronordquist4.mp3 (0:04-1:40)... Nordquist talks about the job market in Minneapolis during the Depression, noting that she was once out of work for approximately two weeks. Before getting a steady job at Blumberg Cheese, she worked at a candy factory. She also applied for work at a fur factory, and although the boss admired her courage for wanting to learn the trade, he refused to hire her because he believed she was not be strong enough to handle the work. (1:40-3:18)... Nordquist assumed that she would get married one day, but "was trying to avoid it for as long as I could [because] I was having fun." At Blumberg Cheese, she worked five days a week and on Saturdays during busy periods. In her spare time, she socialized with friends, going to dances in the evenings and swimming and bicycling on the weekends. She also had to make time to go shopping for clothes. (3:18-4:53)... Although Nordquist wore a uniform or slacks when she worked in the factory at Blumberg Cheese, once she moved into the office, she was required to wear a dress and a girdle, commenting: "we were not suppose to jiggle our cheeks." She wore her hair in a "natural" style that was short and somewhat curly. [Note: She shows the interviewer a photograph of herself when she was employed at Lockheed.] (4:53-9:57)... When Nordquist met her fiance at a dance hall, he was employed at a BB gun company. He wanted to get married right away, but she held him off for a couple of years, during which time they both dated other people. After she finally accepted his proposal, they accompanied one of her girlfriends and her husband to their hometown in North Dakota, where Nordquist and her fiance were married by a minister in his home. She did not invite anyone in her family to the wedding and they did not find out she was married until afterwards. (9:57-14:19)... After Nordquist and her husband married, they returned to Minneapolis and she went back to work as a beauty operator and he returned to his job at the BB-gun factory. He lived with his parents and she continued to rent a room. Eventually, she moved in with his parents, but she could not handle the living conditions because their home was infested with bugs. They purchased a small apartment complex and they lived in one apartment, his parents in another, and they rented the other two apartments. In 1940, Nordquist became pregnant and her husband lost his job at the BB factory. The following year, Lockheed representatives came to Minneapolis to recruit people for defense work. Her husband applied for a job and was hired. They packed up their belongings and drove to California when her daughter was ten months old. They arrived in Los Angeles in October 1941. (14:19-17:21)... After Nordquist quit her job as a beauty operator, she enjoyed helping her father-in-law refurbish their apartment complex, wallpapering and painting. She learned how to do carpentry work, recalling that as a child she was interested in building things and was never satisfied with the sloppy construction of the houses she and her siblings made out of cardboard boxes. Completing various carpentry projects when she was fifty-one years old, made her proud. She comments that it was the first time in her life that she did something worthwhile. Carpenters offered her partnerships, but she rejected these offers because they only wanted her to do their dirty work. (17:21-18:45)... Nordquist did not use birth control until after she had her first child, at which time she was fitted for a diaphragm. When she decided to stop using birth control, she was never able to get pregnant again because her husband was sterile. She welcomed her first pregnancy and would like to have had more children. When she gave birth to her daughter in a Swedish hospital in Minneapolis, the doctors gave her gas to relieve the pain. She spit it out and ended up delivering her daughter without any pain medication, which she recalls was a rough experience. (18:45-22:36)... After Nordquist's daughter was born, her daily activities revolved around taking care of her baby and managing the apartment complex. When her daughter was six months old, they moved to a farm approximately ten miles outside Minneapolis. She planted potatoes, tomatoes, and strawberries and purchased 100 chickens; friends gave them a couple of pigs. She sold her chickens for $1.25 each making a .90 profit. Her husband was a city boy and not much of a farmer, making it difficult for her to manage the farm on her own. He continued to work in the city during the week. (22:36-24:34)... Nordquist discusses her marital relationship and their social life during the first few years they were married. Her husband's idea of fun was looking at cars or visiting his parents while she enjoyed getting out and doing things like dancing and going to the movies or a ball game. He did not object to her decision to purchase their ten acre farm, probably because he was free to do whatever he wanted in the city during the week. She hired someone to help manage the potato crop, but they never made a profit on their crop because they did not live on the farm long enough. 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: https://www.csulb.edu/university-library/form/questionssuggestions-the-digital-repository-group en_US
dc.subject Rosie the Riveter Revisited en_US
dc.subject Women's History en_US
dc.title Nordquist, Olive (audio interview #1 of 4) en_US
dc.type Recording, oral en_US


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