Ref: JW00au14.rtf                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Parallel Lives : Jack and Wanda, Wanda and Jack

[Subtitled: A Davis-Keefe, Canadian-American Experience]

Oral History Interview:  Aug. 14th 2000,& begin Sept 04, 2000        3

1.          Introduction                                                                                                                                                          3

2.          Marriage 1944                                                                                                                                                    3

3.          Train Travel                                                                                                                                                         3

4.          Rodeo: Davis’ Ride Horses and Bulls                                                                                                              4

5.          Beginning a Long visit – Staying in New York                                                                                             5

6.              Change of Plans – Not Back To Alaska                                                                                                     5

7.          Barracks Life for 3 Years: Trinidad, and British Guyana, Brazil, Yukon                                              6

8.              Jackie Born – First Grandchild for Keefes                                                                                               7

9.          Adhiratha Born – All Arms & Legs                                                                                                               8

10.            Moving to Freeport                                                                                                                                         8

11.            Meeting the Neighbours: The Millers and McDonalds                                                                          9

12.            Commuting – work life - Always close to the Long Island Railroad, LIRR                                         9

13.            Singer Sewing Machine Company  - JKK                                                                                               10

14.            Tim’s Hectic Birth                                                                                                                                       10

15.            The First Family Car                                                                                                                                   11

16.            Wanda gives up the horses, Learns to Drive Cars and Teaches Jack                                               11

17.            Standard Car Shift and Jacks adjustment for  Leg                                                                               12

18.            Move to Seaford and Elizabeth is Born                                                                                                     12

19.            Davis Grandparents come from Canada;                                                                                                  12

20.            Grandfather Cabinet Maker & Great Aunt Athabaska Trail Driver                                                 13

21.            Grandparents come by bus & Popa works on house                                                                              13

22             Elisabeth, first Granddaughter, April 02 1951                                                                                      14

23.            Donna 1952, George   _____, Moira 1957, Michael _______, Mark ______                                 15

24.            Wanda’s first experiences in New York                                                                                                  15

25.            No Alaska, work at Look Magazine & expecting Jackie : WKK                                                        16

26.            Wanda remembers from 3 to 4 years old                                                                                                 17

27.            Living in a Half House & Half Church                                                                                                     19

28.            One Room Schoolhouse                                                                                                                              19

29.            Sisters Gwen & June Arrive                                                                                                                     20

30.            Beginning work for a farmer’s wife & the threshing crew                                                                 21

31.            Clothes for Edmonton, Homemakers Course                                                                                          21

32.            Hospital Work to Pay the Family bill and beginning Bank work                                                       22

33.            Trans-Canadian Highway job : WDK                                                                                                       22


Oral History Interview:  Aug. 14th 2000,& begin Sept 04, 2000


1.                  Introduction

AKK           =          Adhiratha K. Keefe

JJK            =          John J. Keefe Jr.

WDK          =          Wanda D. Keefe


AAK:               Aug. 14th 2000, 3947 Fulton Avenue, and were having a conversation with Jack Keefe, who previously had a number of interviews as part of an oral history project.  We want to test this way of doing some interviewing using a video and maybe eventually go on a Web site. The last I was talking we caught up through political campaigns almost up to 1968. I wonder if you'd like to drop back a bit and tell the story, say when Jackie was born.  We didn't cover anything about the family part.


JJK:                Right.


AKK:              And what type of work you are doing at the time. The other thing people asked me about, is how come we ended up being raised here and not in Canada. When originally you were thinking of going back to Canada.  So I thought some of those stores might be interesting.  Should we take it from the wedding.  What was that like for you?


2.         Marriage 1944


JJK:                Actually, the only one that I knew before we got out there was your mother.  I didn’t know anyone else.  I'd met her parents and I had met a few other people. But I had nobody from home at the wedding. It was all your mother's friends and family. I came back to New York after being up in the Yukon for about a year.


AAK:               Was the war still on at that time?


JJK:                Oh yeah, the war was still on.  And a matter-of-fact I was home in New York, on D-Day, when the lads went into France.


AAK:              So, it is very hard to travel even if your relatives would want to go up?


JJK:               Yes that's right, you had to get special permission to leave from the draft board and so forth and so on.  So I took a train back and your mother met me in Edmonton.  Which was about maybe 200 miles from where her folks lived.  And then we went up to Widewater where we were married.  We were married by a Catholic Priest.


AAK:               How did you travel up there?


3.         Train Travel


JJK:               By train.  It must have taken us about seven or eight hours to go up there.  We got there at around 11 O'clock at night.  What you did up there, if you going to stop at a certain area, you told the engineer or the conductor I want to stop in Widewater or I want to stop at Slave Lake, otherwise they go right through. So we tell them that that we are going ...


AAK:               So there is no train station, was there a train station there?


JJK:                0h no, no-no. Hey, this is really wild, it is on Lesser Slave Lake.  Which is a Lake about 90 by 20 miles.  And it's farming area and timber and so forth.  And we went up there, and your grandfather met us that night, That's where I met the family.  And within only a few days we made the arrangements to get Father Kinderwater to marry us.  We're married in the cabin.  It was a real big cabin.  Father married us.  I said I will see you in church the next morning.  He said you won't be seeing me.  I said why not?  He said because I'm a missionary.  I'll be 75 miles from here tomorrow.  He said, I am scheduled to say mass 75 miles from here. So each week I go to a different place.  We stayed there after we're married for a couple of weeks before we went down to Edmonton.  We went to a rodeo.  A place called Kinuso, not too far from Widewater


4.         Rodeo: Davis’ Ride Horses and Bulls


AAK:               Did the whole family go?


JJK:                Oh yeah we all went.  Everyone was talking about what a great horsewoman your mother's mother was.  Your grandmother.


AAK:               That was Wildie Davis?


JJK:                Wildie Davis, they were all talking about what a fine horsewoman she was.  And your mother would tell me that when she was a kid, her mother  would jump on the back of a horse and ride around the farmyard.  And all that sort of stuff.  Well, I had never seen anything, so.  We're sitting on the rail there, the fence, at the rodeo. I said to her, I hear an awful lot about your ability as a horsewoman but I haven't seen it.  So there's a guy coming around bare back.  And she looks at him and says hey Pete, let me have that horse.  And he hopped off the horse, and she hopped on the back.  And she rode around that rodeo like she was part of the horse - bare back.


AAK:               How old a woman would she have been at that time?


JJK:                She was about 43.  And I'm thinking, my God, this old woman is really something.  So your grandfather isn't to be outdone.  He decides he's going to show me how he rides the wild bull.  He has a couple of beers in him.  He would be about 51 or so.  He is about eight years older than her.  And so anyway he gets on back of the wild bull, and he comes out going "yippity - yip" away.  Then all of a sudden boom! He is thrown right off the bull.  And Freddie rode it.  And Freddie of course was in his 20's.


AAK:               Mom's brother? He would have been in his 20s?


JJK:                Yes. And then of course we went up to Edmonton, stayed there a couple of days with cousins, then we took to Canada cross-country.  And we ended up in Montreal.  And we came down through Vermont and in to New York and so forth.


WDK:              Is it coming and anywhere?   (Interruptions to close the windows during the thunderstorm)


AAK:               We're saying about the Trip, You came down from Canada.


5.         Beginning a Long visit – Staying in New York


JJK:                Yeah, by way of Montreal and we came through Vermont.  And your mother could not get over how pretty it was.  How beautiful it was.  And this is coming from Alberta and around Banff and Lake Louise, which is pretty beautiful too.  She thought the state was just great.  So we got into Grand Central Station.  And we grabbed a cab to Penn Station. And on the way up I'm pointing out the Empire State Building and a few other items, and she looks over, and I say to her "so what do you think it?"  In and she says "Oh, well I've seen them all in the movies."  (Chuckle)


JJK:                And then we got back to Saint Albans. And they met us, and we went into the house.  It was one of the hottest nights in a long, long time.  It is very hot, and it is very humid.  And she doesn't have much to say.  My brother Georgie who is 18 and he is getting ready to go into the army. Which he eventually ended up with the third infantry division in Europe.  He came in and he was listening to them and so forth.  And he told us later on, he went back to the stationery store in saint Albans, where they had sodas and so forth.  And the kids were saying to him, "well now what a she like?" And he said I don't know -- she doesn't talk.  (Chuckle) She was very quiet.  And then of course we settled and she got a job for couple of months over at Look magazine, in the accounting department.  And I went to Singer sewing machine Company, as assistant chief clerk at their office on Eighth Avenue and 50th Street.  And then we rented apartment just a couple of blocks from where my folks lived in St. Albans. On 116th Avenue and we live just a couple blocks from my folks.  So, we're able to get into the community and to see them.  It was pretty good.  She was close to my mother, so that helped a lot.


6.         Change of Plans – Not Back To Alaska


AAK:               But originally were you thinking of just staying here a short point?  And then going back to Canada?


JJK:               We thought of staying here for a short time, but it didn't materialise.  So, we both ended up in New York and that's back in 1945, and were still here.


AAK:               Was there some story about you were starting to go back up on the train and you had trouble or something


JJK:                Oh, oh well we were going to go back up to Alaska, and I said to them what to need, what do we need?


AAK:               These were the U.S. officials?


JJK:                No, they are the employers, the personnel people.  And they said you need this, that and the other.  And I had all my papers in order.  And we got there and they said I need my draft exemption.  And I said why did not tell me that the other day?  And they said it was a little oversight.  And I said it's too much of an oversight, I'm not going.  (Chuckle) So, quits - never ended up in Alaska.  The next time we got back there was about 10 years ago.


AAK:              So, the both of you were going to work in Alaska, for a while?


JJK:                Yeah, we were going to work in Alaska.


AAK:               So, how do you think Mom found sort of relating to here?  When you're at the wedding, it was all her friends and none of yours.  And then we came down here...


JJK:                It's all my friends, and none of hers.  But she adjusted well, because, she got friendly with the people in Saint Albans.  And then we moved to Freeport, she was friendly with everybody there of course.  And then in Seaford, she knows everybody in Seaford, a lot more people than I know.


AAK:               What was it like for you when your first moved into another house in your neighbourhood?


7.         Barracks Life for 3 Years: Trinidad, and British Guyana, Brazil, Yukon


JJK:                Oh, it was just a change.  After all, I spent the three prior years living in barracks and so forth.  So, all you had in the barracks was a bed and a place to put your gear, and that was about it.  You had no showers.  Showers were all in other buildings.  You had lavatories and so forth.  You had to go out into the cold at night.  Especially in the Yukon, you know, it was about 50 or 60 feet from the barracks.  The John's, the lavatories.


AAK:               So, for you, you were moved into a top part of the house?


JJK:                Yeah, we were on the second floor.


AAK:               But, you had indoor water and your shower and all that?


JJK:                Yeah, you are back in civilisation.  When you are living in the jungles of South America, in Trinidad, and British Guiana. It's not very fancy.  And then of course, when you got up to Yukon, you had the real cold to contend with.  And we had maybe about 30 guys in the barracks. And all that we had there was hot water in the morning, that we got out of a barrel, so we could shave. But if you wanted to shower, you had to go down to another building during the day.  But that wasn't so bad because I never ate lunch.  So, during my lunch period, I would go over and shower and shave and so forth. So, it was good.


AAK:               How did you do exercise up there?


JJK:                I used to do a little chinning by my bed, but not too much because we did not have the facility.  At least in South America we could do some swimming now and then.  When I was in Trinidad.  But not in the other places because in Brazil there was no pools.  I was right at the mouth of the Amazon and it wasn't clean, and you didn't want to swim in that.


AAK:               Also some piranha [spell] in there, aren't there?


JJK:                Oh, yeah, there might have been, I don't know, I never even chanced it.  But in British Guiana they didn't have any pools and it was right at the end of the river, and their river was dirty, real dirty. 


AAK:               Did you do push-ups or hand walking at all?


JJK:                I did push-ups and I walked on my hands.  And I did a lot of chin-ups.  But that was about it.


8.         Jackie Born – First Grandchild for Keefes


AAK:               So, you first started working for Singer and she worked at Look magazine and that was when she became pregnant with Jack?


JJK:                Yeah, Right.


AAK:               and what do you remember about the birth of Jackie?


JJK:                Well, I just remember we took her that night to the hospital and we didn't know whether or not she was going to give birth that night.  So I called the office the next day, and I said I wouldn't be in. and they said fine, okay.  And then I guess she was in there a couple of days before she gave birth to Jackie.  And I remember calling up the office the next day and them saying well what is it a boy or girl? And I said neither, she hasn't given birth yet.  You know, that was it.


AAK:               So, then you started going back to work?


JJK:                I think when I went back the next day she had already given birth to the baby.  As a matter-of-fact, I called about six o'clock at night and asked how she was doing.  And they said she had already gone into the delivery room.  And then we went over to the hospital and she had had the baby.


AAK:               Was it a big excitement?  Was that the first grandchild?


JJK:                Oh, it was the first grandchild, sure.  A big deal.  It wasn't the first grandchild for her parents because her brother and his wife had two children by that time.  Young Freddie was older than Jackie.


AAK:               Was it a big event then for the christening in those days?


JJK:                Not particularly, no just maybe a little gathering for the family.  We didn’t have any big party or anything like that.


AAK:               So, it was right in the local church?


JJK:                Oh yeah, Saint Catherine of Sienna in Saint Albans.  Father Feeney was the one who baptised the baby.


AAK:               And by then mom had stopped working?


JJK:                Yeah, sure.  She stopped working a couple of months before the baby was born.


9.         Adhiratha Born – All Arms & Legs


AAK:               And then it was about two years later that your second son was born.


JJK:                I remember that, I was in Brooklyn. I was taking off an audit at 497 Fulton Street right across from the Erasmus Hall high school.  I would call every now and then to find out how she was doing.


AAK:               What were you doing there?  Were you still at Singer?


JJK:               I was still at Singer, I was taking off an audit in the shop.  And I remember there was one guy there, he would come in every morning, they were good group of people the workers there, and he'd come in and he would say:" another day, another day closer to eternity."  [Chuckle]  So then of course when you are born it was the same thing, it's always a special occasion.  I remember you seemed to be all arms and legs.  You were a big kid.


10.       Moving to Freeport


AAK:               And then it was not too much after that you moved to Freeport?


JJK:                Yeah, we moved to Freeport.  You are born in 1947.  We moved to Freeport in July 1948.  We live there from July 48 to march of 1951. When we moved to Seaford.  So we will be in Seaford 50 years next spring.


AAK:               What made you move from St. Albans to Freeport?


JJK:                Well, we wanted a place of our own.  And when we moved to Freeport we got just a little cabin, you know.  But it had lots of land.  It was about 150 feet by about 60 feet or something like that.  It had a garage, it just had one big bedroom upstairs, and downstairs we had the bathroom, and the living room  and the kitchen.  But the thing was we had our own place and we were away from people.  And then of course we wanted a bigger place.  So then we moved to Seaford.  Where we bought a home.  We paid $12,500 for it and that's going for about $250,000 today.  (Chuckle) And we were able to get, I think we paid $250 extra to get an extra bit of land.  The usual lot was 60 by 100 in the neighbourhood and we got 100 by 100.  We got 10,000 square feet and that was in nice backyard.


11.       Meeting the Neighbours: The Millers and McDonalds


AAK:               For an extra $250! It was in Freeport that you first met the Miller's then the McDonald's?  How did you first meet the McDonald's


JJK:                That's right.  We were first introduced to them by Gus Hogan, who  was our landlord. He was a gem. He was a great guy. Mrs. Hogan was wonderful.  We got along with them great.  And the McDonald's lived on one side and the Miller's lived on the other.  And they just introduced us.  And we set right into the neighbourhood.  It was a good move because we're getting out to Nassau County were all the new buildings are going up and you could look at the various neighbourhoods and  see where you wanted to move.  And we saw this deal in Seaford.  We thought it was a good deal.  And we moved there.


12.       Commuting – work life - Always close to the Long Island Railroad, LIRR


AAK:               What was the commute like for you, because when you were in ...


JJK:                Not bad, I never lived in an area where I had to take a bus to the main area transportation.  When we lived in Bath Beach we took the elevated to Manhattan.  It was maybe a 10-minute walk.


AAK:               That was when you are growing up?


JJK:               This is when we were growing up.  And when we live in St. Albans we can go for about a half-mile to the Long Island Railroad.  When we moved to Freeport we could walk to the Baldwin area.


AAK:               How far was that?


JJK:                A half-mile or so.  And then we moved to Seaford, we would walk to the Wantagh station.  Until we moved here, and  boy, you can't beat this.  Some people here on the island, they live in Levittown or Plainview and they have to take their car to get to the Long Island Railroad.  If they are going into the city.  I've always been able to walk to get to the transportation area to go to the city.  The Seaford stationed two blocks away from here.


13.       Singer Sewing Machine Company  - JKK


AAK:               When you worked for Singer were you always at the same place?


JJK:                No, I was an auditor, and I would have to travel around from shop to shop, to take off the orders.  The furthest I would have to go was Riverhead or Southampton and stay overnight there.


AAK:               And you would take the train out?


JJK:                Yeah, I would go out on a Monday and come back on a Friday.  But when I worked in Huntington, I would take the train and I would be home every night.


AAK:               And they covered those expenses?


JJK:                Oh,  yeah, yeah.


AAK:               But it was like an hour and a half train ride to Huntington?  Because you had to make connections?


JJK:                Yeah, when I had to do actually was go into Jamaica  from Freeport.  Then go out from Jamaica.  It was a long haul.  But at least you are home every night.


14.       Tim’s Hectic Birth


AAK:               So, during that time, just after we moved, was Tim born in Seaford.


JJK:                Well, No, he was born in Freeport.  He was born in 1949.  And we moved in 1951, so he was two.


AAK:              Oh that was hectic.  Your mother was in and out of the hospital about four times before she gave birth to him.  And then I remember I called Steve Daly {sp]  who was our general practitioner.  And I told them what was transpiring.  And he said well I will tell you something, if what you say is happening then medical history is being made and I will be right over.  And he came in and he examined your mother and he said: listen, medical history is being made, get to the hospital as soon as possible.  So, Eddie Paris was driving us in, we had to go into Jamaica.  And we drove in and we just got there and she had the baby. [Chuckle)


AAK:               Was this the one where a snowstorm was going on?


JJK:                Well, there was a snowstorm a week before that and I had to shovel out everything to make sure what we could get out.  But by that time the weather had changed a bit and it wasn't too good [bad?]. But it was a very foggy day, and wet and damp.


15.       The First Family Car


AAK:               And by that time did you have the first car?


JJK:                No, no, Eddie picked us up, Eddie picked us up.


AAK:               So, we didn't get the first family car until you were in Seaford for awhile?


JJK:                No, we were still in Freeport when we got it.  It was a 1939 Chevrolet.


AAK:               Did it have those running boards on the side?


JJK:                I don't remember, it was a two-door affair.  Standard shift definite.  That was when I started to learn how to drive.  And I ended up driving 50,000 miles a year when I was working.


16.       Wanda gives up the horses, Learns to Drive Cars and Teaches Jack


AAK:               How did you learn how to drive?


JJK:                Actually, in your mother taught me.


AAK:               Because she had driven the tractors and cars on the farm?


JJK:                No, she learned how to drive down here too.  I don't think she ever drove the tractor.  I don't think the even had tractors.  They had horse driven when she was a kid.  She left the farm when she was eleven years of age.  They may have had tractors.  But she would have been too young at that age to actually drive a tractor.  But she did a lot of horseback riding.  A lot of horseback riding.  She loved to ride horseback.


AAK:               Did she take professional lessons,, do you think?  Or one of the neighbours taught her?


JJK:                Yeah, John McDonald taught her.


AAK:               And then she taught you?  What was that experience like?


JJK:                Yeah, right.  Well, I don't really remember.  Just do the best you could, that would be about it.


17.       Standard Car Shift and Jacks adjustment for  Leg


AAK:               But, you must have had to adjust some with your leg?


JJK:                Oh, yeah.  Well it was a nuisance, but I just did the best I could. 


AAK:               How did you do it?  You would use your left leg for the clutch?


JJK:                Yeah, for the clutch and break.


AAK:               And would you use your hand to move your leg, your hand on you knee?


JJK:                Yeah, I would pretty much use my hand.  But then of course when we got a 1940 Oldsmobile that was automatic.  So then I could just use the one leg.  And then of course, since then I've always driven automatic cars.  Never went back to the old way of driving with the shift and all that stuff.


AAK:               But, but I mean, with trying to use your leg than as a lever and then try to shift, you must have had to be really quick?


18.       Move to Seaford and Elizabeth is Born


AAK:               So, then we were in Seaford, and we moved their 1951?


JJK:                Moved in 1951, I'm not sure if we moved in on Tim's birthday or we signed the papers on his birthday. But we came in March, 21st March 1951 and Beth was born the next week and the hospital in Freeport.  She was born on April 2nd.


AAK:               So, you had to go back to Freeport to have Beth?


JJK:                Yeah, but it was just a short distance stop.  It was six miles or so.


19.       Davis Grandparents come from Canada;        


AAK:               So, by that time you're in.  But, didn't Poppa and Nana, mom’s father and mother come down around that time too.


JJK:                Yeah, they came down when Beth was born.  The yeah, they were there.


AAK:               And, he had been a cabinetmaker and a carpenter?


20.       Grandfather Cabinet Maker & Great Aunt Athabaska Trail Driver


JJK:                Oh, he started in life, he was an apprentice cabinetmaker.  As a matter-of-fact we have the cabinet out there which he made when he was about 14 years of age.  And it was all made with hand tools.  None of the electric tools or anything like that.  And of course he been a farmer.  The farm for years near Clyde in Alberta.  Most of the family farmed up there, the brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law.  An-d all that sort of stuff.  In Clyde, everybody knew everyone else.  Oh yeah, they came from halfway lakes.  They were on the Athabaska trail.  And when she would tell me about the Athabasca trail, I would think a big wide trail.  It's a little two by four dirt road.  It goes from Alberta up to Athabasca. 


And I remember one of your aunts were down here, one of your grandaunts, Aunt Ella and she was a youngster.  She was very blond.  She was German extraction.  Her father was a drover.  And used to transport material from Edmonton up to Athabasca.  Along the Athabasca trail.  And this was back in the 1900s.  She would be one of the drivers.  But she was a kid about 12 to 14.  And I said to her, Aunt Ella where did you sleep nights?  And she said: Oh, we just slept under  the wagons.  And they got up to Athabasca.  They were just Indians up there.  They had never seen a white woman before.  And she was very blond.  And they were they would rub her hair for luck.  (Chuckle) so she came down to New York when she was in your 90s.  It was her first plane trip, and I said what was it like.  She said well I was a little concern we got up in the air, but I saw one man having a smoke, and another guy reading a magazine another one having a drink.  And I figured this can't be so bad.  I really enjoyed.  She was great for arts and crafts.  We to her over to New York to one of these arts and crafts fairs.  And they had a lot of blankets up there, plaid blankets they put together.  And she was that elated, she saw some of the stuff and she didn't think it measured up to hers.  And they cost of thousand bucks.  (Chuckle) And she thought well I guess, I'm not doing so bad or after all.  And Ella.


AAK:               That was Nana's sister or Poppa's sister?  What was the relationship between Aunt Ella and Davises


JJK:                She was married to a brother of your grandfather.  She was married to a Davis, Simpson Davis. And she had two children.  Dwight Davis, who was very, very affable.  And he would always keep in touch or something went on in Canada.  He would call you up or drop a note. And Perl.  Pearl Nelson, she has about five kids.  She still lives up there.


21.       Grandparents come by bus & Popa works on house


AAK:              When Nana and Popa Davis came down that year, was that the first time for them on a plane?


JJK:                They didn't come by plane.  They came by bus.[Greyhound]


AAK:               So, was a multi-day journey?


JJK:                Yeah but they had lots of time.  You know bus travel is not too bad.  You have some convenience, the John right on the bus, stops every now and then, pickup food or they give you a couple of hours and you can go in to have a bite and all that.


AAK:               So they came down and did he work on some on the house?


JJK:                Yeah, as a matter-of-fact, he helped put up the rooms on the second floor.  And then of course later on, before we moved from there, we had a dormer put on the back.  So actually we had two big rooms up there.  One 18 by 14, or something like that.  And also a bathroom with double sinks in it.  And so forth, so we had two bathrooms and the basement and a big backyard and garage.



22        Elisabeth, first Granddaughter, April 02 1951


AAK:               What do you remember of Elizabeth's birth?


JJK:                It was a beautiful day.  A beautiful spring day.  It was pretty much normal in every respect.


AAK:               So compared to Tim's it wasn't back and forth?


JJK:                Oh, no it was peaceful.


AAK:               Were you surprise to have the first girl?


JJK:                Yeah, we were elated.  We were hoping.  See I had four brothers. And we're hoping the first child would be a girl.  And then the second child was a boy. And the third child, your mother had a lot of trouble with, Tim. And my mother said: Oh my goodness all that trouble, just for another boy.  (Chuckle) So my mother never lived.


AAK:               So she wanted a granddaughter?


JJK:                She died before.  She died in January.  And Beth was born in April, so she never got to see her granddaughter.


AAK:               Is that one of the reasons you named her Elizabeth?


JJK:                Yeah, Elizabeth Catherine after my mother.


AAK:               So, she was the first female grandchild too for everybody? The first girl baby?


JJK:                No, no the first girl baby was Fred's oldest daughter.  She died at about one year of age.


AAK:               But that’s on Mom's side.  How about on your side?


JJK:                On our side she was the first granddaughter.


AAK:               So, Frank hadn't gotten married yet?  Or hadn't had children?


JJK:                He had children, yeah, he had a couple of children after me.  But I don't think he had a daughter before me.  He might have, I don't really remember.


23.       Donna 1952, George   _____, Moira 1957, Michael _______, Mark ______


AAK:               And then within a year later Donna came along?  Right?


JJK:                Yeah, she was born in 1952, in August 1952.


AAK:               So, it was like a year and a half, almost a year and a half.  What do you remember of her birth?


JJK:                Well, just normal.  I don't remember that much (out of the ordinary).  I wasn't home when George was born, I was in Albany in Troy New York.  And Moira, I don't really remember too much (unusual) about her birth neither. But I remember Michael's very well. I was working in Baltimore but I was home at that time.  So I remember his.  I don't recall too much (exceptional) about Mark's.


AAK:              I  remember Moira's because she was 7, 7, 77.


JJK:               No, seven, 7, 1957.


AAK:               Right, 57 and the Seventh Child. Most of the children, the early children when they were starting to go through schooling, they went to St. William the Abbot.  And they were just going to school there at the time (pause).


(Wanda Keefe = W. K. enters the conversation)


AAK:              Your were saying that at that time when (Elizabeth) was being born, Dad was outside the same hospital taking his drivers test?


 WDK: Outside the hospital.  Right.


24.       Wanda’s first experiences in New York


AAK:               When Jack was born, we were first talking about the wedding and how when dad, because it was a war, when you got married up there, it was really all your friends and none of his that where there.  And then when you came down here it was all of his friends and none of yours. I wondered what that was like adjusting for you?


WDK:              Rough, very rough,


AAK:              Was It you were used to being... going to regular parties with your friends and just the dances together or...


WDK:              Oh, yeah.  But I also had a big family.  That were, shall I say, that we were all very close.  Both sides of the family it was hard to tell which was my mother side and which was my father side.


AAK:               And your mother was Wildie and your father was...


WDK:              Stan.  Stanley.


AAK:              I mean the Davis side of the family was your father's.  And your mother's side of the family was ..


WDK:             Williams.  And her stepfather's name, who was the only grandfather I ever knew was Gaughn, James Gaughn?. I'd have to write it down.


25.       No Alaska, work at Look Magazine & expecting Jackie : WKK


AAK:              When you first came down, did you think you were going to go back up there to work.


WDK:              Yes, when we first came down, we came really down on our honeymoon. We were going back to Alaska to work.


AAK:               What was it like going to work at the Look magazine?  What was it was like working there?


WDK:              Very interesting.  The people were very, very nice and I was assistant to the head accountant.  And I worked in the files.


AAK:               I do remember one story when we are growing up in, that there was some boss there. 


WDK:  Martin Watmore.


AAK:               And he gave everyone a hard time?


WDK:             No, he was very, very nice man.  He heard I was getting very sick on the mornings coming in and the afternoons I was having a rough time.  And my immediate boss, Gretchen, told him.  He called me into his office and I did not know what he was going to tell me.  He said that Gretchen had told that I was expecting and that I was having problems with morning sickness and in the afternoon and he told not to hesitate to go in and lay down and have a rest if I felt like it. And also said I was probably thinking about leaving but don't think about leaving and I would be better as time went on.  And I would get over the morning sickness.  And he told me to have soda crackers and tea before I got out of bed in the morning.  And also said he would appreciated if I stayed as long as possible.  And I stayed until after Christmas and at the Christmas party he gave me a bonus $50 which was more than I was getting for a week.


AAK:               And wasn't there some situation there or maybe another place worked, where you would take a lot of guff from somebody and finely you stood up to him?


WDK:              Oh, that was in the office in Whitehorse.  Remember they were holding my salary.  Leo Taylor was the U.S.E.D. [United States Engineering Department?] and they weren't giving me the salary I was promised.  And he was very officious. And so I got on my high horse and both the file office and the bookkeeping office and the payroll office, because we're all in one room, could hear me.  Because my voice carried.  And I told him what I thought of him.  And I do not remember exactly what I said but I was very firm.  It didn't do too much good.  I never did get my back pay the whole year I was up there.  They owed me about three or 400 dollars when I left.


(End of section on the tape Aug 14 2000)


Begin Sept 04, 2000


AAK:               Could you tell us your name and your data birth?


WDK:              The name is Wanda Keefe, born September  2nd 1921 ,


AAK:               Were going to talk a little bit about your family.  I showed you the list of things I would like to cover.  I know that we are not going to cover it all today.  I know that we probably won't cover it exactly in this order.  But I just wanted to have a sense (of the general subjects) because that's what seemed to work with dad.  We went through a number of things and then knowing what the audience was I was able to put together a package other different things we had talked about.  If it's OK with you since dad is here, if he wants to add something it might spark each of our brains and memories to say different things. But I wondered if you would start talking first about your early life.  You once  told me that when you were 3 is the earliest memory you had.


26.       Wanda remembers from 3 to 4 years old


WDK:              I remember being three.  I remember my fourth birthday, very vividly.  We were living at that time in Gibbons.  I had been born at Halfway Lake, Alberta Canada.  My father decided to go down to Gibbons to work on farmers' places.  We lived in a very small building.  It was in the spring.  What else do I remember about it?  I remember my birthday was September and we were at that place all summer.


AAK:               Were you farming on the land?


WDK:              No, he was doing work for other farmers around.  He was plowing the fields in the spring helping take the crops in.  He was working as a hired hand on different farms.  And we lived on this one farmer’s place. And there was three of us. I had my older sister Dede and my older brother and myself were the children at that time.


AAK:               And Dede, what was her formal name?


WDK:              Willdie, my mother's name too.  What I remember vividly about it,  a couple of episodes. But I know my mother and father left me with the neighbour one day when they went to Edmonton.  Which was about 20 or 25 miles away.  And I was very unhappy because they left me, and I remember crying for my mother and father and this woman, I can still see her,  her name was Mrs. Frazier and she was big? and heavy. And she had me on her lap trying to rock me and comfort me. I felt I was smothering because she had buried my face in her chest.  And finely she got me quieted down and she left me alone in this room and I start looking around at things.  This is coming back to me, I hadn't thought of this in years.  And I got into her powder.  I got powder into everything and I was coughing and sneezing and she found me doing that.  As the day when by I got involved with doing other things.  I had brought some toys along.  And then they weren't watching me very close as the next thing I remembered I was walking down this road.  I guess I was going to try to find my way home.  And the son came on horseback and found me and took me back.  On horseback.  And then my mother and father came home and I figured I was really going to get in trouble because I hadn't been very good all day. 


Another remembrance very vividly was my fourth birthday. (Previous story before the fourth birthday) this was in the springtime yet and my birthday was not to until September.  My mother allowed us to go out with our tables and chairs, we had little tables and chairs, and she allowed us to have a picnic in the field.  But we weren't satisfied with staying on the one-side of the fence where we are supposed to stay.  And I remember Dede holding the barbed wire up and Freddie and I getting the table under the barbed wire.  And then we went back to the house and we came back again I guess with whatever we were going to have, lemonade or something, and with the cake.  But we were not supposed to be in that field. And Dede was 3 1/2 years older than me so she was in charge (J. K. commented "about seven years of age").  Fred was two years older than me.  And she of course was always in charge. There was a bull in the field and that was why are mother didn't want us in that field.  All of a sudden, Freddie started screaming, looked up and saw the ball coming across the field.  And I just remember us rolling under the fence just in time.  And I don't know what happened with the tables and chairs or anything.  My mother probably came out rescued us.  But the things you do ….and that's why I think I remember that fourth birthday so vividly.


AAK:                          A significant event.  And you maybe talked about it later?


27.       Living in a Half House & Half Church


WDK:              Oh, I'm sure we did.  But it brings back a lot of memories of those years.  Then we moved to what they called a mance.  It was half of the house that was used half as a church and the other half was living quarters for the pastor and his family but we rented that half (because there was no pastor living there).  So the other half was used on Sunday for church and Sunday school and I went to Sunday school there.  I had my fifth birthday there.  And that's where Gwen was born.  When I was five, Gwen was born in Gibbons. We started school when we went back to Halfway Lake. I started school, Gillian school, at Halfway Lake. When I was six, on my sixth birthday.


28.       One Room Schoolhouse


AAK:                           Was, that a one room schoolhouse? How many classes do you think the work covered in there?


WDK:              Yes (One Room Schoolhouse). There Were 13 Children and it was from grade one to grade eight.  All in the same room.  As a matter-of-fact the teacher bordered with us.  (Lived with the teacher also)


AKK :  Did they recite their lessons out loud?


WDK:              Sometimes.  And they had read in front of the class.  And she would have different rows set up.  And I think, just my cousin and I in the first grade that year.  Maybe there is another person.  But I know I always got kidded for years about: yeah, you stood first in your class because you are the only one in your class.  (Chuckle) so the problem with this is that it brings back too many memories.  It's good but it's like it's going on and on.


AAK:               That's not a problem for me.  Your father, you said he did a number different jobs and during that time when you move back to Gibbons?  Or to Halfway Lake?  Did you have your own farm then?


WDK:              Halfway Lake, that's right. We had our own farm all the time, my father had homesteaded that farm with his mother and father and Aunt. One of my father's brothers died.  And he had a farm several miles from us.  And his wife and two children were there.  But my uncle died and my grandfather had died the year before.  My grandmother wasn't happy where she was and my aunt wasn't happy where she was.  So my grandmother told my aunt to bring the two children and come and live with her.  And then my uncle who had another farm in the neighbourhood, a brother who was just a couple of years older than my father, his wife and his youngest son, Lolly, died that next year.  So then he came to live with my grandmother and my aunt.  So we were all not in the same house.  We were in different houses but in the same yard. They moved. And my father and my uncle didn't always agree on things, so my father decided he would leave the farm to them to do what they wanted and he went out on his own and took my mother and us kids with him.  But, he decided to come back.  To the homestead.  In the meantime my uncle (I don't know how to explain it) became the manager of a farm over in Clyde. The people who owned a small department store in Clyde owned this farm and they hired my uncle to run it.  And my Aunt Ella and two children and Granny all went to Clyde to live.  And then we are on the farm in halfway Lake from then on.


29.       Sisters Gwen & June Arrive


AAK:               So, how long did you stay there?  Until you went to Edmonton?


WDK:              Yes, I was eleven when we moved to Edmonton. June was born at Halfway Lake in June.


AAK:               She was how many years younger than you?


WDK:              10 years younger.


AAK:               So you were eleven and she was one when you went to Edmonton?  And that was a full family then?  There was four you?


WDK:              Five.


AAK:               Five.  I'm forgetting Gwen.  And Gwen came in there where?  And she was how much younger than you?


WDK:              She came in Gibbons.  Gwen was five years younger [than me).


AAK:               So there was five years between Gwen and June,.  And when they first went to Edmonton that was their first school. Then Gwen, she never went to school in Halfway Lake.


WDK:             Except years later she did, When they went back to live when I was 17 until I was 18. 


AAK:               That's when you stayed in Edmonton and stayed with Dede to finish high school?


WDK:              No, I didn't stay with Dede.  Gwen came to stay with me later.  My last year in high school they moved out in April to the farm because my father had broken his back.  He couldn't work.  They went up to the farm again and took cattle and all that.  And they where out there for about four years I guess. I stayed actually in the house we were renting, We never owned a house, we always rented when I was growing up. And the house we were renting, friends of ours rented that house when my parents left, and I stayed and rented a room from them. Because they were really good friends too. So I finished up high school there.  And then as soon as I was out of school I went out there (the to the farm) for the summer to be with my family.


30.       Beginning work for a farmer’s wife & the threshing crew


AAK:               So,  then it wasn't long after the summer that you went to work?


WDK:              I went to work for a farmer’s wife.  He did threshing crew.  He had a threshing crew that went from farm to farm in the fall threshing.  And I stayed with her.


AAK:               That means, threshing? It meant cutting down the wheat?


WDK:              Now  they use one machine to do it, but then they had the binder and ...anyway they cut it down and bounded up into sheaves , and then they stacked it and everything.  Then they came through with a threshing machine, took it over, then they use teams of horses on a big hayrack and pickup all the sheaf’s of wheat or barley or Oats or whenever it was.  And take it over to the machine.  Put it into the threshing machine which separated the straw from the grain and they would do that for each farmer.  And go around with their crews and do that...  So, when they were back on weekends, or the crew were back to the farm, before they would go to another one, we had to do all the cooking for then.  And while they were away I worked for this young couple who I had known.  They had five kids.  And the oldest was five and the youngest was a baby. She was about eight weeks old when I first got there.  And I had to feed the pigs, clean the barns and milk the cows, and do all that while the men were away.  And take care of the kids.  I was there for about a month and a half or two months and then I went back to Edmonton.  I worked there long enough to get the pay and I got material and made myself a winter coat and a couple of outfits, before I went back to Edmonton to look for a job.


31.       Clothes for Edmonton, Homemakers Course


AAK:               Because you knew the type of clothing you would need to have a job there?


WDK:              Yeah.  Why, I knew what I liked too.  (Chuckle), So, then when I first went into Edmonton, I did different types of jobs.  And then I ended up doing housework.  And I worked for the head chef at the McDonald's hotel, which was one of the biggest hotels in Edmonton.  I worked with Eve?? and his wife, they had twins.  A boy and girl, they were so cute.  I guess I worked there for two months, then I went someplace else.  Then my sister Dede, was working down in Hardesty.  And a program came along for anybody, homemaker’s type.  You learn how to can goods and you learned how to sew.  And you did all different types of things, whenever you wanted to take.  I think it lasted three or four weeks.  So, she wanted me to come down there and stay and do that.  So that's what I did.  And then I came back.  Made a lot of friends and then went back up to Edmonton in worked there again.  I was still 19 I guess it was probably in the spring (when I went back to Hardesty). 


AAK:               So, you came back to Edmonton and you were working, you did homemaking jobs.  But somehow you became involved in finances, personnel?


32.       Hospital Work to Pay the Family bill and beginning Bank work


WDK:              Well, that came after. I came back to Edmonton and my mother and father came back from out at Taylor Lake where they were living. I got a job in that hospital, my mother had had surgery and she had a hospital bill.  In those days it was rough.  It was rough.  To pay all the Bills.  People think it's rough now.  Well it was really rough then too.  And so they gave me a job, paid $60 a month, and I also had a room there if I wanted to stay, and I ate there.  So it was like room and board.  But I had to pay $20 for mother’s hospital bill, $20 for my room and board, and I got $20.  I worked there for about a year and a half.  My father knew the head of the bank in Clyde.  When we had lived out Halfway lake.  And my father took me over to meet him, and he recommended me for a job in the Treasury Department.  They had a bank on the south side, and I got the job there. And I worked there until I heard about the job when the war had started.


AAK:               what were the type of things you are doing there?


WDK:             I was not a teller, I was a bookkeeper.  And I handled everything by hand. We had ledgers.  We had all the towns around.  We did everything by mail.  They mail their money in and we'd mail their receipts back to them and do all that. 


AAK:               So, you learned the business, because you had to follow the whole process.


33.       Trans-Canadian Highway job : WDK


WDK:              0h, yeah.  Then from there I remember hearing, the Americans had been setting up for distant jobs.  I don't remember exactly how [I knew].  But I went to and applied for it.  And I got it.


AAK:               This was to work with the Americans who were building the Trans Canadian highway?


W.D.K.:           Right,  I was in the office in Edmonton.  A couple of months.  Then they asked me if I wanted to go to Whitehorse.


AAK:               The reason for the highway was so there would be a direct route to get across to Alaska?  In case the war got heavier?


W.D.K.:           To Alaska, across Canada and also in case...  And it was closer to Russia.  And everything.  Across the Straits.


AAK:               So if they needed to they could start shipping supplies across that way too.


WDK:              Not only that, in the water around there were submarines.  Was it then that they started to bring the oil down from their too, were they?  Or was it later?.


JJK:                I think that came later.


AAK:               So, there were big projects going on.  What year was this about?


JJK:                1943.


WDK:              1943


AAK:               So, you are actually Canadian citizens that they were hiring to work.  But the managers were the Americans?  Because it was American money?


W.D.K.:           Oh, yeah.  It was Metcalf Hamilton and City Bridge Company was the construction company.  But they worked under the U.S.E.D.  United States Engineer Department.  And we were Metcalf Hamilton and Kansas City Bridge (MHKCB)


AAK:               Dad, maybe I can just cut in here? When you were working for them, were you working for the engineering department or were you working for the construction company?


JJK:                I was working for the construction company. Because it was, whose name was MHKCB.


AAK:               Do either one of you want to talk about the first day?  When you first saw each other?  Maybe we should talk just a little bit more, what you are doing, how long your up there before this gentleman came joined?


WDK:              I went up in April.  And he didn't come until October.


AAK:               So, you knew quite a bit about the place and you knew the whole payroll and everything.  What type of things were you doing there?


WDK:              I was in charge of the files for the payroll department and the personnel files really for the payroll department and I also ran the Canadian payroll.  And there were about 500 employees on the Canadian payroll.  And I didn't even have an adding machine then.  I did everything by hand.


(End of audio tape from the first videotape which covered interviews on Aug. 14th  and beginning of September 4th 2000.   This was recorded on digital videotape  as part of  oral history project interviews conducted by the Adhiratha Keefe in Seaford New York.)





Simple Key Word Index

[Word Concordance ]


American · 23


Birth · 10

Born · 7, 8, 12

Bulls · 4

bus · 9, 13, 14


Cabinet · 13

Canada · 3, 5, 12, 13, 17, 22

Car & cars · 11, 12

Church · 19

Clothes · 21

Course · 21


Davis · 4, 12, 13, 16

Drive · 11

Driver · 13



School · 8, 15, 19, 20

expecting · 16


first · 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23


Grandchild · 7

Granddaughter · 14

Grandfather · 13

Grandparents · 12, 13


Highway · 22

house · 5, 6, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20


Keefe · 3, 15, 17, 23

Jack · 3


Machine · 10

Marriage · 3

Move · 12



McDonalds · 9

Millers · 9



Freeport · 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


Brazil · 6, 7

Canada · 3, 5, 12, 13, 17, 22

Edmonton · 3, 4, 5, 13, 18, 20, 21, 22

New York · 3, 5, 13, 15, 23

Seaford · 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 23

Trinidad · 6, 7

Yukon · 3, 6, 7



Adhiratha · 3, 8, 23

Aunt · 13, 19

Davis · 4, 12, 13, 16

Donna · 15

Elizabeth · 12, 14, 15

Family · 11, 22

George · 15

Gwen · 19, 20

Jack · 1, 3, 7, 11, 15

Jackie · 3, 7, 8, 16

June · 20

Keefe · 3, 15, 17, 23

Keefes · 7

Mark · 15

Michael · 15

Moira · 15

Popa · 13

Tim · 10, 12, 14

Rodeo · 4


Schoolhouse · 19

Singer · 5, 7, 8, 10

Singer Sewing · 10


Trail · 13

Train · 3

Trans-Canadian · 22


Wanda [see also relatives] · 1, 3, 11, 15, 17

work · 22


Bank · 22

Barracks · 6

Commuting · 9

Company · 5, 10, 23

construction · 23

employees · 23

Family bill · 22

Homemakers · 21

Hospital · 22

LIRR · 9

Long Island Railroad · 9, 10

Look Magazine · 16

MHKCB · 23

Pay · 22

payroll · 17, 23

Singer · 5, 7, 8, 10

threshing · 21


Yukon · 3, 6, 7