[Subtitled: A Davis-Keefe, Canadian-American Experience]
Oral History Interview: Sept 30, 2000 2
1. Introduction and explanation of tape process 2
2. Frank and Tom Keefe – Get well real Quick 2
3. Frank the weatherman & 3 day Novena 2
4. Frank defending himself – potential court-marshal 3
5. Frank Giving orders – Coffee for the officer 3
6. JJK Diaries – 1941 - 20??; Begins with local guys going to war 4
7 Early sense of War, chased by Subs and Rumors in Trinidad 5
9. An Irishman’s story: The great contractor uses the elements 7
10. Troop ship reaction to beans, coffee & lecture on patriotism 7
11. Riding on the narrow gage railroad 7
12 Jeep going backwards down the mountain 8
13 Dressmaking & Business lessons with Marie Santini 9
14 Sewing Club, Circle & friends helping 10
15 Small Businesses for women & war changed things. 12
16 GI Bill, Consumer Goods, College and Mortgage Loans 14
17 Possible Subjects for future interviews 16
Subject Index - Word Concordance 17
[Subtitled: A Davis-Keefe, Canadian-American Experience]
AKK = Adhiratha K. Keefe
JJK = John J. Keefe Jr.
WDK = Wanda D. Keefe
AKK: Recording of Jack and Wanda Keefe filmed on digital video on 30th September 2000. 3947 Fulton Avenue, Seaford, New York USA., 5:10 pm?
Note: The process used: Recorded on Panasonic digital video camera, and place onto the computer using a firewire connection and Digital Origin Edit software. The segments were captured in two gigabyte GB sections (= about nine minuets of recorded video). Then the audio portion was copied to separate file, combining the audio track from the multiple two gigabyte video tracks. The combined audio track was then played back through the external speakers and picked up by microphone connected to transcriber as input. The transcriber was recording onto cassette tape. This tape was then used for the following transcription.
AKK: We were having a discussion and Frank Keefe came up.
JJK: Well, shortly after Pearl Harbor day, Frank and Tom went into the hospital to be operated on. Tom was having his tonsils out. And Frank had some problem with a deviated septum. Nothing too serious. So after a couple of days they are all ready to leave and go out on “Leave” on a Sunday afternoon. They are in their Dress Blues, they have their pass to go, when they hear that a group of professional football players are coming in to visit the men and to ask them to get better quicker in the hospital. So Frank hears about this and he goes up to Tom and says listen, these guys are going to come in here in this room let's get into the bed, pull the covers over ourselves and maybe they will take a picture of us. So Tom says, well okay. So they get there and the football players come in, and one of them is Bruiser Kinard; it's the Brooklyn Dodgers [a NY football team which lasted only a couple of years]. And he sees the two brothers, and he goes over and he talks to them. And then as he is leaving he turns the them and says "listen fellas get well, real quick! So you can go out and fight those Japs." So they leave. With that, Frank pulls off the covers, and he takes his pass. And he runs out past the football players, and he holds up the pass and he says "hey Bruiser, how's this for getting well, real quick!". (Laughter)
So, now, right shortly after that he went up to the North Atlantic, he was on a weather ship, and he was the weatherman. And it got caught in the ice flows and so forth and they couldn't get out. So the captain says to him after awhile, "listen Keefe, what are we going to do? You've used all your scientific devices and we can’t get out." Frank says, I think we ought to make a three-day novena? And he says what the hell is a three-day novena. So he [Frank] tells him, well it's a Catholic prayer, he says, for three days. And he says, you pray and maybe at the end of three days we will be able to get out of this mess here. The captain says we tried everything else why not go-ahead? So he makes a three-day novena, and at the end of three days he tells the pilot who is on the ship to go up and look around and see if they can get out of the ice flow. And the pilot comes down after 45 minutes and says I found a way out. So they get out of the ice floe and the Skipper says, "Keefe, I don't know what this thing is about the three-day novena, but I'm all for it from now on." (Chuckle) that’s it!
AKK:: You told the story about him defending himself? He was brought up on some service charges for flying under telephone wires?
JJK: Oh yeah, yeah, well, he was brought up on charges. And Jimmy Smith, one of our neighbors, was the secretary there. (Interruptions). And he was court-martialed. And he decided that he would defend himself rather than have one of the Navy lawyers defend him. So Jimmy Smith is the secretary there. Or the Yeo man, as they call them in the Navy. And he had to take down all the notes and so forth and so on. And he told us later on. Frank was exonerated. So he ( Jimmy) said: I said to him after it was over "weren’t you (Frank) afraid of maybe being court-martialed?" He (Frank) said: "Oh, no I wasn't afraid of that. I wasn’t going to leave my naval career in the hands of some dumb lawyer." So Jimmy Smith told us, he started talking, and he had the jury there, they were supposed to say "no" and he was having them say "yes". And if they were supposed to say "yes" he was having them say "no". So then he had all the testimony read back. And all they could do was let him off. (Chuckle)
AKK: Because it was so confusing, the testimony?
JJK: That's right.
AKK: You told one story about, that he would come in when he was stationed at -- shore leave or something. And he was stationed -- and I guess one of his friends in the neighborhood was acting officer, who was giving him a ride to the base.
JJK: Oh yeah, Buddy Weidlein, was a pilot. He was home. They were both assigned to the base in Brooklyn at this time. Buddy had been in the African invasion. And Frank had been in the North Atlantic and so forth. But they happened to draw the same time. Buddy was an officer, Frank is an enlisted man. Buddy would pick him up every night and he'd drive him to the airport, to the Floyd Bennett airfield. And Frank when he would get out he would say, "okay Bud, pick me up tomorrow at 8:00 o'clock." And Bud said, jeez, you know, there was no the problem picking him up, but he didn't use any diplomacy at all. After all, I was in officer, and he was enlisted man. And other people see that they figure, what the hell is going on here. So he said, I thought I would really get onto him. He said, I knew what he was doing, he was going to another part of the base, he was pulling out a mat and going to sleep. So he said, this night, I had the duty. And about 2 o'clock in the morning, I called him. And he said, it was cold, and I told him to come over, I wanted to see him. So he came over there. And he is all bundled up and he has one guy with them, who is lower than he is in the Navy. A kid by the name of Zimmerly, who was an apprentice seaman.. So, Buddy said: Keefe I want you to go over across the airbase there, I want you to get me a quart of coffee. And I want it real quick. And he (Frank) turns around to Zimmerly and he says: Zimmerly, you heard the officer, let's go. (Laughter) and he (Buddy) said I was so mad, I picked up an inkwell and threw it at him (Frank). But I missed.
AKK: Oh, because he was telling Zimmerly to get --
JJK: He was telling Zimmerly what to do. He says, Zimmerly was going to get the coffee. (Laughter)
6. JJK Diaries – 1941 - 20??; Begins with local guys going to war
AKK: We were talking a little before a about your diaries. When did you first start doing them.
JJK: 1941. I really started early in 1941. As a matter-of-fact, one of my entries in February of 1941, I note the fact that the seventh Regiment, is New York, has been called up for active duty. They were leaving from downtown New York to get the ferry, I believe it was. And I happened to be the down there, and I saw two of my friends. Bill Rynne and Bud Arnstein, both on the line getting ready to go. Now I don't know if whether this is true or not, but, I think Bud's wife Rita, told me later on, that when they got on the subway up near the Armory, they had to pay a nickel to get on the subway. (Chuckle) I haven't been able to verify that. That's what she told me.
AKK: This was the subway that was going to get them --
JJK: The subway would take them to downtown. They would get off downtown and then they would take the ferry over to Wehawken I think it was, or something like that.
AKK: And they had already been signed in?
JJK: Oh, yeah. They had their uniforms on. None of them fitted. I tell you, they were a sorry group of guys. Plus the fact, that they were called up, was a big surprise. That was before we are in the war, you know. But then a lot of them of course became Flyers. Bill Rynne was a pilot, a fighter pilot. He is an official “Ace”. He got credited with knocking down five German planes. He told me he really felt he got 17 German planes. But he couldn't prove it, because you have to have a witness. And he is off by himself somewhere. And he had no witnesses. But he felt quite certain he had 17. And Bud Armstein was a pilot of a.B-24. And he was stationed in Italy. He was knocked down at one time. And he got back okay.
AKK: Did you have a sense then when you started the diary, that this was going to be an important time, do you think?
JJK: I had no sense at all about it. Just a little something to do. I really started writing it though, when I went in Trinidad in September of 1941. Then from there I went to British Guyana and onto Brazil. And onto the Yukon. So I had one when I met your mother. How we dated an all that sort of stuff. How we would go in to dinner in Whitehorse.
AKK: Do you think at that time you had -- what was the sense of the other people around you too? Was it just your getting out of school, you were looking for jobs, and all of a sudden this war was happening.
AKK: So, it was just, you didn't know what was going on in a way? You were –
JJK: Well, the war was on in Europe for two years before I went overseas. It was September of 1939 that they invaded Poland. So, I was very much aware of the war. We were all aware of it. Because, the previous year in May and June of 1940s we had the Dunkirk experience, with the British and French had just been able to get hundreds of thousands of men back to England without any equipment. All their guns and all their armaments and so forth. Cars, Jeeps all had to be left behind. So we were aware of what was going on. As a matter-of-fact, my brother Tom, he was on a destroyer in the North Atlantic. And I remember saying to him one time, that I was “4F” but I was the first member of the family that had been chased by U-boats. I had been out in the Caribbean about the 20th of December when the U-boats were knocking all of the ships off. In 1941, right after Pearl Harbor day. So, Tom started to laugh. He says listen, I hate to take away the honor from you, but we weren't playing potsi out on the neutrality patrol. Which started in 1940 I think. And the destroyers were out there and they were dropping depth bombs on the subs even in those days.
AKK: So, before officially war was declared, part of the neutrality -- and that's when FDR was trying to get support going, and he didn't think the country would buy it, at least not wholeheartedly? He was trying to support the British
JJK: Well, I tell you, we were more interested in what was going on in Europe and Pearl Harbor came as a complete surprise. I remember, I had charge of the motor pool at Trinidad on the base for the engineers. And I was out on a trip that day, and it was a Sunday. I got back to the base that night at 8:00 and it was dark. Discipline was lax, before we left you know. And all of a sudden, I come in there and I am stopped by some guy with a bayonet. And he says: let me see your ID Card. I said, what the hell do you mean your ID card? You know just ignored it. So, he says: let me see the ID card ! I saw well, he's got a rifle there must be something serious. So I showed and he said alright. So I went back into the barracks and I said to the guy, what's this crap about some guy wanting my ID card. He says, war with Japan. I said what! He said war with Japan. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. So I went down to the radio shack. I didn't believe it. And then I heard of course. And you know how the rumors start. The first thing I know, the rumors going around that the Japanese are going to go from Hawaii, they are going to come through the Panama Canal, and then they're going to come another thousand miles and they are going to knock us off in Trinidad. (Chuckle)
JJK: Oh, that's how they start. Rumors no matter where you go. A little thing I always noticed when I was overseas was if you are in a place for three or four days all of a sudden you are a veteran, you know everything about it. You would pull into a camp and would say to the guys there what about this? And they would say this, this, this, boom, boom, boom, boom. And then you would say how long have you been here? [And they would say] ' I have been here about a week" (chuckle). It was kind of amazing.
AKK: Since there wasn't that much to know? Or since they knew a little, it was better?
<![if !supportLists]>8. <![endif]>Going to Whitehorse, Food, Movies
JJK: Right, they knew a little. And you wanted somebody to give you a little faith in what you were doing. Because they knew what was going on. And I remember when we went up to Whitehorse we left New York in a RR troop transport, a train, and we rode a couple of days and we got to Edmonton. And I'm telling you, we were in camp 150 in Edmonton. And it was the greatest chow I ever had in all my life. It was wonderful. I couldn't get over it. I thought, boy, this is really something. But I got my come-up-ins. We went from camp 150 to Prince Edward, which is right out near Prince Rupert on the West Coast. On the train ride there, you had no place to sleep at all and all they gave you was beans and coffee, twice a day. When we got to camp Edward the food there was pretty good. I remember there were movies at that time. When we were in Edmonton we went to the movies. What the picture was I don't remember now, but the song was "buckle down Windsocki, buckle down. You can win Windsocki, if your knuckle down." So, I thought was a nice picture. But then they asked me to go when I was in Prince Rupert. And I said, nah, I don't care to go. But I knew what the picture was because when the guys came back they were singing "buckle down Windsocki, buckle down. You can win Windsocki, if your knuckle down." [Chuckle]. So then we get up to the Skagway, Alaska. On the way up, we're in a ship called the Ann Henifey. Which they used to transport horses in before we got there. And it really stunk by the time we got there.
AKK: Like the horses? From the --?
JJK: Oh, boy, it was something! So, anyway we would have again beans and coffee twice a day. So on the way up we were in the inland waterway. And it was beautiful. Glaciers and all that stuff. And there was one big Irishmen from New York, John Flynn, he was two hundred and 50 pounds on the hoof. And he stood about six feet and he was solid. We were talking about the construction jobs that we had worked on. And amongst the group they had been practically all over the world. And John pipes up and he says, there's the best god damn contractor of them all. And I said, you dumb Irishmen, who the hell is that? He says: "old man nature, old man nature. The best contractor of them all". And he says "but it's only right, because he has all those people working for him". I said who is that? He said "all those elements, all those elements". So then we get to Skagway and they asked me to go to the picture show. I said I am a little too tired, I think I will just read a book I knew what it was, because when they come back it was "buckle down Windsocki, buckle down. You can win Windsocki, if your knuckle down."
AKK: Were they bringing the film with them on that ship?
JJK: So on the way up to Skagway, it was raining and we were getting soaked. And they would give us our beans and coffee. And these men were in their 40s and '50s, these are guys who are really patriotic. They were too old for the service, but they wanted to do something to help the war effort. So, we're are going up there, and its raining to beat the band. So some of the guys started to protest. So Capt. Brown, he is in charge of the ship, all of the contingent. He is not the ship captain, but he represents the army, who was bringing us up there. And so some of the guys started to protest. And he gets up and gives us a big speech on patriotism. But in the meanwhile it's raining and we are getting soaked and the seagulls are dumping on us. And he is underneath the tarp, and he is not getting wet at all. So he keeps going like that. And all of a sudden some guy yells out "watch out Capt. Brown or those seagulls old makes you a major". (Laughter) and with that, he gets mad and he says "well your son's of bitches can go to hell". And then they took and threw stuff at him and everything.
AKK: You mean their food, their beans?
JJK: And we feel, we really showed the army today. We showed the army. But the army showed us.. When we got to Skagway, we got off the ship. And they could have brought the buses right up to the ship. The buses were about a quarter of a mile away. And this Colonel gets up there and says: "Alright you bastards, start walking!" (Laughter) and we start walking, and its raining, and we are carrying all our gear. So then the first thing you know, we take the narrow gauge railroad and we go right into Whitehorse. We get into Whitehorse in the morning and then we got all our gear and so forth, and so on. Then we march into the office where we are going to be assigned. And that's how I met your mother. (Chuckle)
WDK: And the other day we talked about that, riding on the narrow gauge (railroad). And I said to him, oh I'm glad I didn't make the trip. I never wanted to. How could you stand it? He said, it was dark I couldn't see anything.. (Chuckle)
JJK: Couldn't see anything, I slept through it (Laughter)
AKK: Because it was known to be really steep?
WDK Not only that, it was about this wide across (arms width). With the wheels, on the train, and you would just look straight down.
AKK: You mean it was like a single track, and didn't have seats on either side?
JJK: No, and it's the big, you know, valleys, deep, deep.
WDK: No, no, it had sides on the train and everything, but I'm saying, the windows were down that low, and there was nothing on each side. But the track was there and it dropped. But it was on both sides.
AKK: Were the trains, narrow trains too?
WDK: Yeah, and the train could only go one-way. There was only one set of tracks. So it got there and then it would turn around and go back. With other people -- traffic, so you couldn't meet anybody. If you met them (trouble) --. All these years I didn't know, you know, why he wasn't that much upset about it. He said, I couldn't see, it was dark. (Chuckle)
AKK: Because everybody else, who had done the trip, when they told you about it, it was --. Had you done that trip too?
WDK: No, no. I had no desire to do it.
JJK: You could see it, you know, when he went along the road. You could see it. Later on we saw it.
WDK: Yeah, oh I could see it, and everything. It pulled into Whitehorse. It didn't run for many years. But the year that we went up, with Dede and Wyman to --.
JJK: But, your mother nearly got killed when she was up there. Tell him the story.
WDK: (slight laughter -- with hesitation or chagrin)
AKK: What do you (JJK:) know of the story?
JJK: Well, just what she told me you know. She was in a Jeep.
WDK: We were in a Jeep going up the mountain. Two soldiers and Jerry, one of my friends, and I. And Jerry and I were in the back. And the two boys were in a Jeep in the front. And we were like halfway up the mountainside and the roads were gravel roads, and this side of the mountain is here (pointing to one side) and the road is cut into it. And down here (pointing to the other side) is just -- you know, way, way down. And Glen, and Wink (spell) decided to change, without stopping the car to change drivers. So one is going over with the other and the car started backwards down the mountain. How it shifted like that, (I have) no idea, but all of a sudden we are going backwards down the mountain --
AKK: Oh, he probably put it in to neutral.
WDK: Probably, I don't know, I never got that detail. And we are going down the mountain. And Jerry stands up and she is screaming. And Wink and Glenn are still trying to maneuver so they can get a hold of the wheel. And Jerry is screaming. And I smacked her in the face, and said: shut up! And I'm sitting there going "steer into the side of the mountain!" And that's how we were stopped, they steered into the side of the mountain. But, it was a horrible experience.
AKK: But, you knew to slap the girl and to tell the guy what to do.
WDK: Right. (Laughter)
AKK: "You shut up! And you do your job!"
WDK: We were four, scared people after it was over.
AKK: When we were talking the other day, we were discussing about the different experience you had both educational and with your work experience with the hospital, and then in Whitehorse, and then we talked about Look Magazine. And then I was thinking later that the other thing we didn't talk about was when you decided to go into business with Marie. I don't think we mentioned that at all. Which was a whole --
WDK: We hadn't gone up that far.
AKK: How old were you at that time? How many kids had you had by then?
WDK: I don't remember. When we moved to Seaford on to Alan drive, was when I first met Marie.
WDK: Right. And I had already been making clothes for --.
AKK: I remember you made the habits for the nuns too?
WDK: Right. That was when I was in, still in Freeport I guess, and Nell and John lived next to me.
AKK: I thought that was for the nuns in Merrick?
WDK: They were in Merrick, right, right. So it must have been -- just after we moved too. Because they moved to Merrick first. And we moved to --. We moved to Freeport next to them.
AKK: You moved to Seaford first or they moved to Merrick first?
WDK: They moved to Merrick first.
AKK: Had Marie done that sort of work before?
WDK: Marie had worked in doll factories, dressing dolls. You know, different things like that. So we both sort of --
AKK: Here in New York?
WDK: Right, yeah. So, --
AKK: Because, I remember you had a sewing club of some sort. Didn't you meet once a week?
WDK: I had that in Freeport. I started that in Freeport and I had helped teach people how to sew, you know. I taught Nell, really, a lot of how to sew. We made slipcovers for her house. And we made slipcovers at my house. But, I helped to do all of that, and taught her how. And I can't remember what year Marie and I went into --
AKK: Wasn't there something on Alan drive though too, like sewing Circle?. People would come around --?
WDK: 0h, they still came. They still came, the ones from Freeport as well.
AKK: Oh, they would drive to get there?
WDK: Oh, yeah, yeah but others joined us on Alan drive.
AKK: Right, but, was it like once a week?
AKK: Yeah once a week. And if people wanted to bring their mending, sew buttons on, whenever, you know -- it was a gossip session. It was a chance to get out. And we helped teach other with what we're doing. Many drapes for our houses. And all that. And then it was a few years later, I don't remember what year was that Marie and I decided to go into (business). Because I was making dresses for people. I had done it for nothing, you know, for a long time and then people wanted to pay me for it. So I did it for quite a few friends in Merrick that I knew there. And it just so evolved. And then Marie and I decided to go in together. And what we did first was we did aprons. We made aprons and then toaster covers, and oven mitts and all these things to match. And people would come to what we would have, an apron party. And people would come and order what they would like. And how they would like it made. And we did that. Then we got into making more and more clothes. And I designed clothes for people. And Marie and I both sewed. She was a wonderful seamstress too. And when George was born was when I quit. That was my sixth. And I just thought it was too much. Because I was having to hire somebody to help take care of the kids. And Marie and Al insisted that they should pay for half of that. Because we were doing it together. We were working together. And you know, I had all the kids. She had two. Then another reason too, then as I said, I had George and I said this is it. It is just too much. So Marie and Al --
AKK: So how long was it that you did it?
WDK: I don't even remember. Maybe Marie (will remember)
AKK: So Al was very supportive?
WDK: 0h yeah. So was your father. I mean, they thought that was great. So, a lot of our friends were too. But we also found, some of the people, no matter how little you gave it to them for, it was too much.
AKK: But they would only decide that after they had already taken it? And they didn't want to pay?
WDK: "You mean it is that much?" So I learned to say --. They would come with material that they wanted made into a suit or they wanted made into a skirt and all this. And I would say take it to the tailor and see how much he charges to do it. But lots of time, a lot of things we did was just taking up hems on skirts and things like that. Repair work and a lot of that. But it was very nice.
AKK: But if it was something new, he tried to give them a sense first of what it would cost.
WDK: We learned that. We didn't learn that accidentally. We just found out they thought, "you know, how much she charged me for this?" And it would be like hours and hours of work. And they just --
AKK: They didn't count that?
WDK: No. So it can get pretty hairy too. When you have to have something finished at a certain time and you are up half the night with the kids. And you are trying to finish the suit. I remember especially one plaid suit, with the pleated skirt and the pockets and everything on it. We charged her $20 to make it. And the tailors would have charged her even in those times, you know, $50 to $60 at least. And she came back and she said to us that my husband thinks it was too much. Just too expensive.
JJK: Who was that?
WDK: Mary. Remember? Mary and John.
JJK: 0h, yeah, yeah, yeah.
AKK: So was she going to bring it back or --?
AKK: You decided you didn’t need that business anymore though --
WDK: No, no. Well -- she was a good friend -- who knows, so you just sort of --
AKK: You say, well, I'm sorry and tell her how many hours it took to make it.
WDK: So when I quit and Marie started -- did quite a bit on her own, but then she started working with______, who we bought the freezer from.
AKK: Was it that common then for women to have businesses of?
WDK: 0h yeah, oh yeah.
AKK: Small businesses?
WDK: Oh yes. There was always you know, dressmakers and people that did that. But it was always common for women to have small businesses. Even when I was a kid on the farm, whet and sold the cream, they sold the eggs. A lot of farms kept working on the egg money that the women made. And they just sort are forgot that you know. And it was the same during the war. How many women were working during the war. And after their husbands came home they stopped working. But as far back as I remember -- it was the same, they made it seem like women started working up in the '50s or the '60s. And it is not so. There were women schoolteachers as far back as I can remember.
JJK: 0h yeah sure.
AKK: But during the war, it changed the type of fields they could get in? Like Education was always seen as - like "normal schools" are for women. And dressmaking maybe was seen as woman could do that. But didn't --?
WDK: Yeah, and one time all the big designers were women. Now who are all the big designers? Are men. And I think they --
JJK: All the teachers were women when I was growing up.
WDK: Well --
AKK: There were quite a few men teachers?
WDK: There were men teachers in my school. Yeah.
JJK: There were many teachers, but the women were in the majority especially in the grammar school. In high school you had a mix. Male and female.
WDK: In the lower grades. Well, even in high school, in Edmonton I had a mix. I had several male teachers for different subjects. But it amazes me now, some of the things I read and see. And I say, look back before you to write these things. But back in history and you can see.
AKK: But what type of work could women get that was different during the war that they couldn't before?
WDK: In the factories.
AKK: Mostly factory work
WDK: Right, right. And in the munitions factories. Now my cousin Shirley, worked in Boeing all those years, making planes.
AKK: And did other industries which used to hire men only, because of the men were going away, also opened up to women?
WDK: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. In the offices even. Now, when I worked for Look Magazine, the office manager there was a woman. She was like head of the payroll department. And I was her assistant. She got the job because the man who had the job went into the service. And then she got the job. And a lot of these women that had these jobs, they gave them up when their husbands came home. And their boyfriends. Because the men needed jobs badly then. And the women were needed to raise the children again, you know.
AKK: You think it was a fairly common experience of many people. It just changed. Because of the war, because of the emergency?. The attitude? Adjusting --
AKK: There was a lot of movement during the war too? People moving across country. Jobs were better here -- there.
WDK: Oh Yeah, yeah, yep. Well, that had even started before the war. Because of the Depression. Whole families were packing up and leaving.
JJK: Sure, the Okies picked up and went to California.
WDK: The rest of the country, I mean California was very uninhabited for long time until the big storms, the dust storms and everything in Kansas and --
JJK: They used to call it the dirty 30s. The dirty 30s. Because of the dust storms.
WDK: The world really changed tremendously with the second world war. And it was a terrible war but it also changed the whole economy.
AKK: When the people came back from the war, was there an initial fear of how they would be reintegrated? You know, all these men coming back to one time?
WDK: I don't remember that. Do you (Jack). There was so many jobs to be --
JJK: Well, there was a certain concern. But you had the GI Bill, whereby they -- I forget with the deal was -- they were given a certain amount of money for 52 weeks. I think it was $20 a week. 52 -- 20 and out. And that $20 was a lot of money in those days. Then a lot of the guys went on to college, which they wouldn't have been able to do. They went under the GI Bill.
AKK: Was that the same bill -- covered both?
JJK: I don't know if it was the same bill are not but the GI Bill was there during. most . And they went on to college. And then the economy started picking up because there had been no action at all for years before the war and during the war. You had a shortage.
WDK: During the war all industry and the manufacturing were (geared) towards war. The uniforms, the ammunition, the guns, the planes, the cars everything like that were all --. When that ended then the economy continued good because now people needed cars at home. You know everything had to change over. But the manufacturers would just change what they were manufacturing. To peacetime.
AKK: Was there incentive the government was giving the manufacturers to change what they were producing too?
WDK: I don't think it was a necessity. No..
JJK: I don't think so. I think it was just a natural growth, you know. You come in with plastics. He didn't have plastics before. TV all of a sudden come in around 1947 or thereabouts. We had no TV before when we were kids.
AKK: 0h maybe they were paid to transfer to armaments. Then the re-conversion wasn't as difficult to go back
WDK: Well there was -- don't forget there was also experiments going on, on everything during the war, on every different kind of thing.
AKK: So that they could use that experience? And now there was an (super) demand.
WDK: Right, right.
AKK: Because if all these guys were making $20 a week, they wanted to spend it.
JJK: That's right. Not only that, but you had no cars during the war, being produced [for civilian use] during war, you know. No radios, nothing.
AKK: Because the cars were all being like -- military jeeps?
JJK: Sure, yeah. You could get any tires. And all of a sudden the war is over, you want all of these things. That was it.
WDK: You couldn't get gas. The same with food was rationed and all those things during the war.
AKK: When you were going to move from Freeport to Seaford did it seem like things were really opening up? That you are going to get your own place out on Long Island or -- Was that a common experience after the war? People would get a job and then -- it looked like it was growing? People were feeling secure?
WDK: Well there was also the GI Bill. Where you could take a loan out when we were buying a home. You could get -- the GI Bill gave money to people who bought their own home. It became as cheap to buy a home as it was to rent.
JJK: That's when/how Levittown was built.
WDK: So, Levittown. You've probably heard the story of Levittown. There it tells it all -- what went on all over the country. And even in Canada, the same.
AKK: So, because they had that money, they saw if they would take out a mortgage and put their $15 a week into a mortgage or less it was the same as what they were paying for rent.
WDK: Right. The dream was you wanted to own your own home. An interesting time. But you know, you just live through those times and you don't find them too unusual because its gradual and it doesn't happen all at one time.
AKK: And it is happening to everyone else around you.
WDK: Exactly, exactly. And the jobs were really pretty plentiful right after the war.
AKK: Must have been, especially compared to everybody’s experience right before the war.
WDK: Oh, yeah. Well, I think just about going to college. I mean it was tough for you kids to go to college. But not nearly as tough as it was for your father’s generation to go to college. It meant nothing to a lot of people who later became lawyers and everything, to have two jobs and go to college full time. And they didn’t think anything of it. And I think of kids who go to college today and who take out these big, big loans and they wouldn’t push themselves to that point. Some did it then if they wanted to go on to college and the majority didn’t go on to college, that do today.
AKK: Well, maybe the next time when we back up, we will back up – I think we talked about my birth and up to Tim’s maybe, I will look and see,
WDK: I don’t know. We skipped over a few things. We jumped from one thing to another.
AKK: So maybe we will talk about the others that I spoke to Dad about. We could probably look at your diary entries around that time.
WDK: And see what his comments were too.
AKK: It would probably be an interesting juxtaposition because –
JJK: I wouldn’t make any comments, mostly family affairs.
AKK: That is what we are talking about. Around the time of the birth of each of the different children.
WDK: Of each one of the different children. My impression and your impression.
AKK: And not only your impression, but what from you diary else was going on. Either in the family or what ever if you don’t mind. That would possibly be interesting.
WDK: How much of this do you have to have for your course?
AKK: I think this is enough for today.
This is the end of the tape for 30 Sept 2000. Jack and Wanda Keefe at 3947 Fulton Ave. Seaford, NY.