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Helen Hansen Oral History Interview, November 30, 1985

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 Lou Ann Grosch: This is an interview with Helen Nadine Hansen. Helen was born in Nora, Nebraska, in 1923. In 1935 her family migrated to Camas, Washington, to escape the dust bowl of the Midwest. Helen went work for a local weekly newspaper while in high school and continued to work there until her marriage in 1945 to Gene Hansen. The newlyweds arrived in Corvallis New Year's Day of 1946 for what they thought would be a 4-year stay. It turned out that they are still here 40 years later. Helen has led a very active social life and has given countless hours in community work. Her work was rewarded in 1979 when she received Corvallis' First Citizen Award. Helen has raised 4 children whom she is very proud of. She and her husband have been working together in their local family insurance business for many years. This interview is being 00:01:00conducted on Saturday, November 30, 1985, in Helen's home on the outskirts of Corvallis. The interviewer is Lou Ann Grosch representing Anthropology 312.

Okay, Helen can you tell me about the community that you grew up in?

Helen Hansen: Well, it was a farming community, and we lived out on a farm. Nearest little town was about 6 miles from where we lived. I went to a country school. There were 8 in my school in the whole eight grades, and three of them were my brothers and sisters. So there were only 4 other children I went to school with who were not my family. Typical farming community.

LAG: And this was in?

HH: Nebraska.

LAG: Nebraska.

HH: Mm-hmm.

LAG: Alright. What was the closest house to you?


HH: Our nearest neighbor lived a quarter of a mile from us. I remember especially that in the summertime we would have a lot of tornados in Nebraska, and my father would stand in the yard when tornados were forecast and watch the clouds. If he could see a cloud coming our way that he thought was threatening, all of us would run a quarter of a mile to get to this cave. We had a basement. We didn't have a cave. A cave was considered safer. Many of the times we'd run a quarter of a mile to get to that cave [laughter].

LAG: That's interesting [laughs].

HH: Yeah, right.

LAG: Let's see-- you walked to school, then?

HH: Yes.

LAG: And how far?

HH: We lived three quarters of a mile from the school. We walked all the time unless it was just really very bad snowstorm in the winter and then one of the parents would get out the lumber wagon with the horses and drive us to school. 00:03:00Then they'd pick up all the other kids on our route.

LAG: Alright.

HH: One--go ahead, yeah.

LAG: Oh, I was--go ahead and finish.

HH: One of the parents would go to the schoolhouse and start the fire, because all you had was a big stove right in the middle of the school. One of the parents would go to the school and start the fire and then one of the parents would pick up all the kids with the horses and wagon.

LAG: Alright.

HH: And the teacher lived with one of the parents. It was out in the country, and cars were not that plentiful in the '30s. Whoever took the kids to school, took the teacher to school.

LAG: [laughter] oh that's great. Okay, Helen, can you tell me a little bit maybe about your parents, starting with your father. Was he warm? Or what kind of parenting techniques--? What was it like growing up in a farm family?

HH: Well, I was probably my father's favorite child [laughs].

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: So I'm maybe being prejudiced when I'm saying-- he and I just had a lot of 00:04:00fun together. He taught me to waltz in the winters when you couldn't, I mean you were snowed, it snowed bad and so forth. He always would do everything he could to see that I was happy. My older sister was a favorite of my mother's side of the house and my girl cousin was a favorite of my dad's side of the house. So somebody had to let me be their favorite. So it was my dad. He was a very hardworking father. I guess he was just an ordinary father, but he was special to me.

LAG: He was special-- was your father affectionate towards the children in your family?

HH: Oh, yes, uh-huh. He was.

LAG: Alright. What about your mother? Can you tell me a little bit about her?

HH: My mother was a really hard worker too. In fact, when we were shucking corn in the fall she was out in the field right with my dad. She would come in the house, and while he was doing chores she would cook dinner or cook the breakfast before they went out to the field.


She had no electricity, no running water, and nothing. It was just really hard work for my mother. She has always had a good sense of humor. I remember the main thing we did for our social life in the summertime is we would have picnics, you know the farmers. Or we'd have a beer party. The ones who didn't bring beer still came. Then we'd make ice cream and we'd have things like that.

LAG: Oh, that's neat. How many brothers and sisters do you have?

HH: Two brothers and one sister.

LAG: And what can you tell me--what are your memories of your brothers and sisters when you were growing up on the farm?

HH: Well, being the third one in the family they always tried to pick on me. So I guess I just learned to stand up for myself [laughter].

LAG: [Laughter].

HH: My sister and my older cousin used to just make my life miserable. My cousin lived in town. She'd come out in the summertime and spend two or three weeks. That was the most awful period of my life. They usually had me crying most of 00:06:00the time. My sister says now that if one of her children had ever treated anybody the way they treated me (my cousin and her, the way they treated me), that she'd really punish them for that. But at the time they were like, oh, 13 or 14. They thought they were bigshots, you know. Anyway, my poor mother was so glad when my cousin would go home because then I'd stop crying [laughter].

LAG: [Laughter] Oh. You spoke about your cousin coming out to live with you. Did your parents' families--like their siblings and grandparents and stuff--did you see a lot of your cousins? Was there a lot of interaction between the families?

HH: I only had one cousin I knew, and that was my dad's niece. My dad had two sisters. There were just the three in his family, which is kind of unusual in those days, because most of the people had larger families. Anyway, this one cousin, as I say, lived in town, and of course she thought she was kind of a hotshot because she was a city girl, you know? I have to be thankful for her, though, because we were so poor, and if it hadn't been for all the clothes she 00:07:00handed down to me I wouldn't 've had many clothes to wear.

LAG: Oh, [laughs].

HH: Anyway, she and I get along fine now.

LAG: Yeah. Oh, that's interesting. What about your grandparents? Did they live close to you?

HH: Yes. They both lived in town. My mother's parents--my grandad on my mother's side--owned a creamery. This is where the farmers would take their cream into town on Saturday and they would get it graded and tested and so forth, and then they would get paid for that. My grandmother ran a boarding house for the train men. So she had this big boarding house and rooming house, and it was really fun to go in there because she'd have these huge tables just piled with food for all the people who were spending the night at her house. My other grandmother lived in another town.

LAG: What town was that?

HH: Superior, Nebraska. Nelson is where my other grandparents lived. Nelson was the county seat of our county, but Superior was a bit larger town. My other 00:08:00grandmother didn't have to work as the hard as the one who owned the rooming house. That was really hard work.

LAG: Huh. What kind of role did they play in your life? Did you spent time with them growing up? What kind of--?

HH: [chuckles] I was a momma's baby. Back there in Nebraska the custom was that when the thrashing crew was going to be at your place all the other neighbor women would come in and help cook for the thrashers, because they may be cooking for 30 or 40 people. My mother would try to leave me with one of the women who would not be involved in cooking for the thrashers, and I wouldn't even stay all night. I was very much a momma's baby. One time my grandmother in Superior wanted to know if I'd stay overnight with her--and this has been a family joke ever since--I says, "Grandma, I don't know if I could stay all night without bawling or not" [laughs].

LAG: [laughs].


HH: So anyway, I really didn't stay overnight with anyone until my sister went into town to go to high school. Our little school just went through eight grades, and then when you got out the eighth grade you went into town to go to school. I did go in to visit her several times to stay with my grandmother in the rooming house. But I really didn't--I wasn't much, didn't want to be away from my mother.

LAG: Yeah. Were your grandparents there on like holidays? And did you spend--?

HH: If the weather was so, they could. In Nebraska you'd have some really bad times, right?

LAG: Yeah. Alright. How do you, kind of, an overview looking back on your family, what kind of pictures are you left with, with growing up on the farm and--

HH: Well, we were really poor back there because the drought had come along and my grandfather who owned the farm that we lived on lost the farm because they had not been able to raise crops and because of that we couldn't feed our livestock or our chickens or anything so we had to sell that and then he wasn't 00:10:00able to pay the taxes on the place, so he finally lost the place.

We were very poor, but none of us came out of that situation feeling that we'd been deprived. I think that my folks just made us think that we were lucky, that there were people worse off than we were. We just never felt abused or underprivileged or anything.

LAG: Mm. Alright, what kind of--can you tell me anything about childhood friends that you might have had?

HH: Well, one of the girls that I'd gone to school with in Nebraska for five years when my family moved to Washington in March of 1935, her family moved out in May of 1945, and I graduated high school with her. So there were only two months out of 12 years that we weren't in the same school. We still keep in touch. She lives in Southern California now. In fact, when I was in Nebraska 00:11:00this summer I went to see her mother in a nursing home. Another friend that I had in Nebraska is now my sister-in-law who lives in Nebraska. In fact, I remember when she was born because at that time too the babies were born at home. A doctor came out but that's all--and then when the neighbor women went in and helped and my mother was down there the day that this sister-in-law was born. My dad told us the next day that our neighbors had a new little baby and mom was down taking care of him. And we couldn't understand how that little baby would've gotten there so fast [laughs]. In those days you just didn't talk about forthcoming birth or whatever, it was--

LAG: What was going on historically in this country when you were a child?

HH: Well, let me see--I guess probably the first thing I remember was when the banks closed right after Franklin Roosevelt became president. I just remember my 00:12:00parents talking about it, and all the adults were really concerned and everything. Then Roosevelt starting selling his programs, like the WPA [Works Progress Administration] and the CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] for the young people and so forth, and my mother's father would not let my dad sign up for any of these work programs, because he said, "Marie if you do that the government's going to own you and your family someday." And so we probably had it harder than we would have. Gene's family, Gene's dad signed up for WPA, and he helped build bridges and so forth, and he got a living wage. But Gene had a larger family, and they were really hard up too. Well, the drought was the worst thing, because that was really bad. When my family moved out from Nebraska we missed those horrible dust storms that they had in the Midwest by just one week, so we were lucky that we missed that. When we got to Washington we could not believe all 00:13:00the fruit and the nuts and everything that went to waste because, you know, there was so much of it that people didn't really appreciate what they had.

LAG: After coming out of the dust bowl.

HH: Yeah.

LAG: Yeah. What kind of, like you were just talking about, that your family didn't want to sign up for the government programs. What other kind of beliefs did your family hold?

HH: [Laughs] Well, my mother's father also told Mom when we were going to move to Washington, "Marie you have to watch the kids really close and don't let 'em play outside because the Indians are out to steal 'em." So you see my grandfather had lived in a very small part of the country, and he didn't really know what was going on. Of course you know in 1935 the Indians was not a problem at all.

LAG: Did your family attend church?


HH: No they didn't. In fact, when we were going to move from Nebraska to Washington, my father said, "Well, when we get out there you kids can go to Sunday school." And my little brother says, "Well, will we have to go to Monday school, too?" [Laughs].

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: Anyway, when I was about 17 I guess I just knew that there was some force in my life that was stronger than--I didn't really know that much about what it was, but I knew there was something in my life that I needed to find out more about. So I just started going to church on my own, and I was baptized on the Easter when I was 18 years old. So I was the first one that started to go to church, and then my sister also went to church. But the rest of my family are not church-oriented.

LAG: Okay. What do you remember about going to high school, and can you tell me about maybe things that went on then?

HH: Well, my family always said you know you do the best you can on everything.


So I was a good student. I really studied hard, and my teachers liked to work with me because I did study hard. I belonged to a number of clubs, and the year I was a senior we were still having it rough because my father had passed away. I remember my sister saying, "Well, now do you want us to pay your dues so you can go on to all the clubs you want to or would you rather have a watch for graduation?" and I said, "Well, I would rather get to go to all the clubs that I, you know, so I could do the things that I want to do when I'm in high school because after I get out of high school I can still buy my watch." So I got to belong to all my clubs. Then that family somehow saved enough money and gave me a watch for graduation anyway.

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: That was--I mean, a watch was really something in my day. I mean, kids didn't have them like they do now, at 10 or 11 everybody has a watch.


LAG: Alright. What about friendships through high school. Can you tell me a little bit more about those and maybe the friendships you made in your clubs? What kind of clubs were you involved in?

HH: Well, I was in PIP and Torch, which is a national honor society now. I was in a finance club, and in that club we sold the tickets for all the games. I was a student body bookkeeper for three years, and that was unusual in those days because usually the seniors got to do things. But I was such a studious little thing that I was elected when I was a sophomore. I helped on the school newspaper and, well, you know went to the dances. Even at that stage I loved sports. I remember in the 7th grade I used to go out and watch the boys' football team practice thinking oh I wish they had football for girls. So you see I'm about fifty years ahead of time [laughs] because now girls can do things 00:17:00like that once in a while.

LAG: Mm. Yeah. You said you went out and watched the boys. Did you have any loves during this time, or?

HH: No. you know when you go to a little country school and two of the eight students are boys and probably four of them are girls, you don't have much choice. And really the other boys that went to your school are probably more of a nuisance. I don't think that the kids got to have boy-girl relationships nearly as early in those days as they do now.

LAG: What was your relationship with your parents like as a teenager? You stated earlier that you were kind of a momma's baby.

HH: Yeah I was. And I was my father's--I was the light of his life. He was really proud of me. We had just some friends who had a player piano, and I don't know if you're familiar with a player piano, but anyway, my dad and I, we'd go to their house. He and I'd sit on the piano bench, and he'd run this player piano, and he and I'd sing these songs. We had a lot of fun. This is why--you 00:18:00know, I don't think that we realized we were poor because we were happy.

LAG: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Okay. After you graduated from high school in what year?

HH: In 1941.

LAG: 1941. And from there you did what?

HH: Well, I secured this job. We had an unusual commercial class in our high school for the girls who knew they were not going to be able to go on to college. We had one teacher for the whole morning, and we'd go in in the morning and we'd take dictation and then we would go in and we would do our typing by transcribing those letters. We had business, English, bookkeeping, business, law. We had the whole morning with this one teacher. Then we did this the first half of the year and just before Christmas that year we wrote letters to different firms around town telling them about our course and telling them that we would like to come down and work free of charge in their office doing any 00:19:00kind of work they wanted us to do just so we would have some experience when we got out of high school. One of the places I wrote to was a newspaper office. They answered, and I was invited to come down and work. I did that then every morning instead of in the second half of the year. We didn't take this class with the one teacher, we all went down to our place where we were supposed to be working. I worked there about two months when the secretary ran off with the boss, and the boss's wife then became the publisher of the newspaper. They asked me if I could arrange my schoolwork so that I could take over her job. I got the rich salary of $15 a week [laughs].

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: Anyway, that was my start. I had worked on there earlier just on the days--it was a weekly newspaper, and on publishing day they needed someone to 00:20:00insert the one section into the other section.

The machines were not as sophisticated as they are today. So I had worked down there for 25 cents an hour inserting pages, the one section into the other section, earlier on as an after-school job. They all knew me and knew that I liked to work hard and make a little bit of money. That was a different experience. There was also another young man at that newspaper office who was supporting himself. He had no family. He lived with some friends. He did the same thing. People didn't think anything about young people in those days maybe not going to school every day, as long as they'd keep up with their studies. My studies didn't suffer any. My teachers were very understanding, because they knew my father had passed away. My mother had supported us by doing housework for 25 cents an hour after my father's death. When you live in a small town everybody knows what everybody else is doing anyway.


LAG: Right. After your father died, your mother did then support you and the rest of the family?

HH: Yes.

LAG: How did she manage to take care of--?

HH: Well, my older brother dropped out of school because my father didn't think it was necessary to have education. He had dropped out of school I guess probably in the eighth or ninth grade. Maybe the tenth, I can't remember. He had a job. He was living at home. Then my sister graduated from high school when she was 16, so she got a job in a bank. So they were helping to support the family. I did babysitting, and all of us contributed toward the support of the family--our household bills and things. When I got old enough to drive, whoever drove the car paid for the gas. So if you didn't have enough money for gas, you walked. So that was alright.


LAG: Right, right. And how long did you work at the newspaper?

HH: I started there in January or February of '41 and I worked there until I was married in '45.

LAG: In '45, okay. Great. Okay, Helen, now obviously a man came along in your life that you were interested in pursing. Can you tell me about where you met Gene and when? HH: Well, I met him in Camas, also. Gene had come out from Nebraska with five other men in the truck looking for work. The driver of the truck was a married man, and his wife and my sister had been very good friends when we lived in Nebraska. So his wife told him, "Be sure and look up my sister, Jean." My husband, Gene, the man who turned out to be my husband, was a very shy person at that time. It was a very hot Sunday afternoon that the man who was the driver of the truck and another neighbor of ours came in the house and they were 00:23:00talking. and my mom says, "Well, go out ask the other fellas to come in, Helen." So I went out to the truck and I says, "Well, my mother says for you to come in the house. It's cooler in there." And they said, "No." And I said, "Well, come out and sit under the trees in our yard, because it was cooler there." So they did get out of the truck. And then I went back in the house, and I said, "Well, they don't want to come in but they are sitting under the tree." And mom said, "Well, take them out some ice water." So I always tell everyone that I met my husband when I served him ice water.

LAG: [laughs].

HH: Then they stayed for dinner that night. For some reason, Gene thought that I was dating another fella. I had dated another--it was off and on, but it wasn't serious. I guess about two nights after I met him, he and some of the other fellas were sitting down in front of the movie theater on a bicycle rack just watching the people go by, because they had an apartment that were room downtown. Another man had taken me to a movie that night, and we walked out of the movie and here sat Gene and one of the other guys from Nebraska. Then Gene 00:24:00called me on Saturday because he decided that it wasn't anything serious with this other fella, and asked me to go to a dance. So that was our first date when we went to a dance. Then Gene, we dated several different times. Then he went into service in September of '40. I met him in the summer of '40. He went into the service to get his, "year of service over with." That was what the slogan was then. Then in September of '41, this was just a little while before Pearl Harbor, they were not letting men out when their year of service was over with. So Gene was down in September to see me in '41, and I think in August, maybe October he saw me too. Then he had made arrangements to go to Nebraska for Christmas in 1941.


And, of course you know on December 7, 1941, that was when Pearl Harbor started. Gene was on his way to Nebraska then, and the radio was saying all military men return to their base immediately. Gene said, "The heck with that racquet, I may not get home for a while." So he kept on going. Several days later then the announcements on the radio was, "Service men if you are on leave finish your leave and then report back." Gene was glad he did. He was only a private first class at the time. All they did was just make him be a private for a while. Anyway, he was really glad that he'd gone on to be with his family for that Christmas. So then I didn't see Gene--he stopped at my place when he came back from his leave, but I was in the hospital for an appendectomy, and I didn't get to see him. So I didn't see him then until July of 1945.

LAG: So you had what four years?

HH: It was about 3 ½ years.

LAG: Fill that 3 ½ years in. What were you doing?


HH: I was working at the newspaper office. I was working with the Red Cross in case--a Red Cross class was taught for every town. It was a civil defense class, and it was what do you do if there's a bomb, what do you do if there's an air raid. All these type of thing. I did that. And I had an interesting job at the newspaper. I probably had the most exciting job of anybody because I did get to meet all the servicemen when they came home and got to see all my friends that way. I started working in our church. I sang in the choir. Always I was doing sports. Our big rivalry during those days was with the Vancouver Trappers, and on Thanksgiving Day the game was played in Camas. Then I had the privilege of 00:27:00phoning the Oregonian and Portland to give them the story of the game. Because I liked sports I did that. Those days too a lot of the things that we did for entertainment--parents used to go to dance at grange halls and their children went with them. They didn't always go home with them, but they always went with them. Nearly every Saturday night we'd go to a dance at a grange hall. We did all the old time dances and square dances. So that was a fun thing for us. I think this is what kept my family closer together, too.

LAG: With your job obviously World War II was going on during the time you were doing this and you were interviewing the young men that were coming home from the service. What kind of impact did the war really have on your life? You were directly involved with interviewing people. It was a daily confrontation. Can you remember some of the thoughts? Were you maybe afraid of being bombed 00:28:00or--what were your thoughts at the time?

HH: Well, I don't think I worried too much about us being bombed, but I do remember when I was in the hospital for my appendectomy I'd never been in a hospital. Because my parents were not really church people they had always had me scared of Catholic nuns, and I was in a Catholic hospital and it was a big old hospital with high windows. They had had to put black tarp paper over the windows so if there were enemy planes flying overhead they couldn't see the lights and bomb the hospital and so forth. That was sort of a spooky situation. I've since learned, too, that nuns are very wonderful people [laughs]. They're just doing their job. I really wasn't--after I got home I wasn't too concerned about anything. You just know that you have a job to do and you do it, you know, 00:29:00like me working for the civil defense. You do that because you were there and you could do it, and that's one way that you could help.

LAG: What kind of things did you talk about with the young men that came home from the war?

HH: Usually I would just interview them, and they'd tell me about what they were doing as much as they could. There were things that they couldn't talk about and they didn't tell me those things. They would tell me different experiences that they had had. Maybe if they were on board a ship they'd tell me maybe what they did, what their life would be like, what their food was and so forth, what they did for recreation, how they felt when they'd come in to port and all these things. They'd give me the good sides of their military service. Then they'd say, well, you know this part, I'd be glad when this is beyond me. I also interviewed some of the people who had had ships shot out from underneath them. They would tell me how that is when you'd see all this oil in the water around you and you'd wonder if there were sharks there.


It gave you a different feeling about what the world was. Every person had a different point of view. The ones who were in Europe were having one situation and the ones who were in the Southwest Pacific had other situations and the pilots had completely different experiences from the people in the Navy and the Marines and the doggy faces as they called the Army people--everybody had different experiences. So it was really a fun thing, and sometimes it was very sad, too, to get to hear all these people's experiences. A lot of the people when they would go back to service and they'd write and tell me things that were happening and then I'd put that in my column. The boys when they'd come home they'd say, "You know when we get that paper the first thing we look for is the service news because they want to know who was doing what and who was where and who was getting ____ and so, it was a really good job to have.

LAG: Earlier you were telling me the darker side of this job and that's when you 00:31:00had to write the obituaries.

HH: Right.

LAG: Can you maybe tell me a little bit more about that? How did you contact the families?

HH: Well, everyone as notified by telegram from Western Union. A friend of mine worked for Western Union. When there was a telegram coming in that said that their son or brother'd been killed, they would call me and say, "We're delivering a telegram to this family." Then I would wait several hours, or maybe even a day, to give the family a little bit of time to be by themselves. [Voice breaks] Why do I always do this?.

LAG: Oh.

HH: But [clears throat], anyway, then I would get their picture, you know the picture for the paper [clears throat].

LAG: Do you want to stop for a minute?

HH: I think I should.

LAG: Okay, we'll stop. [Break in recording]. Here we go again.


HH: Should I start talking?

LAG: Yeah, just keep going here.

HH: Anyway, that wasn't the fun part of this job. But it was a job that had to be done, and it was part of my job. If you want to enjoy the fun part, then you also do the part that's not so much fun.

LAG: Right. Okay, we'll go to a little lighter note, here. Now, obviously Gene came home.

HH: Finally.

LAG: Finally. And what happened after Gene came back into your life?

HH: Well, Gene and a fella who'd gone overseas with him. One of the people who'd come out from Nebraska with him in the truck, had been together all the time during their tour of duty in the Southwest Pacific, this was 3 ½ years after they'd gone overseas. They had had an agreement that they would not call anyone and let them know that they were there. They were just going to walk in on us. But when Gene got to San Francisco I guess he couldn't stand it, the stress, so 00:33:00he did call and tell me that he was back in the states and he was going to be discharged from Fort Lewis in about a week, and so he would be down.

That was really nerve time. You know, when you hadn't seen someone for 3 ½ years, when you last saw them you were 18 years old, not quite 18 because I didn't see him, you know I'd seen him like in October before my 18th birthday, you really don't know--you've written letters, thousands of letters, but you don't know how you're going to feel, you don't know what they're going to look like, you don't know what you're going to look like. Then Gene was late getting there, so I thought, oh, gee, maybe he's decided not to come. You know how you do. But his bus or train--however he was coming from Fort Lewis to Vancouver--was late. So he rented a taxi and took a taxi to get up to Camas, which was an utter waste of money. But you know when you're young and everything and in love, you think, you just do things like that. But anyway, he came there 00:34:00that night and it was kind of an awkward time because you didn't know what to do. I gave him a hug, and he gave me a hug, and we tried to make light conversation, but it was a little awkward. Then pretty soon I asked him if he'd like something to eat, and he said yes. We went out to the kitchen and he looked down and he saw a head of lettuce. And he says, "Oh my gosh a head of lettuce." Because they hadn't had this in the Southwest Pacific, he picked up the head of lettuce like it was an apple and ate the whole head of lettuce [laughs].

LAG: [laughs]

HH: I just--[laughs], you know, ah, I couldn't believe that. But he stayed there at our place then for about a week, and his buddy was discharged several days later and he came down. Then my cousin and his wife who were on leave also from Fort Lewis, Washington for about--they were down there. We had a big family gathering. We went out to a big dance. One thing that I thought was kind of 00:35:00interesting--I had never smoked before.

At the intermission of the dances everybody went out to their car and had a drink and everybody was smoking. I said to Gene, "Let me have your cigarette. I want to taste it." And he says, "Nope you haven't smoked for this long, you don't need to start now." I've thanked him so many times for saying that.

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: So to this day, at age 62 almost, I still haven't tasted a cigarette.

LAG: What, time-wise, what year was this?

HH: This was in 1945 in July.

LAG: This was July '45. Okay.

HH: Then Gene went on to Nebraska to visit his family and he was there on VJ Day, which is Victory over Japan. I'll never forget that day because all the whistles blew in town, and we put out a special edition. We had everything done except just the very last articles, I mean, paragraphs, like "when the war ended," when the papers would be signed and all this type of thing. Anyway, that 00:36:00was a really big day. People stopped working and it was wild celebration. You probably have seen pictures of what went on in New York and San Francisco and all these big cities. Anyway, Gene was in Lincoln, Nebraska, on VJ Day and I was in Camas. Then he came home, he had an athletic scholarship to attend Oregon State. For some reason, he'd bought me rings in Lincoln, and when he came home he packed the rings in his suitcase and his luggage got lost. So we didn't want to make an announcement of our engagement until I had our rings. My stepdad had been waiting to find out when I was going to get married, because my mother didn't want to get married before I did. She thought she should wait until I got married before she remarried. One day my stepdad came to me, he says, "Well, 00:37:00Marie and I have been thinking about getting married but she wants to wait 'till after you get married, and it doesn't look like you're taking much action. Can you tell me what's going on in your life?" So I told him, "Well, there's supposed to be some engagement ring someplace." Then about 3 or 4 days later we did get a call from Greyhound Bus line and they had found his suitcases in Utah someplace, so then we announced our engagement. And my mother and stepdad went ahead and they were married in September, and we were married in December of '45. My mother and stepdad had about 30 years of married life together before my stepfather passed away, so that was nice.

LAG: So you and Gene were married in December. Can you tell me a little bit about your wedding and where you were married, and--?

HH: Okay, we were married in the Presbyterian Church in Camas. We had a lovely candlelight wedding. It was at Christmastime, of course, so we had all lined 00:38:00with poinsettias for the decoration. Then we went to Nebraska on our honeymoon because Gene hadn't been home since Christmas of 1941. We got in Nebraska and that crazy Nebraska weather, we were snow bound blizzard on Christmas Eve, and so we finally got to Gene's family about 5:00 the night of Christmas. We made telephone contact with Gene's parents' neighbors, and Gene's dad came down with a team of horses and a wagon a mile south of the little town where they lived. We left our car parked along the road and rode back in the wagon. So we did get to spend part of Christmas with Gene's family. Then we came to Corvallis. Gene had gone to school the Fall of '45 and played football here, and then we arrived 00:39:00as a couple in Corvallis on New Year's Day 1946.

LAG: Alright.

HH: We were going to be here for 4 years. Forty years later we're still here.

LAG: Forty years later, yeah. Tell me a little bit about the first year that you were married. What was your relationship like, and what were the things that you experienced being newly married?

HH: Well, in those days there were not a lot of apartments available for students. The only thing Gene could find for us to live in was a basement apartment that had been used previously by single male students. It had a hot plate that worked on high or off. The bathroom had been a clothes closet. The toilet stool was on one end and the shower was on the other, so you always had to check the toilet stool before you sat down to see that someone hadn't taken a shower and forgotten to dry the lid off. It was not what you'd call a very glamorous apartment. But Gene was so happy.


He had lived in the Sigma new house the Fall of '45, so he was always inviting some of his buddies up from the house for dinner. We always had the same menu: we'd have shrimp salad, steak potatoes and gravy, and one other vegetable. And then some kind of bought desert, because that's the only thing I could fix on this two-burner hot plate. It only worked on high or off. You didn't dare leave the kitchen because either your stuff would be burning or it would stop cooking.

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: [Laughs]. So that was quite an experience. Then we found a little house that was just about two blocks from campus. We bought that unfurnished for $3,000--furnished, I take that back. It was a furnished little one-bedroom home, and we bought it for $3,450 dollars. We lived there for all the time Gene was in school, and we did do some upgrading on it--we put in a gas water heater and a few things like that. Then we sold it when Gene finished college for $3,800. If 00:41:00we hadn't done that, our life would've been more complicated because at least we had enough money then from the sale of our house to make a down payment on another little house.

LAG: Did you have a baby in between there?

HH: We had two babies.

LAG: You had two babies while Gene was still in school.

HH: We had one baby six weeks before our first anniversary and then we had another baby in April before Gene graduated in June of '46. So we were busy. Gene had a part-time job. He arranged his classes so he could work one day a week in a saw mill at King's Valley. Then I worked at the Gazette Times first in the classified dep--Advertising Department, then, after the birth of our first son, in the display Advertising Department on a part-time job, and then through the Visual Instruction department on OSU campus. We managed to get by, and my 00:42:00family was very helpful. They would can beef for us or chicken or something like that, which went a long ways. Then I canned beans and whatever I could. So you can always get by when you want to.

LAG: That's right. Okay, what about after Gene graduated? What did you both go on to do?

HH: Well, Gene had started selling life insurance while he was still in college. He really liked selling life insurance, but if you ever look at statistics on the number of people who start selling life insurance and the ones who make it, it's a staggering thing. He thought maybe he should find something that was a little more stable. He entered a training, a manager training program with Sears, and he worked in Longview. I stayed here for a while, and it didn't take him long to see that he would not be happy doing that for the rest of his life. So he got a job down here with a produce company where he delivered produce to 00:43:00the stores and the restaurants and so forth. He would get up at 4:00 and go to work doing that, and he would get home from work like 2:00 in the afternoon and take a shower and change his clothes and go out and sell insurance in the evening. So he was working long days. In the meantime I was doing babysitting to help keep afloat. Then we had another baby [laughs].

LAG: So that makes three.

HH: That makes three [laughs]. We still just didn't have enough sense to know that we had more to do than we could handle, and that's a good way to be sometimes. Ignorance is bliss. So we were happy. Anyway, we just--Gene started selling insurance more and more, and he could see that it was something he really liked to do. He really felt good about helping people financially. Sometimes people have said to me, "Helen how can Gene go out and call on people to buy insurance from him?" And I said, "You know, whenever you deliver a death 00:44:00claim to a widow, she doesn't say I don't believe in insurance or I wish he hadn't had so much insurance. They're just so thankful that they have it. When you see that you know you're doing a service to your fellow man."

LAG: Alright. You also was helping Gene with his new business that he was--

HH: Both his business and civic activities.

LAG: Okay.

HH: Gene has always been very civic minded, and I like helping people. I don't know if you're aware of the fact that both Gene and I are First Citizens of Corvallis. We're the only couple who earned that designation while we were married. Gertrude Cropsey received it when she was Gertrude Lunde, and then Myron Cropsey later received it. So they are also a couple but they didn't--.

LAG: And what does that mean--you're First Citizens of Corvallis?

HH: Well, it's chosen--I don't know [laughs]. I was so flabbergasted when I was 00:45:00chosen First Citizen, because I didn't think I'd ever do it.

Gene has always been very active in everything and he doesn't--you know, when there's a job to do he wants to start doing it right now and work 'til it's done. There's no defeat, there's no ending until the job is accomplished. Okay. So I just always had been very supportive and very, well, very helpful to him in any way I can. I try to take as many stumbling blocks out of his way--both in business and his civic work. Consequently, I guess people thought part of the reason Gene was so successful is because I did do this. The year I was nominated, I was absolutely flabbergasted. I just couldn't believe I was nominated for First Citizen. I knew Gene had been--he was nominated for the second time. I had been contacted about Gene being nominated, and I had given this information. Then all of a sudden I noticed that Gene and my daughter were 00:46:00having little secrets and I couldn't figure out what they were talking about. I figured it was about Christmas or something. Then one night when we were driving home from town, the news came on the people who were finalists in the First Citizen thing. They said Gene Hansen was one of the finalists and Rose Osbee--Rose had always been one of the finalists--and they said Helen Hansen. I looked at my daughter and I said, "Karen do you know another, do you know somebody by the name of Helen Hansen?" And I say, "You know, it's funny--as many places as I've been in this town and I've never met another--" [break in recording].

LAG: --get the tape to come around. Okay, Helen, you'd started to say that you'd never met another Helen Hansen?

HH: Right. But anyway, Karen laughed and said, "Well, Mom, that's you." So after I got through laughing about me being nominated and how silly that was, that I was nominated for First Citizen, then I started worry about perhaps they wouldn't find enough information about my activities so that I wouldn't be 00:47:00embarrassed. Because the Gazette Times always prints resume of activities of each person, each of the finalists. But I didn't realize what a good job my family and friends had done in digging up things that I had forgotten about that I had done and had accomplished. Anyway, the night of the awards banquet when we went to the hotel, before we got out of the car I said to Karen, "Don't be sad now if Dad and I don't win tonight because there are so many good people who have done so many good things who have been nominated, that there's a very good chance that neither of us will win anything." My husband had thought that maybe there was a chance since we were the first couple there to be nominated the same year that they might have a co-winners award or something. Anyway, when they announced that I was the winner I was just absolutely flabbergasted. It was just 00:48:00something unbelievable and I know that that's always going to be one of the highlights of my life. But I think you wanted to know a little bit about what I had done.

LAG: Yeah.

HH: Alright. Altrusa is a classified service club for women, very similar to rotary. I had been very active in our club. I was the charter member. I had been a Sunday school teacher, a den mother for cub scouts, both before and after our daughter was born. Let me see-- what else have I done? I can't remember right now [laughs]. This is awful.

LAG: You had the Boy Scouts.

HH: Yeah, we were the scout family of the year in the Oregon Trail Council one year. Something else I didn't mention that when Gene was a candidate for trustee for the National Association of Life Underwriters, I went to St. Paul and I 00:49:00conducted his campaign there. That was a lot of work. Gene has been supportive of me, and I really tried to support him too. Before Karen was born I said I was going to have to drop out of Altrusa, because there was no way I could work in the office, keep my house, keep up with the boys who were active in sports and scouts and Sunday school, take care of a baby, and be in Altrusa. My husband said, "No, Altrusa means too much to you. We'll work out something else." So, here I am 25 years later still in Altrusa and still enjoying being in Altrusa, because it does give us a chance to help people. Women who are so busy don't have a lot of time to do civic work, and my belonging to a service club like Altrusa we really had done a lot to improve our town.

LAG: Alright. How did you manage when you did have--you know, you had four children at home and you were involved in a lot and Gene was involved in a lot. 00:50:00How did you manage to keep your home and to run your lives? Do you have any secrets that you could bestow on me [laughs]?

HH: [Laughs] I like to cook very much, and I always figured it was very important that my family have good meals. I kept the clothes clean enough that nobody ever said, you know whenever we left we were always cleanly dressed. The housework didn't always get done, and sometimes some of the other things that we wanted to do didn't get done. But we always tried to pick out the most important part of the work that had to be done and take care of that first. If the rest got done, fine. The world goes on. If you don't' get your bathrooms cleaned on Saturday, that's okay. You can still use them on Sunday and clean them next Saturday if you have to.

LAG: Yeah. That's interesting [laughs]. Okay, tell me a little bit about maybe how you raised your children. Obviously you were very active with your children. 00:51:00Do you see your parenting style somewhat like your parents? Do you see you as being--?

HH: I think so. My parents didn't really give me very many guidelines. We knew what was expected of us. They didn't harp on us. The same with our boys. They knew what the limits were. But we weren't overly strict. We kept them very busy, and I think this is really the secret to success in raising your children: we spent time with them. Gene would go out with the boys on scout campouts and so forth. The boys all had paper routes, and every Sunday morning when those Sunday papers were so heavy Gene would get up out of bed at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and go out and help the boys deliver their papers. They always knew that they could count on us whenever they needed us, and they knew that we expected them to be reliable also and that if anything happened, that they needed us, no 00:52:00matter where they were in the middle of the night they would call us and they knew that we'd come and get them. The boys always pretty much respected our wishes. One time, a little story, our oldest boy came in the house one day and he asked me if he could do something. He knew that that was nto allowed, and he just, "Well, Mom, please I just want to so bad." So, I said, "Well, you're not going to do it anyway, Bob, because that's just a no-no." So he went outside and he says, "Oh, my mom won't let me go." I can't even remember what they were going to do. Anyway, after this his friends went home and he came in the house and he says, "Mom I'm really glad you were firm because I didn't really want to go but I didn't want to look like I was a wimp in front of my friends." So that taught me right there you know they want guidelines.

LAG: Helen tell me what it was like raising your daughter. Your youngest son was 8 years old. Was it like a second family for you?

HH: It sort of was. When Karen was five she became interested in baton. As she 00:53:00grew older she became interested on a higher and higher level until she was competing nationally. This required private lessons. When you're doing baton, you don't know--you have to watch your toes, your hands, all your motions to see that when you're doing your different motions that you're doing exactly what you're supposed to do. So I had to go to all of Karen's lessons with her. I had to go to the team lessons on Sunday also, and I had to make all of her costumes. Consequently, she and I spent a lot of time together. I would talk to so many parents who were having problems with their children. Karen was a very pretty girl and a very popular girl, and one time I knew of a big party that was going to be going on during the Christmas holiday season. And I said, "Karen weren't 00:54:00you invited to the party?" and she said, "Yes." I said, "Well, are you going to the party?" Because this was a well-known family and very well thought of in the community. She says, "Mom, there's going to be drugs and liquor there and I just don't want any part of it." And she wouldn't go. You know you have to admire her for that.

A couple of years later she started going to these parties, but when she'd go to the parties she would take her big bottle of Pepsi with her, and she had several friends who felt the same way she did. They'd go to the party and they'd have fun, and when things started getting out of hand then they'd leave. But anyway, I always thought that Karen's baton was one of the reasons that she is the type of person she is: she's a very warm, outgoing person, very confident person. Baton is a very demanding sport. I don't know if you know Calvin Murphy, he played basketball with the Houston Rockets. He also teaches baton to the underprivileged kids in Houston.


At the national contest in Denver he was there with some of his students and he also performed. He was of course interviewed because this was a big-shot guy. He was on the Wide World of Sports and everything. But during one of his interviews he says it takes a better athlete to be a baton twirler than it does to be a basketball player. Not only is your body movements and those things, but when that stick is up there you've got to know exactly where you are and how you're going to catch it. So this really was a big boost to baton twirling. Karen was on a team that won the national championship in San Francisco, and that was really an exciting thing. Her dad was supposed to have been in the meeting at the Village Green at Cottage Grove, and he stayed over because they hadn't announced the results of the team competition. One of the ladies from Oregon who was a national judge had been down on the floor and she knew the girl's team had 00:56:00won. She knew also that we had to be back to Cottage Grove for this meeting the next day. Gene was the president of the Chamber of Commerce. And she kept saying, "Well, you just better stick around, you know. What if you're a little bit late?" Finally then they announced the third place team and the second place team. So we reached around to pick up all our belongings and they said, "The first place team's from Oregon is the Carousels." And there was squealing and screaming, and we called Gene at the hotel. He came down and the girls rolled down the windows going back to the hotel, and they were shouting, "We're number one" out the windows. It was just really a very exciting time.

LAG: Alright. Your children's childhood seems very different than your own. Did you--I don't know, when you were starting to have your family, think about this in terms of how you wanted to raise your children and the opportunities you wanted your children to have, like with things that you didn't? Were there things that you wanted to be able to provide that you didn't necessarily have?

HH: Well, I got to do pretty much what I wanted to do. I told you about you know in my senior year in high school they said, "Do you want to belong to clubs?" 00:57:00And Gene and I had the theory that you don't necessarily have to give the kids an allowance. We were the only couple of all of our friends who did not give kids allowances. We took our kids a lot of places, but if our kids wanted something they had to pay part of it. Like when our boys went to the National Jamboree, they had to earn a certain percentage of the cost of going, and then we paid the rest. To this day I think all of our kids have a good sense of accomplishment because they knew that did. They knew that they had helped do this when some of their friends didn't have to. I don't know, I've forgotten what the other part of your question was there.

LAG: I just was kind of wondering if you would, kind of--

HH: Well, anyway, as I say, we didn't give them--we wanted them to have as many experiences as they could. We always say, don't knock it if you haven't tried it. Except for drugs and things like that. They knew how we felt. I think one 00:58:00example of how we taught our kids is our oldest boy was picking beans one summer out in the bean patch. We heard this from some daughters of some friends of ours, and some kids wanted Bob to smoke. Bob said, "No I don't want to." They were bigger than Bob. Bob was a little bit small. They were trying to bully him into smoking. He said, "No I don't want to, and I'm not going to." And so he didn't. But he never ever mentioned this to us, but these girls. I think all of us always felt that you're your own person, you do what you want to do. But you know what's right, you know what's wrong, and you're supposed to do what's right. And if you do what's wrong then that's your hard luck.

LAG: Yeah, okay, let's go back a little bit to your parents. What was your relationship like with your stepparents as an adult? Do you see a big difference or any kind of a difference between when you were a child and--?


HH: Let's see, my stepdad. I was married just three months after my mom and stepdad, and so I didn't really live with them that long. Probably, it's not the same. Once your mother remarries you don't really feel like it was your home as much as it was when she wasn't married to my stepdad, because it was his home too. I think you don't feel quite as free about going in and helping yourself to something in the refrigerator or something if you want it if it isn't your home, or if your mother's sharing a home with a stepparent. But my stepfather was very, very nice, and he always told my mother that her children were more thoughtful of him and more considerate of him than his own children were. I think maybe children are more closer to their mothers quite often than they are to their fathers.


His family was a little bit different. His family was quite a bit better off than my family. His dad was a country doctor, and he had gone to college. My mother hadn't finished high school. Their lives were completely different. But they were happy, and I was really thankful. I didn't worry about my mom being alone after all of us were gone. I am really happy that she was able to find someone and have that many happy years together.

LAG: Did you have any contact with his children?

HH: Not very much because they are scattered all over. One lives in Nebraska. One was in Illinois. One in Texas, and one down in Ashland. I'd see them maybe, oh, once or twice a year but really not that much. They were all adults. It's different than if my mother had married when I was younger and they would've been in the same house.

LAG: Okay. And your mother's still alive?

HH: Yes.


LAG: And where does she live?

HH: She lives in Vancouver.

LAG: She lives in Vancouver.

HH: She has her own little apartment. She lives about a block from my singer brother. One of my brothers never married. They have a great time together. They go to the laundry together. They go grocery shopping. It's good for him to have her there and her to have him there.

LAG: How old is your mother now?

HH: She'll be 85 next month.

LAG: Oh.

HH: So she's quite a spark plug [laughs].

LAG: Your mother's still in good health?

HH: Yes. Fairly good health. She had two serious operations in one year that made her very slimmer. She probably weighs about 100 pounds. But she's a feisty 100 pounds.

LAG: Did your mother interact very much with your children? I know that you lived in separate states, but what kind of participation did she play in your children's lives? HH: Just mostly, when they lived here Mom never really kept the children that much as far as babysitting because whenever we went anyplace 01:02:00we usually took our children with us. We took our children lots of places. We took them on cross-country trips, you know. So we didn't really need her to babysit very much. But when our daughter was born, that was her first granddaughter, and she was out of her mind. My mother doesn't believe in buying flowers for people and things like that because she couldn't afford it when she was growing up, and it's just something she didn't get in the habit of. But the day that her granddaughter was born she made my stepfather take her downtown, and she went to all the stores looking for the frilliest pink dress she could buy. Then she went to the florist and she bought a little nosegay with pink carnations in it. That night when she came in to see me, she wasn't walking she floated into the room. She was just absolutely delighted. My stepdad said, "She's called everybody that she can think of, and some that she doesn't even know that well, to tell them she's got a granddaughter."

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: The next day they came in to see me again and he says, "You know last night your mom called everybody she could think of and now today she's afraid maybe 01:03:00she didn't call them, so she's calling everybody the second time." That's how much it meant to her to have a granddaughter.

LAG: Oh that's neat. You now have grandchildren.

HH: Yes.

LAG: How many grandchildren do you have?

HH: We have one granddaughter and two grandsons.

LAG: And they are your son's?

HH: Yes. My daughter was married in February, and I think they plan to wait a while before they have their children. My granddaughter and one grandson live in Connecticut. So I don't get to see them very often. I see the other little grandson maybe 5 or 6 times a year. He is being raised by a single parent who is also my son, and it's really a tricky job for a father to be a single parent, much more so I think than for a women to, because women know, we know, about fitting clothes and things and nutrition more than men do. But I do as much has 01:04:00I can to help my son. I can beans and tomatoes and peaches and things like that for him in the summertime, because I know that sometimes his money doesn't last very well from payday to payday, and I figure if he has that with what else he has in the home they're going to have good food.

LAG: Yeah. How do you see your role as a grandparent? What kinds of things--do you see it any different than your role as a parent? What kind of things do you enjoy doing with your grandchildren?

HH: Well, I like to be with them. I like to--let's see, the oldest one, Shane, is the one I see the most. The other two I'm just so happy to see them I just like to watch them to see what they're doing. The little granddaughter I've only seen her once and she was about 4 months old then. So I just love to hold her and squeeze her. With our son's situation I try to do things that are helpful for my son because he is not my strongest child. Of course, he would be the one then that has this obstacle to face.


I try to do things that are helpful to Gary. Like when we went up for Thanksgiving I always tell Larry to bring toys for Shane to play with when we'd get to somebody else's house for dinner because little kids get bored. Well Eric always brings books or something. Shane does not want to have somebody sit and reading a book when there's people talking and all this activity going on. So I took some little blocks this time. When I took them up I knew he liked to play with them at our house. So I said, "Shane now Grandma brought these for you to play with. You enjoy them today and then I'm going to take them back home so when you come down to my house you can play with them down there." And he kept himself occupied, and he would have different people at different times helping him with these blocks. Well, you just try to help him--I don't try to scold him. I try to explain things to him. I spent a lot of time talking with him and trying to say, "Well this is, we do things this way because--" and I try to help him this way.


LAG: Do you see your family now? You have children in Southern Connecticut?

HH: Yes.

LAG: And grandchildren and your other son lives--?"

HH: Well, one son lives in Salem and one lives in Camas, Washington. And our daughter lives in Beaverton.

LAG: So you're fairly spread out. You're within a day's drive of things, but do you see your family as being very close-knit?

HH: I think so. I think maybe my daughter one time when she was growing up she said, "I don't even feel like Bob is my brother," (Bob is our oldest). And I think this was because they were 13 years apart. But now they are starting to communicate a little bit more about different things, and I think this is good too. But Bob is a world-traveler and a mountain climber and he's been everyplace. Karen, she's missed out on knowing him because he was gone before she was grown up. I'm glad to see that they're starting to communicate more.


LAG: Yeah. I know you're not retired. Would you consider yourself semi-retired?

HH: Let's just say I'm tired [laughs].

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: It seems to me that we seem to be getting more and more activities instead of less and less. I know when you get to be 62, which I'm going to be this month in December, you're supposed to be able to slow down. But it seems like there are so many people who never gotten started in their life. There's still so much that has to be done in this world. And if people don't volunteer to do it, then who's going to do it? So you either do it or the job doesn't get done. As long as our health is good and we still like to help people, then I suppose we'll keep going as long as the dear Lord gives us strength.

LAG: Do you see yourself spending less time at the office than before? Or do you see maybe a time in the future where you will spend less time and devote more 01:08:00time to community? Or how do you picture your future?

HH: I think as long as Gene is working in insurance, I will be working there too. Partly because when you've worked as long as I've worked with him, and I've always tried to clear obstacles out of his path, there's a lot of things I can do that saves his--his time is more valuable than mine as far as earning money's concerned. So the more time he has doing national sales the better off we are financially. Because I've done this all the time that he has been working in insurance, there's a lot of things that I can do that if I left the office then he's going to have to do it or train someone else to do it, and so I really think it's better that both of us keep on working as long as he's working. I think it's better that I do work. I enjoy work. I enjoy the people, and I'm a 01:09:00detailed person and my husband is not. I think maybe this is one reason we work together as well as we have. A lot of the insurance wives that I meet at conventions say, "I don't know how you can work with your husband. I'd kill my husband the first week if we'd try to work together." But I've always known that you can only have one boss in the business and if I don't like something that Gene's saying or doing I'll argue my side of the case, and if he still insists that that's the way he wants to do it then I say, "Okay, just remember that's not the way I see it." So you can't have two bosses. It's just like having two horses--well, you're not a farm girl, probably, but--but two horses going opposite directions it not going to work. You've got to have them both going the same direction. But you still had the right to speak your peace [laughs].

LAG: [Laughs] Right, right. We're kind of coming down to the end here of all my questions. I wanted to ask you to reflect back about your life, maybe highlight 01:10:00some of the points that you felt were really significant to your life.

HH: Well, because the insurance industry always offers a lot of incentives to their agents to keep on producing we have had some wonderful trips: Bermuda, London, the Caribbean cruise, Hawaii several times, Acapulco. I've really enjoyed this traveling, but always it's so great to be home because we live in a beautiful, beautiful part of the world. I've seen beautiful scenery in Hawaii and you can see a lot of beauty in other places, but this part of the world it's really God's country. I don't know if you saw the movie, an old movie about the lumber industry, it was called God's Country. I'm always so happy to get home 01:11:00because there's just no place like home.

LAG: [Laughs].

HH: [Laughs] That was said years before I was even born. I don't know. I think I've been really lucky. I haven't had a lot of sickness in my family, except my father dying when I was in high school. That was a sad part in my life. But I've been a really lucky person. There've been so many good things that's happened to me that if I did much complaining I should be ashamed of myself.

LAG: Okay. I was thinking of one other thing when you were talking--you've lived in Corvallis for the last forty-some years, forty years?

HH: Yeah, it'll be forty years in January.

LAG: It'll be forty years in January. What kind of changes have you seen in the community here?

HH: Oh my gosh. It's amazing. We'd lived on Hayes Street in 1949 right after my husband graduated from school. At that time 29th Street did not go from Grant on out. It stopped at Grant Street where that little grocery store was. If we 01:12:00wanted to go to the grocery store, we had to go up to Hillcrest, walk down to Grant, and then down to 29th Street and then back up around. We had to go ¾ of a mile down to King's Boulevard to get our mail, it was delivered down there on route two. The whole town, it's just always changing. You pass one street one week and you go back the next week and there's changes going on then. We really wished that there could be some industry or something come into Corvallis so that after we educate our children they don't have to go elsewhere for work. This has been the thing that my husband has said all the time, "We spend all this money, we have great schools, but after they graduate from college what can they do in this town? Nothing." This is why our children have had to go elsewhere, and a lot of our friends have too.

This also I think makes a difference in your circle of friends as adults because 01:13:00we have some friends are living in Lexington, Kentucky, now. They were our very best friends. We used to trade babysitting with them and so forth. He had a job at the college, but Oregon State does not believe in paying their own graduates what they will pay to someone who has graduated from another school. She told me when they left they didn't want to leave either. But said it was a difference between existing and living. He would be making like $5,000 or $6,000 or more a year in Lexington than he could have if he stayed on here where he'd gone on to school. I've never quite been able to figure out why Oregon State will pay more for a graduate from another school than they will from their own university. It's almost like they don't have confidence in what they're producing here. But anyway, I think one of the hazards of living in Corvallis is that it's a very mobile community in that people are here for 4 or 5 years and then they're gone. 01:14:00After a while when you've lost close friends because they've moved you almost hesitate to form close relationships because you know sooner or later they'll have to move on too and then you're going to be missing them.

LAG: That's really--that's a unique perspective of this area. Do you have anything that you'd like to add to this tape? Do you have anything--

HH: Well, I can't think of anything.

LAG: --you want to clarify or any little story or anecdote that you might have, or [laughs]?

HH: I'm an avid Beaver fan, and when my little gal Karen was about 3 years old I bought her a yellow and green short outfit, you know with a little top and shorts. One day I said, "Karen you never have worn that outfit." And she says, "Mom, I'm not a darn duck."


LAG: [Laughs].

HH: So I guess that's what a Beaver-born and a Beaver-bred means [laughs].

LAG: I guess so. Okay, Helen, thank you very much. This has been wonderful [laughs].