The following interview was from a 1975 assignment given to students at JEFFERSON COUNTY JUNIOR COLLEGE in Hillsboro, MO. They were to select a longtime resident of the county and ask them a prepared list of questions about their recollections of their family's experiences in the county.

Interview with Ada Edwards of De Soto Missouri

 Ivr: One of the things that I was really interested in was the trains. Because I can tell by looking at the area that the trains must have really had a tremendous impact. Did you travel by trains back and forth to the city a lot?

 

Ive: Yes, that was usually the way we had to go. Now I would hesitate to give you a, as far as dates, I could just be as wrong as could be and somebody'd come up and say who gave you this information you know. I mean you know.

 

Ivr: Just general.

 

Ive: Well at one time I would say there was oh at least six passenger trains through here a day.

 

Ivr: Oh wow, you could go into the city?

 

Ive: At most any time.

 

Ivr: Do you have any, any memory of how much it used to cost?

 

Ive: About a dollar and a half, a dollar and eighty-five cents

 

Ivr: Round trip?

 

Ive: No, about three dollars round trip.

 

Ivr: Boy that was incredible.

 

Ive: And then they used to give ten ride tickets which I don't remember what they were but it lessened the fare you know. But with working, people who worked here and or lived and worked in the city would buy a ten-ride ticket and that cut the fare down quite a bit you know. And there was freight trains, this was the liveliest place between here and Little or something like that to go to St. Louis. Rock, Arkansas; I'm sure. It had the most freight trains running, it was a real busy town. And then if you're just wanting to know about trains particularly?

Ivr: I'm really interested in that because I have no experience with trains at all and I really wish there was one I could ride downtown now.

Ive: Well, I don't know what else I could say really, except that we had that railroad station was open day and night down here you know. We had a telegraph operator that was there and a passenger agent that was there all the time, You could, there wasn't a time day or night that you couldn't get into the station. It seems that the horrible part of the whole thing is that you can't get anyplace by train now. I mean nothing stops here, you know.

 

Ivr: Right.

Ive: And at that time., and during the war days when, when trains were made up of soldiers you know; that was a lot of fun. I mean we were young then and you know we used to enjoy being out on the streets and seeing all the soldier trains you know. And cars, train after train load
of soldiers. Lots of times they stopped and the boys would get off and course the young girls all had a yen to get over and see them you
know.

Ivr: Girls are always that way.

 

Ive: Always that way and so were the soldiers always that way.

 

Ivr: I guess.

 

Ive: And I guess the trains were, I guess this Missouri Pacific train was about 18 and 55 because my father-in-law was born in 1858 and it was a new thing when dad, Edwards was a little boy. The train was new. I can remember hearing him say that he came to Camel's crossing which is, do you know where he lives?

 

Ivr: No,.

 

Up here about two miles. And the train, to see the train but we lived up Selzers lived. I mean dad did when he was a little boy, dad Edward. So I guess the first trains ran through here I'd say about 55 because dad was a little boy then.

 

Ivr: 1855?

 

Ive:: Yes

 

Ivr: The state had only been a state for thirty years, or 34 years.

 

Ive: Yes.

 

Ivr: Did many people live in St. Louis, or work in St. Louis

and live in De Soto?

 

Ive: No, not too many. Not too many worked then because the

only way would have been by train you know. There was

an early morning train that went and the men who

did work in the office or whatever in St. Louis would ride

that early train up about three O'clock in the morning

which would put them in the city at working hours and

then there was a train came down about eight o'clock in

the evening that the working people came on. Course there

was a good deal of commotion then because there were no

paved roads to St. Louis.

 

Ivr: Oh that's incredible.

 

Ive: You know, you couldn't get there any other way but by train.

 

Ivr: Did most people have horses and buggies?

 

Ive: Oh yes, that was it.

 

Ivr: Were there livery stables and things that you'd have?

 

Ive: Oh yes, down here where they, where they on Boyd Street where is that Shell Filling station, yes it is. That was a livery stable and barn. You know where they kept horses and livery stable. And farther down I'm not sure just exactly the location, there was another one but my brother used to get livery horses and take their dates out you know .

 

Ivr: Ye ah , oh my .

 

Ive: But we had our own, but then that was some place if you came to town and the drummers, you know, salesmen always came in on this train. They had no other way and they'd get off of the train with a lot of cases like they'd have to have and they'd have to get horses from the livery stable and carriages, you know them.

 

Ivr: About how many, about how many horses would a livery stable have, do you have any idea?

 

Ive: I really don't know. I would have an idea they'd have, I don't know really. I would say ten' or twelve ,or maybe more . Maybe more than that.

 

Ivr: Yes, I would say you could. But you could walk and get the necessary sales? Yes, 1 would easy you could, but I, I just don't have any idea how many. And then of course I saw the first automobile that came to town, T.B, Maness as far as I know had the first one. And they would go from here to Hillsboro and maybe it'd take an hour and a half.

 

 

Ivr: I came home in the snow the other day and it took just about that long.

 

Ive: So I saw all the streets paved. WE were in business on Main Street and about 19 and 22 or along that time and I saw all the streets paved by WPA.

 

Ivr: Oh, it was all during the Depression.

 

Ive: Yes, oh absolutely. The streets were paved during, after

the 1929 slump you know. And the man who had charge who was the engineer of all the paving lived up where your sister lives.

 

Ivr: I'll be durn.

 

Ive: Mr. Robert Hearst.

 

Ivr: Now how many houses were in the town then? Was the town pretty well built up?

 

Ive: Oh yes. Yeah, pretty well. Not the subdivisions, this part oh part of the town was here. This is the old town edition, but of course you can drive around and see the subdivisions are new, but this was the old town part and it was pretty well here. But the schools, the Central School and there was a junior high school that they've torn down. But this old Central building was there and the year that we moved here they put this school where it is.

 

Ivr: When?

 

Ive:1926.

 

Ivr: 1926.

 

Ive: 19 and 26.

Ivr: So you've been in this house almost 50 years then?

Ive: Yes. Next year it will be 50 years.

 

Ivr: That's a long time to live in the same house.

 

Ive: Long time, yes it is,

 

Ivr: I guess you've had your furniture every way you could possibly have it.

 

Ive: There's only one way you can put it. That's what I say, there's not much you can do with there houses the way the windows and doors are arranged. I mean, I don't know what you'd do with them really and truly. If I were to take a fortune to go buy furniture I wouldn't hardly know how to buy to furnish this house. I mean it is hard.But it's just, you just move them and put it where you car

and that's the way. Make yourself happy that's all.

 

Ivr: What kind of business were you in town?

 

Ive: Meat and grocery business.

 

Ivr: Meat and grocery.

 

Ive: My husband was a butcher.

 

Ivr: He did all the cutting and everything?

 

Ive: They did all the cutting and everything.

 

Ivr: Where, I guess you remember the nickel's worth of round steak days then?

 

Ive: Yes, I sure do, and the good soup bone that went into the box for the dogs you know. Now you'd pay oh a dollar for

it. The same thing you threw away.

 

Ivr: Sure.

 

Ive: Six pork chops for a quarter.

 

Ivr: With a family of growing children like I have that sounds lovely.

 

I ve: Yes , indeed.

Ivr: Did you buy produce and things from the local farmers?

Is that where you got your produce?

 

Ive: Oh no, no. Sometimes we did, but they were, well about

the time that we went into business was about the first

that you could buy say lettuce and that was all packed

and shipped out of St..Louis. I mean nothing here.

 

Ivr: Did that come on the train?

 

Ive: I mean out of season. Oh yes it came by freight, all our produce that we bought came by freight. But we did buy from farmers when they had it. But of course it was too,

well when frost came and all that time from that time on it was shipped in you know and shipped to St. Louis and we got it by freight.

 

Ivr: When was canned goods, when did canned goods start coming in?

 

Ive: Well we bought, there was a salesman for canned goods. We used to buy from Weather Owl and General Foods, just like except that they were shipped in by freight all the time. They came by and got your order you know.

 

Ivr:You didn't do business by telephone?

 

Ive: No, no indeed you didn't. No, the salesmen came and got your order and I don'-t remember how long it took but a resonable time we'd get our order of canned goods that came in wooden boxes you know then. And . . .

 

Ivr: How many stores were there? Were you the only one or were there other stores?

 

Ive: Oh no, oh no, there were a lot of businesses. More than there is now really end truly. More because we were here before Krogers or any of the chain stores came see here. Well

Ive: When the Kroger's, when the chain stores came, Kroger
was the first I believe, and then A & P, (correction : A & P came a few years first) small people couldn't compete. And we were, we went, we came into business about 1922 and the Depression in 1929 about cleaned us out see. We did a credit business and delivered with a little pick-up truck. And people had no, I mean, now I look back and people had no, I don't know what to say, no idea of what it cost to run a business, you know. If down in the north end of town somebody wanted a loaf of bread for dinner, they'd just call up and we'd send it down, see, they , the shops closed down, they went on strike. And it was one of the biggest shops in this part of, on the system, on the Missouri
Pacific System. They had a strike and all of those men were our customers. I don't mean all, but they very our customers, they made our living for us. And when they struck nobody knew how long it was going to last. So my husband said, well they've been my living while they while they were working, and I can't cut them off immediately because maybe the strike will be over and to our ruination, we carried them too far. So then nobody could help us. They were good honest people, all of them, but if you don't have it, you don't have
it.

 

Ivr: What year was this, do you remember?

 

Ive: 1919 and 29, 31, 32. During the

 

Ivr: They were on strike during the Depression then?

 

Ive: No, it was later. I would say, no it wouldn't have been 1929, that's why I say I get the dates mixed up. It's probably about 32, would be like that's more like it. I would say, I'm not sure about that.

 

Ivr; Did people always p?y you iri cash or did you , did you trade?

 

Ive: Oh no, people paid, paid in cash when they got their paydays. They'd trade oh sometimes the farmers you know you'd maybe there'd be a little trade if they had produce or something you know. No, the general rule was cash. And they were, De Soto always had good honest people. It was not they didn't want to pay, it was just. And then another drawback was the independent stores and we weren't the only one. It was all of them. After the chain stores came they brought in volume you know. They bought a carload we bought a jag (small lot) you know.

 

Ivr: Right.

 

Ive: And they could sell cheaper. And then there were some who would take their cash and buy cheaper from Kroger's and we'd carry them when they ran out of cash we wouldcarry their accounts.

 

Ivr: The chain stores did they carry credit accounts?

 

Ive: NO, no. So that was you just can't compete with big

business. So that's when it was nobody's downfall but our own. I mean and that it just happens everywhere. It's happening today, it always did it always will.

 

Ivr: Were there people who spent their whole life in De Soto and didn't travel into the city at all into St, Louis?

 

Ive: I wouldn't know. Oh you mean just never did go to St. Louis?

 

Ivr: Right, just you know was De Soto self-sufficient in those days?

 

Ive: It was self-sufficient.

 

Ivr: People could do that?

 

Ive: Yes, it was, a lot more than it is now in that where as with now I don't know, not having any men in the family for a long time; I don't think you could just say there is a good men's clothier here in town, would you say? I haven't seen one. I don't know.

 

Ivr: There's one called Howards that's quite expensive.

 

Ive: Well ok, well, there used to be several men's stores, just men's stores. And well so there you're not self-supporting anymore because people go into St. Louis. I mean it's too easy, you know. It's too, so I would say a long time ago you could have lived in De Soto without ever going to St. Louis and do very well. I mean, I don't know what you could have needed you couldn't get.

 

Ivr: Do you remember the first time you went into St. Louis?

 

Ive: To the World's Fair.

 

Ivr: Oh wow. What was it like?

 

Ive: Well I went with my sister. She was a little older than I and an .uncle of ours took us. And well we went up on this early morning train-left here I guess six o'clock and spent the day at the fair. That's the first time I'd ever seen or ridden on a street car. And I was kind of dodging all the time because thought they'd eventually ran, I mean must have had tracks pretty close together. because, I suppose they did, because I can remember as a kid I kind of dodged when one would pass. My uncle laughed at me because I didn't know if it was coming right through you know.

 

Ivr: How old were you then?

 

Ive: Well I was born in "91 and that was 1904, I would have been 7 years old. No, I was born in '91.

Ive: And that was in 1904, the fair was.

 

Ivr: So you would have been 13 years old I guess.

 

Ive: No, I wasn't that old.

 

Ivr: What?

 

Ive: Couldn't have been, well where's your mathmatics ?

 

Ivr: From '91 to 1900 would be nine years.

 

Ive: And four, yeah I guess I was. Well that was the first
time I was in St. Louis. Yes, you're right.

 

Ivr: Did St. Louis seem really big to you?

 

Ive: Oh yes. Of course we went straight to the fair and you have no idea

of w hat that was like.

 

Ivr: It was still out in the country wasnt it, more or less?

 

Ive: Out where Forest Park is.

 

Ivr: Yeah, well I mean but that wasn't considered the city?

 

Ive: Oh no, no, no. But it was, I can't even imagine now you were just agog. (amazed) I mean it was so big and so many things. You spent a whole day and you couldn't imagine all the things you'd seen. But it was, and then I did go back a few times, but that was the first time I was in St. Louis. I did go back when my mother and dad did.

 

Ivr: So people were not down to deadrock by any means. There was some good homes and people were pretty well on their feet,

 

Ivr: I was intrigued. 1 was reading some clippings from a man in Kimmswick, He had saved a lot of newspaper clippings and in one newspaper that he had saved it said that the mayor of De Soto said that there was absolutely no factory space available. Recently a doll factory and a string
factory had opened up and there were more businesses that wanted to come to De Soto, but there was no available place. I was intrigued by the doll factory. Do you remember anything about the doll factory?

 

Ive: Yes I do. It was, I think the building has been torn down now, but I think it was in a brick building south of the, north of the depot it would have been, that was put there by the railroad company. And I'm sure that's where the doll, I think that's where the doll factory was. Well the reason I think they would of years ago have said that . . . now you can see for yourself that there's lots of places you could go out now and put a factory and I guess they're crying for them now. But here we were, or here we are between two hills and the railroad was here. Where were
you going to put anything? I mean there's no place t6, the creek was over there and there wasn't they didn't extend themselves like they do now. You take this Walker addition over here. And anyway, I mean, why couldn't you go down and put a whole factory,

 

Ivr: Right, now you've got these big Caterpillars drive through these hills,

 

Ive: Well that's right, that's right. And otherwise there's no place to go. You were between these two hills.

 

Ivr: What kind of dolls did they make at the factory? Did you ever see any of them?

 

Ive: I really don't know. I really don't know.

 

Ivr: My mother had some incredible old China dolls.

 

Ive : Did she ?

 

Ivr: They belonged to my grandmother.

 

Ive: I really don't know. I do remember there was a doll factory here, I never did factory work like the shoe factory or, or and there was a dress factory here at one time.

 

Ivr: Has the shoe factory been here for a long time?

 

Ive: Yes, it's been here oh I would say oh I would say 70 years anyway (1907)

 

Ivr: Oh that's a long time. I didn't even know it existed until recently I ran into a woman who said she worked there.

 

Ive: The first people who came here was the Peter Shoe Company. They were the first people who came. It has changed hands
a time or two. I'm not sure just how many times since that time. Ant it's had it's ups and downs, you know.

 

Ivr: Did people vacation back many years ago like they do now. or was everybody just too busy?

 

Ive : No, people didn't. No, not too much I wouldn't say.

There was no way to go except by train and not much way to go after you got there. You know, I mean it's not like it is now, I mean you couldn't get in your car and go, and nobody had a car when you got there , you know what I mean.

Ivr: What did people think about the cars when they came? Were people skeptical? They said it will never last, or was everybody enthusiastic?

 

Ive: Well, we had no roads for one thing. So that would, was not inducive But well I suppose it's just like everything else, 1 guess everybody wanted one when they saw the possibilities, I guess. But until we got roads then there wasn't much.

 

Ivr: What, how about -gasoline? I wonder, if you're the first guy in town, where do you buy gasoline for your car?

 

Ive: I don't know.

 

Ivr: I wonder what Mr. Maness did then?

 

Ive: I don't know, I really don't.

 

Ivr: How about city services? It occurs to me that if you have a whole population that gets around by riding on horses you must have a certain amount of manure and that kind of thing that accumulates in the street. Did the city do any clean-up work like that or did it just get ground in?

 

Ive: I have an idea it just went in with the mud, I've seen Main Street when it was nothing but a mud. I mean there was no pavement, no blacktop, no anything. So I suppose it was just the droppings were there and went on in I guess. I don't remember that we had any particular city service on the streets. I don't remember what we did.

 

Ivr: How about weather, was weather a lot different back then? People always say, well they used to take sleighs and stuff across the Mississippi River, cause it froze over and everything.

 

Ive: Well I can remember that it, the winters were colder I'm sure because when we lived out where the Silbys live nowthat's where I first married and went. And there wasn't a road built, they were just gravel roads. And no bridges.

 

Ivr: You had to go through creeks and things?

 

Ive: Through the creek. I, would say that we crossed the

creek seven or eight times to get from Silsby's place to De Soto. There wasn't, the way the creek ran the road was right down the creek. I mean you weaved in and out of water. And I have seen this creek get so high that you couldn't go up this Walker addition up here, you couldn't have gone through that road because the creek was so high. See they have deepened the channels I guess and there used to be a lot of willows grew along the creeks and all and the creek just spread out all over the place. Now they have dug out the channels. I suppose that's the reason, or else we don't have that kind of flood or rains, I'm not sure. And my dad used to, my own dad used to haul cord wood like everybody else did. And just cross the creek on ice, I mean they didn't, occasionally they'd break through. They always took an ax along in case they did.

 

 

Ive: That's right. So that was pretty, and you never see these creeks, I mean you don't, but I don't ever see these creeks frozen no where enough so even kids could skate on them anymore.

 

Ivr: No, that's true,

 

Ive: So the, evidently there is a change in the weather, there evidently is. I mean winters must not be so bad as they were .

 

Ivr: Oh, Really?

 

Ivr: Did your dad farm?

 

Ive: Yes.

 

Ivr: So did you have a lot of farm chores to do when you were?

 

Ive: Well, I guess I did, yes. I liked the farm and liked to work outside better than I liked to work in the house. I did, I always did and my older sister would do the house chores and the sewing and all that sort of thing and help mother. And I helped my dad and more outside because my brothers were older and they got away from home earlier. So I, I guess I loved the farm. I really do. I do now. I always would,

 

Ivr: And then,.when you got married, how old were you?

 

Ive: Twenty-two,

 

Ivr: Twenty-two. And what kind of a man did you marry? Did you already have that store? Did he have the store when you got married?

 

Ive: No, I married a farmer. Married a farmer.

 

Ivr: And they were living on the farm where Mrs. Silsby lives now. Do you know where the old Silsby farm is?

 

Ivr: I have seen the mailbox I'm sure. But I can't exactly place it

 

Ive: Well, well that was what my husband's home when we lived there for oh about five years and then he went .into business and we came later into De Soto. And well they were, you're not asking anything about them, but they were livestock breeders.

 

Ivr: Oh I see,

 

Ive: They had breeding barns?

Ivr: Yes, I'd like to know about them. I'd like to know just how it was .

 

Ive: Well then we had, they own breeding barn and the first stallion that we had I can remember that we had was one

that won the blue ribbon in the World's Fair in St. Louis.

 

Ivr: Oh, what kind of horse was it?

 

Ive: He was a saddle horse. Highchief was his name, Highchief. And then we had a lot of good horses. A lot of had, they had well some of the best horses in the state I'd say.

 

Ivr: Did you ride?

 

Ive: Yes.

 

Ivr: Did you drive a horse and buggy?

 

Ive: Oh yes, that's the only way I came to town.

 

Ivr: Oh well I can't imagine tbat. I've never driven, I've never even ridden behind a horse. We have horses and we ride them but . . . did you have any favorites or did yov just take whatever horse was there?

 

Ive: No, no we had favorites. You, you had one you like to ride better than the rest of them. But, and some you liked to drive better. Yes, we had very, very fine

horses and I did love them.

 

Ivr: Did you ride side-saddle?

 

 

Ive: Yes, I ride side-saddle. Everybody did then.

 

Ivr: That would be hard.

 

Ive: Well it wasn't if you knew how. And I mean it just came as easy as could be.

 

Ivr: How about clothes, did you buy clothes or were your clothes made for you?

 

Ive: Either way. You usually had your when I was a kid mother did all of our sewing for us you know. And we went to school, didn't have too many clothes either. But when you could, the Huntshalls (Hoethhalls) had a very fine clothing store. Right at the foot of the hill down here and you could buy some good clothes there. But you could buy as good of clothes as you can now. I think even better.

 

Ivr: I didn't have any idea that you could get ready made clothe

 

Ive: Oh yes, you could get beautiful clothes. Yes you could.

 

Ivr: When you went to school, did you come into town to go to school?

 

Ive: No, I went to school out in the country. I went to a country school when I was growing up.

 

Ivr: Did you walk?

 

Ive: Three miles.

 

Ivr: Did anybody ride horses to school?

 

Ive: No, except when the creek was up, and you couldn't get

across the creek. We always went where we went we had to cross the creek here. And we had horses or maybe some of the neighbors would hitch up a team of horses and take the neighbor kids in the wagon you know and get them all there together. And those ones that were on the way you know would pick up the kids as it'd g'o along.

 

Ivr: How many people were there in school, how many children were there?

 

 

Ive: Oh.

 

Ivr: Just roughly.

 

Ive: Oh I'd say kids, there used to be a lot, say forty-five or fifty kids in one room.

 

Ivr: Wow and one teacher?

 

Ive: And one teacher, oh yes mam.

 

Ivr: Oh, that must have been a busy teacher. So she had children of all different ages and grades?

 

Ive: And all grades. I taught school before I was married,

 

Ivr: You did?

 

Ive: And I had at one time fifty-two children in school. Taught all the grades beginning from the lowest up.

 

Ivr: And did you, did the one room school house go all the way through the twelfth grade?

 

Ive: No, just the eighth grade.

 

Ivr: Eighth grade.

 

Ive: Eighth grade.

 

Ivr: And then, if students wanted to go on?

 

Ive: They come to high school here in De Soto or whereever.

 

Ivr: Did many people go on and og to college?

 

Ive: Not many people. We were talking about that the other night. And the thing that just floors me is that I look back now over that age group, let's say kids that we had in school then, and I can think that more of then on an average went places and got to be somebody and did things than they do now. Now that's for sure.

 

Ivr: I wonder what, what's the difference?'

 

Ive: I mean I can look, I don't know, I think they had such a hard time and went through so many hardships going to school in the country that when they went to high school they took advantage of every minute and everything and I don't think children do now,

Ivr: That's it. Children have a lot today just given to them.

Ive: Absolutely, absolutely.

Ive: And we were discussing that, my nephew and I the other day. And I said we just named over a bunch of these in his age group and I said they're just people

you could be real proud of. Maybe percentage wise there's as many now, I don't know, but you just marvel if they ever got anyplace.

 

Ivr: Did you have any discipline problems when you were teaching?

 

Ive: No, no. Children respected the teacher. No, you didn't have. You had a slow people in school just like you do now. I mean, but we gave more than the teachers do now.

I mean we try. I know we tried herder because many times we'd give up our recess and noon and take in the youngster who was having difficulty with maybe mathematics or whatever and you'd sit sown with him along and try your very best. I don't believe they do that now. I don't believe too many people do that now.

 

Ivr: Yeah, it takes a lot of commitment.

 

Ive: Yes it does, yes it does.

 

Ivr: How long did you teach?

 

Ive: I taught four years.

 

Ivr: Four years?

 

Ive: Yes. I taught one year after I was married I believe. No, I didn't. I taught one year after I was married and then the war came along, that would have been about ' 42

I guess, teachers were short. They, a lot of them were drafted into war and I took another two years of teaching. And I'd been out an awful long time, but they were so short of teachers out of North town here. And I could see the difference in children's attitude in the interim between the time I had taught. I taught said my last year would have been 19 and oh 18 perhaps and then from that time to '45 there was such a difference in the oh the attitude of the children in their desire to learn, or I don't know what the change was, but I could see a marked difference.

Ivr: I see. So you remember any of the suffrages, the people who were trying to get the vote for wonen? Was anybody in De Soto involved in that at all?

Ive: Well, let's see, that I don't know. I'm not sure about that

Ivr: That would have been around 1920.

Ive: Yes, well I wasn't living in De Soto in 1920. I came in about '22 or '23, something like that.

 

Ivr: I see,

 

Ive: I really don't know. Oh I guess there was women of this town were always pretty active in all the civic affairs.

 

Ivr: You interested me when you said you helped to run the business because then many years ago you know there just wouldn't have been too many women deeply involved in doing things. Do you think farm life was a lot different back then than-it is now?

 

Ive: Oh definitely. I mean nobody had farm machinery. They didn't have anything but horses and mules and plows.
And when we farmed, my dad farmed, nobody had a tractor.
We did have a binder to bind the wheat. And maybe a hay( rack, but my goodness, this heavy equipment people have now-they never heard of.

 

Ivr: Right. I guess farms were a little bit smaller.

Ive: Oh sure, they would have to be.

 

Ivr: Did you have a lot of hired people that worked on the farm?

 

Ive: No, not a lot of hired people. Most of the farms weren't that big, but you couldn't afford to keep them. People had help, my husband's dad always kept help. A couple of men helped them farm. But there were in the first place farms didn't pay off, you couldn't keep help, you couldn't afford to.

 

Ivr: Had to be a family effort.

 

Ive: Had to be a family operation or you couldn't do it.

 

Ivr: Did you have to pitch hay, all the hay by hand?

 

Ive: Oh sure, sure you did.

Wed go out and get bales of hay for our horses out of the field, that's a lot of work and I look at that and think if you had to do it all with a pitchfork.

 

Ivr: Did you help with that?

 

Ive: Oh yes. We had a mower to cut the hay.

 

Ivr: Did the horses pull the mower?

 

Ive: Yes, which was horse drawn. And a rake to rake up the hay, it was horse-drawn too. They raked it in what they called wind-rows, you know across the field and then from that we pitched hay onto a frame.

 

Ivr: Did people get hurt a lot farming?

 

Ive No.

 

Ivr: No?

 

Ive: No, no not too much. People were aware of things. People very rarely got hurt, there was some occasional accidents course, but not often.

Ivr: I guess so.

 

Ive: And then it was put into barn lofts. Most people didn't stack their hay out and that was a hard job. Somebody pitched the hay into the loft and somebody that was already in the loft, and they moved it back you know and made room for that carload, truckload, wagonload, there were no trucks. So it was a slow process and same way wit! wheat harvest. That was quite a deal. Thrashing was a lot of fun.

 

Ivr: Did, when did thrashing machines come out there? You mean you used to do that by hand?

 

Ive: No, no I never knew that. We always had a thrashing machine but it was well, what could I say it was? It was an engine kind of a steam engine operated thing.

 

Ivr: Oh I see.

 

Ive; And they were slow and they would break down and you'd have your dinner all ready and the next fella would be
broke down someplace. I mean it was a sort of a slipshod thing.

 

Ivr: Right.

 

Ive: But it was a lot of fun. All the neighbors helped everybody else and the women always went and helped cook. Maybe we'd 25 or 30 men you know by the time they all got around there having a thrashing,

 

Ivr: You mean everybody would do it together?

 

Ive: Everybody, well no I mean if I were getting thrashing

dinner for them thrashing at my house, the neighbors came and helped me you know. Maybe there would be a dozen women come and help you. It was quite and ordeal.

 

Ivr: I see. I guess there was a lot more community kind of feeling,

 

Ive: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. There was a different sort of you knew your neighbors then and you don't now. You know, I mean you knew.

Ive: If you were going to build a barn or something, did everybody do their own barn building or were there
contractors that you would say-I need a barn built?

 

Ive: Well everybody, they'd probably have a day of work day

and all the neighbors would go in and help. And it was the same way with they traded work. I mean if maybe somebody would come and plow for you all day and you and you would exchange work is what I want to say. You know everybody helped everybody.

 

Ivr: What happened in those years when you had a really bad
growing season and everybody had really bad crops and everything? How did people get along?

 

Ive: Real rough. Sure it was. In '19 and I think it was 4 we had a drought. I can't remember too much as I was not as concerned then as I wasn't old enough to be. But we, the people mostly depended on their wheat crop because they'd sell their wheat or have it ground and exchange it for flour
and sell wheat and that was going to pay the taxes and all that stuff. People had a real rough time that year, that particular year we always referred to it as the dry year -- an entire failure in crops. And this was just, how do we manage now when things go wrong? Wed just plow through, wed manage.

 

Ivr: Were, were banks here then. I mean did you go to the bank and get a loan?

Ive: Oh yes. Yes, you could, yes you could. I saw several bank failures in this town. People's Bank closed here.

 

Ivr: And then people would lose all the money they had in that bank?

 

Ive: Well practically. And Farmers and Citizens Bank is downs believe me. And it's really, they've been pretty

good I'd say. They stayed in and pitched pretty well I think

Ivr: How about medical care back when you were a child? Or when you ere newly married, were there doctors?

Ive: Well, there were, oh yes. And it was different. If you another bank that closed and De Soto has had its ups and

called a doctor then you got they were general practioners And any time day or night they'd go in horse and buggy you know. That's the only way they had to go. Course we weren't too far out of the town, let's say a couple, three miles out and they came. And they came. And the doctors then had a, well, they weren't bus$ I guess as much as they are now. They had a different attitude. We've had the doctor come to the farm and stay all night. Just come and stay all night. Just take bed there and if we needed him in the night, My dad Edwards had very bad sick spells and he'd just stay all night. Next morning he'd eat his breakfast with us and you could die now if you could get a doctor to do that, I mean you'd fall dead if you got. a doctor now cared enough about you to come and stay. And doctors were I guess they were less busy and could do it I suppose. Or had. I don't know whether they were more sympathetic or what it was.

 

Ivr: Maybe it was just a different attitude.

 

Ive: Different times I think.

 

Ivr: Everything seems to move so much faster now than it did.

 

Ive: That's what I say.

 

Ivr: How about hospitals? Were there, if somebody were terribly sick were there hospitals where they would take them?

 

Ive: Not here in, there's always been hospitals in St. Louis.

As long as I can remember of course. But there was none local nothing local.

 

Ivr: How about, well then the babies in the area were always born at home.

 

Ive: At home.

 

Ivr: And did the, were there midwifes or did the doctors assist?

 

Ive: The doctors did but there were midwifes. I think I imagine there were more babies born by midwife then by doctors:. But the babies were born at home because there was nowhere else, no place, you know.

 

Ivr: Everybody just accepted it and nobody worried about it?

 

Ive: That's right.

 

Ivr: Do you know of people who maybe died in childbirth? Was that common at all?

 

Ive: Not common, no. There might have been a case or two of cases that even nowthey couldn't save the mother I guess. But it was rare. Very rare.

 

Ivr: How about doctors fees? Were doctors fees relatively high or?

 

Ive: Not compared to now.

 

Ivr: No, how about compared to groceries or other things?

 

Ive: Yes, they were perhaps, yes. I expect we thought doctors fees were pretty high then.

 

Ivr: Were the dentist's?

 

Ive: Yes, not to compared with now. Not by any comparison,not by any comparison then dentists weren't. But doctors for heaven sakes groceries didn't cost anything in those days

 

Ivr: True, How much were groceries per week for a family on the farm

 

Ive: Well we were, we raised, mother always had chickens and we had we made butter to sell and I guess I don't remember, it seeme to me we'd get about fifteen cents for a dozen eggs. But we used .to buy three pounds of coffee for a quarter,

 

Ivr: For a quarter?

 

Ive: For a quarter. R. Buckles coffee, three pounds for a quarter, I can remember that but it was for coffee beans and we had to grind it at home. But sugar was, I can't remember, just a minimum cost of what it is today. And we didn't buy many groceries. I don't know, the farmers just didn't buy many groceries. We raised our living.

 

Ivr: I guess since you were raised on a farm you raised everything you needed.

 

Ive: You raised your living. We had I often think that we lived better then we can today, and we didn't have anything. I mean we raised cur garden and we buried turnips and parsnips and cabbage. They'd dig a hole in the garden and fill it with straw and then put these things in and then put some more straw on top of that and put the dirt on and there would be times when we couldn't possibly get to that hole because of snow and ice. But there it was. And apples, burying them by the bushel.

 

ive: Now that served just like a fruit cellar did.

 

Ive: Well sure, sure.

 

Ivr: I had no idea you could do that.

 

Ive: Oh yes. Kept just as good, and apples tasted better dug out of that hole than you could buy them any place cause there's something about that and it was just snappy and brittle as could be. So we buried and raised potatoes why we never bought a potato in our life you know. And mother canned fruits and made apple butter and dried apples and dried peaches.

Ivr: How did they dry things?

 

Ive: Well they would peel the apples and cut them up and took out the cores and sliced them and put them onto, well of you had corrugated tin or iron or something; whatever, and we had, we had rail fences and if you know how a rail fence is built you know you could put a board in the corner you know how a rail fence is, and spread those apples out there and then at nights we'd bring t in before the dew fell and then next morning we'd scatter them out again on that and dry them or sometimes people had porches that they take them up lay them on and dry them, or, or where ever. Anyplace you'd get the sunlight.

 

Ivr: How long did it take to dry those?

 

Ive: Oh I expect it took nearly a week to dry fruit good. And then they just packed them and put them in paper bags or whatever and course it took a long time to cook apples, too. But boy, they're good. The best ever. And the same way with peaches. They, they'd half the peaches and took the seeds out and turned the, the half side up, I mean you know.

 

Ivr: They cut the side of it?

 

Ive: Cut side up, that's what I want to say. And then put them
out just the same way. And mother

 

Ivr: Did birds try to eat them when you did that?

 

Ive: I don't think so. I guess we must have had them close

around the house most of the time I think. And my mother used to dry pumpkin and she'd slice the pumpkin, she'd cut them in rings you know and it'd be', like in rings and a bout, seemed to me like they were about half an inch thick or so and put them on a pole. Just put a pole through those rings you know and out them up on something and they dried. And then they made hominy.

 

Ivr: Now what is hominy made of?

 

Ive: That's corn, white corn.

 

Ivr: What do you do with this?

 

Ive: Shell the corn, well that's quite a process. Then they, shelled the corn and then it was, you brought lye, you know what that is?

 

Ivr: Yes.

 

Ive: Not, my mother didn't, my mother made the lye out of ashes, out of wood ashes, andf the lye and she soaked the corn into that. She'd take the husks off and then it was cooked and cooked and cooked until it got tender. But that's how they cooked the husks off and then you washed it and washed it and washed it I don't
know how many waters before you cooked it to get that lye taste out. But then after people got concentrated lye, you know, they'd use
that instead of the wood ash

 

 

 

Ive. But I don't know how, I can't remember how mother did that.

 

Ivr: Then did she can it. when it was all through?

 

Ive: You didn't have to can it. You just put them; you just put them out . They had big earthin jars and put it in a
big earthin (crock) jar and my mother used to take a piece of that brown paper and make a paste with flour and paste it over the top, you know. Thats all you did to seal it.

Ivr: Oh I see it didn}t spoil or anything?

 

Ive: No, no. No, no, no. So we had our living on the farm like I said. We depended on the wheat of course to take it down and exchange it for flour and we'd have the winter's flour and maybe the whole year, I don't know.

 

Ivr: Was there a mill in town that ground flour?

 

Ive: Yes, Leps Mill was here in town right at the, down here where the City Hall is now. And that was I can remember
very well and then this town used to have Artesian wells.

 

Ivr: We have an artesian well.

 

Ive: Yes, well this used to have flowing wells. There was

one down by the mill and there was one down by .on Easton Street where Norma's Beauty shop is.

 

Ivr: Yes.

 

Ive: And the drugstore is down there and oh I remember I can't just remember but I remember those two very well. The water flowed all the time. And that's where the farmers would take their horses to water when they came to town you know.

 

Ivr: Did the houses in town have wells or cisterns?

 

Ive: They had cisterns and wells.

 

Ivr: And they caught rainwater from the roof?

 

Ive: Before there was, I don't remember when De Soto got the

water system it has now, I don't remember, I'm not sure.

Sure is interesting to think about. How about the churches? Were there always a lot of churches in town?

 

Ive: Oh yes, yes.

 

Ivr: What kind of services did they have? Did a lot of people go to church?

 

Ive: Oh I think people went just about like they do now. I think so. I think so.

 

Ivr: Did they have a lot of, were there a lot of activities centered around the churches' social life and everything?

 

Ive: I would say so, yes. I think people were pretty active in all of the church affairs as far as I can remember.

 

Ivr: Yeah, we have a little chapel out at our farm. And apparently the people built it for the farm and I guess they had a priest come out. It was a Catholic chapel and everything.

 

Ive: I guess so.

 

Ivr: It's really something if all the neighborhood people

must have come there.

 

Ive: I don't know about that. I was not out there then and I didn't know about that. I don't know.

 

Ivr: How about, were people tolerant of other people's religions or was there a tendency, for instance, if there were Jewish people in town. Did everybody accept them just like everybody else?

 

Ive: Yes, yes. Most of the businesses were run by, I mean clothing business was run by Jewish people.

 

Ivr: And the black people always just got along with everybody got along well together?

 

Ive : Yes, oh yes.

 

Ivr: That's really a nice thing.

 

Ive: There is a little different on, maybe not with everybody but I think it used to be that the Catholic were kind of far out, as far as we protestants were concerned you know what I mean. And I believe they're different, maybe you're a Catholic, I don't know.

 

Ivr: No, I'm not a Catholic,

 

Ive: Maybe, maybe they were different than now, I mean I think they were more, . .

 

Ivr: I think they've loosened up.

 

Ive: I'm sure they must have, because

 

Ivr: I wanted to ask you about when people got married, when young men and women started going out together, what was it like? What kind of social things did people do?

 

Ive: Well, when I was a youngster growing up we had singing, you know, say on a Saturday or any nigh. Somebody, most everybody had organs or a piano and they'd have a group singing, you know. And all of the young folks would go to a singing and that was a lot of fun. And they used to
have candy pulls, you know. Somebody would make taffy and

 

Ivr: Would that just happen in somebody's kitchen?

 

Ive: Yeah, I, somebody's, yeah. And maybe several couples

would go and have taffy pulls. And then we used to have play parties. They didn't call them dances, but they were play parties,

Ivr: Where, where did you have those?

Ive: Anybody's home. They'd just clean everything out in one room and they'd just cut the mustard, you know. They'd have more fun, they'd sing songs instead of having music, you know. They sang like little old play party songs and they had, churches would have things in the evenings, you know, and that's another place the young folks got together on Sunday nights. It was, I guess in a lesser degree, young folks were always young folks.

Ivr: They found a way.

 

Ivr: Did you go out driving in your buggy?

 

Ive: Oh yes, yes.

 

Ivr: Was that, did the older people frown upon that?

 

Ive: No, no, no. There was not the, I don't know what I could say, but young people were more dependable that they are now. I mean there was no, not so much hanky-panky these days

 

Ivr: Maybe a little bit more mature.

 

Ive: That's right.

 

Ivr: Were most people around 22 or 23 when they got married?

 

 

Ive: I expect the average people were, they didn't take this 14, 15, 16 year old stuff that now, I mean like they do now, I don't think so. There was some younger people married but evidently they were more mature or knew where they were going more than they do now I think. Or maybe I just don't understand the young people, I guess that's it.

 

Ivr: Well I don't know, I think it's a little bit of both.

 

Ive: But I think

 

Ivr: Did most people get married with the idea they would have large families?

 

Ive: I don't know about that. But most of them did.

Ivr: Most of them did.

 

Ive: Most of them did.

 

Ivr: Wasn't much choice about it then?

 

Ive: No, no, I don't know that they had, I don't know that they even speculated on what about that. But then it was kind of a, I guess that's the way it was and they accepted it whatever it was, and made the best of it. And they did a good job doing it.

 

Ivr: How long did you go out with people before you got married?

 

Ive: Oh then, that depended I mean, just like it is now.

 

 

Ivr: You just dated?

 

Ive: Yeah a lifelong courtship or maybe a short one depending the way, people are no different in a way, I don't think then they are now.

 

Ivr: That's a totally different world.

 

Ive: Yes, it is, but it's kind of fun to think that you've seen it all. I mean I don't know what the next 25 or 30 years are going to bring, but I mean the fact that you came from

there to here.

 

Ivr: That's incredible.

 

Ive: It's a lot of fun.

 

Ivr: It's incredible just to be able to adjust to it and appreciate it.

 

Ive : Yes, but you do it so it comes so gradual and you just kind of go along with whatever happens, what else can you do?

 

Ivr: True. What impact did, when airplanes came, when the Wright Brothers started flying their airplane do you remember that at all?

 

Ive : Yes, I don't remember particularly that. Well, it's

just like, I can remember the first highway they put in was old 61 and I can remember my dad saying "Well, we'll never live to see it finished.", you know. You know I mean when you start laying that concrete from say St. Louis to where ever they went. I'm not sure what their destination was, you don't think you'll ever get it done. I mean my dad couldn't see they'd ever finish it, well you don't believe they're going to get them off the ground, but they do. So you accept it and like it.

 

Ivr: Have you flown an airplane?

 

Ive: Oh yes. Two or three trips. I've gone to California and I like it. I'm not crazy about flying, but I like it, I'm not afraid.

 

Ivr: Oh I did enjoy it.

 

Ive: I like it.

 

Ivr: Let me think, there must be, oh I have to, Oh I'm

supposed to ask you about hunting. When you lived on the farm, did your father hunt?

Ive: No, my father didn't hunt, but none of my men folk were hunters, really, neither were my brothers, but my husband was. Had a big old, I guess hound dog named Drum and well they usually had some hired help.. And I can remember when we were first married in the fall of the year and in the wintertime old Drum, we always called him, did night hunting. He was a coon dog. That's what he was. And way in the night you'd hear old Drum someplace and, Newman was my husband's name, he never let that old dog down. He called this fellow from the house and say I hear old Drum. He's got a coon, and theyd get up in the coldest night ever was and dress and go to that dog and they always got a coon. I mean they got results, he didn't let, they wouldn't let that old dog down and he didn't let them down. But really he was not a hunter.

 

Ivr: Did you eat the coons then?

 

Ive: I don't think we did. I have eaten coon, but I'm not sure I did at home, I'm not sure that we ever did. But they were good, they're real good.

 

Ivr: Did the people who hunted then, you think the hunting was better then than it is now?

 

Ive: Oh yes, yes. Because, well, the country wasn't settled then like it is now. There was more, the, the idea of night hunting, I mean they used, the whole skins, you know. That's the idea I guess in my time. But I don't think people ordinarily, coons were good eating. I don't think we ever, I don't remember of ever having cooked one, but I'm sure people did. They are clean meat, they never eat anything filthy. They are nice clean meat, so it would have been good. But I think the idea was, I guess it was, I guess that was their thing just like- football and soon is now with everybody. I guess it was just fun to go. That was their sport I suppose.

 

Ivr: Yeah.

 

Ive: But I never had any, and my men folk, oh maybe went squirrel hunting a few times, but not, they weren't hunters.

 

Ivr: Do you know anything about the fur industry? For instance, where we lived used to be a fox farm and they used to raise foxes for furs. Do you know if there were people in the town who bought furs?

 

Ive: I really don't know. Not here. I'm sure they didn't here, they must have had a market other than local.

 

Ivr: Must have gone into the city.

 

Ive: They'd had to gone some place else, there wasn't nobody here who would have bought. When we were in the meat
market and we did, had our own butchering done over in the, slaughter pen, over on the Eastside and there was a big
market then for cow hides, but they were, people would come down from St. Louis and do the buying.

 

Ivr: Oh, the shoe factory didn't buy them?

 

Ive: No, no, no, no. Because they had to be tanned and all that, you know, so they couldn't have used them. They, they
bought the rawhide, somebody from St. Louis came down and bought them and I suppose that was the tannery. I'm not
sure who did buy them, but some tannery I'm sure and then I guess they, where you sold, maybe I don't know where they went from there,

 

Ivr: I see, do they have a general store? You know, stores where you could go in and buy just about anything? Or was everything divided into specialty shops, clothing shops, shoe shops?

 

Ive: Oh no. Well, rather so, now stores In the country had everything,

but I mean here in De Soto they were rather specialized. They were, well, could you say we had a special shop now? Hardly. I mean you go into a drugstore and you buy anything, like a thrashing machine or anything else. I mean, I don't think there are any specialized oh a few, clothing or dress shop or something or shoe store.

 

Ivr: Did these houses have gaslights in them? Or was it electricity at that time?

 

Ive: Guess then electricity was more common, I know I'm sure they were some.

 

Ivr: How about telephones, when did telephones come in?

 

Ive: Well we had telephones on the farm and they were-I was thinking about that the other day. Maybe six or eight people in a neighborhood got together and decided we needed telephones and that was, the telephone company was owned by Coxwells who lived, who are native De Soto people. They've always been here, the Coxwells. And it was always the Bell Telephone, but I'm not sure they called it Southwestern Bell, but it was Bell I think. And the men of the neighborhood would decide they could have a telephone, or would like to. They cut their own poles and they bought their own telephone boxes. You know they were then the boxes that you put on the wall.

 

Ivr: Just hung on the wall?

 

Ive: And the company, I suppose the Coxwell Company evidently wired them, must have strung the wire, I don't know, but they set the poles. The farmers did themselves and they could only have so many on the telephone line, say six or eight. And it was always funny the way we'd have two short rings and two long ones, that was ours and somebody else would have two short rings and somebody one long ring and everybody knew whose ring, telephone was ringing I mean you know we didn't have numbers, we just had rings we'd use, would recognize by the ring your own number, your own ring. And they kept their own, they did the work on the lines pretty well. I mean if something happened and you couldn't get your neighbor, well you must have known a limb had blown on the line you know. And all that stuff and the men would get out and go through. They'd follow the line until they found the trouble and maybe a pole had blown down or something you know, but they maintained their own telephone lines pretty well as far as I could remember when we were on the farm,

 

Ivr: Did they have an operator and when you wanted to call somebody you would?

Ive: Yes, yes you could.

 

Ivr: So what, what would you say? Would you?

 

Ive: Now on our own local line let's say, people, we didn't bother an operator, we just rang the number,

 

Ivr: How did you? You mean you had a dial on the phone?

 

Ive: There was a crank on the phone and you just rang two shorts like that, see, and then ring two longs. There was not an operator connected with it in any way, you did your own,

 

Ivr: Well, could you call St. Louis?

 

Ive: You could through an operator.

 

Ivr: Through an operator,

Ive: You had to call De Soto and say?

Ivr: And then what would you say to her? Would you say you

 

wanted a certain number in St. Louis? Or a person's

name? Or how?

 

Ive: I have an idea more the address than anything else.

the address.

Ivr: Gee, that's incredible. Was the operator always there, I mean like was the switchboard in somebody's house?

 

Ive: No, it was on Main Street. I'm not sure how about the night calls. We could always get a call through, but the

telephone office was on Main Street,

 

Ivr: So they must have had more than one operator.

 

Ive: Evidently did, I just don't remember about it. But I

know where the office was, I'm sure you could have made a telephone call any time. You could have gotten through to St. Louis any time you'd want to, I'm sure.

 

Ivr: Who were some of the first people that had a telephone,

do you think.?

 

Ive: Rurally we were, I think.

 

Ivr: How about radio? Do you remember when radio came and people started listening to the radio a lot?

 

Ive: Well, I couldn't give you a date on that or anything like a date, I just don't remember.

 

Ivr: How about just electricity when you were on your farm when you were a little girl?

 

Ive: No, we didn't have electric, no. We just had coal oil lamp;

 

Ivr: How did you heat? All wood furnaces?

 

Ive: Stoves and fireplaces, we had stoves. And cooked with wood and had a little range of some kind. Some people had ranges, some just had little stoves.

Ivr: How did you regulate them for like if you were going to bake a cake?

 

Ive: You just didn't put so much wood in.

 

Ivr: You had to kind of watch it?

 

Ive: Oh you knew, you learned, it was just something you knew. You knew about how much wood it would take to heat your oven, you learned, you knew. And like the houses were all lighted with coal oil lamps. I can remember when, after I was married, one of my neighbors, one of our neighbors, got a Delco light system put in.

I don't know what that, how that's operated, I don't know. But anyway, they used to always kid me and say I could never see by lamplight anymore after the neighbors got the Delco. Then I had trouble seeing by lamplights. And I hated lamps

 

Ivr: Did anybody have fires because of them? Did they get knocked over at all?

 

Ive: I dont think so.

 

Ivr: What did they do if they had a fire? Did everybody just gather together?

 

Ive: The neighbors went and helped, that's all. And most of the time it just burned up. You know, well that's just all we could do. The neighbors would go help, but that, we didn't have the rural fire department then.

 

Ivr: Its really changed a lot in the last few years. What do you think has been the biggest change you've seen? Oh say in just the last ten years? Could there have been such a change you know, people moving into the county in the last ten years?

Ive: The last ten years, I wouldn't hardly know well, anything that should be done about the new population, new services?

 

Ive No I really wouldn't.

 

Ivr: I guess because De Soto is so self-sufficient it always has been. Maybe it's less effected than areas like Arnold and that type of thing.

 

 

 

Ive: Well I don't know exactly what your question would pertain to. I wouldn't have any idea how, you mean change