Minnie, Carrie, Marcille
C= Carrie Goins. A= Angela Pendleton. S=Susie Hinote
Missing words marked with a _______
The interview is about Oak Ridge Tennessee during WWII, but she also talks about her husbands, kids, and present day events.
Interview with Carrie Goins by Angela Pendleton
March 21 2008
C: I asked Marcille1 if she could remember anything about that [Oak Ridge]. She said the only thing she could remember was standing in a long line waiting on something. She was about 3 years old. So if she remembered that at 3 years old, she is doing okay. …. (random talking from others) We lived out on that, and it was all hush hush. No one could talk about what they were doing. At that time they could put you up against a brick wall and shoot ya.
S: So my grandpa2 was not in the army or anything like that…
C: They didn’t take him because when he was about 13 years old he was on a hunting trip and got shot through the wrist, so his fingers didn’t work good enough to pull a gun. That was the only thing that kept him out.
S: So what did he do?
C: He worked on the construction helping to build all the bases…ship yards...we went to so many different places during that time.
A: So, do you remember what year you moved there?
C: um, it must have been 1942, cause Scutter3 was born in 43 and we was already in Greensboro North Carolina. Tom was born May of 41, and the war broke out…I think December the 5th of the same year? I think December the 5th, some where along there. (The attack on Pearl Harbor was actually December 7th 1941.)
A: Yeah, that was Pearl Harbor.
C: Yeah, Pearl Harbor. And that’s when we started, right after Pearl Harbor. So it must have been…They went to Valdosta first, which we didn’t go, that was Moody Field. He worked there. Then they sent him over to _______ Montgomery. To a little old town called…Alabama….some place over there right out of Montgomery. Then he went from there to uh…Mississippi. And then went from Mississippi to Alabama, and then went from Alabama to Greensboro. Then from Greensboro to that base, and that’s where we were when the war ended. Or maybe we went to the _____from Greensboro so it had to have been not 41, but 42 when we were there.
A: Did he go first, and you came afterwards…or you went together?
C: We all went in the same car. And we drove around till we found a big house. My mother, and my two kids, and my husband all shared that big house for a couple of months until we could get on the base or on that…what ever it was.
C: Yeah, and then when we got there, my husband put in for the…space on the base, cause that’s where he was going to be workin. So we moved out of the… as soon as we could get one, we moved out of my mother’s place. In a little old town called Kingston, that’s where she lived.
C: Kingston. I can’t remember when the war ended, but that’s where we were.
A: 1946 I think.
C: Yeah, when they dropped the bomb, but I was thinking more like 44, or 45.
(Victory over Germany was in May 1945. The “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima Aug 6th 1945, followed by “Fat Man” on Nagasaki in Aug. 9th 1945.)
A: So you got one of those trailers? My report’s about how people like you felt about living there. It’s not really about what happened.
C: We didn’t know about what we was doin, it was just a job, that’s where…see, my step father and my husband got a chance to go to work for a construction company called J.A.Jones construction company. It was a big organization. And they went around from base to base. When they’d get one base started good, they’d…his workers, he would transfer’em to another state. So we traveled quite a bit, and 5 or 6 times we moved during a couple or 3 years.
A: What did you think about the trailer?
C: We just thought it was a place to live.
A: Was it nice on the inside?
C: Yeah, it was a nice uh…it was a two bedroom furnished trailer. It was furnished. It had a nice little kitchen to it with running water. But it had no bathroom, so you went around…we went around the corner of two trailers to the big bath house. And that’s where they had a lot of wash tubs sitting there, three of them. With a rub board. (laughs) and you went over there to do your laundry. And for the life of me I can’t remember if I hung any out or not, don’t ever remember how I dried my clothes, but I must have done something.
A: You must have hung them out.
C: Must have hung them out.
A: Was it really muddy?
C: No, no it had sidewalks all around. At night we just used…well, during the day too, my kids and me, we’d use the slop jar. If you know what a slop jar is.
C: Well we had one. And every morning I’d take the slop jar out to the bathhouse, and emptied it out and washed it out good and carried it back. That’s what we used; we didn’t go to the bathhouse. My husband did, but we didn’t.
A: You didn’t want to go in front of everybody?
C: No! Would you?
A: (laughs) no.
C: Back then, everyone had a slop jar.
S: What’s a slop jar?
A: It’s a pot you go in.
A: It’s a pot you go in.
C: A big pot, with a big rim you could sit on it. It was comfortable enough, and then it had a lid after you went, you could close it up. It was more comfortable than that potty chair I’ve got, but it set on the floor. And everybody used the slop jar. About this big around (motions with her hands) and about that tall. It wasn’t too bad.
A: And your mom stayed at the house in Kingston?
C: Yeah, she and her husband and Scutter. They stayed in the house. They had a big lake right by it. You could stay there in her kitchen, and look out and see all these boats flying by.
A: Did they rent out a room to anybody?
A: Oh, they just kept it to themselves. Cause, I was reading about the housing shortage…no one had houses.
C: They didn’t rent it out, but my brother George had fallen on the ship and uh, hurt his self. And he was laid up at that time, so my mother took him in to that house in Kingston and uh, nursed him back to health. Cause they didn’t ever think he was ever going to walk again. She gave him all kinds of physical therapies…or physical therapy. And he got to where he could swing one leg and walk. My mother, as I say, my mother, there was no other person like my mother. Ain’t nothing, no job that she wouldn’t get in there and tackle. She’s the one that made him walk again. He was 22 years old when he fell like that…or 20 years old. He was young, ruined his whole life. Good lookin guy.
A: So you were a house wife, you didn’t join anything?
C: No, I was 27 years old before I had to go out and work a lick of anything.
A: Did he not want you to, or did you just want…
C: He wouldn’t, didn’t want me to work. He wanted me to be a housewife, he was very jealous of me. I had blond hair, I don’t know whether I looked cute or not, but I had blond hair. He must have thought I did cause he didn’t want no one looking at me. I was his!
A: Did you plant a garden or something?
C: Out there?
A: Yeah, you didn’t just stay at home all day did you?
C: I did.
A: You didn’t join a club or anything.
C: No but I went across the street, there’s some other women just like me and we visited back and forth and had coffee. And our kids played back and forth with each other. So we stayed uh, kind of like Mandy4, only we was more active in the neighborhood. Than like Mandy, cause she doesn’t go across the street and have coffee or nothing does she?
A: I don’t think so.
C: Well, we did there in the trailers cause it was full of kids. Just one trailer like the other ya know.
C: Well, we did there in the trailers cause it was full of kids. Just one trailer like the other ya know.
A: Did Marcille ever go to kindergarten there?
A: She was too young?
C: She was 4 years old, or 5 years old when we left there. I guess she was 5 years old.
A: So she almost went.
C: Yeah, but they didn’t have it back then. They didn’t have no kindergarten for 5 year old. You waited until you was 6 to go. They only started that kindergarten, what, in the last 25 years or so. When I was a little girl, we had our…and went to school…there was a grade before the primer, I mean…before the first grade, they called the primer. They’d say “What grade you in?” “I’m in the primer.” That was probably similar to kindergarten. But you went through the whole year of being in the primer. That was just getting used to school and stuff. And then you’d go into the first grade. So we was always a year behind because (laughing) of that. Cause of 6 years old you went into the primer.
A: Did you get the Oak Ridge Journal? The newspaper?
C: I don’t remember that, but probably.
A: It talked a lot about music halls, and music programs that you could go to and sit to listen to music.
C: I don’t remember a whole lot of stuff that happened.
C: I was 20 or 21 years old with two iddy biddy kids, and a husband.
A: How did you get your rations? How did they give them to you?
C: Um, they’d give them out…I believe when you stood in line you got those coupons. You’d go to the store there on the thing, and they’d issue the meat and stuff, and coffee, and 5 pounds of sugar, and the coupons did the gas and stuff like that. Every thing that you wanted just about was gone with rations, and you couldn’t get it. They had enough wholesome foods like grits, and flour and stuff like that that you could get. But the other stuff, like meat and grease, or lard. We bought what you call lard, you know what lard is?
C: Well that’s what we bought, and that was rationed. And all the meat was rationed. I know we ate a lot of horse back then, because we bought some steak, but they gave us some steak that looked like…had big green and red, so red it was dangerous lookin. We ate that for steak. I know it had to be horse…or elephant. Some kind other than cow. Yeah, but we ate it, cause we were hungry. We didn’t get much meat or anything like that back then.
A: When you went to Knoxville to go shopping…I read that they were mad about Oak Ridge. Were those people rude to you?
C: As far as I can remember, they weren’t very nice. But as I was telling you the other day, Tom, he was very active. He was going on 2 years old when we’d go over there. And he was very active. He would slip away from me, and I was so busy trying to keep up with my two kids that I wouldn’t buy anything in Knoxville. My mother would shop, and I would look after the kids, trying to keep up with them. My husband was always very mad at me when I’d come home empty handed cause we needed clothes. (laughs) And I couldn’t get any, cause I was too… it was like…my life back then was like, when we went to Knoxville it was like I had been way back in the boondocks and I was taken to the city. I mean really, looked like it was something I had never been to before. And it was. So, I was just star struck. But I was so busy looking after my kids till I wouldn’t have time to shop. That was me, I was a very shy person back then. Every time you looked at me good back then, I would cry. I did.
A: Did you go to the movies there? In Knoxville or Oak Ridge.
C: We didn’t go no place there…we worked. And they was working long hours too. We worked. And he would come home and take him a…would go out to the bathhouse and take him a shower. And he was so tired he would just fall off to sleep. Well, my kids was little and I was the type, I didn’t care whether we went or not.
A: You didn’t get bored?
C: No. I don’t remember ever really being bored. And I’m not really bored living here. Everybody thinks I’m bored, but I’m not. I wasn’t the type of person that would be real bored.
A: And you didn’t know what he was building?
A: You just knew it was a base?
C: We didn’t know either, he just had a job to do and he was out there doing his job. They weren’t allowed to talk about nothin like that.
A: Did you ever have the maintenance people or the laundry people come around? I read about a laundry service.
C: Yeah, there was a laundry service that would come around and pick up the diapers. Cause there was a woman next door who had a little baby. She had diaper service. Not everybody had diaper service, but she did. So they did have the diaper service back then on that base. They don’t have that any more I don’t think, do they?
A: Did you ever have the maintenance people come out to your trailer?
C: I don’t think we ever needed them. If I remember.
A: Overall did you like living there?
C: Yeah, cause back then, and right now too, if I had to move, if your Pawpaw5 was still alive, where ever he took me, I would pick up the pieces. I would be satisfied. I would be content where ever my junk was I could always pick up the pieces and be satisfied. That was the type of person I was, and I guess I still am. But if I had to move, I would be satisfied, if I had him. But by myself, I’m not so sure.
A: When you used to go to Knoxville, and then come back, did you have to wait in long lines to get back through the gates?
C: I don’t ever remember waiting. Most people who worked out there_________. I don’t know if it was mandatory that we live out there or not. I don’t ever remember being in line either, waiting on the gate. There always was a person there to slide you in or out if you had the I.D. You had to have your I.D.
A: You had to have the badge?
C: Yeah, we all had to wear dog collars back then. (dog tags) You got knocked off the face of the earth but you’d have the dog collar. (laughing)
A: Did you know anybody that joined clubs or any thing? That had anything bad to say about the city?
A: Everyone seemed like they were happy?
C: They used to play bingo and stuff like that, but I don’t ever remember hearing anybody condemn anyone or the place. Cause if they had they’d been shot probably. Everybody had to think pleasant thoughts, especially on that post. We left there and went to Fort Myers after the war ended. No one stayed out there; everyone went back where they came from. So we went to Fort Myers. We saved enough war bonds that we cashed them in and bought our first home when we got back there.
A: Did you buy those when you were in Oak Ridge?
C: Yep, fact we was getting one a month or something like that, we had quite a few of them.
A: How much did they cost?
C: Back then you could buy them anywheres from $15 on up, depending on what you wanted to buy, and how much money you wanted to spend each week.
A: What do war bonds do?
C: They draw interest. Then they would, you’d buy them and you were supposed to be helping Uncle Sam. You’d buy them, and keep them, and they would draw interest, like savings accounts does now. I still had some of them when we moved up here, and I cashed them in. We cashed them in up here and got…I don’t know… seven or eight hundred dollars. We only had 3 or 4 but they had run up a lot of interest.
A: Didn’t they tell you all the time, didn’t they pressure you to buy them?
C: They said you should buy them. That was the situation, no one back then had bank accounts or nothin. When they got paid, they kept their money. That was a way to save, and that is the way we saved. I don’t guess we were the only one, I guess everyone was doin it. Back then, they [most citizens] didn’t have bank accounts, I don’t even remember a bank.
A: So were your trailers green on the outside?
C: I think so. Like the army. Sort of remember they were all green. Ugly. Ugly on the outside, looked decent on the inside. They were clean, clean enough.
A: The furniture was nice enough?
C: The furniture was nice, at each end we had a pull out couch. You know, it was like a hidey bed…at both ends. And then we had a dinning room that had the dinette in it, and then the kitchenette. A sink in all with running water. That was a blessing, cause we could have had to…(laughs)..we could have not had the running water.
A: You could have had to pump it.
C: Yeah, but we didn’t
A: So the kids slept together on one end, and you slept on the end?
C: Yeah, they were just small kids. Tom was about 2 years old, and I used to buy him…he used to love those little Matchbox cars. So, when we’d go buy groceries in Kingston, we’d go to a store called McCroys or Woolworths I think, and I would buy him…I couldn’t afford but one car at a time. A dime is what they cost. But he’d sit up on the couch during the day. I think Marcille would go across the street and play with the little girl, he’d sit up on that couch and roll those little cars for hours at a time. But that child would not get off that couch. He thoroughly enjoyed pushing those little ol’10 cent Matchbox cars, parking them…I don’t know what went through his mind.
He went off and joined the Navy, the day he turned 17 is the day he left home, went to the Navy. He wanted to make a career out of that, but he had to come home and help with his kids. He almost had 10 years, but he was lucky, he was home just a week before he got the job at Ford. That was his 2nd job ever, well when he was 15 he went to a cotton mill in Albany, but it was just day work. Part time. But when he was laid off for four years from Ford, him and Hilda6 got out and cleaned apartments, and painted apartments. He cleaned carpets. They didn’t sit down during those four years, and I can’t say that she sat down either. She got up and worked just like he did, and made ends meet, during the times he was laid off at Ford.
It was a trying time back then, there weren’t any places back then to stop and get a sandwich or stop and get a hamburger. If you took a trip, you had to go back home to fix your meals. That’s how much the world has changed. We never knew what it was to stop along the road, we traveled. To eat, you had to fix yourself a bag of sandwiches, and ate them on the way. But it was stuff you yourself fixed, not stuff you bought at a drive-in.
A: So where’d you meet Pawpaw at?
C: In Albany. I was working at a big overnight restaurant. They was open 24 hours. He was in the Air Force. The Air Force base, Turner Field was there. And that’s where I met him at. He would come in and sit at the waitress table back there in the back. He was lookin for something, I guess he was lookin for me. (laughs) He’d sit back there and, we all felt sorry for him when he first started back there. Cause he acted like he was so much of a loner, he didn’t have a friend in the world. But he did have a lot of friends around. But he always acted like he was a sad guy, that he was a loner. After I married him and seen his folks, I understand why.
A: They were crazy?
C: No they weren’t crazy, but he was their first child, he was the boy. Under him he had 4 sisters, and they ruled the room. They kept him run out of the house…so I guess they thought he messed up their house. They had to keep the house clean, and their brother messed it up. “You get out of here, don’t come back in here.” And I felt really sorry for him, the way they treated him.
But I don’t remember a lot about Oak Ridge, but that it was hush hush.
A: Did your husband tell you it was hush hush, or did you just figure it out?
C: Every body knew it was hush hush. No body was around to talk about it inside the base or out of it.
A: They had signs up everywhere?
C: Yeah, Keep you eyes shut, no discussion of work, or the conditions that you worked in.
A: I was reading that everyone who worked for J.A. Jones lived in the same trailer parks.
C: Yeah, they weren’t fancy. They were common old green Army trailers. In the winter there was a lot of snow on the ground. It looked really bleak, like we were all doomed.
A: No one tried to pretty it up, with some trees or something?
C: No, I don’t even remember ever seeing any flowers planted. Everybody was just busy working. And the wives, most of them had small children, so they stayed home with those kids.
1 One of Carrie’s daughters.
2 Carrie’s first husband, William Hinote
3 One of Carrie’s brothers.
4 One of Carrie’s grandchildren.
5 Carrie’s third husband, Harry Goins
6 Tom’s third wife