Barbara & Kenneth MacDowell
Mr. MacDowell was born in 1921 and grew up in West Newton and Mrs. MacDowell lived in Hingham. Neither of their families were greatly affected by the Great Depression. They both remember Franklin D. Roosevelt fondly and recount the various programs that were put in place to recover the economy.
Q: This is David Spinale – and I’m Matt Picard – and we’re interviewing Mr. And Mrs. MacDowell on May 19th, 2009 for the Wayland High School History Project. Would you please just state your name again?
Mrs. MacDowell: Barbara MacDowell.
Mr. MacDowell: Kenneth MacDowell.
Q: So do you remember back in the 1920’s, how old were in 1929?
Mr. MacDowell: I was eight years old.
Mrs. MacDowell: Zero.
Q: And where were you living during the Depression years?
Mr. MacDowell: I was living in Newton – West Newton.
Mrs. MacDowell: I was basically also living in Newton.
Mr. MacDowell: I was living on private school grounds where my father was the superintendent of maintenance. I have to tell you this much because it’s a little different from most kids. The grounds of the Fessenden School in West Newton, Massachusetts — guess that answers that.
Q: Did you have any siblings?
Mr. MacDowell: Yup, I had a sister – an older sister – she was born in 1920.
Mrs. MacDowell: I have one sister – she’s just older, and a brother who’s a lot younger.
Q: Ok, so during the Depression years, how did your family withstand… were you able – were you affected as much as many of the other people?
Mr. MacDowell: I might not have been affected. The unemployment was the key thing. If you were working and working continuously it wasn’t so bad although paychecks may be reduced, but my father was employed, he was never unemployed, as the head maintenance person at the Fessenden School. So his job went on right up until he retired. My job lasted only summers. Worked at the school, my job was there primarily finishing floors.
Q: As for your mother, what was her position?
Mr. MacDowell: Taking care of the family, taking care of the house, taking care of us when we were sick, that sort of thing. Just what mothers do.
Mrs. MacDowell: Mothers did. They didn’t work outside the home very much at that point, which is an amazing fact of the American economy of today.
Mr. MacDowell: She never worked at all, outside the family.
Q: Do you remember how your family was doing during the Depression years?
Mrs. MacDowell: Yeah, I don’t recall that we were seriously affected. Again my father was working and my mother was at home. I do recall one interesting story in the family. Do you recall the bank holiday? It must have been 1933 perhaps, if I have that correct, shortly after Roosevelt took office. And I think it was a Friday he closed the banks, and no bank in the country, no ATM machine, nothing, no one could get money. But my father had loaned someone ten dollars the week before, and he paid him back on Thursday. So they had ten dollars cash in their pockets, and that would hold you for a while. So that was one of the stories I remember in the family.
Mr. MacDowell: Pay scales were really low. My job refinishing floors, I worked an eight hour day and I got ten cents an hour so I made eighty cents a day. And I saved most of it, and kids wanna buy things and if I couldn’t buy it with my own money I didn’t get it.
Q: Did you go to school when you weren’t working in the summer… Other than the summer when you weren’t working?
Mr. MacDowell: I went to school – the Newton School, Newton Elementary school, junior high school, and high school. I followed the normal sequence.
Q: So aside from school, when you were a kid, say on an average day, were there any specific activities that you remember personally or with friends or kids around you that might be notable?
Mr. MacDowell: Well there were other kids around. Would play baseball, football, according to the season. Not really a formal game, but throw the football, throw the baseball. We’d play whoever would join us. It could be just two or us, or three, or four. Whoever happened to not have much to do or see us playing would join us. So there was nothing formal about it all – no coaches, no nothing. Just random type of activity.
Q: And did your family own a car back then?
Mr. MacDowell: Yup, my father owned a 1926 Buick Sedan. He had that car right up until the late 30’s – and then he bought a Packard, a 1937 Packard. And we only had one car until the later years, probably the early 40’s, we got another secondhand car – a second car.
Q: So back in those days, a lot of people — they said a lot of kids had heroes or figures that they looked up to. Did you have anyone – any notable figures back then that you really looked at highly, or that influenced you a lot.
Mr. MacDowell: Ya I did. My most famous hero was Charles Lindbergh. You ever hear of that name?
Mr. MacDowell: Ok. He flew the first successful flight of the Atlantic from New York to Paris. And that was in 1927, so a lot of people, or pilots had tried it before and never made it. And he made it and he got heroes welcome. Fabulously honored down through the years too. In fact, he was a pilot in World War II. So anyway he was my favorite. You see one of the things he did that was so different: He didn’t have a lot of money to get an airplane. But he did it wholly himself, but he did have enough friends around where they designed the airplane specifically for that trip. The plane was built in California and he went to California to oversee its construction and make the changes and so on and then as a test flight before the Atlantic flight he flew it across the country to New York from, I think it was San Diego to New York. Made one stop in St. Louis and then the second half of the flight, as a checkout for how good the plane works at long distances and so on. And that was his way of debugging the airplane so he would have confidence in his operation. The airplane was a single engine monoplane – had a 200 horsepower engine and that was a lot of power in those days.
Q: So as he was, as he was preparing to make this flight and was getting his plane prepared, was this something that people everywhere, such as yourself, your family, and people in the community around you, were they following.
Mr. MacDowell: Ya they were. There was a lot of it in the press. See before he made that flight there were so many failures that people began to think wow here’s another crack pot in the Atlantic Ocean bottom. So they didn’t take him all that seriously, because he had no corporation behind him, there was no syndicate. This is a solo thing – he did it himself, including designer of the airplane, and debugging the airplane, it was all on his own. And a lot of people had no confidence that he’d ever make it because he didn’t have any backing. He took off from the field in Long Island in rather poor weather, wasn’t really bad but not the best. He had something like – all these details I hope are interesting.
Interviewer: No, no, go on.
Mr. MacDowell: He loaded it up with about 460 gallons of fuel – and that was really a lot of fuel for just a single engine monoplane. And he took off on a foggy day, a misty foggy day, and just barely cleared the trees at the other end. He had a long, long ground run and then flew up around Long Island, very close to Boston as a matter of fact. Ended up toward Newfoundland which was the great circle route. Picked his routes and landmarks very carefully. It took him 33 hours to make the flight, that means he had to doze off, you know, while he’s flying. They didn’t have any such things as auto pilot. So he had to doze off and rest where he could, and he arrived in France at night, he had to make a night landing in an area which he had never seen before to get into the Paris airport. He landed successfully and he was mobbed, I think it was after midnight people had heard that he might be – of course, there was no radio communications so they didn’t know where he was. I think there was an attempt at some radio communications but I’m not sure he had the right frequencies for air to ground. So anyway he landed and he was a hero then.
Mrs. MacDowell: Which was hard for him because he was basically a quiet –
Mr. MacDowell: He was a quiet fellow. Very smart, very clever, but –
Mrs. MacDowell: Not outgoing.
Mr. MacDowell: I guess I got interested in that because when I was a kid I wanted to get into flying, which I finally did. I didn’t fly during World War II but right after World War II I took up flying.
Q: Do you have any heroes or heroines? Anyone in general that you looked up to. Just a standout at that time to you?
Mrs. MacDowell: A couple of teachers, I think, were probably influential. I was very interested in sports and athletics – played all the seasons. We had just a wonderful woman who was in head of the program. Actually several people went on to become physical education teachers or instructors or whatever. Beyond that of course, we all had the movie heroes.
Q: So back then, when movies were first starting to be developed for the first time, what were the first kinds of movies – what were the movies like back then because I know they differed from those today.
Mr. MacDowell: They didn’t have sound for one thing – just a picture, no sound. Sound came in about, I guess around the late 20’s was it, 28, 29.
Mrs. MacDowell: I was born in 1930, too young.
Mr. MacDowell: Somewhere around there they got clever and came up with sound. It was very poor sound, but it was better than nothing.
Mrs. MacDowell: I remember that the matinee was 15 cents. I grew up in Hingham, and there was one movie house. You didn’t go off to Boston or Quincy or something, you went to your local movie house basically, because of course that’s where your friends were going. And, the movies changed twice a week, so one show would run from Wednesday through Saturday, the other Sunday till Wednesday. We were only allowed to go to one, so you had to pick and choose. You couldn’t see every film that came through – it didn’t work.
Mr. MacDowell: Well she had a break, because the movies I went to – or I should say I had a break – because the movies I went to during weekdays were 10 cents a movie.
Mrs. MacDowell: Ten years earlier – that’s inflation.
Mr. MacDowell: Inflation, yeah that’s what it was, absolutely.
Q: So were those movies, you noted at first they didn’t have sound, did they have a full storyline then, or how were the movies perceived?
Mr. MacDowell: They would have a physical scene and people would act and someone would talk. Then they would take that off and put the sound on, just the sound. What did he say? So you would have to read what he said. Then you would go back to the scene again and they just kept going back and forth.
Mrs. MacDowell: Black and white of course.
Mr. MacDowell: Yeah black and white.
Mrs. MacDowell: I also remember we were not allowed to go and see Gone with the Wind because at the end, Clark Gables said, “Frankly Charlotte, I don’t give a damn.” You’re not taking the children to that movie – how times have changed.
Q: How often did you go during the Depression years to a movie?
Mr. MacDowell: I’d probably go once every two weeks or so, unless I went with my parents who might wanna go to the movie and they’d go at night so my sister and I, there were four in the family, the four of us would cost – the cost was higher at night – it would cost my father $1.60 for the four of us. When we tended to go in the afternoon, we went alone with other guys, other kids, and that was 10 cents each.
Q: Both of you have mentioned also, sports in your life. You said you had kind of a non-formal different sport games with your friends, and you also said you had some friends who were involved in sports and some of them went on to become physical education teachers. Were sports, in terms of, nationally, baseball, football, like Major League Baseball, was that something that was a big part of your lives?
Mrs. MacDowell: Oh, Ted Williams, talk about heroes. Yes.
Mr. MacDowell: Yes, National League, American League sports, was attended, on the radio. There wasn’t television, but we’d see it in movies and it would be written up in newspapers. So yeah it was very much monitored.
Mrs. MacDowell: One of the things that was different about the movies from today, is that they had, the newscasts would come on, what did they call that?
Mr. MacDowell: Path-A news.
Mrs. MacDowell: And so they showed news clips of what was going on. It would be like your television 6 O’clock news only it was produced probably once a week. This is the way we saw the war too. And going into the south station to get trains from Boston to Hingham. They had these little short going on all the time so you could go in for about half an hour, you watch two or three, and left, get your train. And that’s where we saw the visuals of the war, never of course on television. Papers may have had some pictures.
Q: How about music? We talked about movies. Was music, records –
Mr. MacDowell: There were songs, popular songs, well-attended, and you’d hear about it in the newscasts. Also remember in those early days, they really didn’t even have radio to listen to. We began to get radio in the late 20’s, but the radios were very – didn’t work to well. Had to have an outside antenna and you also had to have batteries. That doesn’t mean you didn’t plug something in. You plugged something in and you also had batteries. So that was a way of – that was about the only way they could think of at that time of powering up a decent radio. They also had mostly earphones for quite a while, then they had loud speakers. Didn’t take too long before loud speakers came on, then everyone in the world could hear it then, that was great. But the cheaper radios were just ear phones.
Mrs. MacDowell: My grandfather’s radio was probably as large as that cabinet. It was the state of the art radio, and he listened every, I guess it was every night, to Lowell Thomas for the news, and Amos and Andy, which came on just before Lowell Thomas, a whole lot of grandchildren in that family – but we all knew, much fun as my grandfather was, when Lowell Thomas and Amos and Andy were on we had to be quiet – he was going to listen. So those were big programs for a lot of people.
Q: Just as children, when you would head out to a store, and you would have money either from your parents or that you’ve earned, what were some toys that kids were interesting in back then? Because I know the technology was obviously much different back then. What in general were things that kids were really involved with in terms of toys and other accessories?
Mrs. MacDowell: We had to have a bicycle. Also, penny candy was important in our lives, because you really could buy quite a bit of it with a penny.
Mr. MacDowell: Well my mother would send me up to a little store on my bicycle, and I’d get a loaf of bread. And a loaf of bread would cost 11 cents. Occasionally she’d give me a couple of extra cents to get a couple pieces of candy but that was about it. Otherwise she would shop maybe once a week; my father would drive her to the store. I don’t think they had an A & P in those days did they?
Mrs. MacDowell: I don’t know. I think girls played a lot of the same things that girls play today. Jump rope, jacks, of course everybody loved mumbly peg but you can’t take your jackknife to school today so you can’t play mumbly peg. Hopscotch, that sort of stuff.
Q: It sounds like between that and the sports that he talked about earlier; people were outside a lot back then.
Mr. MacDowell: Yeah, people were outside a lot.
Mrs. MacDowell: And walked a lot.
Mr. MacDowell: Did a lot of walking, or bicycling.
Q: Back to the radios, did you ever listen to Roosevelt in his broadcasts.
Mrs. MacDowell: The fireside chats.
M: He ran for office in 32, or 31. I guess he was elected in 32. We would listen to him on the radio, but we didn’t listen an awful lot because we were Republicans.
Q: So yeah, let’s talk about Franklin Roosevelt in general. He’s one of our most renowned presidents to this day. What was it like back then, when he first got elected? What were, like you said you were Republicans, but obviously you were following him and he had an impact on everybody? What did you think of him overall?
Mr. MacDowell: Not to much at the time but you know, but when your that old, you normally don’t put things together very well. Everybody had solutions for the Depression and we all thought that he wasn’t using the best methods for getting us out of the Depression. But, we don’t know who would of. Coming out of the Depression was a slow process, really started in 29 or 30. I don’t think any progress was made at all for the first three or four years, and then during the 30’s, things got very slightly better, all the way up to 39. And then, of course, all the ruckus in Europe was going on by 39 and 40. London was being bombed by the Germans.
Mrs. MacDowell: Our factories were gearing up to supply lend-lease to England and guns and war supplies.
Mr. MacDowell: And Roosevelt was behind that. He wanted to help the cause to defeat Nazi Germany as soon as possible.
Q: So the work programs, you didn’t feel did much at the time? This whole New Deal, where all those organizations like the CCC, WPA, AAA. Obviously that was a pretty significant change on the country. Was any of that around you that you noticed?
Mr. MacDowell: Not that we noticed, but we certainly heard a lot about it. There may have been some projects in our area but I can’t recall anything.
Mrs. MacDowell: Well I recall that the orchestras, the WPA orchestra would come into our grade school and talk to us about – they would show us the different instruments, play each one individually, and I’m sure they did Peter and the Wolf so they could display all the various instruments through that piece. I’m sure for those men who had no jobs it was a good thing. The question became: big government intervention, non-intervention. How much control, what good will it do. Those were more philosophical, but I think the programs certainly fit a lot of people, and that was good.
Mr. MacDowell: I think Roosevelt ran against Al Smith. Anybody recall that? I think his opponent was Al Smith. I’m not sure though. Roosevelt had four terms, before the days of two-term limits were established. Wendell Willkie was another one of his opponents, and that was 36 I think, and Al Smith must have been 38 – And then of course, he died in office in 1944.
Mrs. MacDowell: The slogan was don’t change horses in the middle of a stream. In other words, in the midst of the war, don’t start up with a new president.
Mr. MacDowell: The war was essentially over when he died though. As a matter of fact, it was within weeks. But when he died, the war was just about over. Not quite, but close. At that time I was in Europe, I wasn’t in Germany but in Europe.
Q: Did you like any questions that were right in there?
Mrs. MacDowell: Oh yeah a lot of them were good. You asked about schools, what was school like? A lot like school today in many respects. You started early and class sizes were a lot bigger we sat…
Mr. MacDowell: Class sizes were typically forty.
Mrs. MacDowell: Between thirty and forty.
Mr. MacDowell: And classrooms were, the desk and chairs were bolted to the floor. Couldn’t be moved! You sit there with the desk in front of you and…
Mrs. MacDowell: You couldn’t get in nearly as much trouble as you can grabbing somebody’s pencil here or you don’t even have to pass notes just write them and turn them around today.
Mr. MacDowell: I’m particularly aware of that because one of my side jobs I said I got ten cents an hour I worked this was at the, employed by the Fessenden school where my father was the boss. Boss of a lot of people including me, so one of my jobs was refinishing floors we had to refinish the floors in the class rooms. That means taking up all those desks and all those chairs and I could tell you how many screws there were in each one. There were fourteen screws, 6 screws in the chair and 14 screws in the desk. Useful knowledge. Any way so that was one job that I had where we were particularly aware of the classroom, and the size and the number of desks and chairs. They had, this was at the Fessenden School. And they had one classroom which had a hundred and fifty six chairs and desks and I had to that one too. Hard work!
Mrs. MacDowell: As we looked over your questions I was surprised, Ken said that for punishment in grade school the teacher was would slap kids a cross the face. Just slap them. I was surprised that didn’t happen.
Mr. MacDowell: Oh yeah, one thing, she had a favorite some guy who was really strepulous, a trouble maker but she would ask him to get out of his seat stand next to his desk and she would come up to him and grab him by the shoulders like that and shake him until his head bobbing back and forth, something fierce then if that didn’t convince him to behave then shed put her thumbs right there dig them in his shoulders really hard so he would really scream try to make him cry and eventually she did. Anyway just corporal punishment.
Mrs. MacDowell: I was surprised at that.
Mr. MacDowell: That was when I was in fourth grade.
Mrs. MacDowell: Did you have chores? Yes, most children did have chores to contribute to the family. Ken had to carry kerosene early in the day.
Mr. MacDowell: We had a kerosene burner in the kitchen. We would burn coal in the main house but for the kitchen we had a kerosene burner. My job was to keep track of the level. When it got down, I would go down to the cellar to fill it up, bring it up, tip it upside down in the cradle… automatic delivery, and keep the heat.
Q: When you made money, especially at a younger age from the jobs you held, what would you do with that money?
Mr. MacDowell: Saved it, saved it. As much as I could.
Mrs. MacDowell: Still in the bank, still there.
Q: Were you getting involved in the market, the stock market?
Mr. MacDowell: Oh heavens no, just go to the bank. What would I get? I would get four dollars a week. Four dollars and forty cents a week. And that was just in the summer, for the whole summer. What did I have? Not much. Then later on, at another job, when I was probably about ten I started getting more.
Q: You said earlier that your family didn’t suffer as much as many families did during the Great Depression.
Mr. MacDowell: That’s right.
Q: Do you remember any people, any stories in your town?
Mr. MacDowell: I’m aware of some of that because the guys that were unemployed were coming and trying… My father would hire people and fire people as needed and they would come and try to get a job. He was the superintendent of the grounds, the maintenance, and there was a lot of ball field that all needed to be mowed and grass that needed to be taken care of and buildings and maintenance were under him. He really had very responsible job. So he would hire guys really low pay. He would offer them 15 dollars a week and these were grown men, not kids, and maybe with a family, whether they had a family or no family it was none of his business and “$15 a week take it or leave.” If a guy said “no its to low”, then “good bye” and somebody else would come along and take it. Then if they got experience, if they got better at it, he was very liberal with raises, if he found a guy who was really good, he would want to keep him and pay him more so he wouldn’t go away. So he was involved with the outside world to that extent. And of course he would buy supplies for the school and the electric system and purchases of materials.
Q: Were you religious, your family?
Mr. MacDowell: Not especially.
Q: During the whole years of Depression, in school or anything, did they ever talk to you about what was happening in Germany or Japan?
Mr. MacDowell: They wouldn’t talk about it, but we would read it in the news. Then later on, when the radios got better, we would listen to the radio a lot more. In fact during the middle thirties the radios got a lot better, so we did listen to them in the news a lot.
Q: Getting Back to Roosevelt, you mentioned how his whole plan got the government more involved. Having such a big impact on the country was that something, especially since you weren’t suffering much during the Depression, was that something you apposed to when it started? He kind of came in formed all these new plans and organizations, getting the government directly involved. How did you feel about that?
Mr. MacDowell: Well you know at that age, what do you know about things like that. My family was really Republican, my father was a Republican but you know I found out later on that when Roosevelt first ran he voted for him. Things were so bad; he abandoned the Republican Party and voted for Roosevelt. Things couldn’t get much worse because the previous president before Roosevelt was, who was it? He was a Republican I think.
Mr. MacDowell: Yeah Hoover, then before him, before Hoover, it was…
Mrs. MacDowell: Coolidge, World War one was Wilson so that wouldn’t be… who followed Wilson Coolidge?
Mrs. MacDowell: One of your questions here mentions the worlds fair in NY in ‘39; my family did go to that. We took a steamer from, it was either Boston or Nantasket, probably Boston, to New York and we stayed at the Taft Hotel and I saw my first television there, 39. As Ken said, it was just a parlor trick it wasn’t real television but to us it was a real television and to what was coming. That was quite* exciting. The other thing that impressed us was the dioramas to what the highway system was going to look like. Because that all developed, from then on there were roads going over each other, under each other, and clover leafs and that was all unknown. They had wonderful dioramas. That sort of thing, it was most impressive and it all came to pass.
Mr. MacDowell: They had the four-leaf clover high way system. Where it looked like a clover where two major highways intersecting and there’s an overpass in the middle but you could go from anyone to any other direction and you have these circular…very common today, but those days it was a first. You can get off one and go to another.
Q: So was it like a rotary in the middle?
Mr. MacDowell: It was shaped just like a clover -leaf.
Mrs. MacDowell: Like 128 if you want to call it that. Your going north and you want to go south so you get off and then you got to here and then go over here and you get here
Mr. MacDowell: It was a first. It was probably around 1939, 1938. They were being planned at that point.
Q: Do you remember any other big construction jobs or a fairs or anything?
Mr. MacDowell: Hoover Dam was about that time, that was a major construction with a hydroelectric purposes generate electricity for all of Los Angeles, supposedly. And there were others.
Q: How about the Golden Gate Bridge?
Mr. MacDowell: Yes, that was built about 1939-1940 and it was a first for a very large suspension bridge. Suspension bridges built after that time…that was really huge.
Q: Where is that?
Mr. MacDowell: San Francisco… Oh that one president, Calvin Coolidge remember him, wasn’t he in the twenties?
Mrs. MacDowell: Yeah I think, didn’t want to place him without looking it up…the brain cells fail.
Mr. MacDowell: Yeah that was the first, the Golden Gate Bridge. Now right after that was built, they started building models. The concept you see was brand new. Would that bridge hold? What about windage? How could it stand a very strong hurricane? Very strong winds? Would it hold, would it sway back and forth? I think it would sway a little bit. That’s why they have huge cables this big in diameter with hundreds and hundreds of strands in a wire.
Mrs. MacDowell: One of the things after we talked with David, I had spoken to some other friends in of age group and people came from all different circumstances but most of them were not affluent at that time but they said we never knew, we didn’t think we were poor we never knew we were poor, there was food on the table they share with the neighbors.
Mr. MacDowell: Well it was cause they were middle class, right?
Mrs. MacDowell: Yeah well a lot of people even weren’t, but no matter what they had, they didn’t consider themselves poor. It was a lot less to have in those days.
Mr. MacDowell: Any way, you might think, did I attend Fessenden School? No I didn’t. Cost a lot of money those days… my father got a break but not enough of a break. So I went to the public schools, I went up through Newton high school. Newton High school was a quiet a bit… the graduating class was about 700, that was in 1939.
Q: Do you remember anything like the Golden Gate Bridge or anything in Newton? I know there’s nothing that huge, but something smaller you might remember, something big that might have come to your hometown?
Mrs. MacDowell: Nothing came to Hingham.
Mr. MacDowell: Nothing came to Newton.
Mrs. MacDowell: We were 3,000 at that point, sort of like Wayland, that many years ago.
Mr. MacDowell: Newton was a lot bigger having a graduating class of 700 in 1939. Which would be considered pretty large compared to most towns.
Mrs. MacDowell: I think our High school was 500.
Mr. MacDowell: What’s your graduating class in Wayland now?
Interviewer: In between 200 and 300, 250 at the most.
Mrs. MacDowell: Its smaller then when your dad was here. With some extra buildings.
Q: Do you see any similarities between the Depression of the thirties and the stock market crash now, and how were doing now?
Mrs. MacDowell: That’s interesting because I was just reading a lot of this stuff today and the last couple of days I have been reading a synopsis of what got us into this. And these are two opinions, I can’t judge their opinions whether they’re right or wrong. Very similar people that over borrowed, they overspent. They were playing games with money instead of investing. I mean true Republicans that point we were investing for capital and improvement of our businesses, today your betting on the averages, is it going up today or down. You can go in and out in ten minutes, win or loose millions. But that’s playing games with money and we did the same thing just before this bubble burst. People bought things they couldn’t afford ran up debts they couldn’t pay off. Banks did the same things. Corporations did the same things. But those two opinions were very similar to what lead up to the 29 crash and what lead up to this latest bubble burst, so do we learn from history? Not always.
Q: You said World War II was how we got out of the Depression last time, how do you think we could improve this time?
Mr. MacDowell: Well just remember, I think that’s correct, that got us out of the Depression, but at a tremendous cost. And I don’t mean lives that cost a great deal of that, but the inflation during those four or five years was extremely heavy. Now that’s… see they’re talking about getting us out of our downturn now and a lot of the suggestions are inflationary. The trick is to find a way to get out of the Depression without borrowing more money, which is inflationary. And you can do it that way, but inflation hurts a lot of people. So anyway that’s what happened in between 41, 1941 and 45. Just name an item, a breakfast cereal, or an automobile or whatever, it cost almost double between 41 and 45. The inflation factor was huge and that’s because the government had to borrow so much money to build war machines, in that case we had no choice, we had to do it but now a days we don’t have to, “how bout another solution?” then borrowing. And I think a lot of politicians are wresting with that, they’d like to have a solution that’s not inflationary. We could get out of this final ring right now with in a year, but after the year, things will double in price and it would be an evolution, not very sound. So I guess that’s the key thing is to find a way to get out of this downturn without it being inflationary. Inflation means when you borrow, everybody borrows. The government borrows, when the borrowing gets very, very heavy and the pay back is always… if you pay back more then you borrow because other wise your going to lend the money… the guy that lends the money wants a profit so he lends some more it… you keep doing that you get more and more and it can run rough rod. The people keep going and finally you have to stop it. And stopping it isn’t easy.
Q: When did you graduate High School?
Mr. MacDowell: 39.
Q: Did you have a permanent job after that or did you join the army or…?
Mr. MacDowell: I went to college after that. I didn’t need a job, but during the summers I worked for my father. I saved a lot of money, not a lot, but a lot for what I was getting paid. I used some of that to go to college, and also my first year, actually the first year I got a scholarship so I didn’t need all that money but second year, then I went to a college with a work program. You worked for ten weeks, you go to school ten weeks, Northeastern, you may have heard of it, and that was a god sent for me because I wouldn’t have gone to any college without financial assistance like that. So the second year and third year I had a job in which I paid my way and then I went into the US Air Force in 1942. And I was in the air force for three years and got out, and I finished college when I got out.
Q: Did many of those colleges have Co-op opportunities?
Mr. MacDowell: Not very many had it, Northeastern was one of the well known one, and can’t think of any others that had organized co-op.
Mrs. MacDowell: I think it was very popular because when Ken started… that has a lot of classes were held at the YMCA on Huntington Avenue. And did you have one building in addition or two?
Mr. MacDowell: One, one building.
Mrs. MacDowell: One building and it annexing into the YMCA and you know what it is today. So I think it really grew.
Mr. MacDowell: Northeastern buildings are much bigger they must have twenty buildings now it’s huge its really sprawled out all over the place.
Mrs. MacDowell: And work option, it’s an option it’s not required.
Mr. MacDowell: As a work program, yeah well actually it was an option then too but…
Mrs. MacDowell: Made a five-year program.
Mr. MacDowell: Yeah that’s right, five year program if you use the program all the way through. When I got out of the service I had a lot more money so I went right through. I only had a year and half to go.
Mrs. MacDowell: When it comes to the American economy, probably the GI bill should be recognized as having a major factor. Because a lot of young men that came off the farms and out of poor circumstances now saw the world, saw what’s out there and “I can do that” and then they had the money from the GI bill to go to school. Kids that never would have dreamed of going to school and I mean look what happened to us after the war. I think it was a big stimulus. So education is going to be one way out of a lot of trouble.
Interviewer: Any closing comments? I think we have covered everything we wanted to. All right, thank you very much.