Ed and Dorothy Lee


Mr. Lee recalls losing the family home


The Lees describe Wayland of the 30’s

Mr. Edward Lee was born in 1923 in the town of Wayland.  He remembers how his father, a very generous man, would give away produce to those who were worse off during the Depression years.  Tragically, this led to the loss of their house.  Mrs. Dorothy Lee was originally from Natick, but moved across the border to Wayland early on.  Both attended Wayland High School.  Mr. Lee remembers momentous events such as the Hurricane of ’38 and the rise of Hitler in Europe, but also reflects on the day-to-day aspects of small town life such as fishing and picking blueberries in the swamp by Plain Road.  A resident of Wayland for all of his life, Mr. Lee marvels at the changes that have transformed the town in the past eighty years, from the Mass Turnpike to the different landscape in Wayland itself.  He offers prosaic lessons to us from the Depression years about the importance of community and helping each other out.

This is Liz Perkus and Jill Flieger, and we are interviewing Mr. and Mrs. Lee on May 6th, 2008 for the Wayland High School history project.

Q: Please state your names.

Mrs. Lee: Dorothy Lee.

Mr. Lee: Edward Lee.

Q: How old were you in 1929?

Mr. Lee: In ‘29? Let’s see. 23…

Mrs. Lee: 16.

Mr. Lee: In ‘29? I would be 6. I was born in ‘23.

Mrs. Lee: Oh, yes. And I was 4.

Mr. Lee: Now you’re trying to put the age on me.

[Laughter]

Mr. Lee: I’m born in ‘23 right in the town Wayland on Plain Road.

Q: I live near Plain. I live on 126 near where it hits Plain, by the hills horses.

Mr. Lee: Millbrook? Up Millbrook on to Plain?

Q: No, I live on 126.

Mrs. Lee: 126.

Mr. Lee: Oh, 126.

Q: Close to there.

Mr. Lee: Past the library.

Mr. Lee: Down by the mill pond. Yup, we used to fish down there all the time.

Q: Where did you live during the Depression years?

Mr. Lee: Right on Plain Road.

Mrs. Lee: And I lived right over the line in North Natick on Pine Street.  They took the house when they did the Mass Turnpike.

Q: So, have you been in Wayland your entire life?

Mr. Lee: Right.  Yup, and there’s a lot of changes on Plain Road.  Where I live there was three houses.

Q: There’s a lot more now.

Mr. Lee: And our next neighbors, the Harrington’s, about a half a mile.

Q: Wow.

Mr. Lee: Actually,

Mrs. Lee: Markworks live there now.

Mr. Lee: Yeah, actually on Plain Road the total there wouldn’t have been over 15 houses.

Q: How do you feel about the developments?

Mr. Lee: Oh, I get lost.

[Laughter]

Mr. Lee: I’m lucky to find the roads now-a-days; no, it’s an awful change.

Q: What were you’re parents names?

Mr. Lee: Harry D. Lee and Mary.

Mrs. Lee: Mine was Walter and Eva Wells.

Q: What did they do for work when you were little?

Mr. Lee: Mostly farming; father was in trucking too.

Q: Was it on your own farm or for somebody else’s?

Mr. Lee: We just had a small one but it was mostly neighbor’s farms.  He done trucking; started out with a Model T.  Then we got a, well they started out with horses, really.

Mrs. Lee: My father was a printer.  He worked for John Hancock in Boston, and during the Depression my mother went out and did house work.

Q: So, just out of curiosity, those Model Ts that you mentioned, how fast did they go up to?

Mr. Lee: Oh, boy.  No, later on he got a, I think it was about a ‘36 Chevy dump truck.  The first one was a hand crank up.  They cranked it up with a little body about so big.  My mother, she used to work at, there used to be a Silas.  Where’s that picture?  No, not Silas, it was at Terrace Garden was then this here was on the Post Road.

Mrs. Lee: Turn it around, honey.  They can’t see it that way.

Mr. Lee: There you go.

Q: Thank you.

Mr. Lee: That was on the Post, Boston Post Road.

Mrs. Lee: There’s the temple there now.

Q: Oh, I go to that temple.

Mr. Lee: You know where the temple is? Yup there was that and a lobster haven that just opened.

Mrs. Lee: And that the school he went to, the grammar school.

Q: Where is that?  In Wayland?

Q: That’s the town building.

Q: Oh, the town building.

Mr. Lee: No, that was after.  Right on the bottom, that was the grammar school.  There was two grades to a room.  There was four big rooms, and the high school was on the top.  They had the top, then.  The high school had the locker room down in the basement, and then we had the rest to play in on rainy days in the basement.

Mrs. Lee: That was next to the Trinitarian Church.

Mr. Lee: They tore it down.

Mrs. Lee: There’s a park there now.  They were going to save a tree.

Q: How many people were in your graduating class?

Mr. Lee: Oh, boy.

Mrs. Lee: About 23. Yeah, I went to Wayland High School, which is now the town building.

Mr. Lee: Yeah. There were in the 20’s.  A big class, ha ha.

Mrs. Lee: No, I moved just over the line because I lived just over the line in north Natick.  I moved up when I was a freshman.  When I was in the 8th grade, I didn’t want to come to Wayland because there was a grammar school.  I fought with my folks because it was in the spring.  I said, “I’m not going back to grammar school,” because I had gone to a junior high in Natick.  I’d have to take classes, go back to grammar school, and have to go through graduation again.  I said no way, so my sister and I took the bus to Natick and went to school.  We got called by the truant officer, and she took us home, so my mom explained to her.  We couldn’t ride the school bus, but they gave us tickets to go by bus for just a few months.

Mr. Lee: Yeah, we used to walk down Plain Road, down Millbrook Road to go to school.  Sometimes, in the winter, the road, they couldn’t plow it.  The snow made it bad, and there was a teacher’s lodge on the way on Millbrook Road.

Q: Did the teacher live there?

Mr. Lee: Yup.

Q: Did they ever cancel school? Because now they never cancel school.

Mr. Lee: Cancel? What was that? Ha ha.

Mrs. Lee: They never canceled.

Mr. Lee: If there was a blizzard, you better be in school.

Q: Just like now.

Mr. Lee: No cancel.

Q: I feel like it’s gotten better in recent years.

Q: Yeah, like one a year.

Mrs. Lee: Wayland never used to cancel until recently.  I think this past year they have canceled a few.

Q: So, of the 23 people in your graduating class, how many of them went on to college?

Mr. Lee: Oh, dear.

Mrs. Lee: About 6, I should say.

Mr. Lee: Yeah, not too many could go; you had to go to work.

Q: Were they all males?

Mrs. Lee: No, no, we had a couple of females.

Mr. Lee: You had to go right into work

Q: Was there a town where most of the kids went to college, because I know now Wayland almost everybody goes to college?

Mr. Lee: Right, right, but they didn’t in those days.  They couldn’t afford it.

Q: In high school, did you guys have a prom, where you got all dressed up?

Mrs. Lee: Yup.

Q: Ours is in two weeks.

Mrs. Lee: Yup, we had a junior prom and a senior reception.

Q: What kind of dress did you wear to your junior prom?

Mrs. Lee: Our class was so poor we had to borrow from the seniors when we did our prom.  We never repaid them.

[Laughter]

Mrs. Lee: But we had it right in the school gym.  We decorated the school gym.

Mr. Lee: I played high school ball when I was in grammar school because they didn’t have enough for a team.  The same with football.  They didn’t have enough to make a team, so they come over to grammar school, and we would get to play.

Q: So, what other sports did you like as a child? Which ones did you follow?

Mr. Lee: Baseball and football, and there was basketball.  That more or less came along later, when they built the new school. In ’36, they built the new high school, which is the town building now.

Q: Any volleyball? We’re both volleyball players.

Mr. Lee: Volleyball?

Mrs. Lee: No, we didn’t do too much volleyball.

Mr. Lee: Not too much. We played hockey.

Mrs. Lee: Basketball, they played, and football.

Mr. Lee: Basketball, football,

Mrs. Lee: And baseball.

Mr. Lee: I never played.  A little bit of hockey, but that was practiced like on the millpond down Glen Road.  Do you know where Glen Road is?

Q: Yeah.

Mr. Lee: We used to call that pie alley.  There was a pond in there, Egan’s Pond.  We used to skate down there and coast.  In fact on Plain Road, right across from us, there was nothing.  Just cow fields, you know.  Beautiful coasting, though.  You could just coast right down there.

Q: How big was horse racing in the news, like Sea Biscuit?

Mrs. Lee: No, nothing.

Q: You didn’t hear about it.

Mrs. Lee: Wrestling at Mansion Inn.  They used to come and wrestle there.  I know my father took me there a couple of times to watch the wrestling matches.

Mr. Lee: In fact, right next to us, there was the three houses.  Next to us was a small house, the Whites, and then the Linnans, and George.  He was a professional wrestler you know.  He would go all around; he would come home at times, we would be out there playing football or something, he would come out and play with us.  We were about this big, and they’d bring a bunch of monsters with them.  They’d be going to Canada to wrestle or something like that.

Q: Was the radio really big?

Mr. Lee: Radios?

Q: Did you guys have a radio?

Mr. Lee: Well, a little battery radio if we could keep the battery up.

Mrs. Lee: My father was an electrician.  Well, he didn’t have his license, but he could always, we always had a radio of some sort. Before, we had a battery operated.  I have a picture of me when I was a little one with the earphones to listen to it when I was about 6 months old. So, we did have a radio, and we used to watch it every night. Lying on the floor, us kids and my folks would be in the (inaudible), just listening to some of the programs.

Mr. Lee: No, we more or less made up everything we got.  Like, if you were playing hockey, you’d cut a limb and get a curve to it, and that was a hockey stick.  Things were tough.

Q: So, you mentioned that you listened to the radio every night.  Did you ever hear one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats?

Mrs. Lee: My folks used to listen to that, but we weren’t interested in it.

Q: What were your favorite shows?

Mrs. Lee: Oh, Little Orphan Annie and the Lone Ranger and (inaudible) and all those you know.  All those and anything we could listen to.

Mr. Lee: Mostly you would be out playing, fishing, hiking.

Mrs. Lee: The neighborhood always used to get together in the summertime.  You know where the Dairy Queen in North Natick is?

Q: Yeah.

Mrs. Lee: Well, the house next to it had big front steps, and all the neighborhood kids used to come there, and we would play oly-oly-umphree, statues, or all those games.  The kids in the whole neighborhood would gather there and play together.  In the wintertime, the lake across the house from ours, it would fill in, and we would skate. The kids used to come down.  They would come in our house, sit on the stairs going upstairs, and put on their skates on.  We had rubbers that we could put over the edge and walk across the street and skate. So, it used to be a neighborhood thing that everybody would get together and play.

Q: Did kids ever go on adventures like off into the woods and just explore?

Mr. Lee: Yeah.

Mrs. Lee: Oh, yes, peanut butter sandwich and a glass jar of milk, and we would take off and go into the woods, and my mother never knew.  We never locked the door or anything, and we would go off and climb trees, make rooms out of pine needles, and we would go down by the lake.

Mr. Lee: Take rubber bands and make a gun, two pieces of wood, bow and arrow.

Q: In Wayland right now, it’s still pretty much the same.  I know kids that still play out in the woods because it’s safe.

Q: I do.

Q: Yeah, and we’re not going to get lost because they all lead to the aqueduct eventually.

Mrs. Lee: But now-a-days, there are so many ticks around.

Mr. Lee: Oh, boy.

Mrs. Lee: We never had that when we were growing up.  Never any ticks.

Q: Did you ever have any pets?

Mrs. Lee: Always had a dog and a cat.

Q: What were their names?

Mrs. Lee: Peter was the dog and Kitty was the cat.

Q: My cousins have a cat named Kitty.

Mrs. Lee: She had a perfect heart on her back, perfect.  She was like a tiger cat, but she had a perfect white heart on her back.

Mr. Lee: We had cows, pigs, chickens, roosters, turkeys.

Q: Did you have any brothers or sisters?

Mr. Lee: Two brothers, four sisters.

Mrs. Lee: And I had four sisters.  My father prayed so hard for a girl the first time that he got five of us.

Q: My Dad has three daughters, no sons; he’s like “I need a guy.”

Mrs. Lee: He grew up with boys.  He had brothers, never had a sister, so he wanted girls, and he got five of us.

Q: Where were you in the family? Were you the oldest or the youngest?

Mrs. Lee: I was the youngest in the family.

Mr. Lee: In the middle.

Mrs. Lee: Third oldest.

Mr. Lee: Yup, third.

Q: What sorts of chores did you have to do?

Mr. Lee: Chores? Oh, boy. Anything that come along.

Mrs. Lee: I didn’t have too many because my mother didn’t want me to cook because things were so scarce, she didn’t want me to.  I had four sisters, so they could, and she didn’t let me use the washing machine because she was afraid that I would get my hand in the wringer, so I could hang up the clothes, or sweep out the bath, but that was it.  I could do dishes.

Mr. Lee: We had the big old pump outside where we got the water, carried the water. No lights.

Q: Is there one chore you never wanted to do?  I know people never want to take out the trash or something like that. Is there anything you dreaded doing?

Mr. Lee: Hey, you just done them.

Mrs. Lee: You never even thought about it.  You would just do it.

Mr. Delaney: No lights? Kerosene lanterns, did you use?

Mr. Lee: Yup, we had the, with the chimneys, you know with the wicks and the globe.  That was a job, keeping the globe clean with newspapers. No bathrooms.

Mrs. Lee: When we first came to Natick, we lived in this house that we rented, but then during the Depression the rent was too high, so we moved into another place that I grew up in.  I was only four when we came to Natick, and that didn’t have any electricity, and it didn’t have any bathroom. The house was like a farm house but attached to the kitchen was this big, long, what they called a shed, and attached to that was the outhouse.  It was a three seater.

Mr. Lee: Oh, boy.  You were uptown.

Mrs. Lee: Two regular and one small, baby one. And the neatest thing about it was that when you did the dishes, the water, they had a pipe so the water went right underneath and washed that out, and they had a big cesspool out in the back. So, I can’t remember when, but the landlord was a little old lady.  She was sort of hunchbacked, and she owned the house, and my mother, because I was the youngest, she use to send me up with a note that she would either paper or paint if they would pay for the paper and the paint, and she asked me about the bathroom, and I would give her the note and she would say “I have to sleep on it,” and she would give us the answer. And she did put a new bathroom in.  I think I was about 10 when it happened. So, you learned to do without.  Everybody was in the same predicament.

Mr. Lee: Yup, I wonder how my mother ever cooked.  She had the wood stove, you know.  We’d have pies and bread and all kinds of stuff, not from the store.

Q: So, what were some of you favorite foods?

Mr. Lee: Anything you could get.

Q: Did you ever eat any pre-made foods, or was it all just homemade?

Mrs. Lee: Homemade.

Mr. Lee: Mostly homemade.

Q: What did you buy from the store? Sounds like you had cows, so you got milk there?

Mr. Lee: Oh, we’d buy flour and sugar and stuff like that.

Mrs. Lee: We had a milk man come to the door.

Mrs. Lee: Yeah, we had a fish man. He’d come around.  Once a month, we would get a big haddock.  Mother’d put it in the oven, bake it, stuff it, bread, boy.

Q: Did you guys grow and can goods?

Mr. Lee: Right in jars.  She put up a hundred jars.  You’d go down to the swamp and pick blueberries.

Mrs. Lee: And cranberries.

Q: I do that.  We always pick the blueberries in the swamp.

Mr. Lee: You what?

Q: We pick the blueberries in the swamp.

Mr. Lee: Have you been down there?

Q: Yeah, it’s all around my house.

Mr. Lee: Well, right from Millbrook Road right down to the mill pond, you know on the right hand side, my father owned that 35 acres.

Q: That’s probably a corner of where I live.

Mr. Lee: Is that right?

Q: Yeah.

Mr. Lee: And right on that corner there was a big sand pit.  We used to all stand out right at the corner where you would go ‘round. You’re coming to the mill pond, coming down…(more directions)

Q: I don’t know where that is.

Mr. Lee: Oh, it’s gone now,

Mrs. Lee: They took all the sand out

Mr. Lee: We used to shovel sand out of there, but down in the back was the blueberries. So, they’re still down there?

Q: Yeah, they are.

Mr. Lee: Oh, we used to take a 10 quart water pail, go down, and fill it up.  My mother would put them in jars.  She would probably have 50, 60 jars of just blueberries for the winter.

Mrs. Lee: We had a garden.  Probably not as much as he had, but my mother canned.

Mr. Lee: Oh, yeah, canned everything.  That’s how you ate.

Mrs. Lee: You go down to the cellar, and it was just like going shopping in the grocery store.

Mr. Lee: Put the potatoes, squash.

Mrs. Lee: Carrots, beans, cranberries.

Mr. Lee: There used to be cranberries that you could pick.

Mrs. Lee: Peaches.

Mr. Lee: Peaches.  There was a peach orchard over on Draper Road, Ripley’s Orchard.

Mrs. Lee: They canned everything.

Mr. Lee: We used to pick some blueberries and maybe get a quarter for a nice big box.

Q: Now, I guess we should switch it over to something more political.

Q: First, I’m curious.  So, you mentioned that you had to work from a very young age.  What was the first job that you had just when you were a teenager?

Mr. Lee: First job?

Q: Yeah.

Mr. Lee: Hey, we used to pick beans, mow hay, and they put it up in the barn, and you’d have to push it back.  It’d be like 120 (degrees) and get 10 cents an hour, and you would have to take it home in milk or apples.

Q: How young were you when you did that?

Mr. Lee: Oh, probably 12, 15

Mrs. Lee: And I babysat like any girl.

Mr. Lee: But then there was a farm.  We’d pick beans and get 15 cents a bushel for picking beans.

Q: What were your earliest memories of the hard times of the 1930’s?

Mr. Lee: In the 30’s, they were all hard.

Mrs. Lee: It didn’t bother us because everybody was the same and nobody complained, and some were worse off then we were.

Mr. Lee: That’s right.  Everybody kind of helped one another. If you had extra potatoes, give them away, and vice versa.

Q: Was it a very religious time for most people, or did they sort of stay away from the church?

Mr. Lee: Myself, I never had too much religion then.

Mrs. Lee: I did.  I brought a picture.  This is my nursery school class.  That’s at the Methodist Church down here in Cochituate in Wayland.

Q: Wait, what street is it on now?

Mrs. Lee: It’s on, the Methodist, right across from the little playground.

Mr. Lee: On route 27, Cochituate, the Village.

Q: St Zepherin’s?

Mrs. Lee: No past St. Zepherin’s.

Mr. Lee: Right before the lights going toward Natick.

Q: Oh, yeah.

Mrs. Lee: You might have gone to, they used to have a kindergarten there for the Town House,  used to have a kindergarten, and there’s a nursery school.

Mr. Lee: In fact that Mansion Inn used to be where Finnerty’s, you know where Finnerty’s is?

Mrs. Lee: Yeah.

Mr. Lee: That used to be there.  They used to have parties during Christmas time for the kids.  We would go over there. In fact, I went over there for a party, and they had these settees.  I got my fingers caught.  I look over and all the nails are off.

Mrs. Lee: That’s the Allegiance hall, where Finnerty’s is. (Talking to Mr. Delaney)

Mr. Lee: This was over in the square.  Wayland square.

Q: It looks so different now.

Mrs. Lee: Yeah.

Q: I live pretty much right next to it, and you wouldn’t be able to recognize it.

Mrs. Lee: That Terrace Garden is where the temple is, and that’s where his mother worked during the Depression.

Mr. Lee: And from Plain Road, there was nothing but a meadow and a cow pasture over to Terrace Garden.  We could, on a clear night, we could hear Von Munroe, and there was name bands over there. You could hear them if you went outside for miles on Plain Road.

Q: What kind of music did you listen to? What bands and singers?

Mr. Lee: Myself, I wasn’t into something like that.  You just hear it.

Q: Did anybody in Wayland play instruments? Was there like a school band?

Mr. Lee: Oh, yeah.  Frank Dowley was pretty good.

Q: What did he play?

Mrs. Lee: He had a band.

Mr. Lee: What is it…  Violin? I think he played the violin.

Mrs. Lee: His father used to play too.  What did your father play?

Mr. Lee: They always had a piano there, but we were out playing in the woods.

Mr. Delaney: I did research once.  I think he was a Wayland guy, or he was a Cochituate guy, if I’m not mistaken.  No, he was a Cochituate.  George Fullick.

Mrs. Lee: Oh, yeah.

Mr. Lee: Yeah.

Mr. Delaney: It was an Memorial Day speech about 5 or 6 years ago I did here in town, I did some research on George Fullick because he was killed in Iwo Jima and I interviewed his sister, Jenny Pinkul and a few others.

Mrs. Lee: I graduated with Jenny.

Mr. Delaney: Did you? Oh, she’s wonderful.

Mrs. Lee: Yeah. And her brother died in the war.

Mr. Delaney: That’s right. He had his own band back in the 1940’s and late 30’s when he was in high school.  He played trombone, I found out.  He sounded like quite a guy. Did you know him, Ed? Do you remember him?

Mr. Lee: Oh, yeah.

Q: How do you recall Franklin D. Roosevelt?

Mr. Lee: As good as any.

Mrs. Lee: My folks didn’t vote for him, but they didn’t complain about him.

Q: Where did you vote? Where was voting? Like what building?

Mrs. Lee: They voted in Natick and Wayland.

Mr. Lee: The old town hall.  All we had was the town hall, the Wayland depot where the Herd House is now. That was the town hall, and that was the fire station. In fact before I went in the service I was on fire call for one year.

Q: Did you have any fire calls?

Mr. Lee: It was all volunteers, you know.

Mrs. Lee: But did you go on any . . .

Mr. Lee: I went on a couple, I guess.

Mrs. Lee: Probably grass fires.

Mr. Lee: Yeah, grass fires.  Especially on the railroad.  Start a fire, the trains you know, when it was dry.

Q: Was the railroad through Wayland?

Mr. Lee: Right in back of our house.

Q: Oh, really?

Mr. Lee: Yeah.

Mrs. Lee: Where the Depot is, that’s where the people get on.

Mr. Lee: When we were kids, we used go down, go along the edge and pick up chunks of coal, bring them home for the stove.  And blueberries.  They used to burn it over.  In the spring, they’d burn it so they wouldn’t start fires, you know.  And you’d get nice, low bush blueberries.  All kinds of different things, then.

Q: So, on a more political note, do you remember the New Deal or any of FDR’s other plans to fix the economy?

Mrs. Lee: I can remember them talking about it, but as kids we really weren’t that interested in it.  We were happy with what we had.

Mr. Lee: PWA.

Mrs. Lee: I was lucky because my father had a regular job, and he was a printer at John Hancock.

Q: Do you think overall the people in Wayland kept the jobs they had before the stock market crash?

Mr. Lee: Do you think what?

Q: Do you think overall most of the people in Wayland kept their jobs during the Depression, or was there a lot of unemployment?

Mr. Lee: Oh, man.  There was people with white collars working in the trench.  Digging on the WPA projects, CCC projects.  All the banks went down, everything.

Mrs. Lee: You lost your . . .

Mr. Lee: I lost all my money.  I had about . . .   In school, they’d have a little savings you know.  So, if you had a nickel you could put a nickel in.  The rich kids probably put a quarter.  Then, they put it in the Waltham Bank, you know.  I think I had about 15 cents in there, and then the bank went under.  But there was people who had a lot of money, and the banks, all the banks went down, see.  You know people in New York, they were jumping out windows ‘cause they lost all their money.

Q: That seems a bit extreme.

Mr. Lee: Yeah, boy.

Q: You never got compensation from the government for anything?  You just lost everything?

Mr. Lee: No.  They got probably 2 cents on a dollar maybe.  Some of them did.

Q: Were any of your family or friends part of New Deal programs, like building stuff?

Mr. Lee: No, I can’t say so.  I mean, you worked on the jobs they created.  My father used to work on those.

Mrs. Lee: His father lost his house during the Depression and all the land that he owned.

Mr. Lee: Yeah.  35 acres plus the house up there.

Mrs. Lee: He used to go to Waltham, take all the stuff that he had grown, everything, and just sell it.  And then kids would be running up, and he’d give it all away.  And come home with an empty truck and no money because he said they were worse off than he was, so he’d give all this produce and garden things away.  And he lost his home and all his land.

Q: Where did you go after that?

Mr. Lee: Over, my uncle lived on the Post Road, and we built a little cabin over there, until the war come along and went into the war.

Q: Do you remember hearing about how the war was starting before you entered?

Mrs. Lee: You mean about Hitler?

Mr. Lee: Oh, yeah.  You’d hear bits and pieces

Mrs. Lee: On the news, you know.

Mr. Lee: Pearl Harbor come along.

Mrs. Lee: My folks would listen to the evening news, so they would get all uptight about things that were happening, but as I say, we were kids at that time, and it didn’t bother us.  We figured we were safe.

Q: Do you remember the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, at all?  And if so, what about her?

Mrs. Lee: Oh, Eleanor?

Mr. Lee: Eleanor.

Mrs. Lee: She was a character, but she was good.

Mr. Lee: I remember her, but that’s about it.

Q: Do you recall ever seeing a “Hooverville” of homeless people?

Mr. Lee: Homeless?  On Rice Road, there was a poor farm.  They had a poor farm up on Rice Road.  You know where Rice Road is?

Q: Yeah.

Mr. Lee: The Hamlins?  Right across from that, on the hill.  They had a poor farm there.  Never went in it.  We passed by it though.  In fact I had an aunt up on Rice Road there.

Mrs. Lee: We had on Pine Street, we had somebody living in the woods.  They used to come down and ask my mother for a handout.

Mr. Lee: No we used to have a lot of them.  They’d stop in, you know.  And they’d be traveling on the trains, stop in the house.  In fact, they’d cut wood, you know, for a meal.  And there was that one time, there was one he stayed I don’t know, maybe a week or something, and we went down to the post office and he went out West somewhere and robbed a bank!  Gee.  But the drifters, they always used to drop in you know.

Q: So in the 1930’s, how diverse was the town of Wayland?  Were there any African-Americans, or Asian-Americans living here?

Mr. Lee: You never even thought, I mean there was

Mrs. Lee: No, ‘cause they had the Steels were black.  And we treated them just like they were one of us.

Mr. Lee: ‘Course!

Mrs. Lee: And when I was growing up, when I went to school in North Natick, one of my best friends was a black girl.  And her brother was president of his class in high school.

Mr. Lee: You never gave it a thought.

Mrs. Lee: We never gave it a thought.

Mr. Lee: Just mingle right in together.  Fight each other and then be buddies.

Q: Do you remember the New York World’s Fair in 1939?

Mr. Lee: 1939?  The World’s Fair?  I remember ’38, the hurricane.

Mrs. Lee: I mean, the World’s Fair, that was way out of our reach.

Mr. Lee: The Waltham Theater was our big deal.

Q: Did a bunch of kids go there together and hang out there?

Mr. Lee: In Waltham?  Well there was three theaters down there.  Central Square was the nice theater, the Embassy was the fancy one, and then the Waltham, we used to call the rat house, that was the best pictures.  That’s where we went generally.  And you get 2 pictures, serials for about 15 cents.

Mrs. Lee: I brought this card with me because when you were talking about theaters, the Colonial Theater in downtown Natick, I used to walk to it.  And it cost me 10 cents on Saturday afternoon and I had a card.  And I’d start from Pine Street and walk, and kids would join me and we’d get into Natick and wait to get into line.  And then my father would pick us up and drive us all home.

Mr. Lee: I got you big.  We used to walk to Waltham, seven miles.

Mrs. Lee: That’s a long walk.

Mr. Lee: Yeah, it is.

Q: What were some of your favorite movies that you saw?

Mr. Lee: Cowboys.

Mrs. Lee: There was always a serial with a cliff hanger, so that you’d want to go the next week, before your main picture.

Q: Do you remember the movies “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind”?

Mr. Lee: Oh, yeah.

Q: Were they really popular?

Mrs. Lee: Oh, yeah.

Mr. Lee: Totem Pole, down there.  Norembega Park.

Mrs. Lee: Norembega Park, yes.  In fact, I think it was the Boston Herald or the Boston American Newspaper, in the spring and the summer time they always had a page of penny coupons that if you went to Norembega Park you could get a ride for a penny.  That was a big thing.

Mr. Lee: Get them coupons.

Mrs. Lee: We’d all get one of our parents to drive us down and ride all the amusements for a penny.

Q: So what were some of your favorite amusement rides?

Mrs. Lee: The whip.

Mr. Lee: The whip.

Q: What was that?

Mrs. Lee: It, you know, it was down in Norembega.

Mr. Lee: How ‘bout the one that they, up and down with the canvas.

Mrs. Lee: Oh, yeah.  The canvas came over you.

Mr. Lee: Canvas came over you.  Merry go round, the paddle boats.

Mrs. Lee: That was fun.

Mr. Lee: Yup.

Q: Ed, you said something about the hurricane of ’38 . . .   You remember the hurricane of ’38?  What was it like in Wayland when the hurricane hit?

Mr. Lee: ’38, that was coming out of the high school here, the new one that they built in ’36, you know.  I was coming out of there and hey, everything was coming down, blocking the roads.  I got home, in fact, and my father was trying to tighten down the bulkhead, you know, on the house, and then there was a big chimney.  They had a big chimney, and it was a two-story house.  Chimney come up, chimney just missed us.  So, lucky to be here.  But, no everything was . . . In fact another thing, right near us they brought in a saw mill from out West.  They brought in logs, you know, everything was flattened.  Pine logs, they brought the logs in and they brought a mill in from I think it was the Dakotas, somewhere out that way.  In fact we have a picture.

Mrs. Lee: All his family.

Mr. Lee: My family and the ones who ran the mill.  They’d come over the house and . . .

Mrs. Lee: (Describes picture)

Q: How old were you in this picture?

Mrs. Lee: Probably 16.

Mr. Lee: Yeah.  ‘Bout that.  Right in Wayland Square they were cutting up, well all the streets were blocked up.  All the trees were down.

Mrs. Lee: This is a tree that came down in my house.  It’s a big, one of my favorite maple trees.  You see how that was in the hurricane.  I was pretending that I was cutting it down, my father was doing it.  They took this house for the Mass Pike too.  That was a nice brick home.

Q: When did they build the Mass Pike?

Mr. Lee: The Mass Pike, Oh, that was in the ’50’s.  I was working in construction, hauling gravel down there.  Oh, the Mass Pike was later than 128.  128 was . . . I was hauling gravel there.

Q: Do you think we are still affected at all by the Great Depression now?

Mrs. Lee: I don’t think people realize what we went through.

Mr. Lee: There’s nothing now compared to then.  Gee whiz.

Mrs. Lee: I think people that went through the Depression are trying to do too much for their kids because they didn’t have anything.  And so they’d use a lot of credit, get themselves into trouble.  They just don’t realize how to live.  Not to say, but not to spend the way some people do today.

Mr. Lee: I think what they got in bad habit of is they want.  And charging, you know.  And everything you charge, the interest goes on and it keeps building up.  It’s the same way, look at the national debt we’ve got now, you know.  And they’re building to infinity.  In other words its like the old saying, money is the root of all evil.  Everybody wants more and more, and back then, hey, if you could eat that was good.

Mrs. Lee: If you work for something you really appreciate it.

Mr. Lee: There’s no value.  There’s no value today.  I mean look at the houses.  I mean, a million-dollar house and the value is not there, you know.  It used to be when you bought something, you had to have a value, you had to have more or less a back up, you know.  You had to pay for it, but now they want it tomorrow.

Mrs. Lee: I was in Brownies and I was in Girl Scouts and my kids have been in Scouts and I think that teaches them a lot of survival and they’re all in sports, which is good for them.  And they all worked, they was not afraid to work ever, you know.

Mr. Lee: Who ever heard of 100 million dollars for somebody to play ball?  We used to think it was a joy.  Hey, I mean you got in there you’d play for nothing.  Now . . .

Mrs. Lee: My father used to play baseball in Boston, and so he was a real Red Sox fan.  So we all grew up listening to the radio, Red Sox is always going on.

Q: My friends who are Boy Scouts always make fun of us Girl Scouts whenever we go camping because now, if we want to go camping with Girl Scouts we don’t just set up a tent in the woods anymore.  We have heated cabins and a stove.

Mr. Lee: Hey, we used to go out to play and come in, and you’d be like an icicle, you know.

Mrs. Lee: The first time I set up a tent was in Cedar Hill in Waltham.  Have you been there?

Q: Yeah!

Mrs. Lee: My scout leader’s husband said, “Oh, this is a good spot Dot, why don’t you set up your tent here.”  So I did and I woke up in the middle of the night and he set it right on top of an anthill.  And I said, “I’ll listen to my leader, not to you, thanks.”  But, I think Scouts is wonderful.

Mr. Lee: But like at Mount Wayland there, you could any little flowing stream you could drink out of.  And there used to be springs every here and there, they’d put a little cabin over them.  But even the streams you wouldn’t be afraid to drink out of.  It was pure.  Now you can’t even eat the fish.

Mrs. Lee: And in the summer you would fish or you’d swim.

Mr. Lee: Always went fishing.

Mrs. Lee: I used to walk from Pine Street up to Dudley pond towards the town beach at that time, and my sisters used to have to take me.  They couldn’t go unless they took the younger ones.  Because at that time they were 16 and kind of boy crazy, you know.  My mother would say they could go, but they had to take us.  It was beautiful up there, it really was.  We’d walk there.

Q: So when you were teenagers, how much dating was there going on?

Mrs. Lee: Course we weren’t dating in the Depression, but my sisters was, and they used to come down to the house.  And my mother would say to them if you go now I’ll drive you home.  Just to get rid of them.  And she had a Model T, and she had a license on that, but she had to crank it.  Her brother-in-law told her it wasn’t really safe, and she should give it up.  So she gave it to him and he drove it after that.  But she never drove a regular, easy car.  When my dad got a car, it was so much easier.  I don’t know if you ever seen a Model T, but there was sparks and all this you had to do.  Crank it and everything else.  The other one, you just turned the key and shifted.  She never drove a regular car.

Mr. Lee: You like the Model A, with the . . .

Mrs. Lee: He had a license, and his friend had a car and no license.  So he used to drive his friend and his girlfriend.  My sister was, one of his buddies was, went with one of his buddies.  So he’d drive, and in order to go, I’d have to go along too.  So that’s how I started going out with him, but he wouldn’t drive unless I went too.  So they had one of these Coups, with a back rumble seat, and my sister and her boyfriend used to sit in that and I’d be up front.  And the one that owned the car would be there too with his girlfriend on the lap.  So there would be six of us.  And we’d stop and pick up and bring bottles with us to get a nickel back to buy gas.

Q: How much was gas back then?

Mr. Lee: 8 gallons for a dollar.  Right down on Colton Street I used to buy 8 gallons for a dollar.

Mrs. Lee: Now it’s almost 4 dollars.

Mr. Lee: I was thinking of that the other day when I went in.  I said, “I’ll take 20 dollars worth.”  And I got about 5 gallons.  I said, “Oh, boy!  I used to get 8 for a dollar?”  I need a 50-gallon drum!

Mrs. Lee: Times have changed.  I bet you our kids will say the same thing.  I can’t wait to, well I don’t know if I’ll be around, to see what happens.  There will be a lot of changes.

Q: So right now, we’re kind of in an economic recession now, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a depression, but there’s definitely a lot of inflation, food is getting more expensive recently, and gas prices are going right up.  Do you have any advice for our generation?

Mrs. Lee: Well don’t buy anything unless you can pay for it.  I mean it’s so easy.

Mr. Lee: Cut up the credit card!

Mrs. Lee: I really feel bad for you because credit is so easy to get.  I used to work in a bank, and people used to come in to me all upset because of their balances.  They’re not paying, they’re just paying $10 or $5, they don’t realize that interest is occurring.  And by the time they pay it off, they’ve paid 10 times what the article was worth.  And it’s so easy for you kids today to get credit.

Mr. Lee: It really is.

Mrs. Lee: You go to college first thing.  You know my kids, the first thing they was inundated with office credit card and things.

Mr. Lee: You get them in the mail.  They’re sending them out.  It’s not only the kids’ faults.  They’re pushing.  Oh, here, you don’t have to pay for a year.  They don’t think, bang!  Before you know it, it keeps building up.

Q: I think in the electronic age, if you have a credit card it’s a really useful tool.  It’s a lot easier to cash in some ways, but I think people just forget that there’s any sort of limit on it and they go crazy.

Mr. Lee: That’s right.

Mrs. Lee: Yeah that’s right.

Mr. Lee: And they keep reaching.  You got $10,000 credit.  They’re beautiful if you use them right.  They’re handy.  When it comes in, make sure you can pay it off.  Once the interest starts building up, boy.  And that’s the same way with the government.  They’re borrowing, borrowing, borrowing.  You don’t know who owns who.

Mrs. Lee: My son bought his kids cell phones . . . then he started getting the bills, and all this text messages you do add up.  It’s too easy to go over the line with some of these things they give you.

Q: Is there any lesson you think we should learn from your childhood that we can apply to nowadays?

Mrs. Lee: Well our childhood was so different from your childhood and how you grew up, it’s hard to say.

Mr. Lee: Just try to help each other.  That’s it.

Mrs. Lee: I think we had a wonderful childhood because I grew up on a street with everybody was a Felch.  But they took us in, and everyone was Grammy and Grampy to me.  You always went into their kitchen.  The door was always open.  You wouldn’t wander through the whole house, but everybody welcomed you and everybody helped.

Mr. Lee: Best thing is don’t try to keep up with the Jones’.  Just because somebody else has got the big boat, you can’t afford a big boat, forget it.  You’re just as good as they are.

Other Interviews