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Transcript of interview with Stella Butterfield by Joanne Goodwin, October 14 & October 25, 2005






Interviewed by Joanne L. Goodwin. Stella Butterfield's family, the Goldbergs, was Jewish, and she was born in the Bronx. During World War II she worked for the Coast Guard in the steno pool in Washington, D.C. Stella moved to Santa Monica a few years later while the war was still going on and worked briefly as a riveter for Douglas Aircraft and then as a teletype operator for the Air Force but at Douglas Aircraft. Because she had a hard time getting a job because of antisemitism, she changed her name to Gilbert. In December of 1948 she went to the Canal Zone in Panama to be the secretary of the commanding officer of the Panama Supply Depot. Stella was also a law reporter for court martials. She met Frank Butterfield, who was stationed there, and married him in 1952. He was transferred back to the United States, and they lived in Massachusetts. Then they moved to Los Angeles, and in 1953 they moved to Las Vegas, where she was a court reporter at Nellis Air Force Base. Then they moved to Mexico City, then back to California where she worked as a legal secretary. In early 1955 they moved back to Las Vegas, and Stella worked as a federal court reporter for Judge Roger T. Foley.

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Butterfield, Stella Interview, 2005 October 14 & 25. OH-02685. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Stella Butterfield An Oral History Conducted by Joanne L. Goodwin ______________________________________________ Las Vegas Women Oral History Project Series II. Community Builders University of Nevada, Las Vegas 2006 ii ? NSHE, UNLV, Women’s Research Institute of Nevada, Las Vegas Women Oral History Project, 2006 Produced by: Las Vegas Women Oral History Project Women’s Research Institute of Nevada, UNLV, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 455083, Las Vegas, NV 89154-5083 Director and Editor: Joanne L. Goodwin Text Processor: Annette Amdal iii iv This interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of the Foundation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the research efforts of the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada (WRIN). Located at UNLV within the College of Liberal Arts, WRIN is a statewide research institute with programs that add to the body of knowledge on women and girls in the state. WRIN has housed the oral history project since 1999. The specific goal of the oral history project is to acquire the narratives of Nevadans whose lives provide unique information on the development of the state and in particular, southern Nevada. In addition, the oral history project enables students and faculty to work together with community members to generate these first-person narratives. The participants in this project extend their appreciation to UNLV for providing an opportunity for this project to flourish. The text of this transcript has received minimal editing, first by the interviewer to eliminate fragments, false starts, and repetition; and second, by the narrator to clarify events and correct errors and omissions. Ideally, this oral history would be heard as well as read. If the narrator provided photographic images to accompany the narrative and agreed to donate these images with the transcript, they reside with the UNLV Lied Library, Special Collections Department. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Las Vegas Women Oral History Project, Series II. Community Builders. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Joanne L. Goodwin, Ph.D. Las Vegas Women Oral History Project, Director Associate Professor, Department of History University of Nevada, Las Vegas v vi Stella Butterfield in her home of 43 years in Las Vegas at Christmas 2005. (Courtesy of Stella Butterfield) vii An Interview with Stella Butterfield 1 This is Joanne Goodwin. It’s October 14th, 2005. I’m interviewing Stella Butterfield about her life in Las Vegas and coming to Las Vegas. We’re in the offices of the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada at UNLV. Stella has read the agreement on use and agreed to it. Is that correct, Stella? That is correct. Okay. To get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about where you grew up, about your family, your parents’ names. I was born in the Bronx, New York. I’m a first generation American; my parents were immigrants from Russia and Poland in 1917. As a matter of fact, I was at the Statue of Liberty about ten years ago during their reconstruction of [the monument] and I saw some of the remnants of the old furniture and old luggage and clothing of immigrants who came over that year. I didn’t see my parents’ names although I was told that their history and the information with regard to them was there. But to get back to my life. They came through Ellis Island? They came through Ellis Island. And they stayed in New York? Yes. What is your mother’s name and where did she . . . ? My mother’s maiden name was Rose Epstein and my father’s name was Isaac Goldberg and they came from the time of what I learned was called the pogroms in Russia. My father had been born in Warsaw, Poland; my mother was from Moscow, Russia. And 2 interestingly enough, I have papers from the birth of my oldest brother who was born in the United States that showed two other children who I never knew anything about. They had children . . . Prior, but I don’t know if they were there or if they had shipped them here prior, or what happened to them. I did have other family in New York, aunts and uncles, who also lived in the area. My parents died when I was thirteen years old in the Bronx. My father lived in the lower east side Manhattan and he was a tailor by trade. And at some point, he had bought a home for us. I have one younger brother and two sisters who are older and I had an older brother who died in Las Vegas [in] 1990. We lived in a place, at the time I thought was upstate New York, but it was an area or town that was called White Sulphur Springs. It was a resort and it was in what was familiarly known as the Borscht district. It was the Catskill Mountains. And we had had a home there. I learned that I was born September 10th, 1925. September 1st of that year our house burned down. We had an acre and a quarter of land. The house burned to the ground, but there was an old pump house and we would live there in the summertime. The foundation of the house was there. And we would move from where we lived, which was between White Sulphur Springs and Liberty, New York every summer. We became the caretakers for a hotel—there was a caretaker’s house. And in the wintertime we would move and live in the caretaker’s house because our house had no plumbing, or heat, or electricity. The cottage or whatever it was we lived in, the shack, was okay for the summer because we were outdoors all the time and the weather was beautiful. 3 I remember a cow called Elsie that my mother milked. And we had enormous rocks that you had to climb on at the back of our property. I must have been five or six years old when somebody came to see the rocks. And I can remember my sister saying, “Do you think when we’re grown up, we’ll ever come back and see the rocks?” Obviously, it made an impression on me at the time. We were the only Jewish family in the area and so, in growing up, we attended school there. I started school when I was five in a one-room school house in the first grade with a teacher who taught all grades, all subjects. And we would have a Christmas play and we all participated in it. Religion was not anything one way or the other. It was known we were Jewish for whatever that meant at the time, because if there was anything such as discrimination or something, it didn’t exist or I wasn’t aware of it where I lived. You didn’t celebrate the Jewish Sabbath? Nothing. We had no training [on] anything. I knew what my name was but I never paid any attention to the fact that I was Jewish. It didn’t mean anything to me. Mmmm hmmm. The resort is still there, the White Sulphur Springs hotel where we were. We went to school in the city of Liberty. It was really a town which still exists. And we went to grammar school there and high school – it was Liberty High School. I remember one incident, however, which had an enormous impact. My oldest brother’s name was Nathan and that year he was the valedictorian. But because he was Jewish, he was [made] the salutatorian instead of the valedictorian. It was given to a gal that was a friend of his at the time, Jinx Falkenburg. They said they simply could not put the name “Nathan Goldberg” in the newspaper as the valedictorian of Liberty High School. And it had a 4 tremendous impact on my brother. So, I have to assume discrimination existed but made no impact on me personally. My oldest brother, when my parents died, became for all purposes, I would say, our guardian. Not legally, but he didn’t want us to be split up and live with various aunts and uncles who lived in the city. And when that happened, we did move to the Bronx, from Liberty, New York. So you went all the way through high school in Liberty, New York? No, my last three years we had moved. I went to school through 1938. In Liberty. In Liberty. Okay. And we moved to the Bronx in 1938. Okay. Before we go to the Bronx, your dad was working as a tailor? He would come home… to Liberty? Yes. He would come home twice a year and we always got new winter coats and new clothes. He would come home twice a year? Twice a year. Your father worked all the time? In the city. In the lower east side of New York. And you saw him twice a year. Twice a year, as I now recall. 5 This is a bit unusual. It was very unusual. And it had (I know little about this); it had an enormous impact on my mother because my mother took lye and tried to commit suicide two years before she actually died. My oldest brother, we called him Nat, [but] he changed his name to just use the name “Ned” over the years, would never talk about it. Mmmm hmmm. As I grew older I never asked him. I don’t know why. Between 13 and 16 we lived together and they don’t seem particularly eventful. And when I describe my years after I was sixteen, I really wasn’t around him that much. But he was a bitter, angry man. He was emotionally abusive. If you did something wrong, he’d lock the door to a room, similar to this room, and he would pace back and forth and never quit talking. And so you’d, you’d just have to sit there and listen to him. And I, I remember shutting him out and thinking, “When’s he going to stop, when’s he going to stop?” I have no idea what he talked about. So would it be fair to say that you spent up to thirteen [years of age] with your mother and your siblings? Yes. Yes. What do you remember of your mother? Very, very little. I can remember her at the table. She was young when she died. I really thought she was forty-six when she died, but I learned from papers that my oldest brother had, that she was actually fifty-three. But for the years that she was there, I never can remember a smile. I can never remember laughter. 6 I remember strange things of unrelated incidents. The first movie I ever went to see cost a dime – it was “The Good Earth”. And it was with Pearl S. Buck. And there was a boy across the street from where I lived and he came and said, “Come on, we’re going to the movies.” His name was Carlton Benish. And I was probably eleven or twelve; no, I was thirteen, because when I came home the ambulances were there and had taken my mother to the hospital. And I had thought, as I say, actually that she had died at that time, but she lingered. She had burned her insides. She lingered for two years and finally died. My father died April 10 of 1938 and my mother died May the 8th of 1938. He was in his mid-50s, late 50s probably, and he died of diseases that were the reigning thing of that era: tuberculosis, diabetes. I mean World War II, in a sense, was a blessing because it introduced antibiotics, you know, to the whole world. But, so, it was. That was it. And you said your father had been a tailor in Manhattan or in the Bronx? In the lower Bronx. And as a matter of fact, my father, I had learned, was an activist. He had joined a movement for a union of tailors with a man by the name of David Dubinsky. And David Dubinsky, in the probably fifteen years after my father died, became the head of the International Lad[ies] Garment Workers Union. And my father, my brother told me this, my father had been right alongside of him. Because we used to say, you know, “What do you think would’ve happened if he hadn’t died? What would our lives have been?” You know and----who knows? He was an intelligent man and the fact that he came home, you know, twice a year; I have no idea what kind of a life they had. And my brother would never talk about it and I didn’t insist on it. Accepting things as they were became a pattern for my existence initially. 7 My oldest sister Sylvia, whom I see very often, lives in Maryland. As a matter of fact, she’s going to be out here in several weeks, but she remembers little because she left also. She graduated from high school. And her first job was working for an attorney for six dollars a week in New York City. It was a pre-war era and she had a job. [I’m] a little ahead of myself, but in 1941 she went to Washington, D.C. ‘cause they were hiring clerical workers. I think she was a GSI for $1,260 a year which was a lot of money in 1941. So she left. And my sister Fran, who’s my senior, and my younger brother Jack and I lived with my oldest brother Nathan. Okay, let me just make sure that I have some basic facts here. Do you have birthdates for either of your parents? Yes, I do. My father’s birthday was October 5. And he was fifty-six when he died in 1938. My mother’s birthday was Groundhog Day, which is February 2 or 4. I think it’s February the second is Groundhog Day and she was fifty-three when she died in 1938. And kind of an oddball story. I’d always thought my mother was forty-six when she died and when I turned forty-six, it was the worst year of my life. Until I was forty-six, I had never had anything; I mean, I was never sick. If I had a cold, it lasted overnight and I thought the reason is, somebody’s going to say to me someday, “How could you have lived for all these years?” and then I’m going to drop dead on the floor at the age of forty-six. When forty-six was over, I just literally, mentally breathed a sigh of relief. [Then] I forget how many years later, I came across some papers my oldest brother had that I inherited (I don’t really know how I got them and I still have them) that show that she was fifty-three and I thought, “I wasted that whole year for absolutely nothing.” And hopefully, you didn’t go through it again. 8 I was older than fifty-three when I got the papers. My brother was very close mouthed. Over the years I was always friends with him, we’d see him regularly, but he was never communicative. It must have been a few years before he died when I thought, “Why did you spend a lifetime being angry? You wasted your life.” I thought he was one of the meanest people I ever knew. He moved to Las Vegas in the 70s from California following the tragic murder of his daughter by her husband. He constantly wrote what I termed poison pen letters to the editor. If a doctor kept him waiting for an hour, he’d send him a horrible letter. Or he’d send him a bill for his time: “My time’s as valuable as yours.” So, oldest brother Nathan. And then what’s the birth order after that? Oh, after that was Sylvia and she was just 85 October the 5th [2005], the same as my father. And incidentally, Starr’s birthday [one of her daughters] is October the 5th and we play games with it ‘cause my son’s birthday is 5/10 and my father died 5/10, so they are 5/10 and 10/5. For whatever significance it has, it just seemed, you know, peculiar. My sister Fran’s birthday is July the 15th. She is 83 this year [2005]. And I have a younger brother Jack whose birthday is August the 20th and he was born in 1929. And I was in between Jack and Fran ‘cause my birthday was 9/10/25. Thank you for that. Okay. Let’s talk about when your parents [died] you’re thirteen you said, and then you move. Yes, my mother had a sister who lived in the Bronx [who she] was very, very close with. They were wonderful and I had cousins that while we were there, we were very close. But I allowed the years to go by and didn’t stay in touch with them. I have no idea where they are at this point. And I have said, you know, I need to become [computer] literate, 9 although I have enough computer literate people that can go on the internet and find out where they are and who they are. Because as an aside also, when my mother died, I had no idea where she was buried. We didn’t have any idea. There was no headstone, no nothing. And one of my sister Sylvia’s daughters went on the internet and found the gravesite. She was buried in a pauper’s grave. This was after my father was buried by the Garment Worker’s Union. I mean, we never attended any ceremonies. He had brothers that didn’t like us because we were the poor side of the family. And I’m talking in an era of the Depression years. And those who had kept it to themselves, or they could have cared less, or we had no idea what to do. But once we found my mother’s grave in New Jersey, we chipped in and bought a headstone and I flew back and we had a ceremony for her. This was in 1999. Wow. Very important. It was, it was very, very moving. And my brother Jack and my sister Sylvia and I have always been in touch. My sister Fran is really bizarre. I wouldn’t hear from her for five years, and then she’d call me and tell me what she had for breakfast, which was kind of comical. When you talk about dysfunctional families, I used to think, “Mine’s got to be the worst of anybody.” This created quite an impact on my relationship with my kids. They grew up hearing “this all the family you’re ever going to have one day, so be good to each other.” You know and they [her children] are friends. That’s not to say they don’t get mad or don’t say, whatever it is, you know that you say when you’re mad. But it was the impact [of my childhood]. And I thought, “I wouldn’t have anybody if it hadn’t been for my sisters and brothers.” 10 So who took you in then, your aunt? No, not my aunt, my oldest brother Ned. And he too, was interesting. In ’38 when my parents died, he was dating a lady who was married and had a child. And my mother thought it was disgraceful. She said she would never accept this woman in our house; that, you know, my brother should know better. And when she died, this lady Adele got a divorce from her husband, and she and her child moved in with my brother Nat and us. In the Bronx. In the Bronx. I’d never regard [her] as a mother. She wasn’t. Adele died three years ago at the age of 93 so, she was almost twenty years my [senior]. And your brother was supporting the family and allowed you to go to school, or you dropped out of school? My sister Sylvia also sent money to help support the family. I was enrolled in high school in the Bronx in James Monroe High School in ’38. I had completed one year of high school when we moved there, ‘cause I graduated from high school when I was fifteen in 1941; June of ’41. And I was one of a graduating class of four thousand in the Bronx. It was enormous. When I talk about, you know, education, I remember teachers that I had ‘cause they made a tremendous impact. And really, I have to say, I must have been a pain in the you-know-what. I loved languages and I took French two years and I took Spanish for three years. And the Spanish carried forward because years later, I took two years at community college and my husband Frank and I went to Mexico and I could speak. I learned how to think in Spanish. But my French teacher was a man whose name was Delatreppe and his home was in jeopardy, and I can remember he would say to me, “Why 11 do you torment me so?” I don’t know what I did, but I was what? Fourteen. You know, I was a fourteen-year old snot. ‘Cause I was short. Although I have to tell you, Joanne, I never knew I was short. Which I think, accounts for part of who I am today. And I was just like anybody else. First of all, I was young. My junior prom, a cousin took me. Who’s going to – I mean, I can’t imagine. I have pictures [of] what I looked like and I looked like a little bit of nothing. And, I didn’t go to my senior prom, but I can remember thinking, you know, “I’m just like anybody else.” And there was one occasion when I was walking down a street in the Bronx and as I looked in the windows ‘cause the display windows were full-sized glass, and here I am down here and here is the whole world going by me way up there and I thought, “My God! What am I doing down there?” And I must have been, I [had] just graduated, I think, from high school. I have to ask because you, I mean, this is such a powerful time. Not only did you grow up in the depression but you graduated, did you say you graduated from high school in’41? June of ’41. So the whole time you were in New York in your last year or two of high school, this is when incredibly terrible things are happening in Europe. Yes. Hitler was already rounding up Jews and others. Now, granted you’re a Teenager and teenagers have other things on their mind, but did these international affairs impact your life either at home or in high school in any way? 12 At home. News was not like it is now. We would go to the movies and I can remember the RKO news where they would show you [news films]; you know, movies were ten or fifteen cents and that was a major source of entertainment for me. And also reading because there was no such thing as dating. But we lived in an apartment across from the Bronx zoo. So that was a major source of entertainment. And I can remember just sitting in my room at home and, and reading books. I didn’t know anything else in a way. You didn’t have friends. There was school; I was in what they called an honor class. I had a scholastic average of eighty-five or over, which at the time was considered B+ by the New York Board of Regents. And I was with a group of other kids that, we all traveled together. So that, even when I graduated, I was in this one class [group]. And I can remember one friend that I had; she was small like I was. We became friends. And the friendship in effect didn’t last because of me; I didn’t maintain contact. I got a job when I graduated from high school. My brother was working at a laundry in the Bronx and he got me a job in the complaint department. Here I was not yet sixteen. Laundries at that time were wet wash. You know, people would put their clothes outside their apartment doors and they’d come back wet and you’d hang them up on the roof of the apartment house. And I have pictures, as a matter of fact, of my brothers and sisters, you know, on the roof of the apartment house which we took. And this was in ’38,’39, ’40, and my brother was working at the laundry. He did support us ‘cause he had Adele and her daughter Pat who was three at the time. Adele divorced her husband and they married. Adele’s ex-husband sent forty dollars a month probably twenty years to support Pat. He never missed. He never missed. And Pat grew up with us. 13 My brother and Adele also had a daughter in ’39. Her name was Gale. We were all in this, it couldn’t have been more than a two or maybe three-bedroom apartment; of course, one bathroom. They were called tenements. They weren’t slums ‘cause it was not a bad neighborhood, but they were tenements where you congregated on the sidewalks and you played stoop ball in the wintertime. I hadn’t thought of these things in years. It wasn’t bad. I can remember going to dances. I’d never liked short men. Never. And little guys would come over and ask me to dance and I thought, “Sssss… know, get away from me.” And interestingly enough, there was no segregation. And I can remember going to dances and dancing with black guys; they danced better than anybody else. This was in high school? High school. So your neighborhood was…? The neighborhood was all white, but the school must have been in a mixed area ‘cause when you figure with a graduating class of four thousand they didn’t all come from my little area. And then my brother, I just thought of this—it was many years later he owned an ice cream parlor in Harlem. And he was completely, I mean there was no such thing as bigotry then, but he used to say, “The Jews and the blacks get along fine.” Because he would be good to them. And he said they spent money. They had money. Well, you know, if anybody had and that’s all he cared about was making some money, but my brother was a weirdo. He was so busy watching the top of the barrel in everything that he did that the bottom went rotten. 14 He would become incensed if someone that worked at the ice cream parlor, whoever it was, had maybe given away one ice cream cone while he was in there, but meanwhile, they were hauling some of the stuff out the back door that he didn’t have time to pay attention to. He was so busy watching the front cash register for a nickel or a dime. When did you start to work? You got through high school before working? Yes. I graduated from high school in June of ’41 and he was at the laundry at that time. That’s when I went to work at the complaint department. People would come in and complain, you know, call up rather, and complain about their laundry – [it] wasn’t delivered right or something was missing. And that couldn’t have been more than three months. [Because] shortly after, in the winter of ’41, was Pearl Harbor and World War II. My sister Sylvia was married December 3rd of ’41. She’d been working in Washington [D.C.] for about a year and she met this man, Philip Herman. He was a good guy. They were married forever. He died in 2001. My brother didn’t like him; my brother didn’t like anybody particularly. He was too intent on taking care of all the family he had acquired. And they came into New York where we were living and said, “Stella, come back to Washington with us. We can get you a job.” Because of the war, you know. Phil said he worked for the Civil Service Commission and said, “You can just take a test.” This was about mid-1942 and I remained there until 1944. Oh, as an aside, the year I graduated from high school in ’41, I wanted to go to college. My brother said “you’re crazy. We don’t have money for college.” Well, I was unprepared. You took a commercial course or a general course in high school. Commercial was taking shorthand and typing, general was taking college preparatory. Well, nobody paid any attention to me; there were no high school counselors at that time, 15 so I took college preparatory. I couldn’t take shorthand and I couldn’t type. I could do nothing. And, I guess this was before I worked at the laundry, so I must not have worked at the laundry until maybe September. And he said, “You’re going to go to commercial school and learn how to take shorthand and type.” And I’d ride the subway every day to downtown Manhattan, because we lived in the Bronx. And it was a nickel. And I went to a place called Pratt Institute to learn to take shorthand and type. That was in the afternoon, and in the morning I worked for a man by the name of Oliver -- somewhere I have it -- who took photographic pictures of movie people and entertainers. And I worked there three hours a day from nine until twelve. And then from one to four I was supposed to go to the business school. I say supposed to ‘cause I would go to the movies. It didn’t cost that much and I was making maybe four or five dollars a week from my nine hours. And I saw Frank Sinatra at the Paramount. I was one of the original bobby-soxers dancing in the aisles. It was, you know, it was awesome. And I think maybe three months had gone by and my brother said, “Let’s see what you can do.” He had bought an old LC Smith typewriter. I could do nothing. I’d screwed up. Well, all you have to do is not follow my brother’s orders. I think I sat in the room while he lectured me for hours and hours and hours. But from then on, I did go. And I probably got a speed of sixty words per minute in shorthand and whatever in typing -- I don’t remember -- enough though, that when Syl and Phil came in mid-’42 and said, “come back to Washington, Phil will get you a job.” Strange things you recall. I remember leaving dirty dishes in the sink and I left the place in the Bronx. Adele was there and Pat and Gale and my brother Jackie. My sister Fran 16 was working someplace, I don’t remember where. Maybe she was working in Washington. She’s a blank in many places. I must have taken the test six times. I never passed it. And they finally got so tired of it, they passed me through. And I went to work for the Coast Guard in probably June or July of 1942 in DC. I lived with Syl and Phil for awhile. You know, they were very intense. I was a GS I [making] $1,260 a year or something, but that was a lot of money, you know in that era, it really was. And I was sixteen. How incredibly cool to be making that much money. It was a lot of money then. Because I remember as kids we always ate, but we used to have a song we sang – beans, cornflakes, and applesauce. That was our main diet for a lot of times. I don’t remember, you know, I don’t really remember the song. My brother probably would have and Syl might; but it was just a song. We were never hungry. But meat, some of that stuff, it didn’t exist. And you know, I remember gas rationing. As a matter of fact, Syl sent me a letter about a month ago with a copy of my rationing stamps from 1942 as she was going through some old boxes she had and sent them to me. I lived with Syl and Phil for about a year. They were telling me, “You’ve got to save money. Take out a bond. Save. Save.” And I got sick of “save”. I was not a saver, I was a spender. So they insisted on it, and then I finally [moved out], which was quite an event. The government had put up dormitories for women on the banks of the Potomac and I moved out and got one of those. Now, it must have been, I don’t know, maybe forty-five or fifty dollars a month; or no, it couldn’t have been that much. It may have been deducted from my pay before I got it. 17 And it had an enormous impact on my life because one day when I came home, I was told to go to this giant auditorium room where “we have a very special guest.” And I went, just following along with everybody else, and in walks this enormous lady who’s the ugliest woman I had ever seen in my life. And when she opened her mouth and started to talk -- I never forgot her. It was Eleanor Roosevelt. And I have been an Eleanor Roosevelt fan ever since. I don’t remember what she said but it was motivating, it was inspiring, and it was the kind of thing that, you know, you recognize that beauty is inside; it’s not outside, which had an enormous impact. I mean, I never knew I was short. I never thought of whether I was pretty. I thought, “Who cares? This is who I am and I can’t be anything else.” At that time in my life, there was nobody, no support system as we have today. As an aside, I always thought that we have so many mean people and so much crime because of women who have children who don’t love them, or don’t let them know they love them. And everybody has to feel that they belong someplace or that somebody cares for them and when they go home to a parent who’s too tired at the end of the day, she may not mean to be, that there’s nobody there for them, and so, you know, we created this support system. And it wasn’t bad; it just takes one person to let you know that you love them. So I created my own support system. I just thought, “If anything’s going to happen, I have to make it happen or it’s not going to happen because I don’t have anybody else.” I mean my sister and brother-in-law, Syl and Phil, were great to me. And there was never any question, they never wanted any money. The only thing they wanted me to do was save some money. And for my lifetime, Phil used to, as he came out here for 18 years after he retired, “You save any money?” “None of your business,” I’d say. And now I’ve said to Syl many times, “I have loved court reporting and I’ve worked long past my prime, but I wish I was doing it only because I love court reporting, not because I need the money.” I said, “And I hope Phil can hear me, because he was right.” [Laughs] The dormitories were established strictly for women because there were few men in Washington, D.C. during World War II. Everyone was gone. It was an enormous, gratifying, tremendous effort and there was so much patriotism, you rocked with it, you reeked with it. I mean, everybody was there for the war effort. Everybody. And I made some great friends. When I worked for the Coast Guard I became very good friends with a SPAR, who was a women’s Coast Guard person. She was an officer. And we’d become really good friends. She’d graduated from UCLA and I remember telling her I wanted to go to college. As a matter of fact, I signed up for classes at George Washington University and I went to school at night. And aside from working at the Coast Guard, I became a soda jerk at night, because after talking to this SPAR, she said, “Stella, you should really go to California because you can go to UCLA and you can work. And, you know, you can get your college education.” So I got another job to save money to go to California. What were you doing for the Coast Guard? I was in the steno pool; there was a pool of about, probably twelve women. I was the last one they took. There was nobody else left, so they had to take me. And you were still about sixteen? I started at sixteen and I was there through the summer of ’44. And worked in the pool. 19 It’s such a powerful age to b