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Latah County Oral History Collection

Remembering Latah County and Idaho Life at the turn of the 20th century

« View All Fannie Cuthbert Byers interviews

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Date: November 21, 1976 Interviewer: Sam Schrager

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0:00No transcript available.

0:00 - Young married women picked peas, working conditions

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Segment Synopsis: Young married women were pea picking. If you didn’t do a good job, probably wouldn’t ask you back next year. Starting it felt a little dizzy at first. Floor boss went around to make sure women weren’t falling asleep. Floor walker Mrs. Layla (?) watched over sixty women as they sorted peas. Didn’t know if any men picked peas. Started at twenty-five cents an hour, increased to roughly a dollar. If in season, it was five days a week. Gave overtime, which was time and a half.

4:00 - People moved into jobs in town as they aged, women working at the University of Idaho

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Segment Synopsis: When farmers (men and women) got too old, they went to town to find jobs. Now more women working at the University.

5:00 - Techniques for picking peas, packing apples

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Segment Synopsis: Techniques for picking peas. Black or shrivelled you had to pick out, let the good ones continue on. Picked Alaska peas mainly. Picked prunes for a while, then eventually apples. Some of the workers boarded at the hotel. She roomed with a girl in her mother’s home. Only packed apples, never picked. Put apples in boxes, gotten ten or twelve cents a box; the best packed a hundred a day, average was seventy to eighty-five. In pea picking, had five minutes off every hour.

12:00 - Picking peas for extra income, seasonal work

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Segment Synopsis: For many, the job was to supplement extra income; there were a few widows. Sometimes husbands worked at a different part of the factory. Picking peas was mainly seasonal work. Nowadays a lot of people feel that both parents have to work: increased cost of college, keeping up with the Jones’s.

16:00 - Acted as a nurse during the war in Coos Bay, Oregon

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Segment Synopsis: Being a nurse before and during World War I. Was a trained nurse when she went to Coos Bay. Pay was okay for nurses (no more than twelve dollars a day). Almost always went to the beach during their days off.

25:00 - Working as nurse during World War I, experiences with Army officers, working conditions in hospitals

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Segment Synopsis: Army came to hospital and asked nurses that were interested to sign up; sister went because she wanted excitement. Worked in emergency hospital by the shipyard, saw many injuries, there was no doctor with them. No infirmary, just an office. For military, formed hospital unit consisting of a hundred nurses and seventy-five doctors. Slept wherever they could get it, in tents, in barracks, in old hospitals. Staff at the field hospital, two doctors and two nurses to each operating team. Injuries men received, mostly bullets, lots of shrapnel. Lots of men were fighting the flu, hard to treat without proper facility (too many people in one place), many died because of it.

36:00 - Working in field hospital, very emotional

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Segment Synopsis: Work in the field hospital. Emotional toll. Feels when training to become a nurse you become immune to most things. When she returned home, she couldn’t be a nurse again, didn’t like to do it anymore.

43:00 - Fighting conditions during World War I

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Segment Synopsis: Conditions of fighting during WWI; fighting in foxholes. How boys faced death and dying; most of them were unconscious, and others just wanted to die and were ready for it. Thought there would be war in the future too. At the time, believed that WWI would be the last war for the United States.

50:00 - Doctors only operate if necessary; citation for bravery received

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Segment Synopsis: Doctors operated only when necessary, when they thought they had a chance of surviving and healing. Got a citation for bravery after the war because they were told to move further behind the line but didn’t follow orders.

53:00 - Working as a nurse, male soldiers were lonely

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Segment Synopsis: Men were pretty lonely, especially not seeing women. Any woman looked good to them. She was about thirty when she was a war nurse. Nurses managed to stay fairly clean. Living conditions for the nurses in general.

58:00 - Where women could go escorted to casinos, social life in camps

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Segment Synopsis: Women couldn’t go to casinos in Monte Carlo by themselves, had to be escorted. Women could play, but no one with uniforms could play. Social life in the camp. Made a Christmas tree for the orphan’s home.

60:00 - Working hours as nurse, cooking in camps as a teenager with sister

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Segment Synopsis: Work of being a nurse, long and hard hours. Did not seem demanding at the time, had half a day off once a week. They had twelve hour days seven days a week. Eight hour work days were unheard of at the time. Younger sister started cooking for the men in camps when she was sixteen. Each had set routine when it came to food, cooked for the men, served three meals and one lunch. Change from cooking for everybody who came to work for you, to not cooking for them.

65:00 - Food in threshing crew camps was good, dining hall description

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Segment Synopsis: Food in threshing crews was good; lots of local gardens, butcher travelled to provide meat, made good money. Dining hall, some had long tables and some short tables only could fit four. Most of the crew was present for dinner.

75:00 - Family background, how father made money, trains

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Segment Synopsis: Family moved during winter, father made money by batching, sold wood. Trains that brought people west. All the way from Walla Walla were acres of farm and railroad land.

80:00 - Canning as a child; games and social life in Moscow

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Segment Synopsis: Canning and drying with her mother when she was little. Childhood. Playing cards and games with her family. Social life in Moscow, going to dances and such. Didn’t always have access to a car for travelling. Used to meet on Friday nights and go out dancing.

89:00 - Revivals in Moscow around 1920; travelling ministers, churches and Sunday school

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Segment Synopsis: Several Revivals in Moscow in 1920. Had tent camp meetings for two or three summers where “faith people” came to visit; travelling ministers, Sunday school every week at the local church. Preachers of different denominations. Lots of Adventists in the summer. Lyenists were popular for a while, then died out for a while, and now are popular again. Adventists were very emotional. Adventists neighbor preached about the end of the world, thought they would all be gathered up in the clouds. Don’t eat much meat, no port or shellfish; occasionally ate beef and chicken. Good workers, but didn’t work on Saturday. If they wanted to borrow something, came Sunday morning. Wanted to fix up the church. “Moscow” Nazarene versus “Palouse” Nazarene.

100:00 - Adventists arrive in area when she was a teenager

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Segment Synopsis: People started selling their property and moving away because there was no work. Advents came. Schools in the area, taught only bible, teachers had ok credentials. Advents started moving where she was when she was fourteen or fifteen, seemed fairly wealthy.

108:00 - Neighborhood boy who helped their dad died in a logging accident, a tree fell on him.

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Segment Synopsis: Neighborhood boy who helped their dad died in a logging accident, a tree fell on him.

110:00 - Girls helped with strawberry picking, couldn’t help with the intensive labor. The ambitions they had as girls, one wanted to be a school teacher.

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Segment Synopsis: Girls helped with strawberry picking, couldn’t help with the intensive labor. The ambitions they had as girls, one wanted to be a school teacher.

112:00 - How she met her husband; working in the cook house; marriage and divorce then and now

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Segment Synopsis: How she met her husband; met his mother while working at the cook house, his family were all farmers. Jobs for married women. Married at nineteen. Believes divorces was a trend, when she was young no one gets divorce, if a marriage had problems they stayed with it and fixed it.

118:00 - Are more dependent on money to live now, when she was young a little money went a long ways. Didn’t know of any women when she was young who had drinking problems.

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Segment Synopsis: Are more dependent on money to live now, when she was young a little money went a long ways. Didn’t know of any women when she was young who had drinking problems.

122:00 - Post World War I was tough on farmers

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Segment Synopsis: Years after WWI, 1921 and 1922, was tough on big farmers. Farmed with horses, didn’t take too much to farm. People didn’t need to save money back then. Bought a car when they came out.

127:00 - Mother confined to a wheelchair when she was older. Father still continued to work even when he was 85.

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Segment Synopsis: Mother confined to a wheelchair when she was older. Father still continued to work even when he was 85.

132:00 - Stories about Jack Tummerford, doctor that could cure people

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Segment Synopsis: Jack Tummerford, worked in a Potlatch shoe, married a “brown girl”, shot himself in the shoe store because his wife was in love with his brother. Stories about a Doctor, had a strange ability to cure people. Not around much in Moscow.

136:00 - Dance hall in Viola; Sunday school and socializing

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Segment Synopsis: Dance Hall in the City of Viola, people came from all around. Sundays, went to Sunday school, had dinners, socialized at church; now people take car and go on the town every night.

140:00 - Around WWI met around and knit stockings for the men. Cooking for the 4H girls too. Community Club with women involved; most sociable place in the area.

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Segment Synopsis: Around WWI met around and knit stockings for the men. Cooking for the 4H girls too. Community Club with women involved; most sociable place in the area.

152:00 - Breaking up the community; no more socializing except for Community CLub for women

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Segment Synopsis: Broke up the community, children went to school and no more Parent-Teacher conferences, no more cards night. No school or church activities, nothing to keep the community together except for the club which the women were involved in. People would have just gone into town for groceries and not socialized without the club. Gossip was not really a problem in town.

159:00 - Tales about IWW, people's attitudes towards working and earning money

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Segment Synopsis: Took care of young people. People used to think it was a bad thing to work, now everyone wants jobs and to earn a lot of money, times changing. Feels that money and work is what causes the divorces. Thought when she was younger, people enjoyed working then more than now. IWW stands for I Won’t Work.

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