Oral History of Mary Swartzbaugh
Interviewer Megan Crosser, Napoleon, December 21, 2005
Megan: Can you say your name?
Mary: you want middle initials?
Mary: Mary E. Swartzbaugh
Mary: Did you get that last name?
Megan: Yea, what's your maiden name?
Megan: Ok, and are you married?
Megan: Yes, what's your husband's name?
Megan: Charles.... when was the day of your marriage?
Mary: August the 8th, 1930.
Megan: Wow, that's a long time ago. How long have you guys been married? How many years?
Mary: My husband passed away, but we were married 63 years.
Megan: Oh... wow that's a long time. What's your father's and mother's name?
Mary: My father's name was... do you want the whole middle name, or just his first name?
Megan: The whole name's fine.
Mary: George Wallace Murray
Meg: And you mother's name?
Mary: My mother...Eleanor Blanch
Megan: Did you graduate from High School?
Mary: Yes, I did
Megan: What high school?
Mary: Napoleon High School?
Megan: Oh really, that's cool...did you go to college?
Mary: I went to...oh I can't remember the name of it. I went to the kind where they sent you the information and then you filled it out and mailed it back. That kind of college. Meg: Oh, that's cool.
Mary: I don't know what you call their name.
Megan: I don't really know either. So, you remember the name of that?
Mary: I think it was Chicago
Megan: What were you studying over there?
Mary: It was typing, tutoring, algebra and all that.
Megan: Oh...what year did you graduate from high school?
Megan: Oh, so you got married that same year you graduated?
Megan: Did you meet your husband while you were in school with him?
Mary: No, he lived right in back of us, ha ha, there was an alley between us,
Megan: So, what are that places that you worked?
Mary: Well, I worked for the Murray Truck Line
Megan: Did you family own that?
Mary: Yes, my dad did. And then when my husband went to the service, he sold it to Norwalk Truck Line.
Megan: Do you remember when you retired?
Mary: Oh, let’s see, o, that's when I got out of school.
Megan: Oh, did you work anywhere after that?
Mary: Yes, I worked...you want the other place I worked?
Mary: I worked at the Henry County Home.
Megan: Oh, what did you do out there?
Mary: I did office work.
Megan: And that's where you retired from?
Mary: The commissioner retired me from there. I worked there after I worked at the Truck Line.
Mary: Well, my husband went into the service in '39, May '39.
Megan: How long was he in there for?
Mary: He was in 4 years; he was in World War II.
Megan: Oh, really?
Mary: He was gone 4 years.
Megan: Does he have stories that he shared with you about the war?
Mary: No, he didn't say much about it. He was in the battle of the wars; it was a very hard thing. He'd write letters, and I'd write back. He went in May; well he was here back and forth, back a week or 10 days and then when he left to go back he left from New York. And he was gone back in New York then he left for Europe again. And then he came back guarding machines and stuff on the railroads that were after Christmas he did that. He left, till March, then from March went back overseas.
Megan: Did he get any awards for being in the war? Or special recognitions?
Mary: He was a sergeant, master sergeant, when he came home. They wanted him to go to the Officer Training School, but he wanted to go home.
Megan: So he could be with you?
Megan: So, are you a member of the church?
Mary: Yes, the Methodist Church.
Megan: That's what my family is too.
Megan: Did they bring church to you every week?
Mary: We go to church here.
Megan: Oh, you use the chapel?
Mary: Yes, we have service every Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Megan: Are you apart of any organizations?
Mary: Yes, I belong to the American Legion, The Elks…
Megan: Are you apart of the Red Hat Society?
Mary: Yes, the Red Hat Society, along with the Eastern Star...when I was, we had a lady women's club, that I belonged to for 52 years. It was a Women's Business Professionals Club, which is no longer here.
Megan: So, do you have any special hobbies that you like to do? Do you like to read or play bingo?
Mary: I cut out things and those little bells they got on the door, I cut out a hundred of them.
Megan: Oh, really? Those are nice.
Mary: Yea, and I cut out all the Santa's on the bulletin board, where we have our daily/ weekly activities, did all of those. Whatever they want cut, I do.
Megan: Do you have any collections?
Mary: Ha ha, look around.
Megan: You have a lot of Christmas stuff and a bunch of pictures, and stuffed animals. Mary: Yea, I got a letter opener. See it?
Megan: Oh, yea.
Mary: When I had my sale, I had a fancy brown dish, which I had forgotten I had. Was down in the cupboard. And I brought that dish out, put it up for sale, and it sold for $85. Megan: Oh, really?
Mary: Yea, it was an antique.
Mary: This was my original wedding ring, which is 75 years old.
Mary: I have all the good rings, diamond rings over in my lock box.
Mary: I have three other diamond rings and I have diamond earrings and necklace to match.
Megan: Did your husband buy those for you?
Mary: He paid $12 dollars for that when we were married.
Megan: $12 ...So, was that a lot of money back then?
Mary: In 1930 that was a lot of money, then that was a rough year.
Megan: Was that the year of the Depression?
Mary: Yes, that year of 1930 was the Depression year. He was making $50 a month when we got married. Then I worked part-time, he worked overtime. Wauseon, the Sterling Creamery place, and sometimes he'd ask me if I'd go in and work.
Megan: Oh, that's nice.
Mary: At the beginning of the month we had almost 50 cents, we paid about $15 a month rent, bread was 24 cents a loaf then, and with $2 or $3 you couldn't carry many groceries. I did a lot of house cleaning when I was going to school. Worked on Saturdays, worked for people and cleaned their house.
Megan: Was that considered a lot? Or hardly any?
Mary: That wasn't much. I'd work 8 hours in the evening or I worked part-time in the summer. I did a lot of work when I was going to school.
Mary: I'd go up there and help in the summer. She'd get the meal and I did the dishes and cleaned up , things like that.
Megan: What do you remember about your family and your parents and your life back when you were growing up?
Mary: My parents were good parents.
Megan: Oh, really?
Mary: Yea, my mother was, she was a good mother. There was 8 children.
Megan: 8? Wow!
Mary: The oldest and the youngest were boys. I was a twin.
Megan: Oh, you were a twin?
Mary: I had a twin that passed away about 3 years ago.
Megan: Was she identical?
Mary: No, I look like my fathers side of the house and my sister looked like my mother's side of the house. There was four sets of twins.
Megan: Oh, really?
Mary: In our generation.
Mary: My father had twin sisters and my mother, we were born 1912, my head older brother was born in 1908, and an older sister that was born in 1910. And my sister and I were born in 1912 and I have a sister, Christine. She passed away now, but she had a daughter that lives in Washington, D.C., and she had twins.
Megan: Oh, really?
Mary: She's just graduating from college. And then my nephew Rick Murray had twin girls, Amy and April. They both work here.
Megan: Oh, do they?
Mary: Uh huh, they're 23 years old.
Megan: So, it’s nice that you get to see them everyday.
Mary: Yes, well my sister had twins.
Megan: Oh, your twin sister had twins?
Megan: Oh, wow!
Mary: A boy and a girl. One boy out of four generations
Megan: So, what was school like? Grade school and high school?
Mary: Well, I went to school in Liberty Center for 3 years. Then we came to Napoleon in 1925. I was in 7th grade, then graduated in 8th grade, then. That was the first time I had little high heeled shoes. And school...I liked school. I wasn't what you call a smart person, but I was an average. I got average grades. My twin sister, it was a little harder for her to learn so she didn't pass when she was in 7th grade. And my mother never held me back.
Megan: Oh, so you were a grade ahead of her?
Mary: Yea, that's why a lot of people didn't know were twins.
Mary: But she didn't hold me back. We used to walk to school in Liberty Center. We walked to school about 1/4 of a mile, we had to carry our books, we had a little pint milk type bottles of milk, to about 4 or 5 widows and we carried that. He always kept us
doing something. I can remember my mother always said, "If you're asked to do something and you can do it good, do it. If not, don't do it. That was a line we went by. Megan: Did you mom say a lot of stuff like that? Did she give you a lot of inspiration? Mary: Yea. We worked when we were home and we took care of our rooms and stuff like that. We always live on a farm.
Megan: Oh, What did you have on your farm? What kind of animals?
Mary: We had cows
Meg: Oh, a dairy farm
Mary: Mmm. We used to grow cabbage. My mother cut tons of cabbage one year. We lived in Liberty, they had a food mart and had a sauerkraut factory. We took; she took us kids a couple of us in a wagon, to the field. We'd go out there and play around. Till she got tired then she'd come back home and we'd come back to the house and she'd take us. When I first got married we lived at home for a while, the we went and moved to an apartment. And my husband's folks, he was an engineer on old DT&I railroad. And then they were transferred to E-Port, Michigan and Chuck didn't want to go because he had a job here. So that's when we got married. I was 18, I was 18 in April, graduated in May. I was married in August, all the same year. I used to play basketball, I liked sports.
Megan: Is basketball the only sport that you did?
Mary: Yea, I played in Liberty and up here in Napoleon.
Megan: Were you pretty good?
Mary: Oh, not too bad.
Megan: Ok, well, I have to get going.
Megan: Thank you for your time.
Mary: You're welcome.
Megan: Have a nice day.
Typed by: CYNTHIA MONTES
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