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Norfolk Women's Oral History Project


In a fifteen-minute interview, a married 50-year-old white male gives a male perspective on issues involving work, sexuality, and sex roles by answering many of the same questions as those posed to female interviewees.

Interviewer: Suzette Smith

Transcribed: 7 September 1984

Male: 50

Interviewer: Age when married?

Male: 27.

Interviewer: OK. How. old was Mom when you got married?

Male: 19.

Interviewer: What year were you married?

Male: '51.

Interviewer: What were you doing at that time? What was your job?

Male: Adjuster for a credit, finance outfit.

Interviewer: How did you get to the job? What training?

Male: College.

Interviewer: OK. How much were you making a year? Or possibly a week?

Male: $7000.

Interviewer: What was your take home pay for a week?

Male: One Hundred and Twenty-Five a week.

Interviewer: Was that considered a lot? Was that considered good pay at that time?

Male: That was good pay twenty years ago.

Interviewer: OK. That was when you were married, right? Before you were married, were you saving a lot, or were you spending?

Male: No. Spending all I made.

Interviewer: OK. What year did you graduate from high school?

Male: 1941.

Interviewer: What type college? What was your major?

Male: Business Administration.

Interviewer: OK. How long were you single before you got married from high school? How many years? Do you know how many years was that?

Male: Ten years.

Interviewer: OK. What was your father's occupation in the thirties?

Male: He was retired in the thirties.

Interviewer: OK. Before that, what was he doing?

Male: He was a chef, half-owner of a restaurant combination.

Interviewer: OK. What was his income?

Male: $15,000 a year, or so.

Interviewer: OK. Did your mom ever work?

Male: Yes.

Interviewer: What did she do?

Male: Telephone operator.

Interviewer: OK. What years was. that? Whereabout was that in your family?

Male: '33 to '45.

Interviewer: OK. About how old were you?

Male: Nine.

Interviewer: Was her income helping the family or was she just working to keep busy? Was it needed?

Male: Helping the family.

Interviewer: What was your religious background? Was it stressed in the home?

Male: Everybody went to church every Sunday...

Interviewer: What church?

Male: except my mother and father.

Interviewer: OK. What religion was that?

Male: Presbyterian.

Interviewer: What ethnic background? Tell me about the family, when they came over here, what did they do?

Male: What do you mean "when they came over?"

Interviewer: What did they do? What was their background, where did your father and mother come from?

Male: My father was from Illinois and my mother was from Missouri.

Interviewer: OK. What address? What is your home address? Do you have any idea? Street?

Male: I don't know exactly. When I was born, it was on Independence Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.

Interviewer: OK. That's the downtown district, right?

Male: No.

Interviewer: No?

Male: Residential district. Busy street, though.

Interviewer: When you were smaller, what type reading material was around the house?

Male: Didn't read out of the house. I read everything in the public school library and everything in the high school library I could get my hands on.

Interviewer: OK. Did your family have a lot of newspapers around at all?

Male: Morning and night newspaper.

Interviewer: OK. When you were a kid, what type of movies, did the family go?

Male: I went to every movie that came on during the Week because I worked at the movie passing out advertisements and got free passes and went to every movie, all the time.

Interviewer: OK. What type clubs or social things did your Mom and Father get into? Or were they affiliated with anything?

Male: My father belonged to a political club.

Interviewer: What type of public club.

Male: A fraternal organization.

Interviewer: What was that?

Male: Knights of Pithius (SP?).

Interviewer: Didn't you have any interest in that?

Male: It was only for older people.

Interviewer: OK.

Male: On Christmas I went to this Christmas party and they gave presents.

Interviewer: Oh., it is the only reason you went.

Male: It's the only time you went.

Interviewer: OK, lets see. Tell me about your Mom. How old was she when you were born?

Male: 37.

Interviewer: She was 37? How many other children were in the family at that time?

Male: 8.

Interviewer: What were their ages in relation to you?

Male: All but one were older than me.

Interviewer: OK. Your father's role. When you were a kid, what was he doing at that time at about 9-10 years of age?

Male: He was retired.

Interviewer: OK.

Male: Too old.

Interviewer: About how old was he?

Male: He was 57 when I was born.

Interviewer: OK. Umm -- what type, well, what type of family income was there? How did it break down?

Male: What do you mean how did it break down?

Interviewer: How was it divided? Did you guys work to pay the family bills if your father was retired?

Male: No, my father had an income and he had bonds. He clipped bonds and my mother worked and took the money from the bonds and the rental income from other property and what my mother made and it went into the big pot and that's how we lived.

Interviewer: OK. Ummm -- when you were younger (this is sort of going to go into why you went into that sort of job) were you just good at it?

Male: Good at what job?

Interviewer: At your accounting and your math. Were you just good at it to work at that. Or what?

Male: Numbers come easy to me. I suppose so.

Interviewer: OK.

Male: I didn't see anything else I wanted to do that I was better at.

Interviewer: What type of family relationship? Was it close between the children? Distant? Did you know everybody very well or did you go in different directions?

Male: Everybody went into different directions after high school they got out of high school.

Interviewer: Did you all have vacations together or…

Male: No. We didn't take vacations together accept when we were young. After we were about 10 years old we never take vacations together.

Interviewer: What type of vacations did you take when you were young?

Male: We went down to my father's farm in the south part of the state and stayed all summer, and came back in the winter and went to school.

Interviewer: OK. What kind of family activities did you have at home? What did you do as a group? Did you get together as a group?

Male: We played games: Monopoly. We met every night for dinner. We went to the movies together.

Interviewer: Was that with your mother and father?

Male: My mother and my father, yes. My father went to sleep at dark every night at dark.

Interviewer: Every night?

Male: He was old!

Interviewer: OK. Were there any restrictions on you?

Male: The only restriction was I had to be in some time around midnight.

Interviewer: OK.

Male: I lived in the city. I could go lots of places.

Interviewer: OK...lets see. You were active in college. You were kind of busy playing around with the fellas.

Male: No, not with the fellows, No.

Interviewer: (Laughter) OK. What kind of-you belonged to a fraternity--what type?

Male: Social fraternity.

Interviewer: OK.

Male: Kuppa Sigma Kappa (SP?).

Interviewer: OK. What did they do? What was their main activity? What did they do?

Male: We had a meeting once a month.

Interviewer: Did they throw a lot of parties?

Male: No.

Interviewer: OK.

Male: They had a dance once a year, that's about all.

Interviewer: OK.

Male: Supposedly did good things. I don't know what they did. I wasn't too active.

Interviewer: OK, lets see.

Male: I joined a college fraternity because it was part of college life, otherwise I wouldn't have joined it.

Interviewer: OK, lets see, when you were dating describe a typical date. What did you do?

Male: (Giggling) You picked up a girl. Everybody was dressed up. You went to the local nightclub or college dance. If you went to a college dance, you had a good time dancing. Danced with other people. After the dance you went someplace had a cup of coffee, took the girl home by eleven.

Interviewer: OK. Was there a lot of drinking?

Male: On weekends. Never during the week -- we didn't drink much.

Interviewer: OK. What did you expect on a first date? This is boy-girl relationship time. What did you expect? Just a friendly girl? Did you have them blind?

Male: No, I usually knew the girl before I took her out. We had a good time when I was growing up. Always had a good time.

Interviewer: Did you feel guys should be freer with their activities than the girls? Did you have a high opinion in what the girl should be like?

Male: The boys were freer. The most of us. lived in boardinghouse type rooms. There weren't any boys dormitories in those days. And we didn't have any restrictions on time and the girls lived in a girls hall, most of them. A few of them did not and they could stay out until midnight. They were required to be in the same time as the dormitory.

Interviewer: OK. We are going to go on in a whole different section completely. Did you have premarital intercourse with particular girls, not particularly your wife?

Male: Yes.

Interviewer: OK. Was it limited only to one partner?

Male: NO! (Emphasized).

Interviewer: OK. What particularly did you expect in your wife, your future wife)on like your wedding night? Did you expect her to be a virgin?

Male: What I found was a virgin.

Interviewer: From whom or what source did you learn about sex?

Male: I don't know because there weren't too many books I probably learned it from the kids on the street and the local park when we took the girls in the show and messed around.

Interviewer: OK. What is your reaction to your first sexual encounter? Were you shocked?

Male: Or I might of learned it from the little girls across the street. They had me over when I was eight and we played doctor. Go ahead.

Interviewer: OK. Was the act, pleasant, distasteful, painful, or merely a matter of duty, that sort of…

Male: My first brush with it was scary a little bit afraid but after I grew up a little bit, gotto be about 16 - 18 years old and went out with girls it was all fun.

Interviewer: Did you find it at all immoral? You said you went to church a lot.

Male: No. I didn't really see anything wrong with it.

Interviewer: OK. Well, lets see. Would you have married someone who would have been divorced before, married before?

Male: Sure I would have, why not? Depends on whether you like them or not.

Interviewer: OK. When you were younger...when you were thinking about getting married, settling down ---

Male: I never really thought about getting married, settling down. I just happened to happen, that's all.

Interviewer: You want to tell me why?

Male: It just happened. I don't know why.

Interviewer: Umm -- did you want to marry an experienced person, like you said she was a virgin, but were you looking for experience older woman type?

Male: No. I was looking for someone compatible that I could get along with, that's all.

Interviewer: Obviously you felt it was alright for men to be wild.

Male: I don't see anything wrong with women who mess around if they want to. If they can take care of themselves I don't care what they do.

Interviewer: How many years have you been married?

Male: 23.

Interviewer: How many children?

Male: 5.

Interviewer: They range from--

Male: 11 to 21.

Interviewer: How many boys and how many girls?

Male: 4 girls and a boy.

Interviewer: Did you ever consider having a divorce? If so, why not? Why didn't you?

Male: Yes. But there are to many things to consider; kids and all sorts of things. So, I never bothered to get that far with it.

Interviewer: If you don't think that you could but like when the children are all married and grown up would that enter your mind, when there is no dependence on children?

Male: Don't know.

Interviewer: OK. When you and your wife were first married was there any fear of pregnancy, did you want to prevent it?

Male: Oh no. We didn't worry about it to much.

Interviewer: OK. What was the methods? Was it strictly with doctor supervision?

Male: I don't know.

Interviewer: OK. Was there any friction between you and your wife about having children? Did you want children?

Male: We didn't really want any children until after we'd been married for 3 or 4 years until we had money piled up to put a down payment on a house and buy furniture.

Interviewer: How many years did you wait?

Male: 2.

Interviewer: Two years. Did fear of pregnancy interfere with your marital relations?

Male: Never to my knowledge.

Interviewer: Did you really wish children at all?

Male: Oh, yes. I always wanted a who1e batch. I was number 8 of 9. I thought its better to have a lot around than to have none.

Interviewer: Did your wife wish to have children?

Male: Oh, yes.

Interviewer: So, she wished to have them right away and you wished to wait?

Male: Yes. But we had them pretty quick.

Interviewer: During your dating years you would obviously be familiar with different techniques, were they doctor supervised on your part or just heresay from friends?

Male: (Annoyed) What doctor supervised?

Interviewer: Lets say, did you read articles from doctors who said what type was best or safest to use or did you find out from friends?

Male: OH, you mean preventatives.

Interviewer: Yes

Male: Just what you read in newspapers and see in advertisements.

Interviewer: OK.