Jane Sailer and James Sailer

Recorded December 7, 2005 Archived December 7, 2005 01:18:34
0:00 / 0:00
Id: GCT002348


76 year old woman is interviewed by her son, 37 years old about her education, experience as a teacher and working in an overseas Presbyterian mission in Lahore, Pakistan and raising a family.


  • Jane Sailer
  • James Sailer

Recording Location

Grand Central Terminal


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00:00 Hi, this is Jim Saylor. I'm 37 years old. Today is December 7th, 2005 Pearl Harbor day. We're at the Grand Central Terminal and I'm talking to my mother.

00:15 I'm James Sailer. I'm 76 years old. Today is Pearl Harbor day December 7th, and we're located in Grand Central Terminal and I'm talking to my son Jim. All right. Well, this is our second of two conversations and we decided that we would start off this conversation by doing a little genealogy and little family history and where we wanted to start off with Mom your grandparents on your father's side. So Alexander Alexander and Martha, right, right, so tell us about that Alexander.

00:54 My grandfather was born in this country. He died in the 40s and he was in his early 70s when he died as a young man. He was in an accident and his left is one leg was cut off and it was a badly done amputation. It was in the ninth between 1919 to this happened and he was supported by his family the rest of his life. He had four brothers that I know of.

01:30 His parents were still alive when this happened because my mother met some of them.

01:38 They were Scottish.

01:41 I think my first generation Scottish in this country. Yes, and I believe they came from the Glasgow area. He that that gentleman was a whether he was a blacksmith or a Carter or a carrier. I'm not sure exactly what but he set himself up in lower Manhattan and developed quite a business running wagons and having wagons to cart stuff around New York supported his family very well educated them to some degree. I don't know to what degree Malcolm one of the sons went on to be the entrepreneur of the family.

02:24 And I was sort of a family.

02:28 Quote unquote Legend, not the greatest reputation perhaps but interesting and that he was the one that basically supported my grandfather and his wife Martha who was born in New Jersey. Her family had was here pre-revolutionary times and he she was Martha Palace. It was a Dutch Dutch settlement in northern New Jersey the old neighborhood which could have been and what I'm not sure about that and they were

03:01 They had an elementary school education possibly to the 8th grade. She worked I know at in newberry's at one point or Woolworths or one of those stories is the Salesforce. She also did dressmaking.

03:18 And where did they live? So Alexander and Martha? Where did they live? Where did your your grandfather grow up? They live partly with?

03:29 My grandfather's family in lower Manhattan, and then when Uncle Malcolm was able to he bought them a house down in Ocean Grove.

03:39 And I believe he bought it for a dollar.

03:43 He set them up in that house and they lived in Ocean Grove within a block from this was after the accident within a block from the ocean from the boardwalk.

03:56 And so my grandfather could go fish go sit on the pier and fish. She could walk down there with his artificial leg her on his crutches and he could fish and that's where your grandpa that where your dad girl that he grew up there and also in New York City.

04:09 Because he want to school. He graduated from the old Stuyvesant High New York City went on my father went on went to Cornell not his choice Cornell engineering and he did not.

04:22 What that but you a story last in 1 year and found his way out of Cornell and back to New York. And what did he do that? He went to work for, Consolidated Edison and met my mother at that point somewhere along in there, but he work for ConEd until he retired in 7 when he was 77 and I know we mentioned in the last tape that he work for Con Ed, but I been listening to it. I realized I forgot to ask what he did. It, said well, he was called a customer's representative.

04:59 And we were never quite sure what that meant. He was a very personable man.

05:08 Not a strong personality but a very sympathetic personality and I think they sent him out to customers who are unhappy to make them feel better. I think that's one of the things he did. I remember him as being a pretty quiet person, but that was obviously very late in his life too. Well, he was never The Shining Star of a party. He was reserved quiet. My mother usually was the one that did the talking for the family you have any particular memories of things you did with him when you were growing up were in college or after any any strong memories of him that he nice anecdote took me. He used to take me down to the Shore by the train in those days.

05:58 To spend a week or two weeks with his his parents. He would come back to New York and work. My mother would take my brother and take the train up to Milford, Pennsylvania where they would spend the time with her family. As this was a nice division that Dad did this with me. I was his around the house. I was the one that he used as his helper when he was doing a project whatever the project might be because he and my brother did not get along. Well or my brother did not refuse to get along with my father and it was just more peaceful to have me do it and whether it was handing him tools or helping him with storm windows and storm doors or whatever else is usually the one that did that did he have any particular interests outside working and children. He loved that. He was the assistant Treasurer up in Inglewood for of the presbytere.

06:58 Trips for 30 years for years for a long time y'all he's very quiet he very much a matter of routine he commuted from we moved to Englewood in 1938 and he commuted until he retired.

07:17 As I say he was in the seventies when he died, he retired in 65, maybe 56.

07:25 Let's go on to Grandma's parents Grandma Baxter's parents talk about them for her family from Pennsylvania. Milford Pike County. Okay.

07:40 Her both her father and mother's families were from Pike County.

07:46 I never knew her father. They were divorced her father and mother were divorced and I never knew him but I knew her family. She was actually mother was actually raised more by her great by her grandparents my great-grandparents. Then she was by her mother. That family had been in the Claire's and then the dice is had been in Pike County for several Generations moving from Western Jersey up into the

08:19 Pennsylvania and some of them are huguenots. They went back a long ways to grab my great grandfather was born in 1854 and he stayed home during the Civil War and one of his brothers.

08:35 What's up to the Civil into the Civil War for the family? They they just had to send somebody and died in the southern prison camp. I don't know which one has the family tail.

08:49 Grandfather

08:51 It was my great-grandfather was had a farm. He had a hardware store. He was a judge have his fingers a lot of Pies. It was a farming Community originally, I guess still has doubts tourist. I guess as much as anything and

09:09 Other said he had a great sense of humor, but he scared me to death cuz he was always in black suits and he had a beard and he was very Fierce with me and he was being trying to be funny but I was afraid of him cuz I didn't get the humor in it. So I think I had it a little bit of the same thing with your father. Yeah, when he was leaving around and I was scared of him a little bit trying to get and he was trying and he was trying to connect and it was harder for me to understand he'd had a stroke by then. So he was even tougher for him. Now municate. Let's there are so many interesting things that we could talk about. But I want to move along because we have lots to do and and move on to you graduated from Vassar ask her and talked about that and what you did after all because we want to get to Pakistan. So alright, I went to Vassar under my mother's prodding. She went she went down to Columbia to Teachers College.

10:09 Was an undergraduate school when she was 16, and this was

10:15 Almost unheard of in the small town of Education. This was before 1920 education for women was still very very slight. So she was able to do this and she pressed education and I always knew that I would be going to college with just an accepted fact, and she pressed me to go to a major school and I got into Vassar and stuck it out for four years. And when I finished I went down to Union Theological Seminary New York. I've got a grant to go down there and was there for a master's degree in religious education.

11:00 And loved it. Where did you live? Did you look at home when I lived in Englewood when I was going to call up there. I was at commuting students. So I didn't finish the first year. I took me I had two classes Earth to finish up for the next year by then. I was working as a director of education for church in East Orange, New Jersey worked there for 2 years.

11:23 Finish my degree and decided I didn't want to work in the local church. How did you get to work?

11:31 But I lived in East Orange I lived in East Orange you lived in East Orange. I rented an apartment. Oh, okay. I bought my first car. Oh, okay who taught you to drive?

11:42 My mother and father did when I was 17 so very really really, okay. Well, when did you learn to drive? Well, alright generation Maxwell, we we did have cars and when I was driving they were just beginning to get into automatic gear shift. So it was it was early days. I grant you that. Well, it was more just I bet a lot of young women of that age didn't learn to drive right away. I met when I was of age that one of his many cars because we were just coming out of the war and there were no very few new cars and very few old cars that were available and as they became available why people began to immediately driving took off, okay.

12:32 So you did that you worked at the church at the church and then after 2 years, I stopped doing that and I went in and worked at the Presbyterian Board of foreign missions as it was called sin on 5th Avenue.

12:47 125th Avenue as a writer.

12:53 And while I was there, I was writing stories about missions that point mostly in Africa and in India the supported by the church.

13:08 Specifically supported by the church. And while I was there I met a man who was a Pioneer in

13:17 Educating American church people about their foreign missions. He was setting up programs to that. His name was Doctor thp sailor who ended up being my grandfather in law in the long run. He

13:37 Was very interested in grooming me in this not for his granddaughter-in-law, but in missionary education and sent me up to

13:48 I hate my way to go to a conference up in Lake George, New York.

13:53 Which is where I met your father who had gone up to visit his father and grandfather his father that point was out of China.

14:05 The doors to the China missions had been closed and he had been sent to Pakistan.

14:13 And came back from Pakistan for year to visit his family also to try to drum up some young people to go over to Lahore Pakistan and he's logged in on me and I ended up going to Lahore on a short-term assignment. So that was I didn't realize that was from Randolph got you to do that Randolph did first thp and then Randolph and it was through that of course that I met your father and I'm so by the time you went to Lake George was it already sent that you would be going to pot to look at while I was at Lake George? Okay, but the appointment came through are you in a plaid a plaid? I wanted to I had applied it didn't know whether it would be accepted or not and

15:10 That came through that came through that and it came through and that's when I met your father's letter and this is all the summer of 1956, right? Yes all 1950s and I'm 6 weeks later. I was on a boat to go to to start my my trip to Pakistan and three weeks after.

15:35 The conference like your job became engaged. So well, let's back up for three weeks at that was so you go up to Lake George and tell us the story of of meeting your well he went up to visit his father and his grandfather. He was in summer school at the Columbia at that point in Teachers College taking math. Okay, and he went up to think about something to visit and

16:10 I was we had to schedule like it like call as you go around a different classes and you choose the courses you want to take and his father asked me if I would take him to this one class has his father had to teach another class which I did we met we chat and got along very nicely sounds like a setup to me. No, No, I don't know. Okay, so you through this is when you met him with that was what I meant is taking him to a class of yours that I was going to that's what I mean that you were attending and if it like it was

16:53 What's good class class was good, but after the class and then we will you said Thank he said thank you when I said you're welcome, and we better merry ways. Then I saw him on that Sunday. He was waiting for the bus to go back to New York and I went down to say goodbye at that point. I knew I was going to Pakistan. Okay, but I went down and said by Goodwill enjoyed seeing you and a week later. He gave me a call when I was back home. That's how it all started. And then so you got back home and he gave you a call in Inglewood and you remember what you did?

17:32 We went dancing. We went out for dinner and dancing in New York New York. Remember we're somewhere in Manhattan dinner and dancing. So you did that and then what was summer we went to the beach one night with Donna Lee Lee Armstrong and some friends.

17:55 And I went to the movies.

17:59 We talked didn't happen. We only have three weeks. I mean we get happened in 3 weeks, right? You didn't know that we had Chinese food. We we did things like that. Very simple just a lot of fun sitting out in the backyard in Englewood just sitting in the evenings and then and then he proposed. Yes. Did he ask your parents first milk?

18:25 Guys, we were out in the backyard. They weren't home. We live we were out in the backyard cool August night and they came home and we went in and told them that we weren't engaged and going to be married tomorrow. Did you have a sense that he was going to ask you before you he did or did you have any ideas that this was either something that he might do or that you might be interested in? I had enough to head that far wanted the relationship to move on. I had the feeling. Yes, we were going to go somewhere but I didn't see the end. So but time is of an Essence. I think that's that's what move things rather us both knew that you were going to be gone. So you get engaged whatever day it was and then how much longer was it before you left for 3 weeks? No doubt, but that's when you met I thought that was 3 weeks and we got engaged in three weeks as I left three weeks of being invited too much time for courting.

19:25 It was pretty busy but he didn't wait until the last minute like I like it was going off to war or something. All three weeks. He had three weeks. I had a rang but I had to get shots I had so much to do that's get all my indoctrination and all the rest of it. I'm engaged but I got it. I got to go get so busy during the day to okay and were you there when he told his parents know let's say I don't know how his parents know, I don't remember I was parents know so then talk about you got on a boat to go to Pakistan and you had some interesting experiences on your way.

20:09 Well, we sailed I sailed from New York to Naples Italy and from there took the piano boat, which is the tradition was the traditional British Orient line that went through Suez Canal originally had sailed Around the Horn of Africa, but it that that point this point it was going through the canal and what was interesting was this was

20:36 The year that the Egyptians wanted to take over the running of the Swiss canal.

20:43 And the British had been running it and had been the big cheeses there for years since they built it and the British were not happy about giving it up and the Egyptians weren't exactly that patient about waiting for the British to give it up. So I sailed who it was Labor Day weekend and it was due to come up in the security Council United Nations on Tuesday after Labor Day and we went through Sunday and so feelings are still very high. We sailed through the gun emplacements on either side and lot of people got off at the boat to Cairo and then you they met the took a bus to Cairo and then took a bus to Middletown and Port Suez switches the lower end of the canal but I mericans were advised to stay aboard the ship. So I did and got to see the full length of the Suez Canal.

21:41 And this is sort of the beginning of the post-war nationalistic movement the end of the British colonial era and the nationalistic movements more of this is this coming up but this was it was Egyptian, but also Arabic nationalism and I felt the reverberations from this during my year in Pakistan.

22:11 Because a lot of Pakistan then was still trying to find its way. They've been 9 years since petition and there were getting ready for their 10th year anniversary and people still were not it was a democracy, but they didn't know what to do with it.

22:33 It was sort of what was given them and

22:39 Was it considered to be a unsafe place? It is considered by the US state department to be a hardship post.

22:49 There

22:51 The people in the

22:54 And the consulate and the the small Detachment of military that were there which was very small. This was hardship hardship pay.

23:07 Some families very few families. There are a few people there from that.

23:14 That 20 +

23:19 It was still primitive by primitive by our standards. Where did you live? I lived in a compound in the city of Lahore that which was owned by the church with

23:35 Several American missionaries and teachers from the school where I taught we were all in there together. So you had some Western folks to Pal around. Yes, including my in-laws to be my prospective in-laws. They were there over there. They were my there was my Saving Grace. There was a I'll just because of the kind of people that were and I could go over to drop in at any point and see them and what would they tell us about a typical time or what were they like or high? He taught she was not teaching at those tip by then. She had stopped the teaching.

24:14 Grandfather goo for Grandpa.

24:17 Kept open house, basically anytime of the day or night that one of his students or one of his friends. Wanted to see him. They would come it's what he had done in China's what he did again, and she was put to it to produce cookies and tea and cold drinks and cakes and whatever and to keep keep it up for that. She was and all that well trying to have taken its toll on her and they had a cook James who was a rascal but a Charming Rascal and she really depended on James to do for her and she'd only been there a year. So before I got there so she wasn't an old hand in Lahore and I actually found out.

25:06 I didn't.

25:08 See the

25:11 More sophisticated side of Lahore. I rode around on a bicycle. I did my own shopping about a lot of my own food. And when I did the bazaars I did the people and I did not do the university thing. There's a girls college Foreman's college for girls and there was you

25:33 Can't remember the name of the men's School men's college and I taught in an elementary school for girls are girls K through 16.

25:43 So we didn't run in the same level of society. So to speak I was with the educated people. I was with her non-educated people so we didn't see a lot of that but you felt free to stop by there and tell parents have dinner. And yes, I probably wouldn't have lasted a year without them because it was very frustrating and a very difficult thing to do to be there.

26:12 All the all the conventions that made it so difficult. I rode a bicycle I had to make sure I had long pants on I had to make sure my arms were covered and I usually wore a scarf around my head if it wasn't safe for the weather was too bad for bicycle. I would take on the horse-drawn carriage the tongue but also keeping covered when I was out in public just be respectful of other pieces of other people's ways another culture and

26:51 I said goodbye in.

26:54 I think was April or May.

26:58 In 57 and they were still in Lahore and they did not come home for the wedding or how did you do remember why they didn't come home or how they didn't come they would have had to pay their own way and it was an expensive thing. I left a year little bit over a year before I was supposed to come back because I was not do physically I was well, I was losing weight.

27:22 The lowest I'd Dan and

27:25 Not doing that much there wasn't that much for me to do so that I was no great loss to the mission in my in my own eyes, And so I came home and then we scheduled the wedding for August of that year. And so you scheduled the wedding after you came home. Yes, and so you were able to plan it and do all of that from her wedding planner and everything was done the way it's supposed to be done. Yeah, and that we were married in the Presbyterian church and

28:06 Your dad's Grandparents were there and his two aunts and his mother's sister were there they represented the family and his brother his two brothers were both of the wedding.

28:24 And I saw the and we had the reception in the house on King Street and was so funny who were your party on your side. My college roommate was my matron of honor and my two cousins were my bridesmaid. So will your college roommate's name was Judy Sumrall and your witch cousin Terry linen laundry and ready. So there were three on each side is Uncle Don Donald Armstrong. He was best man as matter than the brothers were the two brothers were there. Yeah. I think that was said so you got married. Congratulations on August 3rd, and then you took a honeymoon we went to Canada.

29:11 To set a God to a

29:15 Small it was a ski lodge in the winter. We were there this summer and is it on a small lake with there for about a week came home in time to settle in and open up a new High School in Watchung New High School. I didn't open. Yeah, and he was the principal that he was as follows after we were there and that was just about to open if he would take over Championship with the master partment. And so he did and we were off and running so you had the house and we had the house and watch how well we first we had an apartment furnished apartment. And then we after the first summer they are we

30:05 No, we bought the house at Spring.

30:09 Because I was getting very pregnant and I couldn't speak couldn't stay in the apartment. And we moved into the house August. I couldn't go down for the move because I was living in Englewood. He was working down Virginia and I was in Englewood and my father met the moving truck went down with them. And then Randy was born and why mint went from my mother's home with Randy and your father to do you remember anything about that first year of being married what you did what it was like nothing really noteworthy. We were in a little furnished apartment. I was very nice people had one car.

30:53 Which he needs to get to school. So most of the time I was home, I would could walk to a little village and that which I used to do with 4 small amounts of groceries.

31:06 And I was able to use the facilities of the of the house where we were living to do laundry. But other than that nothing so you were in an apartment in a house. Yeah, the farmhouse in this was part of the but have been for workmen and that started the the family rolling. Okay. So you had a baby a baby doll Randolph and then we had another baby 2 years later William Baxter all while you were in watch him. Yes, and then when Bill was about what 16 months is 17 months, we bought up to Massachusetts lived in Arlington outside of Cambridge for two years while Dad worked on his Doctorate and so he'd already had his master's before he went. He got a master's that's what he was doing in Columbia and the year than that. I was in Pakistan.

32:05 He was also working on a master's and we will get to Boston in a second. But while you were in Watchung with you at who did you did you spend time with a lot of people, I mean you had two little kids weather outings at parks and mean what did you do? How did you manage just did what you had to do? It was a fascinating year. We had a marvelous superintendent of schools Gordon peterkin with him.

32:38 And his wife was a fascinating woman. I still am in touch with her was young faculty all very idealistic all trying new things willing to try new things and education and they were all eager they all did things and we all did things

33:00 I basically took care of the kids.

33:03 The house has our first dog and things like that and went on from there with other couples that you spent time with you as little kids or Isabel the school helped create the well.

33:19 That's the faculty. It was a small faculty. It was just a high school. It wasn't these kids hadn't been together The Faculty hadn't been together. So everybody was learning and meeting and you get a young group like this very warm a very small community within a community and it was nice. That was very pleasant. We know we kept in touch with

33:46 Well, I'm still in touch with one couple from that. So who's on Peterson's who bought the house from us and they were he was teaching he was a god Scouts. And so you move up to Arlington and you have a almost a four year-old and two-year-old in a one-year-old. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And what would those years like me must not have had any money. We had no money has alright we had enough to live on.

34:21 Dad use the car

34:24 Because he did his his fieldwork took him out of the city out of and he had to drive and I could walk to a grocery store which I did the A&P it with the wagon guarding the kids we walk to the library. We lived in a small what they called Garden Apartment duplex Apartments two-bedroom apartments and there where I think eight of them then this little

34:53 Subset of the community with lots of children and lots of young parents who were doing the same thing. I mean that very nice people there and we knew the people we met the people in the doctoral program a very small select program running out of time. 5 more minutes 5 more minutes. Is that what you want to get into it stay as me and the doctor program with Dad or the and then how did you make it from there to Cincinnati? Cuz he went directly from there to Cincinnati from there to Cincinnati Indian Health the head of this doctoral program Herald hunt device. This program super setted up supervised. Did they were only twelve people admitted to it each year a very select group and he was the headhunter.

35:45 For a lot of that they could he was called to consult and he would recommend two communities who would call him. You know, here's someone I think you might be interested in that. We were we were set on our way to Indian hell.

36:01 Very successfully I think how did you feel about moving to Ohio? I mean you would been in New Jersey in the New York very sophisticated in the Eastern places even Boston and then then you're off to Cincinnati. Well, we weren't we knew that there was an airplane. I mean knew there was a airport out there because we flew out for interviews. We weren't sure about the bridges across the Ohio River.

36:29 Are we pull this out our friends who you who would try to come out and interview and CSU now, Well, be careful when they take you across the river stay in the middle of the barge, but that with the car because they don't always have the brakes done properly. I was kind of a joke because you're going out into the

36:49 Into the unknown in the midwest the beginning since the Midwest and we found it a warm wonderful place to live lived. We were there for 10 years very happily quickly. How did you meet the gyres?

37:05 The

37:10 We moved out and their daughters were our first babysitters.

37:16 They left our backyards. I joined the remembers they were neighbors and they had a son who is in between Randy in velen age and two older daughters who are babysitters and the Clarkson Kincaid's came through school, right? Yes. Both of them Mr. Clarke was football coach and chemistry teacher. Mr. Kincaid was English and the school paper so we can't do this without you at least talking about your football experience.

37:48 Once you part of a club

37:50 No football for moms or so. We had to always be setting up an adult education program out there that we did one of the things we came up with was football for moms. Because this was Ohio is not as big as Texas in this High School football competition, but they used to go to Ohio State from all over a course and we had a good a good warm coach. Mr. Clark was a very ethical coach very low-key but very good very strict very good coach and

38:29 Try to come up with interesting ideas for adult education why this is one of the football for moms, and I did learn something with it. Or you can also Place kick rather that was from being a tomboy as a kid playing with my brother. Well, there's a lot of other things we could do, but I think our and I'm not going to ask you to summarize the following 40 years in and thank you and 45 seconds. I like we can I think we can end their on another very very interesting note. I thank you for doing this has been fun. Thank you. Talk about it. Yeah. I have somebody interested in it at learned a lot that I didn't know before his. Thank you good.