Carol Fredericks and Teri Whitcraft

Recorded October 7, 2014 Archived October 8, 2014 43:37 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: lmn003261


Carol Whitcraft (87) tells her daughter, Teri W. Fredericks (62), about her childhood in Texas, her various careers, and the loves of her life.

Subject Log / Time Code

Carol remembers her childhood as a tomboy in Waco, Texas.
Carol on her ponies and the day she rode in a parade and caused an accident.
Carol remembers the day her mother passed away of a stroke and how it changed her life.
Carol on her first marriage and how she came to the decision to leave him to try to be an businesswoman.
Carol remembers the day she met Teri's father. He was a journalist and the journalist in those days were "hard drinking, hard smoking, and wonderfully entertaining."
Carol and Teri on Carol's various careers and the difficulty of studying and working while her husband was drinking.
Teri remember how Carol cried when they went dress shopping for a school dance because getting her the pretty dress entailed spending the entire clothing budget.
Carol on pursuing her PhD and why she felt it was so important to get her doctorate to garner respect.
Carol and Teri on Carol's support of safe sex and the pill because it is a woman's right to choose and be free.
Carol on the loves of her life and her recent return to the Rainbow Room and how it brought back memories.
Carol on how she wants to be remembered, her love for her daughter, and and the importance of having fun everyday.


  • Carol Fredericks (b. 1927)
  • Teri Whitcraft (b. 1952)

Recording Location

Lower Manhattan StoryBooth


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00:07 My name is Terry Woodcraft on 62. Today's date is October 7th. 2014, New York New York with my mother Carol Wood. Crack Fredrick's.

00:22 I'm Carole Fredericks, Carol whitcraft Frederick's my age is officially now 87 years old that adds up to 15 today's date is the 7th of October and we're near the courthouse in Foley Square recording and the relationship to my darling daughter is just that perfect.

00:50 So whether I want to I want to talk to you about being a feminist because since I was a little girl, I remember that you always were ahead of your time and you were always independent and can always come in as guest. So how did that happen? I had a older brother and an older sister and a younger brother and it seemed to me that life was stacked in favor of the boys. They seem to have more privileges more rights and and assertions then the girls did and the girls were expected to smile and say oh goody when that happened. I thought it was unfair. I thought everyone should be equal opportunity person and I think that tough I still think that today I am furious that the payee pay equity.

01:50 Program has not been carried out all of the legislation passed long ago and civil rights legislation really has applied more like a man than to women because women are being discriminated against in state legislators legislators. And so I really thought it was it was a question of equity with me. But you you are always the perfect Hostess as I remember the perfect hostess with the smartest woman in the room. You are the best mother in the world. You're an admiral in the Texas Navy. How did you become so accomplished in refined when you were born in Waco, Texas? Well, that's a good question. My father was quite civic-minded. He had a bread factory not a bakery, but wholesale bread factory, but he also became mayor.

02:50 Waco and he became president of the school board and he became head of the Rotary Club. So he was very civic-minded and it seemed to me that we should all be giving back if we had the means to do it.

03:06 Well, it's a little girl. Were you a tomboy or Rebel? Even from the early days? Yes. I think I was a tomboy. I climb trees. I could outrun the boys. In fact in our neighborhood those days children were sent out to play and I told not to come back until noon, but I was always the center of the football team in the in the vacant lot which was not to my advantage because they they would let me send her the ball and then I would run right over my horses even in the parade. Yes, but we had we started out with Shetland ponies and they often run away with us. Remember one incident in which all other will Shetland was running across the neighbor's Lawns with me clinging to the back and finding my father corner to the little lot beast and I got off

04:06 The pony and he came up and kicked the pony so hard that the pony was eleve. Tell me about the parade when the horse ran away with you. That is a funny story. I had a friend who would never ridden a horse but agreed to ride in there and the livestock show parade downtown Austin Avenue, which is the main thoroughfare in Waco. And so we started out riding my had a very tough mouth brutish kind of horse. It wasn't an attractive one at all. And she was all a little paint pony. That was well mattered, but my brutish horse and I were leading her horse and as we came up on the asphalt pavement, they are horseshoes began to slip a little bit and frightened my old horse, so he started a run.

05:03 And he was running right up the side of the parade and pretty soon we're going to be in front of us should be in front of the parade on this all so I kept them see song on his tough mouth rains and finally got him to turn to the left and we were going counter-clockwise to the parade which is fine. But if we were going lickety-split over cross streets and it one cross street, we ran right into the side of a car and I put over the top of the car and the horse went on the hook. I didn't get hurt but I was so angry I was so mad about that time as I pick myself up and dusted myself off the owner of the car got out of the car. And he said do you have insurance? How old are you?

05:58 I was probably about 14.

06:04 That's funny.

06:06 So do you remember if the happiest moment from your childhood? Oh, I wouldn't think I had one happy moment. I I have many happy moments as a child.

06:18 Any particular ones come to mind? No.

06:23 Is that were just too many to explain why we took family trips. We had a little Camp lot out at Lake Waco and we go out there for weekends and it was very rustic. The very had a lot of fun. He had dogs right dogs. Oh, yes, we always had dogs because Ally's why I had a collie that I wanted eichorst. I named her Lassie real original and this dog was bred to another of purebred collie and we had eight beautiful pops, but about that time.

07:07 After the pups are mostly been putting good homes. There were one or two left. My mother died from a stroke and she was only 46 and that necessitated all of four children in my family being put into a boarding school kinds of situations.

07:30 And so I had to leave to go to Missouri to little girl school call Christian college. And while I was gone, my dog was disposed of some way or the other so I'm at when I came back at my house had been so like we were in a different house different location. None of my childhood Treasures.

07:54 Could be found because my father I just had movers come and pack everything up, but that's got back to that to the day that your mother passed away. You were just you are very young 1615 Biscayne and I didn't have a college. I mean a high school diploma. I was in I was entering my senior year.

08:16 But by taking a couple of Summer School classes to make up college credit. I was able to go directly into college at age 15 without a high-school diploma.

08:29 But I was not social prepared. I really was I was still a 15 year old socially, where is the girls and I was with were 16 and 17 which made a big difference and you were all alone in the world and your mother had suddenly died leaving you short of breath with us, but one has to go on 101 goes on you don't stop living just because someone has passed away. Do you remember that day? Oh, yes I do very much with you. I haven't well as she was in the hospital and of course I wasn't but we had a an aunt who was sort of it taking over the house keeping duties and monitoring the children and now she got this telephone call and looked up and she said

09:25 Your mother has died and my first thought was I better not go on that date tonight.

09:33 I felt terrible. I feel awful. But I I can't explain I wanted my life to resume normalcy. And of course, it could never resume normal had she asked you to stay with her at any point or did you spend time with her before? She passed away? She had the stroke on a Saturday and she had asked me to help her do some gardening, but I had a friend visiting another little girl and we wanted to go up and get an ice cream cone. So I said mother I don't want to Garden right now, but I'll get you some ice cream and bring it back and then I'll I'll help she said I wish you would stay and help me now. I said no. I've got to take my friend up for ice cream, but I'll be right back and I will when I came back she'd had a stroke.

10:27 So that's that's hard to live with but you wasn't your fault. You were a young girl and I couldn't have prevented it if I've been there, but I always regret and I didn't spend that little extra minute or two.

10:43 And we scared when you had to go far away to college at 15. Well, it was a challenge because I didn't know if so and I didn't I never been out of the state of Texas except with my mother. We taking some trips, but I always had a her presence or my father's are both. So I was we boarded trains it was during World War II and there were no flights at all. So we had to go either by car by train and the college had quite a following in Texas and in Tennessee and some of the Southern States had a limited enrollment of 400 students. So you could know everybody but the ones from Texas all boarded this train that they made up in Houston and it took it took it to San Antonio and added some students and they

11:43 Came through Waco and I got on the train and we we all of course we had was an overnight train trip. So we all had to be in Upper berths in Lower Burrell. We had a ride this time, of course on the way up, but not knowing a soul on some of the girls who had come together from Houston and San Antonio knew they had friends aboard so I had to really put forth my my friend making skills to to get into their little clicks, but I did and then you got to college successful. You came home and then wanted you to

12:24 I went to Baylor University for about two semesters. My dad had been are large donor to Baylor and I wanted to go to the University of Texas at Austin, but he wouldn't hear of it having been a large donor to Baylor. So I live near the campus and can walk over Baylor would not allow schlax or shorts on their Kappa. So we had to wear dresses everyday and available had a good faculty, but I just was just I had enough I think of trying to succeed in in a territory while I really wasn't sure of myself. So I decided I had to get out of like a hoe and by that time I was about it almost 18.

13:19 Having had two and two years at top Christian. So at age 18, I decided I had to leave somewhere the other end the opportunity presented itself in the form of a dashing B-17 pilot who was being of course moved around after World War II and had stopped for about 2 weeks sojourn in Waco at the air base there. They were moving people around to see who is going to be discharged a new wasn't so but that love at first sight. Well it was for him but not exactly for me because I didn't have a motive of falling in love. I had a motive of getting out if I did I did we married and and he was stationed in Houston and then I'm up in Illinois Treasurer. I interesting.

14:16 So it was I'm sure I fell in love eventually took a little while.

14:24 It wasn't to be a long marriage really but you had two beautiful children from it and I did have two Splendid children and then discovered that my pilot who was a great war hero was on his training flies and they all had to do training flights was a rating our savings account each time and going out and having a lot of fun wherever they were flying and when I discovered that his goals in mind, we're not on the same track. I thought while I'm young, I'm 23 of that time and I thought I've just got to get out of this and go back and I think if I could persuade my father to let me learn his business and I could be a woman entrepreneur. I really wanted to succeed in business. I love the idea of power and getting things done.

15:24 Campus. Before you thought you were 23 you had two young children. And did you think you could survive and make it with two little children at 23? I thought possibly I could if I could, you know, I learned the business and become part of the thought of it.

15:47 Team that would receive an adequate salary under and I could have helped to help with a children and I thought I could make it probably but was that to be used without how to how did your father take to that plan? Well, he couldn't share power. He simply good my older brother who was just 20 months older than I had been trained in the business that I am and he knew quite a lot about it and had some excellent ideas on expanding their territory for Red Rock mountains over my father wouldn't hear of it. Anyway. Yeah, they had several calls and my brother left and went to Kansas City and work for another fake real or neither. That's my opportunity. But you started out where in the bakery my father. But he said that you got to start at the bottom and to learn everything about the bakery. So he put me on the switchboard.

16:47 Lord operation at that time and I stayed on the switchboard for about 2 years and I realize I was never going to learn a business that way and he was not going to share about displaying the same behavior he had with my brother. So I quit and I met a wonderful man.

17:09 Who was a journalist who had formerly been a banker on Wall Street. He was in Austin at the invitation of a mutual friend of ours is in my we didn't know each other but the friend introduced us we met at a bar right across the street from the Nile Valley newspaper people always mad and they were hard drinking and hard smoking and wonderfully entertaining and I fell in love with this man and he was a young Yale graduate. He I thought I could learn so much from him. He was about 13 years older than I

17:55 And had been in World War II been at the front and you're up all the way through Sicily and Italy in France as an infant from ahead and listed, although he was entitled to a commission. He wouldn't take it. He wanted to be right where the troops were and he his Hope was to become a journalist and write about you decided. He'd never go back to Banking. And so I'll he was there on the newspaper in Waco and after we met and fell in love we married and you were bought you to marry him several times before you agreed. Well, that's true. I was still clinging to that faint. Hope I become an entrepreneur.

18:45 It didn't work out that way but I did have a five distinctly different careers and that is interesting that I could switch. But each time. I switch. I've learned a new trade a new a new business and and could build on that to get a better job the next time I changed. I remember as a little girl that you decided to go back to school. But you also were working full-time you were taking care of my sister and I you were fixing all the meals studying at night in and yet you said Daddy my father would pick a fight with you when you had a test the next day. If you divert your attention to do something that is required of you that they're really quite jealous of it, and I can't help it.

19:45 I've I've seen that happen with friends and other people too. So I I thought it was normal, but it was tough for you because Daddy was drinking a lot of the time. Well it increased he had when we married and when you were small he we didn't drink that much perfectly not during the week but on weekends occasionally, he had a little too much beer or Sunday, but we really weren't heavy drinkers on weekends. We just enjoyed being with you and your you are not my other daughter. Helen were putting on little place for us and our great backyard. We had a lovely home in in Waco.

20:29 But I had to change careers a couple of times I was

20:36 Usually as an entrepreneur, I guess I did put my mind into founding new areas of opportunity. I was I've talked the Chamber of Commerce in Waco in the letting me form a retail division. They had a wholesale division. I had a transportation division that they didn't have a retail Division. And in those days there were no malls at all their everything was downtown. So I headed up the retail division of the Chamber of Commerce.

21:10 Man, let me get promoted and paid and acknowledge that what you did. I was paid better than the secretaries but not as good as the med not as good as the other division has they all made probably twice what I was making but I may just a little more than the secretary but then began to be built and one of the mall owners came to me. He had seen what I've been doing and promotion with the Downtown Association. So he asked me to come and be there a marketer at this new mall that he was constructing the first air-conditioned mall and I was there about seven or eight years did a wonderful job even if I do so, I will never forget the 4th of July at the mall. What happened then I had an Army Band from Fort Hood to come over.

22:10 Play Band concert just above the parking area for the mall and people could sit in their cars and hear that and then I had to walk the fire department and letting me have fireworks that would go up over the cars and not jeopardize any anybody because they're going to be operated by the fire marshal in that he was going to be right there on the on the lot making sure everything was alright wouldn't cause fires but what happened was the fire marshal got so excited. I hate happened to throw the lighted lawn that they were firing them Rockets with into the pile and I all went up at 1. It was about three or four seconds. So just incredible. You're a rocket ship bags and

23:10 Everybody ducking under there, It was just too funny. It was it was quite a night but it was soon after that. I decided I've been there long enough. I really wanted to go do something and Academia and I I had received my degree from Baylor my VA so I decided I had to get to Austin to get a master's degree at the University. And so I think you told me once that you realize that journalist, which is never never going to make enough money to support a family and you felt you had to jump in and and earn more to raise us. I did I really felt that I my husband was not a quizzitive at all. He had money all of his life. He didn't care much about I didn't care about money for money sake, but I wanted to have enough to lead.

24:10 Lifestyle what I required which was a comfortable Frugal lifestyle. I do remember Mom once when I was in 6th grade, I think I was maybe some of that was going to the dance and we went to Sears to buy a dress and I fell in love with the most beautiful red velvet dress with white lace that I can still see today, and I looked over at you and you I was so happy in the mirror and I looked at you and you were crying and the dressing room why well that it consumes my entire budget for the next year or so.

24:50 But it wasn't Sears it was it was one of the big department stores. Didn't know how you were going to pay the bill, but I just couldn't buy any other clothes, but I really didn't need them. I was working then in the university and start my workers of the University didn't tell dress as well. So I could get along without it and you you needed it at the time. You had a very good time at that day as a driver.

25:26 So in Austin, you became more successful and more on your own track and and Daddy was at the newspaper. But he also continue to drink and at some point it got pretty bad it did and he realized that if he if he could not become unaddicted alcohol. He was going to probably. Early and so help him realize. Did you give him an ultimatum and say you've got to stop drinking I discussed it with him, of course, but he was not a person you gave ultimatum stripper. So I suggested that he contact me about Veterans Administration in Waco that had a great health facility there and going to treatment because they were offering that and he did and he did stop drinking and smoking.

26:23 An end stages not all at one time, but he did and he became a much nicer person and more interesting to you and to Helen even help your lawn. I think I'm any wise wonderful father, but he just ate a lot of ice cream, but he was out he was wonderful. Well, I've went from working in the genetics department. I got my master's degree in communication. And so I was able to do some adjunct teaching at Texas State University and then I

27:07 I've really had several jobs in between. I finally was working on my doctorate and receive that and then I wonder what I could do with a doctorate in research. Nobody knew what research will Hawes so I decided I could start another department if I was very good at that and I went to the Texas Rehabilitation Commission. I knew the commissioner and I asked him if he had any way of measuring the efficacy of his of his work at the rehabilitation because the rehabilitation program was a federal-state program funded 80% federally funded and 20% state-funded, but it was required that the state legislatures match they 20% or they couldn't have the problem at all. And so I

28:06 The commissioner said he didn't know how to judge his efficacy unless it was just in the numbers of people he helped and I suggested that there were better measures that he needed to know even the ones that he wasn't so successful in helping. Maybe they did improve or maybe they didn't want it. It's already had helped didn't improve so we needed to know the difference. So, I he he agreed and I became what they called a

28:39 Program specialist and that was a a ranking of a a job that I had up a program. That wasn't may be written up in the books but was on trial. So I love you. I got a quite a lot large raised and that was what I love to work. I found out that all the man who were problem Specialist made a good deal more than I do that upset me quite a bit, but you did to come and Admiral the Texas Navy right about now as a matter of fact my

29:14 My boss had stipulated that I had to be there the liaison to the governor's office of Texas and there were 10 large state agencies. And we all had to meet together once a month to do economies of scale in various administrative areas.

29:34 And it happened that I really enjoy that sort of thing and I was making a name for myself and I met a young woman who had been appointed to start management Development Center for state employees for first level supervisors and managers first level manager. So I was so impressed with her she seemed to know exactly what she was doing and I thought I could learn a lot from her.

30:09 We became close friends. That was Corky. That was Corky Hilliard and I was invited always give out the diplomas to her students and management diploma grantor of a knife completed their three or four week program and they took them off of Campus. I mean off of their jobs and put them in a resort and they had to attend school everyday. I want to hear about that Admiral you were about to get a big award well and you had actually yes because of my assistance with this and they starting the governor's executive development program. I was going to get the Yellow Rose of Texas award.

30:55 Well, I don't know your people don't know Texas history don't realize that the Yellow Rose of Texas was a prostitute who kept Santa Ana busy on his Siesta so that the Texas army could overrun this cab and capture its not soundtracks has got to be independent, but I hadn't heard you were getting the Yellow Rose award. Well, I didn't want the Yellow Rose award. I wanted I wanted to be an admiral in the Texas Navy which was given exclusively to man. So I gave them I gave them Governor Yellow Rose and Walker they don't do it.

31:47 So

31:50 Why did you feel getting a Ph.D was so important because although I didn't change a single bed of my personality or my communication people listens, but they are tribute to a person with a degree or title powers that they may not have been probably.

32:16 Some of the biggest obstacles that you had to overcome to get to where you are today.

32:22 I think it was.

32:27 Well, I really don't I don't know. I just I met them and not over them. That's all I can tell you. I didn't see them much as obstacle. I always thought you could solve a problem by thinking it through and the vibe going around obstacles instead of trying to go leaping over them and maybe starting over in a different mode. And that that's that's kind of what I did. I would sit down I think we'll you know, I can't go that way because that's that's really blocked. I'll have to change my thought and proceed in a different direction.

33:07 So

33:08 I know as of the we started out talking about you as a feminist and I know you've been of a supporter of Planned Parenthood for many many years and were one of the first women on the pill. Why why did you think that was important? And what what did that mean to you? I saw I saw the inability to control fertility for women as a method of keeping them another form of slavery for women. There was no sure birth control at that time. They had gadgets and I had little ways of postponing pregnancy, but not that you can never be sure and it occurred to me that when the pill was being tested in San Antonio that part of its development was in the San Antonio Southwest Research Institute, so I found out a lot about it and I wrote my masters.

34:08 Places on the idea that women could be economically liberated because the reason women were getting lower salaries and not getting hired or the men always said well we can how are you because you might get pregnant and leave, you know, when we've trained you you're just you may just get pregnant and that's why we have to pay you less and not no not hire you at all and I thought that was a terrible thing to do. So I thought with a pill which was a 99% sure that it would prevent pregnancy. They can say while I'm I certainly would not getting pregnant unless I want to but I won't I won't want to I want to take this job and the man had no defense against that they had to I mean couldn't it was unconstitutional to take a different tack with women?

35:03 But they did it in the end women today still aren't I know what men are making? No? No, they're not that I do remember speaking of the pill when I was about thirteen you took me aside. And you said you don't whatever you do Terry, whatever if you want to go out and fool around but just don't get pregnant take the pill which is Dunning for me as a young cuz everyone else all of my friends said their parents were going you can't do this and you can't do that. You were going just be safe while that was the important thing. We had a very good position. That was just a block away from our house. If you remember when we first got to Austin and you are you are just becoming certainly mature and my older daughter was and I took you up introduce you to the doctor and I said now if you have any questions at all, you don't come to me you come to this doctor and he'll tell you exactly what what you should and shouldn't do and so

36:03 You did and you have a very successful.

36:07 So

36:10 Want to go back to your love? I know you've been married three times and two of your husbands died in your arms were very much in love with you. What are some of the moments from memories that you remember from your husband said they come to mind when you have an orchestra playing your favorite song, for example, like the other day at the rainbow room. That's what we brought back memories. I just adored my last two husbands the first one I found a way to forgive but I was never very close again, but your father your father was a

36:50 Wonderful guy and a great dancer and he had lived in New York and he was quite sophisticated so we can go to the rainbow room and dads and it was wonder what took you to the rainbow room for your 87th birthday this last Sunday and I just replayed tenderly tell me about fell in love with the song but there was also a young man that was quite enticing it was attached to the song and Montana and Missoula Montana. When I came back to Waco, I never saw him again, but I had a fondness in my heart for that song tenderly. It is a beautiful song as lyrical and it has wonderful lyrics that can be song. But if this is the way the music is constructed is just so

37:49 It's very

37:53 I can't really describe it. It's just extremely emotional your eyes teared up. And you said so so much time has passed and so many wonderful memories what was going through your mind at the moment.

38:08 It actually knew you got a flashback. You can almost see the scene of your emotional involvement and I saw that little dance floor that's in the center of the rainbow room and I could picture in the days that we were dancing at. The band was on the level with the dancers. It wasn't elevated and I could see that band playing and I could see their the dancers all dancing around. It was just a momentary flashback in your mind and

38:46 A bit of a Vox all the emotions you felt at the time and time goes so fast. It was wonderful. It was wonderful. I thank you for that. That was so great. I loved it. Now, you're 87 years old. You just turned 87 but what I walk in the room like we did last night the room stops and they all stare at you when they all say you were so weak when you're so beautiful. So how do you do it put your secret? I don't even agree with the stuff. I don't want nothing of caution. And I think it's very important is you don't ever go out in public without making your best entrance. I mean, you can't you can't go around and sloppy clothes and undone hair and makeup and expect people to take you seriously.

39:44 If you want to be believed you have to act like a leader and that's what I'm trying to do. You are a leader. You've always been the leader. How do you want to be remembered?

39:59 With kind of I don't want to dwell on I'm sure I've got them deal with me. I'll try to ignore my mean this isn't my little petty insults think of me is someone they like that's all if your great-great grandchildren are listening to this years from now wisdom. Would you want to pass on to them while they're several rules care for the other person have compassion?

40:37 And never lie if you can possibly not I know there's sometimes Earth that there are lies that are essential but very few are telling the truth is so much better and I'll be kind to each other. I can't understand war war 2 me is not only immoral but it's an anathema. It is killing each other is just beyond Humanity really and I I can understand how you could do it. You have a motto.

41:12 That you live by everyday tell us what is my motto is to have fun every day because fun is what life is about your granted this life not moping and be sorrowful and depressed your your granted this life to improve civilization and humor and joyousness does improve civilization?

41:43 So is there anything else that you never told me that you want to tell me now?

41:51 I know your past medical. I really am I carry you always been such a wonderful job and even when you were leaving home before I thought you should and coming to New York not knowing anybody but one young man that you you are after. I really couldn't give you any advice. You knew the past go and look for you before you're gone that's following in her footsteps.

42:28 And what is there anything else you'd like to say?

42:31 I just like to tell you how how I've adored you because you're such a wonderful girl and if you hadn't been my daughter, I would have adored you Ethan, but you were and I'm blessed with that. I am the luckiest girl in the world that you're my mother. Well, thank you. I am sure that my great-great grandchildren are going to take after you you your jeans are going to be involved one way or another and you're going to make sure that they they behave themselves and try to live up to your standards.

43:10 I have a lot to live up to follow you and hopefully we all can live up to the standards that you've said. Well, you're wonderful, and I can't thank you enough for this opportunity. I know you worked hard to do it, but you can do anything you ever did work hard.

43:35 Are we on time?