Mae Mae Daniels interviews her grandmother, Janet Haas, about her life growing up in the 20th century.

Recorded November 28, 2018 Archived November 28, 2018 16:42 minutes
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Id: APP578148


In this interview, Mae Mae Daniels (16) talks with her grandmother, Janet Haas (72). They discussed Janet’s eventful life and her views on history. Janet also sheds light on growing up in such a different generation and the impactful historical experiences she lived through. This interview took place on November 21, 2018.


  • mae mae daniels
  • Janet Haas

Interview By



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00:00 Hi, my name is Mae Mae Daniels. I'm 16 years old today is November 21st, 2018 and I'm speaking with Jane and ask who is my grandmother. We are recording his interview and Birmingham, Alabama.

00:13 Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood? What were you like as a child?

00:18 As a child, I was full of the devil love to play pranks on my friends and just play and have fun. Love to play outside. Love to build forts. I was pretty much of a tomboy. I am growing up in the fifties was a time when your parents didn't have to worry about you. If you were riding your bicycle to your friend's house are playing outside after dark. It was an Age of Innocence, a wonderful, wonderful time to grow up.

00:53 Can you tell me about one of the most difficult moments in your life?

00:58 Probably one of the most difficult times of my life is when I when my daddy was diagnosed with with cancer, and we knew he had a short time to live, and my mother was not in good health. So it was, it was a difficult time. Dealing with my parents are getting older. When they were really only 67 years old and just facing cancer for the first time in my life and seeing my daddy struggle with it and my mother struggle with my, my daddy being sick. And that was way more difficult than when I was diagnosed with cancer. It was just very, very difficult seeing you. It's very difficult seeing your parents suffer through something like that.

01:52 What advice would you give to your teenage self? I would advise me to study harder, strive strive, to make better grades. Now that I didn't make good grades, but I could have done better and to go to, to be more involved in my church. Back when I was, when I was growing up. We didn't have all the Bible studies like you children have now. Which I think is so good. I went to church and I went to Sunday school, but there was not there was not that real connection like like ya'll have now which I think is so wonderful.

02:34 Can you tell me one of your happiest memories?

02:39 Many many happy memories. Of course, my wedding day was a happy memory of the birth of my two daughters was a happy memory or happy memories in. In all of my, my six grandchildren. Those are probably the happiest. Most emotional terms of my life is wonderful, just down deep pure, joy, and Thanksgiving. But not my whole life has just been made up of a lot of memories, happy memories that I just couldn't even know him. A lot of fun times with family, with cousins and aunts and uncles,

03:19 Can you tell me about some of the most important lessons you've learned in life?

03:28 Probably the most important lesson I have learned is to keep focused on the Lord. If you try your best to keep God as the center of your life. Everything else seems to fall into place. Another lesson I've learned is that you have to first like yourself before you can like anybody else. You have to accept who you are and what you are in the happy with that. That's kind of hard to explain but I think that that people who find contentment with their life are they are happy people.

04:11 What are you most grateful for?

04:15 I'm grateful for the wonderful parents. I have had who instilled in me. Self-confidence surrounding me with love. We did not, we were not a wealthy family, but I never, I never lacked for anything growing up, and it was because of the the love that, that, that we had. And not just with my parents. But with, with my, my aunts and uncles and cousins. We had a real close family and extended family. What was the question to the game with us? I think I've got enough for my parents. And then I'm, I'm grateful for the good health it. My, my daughter had and that my grandchildren have, and my husband has. So, and all the love in my life.

05:11 How would you like to be remembered?

05:15 War. First, as a good Christian woman, as a good good wife, a good mother and grandmother. Those are just basic things that probably every woman would like to be remembered as. But I would like to be remembered as somebody who has loved life and tried to make the most out of every situation and make everyday a good day.

05:43 What are your hopes and wishes for me and for my children and I hope for you. I pray for you to find a wonderful spouse who will be a Christian man. Who will love you the way. Your grandfather has loved me and I would wish this same thing for for all of my grandchildren, many many children. Any many had healthy healthy children and above all a god-centered life.

06:19 If you knew this is going to be our last conversation. Is there anything? You've never told me that you went to share with me now?

06:27 I've been thinking about this question and one thing that I don't think I've ever told you and it's it's not that it's a secret or any big deal, but did you know that? I had a half-sister named Carol Anne? He might have you might have, I might have told you this or your mama might have told you that.

06:46 She with my daddy was married. Before he married my mama and they had a little girl named Carol in and when they got a divorce, they weren't married but maybe two years and they got a divorce and his ex-wife and the little girl moved to California. So I never saw her. He wasn't part of my childhood and then the summer before, my freshman year, in high school. She came to visit spent the summer with us. Then I got to know her and then she got married and had a little girl, who is my niece, who would be your second cousin, and, and then later, and then I lost track of her and your mama went on the internet and it was somehow able to find her and she came to visit. This is maybe Ben 10 years ago. So you wouldn't remember and then she died shortly after that.

07:50 Thinking about your family, many generations from now and knowing that they may hear this recording. Is there anything you want to say to them? And he was them or advice, you would like to share?

08:03 Well, first of all, 222, your generation into all future Generations, I just hope and pray that there is

08:13 Peace in this world that

08:17 This is things are so distraught right now. Our government doesn't seem to be able to work amongst itself. I would, I just pray for the future of this country for peace and working together. And of course for World Peace, that's, that would be my hope and prayer for the future Generations.

08:47 What will our policy is very important to you?

08:52 One day, it is very important to me that I can't imagine.

08:58 Before this was put into effect as the women's right to vote. I just, as a woman. Cannot imagine that it was not always possible for women to vote to the 19th. Amendment would be very important, very important to me.

09:21 Can you tell me a story about the first time you remember being aware of politics?

09:27 In 1950. I was 8 years old and Dwight Eisenhower was running for president and I can remember and everyone wearing buttons said, I like Ike. I don't know why that sticks in my mind, but that that probably was the first time I was aware that there was a presidential election in this great man who had been a general in the war was running for the presidency and his name was Dwight D Eisenhower and my parents were but instead said I like Ike and everybody did.

10:06 Can you tell me about what life was like during the Vietnam war?

10:12 Well, your grandfather and I got married in 1964.

10:21 So the Vietnam War got cranked up soon. It was had been going on for some time. But got When We Were Young married with young children, the Vietnam War seemed so removed from us. That I did have several of my high school classmates that were killed in Vietnam and we would have conversations with friends of ours that had served in Vietnam at come home and were telling us about the war and in their efforts in the, a lack of a, the support of Americans when they returned, which was such a tragedy for them after having served and gone through what they did over there, but I hate to say this, but I felt I felt removed from it because I was a young, a young mama with, with two, two babies. That that

11:21 Trying to raise and your grandfather was trying to get started into a business. So as concerned, as we were for the well-being of all of our soldiers who were fighting over there. It was it, it did seem remote. And now, when I talk to two people at my age that that were over there and they tell me about what it was like,

11:52 It makes me a little bit of shouting to myself that I was not more aware at the time of what they were going through their there, trials and tribulations and back in Sunday school just a week ago. Someone was our Sunday school speaker was was addressing the Vietnam War and making all of us, much more aware of the difficulties that those soldiers had when they returned the anat to the United States after having served.

12:27 Where were our ancestors born?

12:32 Well, I was born in St. Louis, Missouri. And your grandfather was born here in Birmingham. My mother's parents. My mother and father, both were born in St. Louis. And most of my grandparents were born in the war from Germany. The on my daddy said, his mother is English, and his father is German, and they've been in this country longer than mine.

13:09 On my mother's side I get the dates mixed up but my on my mother's side she would her maiden name was right size and her mother's maiden name was Pitzer and in Germany. Some little town in Germany and I can't for the life of me think of the name of it. But there is a bridge that is the pits or bridge. I'm sure it's a very small bridge and insignificant but one of my cousins had visited over there and actually found the rich and that's somewhere in Germany where all of my mama's family is from. And her both are both of her parents. Both of her grandparents were from Germany and came to this country from Germany. And on my daddy's side his mother, his mother's family was from England and his father was from from Germany, but my Mom and Daddy both grew up.

14:09 In St. Louis, and when I was 8 years old, we move to Birmingham and I don't course, didn't did not want to move it. Can I tell a funny story that my grandfather that my daddy did? I used to fall down all the time and have skinned knees all the time and when he told me that we were moving from St. Louis to Birmingham. I did not want to go did not want to leave my friends and my daddy said, well, the good thing about Birmingham is all the sidewalks or rubber. So when you fall down, you'll just bounced back up and not have any more Cantonese.

14:54 Tell me about your siblings. Are you close with them?

14:58 I have a brother who is four years younger than me. And yes, we were very close. He, he lives in mobile now, so we don't get to see each other that that often but growing up.

15:13 He was, he would always be in trouble. He would he would, he would lose police think he would lose his raincoat. He would lose his shoes, know how you can go out and lose your shoes. I don't know, but he was always in trouble. And so whenever I could catch him in trouble, there was always a bride going on. He would, he would always catch me in trouble too. So we wouldn't we would always have this thing about. I won't tell on you if you won't tell on me and he went to, I went to Auburn and he went to Alabama, but we never discussed football. It's just been sort of a policy that we that we never talked about the competitiveness. Competitiveness between the two football teams. I think he really always wanted to go to Auburn in his act, was not good enough to get in all

16:13 And I'm not thinking about that. I think that is the truth, but I will say that he, he went to law school. He's a lawyer in Mobile. He went to Sanford, school to Cumberland at Sanford and was on the Dean's List every semester. So I know he had a good brain. He just didn't use it all the time. Most little brothers don't, you know?