L. Sanford Reis and Kyle Reis

Recorded January 15, 2006 Archived January 15, 2006 01:23:49
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX000961


97-year-old grandfather reminisces about the early 20th century.


  • L. Sanford Reis
  • Kyle Reis

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:12 My name is Kyle Reese 42 years old. Today is January 15th.

00:20 And I'm here in Sarasota Florida with my grandfather and this is would have been his anniversary and my grandmother's birthday as well.

00:34 They know.

00:36 And you need to say your name and age date location for dries. My age is 97.

00:50 And I was born in New York City.

00:54 In 1908

00:58 I like to give both things. So the arithmetic can be checked.

01:03 And your relationship to me?

01:06 You are my grandson one of

01:12 Five grandchildren

01:14 Okay.

01:16 Why we're going to probably jump around a little bit, but I was thinking maybe we could start just talking about little bit about your childhood and really give us give me a sense of the difference between for what life was like at the beginning of the twentieth century versus what life is like at the beginning of the 21st century and changes you seeing you we were talking about how it's been a pretty dramatic century.

01:46 I had to Happy.

01:52 Childhood

01:55 I was blessed with good parents who apparently were well qualified to raise children.

02:07 And they stimulated me.

02:15 Improve in a variety of ways

02:23 Has a very small child.

02:27 We lived in Brooklyn near Gravesend Bay.

02:35 And one of the problems

02:39 In a discussion of this sort particularly when one revert to Early Childhood is you're never sure of what you remember.

02:55 Or what you been told?

03:01 So when does the best one can

03:05 At the age of 2

03:10 I was according to my parents and grandparents lost.

03:19 I disappeared from the house.

03:23 And they thought perhaps I told off to the Bay.

03:29 Or

03:32 Kidnapped all the things that can happen a little children. They searched the house from top to bottom all the neighbors and I was finally

03:47 Found

03:48 This I know I was told a cuz I have no recollection of it and I had an urge at that age to take a nap.

04:01 And my baby brothers.

04:04 Baby carriage was empty

04:08 I would seem like a convenient place to take a nap. So I jumped into the baby carriage and fell asleep, and it never occurred to anybody to look there for me so that everything worked out quite well.

04:27 I was found and I had a good nap. So that's carried over because you're still a good sleep for these days still one of the few things. I claimed to be good at is sleeping.

04:42 And I am dose myself frequently in that are asked to talk about though a little bit the child during your early earlier years at the turn of the twentieth century, I guess is for the depression.

05:03 The only thing that

05:07 I'm reasonably confident that I remember.

05:11 But it's only reasonable confidence is that I was giving given when I was for my first three.

05:23 Wheels velocipede which is what branch would called at that time and I recall it was a dark blue color.

05:33 And I got on the thing in the hallway.

05:39 And my grandfather

05:42 Pushed me off the bike and I got up and got on it again, and he pushed me off again. And the reason was that he wanted me to learn how to fall properly.

05:57 But my grandmother who as far as I can recall never raised her voice really raised her voice that time. I think I still remember this and said leave the boy alone.

06:22 And now

06:24 But you seen that mean you seen every member or Joey talking about how she would say you can tell me anything and I'll believe it because I've seen so much happened over the course of the century that anything seems possible and when you think in retrospect, I said Joey's to say I believe anything is possible because she had seen so much over the years retrospect. When you look back do you think about you know, where we are in terms of flying and driving and I can do a quick run down since I am temporarily at least the senior

07:03 Engaged in this operation

07:10 When I was less than one year old.

07:14 There were a Nike think I would call it still a number of horse cars in the city of New York.

07:26 I recall at our house was illuminated with gas and we had gas Metals made by some company called welsbach which had to be change from time to time.

07:47 That there were lamplighters still running around the streets of New York and they had a long stick made stick it up into the gas operated lamp to turn it on at dusk and turn it off in the morning.

08:12 The ice wagon

08:14 The milk trucks

08:17 Moe's delivery trucks where

08:21 Steel horse drawing

08:24 Accepted Macy's had electrically-operated delivery trucks.

08:35 That had

08:38 3 hard rubber non inflated tires, which became illegal after that because they were a little too tough on the pavement.

08:52 Now to turn to the negative side of this thing, there was no such thing of course as radio

09:06 First radio that I can recall was right after World War 1 was of course, no television.

09:14 The Well, of course no, such thing is computers

09:20 They are wearing no commercial Aviation.

09:26 The there were very few good rose and there were of course very few automobile.

09:41 Bad

09:44 Ice was delivered by a nice man who picked up various size cubes of ice depending on your knees.

09:58 And carry them up and put them in a nice box.

10:03 Course no such thing as electric Refrigeration.

10:08 No, such thing as electric washing machines or electric dryers.

10:15 And

10:17 All in the space of one lifetime these substantial physical changes have occurred in less than a hundred years and I would say more dramatic changes then in the

10:37 Proceeding

10:40 Thousands or millions of years in which humans inhabited the planet.

10:47 It's hard to believe that you can just go get a washing machine for about a hundred bucks an hour or something like that and watching a scrub board and clothes before hung out on lines the dry as I guess you could say one of the first practical application of solar energy.

11:12 Do you think your grandmother Gigi had a pretty important influence on your life? I know she was quite an amazing woman in the brief time. I knew her she seems like a very strong and independent woman strong independent woman in every way. She was a graduate of a business school called the Eastman Gaines School. I remember seeing a text book of hers lying around the house.

11:46 She was a devout churchgoer.

11:52 And how did she become a Christian Science practitioner? I never know quite how it started.

12:00 But she was devoted to it.

12:05 And I think it was.

12:08 Gave her support and strength

12:14 Something to lean on

12:21 Tell me a little bit. I know one of the most important influences on your life was Cornell and going with one of the important influences on your life was Cornell and going there are in your bowel movement and you're talking about in the class poet. Maybe talk a little bit about that and how you've managed to stay involved with them to for so long.

12:44 Going to Cornell was

12:48 Almost accidental

12:52 On a Thursday morning. I remember was a Thursday my lifelong friend dad.

13:03 Mentioned a mated on Saturday.

13:08 He had heard that there were going to be examinations for scholarships to Cornell that the state of New York had a number of these took care of the tuition.

13:27 And he was planning to take it and why didn't I?

13:34 Take it with him.

13:37 Well, I was scheduled to play baseball on Saturday, but I decided to do it.

13:46 I need you to amination was overwhelming.

13:51 It was subjected.

13:55 I hadn't been exposed to any great extent for a long time. We had languages in the algebra and geometry and some history and my grades were appallingly low.

14:17 How was that was that I wrote that off so I could come a few months later. I got notified that I was awarded this scholarship to my

14:33 Amazement

14:35 And I found out subsequently that very few applicants it heard about this and that they were more scholarships than they were applicants. So did you just showed up and wrote your name? You were going to get a scholarship? That's how I got to Cornell.

14:54 It sounds like you were pretty involved while you were there though. I know you were very involved. At least I said it would sound like you were very involved while you were at school. And once you got there at Cornell, yeah, I guess I don't I guess everybody's involved involved as a student I was

15:24 On the Cornell Daily Sun. I played a little college basketball.

15:34 I already deleted my fraternity. How did you get to be class poet?

15:42 Well at the commencement time why they have various ceremonies and party things and somebody I don't know. I just a fact leave a sign these jobs and I used to write poetry for a column in Cornell Daily Sun and I suppose once again by default I got selected.

16:15 And

16:18 You remember you remember your favorite poem that you wrote about was it owed to I remember I wrote a old to Westhill. I don't remember whether he said I don't remember what that was all about. But I remember I wrote one little bit of verse that's about all I can recall on that subject.

16:43 And that verse went like this. I think it was directed at the Joey.

16:53 At the time who you mad at me was my love for you grows like a lascas deep snows.

17:05 My verse is quite terse a the Snows vice versa.

17:16 Great, and you met Shelly at Cornell. I guess that's also one of the reasons why it

17:28 Had

17:30 My initial emotion with respect and admiration and it blossomed as those things in the other affection she was a great leader on the kappas she was elected to all sorts of offices was probably the

17:52 Number one athlete shoes on the tennis team the track team the soccer team

18:01 And she was very much for the baseball team.

18:07 And look pretty good. So what?

18:13 Considerable persistence and I eventually wooed and won her over.

18:24 Moderate competition

18:28 And tell me what is it? What was it like being married to to one person for Edgewood 72 years 73 years and it so happens that where she alive and she passed away last August we would be celebrating today.

18:52 Her 98th birthday and our 74th wedding anniversary. Just amazing.

19:01 Maybe talk a little bit about you all week and heard of where are you? What was that? Like and where you guys I know you guys are both pretty strong-willed people stubborn. Someone's I know you have a competition to see who can more stubborn kind of mild people and I can recall Joey another long years of our association ever raising a voice.

19:33 And I

19:36 I think it's fair to say that Joey was.

19:42 Absolutely Fearless never nothing never suggested.

19:49 That she said I don't want to do it. It might be dangerous.

19:57 So we climb mountains together.

20:02 We are Leone.

20:07 Way

20:10 Took off traveled starting early on in our marriage. We drove out to Chicago for the Chicago World's Fair of 1933. And so Sally Rand to her.

20:31 Feather dance Richardson National sensation at the time

20:41 Restart we were living in Greenwich Village.

20:45 And

20:48 How do you say Joey? Why don't we go and see what the gaspe peninsula in eastern quebecers like

20:57 Oh, she thought that was a good idea.

21:01 And we had a

21:05 Little Chevrolet Roadster

21:08 And got in the Roadster and took off and got caught in one way traffic leading into the Holland Tunnel.

21:19 It should take us across the Hudson River the wrong way and couldn't get out of it was all jammed up for as long as itis in back of us. So we ended up by recall and Savannah Georgia said of the gaspe peninsula.

21:43 A joey as a young

21:47 Girl

21:49 Was in church with her mother.

21:53 And the minister was delivering in a Greenlee long-winded sermon.

22:02 I think she was about

22:05 Three or four the time

22:08 From what I've been told so she suddenly got up stood up in the pew.

22:16 Call you their finger the minister and proclaimed in a strong voice that man talks too much.

22:32 I suspect to the Delight of the congregation. Yeah, he probably stopped maybe you had one of them are older brother was in kindergarten and she didn't know what she was missing so she ran away to school and demanded his admission into kindig.

23:03 Let's talk a little bit about you started to touch on it about the other thing. That's run.

23:10 Through your life is the travel and maybe can we count a little bit of some of your more memorable trips? I know you've been to some places that anyway off-the-beaten-path. Can you talk a little bit about some of your best ones?

23:31 We have taken the number of trips.

23:38 Maybe talk about it. Think of a good starting point on this. Is it about a New Guinea where you were lovers later for strippers to take the kids to a comprehensive tour of the

23:54 British Isles

23:58 They were

24:01 Early teenagers xaracoll at the time

24:05 And we took off and rented a car right near Piccadilly Circus.

24:11 And the object of the trip was Hugo from Land's End on the south of England.

24:19 Did John o'groats at the extremely North End of Scotland?

24:25 Then do a comprehensive tour of whales and of Ireland.

24:32 Well, we never quite got the John o'groats because you're running well behind schedule.

24:40 But we

24:42 Did get the Lands End.

24:45 And we did see a good part of whales and then went over to Ireland.

24:53 And kiss the Blarney Stone and then down at the south end of Island in Cork.

25:02 Oh, we choose showed of a pleasant City and to my amazement found that they had palm trees there as they do have in Southern England, which many people don't realize.

25:15 Well, we drove East out of cork to a small town just as Taurus call you all y o u g h a l l and discovered that they were filming Moby Dick.

25:38 And they had a great big rubber whale out in.

25:44 Harbor and they'd rigged up the shore to look like New Bedford it was easier to do there and a lot of people in town were extras in the movies and the principal sport of the time was to wait for the actors to come in from shooting out in the bay.

26:13 And I will always remember.

26:16 I was standing there waiting for the Gregory Peck and various others to come in and there were three teenage girls back at me.

26:28 And Gregory came in.

26:31 And the first girl said it, isn't he handsome.

26:38 The second girl said wouldn't he make a great husband and the third girl said if only he was the Protestant talk about that. I love that story though about

27:01 When you were in New Guinea and I took a visit with Dale when you got her to take her top off and Denver, Colorado doing some work for a company out there and there was a travel agency right in a store or town that had in at window of a variety of New Guinea items to masks and arrows.

27:37 No, I can't remember all so I went in to see what it was all about. I've been reading about New Guinea and life in the trobriand and Woodloch Island switcher off to the east of the island of New Guinea and was run by there was a woman named hankinson who wander travel agency.

28:04 And she was obsessed with New Guinea.

28:10 And told me stories really stimulated me. So I said okay, I think let's go. Can you arrange for six of us to go should find would you give me a deposit on this? So I said sure?

28:35 I wrote a check for $700 and when I came back to Denver.

28:42 2 weeks later

28:44 The place was deserted.

28:48 She is closed shop and disappeared.

28:54 So I went through my regular travel agent in New York who is the world's champion elderly spinster named Sarah Marquess and told her the story and Sarah ball me out properly and see what happens when you mess around with another travelation.

29:16 Oh I said I want to see if you're any good Sarah. I know of anybody can book a hotel in London or buy an airline ticket to Chicago. What I want to do is Charter a boat and sail the sepik River from angoram to am 20 and I want some quick action.

29:43 A week later. Sarah calls me up said I have arranged with the teeth code heathcote Brothers in Hobart, Tasmania to meet you and I'm Gorham on July 19th at 10 a.m.

30:04 And we got there you and Joanne Curtis.

30:13 Anderson, NC

30:17 And

30:22 Now he's just saying we have 10 minutes left. So, okay, and we saw all sorts of little Villages and people running around without any clothes on and

30:39 Which kind of

30:44 Interesting, we pull up in front of some little village in New Guinea. I think it has more languages than any other place on Earth.

30:55 Depraved no written language Village in one town really can't talk. The same language is 110 miles away. So unbelievable.

31:06 So what you do, you pull up and Heath coach house boat. And the first thing that would happen is the little boys and come running out.

31:19 And the little girls would be hiding back as some bushes somewhere bursting with curiosity and then they screw up their courage and come running out.

31:30 And then the men would come out looking as important as possible and the mothers and wives was still hiding back in the bushes, but they wanted to curiosity overpowered everything else and they'd come out.

31:53 And Daughter Day.

32:00 Was right alongside me and one of the habits that I had developed which Goodwin was to carry a lot of lipsticks.

32:16 People Like Us lipsticks and before we took off for his many friends and neighbors as possible to look into their cabinets in all females over the age of 18 have at least five or lipsticks that they do not use but they will not throw away free. Should you accumulate 5200 lipstick?

32:46 So these guys came out?

32:48 And the women were out there, they didn't have any clothes on.

32:53 So I said Dale, will you please take off your blouse?

33:00 And she said do you know why I should worry I said, I'm your father and I think you should once in awhile do as you're told of what you're all the way over here. So she did.

33:11 And then I said Dale now when you take off your brassiere, so you're like the other women will she refused it that will I took a lipstick out and

33:24 Made a nice red circle around the center of her breast.

33:30 And gave some to the guys and said to use these to decorate your wife's press and ever since then we're referred to them as Nick sticks not lipsticks.

33:46 And the last thing I wanted to just talk a little bit. I didn't I remember you saying that your goal in life was to learn everything about everything and

33:56 I wanted to what's this major goal in life was to learn everything about everything. So I wanted to know how you're doing on that you feel like you're pretty far along or

34:07 Well, I've got a long way to go.

34:12 I figure

34:14 I don't have during a living anymore. So I have a lot of time to improve my mind and my knowledge and I made a calculation recently that if I could live another hundred and twenty-five to a hundred and fifty years I could get much closer to my goal.

34:40 I've got such a long way to go. Joey's told by my father and mother.

34:56 That it was important to add years to your life.

35:03 Rather than light the add life to your years rather than years to your life.

35:12 And is it lucked out? I?

35:17 Try to add life to my ears and somehow.

35:24 Avalara

35:26 Gets to my life, I guess also last thing is I've always been just amazed at how you were able to kind of put backs and take facts that a lot of people would come to certain conclusion and some people call you a contrarian, but just thinking able to turn to put facts together in to do in come out with different conclusions bad. How what time you think your your your mind works that enables you to do that?

35:58 You search for a route to Asia question, I think to a much greater extent than necessary that people.

36:09 Throughout the world are very cheap like in their behavior.

36:17 And they want to be part of a flock or a herd and as we were discussing.

36:26 Earlier today about the lung cancer and smoking and the one thing everybody know truly believes because of the huge quantity of words that have been thrown out them over the years that if you smoke to get lung cancer, and if you don't smoke, you don't get lung cancer without anything. It's just accepted and the fact of the matter is that if you smoke your chances of getting lung cancer are approximately 10% greater.

37:10 Then if you didn't smoke.

37:13 And of course has been no example of anybody ever having that Health affected by so-called second-hand smoke.

37:25 And what knife came around Believing on that very popular subject is it there are some 200 different forms of Cam and one of the very few.

37:42 Maybe the only one in which the cause is known. Is that smoke?

37:51 Does have an adverse effect on your lung?

37:56 But the cause of pancreatic cancer bone cancer breast cancer.

38:05 And on and on and I are completely unknown to the medical profession much less any ability to cure so that if you only know the cause of one or the probable cause of one, that's the one that you hear about.

38:22 And I've never had a bigger sleeve 273 years and far as I know. I don't even have lung cancer.

38:42 Now that's contrarian.

38:45 Sobia trying to make is contrary and it just not being just like a wildebeest in a large herd. People just don't want to look at the facts.

39:02 All right. Is there any any last words that you like to impart?

39:08 Wisdom more either one. Does it have to be?

39:15 Well

39:18 I think probably very few of your

39:25 People end up with a joke

39:30 True true self. I don't see any reason why I shouldn't end up with my favorite current joke.

39:40 You will recall in the early 1970s.

39:45 Nixon said Henry Kissinger to China.

39:52 2

39:54 Get to know Chairman Mao a little bit.

39:58 And see what the Godless atheist Communists were up to and see if there should be an opening.

40:07 Mouth course like every one of our political

40:15 Anime use your fears.

40:20 Hitler said damn Osama Mussolini, etc. Etc. Etc. Uranians, Kim and North Korea get so many bad fresh to impossible to read anything good about him and most of these people I think I personally quite attractive and interesting and Mel really accomplished a great deal. I think he had at least it's difficult job getting China going is George Washington had here.

40:53 Well, they get along very well together.

40:57 Environ 1-day Kissinger

41:01 I said Misty chairman. Do you here in China go in for what ifs?

41:09 And now is puzzled by this and he said I don't quite understand.

41:16 Jesse's real I'll give you an example. What if Kennedy had not been assassinated?

41:25 But Crush of had been assassinated.

41:29 What difference would it have made?

41:33 Mouse or a minute and said I don't believe that Aristotle Onassis would have married Mrs. Crucia.

41:48 The good ending. Alright. Thanks.