Margaret Woods and Jeff Rousell

Recorded July 10, 2006 Archived July 10, 2006 01:21:25
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX001592


Woman is interviewed by her grandson about growing up in St. Regis Falls, her family, meeting her husband and driving across the country, loss of her husband and son, and life now.

Subject Log / Time Code

when husband got to Bremerton he was warned that the job was dangerous and asked to transfer to Portland, OR (used “my weife doesn’t like it here” as an excuse)
Songs she used to sing to Jeff--sings one


  • Margaret Woods
  • Jeff Rousell


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00:03 My name is Jeff Russo. I'm 33 years old today is June 10th 2006 to Monday. We're in Canton New York, and I'm here to interview my grandmother.

00:16 My name is Margaret woods, and I'm 90 years old and today's date is July 10th, and I'm over here in Canton and I'm sort of Grandmother go to Jeffrey. Maybe I'd like to start by talking about when you were born your family and growing up during the Depression that you want me to starve. You know, how I go. Well, I was born in Saint Regis Falls a little tiny town and farther north than this and my parents were the James Burrell ski and Cornelia McCammon, my father was polish, but he was born in the United States and that sometimes

01:16 That could even be a problem to me because there was a nasty awful mean little boy that lived on my way to school and he would run out and say go home Pollock go home and it really made me feel.

01:33 It made me feel very upset and so on but I think it had a good thing a good influence on me. And the fact that As I Grew Older I always referred in my head back to that kind of thing. And I always thought people were equal regardless of his condition. They were in in Solon or what race or anything now was what was the next thing? I was supposed to Growing Up. Did you have any favorite relatives? I did I had had an uncle my father's brother lot younger than my father and he used to come and visit us and he always gave us money. Will you want to realize this is back in the early 1920s and the money was a big thing. And I remember one time he gave me $5 that have course. My sister was quite a lot older and he gave her 20 and

02:33 You couldn't really believe anything like that. But he was really my favorite. What was $5 what can $5 buy anything? I mean, it would buy clothes like an outfit and a lot of times I take my money and there was a a store in town and a little store that sold clothes and so on and I would go in there and I'd buy two to three items all on my own and and I really enjoyed that. Hello what's wrong with my father? My father was a very quiet person. He never did much of any talking and not my mother was not quite five foot tall and weighed weigh under a hundred pounds, and she was the boss and my phone.

03:33 I would say we'd ask him anything. He said go ask Rd. Her name was Cordelia go ask party, but then if I got a little older be ran into the depression along about the late twenties, and now I'm actually started in about 27 and my father of the company that he work for closes down out completely so he had to go hunting around for other jobs, and he finally finally found one in Syracuse in transportation was such a problem so we didn't see him too often. I mean he'd come up for holidays. And so I'll let you know in those days. You couldn't afford to do anything more or that must have been difficult on your mother to raise all those children all by herself. It was but they would we were all awful good kids except brother who was next older than me.

04:33 He was so what we always Define him as the first TN teacher he was he was entirely different from all the rest of the family. We thought there must have been somebody in the background that he had was that he was being like and it was really it was really fun to see and know so we were we were of good we got along well and now by being honest and if we wanted to say something to her brother to sister whether they wanted to hear it or not, we told them then they accepted that night was the and so we never had much of anything fighting among the kids and certainly none with my parents cuz when my mother said that you know, she meant know when we know it's oh so that was, now it is

05:33 I think so seems like it to me. You were telling me a story earlier that with your sister Mona and it was a cute story about getting new clothes, LOL. Yes. I I know what you're referring to. Well, I was about to two and a half years about 2 and 1/2 years old and my mother was an excellent sleep Street seamstress she done at she'd learned some of that in Michigan before they moved in the New York and she did a very good job of sewing and she made me this little outfit out of Oregon. It was a little blue dress and me and not that I don't mean Oregon D. I mean the kind that wrinkly cloth and it would stick up like this and then she made me some little under panties to go with it and they had bands on him. That was a style. So Moana takes me at to Moana takes me to a

06:33 Downtown someplace he'd go to talk with us and there were boys and girls are in so long and I got bored waiting for her. So I had to have something to say so I said, they're not to look at pot. Mommy just made me and I pulled my dress way up almost over to my head. Well Moana was so embarrassed. She grabbed me by the hand and we started from the Moana was 11 years old and we were the best friend. She always looked after me and and later on she moved in with me when she said she was almost like a second mother to just like the second mother. Yeah. So what kind of student are you and did you like school as I was very very fond of it and we lived on a street that was a well-liked if you may have seen it a Backstreet flight, and I'm so in the winter.

07:33 They didn't fly over there. So I would get up in the morning in the street is full of snow and mom would say you couldn't go to school today or I have to I'd say she never could talk for you cuz I was going to be at school everyday and I was a really good student. Tell Pat myself on the back and I got along off we will with the teacher and they deny we used to do things like oou. No cleaning off the Blackboard and not kind of junk and it has it was a wedding and then as I got older ADEA School burnt and we had to be where we were taught and all different places. I had to go. I went to a Baptist Church and it just so happens that I was in the fourth grade and I had to teach her Lomira girl and teaching 5th grade was her sister Laura live here and they were two of the best nicest teachers you ever had.

08:33 And of course the two of them there to see if they could do things that you might not know that you were someplace else because we were just the two of us in that church basement the two and I really love that and I did very well and not then when I hate grade, of course, I had I took a couple of high school subjects of some kind of algebra. I not the regular Carson and something else and not then I I could see like what I got in school that I could do a lot more than what they assign and soul in the in the second year and the third year. I doubled up on other subject. So I graduated in three years instead of 4 and I was the valedictorian which made me terribly proud. I am very proud that something worth being proud about if you could tell me how you met your husband.

09:33 Oh how I met him. Well, I'm down on the corner. There was a family there that that we all play together and be together and we stand there and talk and so on and so he came along one night and started talking and he acted terribly shy I don't know how he pretended that because he didn't turn out to be I had enough saw what he but he didn't ask me to call out or anything and so every night when we got to go down there to play he'd be there. So finally, he got up courage one night to ask me if I would go for a walk and I said sure and so that's how we started going for walks in that program rest. And what was his name his name was Google and it was his last name. His name was woods and he and have a story.

10:33 About that his his grandparents were not refugees that came from Canada. Very very many people around Saint Regis Falls had Canadian backgrounds, but they were French. It was all French Canadian and all those Grandpa. Well his grandmother could hardly say a word in English for grandfather could do a little better, but their name was Charlevoix, and of course people couldn't be bothered with that that was too difficult and name. So in the next few years between them and the Next Generation it turned into Woods at which of course it really did Me shows Woods or well because it would so far and so it was so that was fought to they took that part of the name.

11:32 You tell a great story about moving West with Michael are the little boy he saw about 11 months old and we're sitting and I'm sitting in the car cuz he's going to go in the store and find a bigger place of a crib for Michael. He's been Michael Bennett being a small crib and he was growing awful fast. He was a big boy big child so he can learn in Latin. I was used to this, you know being left in the car with Michael and he would go and talk and I always say that it will know that he talked and talked and talked anyway, and so I'm sitting there and I'm not kidding you about an hour went by and here it is in Michael is Raising Cane, you know.

12:32 All comes and he crosses his arms Nelons on the windowsill and he puts his head in and he says to me, how would you like to go to Bremerton Washington? And I said what he said. Well, how would you like to go to Bremerton Washington? I said sure I'd like to call cuz I was always willing to go any place and so he said we'll okay, I'll go in and tell them because there were two might he was working for Alcoa Inn Alcoa that the war was changing to the West Coast. What does Japanese and so will I even though Alcoa still had you see like if you work for a job like that, it was really doing that. You couldn't just move any place you want it or just quit you would if you work for avocado, will you wear it for our call? Because it was important for the war effort exactly. And so well.

13:29 The day you so they told us that said well, I can't go west, you know, but I talked to them about that. I don't can't go west because I'm working for Alcoa and I said, yes, but what we can do if we can overcome right over this bequest. So we said okay, he said okay and so they gave us that was when gasoline had you have to have tickets to get a you know, and they gave us a huge supply we went home and we said well we got to get rid of stuff in the Suwannee for going to pack up to going away. And so and then when I told him home about it just off all I want to go. Can you wait I'll be done working in 2 weeks. Can you wait that long will I guess so I said, I don't think it's anything so it's so she got ready and we got ready.

14:29 And we can take just so much stuff of course. And so we know what we were in the car. We had it was a coupe. They called it and it didn't have a back seat. It didn't have a rumble seat what they call it had a cabin a place where you put drunk. So here we are with hola he weighed over 200 pounds Moana me and Michael so we sold well we're tough well car start we started out and we dragged down to New York and we went through the corner of Pennsylvania. And then by the time we got the Ohio early than Crobat driving about it all the time. There's too much junk in the car. That doesn't want to move too much junk in the car. We're going to have an accident so

15:29 He thought we got they said okay take stuff out. So we took out a lot of our clothes and he mailed them to the post office in Seattle the money and was that a bold decision at the time? Yes. Well anyway, so there in Stampede weight. He hadn't told him to mail them to Seattle. And so so we continued on our journey and we went to the laughter, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, then when you cross the the river until the West you will miss or sorry. I think it was well, I'll tell you the West was absolutely a different country from the East absolute and how so well-liked say for instance. They had different food different vegetables. We've never seen them like that before I have

16:29 Especially the celery cuz I always respond to celery and it was a very we had these little packages that were about 12in long and they were all peeled off your knowledge. And then there when you got there you, you bought a big bag that was about 200 more than two feet long and the cops were all in it. And it was green with the nice Center in it. Well that was one of the things and so many things we wanted to eat would be different and the whole attitude like was a lot more relaxed in the west that was in the East and Carson God's wife to remember that we were from the top pit of old and you know, so we drove along and everything we see that we wanted to see will you stop and go into what?

17:29 The cash tickets weedeated will they weren't tickets, you know, they were rough for rug making an edible to buy gas. Right? And so and then when we went down and there's all these things down along like a New Mexico and we've I can remember being in the in the city there where the bomb was built and we were through there before the bomb and now we went down to there and then we went down into Arizona and will first Oklahoma and then into Arizona and all of these things had things we'd heard about, you know, like the rivers that were so big and I pools and so on and and the great mountains which there were I mean Adirondacks, could you were just a blink of the eye?

18:29 I saw you weren't kidding around about rude to Washington as soon as we might just as well do what you know, and so we saw the Grand Canyon we got out of the car and stood on the edge and all of the things we we we we saw you know, where was there any apprehension in making the decision to root up a baby and Pile in the front not a car ever then whatever we knew we'd take care of him. And and or Savannah was going to be yelling and she was a real caretaker. She had been a nanny to you know it so she's told me to leave real early. So then we crossed over eventually we crossed over into California and we went over to the edge.

19:29 Los Angeles but it looked too overpowering and so we came up and we went to Sacramento and we went to the place where you drive through the old tree, you know, and we saw those trees were hundreds of years old. Then we went farther over to the to the west and went up with who I forgot to say, we've crossed United States. We went on Route 66 66 on the way up and we had a lot of fun and then we got up to Washington. So I went over to Bremerton where the job was and all the men that he talked to the pet. Don't take a job here unless you have to it's so dangerous and said you're working down with your

20:29 In water working on ships and so on and he said we wouldn't do it only we signed up now and if you haven't signed up, so he went back over to the face with a fat, you know, the fat book office for Roxbury had to report and he said we don't like it here and she said the lot and he said that my wife doesn't like it here.

20:57 Have you gone to work know? Where would you like to go? My car sent this makes me laugh? Cuz Earl never got my wife only came in handy. Where would you like to go? My wife light blue look so Portland, Oregon to Portland seeing you haven't seen yet. I will give you a transfer. So we went down and of course our money is getting lower than we like. That's we've been staying in motels and so on so we got hunting for a place to stay. Well, of course, it made me think of a of Cena when they built the Seaway there was no place no place no place to live. So many people were in they had this all these thousands and thousands of people for their jobs because the war was now on the west coast and all of the business was are making ships and that kind of thing.

21:55 So anyway, that was over we looked at two or three places and everything was Fuller up so he didn't like it and and then the people best kept telling us about Vanport. You don't wanna go there they'd say you won't want to go there. So we thought well and that we need a place to stay so we'll go over and look if it's as bad as people tell us it is. So we went over and hair is this the display at this sad place that is a half a mile wide and about not quite a mile long and there are forty-three thousand people pooped up in that world and there were all the houses were all the same there were six on the ground and sticks up above and then each and was an end apartment and now so you didn't have anybody up over your head and I was so we went to a so he went down to 200 in there, too.

22:55 See about getting a place to live and so they said where do you work and girl says I don't work any place yet. I got to find a place to live first and they said no you can come and work for us. And he said what would I do all electricity or so and so and so far he says I don't know anything about it. At least a second that doesn't make it any different if he'll show you what it was a great need for labor. And so that's what we moved in and then Port when did you know that you and you came home at some point? When did you know that you want to come home and Messina all well, I never really wanted to come home until the day we were going on a vacation trip puppet. We were going up to Canada and what we said we want to stop and see Ben for it to arrive in the name of the place again and see if it's as bad as we thought it was.

23:55 You had to go on a little boat to get over to Bremerton. And where's that we're sitting in this car looking up and we look out and there's a sign and it's got in 6 inch letters. It says a bomb. Well, we ain't had no idea what that meant. But we continued our vacation and then we came back and went in and said we're going home. Oh, no, you can't do that. But yes, I'm going to that he said but we don't let this things are going down and we're and they said something about will will give you a better job and I'm not interested in a better job that will make you the day manager. I'm not interested in being the day manager. We're going home. You know who I'm the atomic bomb was dropped that was so we came home and we did the same.

24:55 Going home North's we did throwing stuff down the South we went to Olive Hill and we went up when we tried to go to all the places that work at the capital cities of the places in sewing Michaels. Just beginning to talk. Well, he's two years old almost get so pissed after a while. He said we going to see a capital thing. Like we like to see a capital singing and one day we had even one of these awful I was weak restaurants. It was terrible and it was a we wouldn't didn't want either but there wasn't any place else and so can Michael starts waving his hands around and he sent jersey size dirty size 430 flight. He was a kid that must have went over really well. So you come back to Messina and Earl starts working for Alcoa.

25:55 And how did he move on to the trailer business? He could spend it with one job. He had to be doing two or three so he had been and he'd been in the habit of buying old cars and fixing them up and selling them in Middle making a profit of course and then he started there were could hardly buy a new trailer. They were available then went by the time we came back but not very much and so he by somebody is going to leave here. And so he going by there a trailer fix it up and sell it will pretty soon. He's doing so much of that. Did he hates to go to work over Alcoa because this is easier and there was great need for House housing all definitely definitely got a trailer for sale at least somebody was there. In fact that used to come and ask us if our own was for sale at we were living in and so he he such as well as the soul.

26:55 So well, if you text if you want to if it if you don't he says do you care if I don't go to back to Alcoa in the time, you know where they were on about 6 weeks. I don't care do what you want to so he went into the used trailer business. Well, we did that for about a year or so and then he ran into a friend of ours that had had the hotel in Saint Regis Falls and he was a friend of Earl and he said the little you know, you're foolish to spend your time selling used trailers. What you need to do is see new trailers you get a license, but you can let me have new trailers and how would I get that you said will you go to Michigan and you see a compass a bunch of trailers in the yard you wrap up their door and say I'd like to be your dealer and they'll take off all good. What do you want?

27:55 Did just about that same thing and and and so on and then it just so happened that the you had to get a license for cars and they demand was a license we'd known for years and he was a friend of and then he so he said oh, well, it's no problem. I'll just wait you out one so they wrote me out of state license. And so we started this we got going in the trailer pissed and and it was we were in it for a couple of years and then it was just the right time because I began to talk about the Seaway and like in 54 some of the people came in and told us that they were there like they were the engineers and so I'm looking older they work and then it from then on from the for the next two about four years. It was a business was terrific. I mean just you couldn't handle it.

28:55 We would do you know where you could sell it and it we had what we had 13 people working for us and was really good salesman. He was a born salesman. I mean if anybody wanted to talk about buying a trailer he was there to talk it might be at 10 at night, but that didn't make one bit of difference to him. And so we did a rousing good business, but then it went down when I level call you a little and so on and then and Michael died in 1966 and early fell apart Michael died from cancer at a young age 23. He had Ewing sarcoma, and he was so treated in Buffalo at the Roswell a fact when they told us about Italy.

29:55 Ask him if we could get in Roswell in the man nut in Syracuse sexual just so happens. He's one of my best friends. So we went home and it was sort of it was that was on a Thursday night. I remember so well and fun day and evening late the postmaster called me and he said I got a letter here. I think you want and he said can you come down after it nice and will I don't drive I'll see if I can find him. He says, yes, you do that all wait here cuz I think it's important so that went down to get it and it was a it was a in the invitation to be there. This is Monday night then invitation to be there Thursday morning.

30:41 So we got ready and we went down on we drove down on Wednesday or Tuesday to get ready to go down on Wednesday Thursday morning. We took him over to Roswell and so they entered a man and they said well, they'd have to keep him for a while and we might as well go home and be about 3-4 days anyway, so that began our trips to Buffalo for the next 3 years and no and no we go up. We always practically always wind up at least twice a week and sometimes we did what we always go back and forth three times. Just don't keep track. Well, well after he'd been there awhile and they'd given him some of those treatments that gets bought something new came along and and Michael heard about it. If he was a great friend of the sky had them they said they were going to start up project.

31:41 Giving this drug to six people had never been done to pick out any person before they were going to pick out six people. So Michael, so I want of you one of them. That's a no you can't I want to be one of them. You can't you're too young. They said we can't risk that we don't know what will happen to that girl, and he said but I want to okay one of those. This was a great friend agency said, okay, you can do what so in middle of January moved into apartment across the road from the hospital and started that was going to be six months he had to live there. So we would go back and forth all the time when we go up sometimes and stay overnight with in his apartment quite often.

32:29 It was very hard. Well after solo Michael's death you instead of a pretty heart effect on your husband even harder then after Michael died. My husband couldn't handle it. I mean at he just fell apart on the business and not went down hell I did as much as I could but he would say he wouldn't go in sometimes till 4 in the afternoon and then he thought we were we were you cognizant of that at the time y'all not really not really and he went to that they hate he went to the doctors and they say well if there is anything the matter with you, you're not take you Justin feeling bad since you're upset and so on so he went to three times so doctors around Massena, and then he said well, I'm going to Montreal so we went to the doctor's office.

33:29 Turn up in Montreal in the doctor said well, I hate to tell you this but you got cancer.

33:36 So he came back home and we treat he got treated it was you know, then then he died in 1974 years wasn't quite four years more like three years after 9, So you lost your only son Michael my mother. I mean time then then and then the woman I hate was antwood brought him out because his mother had been had a falling off of the porch and died, but when he was born before he was born and so they just kept him going and so on and so there I am it's so I'm alone except like the next year Ramona Cuts feed her job is done and she comes to live with me but the Moana comes to live with you in and you guys have lived together ever since and we never had a fight.

34:36 Are you my family because we remember you are not fights but disagreements. Yes, we disagreed know about being terribly interesting seeing you two disagree you think so hope yes. Yes. She had her realized yesterday. I had mine and you would mention earlier that maybe one of the reasons that you were so close that you said what you felt you you didn't hold anything back. That's right, because in our family we always said what and so if I said to her yesterday, I'd be glad to have you come and live with me. She knew that I would be glad to have seen what she wasn't imposing and we had a good good time together really it was a lot better than having been alone. And then you see that's what I got when I got really Goin In

35:29 But where do I want to say in the church doing everything everything? I worked on the Saint Vincent De Paul. They had six members and I got them up to about 18 on the senior citizens and I found out like that people don't want to volunteer in anything that's going to commit themselves something you see that's the way I wanted to work. And so then I got involved with one of the first things was it then his wife called me and said I want you to run to pay for Parish Council and I don't know anything about that and she says well most of us don't it's a new thing.

36:17 So so I ran for Peppers counseling course everybody in Massena New one with the problems we've had because we're in business and I'll go Terry Gannon. Michael hadn't been you know, and Michael used to go downtown and sit on the steps of the of the town hall and tell him what was wrong and I have a few minutes left. One of my favorite memories growing up is you and Maya Mona singing a song that bedtime. Oh, yeah. Oh well, let me see now last night when I was stuck in bed such fun. It was for me. I dream that I was Grandpa and Grandpa towards me I dream by War a powdered wig knee pants and Gators birth and without a single sneeze a double pen.

37:17 Just now and after t i wash his face. And when is Predators were sad? I blew the candle out and left poor grandpa in that's one that was one of my favorites. That was one of Michael's favorites. He used to sing at himself for grandpa. So yeah. Well we did that is in fact, we had done it for years as a family and even when the Hue was still home and we'd sit around and we all had rocking chairs and we would rock and and sing those entertainment no television, you know, so that was a lot of fun and and we really enjoyed it. We enjoyed each other a great deal and

38:12 And I enjoyed my mother and she was frisky and when she was when she said anything it meant it's okay if we go and ask pop or something and he take your mother ask Gordon. He called her ask party as if she was the boss of the family. She was the boss. Yes. Well, can you think of any other items I've curious if you had to say something to my children are my children's children that might listen to this in a number of years. Is there anything you might tell them? Well, I tell him they were lucky to be in such a good family to have such a good father and such a wonderful mother. She was told people look at that wedding and people couldn't believe like that. She'd go around and see and hear sneeze three kids. Then the little boy than my little boy came out have to tell you about that.

39:12 Anna and the and never once did we have to borrow them out for anything in so long and I end your wife cheated so going to be so Jen and Pat Boyle Teddy course, I suppose she could be otherwise. But anyway, they minded yeah now let me see why there any advice from your life life For Love or be cheerful. You don't let things you know, mow you down you have to you have to you know, don't give Ian I guess that's what I really do meme saying life is interesting. I find it extremely interested, even though I am 90 years old and I'm supposed to be, you know, if bus stop in the closet someplace. I find everyday interesting and and I I read a lot keep up with different subjects.

40:12 Cook I cook my own meals and I do my own laundry and then somebody else comes in to clean it is as if it's at the end, thank you very much. This has been very fun for me. Well, it's been a lot of fun for me. I couldn't imagine this when you mentioned it to me. I love you both. Thank you. It's the same here as well.