Lois Bass, Peggy Bass Bridges, and Cindy Bass Emery

Recorded October 17, 2010 Archived October 17, 2010 37:27 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX007302


Lois P. Bass, 85, is interviewed by her daughters Peggy Bass Bridges, 57, and Cindy Bass Emery, 59, about her life growing up and about how she met her husband.

Subject Log / Time Code

Lois always knew she was adopted but one day snooping around she found her adoption papers which revealed the circumstances of her adoption: her birth father had committed suicide.
When she was a child Lois says that she “was probably about as mean as they come.”
She attended the same high school as her biological brother and sister whom she got to know and stayed in touch until they passed away, though they never felt like family.
She met her husband while she was training to become a nurse and his younger brother was setting him up on a date while he was on leave from the navy.
For some reason they broke up and she later got engaged to an old high school boyfriend.
The most fun time she remembers having was horseback riding with her daughters and husband.


  • Lois Bass
  • Peggy Bass Bridges
  • Cindy Bass Emery


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00:03 My name is Peggy bass Bridges. I'm 57 years old. And it's October 17th, 2010, where Knoxville Tennessee, and I'm here with my sister, Cindy and Mama.

00:16 My name is Cindy bass Emery.

00:19 I'm 59 years old. I'm here with my mother and my sister and our brother is Richard bass. He is 61 years old. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland and he is not here with us today.

00:40 My name is Lois bass. My age is 85. This is October, 17th, 2010 in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I'm here with my two, daughters Peggy and Cindy and Richard is not yet 61.

00:58 You'll be 61 in January and February, okay?

01:07 Hey, Mom.

01:09 Where were you, born? And when I was born in Orange County, New York State? I don't know the name. I know the area that this entity and there's two or three little towns, but I don't know which one. I was born in and October 4th, 1925. I was a third child of the family. Were you born in a hospital that up. I don't know. I've never known exactly where I was born and you know, the reason why I don't know.

01:38 Because you were adopted. I was adopted when I was.

01:45 About 3 months old, I think was the final adoption. And I remember when I was about 9 or 10.

01:57 I'm not sure, exactly, but I could read. I was snooping around somewhere. I'm sure where I wasn't supposed to be. Then I found my adoption papers. I knew that I was adopted. I've always known that from my mother must have start telling me from day one cuz I don't ever remember being talked. But I don't remember any. I mean, I was never told any circumstances till I found those papers and it said that my father my birth father had committed suicide when I was, I don't know, 3 or 4 weeks old. He hung himself. I read that. And that's why her family. I was the youngest of three and her family urged her. To let me be adopted. I remember a story about Nana saw your birth mother and you were in The Carriage. Yeah. Mother told me, you know, I mean not my birth mother, she never called her mother. But anyway,

02:57 You told me that she knew my birth mother distantly and she was walking down the sidewalk one day and I ran into her and she had me in the baby carriage and she you know, talked about me and mother said, she only had one child and she couldn't have anymore and she said, if that was a little girl, I'd love to adopt her love, love to have her and had my birth mother said, well, it is a little girl. Apparently, I was listed as I was named apparently for my father, my mother. His name is Luis. And her name is Anna. So I was named Louis and

03:36 And I think somehow got mixed up and mother thought I was a boy. But anyhow, she said I was a girl so it started going from there.

03:45 And about, I wasn't quite a month old. I think she said I was about 3 weeks old and in

03:52 Maybe.

03:54 Oh, maybe three months. The adoption was Final and I was really impressed at the time. Course. It didn't I was on your kid didn't mean anything to me. But now I still have those papers and there were four of them and it was very professional and very legally done. There was one was the application for adoption and 2.

04:18 Investigation of the people who wanted to adopt me.

04:24 The results by the investigator I think. And then the final decree that I could be adopt. Did you tell Nana when you found those papers? Well at the time, that's so mixed up. No, I didn't tell her. I told my grandmother.

04:42 Because by that time, like I said, I was probably nine or ten. My parents had divorced, and I was living in this little tiny village with my grandmother. My father's mother. And I told her that I had said, I was like, I said, I was snooping around some and her her belongings, and I told her that I had found them, and I read them. And I remember, she got upset with me.

05:10 And I realized later that it wasn't because I had found them. I think it was because in there it said about my father committing suicide and I think they wanted to tell me in their own way as when I thought I could understand it. I think that's why she was upset. So Nana already had a child, your brother Tom, He was 5 years old and apparently she couldn't have any more when she was a little girl and she was married to Granddad and then they divorced. When I was about seven. Yeah, they divorced and I went to live with his mother. My grandmother and Tom went to live with an aunt.

05:50 Mother mother didn't keep it 100.

05:55 No wonder, she didn't like us or love us, but she had to go to work and support herself, and it was just easier if she can know. That was probably pretty common back then I guess, I don't know, but then she she married pop. She married and moved to Knoxville. Well, they lived in Long Island for a while. Yeah, and I went to live with an 1 and 1/2 a year and went to school, but that didn't work out too. Well, so I had to go back to living with my grandmother. So if you had to go back and live with your grandmother, will you a willful child?

06:37 Was I apply willful? We like to know a bit about your childhood growing up. I was probably about as many as I could probably mean I did what I was told but I don't know why I like being my own doing my own thing to it. What was it? Like when you're grown up at that point you were living with your grandmother. And then Granddad, who was

07:04 Nana's. First husband.

07:06 Yeah, he didn't later, married faith, and then they, you all four live together right now and then

07:14 Let's say they got married and they had a little boy, dami. And then, but that time, I was thirteen and we lived in this little Country Village my grandmother, and this Village 10 about

07:31 25 houses in it and maybe fifty sixty people, that was all. And when I was 13 14, I had to go 5 miles into Middletown to high school, and by that time, they didn't want my grandmother to be left alone, all day long while I was gone to school there. So I don't remember all the details, then how the house was remodeled and we all live together then. In that same house, which I think is the same house. My father was born in. I think it's that when you met your birth family, when I was in high school, how did that happen? Well, I knew about them. Like I said, it's something I've known. I don't even remember. Being told it's something I've known all my life and I knew their names and I knew where they lived. I knew who they were, but I have never seen the, I just knew of them. And when I got the high school, I came from this little town here and they came from this little town over here. And we all

08:30 Went to this larger larger City of Middletown, High School was and I knew their names and I happened to being in a class with Ralph. I think my brother and I remember going home and telling my father, that I knew exactly who he was, because we looked a lot of like, we did it at that time.

08:52 Myself in this birth brother. His name is Ralph.

08:57 And my sister. Her name is Dottie. She was a senior and I didn't look that much like her. But I did look like Ralph, but you kept in touch with them all the years until they're passing just recently. He passed and then Ralph was several years ago, but you kept in touch with them all those years back even back? Then I remember going to spend a weekend with them. That was the first time I had met

09:23 Physically met my birth mother. Like I said, I knew who I knew the name. I knew all about it, but I've never seen or met her. And I did go spend the weekend with him.

09:32 And I guess it sounds kind of

09:36 Weird, but I never felt that ever felt like family to them. I mean, I guess that's understandable. Because I was only an Indian know him that well, so when you were growing up, did you have what were your expectations of you as growing up? As far as did you have, you don't have a lot of money you would said before and you had no, I mean, I don't, we weren't for. I always had, you know, plenty to eat and clothes but I knew I just assumed that we didn't have a much and in those days kids didn't ask certain questions and I would never have asked my father. How much money he had. You don't mind asking me that today, but it wasn't done in those days. I didn't ask him. I wasn't told, I just didn't think we had a whole lot of money. That's all expectations. And remember you told us of certain chores you had to do is

10:36 Forest.

10:42 Getting the milk every morning and head to the room clean. I had to do my own lawn wash out my own clothes and course. I was older. But this time I didn't do it when I was little but I was older. When I was 12 13 14.

10:56 And,

10:57 Like I said, we lived in this little Country Village & up here about.

11:04 Well, now back then it seemed like it was 10 miles away, but it's probably only about a half a mile to this Farm. I had to walk up there every day or two with a pail and get the milk.

11:16 I read the paper not too long ago about a lot of people are trying to bring back raw milk. No, that's what I grew up on raw milk right out of the cow.

11:24 Anyway, I had to do that and then I remember getting a bicycle Red Bicycle. I love that thing. That was my wheels that I could ride my bike to get the milk. So that's what I did.

11:37 So when did you graduate from high school when you were 18 year about 18, 19?

11:45 Well.

11:47 43.

11:51 I was born in 25. So, what's that 18? So what you do after graduation?

11:57 Bubble that time.

12:01 A mother, you don't Nana and pop had moved down here from Long Island. They had moved down to Knoxville, and I had come down in the Summers for about 2 or 3 weeks during the summer to stay with them. And then I go back up to New York. So after I graduated from high school face, and I went into New York City.

12:25 To hospital.

12:30 Okay, you went to a hospital where I wanted to become at where I want to be a student nurse and I was accepted in that hospital and I was supposed to go into training in September.

12:43 But in the meantime, I came down here for the summer while didn't stay the whole summer. I stay probably about 2 or 3 weeks and Mother start talkin to me. Why don't you go into training here at St. Mary's?

12:55 So she went with me. St. Marys and I interviewed with the sister out there and I was accepted there, accepted into hospital. Did you come? You came down here where I'm sorry? You said you were before you were starting at that other Hospital you decided to come down to Knoxville to know. That's because my mother and stepfather had already moved down here and I came down in the Summers.

13:26 You'll stay with him two or three weeks, and then I go back up to New York for the rest of the year. So, then after I graduated, I came down for the summer and mother talked me into going to training here at St. Mary's. So, that's what I did. And what was that? Like,

13:43 Well, it was a

13:47 It was interesting. I mean, I enjoyed it. I lived in the nurses, dormitory at the end of Oak Hill Avenue, you know, right up by Saint Mary's Hospital. I lived there and

14:02 Well, just trying to be a nurse that you live there, full-time. And then

14:07 Until you permanently Knoxville. At that point. Or did you go back to New York at all? Know. I was, I was here to stay by that time. Yeah, and you met dad while you were in nursing school. Tell us about how you met that. How I met Daddy.

14:22 Well.

14:24 I remember.

14:26 For five of us student nurses.

14:30 Walk down the hill.

14:33 Went down to Broadway. When we're coming back, up the hill. We stopped in front of this house because we heard a piano playing. And you know, how young 18, 19 years old. We were out dancing and carrying on out in the street. And the guy who was playing the piano was Joe Kenneth. He came out on the porch and he started talking to us told us who he was. He was just a young boy, just like us and we told him our names and told him we were in nurses training up to top of the hill, right? Up from his house.

15:04 And I don't know why don't remember everything, but I just know we talked to him. Well.

15:10 Sometime later.

15:14 Did the phone rang and the nurses in the nurses dormitory and somebody called, whoever answered the phone call for Helen Collins and Collins was on duty. She wouldn't there. Okay, if I was probably there, no, I was there. So I went to the phone and it was Joe Kenneth and he had his big brother was home on leave from the Navy and he was trying to get him a date. Would I go out with him? So I said well, yeah, I didn't have anything else to do and I said yeah, I will so I went out and jokes Joe went with us we went out for dinner. And where did you go?

15:48 We would some restaurant somewhere.

15:52 I don't think it's even in existence anymore.

15:55 And Joe went with us. And I remember, I liked him. I like both of them and then gradually, when he come home and Daddy come home on leave. He called me. We go out some more. So that's about how it started.

16:10 What about the first time you saw dudes, brother. The first time I saw?

16:23 How old was I? I was probably about 19 by then and he will, he was two years older, so he must have been 21.

16:31 Very, very nice looking. I don't know what you all thought about daddy, but I thought he was a very, very nice looking man, young man. And he was very polite, funny witty. I really enjoyed being with him. I really did we laughed and cut up and carried on just like young kids do.

16:53 And he was how about two years older, right? He was. He was 21, and he was in the service. But you dated, while he was in the Navy, he was in the Navy. Yeah. Yeah. He was an Ensign in the Navy and

17:11 So, we dated for probably a year or year-and-a-half off and on and we rode correspondent and then this, I don't honestly remember, but some, for some reason we broke up. I don't know why. I don't remember why.

17:28 But I do remember.

17:31 In that period of time. I used to go back up to New York on vacation or around Christmas time. And I remember after Daddy and I broke up, I went up there and ran into this old boyfriend. I had when I was in high school, and I've known him for 45 years.

17:49 And we went out a couple of times and then I came back down here and he calls me.

17:55 And I talked to him and I went back up there and got engaged to him.

18:01 I did came back down here with the diamond ring on my finger.

18:07 Who is this, boy? I didn't know him. Like I said, we were the same class in high school. I've known him for about four or five years, and before long. I was in high school. I had dated in a little bit and then just came down here and I'm at daddy and

18:28 Then I didn't I didn't want to meet anybody else like us that we broke up. So I went back up and met dick again. Then we started going out for corresponding cuz I didn't stay up there. Very, we started corresponding and he asked me to marry him. And so I agreed, I would

18:49 Until then you came back down here with a ring on my finger. Then what happened Daddy called me. As far as I was concerned. We were through, we had broken up. We were through and I told him that I'm well, you know, I'm engaged. I'm sorry. I'm I'm engaged.

19:07 Well, I didn't know it but nana told me what my mother told me later. He went to her and pop and he pleaded his case. He can you talk her out of that.

19:23 Well, I guess I must have been up. I don't know why but anyway.

19:28 That I start seeing him again. And so I sent the ring back to Dick, Hanson and Daddy. Got married.

19:41 I honestly don't remember exactly, but I remember Nana telling me that.

19:48 He was seem to be very serious about me and he wanted, you know, to get back together and why did not get him a chance. I think? Remember. Sort of like that. So I thought, well, you know, I did, when I came at the time, I don't know why we broke up. So, I did, and then I decided I was in love with him and not with Jake Hanson.

20:09 So, you got married here in Knoxville?

20:13 And who was in your wedding? Marty, you know, his sister was my maid of honor and we just had a small wedding in the chapel. I wore an aquamarine suit with a pink flowered hat. Remember that.

20:28 And I'm already with my maid of honor and Morgan, you know, who eventually married Marty. No, wait a minute. No, no. No, that's not right.

20:39 No, Joe Kenneth was Daddy's best man, you know his brother, Joe Kenneth was best man. Morgan was an usher. That's who he was here, and we had maybe

20:52 Oh, 50-60 people something like that at the wedding. It was 4 in the afternoon.

21:02 I think was on Friday.

21:04 And had the reception at the Country Club and then Daddy and I left and drove up to Gatlinburg for the weekend. So that was it, that will help where all did you live that he was going to service crack?

21:23 No.

21:30 No, he was not, he was not still in the night, but he was out. But he was in the naval Reserve.

21:39 And let's see. When we got married. We lived here in Knoxville.

21:46 Actually lived with his family. Yeah, we did.

21:50 And lived here for a while.

21:53 Then we went to Chattanooga.

21:56 And live there for a little while.

21:59 And then came back here to Knoxville.

22:04 And see.

22:09 What kind of Valley going on that. Of time. He worked and I worked. And didn't you live in Atlanta for a little while? Yeah, but that was later. Did he ran later? Well, not that. I'm getting to when Richard was a baby. See, we were back here and not so I was working in the doctor's office. He was working at the drug company.

22:31 You know, that the wholesale drug company and I was working in the doctor's office.

22:36 And then I got pregnant with Richard.

22:42 And daddy.

22:44 Went back into. Well, it was a see. What war was that Korean Korean War. He decided he'd get back in service. So he went to washing. I think he went to Washington to re-enlist. I guess that's what it did and he said, when he got up there went into wherever he had to go. His papers were already pulled out. They were already getting ready to call him back because he was in the reserves.

23:10 What did how did you feel about that decision?

23:16 I didn't like it at first.

23:19 Because I didn't know, you know, what it was going to mean. I knew we have to be separated some, which is it turned out we weren't. But I thought we would be. I didn't like it right at first, but

23:30 Anyway, that's what he wanted and what he would have had to do because they were going to call me back anyway.

23:35 So he was stationed in Philadelphia at the Naval Base there and that's where we lived.

23:44 And that's where you two were born in the Naval Hospital.

23:49 In Philadelphia, and when did you live in Atlanta?

23:57 Richard was a baby.

24:00 I've got this fixed up now, haven't I?

24:07 Oh, I know. Now I have to backtrack.

24:11 Richard was born in February, and I remember,

24:17 Telling the doctor she told me when I was due and I told her I said, I hope it comes then because I've got to move to Atlanta, the 1st of March.

24:28 He's insane, Atlanta, very long. And you went from Atlanta to Philadelphia.

24:33 We came back here. Yeah, we went to Atlanta live there for about 2 months.

24:39 And then came back here and that's when Daddy that's when he went back up to Washington and reenlist it or he was going to be calling back anyway, so then in the fall, probably I don't know. September October. That's we moved out to fill it out to you. And dad was in Atlanta and television, right? He was going to radio. Yeah, he was working for a radio station. He was a DJ for radio station and television was just, you know, in its infancy and I wanted him to stay. I wanted to do that, but he didn't big daddy told him. That was television was just a passing fancy. You'll never amount to anything. You better come back here and that was his Love. Actually, wasn't it?

25:24 He would have been in another huntley-brinkley. I've always said that, you know, the personality had he was, but he was great, but it didn't work out that way. So.

25:35 How would you describe his personality?

25:40 Homeboy. Well,

25:43 It was very intelligent.

25:45 Very good looking very polite and he could talk just about on any subject.

25:52 Yeah, and he would have been a very personable young man. I think for somebody to have met.

25:58 He was.

26:01 Unless I say it, and that is true, except.

26:06 He would come on as a very interesting of polite young man, but he didn't, especially care for people. He just had it. I don't know what it was. You know, he never had very many friends what we call true friends. He knew a lot of people, but he wouldn't have really close friend, very influential because he went into politics. How old was he when he started in?

26:28 A camel City Council.

26:31 How old was he?

26:34 Well.

26:37 At the time. I think he was the youngest city, councilman elected. He also got more votes in that particular election than any of the others and he was probably

26:54 I want to say,

26:56 Richard was about.

26:58 Remember that picture?

27:00 Haha, you were probably about 3:15 hour and five. Yeah. On the sofa and I can wheel. Well, that was when he was first elected to. When I when was that?

27:12 You were about to say. He was about 36 when he was elected.

27:22 Yeah, I guess that's about, right, that 36. Yeah, and he only served one term, you know.

27:33 He would have been, he was twenty-six when Richard was born.

27:36 You were 24. I was 24. And he was 21in closer to 30. If pay you was 3, when he was on City Council.

27:48 Well, not getting everybody for how many years. Just one year. I mean one term what years 4 years ago for the purpose of the recording. What is his full name?

28:04 Roy Hanson bass, Jr. Hanson

28:12 Yeah.

28:14 And you stayed home with us?

28:17 When We Were Young and I remember the year I was 5, it was the best year of my life School of your life. What do you remember about that year?

28:30 Well, they went off to school in the morning.

28:33 Richard and Cindy brother and sister. Yeah, they were, they were the oldest older. And Peggy was the baby of the three. So they went off to school and Peggy and I had the whole day. We'd eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and she'd listen to this little record player. We had and she walked back and forth, back and forth, singing with, Tennessee Ernie, Ford.

28:56 And we go to world wars and she's shop all over will worse. We go to the grocery store and then they come home from school and take his day would be over.

29:10 And what was your first job?

29:14 When we were growing up, what was when you went back to work? What was the first thing you did?

29:21 First job, when you went to sleep. What was that?

29:27 Well, that must have been the liquor store. I didn't work before then.

29:31 And there's this was a dry county.

29:36 And,

29:41 Dry county, and

29:45 Then.

29:48 I say, like, it was finally, you know, voted in and Daddy on the liquor store and I worked in it during the day.

29:57 And so then after that, your next job, you went to work part-time at UT and that's with his ticket office.

30:04 You wouldn't know, it wasn't actually the ticket office, it was.

30:10 Giving out football tickets to the students, but it wasn't in the office. It was those who had what they called activity cards. You remember, those they could come show us our activity card and we getting football tickets. So then after that you weren't full time at UT you do in the bookstore in the books. Can then move to the student. And how many years did you work at UT?

30:33 Oh, close to 30.

30:36 I ended up being, I was a bookkeeper in the student student affairs Student Center, correct in August and I was 70 and October thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed my job. I loved it, but it was time for me to retire. I knew that. And so you have three grandchildren and I are your daughter Leah.

31:05 Is my first one Leah and Emory. And then Richard has to Brittany.

31:13 And Rebecca and Rebecca's middle name is Harrison that she was the fifth Hanson.

31:20 How would you like all of us to remember you?

31:27 Remember me?

31:30 Well, let's see.

31:33 Beautiful stylish worldly. No, no, just remember maze. I love you all very much. I did the best I could and raising you. I tried to understand you, you, you were never hurt physically or verbally, I mean, we just, I just want you to remember me as being as good, a parent as I could have been a big. Am I. All of it? Are there any words of wisdom? You'd like to pass along to us?

32:05 No, no, not really. Just be yourselves. Be honest and be a fourth, you know, I'm just be good people.

32:14 And that's what eats hottest.

32:17 I have a question. What was the most fun when you look back about your life so far? What would you think that you had the most fun?

32:31 The most fun.

32:37 Well.

32:43 I don't know. I've had a very easy life, considering I think, but I think the one part of my life that I enjoyed, maybe more than anything was when these three kids were taking horseback riding lessons. And we used to go down to Cheryl's farm and I've thoroughly thoroughly, enjoy doing that. I even rode horses with him. That, that was fun to me. I enjoyed that.

33:07 Really? I really did. You got pictures of me on the horse. What happened? When I got thrown from a horse that time. Okay? Pay. You got thrown from a horse. Of course. We took her to the doctor to the hospital and she had was at the shoulder. That was his shoulder. That was the shoulder.

33:28 And I didn't put her in a cast, but they put her in a sling. I typed it up and put her in a sling. The very next day. We were back down at Cheryl's farm. And daddy, said I want to rip on that same horse. So I thought, oh no. Oh, no. Don't don't do that. Don't that he did it? He said, I want her up on that same horse and sure that I didn't know any better horse, and it was great. Yeah. I was ever scared you to be afraid of horses. So we did that for several years. We really did not thoroughly enjoyed that.

34:03 I remember like it was yesterday.

34:10 As a matter of fact that the three of them Peggy was the one who was always getting hurt. I know the neighborhoods.

34:19 I'm sure the neighbors cringed when they saw that accident-prone basket coming.

34:25 Cuz she got hit in the eye with a swing.

34:29 Hockey, stick knock your teeth out. Three teeth in the front.

34:34 You broke something else. Would you break? Another time fell off the trampoline at the Maynard's house. Broke my arm. Yeah, and then I wrecked the go-kart and knocked my teeth out again.

34:46 Yep.

34:49 Do you think this episode has sort of stuck with you so much the horseback riding and what Roy with me because we all was a family had a very good time. We went together and we did things together like that and I might just thoroughly enjoyed it.

35:10 And you've always been a person who is love to go and do and see in and you still, do you want to get out? See things. You observe you're very observant. Nana used to say, I was nosy. Yeah. When you left to go and do and that's probably what why you like that so much cuz we were out doing. Yeah. I want you all to continue being that way too. I really cuz that means a lot to me. The nice full delete. It did to me. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people going places and doing things I still do. I remember the things we used to do.

35:51 As a family, not just the horseback riding but the lessons or we'd all sat around and record player and learn the morse code and then we all learn Spanish together. That's really all took ice skating, different things like that. One thing. I think that really is something that typifies you and your life was when the gentleman came to pick up some used clothing and he came to pick it up and you invited me and I sit down and have a cup of coffee. And I don't think many people do that, these days and you've always welcome people into your home is always love to know about people and talk to people and everyone who lives around, you knows who you are. And your neighbors. Think you're wonderful because of the person that you are appreciated, but I guess that's true. I like people. I always have, I love to meet new people and talk to people. I really do and you still do that everybody in the grocery store. She talked to

36:51 Everybody and I can see, Leah, rolling her eyes. Sometimes. Download what she got to say. Now, if that's something that I think he's passed down to all of us, and

37:03 You know, we thank you for all you've given us. You've been good Goods. Well, we love you. Mom. You do. Love you, and we

37:13 You've been the best. I appreciate that. Hopefully, I'm going to be around a while longer, but we're planning on it. She planning on it.