Irene Severin and Lance Purdy

Recorded May 12, 2007 Archived May 12, 2007 38:47 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY002737


Nephew interviews aunt about her life growing up in the Ozarks and in Nebraska as well as family stories.

Subject Log / Time Code


  • Irene Severin
  • Lance Purdy

Recording Location

MobileBooth West


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00:06 I'm Lance Purdy and 43 today is mail, May 12th night or 2007 or in Omaha, Nebraska, and I'm the nephew.

00:18 My name is Irene Severin. I'm 60 and today is May 12th. 2007. We are at the downtown library in Omaha, Nebraska and I am the aunt to Lance free.

00:35 All right. All right.

00:38 Santorini tell me where you grew up.

00:42 We moved a lot. I grew up till I was ten we live down in the Ozarks. We lived in my first memory is living in Carthage Missouri from there. We move to Joplin Missouri when my parents divorced and from Joplin we moved to Monett after Mom remarried and then back to Joplin Missouri. And then when I was in 5th grade, we move to Crete, Nebraska.

01:09 So you moved what about every year? So I thought it was a lot with this bashful. Anyway, so moving from school to school was pretty difficult. What are some of the earliest memories you have in Carthage Inn, Carthage. Oh gosh, wait a little dog little

01:28 Boston Terrier named candy, and there was a big tree that we made a treehouse in and there was a swing in the tree and there were lilac bushes around the house and seem like we must live in the country on this huge estate. And when I Revisited one time of the tiny little house and not very big but at the time

01:53 Oh, well, if is my earliest memories probably 4 5 6 in there.

02:03 The Treehouse would play with the neighbor kids a lot in the tree house.

02:08 One of our Great accomplishments one time was your mother was being naughty and to us and she was soaking down in the swing and we managed to we always had knives we were always armed we go to the kitchen and get knives until we managed to cut the ropes on the swing.

02:31 Which is kind of you know kids back then we ran all over I mean with very little adult supervision. There was an older couple across the street and on Paul Hicks now that a name for you that but we call her and call them and I spend a lot of time with them. I adored them and

02:48 Like I said, they were it was a gravel road we lived on the gravel Street. And I know it wasn't paved. I remember almost getting hit by a car one time, you know, it's cuz I didn't look, you know, I was crossing the street but people didn't drive as fast then as they do now. There was a what we call chat or gravel that added the bedroom on to this little house.

03:12 Mom and dad had in there was a gravel pile kind of the bottom of the hill in the yard and I used to get on my trike and just go hell-bent-for-election down that hill and hit that gravel pile and shoot. I thought I was living dangerously. You know, Mom worked dad work, they both work for the city of Carthage and Linda and I will start a school course in Carthage would walk to school and your mother threw rocks at me cuz I didn't work fast enough.

03:45 Answer yes sister and she was kind of mean sometimes I didn't want to start school cuz I was going to wear shoes and I like going Barefoot so that it's one of my big concerns with having wear shoes to school. Remember that it would grandpa Smith do for electrician. I guess they call it.

04:12 I think they called at the light department for some reason, but it would have been you know, the City Works.

04:17 And that's where my mint herb to he was in on the manager. The director said he works so

04:25 Okay.

04:26 Then they started having troubles and you moved on.

04:31 They got divorced.

04:33 We love to Joplin and we lived across the street from a great-aunt to mine Aunt Cody.

04:43 We also a little rental house. I remember that I remember hearing about Aunt Cody. Just want to Grandpa Charlie sisters or that Galloway tribe. She was she was kind of one of my favorite aunts. Actually. She's a big liar, but

05:01 Novotel what she was she was not above making up stories, but I always kind of liked her. You know, she loved me if she's the only relative I had to ever call me by my first name Janice. I was her little Jani always but everyone else I was Irene. So so, how come you never did go by Janis Grandpa Charlie Grandpa, your mom's best friend Irene Cavender and so he called her big Irene and I was little Irene and it just stuck that I was called Irene when we moved to Nebraska then Mom told me I could go by Janis I wanted to because it's kind of confusing and but it just didn't sound right after years of being called migraine to go by Chana. So I stayed Irene I introduced myself and the Creek Public Schools 5th grade as my name is Janice Irene Williams.

05:55 But I prefer to be called Irene.

05:58 And I never let me forget it I go to class reunions and I still hear it. You know, I remember that I know and they talked I thought they talk so fast being a check to send check engine the sent in and create an I talk so slow. I couldn't understand a word they were saying

06:17 Well, it took me awhile. I can believe so you were in you guys were increasing about time. You were in 5th grade on your mom then it had to been a difficult time for her to move. I would think.

06:34 You know 9th grade being that age. That wasn't High School 9th grade was in crate.

06:42 And everybody will have would have known each other.

06:46 I fit in pretty I made friends pretty quickly, you know, but I've always been the kind of makes friends pretty easily. So Mom wasn't well, I guess we all were trying to get a little bit of the Rebel she more so than I

07:06 Your mom was when those people who are got caught.

07:09 I don't know if you ran around with the group you're in around with there's always one or two that got caught if you all were doing something bad. She was one of them smart-mouth teachers, and of course you're smart. She was smart and then but she thought she was smarter than everyone else and got her in trouble a lot. She

07:31 For two years. They didn't take PEP Club buses to away games because of your mother because she and her friend stole the yard line markers at from Nebraska City from the football field and got caught with him on the school bus so they decided they wouldn't take any PEP Club us this anymore junior in high school when she did that. So was she involved in any clubs in Huntsville? Probably PEP Club.

08:02 And probably dramas I recall, you know speech and drama. Your mom was good with that remember being in the place, but

08:14 I don't know what she was necessarily class later. You know, she was as smart as they were smart, but I don't.

08:22 She never even as a child never.

08:29 With a jointer much. I don't recall her belonging to Girl Scouts, you know, I did but she tried to play saxophone in the band of that was a joke. She had no musical talent and I'll she and I both took piano when I passed her by in six months, you know that she just wasn't musically talented. Nicole's a little like that.

08:51 At least Nicole's coordinated. I don't know if she's gotten better. She took remedial PE. She came home when she was in second grade at Pearl and Lincoln. She's going to put a special PE class. What the heck is this? So I calling it was kind of a remedial PE cuz she was kind uncoordinated. So

09:15 So what sort of clubs did you belong to in just about run them?

09:26 Even then I was a bit of a control freak in some regards as a cheerleader. I was in the group called Why teens which was kind of a Christian organization, which I doubt exists in schools today. I was a class officer from sophomore year on ran for school president got defeated by Boy, which I thought was totally unfair that Randy now now it wasn't

09:54 Oh gosh.

09:58 I mean drama club, of course, I was in all the plays all the musicals. I never did any solos, but at least I could kind of singing dancing like that.

10:14 I like school. Give me an opportunity to be away from home, you know, so I like to being in school.

10:21 So what was the Girl Scout longer the youth group at church?

10:28 Looks like there was a group. I was probably involved at some point. I didn't belong to science clever math club. Those were my strong suit. That's probably yet.

10:39 So, where'd you meet Uncle Chuck's in school?

10:42 It was a year how to make crate.

10:45 He won't leave me alone.

10:47 Give me the stalker High School stalker. I went out with him cuz he got a car and drive, you know, nothing, you know.

10:58 About me that would you know, I've been above that. So, where'd you guys go like when you went on dates and what not to eat when you were regardless where you were on a date or not what you had to cruise? You know, I don't know if someone's car you cruised Main Street up and down around you no flirting looking for boys looking for girls that go to Lincoln want to movies or something like that sometimes to Crete to the movies. That's about it. Dance good grief.

11:38 I figured maybe you can busy learning other thing. I ever learned and dicks a good dancer by Chuck, like your mom and I'll wear them. So what was Jimmy's how many years younger?

12:05 I was thought I was going to be happy having a little brother, but I found out that man. I was no longer the baby in the family and your sister of course doted on Jim your sister your mom my sister donut on Jim. She was kind of his surrogate mother. I mean she was really second mom.

12:23 You know, I on the other hand with just two left him in a ditch for someone to pick up but now he was a cute little boy. He's really was he was kind of naughty.

12:34 I know he was not boring crazy was more in Monett Missouri at the Catholic Hospital in granny almost died having him really he was born.

12:45 They induced labor and the doctor hadn't gotten there yet to she really worked quickly. And so they held him in the birth canal one of the nuns and then nurses dad and his head was all before money was born today you would sue over and I've always thought that's why he's a little slow. He had a big water.

13:08 I think I think it's called hydrocephalic now, but a big it was till he was probably last year old very noticeable. Don't run away. Yeah, I said was misshapen.

13:20 So why do they hold him in the birth? Canal is the doctor wasn't there to deliver?

13:25 While this was back in 1956, you know things were done differently.

13:40 Okay, so back to Crete. So how long did you and Uncle Chuck date? I mean were you high school and then you

13:51 And we got married.

13:54 CIA

13:55 We got married in 69 and we started dating for you to drive. He used to when we break up my day. Two boys, he would and I said it was a stalker. He really was another one that kicked somewhere. But I mean, I wasn't very jealous individual with other girls. Not much too much. So you were the one I guess for gambling was apparently he did date when he went away to college.

14:41 You went away to college to Kansas.

14:46 Cool, so tell me about Uncle Gus.

14:50 Here's a great dad. And while he was a nice person good individual my girls adore their grandpa grandfather, you know, actually they were both good grandparents in a hotel to the girls. And I mean Gus love them unconditionally. I do think you spent Nicole wants but that's cuz she was smothering Kyra with a pillow and felt he needed to step in but then they could have always joked about they could have had a gun on you know shot someone and he would have defended them don't know if you know, they didn't mean to just to just a childish prank kids being kidnapped. He was good guy. He was he was a character to know he had lots of interesting stories in the war.

15:39 The captain with the Air Force. I don't think they call it. The Air Force in World War II though. I think it was the Army and was called The Air corps something like that, but he was a captain and he sent crews out from Great Britain sent planes out from Great Britain. I know it really bothered him a lot because a lot of times did send them out and they wouldn't come back from your mission and that's why he did not want to be buried in the ground was because he saw some of the soldiers it was winter time and they were putting a cold Graves over there and he just didn't want any of them. So he didn't want to be buried in the ground because of that that's also was part of his hearing problems. He would go in the plains and there is not a World War II pilot is not death, you know because they were so I need the flight crew for that matter. They were so noisy the plans were and I didn't offer me your protection. Plus they also

16:35 Little known fact is they kept those guys pretty high on drugs the service did they put them on? I'm not sure if was amphetamines or some sort of drug that kept them hyped up because they didn't know when they have to go out on a mission and you know, they had to be ready to go. So he came back kind of had a medical discharge because of it.

16:57 I spent some time in the hospital back here almost like

17:04 Not shell shock button, but I would be post traumatic stress syndrome. Today's what they would call it back. Then I don't think they had that name for it grandfather. Your real ones Smith was also in the Air Force he serve with chennault Flying Tigers.

17:31 What year will give me a blank look well, I'm really famous. They were station now and then the Asian Arena mechanic Rod CC and RT officer training us to send them for that. Yeah. Roland could have gone they didn't want to cuz he didn't he didn't there's the Rebellion thing. He didn't like officers. I'm not even sure what his rank was.

18:07 When he left the service.

18:09 They were stationed before he went overseas. They were stationed down in Texas.

18:15 In Oklahoma on base is down. There are great and Gus were stationed in Sacramento and then they traveled here across country and they can only go so far each day because of the ration of gasoline would only take them so far each day and they can only get gas once a day and so they could only thing they sleep in the car along the way from from the west coast to the east coast so they didn't take the train Marguerite took the train out to Sacramento to America, they drove across country and that's before air conditioning and paper rose all the way we wouldn't it cars that overheated and no radios.

19:05 Course, I remember cars for the head air conditioning cuz her butt and let us have air conditioning in a car then they buy a new car Lance and they every 5 years ago on a new car for 5 years for years and they bite they sent away to a place called Fingerhut and I think it's still in existence and then get these plastic seat covers to cover up pristine, you know, he didn't want the kids thrown up on it or something. So in the summer with no air conditioning and you were short, I mean it was always horde and they said put your sister and your sister my sister your mom Jim and me in the back seat and invariably gym and get car sick or he'd want to lay on me and it be hot and so did you guys go on trips then? No never went on vacation. That would have been unheard of

20:02 What they only vacations we went on we're down to the Ozarks to visit Grandma and Grandpa and then Grandma's house or that Mom and Dad to go fishing. The only vacation I went on as a child was when Mom was married to Roland yet and we went to Colorado 1-year and I do remember that I was Kindergarten age and I do remember that. So what you doing, Colorado towards mountains, we went to Mesa Verde. I remember we were in Colorado Springs going up Pikes Peak. We took a tour when touring vehicle up Pikes Peak and we wrote up with them two sisters. They were elderly

20:45 But they were and I don't know if they were Neiman's or Marcus but they were part of that family one of the families that own Neiman Marcus and I passed out and going up Pikes Peak. And so that kind of baby baby man will altitude sickness baby man and Maid of American remember that and then there were we stayed at a motel.

21:08 I'm back then motels were far different than they are today, but the driveway and and the parking lot where line with you know, that's gorgeous Colorado rocks and I was such a rockhound so I thought they were free and I was loaded the trunk up with a bunch of them and they had to take him out back. But everyone on there's a picture somewhere of your mom and I and Granny standing up for the motel. I think I've got it. I'll cop it for you sometime.

21:42 Anthony so tell me about getting married with Uncle Chuck. What was the nephew of mine that was in the wedding who would have been 5 would that have been lying here looking nephew? He was a cutie we all doted on Lance. No doubt about that.

22:01 And no one was watching Lance before the wedding.

22:06 And so he felt the need to play the pipe organ and sing Jingle Bells to the people who had assembled already. Although he could do neither very well or you can sing Jingle Bells, I guess. Okay, but organ was another

22:21 We got married in February 1st 1969. I had your mother was one of my bridesmaids my friend Linda Moody a friend Sandy and my friend Jeanne whose sense died to wear on my wedding Chucks.

22:41 Entourage was Bruce Johnson. Murphy River Bruce and Polished out. You wouldn't have known his brother dick and then dick Moody Linda's friend.

22:53 Where'd you guys go on a honeymoon? We took off and went down South we went to.

23:00 Corpus Corpus Christi Galveston, and then we went over to New Orleans from there and

23:08 Back to Nebraska in the car broke down numerous times then y'all lived in Lincoln Lincoln check with a pharmaceutical perhaps. I work for Central telephone and utilities Corporation. And then your mom was in a secretary to the dean of the law college. So I went to work there is a work-study student. Nothing was rigged that I got that job or anything and then I went back to school for while they are college there.

23:47 And then Cole was born in 72 and Karen 74.

23:52 And we moved to the country and December baby down to Hallam.

23:58 Was that a t and I know doesn't that seem it's not amazing long time ago. I'll be 27 years here in December. I was going to let there two years or no. No, no granny still says you're going to be leaving any minute. Now if I had my way I would much longer does the F-22 Lee retires by the bad thing about that we can talk about that later. Is course your health insurance true. Yeah if you want to hang on to that, yeah.

24:38 Light switch where else do you get paid that well for doing nothing one of the government works for the government?

24:47 So talk about the Galloway's what I know about the Galloway's.

24:53 Other Granny's people. I know that but I'm trying to say I know more about them than I do the Smiths. I'll guarantee you that.

25:00 There were 12 siblings for my my grandfather had 12 siblings to died very young or at Birth. I'm not sure which

25:10 There were 10 that survived great grandma.

25:15 Who was read my Lorraine?

25:19 Did you know her? Yeah, she was blind but she was she didn't even see several of her children when she was blind when she had several of her children from the time. I remember her as a little girl. She was bedridden but you always had her hair in a long braid long gray hair. It was always in a braid in it should be in this whole night down in the bed. You know, I have to go see more Galloway when I go visit and I always remember her braids hanging over her shoulder and her hand. She was at her hands folded like she was praying.

25:55 So who helped her out? I mean live with the counter Ant-Man or Aunt Maggie everyone in that family had strange nicknames to do Aunt Cody. I asked Mom wants rent Cody got her nickname. She without her middle name was Elizabeth Cody Weir. Cody came from I have no idea your Grandpa. Charlie was named his nickname with sago Sago. I have no idea what that man before that would have come from Aunt Louise was Pete. She was complete and Pete now Ant-Man was

26:34 Nancy Margaret I think was her name so that I can understand where I'm coming, but she was somebody she called right Nanz and then color it Maggie. Just depending.

26:44 Aunt Kathleen was Aunt Cass

26:49 You know, so I mean just everyone have nicknames but they were kind of a brawling bunch of the guys did for sure. There's Uncle Tom uncle Jess and course Grandpa Charlie and then one uncle that I didn't know Uncle Dickie. I don't remember him at all. He was one of those little bit like Errol Flynn in the pictures. You've I don't know if you see a photo of the guy in the got the job for but

27:19 True help people. I mean hard-working punch for the most part Grandpa Charlie worked hard soda Grandma Galloway Army and you know Grandma Corey to

27:29 So tell me what jobs Grandpa Galloway's don't remember him having the only thing I remember most Was the janitor at the high school, but he farmed I know he also cut Timbers for the railroad when he was like 12:10 or 12. He was out doing a man's work, you know, just ask for help support his family cuz his father was a no-good alcoholic to see that comes from both sides Grandma Coors family while I think maybe he had a little more class and culture didn't necessarily make them all there.

28:05 There's a weakness for alcohol there as well as some mental instability, you know. Yeah, there was so

28:17 But back then I kind of think she had Pro had thyroid problems. Like Kara does really yeah and back then a lot of thyroid patients were diagnosed as being insane and on sent to a sanatorium because when you're

28:35 Study hyperthyroidism. Sometimes weird things to you your heart's racing 126 beats a minute. You're not necessarily thinking clearly, you know, it affects your thinking.

28:46 That makes sense.

28:50 So what are some memories you have of Granny?

28:56 Start nice.

29:01 That's a hard one there.

29:05 I always thought she was beautiful in the shower when I was a little girl. I remember telling her once I thought she was prettier than Marilyn Monroe and she laughed.

29:16 She was a difficult mother. I know she still with my kids probably say the same thing about me, but I think you know Jesus better cuz she's removed a generation that it was probably because she was raised so cruelly, you know that she didn't know how to be necessarily a good and loving mother. She was very quick-tempered and and very quick to strike out your mom took a lot of beatings from your grandma ruin.

29:50 Change Grandma. Remember granny doesn't but but I do.

29:56 And also, but she was also I mean

30:01 Turn it down a little but not an easy person to live with my grandma. I guess was not easy to live with either. She was pretty hard on on your granny my mother. Yeah how so

30:17 Well, I die. I think she was jealous cuz cuz Grannie loved her dad so much with Charlie so much and Grandma Corey did not have a happy life and she been raised Southern Baptists. I couldn't even ice skater do anything fun. You know when Grandpa came from this bunch of people that like to dance and drinking and carrying on and how those two ever ended up together. Although he had met

30:44 Grandma when she was a little girl or not a little girl. Maybe she was about 12 and Mom says he told someone that's pretty slim girl. He's ever seen. So he must have been smitten. You know, she had beautiful red hair. I guess. I'm quite The Temper to match but I think being married to Charlie took a lot of that out of her a lot of her spunk and her fire. I think he broke her spirit. I will I said that when I was some

31:11 Down visiting gosh, I must have been.

31:15 Tanner 9 or 10

31:19 And you know what? That ground is like down there hard it is, of course. He had to have that big old huge Garden twice and they did they can and put up for the winter and and fed a lot of people out of that Garden but

31:33 He was trying to plow it with a push plow. You know, I'm talking about. It's got a quail on it. Okay to fly on here is trying to turn the ground and the ground was too hard. So my grandma had high blood pressure and big ol heavy-set guy. And so he took to himself up to this plow and she was supposed to push it and make the rose straight while they pulled out to get it through that hard old red, Missouri soil and it didn't work. So he hooked her up to it and he pushed her cuz she wouldn't make the rose straight enough of those Rose said to me straight by golly and I was Furious. I mean I'm not I was I told my mom I was really upset and that's always stuck with me cuz I remember Grandma sweat and then I know she had high blood pressure and going to Keel over and die and I was so mad at him.

32:24 You know.

32:26 One time I told him.

32:29 I was jumping on the bed and you didn't do that one.

32:32 When you were a kid my age growing up and I think it's cuz the meds but worked very sturdy. I was jumping on the bed. He caught me and he was going to take flyswatter to me and I told him he couldn't because I was company and they got the laughing so hard he never did spank me. I don't think I can get near the spankings your mother did, she was if we would fight or be doing something wrong? She would be loud and screaming about it and I on the other hand was always very soft-spoken which you wouldn't know now to know me so she would be the one that would hair.

33:12 You know until she would be the one to get the punishment, although she was kind of mean at times I thought yeah.

33:21 So what's 1 a year? When you look back on your childhood one of those memories? It's like oh, that was nice.

33:28 Well

33:31 I think even though we fought a lot, you know, I miss your mom a lot, too.

33:38 We always kind of stuck up for each other when we needed to.

33:46 Mom and dad are divorced. It was really hard on me.

33:50 I was a daddy's girl.

33:53 And we were staying at granny fanny and Mom hated my dad because he came back from the war and she was no longer number one and mom's life. You know, when a grandma she was moved away from Grandma and Grandpa Charlie and I don't realize it was he was going to spank her for

34:11 But she's running around the outside of the house and

34:17 I remember grabbing his leg and stopping you.

34:24 I do miss her laugh.

34:27 I know.

34:31 Said it wasn't going to make you cry. Sometimes there isn't a Christmas memory. I have of being young that's not tied up with your mother.

34:45 Try hard for me to sit in church at Christmas and

34:49 The old Carol's and all and I think of her too soon.

34:57 I can say for all our fighting and all we were still sisters. There's something to be said for that. I never had that closeness with Jim ever.

35:06 And all that I did with your mom. How come you think you was that age difference? And I think I was resentful. I mean, I don't want to say that I was a bad person and resented my half-brother, but I think I was Uno retrospect.

35:25 You better cover sneak around here.

35:33 Funny memory memory. That's a good question. How about we had a lot of fun to family. So my God, there's too many of those. You know, I saw your dad asked on their own family stories in the land in a family sings and course, you've heard the you say you married a Slaughter and over that way comes from never heard that one that's an older one. Then my grandma was deaf and so is her sister flora and it was Grandma's funeral and

36:11 Aunt Flora came I haven't seen at Florida number of yours and

36:16 She won't know who I was just trying to explain to a deaf person and I'm kind of you know, yelling really loud why Marie's daughter and she did she say she married us water. And then what color do you remember bill at all? He fell off the chair light. He was laughing so hard so that one stuck after that. It's always been you don't understand the morning. And Mom does is your granny to you say you married a Slaughter know there's there's lots of

36:49 I mean family stories. You've heard most of them probably except that one.

36:54 Will tell me another family story.

36:58 Even though I've heard it good winter bad one or good bad or indifferent. I don't know. I don't know there was you and and your grandfather time you turn the water on him.

37:10 Herbert your herb my stepfather dad or you you know

37:17 Was pretty funny to hear about your grandma granny to let you know this because he never yelled at you cuz you a good little boy. Yeah, and then you turn the water on him and I guess it was a little bit angry with you or do you know the story about him Burning Down the trailer Legend do you know and then of course that sounds like my luck though new fire engine in town the batteries dad, you know when the hydrant hate hooked up didn't work.

37:52 So yeah where they had no water pressure. That was it. And that's why I burnt down but you know what granny didn't waste have an easy life either. I've got to give her credit for that. She's worked hard. She was a hard worker, you know.

38:07 To have to leave creatinine and move back down to the Ozarks and take, you know, then you move down there and your new home burns up and and I was in your husband died shortly after and your Grandpa got to take care of your ailing parents at somebody see, you know, and raisin though. I've rotten teenager at the same time and spirited like rotten covers.

38:32 Hey, I'm glad you did this. Well, you're welcome. Thanks. Thanks. You made me cry.