Joyce Ostergren and Ann Wales

Recorded July 23, 2010 Archived July 23, 2010 01:14:40
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY006718


Ann Wales (49) interviews her mother Joyce Ostergren about growing up during the Great Depression, their family, and how Joyce met her husband.

Subject Log / Time Code

J talks about her parents house in Montanna and her mom took care of people during the Influenza epidemic
J wanted to be an architect in college. Mr Southworth - Professor of Mechanical and Architectural Drawing told her it was too competitive for women. J went into education instead.
J remembers how she met her husband in college at a USO party - David Ostergren.
A tells the story of her dad proposing to J. J had to tell 3 other men she couldn’t see them anymore. A and J don’t know if David knew about the other men.
J describes her first class that she taught. J remembers one student - Kenny - who asked a lot of questions.
A remembers how her grandmother ran the railroad offices and the newspapers wrote that she was not “masculine.”


  • Joyce Ostergren
  • Ann Wales

Recording Location

MobileBooth West


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00:05 Are you pointed? Sorry, my name is an Wales. I am 49 years old. Today's date is July 23rd. 2010 location is Lacrosse, Wisconsin and I am the daughter to Joyce.

00:23 And I'm Joyce ostergren.

00:28 Oh age 85 and the date is July 23rd 9 2010 and we're in luck, Lacrosse, Wisconsin.

00:40 And who are you to me?

00:42 I'm your mom. That's right. Okay, Mom. What where does where was Grandma born Adams Minnesota and she just had one sister one Sister Irene. And what did your dad do?

01:00 He had her dad had a livery Livery stable.

01:08 I don't remember, okay.

01:12 I just remember the Livery stable. Why does that make you smile?

01:17 Will a farmer brought in a load of carrots when he wanted his horses shoed?

01:24 And my mom decided they needed watering. So they pull the cord and watered all the carrots.

01:34 In the wagon until they rotted is sure she went to the bar hold. She was a little girl who else she would go in and dance on the counter and then the men would give her money.

01:55 Which she would taken a stroll through the drawer at her home because she knew her mother would keep her there if she could catch her. So then she would run on Shea and she always said something to her and she threw the money down didn't she?

02:12 I imagine she did I thought she always said what the men would say.

02:18 I don't remember her but she's pretty little and then I remember when she grew up she went to secretarial school and a business came and asked for their best.

02:33 The best secretary I'm sure he was elected. She was elected. Yes. She didn't even finish cuz she was so good to remember what business it was that I order.

02:44 For what they did?

02:47 No, I don't know. What was the Minneapolis. Well, I know she worked for Tire Company, okay?

02:56 Where did she meet Billy?

03:00 In Minneapolis in Minneapolis. He was a Salesman right? He was a Salesman at the time.

03:08 And he met her at her work.

03:10 I don't know, okay.

03:13 Can I remember Grandma saying that he would meet her at her house every night will there. I remember because she had a hard time catching her right and she would even make dates on the way home and then have to cancel him because he would be there she like to go out dancing and have fun and he like to go for walks and read books.

03:38 Probably him. They got married.

03:43 Did they move right away to Montana?

03:45 Not until he started working for the railroad became a Brakeman and then they moved to Roundup Montana and that was during the flu epidemic right during the influence Jamaican. They were in one of the two houses that had bathrooms. So the medical people in the town would come there to take showers and get cleaned up.

04:11 And she took care of a lot of people and

04:17 Sad with them when they were dying.

04:20 And she never did get to influenza. Why did she think she didn't get it?

04:32 And drink some whiskey. There you go. It was her preventive and apparently it worked.

04:41 And then they moved back to Minneapolis. I'm sure I don't know. Why. Do you know why?

04:48 Remove back and then you and Donald were born.

04:53 Yep, that's the twins you and Donald in 1925.

05:01 And then a 1929 Billy died in a car accident, but we don't know how

05:09 Well, he was changing a tire as I remembered you like Tori and a car ran into him.

05:20 And that was how he was killed.

05:23 Right before the depression

05:26 So grandmother had to take care of you too. She took care of us, since you took care of her sister who is paralyzed from the chest down and

05:37 Her mother and why was everyone paralyzed she had Polio polio? There was an epidemic or something. I don't know that she just got it.

05:48 Remember, what year or anyting? Well, I know.

05:52 But she was two years younger than mom then grandma and she had and Grandma had to take care of her mother to that one should do it for a while. Yes, and Mary snow was your mom's name and then

06:07 Medeiros was her maiden name so Irene Medeiros and then Grandma Medeiros. What was Grandma great-grandma majeres is named Emma, Emma Emma majeres.

06:17 She was kind of cranky as she was cranky who knows why a few spring? Yeah few months before Billy. So they lost both men.

06:36 Same here, and you guys lived with Emma for a little bit and then grandma bought a house and Aldrich did Aldrich Avenue know the first house was on Grand Avenue in Minneapolis in Minneapolis. And then we moved to Aldrich Avenue and how she support everyone she had borders and rumors.

06:58 Cuz that way she could be home to take care of Irene and then to take care of us cuz she was responsible for all of Irene's care.

07:12 And then she eventually made enough money right to buy another house. She bought two other duplexes. She did. When did she get the house in Aldrich?

07:23 I think it was 1935. So that was one of the ones she bought or when they're after they're tri-board.

07:32 Two duplexes well

07:35 One up North Minneapolis and one not far away from her own house. Okay.

07:44 And then she got you guys to depression.

07:48 Sure.

07:50 And then our in World War II.

07:53 How old were you when it started to remember when Pearl Harbor?

07:57 How you heard about it? We heard about it on. I think we heard about it at church.

08:03 Then I was listening service.

08:07 Did you guys think anything was going to happen or you complete your shocked? No, no one expected anything.

08:14 Like that. It was a shock.

08:19 And you are in high school?

08:21 Right. Well, I think so.

08:27 Sure, 1941 we were and you remember you couldn't get you couldn't get supplies right? Where are you couldn't hurt to have.

08:38 Coupons for meat and sugar butter shoes

08:50 Other clothing it was fine, but she was you did have to have a coupon for

08:55 But that really wasn't a big problem.

08:59 And you did forget a saline.

09:02 And those with cars were

09:05 Had a hard time.

09:07 We took Streaker along just fine. There you go.

09:13 Got along just fine. Now you guys grew up attending a Catholic Church.

09:19 Prayed and then you start going to the youth group at the ultrastretch Presbyterian Church.

09:25 Yep, that's right. And your grandma thought and Grandma thought why not walk across the street and go to church, right? That's right.

09:34 It was a wonderful Church.

09:37 So what was life like for you growing up?

09:41 I thought it was very happy.

09:44 Very happy time.

09:48 Your lots of cats didn't you know, we always had at least one.

09:55 Mostly because I brought them home you didn't.

10:00 And Grandma we said yes for sure. What are you going to do?

10:07 It wasn't much you could do.

10:09 And during the Depression she also fit.

10:14 Man, who would come around to the back door and needed a meal?

10:22 Remember anything about the borders that you guys took in?

10:25 They were all very very nice people and we had a lot of fun.

10:31 Cuz we'd sit around the dinner table sometimes for 2 hours. Just visiting.

10:36 I'm playing cards playing cards and having a good time and you had to share your room with a border. Dincha.

10:45 Over short time

10:48 But that was all right.

10:51 This kind of like having a sister.

11:00 Pardon remember who the person was that you showed your room with? I remember her name was Hazel.

11:05 Was she older?

11:08 Well, yeah, she would have been order cuz she was working.

11:11 But she was probably in her twenties for inner 20 store.

11:16 She was working.

11:18 Very nice Hazel Obits. That's her name came from

11:25 North Dakota

11:28 Remember the name of any of the other Borders or

11:31 There was a Helena dick.

11:37 Elmer Johnson

11:43 And what was your first job?

11:47 Babysitting and $0.10 an hour really then what then what you do?

11:54 Mercy cashier it holds which became Lunds

12:00 How much did you make there an hour? 37 and 1/2 cents? There you go.

12:05 And how many hours a day would you work will Saturday's it was 10?

12:11 And then during the week it would be maybe four or five.

12:16 Now, did you get to keep the money for school or did you I gave it all to Grandma and which paid for my college education helped?

12:31 And then what did you do after Lunds?

12:34 How did you work to Lunds at lunch for college know the only thing I worked Summers I didn't want to Summer a defense plant.

12:44 Cuz we got the whopping sum of $0.65 an hour. What did you at the defense plant?

12:51 Cut pipes you did. I never knew you did that. I had long pipes when you had to cut them into.

12:59 Specific links and that was what you did that you wanted to be an architect when you went to college then to I thought that would be a good thing to do. But what did they tell you?

13:13 It was too competitive.

13:17 Yeah, and what else?

13:20 Well, it was too competitive for women.

13:25 So I went into education did they suggest education? No, they didn't I did I like being a teacher on good.

13:36 They didn't think being an architect was a good place for a woman. Did they don't?

13:40 Oh, mr. Southworth. Thought that was too hard.

13:44 Was that your teacher the professor right? He was the teacher of the mechanical drawing and Architectural drawing.

13:53 You still had your tools for many years later.

13:57 I took woodworking.

14:01 I remember you always liked, you know figuring out how things should go.

14:08 So you went to college to be?

14:11 An elementary teacher right? Well, I called it child welfare because

14:18 Your degree was such that you could be a director of a nursery school starting with two year olds, or you could teach in the public schools of first through the third grade.

14:32 So I taught second grade.

14:35 And during the war you wrote A lot of people didn't to two guys serving sure you did.

14:43 He wrote about 10.

14:45 And Donald served he was in the Navy.

14:50 But he didn't have to go overseas know you didn't he was in Saint Paul Saint Thomas College most of it and that he ended up as a stevedore in California, which was a good thing because when he came back he decided he would study when it got to the universe because he did not want to be a stevedore.

15:12 Rest of his life and he became what again computer programmer. Okay, that's right, and he got hired by who right after college Remington Rand in California. Well in Minneapolis Minneapolis, and they moved him to California, okay?

15:32 He worked for them for quite a few years. Did he?

15:38 And he died in 64. I think it was before you have brain cancer. No skin cancer. Melanoma that went up to the brain. That's it malignant melanoma started in the nasopharyngeal and he was 37 same ages some Steve Streit. My husband Steve disarm said he died at 37 of malignant. Melanoma.

16:05 Okay, so you're in college and you meet this? Where did you meet Dad?

16:13 Well, I knew he was in this I Omega fraternity cuz they came and saying at our sorority house. What was your sorority Delta Zeta?

16:24 And you were dating you date about five guys at a time until 5 or 6 cuz you said you can't depend on men no, and then he was at the us because he was

16:38 The war was over and he had been.

16:44 Mustered out

16:46 And he couldn't go home for Christmas. So he was at the Uso Christmas Eve. What do you mean mustard out?

16:55 Well, he was in the Navy in the ROTC program when the war was over within the program was ended. Yeah, they didn't know how much longer the war would be on so they were preparing him for the 4th to be a dentist for service in the Navy.

17:14 So that he had is

17:17 He got out and

17:19 That was when we met at the Uso party.

17:26 What was her husband's name Burton Burton David ostergren. That's right. OST e r g r e e n

17:38 Reviews lots of relatives in St. Paul. Yes.

17:43 They started a church there. They were farmers from Sweden immigrants and migrants. Damn who started the Swedish Baptist Church, which is become Trinity Baptist Church. Now his grandparents came here from Sweden Ice. Right and they had all of the kids in that one house. And I remember one story of they had five boys and one girl, right and the one girl she went to Moody Bible college and she went to college to be a nurse should you go to for your nurse for your nurse? She was going to go to Africa to serve as a missionary nurse. It was what you wanted to do and her mother talked her out of it cuz she was the only girl she couldn't stand to see her go.

18:30 So she got a job at the University Hospital in Minneapolis, right Is 1920 Gene 18 18 18 or 19? 9-19-18. That's it 1918.

18:47 And she caught the flu and died. That's right.

18:52 So dad always said that he wasn't going to get in the way of his kids because yeah, yeah.

19:03 Be where they want to be God is calling them to do.

19:09 So I use that story when we went to be missionaries.

19:13 Where did you use it I use in an article to talk about going to Lebanon us missionaries.

19:22 Tell me.

19:24 Can that was too bad but he had his one his dad was a Pastor James ostergren swipe was Fe and then he had a Uncle Charlie ostergren. That was so sweet and they always said he was the smartest one but didn't he's the only one that didn't go to school. He was a farmer who ran the Family Farm Willis parents said put a we do if you don't run the farm, so he said there you are.

19:55 Yeah, this is too bad.

19:58 And then his brothers what it is, but Dan was.

20:03 A dollar is a physician uncle and aunt and Uncle Dan and Aunt Janice.

20:13 Ray died, very young. He died of a gun accident, right?

20:21 I remember Dad saying he decided to be a dentist cuz his uncle could buy a whole pack of gum at one time. So he must be pretty wealthy.

20:30 Ministries didn't weren't paid to well. Yeah, Grandpa also moved a lot. Yeah, they did, Pennsylvania.

20:41 Other places so dad says he remembers when he decided to ask you to marry him. It was in a park, right?

20:51 Minnehaha Park, you are bending over to pick up flower.

20:58 And you had to tell three other men then that you were going to marry them.

21:06 Couple of them found it out from a newsletter right couple others.

21:13 What's a surprise? I don't we don't know if Dad knew about all those other guys, but he knew we had to make a date with you well in advance or you were busy. That's true.

21:28 So you got married and he decided to serve in the Korean War right away instead of waiting or what? We're all he worked for.

21:39 Another dentist for a couple of years, which was very good because in Devils school, I don't give you any business training and dr. Uhlaender was very good at business all good. And then he went into the Navy for 3 years, Memphis, Tennessee, San Francisco.

22:07 And then when he got off set up practice and Excelsior and you were telling me it was it a hotel in Memphis that you were telling us about that had the Ducks.

22:19 There is a hotel that has ducks.

22:25 Home, can we go?

22:27 Your watch the spoke to me and tell me what time it was. Where was that hotel with the Ducks? I thought that's was when you were in Mathis. It was downtown Memphis and right off hand. I can't remember the name of it, but they had Ducks but came down on the elevator and walk to a pool in the center of the lobby.

22:47 And then they swam.

22:51 And then after about an hour, they went back up to their rooms and they're still there. They're still there. They still have no tell eventually.

23:05 All I can think of is Pickwick and I don't know whether that's the name of it or not.

23:13 They had a room they had they had while they sort they said was they had a sweet.

23:19 I don't know just what that entail but they took the elevator up there.

23:26 Who is fun to watch them?

23:29 Cuz I could sit on a mezzanine floor and look down and watch them.

23:34 So they were fun to watch I'm that.

23:38 Hey, so he served he served on a transport ship transport and to Korea and back.

23:47 Japan

23:49 Baby cereal to Japan and Guam

23:54 And I think Hong Kong and most many times to Hawaii and back.

24:01 They could carry 3,000 troops on that ship. I remember him saying that it was incredibly boring sure. There was nothing to look at but water. Yeah, and the doctor there was a doctor in one of the transports that was really bored while he slept all the time and he was an officer. So he ordered all the men on the boat to be circumcised that had been circumcised and dad said there was moaning and groaning in the bathroom for weeks and weeks and I'm his name was Fitch. That was his name. Yeah, not nice and it goes in the and the nurses did their nails almost every day or hear nothing else to do it cuz they're only there in case there were dependents.

24:52 Other word, I need dependents most of the time.

24:55 And then Dad Dad was okay though, cuz he could he had teeth and if anything would work to do. Yeah, he had work to do.

25:06 And he did it.

25:08 Yeah, he didn't really care for the the naval officers that he knew very much which is why he left right the Navy.

25:17 Oh, there were some that were real hard to get along with.

25:23 They were

25:25 Little or Thor attarian

25:28 Well that was out there trying to be and that some of them were were had girlfriends and such a Mistresses and Dad just did not agree with that. No.

25:39 Know how to do that. Now you and Dad were never I remember growing up. You guys were never you never said disparaging things about other people, you know about different races or anything like that. No,

25:55 That's not how you live.

25:57 Yeah hot was it using dad was just like that cuz of his Dad or I think his front of his family felt that way.

26:07 Cuz I remember that we never heard anything about that about no, and it was always wrong and our house and if we had company that didn't

26:17 Agree why we?

26:20 I said something.

26:26 Can't hear you to feel like you learned that from someone in particular.

26:32 Well, I think that.

26:36 My mother and my aunt who lived with us.

26:41 Until I was after I was married.

26:46 I felt that everyone was the same.

26:49 And they treated everybody the same and there was never any discussion about it.

26:58 And I just didn't feel it was right for other people to be able to.

27:05 Make disparaging remarks.

27:08 This is one of the things that was hard in the Navy.

27:12 Because there were

27:14 It was segregation.

27:17 And that was

27:19 And there were

27:22 There was bigotry.

27:24 And that's hard to get along with.

27:27 And you can't fight it you couldn't fight it then.

27:34 That was what you did.

27:39 I remember your first classes were remember your first classes that you taught.

27:46 Sure.

27:49 I had 32 children.

27:53 And 77 of them were gentiles.

27:58 And the rest were Jewish so we celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas.

28:06 And

28:09 It was a lot of fun.

28:11 I liked it.

28:13 Remember there was one little boy that had a story he commented about the story about the robin the robin building the nest in the male robin.

28:27 Remember his last name? No, but he wanted to know if the father Robin was going to lay the eggs.

28:35 And one of the other children did your father lay you

28:41 And he's also the one that wanted me to explain isinglass to him.

28:48 And he's also the one that asked me about what did it mean to be Jewish?

28:53 And I asked him well for church did she go to while he went to the Lutheran Church and I said, well it's kind of like

29:02 Being different nationalities you go to you have different nationalities and you have different churches.

29:10 Well, it said is fighting you can find isinglass. What's good?

29:17 Will they used to have

29:20 Stoves

29:22 You could see the Flames but they didn't have glass on the front and he knew about that and that was my Cove was used for for the isinglass.

29:36 So he was okay.

29:40 Trying to think of the major stories of your life. Now after San Francisco, then you guys came back too and you started your dental office in Excelsior Minnesota where you lived until 2004 for dad died in 2000 kidney cancer and they did surgery on a hemorrhage. Many hemorrhaged. That was very sad. Grandma died. I forget what year 1990 1990 but she lived in in Minneapolis, Minnesota her whole life and she had a job up until 94 even she was taking appointment at the senior home across the street.

30:27 She lived what was that her apartment address?

30:31 Because 3609 or 3600 Bryant Avenue Bryant Avenue job up until 94 shoes amazing.

30:42 She was a go-getter her whole life his shoes.

30:49 She had to when she had her heart problem. She had to quit going to baseball games because she got so excited used to get embarrassed in China.

30:59 Well, yes, it's a child.

31:03 I remember one story about Grandma to work for the railroad.

31:08 Is she did and they're moving the office has she ran it and she ran it and they put in the newspaper didn't they? They put it in the newspaper that she was running the office of the railroad company.

31:22 Remember what else he said the only woman to ever do that?

31:26 They said there's nothing masculine about mrs. Snow. She's a petite woman first time a woman seen on the loading docks.

31:35 She was quite political very political until Watergate.

31:42 And then she quit cuz she was highly disappointed in her Republican party became a kind of a Democrat kind of kind of a Democrat. She couldn't quite completely go over. I don't think so.

32:02 Not completely.

32:05 No, and any last stories you remember Mom he wanted to tell.

32:12 Where will I move to Lacrosse, Wisconsin in 2004 and brought two kitties?

32:21 And my daughter said it was too far to drive to Minneapolis.

32:26 And I'm very delighted to be here and I thank her for all she does. Yes. We're glad to have you here. That's for sure. So that's

32:36 But Dad got his wish cuz Dad never wanted to have to quit practicing so he don't practice up until the day. How old was he when he died remember now? He's born in 24 and he died in 2000. So the 7676. Yeah, you always didn't hear math faster than me, but he work the day before he went into the hospital. Sure Kenny had patients scheduled for when he was going to come back him.

33:06 And I worked in the dental office to from 1952 on yes. She did all of the bookkeeping.

33:13 Even though I always thought you didn't work, but you did how you work at nice.

33:19 Because you were home because Dad had a home office and he could come upstairs and have you made him lunch everyday and dinner and he could have a nap and then go back to work.

33:32 It was a great situation and if a patient didn't show up, he could come and watch a round of golf on TV and put his feet up in the middle of the night.

33:45 Miles to get to the office. I don't think you just walk down the stairs. He had Alice Beneke that were firm for many years. It's right him. You guys had a good little set up there.

33:59 I work out very very well. I think a home office is ideal. Yeah, so if anyone hears this get home office.

34:10 Well, we liked it. Yes, you did.

34:13 We liked it.

34:17 So that was

34:20 That was the way it went. I was very glad I had all that experience in the dental office. We are very glad for all the the trips to Camp Du Nord in Ely Minnesota and then trips to Taylor Falls and

34:36 That we took on a regular basis. You guys did a lot of family activities.

34:42 Oh, that's what's important now.

34:46 That's what's important is your family still wish I could have been an architect.

34:53 I don't know.

34:56 I don't know. Who knows. Who knows. Who knows. I did enjoy those little second graders.

35:05 And I enjoyed the three year olds in Sunday School.

35:11 Help me did like those kids so.

35:16 It's probably just as well. Okay? Well we have just five minutes left.

35:22 Well, tell me about your faith mom.

35:27 It's always you've always gone to church.

35:30 Rocher ball ways. You've always volunteered volunteered

35:38 Who is a deacon and excelsior for?

35:43 12 or 15 years in South Shore Congregational Church

35:48 Sing in the choir

35:51 Dad got always saying the Messiah with a community choir Denis. Well, he saying in a church choir and he sang with the Choral Society.

36:02 To Carl societies and he had a best friend in the choir. What was his name?

36:10 Then they always told jokes.

36:12 Zima cell and dad always turned a joke and he made it as sweet a joke on swedes cuz he didn't ever want to make a joke about another people right? So I was joked about being Swedish and you are Irish. Absolutely. Yes with a little bit of Luxembourg.

36:31 Well, I'm a Juris is came from Luxembourg. That was Grandma's maiden name.

36:39 What is considered the poor Irish, right?

36:43 Did their Farm never did well didn't they say because the firm never do 12 because they said that

36:51 Her father had built it for the leprechauns danced and took away their.

36:59 There's a special place. So the firm wasn't not going to do well.

37:05 Okay. Well, I guess we're done mom. Well, that's a good place to end it with the leprechauns.

37:12 Are Irish heritage favorite hymn?