Leora Ferguson Ciccone and Luann Ferguson Ciccone

Recorded February 25, 2011 Archived February 23, 2011 43:53 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY007524


Leora Ferguson Ciccone, 96, talks to her daughter Luann Ferguson Ciccone, 56, about her life and careers in the military and nursing.

Subject Log / Time Code

LeFC remembers the Depression. Her father was a carpenter who once nearly died on pneumonia.
LeFC’s mother was a great nurse despite not having formal training. Her father was a very able, hard-working man.
LeFC enlisted in the military; she was a Waac. She made sure to never do anything “immoral.”
LeFC, a private first class, was sent to Egypt. She had a great time there.
Friends convinced LeFC to move to New York, where she became a nurse. She was the oldest person in her class.
LeFC met her husband while in her thirties. He was divorced. They married three months after meeting, stayed married for 27 years until his death.


  • Leora Ferguson Ciccone
  • Luann Ferguson Ciccone

Recording Location

MobileBooth West

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:05 Hi, my name is LuAnn Ferguson Saucony. I am 56 years old. Today's date is February 25th, 2011. We are in Chico, California, and I'm here today with my mother Leora.

00:21 Hi, my name is Leora Ferguson Saucony. I am 96 almost ninety. Seven years old. Today's date is February 25th, 2011 rent Chico, California, and I'm with my daughter through LAN.

00:41 Hi Mom, so I wanted to talk to you today about what it was like when you were growing up and some of the memories that you have growing up and some of the memories you have of our family and my family now and we have a family tree that some of our relatives have put together. So I'd like to fill in the blanks with some of the stories about some of those people that are on the tree some of them that we've never met or I've never known and and others that are still in our lives. So so I'd like to know what is your earliest memory.

01:23 I don't know. What is my memory that I really did do it or if it was been told to me so many times but I remember going down the mountain and when it started to storm when I was before I was 18 months old and my sister and brother took me by the hand and throw you down the hill look at your Pikes Peak and I remember that then the other memory that I had was removed to Oklahoma and I remember playing in the creek that was dried up and living in a tent.

02:06 And

02:08 That those are things that actually happened.

02:12 And I know that you were born at the bottom of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, but most of your life you grew up in Anna Illinois and you were the middle child of a really of a large family of nine children and youth group during the Depression. So a lot of people don't remember what it was like during the Depression, but I know that you do very much so so I wanted to hear a little bit about what it was like growing up in your family during the Depression.

02:42 I was thought it was awful at the time but everybody in the town was the same way. Everybody told my father he was a carpenter and they owed him and we had but we never went hungry but never had a grocery bill never had a doctor's Bill and because he was always working for them, but it was when I look at you.

03:09 I'm losing words, you know that after the initial doing things was concerned. I found it not to be as bad as I had thought it was but we learned many things and I was the middle one of nine and I was a baby for 8 years and I think I acquired many things that I shouldn't have it be wanting this annoying that but I think one of the most Vivid remembering that I have was my father had pneumonia or the flu they had in 1917 or something like that. They had the flu epidemic and they thought he was going to die on Christmas day. He had $10 that he could have food get food and toys for us and I my first met

04:09 I've ever getting it present was a little room with the red handle and it cost a nickel and we had fruit and things like that on that Christmas song ever forget that Christmas because the doctor said that he was going to live and he got really upset cuz Mom spent the whole $10 on things for Christmas that is doing a vivid imagination. I guess. I don't know whether they told her to or what.

04:41 We are at you mentioned that you you learned a lot during that during the Depression. You said you learned many things. Do you do remember some of that the lessons from those years that I got through those years. Was that money doesn't mean anything and you have you learned the worst of ribbing.

05:05 And I I I heard that worsen not worrying about whether I notice you talked to several things about the coldest of the weather. We had I lived in Southern Illinois when I was growing up and we had little zero temperature many many years. And so we learn to abide by what we had you ever learn to take with your head not for granted, but you're appreciated what you did have and I had a we had many things that we considered this normal a lot of people considered they were not willing to give into poverty and we never really hungry but we we did have didn't have the big meals that we had and one thing I I don't know what time to tell her you're not but it's something I'm looking at the wrong way. I was one thing that work to be.

06:05 It's very important to remember how things can happen and I learned to take not take anything for granted. You wanted to know what I wanted to learn what I'd learned but I don't appreciate things and know that there is somebody that's watching some one great person is watching over us and my mother told my dad that day that if he didn't get money from the people who owed him. She didn't have anything for supper.

06:34 And he went to the drugstore cuz that man told me more than anybody else and my dad didn't want to ask people for money. And so he waited and waited and a fine just said I'll find somebody else asked for money for the druggist was really busy and he went out the back door and if he went out the back door to go the Audi to get away. He saw something on the ground and step there were two steps there and he reached down and picked it up and it was a dollar bill and he took it down to the end of the alley and bought a hand for quarter.

07:16 I've heard this story many times. It's a good laugh and he went to the porterhouse and bought a hand and then walked over to the work order and went over to the grocery store and spent the rest of the dollar in vegetables and things we had a wonderful supper. We had a wonderful dinner the next day and we always said that God provides and that's the thing that I learned more than anything else. If you don't take everything you just so granted much to granted and that you appreciate her and it does we have somebody looking out for us.

07:59 I wanted to hear a little bit more about what grandma and grandpa were like when you were growing up cuz I remember them when I was little but they were quite old by then. So which Grandma my grandma and your grandma I never met your grandparents, but if you have any memories of your grandparents or your are your parents that you'd like to share my grandmother was evidently for more of a money to family then my grandfather was and I always call my grandfather parks and rec room because he never was anything that was really happy about anything and he also made knives kitchen knives and travel down the down the country and sold them that that was his thing that he wanted to do and my grandmother helped the doctors take care of sick people and she was a very

08:59 Or she was a very good person and did everything for everybody that she could now. My mother was 15 when she got married, but my dad asked her mom and her mother and father if she can marry him but she had kept the family Vol grandma was helping your doctor's so there she was not just 15 year old teenager, but she knew what she was doing and they said as long as they didn't keep her from going to church or make your laundry do laundry for other people.

09:40 He promised that he can marry her. Where were they are they were in creal Springs, Illinois to Little Town. I don't think I had more than 200 people in the town and they were well-respected and very my grandfather created us for I mean, I for a victrola and tapes I should say records and he got put it on his front porch and played it as loud as she could and that records are all religious records and he came this one he kept saying over and over and over driving my grandma crazy, but it was a beautiful Isle of somewhere and he came in the house one day and said, you know, I've heard that so much I've got to do something so that I can get to the Isle of somewhere.

10:40 And he became like a changed man and he was everybody he kept the kids singing chase them away and it was just like a conversion and I think he kept actually died that to that record. And so he turned out to be a very I love I love them. I was the only one who got to know Grandpa and I love him and I love grandma and Grandma would come and stay with us anytime that she was needed and they lived about 60 miles from home in my home.

11:18 What about Mom and Pop mom? Well, my dad was a very

11:27 He was a chauvinist.

11:29 And I think all men are showing us at that time that's back in the early.

11:35 1900 Series and my mother was ten years younger than my dad. So therefore she listened to him and she he talked about her many things about cooking and everything else and she turned out to be a wonderful lady and I went into nursing but I never became the nurse that my mother was she she was a true she knew how to take care of people without any education.

12:09 And dad was he had gone to Academy. He he was a very smart man. I say he's ready when the when they went first went up to the moon and before they told about how much they are but had to go around the Earth in order to make a complete and Dad told us how much how many miles is making himself just say things that he doesn't know and it came out in the paper the next day. He was 207 wouldn't even a mile off and so he was able to do many things because he was capable he raid a living for a family of never more than

13:09 7 hours at home at one time but he did painting furniture. He did carpentry. He did upholstery. He did everything he did well and he'd work day and night to make a living for the family.

13:27 So when you were when you were growing up pretty think was the biggest influence on your life.

13:32 My mother

13:34 More so than anybody in the some of the people made a big influence on my life that.

13:44 Your teachers I became involved in love with Edward teacher. I ever had it was good, you know, and I tried to do more and I think

13:55 After I I think when I was down that's that's probably what it was.

14:03 So I was going to I was going to move on next to your years as a wack cuz we first lots of stories about your time in the Army can tell you the story of how I got in the Army if you got everybody in the war was wrong and everybody was doing everything and I said, I think I'll join the Navy and my father had been in the Spanish-American war and he said no you don't want to go out there. They don't have anything but pink keep keep parties in the Navy it all to do that the night of the Army's the one for you and I said, oh, I think I'll go in the Marines and he said they don't have women in the Marines and I said, I guess I'll have to go in the army and I went to work at the time. I was working in an optometrist office.

14:54 And I said, I guess I'll have to go into the army then and I came home at night and he had the papers all ready for me to sign to go into the army get married. I get into the army and I think I will never forget that first trip. I I had to do many test to get in and father or somebody took me the different towns to take the aptitude test so that I can go into the army and I got on the train at Anna, Illinois and drove 125 miles.

15:48 St. Louis

15:50 And I don't think I even had nerve enough to be scared, but I had never been away from home never been away from your family. And when I got out early train, they met me from with the Army women and I had a truck and I looked and I thought I'll never want to be a truck driver and that's what they did. They put me as a truck driver and you never want to tell anybody what you wanted cuz you didn't get it but I learned it was good you could experience for me, but it wasn't I would not want either one of you girls to do it. So that tells you something but I don't know how hot can you tell me a little bit more about what life was in the Army For You especially at a time when women were very new.

16:48 If you heard rumors that you may have heard rumors, we are both young but how the women were rather did everything for the men and I made a vow when I first went in that I would never do anything that I thought was immoral or illegal. I did not have to change my life just because I belong to

17:12 You're wack.

17:14 And I do as I can remember. I can't remember doing anything like that, but we gained the respect we had some in the just wanted to have a good time but

17:29 Why I was turned out to be a dispatcher for the motor transport in Camp Grant, Illinois and all the drivers and all the people work. There were the Black Crowes and the girl who'd been a dispatcher was from the south and she was terrible. She treated him like nincompoops. And so they put her in my place. I was special rounds driver. They put her in my place for a short time. I made me dispatcher and I treat I never had told him to do anything I ask him if they would and I had a different way. I learned how to treat people that

18:13 I should have taken care of and so I

18:21 I did many things that I did not want to do women had to do the KP and I remember one thing I remember about me.

18:32 We had to take some the wet all of the garbage out and put everything together and then the cook said and then we had to go and put the other stuff all in a different thing. And I think that was the most repulsive thing I've ever had to do and but I learned had many friends and we learn many things and we didn't do things that we didn't think are fair or a good.

19:04 So after you were in Illinois, then you were in Egypt for 18 months. Will they I was a PFC and you know what that is first class.

19:17 Five freshmen and Eisenhower said it's not fair to keep them in overseas all the time. I want to go because there's nobody to take their places and if the women or give up their rank.

19:38 They can go over and take the place of the men that are are in a different area several people that went to angel in this before we went to France and if whoever they were soldiers and there's a group that $100 went to Egypt and we took over the I worked in a medical office as a very beginning. It was her time table clerk different things, but we did get the ranks as the men had and

20:11 It was nice and but we got it we felt we were doing something good because the man who had been away from home for two years now got to have the whole back to the States and many of them for their families.

20:27 What was it like being an Egypt terrible? If you want to make it that way we when we first went we lived in there was a on the edge of Cairo is out on the desert and we first went there and then we I went into the medical center and we had I guess it was about 30 hours. We're in a hotel on Main Street of Cairo and we lived in that until we got a new apartment cow's milk and

21:08 We went I guess it was a year. We stayed in the hotel and then we went to the Nile and we had a beautiful place to can let us have a membership in here.

21:23 What are you called Park? We are at a club for months. We had a I told you it was terrible. I mean County antique, we had a 10 day furlough because it was so hot in Egypt and so I got to go to the Holy Land for 10 days. I went to Rome for 10 days. We went to different and island of Cyprus and those 10 days out of four months made like a fairyland and when you were in Rome, I remember you telling me about going to the Sistine Chapel special then and all of the different things.

22:14 That were in the Louvre because there was fighting in France. If I didn't end up in the north, they wrote all those precious things down and put them in the Vatican and we got to go and see them.

22:30 The all of the major artwork from Europe Winston Hall in one place and see it. Exactly. But the main thing I think I never got enough of her Sistine Chapel. It had all the paintings on the walls and I've lost his name. Who's Michelangelo Michelangelo. He had painted it all and it's really something I never felt I wasted my time going in the Army and I feel terrible when I hear all the bad things that happened to other people took advantage of what I had.

23:16 Can you think of a couple other things in Egypt? I remember you telling me cooking eggs in the sand because it was so hot that were so different cuz it was different.

23:33 I see who did I.

23:37 Ask me another question. I we saw the pyramids. Oh, yes. We went the pyramids. You're I didn't know that's what you meant. We went to the pyramids and Reed Road camel, and we got to go the American Red Cross.

23:55 Did the different things for the fellas and then then our commanding officers made us go to the dinners and things because I needed somebody to be at their party. And so we did go there were tentative time. We went out on the Red Sea and had a wonderful time and I think and I must say they were not as bad as they seem to be to go on a date and that was something they thought we were out there for the dates and we weren't one of the little chips that I think we took was Superman took us out to the red sea sea always you can say you've been to the Red Sea.

24:48 We got in a truck and got right out then when we got to the beach.

24:57 Got out and I've ever felt took ahold of a girl and started out on the beach.

25:05 And I said I didn't come out here to go and everything anybody else. I was terrible and I said anybody wants to go back home. We can go and the Man all laughed and said

25:19 And I reached over and got the key out of the car or the truck and they all piled in and every one of the women wanted your home recording when I asked for and so I drove them back and the man stood there that are high and I had a pass I had another pass I had to tape and so when I got to back to the place that we can camp. I just said somebody will have to go pick Savannah up cuz it's a little far to walk. I could have gotten cart Marshall, but I didn't ever I thought was funny but we did and so that was my trip to read tea and a pair of its was very common place to go.

26:18 I am I learn to do things. I think I've said somebody is analytical and I left one thing. I learned not to be if you need to do something you do it and in the army, they told you what to do to do something and you didn't question and so you some of those good and some of it wouldn't but that's one thing that I help me in life that it's something had to be done. You did it without questioning. If you if it's something that you didn't definitely know it needs to be done.

26:54 And you also learn to be really independent to my family was I left home after the after the Army after you were discharged went back to Anna Illinois, but you didn't stay there very long know what happened. Well, I seem like it seems to me like other people did my decisions for me and I had a friend that I had met in the Army and ever and I had become like sisters and I had one in one of my friends and it was and Anna

27:41 You said heard me say that I'd like to be I always wanted to be a nurse and so she got in touch with Anna and with Evelyn and the two of them one person the other one full me to go into New York at-will. I went in the GI with his GI Bill and I went to the Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn New York because they're the only one who didn't wear a lot of black stockings.

28:09 And I told her I was a lizard and so I went and I became a nurse after three years ago and it's still I went to was a hospital but it was honored by the New York University until I got 64 credits for being on a three-year-old nursing program. And you were the oldest one in your class. I was the only one that wasn't a teenager. They I was like their mother because I was 30.

28:44 34 in fact, I was 34 when I finally went and I went back to Anna and went back to work at the office red worked.

28:57 I looked at things a little differently. I think the Army prepared me for nursing. Oh, yeah, I graduated it did but it also was a fact that

29:17 I just lost my Trend I was there a fact that they expected me to do more and I didn't know and I'd never been around sick people and I didn't know any more than you, but I looked at it from as an adult. I think that helped and isn't that also why they asked you to become an instructor? Oh, yeah. Yeah. I had had some car and so then I went for today and I had an interview with

29:50 First head nurse. I mean that a nursing supervisor and she said you can't be a and you can have a job, but you can't be in an operating room of the delivery room.

30:06 And I actually could I ask you why because I had really wanted to do four months of every department and figure out what I like. The best girls are like them all.

30:17 And she said you can go on the street and find people who can do this mechanical work with an is needed. But you need to go into for you have more sick people and you need other people to help you can help other people and so she put me in the long-term nursing program and I never told anybody that they when they were working in the ER.

30:45 Get those off the street, but I knew what she meant. You didn't nursing has changed so much time.

30:54 Before and so that's right around the time after you graduated then you were working for a little bit and that's when you met Daddy. I want your dad. I met your daddy because a friend of mine and I had been on vacation in Florida. I used to spend nine months in Florida because we have a whole month off and I went back and I had all the mothering and I needed to protect everybody laugh because we as a nurse you become independent and when you go after your family, they treat you like a child and I guess you knew that don't you and anyway, I called my friend who was a lab technician and said come over for supper. I came back a week early and come over and I'll have supper together and she said I can't because a friend of mine is up and

31:54 A friend of her boyfriend took this woman you show her, New York.

32:01 And she said you come and have dinner with me. So I said, okay, so we didn't and she didn't know when they were coming back to her apartment. And so I had been in Florida and I had a halter top and shorts and sandals and I said to her I I'll come if I can dress like I am having dress up for anything and she said fine. We were just two blocks away. And so I took my shoes off and I'm sitting there barefooted Only You sharks in the top.

32:43 And enjoying life in this couple came in and I'm looking for my shoes and this man who happened to be

32:56 Set the what are you doing? And I feel I'm trying to find my shoes. I want to get them off. He said don't put them on my feet or so tired. You said it. How about if I take mine off and so he took his shoes off and the other Saul went into the kitchen. I decided we were going to talk and we did we talked and he asked me for a date.

33:19 Then he called up and talked to me a long time and finally asked if he had been divorced and it just was there all go out now and sorry letter.

33:35 Pork pork chop price I had and three runs right ovary remarried. How did daddy propose? Oh

33:49 He had it ask him over for supper several times. Then we went out more than it during that short time. And he said I'm going to come and we're going to have dinner at your house, but I don't want it along thing make it struck. I have something I want to do. And so I happen to live in the penthouse of the week and my friend who was my roommate. Well, I've always been invited invited her to stay and it lets you know your dad and so we ate and he couldn't wait to get it through eating. He had something he wanted to do and then she got through eating he got this bag and you put it out and ready sit there and Iran.

34:48 And he's here. He said, you know, I didn't know you would have for New Year's but I said I'd like this is something we can remember and he gave me a bottle of perfume for every holiday or his birthday. My birthday birthday was a little later he would give me a gift.

35:10 A perfume or nail polish or something and say we remember that day because he wanted always never forget what happened before we got married before we knew each other and so they run gave me this pearl ring. And you said this is for your birthday.

35:30 And I am out here. I don't know what to say. I never was speechless in my life and then he turned around and he got this little ring.

35:41 Diamond and sit and I've got for you. This sister asked you to be my wait for the rest of our lives.

35:52 And I said, oh and I never did say yes.

35:59 That was into that we had that and we got married in that was 2nd of September and I had met him in August and then we got married in November and how did you know you wanted to marry him?

36:15 I didn't have to ask myself.

36:18 It just was one of those things that it's time. I called my mom and I said

36:26 I'm going to get married. She said do you love him and I said, of course?

36:30 And she said well then get married and I said, well, it's only three months. She said that's all I knew your father.

36:39 So it turned actor he died after 27 years, but we had that.

36:46 Sew-in we just have a few minutes left. So I also just wanted to throw out here that we get to talk about daddy and what it was like when we were going up and some of your memories of our family of attorney and Lynn. I just hope I didn't take too much of this time didn't mean anything but work for Con Edison and he had started as a boy and he went to HighSchool after school after after work and attend the evening and he became a representative in the number of your heroic for 48 years. I think it was and then you got sick, but he

37:35 He was like so happy to have a you and Rena and a family. It was really something and Chara.

37:49 I'm I'm I'm just lost my train of thought that you were very different from each other and Midwest enough and I was quite different. We were quite different than I quit. I don't think he quite understood me and I didn't understand him, but he was a wonderful boyfriend, but he said that he can make a living for us, and I said I'd like to get back in now when you even when we're not in school, but I'd like to get back and they wanted needed somebody to work weekends, and I said I'd like to go back to work.

38:36 At least one or two nights a week evenings Anissa phone I make enough and I said that's not the point. I don't want to get away from nursing and he said okay I said you take care of the girls on the weekend and I'll and I can work but I can't work and do both and I can't reach taking you ever place and he said that's no problem. And so I'd go work to work on Friday after Friday night evening, and he would come home and from that time until Monday morning. They were yours has you are his girl and they took you all over I guess you've been more places in New York than anybody could go.

39:32 But he he was right there and that's always doing things for you and

39:39 He took you to Sunday school and I recover I got I got left out.

39:46 I felt left out and meet you at church, but I Reese's sleepy. I wouldn't know what to do. And so I decided to dismiss it and we are not going to work letter about that time. I used to when you started the school then I could work and I worked in the daytime and went back through education. So I think we're almost done. So is there anything else that you want to make sure that we get down on this record that we're making?

40:24 How about what are your hopes and dreams for your family for my family?

40:29 I would hope that Lynn gets everything all settled and she find someone to go in with her on the Hawaiian.

40:41 Oracle, whatever their she's trying to do everything by yourself and I hope that all turns out and as far as Thomas concerned, I hope he gets enough traveling on his retirement, but he said good he's a good provider. You would husband minute. I couldn't ask for people to be nicer to me and we hope Rob makes it to Hawaii tonight either. I just started to say if you'll go and move and not be so well, I can understand his side of the story to read that. He wants to go he says and don't say you want to go and live in Hawaii if you're not because she does and as far as you're concerned, I'm not sure that I could ever really Define you.

41:37 Cuz you've been in the same as a little girl.

41:42 You knew what you wanted to do and you did it. I don't understand some of the things that you've done but friends since I let you make sandwiches and cheese sandwiches for when you were like she was in a hospital. I mean in a highchair and you were in you had your little table or and making sandwiches and how it works you screwed up and you went into your room and came back and sat down and started wrecking finish it and I wonder what you did and I walked in your room. And Aaron are on the wall was your cheese sandwich cheese only cheese. I never could figure that out and then you want to change the color of your Easter eggs, and you made him all black.

42:33 And so you had your own ideas of what you wanted to do and you still have you still have but that was very typical of you. Didn't have to have somebody tell you to paint them black that you thought they were beautiful need to finish up, but I want to say this but I just want to tell you that everything you said today. Just everybody always says to me your mom is such a wonderful person and it's because of the lies that you've let in all your adventures and you were role model for linen. I growing up are you were a feminist you didn't even know you were thank you so much for everything. I can say thank you for your doing good. I have never been disappointed in right and children. I think it was worth while waiting.

43:33 Had sir, I didn't think I could have children and I prove the doctor wrong.

43:40 Because I could and I did and I thank God everyday for you and all of you.

43:50 Thank you all.