Jack Dorsey, Nan Dorsey, and Graham Edson

Recorded December 22, 2007 Archived December 22, 2007 36:34 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: NPL000129


Nan and Jack Dorsey tell about their life to their grandson Graham Edson.

Subject Log / Time Code

Jack remembers his childhood in Cobleskill, NY working at the Park Theatre taking show bills to small towns.
Nan talks about her childhood in Livingston, NJ in Orange Mountains.
Nan says her hardest time was when her mother died.


  • Jack Dorsey
  • Nan Dorsey
  • Graham Edson

Recording Location

Nashville Public Library


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00:23 My name is Graham Edson. My age is 15 years old today's date is December 22nd. 2007. Our location is the Nashville Public Library and my relationship to my partners is that they are my grandparents.

00:41 My name is Nan Dorsey. I'm 76 years old date. Today is December 22nd 2007. We are now in the Nashville Public Library.

00:55 My name is Jack Dorsey, my age is 80 December 22nd 2007 at the Nashville Public Library and waiting to hear questions from Graham.

01:12 Where did you grow up?

01:14 Well, I grew up in let me see to Tomales born in Cobleskill New York and my dad work for a dairyman dairymen's co-op that had milk plants all over New York State and the first one place. I remember was my dad. We were in Astoria Long Island. My dad worked at the milk plant on 14th Street, New York City, and then he went to Yonkers New York from Yonkers went to orbit New York from Albany airport to Poughkeepsie and from Poughkeepsie went to New York City. So I kind of grew up. My first six years in grade school was in Jackson Heights Long Island, and then we moved up back Upstate New York Cobleskill and I started my 6th grade and finish there went all the way to high school. So basically I grew up in a small town in Upstate, New York.

02:08 Which of those places did you have one of your greatest strongest memories that you can still recall to today, which of them just sticks out to you call naturally living in Cobleskill. Where was touch sticks out more to me than any of the other places?

02:28 I'm ever working at work for the

02:32 Park Theater, we Steve-o's a job that every kid wanted to have and we had a they had a little pickup truck and we had show bills we took to all the little towns around within 20 miles of Cobleskill and every Saturday morning with me down to the theater and they drive the truck to different towns like scary in Middleburg and skinny vez in Worcester and richmondville and we go from door-to-door leaving show bills on each door steps of people know what movie was coming to the theater that week.

03:02 So that was thyroid remember doing that?

03:07 Where did you grow up? I grew up in Livingston New Jersey. It's a part of Essex County in the orange mountains. You had a great childhood. I was an only child and I was very anxious to get out in the world and make friends and those days mothers didn't drive cars. So kids had a ride their bicycles everywhere. And so we always have a lot of fun a lot of girly things and was active in the Girl Scouts and all those memories come flooding back when you get to be a grandma you think of all the things you did when you were that age growing up who are some of your favorite relatives that you saw often.

03:46 Well, my parents were Scott's they came to this country. My my father sent for my mother to marry her here that was in 1926. They were married. My father came in 25. My mother came in 26 and they were married as soon as she got it soon as she arrived in January. And so I had no brothers or sisters. I was an only child and I really didn't have any blood relatives. I mean, my my parents had no brothers or sisters living in this country. So we really didn't have any blood relatives but my parents were very involved with your friends and neighbors and I was raised with a great bunch of people that were Germans to this day. I remember all the happy things we did with them we stuff then the old days used to pack up on the weekend and go to the lake all day Saturday and stay there all day and you you cook they had campfires and little gasoline stoves and we spent the whole day and everybody's kids were together and we have

04:46 I am at the picnic and I had some times you had ball games going on and it was just a really fun thing cuz on the way home. We always stopped at the dairy Barns and had the Germans and the Scots are great ice cream dessert people. We always stopped at the dairy barns. I got these great double-decker ice cream cones and all the dads did the driving none of the moms drove in those days. So

05:10 What are some what are some stories that you remember that the people at least a police to tell you some things that?

05:18 Well, I had I didn't have my parents also had friends that were Scott's and spend every Thanksgiving. We went to Bay Ridge Brooklyn and those people's names were aunt and uncle Bert their last name was McCallum make two or Scotch from Scotland. So they had us a little background together. And I had I had it my mother had a second cousin. My mother was a McDonald's, you know of big long clan of McDonald's and had a second cousin in Jersey City and we occasionally visited them and they occasionally visited us. So I do have good memories of those people that were closest relatives, you know, cuz I they all were called the Germans were called tante. That's Aunt in German and Uncle for uncle and my I want my calendar called auntie auntie and uncle Bert and the McDonald's are called Uncle Joe and Aunt Minnie. So that was a real family and I when they had kids and they were like cousins to me.

06:20 What was my mom like throwing up?

06:23 Your mother

06:25 I I kind of remember her as being more of a kind of a tomboy. She wouldn't think it's looking at her today, but you know, we lived in Minnesota and all the brothers played hockey in there playing hockey and one day she came home and told her mother that doctor May was a dentist in town had daughters was going to start a girls hockey team and Mom. I'm going to play on that hockey team. So your mother was I remember her going. I think she pretty good skater and she played hockey off all winter long on the outdoor ice in Minnesota, and and she was so she was a fun thing to a fine little girl to have around the house and always happy ending.

07:14 You know, she's being a second daughter she was.

07:18 She pretty much behave yourself. I think pretty good. Wish you was there left her first baseman, you know being left-handed and her dad is Left-Handed. She was our first baseman always on the softball team because she's left-handed. Throw herself. Her mother was a coach we moved to back to Springfield Mass Wilbraham Mass that her mother was the coach of the girls softball team that Kathy played on so you Kathy was pretty pretty athletic of the three daughters. He was probably the most athletic she was a great student. We never had to tell her to do her work or do her homework. She was always coming up with great ideas for her projects. Mom. What do you think of this? You know, she's always come up with something great. And I remember taking her lunch have gotten a lunch one day and I took her lunch into the grade school. And in those days you could go right in and knock on the door and it was a substitute teacher in the classroom. And so I looked in and I sit.

08:19 I'm Cathy dorsey's mom and she forgot her lunch and she said you don't have to tell me who you are. She looks exactly like you so we always we always played that played on that Kathy was the one that look the most like me.

08:37 How did you two meet?

08:40 Well, we'll make it short plus your mother already covered that part about that but it was it was meant to be that's all we can tell you was meant to be I was a flight attendant with American Airlines and he came down to Long Island to celebrate Christmas and we knew the same people we got together at the same party and then we just knew it was the right one and we have similar backgrounds game from similar families and that was 53 years ago, and we're still we're still going strong.

09:18 What did you think of my dad the first time that you saw him with my mom?

09:25 We didn't think anybody was good enough for our kids. So you fuck me father had a fit in there somehow but he was a good athlete, like them for that. He was a good athlete and he was very bright. We like them cuz he's very bright and do we thought he was very good-looking to be like them a lot. He was he was a nice fellow. He really nice fella and your mom was cuckoo form. So, you know, she had very good taste. She had a lot of boyfriends. Your mom was a very popular girl. We met him when they were going to college Saint Leo's down into Florida and we were living down at Sarasota and we'd go up and see your mother bring your mother home and she kept talking about

10:02 This boy Billy and so we got eventually to meet Bill and then do we like to be fitter bright Indie? He was a good steady average American boy. I thought then and I played soccer with a good baseball player and anybody can talk sports to me. He's kind of pissed right in.

10:26 What were you thinking the first time that you saw me?

10:33 You're making me cry out so long ago, wasn't it?

10:39 Do we really happy for your for your mom and dad and and you were a beautiful baby? You were a big baby big blonde and beautiful baby and you are very happy baby. I mean you would go to anybody. Remember you would go to anybody and I don't ever remember him crying. I remember I just remember you coming. We would sit you at the kitchen table cuz you lived about a mile away from us when you were born with a charlatan and you live about a mile away from the so we saw a lot of you and we would sit you with the kitchen table one of those little while

11:12 Hydra things and we would all sit down the sides of the table and you would sit up there. You were the only grandchild there in that town and we would then you wait for us all to clap and whenever you did anything cute we all clap and believe your little ham. Don't worry.

11:29 We called the G man.

11:32 Your name is G-Man. Where's the Gmail I had to do was put on Frank Sinatra with it. Oh, yeah, that was right. You loved your this song, New York New York and you're called York York and every time you came to your house would put that album on I pick you up and we would dance around and and I would sing along with Frank and you would be going Yark Yark Yark Yark, so that was a good memory for Graham.

12:03 And you know gave me that nickname Go-Go, don't you?

12:08 But we were so proud of being a grandparent. They're only trying to teach you to say grandma grandmother. Granny anyting and Wilson came out with GoGo and your mom said all that's great for you go-go, and I've been a go-go forever since then after all the grandchildren your goals are and even to some of the the parents of

12:37 You have ten children. What's your first child?

12:47 First job was Mike and he was named after me John Michael.

12:52 And we didn't want to happen to be called Junior. So we call him by his middle name Michael Mike. He's known as Mike and he was born out in the Chicago area when we were out there and then we came back east and Beth was born in.

13:11 Long Island Jewish hospital and we thought all we are Catholics when we have a daughter being born a Long Island Jewish hospital, but that was really a great place for her to be and we had a wonderful day. Just had a nice time there at that hospital with all the I would sit and talk to the Jewish fathers and

13:32 Henda I wish I did a nicer.

13:36 Ice experience

13:38 I'm back when you only had one child. Did you ever even fathom the idea of having 10 children enough?

13:46 Well, I was an only child and only children are lonely children. I mean not that I didn't have a wonderful life and that wonderful memories and everything. I don't regret anything. I just think that those only children don't really have a as long as childhood is his family children do because there isn't that you know that bonding of family and is so I knew I had told them my own parents and I was going to marry somebody that had came from big family so that I would have a big family and Papa has a family he had five brothers and sisters. So he was the oldest of six Oh, I thought that was great. Anybody would have six children. Wow.

14:31 What are some of the most important lessons that you have learned in your life?

14:37 Well, I think

14:40 I don't we were raised in a typical middle-class family in the 19 in the thirties and and it was kind of those are depression on a lot of people didn't have a lot of things and I think we learned it to you can get along without without things and still be happy and satisfied. It wasn't that you've always wanted something and we had good experiences with I had a lot of cousins on my mother's side and they had a farm in Upstate New York and every summer we can go up there and spend at least the summer in 3 months living on on Uncle sits farm and in meetings with my cousins there and at this point how to get along with people in different situations, and so it was and our parents were

15:30 My parents were results of the type that generally had to be called everybody mister or missus and and they had to be polite and you know, you didn't want to have somebody go home. And the worst thing wouldn't have happened to you. So many go home and tell you if I'm going to tell your mother that was that was bad news right there. So we were that was that's what we learned growing up is to have respect for other people in other people's feelings.

16:02 Do you have anything to add to that? You know we moved yet. We lived in a lot of different towns. We always lived in wonderful town. First thing. We always did was get get the children into school and then go to church and register with the church. So whenever we had to leave a town, we always cried when we left. We really didn't never never wanted to move. We just had to because of our job opportunity. Every time we lived in we're really nice town in our kids had great opportunities in those towns and we always felt badly when we left but a family is a wonderful thing and you know, I I realize that more as I grow older because now we have more like a mother Helen had me and so when my father died she was really alone, but you never alone when you have a family like still no matter will how many bumps or bruises you still have your family.

16:50 And we had Nana with us for 35 years and she moved around with us. And I think we gave all of our children exposure to that. She said two different areas of the country, Minnesota Minneapolis to Schenectady New York to Charlotte North Carolina. So that was pretty good cross-section deliver way up in the north in Minneapolis and in Schenectady New York and then come down and start living in in in in North Carolina. So the kids so, you know when we moved they had to go in the new schools in and start selling themselves all over again and because we raised in the way you want to do they they did a good job of that is fitting right in and then making friends right away.

17:41 Of all of your accomplishments. Which one are you most proud of in your life?

17:47 Probably R53 wonderful years together. I mean in this day and age even some of our children aren't still with your original spouses, but we're still sticking in there when we never go to bed mad at each other. You can't do that. So we learned that in the early. We got married you go to bed mad at each other so he's worked it out.

18:12 How would you like to be remembered?

18:15 Oh gosh.

18:17 How do you like to be remembered? Well, I would like to be remembered as a good person and an honest person good Christian that done you no new what's a good book was all about did unto others as they would do.

18:35 I think we all we all basically want to be remembered for the good the goodness in us and we try every night to make peace with our Lord and make sure that we we've been who we wanted to be that day.

18:50 I feel the same way and we just want to be good friends good neighbors and end.

18:57 And that end in o be respected by her children and buy our grandchildren and I think maybe we work at that we could try to reach, you know, good and fair on the best weekend everybody.

19:19 What were some of the hardest situations that you had to go through in your life?

19:28 Oh, well let you know when my mother my mother lived with us for 35 years and

19:34 And if so, I had it for a long time and she was an extraordinary person. She had so many talents made life so much better for me as an adult is not only as a child and so that was very very hard for me to lose my mother.

19:51 Well the way I can look back at it and I guess when I got

19:57 Prostate cancer and they were going to remove my prostate and they told told her that it was too far gone as nothing I could do but close me back up again in pop perhaps starts and treatment. So I went through chemotherapy eight times every 3 weeks went through radiation 5 days a week for eight weeks and then whence on hormones and the doctor they put me on this program Dr. Barzell and Sarasota to called me his Miracle cuz he didn't think I was going to survive that and here I am 5-6 years later and I'm still healthy and doing very well health-wise. So that was kind of a a trying from that's so much for me because I will kind of went through it but I think through GoGo here. She she she knew more about it than I did in what my situation was I still

20:53 Learned from her that to put the doctors were telling her whether or not I was going to make it or not, but I did make it. It must have been a reason why I did make it so we could sit here today and talked to the G-Man rather G-Man talked up.

21:10 You've lived in very different places throughout your whole life that you do you prefer to live where it's warmer down the South or did you enjoy living up where there was snow often in the north more? I tell people that if there had been air conditioning in the South when the pilgrims landed we would all be in the South but every car every part of this country has its problems. I wear down there and they have hurricanes but the trouble with hurricanes is that people know they're coming for 2 weeks from there to get the African Coast. Is it come across see every day they take what category is but here if you have a tornado you don't know it or you may know the snow storms coming through and I lived through a lot of snow storms growing up in Upstate New York summer my brother and I are going to town 10 miles away from the farm and not getting home for a week because they couldn't plow and then we had to park the car down the foot of the hill and walk 3 miles.

22:10 What the hell they got to the farm. So I've been so snow storms and we went through hurricanes. I went through a hurricane when I was a boy 1938. We lived Upstate New York to hurricane came all the way up in 250 miles above New York and we got married and a hurricane. Did we fight after Hurricane? And we had a hurricane in Charlotte, but we're we're living now how far to get hit by hurricanes at Tampa area seems to be a hurricane proof right now or has been for the last two forty-five years, but you know our our son Mike is on the west coast and he just experienced the wire wildfires that they had out there and the land the landslides they have so there's

22:55 Even though Florida maybe people think it's dangerous place to live. It's no taste worse than any place else doesn't know perfect place on Earth to live where nature doesn't interfere from time to time.

23:07 Well, and you know, we're outdoorsy people. Anyway, we like all the outdoor things though in the winter. You do great outdoor stuff. We get into all that cross country skiing remember and everybody skated in Minnesota and it will now we really like our Golf and we like our beaches and right where we are. We've always enjoyed where we live which is a good. I mean, that's a good positive thing in your life is make up your mind. You're going to enjoy it, right?

23:37 What advice would you give me for bringing up my own children?

23:42 The first thing a telegram is go to college get a good job and then get married and I think you're going to do it and then find a nice girl, you know, you can spend the rest your life with but I think the way you've been brought up and and you're going to

24:03 Do a good job. But the most important thing is is you got to provide once you make the decision you going to get married to got to be sure you're going to do the be the one that's going to be the provider. Danda. And when you have children, then you got to say remember what your mother told you remember how you were raised and and your wife's going to remember how she was raised. So it's going to be you know, we were told when we first got married that I went back to my hometown and remember the lady chose mrs. Mrs. Walker said marriage is a 60/40 proposition.

24:38 And we looked at her what she mean.

24:41 You both give 60% so that that would be a good advice to you that be at when and if you get married think that it's a 60/40 proposition and both of you get 60%

24:54 And that that's that came a long time ago 53 years ago from this is Walker so you can and I just remembered.

25:07 We have no doubt that you're going to do. Well, we're very happy with your progress. So far your good student and playing that keeping music in your life is a good thing too. And you're touching all the bases. I think you're a very well-rounded grandson. We're very proud of you.

25:27 How's your life been different than what you might have imagined it to be as a child or?

25:33 I really didn't imagine as a child. I was not I really didn't plan for my future. I just in those days. We just had fun and lived just we really didn't plan. We didn't I don't know why but I don't think it was very mature as a youngster growing up. I just really enjoyed people and I enjoyed, you know being with people and having friends and family and my my dad was a great golfer and I love that too and my dad put a great athlete in a lot of things. So I I had a really great experience growing up and you really didn't have I really didn't think of being mature enough to plan like you guys all have to do today.

26:14 Well, you know, it's interesting because when I grew up in the 30s.

26:20 And I think the only difficult is World War I and I went into service when I was 18. My mother went when I she went got my diploma in high school. I joined the Army Air Corps and I'm 16 years old and I had to wait until I graduated in order to be called off and if it wasn't for being in the military service are probably would have not going to college on the GI Bill and it would not gotten the college education. So and other the college education, even though I never did what I meant what my major was was physical education night. I profited from my college and been very supportive of my college over the years, but that that was the greatest influence in my life was he wanted you want to say it is where will tutu was a terrible thing it did.

27:18 I think most of us today or beneficial is of the people like their parents. Like I did I got an education and we're able to better themselves.

27:35 What were your parents like mine?

27:38 Well, you know, my mother was Nana was she is very talented cheese could multitask anything she came to live with us in my father died 63 she came right after that and I learned I matured as a married and maturity and I knew all learned two things that you're supposed to know as a mother and a wife and that she was always there to help and in support and leave me in the right direction. So Papa traveled a lot when the children were young and I was lucky to have my mother because of it was a full-time job taking care of a family and my mother had a lot of many talents and I never never to this day don't have my mother could cook or sew or bake or she was just a Chad could set a wonderful table and had all kinds of them all kinds of great things on the table and linens and China's and

28:37 She was very proper. She was a Scottish lady. That was very proper. And that's what you asked me. My parents both of my other my other parent was my dad. And you know, unfortunately he died very early. He was denied 63, but he was he was great. He thought I was a I should know all the things that boys know. So I went up on ladders and she helped him clean the gutters on the house in those days. We did those things and I helped paint because he needs somebody to help them and held the ladder when he was going up too high and taught him to be taught me a lot about gardening a lot about farming and animals. He loved animals. We always had a dog in the house and I learned a lot from my parents. They were great great parents.

29:23 Well, my dad was Irish and consequently. He was like a lot a lot of the Irish like people and 4. We're going he came up through the dairy industry.

29:39 Had had managed in milk plants and then went to work for General Mills calling on Dairy selling want some of their products and so he would travel quite a bit and my mother was from a farm family and in consequence was a very strong woman and and you know, we knew how to handle things and do things. So for a while. She was also a lot of the garden and then there was very like to join group summer 1 groups you belong to where they did knitting for the war and they call themselves The Busy fingers and fancy doors knitting. So she was an ape even then near the end of the word. She went to work the General Electric Company Schenectady doing War work there and Road 30 miles everyday to the job. But even though my dad was was that at that time working for General Mills.

30:39 Tinder with traveling quite a bit, but we had a junior college in town and the girls were talking about primary education and mom was able to get one of the girls to come to live with us. She got to be like a big sister there. So she always had somebody there and where we live we when you're all her family her brothers and sisters and cousins were all in the area. So they were real they were both very strong strong people individually in 10 together. I think most places to use it is still the wife. That's a disgruntled one Hunter. She she was so it was very good my mother

31:21 You said that you grew up on a farm did the jobs that you worked at mostly have to do with agriculture then and while I really didn't grow up on a farm. I would not my mother did but I grew up in a small town and we we were near our cuz it's my jobs. I had in a small town. We had we had a theater there movie theater the only theater in town and I got got a job there cuz I'm not sure and I also worked in the A&P store on Saturdays and Sundays. And so I had those those kind of jobs going to going to high school and then when I got out of high school and got a lot of different jobs between College worked on the Railroad and worked in construction and did that kind of stuff so

32:09 What we had my mother wanted to go back in a farm. We did by parents hit by a farm and and but we we had other people we we didn't have any cattle are most we were in that area where they at did milk house but we we leased out the land for four. Hey, but my father always come home and you always had chicken snake call Dad about take care of us girls on the weekends and take care of the chickens and find the rakes and everything, but I was you know, I had to go and visit my uncle's on Harmon and always screw up around in the summertime what was going on with

32:51 With a farming with the horses and cattle and stuff like that, too.

32:56 Did you say that your father worked at General Mills? Yes, so then did you take after him while I was working in New York City with the government? And I was younger stage in New York City and we kept talking and I figured world. I am 25 26 years old and getting wind up like all those old 40 year olds and the General Mills. See my dad had left your bills by that time. We just quite friendly with the

33:24 Sales manager there was a division and they were looking for somebody so my dad talk me about I wouldn't interview got the job and work for General Mills for almost 20 years. So that's a and wind up being a national sales manager Minneapolis with them before I left for the romance and glamour packaging Machinery. So

33:48 There you are.

34:01 But I always know I went to college to be a coach and even though I didn't follow that.

34:08 Profession night. I did organize little leagues and coached Little League teams and football teams and baseball team.

34:22 And we had been told when we moved to Minnesota, we had we got involved in hockey and I have to start a hockey program and Wayzata Minnesota, which is now the largest hockey program in the country 1200 kids skating in to all the boys I skated. And as I said your mother skated, so we got you know what we used a lot of our my background.

34:44 And coaching and then.

34:48 Use that with my own children from the boys and the girls so

34:57 Hockey was a big thing in your family. Has you when you're a bit older, but when you were younger, did you play hockey? I never played hockey. I was a basketball player play basketball in college matter fact, you know where I went to college with the game was invented basketball and play baseball in college and basketball and I remember when I got was at Minneapolis and there's a sales manager is out in the west coast and I called home.

35:25 One night from California and talk to Nana here. And and she said the child and signed up for hockey today. And I said none of my boys are going to play hockey. They're going to play basketball and when I came back and went to the first meeting of the husband of the father's getting the program started and eventually I want them being present the Hockey Association and we used to pass each other at Fort Smith to cars and she take half the boys to one game and I take the other half to the other game. So weekends were spent going standing on snowbank cuz we didn't have any indoor rinks watching the kids skate on hard ice and Outdoors below zero, so

36:11 At the

36:13 All we've done one minute to go Grandma did a great job. Thank you for the radio.

36:28 I want Merry Christmas, right Christmas is right around the corner.