Robert Frost and Charles Solcher
DescriptionRobert Frost (16) asks his grandfather Charles Solcher (81) about his life growing up in Texas before and during WWII.
Subject Log / Time Code
Recording LocationDallas Public Library: North Oak Cliff Branch
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00:04 So, my name is Robert Frost and I'm 16 years old. Today is Sunday, October 27th, and we are in Dallas Texas. I am interviewing my grandpa. And so how was your childhood?
00:21 Hi, I like you Robert Charles Salter and I'm 81 years old again the dates of December 9th, October 27th, 2019 here in Dallas and
00:37 Robert I going to have a conversation about life. So I think you asked about how I was when I was young.
00:45 It's quite different to the way it is today. I was born in 37 and live in San Antonio, Texas and it was for the second world war but it started then and so I was a child doing a lot of the war in San Antonio was a big military town. We had 3/4 air bases and military installation. So after the war was impacted I think us more anything else. I lost my young remember bits and pieces on it every day in the newspaper. They would show the map of Europe with a line across it about where the Americans and Brits were and where the Germans were and so would be really happy. If we saw the Arrow showing we taking more land and then nobody would be pretty sad if we lost man, but we we saw that every day in the paper and even as a child if we paid attention to that.
01:45 The some of the things that impacted us, my mother got ration stamps. So every family would be given a book of ration stamps and you can buy so much meat depending on how many children and how much sugar how much salt how much gasoline all those things and the impact was we lived too far from downtown for Dad to get to work so we couldn't find enough gas so cuz the ration stamps stop that and so we move downtown and
02:23 We lived 13 blocks in the center San Antonio and then
02:28 We are all the things. I remember was one of the things the Civil Air Patrol would have these Sirens would go off and within 10 minutes you had turn off every light and everything has to be dark. If it wasn't that came down the street with find you because they were afraid the Germans would come across from Mexico when Mom the military nursing license, so it had to be remember to keep playing out in the yard looking at the sky wondering where the Germans going to come in and go seek never did but it was interesting that those days it was part of you. We went to the movie every Saturday us $0.09. We get $0.10 and a penny would get the jawbreaker. So it was it was very different and then cost today you think that's crazy, but there's no TV or entertainment.
03:28 Was he the playing outside or in the evenings particular in the winter? We would listen to the radio and no never no devices and no recordings in any of that kind of stuff. So I think he has a family the brothers and the sisters. I was 126 and we offer a more group. Is it our own entity? Because I think most families did that so it was it was it was simple to a private Catholic School.
04:08 Everyday, we wore them for uniforms and got a member with during the war and at recess from first grade on a we would go out and group up in our grade and March ever marching to make sure that I understood that there was a war going on and the most important thing was to win and so they let us know that this was a parking so that's why I kind of grew up. It was a very interesting current time.
04:47 So was the war intertwined in anything other than the marching during recess during the school day that I went to school with parents were in the in the military if their fathers were there on that impacted things like go to social events at the school would have some kind of young basketball or something and a lot of the kids to their fathers weren't there and someone would never think if they can come back so it it it it had impact it in those kinds of ways that are hard to understand that day. But there was probably some information that came out temp to make people understand about the war and everything dealt with whatever you could do what it was to save money or the same clothes or since cigarette. Whatever was
05:47 Send it to the Troops all dealt with the war. It did permeated the whole life and even is it 8 9 year old. I remember some of that dog. All I don't remember D-Day enough sings. I think I think we were protected some ways to folks did not want us to know things were going poorly or that kind of stuff. So I'm so you said you used to look at the sky when you were a kid to see if there were going to be playing some like that. Did you often worry about like like bombings or the war happening in your hometown?
06:24 Well, it's a certain extent we did because they know if you look it up, I don't know today, but I can't remember doing this but I do know that all of the military bases if you if you look at a map there all along the Mexican border from from down in the southern part of Texas all the way out to the West Coast send money was one of the bigger ones are those so we had we had soldiers that we would walk downtown is 13 blocks brother or not. He was older so he won't go downtown and there will be soldiers everywhere and be able to leave may be in town. And so we don't know that I don't remember having nightmares about The Happening.
07:10 But it was certainly something that was talked about that. We had to be careful and you couldn't talk about I don't know what we would talk about but there was a lot of things about don't talk about the war. Talk about how many soldiers are out any of that kind of stuff because they were always worried about German spies. It was it was it was it was kind of scary that impacts some of the way you live to go through that when you're dirty young I can't imagine what it was in Germany worse. But even in our town Whiskey was significant in so so what were some people that had like a lot of impact on your life later on.
07:55 Well people that impacted life.
08:01 There were a lot of people other than the parents and siblings. But when you get past that you think you know who who helped you and who did stuff for you A lot of it just circumstance letting it happen. I want to hear versus Texas I could graduate from high school in Austin and I went to University of Texas cuz I could go there because I graduate from Texas high school. That was the only standard and if so tuition was $25 a semester.
08:38 So I went and I can walk almost done. I usually didn't but I could and so I work my way through and I got a job with this, Texas Senate as a page went for the summer.
08:52 And they have a special session only lasted 8 weeks. And so at least you'll get the job for there and after that a weeks, I don't have a job.
09:03 I have not heard about the fact that they may have some jobs. It's at a doctor office and I was counting. I thought this is a good fit. I'll go talk to him and
09:14 So I went last of them.
09:16 Senator that I had worked for who really didn't even know me. I mean, I don't imagine I'd met him three times.
09:23 So I went and talked to him and it's like a Friday afternoon. That was that was through it over with so I went talk to him and said, you know that I understood there was some jobs over there.
09:36 And that's what I would want one if you could help me and he said oh, yeah, I'll be glad to help you.
09:41 Well, that's great.
09:44 So, I don't know how I had the guts to do it, but I just sat down in front of the front of his desk and said great and I said, could you call him and he hung up the phone and call it state auditor?
10:01 And talk to him and I guess when I first time of political politician sack, but he chatted with him for a few minutes and he told him you said, you know, the bunch is coming up next week for the state auditor and I have this person whose work from who's really good. He didn't know whether it's good or not. But that's beside the point and he said I'll remember if you give me my job until he talked a little longer than anything. I got by said you go over there tomorrow morning Saturday. They can stay open and just where you at 4 part time job.
10:39 So yummy. That was an impact me I wouldn't otherwise I would have been able to do this though. He really just help me and so went to work for the state auditor and was on the audit you work at exercise part 2 I was at work. I mean it was nothing big so work for them for a while. I'll always through school and they $200 a month which was more money than I need it back them a lot of money. I did that and ultimately I graduated I was wondering in the draft and couldn't get a job, but they said they'd hire me full-time so wonderful time with them. So I'll state auditor. I'm in the first place. They sent me was to audit
11:26 What part of a team of the penitentiary in Huntsville Texas of this is why they were executing people. This is a big terrible prison and worked inside the walls that your dad going it.
11:40 And after about two months, I had plaid for Internal Revenue Service.
11:48 So I thought I'd really forgotten about anyway, I got this message from them saying that they were having a class starting a next week and that if I wanted the job somebody dropped out and they have an opening.
12:04 I went to the man the guy that was running and I said you don't got this thing from Internal Revenue Service, but
12:11 I need to turn them down because of you guys put me through school. Basically, you gave me a full-time job and I'm only been here two months. It just seems terribly unethical.
12:25 Now after what I walk out was it like parsley scary to go to a new job or would you been excited if you had motivation to go to it? Because it was a big deal from me is an accountant to go work as a IRS field agent and and it would double the money I was making so much money. I just said I just thought that. Can't do that. Anyway this guy he was an older guy and he said he thought about it and he didn't talk much.
13:00 Typical Texas kind of guy and he said
13:05 If you stay here you will always do what you're doing right now today. He said I've done this all my life. You said you got more than that.
13:15 Anna is it so here's the deal. I'm going to lunch.
13:20 And what you need to do is you need to go get your stuff. Everything. I own I'd brought there to this place cuz I could have a home. He's a good your stuff put in the car and you go to Austin and you sign in at Internal Revenue Service, once you get through doing that you go over and quit the state and I'm going to cover for you while you do that.
13:41 Just want to come back from lunch. If you're here, have the warden throw you out you go do that.
13:50 Which I did he was a guy who he had nothing to gain by me leaving.
13:56 He just did the right thing and I'm at least in my view. We did the right thing because then that lived all kinds of really good stuff for me. So I think it was something that you know, you think back and take their people who do things that are out of principle and not out of game. It didn't know he basically so, you know that and then you go through life and all of this stuff is kind of happenstance, you know, I did that in and I went out to what don't work for IRS and that was a field agent and then one day they work in the Corpus Christi and the manager came inside, you know, you want to go to Pecos for about
14:49 6 weeks to 6 months
14:53 Flexible where Takis and he Sido at Southwest get a map and he said he's got a big fraud case out there because there's a guy Bynum Billy Saul Estes who's the papers every day and there's a big criminal case in their political implications and we need some people cry out to him and he said will pay all your expenses while you're there.
15:17 I got a map went out there.
15:21 And you know it just a but they were looking for single Revenue agents to go out there. That's what they want. They want married people go out cuz I thought the picture too long anyway someone out there and it wouldn't work this federal investigation and
15:41 The only to take us out of town of 5000.
15:45 There's three thousand Hispanics on one side of the tracks and 2,000 Anglers on the other side.
15:51 Play we couldn't move without being on the paper everybody knew everything we did. So the only person I knew was a priest that hit baptized married my folks and he had been transferred to Miller which is like a hundred miles.
16:09 So he he's I contacted him and it's all come up for the weekend. So I'll go up there in the middle of the Southern Isles and we had dinner at the rectory and he said we need to come up here every weekend, next weekend all I'm really worried about you not being married. You need to you need to find a you need to find a wife. So every weekend for the next six or seven weekend, I would drive this hundred miles up to Midland and have dinner with the priest at the rectory and he would have a date with one of the girls from the Catholic Youth Organization and
16:48 Take me something cuz everybody watched everything we did so about six weeks then Kathy came along to wife and we had a date and then we got the engagement. He married us 6 months later.
17:09 So, I mean you were just happenstance that I went out there and then the guy had his criminal case and want to take us and then went up to middle and they are we just circumstance and so I look back on it. Like a lot of things have happened to just happened.
17:33 Eventually, I got to pass the CPA exam and was asked I was in El Paso by that time as a field agent and manager came in. So what do you want? I could go to Houston go to the hospital so that they they thought I was a good idea for the transfer me down to Houston went to law school. And with that got a job up in Oklahoma City and I thought we'd be there three years. We were there like 17 years and everybody there. I thought oh my God, you're just from Oklahoma. We weren't replacement antoniou.
18:11 And then one day
18:15 The people from the national office big guys from Washing DC came in
18:20 I was really kind of funny they were talking and we went to a barbecue place for lunch and they were talking about buying prepaid burial and cemetery lots of all things and the guy asked me so one of the guys turned to me and he that they all assumed that I've been there for so long that might that we would live spend the rest of career in Oklahoma City and he asked me if I had done that and if I had one of these nights
18:48 And being a smart-ass if you had turned said no, I don't have that. I said I I really have more Pride than people are buried in Oklahoma and then I'm not going to know we will go back some day next week and I call it said we have a promotion in Dallas if you want it just being a smart alec and Anna not that was greatest news. I've had in a long time. So we moved to Dallas and and it was great years. Nah. Nah, I talked to work part-time and then the University of Texas called and said that wanted Dallas and that they had a teaching position and have a faculty position in the school management and don't want it cuz I talk part time for them.
19:41 Message sure that sounds great. I'll get you when I talk to him. So I retired at 55 got my pension and all that and would work for University and I thought I'd be there two or three years and I was there 20 and then I decided it's 75 I'd really don't want him on those be one of those faculty members that can't find their way to them to the classroom. So I decided it's time for me to get up. So I did that. So there's some really good people out there and if you have opportunities, I think people
20:21 Are presented with opportunities in in in sometimes people have the guts to take it and sometimes you shouldn't take him but if you do have the guts most of the time they work out. So now it's kind of like telling him. Yeah, we'll leave El Paso because when they offer the job in Houston
20:40 If we didn't take it, they gone to all this trouble. And if I'd said no, we're going to stay here in El Paso. Still being El Paso. So I think you know the moral to the story is if you get opportunities you really need to think about take out because they could be there are certainly life-altering and and you don't know where they're going to leave but they're good people if you do the right thing, it's probably a good time.
21:09 Dim, what are you going to do with your life? I don't know. It's kind of early on right now.
21:18 Alright, so when you were teaching at UTD did you when you went there at first?
21:25 Were you planning on teaching long-term or know what happened which was really great.
21:35 Number one wife. She can speak two languages and she's traveled a lot and I hadn't but but she had and the school at the School of Management in the accounting department. Wanted to create an international program where we bring students from Taiwan China to UTD.
22:00 To get a masters and then go back and it's very profitable for the school because they charge him big dollars in so there's this group.
22:11 So one of the faculty guys with new people in Taiwan
22:19 Asked if I would help him for the two of us created this program.
22:24 And so we go to Taiwan every year and interview students and they would come back and and B student at UTD in front that we could do a lot of international traveling which I did not expect at all. I guess it's just something is just happened when the guy said came in so, you know where you want to go to Taiwan and will interview students and we create this little program. I thought anybody care about the program. I just want to go Taiwan and get a lot of American Airline points. And so it was fun to do and it opened up a whole world to me that I would have never opened up if if pay I had not going to UTD and be if I had said not allowed to do that. So I took the opportunity and it really did great in my life to make that decision to go.
23:15 And wife would go and we know we went to call him the pool in the Indian Romania and a lot of places. Nobody want to go but they were fun and fascinating places to go quickly. We weren't terrorists, but we weren't expats. We were there in between. So we got to see and all they would take care of us and show us stuff. But so we were underneath
23:39 We saw more than a tourist with c and we go to people's houses and meet their families and stuff like that. It was great. And so it didn't teach and I love to teach, you know, it was you know, my mother was a teacher and and I guess there's a gene about that and so, you know how I go to the classroom and that they were hour-and-a-half classes and forget the rest of the world. I mean, it was only that thing that was in your head was the student teaching that class. I was watching a scary movie. That was a good thing for your having a big cry, whatever you want to call. It was a way to avoid reality for an hour and a half and it was great. So but the time they came a time when
24:29 Technology was getting past me and I thought it's time for me to not do this anymore. Yeah, that was good.
24:41 Jobs great
24:45 Alright. Alright. Thank you for coming. I really appreciate you come and talk about your life and it was it was 125 preciate it. Thank you.