Roger Eagan and Courtney Gilbert

Recorded July 22, 2020 Archived July 22, 2020 43:33 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby019921


Roger Eagan (72) shares personal insights and stories about his life with his conversation partner and StoryCorps Facilitator, Courtney Gilbert (29).

Subject Log / Time Code

RE talks about the good times and bad times he had in New York. RE talks about the importance of feeling all the emotions and how bad experiences are learning experiences.
RE recalls going to the Hudson River to catch blue crabs that his mother would not let him eat because the river was so polluted.
RE asks CG what she does for fun and CG talks about taking photos. CG shares a story about a family outing and how she tries to take a picture a day.
RE talks about communication. "People in general live a cliche-oriented life. People don't use words anymore. Your emoji means one thing, their emoji means something else. Four conversations: what they say, what you say, what they hear, what you hear."
RE: "We are made up of the stories we have. That's what makes us, our stories."
RE shares a story about how he almost got hit by a train and how there were a lot of times where he should have died but he didn't. His wife got a terminal disease, and their motto was: "everybody should be spoiled but not rotten."
CG asks RE how he got to Ojai. RE talks about his friend Duggie Fry and shares a memory he has of Duggie and the Catty Corner Bar. Duggie lived in a 3rd story walk up apartment and the bar was across the street. RE and Duggie would go and throw pennies or nickels from the window when the patrons would come out and the patrons would look around them trying to see if they dropped some coins.
RE shares about Duggie Fry's uncle who accidentally put a lighter into his mouth instead of his cigarette. RE: "Duggie Fry was the kid that every mother hated. After I got out of the Navy, he was the only one I could relate to."
RE shares a story about buying a car with his friend and getting into some trouble where they had to appear in front of a judge who ended up marrying RE and his wife many years later.
RE shares a story about being in the Navy. RE: "Don't ever say thank you for your service to a veteran, ask them what branch, what did you do? What did you see? Thank you for your service is the same thing as have a nice day. Make it personal, I just ask that as a favor."


  • Roger Eagan
  • Courtney Gilbert


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00:02 Roger Eagan 72 years old

00:06 Sears Wednesday, July 23rd good thing Ridge down cuz I don't pay attention that crap and I'm in Clarkston, Washington.

00:15 Your turn, my name is Courtney Gilbert. I'm 29 years old. Today's date is Wednesday, July 22nd. I'm in Charlotte, Tennessee, and I'm going to be speaking with Rodger today. Thank you for allowing me to be in this space with you.

00:33 Let's get right into it. I'm interested in your connection to where you're at right now because you're in Clarkston. Is that right? Okay, were you born there? No, I was born in Cold Spring New York. Tell us more about that upbringing in New York and what that was like for you.

01:03 Twice and never going back again.

01:16 There's there's actually a lot of stuff in it was good times bad times you two had a lot of fun there but has some horrible timeshare to sorry to hear that. Emotion. You've been gypped. It was a tall was terrible. Say yes good for your lucky you

01:56 Thank you for referring my thinking on that. That's so true. Crazy things in New York. What was the time. What age were you move to place called Beacon, but my parents were living in a place called Peekskill.

02:28 Mel Gibson, oh wow part of the year.

02:46 Donna Hudson baskets of blue crabs when they came up in the spring and wouldn't you know what my mother would let him in the house who gave them away?

03:06 Hutch River set fluted catch on fire

03:18 Used to be the Hudson Valley was was a great Agricultural Center. When the Dutch first settled it they they had plantations huge huge tracts of land and it all got broken down and sold off what not. But where I lived and if you knew where to look into her to go there some needle houses or foundations or what not.

03:49 It was fun. Who's good as beautiful. Beautiful Lipton Beacon. He said, okay so you had before

04:15 There's a there's a church a big old The Old Dutch Reformed Church original Dutch Church little kid.

04:23 89 Maybe

04:26 End

04:28 1/2 it and the town is divided basically into two sections by the river with the black section and everything above the hill was white. That's the way it was in the old first reformed churches down the black section. Why can't you go down there? But for some reason these kids and they'd opened up an old Crypt skull plastic and gave it to me and I was on my way home about three or four blocks from that. So may said, you know, you could go to jail for that for years later. I found out that someone had this investigation on that churchyard and there's a guy there named William Few

05:15 And I think if you look at the Declaration of Independence, he was a representative from South Carolina to Beacon to visit his family and died. There was very very very intentionally.

05:56 What was the differences between East Coast and West Coast with people start talking about history you go somewhere. Where is your family from, England Bulgaria, Indiana, Tennessee?

06:16 Big difference between

06:18 Difference in the way things are thought about really completely different nationality more. So then they're kind of like, I don't know placement in the contiguous 50 states borders.

06:45 Yeah, I mean when I first got to New York, I think there was like a big realization for me that a lot of people could identify like, you know that the whole turn my blue blood and stuff like that were people were able to really like that was their point of reference. My family is this family in there from this place as opposed to like, oh, I grew up in Indiana or support it support to that means something a little bit more outside but kind of the establishment of a group of people in that place and how long that goes back. So it definitely really interesting. What were your plans?

07:35 Bad mother bad mother

07:38 Who who worships her oldest son and everybody else got the dirty end of the stick. Whatever was left over if anything and so it was driven into my head that you've got to do this you got to do that we say what do you want to be when you when you get up when you grow up and kiss my wife want from people come around? Say hi.

08:26 I used to work and I have to say that not intentionally. I should I think this is just one little test based on experience I had.

08:55 And and

08:58 It's just you. Okay. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to say something to you and you got to immediately come back within the same time frame is lunchtime. The guy just like that at a blue shirt and you got to answer this right now.

09:30 Scary before you said anything I said, what about you?

09:41 That's how I think from the East Coast.

09:49 Utes

10:01 I'm Different, I think different that's just her and I can't control it and I love it. I was asked that question. What were your plans? And you said that you want to be happy. Do you think the two? Yes, it's either than that. I'm happy something.

10:32 I'm not going to give you something else to I had the opportunity to work with older people. I work for 18 years and a hospital nursing home residents there and I listen to and you learn things listen to my words and then you find out things and

11:03 It's not all one thing. It's not all one thing. When you're young you go to your life doing whatever it takes to make things happen. Whatever you say screw whatever I'll do what it takes because ever takes a lot of energy that you don't have anymore.

11:23 That's the difference between depression right now. And then we're going to jail and then come back. You know, you look at on a map between would Brandon in Wallowa. There's a hell of a drive and what do you do for fun? What do you do for entertainment?

11:49 You know, I love pictures. I love images. I always want to take a picture last night. We went out to try to check out the I can't say the word then yeah, I'll see comment or the the n e o w i s e that's in the field where we were and was just beautiful and idyllic and my dad's dog was running around and I I just couldn't help but take photos of him looks so happy and I have those and I just really enjoy looking at them and I really enjoy capturing images. I mean I can I take a picture a day almost like literally so

12:33 Then take hundreds a day and just just I love digital so you could afford it. But I think I listen to NPR listen to recorded music.

13:10 Yeah.

13:12 I can imagine that drive would be a perfect time to just get lost in your thoughts to come down to go through different things exports how many things found out that death?

13:28 People I talk my talk with broad Strokes. Okay broad brushstrokes, but people in general live a cliche orientated life right now, you talk to somebody and absolute conversations going on. What's said what's heard which repeated back and what's heard back for conversations? Absolutely.

14:05 Anyway, I think I think about you.

14:23 And so I tend to be

14:25 Thinking about things going why and then I don't, you know your back pocket sit funny and it's bad for your back.

14:45 You know, everybody does everything that's the way it's not something about coming to work and people say something.

15:06 This is me alone.

15:11 I agree. I I I definitely relate and I feel that in some ways allowing yourself to interrogate was bring being brought into your space bring brought into your senses of visually what you're hearing. He said what's putting out here in terms of this is the normal things and see if that's something that is your truth. It's the best something that you know you find connection to

15:43 And and not being so Hasty or at least yeah really allowing yourself to process and sit with being a part of my interest in photography is connected to film and I love films that are slow which I know like drive a lot of people crazy, but I love it when the camera just sits like on an image for at least 5 Seconds most films that are last iteration bike to three seconds quick quick quick quick quick, but yes.

16:36 One of the guys I work with him in jail. So just now she's the only person I miss living there be working there. No one had any intelligent but stories everybody has stories and we are made up of the stories we have and I like you pick it up and that's where our story charge 4th. We have picked up.

17:00 That's what makes us a good story.

17:08 And sometimes you wonder how am I still alive? How am I being dead about being close to dead? Let's do it when I was about 15.

17:28 California license hunting license so friend and I we each had single hunting nothing happened. So we're on our way back home hitchhiking.

17:46 The dicks are boring. So I put a shoulder gun pop the dog in it.

17:54 I was doing that he didn't see me turned around but the shelter gun close it out of my hand put it at me pull the hammer back put the finger on the trigger loaded.

18:12 That's a couple times back and forth on this year opened up in the bullet flew out turned white.

18:31 Figure out steps

18:38 Music

18:41 Absolutely.

18:43 Call Connie. I'll tell you anyway when you get your driver's license, and I look to my left and he just went past my rear bumper by about three feet maybe so.

19:22 The old take what you got and use it. If you were supposed to use it you wouldn't have if my wife had a terminal disease to thinking there's a killer but finally got her and so we live those 19 years under the rules of everybody should be spoiled but not rock.

19:44 That's a good way to live.

19:47 To live good to live and Rich to live invigorating to problems religion. Everything was just for will take it down and keep it down. Don't be none of this, but we know how old you got to be able to

20:22 Oh, I heard someone say once never underestimate the power of love some names pop up. Your right hate is just equal to love comes and goes.

20:53 There's a place in Ohio without the old high like it around to that later.

21:00 But there's a place tall high call the key Katonah library of theosophy.

21:08 And then I will lived out there. I used to go to this is the library we should go there to friend of mine.

21:14 And we just sit down and pull books off the shelf and go through and it has information about interview. Whatever crazy lady from Russia Madame blavatsky accumulated as Librarians. You just going to sit down and read.

21:32 And it's not your regular mainstream information. It was great. It was great.

21:54 Attaching myself to anyone philosophy or or or belief because I can't believe in everything so I can't give it my all. I'll take this. That sounds good. And the rest of that. Well, if you keep that to yourself, I'll take this and when you going to sit there and I don't care.

22:23 Oh.

22:25 How did you get to Ojai now that we're yeah. What do you fry? Jesus Christ a crazy man crazy, man.

22:46 Easter

22:49 You slipped a single mom wasn't married. They were they were trailer trash out back into your cat's third story walk up. Anyway lived over top of this Delicatessen Mumbai this crazy Italian guy.

23:08 And no control and I go down there and spend the night with them two favorite things to do. There was a bar catty-corner across the street. It was stamp to the guide for coming out of the bar drunk. Then you throw pennies or Nickles, whatever out the window in the stop-and-go street.

23:42 And then you just take toilet paper.

23:46 And drop it on people to get it wet and drop it on people's heads are coming out of the Delicatessen ladies wear hats. They didn't notice laperouse off running up the stairs. He's going to kill us the death.

24:24 Not much left after being in the South Pacific during the forties. He was he was pretty used up and pretty much an alcoholic.

24:34 I did it just go out and get drunk and come back at night and lay down his bed, which is on the other side of room from us.

24:43 My friends go over and told me to sit there and have a cigarette one last cigarette for and go to bed and take a cigarette. Turn it backwards around cigarette.

25:02 Kill me to death

25:28 And after I get out of Navy, he's the only one I can relate to I thought everybody else. I came across and talk to their were all married and family and

25:37 Doing this go schooling can relate to it. And you was very good family. But is Walder Frey's I said, okay. Yeah, I like you. Let's be friends again.

25:51 A little while later some going to California want to go I should let's go. Let's go.

25:57 We loaded up everything he had him his wife twin girls. At least one dog. May is old.

26:07 Early 60-something panel truck POS is all rotted out and everything. We're going to go cross-country going to go to California to see Niagara Falls Niagara Falls search your vehicle with us.

26:35 You sure you going to pull back right? It's just know they said the hell you're not cuz I ain't going anywhere to put it back and they got they got the okay. Nevermind just turn around get out of here. So I went back to the United States and they stop this they're going to do the same thing everyday. We got stopped and searched, but that was interesting after July Fourth of July believe hot Uniondale.

27:26 Tama was gold. So between the both of you say pretty comfortable.

27:36 Finally get to a California and he's having to go to play School, Ohio.

27:49 Who do I go to Ojai?

27:52 Gilbert drive up the highway. There's a wide spot in the road. The place called Casitas Springs Johnny Cash not good ones, but he lived there for a while.

28:18 I think you might find something there. Valhalla was the old one down going to seed.

28:26 Resort resort in another New York. Is there a long time ago named Jack Dempsey was just training camp when he was training for the heavyweight championship in sheet sets that

28:40 Who are you pulling in the middle of the night? Kinda got a place? Yeah, there's only so run down to everybody out.

29:08 44 years together

29:13 Welcome to the cabin one day sat down to read a book and never left. Just never let you stay there.

29:24 His sentence for almost

29:33 Life

29:38 Like that

29:51 Orange groves place called friends ranches and

30:00 People that live know how was like the Riff Raff one that live there to call the ovda, Ohio Valley Association

30:08 And this one little kid that live there, walk into the area one night scratched up bleeding.

30:18 Okay up there. Okay. So the next morning woke back up on his motorcycle Road Linden and orange tree is motorcycle show up in the tree.

30:42 That place was fun to that place was fun.

30:46 How many oranges did you eat? You don't just walk up and pick words off of somebody's tree anymore than walking somebody's house and take milk out of the refrigerator.

31:12 Hello, my dad who lives his whole life in New York, but the Florida they have pictures him stop over Side Road, Rick and oranges.

31:23 There's a log when turn 65 you have to move, Florida.

31:29 Requirements

31:36 But we had to move.

31:41 A move to a place and get lights I stay together. So it's hard to move to a place and and who plays all over here and there are here the movie The Lost Horizon old old movie.

31:59 Play nobody ever gets old and Shangri-La.

32:04 It was filmed in Ojai. The sets are still their way up in the East End deteriorating but still there.

32:10 LOL, I was a nice place and we moved into this little place in Meiners Oaks. There's old couple hold it and roscka years ago and Tru trailers. They just built around trailers built houses for 5 us couples living there and then we call it. The Shire is about 3 foot 1

32:46 A place to return the hair when I'm there with your separate ways but eat place.

33:06 So I traded a trade a car. I got a 58 Volkswagen van two-tone olive drab green.

33:16 You don't Olive Garden green and the two cats back seat made her bed from go down across the southern border down to Texas for the East Coast.

33:35 Go back to New York City while my parents house from there. We took off one up to Connecticut, Massachusetts Main up rounds with Martin Hampshire back to New York.

33:51 Loz but funny got married when I was 13 or so.

34:04 There's this really shyster car dealer in New York and Beacon and he's going to sell a car to a bunch of us. Are you fifty bucks on the bank?

34:20 What does car we had her for two nights drove went home. The other guy who was driving had a flat tire. So we go up to somebody jacked up the car still the Talking Stick on this car drove away. I need a gas so I can guess that's how much car the next day the cops catch us know you can't do this. What you do to kids charges pressed wood gets in trouble, but they said you better go down and see a judge and if you don't want to go

35:05 You better go see the judge and get your shit together Scared Straight.

35:10 So go to county seat would go to courthouse in Poughkeepsie.

35:23 Years later, I'm living in Poughkeepsie Miguel. I want to get married and she wants to get married in the church and Hyde Park at FDR and Eleanor got married it in my sister husband got married big beautiful Church Ivy growing all over to Cherry the outside walls and everything. That's where she wants to get married.

35:45 Well got the marriage license and they have a time limit on it and it's X running out in the guy who's going to do the marriage. He ran off and got married.

36:00 No, I'm getting a lot of whatever again it's not necessary. It's not necessary.

36:16 For rent downtown Connor judge got married and later. My mother looks like a bat Rodger. We only a few minutes left. I want to say thank you so much for you know allowing me to be in this space with you and we have about four minutes left on the picture of the USS. Greenling under hauling a Russian.

36:56 Ballistic missile submarine

36:59 You ever hear the book Blind Man's Bluff?

37:11 Did you get 10 12 feet underneath them take pictures and take recordings? So

37:18 When somebody says to me, thanks for your service. I want to say have a nice day. This is just for me to pass on to you don't ever say that to anybody. That's what branch. What did you do?

37:35 Where did you go? What did you see don't ever say thanks for your service. That's like saying a personal I'm just asking as a favor Good Karma stories.

38:02 Somali

38:05 This is aspirational. I wish I'd go to shorten restaurant. Okay, so go certain restaurant. That word is the one around come back and stop at a restaurant. There's a couple talking to the lady in the lady saying sorry. Sorry. Sorry, you know you can talk to him off the phone. He looks very says I was a cancellation. I got a table for two.

38:48 Minecraft

38:51 Good Karma

38:57 A lot of interesting things like that happen.

39:01 Anyway

39:05 Lot more stories, but not my lifetime. That sounds like thank you so much.

39:20 Have fun at the clan.

39:25 Mother before we sign off. Could I just ask a quick question before you had mentioned that there was a story that you wanted to share that you didn't feel comfortable sharing in front of your family. And do you feel like you were already able to share that story and the space or is there one more story that you like to share with us?

39:47 Not a story. I mean I've got another one to me. I'll tell your kids everything.

39:53 Tell your kids you took acid.

40:05 Why is New York called the Big Apple?

40:16 Back in France before the Revolution the the aristocracy treated women poorly and women were just there not educator not meant to do anything. They were just nice arm candy if you ever get a chance to see Dangerous Liaisons Malkovich. It's a killer anyway, so then so then Madame Guillotine took over and some of these people decide to leave France. So this one lady left Ransom move to New York and having no other skill. She set up a bordello.

40:58 And so her name was madama poem.

41:02 Which means Apple?

41:05 So when you go to New York you go to the Big Apple. There's a lot of little apples, but if you really good you get to dig out.

41:16 Celeste, New York

41:19 There we go.

41:24 People that came from where

41:29 World War 1 Aviation, it indicated position of levers so they can start the airplane engine levers had to be up appointment start.

41:44 I love your full of just

41:50 Hopefully shed too early in space and time that we're at stop old people listen to listen to.

42:07 Listen to Hayward most important things old lady Bertha told me she told me about the 5 train.

42:15 Since you know we didn't used to have

42:19 Used to have a lot more people. I didn't just have so many people in town until they cut out the 5 train every morning train coming to town as soon as whistle at the railroad crossing highway. When will 5G wake up.

42:34 Too early to go back to sleep too early to get up. What are you going to do population explosion?

42:40 Will they stop the 5 Train? Everybody just left straight through?

42:45 Same old issues fantaskey says, you know if God made anything better fucking he kept it to himself and not to die and go to heaven to find out I ain't ready yet, but I assured him glad to get there cuz I ain't nothing.

43:06 Eunice do you have anything for us?

43:31 Bingo