Harriet Peavey and Angela Peavey Christiana

Recorded March 24, 2008 Archived April 2, 2008 01:18:56 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SCK001058


A granddaughter interviews her grandmother about her life.


  • Harriet Peavey
  • Angela Peavey Christiana

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:01 My name is Angela Peavey Christiana and I am here with my grandmother. Tell me your name and your birthday Lauren Harriet rossmann and I was born on May 3rd 1926.

00:19 And where are we today?

00:22 At the time of my birth. I was born in Battle Creek Michigan and I was born at the sanitarium Hospital in a house that was across the road from the hospital because the hospital was too busy.

00:37 And I was seferi small baby. My mother was a very small woman and when I was ready to be born doctor Cooper come in he said this is gone up pick up my mother and his arms and away. She went to the delivery room. He didn't wait for a gurney.

00:59 That was Doctor Cooper.

01:03 Did you get your name from anybody in particular or did they just like the name Harriet? No, am I my head of a grandmother that was named. On my father's side and my mother like The Story of Harriet Beecher Stowe and that's where she named me.

01:23 What is what would you say is your earliest memory?

01:30 Being small for my age being picked on by other kids.

01:37 We was poor we lived in the country. No sidewalks. Just not much grass in the yard looks like dirt.

01:50 Not real good memories about fun memories. We had lots of fun.

01:55 There was a neighbor girls that I played with them course. I remember going to church. My mother was a minister. So and my father was very religious and we went to church to three times on Sunday. Usually Wednesday night for prayer meeting Friday night for cottage permit.

02:14 Subway was raised that way.

02:17 How was your relationship with your parents was a good where you close? She was mom. She was my mother and we wasn't buddies but we was she was my mother enough. I thought she was just wonderful. I thought it would be funny to have a big mother like those other girls that got a big mother and my mother was small.

02:40 That seemed odd to have a big woman for your mother and my mother was quite educated in poetry and readings and shoes to quote things to us should quote scripture, but she just won't poems long poems. And I remember her standing at the kitchen sink cleaning chicken because we had checkouts and should sell chickens and she would recite them sing songs to us or recite poetry. And that's the way I learned a lot of them.

03:16 And how about your dad? My dad was a big tall man. He was six foot two.

03:24 He had a quite a loud voice and he was always he was a gentle father. I can't say that he was a hard father, but he was Stern and a little bit more rigid than my mother.

03:42 He was a Rossman and he was German and my mother was Bailey and she was English. So there's a difference in temperaments.

03:53 And what was your house? Like can you describe what it looks like or your town what over things like then do people have cars and no we didn't have a car too much have an old car once in awhile. But when I was born they lived in the tent because of the house he was building wasn't finished. So he had a temp put up and he had a grudge that he would park the car in already had some animals in the back because sometimes we'd have a couple or something furnish milk. And I remember when I was just a little tiny. I remember early that we had a storm at night and we was in the tent and mother was afraid that storm would take the tent down and she got me out of the baby bed and took us into the garage and we made beds on the floor in the garage. I remember that

04:53 And I've always been I was always afraid of storms as a child fare phone free to storms but the Lord help me get over that as I got older.

05:05 And

05:06 What was the Great Depression like do you remember much about that time? I didn't know it was under the impression. I just knew we didn't always have everything Christmas would come and dad would try to get an orange and a few nuts in the bottom of a sack and my mother would always remake some clothes over $4 if we had one that somebody to give us and should try to make it look pretty but we never got if we got a tree it was $0.10 one. That's lets your head or my uncle had got the Night Before Christmas for a dime because they were going to throw them away anyway, and then they'd bring him home and we decorate them or something, but lots of times we didn't have a tree.

05:56 What about other holidays Easter is a big thing has always been a big thing for us in our family a tradition that you and Grandpa have always done. Was it a big thing in your family know? I don't remember Easter but not that much but I remembered going to Grandpa and Grandma rossman's down in Battle Creek for the holidays. What I speak of no tree is our mediate home, which was poor but Grandma and Grandpa Grandpa was always a carpenter and he always they always had a little bit they never was what you would call destitute and he erased fruit and I put in a big garden and and my grandma and Aunt Nora who lived in the house with Cam and and they always had a table Laden with food when we'd go there. So and that home was a beautiful home with varnish Woodworking and what plastered walls and a big porch across the front. I remember that house.

06:55 Because it was such a contrast to ours. But yeah our house that I remember was a nice big Square house with plastered walls. My dad had big Ideas. He was crying he could build but he didn't have the pocketbook to go with it. So he did get started and never get it finished and but he did have plastered walls and I used to remember going to the neighbor kids. They had a little house and it was papered walls and they was always so pretty and that have low furniture and some lamps and things like that that we didn't have and I wondered why can't we afford to have papered walls and here we had plastic much more expensive.

07:42 But Dad never got trim on the windows. So was it hard for you to feel like you were poorer than other friends or that was that was hard for me. Some people just accept that and don't know the difference, but I was smart enough to know the difference. I could tell those that have and those that have not and one thing is I was growing up in school. They called me names and whether it was because we was poor whether it was because I wore a long bronze socks.

08:18 Underwear or whether it was because it was always homemade close. The other children would have snow suits and when they take those off bit have anklets on cute little dress not all of them somewhere for just like me, but I always notice the ones that were better.

08:37 Is that mean I'm selfish. I don't think so. I don't think so. Well, what lessons do you think that time of your life taught you that you carried through to your adulthood from your parents are from the situation and are there any big lessons you took from that while I took many lessons for my mother and father being honest being forthright. We were punished if we were not and I do remember my father when my mother wasn't home forcing me to walk in the dark over to the store which we had it was probably

09:16 I'm not good at judging distance 550 200 feet away from the house and at night the light didn't shine too good. But that's where the frigerator wasn't he said you go over there and get this out and I was afraid and cried and didn't want to go but he said if you don't I'll lick you all the way I thought that was was on just for a little girl.

09:40 But I went and when I got over there I kind of looked around and I thought now this see there's nobody around here. You can you just free right back home you talk to yourself.

09:57 Tell me a little bit about your brothers and sisters like what were their names and where you close? Well, I'm kind of in the middle of the first child that my mother and father had was Pauline Pauline is 6 years older than I she was born in 1920 and then I'll Fletcher was born in 1921, but probably 16 months apart Ruby was born in 2004 and I was born at 26 and then there was a gap between me and darkness, but my mother understand had a miscarriage and then Dark Horse was born in the

10:40 She's 6 years 32 and Florence was born in 33.

10:48 So that was six children that my mother and father had but my mother had been married prior former marriage, and she had a son by the name of Elven town.

11:00 So that was he was part of our family to was that unusual for your mother to have been married prior in that time. He unusual but he had left her with a small boy to raise and she picked up her boy felt the call of the Lord to go to Cleveland Bible Institute take her training for being a preacher and she picked up her son and the way she went on the train and that's where she graduated from was Cleveland Bible Institute.

11:38 Are you are you close with your brothers and sisters growing up? And and how about now? Yeah, we was pretty close because that's what we had. You know, there was a neighbor kids course Fletcher was a boy. So he wasn't real close to to me or to the girls. He was the only boy other than Alvin but Ruby and I was close cuz we was just two years apart and then I have real wonderful memories of going to the children's Billet now, maybe most people don't know what the children's bill it is, but this is the organization that was run by the government for the American Legion for children of veterans of World War 1 and those that were in need and you could go there and stay for up to six months then send you the school feeds your clothes you give you all the medical attention. You need it and Ruby and I both went together and that's at Otter Lake, Michigan.

12:39 Wonderful wonderful experiences. We went there twice two different times.

12:47 Well now of course, we're older. We're quite a bit older. I'm seeing as I'm almost 80 to the park. So there we can't beat that. We talked on the phone some but that's about all.

13:05 What was the what was it like a typical meal time in your home? Did you all sit down together to eat? And and what kind of things did you eat at dinner time? I remember my mother though. Sometimes she was up and down from the table trying to help everybody else. She said on the edge of her chair because she had to jump up so quick to get something else and they wouldn't be always the food that we wanted. I remember when one time when we sit down to the table and we had spaghetti and a bottle of ketchup.

13:42 We put ketchup on the spaghetti, and we ate supper.

13:47 And my mother went upstairs and cried.

13:52 But that is that that was rare. Another thing that my father did though. He went out to the camp Custer which we wasn't far from in Battle Creek is you know, that's where it came Custer Fort Custer s and he got in touch with the quartermaster General let run the camp and he knew that they had a lot of waste from their dining Halls. So he talked to him and he got permission to come in there after meals and he'd go to the kitchen and they would send him home with big candles full of chili mashed potatoes gravy from Turkey in Turkish. And then my mother would share it with all the neighbors that needed did come down with her kettles and she share it with them and she'd can some of the Chilean should do everything she could to save every bit of it, but that help to feed her family.

14:45 Do you associate any smells or or any any any smells in particular with your childhood or living in that home? Will I remember my mother used to make up what you call a gravy? It's a it's a great. It's a tomato base, but it has Lavita in it has seasoning and I don't think I've had that smell sense, but I can smell it in my memory. It was very good. Very tasty. She was a good cook even when she didn't have an awful lot of supplies.

15:22 Where did you go to school? I first started school at Prairie View and Prairie. View was a brand new school building yet. Just open the year. I went to school and Paul in my older sister walk me over to school long with Ruby, but I was in kindergarten and I cried. I didn't want to stay in kindergarten without her, but I soon found out how much fun it was to be in kindergarten and to learn. I always love to learn and after I was in kindergarten for a year, they passed me into second grade never went the first grade. So I was a year ahead of myself in classes. I must have been smart. I guess I learned to read and pick up things real fast in school.

16:10 But I remembered we had a rug that our mother was supposed to send with us and my mother son a little rag rug and we'd lay it on the floor in the afternoon and have our break and we'd have a bottle of chocolate milk and lay down take a nap.

16:30 Did you ever get into trouble at school?

16:33 I was never a troublemaker know I never wanted to get never of the only trouble I got into was because I had made friends with a girl from school at this camp that I just talked about it. Ehrlich and when I went back to the school, she was there too and then she realized how the kids teased me. And so she reported it to the teacher. It was not me. It was her that reported it to the teacher and the teacher came in.

17:07 Talk to me about it took me in a room and talk to me about it. And I admit it and they had a favorite name. They called me. I don't know if what I tell you.

17:16 Cootie bug and I was devastated I'd go home crying many nights. My mother was just so sympathetic, but she didn't want to do.

17:26 So anyway, she told the teacher while the teacher kept everybody after class. She told me afterwards she says you should have been there and heard what that teacher told those kids while one of the boys that was one of the biggest instigators had to walk home. He usually took a bus and he went right by the street past our house and I was out in the yard and he had call over Telltale tattletail, but I know in my heart it wasn't me that told.

18:00 Did you go to college? No, I did not go to college. Well, I take that back. I quit school when I was in the 11th grade and probably a lot because I didn't have that many friends, but I don't try to judge what God plan for my life because things have worked out the way he wanted them to and I was ready in my

18:29 In my head and in my emotions to go to work and I went to work. I got a job right away. This was during the second world war and I got a job right away at the dime store.

18:42 And I was just waiting on customers and just I was just delighted to be in a ROM that or I could do something, you know show her what I can do and make friends with people. I had forgotten about my childhood. They didn't know about it. So anyway while I was waiting on customers, I noticed there was a Doman standing over to the site and next thing he stepped up to the counter and he said

19:12 I'm from down the street at a store and he says.

19:19 I've been watching you and I think that I would like to talk to you if you would like to better yourself and get a better job and I hadn't been there very long at the time store. But of course, I want a better job, so I went down there in that night and I talked with him and he had the general manager there. It was a shoe store. It was Tommy cans and they talked with me and I talked with them and they said by the way, how old are you? I said, I'm 16.

19:50 And they bought dropped all they said all we don't hire under 18 and I right away said what do I have a sister? That's 18 and she might like a good job. I wasn't selfish, you know, I was wrong for her to have it but God had other plans because those men after they talked to the Asus we want you and they hired me and I went to work and work there for over a year and finally was doing the books turn on the Windows waiting on all the customers running the store by myself almost and that was the start of my business life.

20:31 Where did it go after that? Well, after that I switch jobs and worked at another shoe store and for a while, of course, I was young and

20:46 Her boyfriend couple of different ones. But anyway, I got a bright idea. I wanted to go visit my brother down the Texas so I went and visited my brother in, Texas.

21:00 But I had ulterior motives because I thought I'll take something this money and go to Florida and visit my boyfriend. He'd gone to Florida. He was in the service.

21:13 Well that didn't work out because I found out that I wasn't really in love with him. And and but I did go to what they call the Uso Club that's where when I stepped up to a counter getting off the bus and told him I was there to see a service Personnel. They sent me right over to the Uso club which was protection for me all the way around not knowing my you know, I didn't know it but I know now that it was and I stayed there for several months got a job and work there. I didn't always go with that boy, but I got a coin with a lot of other people but one thing I got acquainted with I got a job in the

21:57 And they are.

22:00 I think now what call app.

22:05 Were they made the ships?

22:07 Were they made the ships for for the government for the world for the war?

22:13 So I went and they put me into where the drafting room.

22:20 They put me in the drafting room. I was so intrigued with the drawings and the mathematics that went with it that I just

22:31 It got me so when I came back home, that's what I went into. I went to school and took up crafting.

22:41 That was my initial. That was why the Lord wanted me to go down there. I just no other stars because I was exposed to another realm another element that I had never been exposed to before I didn't even know there was such a thing as drafting or engineering and I was exposed to it there and it just talk to it and when I come back to go to school I took to it just

23:10 Just fast as I could miss that I could teach it would give it to me.

23:16 So that's how I could become to be a draftsman.

23:20 And where did that eventually leads you? Well, I worked at first I worked after right out of school. They put me in the farm equipment places where I got a job.

23:35 Wasn't the anti-air

23:40 It should be patient. I forget.

23:43 Wasn't fair mom. It was so.

23:47 The name of that Oliver's Oliver's in Battle Creek. That's where I went to work. I went to work on the board first place and they they liked my work and eventually the the engine top engineer gave me a they had had an old windrower that they wanted to redo so they wanted me to lay it all out and then we could evaluate what we wanted to do with it. So that was my job. I laid that whole machine out on the drawing board.

24:24 That was the first one and course my husband and I we were young and having problems and we ended up at Ortonville. That's north of Pontiac Michigan and he went to work. I think it went to work for Pontiac.

24:44 For a while, and I didn't work. I stayed home with the kids, but I wanted to go back so bad to work and then we needed the money. So I finally got a little job at a place just six miles from our house at Park Tool.

24:59 Up there at Clarkston, Michigan

25:02 And I worked there for way over a year that the engineer and did some exploded views and some layouts for him and and

25:14 And then we moved again. Of course, I forget just what

25:18 When we move from there, I think we moved back down to Northville then because that's where our church it won't and we wanted to be down there closer to that.

25:31 What was it like being a woman in the workforce back then especially in an engineering field. I imagine there weren't very many women there was there was times that I applied for jobs that they wouldn't take me because I was a woman they said that we have men out there. They don't take orders from a woman.

25:52 Well, that's the old days. How did you overcome that? Oh, I just smiled about it. And when when I'm on my way.

26:00 You know, I figured it'll take care of herself and it Dad because after a while I worked for I got a job for Eaton Corporation.

26:12 Years after a few years after that my children were all in there almost teams and I had first went to work at a newspaper laying out advertising and

26:28 And then I wanted to go back to school and take more schooling. So I went to Detroit apply to Detroit College of applied science. That's where people that are in the work in the work field in engineering field. They come there and they do the teaching and you get some teachers that are good teachers and some that weren't but I got very good grades and went right on up in that but on my way home from work one night someone run into the back of me and I ended up with Whiplash so that kind of put me out of school and work and everything else for a while.

27:10 But eventually I went back to I want to go back and I seen the ad in the paper for Eaton Corporation. They were after a detailer. So I applied for it and I think the boss that hired me had ulterior motives cuz he knew I found out I could type and do other things so he want himself as secretary that could do drawing to

27:33 But eventually I was put on the board all the time and and work there for 17 and 1/2 years for Eaton Corporation and became a Jew signer finally got the qualifications for a new singer. I can't say that I had the education for it. I did have a lot of Education. I had went to the college several times. I went to Henry Ford Community College for different courses, but I never did get a degree and but I had a natural adaptability to be able to visualize things on the board when I could see him on the board. I could see him in different.

28:19 I want say yeah different orientations. I could visualize that in my mind. So so I had a good handle on that for a while and I retired from there after 17 and a half years at the age of 55.

28:39 Give me a that give me a good a good vacation and I started it in Florida see so there's a reason God house. He's has a reason for certain things that happened to you. Especially if you really want his well done in your life. He'll work things out for you.

28:56 Would you do anything differently with regards to your work your vocation?

29:04 No, not not the way things were.

29:08 I married I married a man. That was a farm boy.

29:13 I knew right away that he did not have the IQ. You can call it IQ tapped ability or whatever you want. He did not have what I had. I knew that I could go ahead and be an engineer. But the more I got the Y tirar Gap woodcut. I didn't want that. So I stopped.

29:36 I said I've got my education. I can build you a signer or a draftsman on my life. I don't need to be an engineer.

29:44 Tell me about meeting Grandpa.

29:48 Well, I was still young I was 18. I came back from Florida and and I went over to visit my sister at ColdWater who owns her and her husband on the level two before restaurant. They called it the two before and she was introduced me to all the people that would come in specially the young people and Kenneth walked in an old truck driver's head on a jacket like she'd wear at the at the farm and he set up and got himself a cup of coffee and dr. Pauline talked to him and she said

30:28 By the way, what is your name?

30:31 And he said all just call me anyting.

30:35 He always have a smart answer, you know.

30:39 And

30:41 She said well she thought for a minute well spotted calf. She said this is my sister Harriet. Well, then he was embarrassed. Why didn't you tell me you was going to introduce me to someone? Well, that was how we met and he sat there and I guess we talked for 2 hours afterwards, so

31:04 How old was he? Well, he told me he was like when we got to talkin about that I assumed he says he was 23, but you see he was and we started going together by the time I found out that he was only 16 I was in love with him.

31:28 So that's the way it goes. You know, I'm not his parents didn't want us to get married. Of course that's like telling young people not to fly when they know that they're going to fly.

31:43 Man, we got married anyway.

31:47 So I was I was 18 and he was 16. I think I was 19 and he was 17 by time we married but that's all we was when we met.

32:00 So how did you know he was the one you wanted to marry?

32:04 Well, I don't know I just

32:07 I just left him who I wanted to be with him all the time.

32:11 I just say I didn't want anyone else.

32:15 So I guess I do like that what he knew. I don't know what he knew but

32:22 He was young and this is this older woman got the best of him, I guess.

32:29 What were the best times?

32:32 All those were good times when we met those were baby good times and his sister would let him use her car so he could drive me around town a little bit in.

32:47 We could go to show or something, but we didn't really need a car cuz he usually would hitchhike in town and

32:54 He just always come to the restroom to see me and then if I had to go away once I went to Detroit cuz I left some things up there where I had worked and I had to go get my trunks and different things falling and said he was always coming looking around in the door to see if I was over in the corner at the chair.

33:18 So

33:20 I let him chase me till I caught him like that.

33:28 Where did you get married?

33:31 Well, we got married down, Indiana. We had got a marriage license in, Michigan.

33:39 And we got a marriage license early and his folks didn't want us to get married. So they talked to saw giving it up and waiting. You know you promise you're going to wait but in your heart you you don't think you're going to wait another year. They said wait another year wait till 18 and ice boy a year as like forever when you're young and foolish.

34:11 Now I can't say that it was wise.

34:14 But had we not married at that time. We might have separated later. You never know.

34:23 So in order to keep us together and have those three children born that we were supposed to have God kept us together and let us get married John and lots of people got married young years ago back in the back in 18 to find people getting married young teenagers all the time.

34:44 They didn't wait until they had college education. Send everything. We didn't even think about them.

34:52 Do you have any advice for a young couple like me and Greg?

35:02 Because without it

35:04 You'll have more trouble.

35:07 You seek the will of the Lord and wants you to swell more than you always want yours, and he'll work things out for you.

35:21 All right. So we've covered your early life. I want to ask now as you enter your Twilight years.

35:30 What do you think about dying?

35:33 I think it'd be a released from this world.

35:38 I have no qualms about that.

35:43 I am I don't believe

35:46 This is what I believe. I don't have any proof that I don't believe it's like people think it is.

35:54 I think it's a spirit world and I'm in a natural world and it's going to be a whole nother ball game.

36:02 I'm going to be born into a spirit world.

36:06 You're not going to go up there and hit golf balls. You're not going to go there and go fishing. Like you think you're going. You're not going to go up there and see your mother and father likes you think you're going to because your mother and father you.

36:21 You're going to be a spirit.

36:23 And you have to blend with other spirits and with God's spirit.

36:35 Well, I remember one time.

36:39 I was about a year after my mom died. I I asked you what what is God what what does it mean? Can you do your I don't know if you remember us having that conversation, but you can answer the question again. What what is God?

36:56 Well, the scripture says God is a spirit and God is love.

37:03 That's what God says. Love nothing. You can do fine. Love you can define God.

37:11 God is not some understanding you've got in your mind. He's love.

37:17 And it's a

37:19 It's without change, of course.

37:24 He has a course that is going on is it will not change. You just not change. He doesn't he doesn't love one minute and and hate it another like we do.

37:35 We don't know what love is love when we love is selfish love we love because somebody does something satisfy something in here for me.

37:48 But to love the unlovable.

37:52 Is Godspell?

37:56 That's the same answer you gave me then we don't have a lot of time last. I just want to say that you and Grandpa have felt such a wonderful life for a family cell filled with so much love. I don't think it was selfish love. I think it was God's love that you gave our family, and I'm so grateful. We're all so grateful for everything. You've given us. Thank you for doing this interview with me for our children children's children and our children's children's children because now I'm a great great grandmother.

38:36 And and God Alone knows his plan for all of our family.

38:42 And I know he has a plan.

38:46 So I just rest and he's working it out.

38:49 I don't try to understand it cuz I can't I'm in the finite. I'm in the world of of the natural yet. As long as I'm in this I cannot understand completely the spirit world, but I but that's where trust comes in to trust God for that.

39:10 Not to trust someone understanding. I've got of him, but just Blind Faith Trust.

39:18 That God is and that he's a rewarder of all of us.