Mary Stokes Wood and Mary Wood Corkran

Recorded April 12, 2004 Archived February 17, 2006 01:21:57 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SPP001384


Woman interviews her mother about her life.

Subject Log / Time Code

Union Soldiers
Uncle Billy killed
Depression years
Father-Car accident/Coma for 6 weeks
Found father dead
Had to take care of cousin in college
Happy memories of Malden, MO
Dairy Farm
Moving to Washington, D.C.
Pearl Harbor
Meeting husband
How has life been different than you imagined?
Lost son
I'd be more forgiving


  • Mary Stokes Wood
  • Mary Wood Corkran

Recording Location

Grand Central Terminal


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00:02 My name is Mary Margaret Wood corkran. I'm 51, and I'm here to interview my mother at Grand Central terminal in New York City on April 12th. 2004 the day after Easter.

00:17 My name is Mary Virginia Stokes wood and I wish I'm 86 years old. I'll be 87 in December and I am here in Grand Central Station. I live in Alexandria, Virginia.

00:36 And what is your birth date? I was born December 18th 1917.

00:45 In and it was I was born it in our home because we lived in a small town of 2,000 and we didn't have hospitals they are there and so I was delivered my mother's and my mother's bedroom and which town in Malden, Missouri. And when did your family first come to Malden?

01:16 I don't care about 1900 in.

01:22 5 or so, I think that they came know they came a little before that my my grandparents.

01:31 On my father's side, Virginia console Stokes and Thomas Chalmers Stokes

01:41 Were there they live there in Malden and then my grandmother?

01:49 Mary Nix Bell b e a Double L was married to my father Richard my grandfather Richard. He was Bill who is a doctor and in this small Panama?

02:05 Grandmother

02:07 Stokes was born in Louisiana and my grandfather Stokes was from Pennsylvania and my grandmother Bell was born in Missouri grandfather. Well, I think was born in Missouri to

02:26 And what can you tell us about your

02:32 Great-grandparents are grandparents. And well, I know that when my great my grand great-grandparents I

02:48 Know that my grandmother Bell grew up in Tennessee and her her father was in the

02:58 Confederate Army during the Civil War and that would be my great grandfather and I remember

03:08 Her telling that.

03:10 Sometimes

03:12 It was a border state and sometimes he was able to come home from time to time and if when he would get back to their home in a little world section of Tennessee my grandmother and her younger sister would go up the lane to watch the road to see if in Union soldiers were coming to and if they saw any coming they would mourn go back and warn their father so that he could get out quickly before he was captured or something. Did you have other ancestors that fought in the Civil War? Not that I know of the

03:53 I don't think there were any others that fought in the Civil War relatives that World War II or what what I mean and Maya.

04:09 Father did not fight in World War 1 because he had already had several children from going. So anyway and my mother.

04:23 And father both lived in the small town of Alden. My mother's name was at the well at the volleyball Stokes and my father was Ben Harrison Stokes and they met in this.

04:40 Small town the mother taught school for a while, and my father was a merchant business in

04:49 Stokes real a Stokes mercantil company and they were married and had

04:58 8 children

05:03 The oldest was banned Harrison Stokes Jr. Next Thomas Richard Stokes

05:10 The next Homer Bell Stokes and then I was the fourth child Mary Virginia Stokes and my sister Margaret Stokes was born. 13 months after I was

05:25 And then my mother had twin babies.

05:32 A boy and a girl they only lived a month because they got the kind of flu that they didn't know what to do about back then and then they died and then I had a younger brother Robert Stokes and he was born in 1924.

05:55 And so we all grew up in this small town and

06:03 I am the sole survivor of a children.

06:10 Siblings have died.

06:16 And what was it like for you growing up in Malden layout?

06:21 We had a lots of relatives and there were lots of Stokes is in the town and then bells in the town.

06:33 My one of my well two of my uncles were doctors there in the town. I didn't know what time he he was killed before I was born but my Uncle Homer Bell

06:48 What's the doctor and then there were lots of stokes's and we had cousins on both sides. And so it was I remember you telling me about how your uncle got killed. That's an idiotic story. This was my Uncle Billy Bell. He was he in.

07:08 My grandfather Bell were in medical practice together and they were in a their office one day and there was another man in there talking with them and while they were there.

07:28 A man came in and he was he intended to kill this Lester Cox who was there and instead of hitting him he had my Uncle Billy and killed him there and it was a great sadness for the whole family. That was before I was born but I did always

07:53 Sadness, and so and growing up we had I guess normal childhood, illnesses and things and since my

08:09 Uncle what's the doctor in the town in my mother had known a little bit about medicine she

08:16 Usually dr. Seuss, but then if if my uncle if he called my Uncle he knew it we were really sick. So

08:27 And modeling the town tomorrow was in the almost in the bootheel of Missouri and Me grew cotton there and I went through the elementary school are the grade school we called it and we didn't have Junior High that Mike and minute high school walk through the Cotton Patch to high school was on the edge of town and we have many

08:58 Friends and new the town there were several small churches in the town. We belong to the Presbyterian church and

09:09 Some of our family wrong to the mess and some of the Christian church in that town.

09:15 So it was and in the high school, we all went through that and

09:26 All of us well, except the last two were valedictorians in that class. So we had and accept my sister wasn't valid Victorian C was the salutatorian but it was a cousin Jean Stokes who was the valedictorian and then

09:50 My younger brother Bob was in school and there and he was in his junior year by that time my sister and I had most come to Washington. She came Washington in 1940 to work for civil service. And then I came a year later to work for civil service in 1941 and January 41 and we had a real lived in the rooming house off of K Street and 16th and we

10:29 Just could take the streetcar or buses to our work and then the summer of 1941. We thought it would give a better opportunity to my youngest brother Bob to bring him out for his senior year in high school and my father had died and 40.

10:55 In 39, so my mother was a widow and left there in the house with my brother Bob and the rest of us and Scattered us to different places. And so we brought him out for his senior year in high school and Western High School in Washington DC. And from there. He got a

11:23 Scholarship to Yale or his which was a great opportunity for him, which I don't think he would have had had he stayed in the small town. So we're going back to before we move back to Washington DC. And what was it like in the Depression years? Well, we were aware of the depression, but I've been but we didn't feel we had enough to eat and we didn't have a lot of extra money, but we

12:00 War neighbor in need in other words, we had a house and we had food and all of this and we didn't have a lot of extra spending money, but we did and when was your father and the car accident that was back in?

12:22 1932 my father was in a bad automobile, wreck it then.

12:29 There were several men that have gone up to st. Louis Missouri to a Cardinals baseball game about it was always a great lover and he on their way back. They were run into a drunken driver and my father was in a coma and Hospital in Crystal City, Missouri for 6 weeks. My mother went up.

13:00 And one of my brothers went up with her to be there near at 5 near the hospital and my grandmother lived across the street from us. So we the rest of us.

13:15 We're back and forth to her house while they were away, but he never did really recover his fully from that. He he just never got his confidence back and he didn't have a lot of

13:32 Confidence to go into work and that sort of thing. So my mother been got jobs that like, what's the WPA will run a sewing room and things like that during that had to help support the family has after that and you were the one who found your father When ya when he I was working at the bank and

14:03 That the town at the time and

14:07 What's the weather like hourly in?

14:10 So my father lying on the ground and I we had a little bits dog. That was just circling around him, but I can tell from his eyes and I ran screaming into the house and my uncle the doctor. I called him and he came and pronounced in.

14:37 Oh that sucks and you started to go to college while yes, I spent one year after high school. I got a scholarship to I guess.

14:55 A couple of colleges and I went to for my freshman year to Lindenwood College in st-charles, Missouri and

15:05 I had a cousin Virginia Ponder from San Antonio that was needed special kinds of things and show my aunt from San Antonio, Texas put us.

15:21 I had us both go to Lindenwood College. I'm on my parents course we're glad to do it too, but she and I roomed with Virginia so I could help take care of her. Yeah, and be there and

15:42 So I made some friends, but I had a roommate and then my second year. I went to the Southeast Missouri State Teachers College, which is now the Southeast Missouri State University and my sister was a freshman and I was a sophomore and we were together. So my sister and I were not only sisters were but we were best friends and I think that as a result of that

16:20 Although we had friends we didn't have real intimate friends in the end of it. We were always in sync and we were so close and 14.

16:35 What's difference in age? And in fact, I'm named after you and your sister. That's right.

16:47 What were some of the happiest memories you have of growing up in Malden just being carefree and

17:02 Being able to just go all around the town. And when I member when the streets were first paved being able to roller skate on the streets and learning how to ride a bicycle and my father had a dairy.

17:21 On a dairy farm small dairy farm outside of town. He hadn't tenants but kind of farmer that lived there and did the milking in the bottling when back then we had bottles and the milk was not homogenized it was in bottles and they had the top fixed so that the cream Rose to the top of the bottle and you poured the cream off and you can have cream for your breakfast than the way they were raised on cream and butter my mother churned butter and I don't know why we are at all Rollie Pollie, but we weren't the way we ate butter and and and drink

18:04 Rich

18:05 I think we had whipped cream most everyday on something fruit or something and but we didn't seem to get Rollie Pollie or fat or what because of the dairy farm. You learn to drive a car pretty early to into. Well, it wasn't because of a dare. Well, they had a pickup truck which they would load the bottles into crates and then I never didn't drive the route for the dairy and then we delivered milk morning and night morning and afternoon every day except Sunday. I guess we didn't deliver Sunday my father did and then when he was hurt my mother carried on the dairy for a while, so

18:58 But I learned to drive that pickup truck when I was about 12 years old back then we didn't have to have driver's license and so many dangers.

19:15 Stops and goes in the town and we never had a street like that. They wasn't that big.

19:22 And when you were in high school, I know you were.

19:26 The first violinist and played basketball of over there. Other in this guy started the school orchestra about the year. I was a freshman in high school and I learned how to play the violin. I had an uncle Who had who loan me his violin and and my sister had a violin she had and she played second store.

19:54 So I mean

20:01 Aya

20:02 Did play basketball for a couple of years, but I was a rather short basketball player in the end. Then when we played basketball, we played in three courts. There was a borg to forward a center.

20:20 Player in the FED record and guards in the backcourt. So you didn't cover the whole Court to just section of the Court when you decided to come out east. Well, I guess you first of all you didn't continue with college, but no no my brother.

20:47 My brother home were the one just older than I

20:52 Had had two years of college and in Texas and had stayed home with my sister. Wed and back then we were it was sort of the accepted thing that it was important for the band to get an education and the women could if they had the funds but it was more important for the man in the males in the family to get an education. And so I stayed home.

21:30 After the second year and my brother home and went back and got his degree in engineering and then my sister came home after her shot more year. I always I think I should probably going to head after I came to Washington and done some night work or something to further my education, but I didn't so well then when you moved to Washington, was that scary to leave Malden 10. Well, I had to have a job in Jefferson City are state of Colorado for it for a year at the Fish and Wildlife Federation and

22:18 Yes, it was I made a big step and but my sister had come the year before I did and thank you for tea and I came in 41 as I said, so and is that when you started attending the first New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. There was a Peter Marshall is a minister there and he was very captivating and charismatic. I mean he had charisma.

22:55 A great deal of Charisma and he preached wonderful sermons and they're worried. They had a Young Adult Choir which we join she joined and then I came out of your later joined that and we were there.

23:12 From morning till night at seems like on Sunday and

23:19 I well remember we were at a

23:24 Use meeting about 5 in the afternoon when we heard about Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. And that was Peter Marshall had preached at morning in Annapolis, Maryland to the the ensigns to the people there the cadet not that the dances of core above the navel.

23:55 Body label stood by and on his way home. He hadn't heard that on his car radio scene in the movie A Man Called Peter.

24:08 So tell us about how you met dad. Well, it was at the church. He had the signed up to go in the Army Air corps it was then and so he was just waiting to go and he did he had been in Davidson College in North Carolina of a couple years, but he didn't go back that you that that year because he was had signed up to volunteer to go in the army and early Army Air Corps. And so I met him at the church and I think was restarting hanging with the marshals. The Peter Marshall is he was living there and he was coming to him because his sister was yes.

25:08 He

25:13 Did he came to the young adults and all of their stuff there and all but so that's how we met and then he was taking a course at GW, I guess in math or something and having some trouble. Well, they the Marshalls had heard that my mother had wants to talk bath and so they said sending it said well, maybe she could help well, then my sister and her future husband lyric also helping and so we did get better acquainted bed. Everybody was tutoring him mad and he and I were

25:56 Falling in Love by the time, you know, what was it about him that attracted you? Well, I

26:05 It was just his personality getting his he he had an artistic that then he was very

26:17 He was a people person. He like people in the was very handsome guy to I thought and although I and I watch three and a half years older than he was and that was something that I

26:34 Had the struggle with but I decided Well, why not? Remember you used to tell us a story about the you asked him if he knew how old you were the acts and he said of course and I later found out that he was he really didn't know how old I was but he didn't care. He said all right.

27:01 And then how did you all end up getting married? Well, he went off then. He was called up in January.

27:14 After Pearl Harbor, I got to know if two years later. Are you here later? He?

27:26 Was stationed at one point in San Antonio, Texas and I had quite a few relatives in San Antonio with my I had.

27:36 Monaco and his family and and and

27:42 Two aunts and their families and so he sent me my engagement ring through the mail. He had picked it out with my aunt's help that me and my sister and my mother now went down to the Georgetown post office.

28:01 When the rain in the Georgetown post office, and then we were married in February of 44.

28:15 In my aunt's home in San Antonio and my mother.

28:21 And my sister and her husband, she had been married by then and my

28:28 In-laws for In-laws then but my the Wood family my father-in-law to be and my mother-in-law to be all went to San Antonio.

28:43 On the train cuz we didn't fly to where there planes took 4 commercial.

28:51 Rites then and I guess it took over 36 hours to get down there, but we made it and the my father-in-law was a presbyterian minister. So he is the one who married Us in my aunt's home in San Antonio, Texas. And then I stayed several after that. I went with the different parts of Texas and then when he gets got sent to Reno

29:22 Are to Las Vegas Nevada for some training I came on back to Washington and got a job again and then later went to work at the church. I got because Peter Marshall need the secretary and I wish they became his secretary. And now you work you were one of the first employees at the Pentagon Yazoo before it was even finished. Yes. That's when I first came to wash dog and I will work for a while in another building but then we were sent to the Pentagon and it wasn't finished then and they had certain Carter's just shut off that you could that mean you want you can go so far and they had a way it's five rings there. And so it goes by rings of Carters and so our way forward when the plane crashed into the Pentagon.

30:22 September 11th, did you have special feelings about that? Do you think I had worked on? I think it was into the same.

30:35 Right next to the same side where I worked. I worked at the South side and it was right next to him. So well in the end.

30:48 The war ended and he came and then after he came back home, he had only he

30:59 Under the veterans Bill he went back to finish his college education at George Washington University there and he majored in Psychology at ohia then worked.

31:18 Oh, wow for the American Psychological Association, and then he worked as a salesperson in.

31:28 Or some kind of

31:33 I don't know you've like plastic kind of things, but then he got a job in Richmond and

31:44 He started work. I was pregnant at the time with her first child and he started work.

31:53 On a Monday and here taking me out to my sisters in Arlington my mother lived there with them.

32:02 On Sunday, and then he went down to Richmond to start his job on Monday morning and on Sunday night.

32:11 My water broke and they took me to the hospital and Bob was my son was born on Monday.

32:21 Morning before he could ever get it back up here way to start a job. So he didn't come on back though. He got a few days off and then went on back.

32:38 And

32:41 Then during those years while you were having babies and raising young children. What including me what stands out in your mind as well?

32:56 It was a happy time for all of us. I thought though and we

33:07 We didn't send you off the cap in the summertime, but somehow well, your grandmother and grandfather by that time lived out on a farm outside of Leesburg, Virginia and outside of Lincoln Virginia. And so we often times went out there on weekends and things like that and

33:33 We had a good family.

33:39 I think good family relationship all around and your father was always thinking of projects that you could do and help me out on anything he could and

33:52 Meantime I wish trying to keep the house boozy.

33:57 Chores and all of this at the Battle house. Don't do be true.

34:07 Some of the questions we thought about include how has your life been different than what you imagined had imagined. It would be I never I will and when I lived in this small town, I never imagined it life would

34:26 Separate our family and

34:29 Living now and all parts of the nation relatives in the midwest the West closed near relatives Linda and then even myself being in a city and making my home right out of Washington DC for so long. I hadn't imagined that.

34:54 What are some of the happiest moments of your life?

35:02 Well, the family times growing my growing up and my children growing up.

35:13 What have been the saddest? Well Johnny?

35:20 Varrio youngest child

35:24 He had to have bipolar and into his sophomore year at Princeton and slow.

35:36 Did the benchley get his behavior George Mason University there? And it was years of struggle trying to help people and always spelled.

35:56 I think you will then he died.

36:02 Supposedly a suicide drowning

36:08 Mo Potomac River

36:10 Although at that time he was deluded.

36:23 Shuffle time

36:28 What would you do differently if you had to live your life again? Well.

36:36 I think

36:39 Be more forgiving of everybody and I would try a little harder. I think two.

36:48 Make myself

36:51 More aware of other people and help other people more

36:59 And I wish there would be peace everywhere all over the world is that if there's one thing you could change about the world is that what it is?

37:10 Let's let's do away with war try to be more understanding of our Hollow humankind.

37:21 And you're now the matriarch of the Stokes Clan.

37:30 Oldest and thus the show one. We we still don't we have our Union what how many people did we have their last summer now, I think about 35 35 48 and we're still fairly closely connected even though we do live in Hearts. We counted how many nieces and nephews who have these days. No, I haven't. I don't know how there were 19 first cousins or 21 purse cuz mother had sixteen grandchildren 3.

38:13 Granddaughters in 13 grandsons. So if my cousins on the other side and you have two living children Bob and me, my son and mom is a teaching school in Fairfax County for 30 years almost there andy at 54 is going to retire at the end of the school year in New York City for a group and what about your grandchildren?

38:52 Well, I only have two unless one thing. I regret I don't have more grandchildren, but my daughter has two sons answer.

39:01 Corkran and Dylan cartridge Spencer is 13 and almost 14 on almost 12 12.

39:14 So my daughter is divorced now and so it's

39:19 I know. I have these precious grandson. And in fact, that's why you've while you're here today is that you had come up to spend Easter with with us in New Canaan Connecticut taking this opportunity to do a little oral history. Yes, they had given me at this reunions tape recorder tapes to do an oral history on my own and I just have not gotten around to it. So it's been hard to

39:53 Get it all organized and I should have done it, but I didn't know this will be a good start to doing more.

40:02 Is there anything else you'd like to add know? I I do I'm fortunate to have two great children.

40:12 That I'm very proud of well, your whole family is very proud of you and that means all of your nieces and nephews and an amazing woman almost eighty-seven to be kidding around and you still volunteer at the church office in downtown Washington DC one day a week and at the Cancer Ward at the Alexandria Hospital Cancer office and I think most of us just hope we're doing as much as you do and contributing and giving and loving as much as you do for as long as you have I try