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Ann and Elifrede
Transcribed December 26, 1961

Tape Transcripts

On Christmas Day, 1961, my parents gave me a tape recorder.  Among the things that I taped in the first two years were a telephone conversation by my mother (her side only — all I had was a microphone), a comedy sketch from a TV variety show (audio only — this was almost two decades before home VCRs), a local radio show featuring my father, and the narration of a televised baseball game.  I no longer have those four recordings, but I did write down transcripts at the time.  Here's one of them.  Click on the links above to find the others.

What to Record?

I had to experiment with the tape recorder right away.  First I taped a little sound off the radio and played it back.  Then I played "Silver Bells" on the organ and played that back.  (Click here for tapes made that day.)

I also recorded when my father and mother and her mother and I sat down to Christmas dinner with turkey and dressing.  (Some people say "stuffing," but my mother, shown at left, called it "dressing." She flavored the bread crumbs with sage that grew near the back door.)

The next afternoon, my mother was on the phone with her friend Elifrede Christy (who lived to the age of 100, dying in 2015).  I brought out the tape recorder again.  As we join the conversation, the subject is apparently a picture frame.

And . . . so . . . well, I didn't think so either.  So I said to Mother, "I'm going to have a dark one out here, and then if I ever want a different one in a different house, why, you can always change it."

Why, I was thinking a while ago I wonder what the backing's on like it; and that's the trouble with old pictures is getting dust in them.  But Vernon could put masking tape across it at the top.  Yeah, it'd be all right.

So I thought I'd ask him when he came in if he has any substitute for a miter box, or if he'd rather I had them cut it.  I haven't seen it yet.

You would.  Do you know what Tom said?  He said "cut it off in the middle and put it together"!  I said, "You crazy goon, you!"  He-huh-huh-huh!  Huh!  Huh!  Huh!  Now wouldn't that look pretty?!  E'heh huh-huh-huh!  He said, "Why does it have to be mitered?" and I said, "Well, that piece has to go back on the bottom after you take it off."  E'heh heh-heh-heh!

U'heh, u'heh.  Yes, and I . . . oh, land, no.  Hn-nh.  I like it better the more I look at it, too.  It's something that when you first look at it, you're not too positive.

E'heh-huh-huh-huh!  To me?  He-huh!  He-huh-huh-huh-huh!  Well, you tell him we're glad he's home.

I suppose the roads were all right.  Uh-huh.  Well, it's sloppy out here now, so I guess it's all right.  Oh, sure.  And mud-and-snow tires?

I didn't get any mail; I didn't think I would, but . . .

I looked on— at the atlas, and I found that they would go 40 to Indianapolis, and it's as straight as a die then to Denver on 36 out of Indianapolis.  And they go right through Hannibal, and that's where Ralph is, visiting Jerry.  And he said that it— the storm went north of that, see?  But I was thinking they'd go through St. Louis, but that's down farther south, after Indianapolis.  So . . . oh, I doubt it.  I doubt it.

Oh, did they?  Um-hm.  Lane, probably.  Uh-huh.  Oh!  Oh.  Did it hurt the cars?  Oh, that's too bad.  Uh-huh.  Uh-huh.

Oh, yeah.  Well, they said in the news that Columbus had five inches, but we sure didn't have any five inches.  I don't think we had more than two, do you?  You think so?  Oh, Elifrede!  Well, you were looking where it was drifted!  Well, it wasn't any six or seven inches!  My land!  Weren't you out in the country?  It didn't even cover the weeds!  No.  Oh, you're dreaming.  You're dreaming.

Well, I'll be blamed!  Yeah?  Well, I . . . out here the ground is bare, or else it's drifted, see?  Yeah.  Um-hm.  Oh, forevermore!  Well, we didn't think we had more than a couple of inches.  Now we've got drifts fourteen inches . . .  Heh! Huh! Huh! Huh! Huh! Huh! Huh!

Well, you tell Chancy I thought about him, but I know that didn't help any!  E'huh-huh-huh-huh!  I said that night when we went to bed, "Poor Chancy!  He'll be up shoveling snow in this—!"  Um-hm.  Well, you can't tell, though.  Huh-unh.  Snowing?  Yeah, uh-huh.  Yeah.  Uh-huh.  Oh, yeah.  Um-hm.

Talking about this recording, Tommy decided he'd record while we ate yesterday.  And I was nervous and fussed, of course, like I always am, and so (laughs)!  We—I—Mother was going to have stewed cran— er, cooked cranberries, and I thought we would rather have tossed salad, so I made three tossed salads; and we all want something different on them, you know, and so I put their salad dressing on and then I fixed myself some sugar and vinegar.  And I never put it on till I'm ready to sit down, so I got them all set and everybody sat down and everything on the table; then I turned around and picked up my vinegar and sugar, and I— when Vernon was serving the dressing, he'd put my dressing on my plate.  So I just turned around and put that vinegar and sugar on that dressing!  And I screamed!  Hu-huh!  Heh!  That was really the part of the recording that was really something!  And then Tommy said I had dressing on dressing.  That's what dressing was for, to put it on dressing!  E'heh-heh-heh- heh-huh!  He-uh!  So we had some time.

No.  Hunh-unh.  I didn't say anything to her, and Mother wanted to know today when I talked to her if I found out where she ate, and I said, "No, she didn't say, and I was afraid to ask her."  E-huh!  Huh!  Huh!  So I— I imagine she was alone.  Really do.  Um-hm.  But I just don't know.

Well, I'll see you.  I just wondered what you'd heard about the wedding.  But I don't think you know any more than you did.  E'huh! Huh! Huh!  Okay.  Heh-huh-huh!  I'll— no, you don't.  Um-hm.  Um-hm.  Well, I'll see you, then.  Okay.  Bye.

Elifrede and Ann in the spring of 1972.  I don't
remember the reason for the old-timey costumes.

Elifrede (far left) and husband Chancy Christy (far right)
at breakfast during a bus tour on October 4, 1984. 

Addendum - Small Town Doctors
Added to site May 1, 2003

In 2002, I found the tape of a few minutes of conversation that I recorded in our living room, probably in the spring of 1962.  Besides my mother, the participants were her mother (visiting from Cambridge, Ohio, where we had lived until 1952) and Ruth Miller (who lived on South Franklin Street in Richwood).  Ruth was the widow of Myron Miller, who until 1948 had operated the store that subsequently became Davis-Hughes Hardware.

They were talking about an elderly doctor back in Cambridge.  His long years in the profession had earned him yet another feature article in the newspaper.

My mother laughed, "Poor old guy!  If he don't die pretty soon, they're going to run out of write-ups for him!  Mother said they took his driver's license away from him, and he's still practicing, and he has to have someone drive him around now."

Ruth, who had seen the article, noted, "Well, it didn't say that."

My mother replied, "No, it wouldn't tell that.  Did it have his picture in?  He's so terrible looking any more.  He's been a doctor all those years but he doesn't have anything.  And even back when—"

My grandmother interjected, "They've got that awful nice big home up there—"

"Well, Mother, when we were first married and Vernon worked at the garage and knew so much about everybody's business and what they had, he said then that he didn't have a red cent.  Not a red cent."

In Richwood, there were two general practitioners.  Our family went to Dr. Holcomb.  He had established his practice in 1951, just one year before we arrived in town, and continued for almost 40 years.  Ruth's physician was Dr. Drake.  The conversation turned to how doctors made a living, and their "accounts receivable," and in particular all the money that patients owed "Doc Drake," as he was known.

My mother said, "And people — I don't know, they just — they go, well, they don't have to pay it, or something.  Does he send out bills?"

Ruth replied that he did so only occasionally.

"Well, I didn't know they operated that way," my mother said.  She went on to tell the story of how she found out.

"Maybe I told you about it.  Some time ago, two or three years ago, Vernon wasn't feeling very well and was dragging around here.  And one evening before he went back to work, I said, 'Now on your way down, stop at Dr. Holcomb's office.'  So he did and got medicine and something, I don't know what, but didn't have to quit work.  He came home and stayed home that evening.  And you know, we completely forgot that."

My mother explained that when my father, as he was leaving the doctor's office, had asked what he owed, four or five dollars probably, "Holcomb said — or the girl out at the desk said — 'Oh, wait till you come back.'  You know, when you go in, they think you're coming back.

"And, oh, it was just months and months, and it dawned on me that we never paid that bill.  And I asked Vernon and he said, 'No, I didn't pay that night.'  And I said, 'Well, don't you remember, you didn't go back?'

"So I went in the next day, and I said 'I think we owe you for an office call.'  And she said, 'You do?'  And then I said when it was, and I said 'We don't think we paid it.  Why didn't you send a bill?'  And she said, 'Oh, we don't send bills.'"

"Surely they send them to deadbeats.  But boy, we didn't get any."



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