Howard Frazee Memoir - Part 1
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University of Illinois at Springfield Norris L Brookens Library Archives/Special Collections Howard Frazee Memoir F869. Frazee, Howard (1904-1985) Interview and memoir 4 tapes, 360 mins., 65 pp. Frazee, civil engineer, discuses family, childhood and adolescence, early forms of transportation in Springfield, streetcars, trolleys, interurbans, and automobiles; school years, WWI, social life of the 1920's, birthday celebrations, and family vacations. He also talks about his father's dental practice, an uncle's medical practice, his own engineering training, early jobs, work for the railroad, paving Springfield's streets, work at Camp Butler, Civilian Conservation Corps, surveying work, and service on a military railroad crew in India during WWII. Interview by Linda S. Jett, 1979 OPEN See collateral file: interviewer's notes, photo of Frazee, photocopied article on Frazee, essays written by Frazee, and a brief history of Frazee, his father, and his children. Archives/Special Collections LIB 144 University of Illinois at Springfield One University Plaza, MS BRK 140 Springfield IL 62703-5407 © 1979, University of Illinois Board of Trustees '•'<'l·w •·- f-.,~ '""~< ',, ,' ,. H<MARD FRAZEE PREFACE This manuscript is the product of tape-recorded interviews conducted by Linda S. Jett for the Oral History Office during the fall of 1979. She transcribed, audited, and edited the transcript. Howard Frazee was born in Springfield, Illinois on August 28, 1904. His father was a dentist and his uncle a doctor. His family wanted him to continue in one of the medical professions but he chose civil engineering. He worked as a rodman for the Northwestern Railroad. During the Great Depression, Mr. Frazee worked with the Civil Works Administration at Camp Butler and the Civil Conservation Corps at New Salem. During World War II he was stationed in India with the military railroad service. Mr. Frazee has for the last few years been taking college courses both at Lincoln Land Community College and Sangamon State University at Springfield, Illinois. As a senior citizen his knowledge and experience have benefited students and instructors. Readers of the oral history memoir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken word, and that the interviewer, narrator and editor sought to preserve the informal, conversational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sangamon State University is not responsible for the factual accuracy of the memoir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge. The manuscript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the Oral History Office, Sangamon State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708. Table of Contents Birth and Early Years Streetcars, Trolleys and Interurbans Early Autos Family Background School Years First Jobs Father's Dental Practice Uncle Calvin Frazee, M.D. Brown's Business College Illinois College Railroad Jobs Civil Engineer Sioux City--Sister City to Springfield The Great Depression Other Railroad Jobs Farming at Mechanicsburg Paving and Brick Work Painting Camp Butler's Flagpole Union Experience, CCC and New Salem World War I Social Life in the Twenties Taxes Family Vacations and Chautauquas Christmas and Fires Birthday Celebrations Surveying Work and Sioux City 1 2 4 7 10 13 14 17 22 23 25 26 27 28 29 32 35 39 41 43 46 46 47 48 49 50 Howard Frazee, October 1979, Springfield, Illinois. Linda s. Jett, Interviewer. Q. Howard, when was your birthday? A. August 28, 1904. It was a Sunday afternoon and my uncle's family had been over for dinner. My mother went into labor and my uncle took care of her right away. He was there at the time. He had a reputation of being more o.b. man than most physicians in this town because a number of fellows told me that my uncle brought them into the world. Q. Oh, your uncle was a doctor? A. Yes. And I grew up. There weren't very many children in the neighborhood that was my age. And I was born on the northwest corner of Fourth and South Grand. Q. In Springfield? A. In Springfield. Q. Well now, did your mother have you at home or did they go to hospitals? A. At home. Q. So your uncle was there through the whole delivery? A. Yes. At that time there were very few that went to the hospitals. My uncle said one time, he died in 1937. He said, "Pretty soon why they'll have to go out. They won't be able to go and say there's log cabin, that was the birth place of the president, at that time." My father was a dentist and I didn't go down to the office very often, though I was probably five or six years old when I was able to walk downtown. We had streetcar service within a block, over on Fifth Street that ran from the car barns which would havebeenlocated at Sixth and Ash. And this streetcar line went out to Calvary Cemetery. Or we could get a transfer downtown, and then we could come back home usually the South Second Street car line which ran down Capitol Avenue and turned at the State Capitol. Q. Did these streetcars have their own power and were they pulled by horses? Howard Frazee 2 A. They had their own power. There weren't any horsecars. They had them in some 'places but not here in Springfield. Q. Did they run by motor? A. Yes, they were electric. They run 440 volts and they had wheels and the trolley is connection. Later on the boys, when we were going to school and stuff, we'd get a whole lot of kids on the car and then they'd pull the trolley off, At first they had a motorman and a conductor. And then later they went to one-man car, just the motor. And they used the fare boxes to collect the coins. And first fare that I remember was a nickeJ or I think you could buy tickets, six for a quarter. Up to twelve you rode free, I think, if you were accompanied by an adult. Q, Was that the most popular method of transportation? A. Well, it was the main method of transportation, They had a number of lines, There was one that ran on Spring Street on the far side of the Capitol Building. And at that time the Capitol Building was all by itself. There were no other buildings. There was no complex of buildings. And then the Supreme Court Building, I guess, was built across the street, and then in 1918 they built the Centennial Building. And it was sort of a park or woodsy place. And there was a little street that ran there by Jackson Street. I don't remember what the name of the street was right there. It's probably a continuation pretty much of Jackson here in Springfield. And the South Second streetcar line went down Capitol Avenue to Second Street, and then south on Second to Allen, west on Allen to Walnut, and south on Walnut to South Grand. And then right at the end of Lincoln Avenue on South Grand or just west of there perhaps closer to Park. Now they had a little shelter which was the end of the line. And then later on why they extended the line on South Grand Avenue to Noble. Then they ran down the middle of Noble Avenue to Laurel and over to the country club so that the members of the country club--a lot of them used the streetcars and not Cadillacs at that time. (laughs) Q. How big was Springfield at that time? A. Between forty and fifty thousand, I would say. Q. How far out did the city extend? A. Well, it was pretty much built up city between Grand Avenues, There was South Grand and West Grand which is now MacArthur. North Grand was where it is now and then there was, I think it was eighteenth or nineteenth, I'm not sure which. It was the east end of town. They had one car line. They had houses along Fifth Street. And then they started building between Fourth Street, went to Cedar and skipped about two blocks, and then from Laurel to Ash. And on the southwest corner of Fourth and Ash was Gardner. That was the man's name who lived there. And he was the only house down there. And between Vine and Allen on Fourth Street there was one Springfieldian there by the name of Van Cleave. He had probably all but about a hundred feet of the block between Vine and Allen. He had the south part from Fourth to Third. He had a barn built back there and Howard Frazee 3 he had everything brick. And then south of him was Fayart. Fayart lived just south of Vine Street. And then Klaholt and then Loughaman, and the Beards. All these people almost owned from Fourth to Third Street. Q. Now did the streetcar run out there by them? A. No, the streetcar was a block east over on Fifth Street. Q. Okay. Did the streetcar run every day? A. Yes. Unless there was a snow storm. They ran on about a ten minute schedule. Q. Well, how many were there for the size of Springfield? A. Well, the people used streetcars instead . . • . A lot of times in the summer, why the women would wear white dresses. They'd have to sit by these miners where they didn't have any washrooms when they came up out of the mines. I forget what mine it was. [Woodside] It was at, well it was around Ninth Street, was the shaft. And it was south of Ash, about a block or so. Just other side of the car barns. Then these lines were extended from time to time. Q. And these ladies had to sit by the miners then? A. Yes. They didn't like that but it was one of those things. (laughs) But you can just imagine what these miners were smelling like when they aame up out of the mines, because it's much warmer down there in the mine. And they were working in very warm temperature. Q. Did your mother talk about this? A. Well, I've seen it. She fussed about it. And everybody fussed about it. And then there were other mines that went out North Ninth. And I was out to the fairgrounds, and the fairgrounds was about where it is now. But it didn't go. It ended at Eighth Street on the west. Q. Well now, was the country club the only place out of town that the streetcar ran to? A. Well, they had an interurban that ran out to White City I think it was and on to Rochester. Q. What's an interurban? A. Well, that's one.of these electric lines. Well it was very similar to the streetcar but it was between towns. And the main one was the Illinois Traction System. They called it the HcKinley Lines because I think there was someone by the name of McKinley that controlled stock in it. They ran over the same tracks as the streetcars from about Spring and Cedar along the west side of the statehouse to Monroe Street and then east on Monroe to Ninth. Howard Frazee 4 Q. Did they charge? A. Yes, they charged. They didn't make very many stops in town until they got down to Illinois Traction depot which was located around Ninth and Monroe alongside the street. And it was an old freight house. They shipped freight and had regular boxcars and other freight handling cars that any other railroad had. They were basically a railroad. Q. But passengers did ride? A. Well, they had trains. They used to run a sleeper to Peoria from Springfield and St. Louis, Champaign, Urbana, and along to Danville, I believe. Q. Did you ever ride the interurban? A. Oh, yes. Q. Was it open like a streetcar was? A. No. No, it was like the passenger cars at that time. I don't know what. See a lot of the freight cars at that time had wood frames rather than steel frames. They handled quite a bit of freight and they went right through the middle of town. They didn't have parlor cars on the interurban. They didn't make any real local stops. Now, anybody that lived out in the country, that is they could get a stop built for them and they could flag it down. But they sent a train every hour to these different locations that they ran to. Springfield was sort of a hub for Illinois Traction. And they were one-of the best money makers back in the twenties. Q. Well now, at the turn of the century, were they still using horse and buggy? A. Oh, yes. Yes. See, along in 1906 or so, I think, was about the first automobile. Q. Did your father have an automobile? A. H~ bought one in 1913. Q. What was it? A. It was a Paige Detroit and the next one was a Chandler. Then he bought a Haynes, which was supposed to be America's first car. Then he had a Packard sedan that--then he went to a Dodge and then a Pontiac. Q. What's the first car that you remember? A. Well, I think my father had the first car in the family. I can remember all of them. Q. How have they changed? Howard Frazee 5 A. Well, they had larger wheels. You see at that time they had hard road out to the old waterworks out on the Sangamon River. And they had one that ran down through town. This was in around late teens and early twenties. And they had a road down as far as Auburn hard road. That was on the sixty million dollar bond issue. And then they later floated a hundred million dollar bond issue to extend the highway system. They built the test road out at Bates. And that was part of Route 36 from where this parallels the Wabash Railroad west to New Berlin. Q. Can you describe that first car? A. It was a five passenger and it was a touring car. That is it had a folding top. And it had side curtains that you put on for rain and it was a four cylinder. I think it took a 34-4 tire. Q. Well then it didn't have glass windows? A. No, Q. No windows at all? A. No. Q. What about the windshield? A. Well, that was glass and it folded down. Was plate glass and up till the time the Model A Ford when Henry Ford started using laminated safety glass--he was the first one to make shatter-proof windshields. Q, Did you have windshield wipers? A. No, you didn't. Q. What did you do if it rained? A. Well, probably sometime in the twenties why they had a little handoperated one that you go up and swing it back and forth to brush the ice off. There weren't very many cars that had heat. Q. So what did you do to keep warm? A. Well, we had these lap robes at that time. Then wealthy people used buffalo hides. Q. Why a buffalo hide? A. Well, they were long fur and they were more apt to keep you warm. But other fellow in the car--it wasn't until about 1935 that the heater became pretty much standardized in the automobile. Q. Do you know how much your father's first car cost? A. I think it was thirteen hundred and seventy-five dollars. That was the list price. I don't know what he paid for it. Howard Frazee 6 Q. Where did he get the fuel for it? A. Well, at that time there wasn't very many filling stations and Standard Oil, they'd sell you a five gallon can. Then they'd come around with their horse-drawn tank wagon and fill it for you at the garage. Q. So you had your own private filling station. Well, what did you do when you took a trip? A. Well, there were places where you could buy gas, too. I guess it was probably about the time of World War I, think that they went into more gas stations. Q. Was the trips mainly within the city? A. Well, a lot of that depended because some people did drive out of town. Then they got, I guess about 1915 or 1916 why we started driving up to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Green Lake. About two hundred and fifty miles. There was usually an overnight stop on the way. Q. Where did you stop at? A. They had hotels. See back at that time, the salesmen called on businesses and they rode the train. So they had a lot of hotels. Almost every little town had a hotel. Now then later on then when the motels started getting to be a big operation after World War II, then they went to the motels. But these salesmen maybe have a couple of rooms in a hotel if it was a bigger place. And then they'd have these trunks of samples so that you could see the goods. And they operated somewhat under--called them drummers, I believe. Q, Did you ever see one? A. Oh, yes. I've seen them. They became extinct around World War II. Q. What kind of roads did you have? A. Just dirt. Oh, I guess around sixteen--then the main roads why they started oiling then and it built up enough base with this oil and dirt. So they was fairly stable roads. Q. What about the city streets? A. Well, a lot of them were mud. Just before I was born, I think. Because as long as I can remember, South Grand was paved. It was paved with asphalt. It was very new. It was only a year or two because one friend born about 1900 said that they helped to surface over there around Fourth and Pine, that's P-I-N-E. And it was muddy and they had to use the elephants to pull the circus wagons over to the circus grounds. There were a number of different circuses, Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, Robinson, and any number of people like that. It was ..•• Howard Frazee 7 Q. Do you remember seeing a circus? A. Well, I've seen several, but I don't remember which ones I went to. I think there was a fellow, Robinson, that lived in Green Lake, Wisconsin. I think he was the owner of one of the circuses. Maybe it was through him that they got the winter quarters for one of the circuses up around LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It's still there, I believe. Q. You mentioned that they oiled the roads. Did you see them oil the roads? A. Oh, yes. Q. How did they do it? A. Well, they had this tank truck. Then they had this pipe from the tank down to the pump and then they had a T on that. They had perforated pipes that went out each way from the center and they just sprinkled oil on it that way. They had a valve next to the tank that would shut it off. Q. Okay. You talked about the car barn. Just what is a car barn? A. When they ran the streetcars in for overnight shelter. Up until about 1910 or possibly it might have been as late as 1920, we had summer and winter streetcars. Q. What's the difference? A. Well, one went on the regular run and were built a great deal about roughly the pattern of one of these passenger train cars. But these open cars that they had, they had a step on either side that they had bars that dropped down on the left-hand side to keep the people from going over there. If they were in double track why somebody could get out and get run over by a streetcar. And they had a little special rail for a long time, but then I think they went to a regular railroad rail. I was working up in Peoria around 1925 and they got in some rail for their streetcar line. They used a regular ninety pound rail. That's ninety pounds to the yard. That's the description of that. There were any number of different sections, sixty, sixty-five, sixty-six, seventy-two, seventy-five pound rail, eighty-five pounds to the yard. And ninety pounds and a hundred pounds. And then they went up to a hundred and twelve. I think they had a hundred and eight pounds for a while. And most of the heavy traffic lines had a hundred and twelve pound rail for quite a few years before lJorld War II. Q. Let's go back to your father. What was your father's name? A. Owen Lincoln. Q. And when was he born? A. 1867. Howard Frazee 8 Q. And you say he was a dentist? A. Yes. Q. Where did he go to school at? A. He went to a three-year school, Chicago College of Dental Surgery that was part of Lake Forest University at the time he went, but later it become a part of Loyola in Chicago. And University of Chicago had a dental school and medical school. And Northwestern, they had downtown medical and dental school on Chicago Avenue east of Michigan Avenue. And I believe they called it the Weibolt Campus. Q. How long did he go to school? A. The three years was all. And he graduated in 1896. Q. Why did he become a dentist? A. Well, to be truthful, I don't know. I think he would have liked to have had me go with him in dentistry, or with my uncle in medicine. But I just didn't feel that I was the type for that, and I liked to be outside. I sort of enjoyed sort of semi-manual labor that you get with surveying and that was civil engineering. Then you have subordinates. At that time, why they probably had a lot more know-how than they do now. This is, those old-time engineers, they could go in business themselves if they had to. One engineer recently told me, he said they go out but they're afraid of the union. They go out and they stake the job out and they're gone before the labor moves in. Q. Was your father married when he went to dentistry school? A. No. He was single. He was married the 14th of August in 1901. Q. How did he meet his wife? A. Well, she was a school teacher here for about six months. I don't know maybe she came in with another patient. Q. Where was she teaching school? A. Springfield High School which was then located where the IRS [Illinois Revenue Service] Building is now and was a little red brick school. Q. What did she teach? A. Well, I think she taught English. And she said she could also teach math, but she never helped me with any math problems. And I think she probably forgot about it. Q. Did she go to school? Howard Frazee 9 A. Well, I don't know what--she went to school. She went to boarding school when she was about twelve years old. And then she taught some in New York. Q. Oh, she did. Was she originally from the East? A. She was born in Jacksonville and her grandfather was a Baptist minister. He was minister to the Baptist Church in Jacksonville when she was born. He was there from about 1869 until the end of 1872. She was just a mere baby when they left Jacksonville. And then I think they went up to Keokuk [Iowa]. Q. What's your mother's name? A. Her maiden name was Eleanor Spencer Washington. Q. And what is her birthdate? A. Well, it was November 24th in 1872. Q. Did your father court your mother? A. I don't know how much. It couldn't have been too much. Q. Why is that? A. Well, six months was not a long period of time. I don't know when it was that they met. Q. Did they have a church wedding? A. Well, they had a wedding at my uncle's up in Chicago, He was, I think, an official of the Ryerson Steel Company. No; I can't think of it by name. Ryerson. R-Y-E-R-S-0-N is the name of the steel company. And I think it was probably taken over by Inland. Q. Did your mother continue to teach? A. No. Q. Do you know why? A. Well, it wasn't the thing for married women to teach at that time. Q. I see. A. She never did work anywhere after they were married. Q. How many children were there? A. There were three. I had a brother who was born in 1903 on the fourteenth of July and died the tenth of January of 1904. Q. Do you know why? Howard Frazee 10 A. Well, it was one of these sudden infant deaths. They said he went into convulsions and that was the end of it. Well, I was already conceived but--so I never had a brother to play with. And then my sister, she was born in 1909. She and I don't seem to get along so well. There's an awful, well there's competition and the property we have jointly. I don't have any now but I have got one little piece of timberland that's owned jointly with a niece. So we tend to have two pieces of rental property. But the tenant wanted to buy one of them and my sister wanted me to take that and sell it to him and pay the income tax on the whole thing. I didn't. She wanted me to pay her ten thousand to boot. I said well I'd break even if she paid me fifty-five thousand. So that's how close we were on it. Q. Did you get along together as children? A. Not particularly, no. END OF SIDE ONE A. Well, see there's five years difference in our ages. And I went away to Illinois College and she went to Northwestern. I went up to Northwestern for a while, about one year. It was her freshman year. Q. Where did you attend school when you were children? A. Well, I went about six months to the Stuart School for the first grade. And then I went over to the Lawrence School. When I was in class 4A, they started a junior high system here. The Stuart School was made a sixth grade and that was as high as they went. And they had lower grades over at Lawrence, but they didn't push them. But they had then the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades for most of them went to the Stuart School. Q. How long did you go to school? A. Well, I graduated from high school in 1922 and that was a new building at that time. And with all four classes there was only about eleven hundred. They wondered how they would ever get it filled up. Every room was filled by the time I got out of high school. Q. Now which school was this? A. Springfield High. Q. How many did you have in your class? A. I think there was around two hundred and thirty. Q. How did you get back and forth to school? A. Well, I walked a good deal of the time from Fourth and South Grand over where Springfield High is now. It was about a mile and a half. Howard Frazee 11 Q. Did you come home for lunch? A. No. No, we only had a short lunch hour. I think twenty-five minutes or so. And we had a high school cafeteria and then there was a high school bakery. And then another place down on the corner which served food. About the early time in Springfield we had an awful lot of little businesses, up until World Har I. A good many of them were corner groceries. Then Fisher Grocery, which later became Eisner, they had as high as twenty some numbers, number of stores they had. They were only about six blocks apart. You had open spaces. And then there was a fellow, Ed Paine, who was a banker, and he had sort of a mansion on South Grand where the old Sears Roebuck building was. That was torn down when they built the Sears building. And other houses moved to new locations. But that was stone, very heavy. They just tore it down. And just happened that I had the remodeling on the seven out of eleven houses and then prior to the remodeling on an eighth one. I knew enough about engineering to be able to lay out the foundation on a number of occasions. A bricklayer told me that if I brought up to grade, why I'd save about two hundred dollars a house. So I had a transit and I'd go and make a survey of the house at the old location and go over and reproduce that at the new location. ·q. How did you move houses? A. Well, put them up on timbers. Well most of them went on 12 x 12 timber, but sometimes they had a heavy house and they put that on a 16 x 16 timber. I forget what they're called. But they moved the houses on three dollies, they called them. And the Heffern Brothers had the dollies. They were ironworkers as well as housemovers. Then around 1950 or so, why they told me I'd have to get the rubber tire dollies if they moved any more houses. Anymore you don't see very many houses moved. It's expensive. It don't help them any. Well, this one house, it must have been about a ten-room house, We got it over to the new location and the electrician went in and looked at it. He said, "Come here, Howard." And they had two circuits then on about a ten-room house with just twisted wire fuses. And that was installed about 1901. And this was back in 1950. When we got through, we had fourteen circuits. I ran the mile in my senior year of high school. Q. How did you do? A. Well, I was on the team. I won a couple--one gold medal and placed in one of the meets. We had meets in Jacksonville. And then they had Charleston, and there's another little school down there. And Milliken also had a meet. And Illinois College had a meet. Q. What were some of your other activities that you were involved in? Howard Frazee 12 A. I wasn't too much involved. I wasn't a mixer. It wasn't until after I was working that I really got out and got away from my shell I would say. But I'd get moved every once in a while and make new friends until it got so it wasn't any problem for me. Q. How would you describe yourself, Howard? Were you shy? A. I was, when I was younger. When my wife died, I told the kids I was going to come out of it. That I had to get back in the main stream of life on my own. This Sangamon State has been, and Lincoln Land, have both helped me a great deal. Things don't stress me. I took this stress management course by Doctor Miller last summer. He put the stress machine on and I had a little stress when he put it on. Many just won't try it, the rest of them. It slowed down the beat, hardly had any beat at all for me. Q. Well, as a child, were you active~. with other kids? A. Not a great deal because there was a bunch of kids over around Sixth and Cedar, but I didn't get over there a great deal. And I was brought up right in my own neighborhood. Q. What did you do as a child? A. Well, I played with some others. Most of my friends were a couple of years older than I was. Next door and the next two houses north of us, why there were these girls that were about four or five years older than I was. Q. What were some of the games that you played? A. We played sheep and wolf of the school. Stuff like that. One group would try to run through another group. And if the wolves caught you, then you would be wolves. And they took over being the sheep. I wasn't encouraged in athletics at all. Q. Why was that? A. Well, my folks wanted me, I guess, to be a good student but I never was. I graduated from high school in general course. And I don't know. I tried Knox and they turned me down. And then I tried Illinois College and they accepted me so I went there for two years. I was glad afterwards that that was the way it was. Q. Why is that? A. Well, I liked it a lot better. I went up to Northwestern, too. At Northwestern, there were so many fellows who had very wealthy parents and they had their own cars. And it was just sort of hard to keep up. Q. Did you have your own car? Howard Frazee 13 A. No. Q. How did you get back and forth to school, to Illinois College? A. Well, I rode the train sometimes and then one of the fellows that was in my class from Springfield, he sometimes had a Ford for a week or so. So he carried me and the bags. And there was a bus line between Jacksonville and Springfield. Q. Oh, there was. A. Yes. Q. Who paid for your education? A. My father did most of it. I paid some of it in later years. Q. Can you remember some of the first jobs that you might have had as a child? A. Well, mostly cutting grass or shoveling snow. And at that time, why number six firehouse was just catty-corner over there on the southeast corner of Fourth and South Grand. And they had this park policeman to keep all the wagons off of South Grand. And then they had a fellow with a pushcart went along and cleaned up the messes that the horses made on South Grand and dumped that. And that was out back of the firehouse. Q. Did you help with that? A. I didn't help very often. They had horse-drawn fire engines up until 1915 or 1916. Then they got a truck. Q. So they had to have a livery stable? A. Yes. Q. Or a barn? A. Yes, they had a barn in the backend of the firehouse. They used part of it for storing hay. Then I think they had a couple of telephone tests every day that they called each firehouse and asked to see that everything was in order. And about eight o'clock at night, why they moved the horses out and they snapped the collars on them. But they wouldn't take them out, but every once in a while they'd just take them out and exercise them right in their neighborhood. Q. Where did your father first practice? A. Here in Springfield. Q. Was he always here? A. Well, see he was born out there at Rochester. He went to Hedge School Howard Frazee 14 which w:as--you know the T-road that goes to the north, left going toward Buckhart? About a mile and a half east of Rochester. Well, this Hedge School was right down in the corner on that T-road and the Buckhart Road. Q. Where did he go to high school at? A. I don't know where he did. there's a lot of things now. pass it. He might have gone there. But you see You can take the equivalence examination and My daughter had four years of Spanish and she went to Iowa State. She was required to have at least a year of foreign language. She took a pass/fail examination in Spanish and she got 28 quarter hours that quarter. That was pretty heavy schedule. It was about a one day exam, I guess. She passed it all right. Q. So your father might have done this? A. It's quite possible. They had business colleges that were a lot more used. There was Brown's and Illinois Business College here. Brown's was there between Sixth and Seventh on the north side of Monroe. And Illinois Business College was down on the northwest corner of Fourth and Monroe. And they put out good secretaries, bookkeepers. Q. Where was your father's office at? A. Well, he practiced until about 1910 or 1911 in the old Illinois National Bank building and then he moved to the Leland Office building, which was where the First Methodist Church is now. Q. Can you describe his office? A. Well, he had a chair and he had two chairs. One of them he didn't use very often. He used that for extractions. He did almost all of his own laboratory work, and he extracted teeth and taught them how to operate on antrum sinus. In fact, the method that the M.D.'s use today was one that was developed by the dentists. They were in an old building in dental school. They'd been up to him. They had a reunion every year. Sort of make the dentists used to what they would run into--continuing their education. Same thing going as the attorneys. Q. Did your father put people to sleep? A. Well, he had some nitro oxide, it's laughing gas. But I don 1 t think he did very often. When Novocaine came in, they used Novecaine I had an extraction by one of the dentists and his nurse . . • • I think they gave people a shot of oxygen before they got them out of the chair. This sodium pentothal I thought I was--they injected me with it and the anesthetist said he had his rubber block he wanted to put between my teeth, and I thought I was waiting for him to start working. I heard him say, "That's all." Pulled nine teeth. They helped me in the recovery room that they had. About fifteen minutes I cleared up to about where I was out. My appointment was for 10:30, and I was back out on the street at ten after eleven. Howard Frazee 15 Q. Did your father ever work on you? A. Yes, he worked on me. And the dentist out of Sioux :city took an X-ray and found a lot of cavities. He gave me the X-rays and when I came home, my father filled the cavities. Q. What were the fillings made out of? A. Well, he used mercury alloy and gold and then they had, well, gold. He used gold for inlays or what they called foil fillings, I think. The foil fillings he'd put a little piece of gold in there. He had this instrument about like an automatic punch, press on it and tap it in there. And sometimes he'd have me come in and tap with a little hammer when he was working and putting in when I was around the house. Q. Did he make false teeth? A. Yes, he •. Q. What were they made of? A. They were mostly rubber compound. Q. He made his own? A. Yes. Well, no. He was paying those laboratories. They weren't specialists at that time. Q. How did the dentistry change through the years for your father? A. Well, I don't think it changed very much for him. Since World War II why they've changed. I know this one dentist just sits at the chair almost all day and had all his lab work done. Q. Was your father busy all the time? A. Well, he kept busy. He was recognized as one of the better dentists. And they did have advertising dentists at that time. And he worked awfully hard to get them stopped. Q. What's an advertising dentist? A. Well, they'd advertise a painless extraction and so much for crown work, something like that. And the dental society had no advertising at all. They figured you could pick out your dentist. Q. How many days a week did he work? A. Well, he worked about six. And in the summertime he'd take Wednesday afternoons off. He had .a lot over on Spring and Scarritt and he'd go over and cut weeds. ·sometimes we'd take a drive. The folks were interested in Chautauqua. We'd drive over to the one at Petersburg, I forget whether that was Old or New Salem Chautauqua that they called it. Then they had Howard Frazee 16 one down at Sharpsburg, too. And we got caught down there by a storm. My father couldn't get the car out so we all had to come back on the train. Q. What did you do with the car? A. Then the next Wednesday he caught the train down to Sharpsburg and drove the car back. Q. He wasn't afraid someone would steal it? A. Not at that time. Q. What is that? A. Well, automobiles were pretty much, that is your higher income had them. About thirty-five miles an hour was probably top speed. later the Model A Ford changed the automobiles an awful lot. They this payment buying, installment buying on cars. Q. How much money did your father make? people Then started A. Well, I don't know how much. I saw in the early thirties in the Chicago Tribune one time that the average attorney made sixteen hundred a year, and then the average M.D. was eighteen hundred, and the average dentist was nineteen hundred. Q. Do you know what he charged his patients? A. Not very well. Q. How long was your father a dentist? A. A little over fifty years. He became incapacitated about New Years on 1948. He did some dental work all the way up to that time. Q. What other activities did you do as a family? A. Well, he was pretty much tied up. We didn't do too much I don't think as a family. He'd go out and look at the farm whenever. He bought a farm in 1927 and then he had the one that my grandfather bought in 1857. And that was pretty much his--whenever he got a chance. Once, before he had a car, why he used to rent a horse and buggy. Q. Did he ever make house calls? A. Well, I think everybody did pretty much. But not as much as the doctors. Q. Did you have toothpaste then? A. Yes, we got a little sample of the toothpaste. Lavoris and mouthwash of various kinds. Q. Did your father serve in any wars? Howard Frazee 17 A. No. My uncle had a uniform from World War I but he never served. Q. Was the uniform his? A. I guess it was. The officers always paid for their uniforms, Q. What branch of service was he in? A. Well, it would have been the Medical Corps. Q. Where did he go? A. He never went in on active duty. Q. Was he here in Springfield? A. He was here in Springfield. Both my father and my uncle. Q. Where did your uncle go to school? A. He went to the Chicago Homeopathic Medical School at Chicago. Q. How many years did he go? A. I think it was three or four. I gave SIU [Southern Illinois University] his old Gray's Anatomy. It was dated 1883, 1884, and 1885. Q. And he practiced here in Springfield? A. He practiced here in Springfield. He practiced other places for a short time. He was five years older in age than my father. Q. t<Jhat was his name? A. His name was Calvin Frazee, C. A. he made it mostly. That is he went by his initials only. Q. Do you know how much he charged patients? A. Oh, just a couple of dollars, dollar and a half, two dollars. Possibly three. He didn't do a great deal of surgery. But of course at that time any doctor could do whatever he wanted to. They didn't have these breakdown in surgery and all that that they have today. Q. Did he work every day? A. Oh, yes. He made house calls every day and I think he had office about nine to ten in the morning, and then he'd go out and make house calls. And then maybe after four or four-thirty why he'd go out and make some more house calls if necessary. Q. Did your uncle work on Sundays? Howard Frazee 18 A. Yes, he had his office on Sundays, but he wasn't there all the time. It was just a short time. Q. What about your father? Did he work on Sundays? A. No, he didn't. Well, either one of them if they had an emergency, why they'd work. Q. How long was your uncle a doctor? A. Well, he died in 1937 and he was still practicing at the first part of 1936. Q. Were they always paid in cash? A. No, they weren't because they used to get me once in a while to go out and try to collect bills. Q. Were you successful? A. Sometimes, sometimes not. Q. Did people try to give merchandise instead of cash? A. Not that I know of. But they could have. Q. Did your mother help your father in his practice? A. No. My mother had her bridge clubs. She belonged to the women's club, the D.A.R. My mother had an uncle who was influential in getting Carnegie to subscribe to Lincoln Library. He was E. S. Walker and that was my grandmother's maiden name. And she married Shadrack Washington. There were two brothers that came to Virginia from England and my line comes from one and that from Georgia was on the other. They were ... END OF TAPE ONE Q. Howard, we were talking about your father and brother being a doctor and a dentist. Why did they become a doctor and a dentist? A. Both of them were agricultural backgrounds, But my grandfather bought this farm out between Rochester and Buckhart around 1857. That was Joseph L. Frazee. Joseph died in 1877. And Dr. C. A. Frazee, the physician, was born in September of 1862. My father was the seventh of February in 1867. According to my aunt who was Dr. C. A. Frazee's widow, she said that my uncle had wanted to get into law but it was easier to get into medical school than it was to get recognized as an attorney. Q. Was there any particular reason why he wanted to become a lawyer? A. Well, I see no reason why he could because he was very well recognized as an O.B. man. He did some work on treatment of the neuro diseases. My Howard Frazee 19 aunt said that he was very good with pneumonia and the treatment of pneumonia. A number of people told me that my uncle brought them into the world. And my uncle practiced around 1890 here in Springfield. I think he got his degree in medical school around 1885. But he was practicing when he had a stroke or very similar to that in 1936. And then he died the fourth of October in 1937. My father got out of dental school in 1896 and he practiced his whole practice in Springfield. And he was still doing some dental work up until about the first of January in 1947. And then he came down with a heart--and he finally died August 7th, 1949. Q. Did either your uncle or your father talk about the changes in their professions? A. They didn't talk about it too much. My father did some of his own laboratory work. My uncle never talked a great deal about it because my uncle especially was pretty much seventy years old. He kept right on working. He was a homeopathic physician and that's since gone out. They no longer recognize a homeopathic. Q. What is that? A. Well, I think that they furnished their own medicine and they mixed their own medicine like in glass along side the bed of the patient. My father, he still used gold foil fillings up until the end. He also used inlays and was one of the men from his dental school that was the first one to use inlays. I don't remember his name. I did know it but otherwise . why he did not worry too much about it. I feel that he led a very happy life because the way he practiced dentistry, he'd spend an hour or so by the chair and then he'd go in the lab and work for an hour or two. And it broke it up. But today your dentist works at the chair almost eight hours a day and sends out all his lab work for others to do. Q. What hours did your father keep? A. Well, I think about 8:30 in the morning until 5:00 or 5:30 as a rule. He took Wednesday afternoons off to work around the yard or cut grass or weeds. He owned a vacant lot for a number of years and he'd have to go over and cut the weeds on that every once in a while. Q. How did your father get back and forth to work? A. Well he had a bicycle that he rode a good deal of the time. Then he walked too. It was only about a mile from the house to the office. I think he figured it was good exercise to walk. Q. Did other businessmen ride bikes or walk? A. Well, he rode bikes. This was back pretty much prior to 1920 or may have gone up for a while because I rode his bicycle for a while when I went to high school. Q. What did he do the days you rode his bicycle? Howard Frazee 20 A. Well, he walked. And then we were only a block from Fifth Street car line. My father and uncle had an office together in the old Illinois National Bank building. Well, that's where my father first practiced. And then about 1911 or 1912 he moved to the Leland Office building which was on the site of the First Methodist Church. And then it was probably about 1923 or 1924 why he moved over to the Prince building. He did not office with my uncle. My uncle was on the fourth floor of the Leland Office building. My father was on the fifth floor. Q. They didn't have an office together. They were just in the same building. A. In the same building. Q. Okay. A. And the same was true over at the Prince Sanitarium building. Dr. Prince had come over here from Jacksonville and he had a sort of a hospital right there in his office back in the early 1900's. A number of physicians had hospitals. Dr. Prince was a specialist in eye and he did operations, surgeries, and other work. And another doctor had come over from Jacksonville was Dr. Day. He died somewhere around 1950. I'm not sure when it was. Q. Did your uncle ever treat you? A. Oh, yes. Q. For what? A. Well, he treated me for what childhood diseases I had. If I didn't feel good, I'd. go down and see him maybe after school or something. Was just family. Then I had a broken arm and my uncle and Dr. Day set it. Q. How did they set your arm? A. Well, they just pulled it, and got it, and put a splint on it. Q. Were you awake the whole time? A. Yes. Q. Didn't that hurt? A. Well, it did hurt actually. It was very painful to me but especially driving down to the office. But now I had a broken arm back in about 1961 and that one I never had any pain with it at all. Q. Did they put you to sleep when they set it? A. They put me to sleep when they set that one. Q. Why didn't they do that back in the twenties? Howard Frazee 21 A. Well, they didn't have as many anesthesiologists. And many of the anesthesiologists were nurses at that time. Or be three or four doctors might have one receptionist at that time but now your physician has to have a nurse and then administrative assistant to make out the reports that are necessary. Q. Did they have reports then? A. No. They pretty much was just sending out the bills. Dr. O'Hara was the retinologist at old Springfield Hospital about Fifth and North Grand. I believe it was, well, I won't say for sure whether it was Dr. East or West. But it was one of the two who was retinologist at St. John's Hospital. I was worked on by both of them. The one at St. John's was examiner for the military. I went to Citizen's Military Training Camp at Camp Custer in 1924 on my basic course. And I didn't return for any more of the courses because by that time I was working and couldn't get the time off. As a rule in engineering why summer was our busy time. Q. Were there anyone in your family who became a doctor or a dentist? A. Well, my uncle had no children. Well, my family, there was my brother Irving Washington Frazee who was born in 1903 on July 14th and he died January lOth, 1904 before I was born. And so I'm the only one. Both of them did say that they had sort of wished that I had gone into either one of the professions, but I didn't. I had my own profession and I enjoyed it. Q. Did you want to go into medicine or into dentistry? A. No, I was on the track team and they talked about . athletic's heart and all that. So I sort of figured that I needed some sort of a job that was sort of a semimanual, and you got a lot outside, and got plenty of exercise so that it never bothered me any. Q. Do you think your family was disappointed that you didn't go into medicine? A. No, because, well, perhaps they were disappointed but they were also surprised. Because when I went up to Chicago to look for a job, why, my father said that it was pretty evident that I wouldn't amount to anything. But yet less than five years later, he said he couldn't stand it that I wasn't a college graduate and I was making as much money as he'd made in his best years of dental practice. Q. Was he hurt that you made more money than he did? A. Well, he never showed it. He did sometimes. But I was very fortunate. The Northwestern was one of the best paying railroads for engineering work in the country. They required advanced knowledge over what some of the railroads did. I worked around Chicago for the railroads and I worked in Milwaukee, western Wisconsin, and Galesburg, Illinois. And we worked down as far as Quincy and on down to Pike Station. And then when I worked for Howard Frazee 22 the Northwestern, first we worked from Tracy, Minnesota, west of Pierre, South Dakota. And then from Huron down to Hay Warden, Iowa. Then I was laid off December 31, 1930, and I went back to work in June of 1935 out at Sioux City temporarily. I was there five and a half years, and promoted, and was sent out to Chadron, Nebraska. Q. When you graduated from high school • • • A. Yes. Q. where did you go? A. I went to Illinois College for two years. Q. Did you also attend Brown's Business College? A. That I did the year after I got out of high school. Q. Why did you go to Brown's? A. Well, they thought my handwriting could improve. They thought maybe I could learn to take notes in shorthand. I was never good on typing. And I didn't like the just straight bookkeeping work. I didn't mind if it carne to some problem. I liked that. Well, one of the professors or instructors up there at Northwestern told me that the rest of the class had had all the problems and I wouldn't have any. And then when they were having trouble with them, they'd have all of them. But perhaps it wasn't enough of a challenge. Q. How long were you at Brown's? A. Just a year. I completed sole proprietorship and partnership in the bookkeeping and that was always required for that course. It took me a long time on that. It took me a long time to get rapid calulation that they gave at that time where you had to write down the figures and then add them up. You had to have ninety to pass. But finally I think they gave an exam. It was a little short and I got it done. Q. Where was Brown's located? A. It was located on the north side of Monroe Street and the old Illinois State Register building there between Sixth and Seventh. Q. Then after you went to Brown's a year, you went to Illinois College? A. Yes, I went to Illinois College. Q. Why did you pick Illinois? A. Well, I had applied at Knox and they turned me down. Then tried Illinois College and they accepted me. I felt very fortunate that they did because I've been class agent for a class of twenty-seven for about twenty years now. There's not much to the job, but once a year they send Howard Frazee 23 out class agent mailings asking for money for the alumni and I'm the one that sends them out. If I want to, I can make comments or whatever. Q. What was your major at Illinois College? A. It was just liberal arts. I didn't get far enough to major, Q. How long did you attend school? A. Two years at Illinois College. In 1926-1927 one year I went to Northwestern in engineering school with a very mediocre record. Q. Okay. I see here that you've talked about the Citizen's Military Corps at Camp Custer. A. Yes, Q. What was that? A. It was about the equivalent of a year of ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] in high, or I mean in college. Q. And where was Camp Custer? A. Camp Custer was in Michigan. And they now call it Fort Custer. Q. And how long were you there? A. I was only there one month in August of 1924. Q. Was that all the time that you had to serve? A. That was all that I had to serve. Q, Did you work while you were in college? A. No, I didn't. Q, Who paid for your schooling? A. Well, my father paid for a good deal of it. Wasn't a great deal because I think tuition was only a hundred and fifty dollars a year. I think seventy-five dollars a semester at Illinois College. And then it was considerably more at Northwestern, but I am not sure just what it was. Q. Okay. So when you got done at Illinois College, then you went to Northwestern. Is that correct? A. Well, I worked a year. Q. Oh, you did. A. Yes. ---------------------~~----·--------·- - Howard Frazee 24 Q. What did you do? A. I started out in the auditor ticket accounts office with the Burlington Railroad in 1925 in September. And I worked until the .•next September 15th and went to Northwestern. Q. Okay. Just what did you do as auditor of the ticket accounts? A. Well, I handled the exchanges and then audited the station or the agent's reports from the different offices over the system. Q. How did you get that job? A. I just went in and applied. And they told me to go up and see Mr. Morrisey. He told me to go to work the next day. Q. How much did that pay, do you remember? A. Three dollars and fifty~five cents a day. Q. Was that good money then? A. Well, it was probably not good money, but it was for a fellow without college education. Right at that time when most of the college educated went to work up around Chicago for about a hundred dollars a month. And I worked four months there in the auditor of ticket accounts office and transferred to the engineering department. There I got a hundred and ten a month and expenses. Q. Where was your first job as auditor? Where was this located? A. It was 547 West Jackson in Chicago. Q. In Chicago? A. Yes, at the corner, I believe it's Jackson Boulevard and Clinton Street. Q. Where were you living at that time? A. I lived at 6047 Woodlawn in Chicago. I was rooming with this friend from Illinois College. He'd gotten his degree there in the class of 1925, and he went to work for the Harris Trust and Savings Bank. Q. Why did you transfer to the engineering department? A. Well, it was a better job and it offered me much more chance to move ahead. Q. And where was this located? A. Well, I went to Galesburg where they sent me. I was on Illinois District. They had divisions at Aurora and Galesburg. Howard Frazee 25 Q. What kind of work did you do there? A. Well, I was classified as a rodman. Q. What is that? A. Well, it's a fellow who carries a rod when they're running levels or handles range poles when they're running line. Pretty much I was on the road a good deal of the time. Not too much overnight. But railroad paid for all my meals. I think I probably got about two-thirds of my meals paid for, plus a hundred and ten a month which was when I was a bachelor so it was just--and it was pretty much the same on other railroads, too. Q. Was this something that you had to have schooling for or you learned on the job? A. I learned on the job. Q. How long were you at the engineering department? A. Well, I've been involved with engineering and construction all my life since that time. Q. Oh, I see here you went on to Northwestern. A. Yes. Q. Why? A. Well, I got a little technical learning there. Q. How long were you there? A. Just a year pretty much. I later took a semester after I was laid off. Q. After your year at Northwestern, where did you go, Howard? A. Well, I went back with the Burlington Railroad and worked a couple of months in Chicago. Then I went back to Galesburg. Q. Still with the same company? A. Still with the CB&Q [Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy] Railroad. And then I was laid off. Q. Why were you laid off? A. Well, I don't know for sure but one fellow, I had to be out with him most of the time. He didn't like me. He was basically from west of the Missouri River, and he didn't think there was anything that amounted to Howard Frazee 26 anything east of the Missouri River. And he was working in Chicago and one of the men at Galesburg was temporaxily promoted. They had him to go down to Galesburg during the week and then he'd go home over the weekend. I don't know. It was one of those things, you know. Q. Personality conflict? A. Yes. Q. What did you do when you were laid off? A. Well, I got a short job with the Pennsylvania Railroad. And it happened to be one of the fellows that I met the first day I worked in engineering department. He was a native Norwegian and he worked on the Aurora division. He lived at Mendota. That's Illinois. He used to get up, and catch a train, and ride to whatever it was. It was a one hundred and sixty-three miles, I think. Well, say fifty miles back to Aurora. We were given annual passes over part of the railroad. When I was working for Pennsylvania, I was over at the Burlington office checking with them a job with the Pennsylvania about the Pennsylvania and Chicago, Burlington, Quincy Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio, And I was over at the Burlington Railroad checking some of their records. This fellow said, "Well, I expect you'll be going out with us in the spring." I said, "No, they tell me I'm not suppose to come back." It made me feel pretty bad. "Ah," he said, "don't let that worry you. There isn't a guy in this office I don't think that hasn't been fired somewhere." And so that cheered me up a little bit. So then I went out and worked for my father on the farm for mechanic work for a while. And then around the first of April I went up to Chicago to look for a job. After two or three days I was called by the Northwestern Railroad. They hired me and sent me to Huron, South Dakota. The job I had with the Burlington was a hundred and twenty-eight a month. And the one with the Northwestern was a hundred and forty-five. I worked a week and got notice that the rate was increased to a hundred and sixty a month. And that was very good pay for a fellow whether he was a college graduate or not pretty much up till World War II. Why I did better than the average college graduate probably as far as making money goes. Q. What did you do at Huron, South Dakota? A. I was civil engineer. My territory extended from Tracy, Minnesota west of Pierre and then from Huron to Hawarden, Iowa. I think I've mentioned this before. Also went up to Oakes, North Dakota. Q. Just what type of work did you do? A. Well, I did the necessary surveying which might be staking out track extensions or relining curves. Or once in a while when we had a fatal crossing accident, we'd had to go out and make a survey of that so that we'd have a record for it in case it ever came up to court. A good many of them did. Howard Frazee 27 Q. And this was all for the railroad? A. This was all for the railroad. Then I handled keeping record of the leases on the division. Q. What kind of leases? A. Well, some of them agricultural, then some of them were in these towns for elevators and things like that that were on railroad property. Leasee owned the buildings. Q. So then that the railroad had some property that they leased it to other people to put it to good use? A. Yes. Then carried a strip right through what we called the station grounds on these small towns. And they had it laid off in warehouse lots. Q. Okay. At this time, it looks like you've done quite a bit of traveling in the north central United States. A. Yes. Q. Did you have a particular spot that you liked? A. Well, I had no spot that I didn't like. Probably Sioux City came the closest. Sioux City was for several census within about a five hundred or thousand difference With Springfield. END OF SIDE ONE Q. . . • about Sioux City being like a sister city of Springfield. A. It was. Sioux City was a trading area for that part of the country. And it was one big stockyard center. They had Swift and Armour and Morrel, I believe. There were several packers there that used the Sioux City stockyards. They shipped a lot of meat out of there and they also sent livestock to the east. Q. Did you tour any of the livestock yards? A. Oh, I've been down in there. We might have to go down there to stake a track or something like that. It was all interesting. At Sioux City we had a territory that covered part of southern Minnesota, about the west two-thirds of Iowa, and probably the north half or third of Iowa. We got as far east as Belte Plaine and Mason City. And we got in to, as I said, Belte Plaine, and Tama, and then Cairo. We had connection with Iowa division at Jewell, Iowa. Missouri Valley, too. Q. Was any one city or territory more difficult to work at than another area? Howard Frazee 28 A. I didn't find it that way. Of course, by the time I got to Chadron, I had enough experience and all that, I had no worries. Q. Did you work in the mountains? A. Well, not in the mountains, but we went up as high as seven thousand feet with our tracks out around Shoshone, Wyoming. And then it dropped down from there to Lander, Wyoming. Q. So it didn't really matter where you were at, the job still was the same? A. Pretty much the same. A lot of times we had to use our own imaginations. When we went into doing these jobs, they weren't always the same. Q. Did the altitude affect your work? A. I never noticed it at the time. When I was in the Army, I was down at Slydale, Louisana, but I think that was about elevation four, something like that. Q. Okay. Where did you go after you left this last job out at Huron? A. Well, as I say, I went into Chicago after that. Then I was laid off and went up to Milwaukee where I worked on the two million bushel addition to a grain elevator up there. Q. Okay. Why were you laid off? A. Well, it was the time 1930. The hard times were starting. They were laying people off. Q. Okay. Why were there hard times? A. Well. They'd had the 1929 collapse of the stock market and money was hard to come by. The Northwestern stock, I think, was selling up around eighty something. And then they went into receivership, I think. Q. What does that mean, Howard? A. Well, about the same as bankruptcy. Q. Okay, so you were laid off because of the start of the crash, and you went up to Milwaukee to build an elevator. How was this elevator funded? A. Well, that was owned by the railroad and then leased out to an elevator company. Q. And they had the funds to build this? A. Well, it was built with railroad money. The railroad had money and they always had a good amount of cash through all the time. Because whenever they'd get paid for freight or anything like that, why that's all sent into Howard Frazee 29 the office. But they didn't have enough to do all the things that they wanted to. Q. How long were you here building this elevator? A. About seven months. Q. What did you do? A. Well, there were three of us that did surveying. Then there was some that were inspectors and there were some, well that was pretty much the railroad's technical force on it. The elevator was built by contract. We used for foundation over five thousand sixty to sixty-five foot wood piles. They were driven into the ground and then the concrete of the elevator rested on that. It was a silty area and I don't think there were any of the piles--they were mostly what we call friction piles. They hold up with friction in the soil against the pile. If they come down to coarse rock then they call them point bearing piles. Q. Was the work that you did on the elevator any different than what you had been doing for the railroad? A. Well, I wouldn't consider it was. That is it was just prior to using surveying equipment. The basic principles were the same, but there were technical things perhaps that were better that we had to know. They sometimes used me as an inspector, too. Q. Okay. So you worked for the railroad then about five years. A. I was with the Northwestern about nine years and nine months. And I was about a year and a half with the Burlington. Q. Did you see changes in the railroad itself? A. Well, they were using heavier rails. The main lines were what they called hundred pound rails. That's a hundred pounds to the yard, pretty much when I started. Then in 1942 any of the main line relays were about a hundred and twelve pound rail. Q. But had you seen the changes just in those ten years that you had worked? A. Oh, yes. Well, these streamline trains came in in the thirties when I was laid off. But they had some of them out on long distance passenger runs. Q. What had they had before? A. Just steam locomotives. West of the Missouri River we used oil burners and east we used coal burning locomotives. I think they used mostly Illinois coal. They had stokers and all that all the time that I was working with the railroad. It was originally gasoline and electric Howard Frazee 30 locomotives where gasoline motor drove thag¢nerator that generated the electricity to operate the train, or operate the locomotive. Then around 1933 or so, they started these streamline trains. One of the first ones was on the Union Pacific. It was just a short one and I think it ended up on a local run. Before that we had had gasoline electric which did pretty much a railroad's car with this gasoline motor and generator so that it was electric driven, powered. Electricity was generated right there on the locomotive. Used to power the trucks on the locomotive cars. It was a little different than these railroad cars that you see. Not a great deal. Profile was pretty much the same. Q. Did the trains haul freight? A. Not those trains. They had freight locomotives and then they had freight trains scheduled on what they called the working time tables. It only covered one division. They had a schedule on the freights and passenger both. Freight trains didn't too much keep up their schedule but your passenger train did relatively well except in time of emergency. And it was pretty hard at times to get through. But we were the only railroad that went through the winter of 1936 that got a train in and out of Sioux City the same day it was scheduled. Between Sioux City and Chicago. And that was because we had this line from Sioux City to Missouri Valley, Iowa where we went on the main line division. And they get down there, why they had plenty of snow fighting equipment and enough trains to keep the tracks opened. But where we only had one or two trains a day that winter we ended up with some thirty foot drifts. And we'd have to send out snow equipment. Might be two or three days before we'd get the whole division open. By that time another snow would come and just start in right over again. Q. Did you work on the snow removal equipment? A. No, I didn't. Q. So weather did affect your job? A. Oh, it affected our job. At the Northwestern we did both office and field work. It was sort of nice, because we'd spend a day or two maybe out in the field and then two or three days in the office, And we weren't very long on any onejob most of the time. Although some time when we were relaying rail, one or two of us might be out of the office for as long as two or three weeks. Q. Was one season of the year better than another season? A. Why, yes. Well, we didn't do anything on relaying rail or anything like that through the winter months and pretty well up into spring before we got started on that. And then early in the fall, why we'd finish up with that. Q. So what would you do during the winter months? Howard Frazee 31 A. Well, we'd work on maps. There were always maps to be redrawn. In our office we had alignment maps which were four hundred feet to the inch of all the track in the division. And then every town, we had a town site map that was one inch to the hundred feet. We had our own blueprint machine. The first one that I worked with out of Huron, South Dakota was a sun machine. That was put the tracing on the glass, layer of blcueprint paper, close it up, let the sun shine on it for two or three minutes, take it out, and wash it. Bring out the blueprint and then dry it. We had both these alignment maps and station maps, and then we had special maps like these that may come up for use in a law suit. On account of a fatal accident or something like that. Then we had profiles of the track. Q. What do you mean by profile? A. Well, it shows the elevation of the grade, whether it goes up or down. And we had that for all the tracks in the division. Q. Did you do bridges or trussels with the railroad? A. Well, they were handled by the bridge crew as a rule. You know I was out on some concrete abutments.' Q. So that's a different technology? A. Somewhat different, yes. Q. Okay. During the crash of 1929, how did this affect your life, Howard, besides being laid off? A. Well, it really didn't affect it too much. I didn't have a job. Now I would not go out and just go from door to door. You get too many turn downs and pretty soon you become depressed. But I tried to keep my eyes opened. And I worked as a laborer on the paving gang. I was foreman of a CWA [Civil Works Administration] gang at Camp Butler National Cemetery. I was also engineer of the job. Q. So you found work? A. I had quite a bit of work and it paid me. Q. Did you lose any savings? A. I didn't have much savings to lose. But I had a car the whole time. I stayed at home with my folks. Q. Did it affect them any? A. Well, not too much. Well, my father didn't make any money, but he had plenty to go back on. I think he had to borrow one time. He got a loan of fifteen hundred dollars, but he was quite a while paying that back. Q. Were people not coming to him because of the crash? Howard Frazee 32 A. Well, a lot of them were, but he was also at that time--you see, he was sixty years old so he wasn't • Q. Why were you staying with your folks at that time? A. Well, I stayed with them because they had the room and I did some work around the house, sometimes worked out at the farm. Q. This was while you were laid off that you stayed with your folks? A. Yes. Q. Okay. You say the farm is out at Mechanicsburg. lihat type of work did you do out there? A. Oh, just regular farm labor pretty much. Well, what I'd say was just general farm labor. Q. Did you plant? A. I didn't do very much of it. Q. Was it a grain farm or a livestock farm? A. Well, it was both. My father, I think he had about thirty cows. Well they weren't the purebred Black Angus but they were very close to it. And then he raised hogs and sheep. Q. Did he do his own butchering? A. No, he'd sell them. The cattle he shipped direct to Chicago for better cattle market. The sheep and hogs he'd take to St. Louis. Q. Why St. Louis? A. Well, he figured he on the cattle and hogs. as good as market so he got about the same there that he would And then later on why Springfield got sold through Springfield. Q. Springfield didn't have a market at that time? in Chicago to be about A. Well, they didn't take quite as much right there around the early thirties. Q. So you had livestock to take care of then? A. Yes. Well, he had a hired man that helped him. Q. Did you live on the farm? A. Yes, sometimes I did. But as I said, oh I guess it was along in about April 1933, I got on the paving gang when they paved South Grand Howard Frazee 33 Avenue from Ninth to MacArthur. Q. And is this when you gave up the farming? A. Yes. Shortly after that finished up why then I got on as engineer on the CWA. Q. Okay. I'm going to interrupt you a minute, Howard. I want to go back to the farming while we're still thinking about it and finish that up before we go on. Did you enjoy farm work? A. Not particularly. Q. What kind of crops did you raise? A. We raised corn and soybeans and wheat and oats and clover. Q. So you were pretty well self sufficient? A. Yes. Father always had a garden. Q. Did you do the garden? A. No, I didn't. My father tried to get out to the farm every day, and he sort of fooled around with that as his Q. Did someone can or did you sell the produce? A. I don't think there was very much; we didn't sell any of it. It was just mainly for our own consumption and the hired man who lived there in the house. Q. Did you find then during the Depression, was there a shortage of items from the farm? A. No, there wasn't. Well, one time corn got down to ten cents a bushel. Then it went up around thirty cents or so. My father topped the market one time with cattle in Chicago at six dollars and twenty-five cents. And hogs were about three or four cents a pound. Q. Was it hard to get rid of your livestock during the Depression? A. No, the beef market in St. Louis or Chicago took it any time. Q. People were still buying? A. Yes, there was packing plants. They probably were not operating at capacity. Q. How many acres did your father have? A. Well, two hundred and eighty-seven acres at Mechanicsburg. And at Howard Frazee 34 Rochester a hundred and sixty. A hundred and sixty at Rochester was the more valuable farm. Q. Why was that? A. Because it was very flat and a hundred per cent tillable. Q. How much was tillable at Mechanicsburg? A. Probably about a hundred and sixty acres. And it was a little rougher ground and it'd get more wash. Q. So was the farm at Rochester strictly for crops? A. Well, I think the tenant kept a little livestock of his own. Q. Did you work on the farm at Rochester? A. No, I didn't. Q. Just the one at Mechanicsburg? A. Just the one at Mechanicsburg. My father operated that with a hired man. The one at Rochester was leased on shares and about the same way it is now. Q. Was there any problem with the farm at Rochester during the Depression as far as the tenant not making enough money? A. Well, Rochester, that was the tenant, there wasn't any trouble there. His name was Elmer McCoy. He started with my father in 1917. He was tenant then up until 1956. Q. So he was there a long time? A. Yes. Q. Okay, you started to tell me about the paving gang in Springfield. A. Yes. Q. Why did you come back to Springfield? A. Well, it was where the family was, my folks. And that was all. I was single at the time. Q. Were you on the farm when you made the decision to go into the paving gang? A. No, I wasn't. I knew Bud Nelch who was one of the men who owned one of the companies in the paving business. I asked him, and my father had an assessment to pay on the paving. They gave fellows like that a little, Howard Frazee 35 if they wanted to work, why they would give them first chance. Then I worked with them the rest of the year. Q, What did you do? A. Oh, I did several things. For a while I cured the concrete. That is, after they'd pour it, they'd put this burlap on, And then when it set up enough, why they'd put this burlap on, and I came along with a hose and wet the burlap down. Then I worked for them placing concrete. I think they had a forty-eight foot street surface from curb to curb. The state paid for the middle thirty-six feet, four lane, the equivalent of a four lane highway. So I worked on the six feet outside between the curb and the state slab. They always poured with a little different concrete mix. Q. Why was that? A. Because the city engineer could use what he wanted to, and he used a little less cement than the state did. Well, I think he had felt that these leaner mixes weren't as apt to crack as the state mix where it was richer concrete and much stronger. Q. Was he right? A. Well, I doubt if he was because the curb was the part that started to give out. But of course at the time that was paved, why seven or eight ton a load was pretty heavy load. The contractor'had two one-yard batches in each truck and roughly figure that about just a little over two tons per yard. Sometimes they got up to where they hauled as much as about seven tons on the truck. And that pavement held up until 1960 with that increased loading on these semitrailer trucks and all that. Q, Is that why the streets are cracking because of too much heavy load? A. Oh, yes. That causes them to crack a lot of times. And then the sun will heat them up and find a weak point, crack them, and have what they call a blowup, which is just a crack across the pavement. Q. Now what streets did you pave? A. We paved all of South Grand Avenue and then we did patch paving on Ninth Street up around where the interurban station was and over on Second Street and then Thirty-five Street from out Stevenson up to Clear Lake. Q. Did you have any trouble getting supplies? A. No, there wasn't no trouble. Q. And you were a laborer? A. Yes. Howard Frazee 36 Q. What does that mean? A. Well, they do about anything they're told to. I swung a sledgehammer and breaking out some concrete. Just whatever. I might get in and puddle some concrete. Wasn't any specific duty. I set forms for some there on Thirty-first Street. They used brick surface on that. And I hung the little form that was suppose to level up with the top of the bricks. Q. Was this a different technology than working with the railroad? A. Oh, yes. It's different but there's enough similarities so that it's not a great deal of difference. Q. So you could be considered as having experience? END OF TAPE TWO Q. Howard, yesterday we were talking about you working with the paving crew here in Springfield. Who were you working for? A. I was working for Sangamon Construction. That was a conglomeration of about four paving contractors. Nelch was one of them. Bretz was another one. And Meuth, John Meuth was another one. And then there was a J. 0. Patteson that had some interest in it. All of them at one time in the paving business. Although Meuth was more interested in the Alzina Construction Company. They did building, too. At that time why I made forty cents an hour in 1933. And then in 1934 I worked for them for a while on doing some resurfacing. I beg your pardon it wasn't resurfacing. It was widening Sixth Street from South Grand Avenue to Edwards. It had been widened beyond Edwards. We did that all by hand spading and throwing in the truck. At that time why they were using more steam shovels than they were with these gasoline powered shovels. They used a shovel with a dipper boom on it that went along and made a very good almost finished grade. Then South Grand Avenue had a base of concrete, and then there was one inch of asphalt cushion. And then brick surface was laid on that. They had these men laying the brick. They just laid them roughly, but they were to cross the pavement section with them. And then they had other that came in and put in the bats along the curb. Bat was just a piece of a brick. When you hear someone talk of a brickbat why that's what they mean just a--and they used to have a brick to brick the joint. After the surface had been accepted, why then they sprayed it with a mixture of calcium chloride and water. Then they--that is the top surface of the brick. Then they poured the tar or asphalt in between the brick and then they used hand scrapers to cut that. Water prevented the asphalt from going into the surface of the brick, the exposed surface of the brick. But the tar or asphalt went down between the brick and it adhered to that and that formed a cushion. The men who did most of the brick laying had a contest one time, and one of them laid seven thousand brick in one hour. They had a fellow carrying the brick out from the curb line out and they
|Title||Howard Frazee Memoir - Part 1|
|Rights||© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this material, please contact: Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 140, Springfield IL 62703-5407. Phone: (217) 206-6520. http://library.uis.edu/archives/index.html|
University of Illinois at Springfield
Norris L Brookens Library
Howard Frazee Memoir
F869. Frazee, Howard (1904-1985)
Interview and memoir
4 tapes, 360 mins., 65 pp.
Frazee, civil engineer, discuses family, childhood and adolescence, early forms of
transportation in Springfield, streetcars, trolleys, interurbans, and automobiles; school
years, WWI, social life of the 1920's, birthday celebrations, and family vacations. He also
talks about his father's dental practice, an uncle's medical practice, his own engineering
training, early jobs, work for the railroad, paving Springfield's streets, work at Camp
Butler, Civilian Conservation Corps, surveying work, and service on a military railroad
crew in India during WWII.
Interview by Linda S. Jett, 1979
See collateral file: interviewer's notes, photo of Frazee, photocopied article on Frazee,
essays written by Frazee, and a brief history of Frazee, his father, and his children.
Archives/Special Collections LIB 144
University of Illinois at Springfield
One University Plaza, MS BRK 140
Springfield IL 62703-5407
© 1979, University of Illinois Board of Trustees
'""~< ',, ,'
|Collection Name||Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield|