Marvel Fitzgerald Memoir
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University of Illinois at Springfield Norris L Brookens Library Archives/Special Collections Marvel Fitzgerald Memoir F576. Fitzgerald, Marvel (1905-1991) Interview and memoir 1 tape, 70 mins, 23 pp. TELEPHONE PROJECT Fitzgerald, employee of Illinois Bell Telephone Company, discusses his experiences working for Illinois Bell. He recalls a fire at the company offices in 1927, effects of the Depression and WWII, customer billing procedures, changes in technology, and a 1947 strike. Also mentions Springfield transportation developments. Interview by Thomas Easley, 1973 OPEN See collateral file Archives/Special Collections LIB 144 University of Illinois at Springfield One University Plaza, MS BRK 140 Springfield IL 62703-5407 © 1973, University of Illinois Board of Trustees Preface This manuscript is the prcxluct of a tape-recorded interview conducted by 'lhanas Easley for the Oral History Office on Cktober 27, 1973. Mr. Marvel Fitzgerald was born in Springfield, Illinois on March 16, 1905. He recounts his experiences as an employee at Illinois Bell fran the age of 19 in 1924 to his retirement at age 62 in 1967. Mr. Fitzgerald ewers such topics as the 1927 fire at Illinois Bell Telephone, changes in Illinois Bell's technology and the pioneer organization of Illinois Bell Telephone's employees. Readers of the oral history meJlX)ir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken word, and that the interviewer, narrator and eiitor sought to preserve the informal, cOIWersational style that is inherent in such historical sources. SangaDDn State University is not responsible for the factual accuracy of the llBIDir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge. 'Ihe JDalUlBCript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in Whole or in part by any n:eans, electronic or mechanical, wit:lnlt pelJllission in writing fran the Oral History Office, Sangamon State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708. Marvel Fitzgerald, Springfield, Illinois, October 27, 1973. Thomas Easley, Intervie~r. Q: Mr. Fitzgerald' men and ~ere ~re you oom? A: I ~bom in Springfield, Illinois, on North Ninth Street. Ani do you ~t the date? Q: Yes. A: March 16, 1905. Q: And, have you lived in Springfield all of your life? A: Yes, EUCCept for--see, my father was a railroader on the old CP&StL, and his run ll!llS changed, and he Y4t>rked out of Peoria for three or four years, and ~ lived up in Peoria. This lliliB When I 'WaS in grade school. And then, later on, l.lle ~nt to JacksoiiY'ille, Illinois, for four years. His nm 'W8.S changed to ~rk out of Jacksonville, and at that t~ I atten::led Route ColleY.e, c»er there in Jacksowille. 'lhen ~ III)\Ted back to Springfield and I ve been here e~~er s:i.tre. Q: Did you finish your high school in A: Yes, in Jacksonville. Q: lk>w far did you go in college? A: I didn't go to college--they called it Route College Academy but I completed that, see? Q: Ch, it 'WB.S just like one of these public academies? A: That's right. Q: Vhen you came back to Springfield, did you go to ~rk for Bell :imiEdiately? A: No, not inmediately. I had a job with--let's see, What "Was the ~ of it? Broadwell's Drug Store on the square for--I was only there for just a few m:mths. And it so happened that there ll!llS a supetvisor in the telephone ccxnpany accounting department mose nan:e lliliS Percy Fay, and he had gone to school in Braidw:xxi, Illinois with an uncle of mine vtlo lived in Peoria. And it so happened that one of the supervisors in the acc01.mting depar1JJ&l.t was quitting to go to ~rk with his father, W:lich left an opening. Atxi Percy Fay, knowing about this, contacted my uncle in Peoria, Marvel Fitzgerald who in tl1rn contacted rm, ani v.e got together, and I was hired in the accounting departuent of the telephone canpany through that rnarmer. 'lbat was in <ktober of 1924, and I was 19 years old at the time. Q: Now, you're still ~rking for Bell? A: tb, I'm retired. I've been retired for six years. I retired when I was sixty-tw:>. Q: Vbat was it--was it Illinois Bell when you first ~nt to 'I'II.Urk for them? A: Yes, it was Illinois Bell, but formerly, I un:lerstan:l that a few years before that, it 'WaS called the Central Union Telephone Company, l:ut When I started with the canpany it was the Illinois Bell. Q: \-here \\ere your first offices? A: The first offices \Ere in a building liri.ch is still standing at Third and Mmroe Street. ve <X!Cupied the seconl and third floors, and on the first floor there was a barber shop that faced M:lnroe Street, and then in back of that -was the distril:uting point for Swift Packing Company. And they, of course, had it there so they could set out the refrigerator cars fran the railroad that ran down Third Street and distrib.lted locally, the rmat and stuff, fran that point. Q: Was your father still ..-urking for the railroad, by the way, at that tine? A: Ch, yes. Yes, he was w:>rking, rut they lived in Peoria at the time. Q: Wlere in Springfield ~re you living, then? A: let's see. I was living at--I was roaning on Sixth Street with a couple IlaiiEd Frank--~11, it's imna.terial. I can't recall his n.BIIE now--Frank Brown. It's a hard na:ne to rananberl (laughter) It was across the street fran St. Peter and St. Paul's Clrurch. 'Ihe house, of crurse, is still standing there, too. But one thing I ~d like to n:ention, that first couple of years there. I'd been w:>rking with the canpany for about three years, and on a Saturday night the latter part of Jarruary, 1927, my wife and I ~e going to a show dow:1 at the old Gaiety, which is now the Senate 'lbeater. \e noticed sane cOiliiDtion down M:mroe Street' there, rut didnIt think DllCh of it' and 'i.\'el'lt on to the show. ve came out and decided to i.rwestigate to see ~t it was all about, and ~tdOllll there. Here, the l:uilding where I w:>rked was on fire, and I got there just in time to see the spot mere my desk was on the second floor go dOllll to the basEDEnt, and everything else on top of it. So I trought, oh oh, here \E go, no job! So I v.ent bane, ani next tll)rning-M:>nday DDrning--I got a telephone call, "Get yourself down to the office here. Wear saxe old clothes." We v.ent down and--the crew w::>rki.ng at the office. And, of course, the place was trDre or less coole:l off by that time, and--of course at that t:i.ne they had t:v.elve large safes. 'Ihey \Ere about five feet tall and maybe three or four feet wide, and four feet deep, an:l they housed the toll tickets and the addressograph plates fran 'Which the custolrer's bills were made. And it was our job to go dmvn into the ruins, there, and try to salvage as IDJCh as we could of those plates and toll tickets. And of th:>se twelve safes, elaren of them carre through all right, but one of than was broken open because of the fall fran the second floor to the basement. <Ale of the other safes hit this one and knocked it open, see, so we got to salvage elaren of them. Then, fran there, there use.::l to be a headquarters for the plant department. That is the service trucks arrl like that ani supplies, was at Ninth and Jefferson. And we rounled up a number of typewriters and desks and like that, and set up a billing unit. That is for toll tickets in this office, and ~ ~e back in business on '1\J.es:iay following the fire. And then, later on, well, that sarre week, the caupany rente:i a roller skating rink 'Which 'WB.S on Sixth Street across the street fran the Elks. There's an autOilDbile parking place there now. But they hire:i this roller skating rink, and they got addressograph machines and desks--in fact, they got the desks out of soueplace in Chio, ani they shipped than here by express on the back of a passenger train. Boy, that really cost them, too. But anyhow, we got the desks, and we were in full operation on M:>n::lay, following the fire--that is, a ~ek later, had our offices set up there. And, we remained at that location until Decoration Day, May 30 or 31st. Thirtieth I guess it was. Q: That's still in 1927? A: In 1927. Right. And, at that time the Ridgely Bank IW.lding was just being canpleted, and the canpany rente:i part of the lOth and all of the 11th and 12th floors of that building, and we IOOITe:i in there aver Decoration Day. \-e were the first tenants in the Ridgely Bank Building. 'lhe place v;as not complete:! yet--they didn't aren have the tile in the elevator lobby, an:i we had to walk on planks aver the dirt floor to get into the elarators. So we remained there until 1939 when the company l:uilding at Sixth and Cook was canplete:i, and we UD\Ted do~ there and occupied the secorrl and third floors of that l:uilding. We finally outgrew those quarters, and we UD\Ted to the third, fourth, fifth ani sixth floors of the Illinois Building on the square--that is at Sixth and Mans. That \¥aS in the 1950's. I don't recall the exact date, rut anyhow, they ranained in there until the 1970's. Of course, I retired in 1967--retired fran that particular location. And a couple of years later, in the 1970's, they IOOV'ed to the new l:uilding at 529 South Seventh, mere they are. So that's, mre or less, a history of the locations of the ccmptroller's--they call it the canptroller's departmmt, now, instead of the accounting--of the company from 1924 up to the present tine. Q: lhring--of course, you've lived here in Sangam:>n County IIDst of your life or in related areas. Vba.t do you remember about, let's say, the Depression period, for instance, in your ~rk with Illinois Bell? What was it like? A: Well, I'll tell you--during the Depression it didn't hit the accounting departl:II!nt too hard as far as ~rk was concerned for this reason, that is there was just about as IDJCh 'W::>rk, as Ul.lCh pa.perw;:>rk, in taking a telephone out as there was in p1tting a telephone in, so they had to have a fairly steady crew to caver those operations. But one thing I do remember was that v.e used to mrlntain a weekly report of the number of stations that ~ ha:l in service, and that darn thing s'howed red for several years, that is, disconnects instead of p.ltting than in, you know. Q: l'bw, W:len you say station, you man in:lividual telephone? A: That's rigt:lt. \E considered a telephone a station. They called it the station report, as I remember it. 'lhen, another thing that I do remember was that--my wife and I ~remarried in Ncwember of 1930, and I got married--wall , one of the reasons was that 'ile wanted to get married , one of the primary reasons was the armunt of unney you made. So, I was making $175 a mnth at the time and shortly after 'ile T.ere married in tblanber of 1930 I had to take a $25 a IIDnth cut, which knocked rre dovn to $150 a mnth. But, wa survived it anyhow. And, in the course of the years, we've had four children, three boys and a girl. Q: \-bat's your wife's nane? A: Margaret. She was Margaret Dirksen before Y-E Y-Ere married. Q: Any relation to the Dirksens her in town? A: vell, yes, distant relations--cousins or sanething like that. OJr first child was Bomie Fitzgerald, the girl of course. She was bom in 1932, and she is presently married and has five children, and she's the wife of Tcm Hamilton, local realtor here in tom. The next child 'NB.S Jim, \\ho at the present time is ~rking for the canpany in the plant departJ:rent. Q: Vben was Jim born? A: Jim was bom in 1934. And the next boy was John, 'i.E call him Joe for short. He was born in 1936, and he ~rks for the newspaper in the display advertising depart:n:ent. He has t:w::> children. Th.e next child is a boy, Michael. He was bom in 1940, and he lives in Mirmeapolis, and he has ~children. So that's the extent of our family. That adds up to nine grandchildren. Q: Things T.ere pretty tough, were they, during the Depression, here in Springfield? A: Yes, they 'Were, in a way, but fortunately I had a steady job all the way througt:l it, and of course prices weren't like they are today. In fact, you could get a loaf of bread for a nickel, and our rent was $28 a m:>nth for a small bungalow--we lived on North First Street where the Mem::>rial Hospital is now. They're building a garage there now--parking lot, rather. 'Ihe house has been ~~~Ned out. But, we got by, survived. Q: During that particular period of time, were there any great changes in the office where you ~rked, say, as far as machines or techniques? A: Ch, yes. "Vell, you IIEBn during that particular time? Q: Yes. A: I'd say canparing the present operations with the operations at that ti.ue the changes were so gradual that you can't p.1t it dOWl. to any particular time, l:ut in the early days, I'11 say early days as far as I'm concerned, in the 1920's and 1930's, toll tickets at that time were prepared on papers canparable to newsprint, an:i of course they ~re all filled out by pen, or pencil rather, by the operators, ani the t:i.n:e was stamped on the back by a machine that had three clocks. Che gave the time of day, and one the start tine and one the completion time. And then those tickets had to be rated by reading the clock and referring to a chart for time and rate and so forth. 'Ihen those tickets ~re sent to the accotmting departJ:nent by United States mail e~ery day, ani we had a crew of girls that WJ"Ul.d take those tickets and sort than according to telephone number and date arrl do that daily ani they'd set that book--~ called them books at that ti.tm--book of tickets aside, and then the next day they WJ"Ul.d sort the other tickets that cane in and set that book aside, and then after they got five days they'd call it a rounder ticket and they'd canbine those into telephone numbers so they had five days in complete telephone rrumbers, and set those aside. 'Ihen the sixth day they WJU!d sort in telephone number order, then the 7th, 8th, 9th ani lOth day, and canbine those--then they'd have tw:> groups of five days each. Well, they'd continue that operation through the unnth and finally they'd end up with the tickets for the particular nonth--I say mnth, but it's actually a bill~ period, we're divided into ten billing periods during the mnth--an:l we d have all the tickets in complete rrumberical order. 1hen cane the billing operations. We had regular typewriters and they had one electric feature arrl that me an electric carriage return. 'lhey had a palm key about the size of a dollar on the right hand of the keyboard that you could hit with your palm, an:i if you hit that an electric IIDtor ~ld aut.cma.tically bring the carriage back for the start of the next ticket. But that was the only electric feature, the rest of it was all manual. Then after those tickets were billed and the toll statanents prepared, they w:>Uld take the group of tickets, and we'd refer to than as books again, we'd divide than up into approximate!y bu hurrlred acc01m.ts and that ~ld be a book of toll stat€11Eilts ani pass than an:ong a group of girls known as toll adders, an:i by neans of a cooq>taneter they ~ld add these tickets and then they w:JUld put that total on the toll statemant. Then they w:>uld add the total statemant and if the anounts agreed that was a check to see that the billing was done correctly. Q: \<hat exactly was this canptaneter? A: It W!iB just like an adding nachine--it had about a lumdred keys on it, one to nine, and up like this, ani they'd w:>rk it m:>re or less like a typewriter. 'lhey'd get a visual, they ~dn't get a tape, they'd get a visual aJDIJilt on it, see. It vas just a marrual calculator, that's all it was, it really wasn't a calculator--they could add, subtract, nultiply ani divide--it -was very . . • they had to use their fingers in a certain way and use the--I don't know just how it wa.s--they just used them m:>stly for aiding. Then the telephone bills at that tUne ~re caupletely printed on addressograph equiprent; that is, the bill itself was printed on addressograph. 'lhey had a drum that had the impression of the bill and the paper ws 17 inches wide and consisted of the customer's bill with the stub, and ~other stubs, and they were approximately square, about three inches square. And they w:>Uld run these on an enornous roll of Marvel Fitzgerald paper that v.lei.ghed several lnmdred pounis--they'd p.1t it onto the machine ani as the paper unrolled, the IIBChine ~dautomatically cut it--cut off a slice 17 inches wide and approximately three inches deep, ~ch 'WB.S the shape of the custCJller 's bill with the attached stubs. Ani that ~d run tbrcugh the machine, ani then these addressograph plates that I lli'mtioned that we had during the fire, contained the address and the m:mthly value of the cust<:::ller 's bill--that is, how uruch we billed him for his service. And the rmchine WJUld print that, so vtlen we got through we WJUld have this bill ca:npletely printed ani with the customer's I"Jall);! and the BIDJUilt of the mnthly service on it. Then we'd place those into books, about ~or three lnmdred deep an:i take them rNer to a cutting machine ~hhad a blade about 12 inches wide, I guess, with a large hanlle on it, p.1t it in there an:i cut the stubs off of the end except the one that W':l.S attached to the custODEr 's bill. Che of those book of stubs W':ls retained by the accounting department, ani the other book of stubs was sent to the C(Jl'[JErcial office in.volved, could be in Peoria, Decatur, or 'itlatever. Then we WJUld take the bills, the cust<:::ller' s bills, and the toll stateuents, ani pass than aroun:l am:mgst all the people in the office, an:i their job was to carry the aoount of the toll on the toll statement to the bill by pen and ink and add it up ani pass it on to an adder. 'Ihat 'WB.S all done nmrually. Then the girls who w:ruld take the bills and add than and add the toll statements, and they lmew how mJCh the custal:er' s DDnthly service W':l.S and they'd strike a balance there, and they knew that was okay. Well, so mJCh for the account--oh, then 1Ne 'd have to get those things into envelopes. Ani we'd take the envelopes and the flaps of course ~they cane fran the supplier were all interfolded down, so we'd have to take a bunch of envelopes and by this nethod of click, click, click, click put all the flaps up. Then 1Ne 'd put the envelopes with the flaps up here and the customer's bill in front of us ani the toll stateuent CNer here. So there might be t:l«>, three, four, even UDre toll statements. You'd have to associate the bills and the toll stateuents, put than on the bill, fold the flap CNer the stub, and that w:ruld then be put into the envelope, ani set aside. I'bw that was an all manual operation. Then after these envelopes all contained bills, 1Ne 'd send than to--we had ~twe called the Pitney-~s mailing machine, ani it had a trough where 1Ne 'd p1t the custooers' bills in the envelopes and the machine WJUld automatically misten and fold down the flap, nm it through the machine, and print the postage and cone out the other side and then it was put in mail baskets an:l taken to the post office. Q: Vbat W':l.S the naue of that IIBChine? A: Pitney-Bowes. Q: Pitney-Bowes? A: Yes. It's still in use. You see that printed thing you see on advertiseuents you get an:l like that? Q: Ch. A: If you look on there you'll see P.B. machine--Pitney-Howes. 'lhey used to have a postage neter on than. We'd have to take that neter doWl to the post office periodically and ruy several thousand dollars TAOrth of Marvel Fitzgerald postage. 'lhey'd set it up ani then p1t a seal on it ani bring it back, then ~'d use that up ao:l they'd have to go back do~ to the post office-they still do that today. Q: Is that right? A: Yes. "nlat' s the way the post office sells their postage. You don't get any rate on it--it's still 8¢ a letter. (laughter) Q: They don't give you a discoont? A: No, you don't get any discOI.Dlt. Of course, at that t:in'e it was probably t:w:> or three cents, ~re now it's up to eight, but still no discOI.Dlt. Well, then, after the custClllEr got his bill, he \\Ullld mail the bill with his check or he'd go down to the office with the IImley. And it had this stub on the end of the bill. \ell, the camercial depart:Irent -wuld have a corresponding stub so they v.x:ruld match it up and then they w:ruld take--then they ~dknCM whether the customer had paid the full BIIDllilt or not. Then after that they w:>uld tear the stub off the custaner' s bill and send it in to the accrunting depart:m:mt. \..e in turn v.uuld match that stub with any notations that the ca:I~Derical department had made on it--whether it was a partial payrrent, or \1iba.t--ma.tch it with the stub we had that we had cut off the bill, and if they matched, we'd set it aside as paid in full. If it wasn't matched, we'd mark on there how DIJCh -wa.s due and we'd save that ani add it onto the customer's next bill. Briefly, that's mre or less the story of how the operations of the preparation of the custooer' s bill was. Now, mere ~ got the information was fran orders. 'Ihe custooer w:ruld came in ani request new service, and an order was made up. And it was made up in seven or eight different copies--! don't remember just how many. But one was retained by the camercial depart:m:mt, one was sent to the accounting department, one was the plant department, one was information department, and one was traffic depart::n'lmt, and I don't know ~t else--oh, yes, the directory department--they'd all get copies of this same order, in fact they still do today. And that's the way the information is given to all the various departments that are ilwolved. Now that was for anything that affected a custamer's account, whether it was a new installation, a change in service, change in address, change in telephone rrumber, or what; an order was prepared ani everybody gets a copy. So, so UllCh for that. Now, in addition to preparing bills for the customers that we had, we also made settlE!!IIEilts with associated canpanies. 'nlat is, the Indiana Bell, Wisconsin, and Southwestern Bell, and all the other ccmpanies in the United States. And, those settlarents inv'olve:i the division of re\Terrues bebeen the canpanies on the basis of the circuits that we OWlE!d. In other l«>rds, supposing we made a call fran Springfield to Indianapolis. Illinois Bell li.Uuld own the circuit fran Springfield to the borderline beoeen Illinois and Indiana, and Indiana w:mld ~it fran there to Indianapolis. And just, let's say, for the sake of argument, that it tvas a hun:ired miles fran Springfield to the border ani a hun:ire.d miles fran the border to Indianapolis. All right, -we collect a dollar for a call, an:l we WJUld deduct what ~call an originating ccmnission ~i.ch was about oh, 25%. 'Ihat left 75¢ to be divided be~en the tw:> canpani.es on the basis of the avtership of the mileage. 'lhi.s l,Olld be a half of 75¢, or 37~ each canpany l,Olld get, see? Now, Indiana, they w:ruld make a report on what they originate. Illinois Bell made a report on W:tat we originate, and the sane way with Wisconsm, and the Northwestern Bell which ms Iowa, and the South~stem Bell mich was Missouri and Kentucky ani all around. Then, in addition to that, ~ also made settlements with the AT&T Ccmpany, which hatxlled what ~called the long lines. That is, fran Springfield to california, or Springfield to New York, or to Waco, Texas, or what have you. Ani we would have to report what we called AT&T traffic to the AT&T Cc.mpany in New York, and they in turn w::>Ul.d make up a settlement based on mileages. In addition to that, we also made settlements with \\hat ~ called comecting companies. See, the Bell operated canpani.es ~e associated companies, that is the big ones, the Nor~stern, the Indiana, the Southwestern, and so forth. 'Ihe AT&T of course is self explanatory. Ani then the comecting companies were the little small indeperrlent canpanies that we had operating in Illinois. Sc:x1E of them ~e farn:er lines--a fa.t:ner would set up a switchboard, IIDre or less in his living roan in his bane, and get all the fanners along a certain road to subscribe. They'd buy their OWl instrummts, and they ~re battery operated except for the ring, they w:ruld have to crank it up ani it w:ruld ring by rreans of a tmgneto and they only used one wire on the poles, but they used the grouni to canplete the circuit, in TAhat is called an iron-ground circuit. 'Ihey use an iron wire just like balingwire on the poles--just one wire--then they had a IOOtal roo in the ground, they connected that, and that completed the circuit, fran the ground, through the telephones, and wer the iron wire. We had at that time, it was back in 1924, as I remember it, ~had in the neighborhood of four l"rundred cormecting canpanies in Illinois besides the Illinois Bell. Of course, they have consolidated now and been m:xiemized and all that stuff, and at the present time I doubt if there's wer fifty, in Illinois. But they're all IlllCh bigger, you know. The biggest one is the General Telephone Oxnpany with headquarters at Bloanington right now. Then theyhad Illinois Southem, Southern Illinois, Illinois Commercial, Illinois Tel operated out of Jacksonville, and possible even those have been consolidated. Of course I've been gone for six years, and a lot of things have happened since then. But now, canparing the preparation of the cust:a'!Ers' bills at that time with the preparation of the custoo:ers' bills today--of course, your toll tickets are prepared by the operators on a card form using a mark sense pencil \bi.c.h you just make a little DBrk with this pencil ani the machine autana.tically picks up the information and punches a card ani so forth, ani the custoo:ers' bills are all maintained on cards and they're now going to tape, and it's all very mJCh involved, but it's canpletely automatic by these IBM--these glBIIDrous machines that they have. In fact, back in 1967 they ~re just getting into this field. I retired at 62, and bad I stayed tmtil 65 that IOOant that I w:ruld have to go to school in Chicago ani learn the operation of all these machines and by the time I was 65 they w:rul.d give 100 the boot, and I 'd already gone through so mJCh, give up ani let the younger generation take 01er. Q: The billing procedure that you described earlier--was that pretty 1D.1Ch the way it was done tmtil the 1960's, other than just aiding various rrechines ani so forth? 9 A: \ell, yes. later on, about 1935 or 1940, along in there, they came out with a National Cash Register machine. It was a glanx>rous machine-looked like a big cash register--and they would stick these so-called bill, custOIIErs' bills with the stubs attached, into the machine and record on there--of course, it 'WB.S all addressograph, it had the custaner 's Il.BIIE on there--but then they WJUl.d record on there the am:runt of the billing for the mnthly service, the aoxrunt of the toll, and any other charges, and this WJUl.d all be autooatically accUIIIllated on this National Cash Register machine. They you'd get a slip out at the end of the billing of the book W.Ch sh~ all that information. So it was gradually--now, that was mre or less n:echan.ical, see, you had to operate it by pushing buttons on the nachine, so it just gradually ~t fran canpletely your hand-operate:i to now it's p.mch cards and card sense and all that stuff. Q: So the operation you described ra:na.ined pretty IIJJCh the same during the rest of the 1930's? A: Yes. Yes, as I rema:ober it, it started to be machanized in the 1930's until 'iNe got--let's see, it 'WB.S mile 'iNe 'O'Ilere in the Ill:inoiS Building 'iNe got out first IBM machine, ani that w:>uld be about the 1950's, I guess. We starte:l keyp.mch operations for toll tickets and like that, and the machine then w:>uld autana.tically sort than and rate than, and everything else, see, which did away with this hand operation. Q: It v:ould sean like then as you \\Ere describing there in the 1920's and 1930's that it was a canplete office operation, every1xx:ly had sooeth.ing to do with it? A: That's right. It was all, I w;,uld say, nnstly manual, except for the . . . Q: Mdressograph, and things like that? A: Yes, the addressograph, and all it did was print the Il.BIIE on there, see, but if there was any physical 'W:>rk to be done, then you had to do it marrually. But now--! nean by physical w:>rk, like enclosing the bills, and associating the bills, and typing the bills, and like that. Vby, now all you have to do is push a button, and the darn machine does it. They've got a machine up there now--they've had it for years--that takes the custooer's bill and the envelopes. They p.1t a stack of envelopes in this clute, the custaiEr's bills aver here, and the toll statements in this chute, and the advertising infonration 011er here, and as the bill goes along, this machine by u:eans of an 011erhead arm inserts the various billing IIEdia on top, and when they get through they've got the bill, and the toll statement, and the advertising pamphlet or \\hatever, and then as it gets dOWJ. here, it grabs the envelope, opens the envelope by IIEailS of suction cups, shoves the stuff in, lDJiles it CNer here, m:>istens the flap, closes it, shoots it dom here and it goes through the mailing machine and cares out ready to go to the post office. (laughter) Now, that all used to be done by hand, see? Q: Spee:ls up the operation? 10 A: Ch, yes. Q: Of course, you've had a tre:nendous rise, too, in the number of stations in service? A: Ch, yes, l:ut they're using less people now with the increase in stations than they did in the old days with the . . • Q: About how many stations ~re there men you first started with Bell? Ib you remember? A: N::>, I can't recall now. I really don't know. Q: But, of course, Springfield has grov.n an awful lot. A: Yes. Ch, yes. I'd hate to give you any figures--! 'd have to look it up. But I do renariber--this is out of the realm of accounting--rut I unlerstand when they p.1t in the millionth telephone for the company, it happened to be up here just north of Springfield on the banks of the Sangamon River or sa:nethi.ng. Now, this is the story I heard: They were out there, and they had the big shots and everybody out there to p.1t the telephone in. It was a farmer's residence, ani they had a company truck parked on a hill there. And for sorre reason or other, the brakes released on the truck and it ~nt dm.n and dUil.lped itself into the river. (laughter) Q: Cl:le millionth custorrer had a bad day. A: Yes. Q: That v.as right around in this area then. A: Yes. Q: Now, that's the one millionth for the entire canpany? A: For the entire company, yes. That's including Clrl.cago and everything. Q: Including Cllicago? A: Yes. You see, the company operates, or they did--now, ~ther they'vechanged it, they do change it every ooce in amile--but you got the Illinois Bell Company as a mole. :tbw, the Illinois Bell operates in the mole state of Illinois ~ept for a little bit down around St. Louis mere it canes in to Belleville ani East St. louis and like that, v.hich is operated out of St. louis. Ani up in Cllicago--they operate a few points wer in Indiana out of Cllicago--otherwise, the ~le state is Illinois Bell, eEept for the cormecting companies that I told you about. Then, the ccmpany is divided into Chicago area, Suburban area, and Downstate. And they used to have an Upstate. Now, Whether that still holds true or not I don't know. But \~hat I 'm talking about here is the Downstate area, which is--you draw a line, say, right across the state ani include justthe other side of Peoria ani up in there, ani Sterling, and that w:mld be DoWlState. 'lhen, Upstate Y.JOUl.d be E!\lerything else, eJO:ept the Sul:urban area v.hich is towns around Chicago, and then there's Chicago, see? 'lb.at' s the way it's divided. Then those ~re divided into districts, and ~had Danville District, Springfield District, Alton District, and, let's see, I believe there \<\ere four districts • • . yes, SpringfieldDistrict. And then of course, they in turn ... the districts 'WJUld have jurisdiction aver the towns in their particular district. Q: I think now--isn't Springfield the center now for Dow:lstate operations or sanething like that? A: Yes, it is. They've got a vice-president here and e\Teryt:hing--see,that 'WaS oh, ten, fifteen years ago that they li'OVed d0w:1 here. Arxl a lot of the fellows that li'OVed down here • • • oh, they didn't want to leave Clrlcago or anything like that, ani after they ~re doltn here aWhile they'WJUldn't go back! (laughter) Q: Well, you've seen a lot of changes in Springfield itself of course, you know, as far as the tOWJ. was concerned during this period and ~n Bell was, you know, beginning to grow ani the town t,aS beginning to grow.Vbat changes could you see in Springfield at that time? I nean, you know, as an individual , you yourself? A: Yes, well • • • you uean since 1924 on? Q: Yes. A: Well, there's the caning and go:ing of the streetcars and b.lses and like that, ani the increases in the autOODbiles. Q: Yes. W:len you \ent to w:>rk, for instance, in 1924, how did you getthere? A: I walked I Q: walked. (laughter) A: Yes, sirl Q: Did they have any paved streets at that t~? A: Oh, yes. Sure, they had paved streets. In fact, I think this one out :in front of our house was there at that time, rut it's an old street. Of course, it was brick. Q: Did they have the streetcars dOW1t<.'Ml? A: Yes. Q: N:>w, were they electric? A: Ch, sure. 'Ihey were electric. I renember one time--they used to have the Ninth Street and Lawrence Street--they were the biggest streetcars in town. They had double trucks. M::>st of the cars '\\Jere four ~els, youknow, rut these had double trucks, a truck on either end. And one ti.me, I reuenber going hone there \<~hen I was a boy ani wa came down Washington Street. And he \<laS supposed to turn up Ninth, rut there was another track that continued dOWl on Washington. So this particular car c~ down, was going to turn on Ninth, so the front truck turned on Ninth, the switch clicked, an:l the back trucks ~t on dmc washington Street. (laughter) There ~ ~re, catty-'WBIIIpUS--'We ~re still on the track, rut ~were catty-wampus on the street, see? (laughter) So ~t they had to do was back her up like that and go on down. Q: 'lhere were even mistakes in those days? A: Ul, yes. 1he car barns in that tinE \Ere at Ninth and Washington, where they housed the streetcars, ani like that. 'lhat's all gone now, of ccurse. And then there WiS the interurban along on l<bnroe Street there. 1heir slogan used to be, "A train your way, any hour, any day." In fact, you could get on like a streetcar, every hour they had service to saneplace yw 'Nmted to go. And they used to CCJll:e dom M:>nroe Street ani go around the Capitol Building to Spring Street, ani out Spring, ani then they WJU!d cut wer and go in the back of Hol.mes Avenue ani that was their track on down to St. l.Dui.s. lhey used to go right through the center of toWl with these great big interurban cars. Q: 'lhat was the • • • r..ha.t, electric? A: Ul, yes. It was all electric. Ehd of Side One, Tape One Q: W:la.t was it like ~rking for Bell during the 1940's, particularly during the war years? A: well, you know, at my age there's a lot of fellows that have military service. But at my age, being bom in 1905, in the First W:>rld war, 1918, I was only 13 years old, so I didn't see any service there. In the Second W:>rld war, in the 1940's, and 1945, although I registered ani like that, I was a married man with a family, with children, and also ~rked for a camunications canpany, so I was deferred in there. So actually in my ~le life, I've ne\Ter served a day in the armed forces. (laughter) It just so happened that tinE of birth and circtmiStances left tD:! out of the picture, 8.11 the way through. But as far as the company operations, I kn.aw \lle had at one tine, I forget, there ~e three or four of the male employees in the acc0m1.ting department that were serving in the armed forces, and we, of course, didn't fill their places. 'lhat neant that th:>se of us that were left had to double up and do their ~rk, see. Fortunately, all of than returned and--at that tine--of course, the accounting department always had a prepon:ierance of female a:nployees. U.ke, loie ha::l let's see, oh, e.ren today I don't think there's over, oh, maybe not over ten male employees in the acc0m1.ting department. 'Iha.t is, the re.renue acc0m1.ting I'm talking about now. l<k:>st of than are cleri.cal female employees. But during the war there, it got down to there was only five or six of us left in the deparbl:ent, see? lhey ~re all in my circumstances, family 11'eil with coommications. Another thing I wanted to 111mtion too, is in the accounting depart:nent that everything I've said up to now refers to reverue accounting, that is the mney end of it. Now, in addition to reverue, 'I'.E also have ~t -wa call the plant accounting. They maintain records of the physical equipr.ent--that it the telephone lines, the telephones themselves, the switchboards, and what have you-and also the buildings, and the mtor equip:nent, and all that. Everything that1 s considere::l as plant is plant depart'nElt. Then you have the auditing department, the guys that go aroun:i and check up on everybcxly to see if they're doing their job right. So, actually there's a lot m:>re to the accounting department than W:lat I 'm referring to now in my experiences. Q: Ib you rem:!.lllber where you were at the tine of the ann.ou.r:v;anent of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941? A: Yes. 'lbat 'AliS December 7th, 1941, and that was just within ten feet of mere I am now--I was sitting in my living room. Q: Is that right? A: Yes. How I remember that date is that my wife's birthday is December 8. Q: Ch, pretty close. A: Yes. Q: Did you hear about it on the radio? A: On the radio, yes. Q: Wlat '~'.Ere your initial reactions to it, do you ranember? A: I guess I was mre or less amaze::l, like that, but I can1 t recall. I just remember that that's where I was--our radio was right aver here. I -was sitting about rig}:lt here. Q: J:bw, men the war began, did--was there any changes in company policy or anything like that as a result of the war--for instance, security? A: Ch, yes, security and like that. We ~re supposed to keep our IIDUths shut, and if you hear it don't repeat it or anything like that, you know, and they also had guards at the--in fact, I think your grandfather, Jeff, was a guard, wasn1 t he, at the Sixth Street building, and you had to sign in and sign out, and e1erybody bad to srow their ID cards to get in or out of the wilding' and it wa.s locked doors here' and he was the guard down there. He was dressed like a policeman--bad a pistol on his hip and like that. Ani the cabinet that they have--oh, another thing, the cabinet that they had down there was built by my brother-in-law. In fact, ~re lNe 're sitting right now, when he lived with us--he 1 s dead now--he used to have VD<Xlwrking equi);llEnt down here. Just amateur' wt you call ~ style stuff, you know. And he wilt the cabinet that is like a dais, you know--that's ~re they kept the books and like that. It 'AliS down :in the--that your grandfather used for the sign in and sign out. It was made right down here in the basanent. Q: 'Ihere ~ren't really any noticeable changes anyway, in procedures? A: No. No, the routine w:>rk was practically the sane except that they warned you about secrecy and so on ani so forth. Q: was there a lot rore business, say, as a result of the plant CNer there at Illiopolis, for instance, .•• A: No, not particularly, as I reuenber it. I renEmber ~had one girl that--she just di.dn' t seem to fit into the operations of the accounting depart:rrent. She wasn't the type, you know, and ~ \'Rre kin:l of reluctant-'iNell, 'iNe talked to her and like this, you know, made suggestions, and she just didn't seem to be able to grasp the idea of w:>rking with her hands on pencil and paper like that, see. Vhen they opened up that plant, she wmt out there and got a job, and I understand she was a miz out there operating a drill press or something--she just fit right in--just as that was what she needed, see, she di.dn't want this desk w:>rk. She wanted something she could w:>rk around. She was happy. (laughter) Q: So, as far as in here in Springfield now, during the war years, was things pretty well blacked out at night and ••• A: Yes. I rema:nber one night they had a complete blackout and turned off streetlights, and had eTerybody turn off their lights in their houses and there was no tiDOn that particular nigpt, all auton:obiles stopped for a certain time--they were just testing, see--and I went out in the street and looked up and dow:t, and you never saw such darkness in your life as there was. F»erything sl:ru.t down and no IWOn or anything, it was really dark--you couldn't see a darn thing--and quiet, nobcxly making any noise or anything. But fortunately, it "Was just a test and ~ DeV"er had to go through it. Q: 'Ihere wasn't anything really of any closeness as far as A: No, it was just a test. Q: Did ev'erybody pretty well keep up with the war news and this kind of thing? A: Ch, yes. Talking about security, I ranember they really had to be secure with operations of the canpa.ny as far as telelphones were concemed. It w:>rked out of the State House, through the central office down here, ani then to long distance, see, arxl they really had to watch that, you know, banbs or anything like that. They really i.ncreased their security there--they had tYmJ.ty-four hour guards and everything arounl that. Because they could plant a ba:nb down here ani wipe Springfield exchange out ani that WJU1d isolate the State House, see. Q: Yes. Well then, after the war years, things probably went pretty tnlCh back to normal again. A: Ch, yes. Yes. But actually, fran the standpoint of accounting operations, we still just ~t along routinely, tmde the toll stateJIEilts, and custaners' bills, and so on and so forth. Q: NJw, mat about the 1950's--were there any great changes or anything of signficance there or did you pretty \~Ell continue on? A: Well, like I said, in the 1950's \IE IIDITed to the Illinois fuilding am that's '\tl.ere \IE had our first IBM IIBChine. That • • • acb.lally, I can't give you any particular definite dates, but that's where we actuallystarted uechanization of accounting operations, to Where it is now. And I raiallber the first machine we had in there--it was an IBM machine that had I don't know how many vacuun tubes in it, like the radios, you know, and it threw off a hell of a lot of heat, and they had to build a thingCNer it--a metal collector--am have a fan in there to draw the heat out of the roan because it p.1t out so nuch heat. Of course, today they'reall transistorized am there's no heat there, see, but we had to have this special installation of this hood CNer it to cause the air to go up am cool this machine ani also dissipate the heat that it generated. I was a great big thing too. That 'NaB used to print our bills and like that. Q: What did you wife do during this period--was she 'i!IJJrking? A: No, she was at home. She quit her job right after \IE \~Ere married, and she hasn't ~rked since, as far as outside 'ii~Urk is concerned . But raising four kids ani ]:Utting up with me, I guess ••• (laughter) It's quite a job. Q: Well then, when did they start this new State Office Building CNer here? Ik> you rene:nber that? part of their operations in the Illinois fuilding, and when they m:::.JITed A: The Centennial Building? Q: NJ. The new State Office Buildin g here, do you remember? A: No. It was in he 1950's. I'm a little fuzzy on dates, but they had out, that's when \IE IIDITed in, into the Illinois fuilding. I can't recall just the particular date of it. Q: I:b you remember, did you--was there an increase in your 'ii~Urkload as a result of that tuilding over there? A: Ch, not noticeably. I don't think so. 'Ihey 'ii~JJUldn't generate any m>re business being there than they w:ruld over here, so--it was not an increase, it was just a IIDV'e as far as that was concerned. 'Ihey just consolidated various offices into one wilding, Where they had had them spread out all 01er tow:l. Q: Wlat about--of course, you \t.Eren' t out 'i!IJJrking like that, but were there--other than the fire that you mentioned earlier in 1927, were there any other disasters or YhateV"er that affected your job? A: Well, no, actually not. Oh, they w:ruld have--disasters as far as fire, flood and theft ani like that--mstly 'ii~JJU!d be up to the plant departuent to getting business back in operation, see. You could have a fire today and burn a cable or something and they'd have to send a--you Ma.J:vel Fitzgerald see in the paper e:very day they had a fire, maybe just an ordinary barn 1::urned amn, l!IDrth $500 to $600, rut it burnei a cable out in the alley that required maybe a hun:lred uen to restore the cable and p.1t up poles and like that, you know. Fran the telephone canpany standpoint it was a disaster, rut for the person Yho owned the old barn, it was just a bonfire. But it bJ.rned this cable. And the saa.e way with floods and like that. Q: So DOW', in effect, the procedures are pretty IWCh machine and they've made gradual changes C::Ner the period as you've talked about. 'lhey1re pretty IWCh DOW' as they ~eW:len you left then, in 1967, did you say? A: No. 'lhey've increased an awful lot. Like I said, it was just the start of the p.mch card operations and like that, mere they 'iillere really getting into it, 'VIlhen I left. But nOW', see, they've gone to tape instead of p.mched cards in SOOE of their operations, and like that. I don't know anything about tape. Never had any experience with it at all except to go back up to the office and see the reels flopping around and like that. But I don't know anything about that. I left in the so-called punched card era. (laughter) Q: 'lhe punched card era. A: I 'iillent through the pen and pencil era into the pmched card era, and now they're into the tape era. Q: Are people Yho '\<~Drk in the accounting department, are they unionized in any way? A: Ch, yes. 'lhey have their own union. I can't recall the initials of it ..• let's see, v.hat is it? Of course, plant's I.B.E.W. I'll be danged if know v.hat it is. Q: Ib )'OU ranember \\hen they first becaa.e unionized, or 'iillere they always unionized? A: No. l.e had a so-called federation clear back in 1924. It was just an indeperxient outfit, you know, but then they joined up with the national outfit. They had the big strike in 1947, you remember? Q: No. I don't know about that. Vby don't you tell u:e a little about it. A: The strike in 1947. 'lhey "WE!re out for six -weeks, and that affected the operation--that was national, you knO'"ttf, all aver the United States the 'i.4:lole thing closed down. It was all operated by supervisory forces. And all our people walked out. Wa -were dmn at Sixth and Cook, and they all walked. out, and of course, the operators -were gone and myself and three or four of the other guys, they sent us out to be operators. I was up in Peoria for, oh, five or six -weeks, I guess, operating the board in Peoria. Ani they sent another guy to BeardstOYll, another one -went to Decatur, and they just had two or three fellows here in Springfield. 'lhe boss ani his secretary, I think, was all that was left in Springfield. We -were writing tickets--at that time 'iiiJe still had the handwritten toll ticket--and I remember I was writing one ticket out there, ani of course, following the routine, they rere all sent back to the accounting department for billing. There Yla.S nobcxiy there to bill them. VE got back on the job andre had a stack of tickets that you ~dn't beliare. But anyhow, I reo:enber one particular instance, the gir1 was trying to read this particular ticket, and I looked at it an recognized that I had written it myself, and I couldn't even read itl (laughter) So I said, "Just forget it!" (laughter) Q: 'Ihis was the only really big strike then, that you had mile you ware w:>rking for the company? A: Yes. ve had a couple of little walkouts, but they didn't last too long. But this was really SCIIEthing. Q: Well, this pretty IIJJCh affected telelphone service nationwide? A: Oh, yes. Sure, yes. I reaanber one of the calls that I haniled up in Peoria. 'Ihe ?}JY was trying to get ahold of his nnther in Detroit, I think it was. vell, the ordinary routing WJuld be to Chicago and then over to Detroit, but I couldn't get through, so I said, ''Well, wait a minute, I '11 see what I can do for you." So I ~t, I '11 say from Peoria, wer to Indianapolis, then arourrl here to Cleveland , Cbio, and up like that and way around through New York, ani finally I got ahold of Detroit and got his line, see, want clear arourrl the bridge like that, see, and talking to Jieil operators just like myself all the way through. Say, "Give ne Indianapolis," and give ne this and plug it in, give ne this and that's the way I completed the call, finally go around to it. But you cruldn't go fran here up to--they were loa:led, forget it, that's the ans~ you ~dget, see--they didn't have any lines, ''We're loaded, forget it." (laughter) Q: This was the operator at the other end? A: Yes. Q: ItIs kini of different today men you consider you just pick up the phone and you can dial anybody you want. A: Yes. Che thing I got a thrill out of, though, in Peoria there was a fire station just about a block fran ~re we were on Fulton Street and I got a call for a fire department, you know, and I made the connection and called them. In about tw:> or three minutes I heard 0-0-0-0--just think, I was right in the middle of that, see, the fire engines going out going to the fire. Arrl here I was, the big shot, right in the middle of it. If I hadn't been there, they WJU.l.dn' t have been able to canplete the call. Q: That was probably pretty important too, for sanebcxiy. A: Yes. Q: So, generally the anployees and the union have tended to get along well with the company? A: Ch, yes. I think so. In fact, here--was it a couple of years ago? The plant departJ:Ient \lietlt out and they \o.lere out for, I don't krlc:M, a,o or three IIX>Ilths, wasn't it, or B<mathing like that? Q: Yes. They -were out for quite a long tine. A: Well see, my son, he was hone here and he 'W:ls itching to go back to T,iiiOrk, but they just couldn't get together ani--higher up, you know. Q: 'Ihat was the time there was quite a bit of sabotage and stuff like that, wasn't it? A: Ch, yes. '!here was, yes. I guess B<ma people suffered • Well , nobody gained anything by it--got a raise but they never regained v.hat they lost--ne\Ter do in any strike, as far as that goes. Q: So, in general, VIUU.ld you say that the unionization, if you will, of Illinois Bell has been good for the employee? A: I think it has, yes. Yes. Of course, actually I never belonge:i to a union. I was practically in managemant my \~hole career. Q: You -were aliiDst a canpany mm? A: Yes, yes. I 'W:l.S a supervisor within a,o or three years after I was hired, see, so I was never eligible for a union, to join the union. Q: Just your thoughts on--why do so mmy people stay with Bell for so long? A: Well, one thing--just for example, my son is a believer in Illinois Bell for this reason. He's got ne as an example; I'm on pension. I'm not lnlrting IIDney-wise or anything, you kn.ow, -we're not getting a lot, rut living fairly decently. And here just about CT,iiiO years--I 111 say t:w:> years ago, IIDre or less--! ended up with an ulcer. Of course, I was retired at the tine and on Medicare. And I had to have an operation. I got a scar about that long right here. Ani of course, I v.ent to the hospital. I lNaS in the hospital for CT,iiiO '\\leeks, ani back in for tw:> weeks, and three or four doctors: had the family doctor, and the specialist,and then the guy that actually did the operation. That all arrounte:i to about, oh, in the neighborhood of $3,500. And after it was all 01er, of course, Medicare paid so IWCh of it and then the Illinois Bell EME [Extraordinary Medical Expense] caoo in and picked up the balance and When it was all over, I was out about $200. 1 t Q: You can beat that. A: And it so happened that my son--he1d been doctoring for his feet and like that--he 1d had trouble with his feet. So he \'alt to this bone specialist and he founi a slipped disc in his back, and coree to find out that's what was causing his so-called misery in his feet. So, right after I got out of the mspital, he v.ent in and had this back operation. And he was off maybe six ~eks or so like that, never lost a day's pay,and the canpany paid a lot of the nedical expenses and like that. [Vben] he ~t back to w:>rk, they gENe him a job where he was sitting down, took care of him, ani he1 s a believer in the Illinois Bell. So that's one of the reasons. If these young kids WJUld only think about the opportunity they have ani what the c001pany, the program; the canpany have, they'd be, you know, a lot happier to stay on the job and do a good job. Q: Did they have any benefits at all like this when you first started? A: Ch, yes. They had so ID.lCh. If you "i.ere off sick or ~thing like that, after so long a period of tine, they you ~re taken care of uoneywise and like that. Q: I've heard you've been very active in the Pioneer Organization, is that true? A: Yes. I 1Ve setved as president of the local and president of the chapter, an:l like that, for several years. And on the enterta.i.J:'mmt em, I've nm the bingo ~s for, oh, I 1 ll say ~tyfive years. (laughter) In fact, "i.e got one coming up here next ll'Dnth, Nol/ember lOth, I beliere it is. Q: W1en did the Pioneer Organization get started here? IX> you ranember? A: Oh, well , let's see. I really don't know, but it1s been years and years ago ... I can't give you the exact date, but it was •.• I could look it up, of course, but • • . Q: \<bat actually is the Pioneer Organization--what does it do and • • • A: Well, they're an organization uore for charitable purposes an:i for get-togethers of the retired people ani the active people. They have parties now and then, you know, ani their dues I think are only--what is it?--$3 a year, SOIJ'ething like that. Of course, on your activities you pay your 0\oZl way ani like that, rut . • • like "i.e had a dirmer just this last Wednesday noon out at Nino's out here, an:i there -was sixty or seventy retired employees, ani they got together ani had a little luncheon and talkiest an:l like that. Then, another thing, they do quite a bit of charitable w:>rk. In fact, within the last six uonths I guess I 1ve picked up, oh, bJ:> dozen carloads of clothes for distribution around various organizations an:l individuals here in to1f'lll. And "i.e put out a flyer once in m¥hile saying if you got any old clothes that you don't need, or bedding, or anything like that, furniture, what have you, let us know an:i we'll pick it up and see that it's distributed so some good cares out of it. Ani a lot of people have these so-called garage sales. They have a lot of clothing left CNer, they'll call us and ~111 go out and get it, and distrib.lte it to various places. In fact, right next doow here there was an old lady--she was in her 90 1s--that dial here six or eight ll'Dnths ago. Ani she had a lot of clothes there, BOllE of them were brand new she1d neV"er used, you know. W:len you get up to that age, you don1 t care too ID.lCh. So I gathered all those together and sorre bedding that she had ani like that, and it en:led up out here in a retirement hc:me out on Peoria Road. Ani they got SOIIE good out of it, see? Myers Brothers donated fifty pairs of shoes a couple of liDnths ago, some that they couldn1 t use, sorre that had been brought back and needed slight repairs on them, and "i.e got rid of those. Marvel Fitzgerald Q: Pioneers also kind of pr<Nide a way for the retirees to get together? A: Ch yes. Sure. We have maetings on ENerage about once a rronth, we go to these maetings. li.ke, ~had one last vednesday and we'11 have this other doings NcNember lOth, at the Elks, and then the Canpany has a dinner e~ery year in Decanber for all the retirees, and they get together and talk about impr<Nen:ents and so on an:l so forth, and things like that. Q: Ib you happen to know where the term "Ma Bell" originated? A: No. I really don't. Q: I've never heard any telephone canpany people e~er refer to Bell except for ''Ma Bell." A: Ma. Bell, yes. (laughter) I guess she's just a rrother to us all, I guess. I don't know. Q: Well, you've sure had an interesting life with Bell Telehone Company. A: Oh, yes. I don't regret it, a mi.rrute of it, no. An:i the guys with, you know, they're all pretty nice guys too. Ch, you have a leroon in e~ery crate, you know TAtlat I n:ean. Any that I've ever "W:>rked with, they're all pretty nice guys. An:i I'm talking about in all departments, because ~ had contacts with the plant, and the conmercial, an:l the traffic, an:l like that. We had ccntacts with all of than. But you '11 find one or tw>, but you have to <Nerlook those, you know. Q: Well, I think ~'ve pretty uuch c<Nere:l rrost of the ground that I wanted to c<Ner, and I think you've been a real interesting subject. I really enjoyed talking to you. A: Well, I'm glad to do it. It's recalled to mind SOim of the things that I'd m:>re or less forgotten, you know, that ••. Q: \ell, I sure appreciate your taking the tinE an:l I'm sure the University will too. Ani ~ thank you. A: Well, I thank you for the opportunity. Fni of Tape
|Title||Fitzgerald, Marvel - Interview and Memoir|
Illinois Bell Telephone Company
World War, 1939-1945--Homefront
|Description||Fitzgerald, employee of Illinois Bell Telephone Company, discusses his experiences working for Illinois Bell. He recalls a fire at the company offices in 1927, effects of the Depression and WWII, customer billing procedures, changes in technology, and a 1947 strike. Also mentions Springfield transportation developments.|
|Creator||Fitzgerald, Marvel (1905-1991)|
|Contributing Institution||Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Contributors||Easley, Thomas [interviewer]|
|Digital Format||PDF; MP3|
|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|
|Collection Name||Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Title||Marvel Fitzgerald Memoir|
|Source||Marvel Fitzgerald Memoir.pdf|
|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
Marvel Fitzgerald Memoir
F576. Fitzgerald, Marvel (1905-1991)
Interview and memoir
1 tape, 70 mins, 23 pp.
Fitzgerald, employee of Illinois Bell Telephone Company, discusses his experiences working for Illinois Bell. He recalls a fire at the company offices in 1927, effects of the Depression and WWII, customer billing procedures, changes in technology, and a 1947 strike. Also mentions Springfield transportation developments.
Interview by Thomas Easley, 1973 OPEN See collateral file
Archives/Special Collections LIB 144
University of Illinois at Springfield
One University Plaza, MS BRK 140
Springfield IL 62703-5407
© 1973, University of Illinois Board of Trustees
This manuscript is the prcxluct of a tape-recorded interview conducted by 'lhanas Easley for the Oral History Office on Cktober 27, 1973.
Mr. Marvel Fitzgerald was born in Springfield, Illinois on March 16, 1905. He recounts his experiences as an employee at Illinois Bell fran the age of 19 in 1924 to his retirement at age 62 in 1967. Mr. Fitzgerald ewers such topics as the 1927 fire at Illinois Bell Telephone, changes in Illinois Bell's technology and the pioneer organization of Illinois
Bell Telephone's employees.
Readers of the oral history meJlX)ir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken word, and that the interviewer, narrator and eiitor sought to preserve the informal, cOIWersational style that is
inherent in such historical sources. SangaDDn State University is not responsible for the factual accuracy of the llBIDir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge.
'Ihe JDalUlBCript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be
reproduced in Whole or in part by any n:eans, electronic or mechanical, wit:lnlt pelJllission in writing fran the Oral History Office, Sangamon
State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708.
Marvel Fitzgerald, Springfield, Illinois, October 27, 1973.
Thomas Easley, Intervie~r.
Q: Mr. Fitzgerald' men and ~ere ~re you oom?
A: I ~bom in Springfield, Illinois, on North Ninth Street. Ani do you ~t the date?
A: March 16, 1905.
Q: And, have you lived in Springfield all of your life?
A: Yes, EUCCept for--see, my father was a railroader on the old CP&StL, and his run ll!llS changed, and he Y4t>rked out of Peoria for three or four years, and ~ lived up in Peoria. This lliliB When I 'WaS in grade school. And then, later on, l.lle ~nt to JacksoiiY'ille, Illinois, for four years. His nm 'W8.S changed to ~rk out of Jacksonville, and at that t~ I atten::led Route ColleY.e, c»er there in Jacksowille. 'lhen ~ III)\Ted back to Springfield and I ve been here e~~er s:i.tre.
Q: Did you finish your high school in
A: Yes, in Jacksonville.
Q: lk>w far did you go in college?
A: I didn't go to college--they called it Route College Academy but I completed that, see?
Q: Ch, it 'WB.S just like one of these public academies?
A: That's right.
Q: Vhen you came back to Springfield, did you go to ~rk for Bell :imiEdiately?
A: No, not inmediately. I had a job with--let's see, What "Was the ~ of it? Broadwell's Drug Store on the square for--I was only there for just a few m:mths. And it so happened that there ll!llS a supetvisor in the telephone ccxnpany accounting department mose nan:e lliliS Percy Fay, and he had gone to school in Braidw:xxi, Illinois with an uncle of mine vtlo lived in Peoria. And it so happened that one of the supervisors in the acc01.mting depar1JJ&l.t was quitting to go to ~rk with his father, W:lich left an opening. Atxi Percy Fay, knowing about this, contacted my uncle in Peoria,
who in tl1rn contacted rm, ani v.e got together, and I was hired in the accounting departuent of the telephone canpany through that rnarmer. 'lbat was in
|Collection Name||Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield|