Partial Transcript: GS: Testing. There we go. Okay, Bunny, I’m going to sit this right here so it’ll pick you up good. Let me check the volume on it. Oh yeah, it’s up there. Okay. So. This is Georgia Smith with the Bristow Historical Society in Bristow, Oklahoma, and this interview is part of the Historical Society’s ongoing oral history project. The date is September 11, 2020 and I am sitting here with Bunny Baker at her house, who is going to tell me a little bit about her history in the Bristow area. Now, give me your full name.
BB: The real name?
GS: The real name, Bunny.
BB: Herpal (ph) A. Baker.
GS: Okay. And where were you born?
BB: Six miles south and a half mile west of Bristow
Keywords: Bobby Donald Dowdy; Bristow Historical Society; Bunny Baker; Cathy Rae; Cotton; Donna Rae; Dorothy Jean Dowdy; Georgia Smith; Herpal A. Baker; Hester Mae Foster; John Joseph Dowdy; Junior Frank Dowdy; Merle Baker; Nonna Mae Dowdy; Peanuts; World War I
Partial Transcript: GS: Okay, now were’ gonna get into what it was like when you were a kid at home. Tell me about what life was like when you were a kid, as a young child living at your house
BB: Well it was a riot
GS: (Laughter) Of course it was
BB: My mother was a disciplinary, disciplinary—
BB: Yes, I can’t think of words. But she was a lady, but she would’ve been a wonderful children’s teacher
Keywords: Missy Shepard; Norma Mae; riding the saw; sorghum; wood stove
Partial Transcript: GS: Yeah you don’t want somebody riding the saw when you’re working. What are your—what are some of the normal means that you had?
BB: Oh, we raised everything we ate, and mom was a wonderful cook and had on the small cabinets, she had—I don’t know. But we had cornbread and beans of course, but we had always had meat, we had always had pork and chicken.
GS: Who did your butchering for ya?
BB: We did it.
GS: Did your mom butcher?
BB: No, she ground the meat and the sausage.
GS: But I mean as far as killing the animal and everything, who did that?
Keywords: Buffalo Wallow; Hog Wallow; Tibbons; barefoot; basketball; cornmeal; croquet; grinder; hundred-pound sack of sugar; moccasin; overalls; square dance club; swinging parties; western heritage days
Partial Transcript: GS: Do you remember the first time you heard a radio?
BB: No not really
GS: Did you have a radio in your house?
BB: Yes, with a battery. And dad— they just listened to it for the news, except when Joe Louis (ph) was gonna fight and of course I loved anything tomboy, and so me and my dad would hear the Joe Louis fights and then mom led us— when the grand the Grand Ole Opry came into be on Saturday nights, she let us hear the Grand Ole Opry. Well then after that we would play Grand Ole Opry and that’s a hard hand taught me how to play the guitar when I was nine years old, and then we’d play like we were Grand Ole Opry and one by one I taught my brother John to play the guitar, and my sister she wasn’t very interested in it when I started playing the fiddle. Anyway, got them all together, and only two kids— two grandkids are following the music tradition and (Muffled noises) they’re good. Little John, he plays the fiddle really good.
GS: Oh he does?
Keywords: Conasiny Tiger; Grand Ole Opry; Joe Louis; Kerosene stove
Partial Transcript: GS: Okay you mentioned your grandfather earlier built the first school. Tell me about your grandparents. First tell me their names.
BB: Well his name was Foster William, William— William Orange Foster (ph). He was from— shoot I can’t think of it.
GS: That’s okay
BB: But anyway, he and my grandmother were— my grandmother had lived up there when she was little, but they lived in Farmersville, Texas and they got married in Farmersville, Texas. My grandmother’s dad was in church and he picked her up in a buggy and they eloped. And then they wanted to come to Oklahoma, and they came in a covered wagon, and they stopped through Shawnee town, which no longer exists, but it was down somewhere near Shawnee. And he had a friend a mile west of Iron Post that ran— had a dairy, and the friend told him that he could work for him, so they lived in a dugout on the east side of their house till he could buy some land. And my grandfather bought— they had a, Indians had an auction and he bought land from the Indians and I can’t remember but it was, he didn’t pay much of anything, seemed like a dollar for ten acres [Indecipherable]
Keywords: Buffalo Wallow; Farmersville, Texas; Nettie Alice Foster; Shawnee town; William Orange Foster
Partial Transcript: GS: Oh. Okay, now we’re gonna—
GS: Now we’re gonna head off to school
GS: Where did you go to school first?
BB: Iron Post
GS: Iron Post, and that was how many miles south of Bristow?
BB: Would’ve been 7 miles south and a mile west.
GS: Okay, who was your teacher?
BB: Mrs. Howell (ph)
Keywords: 4H Club; Bunny; Duns cap; Home Demonstration Club; Iron Post; Joe Isle; Mrs. Bourget; Mrs. Howell; Pontiac; Tibbons; black school; tin bucket; white school
Partial Transcript: GS: What were Christmases like as a child?
BB: Oh, they were great! We didn’t have wrapping paper, we didn’t have money for it, you know. And we— seems like we got a dollar for— to buy with. But there’s a big joke there that if you can get jigsaw puzzles for a dollar, for 25cents, either 25cents or a nickel, I think it was 25cents, but there was all six of us to buy for, you know, and so we would—
GS: I’s just checking making sure it’s still working, it is
BB: We would buy our brothers Bob and John, they just hated jigsaw puzzles, but my sister and I we just loved to work them. So every Christmas we’d buy them a jigsaw puzzle, and well— to tell you what you wanted, you know. They, Tibbons, furnished a great big Christmas tree for the Iron Post school, and with the money we made off of putting on plays at Gypsy and Iron Post and whatever, they bought candy and they made they a sack for every family whose children went to school at Iron Post. It had an apple and an orange and package of gum and miscellaneous candy, and some nuts, it was real nice.
GS: And it was one per family?
Keywords: Christmas; John Wayne; Pie Suppers; jigsaw puzzles
Partial Transcript: GS: Okay we’re gonna skip now to medical care.
GS: What was medical care like when you were a kid?
BB: Well there wasn’t any really. I broke my collarbone and didn’t go to the doctor, you can feel it.
GS: Oh my word
BB: When I was 19, I went to the doctor with the flu and he said “When did you break your collarbone?’ well I knew when I broke it but I didn’t tell him about it. ‘Ol Dr. King, his mother and my mother— my grandmother were good friends and he took care of us and every fall, he would mix up liniments and it was just his own secret and bring it out and it’d be a quart in a big bottle and mom called it horse liniments. That boy would cure your colds and whatever.
BB: And he would bring his mother and leave her at my grandmother’s house so they could tear all the neighbors apart
Keywords: Dr. King; black powder; liniments; medical care
Partial Transcript: GS: Okay let’s skip now to Bristow, and we’re still in early childhood here, so what was Bristow like in your early childhood? Did you get to come to Bristow often?
BB: We came on Saturdays a lot ‘cus we brought stuff— vegetables and stuff to the poor farm, and—
GS: Did you sell them to the poor farm or give them to the poor far?
BB: No we just gave them to the poor farm. But I know where the, it’s the dollar store on main street, what’s the name of that store?
GS: Dollar General
BB: Yeah Dollar General. Well around the corner, there was a bar and we would try to park across the street because every night there’d be a fight at the bar and they’d take it outside, you know. But we would sit in the car and watch the people go by or walk up and down the street and then we’d hope to see somebody we knew.
Keywords: Hamburger King; JC Pennys; Strongs; dollar general; dollar store; feed sacks; poor farm
Partial Transcript: GS: What was your first job Bunny?
BB: Piggly Wiggly Grocery store
GS: Where was it?
BB: It was on the west side of main street down from, it was in the block south of, can’t even think of what’s there now, sixth street or something. You know where the bank was.
GS: Spirit or Community?
BB: First National
BB: On the corner of main street, it was down south of there. That was during my junior and senior year, and then I went on to work with Maxine Jenkins at Lions Café as a soda jerk.
GS: Now just for generations that have never heard of soda jerk, what was a soda jerk? I know but let’s hear it explained
Keywords: Community Bank; First National Bank; Johnny Horainy; Lions Cafe; Maxine Jenkins; Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store; Spirit Bank; Wanda Sanders; candy building; soda jerk; typist
Partial Transcript: GS: Okay I wanna know about when you met Merle
BB: I knew him all my life, I guess. They played, you know, music for the Pie Suppers and everything, so we’d go in and hear them
GS: Was he from the Iron Post area also?
BB: No he was from down by— well at first he was over on the east of Talaha (ph) [Indecipherable]
BB: And then they moved to south of town, I think he went to school at Valentine maybe
BB: And, but he— I don’t know they might have had a bus running from Gypsy down there, but I never knew him until he was, you know, he was in school at Gypsy.
GS: So did he ask you out on a first date?
Keywords: Bunny; Doy Cochran; Francis Wrestler; Gingham Dress; Government Assistant Work Programs; J&J Cafe; Kenneth Mann; Mason Family; Merle Tommy Baker; Mr. Poston; Pie Suppers; Talaha; Tibbons; Western Heritage Days; chestcord; great depression
Partial Transcript: GS: Do you remember any of the— I know you said none of your family worked for the WPA, but do you remember coming into Bristow when they maybe built the amphitheater or when Mrs. Roosevelt came and dedicated it in the building?
BB: Well mom would bring us to town like there was somebody, Landon I think it was, ran for president. He’d come on the train and talk on the back of the train, and she would bring us to town to see those people, she was always very good with—
GS: Political binded
BB: Yeah political binded. But I don’t remember that
GS: Okay, okay.
BB: I might’ve come, but I don’t remember it.
GS: She was [Indecipherable]. Was she involved in politics in any other way?
BB: Well, I don’t know if she was always— she, there was a mayor Brong (ph). Anyway, she always came to their meetings, you know, she was always interested in the government, whatever was going on so I guess she was interested in politics.
Keywords: Alfred Dobson; Japanese; Mayor Brong; Mrs. Roosevelt; Pearl Harbor; Ration Book; Tulsa World; WASP; WPA; WWII; World War II; amphitheater; marines; womens sufferage
Partial Transcript: GS: That’s wonderful. What would you consider to be the most important inventions during your lifetime?
BB: Wow so many
GS: Yes, there are. There’s so many that have impacted life, it would be hard to pick just a few favorite.
BB: Yeah, I guess most important would be the computers. But I don’t have one, don’t want one. I’ve gone this long, long time without one, don’t need one.
GS: What event would you say influence the world the most during your lifetime? Event or events?
BB: I would say World War II
GS: Did you— were you aware during WWII of what Hitler was doing?
BB: Yes, I kept up with the news. Mom insisted on a daily newspaper, so.
GS: Oh, this is a loaded question; how different is the world today than it was when you were a child?
Keywords: Bunny; C. C. Wilson; CPA; Caroline Webb; Hitler; Johnny Simmons; WWII; reporter