WORLD WAR II
Oral History Interview with Arleen Schroeder.

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Record 40/959
Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Admin/Biog History Arleen Hansen was born March 17, 1920 in Oshkosh, WI. She married Ervin Schroeder August 16, 1952. She worked for Waite Carpet Co.; Sterns Exclusive Shop; Boston Store; Oshkosh Clinic; and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She had one son. Member of the Welsh Druids Society and Martin Luther Church. She wrote many poems in the Welsh tradition and had them published. She died January 5, 2005 and was burried at Lake View Memorial Park.
Classification Archives
Collection World War II Oral History Project
Dates of Accumulation February 19, 2003
Abstract Oral history interview with Arleen Schroeder, she recalls the World War II homefront in Oshkosh, WI and her brothers', Orville and Adrian Hansen, service during the war and the effect on the family. A typed transcript is on a computer file in the archives.

Arleen Schroeder Interview
19 February 2003
Conducted by Bradley Larson

{B: indicates the interviewer, Mr. Larson; A: indicates the subject, Mrs. Schroeder}.

B: It's February 19th, 2003, and I'm in the home of Arleen Schroeder. So Arleen, I would like you to start by giving me your full name and your date of birth.

A: It's Arleen Rosalind Schroeder. My maiden name was Hansen. My date of birth is 3/17/1920.

B: Good. Well this is very kind of you to invite me into your home like this and willing to talk to me. I see you have some notes there. We can either follow those notes or I can ask you some questions, whichever you would prefer. Do you have a way you'd rather do it?

A: Anyway. I just have notes here of different things that was told to me by my brother. And ah, if you want me to tell you some of that, I can. But first I'd appreciate it if you'd just ask me some questions.

B: Okay. Before Pearl Harbor, was your family very much aware of what was happening over in Europe? Did you keep up on events that were happening overseas, talk about the war in Europe or anything like that?

A: Not that I, not too much in the household, no. I don't remember too much of that. Um, but I remember Pearl Harbor. We didn't have any, we didn't have a radio at that time. And um, so it was told to us for awhile that Pearl Harbor was bombed.

B: Who told you?

A: Ah, some friends that had a radio. And so they came and they told us. And then of course my family was all upset when they knew what was going to happen then. And ah, that was the beginning of the war.

B: You lived on a farm, didn't you?

A: Yes.

B: Was it a dairy farm?

A: It was a truck farm and my father had a few cows at that time. And we had chickens. And ah, but that's all we had and then ah, the truck farm was ah, it was quite a, it was about 15 to 20 acres. And my father and my two older brother, Orville and Lyle, they planted it and then they also, we all had to go out and weed it. We were old enough to weed. But that was all, and so they would put it on the horse and on the wagon and they'd take old Daisy the horse and they would go through town here, to the City of Oshkosh and they would peddle all that. They would have corn and carrots and anything that's, any type of vegetable you can imagine. And that's what we grew on our farm. And then we peddled it. They peddled it from house to house, the two boys, my older brothers, Lyle and Orville. And then they sold it. And then after that they would come back again and, and ah, of course there was this, there was always, they'd do this day after day until the harvest was all, the crops were all harvested. And then um, after that then we would, my mother, she would start canning and things. And she'd get the things ready for winter. We had a big ball field out in the park where my father kept his cows. He rented a great portion of land out there, about 50 acres. He rented it out, Riverside Cemetery on the side. And so we had a big ballpark and everybody in the neighborhood would, and ah, as far as what we, it went way up on the hill there, up on Turner Hill. And then way out past the museum and all over we had, my brothers had friends and so he, so we had a big ball game. And so we'd all play in that park with that big game we had. We had sides, you know. We'd take up teams and it was a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun in our day. It was a very close family.

B: It was huh? Everybody was still living at home at the time of Pearl Harbor?

A: Yes. Everybody. And when the war started, then now when they started to draft, they were all still home at that time. Yes.

B: Who was the first one drafted?

A: Orville. Orville was the first one drafted. He was drafted in um, '41, he was drafted. And Adrian was drafted in '42.

B: Do you remember those days very, at all, when they received their draft notices?

A: Yes. They had to go, they had to go to Neenah for the draft board. They had to go there and they had to um, register. And then after they registered, then ah, if they called em, then they would have to go for their exams. And that was all done in Neenah.

And after they did that, then, then they waited a period of time and then they were called to service. So then ah, my mother, my mother had all of us go down and take a picture of ourselves. So ah, but ah, Orville, he didn't want his taken. He said, no, he'd have one taken for us sometime. And so he said that when he got in the service, he'd have one taken.

So anyway, we all got ours taken and then ah, it came time for them to leave. It was just, it was very sad for us. And I'll never forget Orville. He was very independent. And um, we were all standing in the front parlor of our home and ah, my father and mother wanted to take him to the train. They went by train, you know. And they wanted to take him to the train and he said, no. He was gonna say his good-byes here, he said. "I'm gonna say em right here," he said. So everybody was there. And so he said his good-byes and ah, and he said ah, so then he left.

And he went down the street and as he was walking down the street, and of course they hadda dress up in their suits, you know. In their Sunday go meeting suits. And he hadda dress all up and so he was all in his brown pin stripe. And he was walking down the street and he got as far as the neighbor's house. You see the neighbors were kinda few and far between at that time. There wasn't any houses built out there. There was only four houses. And so um, my father said to my mother, "Meg, don't he look just like a lawyer, walking down the street?" Of course, he was always so straight, you know, and tall. And so he just kept right on walking. In those days, a lawyer you know, that was quite an important occupation at that time.

So anyway ah, he left and he went. And we didn't hear from him for a long, long time. And so my mother got awfully worried. She went to the Red Cross. She asked the Red Cross um, if they could find out the whereabouts of him, if something happened to him or where he was. Because she hadn't heard anything from him for months. And so they said yes, they would look into the matter. Well anyway they found out. They let her know that he was in Texas at the time. He was stationed there. You see, they could ah, when they were in the states at that time, they could tell where they were and things, you know. But when they got overseas, no way. And would anybody know. And only just writing letters, and I mean the letters they wrote back didn't say too much. Just would say that they were well, fine, and ah, that they were on leave and they were gonna walk in the country or something like that. And that's what my brother Orville always wrote. And, because he couldn't say anything either.

And then it came time for my brother Adrian to leave. And um, he left in 42, no, 42 I think it was, he left. And anyway um, he wouldn't um, they said, "You want us to take you to the train?" "Of course I do," he says. "I don't want to go to that train all by myself," he says, "I want you to come with us." So we all went with him to the train and we all saw him off and ah, he was laughing and joking and everything. You know, he always tried to make everybody feel happy about everything. And so anyway he got on the train and he left.

And he was gone for so long before we found out where he was again. But my mother, she didn't go to the Red Cross this time because she, she just waited it out. She knew he was in the states. And so he wrote back and he said that he would um, that he went to boot camp and ah, you see, they, they go to this rifle school and everything, you know.

They have to take all this training and so anyway, he um, he went, he was in boot camp and he says this one day it just rained all day, he said. And the mud was six feet deep. And they walked in the mud, he said, and they marched in the mud all day long. And there was a thousand soldiers. And all day long they walked. And so anyway, the next day came and they always, they had to get up at 4:30 in the morning and get out and start marching by five o'clock. And so then he started marching and he said the whole regiment of a thousand soldiers started. And he said they had a pack, he said, that they had to ah, to carry. And they had to walk ten miles. And the pack weighed 120 pounds. And, and they had to carry the rifle besides.

B: You know I get the feeling from reading some of the poems your mother wrote, I get the sense she was a strong woman. Is that a fair statement?

A: Ah, yes she was. Um, she found, I mean she found things to do. She would go and she would visit sick people and um, she would take things for the needy people. Ah, they, you know that ah, was around the neighborhood. And even to the city. And ah, people that she knew. And not only that, but then she um, she would get busy right away and she start sending packages and presents.

But we never had a Christmas tree and we didn't ah, exchange any gifts among ourselves or anything. So this is the way it was. She just kept right on going and finding things to do. And then she joined the Red Cross and she would knit the gloves and scarves and stump sox and all these things for the Red Cross. And she would bring bags of the yarn home. She had to buy the needles herself but the yarn was all donated. And so she, she would give em to the Red Cross.

And so she would bring the yarn home and she would sit all [ ] hours, knitting. And she had a little black cat and he was the cutest thing. She had a little black cat and she, and he would sit right on a little rug along side of her chair, rocking chair. And um, all the while that she knit, he'd play with the ball of yarn. He was so cute.

And so anyway then, and then of course she always had to take them back. Then she would go to ah, to the Red Cross which was located on the fourth floor of the, of um, of the court house at that time in Oshkosh here. And ah, she would wrap bandages, you know? And make bandages for the medical. And um, for overseas and so then she, and then they needed more volunteers so she came home and she told us three girls and Gloria and myself. And we would go to the Red Cross and we would roll bandages and make bandages and do that. We all, we were all working at the time. And we'd do this after work. We'd go up there…

B: Where were you working?

A: I was working at the Frank Stein and Company. That was located on Church Street. That was um, exclusive fashion store for women. I worked there. My sister Audrey, she worked at the Overall and my sister Gloria, she worked at Leach Company. And um, of course all these ah, these companies were working for the war at that time. And after the war, well then the jobs would go back again to the, to the servicemen. After their discharge. And so um, and my brother Lyle, he was working at Neenah Foundry and um, he held down two jobs. He worked at Neenah Foundry in ah, daytime, early morning and then he would ah, he would come home for a half-hour break and then he'd go to the Neenah Foundry and work.

And then um, so, that was all, that was war plants too. And so they were all working for the war and making um, parts of artillery and so anyway, then my father, he worked on the farm yet and he, he um, he had his cows and everything and so he was taking care of the farm. But he was also drafted. And um, so my brother Lyle was drafted and my father was drafted also. And they were, at that time they were drafting the WACS. They were all in nursing. Because my cousin, she enlisted too but she was sent overseas.

B: Who was that? What was her name?

A: Her name was Lorraine Hansen. And her father was a World War I veteran. His name was Claude Hansen. That was my father's brother's daughter. And um, so anyway um, three girls, that was [ ] girls were home. Otherwise we would have been enlisted too, but that's why we weren't drafted at all. I mean enlisted, not drafted. That's why we weren't drafted.

So anyway, my father, he just kept the home fires burning and ah, he'd go to town and then they started to ration. And rationed everything and so he'd have to go to town to take all the ration books and ah, get the allotted amounts for the, for that week. And ah, then it wasn't too long after that they started to ration gas. And my mother, she kept busy that way. Then he used to take her out to Fond du Lac, to her sister on the Ridge Road. And ah, and my aunt was out there too. And then my aunt would come and she, she'd stay some of the time with us. And then of course, then her nephew, my cousin George, he'd come and get her and take her back home again in Fond du Lac. She never had, she never married. She never had a home. She just stayed with my aunt Min. And ah, that was Mary Ellen Lee. And um, my mother. Those are my mother's sisters. My mother was a Griffith. She was from Rosendale, er Eldorado.

B: Thinking back on it now, Mrs. Shroeder, what would be the most significant way that the war affected your family?

A: We were just so lonesome for them. [ ] the joy that they brought us. [ ] when they were home, then we [ ] to the war. And so that way, that affected us. Because everything was so different at home. Even the place settings at the table and everything. And all the things were there to remind us of em. And um, we waited for every letter that came.

And my ah, one time my brother Adrian, he sent, he sent a bond home. And um, my mother had a little dog and her name was Juno. So she read the letter and she laid the, she laid the bond on the table and it was just the edge sticking up. And he jumped up and he grabbed it. And he ran over in the corner and she didn't know what he was doing. And he ripped it all, tore it all up. And, oh my goodness! And so anyway she gathered it all up and she took it back to the, to the post office and they referred her to, where to go with it. And so anyway, she glued it all together the best she could do. And anyway, they gave her a new bond for that. But that dog was [ ].

B: You know, I noticed that there was quite a bit of bond material in the ah, the trunk that we got. So it looked like your family was buying bonds all the time. Because we saw, there were window stickers in there and letters thanking your mother and father and the family for the purchase of the bonds. So the whole Hansen family must have been very active in bond drives.

A: Oh, we all bought bonds. Even at work we had to buy bonds, you know. We would buy bonds at work and oh yes, everybody bought bonds. Everybody. They used every nickel they had to buy a bond. Because that helped the war. Because they wanted their boys to come home. And then my boys, my brothers would buy bonds and they would send the bonds home. And then if they didn't buy the bonds, they would send the money and my mother and father would buy the bonds for them. And so they just, you know they just, when their paychecks would come. And um, that's how they did that.

And, and ah, it was terrible. It was so lonesome and, and um, you know my brothers, they would hunt and they would fish and everything, you know. And um, and here there was nothing going on. Even my brother Lyle. He stopped fishing. He didn't even go fishing. And, he'd do other things. And he didn't go fishing. My brother, my brother Orville wrote back and he had a boat, a fishing boat. And, a skiff he called it. And he always went out fishing in that. So ah, he had it tied to the dock when he left and he wrote and he told my brother Lyle, he said, "You, I left the key there and everything. You just tell anybody that wants to use that boat, just go right ahead and use it." And ah, so, he went, he'd always go fishing and ah, and then there was a minister from the West Side. And ah he was a Baptist minister and he, he would always go with my brother out in the boat. He liked to go out on the water. So he would go with my brother and my brother would fish and he'd sit there and he would, he would compose his sermon for the next Sunday. And that's what he would do in the boat. And he would always go out with my brother. And my brother said he was the nicest man and he said, as far as I mean, he didn't… and he said that he loved the water out there. And of course my brother was always hunting and fishing. He loved the outdoors.

B: Both of them?

A: No. My brother Adrian never hunted. He fished. He'd go fishing but he never hunted.

B: You know, your parents must have been terribly worried, especially about Adrian. Because he was in a combat unit.

A: Oh, she was terribly…he was ah, he was in the um, the glider infantry. And ah, and you know his twin sister Audrey, you know he was a twin. His twin was Audrey. And um, they were born 1919. January the 7th, 1919, And um, so he ah, when he was wounded in France, then she, we didn't know it at the time. So my ah, he didn't write, and he didn't write. And my brother Orville used to write home and say, "Well, I haven't heard from him. Why don't we hear? Have you heard anything? Aren't you writing him letters and telling him we're here?" And then my mother would write back and say, "We don't know either."

And my sister Audrey of course, she says, "I knew where he is. He's in the hospital and he's been wounded." And he was wounded in France and he was in the hospital. Well you don't know what hospital of course, he was in. And so what, my mother says, "Oh, you don't think like that." Well, she says, "I know that's where he is." So the months went by and so ah, we finally got a notice from the War Department that he had been wounded in France. And that he was hospitalized and that they would, they would um, keep in touch with her and let her know of, how he was getting along. And um, so the War Department would send her a telegram, I don't know, maybe about once a month or something. She got maybe about four or five telegrams.

And um, but they never ever told her that when he went back in the service. They never told her that. And so, then she waited and waited again. And then the next thing you know, he sends a letter and he said he was wounded and that he was hospitalized and that he was all right now. And then he sent his picture. And his picture looks just terrible, of him. And um, you could tell that he had been in the hospital. So anyway, my sister was right when she said that. But you know, they say, what they say about twins. They, they know what the other one is doing, you know.

B: Where was he wounded? Do you remember?

A: In France.

B: Yeah, But I mean, do you remember what happened?

A: He ah, the back. Back injury. Um. He was riding in a jeep and ah, he was in the, he was in the war zone and he was going to um, they were going to go to some occupation. I don't know where it was there. And he was riding alongside with the, and his friend was the one that was driving. And his closest friend. And he said that they never saw the sniper that was in the woods. They never saw him. And he, of course he shot and he killed his friend. And his friend slumped over and then the, the jeep just ran away. It didn't have any, didn't have any driver then to control it and ah, and so it went so fast, it went over a ravine and down into the ravine. And it landed, and he flew out of the jeep and it landed right on top of him. And it just rolled right over him. And that's how he got that back injury. And ah, well they said, you know, they said they didn't know if he broke, had a broken back or what it was, you know.

And ah, so anyway, then after that, that didn't stop anything. He went right on to Germany then. And um, so after he went to Germany, he said that was terrible because he says it was so cold there. It was terribly, terribly, just deathly cold. And he said that ah, the people just froze right in their homes. He said he was in the battalion and they were marching one day and came by some houses and he looked in there and people were freezing; they were froze, right by the table just the way they were sitting there. Then he said they came back that way and they were still sitting the same way. And he said it was that cold - the people froze right in their homes.

And um, so anyway he ah, he said that was just terrible in there. He said you'd go by places and, and you know, and by where they burned the Jews, and oh, it was just terrible, he said. Then they went to Belgium and he fought in Belgium. And then ah, then he was in the war, the Battle of the Bulge. But he didn't get trapped in there but ah, there was a platoon that was trapped in there and so anyway, him and seven other fellows, they volunteered to release the guys. To get them out of there. And so he was the one, he and the seven soldiers were responsible for the release of those men out of that platoon.

And so anyway he ah, then he went on from there. He went to Bastogne. He went to Russia. And then after they got to Russia, then he just kept right on a going. He said that ah, he went to ah, he had to take ammunition to the front lines. And so he had it all strapped on his back. The ammunition. And he had to climb a mountain to get to the front lines. And so anyway he ah, it was in the middle of the night and he got lost. He got turned around and he got lost and so he was in the mountains trying to figure his way out of it. So he listened and he listened. He could hear the firing and so finally he got down the mountain and then he found his way back. Then ah, he got to the front lines again and with the ammunition. And ah, but that was a terrible thing. I mean, you know, all that ammunition on his back, oh…

B: Did he talk about it very much when he got home?

A: Not too much. Just a few things he told us. He said ah, he said it was so dreadful he said, that, "I just want to forget it. I don't even want to remember it anymore." He said because ah, "We fought, when a battle would start it would last for weeks and weeks. And it just wouldn't stop." And he said that um, that they got so tired and everything. He said that he didn't care to talk about it.

And he couldn't put anything in the letters. All the letters came back. Even the V-Mail would be blacked out. And the letters, they would just cut the bottoms right off or whatever, you know. Or even in the middle of the letter or there'd be a couple of words here or there. They'd cut that out. It was all censored. Everything was censored. They even censored a picture that my son, my brother Lyle sent back. And, from England. And he put on there, "Blue Monday," he said. "And there's no money in any of these socks." And it showed a picture that was taken and here he's sittin there washing his socks. And he's got em hung over a little brick, like stones that he had piled up there with bricks, you know. And he had it all piled up there. And they had that censored. They even censored that picture.

B: I noticed that Adrian would get letters from a woman by the name of Loretta [Perrenboom].
Who was she?

A: Oh that's ah, she's from the state here.

B: Was she his girl friend or…?

A: No, no, no, no. Just someone she knew. I mean I always, I said to ah, I told her when she came, "I would like, I would like to read that letter." I mean it doesn't make any difference now, you know.

B: Well, she wrote a letter and said that in the middle of the night, they delivered a telegram. About 11 o'clock at night, a telegram runner came to the door. And when they saw it was a telegram runner, it sent the whole household into an uproar. Because they didn't know what was in the telegram.

A: Well, what was the telegram?

B: Well, it was from Adrian, saying that he has, he was going to get leave. But they of course, didn't know… Tell me about telegrams.

A: Well he did get a leave. He came, I got pictures here to show you. He got a leave and he came home and um, and him and John Krueger, they called him Johnny Krueger. He was drafted before Adrian was. And Adrian was still a civilian but he was, he was drafted. But he hadn't gone. And so my, my father had dug a hole and he got a pole. And you know my father, he made everything himself so he put this pole altogether and it stands real tall. And it's still out there yet among the trees. And anyway he ah, when those, when Johnny came home, then him and Adrian put the flagpole down in the ground. They anchored it and so I had a picture of the flagpole and the flag. And only the flag is half-mast because Franklin Roosevelt, President Franklin Roosevelt had passed away at that time. And so anyway at the time of the picture I mean, it was half- mast. But that was after the war. So anyway ah…

B: Was Loretta just a neighbor, or friend, or…?

A: She was just a friend from the neighborhood. Yeah, she lived in the neighborhood there.

B: Her brother was killed, I believe. I think his name was Clyde. And I believe he was a marine who was killed at Iwo Jima.

A: Oh, well now that could be. You know I got this scrapbook that my sister Gloria was um, compiling and she hasn't got it finished. So we've got all these local boys from you know, around our neighborhood, you know. And ah, we got all the clippings and we got pictures of em and all, you know. And when they passed away and all the [ ]. And so um, he could be in there because I don't remember all of em. But I knew they were of the neighborhood, yes.

B: Sounds like there was a lot of people of your acquaintance or people you knew that were in service.

A: Oh, my goodness! You have no idea. Oh, dear!

B: What? Was there?

A: Oh yes. There was just, all the neighbors. I mean all the, you know they all had a son. If they didn't have one, they had two. They had the Harris', and the [Crepleys], and the Holdens, and I can just go on naming them. And um, John [Koske] always stayed with us. And ah, and so he was really a friend of my brother's. He stayed with us because…. Anyway he just stayed with us. So I won't go into that. So anyway um, he was the best friend of my brother Adrian. And so he came over, he'd always come and visit us and everything. He joined the Navy. He didn't die in the navy or anything. He came home after the war. He was discharged. And ah, but anyway ah, he is, when the war ended on the New York, on the streets of New York and it shows um a fella kissing a lady, kissing a nurse? That's him.

B: I'll be darned. Huh. Isn't that something?

A: And they show that all the time on TV. Yeah, that's him.

{The first tape ends here}.

B: So you knew a lot of people of your own personal acquaintance then that were in service?

A: Oh sure. And then they would, and when they would come back, if they would come home on leave before they left the states, why they'd always come and see my mother. Because you know those boys were all, they would always come over to our house. All those neighbor kids, you know. Because of my brothers. And they would always come over there and ah, and so they would always visit her and ah, and then she'd always have em, something for them you know, to eat. And this, and you know. And then when they would, before they would leave to go back on leave again, they'd always come and say goodbye to her. They were [ ] they were so close knit that way, you know. And so yes.

B: Well, with all of those men and women in service, it must have changed the character of the neighborhood, the character of the city. Could you, was there a different feeling in town with everybody…?

A: Oh, well everybody, I mean there was, no matter where you went or what you did, it was just talk of war all the time. It just seemed there was never a second that someone wasn't mentioning it ah, the war. And especially all of the neighbor people, when they would get together, they would talk about their boys and they'd come over and they'd wanna know um, where the boys were. My mother, then my father used to always go and visit and he'd ask about them. And this is the way it went. The neighborhood was always like in a turmoil because of the war. And it was just, there just wasn't any boys around. Just everybody was cleared out. There wasn't anybody. And ah, there was just men my father's age. He was, well he was in his early 50's when he was um, when he was drafted. And so this, this is the way it went, you know. And it was so lonesome.

And my mother, she wrote a letter to my brother and she said, "You know," my brother was always writing jokes back to her. And he'd read em in the "Limey paper" he called it. He didn't, not in the Limey paper, he bought a radio for $40.00 and ah [ ] and that's the radio he bought. And um, anyway he always turned on the Limey station. And that guy wasn't very good, he says, with his jokes. But he said, "I laughed at some of them," he said. (Laughter).

And then so my mother, she wrote back a joke and she said there was a young lady, and her husband had gone off to war and was overseas. So she wrote and she told him, she says, "You know, I can't dig this garden up." And she says, "There isn't a, there isn't a man around," she says, "To, that'll dig it for me," she says. "I want to plant my potatoes," she says. "Those men are all in the service." And she said, well he wrote back and he said, "Oh no, you can't have that dug up." He says, "No, you can't dig that up," he says. "I got all the guns hid there." He says, "All the guns are hid there." So of course that letter went through the censors. And in about a day or two, here, maybe three days, there had come some government men out. And they dug the whole garden up, looking for the guns. And so he, they went back and then she wrote back and then she said, well she said, "They dug the whole garden up," she said. "And they didn't find any guns." And he wrote back to her. He says, "Well now you can plant your potatoes." (Laughter).

B: Through all of this terrible four years, did you or your family have any doubt that the United States would ultimately win the war?

A: Yes. Oh, you mean doubts? Oh no. We never had any doubts.

B: You didn't?

A: Oh no.

B: Why not?

A: Oh, well, America was so strong and um, we just knew that they would never ever, and the way that my boys, my brothers would write back, and you know, that things were going okay and everything. We just, we just knew that we had that much confidence in the United States and the president, that we would win the war. And we did and my folks never carried the idea that we'd lose it. And she always had, of course my mother was a very ah, religious person. She always, she never believed that any of em would get wounded or killed over there. And ah, that they'd all come back home to her. Of course they did and that made her very happy.

B: That must have been a wonderful homecoming when they came back.

A: Oh, that was. There's a picture where the two boys are standing by the car there, in their uniforms. And um, you know that was great. We had a big dinner for them. And we just waited and waited. My brother Adrian, they picked him up at the train but then my brother Orville, independent as he was again, he walked all the way from the train on the South Side. And he walked all the way home. And he walks in and it's about four o'clock in the afternoon and he walked right in on us. We didn't know what day he would be coming or anything. But see, my brother Adrian, he called. And we knew he was there, so we went down and got him.

But Orville of course, he always came in the back door. He never was a front door guy. And he always came in the back door. So he came right in the back door, right on us, you know. He just surprised us, you know. Oh, my mother, she… it was really beautiful. But my father, he was outside and of course my brother had to go out and find him, you know. He had to go out and find him. He was out there among the cows someplace. So anyway, because we didn't know when he was coming. So that was a really a surprise and a welcome, the most welcome gift. Oh, it was wonderful!

B: Did either one of them, you said that Adrian seldom talked about the war, did Orville, when the war was over, was it done and was it a part of their past?

A: Well, this is what they did with the - when Adrian first came home, he wouldn't talk about it at all. Not a word would he say. But then in his later years, then he would start telling different things. He was telling my sister things - Gloria. And ah, and then of course his twin, Adrian's twin Audrey, she, she passed away ah, when she was 45 years old. And ah, he didn't, I mean he couldn't converse with her very much at all but he was there - she was living of course when he came home. But then at that time he wouldn't say anything. He wouldn't talk about the war.

But my brother Orville, he didn't talk too much about it. He didn't say very much. And he, he said he wanted to forget about the, and so anyways then ah, it got in later years that he would talk about it. And he would say what he did. And he said he was a firefighter. See, we never knew that, through the letters. And he said that he was a firefighter I mean, and um, wherever he was, he was ah, so he, in the Airforce. And so when those planes would come in, they would be just streaming with fire, some of them. And ah, he said then they'd have to put the fire out and then they'd have to get the men out of the cockpit or wherever they were. And pry the door. He said it was just terrible. It was awful, he said. He said some of em were gone. They were gone to heaven, some of em already. And others were wounded.

He said it just was a job that he never expected he'd have to do. And ah, so that type of work that he did, and ah, he said you had you had to be right on duty, just as quick as they come in. He says you could hear em coming in. You never know exactly. You never knew when they were coming because they would just fly in one right after the other at that airport. And ah, so then that was the type of work he did.

And of course Adrian, he just fought. He was right in the battle. He just fought. Fought, fought, fought. And he was in the glider infantry and um, those gliders, they're made of plywood. That's what they're made of. And ah, the Morgan Company used to make them for the army. And ah, they're nothing but plywood. And um, they're all open and they hold, I think it was 20 men at a time, they held. And with all their gear, all their battle. And then that ah, there was no pilot or anything. And then it was tied to the main plane and ah, a '47 or whatever it was. It was an army plane. And ah, with this rope. It was secured with this nylon cord. And um, then the plane would start off ah, and pull this glider. And the glider would go down head first. And then the plane would start up again and it would give a jolt and go forward again. And he said that the sky was just filled with those glider planes. And he said it was a sure, a sure suicide. And ah, he said a lot of the guys never made it at all. And he says that when they cut the cord, they fly all over. They get to the battle ground where they were headed for. And then they would holler, "Cut er loose." And then there'd be a guy in there and they would cut that cord and the plane would just zoom right off. Some time they landed in the sea. Sometime they in the ocean, and sometime in the trees and sometimes right in the enemy lines. And it was terrible. It was just terrible. I mean to me that was the worst part of the service to be in, was that old glider infantry. And then of course, after they… My mother always said, "The Lord was with that boy."

B: Well, you know, like I said, your mother I believe, was a strong woman. I read some of the poems that she composed and typed during the war. And as you read the poems, you can sense the inner strength that your mother had. It's very evident when you read those poems.

A; Oh, she did. She had a lot of strength. She sure did. I mean, she kept us all agoing and my father was another one. He just, he just kept us agoing. He wouldn't even leave us think anything different. He was so sure. He knew about World War I and he talked to ah, and his brother was in that and so on. He knew so much about the war and ah, he wouldn't let us falter at all. He just, we hadda, we just kept up the faith. And that's what we did. We'd go to church and ah…

B: Well, it looks like you have some wonderful mementos and scrapbooks that I'm sure bring back an awful lot of memories both good and bad sitting before us here.

A: Well, everything I was going to show you. You know there was a picture she made us all take. But I don't why she and my father didn't have a picture taken of each of them. But we have snapshots of them when they went to, when my boys, my brothers left. And ah, but that's the first thing she made em all do. But my brother Orville would not do it. Um, there's one, I got a one picture of Orville in his dress uniform. And his hat. And then there was one of Adrian because my sister Gloria made a copy of it. I got that here too. And um, so I don't know. Maybe, I don't know where the picture is. But who knows, we just got boxes and boxes of pictures.

B: Museums like that sort of thing. Could I take a look at a couple of these?

A: The pictures? These my brother Orville made, these picture frames. And of course [ ]

B: He made these overseas?

A: Yeah. Overseas he made them. When he'd have a furlough. And these are the shells that was used in the service. And of course there's just the case now. And this is ah, off of the planes, there were…

B: Is this plexiglass? I think they called it Perplex at the time.

A: Yeah. They were off of the planes. Some of these planes were so badly damaged, you couldn't do anything with them, you know. And the government couldn't, so they just discarded them. All this metal and everything. I don't know where he got the aluminum [ ] but he got it [ ]. And that's his picture. And then he made one for Adrian and he sent them home to my mother. That's Adrian.

B: Adrian, yeah. They're very nice.

A: Yeah. Well that's in here. Here's a [ ]. Here's the twins. And that's Audrey and Adrian, twins. And this is um, was a picture of Adrian but she, had for, she put in the funeral home.

B: When did Adrian pass away?

A: He passed away on…. This is a picture that was taken by our house before the war.

B: This is a very nice picture. Boy this is a wonderful group picture of the family.

A: And [ ] got one of the mother and father. [ ] Got one of my mother and father. Well here's a picture of the twins when they were babies. This is Adrian and this is Audrey. {There is quite a bit of static here as the photos are being handled}. And here's Adrian again. And this is myself, and that's Audrey. And there's my father and mother. And that's a young picture of him.

B: Looks like you had a fine childhood there.

A: Oh, yeah. We had a nice childhood. [ ] And there's all my dogs…

B: Isn't that a telegram there?

A: Yeah. This is a telegram and where he said he got here safely. And there's [ ] induction papers. And that's my father's draft card. [ ] came back from the war. I was trying to find [ ] but I guess it's not in this one. Now this is the one, there's the picture where he was wounded in France. And here's the letter stating that you are officially notified that your son had been wounded. That was August 14th, 1944. And he passed away, passed away September the 8th, 1998. And he's buried in [ ] cemetery. [ ] obituary up here.

B: Would you allow us to copy some of these if I, if I could take them and copy some of these images for the museum?

A: I don't care.

B: That would be very nice. I would like to do that.

A: But my son, my son, I don't know. I mean, he kinda wanted them but, so if you will return them, that would fine.

B: Oh, yes. We would just copy them. And he could have the originals. Or, whichever way your family would like to do it.

A; [ ] originals.

B: Well, we could either do it one of two ways. We can take copies because we're set up at the museum to do this. We can copy those photographs and return the originals to you. Or we can keep the originals and return the copy to your family. Whichever you prefer.

A: Oh, no, no. I like it just the way it is. Yeah. For now. For now.


B: Sure.

A: Because maybe eventually he might like it. Oh, I really don't know. I really don't know. I didn't press him that far, you know?

B: I'm going to shut this off now. I think we don't need to have this on.

B: Orville Klotzbuecher. He fell in the lake?

A: He fell in the lake. And so my brother um, went in after him. My brother's an excellent swimmer, you know.

B: Which one?

A: Orville. And ah, and so he, he rescued him. He got him out, yeah. He saved him from, he was drowning.

B: Well now, how did somebody that lived on the South Side get to be ah…

A: My mother. Because we lived on the South Side years and years ago. Sure. I was born on 11th Street and my older brother Lyle was born in Oakfield. This is where my father's home was. In Oakfield. And then when he married, he married my mother and she, she was a, she and her mother, Margaret Griffith - her mother - her name was Margaret Griffith too. And they lived on ah, Cherry Avenue. And Hinz that run the Oshkosh Northwestern, well her son run the Oshkosh Northwestern, well that's where she lived. Only she lived downstairs and my mother and her mother lived upstairs. And so he'd come all the way from Oakfield and he'd court her. He gave her the most beautiful ruby pin, like that. Great big pin. A butterfly. Oh, it's gorgeous. Anyway he gave her that. And then we got a valentine he gave her years…[ ] you know when he was going with her. And ah, then anyway he married her here ah, after he courted her enough. 1911, they got married at the First Presbyterian in Oshkosh; the Rev. [Jenkins], he lived on [ ] Street. And he married them. And she carried white roses and well, you have that at the museum too, her wedding gown. Did you see that?

B: Yeah.

A: Well, I don't know. Did you take it out or anything?

B: I'm not sure. I'd have to ask Debbie.

A: Oh, I don't know. It's pure silk. So I don't know if it's deteriorated…

B: So that's how the connection came with the south side kids then.

A; Yeah.

B: Okay.

A: And so anyway, she made that whole wedding dress. She made her own wedding dress. She covered the buttons and everything. Anyway [ ]. So then my older brother was born, then they went to Oakfield and he built a new home there. And he went to Oakfield with my mother after they were married. Then my older son Lyle, my older brother Lyle was born there. Then in years to come, he ah, he moved to my mother's, to my grandmother's home, Margaret Griffith's home on, in Eldorado. And on that farm. And then so Orville was born in Eldorado. And then the two twins were born in Eldorado on the Griffith's farm. And then, on March the 17th, they loaded up the old wagon, all the furniture they owned and everything - and the four kids - and they had the two horses and away they came to town. Rummin and a bummin - my mother says that was such a rough ride! And they came all the way, that's on 26, you know? They lived on 26, way out there. By Centennial Church. Across Centennial. Anyway that's where they lived. And so they came to town and then they moved in, rented a house. My father did, on 11th Street, right across South Park. 1810 11th St. One of those great big white houses. And that's where I was born, on St. Patrick's, 6 o'clock at night.

Then after that, then about three years after that, my father decided to move again. So he moved over on Church Street, in a little house on the corner of 10th Street there. And that's where he met these here Klotzbuechers. And that's where my sister Gloria was born. And that's where we met the Klotzbuechers. And boy were they rascals!

B: They were?

A: Yeah, my brother just, my brother Orville, boy that was just the right playmates for him. (Laughter). So anyways…

B: Good story.

{Tape No. 2 ends here}.
Event World War II
Category 6: T&E For Communication
Legal Status Oshkosh Public Museum
Object ID OH2001.3.45
Object Name Tape, Magnetic
Location of Originals Oshkosh Public Museum
People Hansen, Orville Elwyn
Hansen, Adrian Donald
Schroeder, Arleen Roselind Hansen
Related unit of descrip Archival records and photographs of Adrian Nelson and Orville Nelson from World War II. Accession # 2002.110. Not catalogued.
Subjects World War II
Homefront
Title Oral History Interview with Arleen Schroeder.
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009