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Interview #456: Chapman, Emily E. (1994)

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00:18:21–00:25:37 During his first year, they lived in the...

During his first year, they lived in the University Cabin Camp at 2929 University Avenue, in a two-bedroom cabin. The cabins, which were formerly for tourists, were inexpensive but had no running water. Most of the residents had children, and the families would often share holiday dinners. They later moved to Tilton Terrace.

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00:18:21

EC

So we lived at the University Cabin Camp without running water. Had two more children, two girls. That sort of was a blurry—[laughs]

BT

Let’s talk about the Cabin Camp for a while. Now that was located--

EC

On University Avenue. In the 2900 block, 2929 University Avenue.

BT

How big were the cabins? I mean, how many people lived in, what were they like? I don’t know much about the Cabin Camp.

EC

Well, the one that we were in was, let’s see. A double bed. I think it was ten by fourteen. Divided into two rooms. And there was no running water. We had to carry water in from, there was a central washroom with bathrooms and washing machines and stuff. And we had oil heaters. It was inexpensive. Twenty-five dollars a month for rent.

BT

That’s nice.

EC

When your husband is only trying to live on a hundred dollars a month, it’s important. So anyway, we had three children and stayed there four years. And I was about ready to go to Mendota when I—

BT

There were five of you, in a sense--

EC

Oh, yeah.

BT

In this ten by fourteen, divided into two rooms.

EC

Yes.

BT

Oh, my. That must have been cozy.

EC

Yeah. Well, after our third child was born, my husband built a little, I think a six by eight kitchen on the back.

BT

Yeah, I was going to say, did you have hotplates? Or how did you cook?

EC

There was a little closet on the back. These used to be tourist cabins. And it had shelves. We put shelves in it. And I had a hot plate on one side and a roaster oven in the other. And used orange crates to keep things in.

BT

And so it was one family per cottage.

EC

Oh, yeah.

BT

And how many cottages were there? Do you recall?

EC

There were about one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. About twelve or fourteen cottages. There were also trailers and Quonset huts.

BT

Did you get to know your neighbors very well?

EC

Oh, yeah. [laughs] Oh, you certainly did. Oh, yes. We had coffee klatches ever morning, and we babysat each other’s kids. Everybody had little children. And there were a lot of Canadians in that camp.

BT

Oh, really?

EC

Because the other one, down where Sherwood Hills was, was reserved for Americans, for some reason, or for veterans or something. So we had, there were a lot of Canadian students, grad students in there. And we, we, none of us could afford to go home for Christmas. So was always had Christmas dinner in the rec room. There was a study hall. Really, it wasn’t a rec room, but we had study hall and then separate bathrooms for men and women. And then the basement. There were laundry facilities. No dryers. But there were clotheslines, and there were clotheslines outside. But it was, we had to roast the turkey one year, and we left it out on our, we had a little front porch. And we had the turkey out there to keep cold. And when we went to get it to put it in our roaster oven, we found that a rat had gnawed its back off. [laughter] Well, there were rats! There was a steakhouse right in that area that’s since moved. Quite a famous steakhouse.

BT

Smokey’s.

EC

Smokey’s, yeah. And there were always rats around the back of their place. And they migrated to our place. [laughter] But I did, my husband and I concealed it. Took it over to the basement laundry, scrubbed it up with soap and roasted it breast-side up, and never let a soul know that it had been chewed.

BT

Gnawed by a rat.

EC

Gnawed by a rat. At any rate--

BT

Interesting years, it sounds like.

EC

Oh, yeah.

BT

From your standpoint.

EC

Yeah, they were. And anyway, we finally gathered enough money to move out of the Cabin Camp. Well, first of all, we moved to Sherman Terrace, or Tilton Terrace, as it was. And then bought a lot somewhere out here in, were paying on a lot near, oh, the school that’s right over here on Midvale.

BT

Thoreau? Oh, no, I know what you’re talking about. Van Hise.

EC

No. The grade school.

BT

The grade school.

EC

On Midvale?

BT

Well, we’ll leave it as the high school on Midvale.

EC

Anyway, we started to buy a lot. And we thought we could build a house. And my husband tore down an old house on campus for a dollar. And we had all this wood stored. And we were about to, and we had an arrangement that a builder would build a house on the lot and use all our lumber, and that the lot would be enough, you know, down payment. And they put in something called Regulation X. [laughs] And whatever it was, it was terrible. We couldn’t build. You had to have cash money, and you couldn’t build or anything like that.

BT

This is about 1948?

EC

Yeah.

BT

Your son was ’45. So—

EC

Yeah. It would be ’48, ’49.

BT

’48, ’49. So housing was very scarce at this point in Madison.

EC

Yeah.

BT

It’s interesting that they would put through this regulation that would--

EC

Well, it was a federal regulation, I think.

BT

At a time when housing was desperately needed. That’s interesting.

EC

Yeah. It was weird. So you win some and you lose some. [laughs] But anyway, eventually we found somebody that would take the lot as down payment on a house out in Verona. And that’s where we lived when I started to think about going back to school, to go to the university. We had a lot of other things happen, too. But that’s another story.

BT

That’s another tape. [laughter]

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