Gaylord Nelson Papers, 1954-2006 (bulk 1963-1980)

Contents List
Container Title
Box/Folder   2/3
No.   1255A/159-160
Chatterson, Bertha,1993 January 7, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Biography/History: Bertha (Miller) Chatterson was born on August 13, 1917. Her father was a school principal, and the family frequently moved in and around Grant County. Ms. Chatterson earned her teaching certificate at the age of seventeen, and began teaching in Eau Claire. In 1941, she married Cliff Chatterson. Mr. Chatterson was an executive with Uniroyal, and was soon transferred to Des Moines, where he oversaw the operations of an ordnance plant. Mrs. Chatterson spent the war volunteering with the USO and the Red Cross, and working a part-time job photographing the WAC soldiers who had basic training at Fort Des Moines. Immediately after the war, Mr. Chatterson was transferred back to Eau Claire, where Mrs. Chatterson began teaching again. After the next transfer--to New York City--Mrs. Chatterson stopped teaching permanently. The couple has lived in Springfield, Massachusetts, New York City, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and have now retired to Eau Claire. The Chattersons have one son. Both the Chattersons have been active in local politics, and Mr. Chatterson is currently the Chair of the Eau Claire County board. Mrs. Chatterson remains an active member of community organizations, and an avid genealogist.
Scope and Content Note

Mrs. Chatterson began the interview by discussing the attack on Pearl Harbor and its immediate impact, including her anxiety, and the couple's transfer to Des Moines. She described her good fortune at finding a part-time job with photographers, and her many volunteer activities. Mrs. Chatterson related people's generally positive attitudes towards the WAC soldiers who trained at Fort Des Moines, and the enthusiasm of the soldiers themselves.

She explains that her work in Des Moines was particularly exciting for her because of the rigid social constraints she had experienced as a teacher in Wisconsin. She described her social activities in Des Moines, including her efforts to remain busy while her husband worked long hours at the plant, and the changes between pre- and post-war fashions. Mrs. Chatterson then reflects on the difficulty of moving and establishing social ties in new communities. She describes her growing involvement in local politics, and particularly her excitement at being part of the electoral process and at attending the 1976 Republican Convention. She closes by discussing her current work for good government, and particularly her feeling that most women did not know how to use government agencies and resources.