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

 
Contents List
Container Title
Box/Folder   2/15
No.   1255A/166-167
Epstein, Betty,1993 January 4, Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Biography/History: Betty (Lee) Epstein was born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1912. Soon after, her family moved to Chicago, finally settling in Millston, Wisconsin, in 1931. She had planned to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison, but her father's death and the family's need for income forced her to stay home. She made baby quilts for spending money. She married her husband, Lou, in 1936. With the outbreak of World War II, Lou enlisted as an officer, and Ms. Epstein followed him from camp to camp until he was sent overseas. She spent the remainder of the war with her mother in Paducah, returning to Millston when her husband was discharged in 1946. The Epsteins soon had two sons, and Ms. Epstein stayed home and cared for them while taking writing courses from the University of Wisconsin. She has written professionally since 1950, and remains active with the Wisconsin Regional Writers.
Scope and Content Note

We began by discussing the fact that Ms. Epstein's experience of the war was different from most women's, since she had not been a homemaker. When the tape began recording again, we were discussing ways that she, Lou, and their close friends Harold and Joyce celebrated Christmas in Camp Hood, Texas. We then discussed the lack of housing, and the importance of the USO in providing soldiers with social activities and information about the local community. Church was particularly important to the Epsteins in California, where they began attending both Catholic and Christian Science services. Ms. Epstein described the friendship they struck up with another family attending the Christian Science church, as well as with an Italian POW.

We then discussed the shortages of housing, food, and nylon during the war. Ms. Epstein described the dress styles, the music, the support she received from neighbors in Paducah, and the good work done by the Red Cross. Finally, she reflected on the success of her interfaith marriage (Lou was Jewish), on the opportunities the war gave to women, and the fun she and her friends had had during World War II.