September 11, 2002
HANSON: Good Afternoon.
BROOKS: Good Afternoon.
HANSON: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Your father was born in San Bernardino?
BROOKS: That's right.
HANSON: So you have a long history here. Can you tell me a little bit though about your grandparents. Tell me about how they came to be in San Bernardino. I see your mother's family came from Missouri and your father's grandfather also. Do you know how they got here to San Bernardino or why?
BROOKS: I did not know either of my father's parents. They were dead before I arrived. My grandmother, whom I am named after was born in San Bernardino. Her family was the original ones. My great-grandmother, Jerusha, came across from New York with eleven children in a covered wagon. That's how that side of the family came. My father's grandfather was a carpenter. We have a chest of tools that he used. How he got to San Bernardino I don't know. His tool chest came around the horn, but how he got here I am at a loss for that history. I do have his naturalization papers though. As far as my mother they came from Arkansas. Her family was originally from Missouri. My grandmother was brought here with five children. She was coming to die, but she lived to be ninety one/ two. I guess California was good for her.
HANSON: So your family goes way back in San Bernardino. You went to San Bernardino High School, when were you at San Bernardino High?
HANSON: Yes. What year did you graduate?
HANSON: '43, so you were there during WWII?
HANSON: When it started.
BROOKS: A lot of my graduating class went into the services.
HANSON: Tell me about that experience. Tell me about being in High School in December 1941 and what happened.
BROOKS: It certainly changed a lot. A lot of the fellows joined up with the services and our graduating class was kind of diminished because a lot of them were gone. There just was a shortage of young men. I do not believe we were under any restrictions at that time for graduation parties. As time went on, we were doing without a lot of those things we thought were important, shoes were restricted. It was just a different way of life. The things we think we have to have we were just doing without. I went to work right after graduation. In fact, we graduated on Thursday and I went to work on Monday at the Smart 'n Final. We were dealing with ration stamps and lots of other inconveniences. So, the war did make an impression.
HANSON: What about opportunities for women with the men gone? Were more opportunities open for women?
BROOKS: Yes, for most jobs you had to be 18, and I wasn't quite 18 at that time. There was some hiring at the air base and some at Kaiser. Those places were anxious to get helping hands, so there were plenty of openings. Most of my friends went on to school. But I had an older brother that thought there would be a shortage of good teachers, so his sister shouldn't go on to school at that time; I went to work for a couple of years before I went back to school.
HANSON: Were there things surrounding WWII, say USO shows or things that girls participated in, were there places where young people gathered?
BROOKS: I did not participate, believe it or not. I lived on an orange grove. It was not very far out of town, but, I felt kind of isolated. I do remember they had an Italian prison war camp, right where your college is. The prisoners, you would not have thought they were prisoners because of their freedom. I mean, I can remember them walking down our street.
HANSON: So they weren't confined in any way?
BROOKS: No, no they were just--it looked like they were having a pretty good time wandering around. Travel was restricted. We did not travel as much because gas was rationed and tires were hard to get. The social events as you said USO, groups were organized who would meet the trains as the fellows passed through. There were plenty of opportunities. I believe at that time, the Arrowhead Springs Hotel was being used as a hospital. I am not sure of that, but I think --that was one of the places they were bringing them for recovery.
HANSON: It is really interesting about the prisoners of war, the Italian prisoners of war.
BROOKS: Oh yes, I can vividly remember them walking down the street and they certainly weren't under any guard, I guess they found their way back home because that was quite a distance for them to walk.
HANSON: I assume they would have work they had to do. Do you know?
BROOKS: No, maybe it was their time off, I don't know. They certainly weren't heavily guarded that's for sure.
HANSON: I suppose being here is better than being in Italy at the time.
BROOKS: Of course we had a lot of convoys going through, many soldiers were trained on the desert. So there were numerous convoys passing from March or Norton to the desert area.
HANSON: You worked at Smart 'n Final, and that's a retail store?
BROOKS: No, wholesale. Wholesale, they sold groceries, or was at that time, they've changed now.
HANSON: Wholesale groceries. You worked there 3 years and then you also said you worked at the courthouse in the summers from '46-'47?
BROOKS: I was in college and worked nights in the Tax office checking legal descriptions.
HANSON: And when did you go to UC Santa Barbara and the University of Redlands?
HANSON: That's when you started.
BROOKS: No, I went to Valley. I went to Valley two years.
HANSON: Then you went to UC Santa Barbara, and that was for teacher training?
HANSON: Where did you teach when you began and what did you teach?
BROOKS: I started at Etiwanda, I started on emergency credential. I was supposedly very lucky because all the other emergency credentials were being sent to the desert, so they reminded me that I got a special assignment--but it was a great year. I taught 1 ½ year before I went back and got my degree. It was a good experience, The community really supported the teachers.
HANSON: What grade did you teach?
BROOKS: I taught second grade down there. And I taught third one year, but I started with second grade.
HANSON: Then after you got your degree, you went back to teaching in Rialto. Also second grade or did you teach other things?
BROOKS: Ah, second grade was not my favorite grade.
HANSON: Why not?
BROOKS: I always felt they were neither fish nor fowl, not babies but not ready for responsibility. Kids are far more sophisticated now. I did start teaching second grade in Rialto, most of my teaching was sixth grade; because of my size they decided I could handle those sixth graders.
HANSON: So they were concerned about a woman teaching sixth grade because of the kids getting bigger?
BROOKS: I was also the assistant principal. I guess after I became assistant principal was when I started teaching sixth grade. And that worked out because a lot of times I would be called to the office and older kids can handle themselves better than little children.
HANSON: What did you like most about teaching sixth grade? What was your favorite thing about it?
BROOKS: My favorite is fourth grade. HANSON: Oh! (laughing)
BROOKS: You might have guessed that because it is California history. Discipline was my big thing. Teachers have too much to get across to the kids to let just a few ruin it for everybody else. I would say fourth grade is my favorite grade.
HANSON: Not too grown up, not too little.
BROOKS: An interesting grade, and yes, they were just at a stage that you felt you were going to make a good impression. Hopefully.
HANSON: You enjoyed teaching fourth grade for California History. That leads us into our next area, you had told me that you know a lot about the citrus industry that you can tell us. So, please take it away.
BROOKS: Well, my parents only owned five acres of oranges but we were right in the center of a citrus area. As I said I lived on the corner of 16th and Muscott. We were right in with all the orange groves in that area. Smudging was the hated subject of the whole valley, but our livelihood depended on those oranges. And they had to be kept from freezing when it got cold.
HANSON: So, explain to me since I am not a native Californian, what is smudging?
BROOKS: Smudging is a pot of oil; it has to be set on fire with a torch, a lighted torch. My dad lit the torch; I didn't know what was in it, but I think it was Kerosene. When the temperature would drop-we had to watch the thermometer, below twenty-eight crews were called out to light the smudge pots. They poured the kerosene into the smudge oil. The fire creates a circulation and it also puts, an oil film on the oranges that protects them.
HANSON: So it protects them from the cold so you don't lose your crop.
BROOKS: But it creates an awful, oily, gooey smoke that people hated. I can't blame them, but when your livelihood depends on it, you do what is necessary. I remember one bad freeze when so many groves, particularly over in Redlands were a complete loss. It was so cold it split the bark of the trees. My parents were always grateful to Shell Oil Company because they came out in the middle of the night and filled up our oil tanks. We were a small grower and we didn't have big tanks. They came out with the oil to help us through the night. So we saved out trees and our fruit.
HANSON: When was that? What year was that?
BROOKS: I can't even begin--It was the hard freeze, everybody will know about that. Dates are not that-
HANSON: We can look up dates.
BROOKS: I remember my brother, my younger brother, had been out of town and it was early, about six or seven o'clock and they were already starting to smudge. It had gotten that cold. As my brothers got older and left home it was up to me to watch the thermometer. I would check the thermometer in our grove and then go across the street to another grove to make sure of the reading. When it got cold enough I'd wake my dad up and he's go out and smudge. When dad got sick, I would light the pots then I'd go to bed. It was very interesting. Now that's just smudging. As far as picking the fruit, that's where a lot of the Mexican people came into this area as pickers. The Mexican crews would come in and pick the fruit, put it in boxes which were taken to the packing-houses. There were two big packing-houses here in Rialto and several in Redlands and Highland. Then they would be packed and shipped out. And let's see, what else do we need to know about-irrigation. The trees had to be irrigated every 21 days or 28 days. I remember when people started moving into the area around our grove someone came up to complain about the water running down the street. They thought we were wasting water and I remember my mother's reply, "What do you want us to do, sit down there and drink it?" Because to get the water to the end of the rows of trees some of it ran into the street.
HANSON: Tell me more about it. I don't know anything about orange groves. I just find it fascinating.
BROOKS: Well, it was the industry in this area. You would never believe it now. The groves also started getting scale which had to be treated. They would come in with sprayers, big trucks with the spray rigs on them. And some places they would have to fumigate. My parents never did fumigate; we had to have it sprayed but I know the grove across the street from us had to be tented and fumigated. When they did that orchard I went out and found my ducks dead, upside down in their pond because the fumigation settled on the water and killed them. They bottomed up. The trees also need to be pruned. Men went thru the grove and cut out branches. We had one Japanese fellow, how he came into the area I have no history about, but he lived in a place up the street, quite a ways from where we lived. The Cox family had lots of acreage and he did the pruning for them, that was during the war time. He was called Shorty or Old Shorty, but when someone reported him, they discovered he had a complete short wave radio system in the old tumbled down house that he lived in. He was apparently working for the Japanese government. At that time they were plotting or planning an attack on the Cajon pass. Now that was the neighborhoods' version. But you know how those stories got around, at least he disappeared so something happened. I can't think of anything else that went on in the orange grove. It was called the golden fruit, and it was. Well, our Orange Show was started to display the fruit and we used to have beautiful displays. It used to be right at the height of the orange season, so we had big displays down there. Of course you've heard why they've kept moving the show date, it haven't you?
BROOKS: It is said that the Orange Show was built on old Indian burial grounds and the Indians put a curse on it.
HANSON: (laughing) What was the curse, do you know?
BROOKS: The curse was it was going to rain on the days of the show because they built on their burial grounds. So it did rain. Practically every time it would open, we could count it raining.
HANSON: Maybe there's something to that story.
BROOKS: Maybe there was. I don't know how you would check that one out.
HANSON: You said your family had five acres of oranges?
BROOKS: We had five of orange grove and we had ten acres of plain land.
HANSON: That was your family's business then?
BROOKS: Yes, well, my dad did work for other orange growers though. He did irrigating.
HANSON: Were there ever any problems about water, I mean other than the water flowing off, did you ever have problems getting water, were there ever any drought conditions?
BROOKS: We had shares in our own water well and it was a very good well. No, we never had problems with that. I think there was some connection with Lytle Creek. I remember my dad going over to the dividing place to do something with water. I couldn't tell you what we were doing. I just know I went with him.
HANSON: Sometimes I hear stories of people of having problem with irrigation because of water shortage. So, it is something that comes up.
BROOKS: I guess we were one of those who had a good well because we never did. But like I said, we bought so many shares and that entitled us to so many hours of water. It didn't always come in the daytime; sometimes your shares were at night. Most of the growers in our area had shares in that well.
HANSON: How long did your family own the grove?
BROOKS: They must have been there thirty or forty years.
HANSON: We are going to talk now about being a teacher and what it was like. You became a full time teacher in 1949, in Rialto. You were there until 1986. How did the curriculum change in that time? How did the curriculum start- off when you were there as a brand new teacher? What kinds of things were on the curriculum for students to know?
HANSON: What kind of subjects did you teach them in the fourth grade or the sixth grade. What did they learn in Math? What did they learn in English? What did they learn in History?
BROOKS: I think one of the first things that I can remember was that I fought against doing industrial arts and that was the big thing. You had to get out there and construct. When I was teaching down here at Henry, that was fifth grade and we were studying about forts and westward movement. We built a fort out on the playground. There were two other teachers and myself. One was a man and he could plan the construction. One of the parents worked at a meat slaughter house and he was able to get us some tallow so we made candles. This kind of action, bringing in things and the doing part was certainly different from what they are doing now. I think there was a lot more parent participation. Of course a lot of working parents can't do that kind of participation now. As far as reading, it was done in groups but it was a very structured area. They had different assignments and they were expected to do it. It was not so much of a cooperative type thing or independent reading that is going on. Math was a lot of drill. I know I went through the modern math period and all the rest of it; but the kids were drilled. It is not for me to say which was better. And what else do we have? English-we still taught handwriting. I don't know if they know the word handwriting anymore. That was part of my curriculum.
HANSON: Field trips. You mentioned field trips. Where did kids go on field trips? What kind of field trips did they take? I know back east what we would do but in California what were the popular field trips for kids?
BROOKS: When we were studying about the ocean we have gone as far as to the coast. Long Beach had tide pools where they would take the kids out and let them see the different creatures found there. Another popular one was out to Calico to see the old mining town. The only field trips that I know are being taken today are down to the courthouse. I have been a guide at the courthouse for those field trips. Where else did we go? When I was teaching third grade, about Indians, we went to Sherman Institute to see and talk to the various Indians over there.
HANSON: Where is that?
BROOKS: It is over in Riverside. The Sherman Institute for Indians or used to be. They had a farm over there where we took the kids. The learned that brown chickens didn't lay brown eggs and the black cows didn't produce black milk. Recently the kids went up to Oak Glen-the apple orchards up there. For years our sixth graders went to camp-Camp Sealy-it's up by Lake Gregory. We spent three days studying conservation. It was an excellent experience for them. Some of them had never been away from home and were a little home sick. But teachers went with them for the three days plus counselors.
HANSON: Those are great trips.
BROOKS: Yes they were. Very worth while.
HANSON: Do you think there was more art and music while you were teaching than there is today? Do you think we emphasize more cultural things in the fifties, sixties and seventies than we seem to have time for today or is it my imagination?
BROOKS: I think so, because they encouraged-I remember another field trip; they used to take the kids down to see the different orchestras that were going to be producing something at the California theatre. That was always one of the big events. Some of the kids had never seen an orchestra before. Of course, we had art teachers in those days. Also, the kids were excused from class for music if they played an instrument. I am not that familiar with what is going on now but I don't think that is true, particularly in elementary.
HANSON: I have heard some stories that it isn't. I have heard stories that they have cut out a lot of the cultural things that they used to teach.
BROOKS: It is my understanding that some schools are being organized to emphasize the arts.
HANSON: One of the docents down at the library has a daughter who teaches music and she finally got a job teaching music. So, she was kind of happy about that.
BROOKS: Come to think of it; one of our teachers who was in my sorority, was bemoaning the fact that she was put in a classroom when she was hoping for music. So I guess it isn't being emphasized as much.
HANSON: What about different drills that you had in school?
BROOKS: Fire drills, duck and cover drills. After I retired, I went back part time for three years. I picked up some of the things they were doing. I know there was a sort of disaster drill; I think that's what it was. We all went out to assigned area. They had each kid bring in supplies of food so in case they had to stay at school. Each school at one time had a big storage shed brought in for the food and things in case the schools had to keep the kids.
HANSON: That's interesting.
BROOKS: I don't know what they are being used for at this point. It could be they are still doing it, because there is still the possibility of earthquake or other disaster.
HANSON: I remember being in school, civil defense drills they were called. That was more duck and cover I think than anything else.
BROOKS: Duck and cover was the big thing. Especially around here with our earthquakes.
HANSON: What were the procedures if there was an earthquake while you were in school and you had to evacuate?
BROOKS: The instruction would have been: "duck and cover". Because you wouldn't have time to get anywhere else. For that many kids you certainly can't all get in the doorway-which is what you're supposed to do. But usually we were instructed to keep kids as calm as possible so you didn't do any great emphasis of what was going to happen-just keep them away from the windows.
HANSON: I was just curious because that is something we didn't have back east was earthquakes.
BROOKS: One earthquake I remember was at when I was in Arrowview Junior High. We were up on the second floor. We had a pretty good shake. I remember looking at the instructor well, he was just white with fear, he must not have been from California. (laughing) I always remember that teacher. He certainly was a poor example to the rest of that classroom.
HANSON: Not much help in keeping kids calm when you turn white. (laughing)
BROOKS: I thought, "I certainly hope I can perform better than that." It was a lasting memory; poor man was probably scared.
HANSON: When did you become assistant principal? How long had you been teaching when you became assistant principal?
BROOKS: I was at Morgan, so that would be--I was about six years in each school, does that seem bad?
HANSON: No, not at all.
BROOKS: I guess I'd been teaching about ten years before I became assistant principal. One of my favorite assignments was the student-teacher program from the University at Redlands. I got to be the Administrative Teacher for that. I was released from my classroom for two years. I guess I was always a hard shell person; my way was the right way. But I got to see that other people could do it in a different way with good results and I think it made a better teacher out of me because it wasn't always to be done THAT way. It could be done other ways. Right after that I became assistant principal.
HANSON: What kind of duties did you have as assistant principal?
BROOKS: Basically discipline. Isn't that always the case?
HANSON: Well yes, but I want you to say that.
BROOKS: Fill in when the principal isn't around. I think my role, maybe it was my own interpretation, was to be the "go between" between staff, and administration-try to make a common meeting ground. The principals I worked for the most part were very supportive-it was a good feeling usually among staff.
HANSON: Any interesting cases come up while you were assistant principal that you had to negotiate with the principal?
BROOKS: Well, -
HANSON: Anything you want to put on tape. (laughing)
BROOKS: In those days we still used the paddle and I remember one time, I was filling in for the principal who had temporarily been sent to another school, and I had to paddle a little boy and who was a little chubby. I think I got the worst end of that paddling, because I could not catch up with that kid. He was ornery; I am sure he didn't suffer any. It was me that got the worst end of that one. But, discipline had its place. In my experience I never felt there was abuse. For the most part, I think being assistant principal was a valuable experience. I believe I earned my pay. We had a strike in Rialto. That was a very hard time period.
HANSON: Tell me about that.
BROOKS: Well, it should never have been because the vote to strike was a very small margin and a lot of the teachers weren't there for the vote. The ones that were pushing for it voted it through. We were on strike for about two weeks, I think. But the secondary people were far more in favor of it than the elementary. So, we had pickets and we had to go through the picket line. Of course, I knew a lot of the picketers and that was hard. It left a bad feeling in school; it was years before we got over it. I told them flat out from day one that I did not believe in striking so there was no surprise that I didn't go out. The strike didn't solve anything.
HANSON: What kind of issues were they striking?
BROOKS: Frankly I don't remember.
HANSON: You don't remember--that's how important it was. (laughing)
BROOKS: Now that sounds pretty bad. I guess it was pay raise.
HANSON: Generally it is pay raise but I was just wondering if there was anything else that came to mind.
BROOKS: It wasn't any biggie, but it must have been pay raise. It didn't solve the problem. It created more than it solved.
HANSON: You said that when you were assistant principal, your principal had to go to another school so you were put in temporarily as principal. Who became the new principal?
BROOKS: The principal went over to replace the other principal, who was ill.
HANSON: Oh, so it was a short term.
BROOKS: Yes, it was just a short term. It was three or four weeks or so.
HANSON: I thought it was a long term.
BROOKS: The other principal was ill so my principal was sent over there and I was moved up. And you are going to ask me if I ever wanted to be principal and the answer is no.
HANSON: I am going to ask you also if there were any women principals that you know of or were they mainly men.
BROOKS: Yes, not the first job I went to, but when I went to Henry, a woman was principal. Were there any others at the time? She was the first one I think here in the district. She wasn't too popular, some people just resent working for a woman, at that time. I don't think we get that kind of feeling now.
HANSON: That was my next question.
BROOKS: Oh. There are lots of women principals now. But I don't think it makes that much difference whether it's man or woman. It's a personality. If you go in headstrong with set ideas, you meet opposition-there are still people to work with.
HANSON: I think you are right on that. Tell me about the organizations you were in. We have The Native Daughters, what is that?
BROOKS: That is my big thing right now. But I have been with Alpha Delta Kappa, which is an honorary teachers association. I have held offices; I enjoyed that. It seems like you can be active in one organization at a time. As I told you I just came from a meeting down in Rialto. They keep asking me how long I have been on the Park and Recreation commission. I really don't know; I think it has been close to twenty-five years. They've lost the records and I don't remember. It was just something I thoroughly enjoyed. Like anything else, it has had its number of changes and I still enjoy it. I have been working with the Senior 2000, which is building program. We are going to have a new senior center. It will be a beautiful big building. I have worked for a number of years with the lawyer's wives giving students tours through the court house. Golf, you knew that. I did that yesterday.
HANSON: Yes. Tuesdays are golf.
BROOKS: I get my exercise out there. I also work with the, what we call the child assistance. It is help for the kids who have needs for clothing, food and things like that. We have a house in Rialto we operate from. I am on that board, I've been active with AARP. I think all these keep me out of mischief pretty well.
HANSON: Tell me something about the Native Daughters. I don't know anything about it.
BROOKS: We are not Indians. Every time I say, "Native Daughters" they say, "Are you part Indian?" No, we are women born in the state of California and it's an old organization. In fact I have to make my speech tomorrow night about California becoming a state. It is a social group, plus the fact that we have certain projects. Mainly our project is the Children's Foundation which gives grants for kids in middle class who have health needs. Our local organization got funds for a child-to aid in that, what's the problem when babies suddenly die?
HANSON: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
BROOKS: The parents wanted an alarm for that, so we were able to provide the funds. One of the little boys at the school I was working at had ears that kind of flapped. I said, "Poor little guy; he's a red head and these flappy ears are going to have kids making fun of him. We were going to provide funds for surgery but his family had financial help. That is the kind of help Children's Foundation provides. We are also working to preserve the history of California. I think we have around seven thousand members throughout the state. Northern California is far stronger in it than here in the south. We only have three parlors locally-one in Hemet, one in Riverside and one here. We've lost two groups in our area. Membership is getting kind of old, members are dying, and we aren't getting any young ones. We're working on it. I am the state president for the Past Presidents of Native Daughters and I will be touring Northern California next week so I can tell you lots more about that next week. As I said, Northern California is really quite an active group. They have luncheons. My special request is to gather up stories, like you are, because I think we are losing a lot of our history.
HANSON: I think we are.
BROOKS: I've asked if they would share fact or fiction. It should be interesting to see what they have in regard to tales from the past I know Sue told you to be sure to ask about the little baby.
BROOKS: She was one of my distant relatives, traveling in the covered-wagon train. She was just a baby and got sick on the trip to California. They put her in a violin case and were getting ready to bury her when one of the women, not her mother, noticed her breath-just enough to save the girl's life. I was fortunate enough to meet her. I was a little kid and she was in her eighties at that time. It makes you wonder how many were buried alive out there. It was a freak thing to happen.
HANSON: Without the medical equipment, really the technology we have today---
BROOKS: She hadn't shown any movement or any sign of life but something caught this woman's eye. I remember my mother used to be alarmed at the use of nuclear bombs during the war. She used to shutter but I said that I would rather have a nuclear bomb than be tommyhawked by one of those Indians. So, that was my standard comment.
HANSON: You are right. I think every generation has its fear. Any other good stories about school? Think back. Any interesting kids? Anyone that stands out in your mind after all those years of teaching?
BROOKS: I think the day that Kennedy was killed was a very emotional day. At that time, I was working with the interns and had just arrived at one of my schools to visit the intern. The principal called the kids all out to the playground making the announcement and he was in tears. It certainly was an emotional type thing.
BROOKS: When we first started school, as I said, the teachers were always having fun together. We had rivalries between schools to see who could get the most faculty members to attend a faculty prep day or something. It was a good feeling. But I think I am fresh out.
HANSON: Why don't we end there. You did a great job.
BROOKS: Well, you are easy to talk to.
HANSON: Thank you. When you talk about things, other things will come up. A lot of things I remember about going to school because I was in school in the fifties in grammar school then in Junior High then High School in the sixties and I remember things about duck and cover. I remember those drills where we had to go into the basement and lean up against the walls and things like that. So those things come to my mind.
BROOKS: We just ducked under the desk. The big push was to get them away from glass.
HANSON: Yes, we were in the basement. Our class was in the basement in the sixth grade and I remember the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and that we had a lot of drills around that time.
BROOKS: It was a very tense situation but I don't think anyone really realized.
HANSON: I think maybe, I was on the east coast it was more real. I lived in New Jersey, right outside New York City and New York was supposed to be a target so that was one of the things that made it more urgent for the east coast. But there was a lot of real tense times then. But I remember things like weekly spelling tests. You know you had the preliminary test on Thursday and had the real test on Friday. And I don't know if that happens so much any more and you mentioned handwriting. I remember penmanship.
BROOKS: Oh yes. People comment about my handwriting today but I never did get myself a certificate because I think I didn't write fast enough or something. There was some little draw-back that I never received one.
HANSON: You had to be on the line, right on the line you couldn't be above, you couldn't be below. I remember all those practice drills with the circles, the circles, the circles. The up and downs up and downs up and downs, all that stuff.
BROOKS: We used to have a penmanship book too. I wonder how they choose the textbooks now? We used to spend teacher meeting after teacher meeting going through books. I don't think they do that now.
HANSON: I don't know what they do now. The last I heard there is a committee that gets together and decides.
BROOKS: And teachers probably never use the book. That's the problem.
HANSON: Because they don't pick a book that teachers are comfortable with, they don't consult.
BROOKS: We would get samples and use the book before it was adopted.
HANSON: Now when the teachers aren't adopting the books, a committee adopts. There might be some teachers on the committee but I think it is very important to get teachers involved in that decision. Those things don't happen so much anymore.
BROOKS: Too much emphasis on tests.
HANSON: It's that standard test mentality. I have worked with the Inland Area History Social Science project and worked with junior high school teachers and high school teachers and even elementary school teachers. They don't teach social studies anymore. They teach language arts and math only. And if they want to put social studies in they have to choose books for Language Arts that relate to history or geography.
BROOKS: We are losing something there. Communicating well, kids come out very articulate so that isn't the problem. When I mentioned industrial arts, I had a dentist tell me once that was the best training ground for kids and skills with hands.
HANSON: Yes, when you're think of hand/ eye coordination, those are wonderful skills.
BROOKS: I think when you let politicians take over, some of these things that are important to our development are being lost.
HANSON: I think you are right. And again too much emphasis on standardized tests.
BROOKS: How do you ever standardize?
HANSON: Exactly. What's standard? What is standard to you or I is probably much different than a child from a different class background. Or a different ethnic back ground. There has to be some way to make them accessible to everyone and make them understandable to everyone. How can you give a child whose second language is English a test and expect them to perform as well as someone who is an English speaker.
BROOKS: Well, when it comes right down to it, what good is that test going to do? Do you remember your test from ten or twenty years ago?
BROOKS: I was never a good test taker. But that didn't say what I was going to do in later life.
HANSON: Right. I wasn't a good test taker. I did okay on my SAT's but not great. I did okay on my GRE's to get into graduate school but not great.
BROOKS: It was a struggle. School was not easy for me. The ones who struggled probably knew the meaning of education more than the ones who breezed through.
HANSON: I think that is true. My daughter was an honor student in high school. She breezed through. She graduated eighth in a class of three-hundred something and rarely if ever opened a book. It just came to her. You'd tell her once and she'd know it. Boy when she got to college she was in big trouble. She didn't know how to study. I did well in school but I worked at it.
BROOKS: I did too. Neither of my parents had much of an education; so education came first in our family. We helped around the house but, you got your work done and your homework done.
HANSON: I remember that.
BROOKS: Culture has changed.
HANSON: Not always for the better. Technology has changed, the way kids learn and I don't think that is always for the best.
BROOKS: I often wonder if electricity is off how many can even add. I don't think any of these kids could add, in the bank. I don't want to go to the bank if the electricity's down, because they can't handle that.
HANSON: They are taught to use the equipment: the computer, the machines. They are not taught to do it in their head first. We eventually had calculators, but we had to learn the long way first. We weren't allowed to bring calculators into class.
BROOKS: I don't think I ever had the privilege. We learned the "facts" period. The other day when I went to Kmart there was a machine that you put your money and it even makes change. How many people are going to lose their job over all of this technology?
HANSON: Being a historian I worry about sources. With people sending emails and electronic communications, there is no paper trail anymore. A lot of things are done on the computer and no back ups anywhere, no archives. People don't write journals. They don't write diaries.
BROOKS: It is a struggle. I've got two letters here that I have been trying to write for over a week. I go to email now. You are right. One of dad's relatives wrote a diary. I have some papers that he wrote. He wrote down a lot of the history that was handed down to my dad and I value those papers. After looking at his stories I think we had better get busy and get our history developed. (laughs)
HANSON: We better get this stuff done. (laugh) I think about these E-books and things, I like the feel of a book in my hand, I don't want to read a book on the computer. I want to hold it. Well, we are out of tape, so thank you so much I really appreciate you interview. Very nice.
BROOKS: I said that you are so easy to talk to. It isn't like I'm talking into a microphone. If I have to make an announcement or something I've always said I'm sure I don't need a microphone because of my "playground voice." But, "Oh yes you do." (mimicking).
HANSON: I always resist using one too.
BROOKS: I thoroughly endorse your project. I think it is time to get something done like that.
HANSON: Thank you so much.