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Rowena Pinckert

May 20, 2003

Hanson: This is Joyce Hanson for the San Bernardino Oral History Project and we are interviewing Mrs. Rowena Pinckert in her home at San Bernardino. Today is May 20, 2003. Good morning, Mrs. Pinckert.

PINCKERT: I've got your name on my calendar.

Hanson: I've got your name on my calendar, too. We're all set. Let me start out by asking you - you came to San Bernardino in 1936. Tell me, what is the first thing you recall about living in San Bernardino.

PINCKERT: Well, I had lived in Highland and then I went away to school, and I went to Los Angeles to school. I graduated down there at the business college. My sister had a baby, so I came home with her to help her take care of the baby in 1936. And while I was here I went downtown and got a job.

Hanson: Where did you work downtown?

PINCKERT: At Security Title

Hanson: And you spent your whole career there.

PINCKERT: Well, I only worked there and then I got married in '37. Joe Snyder, who started First Federal Savings and Loan, was an escrow officer where I worked and I used to work with him, and George Steelman was my boss. He was the escrow man that I worked for. And a lot of good people. Clyde Whitney was the boss. We traveled between the title company and the courthouse.

Hanson: What was San Bernardino like in 1936?

PINCKERT: It was a real friendly town, everybody knew everybody 'cause San Bernardino High School was the only high school. They came from Rialto, Victorville, the mountain areas, Highland to San Bernardino High School. And by coming from Highland, I thought San Bernardino High School was a crowded place. I think there were 307 in my class.

Hanson: That's a lot of people.

PINCKERT: Well it was, and they were all new to me, practically, except the ones that I came from Highland with. Third and E Street was the meeting place for everybody - go down to Third and E Street - because I had to come on a streetcar or the bus, that's how I came to school, on the bus. Highland-Patton bus. A lot of friends in Patton - my two best girlfriends, their father was a doctor at Patton so I used to spend a lot of time at Patton. (Laughing) And then I had a boyfriend whose father was a doctor there and so I spent a lot of time at Patton. And it was certainly different than it is now. It was really a wonderful place, because the patients there - it was actually a city. They had their own vegetable gardens, they had their own farming land, some of it was on Baseline, and they had their own bakery, they had their own laundry, they had their own commissary, they had everything right there. So doctors were generally paid a salary plus maintenance. They lived right there on the grounds.

San Bernardino - oh, it was a big town to me, because I came from Highland, there were about 2,500 people in Highland. And 2 churches. East Highland - we used to go up to East Highland Lake to catch fish and it was a wilderness.

Hanson: I've heard a lot of people tell me that.

PINCKERT: You went down Base Line then you turned right as you got down to the bottom of the hill and made a sharp turn up on the bluff, and there were orange groves, all orange groves, and a few houses, not many. They had a little grocery story and a, I don't know what else they had. But that was a place where we would go to sit around the lake and catch fish.

Then there was Harlem Springs, that's where we used to go swimming. Water came out of the ground hot, you know, warm water. Along Base Line there was a laundry that used water right out of the ground that was hot enough to do the laundry. It was there for years. It burned down not too many years ago. There were bathhouses there that you could go take mineral baths and get a massage and feel good. Highland was a city - a main street, there were two grocery stores and a meat market and the fire department was a you-pull-it, you-pull-it, a hose on wheels...

Hanson: No fire trucks.

PINCKERT: No, they didn't know what they were. They had a team, if there was a fire they would call who ever it was and I don't know how they really notified them, maybe a bell would ring, maybe the school bell, I don't know. It was in the old school building they had a bell tower and of course the bell rang to call us to school and everything. I'm telling you more about Highland than San Bernardino.

Then Library Hall, which is now the Pythian Sisters have that building now. The library was in part of it, and then they built the Women's Club out there, I think it is a church now, I believe. And the library moved up there and had a portion of that building.

What else do you want to know?

Hanson: Tell me about being in High School in San Bernardino.

PINCKERT: It was a fun place. You knew everybody because it was comparably small compared to the high schools now, and you knew practically everybody. The San Bernardino High School was a beautiful, beautiful building. We were all just devastated when they tore it down and built that block house over there.

Hanson: Yes, I've seen pictures of it. It was gorgeous.

PINCKERT: It was gorgeous, and it should never have been torn down. They couldn't hardly tear that building down it was so well built. It had a few cracks from some of the earthquakes we had here; we had some pretty good earthquakes. You knew everybody on campus. There no gates, nothing was locked down, or anything like they have to do now. You could walk in the Administration and go to see the principal or anybody you wanted to anytime you wanted to. And we did. It was two story, of course, and the buildings were, of course they had the main building and the science building and the Home Ec[onomics] building and classic building and another one. Kids just stayed there. Nobody had a car so you couldn't go anyplace. Well, I think there were about maybe, well, one of the fellows in my class had an old Model-T Ford. It didn't have a top, it didn't have a hood on the engine, it didn't have fenders, it was just a body on four wheels. I used to ride it from Highland with him once in a while, and ride home after school, especially when would have play practice or something like that and be late when it was cold, we'd take the floor boards up and get the heat from down below to heat the car, 'cause it was cold. It used to get colder, and it used to get hotter. It has changed considerably, I think. And of course, if you wanted to see anybody on Saturday you went down to 3rd and E Street. The Harris Company had been down further on 3rd street before then. The Allison drugstore, then Harris Company, and then there was the Bank of America and the hotel. On Third Street there was a Chocolate Palace where everybody went for Ice Cream Sodas and malts. It was a beautiful old place. Where they kept the glasses and everything was all carved wood. It was magnificent. And it was a Chocolate Palace, like a molded Chocolate Palace. And the dime store, Woolworth's, on E Street; there was a Kress' that was a little higher class, but we always shopped at the dime store because you could get everything. You could furnish a house, you really could, anything you wanted. And we did, and of course the grocery stores were about that way too, you could get anything you wanted for $5.00. Then the PE station was down there on 3rd Street too, next to the Harris Company, and that became the Sears Building. Then across the street there was Apps Candy Store. Down by the theater on F & E, I mean F & 3rd. Let's see, there was Markell's, I guess there was Penny's down there first. Markell's was up on E street. Well, we thought they were big. And they were for the time. You know, come in on the street car, get off on Third Street, go to 3rd and E and see your friends and do a little shopping, then get the streetcar and go home. That was just about it. Then there were a couple of other kids that had cars, but those were about the only kids that had a car in high school. When I was a senior there were two girls in my class that had this old Maxwell sedan; they called her "Maxine." There would be about 14 girls, we'd all be in - there would be four in the front and as many as you could stack in the back and we'd go as far as we could go on a gallon of gas. Gasoline was about 10 cents a gallon, so we'd all put in a penny and buy a gallon of gas and then we'd get out and push. I think we pushed that car more than we ever rode in it. It was a lot of fun. And I mean we got fun out of that kind of thing. It was a much simpler life. I think a much cleaner living life. We didn't know anything about drugs and all that stuff. Of course it was Prohibition too. So, you know, made a difference then.

When I was up in college in Santa Barbara was when it was repealed in 1933. Valley College was out there. San Bernardino High School was where you went for the activity, that and the municipal auditorium down where the library, Feldheym library, is right now. In fact, that is where we had graduation. Graduation was a nice affair, very solemn and all the parents went. The reason they had it in the municipal auditorium is that it would hold more people and the glee clubs would sing and they would have a nice program. It was fun times. It was just a relaxing time. Today it is just hustle and bustle. But it wasn't then. You had to look for something to do. People didn't have money during the depression, nobody had any money and it didn't matter because everybody was in the same boat. You didn't know you were poor because everybody else was poor. We were luckier than a lot. It was just a fun time. I don't know what else to say.

Hanson: You said that you were luckier than a lot in the depression.

PINCKERT: Well, yes, because my father worked in Hollywood and he supported my grandmother. She took care of my sister and me and my cousin, and so we did have more than a lot of people. However, we didn't have an abundance - there were people who had a lot more than we did but they didn't flaunt it. They shared. If somebody had a radio - that was a scarce thing too - they'd invite you in when there was a speech of interest they'd invite the class in. When I was in junior high school we'd go into the home and listen to the radio when Lord George was speaking - I don't remember what he said, but it was interesting.

And all the activities were in the home and at school. It wasn't anywhere else.

Hanson: More family centered and high school or school centered.

PINCKERT: If somebody had a big home they'd roll up the rugs and have a dance. Have maybe six or eight couples of kids, and that's the way we entertained. And we had bridge parties or maybe a tea, or something, you know, that was the entertainment. Nobody had money to go to the movies. Well, we did, we did go to the movies because it was only a quarter then. You could see two features and a comedy reel and a newsreel for a quarter.

Hanson: For the whole day

PINCKERT: We did.

Hanson: When you talked about the high school, you said there were some cracks from earthquakes in the school buildings. Do you remember any of those earthquakes when they happened?

PINCKERT: I think there was one about 19 - in the twenties, about 1921 or 1922, somewhere around in there, and it didn't do a lot of damage but the auditorium had a Soboban Indian over the proscenium in the auditorium and that was cracked and they took it down and restored it. Then there were great pillars out in front and those pillars were damaged a little bit. They took the pillars down. It was like a Greek building.

Hanson: I've seen pictures of those. It was a beautiful building.

PINCKERT: They took those columns down that were in front, which didn't make a whole lot of difference. It looked bare at first but you got used to it, but it didn't make that much difference. There were all the stairs that went up.

It was just a wonderful time. I'm glad I lived, I'm glad I have lived when I did. I've seen more happen in my 88 years than most people will ever see in their lifetime.

Hanson: Yes. When you think about it you've lived from the time when there weren't a lot of cars and people still using horses....

PINCKERT: Hardly any on our street when I lived out in Highland with my grandmother at first. We lived on La Praix Street, in our first home, and then we lived up on Palm Avenue, but I think maybe, let's see - Poppet's had a car, Coys had a car and the Hagy's next door, their boys had a car. And those were the only three cars I can remember on the street. There were no streetlights. There was no traffic. Old Chung was the grocer, the vegetable man that went around in his horse and buggy and sold vegetables

Hanson: I've heard about him.

PINCKERT: We were scared to death of him. He was a Chinaman who had this long mustache like they wore. He finally got a Dodge truck and rebuilt the back so he could put his lugs of vegetables on. We were afraid of him. That and the iceman and the mailman was about the only traffic that came up the street.

Everybody had pets. The kids would play - the kids next door, we used to put on plays and charge a pear or a piece of fruit or something for admission and invite our parents. We were always dressing up playing house and we'd put on a play, and somebody would dance and somebody would sing and somebody would do something else, in the garage probably, we put up a curtain. Maybe some sheets or blankets up for curtains. I remember the boys on the street decided they were going to have a play, because it was mostly the girls that did that and the boys decided they were going to - everybody went, the parents went they charged a piece of fruit. They took the fruit and we were sitting in the garage there and it got awfully quiet. Somebody went and looked in back of the curtain and there wasn't anybody back there. They had put a ladder up there was a transom and they had climbed out, took the fruit, climbed out and gone down the other side of the ladder and they weren't there. That was their play!

And we just had a lot of fun. It was fun times. Innocent fun times. We used to do things in junior high school that I can't imagine a junior high school kid doing now. Next to Highland Junior High School there was a field, it was full of tall prairie grass. We'd go out and roll in that grass, that was fun. Or we'd roll down the terraces at Patton State Hospital. That was fun. On Friday, Patton had a movie for the patients. It was outside in the summertime. So we'd go up there and sit on the grass and watch the movie for free. Anything you could get for free. We used to have hayrides, wienie roasts up in City Creek. If they'd left the creeks here that were here they wouldn't have to build any more. Get a bunch of kids on your street and go up the wash up City Creek and cut some willows and build a fire and have a wienie roast. Roast marshmallows. Oh my goodness it was fun. We'd have hikes up City Creek. Our Sunday School class maybe would go up there or maybe your class in school. It was just a great time.

Hanson: A lot more open space.

PINCKERT: Oh yes, my goodness. Well, it was all orange groves, orange groves everyplace. And I think maybe that was why it was cooler in the winter. There was maybe five acres or ten acres or something, just a house, and that was it.

Hanson: Yes. It would make a difference in the climate when you started getting more buildings.

PINCKERT: Clean air. You could see for miles. In fact I used to hike up Mt. Harrison in back of Patton, that's Bare Mountain, on Saturday and hike up to the top and you could see Catalina.

Go up the fire trail, up in back of the Indians. I had an Indian friend there. Her father was the chief. She was in my class and well, I played with her a lot. Most people wouldn't play with the Indian kids. But I did, her name was Martha Manuel, and her father was the chief up there. We used to play. She came home with me to play a few times; I remember she came home one time and I told Grandma that I was bringing Martha home and Grandma baked cinnamon rolls. You could smell those cinnamon rolls before you even got there. Oh, they were good. In fact I have a namesake. She named one of her daughters after me later on. I lost track of her completely when I skipped to the fourth grade. I didn't see her any more because you know we were in different classes in the old grammar school, some were upstairs, some were downstairs, some were on one side of the other side of the stairs and up the middle and I lost track of her until one time when I was in High School and I was going home on the bus and she happened to be on the bus. She had gone to Sherman Institute, had gone on down to Los Angeles and was working as a domestic down there. She was a lovely looking lady. Then later on she came back up here and I think she had four or five daughters and one of them she named Rowena. Pauline Murillo is there now, have you read her book?

Hanson: I haven't read it but I've heard her speak at the Historical Society.

PINCKERT: It isn't a book that will ever be a classic. It's a book that if you knew them, you are interested. It is mostly a lot a pictures - and I was interested in some pictures because that was the way I remembered it. They were so poor up there. They had nothing. Water and the mountains were their life.

Hanson: Mr. Powers talked about Martha also.

PINCKERT: Oh yes. I think one of the boys, there was a Vincent and a Marco, I think, he may have been in Raymond Powers class, one of them.

Hanson: Yes, I think it was Marco, I'm pretty sure, but he told me how he and Martha would play also and she would have to sweep dirt floors before she could go out and play.

PINCKERT: He probably knew more about the Indians than I did, because he was Highland born. And I don't know what else I can tell you.

Hanson: Tell me about World War II here. When World War II started, what happened here in San Bernardino?

PINCKERT: When I worked there?

Hanson: No, when the war started.

PINCKERT: Oh, when the war started. Which war?

Hanson: Two. World War II. (Laughing) The second one.

PINCKERT: See, I remembered the first one. I was living down in Placentia at that time.

Hanson: You were just a little girl.

PINCKERT: I'd be three years old, but I skated all over that town. My sister was in the parade and I can remember her waiving the American Flag. My uncle came home from overseas and I can just see him bounding up those stairs with the leggings on, that you wrapped around your legs and the overseas cap. And then we came up here to live with my other grandmother.

Second World War. Because I was married and my husband was a flight instructor for a private school out in the desert. Then they joined the Air Force and came down to Cal Arrow, which was in Ontario. That's what he did during the war. He was too old to be in the draft at the time. And he tried his best to get in - I thought they were going to draw all his blood out taking blood tests and physical exams. But he never did anything else during the war.

It was, well, I don't think it really affected most people here like it did a lot. Of course Norton, I was doing Red Cross volunteer work then and the families in Norton. It was a deployment base, actually, a lot of people would come here with their little babies, or pregnant wives, and stay around town until they were sent overseas, which was a very bad time, so Red Cross had a lot to do then trying to get these people back home to their parents or back where they lived. I did field service for the Red Cross during that time.

Hanson: Tell me about the field service work that you did.

PINCKERT: Well, this is what: they would give me an assignment and I'd go out and interview people who were trying to get back and then I'd make a report of what I'd find out and then they would take it from there, to see if they could loan them money or grant the money or some way to take care of the situation. That was what I did.

Hanson: So that was women and children whose husbands had been shipped out?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. And maybe they would be staying at a motel - there were a lot of motels on Mt. Vernon then. And they would stay in those places where there were people who maybe - I interviewed one lady who had a baby that could only eat bananas, so I would go down to the city market and get bananas and take to her. And I don't know why I remember that, but that is something I remember doing. This one lady whose husband was in the Navy, she wouldn't eat, she could only smoke cigarettes and drink coffee and she was sick and didn't know why. They wanted me to see if I could go out and find out what was the matter with her. So I interviewed her, and she was just upset. Not able to cope with the fact that her husband had been sent overseas, and that was it.

And there were a lot of others that I interviewed, but it was kind of fun. I've been volunteering all my life. I still am.

Hanson: What do you volunteer for now? I know you have a lot listed on your sheet here.

PINCKERT: Community Hospital, I've been there for 38 years as a Pink Lady, but we don't call them Pink Ladies anymore because we have men, so we are auxiliants. (Laughing) In fact, Thursday is my day.

Hanson: And what do you do in that?

PINCKERT: I work in the reception desk.

Hanson: So when people come in you direct them to rooms?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. We are supposed to - you know that hospital has enlarged to such an extent that everything - of course nothing is done like it was when I first went there, absolutely nothing. We used to have more contact with the patients, because we took them to the lab, we took them to x-ray, we took them to their room, we showed them how to use all the facilities, and now we don't. We just take them to admitting secretary that is about the extent of it. And we deliver the doctor's orders to the floors and flowers and whatever. Whatever there is to do, we do. It is kind of fun.

There is one other person there that, well, two, one person that was the administrator is now one of our members. She was administrator from the old Ramona hospital to the Community for, I think she retired about twenty years ago. And she came back and joined - she's 93. I went to school with her, she was in school when I was there. And one other lady whose husband was a doctor, one of the doctors who started Community Hospital, she is still there. She is the same age. Those are the only two who are still there, that were there when I started. I can't tell you how many people; there is turnover, very fast. But it is interesting. And it used to be almost completely a white society, but it isn't any more. In fact, I don't know the doctors, I can't pronounce their names. (Laughing). And they are not friendly like the doctors used to be. You walk down the hall, you used to meet a doctor and he'd stop and chat with you, or... The doctors now, we don't hardly ever see them really, because we just are not in the same vicinity with them. And those that we do see just aren't that friendly. I don't know whether it's their ethnic group that causes them to be that way or what. But it has changed.

Hanson: When did you start to see that change?

PINCKERT: Uh (thinking), well the Tower was built there in 1988 or something like that, when they opened the Tower, and it was about that time, because many of the doctors had gotten older and were retiring and we were getting new doctors in and that was when all the old doctors disappeared.

Hanson: Do you remember, speaking of Doctors, I've had people tell me about Doctor Savage? Do you remember Doctor Savage?

PINCKERT: I had somebody (laughing) when I was 13, Dr. Phil, the father, took my appendix out. And when I was 32 and had my baby, his son, Dr. Phil Jr. delivered my baby and he asked me who in hell drove a truck out of me? I told him his father did. And then Dr. Jim Savage is one of our very best friends. He and Barbara, he is in a home now, but he was my husband's golfing buddy. Fine people.

Hanson: Doctors were very different back then.

PINCKERT: They were friendlier, and more human. Well, they went to the house to see you. Old Dr. Evans. My grandma couldn't have raised all of us kids, because she had five of her own. Old Dr., she used to be his midwife, my grandmother. Yep, he wanted her to come work in his office but she didn't. She delivered practically half the kids in Highland, I think. She was 4'11" and a giant. She was fantastic. She never had anything, but she could make a purse out of a sow's ear. And did. She was a very religious person but she didn't flaunt it, you know, or anything. That was her. And I think I am kind of like that myself. I don't go to Church. I listen to Dr. Schuller on TV or something, you know, but I used to sing in the choir out there in Highland, went to church, never missed. Was active in their youth groups, my husband was, he was more God-like but he didn't really, it wasn't that he didn't believe, he just didn't accept the church organizations. He said it was too commercial. So he lived very God-like. He did more things for more people. He was a fine man. I was lucky. I've been lucky all my life. I think God has been on my shoulder all my life, or something is, my angel has been there. I ask for guidance, and I get it. Comes from someplace. I don't know whether it is my grandma in heaven, my dad or my mother or who

Hanson: Maybe a combination.

PINCKERT: I have an idea they are all looking after me. Because I was kind of a rotten kid. (laughing)

Hanson: Come on, you couldn't have been a rotten kid.

PINCKERT: My Uncle Noah, the one that came from overseas, he used to call me Rotten Row. There is a Rotten Row in England and he was overseas there for so many years that he always called me Rotten Row.

Hanson: Now what did you do to get that name?

PINCKERT: Nothing. I had an older sister that I got blamed for a lot of things that I didn't do. (Laughing)

Hanson: Oh, okay, I see. (Laughing)

PINCKERT: She wasn't that bad. She is gone now to. Everybody's gone. In fact, you know this is a lonely time in my life, and that is why I keep volunteering and going every place I can go, because I am lucky that I can. And I know that, know I'm living on borrowed time. Well, I am, let's face it, you know. In fact, when my sister turned 80 she said, 'Ro, we didn't know anybody 80 when we were growing up." And we didn't. Because nobody lived that long.

Hanson: Things have changed.

PINCKERT: And here we are. And I don't have any friends who are 80 or more. (Laughing). They are all gone. Everybody we used to have - we had a bridge club from high school and I think there is one member of the original group that is still living and she moved up to Morro Bay with her son. The rest are all gone. There were 12 of us. Then as they got married and left town, we'd recruit somebody but they are all gone. Not a one. I'm still hanging on. (Laughing) And I don't feel old. Sometimes (laughing) the aches and pains come but I ignore them. If you complain all the time nobody likes you, you are a bore, (laughing) so people who are old know that you have aches and pains, because they have them too. Some people, that's all they talk about. I'm just --lucky that I can get out and go.

Hanson: You are so active.

PINCKERT: I try to be active. I still do all of my housework; I do whatever I can do. I don't do it is fast or as well as I used to, I still drive, I can drive down to the beach, that's where my daughter and my grandson live. And I do whatever I can do.

Hanson: Do you go to the Oldtimer's Lunches every month?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. And there are very few there that were in my class. They are all - 3 or 4, I guess. Raymond Powers is the oldest one that comes. There are probably some others that are around but they are in rest homes and don't get out. He is very active; he is very remarkable.

Hanson: Yes.

PINCKERT: He is.

Hanson: His memory is so sharp. He told me more about San Bernardino than anyone.

PINCKERT: Uh huh. Probably.

Hanson: He knew everybody. It's amazing.

PINCKERT: Well, he's been active here. He was in the city government here for a long time, you know, and his mother was an active person. Well, he just got good genes.

Hanson: Well, I think you have good genes too.

PINCKERT: Well I hope so. My grandmother lived to be 97. And my dad died at 71. My mother died way back. So, but everybody on my mother's side, well I had one aunt that lived to be 93, 91 or 92. But the rest of them didn't live that long. They came from my grandmother's side, I guess. When she came to California, she came to California because the doctor told her she couldn't take another winter back in Missouri. She wouldn't live that long.

Hanson: A lot of people came here for health reasons.

PINCKERT: Um hum. And she certainly got well. Took care of my grandfather, he was sick for a long time. She could do anything; she'd get on the roof and fix the roof, or she could paint the house. She could do anything. I tell you, she was a giant. Well, she had to. She planted the garden every year so we could have corn-eating contests. (Laughing) And she just could do it all. She really could. And did up until the very end of her life, practically. My aunt put her in a rest home, in a convalescent hospital 6 months before she died, and I think she would have lived to be 100 if she hadn't done that. Because Grandma never stayed in bed. No. But up there you know they give 'em a pill to keep them asleep and that is what they did. And so she just went to sleep.

But anyway, it was like she said, "Old age, there isn't much you can say for it." And there really isn't. Because your friends are all gone. There is really no one around to really be a comrade or confess or whatever you want to do. And it is a lonely, lonely time of life. That's why I volunteer, so I can get some younger people around me. (Laughter) However, they aren't very young anymore. You can't get the young people that want to work. So we have a lot of elderly ladies out there. We have a couple of new ones that are coming in, that is kind of fun. Just to keep active.

Hanson: Very much.

PINCKERT: I think that's the key. Well, I don't know what else I can tell you.

Hanson: You told me you have lots of special interests.

PINCKERT: I do. Well, I guess I am interested in everything. I really am. I like to do anything, good and bad. (Laughing) I like to go and do whatever I can. I travel quite a bit. I've taken my grandson on some really nice trips. He is a wonderful traveler. I guess the first, well, I took care of him an awful lot, and I think the first trip we ever took him on, Vic and I, to go over to Catalina on the boat, when he was about four. And when he was twelve I took him down to Florida and we went up to Kennedy Center and then we went down to Cape Canaveral and got on a big red boat and went up to Nassau and that was his first nice cruise. We went back to Orlando and went to Disney World and Epcot, and I took him to Hawaii and I took him to Alaska, and when he graduated from high School I took him Africa on a safari. That was a wonderful trip. He's a marvelous traveler anyway, I don't care whether you go by car or walk or whatever, he is just good. He is a great kid. He is my joy. He's, I think he's given me more love than anybody I've ever known.

Hanson: That is what grandkids are for, though.

PINCKERT: Uh huh. I've kept him an awful lot. He calls me every week. He is married now but he calls me every week. He graduated in December as a doctor of Chiropractics and he and his friend started trying to get their office going, but the red tape down there at the beach is, you know, "hurry-up and wait." He called me last Saturday and they'd gotten the keys to the building, they found the building and they, after they found the building, they had an attorney draw up their lease, help them with their lease and everything, see that everything was in good order, and they went to, well, after he graduated in December he couldn't take the state board until February, I guess. He'd taken the national board and passed that way back in December and he couldn't take the state board until February. Well he couldn't start practicing or anything until he passed the state board. He could practice anywhere in the United States except California. And he passed that fine; I knew he would. He wasn't even disturbed. He was a good student. He got a diploma when he graduated from the University of Southern California Health Science, I guess it was, for being on the Dean's list for all 10 quarters. Which I think is as important as.....It doesn't really come that easy for him but he works at it.

Hanson: Those are the best kind of people to have.

PINCKERT: He is - I just can't tell you, people probably think I'm just a silly old grandmother with pictures in a pocketbook - he is one of the finest young men I think I have ever known. And I'm not the only one that says that. His friends, their parents all think he is just marvelous. He lost his dad when he, just before he was twelve, that's why I've taken him on these trips. When he was in high school he didn't seem to have a girl friend and that's when they have all that puppy-love stuff, and I asked him one day I said, "Vic, do you have a girlfriend." Well, he said, "I have lots of friends who are girls but I don't' have that kind of a girlfriend." I said, "Oh, really?" and he said, "No, I'm too young and I've got too far to go" and I thought boy, I'm not going to worry about that kid. (Laughing) And I didn't!

He did, he dated girls and took them to the movies or out to dinner or the prom but he never really had any special ones. And one of the girls he met in high school, they were real good friends. They used to go skiing together but she wasn't really considered his girlfriend. She went to Chapman College and is now a physical therapist. She introduced him to his wife; Kristin was Jasmine's roommate at Chapman.

The world is a very small place, a very small place. I don't think I've ever been any place that I haven't met somebody from here, or at least knew somebody from here. It is interesting. It is.

Hanson: Wherever you go, you run into someone. I run into people all over the place that I never thought I would run into again.

PINCKERT: Yes, you run into them in the strangest places. My cousin and I went to Bali and we went up to a canyon, a little remote canyon that didn't have electricity or anything up there but we were having lunch and I met somebody who had an uncle here in San Bernardino. (Laughs) There were only four people there. And we went to England. We were in England and we went into one of these, well it was the hotel and we stayed in and it had been an old castle at one time or other, the walls real thick and it was whispery and quiet. And I said, and with my loud mouth, "It sure would interesting to know what these walls could tell us." And there were some people sitting across the dining room from us, there were two women and a man, one was his wife and the other was her sister, they were traveling. There were two ladies sitting in the back there, and an oriental couple that were from Chicago. And so I like to table hop (laughs) and I found out where they were from, and I went back to these two ladies and asked them their names and where they were from and they were traveling together and I said I was from San Bernardino and she said "Oh do you know Nita Blackwell" and I said "Oh, she covered my wedding." She was a society editor on a newspaper in San Bernardino. They had met in New York many years before and I said, "I haven't seen her in a while, but she's still there, I think." And she said "Would you take her a message from me, so she wrote a little message on a card and I brought it home with me then I had a hard time finding Nita and I finally found her in a rest home. I went to see her and she was so surprised and I gave her the message and she was just thrilled to death. It is interesting.

Hanson: Well, we are just about done.

PINCKERT: Okay.

Hanson: I want to thank you very much.

PINCKERT: Well, you are welcome. San Bernardino Oral History Project Rowena Pinckert May 20, 2003 Hanson: This is Joyce Hanson for the San Bernardino Oral History Project and we are interviewing Mrs. Rowena Pinckert in her home at San Bernardino. Today is May 20, 2003. Good morning, Mrs. Pinckert.

PINCKERT: I've got your name on my calendar.

Hanson: I've got your name on my calendar, too. We're all set. Let me start out by asking you - you came to San Bernardino in 1936. Tell me, what is the first thing you recall about living in San Bernardino.

PINCKERT: Well, I had lived in Highland and then I went away to school, and I went to Los Angeles to school. I graduated down there at the business college. My sister had a baby, so I came home with her to help her take care of the baby in 1936. And while I was here I went downtown and got a job.

Hanson: Where did you work downtown?

PINCKERT: At Security Title

Hanson: And you spent your whole career there.

PINCKERT: Well, I only worked there and then I got married in '37. Joe Snyder, who started First Federal Savings and Loan, was an escrow officer where I worked and I used to work with him, and George Steelman was my boss. He was the escrow man that I worked for. And a lot of good people. Clyde Whitney was the boss. We traveled between the title company and the courthouse.

Hanson: What was San Bernardino like in 1936?

PINCKERT: It was a real friendly town, everybody knew everybody 'cause San Bernardino High School was the only high school. They came from Rialto, Victorville, the mountain areas, Highland to San Bernardino High School. And by coming from Highland, I thought San Bernardino High School was a crowded place. I think there were 307 in my class.

Hanson: That's a lot of people.

PINCKERT: Well it was, and they were all new to me, practically, except the ones that I came from Highland with. Third and E Street was the meeting place for everybody - go down to Third and E Street - because I had to come on a streetcar or the bus, that's how I came to school, on the bus. Highland-Patton bus. A lot of friends in Patton - my two best girlfriends, their father was a doctor at Patton so I used to spend a lot of time at Patton. (Laughing) And then I had a boyfriend whose father was a doctor there and so I spent a lot of time at Patton. And it was certainly different than it is now. It was really a wonderful place, because the patients there - it was actually a city. They had their own vegetable gardens, they had their own farming land, some of it was on Baseline, and they had their own bakery, they had their own laundry, they had their own commissary, they had everything right there. So doctors were generally paid a salary plus maintenance. They lived right there on the grounds.

San Bernardino - oh, it was a big town to me, because I came from Highland, there were about 2,500 people in Highland. And 2 churches. East Highland - we used to go up to East Highland Lake to catch fish and it was a wilderness.

Hanson: I've heard a lot of people tell me that.

PINCKERT: You went down Base Line then you turned right as you got down to the bottom of the hill and made a sharp turn up on the bluff, and there were orange groves, all orange groves, and a few houses, not many. They had a little grocery story and a, I don't know what else they had. But that was a place where we would go to sit around the lake and catch fish.

Then there was Harlem Springs, that's where we used to go swimming. Water came out of the ground hot, you know, warm water. Along Base Line there was a laundry that used water right out of the ground that was hot enough to do the laundry. It was there for years. It burned down not too many years ago. There were bathhouses there that you could go take mineral baths and get a massage and feel good. Highland was a city - a main street, there were two grocery stores and a meat market and the fire department was a you-pull-it, you-pull-it, a hose on wheels...

Hanson: No fire trucks.

PINCKERT: No, they didn't know what they were. They had a team, if there was a fire they would call who ever it was and I don't know how they really notified them, maybe a bell would ring, maybe the school bell, I don't know. It was in the old school building they had a bell tower and of course the bell rang to call us to school and everything. I'm telling you more about Highland than San Bernardino.

Then Library Hall, which is now the Pythian Sisters have that building now. The library was in part of it, and then they built the Women's Club out there, I think it is a church now, I believe. And the library moved up there and had a portion of that building.

What else do you want to know?

Hanson: Tell me about being in High School in San Bernardino.

PINCKERT: It was a fun place. You knew everybody because it was comparably small compared to the high schools now, and you knew practically everybody. The San Bernardino High School was a beautiful, beautiful building. We were all just devastated when they tore it down and built that block house over there.

Hanson: Yes, I've seen pictures of it. It was gorgeous.

PINCKERT: It was gorgeous, and it should never have been torn down. They couldn't hardly tear that building down it was so well built. It had a few cracks from some of the earthquakes we had here; we had some pretty good earthquakes. You knew everybody on campus. There no gates, nothing was locked down, or anything like they have to do now. You could walk in the Administration and go to see the principal or anybody you wanted to anytime you wanted to. And we did. It was two story, of course, and the buildings were, of course they had the main building and the science building and the Home Ec[onomics] building and classic building and another one. Kids just stayed there. Nobody had a car so you couldn't go anyplace. Well, I think there were about maybe, well, one of the fellows in my class had an old Model-T Ford. It didn't have a top, it didn't have a hood on the engine, it didn't have fenders, it was just a body on four wheels. I used to ride it from Highland with him once in a while, and ride home after school, especially when would have play practice or something like that and be late when it was cold, we'd take the floor boards up and get the heat from down below to heat the car, 'cause it was cold. It used to get colder, and it used to get hotter. It has changed considerably, I think. And of course, if you wanted to see anybody on Saturday you went down to 3rd and E Street. The Harris Company had been down further on 3rd street before then. The Allison drugstore, then Harris Company, and then there was the Bank of America and the hotel. On Third Street there was a Chocolate Palace where everybody went for Ice Cream Sodas and malts. It was a beautiful old place. Where they kept the glasses and everything was all carved wood. It was magnificent. And it was a Chocolate Palace, like a molded Chocolate Palace. And the dime store, Woolworth's, on E Street; there was a Kress' that was a little higher class, but we always shopped at the dime store because you could get everything. You could furnish a house, you really could, anything you wanted. And we did, and of course the grocery stores were about that way too, you could get anything you wanted for $5.00. Then the PE station was down there on 3rd Street too, next to the Harris Company, and that became the Sears Building. Then across the street there was Apps Candy Store. Down by the theater on F & E, I mean F & 3rd. Let's see, there was Markell's, I guess there was Penny's down there first. Markell's was up on E street. Well, we thought they were big. And they were for the time. You know, come in on the street car, get off on Third Street, go to 3rd and E and see your friends and do a little shopping, then get the streetcar and go home. That was just about it. Then there were a couple of other kids that had cars, but those were about the only kids that had a car in high school. When I was a senior there were two girls in my class that had this old Maxwell sedan; they called her "Maxine." There would be about 14 girls, we'd all be in - there would be four in the front and as many as you could stack in the back and we'd go as far as we could go on a gallon of gas. Gasoline was about 10 cents a gallon, so we'd all put in a penny and buy a gallon of gas and then we'd get out and push. I think we pushed that car more than we ever rode in it. It was a lot of fun. And I mean we got fun out of that kind of thing. It was a much simpler life. I think a much cleaner living life. We didn't know anything about drugs and all that stuff. Of course it was Prohibition too. So, you know, made a difference then.

When I was up in college in Santa Barbara was when it was repealed in 1933. Valley College was out there. San Bernardino High School was where you went for the activity, that and the municipal auditorium down where the library, Feldheym library, is right now. In fact, that is where we had graduation. Graduation was a nice affair, very solemn and all the parents went. The reason they had it in the municipal auditorium is that it would hold more people and the glee clubs would sing and they would have a nice program. It was fun times. It was just a relaxing time. Today it is just hustle and bustle. But it wasn't then. You had to look for something to do. People didn't have money during the depression, nobody had any money and it didn't matter because everybody was in the same boat. You didn't know you were poor because everybody else was poor. We were luckier than a lot. It was just a fun time. I don't know what else to say.

Hanson: You said that you were luckier than a lot in the depression.

PINCKERT: Well, yes, because my father worked in Hollywood and he supported my grandmother. She took care of my sister and me and my cousin, and so we did have more than a lot of people. However, we didn't have an abundance - there were people who had a lot more than we did but they didn't flaunt it. They shared. If somebody had a radio - that was a scarce thing too - they'd invite you in when there was a speech of interest they'd invite the class in. When I was in junior high school we'd go into the home and listen to the radio when Lord George was speaking - I don't remember what he said, but it was interesting.

And all the activities were in the home and at school. It wasn't anywhere else.

Hanson: More family centered and high school or school centered.

PINCKERT: If somebody had a big home they'd roll up the rugs and have a dance. Have maybe six or eight couples of kids, and that's the way we entertained. And we had bridge parties or maybe a tea, or something, you know, that was the entertainment. Nobody had money to go to the movies. Well, we did, we did go to the movies because it was only a quarter then. You could see two features and a comedy reel and a newsreel for a quarter.

Hanson: For the whole day

PINCKERT: We did.

Hanson: When you talked about the high school, you said there were some cracks from earthquakes in the school buildings. Do you remember any of those earthquakes when they happened?

PINCKERT: I think there was one about 19 - in the twenties, about 1921 or 1922, somewhere around in there, and it didn't do a lot of damage but the auditorium had a Soboban Indian over the proscenium in the auditorium and that was cracked and they took it down and restored it. Then there were great pillars out in front and those pillars were damaged a little bit. They took the pillars down. It was like a Greek building.

Hanson: I've seen pictures of those. It was a beautiful building.

PINCKERT: They took those columns down that were in front, which didn't make a whole lot of difference. It looked bare at first but you got used to it, but it didn't make that much difference. There were all the stairs that went up.

It was just a wonderful time. I'm glad I lived, I'm glad I have lived when I did. I've seen more happen in my 88 years than most people will ever see in their lifetime.

Hanson: Yes. When you think about it you've lived from the time when there weren't a lot of cars and people still using horses....

PINCKERT: Hardly any on our street when I lived out in Highland with my grandmother at first. We lived on La Praix Street, in our first home, and then we lived up on Palm Avenue, but I think maybe, let's see - Poppet's had a car, Coys had a car and the Hagy's next door, their boys had a car. And those were the only three cars I can remember on the street. There were no streetlights. There was no traffic. Old Chung was the grocer, the vegetable man that went around in his horse and buggy and sold vegetables

Hanson: I've heard about him.

PINCKERT: We were scared to death of him. He was a Chinaman who had this long mustache like they wore. He finally got a Dodge truck and rebuilt the back so he could put his lugs of vegetables on. We were afraid of him. That and the iceman and the mailman was about the only traffic that came up the street.

Everybody had pets. The kids would play - the kids next door, we used to put on plays and charge a pear or a piece of fruit or something for admission and invite our parents. We were always dressing up playing house and we'd put on a play, and somebody would dance and somebody would sing and somebody would do something else, in the garage probably, we put up a curtain. Maybe some sheets or blankets up for curtains. I remember the boys on the street decided they were going to have a play, because it was mostly the girls that did that and the boys decided they were going to - everybody went, the parents went they charged a piece of fruit. They took the fruit and we were sitting in the garage there and it got awfully quiet. Somebody went and looked in back of the curtain and there wasn't anybody back there. They had put a ladder up there was a transom and they had climbed out, took the fruit, climbed out and gone down the other side of the ladder and they weren't there. That was their play!

And we just had a lot of fun. It was fun times. Innocent fun times. We used to do things in junior high school that I can't imagine a junior high school kid doing now. Next to Highland Junior High School there was a field, it was full of tall prairie grass. We'd go out and roll in that grass, that was fun. Or we'd roll down the terraces at Patton State Hospital. That was fun. On Friday, Patton had a movie for the patients. It was outside in the summertime. So we'd go up there and sit on the grass and watch the movie for free. Anything you could get for free. We used to have hayrides, wienie roasts up in City Creek. If they'd left the creeks here that were here they wouldn't have to build any more. Get a bunch of kids on your street and go up the wash up City Creek and cut some willows and build a fire and have a wienie roast. Roast marshmallows. Oh my goodness it was fun. We'd have hikes up City Creek. Our Sunday School class maybe would go up there or maybe your class in school. It was just a great time.

Hanson: A lot more open space.

PINCKERT: Oh yes, my goodness. Well, it was all orange groves, orange groves everyplace. And I think maybe that was why it was cooler in the winter. There was maybe five acres or ten acres or something, just a house, and that was it.

Hanson: Yes. It would make a difference in the climate when you started getting more buildings.

PINCKERT: Clean air. You could see for miles. In fact I used to hike up Mt. Harrison in back of Patton, that's Bare Mountain, on Saturday and hike up to the top and you could see Catalina.

Go up the fire trail, up in back of the Indians. I had an Indian friend there. Her father was the chief. She was in my class and well, I played with her a lot. Most people wouldn't play with the Indian kids. But I did, her name was Martha Manuel, and her father was the chief up there. We used to play. She came home with me to play a few times; I remember she came home one time and I told Grandma that I was bringing Martha home and Grandma baked cinnamon rolls. You could smell those cinnamon rolls before you even got there. Oh, they were good. In fact I have a namesake. She named one of her daughters after me later on. I lost track of her completely when I skipped to the fourth grade. I didn't see her any more because you know we were in different classes in the old grammar school, some were upstairs, some were downstairs, some were on one side of the other side of the stairs and up the middle and I lost track of her until one time when I was in High School and I was going home on the bus and she happened to be on the bus. She had gone to Sherman Institute, had gone on down to Los Angeles and was working as a domestic down there. She was a lovely looking lady. Then later on she came back up here and I think she had four or five daughters and one of them she named Rowena. Pauline Murillo is there now, have you read her book?

Hanson: I haven't read it but I've heard her speak at the Historical Society.

PINCKERT: It isn't a book that will ever be a classic. It's a book that if you knew them, you are interested. It is mostly a lot a pictures - and I was interested in some pictures because that was the way I remembered it. They were so poor up there. They had nothing. Water and the mountains were their life.

Hanson: Mr. Powers talked about Martha also.

PINCKERT: Oh yes. I think one of the boys, there was a Vincent and a Marco, I think, he may have been in Raymond Powers class, one of them.

Hanson: Yes, I think it was Marco, I'm pretty sure, but he told me how he and Martha would play also and she would have to sweep dirt floors before she could go out and play.

PINCKERT: He probably knew more about the Indians than I did, because he was Highland born. And I don't know what else I can tell you.

Hanson: Tell me about World War II here. When World War II started, what happened here in San Bernardino?

PINCKERT: When I worked there?

Hanson: No, when the war started.

PINCKERT: Oh, when the war started. Which war?

Hanson: Two. World War II. (Laughing) The second one.

PINCKERT: See, I remembered the first one. I was living down in Placentia at that time.

Hanson: You were just a little girl.

PINCKERT: I'd be three years old, but I skated all over that town. My sister was in the parade and I can remember her waiving the American Flag. My uncle came home from overseas and I can just see him bounding up those stairs with the leggings on, that you wrapped around your legs and the overseas cap. And then we came up here to live with my other grandmother.

Second World War. Because I was married and my husband was a flight instructor for a private school out in the desert. Then they joined the Air Force and came down to Cal Arrow, which was in Ontario. That's what he did during the war. He was too old to be in the draft at the time. And he tried his best to get in - I thought they were going to draw all his blood out taking blood tests and physical exams. But he never did anything else during the war.

It was, well, I don't think it really affected most people here like it did a lot. Of course Norton, I was doing Red Cross volunteer work then and the families in Norton. It was a deployment base, actually, a lot of people would come here with their little babies, or pregnant wives, and stay around town until they were sent overseas, which was a very bad time, so Red Cross had a lot to do then trying to get these people back home to their parents or back where they lived. I did field service for the Red Cross during that time.

Hanson: Tell me about the field service work that you did.

PINCKERT: Well, this is what: they would give me an assignment and I'd go out and interview people who were trying to get back and then I'd make a report of what I'd find out and then they would take it from there, to see if they could loan them money or grant the money or some way to take care of the situation. That was what I did.

Hanson: So that was women and children whose husbands had been shipped out?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. And maybe they would be staying at a motel - there were a lot of motels on Mt. Vernon then. And they would stay in those places where there were people who maybe - I interviewed one lady who had a baby that could only eat bananas, so I would go down to the city market and get bananas and take to her. And I don't know why I remember that, but that is something I remember doing. This one lady whose husband was in the Navy, she wouldn't eat, she could only smoke cigarettes and drink coffee and she was sick and didn't know why. They wanted me to see if I could go out and find out what was the matter with her. So I interviewed her, and she was just upset. Not able to cope with the fact that her husband had been sent overseas, and that was it.

And there were a lot of others that I interviewed, but it was kind of fun. I've been volunteering all my life. I still am.

Hanson: What do you volunteer for now? I know you have a lot listed on your sheet here.

PINCKERT: Community Hospital, I've been there for 38 years as a Pink Lady, but we don't call them Pink Ladies anymore because we have men, so we are auxiliants. (Laughing) In fact, Thursday is my day.

Hanson: And what do you do in that?

PINCKERT: I work in the reception desk.

Hanson: So when people come in you direct them to rooms?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. We are supposed to - you know that hospital has enlarged to such an extent that everything - of course nothing is done like it was when I first went there, absolutely nothing. We used to have more contact with the patients, because we took them to the lab, we took them to x-ray, we took them to their room, we showed them how to use all the facilities, and now we don't. We just take them to admitting secretary that is about the extent of it. And we deliver the doctor's orders to the floors and flowers and whatever. Whatever there is to do, we do. It is kind of fun.

There is one other person there that, well, two, one person that was the administrator is now one of our members. She was administrator from the old Ramona hospital to the Community for, I think she retired about twenty years ago. And she came back and joined - she's 93. I went to school with her, she was in school when I was there. And one other lady whose husband was a doctor, one of the doctors who started Community Hospital, she is still there. She is the same age. Those are the only two who are still there, that were there when I started. I can't tell you how many people; there is turnover, very fast. But it is interesting. And it used to be almost completely a white society, but it isn't any more. In fact, I don't know the doctors, I can't pronounce their names. (Laughing). And they are not friendly like the doctors used to be. You walk down the hall, you used to meet a doctor and he'd stop and chat with you, or... The doctors now, we don't hardly ever see them really, because we just are not in the same vicinity with them. And those that we do see just aren't that friendly. I don't know whether it's their ethnic group that causes them to be that way or what. But it has changed.

Hanson: When did you start to see that change?

PINCKERT: Uh (thinking), well the Tower was built there in 1988 or something like that, when they opened the Tower, and it was about that time, because many of the doctors had gotten older and were retiring and we were getting new doctors in and that was when all the old doctors disappeared.

Hanson: Do you remember, speaking of Doctors, I've had people tell me about Doctor Savage? Do you remember Doctor Savage?

PINCKERT: I had somebody (laughing) when I was 13, Dr. Phil, the father, took my appendix out. And when I was 32 and had my baby, his son, Dr. Phil Jr. delivered my baby and he asked me who in hell drove a truck out of me? I told him his father did. And then Dr. Jim Savage is one of our very best friends. He and Barbara, he is in a home now, but he was my husband's golfing buddy. Fine people.

Hanson: Doctors were very different back then.

PINCKERT: They were friendlier, and more human. Well, they went to the house to see you. Old Dr. Evans. My grandma couldn't have raised all of us kids, because she had five of her own. Old Dr., she used to be his midwife, my grandmother. Yep, he wanted her to come work in his office but she didn't. She delivered practically half the kids in Highland, I think. She was 4'11" and a giant. She was fantastic. She never had anything, but she could make a purse out of a sow's ear. And did. She was a very religious person but she didn't flaunt it, you know, or anything. That was her. And I think I am kind of like that myself. I don't go to Church. I listen to Dr. Schuller on TV or something, you know, but I used to sing in the choir out there in Highland, went to church, never missed. Was active in their youth groups, my husband was, he was more God-like but he didn't really, it wasn't that he didn't believe, he just didn't accept the church organizations. He said it was too commercial. So he lived very God-like. He did more things for more people. He was a fine man. I was lucky. I've been lucky all my life. I think God has been on my shoulder all my life, or something is, my angel has been there. I ask for guidance, and I get it. Comes from someplace. I don't know whether it is my grandma in heaven, my dad or my mother or who

Hanson: Maybe a combination.

PINCKERT: I have an idea they are all looking after me. Because I was kind of a rotten kid. (laughing)

Hanson: Come on, you couldn't have been a rotten kid.

PINCKERT: My Uncle Noah, the one that came from overseas, he used to call me Rotten Row. There is a Rotten Row in England and he was overseas there for so many years that he always called me Rotten Row.

Hanson: Now what did you do to get that name?

PINCKERT: Nothing. I had an older sister that I got blamed for a lot of things that I didn't do. (Laughing)

Hanson: Oh, okay, I see. (Laughing)

PINCKERT: She wasn't that bad. She is gone now to. Everybody's gone. In fact, you know this is a lonely time in my life, and that is why I keep volunteering and going every place I can go, because I am lucky that I can. And I know that, know I'm living on borrowed time. Well, I am, let's face it, you know. In fact, when my sister turned 80 she said, 'Ro, we didn't know anybody 80 when we were growing up." And we didn't. Because nobody lived that long.

Hanson: Things have changed.

PINCKERT: And here we are. And I don't have any friends who are 80 or more. (Laughing). They are all gone. Everybody we used to have - we had a bridge club from high school and I think there is one member of the original group that is still living and she moved up to Morro Bay with her son. The rest are all gone. There were 12 of us. Then as they got married and left town, we'd recruit somebody but they are all gone. Not a one. I'm still hanging on. (Laughing) And I don't feel old. Sometimes (laughing) the aches and pains come but I ignore them. If you complain all the time nobody likes you, you are a bore, (laughing) so people who are old know that you have aches and pains, because they have them too. Some people, that's all they talk about. I'm just --lucky that I can get out and go.

Hanson: You are so active.

PINCKERT: I try to be active. I still do all of my housework; I do whatever I can do. I don't do it is fast or as well as I used to, I still drive, I can drive down to the beach, that's where my daughter and my grandson live. And I do whatever I can do.

Hanson: Do you go to the Oldtimer's Lunches every month?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. And there are very few there that were in my class. They are all - 3 or 4, I guess. Raymond Powers is the oldest one that comes. There are probably some others that are around but they are in rest homes and don't get out. He is very active; he is very remarkable.

Hanson: Yes.

PINCKERT: He is.

Hanson: His memory is so sharp. He told me more about San Bernardino than anyone.

PINCKERT: Uh huh. Probably.

Hanson: He knew everybody. It's amazing.

PINCKERT: Well, he's been active here. He was in the city government here for a long time, you know, and his mother was an active person. Well, he just got good genes.

Hanson: Well, I think you have good genes too.

PINCKERT: Well I hope so. My grandmother lived to be 97. And my dad died at 71. My mother died way back. So, but everybody on my mother's side, well I had one aunt that lived to be 93, 91 or 92. But the rest of them didn't live that long. They came from my grandmother's side, I guess. When she came to California, she came to California because the doctor told her she couldn't take another winter back in Missouri. She wouldn't live that long.

Hanson: A lot of people came here for health reasons.

PINCKERT: Um hum. And she certainly got well. Took care of my grandfather, he was sick for a long time. She could do anything; she'd get on the roof and fix the roof, or she could paint the house. She could do anything. I tell you, she was a giant. Well, she had to. She planted the garden every year so we could have corn-eating contests. (Laughing) And she just could do it all. She really could. And did up until the very end of her life, practically. My aunt put her in a rest home, in a convalescent hospital 6 months before she died, and I think she would have lived to be 100 if she hadn't done that. Because Grandma never stayed in bed. No. But up there you know they give 'em a pill to keep them asleep and that is what they did. And so she just went to sleep.

But anyway, it was like she said, "Old age, there isn't much you can say for it." And there really isn't. Because your friends are all gone. There is really no one around to really be a comrade or confess or whatever you want to do. And it is a lonely, lonely time of life. That's why I volunteer, so I can get some younger people around me. (Laughter) However, they aren't very young anymore. You can't get the young people that want to work. So we have a lot of elderly ladies out there. We have a couple of new ones that are coming in, that is kind of fun. Just to keep active.

Hanson: Very much.

PINCKERT: I think that's the key. Well, I don't know what else I can tell you.

Hanson: You told me you have lots of special interests.

PINCKERT: I do. Well, I guess I am interested in everything. I really am. I like to do anything, good and bad. (Laughing) I like to go and do whatever I can. I travel quite a bit. I've taken my grandson on some really nice trips. He is a wonderful traveler. I guess the first, well, I took care of him an awful lot, and I think the first trip we ever took him on, Vic and I, to go over to Catalina on the boat, when he was about four. And when he was twelve I took him down to Florida and we went up to Kennedy Center and then we went down to Cape Canaveral and got on a big red boat and went up to Nassau and that was his first nice cruise. We went back to Orlando and went to Disney World and Epcot, and I took him to Hawaii and I took him to Alaska, and when he graduated from high School I took him Africa on a safari. That was a wonderful trip. He's a marvelous traveler anyway, I don't care whether you go by car or walk or whatever, he is just good. He is a great kid. He is my joy. He's, I think he's given me more love than anybody I've ever known.

Hanson: That is what grandkids are for, though.

PINCKERT: Uh huh. I've kept him an awful lot. He calls me every week. He is married now but he calls me every week. He graduated in December as a doctor of Chiropractics and he and his friend started trying to get their office going, but the red tape down there at the beach is, you know, "hurry-up and wait." He called me last Saturday and they'd gotten the keys to the building, they found the building and they, after they found the building, they had an attorney draw up their lease, help them with their lease and everything, see that everything was in good order, and they went to, well, after he graduated in December he couldn't take the state board until February, I guess. He'd taken the national board and passed that way back in December and he couldn't take the state board until February. Well he couldn't start practicing or anything until he passed the state board. He could practice anywhere in the United States except California. And he passed that fine; I knew he would. He wasn't even disturbed. He was a good student. He got a diploma when he graduated from the University of Southern California Health Science, I guess it was, for being on the Dean's list for all 10 quarters. Which I think is as important as.....It doesn't really come that easy for him but he works at it.

Hanson: Those are the best kind of people to have.

PINCKERT: He is - I just can't tell you, people probably think I'm just a silly old grandmother with pictures in a pocketbook - he is one of the finest young men I think I have ever known. And I'm not the only one that says that. His friends, their parents all think he is just marvelous. He lost his dad when he, just before he was twelve, that's why I've taken him on these trips. When he was in high school he didn't seem to have a girl friend and that's when they have all that puppy-love stuff, and I asked him one day I said, "Vic, do you have a girlfriend." Well, he said, "I have lots of friends who are girls but I don't' have that kind of a girlfriend." I said, "Oh, really?" and he said, "No, I'm too young and I've got too far to go" and I thought boy, I'm not going to worry about that kid. (Laughing) And I didn't!

He did, he dated girls and took them to the movies or out to dinner or the prom but he never really had any special ones. And one of the girls he met in high school, they were real good friends. They used to go skiing together but she wasn't really considered his girlfriend. She went to Chapman College and is now a physical therapist. She introduced him to his wife; Kristin was Jasmine's roommate at Chapman.

The world is a very small place, a very small place. I don't think I've ever been any place that I haven't met somebody from here, or at least knew somebody from here. It is interesting. It is.

Hanson: Wherever you go, you run into someone. I run into people all over the place that I never thought I would run into again.

PINCKERT: Yes, you run into them in the strangest places. My cousin and I went to Bali and we went up to a canyon, a little remote canyon that didn't have electricity or anything up there but we were having lunch and I met somebody who had an uncle here in San Bernardino. (Laughs) There were only four people there. And we went to England. We were in England and we went into one of these, well it was the hotel and we stayed in and it had been an old castle at one time or other, the walls real thick and it was whispery and quiet. And I said, and with my loud mouth, "It sure would interesting to know what these walls could tell us." And there were some people sitting across the dining room from us, there were two women and a man, one was his wife and the other was her sister, they were traveling. There were two ladies sitting in the back there, and an oriental couple that were from Chicago. And so I like to table hop (laughs) and I found out where they were from, and I went back to these two ladies and asked them their names and where they were from and they were traveling together and I said I was from San Bernardino and she said "Oh do you know Nita Blackwell" and I said "Oh, she covered my wedding." She was a society editor on a newspaper in San Bernardino. They had met in New York many years before and I said, "I haven't seen her in a while, but she's still there, I think." And she said "Would you take her a message from me, so she wrote a little message on a card and I brought it home with me then I had a hard time finding Nita and I finally found her in a rest home. I went to see her and she was so surprised and I gave her the message and she was just thrilled to death. It is interesting.

Hanson: Well, we are just about done.

PINCKERT: Okay.

Hanson: I want to thank you very much.

PINCKERT: Well, you are welcome. San Bernardino Oral History Project Rowena Pinckert May 20, 2003 Hanson: This is Joyce Hanson for the San Bernardino Oral History Project and we are interviewing Mrs. Rowena Pinckert in her home at San Bernardino. Today is May 20, 2003. Good morning, Mrs. Pinckert.

PINCKERT: I've got your name on my calendar.

Hanson: I've got your name on my calendar, too. We're all set. Let me start out by asking you - you came to San Bernardino in 1936. Tell me, what is the first thing you recall about living in San Bernardino.

PINCKERT: Well, I had lived in Highland and then I went away to school, and I went to Los Angeles to school. I graduated down there at the business college. My sister had a baby, so I came home with her to help her take care of the baby in 1936. And while I was here I went downtown and got a job.

Hanson: Where did you work downtown?

PINCKERT: At Security Title

Hanson: And you spent your whole career there.

PINCKERT: Well, I only worked there and then I got married in '37. Joe Snyder, who started First Federal Savings and Loan, was an escrow officer where I worked and I used to work with him, and George Steelman was my boss. He was the escrow man that I worked for. And a lot of good people. Clyde Whitney was the boss. We traveled between the title company and the courthouse.

Hanson: What was San Bernardino like in 1936?

PINCKERT: It was a real friendly town, everybody knew everybody 'cause San Bernardino High School was the only high school. They came from Rialto, Victorville, the mountain areas, Highland to San Bernardino High School. And by coming from Highland, I thought San Bernardino High School was a crowded place. I think there were 307 in my class.

Hanson: That's a lot of people.

PINCKERT: Well it was, and they were all new to me, practically, except the ones that I came from Highland with. Third and E Street was the meeting place for everybody - go down to Third and E Street - because I had to come on a streetcar or the bus, that's how I came to school, on the bus. Highland-Patton bus. A lot of friends in Patton - my two best girlfriends, their father was a doctor at Patton so I used to spend a lot of time at Patton. (Laughing) And then I had a boyfriend whose father was a doctor there and so I spent a lot of time at Patton. And it was certainly different than it is now. It was really a wonderful place, because the patients there - it was actually a city. They had their own vegetable gardens, they had their own farming land, some of it was on Baseline, and they had their own bakery, they had their own laundry, they had their own commissary, they had everything right there. So doctors were generally paid a salary plus maintenance. They lived right there on the grounds.

San Bernardino - oh, it was a big town to me, because I came from Highland, there were about 2,500 people in Highland. And 2 churches. East Highland - we used to go up to East Highland Lake to catch fish and it was a wilderness.

Hanson: I've heard a lot of people tell me that.

PINCKERT: You went down Base Line then you turned right as you got down to the bottom of the hill and made a sharp turn up on the bluff, and there were orange groves, all orange groves, and a few houses, not many. They had a little grocery story and a, I don't know what else they had. But that was a place where we would go to sit around the lake and catch fish.

Then there was Harlem Springs, that's where we used to go swimming. Water came out of the ground hot, you know, warm water. Along Base Line there was a laundry that used water right out of the ground that was hot enough to do the laundry. It was there for years. It burned down not too many years ago. There were bathhouses there that you could go take mineral baths and get a massage and feel good. Highland was a city - a main street, there were two grocery stores and a meat market and the fire department was a you-pull-it, you-pull-it, a hose on wheels...

Hanson: No fire trucks.

PINCKERT: No, they didn't know what they were. They had a team, if there was a fire they would call who ever it was and I don't know how they really notified them, maybe a bell would ring, maybe the school bell, I don't know. It was in the old school building they had a bell tower and of course the bell rang to call us to school and everything. I'm telling you more about Highland than San Bernardino.

Then Library Hall, which is now the Pythian Sisters have that building now. The library was in part of it, and then they built the Women's Club out there, I think it is a church now, I believe. And the library moved up there and had a portion of that building.

What else do you want to know?

Hanson: Tell me about being in High School in San Bernardino.

PINCKERT: It was a fun place. You knew everybody because it was comparably small compared to the high schools now, and you knew practically everybody. The San Bernardino High School was a beautiful, beautiful building. We were all just devastated when they tore it down and built that block house over there.

Hanson: Yes, I've seen pictures of it. It was gorgeous.

PINCKERT: It was gorgeous, and it should never have been torn down. They couldn't hardly tear that building down it was so well built. It had a few cracks from some of the earthquakes we had here; we had some pretty good earthquakes. You knew everybody on campus. There no gates, nothing was locked down, or anything like they have to do now. You could walk in the Administration and go to see the principal or anybody you wanted to anytime you wanted to. And we did. It was two story, of course, and the buildings were, of course they had the main building and the science building and the Home Ec[onomics] building and classic building and another one. Kids just stayed there. Nobody had a car so you couldn't go anyplace. Well, I think there were about maybe, well, one of the fellows in my class had an old Model-T Ford. It didn't have a top, it didn't have a hood on the engine, it didn't have fenders, it was just a body on four wheels. I used to ride it from Highland with him once in a while, and ride home after school, especially when would have play practice or something like that and be late when it was cold, we'd take the floor boards up and get the heat from down below to heat the car, 'cause it was cold. It used to get colder, and it used to get hotter. It has changed considerably, I think. And of course, if you wanted to see anybody on Saturday you went down to 3rd and E Street. The Harris Company had been down further on 3rd street before then. The Allison drugstore, then Harris Company, and then there was the Bank of America and the hotel. On Third Street there was a Chocolate Palace where everybody went for Ice Cream Sodas and malts. It was a beautiful old place. Where they kept the glasses and everything was all carved wood. It was magnificent. And it was a Chocolate Palace, like a molded Chocolate Palace. And the dime store, Woolworth's, on E Street; there was a Kress' that was a little higher class, but we always shopped at the dime store because you could get everything. You could furnish a house, you really could, anything you wanted. And we did, and of course the grocery stores were about that way too, you could get anything you wanted for $5.00. Then the PE station was down there on 3rd Street too, next to the Harris Company, and that became the Sears Building. Then across the street there was Apps Candy Store. Down by the theater on F & E, I mean F & 3rd. Let's see, there was Markell's, I guess there was Penny's down there first. Markell's was up on E street. Well, we thought they were big. And they were for the time. You know, come in on the street car, get off on Third Street, go to 3rd and E and see your friends and do a little shopping, then get the streetcar and go home. That was just about it. Then there were a couple of other kids that had cars, but those were about the only kids that had a car in high school. When I was a senior there were two girls in my class that had this old Maxwell sedan; they called her "Maxine." There would be about 14 girls, we'd all be in - there would be four in the front and as many as you could stack in the back and we'd go as far as we could go on a gallon of gas. Gasoline was about 10 cents a gallon, so we'd all put in a penny and buy a gallon of gas and then we'd get out and push. I think we pushed that car more than we ever rode in it. It was a lot of fun. And I mean we got fun out of that kind of thing. It was a much simpler life. I think a much cleaner living life. We didn't know anything about drugs and all that stuff. Of course it was Prohibition too. So, you know, made a difference then.

When I was up in college in Santa Barbara was when it was repealed in 1933. Valley College was out there. San Bernardino High School was where you went for the activity, that and the municipal auditorium down where the library, Feldheym library, is right now. In fact, that is where we had graduation. Graduation was a nice affair, very solemn and all the parents went. The reason they had it in the municipal auditorium is that it would hold more people and the glee clubs would sing and they would have a nice program. It was fun times. It was just a relaxing time. Today it is just hustle and bustle. But it wasn't then. You had to look for something to do. People didn't have money during the depression, nobody had any money and it didn't matter because everybody was in the same boat. You didn't know you were poor because everybody else was poor. We were luckier than a lot. It was just a fun time. I don't know what else to say.

Hanson: You said that you were luckier than a lot in the depression.

PINCKERT: Well, yes, because my father worked in Hollywood and he supported my grandmother. She took care of my sister and me and my cousin, and so we did have more than a lot of people. However, we didn't have an abundance - there were people who had a lot more than we did but they didn't flaunt it. They shared. If somebody had a radio - that was a scarce thing too - they'd invite you in when there was a speech of interest they'd invite the class in. When I was in junior high school we'd go into the home and listen to the radio when Lord George was speaking - I don't remember what he said, but it was interesting.

And all the activities were in the home and at school. It wasn't anywhere else.

Hanson: More family centered and high school or school centered.

PINCKERT: If somebody had a big home they'd roll up the rugs and have a dance. Have maybe six or eight couples of kids, and that's the way we entertained. And we had bridge parties or maybe a tea, or something, you know, that was the entertainment. Nobody had money to go to the movies. Well, we did, we did go to the movies because it was only a quarter then. You could see two features and a comedy reel and a newsreel for a quarter.

Hanson: For the whole day

PINCKERT: We did.

Hanson: When you talked about the high school, you said there were some cracks from earthquakes in the school buildings. Do you remember any of those earthquakes when they happened?

PINCKERT: I think there was one about 19 - in the twenties, about 1921 or 1922, somewhere around in there, and it didn't do a lot of damage but the auditorium had a Soboban Indian over the proscenium in the auditorium and that was cracked and they took it down and restored it. Then there were great pillars out in front and those pillars were damaged a little bit. They took the pillars down. It was like a Greek building.

Hanson: I've seen pictures of those. It was a beautiful building.

PINCKERT: They took those columns down that were in front, which didn't make a whole lot of difference. It looked bare at first but you got used to it, but it didn't make that much difference. There were all the stairs that went up.

It was just a wonderful time. I'm glad I lived, I'm glad I have lived when I did. I've seen more happen in my 88 years than most people will ever see in their lifetime.

Hanson: Yes. When you think about it you've lived from the time when there weren't a lot of cars and people still using horses....

PINCKERT: Hardly any on our street when I lived out in Highland with my grandmother at first. We lived on La Praix Street, in our first home, and then we lived up on Palm Avenue, but I think maybe, let's see - Poppet's had a car, Coys had a car and the Hagy's next door, their boys had a car. And those were the only three cars I can remember on the street. There were no streetlights. There was no traffic. Old Chung was the grocer, the vegetable man that went around in his horse and buggy and sold vegetables

Hanson: I've heard about him.

PINCKERT: We were scared to death of him. He was a Chinaman who had this long mustache like they wore. He finally got a Dodge truck and rebuilt the back so he could put his lugs of vegetables on. We were afraid of him. That and the iceman and the mailman was about the only traffic that came up the street.

Everybody had pets. The kids would play - the kids next door, we used to put on plays and charge a pear or a piece of fruit or something for admission and invite our parents. We were always dressing up playing house and we'd put on a play, and somebody would dance and somebody would sing and somebody would do something else, in the garage probably, we put up a curtain. Maybe some sheets or blankets up for curtains. I remember the boys on the street decided they were going to have a play, because it was mostly the girls that did that and the boys decided they were going to - everybody went, the parents went they charged a piece of fruit. They took the fruit and we were sitting in the garage there and it got awfully quiet. Somebody went and looked in back of the curtain and there wasn't anybody back there. They had put a ladder up there was a transom and they had climbed out, took the fruit, climbed out and gone down the other side of the ladder and they weren't there. That was their play!

And we just had a lot of fun. It was fun times. Innocent fun times. We used to do things in junior high school that I can't imagine a junior high school kid doing now. Next to Highland Junior High School there was a field, it was full of tall prairie grass. We'd go out and roll in that grass, that was fun. Or we'd roll down the terraces at Patton State Hospital. That was fun. On Friday, Patton had a movie for the patients. It was outside in the summertime. So we'd go up there and sit on the grass and watch the movie for free. Anything you could get for free. We used to have hayrides, wienie roasts up in City Creek. If they'd left the creeks here that were here they wouldn't have to build any more. Get a bunch of kids on your street and go up the wash up City Creek and cut some willows and build a fire and have a wienie roast. Roast marshmallows. Oh my goodness it was fun. We'd have hikes up City Creek. Our Sunday School class maybe would go up there or maybe your class in school. It was just a great time.

Hanson: A lot more open space.

PINCKERT: Oh yes, my goodness. Well, it was all orange groves, orange groves everyplace. And I think maybe that was why it was cooler in the winter. There was maybe five acres or ten acres or something, just a house, and that was it.

Hanson: Yes. It would make a difference in the climate when you started getting more buildings.

PINCKERT: Clean air. You could see for miles. In fact I used to hike up Mt. Harrison in back of Patton, that's Bare Mountain, on Saturday and hike up to the top and you could see Catalina.

Go up the fire trail, up in back of the Indians. I had an Indian friend there. Her father was the chief. She was in my class and well, I played with her a lot. Most people wouldn't play with the Indian kids. But I did, her name was Martha Manuel, and her father was the chief up there. We used to play. She came home with me to play a few times; I remember she came home one time and I told Grandma that I was bringing Martha home and Grandma baked cinnamon rolls. You could smell those cinnamon rolls before you even got there. Oh, they were good. In fact I have a namesake. She named one of her daughters after me later on. I lost track of her completely when I skipped to the fourth grade. I didn't see her any more because you know we were in different classes in the old grammar school, some were upstairs, some were downstairs, some were on one side of the other side of the stairs and up the middle and I lost track of her until one time when I was in High School and I was going home on the bus and she happened to be on the bus. She had gone to Sherman Institute, had gone on down to Los Angeles and was working as a domestic down there. She was a lovely looking lady. Then later on she came back up here and I think she had four or five daughters and one of them she named Rowena. Pauline Murillo is there now, have you read her book?

Hanson: I haven't read it but I've heard her speak at the Historical Society.

PINCKERT: It isn't a book that will ever be a classic. It's a book that if you knew them, you are interested. It is mostly a lot a pictures - and I was interested in some pictures because that was the way I remembered it. They were so poor up there. They had nothing. Water and the mountains were their life.

Hanson: Mr. Powers talked about Martha also.

PINCKERT: Oh yes. I think one of the boys, there was a Vincent and a Marco, I think, he may have been in Raymond Powers class, one of them.

Hanson: Yes, I think it was Marco, I'm pretty sure, but he told me how he and Martha would play also and she would have to sweep dirt floors before she could go out and play.

PINCKERT: He probably knew more about the Indians than I did, because he was Highland born. And I don't know what else I can tell you.

Hanson: Tell me about World War II here. When World War II started, what happened here in San Bernardino?

PINCKERT: When I worked there?

Hanson: No, when the war started.

PINCKERT: Oh, when the war started. Which war?

Hanson: Two. World War II. (Laughing) The second one.

PINCKERT: See, I remembered the first one. I was living down in Placentia at that time.

Hanson: You were just a little girl.

PINCKERT: I'd be three years old, but I skated all over that town. My sister was in the parade and I can remember her waiving the American Flag. My uncle came home from overseas and I can just see him bounding up those stairs with the leggings on, that you wrapped around your legs and the overseas cap. And then we came up here to live with my other grandmother.

Second World War. Because I was married and my husband was a flight instructor for a private school out in the desert. Then they joined the Air Force and came down to Cal Arrow, which was in Ontario. That's what he did during the war. He was too old to be in the draft at the time. And he tried his best to get in - I thought they were going to draw all his blood out taking blood tests and physical exams. But he never did anything else during the war.

It was, well, I don't think it really affected most people here like it did a lot. Of course Norton, I was doing Red Cross volunteer work then and the families in Norton. It was a deployment base, actually, a lot of people would come here with their little babies, or pregnant wives, and stay around town until they were sent overseas, which was a very bad time, so Red Cross had a lot to do then trying to get these people back home to their parents or back where they lived. I did field service for the Red Cross during that time.

Hanson: Tell me about the field service work that you did.

PINCKERT: Well, this is what: they would give me an assignment and I'd go out and interview people who were trying to get back and then I'd make a report of what I'd find out and then they would take it from there, to see if they could loan them money or grant the money or some way to take care of the situation. That was what I did.

Hanson: So that was women and children whose husbands had been shipped out?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. And maybe they would be staying at a motel - there were a lot of motels on Mt. Vernon then. And they would stay in those places where there were people who maybe - I interviewed one lady who had a baby that could only eat bananas, so I would go down to the city market and get bananas and take to her. And I don't know why I remember that, but that is something I remember doing. This one lady whose husband was in the Navy, she wouldn't eat, she could only smoke cigarettes and drink coffee and she was sick and didn't know why. They wanted me to see if I could go out and find out what was the matter with her. So I interviewed her, and she was just upset. Not able to cope with the fact that her husband had been sent overseas, and that was it.

And there were a lot of others that I interviewed, but it was kind of fun. I've been volunteering all my life. I still am.

Hanson: What do you volunteer for now? I know you have a lot listed on your sheet here.

PINCKERT: Community Hospital, I've been there for 38 years as a Pink Lady, but we don't call them Pink Ladies anymore because we have men, so we are auxiliants. (Laughing) In fact, Thursday is my day.

Hanson: And what do you do in that?

PINCKERT: I work in the reception desk.

Hanson: So when people come in you direct them to rooms?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. We are supposed to - you know that hospital has enlarged to such an extent that everything - of course nothing is done like it was when I first went there, absolutely nothing. We used to have more contact with the patients, because we took them to the lab, we took them to x-ray, we took them to their room, we showed them how to use all the facilities, and now we don't. We just take them to admitting secretary that is about the extent of it. And we deliver the doctor's orders to the floors and flowers and whatever. Whatever there is to do, we do. It is kind of fun.

There is one other person there that, well, two, one person that was the administrator is now one of our members. She was administrator from the old Ramona hospital to the Community for, I think she retired about twenty years ago. And she came back and joined - she's 93. I went to school with her, she was in school when I was there. And one other lady whose husband was a doctor, one of the doctors who started Community Hospital, she is still there. She is the same age. Those are the only two who are still there, that were there when I started. I can't tell you how many people; there is turnover, very fast. But it is interesting. And it used to be almost completely a white society, but it isn't any more. In fact, I don't know the doctors, I can't pronounce their names. (Laughing). And they are not friendly like the doctors used to be. You walk down the hall, you used to meet a doctor and he'd stop and chat with you, or... The doctors now, we don't hardly ever see them really, because we just are not in the same vicinity with them. And those that we do see just aren't that friendly. I don't know whether it's their ethnic group that causes them to be that way or what. But it has changed.

Hanson: When did you start to see that change?

PINCKERT: Uh (thinking), well the Tower was built there in 1988 or something like that, when they opened the Tower, and it was about that time, because many of the doctors had gotten older and were retiring and we were getting new doctors in and that was when all the old doctors disappeared.

Hanson: Do you remember, speaking of Doctors, I've had people tell me about Doctor Savage? Do you remember Doctor Savage?

PINCKERT: I had somebody (laughing) when I was 13, Dr. Phil, the father, took my appendix out. And when I was 32 and had my baby, his son, Dr. Phil Jr. delivered my baby and he asked me who in hell drove a truck out of me? I told him his father did. And then Dr. Jim Savage is one of our very best friends. He and Barbara, he is in a home now, but he was my husband's golfing buddy. Fine people.

Hanson: Doctors were very different back then.

PINCKERT: They were friendlier, and more human. Well, they went to the house to see you. Old Dr. Evans. My grandma couldn't have raised all of us kids, because she had five of her own. Old Dr., she used to be his midwife, my grandmother. Yep, he wanted her to come work in his office but she didn't. She delivered practically half the kids in Highland, I think. She was 4'11" and a giant. She was fantastic. She never had anything, but she could make a purse out of a sow's ear. And did. She was a very religious person but she didn't flaunt it, you know, or anything. That was her. And I think I am kind of like that myself. I don't go to Church. I listen to Dr. Schuller on TV or something, you know, but I used to sing in the choir out there in Highland, went to church, never missed. Was active in their youth groups, my husband was, he was more God-like but he didn't really, it wasn't that he didn't believe, he just didn't accept the church organizations. He said it was too commercial. So he lived very God-like. He did more things for more people. He was a fine man. I was lucky. I've been lucky all my life. I think God has been on my shoulder all my life, or something is, my angel has been there. I ask for guidance, and I get it. Comes from someplace. I don't know whether it is my grandma in heaven, my dad or my mother or who

Hanson: Maybe a combination.

PINCKERT: I have an idea they are all looking after me. Because I was kind of a rotten kid. (laughing)

Hanson: Come on, you couldn't have been a rotten kid.

PINCKERT: My Uncle Noah, the one that came from overseas, he used to call me Rotten Row. There is a Rotten Row in England and he was overseas there for so many years that he always called me Rotten Row.

Hanson: Now what did you do to get that name?

PINCKERT: Nothing. I had an older sister that I got blamed for a lot of things that I didn't do. (Laughing)

Hanson: Oh, okay, I see. (Laughing)

PINCKERT: She wasn't that bad. She is gone now to. Everybody's gone. In fact, you know this is a lonely time in my life, and that is why I keep volunteering and going every place I can go, because I am lucky that I can. And I know that, know I'm living on borrowed time. Well, I am, let's face it, you know. In fact, when my sister turned 80 she said, 'Ro, we didn't know anybody 80 when we were growing up." And we didn't. Because nobody lived that long.

Hanson: Things have changed.

PINCKERT: And here we are. And I don't have any friends who are 80 or more. (Laughing). They are all gone. Everybody we used to have - we had a bridge club from high school and I think there is one member of the original group that is still living and she moved up to Morro Bay with her son. The rest are all gone. There were 12 of us. Then as they got married and left town, we'd recruit somebody but they are all gone. Not a one. I'm still hanging on. (Laughing) And I don't feel old. Sometimes (laughing) the aches and pains come but I ignore them. If you complain all the time nobody likes you, you are a bore, (laughing) so people who are old know that you have aches and pains, because they have them too. Some people, that's all they talk about. I'm just --lucky that I can get out and go.

Hanson: You are so active.

PINCKERT: I try to be active. I still do all of my housework; I do whatever I can do. I don't do it is fast or as well as I used to, I still drive, I can drive down to the beach, that's where my daughter and my grandson live. And I do whatever I can do.

Hanson: Do you go to the Oldtimer's Lunches every month?

PINCKERT: Uh huh. And there are very few there that were in my class. They are all - 3 or 4, I guess. Raymond Powers is the oldest one that comes. There are probably some others that are around but they are in rest homes and don't get out. He is very active; he is very remarkable.

Hanson: Yes.

PINCKERT: He is.

Hanson: His memory is so sharp. He told me more about San Bernardino than anyone.

PINCKERT: Uh huh. Probably.

Hanson: He knew everybody. It's amazing.

PINCKERT: Well, he's been active here. He was in the city government here for a long time, you know, and his mother was an active person. Well, he just got good genes.

Hanson: Well, I think you have good genes too.

PINCKERT: Well I hope so. My grandmother lived to be 97. And my dad died at 71. My mother died way back. So, but everybody on my mother's side, well I had one aunt that lived to be 93, 91 or 92. But the rest of them didn't live that long. They came from my grandmother's side, I guess. When she came to California, she came to California because the doctor told her she couldn't take another winter back in Missouri. She wouldn't live that long.

Hanson: A lot of people came here for health reasons.

PINCKERT: Um hum. And she certainly got well. Took care of my grandfather, he was sick for a long time. She could do anything; she'd get on the roof and fix the roof, or she could paint the house. She could do anything. I tell you, she was a giant. Well, she had to. She planted the garden every year so we could have corn-eating contests. (Laughing) And she just could do it all. She really could. And did up until the very end of her life, practically. My aunt put her in a rest home, in a convalescent hospital 6 months before she died, and I think she would have lived to be 100 if she hadn't done that. Because Grandma never stayed in bed. No. But up there you know they give 'em a pill to keep them asleep and that is what they did. And so she just went to sleep.

But anyway, it was like she said, "Old age, there isn't much you can say for it." And there really isn't. Because your friends are all gone. There is really no one around to really be a comrade or confess or whatever you want to do. And it is a lonely, lonely time of life. That's why I volunteer, so I can get some younger people around me. (Laughter) However, they aren't very young anymore. You can't get the young people that want to work. So we have a lot of elderly ladies out there. We have a couple of new ones that are coming in, that is kind of fun. Just to keep active.

Hanson: Very much.

PINCKERT: I think that's the key. Well, I don't know what else I can tell you.

Hanson: You told me you have lots of special interests.

PINCKERT: I do. Well, I guess I am interested in everything. I really am. I like to do anything, good and bad. (Laughing) I like to go and do whatever I can. I travel quite a bit. I've taken my grandson on some really nice trips. He is a wonderful traveler. I guess the first, well, I took care of him an awful lot, and I think the first trip we ever took him on, Vic and I, to go over to Catalina on the boat, when he was about four. And when he was twelve I took him down to Florida and we went up to Kennedy Center and then we went down to Cape Canaveral and got on a big red boat and went up to Nassau and that was his first nice cruise. We went back to Orlando and went to Disney World and Epcot, and I took him to Hawaii and I took him to Alaska, and when he graduated from high School I took him Africa on a safari. That was a wonderful trip. He's a marvelous traveler anyway, I don't care whether you go by car or walk or whatever, he is just good. He is a great kid. He is my joy. He's, I think he's given me more love than anybody I've ever known.

Hanson: That is what grandkids are for, though.

PINCKERT: Uh huh. I've kept him an awful lot. He calls me every week. He is married now but he calls me every week. He graduated in December as a doctor of Chiropractics and he and his friend started trying to get their office going, but the red tape down there at the beach is, you know, "hurry-up and wait." He called me last Saturday and they'd gotten the keys to the building, they found the building and they, after they found the building, they had an attorney draw up their lease, help them with their lease and everything, see that everything was in good order, and they went to, well, after he graduated in December he couldn't take the state board until February, I guess. He'd taken the national board and passed that way back in December and he couldn't take the state board until February. Well he couldn't start practicing or anything until he passed the state board. He could practice anywhere in the United States except California. And he passed that fine; I knew he would. He wasn't even disturbed. He was a good student. He got a diploma when he graduated from the University of Southern California Health Science, I guess it was, for being on the Dean's list for all 10 quarters. Which I think is as important as.....It doesn't really come that easy for him but he works at it.

Hanson: Those are the best kind of people to have.

PINCKERT: He is - I just can't tell you, people probably think I'm just a silly old grandmother with pictures in a pocketbook - he is one of the finest young men I think I have ever known. And I'm not the only one that says that. His friends, their parents all think he is just marvelous. He lost his dad when he, just before he was twelve, that's why I've taken him on these trips. When he was in high school he didn't seem to have a girl friend and that's when they have all that puppy-love stuff, and I asked him one day I said, "Vic, do you have a girlfriend." Well, he said, "I have lots of friends who are girls but I don't' have that kind of a girlfriend." I said, "Oh, really?" and he said, "No, I'm too young and I've got too far to go" and I thought boy, I'm not going to worry about that kid. (Laughing) And I didn't!

He did, he dated girls and took them to the movies or out to dinner or the prom but he never really had any special ones. And one of the girls he met in high school, they were real good friends. They used to go skiing together but she wasn't really considered his girlfriend. She went to Chapman College and is now a physical therapist. She introduced him to his wife; Kristin was Jasmine's roommate at Chapman.

The world is a very small place, a very small place. I don't think I've ever been any place that I haven't met somebody from here, or at least knew somebody from here. It is interesting. It is.

Hanson: Wherever you go, you run into someone. I run into people all over the place that I never thought I would run into again.

PINCKERT: Yes, you run into them in the strangest places. My cousin and I went to Bali and we went up to a canyon, a little remote canyon that didn't have electricity or anything up there but we were having lunch and I met somebody who had an uncle here in San Bernardino. (Laughs) There were only four people there. And we went to England. We were in England and we went into one of these, well it was the hotel and we stayed in and it had been an old castle at one time or other, the walls real thick and it was whispery and quiet. And I said, and with my loud mouth, "It sure would interesting to know what these walls could tell us." And there were some people sitting across the dining room from us, there were two women and a man, one was his wife and the other was her sister, they were traveling. There were two ladies sitting in the back there, and an oriental couple that were from Chicago. And so I like to table hop (laughs) and I found out where they were from, and I went back to these two ladies and asked them their names and where they were from and they were traveling together and I said I was from San Bernardino and she said "Oh do you know Nita Blackwell" and I said "Oh, she covered my wedding." She was a society editor on a newspaper in San Bernardino. They had met in New York many years before and I said, "I haven't seen her in a while, but she's still there, I think." And she said "Would you take her a message from me, so she wrote a little message on a card and I brought it home with me then I had a hard time finding Nita and I finally found her in a rest home. I went to see her and she was so surprised and I gave her the message and she was just thrilled to death. It is interesting.

Hanson: Well, we are just about done.

PINCKERT: Okay.

Hanson: I want to thank you very much.

PINCKERT: Well, you are welcome.

You told me a lot of things that no one has told me.

PINCKERT: Is that right?

Hanson: Really interesting things about working for the Red Cross during the war. Those are interesting experiences.

PINCKERT: Well, I've been a member of the Assistance League for 60 years, since '41. This group of ladies got together and started the toy loan. It was an organization where you loaned toys instead of books, just like you borrowed books. We'd sterilize these toys and put them out on shelves and they'd come and borrow it for a week, and if they brought it back in good shape they could borrow another one. And little girls if they borrowed dolls, the bring the doll back in good shape and they could borrow something else, you know. And after so many weeks they could adopt the doll. And little boys could get a wheel toy, like a tricycle or something like that. It was the beginning of the Assistance League here, because we had been doing all this work with the children and we started a day care center that was so popular the State took over. We used to give them parties and do things like that. We decorated the youth place downtown, I think it was, and did lots of things like that. We were asked to join the Assistance League. We were the ninth chapter in the League, and I now I think there are close to 100 around the world.
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Hanson: That's terrific stuff.

PINCKERT: I've enjoyed that. I've met people that I would never have met any other place and we've had lots and lots of good times. I don't know what else I've joined. I've joined everything. The PTA. I thought PTA was going to last until death, (laughing) And let's see, I'm not real large on the Symphony, but I'm not active in it -- I did some work down there one time, stuffed some envelopes, but I don't go because I don't go drive at night. When we get old you don't do so many things but sit around and read a book.

Hanson: I do that now.

PINCKERT: Well, I have news for you. It never gets old. I do go around the neighborhood and I'll go up to the Mediterranean for dinner at night, someplace close like that. My eyes aren't as good as they used to be and at night, especially because I have glaucoma.... but I do that and belong to the Edgehill club, I went to that but it is dissolved now. Everything dies - except me. (Laughing)

Joyce: What is the Edgehill club do?

PINCKERT: It was a group of, during the depression there were some mostly doctors actually, they had some land up on Mountain View above 48th street and they used to meet up there on Sundays and take their families and play baseball or pitch horseshoes and have a barbecue and it grew out of that. They finally got some more land, a little bit more, and built a building up there and they took in other people.

Hanson: A social club.

PINCKERT: Yes. And they had speakers, we had a barbecue once a month, and then just like everything the old people died and other people won't work. Everybody served on a committee once a month, I mean, they had, the club was, they had 75 members, or 75 couples, it was all couples to begin with, and then of course there were people like me, but I kept going, and you'd be on a committee once a year, you know. They divided it up so maybe there would be 8 on a committee.

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