Oral History Project


Ref:         MAT2_A001

06 Nov 2001

Parallel LivesJack and Wanda; Wanda and Jack:

[Subtitled: A Davis-Keefe, Canadian-American Experience]

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A.               Introduction to Parallel Lives:


a.    Nature and Purpose of the Interview Project:

This paper presents the results of an Oral History project. It relied on original and secondary source material including audio and digital video interviews and transcripts as well as published sources.

            There were four Main purposes for this project

·         The interviews were conducted to record and compare the experience of two nationals [Canadian and American] of similar events from 1930 to 1970 with special focus on 1940-1960.

·         The interviews would also be placed in historical context by noting other experiences reported by the interviewees’ contemporaries in such works as David Kennedy's Freedom from Fear, Arthur Schlesinger's A Life in the 20th Century; John Jefferies' Wartime America and Robert S. McElvain's The Great Depression.

·         A goal of the project was to document the actual steps or procedures required from the beginning of discussions with the interviews to the production of some of the results in different media

·         A final goal was to present the draft transcripts from the interviews in both a paper/print format copy and provide electronic versions of the files on a CD. If possible and practical a sample of the Audio files would also be provided on the CD. A test of adding the material including photos to a web site would be conducted.

b.    Explanation of Procedures

The participants were requested to reminisce with the aid of artifacts from their lives, including but not limited to their correspondence, pictures, other memorabilia and recordings or transcripts from previous attempts to construct a family history.


c.    Increased Access - A Potential Benefit of the project

                One potential benefit of the project is increased access for family members, researchers and possibly the general public to interviewee's experiences.


d.    Navigating between - Interviewee's words – and  Historical Context?

This project lets Jack and Wanda speak directly to the reader by quoting from and pointing to the original source material.  At the same time there is a  need to provide some historical context to the discussion. Depending on the audience, either of these approaches can be accommodated:

·                     to go immediately to excerpts of  an Interview [see Part C]; or

·                     skip to Part B.2 onwards for excerpts with some context provided by other references. A few short excerpts are placed at the top of some sections.

e.    Main Participants & Time Period

Jack [John Joseph] Keefe and Wanda Davis Keefe were the main people interviewed for this Oral History Project. These illustrate that this husband and wife had parallel lives for the period covered. For presentation purposes, the main focus is on the years before, during and after of the Second World War. The interviewer was their second son Adhiratha Kevin Keefe. To indicate which person was speaking during some of the interviews, the following abbreviations were used on transcripts and related excerpts:

JJK      =    Jack [John Joseph] Keefe

WDK    =    Wanda Davis Keefe

AKK    =    Adhiratha Kevin Keefe   

f.    Compared to Contemporaries and Sources consulted

The other source material which discusses the time period, create a sense of what was transpiring in the wider world for Jack's and Wanda's contemporaries.  Selected works highlight a portion of the Canadian and American experience during those years. [See also Part G = Bibliographies;   H =  Other Keefe Family Sources or  Part N = Full list of reference sources.]

g.    What was left out

            A project of this type must leave some things out. This story is mostly of the time when the interviewer [their son] did not live with Wanda and Jack.  For example in Part B, I highlight very little about the families differences during the Vietnam experience. A fuller discussion of that time period is outside the scope of this project. However, the full transcript, questions and reaction during the discussion of Vietnam during the interviews is available [see lists in part c interview 15 April 2000]. It was a difficult time for the family. There was a long healing process related to that subject which still continues for many in the USA. Part B.11,  Family disagreements over Vietnam in 1960’s may now be better understood in context of the intense intervention / isolation debates in USA in late 1940’s which the families in Wanda's and Jack's generation lived through. 

Figure 3 = 3.f  Dec 1945   Jack, Wanda and Jackie Keefe      194-18 116 Ave. St Albans NY

Figure 9  = 3.j      Dec 1961               Wanda, Jack and 9 Children            Jackie, Adhiratha [Kevin], Tim., Elizabeth, Donna, George, Moira, Michael and Mark at 2064 Alan Drive Seaford NY




Jack & Wanda’s Father’s on Horseback:

Figure 8= 4g        1920 [aprox]         Jack Keefe on horse back, Mounted NYPD   Bay 23rd Street, Bath Beach Brooklyn




Figure 9 = 4h       1944       Stanley Davis on Horseback             Slave Lake, Alberta Canada