Ref: MAT2_B01.doc

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Part B: Excerpts & Historical Context: Parallel Lives in Perspective


B-01. Introduction to a Common Work Experience, Early Education & Oral History Genre


Introduction: 1

Jack and Wanda's Work experience. 1

Biographical Sketch & Interviews. 1

Early Life and Education.. 2

Gender perspective. 2

Oral History Genre –Biography or ?. 2


01.       Introduction:

The interviews  let Jack and Wanda speak by directly quoting from and pointing to the original source and give their stories historical context by noting other or complementary  experiences reported by the subject's contemporaries.  Part B.2 onwards includes excerpts with some historical context provided by other references.


02.       Jack and Wanda's Work experience

Jack’s and Wanda’s experiences parallel to those of their contemporaries. But in some ways they differ. For example, while Jack did not serve in the armed forces during WWII, he sought admittance to various service branches and later accepted various commercial posts outside of the United States in support of the war effort. Wanda was in her country of Birth, Canada, when she met Jack and had experiences that were different from that of many of her neighbors. They both were employed by a contractor of the US Government War effort which was overseeing the construction of the Trans-Canadian Highway. Later, Wanda moved to NY with Jack. She worked at Look Magazine before she had her nine children and later opened a small sewing business with a neighbor..

03.       Biographical Sketch & Interviews

Jack, who was in public relations for good part of his professional life, has provided a biographical sketch as well as a list of some stories from his early life.  Jack immediately seemed more comfortable telling or re-telling his story and putting it in Historical context with great attention to dates and places. Wanda’s stories mostly evolved while relating family and friends experiences which she connects by general themes and or philosophical points. 

04.       Early Life and Education

Wanda grew up for the most part in a rural, western Canadian setting and Jack in Urban, Eastern U.S.A. Wanda was born in a log cabin, walked miles to a one-room school and could be snowed in for weeks at a time during long winters. She finished High School with a commercial degree because most of the jobs open to a woman who went on for a college degree were in Education and Nursing. The business world seemed more attractive to Wanda than the nursing or teacher roles. She notes her father was mildly disappointed at the time but supported her decision.

 Jack, the son of a Mounted NY City police detective, had a mostly Irish American urban community experience in Brooklyn and Queens NY. He speaks warmly of the times, mentioning details of popular radio shows and his childhood swimming. He obtained his College Degree in New York and then began searching for work.

05.       Gender perspective

There seems to be a gender focus or perspective in the later narratives. Wanda adds much texture during her experience of leaving work and raising nine children and still finding time to explore a small business. Her story is "hearth" and local community centered. [See section B.7]. Jack focuses on the later political campaigns he was involved with, Adlai Stevenson, Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits [see Section B.8]. During the interview process there was a collaborative sharing of some of their wartime and dating experience. This process highlighted their different personalities but shared sense of humor.

06.       Oral History Genre –Biography or ?

But where does the story fit in the Oral History genre? The "voice" in which they are most comfortable effects how they tell their stories and which experiences came readily to mind. These interviews seem to be to be mix of biography and history.

For a further discussion including comparisons of individual experiences and stories concerning transformations of society see Section B.9