[Begin Tape 1, Side A]
Ritchie: The first session always deals with your early years, growing up, your grade school and high school. I find that's usually a good stopping point, and then the next time we'll start with college. So maybe you could tell me a little bit about your parents.
Bulkeley: I grew up in a town of 3,500—Abingdon, Illinois. My father was one of six children. His brothers and brothers-in-law ran one of the town's three factories and were the primary owners of Plumbers Brassgoods Foundry, that also got into swimming pool parts in the fifties. He had grown up in that little town. His father moved there around the time of [World] War I. The factory had been owned by some Germans who thought they could no longer stay in the middle of the U.S. of A., with War I looming or starting. So my dad and his family grew up there and, as I say, were the owners of one of the factories. The other two factories, one was a pottery, one was Bluebell, made blue jeans.
Ritchie: This is in the western part of Illinois?
Bulkeley: West central part of Illinois, halfway between Peoria and the Mississippi River. Burlington, Iowa, is the other—
Ritchie: Across the river.
Bulkeley: Yes. I only learned a lot of years later the significance of being the owners of the factory in a little town, as opposed to hired hands running the factory, for out-of-town owners.
Mother grew up in Chicago, Tampa, Providence. Her father was an automotive parts salesman who teamed up with another guy and bought the first patent for molded plastic screwdriver handles. So her parents came out of the Depression owning a factory in Chicago that made hand tools. Mother did Rhode Island School of Design two years, then they moved back to Chicago, and she graduated from the Evanston Academy of Fine Arts and took two more years of portrait lessons.
Ritchie: So she was an artist.
Bulkeley: She was trained as an artist. She and Dad met in Michigan. A friend of hers from art school was from a wealthy family, made industrial boilers in Michigan. Dad's family owned a factory in Michigan for a while, and Dad was running that when they met. That factory was closed, and Dad and Mother then ended up living in Abingdon, which they had not intended. Mother had expected to be living in bigger places. But anyway, they ended up in Abingdon. We grew up there.
I have—oh, you asked parents. You didn't ask siblings yet.
Ritchie: Not yet.
Bulkeley: They were how old when they got married? Twenty-seven and twenty-nine, in 1937. Mother never worked after that. She, like everybody else, if she could find a job, she worked in the Depression, and worked in a candy store, actually. It was her only paid work, ever.
Ritchie: Did she ever pursue her work as an artist?
Bulkeley: She did some artwork. There wasn't a whole lot of demand in our little town, but she did portraits of all of us. She did pastel portraits. The oil painting of me is down on the wall down there. She did pastels of people when she had relatives' names for Christmas, for instance. She'd do pastels of their kids. Some people commissioned pastels. A doctor in Galesburg, which was the city for our part of the country, commissioned oil portraits of his children. As I recall, those are the only major commissions of her primary medium and work—just the oil portraits. But, of course, we always had the best anythings—buggies in the doll buggy parade, bicycles in the bicycle parade, all of those kinds of things. We all did some artwork. We learned to do our own posters for bake sales and things like that, but never got into heavy-duty art, because Mother could do it. Mother did do it. And she did a lot of the stuff in the house. When they built the house in the country that we mostly grew up in, she did all of the wall painting.
Ritchie: The decorating.
Bulkeley: The dining room, for instance, went through two incarnations, and in one of them it had almost an English garden painted all around the walls.
Bulkeley: Handpainted. Another time she changed it, and it had a fence, chains on posts with vines growing. She another time did—I don't remember the official names, but she had a tree on one wall, and as she found bird pictures, she cut them all out so the tree was full of birds. That kind of stuff she did always. And she did some volunteer art work. Our grade-school art teacher is still alive, had a heart bypass at age ninety last fall, and reminded me, when I ran into her recently, that Mother used to come and do chalk talks and those kinds of things, and portrait talks, for the grade-school art classes and for parents' night at the school. So she did a lot of that kind of stuff, but mostly in a little town you did whatever volunteer work it took to keep the little town going—the Scout troops, 4-H, Red Cross stuff during [World] War II. There was a POW camp in Galesburg.
Ritchie: Which, as you mentioned, was the city near you. And how far is Galesburg?
Bulkeley: Ten miles—30,000 people, maybe.
Ritchie: So you would go there for shopping and other activities?
Bulkeley: Shopping. Once the movie in Abingdon closed, we had to go to Galesburg to the movies. By the time we were in high school and driving, there was a family bowling alley. It was the beginning of bowling being a family activity, not just the beer-drinking industrial leagues. The first McDonald's we knew was there, when everything was 15¢, and everything that they had to offer was hamburger, French fries, and Coke—pop, Pepsi, whatever.
Also it was a rail center—the train. My mother's parents lived in Chicago, and died in the late forties and early fifties.
Ritchie: So you knew them as a youngster.
Bulkeley: We knew them. We'd go up by train or by car. The main line of the CB&Q, now Burlington Northern, was through Galesburg, and Santa Fe was through Galesburg. For whatever reason, we always went on the Burlington or we'd drive. My father's siblings and parents were all in Abingdon.
Ritchie: So you really had an extended family right there.
Bulkeley: True, and every Sunday afternoon was Grandmother—well, Grandmother and Granddad's. He died in '48, so I wasn't all that old. Mostly I remember him when he was sick with cancer, in what was their library, because the bedrooms were upstairs in the big house. The Christmases were at Grandmother and Granddad's. As long as they were alive, all of the family dinners were there—the potlucks—and everybody gathered, including Mother's Day and Father's Day, as well as Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Ritchie: And every Sunday, too?
Bulkeley: Not for meals, but we visited every Sunday. After dinner, then we visited Grandmother or Grandmother and Granddad. Then we could change our clothes. But we stayed in the church clothes all the way through that.
Ritchie: What church did your family attend?
Bulkeley: United Methodist. It was just Methodist in those days. The furniture in the basement still said M.E., and it was years later that I discovered that it had been Methodist Episcopal. I just thought for some reason M.E. was how people had chosen to abbreviate Methodist, since the first two letters were M.E.
Dad taught Sunday school, the high school class, for thirty or forty years, starting not long after he and Mother went back to Abingdon. Initially it was just boys, but by the time we were in it, it was boys and girls and all high school. I'm not sure when he quit doing that—probably in the sixties sometime. He took his turns on the church board and the various church committees. Mother was always involved in the women's society. I didn't give you names.
Ritchie: No, but I'll need them.
Bulkeley: Gerald C., for Clough, which is family. And Patricia Ann. Her maiden name was Pettingell.
Ritchie: I know you have at least one brother.
Bulkeley: Two brothers—Peter C. and Michael C. The grandparents, my father's parents, both had Cs in the middle, so they decreed that everybody else would, too.
Ritchie: What is the order of the children?
Bulkeley: Peter's the oldest, is two years older than me, born in 1940. Michael is November of '44, so he's almost three years younger. There was a girl baby who died at three days, who would have been the youngest.
Ritchie: Do you remember that?
Bulkeley: Oh, yes. That was my sister. I was eight. We went through most of the pregnancy—feeling the baby kick, and listening and all of those things.
Ritchie: And you wanted a sister because you had the two brothers?
Bulkeley: Yes, because I was the one who was always picked on, or at least I was sure that I was the one that was always picked on, and they always ganged up against me. Of course, we didn't know the baby was going to be a girl. She was born July 1950, during the night. We still lived in town, and I remember Dad saying, "Do you have a sister?" in the morning. Well, of course, he wouldn't have asked if I didn't. So I said, "Yes." One afternoon later that week we were at the lake. Nobody had told us anything was wrong. She had birth defects, and I don't know what. Nobody was smart enough in those days. In the years since we've known that we ought to have those records, we just haven't gotten them. Anyway, she died at three days.
We were at the lake. We spent summers at Lake Bracken, which is one of the old railroad lakes turned into country club when railroads no longer needed all the water for steam. Knox County Country Club. But during the summers, we spent most of our daytimes out there.
Ritchie: Did you actually have a house out there, or you just went for the day?
Bulkeley: No, it was halfway between us and Galesburg, so we could run out and swim part of the afternoon, or if Mother had nothing else to do, we'd go spend all day. As we got older, she'd take us out and drop us off, once we were all waterproof and old enough to eat proper meals at proper times and stay out of the water for the hour. She'd drop us off for all day. And when we were little, we'd have cabins out there rented for a week or two at a time.
Ritchie: So you would actually stay out there.
Bulkeley: So we'd stay out there. One of my cousins' families, my aunt and uncle, had a cabin out there and spent summers out there, but Aunt Mary always ran back and forth and kept both houses. We had a lot for a few years, but never built on it. I would guess that my folks built the house in the country, the bigger house that we grew up in, rather than having the two houses.
Ritchie: So at first you lived in town when you were young.
Bulkeley: We lived in town, and in the middle of town, right on the border between the two grade schools, until I was in third grade. '51? '52? At which point my folks had the house designed, built in a timber, a mile and a half from town on the highway. We moved—I think it was when I was in third grade.
Ritchie: Did you have to change schools?
Bulkeley: No. Abingdon had two grade schools in those days—the north school and the south school. And all of our cousins were in the north school, so we went to the south school. We were on the borderline between the two, and my folks liked the teachers better, anyway, at Washington
Page 5 Grade School. The other one was Lincoln Grade School. But old-timers called them north and south. The new grade school was built, and we moved into it, a single grade school, moved into it the last half of sixth grade, and our schools before then, the schools had been one through six and seven through twelve. At the time the new grade school opened, they split seventh and eighth out and put them into my old grade school as junior high.
We sort of went off on tangents.
Ritchie: I know. We were talking about your parents.
Bulkeley: But anyway, the baby died. Kate Calnen died at three days, and that was the end of that. They didn't know little kids needed to mourn, so I still do. [Bulkeley cries.]
Ritchie: Through the years.
Bulkeley: And it's probably more acute because we're going through the mess with my mother. So anyway, that was 1950.
Ritchie: Did the war have much effect on your father's business?
Bulkeley: Yeah. Among other things, they did bomb plugs—some piece that held the explosion in until the right time to let it out. They had an Army-Navy "E" Award. The factory was secured. I still vaguely remember guards at the gates, getting into the factory. There are pictures of the parking lot without fences, and then ever thereafter the whole place was fenced because of the [World] War II—war materials.
Ritchie: You mentioned that there was a prisoner of war camp in Galesburg.
Bulkeley: In Galesburg. I don't remember a whole lot about that, either. The Red Cross did work, did its bandage-rolling and stuff, up there. And all I really remember is driving through the grounds and seeing strange-looking people looking out at us. I remember also my two uncles who were pilots, one on each side—the youngest brothers on Mother and Father's sides. I remember Uncle Phil buzzing the family gatherings when he was in town, when there were some, and that that scared me.
I remember the National Guard trucks. The closest camp was about forty miles away. I remember thinking the war was that close. And I remember when it was over. We were at Lake Bracken. That was one of the times we were renting a cabin. I simply remember hearing that the war was over, and being much relieved, because, as I say, I thought it was close by.
Ritchie: This would mean that things were normal then.
Bulkeley: Yes. That was the end of it. I don't remember [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt dying. I remember [Harry S.] Truman getting elected, and my folks not being very happy about that.
Ritchie: Did your parents talk about politics in the house?
Bulkeley: Yes, and Mother was involved in politics once the demands of doing the stuff we were involved in got past. She did a lot of Republican Women's stuff in the fifties and the sixties, until Phyllis Schlafly and her crowd started pulling their stuff, taking over the state Republican
Women.* Mother basically said she never knew women could be so rotten to each other, and if that's the way they were going to be, she wanted no more of it. So she quit. Had been president of the county Republican Women. She had gone a couple of times to the national conventions in Washington, to visit with [Everett] Dirksen.*
My younger brother went to the Air Force Academy on an appointment from a representative named [Robert Bruce] Chiperfield,* who got beaten in the 1962 election. My folks knew he was going to be beaten, so Michael took an appointment in Chiperfield's last year, when he was only seventeen. That convinced my folks that they should never have sent us all straight to college; we all should have spent at least a year out with the rest of the world and away from home before we went on.
My older brother spent two years in engineering—Peter—and then moved into management, into business. My folks think he wouldn't have spent that wheel-spinning time, and that Michael would have either coped better with the academy or not gone had he spent a year away from home. Of course, Michael, as the youngest, was home for two years, effectively ruling the roost, because he was the smartest of us, and as the baby, was there for two years when we were off at college. It had reached the point basically where Mother asked him if he wanted her car. So to go from there straight to the Air Force Academy, in its first year on its new campus at Colorado Springs, when they were going to establish all of the traditions and prove what they were doing, when the freshmen were told basically when they could breathe and how deep—
Ritchie: He wasn't used to that.
Bulkeley: And he was not used to that. It was also the year of the big scandals with guys from all four classes being caught in a big ring of exam-stealing. They had found the security gaps in the buildings and were stealing exams. One of Michael's roommates was caught in that.
So my folks spent that year not knowing, when the phone rang, if it was Michael at the airport saying he'd come home, and doing everything they could think of to try to keep him buoyed up and staying through, because the sense was, if they could get him through the first year, then he'd be all right. And he did. He eventually established his own identity and made it through the four years.
Ritchie: But that's interesting that in hindsight, they thought that a year in between high school and college might have benefitted.
Bulkeley: Peter and I had both worked some during high school—Peter mostly at the factory, in the office. I worked for the newspaper [Abingdon Argus] in our home town during high school, and then during college for the daily in Galesburg [Register-Mail].
Ritchie: Did you have any special privileges in the town because your father owned the factory? Were you of a certain class in the town? Were you aware of that?
* Phyllis Schlafly, (b. 1924). U.S. political activist, author. Chairwoman of Stop ERA, 1972-82.
* Everett McKinely Dirksen, (1896-1969). (R-IL). U.S. representative, 1933-1949, and U.S. senator, 1951-1969; Senate minority leader, 1959-69.
* Robert Bruce Chiperfield (1899-1971). (R-IL). U.S. representative, 1939-63.
Bulkeley: Yes, but we weren't really aware of that, except there were the hoods and the rest of it—I mean, the hoods being the ones who stood around and smoked in the street next to school, and who had cars, who were even known occasionally to drink a beer or two. It was only lots of years later that I understood the social classes and the distinction that being the factory owners had, or the children of the factory owners.
See, there were thirteen in my generation—cousins. I'm about in the middle. I never really lined us up to see, but I'm about in the middle.
Ritchie: And all of you are children of a factory owner.
Bulkeley: Right. From the six different families. One family of three was adopted, and the rest of us were all natural children. But everybody used to assume we were all as bright as the first one or two through the school system. I nearly didn't learn to read—[there was] no kindergarten. I nearly didn't learn to read in first grade, because I was put in the big desks. I was tall then. I was put in the big desks, which happened to be by the reading circle, and I'd memorized by the time they got to what they assumed was the "bright kids" circle. They tracked us in those days, though it wasn't formal. It was just dividing up the reading circle by skill ability.
But my folks would check us at home, to know what we were learning, and I couldn't read. I didn't recognize things if they weren't on the flashcards and if I wasn't paying attention at the reading circle.
Ritchie: So your memory was good.
Bulkeley: Yes, but I couldn't—what is it called? Decoding. I couldn't read. In the little town, you see the school teachers everywhere. My folks just kept on them, on her—Miss Earnhart—until I could.
Ritchie: This was your first-grade teacher?
Ritchie: You mentioned no kindergarten, so there was no preschool?
Bulkeley: Kindergarten didn't start till later. They had kindergarten long before we left town, or before we'd gotten out of high school, but not for us. And I was six and a half. With the February birthday, fall school. So we were all six and a half. And, of course, no television. And parents didn't push kids in those days. There was not that social thing attached. Without "Sesame Street" and those other things, unless the older children started teaching the younger ones, you didn't learn till you got to school, really.
Ritchie: These were the days before the gifted and talented program.
Bulkeley: Oh, yes. I started school in 1948. We all started piano lessons the same week we started school. I was given dance lessons, dance and acrobatics, starting when I was four, with my best friend when her sister and my brother started school and piano lessons. Our mothers thought we needed our own special thing, too, so they started us on dance lessons in Galesburg. So we did two years of that, including solos at recitals, at that age. You may have seen—no, that's not in the scrapbook you have—I have a picture of me in my Queen of Hearts suit, with my Band-aid on my knee, from the dance recital when I was five years old. That stopped when school started.
Ritchie: And then you took piano lessons.
Bulkeley: Then we took piano lessons forever. Actually, both of my brothers weaseled out their last year in high school; I didn't.
Ritchie: You took it all the way through?
Bulkeley: I took it all the way through. My piano teacher [Alta M. Graves] was bringing me up so I could make a living, she thought, as an accompanist and teacher if I had to. So stuff happened to me, like I had to learn theory, and I didn't get credit as part of my hour-a-day practice for the time I had to spend doing the theory homework. And my brothers didn't even have to do it. So more of the paranoia of the middle child/only daughter. My mother had been middle child/only daughter, so at some point she started doing me extras.
Ritchie: You mean extra classes?
Bulkeley: Extra attention and extra favors. At some point I had a clothes allowance, which my brothers were never trusted with. At the same time, my brothers were taught to drive. We had a Crosley Jeep, and my older brother did pigs for 4-H, so the jeep was partly to help manage the woods, but also to haul the pig food around and stuff. They both learned to drive when they were thirteen or fourteen, so the day of their sixteenth birthday, they got their driver's license. And nobody would let me sit on the driver's side of the car until I had my learner's permit, and they made me drive on it for six months. I got my driver's license only when my permit was about to run out. So I never quite felt that it all balanced.
Ritchie: So you were treated somewhat differently than your brothers.
Bulkeley: Yeah. Nobody ever really treated us as though expectations were different. It really was like golf; we were all to find our own interests and directions. Mother told me lots of years later that she and Dad used to have fights about what I should expect to do after college, whether I should go eight hundred miles away to a job, and some of that kind of stuff. But the house in the country had their bedroom at one end and ours at the other end, so I never knew about that.
Ritchie: And what point would she have taken?
Bulkeley: She would have defended me or championed me in doing my own thing, because she always felt she got trapped. I don't think my dad ever knew it, but my mother always felt trapped in that little town.
Ritchie: In terms of her own career and abilities?
Bulkeley: Yeah. You asked earlier about class and again I got off on tangents. Because of the numbers, there really were the kids we were supposed to run around with and the ones we weren't. In terms of my age group, for instance, the ones that were good enough were the bright ones and the ones who had leadership abilities. The guy who was president of our college class, and has turned out to be one of my longtime, still-in-touch friends, his parents both worked in factories. Of course, mothers who worked in factories in those days were unheard of. But I saw his mother last week. Anyway, both parents worked in factories, both were involved in unions, so under the normal management-union stuff, he would not have been appropriate as part of the group, but he was bright and he was good-looking and well brought up, and was part of our group. One of my best friends dated him for a long time. One of the girls' father was a coach
and athletic director, and her mother was a store clerk, but she also was bright and nice and well mannered and fun. Another one's mother was a piano teacher and her father a farmer until his hand got stuck in the cornpicker. Then he ultimately went into real estate and, of course, made more money than he'd ever made as a tenant farmer.
Ritchie: In a small town, the numbers are limited.
Bulkeley: The numbers. Yeah. But part of what that meant was that we never learned how to choose friends and what the care and keeping of friends and friendships is. Because there was the group we ran with.
Ritchie: They were always there.
Bulkeley: They were there from first grade on.
Ritchie: Did people move in and out of the town much?
Bulkeley: Sure. But my best friend, Cherry [Byram], her folks were my mother's and father's primary best friends, outside of family, which also, because of the little town and the grandparents, family hung together in that sense, but in my generation, of course, we were all spread out. My older brother Peter, one of our cousins is his age, so they were best buddies. My closest cousin was a year younger, and she ran with a different bunch of people than we did. She ran with her age group, and they all dated older, when our class pretty much stuck together with itself and with just one year ahead of us. And who knows why those dynamics.
I forgot what I was going to say.
Ritchie: You were talking about the keeping of friends and choosing.
Bulkeley: So we didn't learn about all of that stuff, really, and what it involves, until much later. Some of us learned it later, and some of us never did, with the result in its own way not unlike the working-class families where if they stayed in their home town, the women gave up their friends and their activities as part of the compromises with the working-class males, who always needed reinforcement at home because they didn't get it at work. But our whole generation took off. I have one cousin who's still there and is a county judge.
Ritchie: Out of the thirteen of you?
Bulkeley: Yes, and he was the youngest. Peter's best friend Bill is in the next little town south, ten miles away, owns the drugstore. His wife's father owned the drugstore. Bill bought the drugstore in our town and the one in Avon. He owns those, and he's still there. Then two of the adopted cousins are still there. One is a stock clerk for the art supply company, A.B. Dick, and one does odd jobs around town. And the rest of us are gone.
Ritchie: For the most part.
Bulkeley: And have been, from college. Scattered from Las Vegas, New Mexico, to here. The cousin who's a year younger than me is two miles down Connecticut Avenue [Washington, D.C.].
Ritchie: A male or female?
Bulkeley: Female. She's a partner at Arthur Anderson. Actually she's an executive in the Anderson consulting firm, because she's not a C.P.A. But she's been based here for a while, is currently based in Philadelphia, but still has her fancy apartment.
Bulkeley: Just above the Washington Hilton, one of the old buildings. She had it all restored, her 2,700 square feet. But I don't know that she's got friends anywhere.
Ritchie: She just works?
Ritchie: Her work is everything?
Bulkeley: She was married once and still keeps remotely in touch with her former husband. When she was in Chicago and we were in downstate Illinois, she'd bring people from work, and stop on their way to the Indianapolis 500. We were in Danville. So they'd drive down from Chicago for dinner, and then get up at the crack of dawn and go over to beat the crowd into the brickyard. But it was always people connected with work; it wasn't people that she knew from other places. She's done civic stuff. She's had a couple of parties here that we've been to, with people from work or through work association.
So I just don't think we ever, any of us, ever really learned how to do that. If we learned later, it was through the luck of figuring out that we needed to learn it, or by somebody teaching us without even knowing that you call occasionally and stop by and invite out for dinner, and you don't keep a scoreboard. It's not a matter of reciprocity; it's a matter of keeping in touch. And people with whom you can pick up the conversation however many years it's been.
Ritchie: Many years later sometimes.
Bulkeley: Yes. Or that you keep thinking, "I should pick up the phone and call." Or the new directory comes from college, and you say, "Gee, I wonder what she's doing," so you pick up the phone and call. We had to learn that stuff all later. But I just don't think we understood the social-class stuff in those days.
Ritchie: In a small town.
Bulkeley: Yeah. I think it was only later, catching clues. "Kate and Allie," a television show, which we didn't watch, except once I was on the road and it was on, keeping me company while I was packing or unpacking or something, and it's a class reunion. In one of the corners was a guy she had been dating in high school, twenty years earlier, who just suddenly quit calling, and she's furious, still, because he just dropped her. And she says, "That's not the way you treat people." He says, "But it was because I respected you. I wasn't being mean." He says, "I just knew that because of the way things were, we could never make a future, and I didn't want to clutter up your life." Well, I never understood that kids understood that stuff. And that then started making sense to me with some of the encounters and conversations that I'd had with people at class reunions. I didn't even go until my fifteenth anniversary. My class met every five years.
Ritchie: From high school?
Bulkeley: Yeah. But the first one was a picnic at a park with kids, and I was a single newspaper reporter. The second one was a dinner and dance, and I was still a single newspaper reporter. Had nothing to offer. So I didn't go until fifteen, by which time I was running a newspaper and engaged. It wasn't the "running the newspaper" that people stood up and cheered about; it was the "engaged."
Ritchie: How large was your high school class?
Bulkeley: Fifty-one. We lost one in Vietnam. We would have been at the tag end. There's only one in my class who did career military, but, of course, they were also getting drafted. But we graduated in '60, so most of them were out again before anybody was going to Vietnam. Of course, it was only the elite who were going initially.
Michael's class at the Air Force Academy, the four years at the academy, Michael watched the guys—flight school you did after graduating from the academy. It was eighteen months. Michael watched the class leaders from the classes ahead of him doing flight school and being sent to Vietnam and not coming home. So he didn't go to flight school. He graduated from the academy in '66.
Ritchie: And eighteen months later, he would have been gone.
Bulkeley: Oh, yes. Still. They eventually quit sending their elite academy-trained over there as the lead pilots. I think they saw what they were losing on return on investment.
Ritchie: Let's stop for a second.
[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]
Ritchie: We were talking about your high school class and Vietnam, your brother in Vietnam.
Bulkeley: Of course, Michael never went. He eventually went to flight school, but he used that—when he was approaching the deadline for going to flight school, he also was stationed in Panama when there still were all of the bases. It was long before the [Panama Canal] treaty and all of the hostility toward Americans. Anyway, he used flight school to get himself out of Panama far short of the normal tour down there. He also didn't have enough work to do.
Ritchie: In Panama.
Bulkeley: In Panama. He was the procurement officer for the two air bases, Air Force bases, and the Southern Command, but he said it only took him about two hours a day to do the work. Because he wasn't interested in learning Panama or Central America or doing the things that some people would do with that kind of a base and more demand, he was bored to death and wanted to have more to do. He also turned in a proposal suggesting merger of the four branches of the military purchasing offices so that somebody had enough work to do and the staff had enough work to do, and that they could save all of these extra staffs and gain greater price breaks and things through the combined purchasing power. But in the sixties, early seventies, that was not politick.
Ritchie: Everybody wanted their own domain.
Bulkeley: Yes. So anyway, he did flight school and got out of Panama, and he's never again been stationed out of the country.
Ritchie: But he avoided Vietnam.
Bulkeley: And he missed Vietnam. Our class mostly missed, so we lost only one in Vietnam.
Ritchie: What were some of your favorite subjects in high school?
Bulkeley: I only did high school because I had to do high school. High school in those days, in little towns, was either the stuff you had to take for college or the stuff you had to take to go to work.
Ritchie: Was it always assumed or expected that you would go to college?
Bulkeley: Oh, yes, from the time I knew numbers, I knew sixteen was how long I had to go before I could quit going to school.
Ritchie: Sixteen years of school?
Bulkeley: Four years of college. And I had senioritis from probably third or fourth grade on.
Ritchie: Were you a good student?
Bulkeley: Well, I got good grades. I was the only four-point in our high school class. But I didn't know how to study. I knew how to figure out what the teacher wanted and do it, and I don't know that it was all that challenging, anyway. Those of us who were going to college did basic geometry, two years of algebra, physics, and chemistry, but the boys did trig and calculus. I didn't have to. None of the girls had to do trig and calculus, which was the senior-year math. I had four years of English, one year of general science.
Ritchie: Any language?
Bulkeley: Two years of Latin, and it was terrible, because the Latin—they had had Spanish in the high school and lost the Spanish teacher. We didn't have enough numbers to hire a new one. Then they lost the Latin teacher, and somebody who had taught Latin thirty-five years before got drafted at the last minute to teach it. So we did two years of Latin, got partway through the second book, second year, but not very far, because she just kept us going through the first book the second year.
Other classes? History—only American. The only history I ever had started in 1492 and promptly moved into this hemisphere. The only geography I ever had was western hemisphere, and mostly northern continent. I took shorthand because I knew I was going into journalism. I was doing journalism, so I took shorthand. I took typing. I was allowed to take typing as a fifth subject.
Ritchie: But it wasn't a normal college—
Bulkeley: It wasn't normal for college in those days. We had eight class periods, and everybody took four courses. You took the same thing all year.
Ritchie: No changing at semester.
Bulkeley: No changing. There was room for a little bit of elective, but there wasn't really anything to do. My cousin Susan took a couple of years of home ec [economics].
Ritchie: But you had no interest in that?
Bulkeley: No. I was already doing it. I had done as much as I needed to do to keep buttons on and fix hems through 4-H, and I had been cooking for a long time. When my mother's mother was sick and lived her last year and a half in Evanston Hospital with heart failure, Mother would be home a few days and organize and pick up and clean up, and then she'd organize the meals to cover her next trip to Chicago, and leave directions. So I was the chief cook and bottle-washer whenever she was on those trips. People would have us over, it wasn't as if we were totally on our own.
Ritchie: But because you were the daughter, you were expected to step in.
Bulkeley: Yes. So I had learned. I hadn't learned how to mix a meatloaf, but I knew how long it took to cook it and when to take the tin foil off so you'd get it brown. I knew how to make gravy from the time I was old enough to stand at the stove, and I probably was thirty before I knew most people couldn't make gravy and thought it was an art.
Ritchie: It is! [Laughter.]
Bulkeley: I could cream dried beef and tunafish from the time I was in junior high school, and I didn't know that was an art, or a despised food, in the case of creamed dried beef. So there wasn't any reason to take home ec. I didn't see any need for trig and plane geometry. Nobody else saw a need for the girl who was going to journalism to do it. And indeed, journalism had no numbers requirements. Having done the two years of algebra and one of geometry, I was exempt from anything in college, so what else did I take?
Ritchie: Because you had met the requirements.
Bulkeley: Yes. So anyway, that's what you took. There was industrial arts and there was ag [agriculture]. There was business English and there was typing II, which was a lot of business forms and things. There were, I think, four years of industrial arts and four years of ag for people who were doing that. But that's all there was to take in our high school, so it wasn't a matter of having choices. So you did what you were supposed to do. We did everything else, too—band.
Ritchie: I was going to ask about outside interests.
Bulkeley: All of the stuff at high school. I spent a lot of my study halls doing band library, and extra band practice.
Ritchie: What did you play?
Bulkeley: Flute and piccolo. In our day, they started us in fourth grade on band instruments, and I eventually saved enough money to buy a piccolo, too, because I wanted to do that.
Ritchie: Where did your money come from? From allowance?
Bulkeley: Oh, yes, I didn't tell you that. From the time we moved to the country, our allowance stopped when school stopped, and we had to work for room and board. We had to meet our savings account and church pledges, and then we were free to do however much more work we wanted for spending money.
Ritchie: What type of work was this?
Bulkeley: Around the house and the yard. I did house work. My brothers did yard work. I did yard work, too.
Ritchie: Was there a set schedule of payment?
Bulkeley: We negotiated our hourly rate. As I got so I could do the windows faster, I could say, "I'm worth more." And Dad would say, "What are you going to do with it if you have it?" We had to do proper allocation to savings and those other things.
Ritchie: So you each had a savings account?
Bulkeley: We had checking accounts, too. We had both. And we had Christmas clubs from very early.
Ritchie: You don't hear much about those anymore—Christmas clubs.
Bulkeley: You'd think they'd be easy for banks to do in these days, and I think I do hear about them in the little towns. But you'd think with computers and stuff, they'd be a lot easier for savings. Anyway, we did all of that.
Ritchie: What were you saving for?
Bulkeley: Well, if we saved $100, we could buy a share in the brass factory and our grandmother would give us another one. And I saved for the piccolo. You'd save for any big thing. We had a certain amount we had to save anyway, but if we saved more than that, we could do what we wanted to with it, although Dad always liked to know we had a goal. I tell people we were brought up getting our M.B.A. We learned productivity.
Ritchie: So when you say you had to save a certain amount, your father set a goal for you?
Bulkeley: No. Well, I think we negotiated but he may have known. But I think we probably were expected to save 10 percent, I would guess, or maybe 15, and put a like amount into Sunday school, ultimately church. We had our own pledge cards. The Christmas clubs probably started at 50¢ a week, and we were probably into the $2 or $3 ones by the time we quit. But by the time I was fourteen or fifteen, I was taking the train to Chicago to do my Christmas shopping up there.
Ritchie: And how long a ride would that have been?
Bulkeley: Four hours. Three hours. Probably three hours. We'd eat breakfast on the way and be in the Loop just before the stores opened, which probably was ten o'clock. In those days, retailers were a lot smarter. When they were going to stay open at night, they didn't open until noon, even though their public was more available. I never understood stores that still open at nine and ten in the morning, downtown kind of stores, when there's such a relatively small percentage of shoppers available at those hours anymore.
Anyway, from the time we moved to the country, that was—during the school year, we had stuff we had to do for our allowance, and our allowances were budgeted. And that always went on, too. We did not get paid for grades. We got threatened if we didn't. As we each found out that our classmates were getting paid, we'd go home and say, "So-and-so is getting a dime. Why don't we?" Dad said, "You know what you get if you don't bring home the grades." End of discussion.
But the piano practicing and the chores around the house, of course increasing as our competencies were. So we grew up knowing money management and value.
Ritchie: Financial responsibility.
Bulkeley: True. And that you had to earn money; it didn't just come. I still get tickled when I see newspapers using "earn" as the verb for "pay." I don't see how anybody who gets $25 million or $30 million or $5 million or even $2 million from a company in any year earned it. By the same token, there are a lot of people who only get $20,000 or $30,000, who earned a heck of a lot more than that. Anyway, that's just another piece that we got to.
Ritchie: You mentioned band as an outside activity, and earlier your briefly mentioned 4-H.
Bulkeley: We did Scouts. We did 4-H in the community. Sunday school is what we all went to—not church. Sunday school we went to every week. Church—the earliest I remember is every other week, having to go.
Ritchie: In addition to Sunday school?
Bulkeley: Yes. Then after the minister came with four sons, starting one a year older than me, the girls all started going every week, because the Ebright boys did, too. But we did all of the clubs and stuff at school—Science Club, Latin Club. I was on the student council a couple of years. GAA—Girls Athletic Association.
Ritchie: What sports did you play?
Bulkeley: Whatever we did at GAA. That was long before Title whatever.* Our P.E. teacher—we were required to do P.E. every day of the week, but our P.E. teacher was the last one the school system hired after all of the bus drivers and kitchen help, so whatever they had left, they hired the girls' one P.E. teacher.
Ritchie: For all grades?
Bulkeley: For all in high school. They didn't have P.E. teachers in those days in the lower grades. But there were always three or four or five men—coaches. We had one P.E. teacher who did the cheerleaders and GAA and all of the girls' P.E., probably seven classes a day out of the eight periods, and it was awful. We played either softball or soccer, baseball, outdoors until it got so we couldn't stay outdoors. Then we'd come in and we'd either do volleyball or basketball. At the semester break, we'd switch and do the other one. Then we'd go back outdoors when we could, and do the other one outdoors. And if you couldn't do it, you never learned it.
* Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the basis for gender equality in sports at high schools and universities receiving federal financial assistance.
I had a golf teacher when I was about forty-five, who hands me the club reversed at our first session and says, "Swing it like a baseball bat." I said, "John, I don't know how to swing a baseball bat." He says, "Everybody knows how to swing a baseball bat." I said, "Well, you stand like this, and when the ball comes, you go like that." He looked at me and said, "Why don't you know how to swing a baseball bat?" So I reminded him that there was a time when girls weren't supposed to be athletic, or when it didn't matter.
Ritchie: Were you ever a cheerleader?
Bulkeley: Yes, for one year. Junior high sports included ninth grade. In ninth grade, two of my best friends and I were the junior-high cheerleaders for football and basketball.
Ritchie: So that kept you busy.
Bulkeley: Yes. Plus the music lessons. We all did band and chorus. Those were both within the eight class periods. Band was every day; chorus was three times a week. I accompanied my class sextet in high school, and ultimately I was one of the key accompanists in the school. I played for opening exercises at Sunday school for two years. I got to pick the hymns, as well as play them. Sang in church choir. We had a youth choir that was all girls, junior high and high school. There was a short period when the adult choir didn't have thirty people, which is what the choir loft held, so some of us sang in it, too—my last two or three years in high school. We all did music contests, but I also accompanied several people.
Ritchie: Who were in the contests?
Bulkeley: In contests, including children of other piano teachers. There were other piano teachers saying, "She's the best accompanist available." Not just my own piano teacher or not just the piano students of Mrs. Graves.
What else did we do? Of course, everybody did—in those days, we all did floats for the homecoming parade. Abingdon has a fall festival every year, and did even in those days, in the late summer. So we did doll buggy parade and we did bicycle parade. I did some of my own thinking-up for bicycle parade things. The only one I really remember is my pirate ship.
Ritchie: Making the bicycle into a pirate ship.
Bulkeley: Yes. It wasn't as grand as these days. We all did all the clubs and things available, and we all did all of the fundraisers. I used to know how many times I canvassed the whole little town selling class play tickets, chili supper tickets. The high school band sold fruitcake. That was the first of the exotic product sales that I encountered, was when we sold fruitcake and made the most money. Lots of bake sales. The health authorities hadn't gotten involved in bake sales in those days, so almost every Saturday there was a bake sale at the Gamble Store uptown. It had the best window.
Ritchie: This would be to raise money for what?
Bulkeley: To raise money for whatever, or the Scout troop or the 4-H Club or school activities. The senior trip. Most of what we raised money for all the way through high school was our senior trip, which was a train ride to Chicago, a day in Chicago, and the train ride home after whatever we did that night. The high school seniors from my school this year went to Bermuda, but they couldn't all go; they didn't all have money or approval. But compared with our own train car on
the milk train that went through anyway, and doing Midway Airport, one of the fancy movies at one of the fancy theaters, because the Schubert didn't have anything on when we went, and a ball game, that basically is what our senior trip was.
Ritchie: A whole day.
Bulkeley: Twenty-five hours. Because it was the longest I had ever worn my contact lenses. But compared with that, even relatively, the cost of going to Bermuda from downstate Illinois is so much more, but now they don't all do homecoming. To make a decent parade at all for homecoming, the whole community gets in. The best contingent in the parade is all of the wheelchair patients from the nursing home, with their helpers pushing them.
My older brother and his buddies had a seven-member combo for probably three years in high school. There was also a high school dance band. Peter accompanied that. I couldn't ever do that kind of accompaniment. Because of the fight about the piano theory, formally learning it, I never learned how to chord and to play by ear and to improvise, which, of course, I was supposed to have learned from the theory lessons. I absolutely mental-blocked it. I have to have music to play the piano. My older brother didn't. So he not only had his own little band, but he was also the accompanist for the dance band for a couple of years. By the time it got to my senior year, the class right ahead of us had a good piano player, but I really couldn't do the dance band kind of accompanying. I could do everything else.
What else did we do? Of course, Peter did Scouts. His Scout troop camped out in our timber a lot, or his buddies would just camp out there. We had a swimming pool, because the factory had swimming pool parts. We had a pool that my folks had put in between my junior and senior years in high school. Lake Bracken had movies every Sunday night during the summer, so we always did those for years. When we were young, families or friend groups would do picnics at the lake on Sundays, and the mothers and kids would do picnics during the week. As we got older, we didn't do picnics except on big-deal days by the time we were in high school and we could drive. Summer band and band concerts. Music camp.
Ritchie: What was the first outside-the-home job that you ever had?
Bulkeley: Gathering and folding the Abingdon Argus vacation issue—other than babysitting.
Ritchie: So you babysat.
Bulkeley: Yeah, and not a whole lot, because we lived a mile and a half out of town, and there were usually closer babysitters. So we were always last resort, but I babysat for two relative families, the one with the adopted children and one other one, and one family-friend family. Two family-friend families. But not a whole lot.
Ritchie: How did you become interested in the newspaper?
Bulkeley: Girl Scout badge. The Argus girls, Gene and Mary Lou, started their newspaper in our town while we still lived in town. It would have been '49 or '50.
Ritchie: And they were two sisters?
Bulkeley: No. They were two friends. Mary Lou was a chemist, and Gene was a journalism graduate from the University of Illinois. But in the forties, girls couldn't get journalism jobs.
College journalism graduate women couldn't get journalism jobs. Gene had some family backing, so they started this paper with a used offset press, because they could handle the aluminum plates, and Mary Lou knew the chemistry, because in those days the offset stuff was not already made, and the plates were not pre-sensitized or any of that stuff. You had to do all of that. There was an ancient weekly that looked like a museum piece. It was a sheet-fed letter press which closed a couple of years later.
Ritchie: Why did they start in your town? Were they from the town?
Bulkeley: Gene was from the next city, from Galesburg, and had an older stepsister who had money, but who was also wheelchair-bound with MS [Multiple Sclerosis] in our town. So Gene came there and lived with her sister and the sister's husband, and started the paper, because the Abingdon Kodak was so awful and in those days, Abingdon had a strong retail core. The industrial base in Abingdon, if you didn't look at the scale of it, would have made it look like Cleveland or somewhere in those days, with the three factories. It had one industrial job for every other job there was in town, and total jobs in town equal to a third, or 40 percent, of the population, with people coming from the countryside to work. So it was a good market for a paper. The Argus, at its peak, had over three thousand circulation and was running twenty-four to forty-eight tabloid pages a week, when Abingdon still had big grocery stores and neighborhood grocery stores, three full blocks of stores downtown and beauty shops everywhere.
Ritchie: No malls?
Bulkeley: No malls anywhere. Not everybody had cars. Lots of households were still one family, so people didn't run to Galesburg for all of their activities. It was still an outing. You planned to go to Galesburg; you didn't just go. Although a lot of people worked up there. But they worked and they came home, and they shopped where they lived at home.
Ritchie: Do you remember when this newspaper started?
Bulkeley: Yeah, because it was delivered everywhere and it was filthy dirty, grubby, because people weren't doing offset newspapers in those days. So the printing was muddy and crummy early on, and we didn't buy it; it just came. Everybody thought they were crazy, of course, because the Shoemakers had their paper and we didn't need another paper, except we soon did. Pretty soon the Argus was, in fact, the newspaper.
So I was doing Girl Scout badges for something to do in eighth grade. I did twenty-five or thirty, and journalism was one of them, which then gave me the connection with Gene and Mary Lou. They had a couple of employees in those days. But that's when I found out that the label "journalism" covered a multitude of things, almost beyond definition, because with what it took to be a journalist, you could earn your living in almost any field.
Ritchie: The skills that you learned?
Bulkeley: Yes, because even in those days there were church magazines and Rotary magazines and science magazines, and there were specialists within the news media. So whatever I really got interested in, if I had to earn my living, I could do it with the journalism training. So anyway, that also stopped people who said, "What are you going to be when you grow up, little girl?" And I could say, "Journalism," and that would end the discussion, which was all right.
Ritchie: What would you have said before that? Had you thought at all about it before then?
Bulkeley: I don't think so, but my mother said I was going to be a dress designer, and she had that all planned, that I was going to have useful art skills—art skills and training with which I could make my money, make a living, unlike her art, which wasn't. And that really didn't interest me.
Ritchie: Her opportunities were somewhat limited.
Bulkeley: But it was better than teaching or nursing or secretarial work.
Ritchie: She thought that?
Bulkeley: She did and I did.
Ritchie: You did, too.
Bulkeley: What did we know about it? What we knew about it was the teachers we had. Nursing meant sick people and secretaries were the lower class. We didn't know lower class, but they were those women who had to work at the office, and they didn't have the education to do nursing or teaching.
Bulkeley: Anyway, journalism gave me an answer, and it wasn't anything anybody seriously undermined or attacked, because indeed there were Gene and Mary Lou, the Argus girls, who by then were an established, accepted part of the community.
Ritchie: I see. Argus is not their last name.
Bulkeley: No. Argus is the newspaper—the Abingdon Argus. I forget.
Ritchie: When you said "Argus girls," I thought that they were sisters with the last name of Argus.
Bulkeley: No. Gene Cunningham and Mary Lou Stover.
Ritchie: What does the word Argus mean?
Bulkeley: I don't know, but there's lots of newspapers with that name. I've never looked it up or heard anybody talk about it.*
Ritchie: I thought that was their family name.
Bulkeley: No. The other paper was the Abingdon Kodak. But anyway, no, it was the Abingdon Argus was the newspaper. I started work there as soon as I was legally able to work around machinery, which I suppose would have been sixteen even in those days, even in Illinois. While there were girls who delivered our paper when we lived in town sometimes, it wasn't legal in those days—wasn't legal in Illinois until much later for girls to even be newspaper carriers.
* Argus (Greek mythology). A giant with a hundred eyes, ordered by Hera to watch Io. After he was killed by Hermes, his eyes were put on the tail of the peacock. Any alert or watchful person; a guardian.
Ritchie: Girls specifically or because of their age?
Bulkeley: I would guess because of the age and the hours a newspaper carrier works, and because—no, it wasn't one man one vote, so it wouldn't have been city people not wanting girls out on the streets. It probably was the protective legislation generally. I don't really know. It probably was just that they never put girls in when they authorized boys to work as carriers.
Gene and Mary Lou did mountain-climbing and stuff on vacation. They just closed down and left for two or three weeks for vacations.
Ritchie: The whole paper shut down?
Bulkeley: But for whatever reason—and I think they said mail permit—they did advance papers for the two weeks they were gone. Sheet-fed paper meant you did two tab pages on one side, had to bounce the papers and run them back through to do the other side, then had to hand-gather and fold.
Ritchie: So you went around and got all the sheets together and folded them over.
Bulkeley: Right. And they usually figured it out so you stood in one place. [There were] no more than three double-wides. Sometimes there would have to be a half-size page if that's how the pages were. So you could do three doubles or two [doubles] and a single. Sometimes it would only be two doubles. But I spent two weeks doing that—nothing but bouncing and folding, gathering and folding newspapers, and got to be the fastest one they ever had, because you had to do something with your head. So I'd sit there and figure out what was the most efficient way—stack height and relationship to each other and space between, placement of feet, what degree of lock or loose in the knees.
Ritchie: Just to keep things moving.
Bulkeley: And how much body sway and how much arm reach, all of that stuff. That was my first job.
Ritchie: Do you remember how much you got paid for it?
Bulkeley: No. It was probably something wonderful like a quarter an hour. My first weekly job, I got $30. My first job at the daily, I think I got $30 a week, but that was between my freshman and sophomore years in college. I worked for the Argus, I did routine reporting and phone answering. They did job work and all kinds of things.
Ritchie: During high school?
Bulkeley: Yeah. I worked summers, that summer, the next two summers. They sold the paper the end of my junior year. When Peter was a high school senior, we started doing the high school paper as a page in the Argus, and Peter was editor. So when I would have been the editor my senior year, they sold the paper. But Gene also agreed to stay for a while, and then I did high school news as a column. The guy who bought it ran back and forth from Ohio, so she really was still running it mostly, as he was getting to know it. He mostly did advertising, anyway, so I still worked for her doing a high school column and working Saturdays. I think that was my senior year.
Ritchie: Did she encourage you to pursue this as a career?
Bulkeley: Oh, sure. That's why they took me on, starting with the hand-folding job. I was covering city council meetings and school board meetings when they weren't there. Gene did it mostly. In fact, Gene was on the school board, and nobody really thought a whole lot about it as a conflict of interest that she was also writing the school board stories. It just was efficient. But they encouraged me.
I also did the High School Institute at Northwestern between my junior and senior years. Peter did it in engineering. Then I did it. Then Michael did it. It was one of the first times they had had a first set of siblings go through. We didn't have journalism at school, so what we got from Gene those years, that it was part of the paper, was any training we had.
Ritchie: What did your parents think about this?
Bulkeley: As far as I know, they thought it was fine. I don't know if Mother and Dad had disagreements about it or if they only had disagreements when I was ready to go to Rochester, New York, after college. But I was going to school within bounds—either Northwestern [University] or [University of] Missouri. I couldn't go to the University of Illinois, because Peter was there.
Ritchie: You didn't want to go there?
Bulkeley: That's right. There were only 20,000 students there in those days, and Peter was one of them.
Ritchie: You might bump into him.
Bulkeley: Yeah. And even though that was Gene's journalism school and my dad's school, and its journalism school was in high repute in those days, I didn't ever even consider going there.
At Northwestern, I got the distinct impression that they thought girls were more limited in what they could do as journalists than boys.
Ritchie: But you didn't feel that?
Bulkeley: No. Heavens, no. I mean, Gene and Mary Lou started their own newspaper. So it never occurred to me. I hadn't really decided what I wanted to do with newspapering, but it didn't occur to me that we had less to offer. I only had those glimmers of different expectations.
So I applied to Northwestern, but I also knew how much it cost, and that our folks wouldn't fill out the financial disclosure forms, and knew if they did, we couldn't get scholarships anyway in those days. And I liked the feel much better at Missouri. So I applied to Northwestern so I could have the privilege of turning it down. It was probably the first overt snide thing I ever did, when I knew I was being snide. And I was accepted, and I turned it down and went to Missouri.
Ritchie: Did any of your high school teachers encourage you in the direction of journalism or writing?
Bulkeley: Oh, I think they just generally encouraged once I had announced what I was doing. I don't think there was a whole lot of career direction for anybody. In my class, half of us went on to something, if you count barber school and if you count military, and that was normal in those days. We also lost nearly half between seventh grade and high school graduation. We were ninety-eight in seventh grade, and fifty-one when we graduated. That was no big deal in the fifties. Then, as I say, of the half that were still there, only half of us went on to something other than getting married or just work—in the factories or somewhere.
But I don't recall any specific direction or pushing. People knew I was going to be the editor of the Commando, the student newspaper. That was our team name as well. So one of my best friends, Merrilee, was the yearbook editor, only then the Commando wasn't there, because the Argus had been sold and the new owner, even though Gene was still there, didn't want to commit to the time and attention. Instead, I got paid to do a high school column.
Ritchie: In the newspaper.
Bulkeley: In the Argus. So I didn't get to be yearbook editor, either. I obviously had enough to do, but I don't really know.
Ritchie: It sounds like it.
Bulkeley: I didn't do GAA my senior year. I could get the yearbook out. I've got my yearbooks. Not my junior yearbook. I gave that to Godfrey Ebright a couple of years ago, because he didn't have his, so I gave him my junior one, which is his senior. The oldest of the minister's sons. I found him because everybody had lost him, and one of the guys from his—my class and the class of '59 do reunions together in order to have enough people to have a decent party. One of the guys from his class assigned me to find Ebright, because I was doing the most travel. And I found him. He's a minister in Mesa, Arizona, which my brothers knew, and I don't know why his class didn't know it, and I don't know why I didn't know it. But anyway—
Ritchie: But you were the investigator who found him.
Bulkeley: I was invited to go do a speech in Phoenix at one point, so I agreed, and arranged it so I could stay over, because it was an Associated Press group I was interested in, anyway. I spent four months trying to get up enough nerve to write [to him]. Nobody had seen Ebright or talked to him since college. Methodists move their ministers, so his family was long gone from our town. And nobody knew where he had gone. So I finally, ten days before the trip, having not written, I finally just picked up the phone and called, and he answered at his church. My speech was Friday sometime, had dinner Saturday night with him and his wife, and went to his church on Sunday and met all his kids and his congregation, at least one service worth, before I came home. And we've kept in touch off and on ever since. For whatever reason, he had closed off the Abingdon years, even though it was his junior high and high school. But over time, then he got interested in rethinking that, and I knew he didn't have his yearbook, so I sent him mine. So I don't have my junior one, but I've got the rest of them from junior high on.
I did speech contests and music contests. I did a lot of the accompanying.
Ritchie: Did you get any awards in high school?
Bulkeley: Well, sure, in something. I always got "first" at state in music. Illinois in those days did not separate sports by school size, but I think separated the biggest city schools out from the rest of us in music contests.
Ritchie: So you had more of a chance?
Bulkeley: [It was] competitive. But they also tried to teach us that they were measuring against general standards, not against each other. They didn't have X number of firsts, seconds, and thirds they were giving. We were each rated on our own performance.
[End Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]
Bulkeley: The band always played. Sometimes my friend Cherry Byram and I would do flute duets. We had this sextet from our class that sang every year. I did piano contests, but I never got to—we had to have a local elimination piano contest, because you could only send X number of entries in. I never got past the local elimination in piano contests, although one judge apologized to me after the local contest. He said, "By the time of the contest, you would have been the best entry, and I don't know why I judged it the way I did, but I'm not going to change it now that we've announced the results."
I had a school teacher do that to me once—a college teacher. The one class I flunked a mid-term and wrote a perfect final on, I got a C in college. I saw the faculty member, and I said, "I wrote a perfect final and was the first one out of there. How come I only got a C?" He said, "I did a straight average of the grades." He said, "That's what I do." I said, "That doesn't make sense when you've got somebody who knows it better than everybody at the end."
Ritchie: And then to get a C.
Bulkeley: He says, "Well, maybe not, but I've already posted the grades, and I never change grades." I said, "You're really lucky, because you will never have in your classroom anybody I know as long as I'm on this campus." Well, that's kind of the way this judge was at the music contest. I didn't really think a whole lot of it.
I took harp lessons for two years. That was one of the make-ups my mother did. I went to music camp from junior high on.
Ritchie: In the summer?
Bulkeley: In the summer. That was early in the days of camp, other than camping. We did camp-out kind of camping at Lake Bracken a couple of years.
Ritchie: Did your family ever take vacations away from home?
Bulkeley: We did three. Vacations were still news in those days. Although we could only go where we knew people, the first trip was to Arizona, and it was '52, because on the way back, my mother looked for motels with television sets so she could watch the Republican convention. That also was when they were starting the interstates, so we drove on a lot of dirt and through a lot of construction. But anyway, we did Arizona.
Dad went with us partway. Dad's family lived in Richmond, Missouri, which is near Kansas City, and Oklahoma City, and I think that's where Dad left, came home. Then we went on
to Williams, Arizona, where friends of Mother's were and owned a motel. We stayed there probably ten days and did the Grand Canyon and Boulder Dam and Las Vegas, where we sat in a drugstore while Mother and Bill McKee went into the casino. And Black Creek Canyon. Bill was a geologist, so he knew about stuff that wasn't normal tourist stuff yet and Black Creek Canyon was one of those. Williams is near Scottsdale? No. I've forgotten. The motel owner and his wife went off to see the wife's folks probably in Tucson, and we stayed at the motel. Their kids were close to our age.
We did a short trip to Topeka, Kansas, to deliver papers to the historical society. After my grandmother died, the big house, her house, had a full attic with regular stairs up to it. My goodness. As Mother and the sisters and sisters-in-law of my dad were cleaning out the attic, Peter was also there, and managed to save a bushel basket full of letters and two family Bibles. The letters turned out to include some of the official papers of Colonel E.N.O. Clough, who was the claims adjuster for the Missouri Territory following the Civil War. He had mustering-out rolls and various other kinds of military papers. The Kansas Historical Society is also the caretaker of the Missouri Territory, we found out eventually. So they wanted those papers, not the family Bibles. We had somebody's handwritten Santa Fe Trail story and some other stuff. I don't remember all of it anymore. But anyway, we did one trip to take those papers out and deliver them. We stopped at Lake of the Ozarks for a few days on the way back. That was the short trip.
The third trip was to Rhode Island, where Mother had friends with a big house in Wakefield, which is on the bay, I guess. We went through Canada and through upstate New York and Burlington, Vermont, and across. We did some of the stuff in the mountains there—the Old Man of the Mountains natural sculpture. Rhode Island, down the coast, and back.
On the way back from Arizona, we did relatives in Albuquerque, distant relatives of Mother's, and we did Carlsbad Cavern. I don't remember any other sightseeing from that trip, but that was '52, which would have been between fourth and fifth grade.
Rhode Island, I think, was probably '57, right before Peter graduated from high school. He graduated in '58. Kansas would have been in between somewhere. But the two big trips were three weeks, roughly, and the in-between one was ten days, I would guess. We did part of Boston. I had read The House of Seven Gables and some of those other things. We did the walking tour, but we didn't get to North Church. That's one of my paranoid stories. We stopped one stop short. The next stop was North Church, but there was some backtracking. Mother says, "Do we want to go on?" And before I could say, "Yes," Peter and Michael both said, "No." So I was never heard.
Ritchie: That was the decision.
Bulkeley: And we climbed the Bunker Hill monument on Breed's Hill and those things. The original Bulkeleys landed in Boston in 1635, and helped found Concord, Mass. So part of the reason for poking around up there was to go to Concord and stand by the rock that said "The Reverend Peter Bulkeley" on it, that kind of stuff, and to walk the common where the Gilbert Stuart grave is, because Mother's family claims connections to the royal Stuarts through Gilbert Stuart, though there aren't any records on any of that. We didn't go into New York City.
Ritchie: But it was a long vacation.
Bulkeley: Long trip, a lot of time in the car. Came back on the Pennsylvania Turnpike through the tunnels. So that was the third trip.
Ritchie: You mentioned having read House of Seven Gables. Earlier you talked about when you learned to read. What were some of your favorite books growing up, do you remember?
Bulkeley: We grew up hearing the Oz books, being read the Oz books and another series called Sunny Boy Horton. He was so bright, they called him Sunny.
Ritchie: Your mother would read these?
Bulkeley: Mother read to us, yes.
Ritchie: In the evenings?
Bulkeley: Evenings. Winnie the Pooh. A lot of the books that were written for adults to read out loud, because they had stuff that was funny for adults, too. Mother could never get through the Heffalump story in Winnie the Pooh, because she'd be rolling on the floor, laughing.
We also listened to stuff on the radio and we played cards. We didn't have television until, I think, I was in fifth grade. My grandparents in Chicago got television at Thanksgiving in 1948 when we were there. You didn't ask that, but that—
Ritchie: You remember that?
Bulkeley: Yes. My first book, my first fancy book—we all had our own comic book subscriptions and appropriate magazines. Jack and Jill was my magazine. Peter got the big one.
Ritchie: Saturday Evening Post?
Bulkeley: No, that was a family magazine.
Ritchie: Boy's Life or one of those?
Bulkeley: He got Boy's Life because he was in Boy Scouts, but he also got another one.
Bulkeley: Yes. Children's Highlights. I've forgotten what Michael's was. My comic was Loony Toons—Bugs Bunny. Peter's was Donald Duck, and Michael's was Little Lulu.
Ritchie: And you'd each get your own and then you'd trade?
Bulkeley: Right. And we'd also buy some sometimes when we had extra spending money. We also went to movies every Saturday. Movies were 14¢ and popcorn was 7¢. There would be a cowboy and a funny one, and cartoons.
Ritchie: Would the three of you go together or would you go with your friends?
Bulkeley: We'd meet our friends there. Everybody went. Sometimes I'd go on Sunday with my friends, meet my friends. The Sunday movies were only one, and they were the color musicals, and they cost a quarter.
Ritchie: Much more.
Bulkeley: For a few years, my around-the-corner-in-town best friend's father worked at Sears. The Howards. If he had to work Saturdays, we'd go up and go to the Orpheum and watch the twenty-five cartoons, and walk over to Sears, and Walter would be through, and we'd come home. But I brought home all of the childhood diseases from that. I was the first to get chicken pox and mumps and measles.
Ritchie: From going to the cartoons?
Bulkeley: Going to Galesburg to the movies, to the cartoons. At least that's what everybody assumed, because I had them first. I had encephalitis meningitis with the mumps.
Bulkeley: Yeah, whoopee. I'm told I was deaf for six months after that.
Ritchie: Do you remember that?
Bulkeley: I remember being very sick and being in the dark room, my room being dark. I don't remember being deaf. I don't really remember a whole lot about earaches and things, but I had them. Then I remember just sort of generally other times being sick, because mostly whoever was sick got to be in Mother and Dad's big bed during the day and listen to the radio, in both houses. As you started to get well in town, you could come down on the couch in the living room. It was a much smaller house, of course, so Mother wouldn't have to run up and down stairs.
Ritchie: Is that why your parents built the house in the country—for more room?
Bulkeley: Uh-huh. I didn't know what they were doing at the time, but I remember the little old lady we used to visit with the big house, that Mother and Dad spent a couple of years trying to buy, and Mrs. Norris kept changing her mind. Finally, they gave up on her selling their house, and built instead.
Ritchie: How was your father involved in the childrearing at home? Did he participate?
Bulkeley: He did the money management piece, and he did the Scout piece, he was on the Scout Commission for thirty or forty years, helping run the whole territory as a volunteer board member. But he always was in charge of the work in the yard. I learned to run the small power mower. It was one of the rotary motors. So he always was in charge of any yard work we did. We planted evergreens from the state nursery, reforested part of the timber. He was always in charge of that stuff. But in those terms, by setting the expectations and enforcing them, he was really the boss of a lot of things.
Ritchie: Very much there and a part of it.
Bulkeley: Yeah. Including Sunday school and church. Mother sang in the choir, but it was Dad who was involved with church, primarily, so he was the enforcer of that. We'd go to the factory with him when he'd stop by on Sundays or Saturdays. We'd do other stuff with him. I think he counseled people around town who had financial trouble, or employees who had financial trouble, because I know lots of times we'd go to somebody's house and play with their kids or sit in the car while Dad would be in having meetings with them about something. Sometimes he'd take us out when he ran errands—probably to give Mother a break on Saturdays. Or we'd go out in the evening for ice cream.
Ritchie: With him?
Bulkeley: Yeah, or to the Maid Rite, in those days when kids could eat whole sandwiches. Yeah, he was involved with us, I suspect more than a lot of people, although I don't really know. We haven't really ever talked through any of that. Because I remember seeing a lot of other people's fathers, too, and maybe it's small town. I mean, my dad's office was on the other side of town, and that was five minutes. But he came home for lunch. We didn't have lunch at school. Well, we carried lunch once we moved to the country. But then we started sometimes walking to the factory and riding home with Dad for lunch, because they never changed from the one-hour lunch hour.
Ritchie: So you had the time to do that.
Bulkeley: So we had time. And I think that's probably because they never closed the campus. People who lived in town could always go home. The school busing started when I started school. They started consolidating and closing the country schools.
Ritchie: And bringing—
Bulkeley: And bringing kids in. I think it took them three years to close them all, but by then half of the people in our school were bused, and state aid was on a per capita basis, so if it snowed, we didn't have school. If they couldn't send the buses out at seven, we didn't have school.
Ritchie: To get enough students in.
Bulkeley: Yeah. That was just an aside, obviously. I don't know how relative it was to anything. Oh, I know. But they never closed the campus and said you had to stay for lunch. Once they could bust up the school and not have six grades in the high school, they started doing hot lunches. Our junior high was right across the street. My old grade school that was made junior high was right across the street, so we went to the high school for gym and could go over for meals. The grade school had hot meals from the time it opened—30¢. I always carried my extra money in my penny loafers, my back-up, in case I lost my lunch money.
Ritchie: Do you think you missed anything growing up in a small town?
Bulkeley: No, I think we got a lot more, and partly because our folks also—when we'd go visit grandparents, we'd do other stuff, and because our trips weren't to human-made entertainment. I remember all of the Knott's Berry Farm and Disney World trips people were taking, which mostly was what we reported in the Argus when I was writing up all those little trips and things.
Galesburg had a civic music association, and we went to music stuff up there. We did some art, not a whole lot. One of the family stories is about the time there was a modern art exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago, and we all had to leave because my brothers and I were laughing so much at most of the garbage. But we did the Museum of Science and Industry and the Natural History Museum and the planetarium and the aquarium, and we did the fancy dining room at Marshall Fields and Carsons Pirie Scott with Grandmother or with our mother.
Ritchie: So really you had both worlds.
Bulkeley: And we did the history as well as museums and things on the family trips. It wasn't just visiting friends, and we didn't just hang around all day. We did rodeos and, as I mentioned, the Grand Canyon and some of those other things, and stuff along the way. But we also had to learn how to entertain ourselves and how to make entertainment out of what was there. We learned how to hunt arrowheads and how to know the trees and how to hunt mushrooms and take hikes in the woods and hang ropes from the branches so we could swing across the creek, and how to wade the creek and find our way back up and down the creek. My brother and his friends did camping out.
My best friend, Cherry Byram, her family was in second or third generation of having cabins in Northern Wisconsin, so two different summers I spent a month up there. Again, that's some of what I got that my brothers didn't. I went on canoe trips with the Byrams, so I did camping out then. It was "pitching tent" kind of camping. Our Girl Scout troop went to Starved Rock State Park.
Mother also took us places on school holidays. On teachers institutes, we did the Mark Twain stuff in Hannibal, we did the state capitol, we did Galena, Illinois, we did I don't remember what else. Oh, Bishop Hill and Nauvoo. Bishop Hill was a Swedish socialist settlement, Nauvoo was the Mormons.
Ritchie: In Illinois?
Bulkeley: In Illinois. And Lovejoy. I keep forgetting you're a historian, not a journalist. Lovejoy was a freedom of the press case, a destroyed press during the attacks on the Mormons in Illinois. Nauvoo is one of the places that the Mormons were driven out of the—they had come from Missouri back to Illinois, to Nauvoo, and then they went West. Some of them split both after Missouri and after Nauvoo, some of the splits came. But anyway, we did those kinds of things on school holidays.
Ritchie: So although you lived in a small town, you were very exposed to the things around you in the state.
Bulkeley: And I had harp lessons for two years and played with the orchestra, besides playing with the band in high school. I played with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony one year. Music camp.
Ritchie: You mentioned writing for the newspaper in high school. You wrote about high school events?
Bulkeley: Yes, both when we did the high school page in the Argus and that last year when I did the high school news in a semi-column format for the Argus.
Ritchie: So you would report on what was happening in the school.
Bulkeley: Right. The club meetings and homecoming plans. I covered sports. The Argus covered all of the sports. "All of the sports" meant the boys' football and the boys' basketball and the boys' baseball and the boys' track. So Gene could cover them all. But I learned how to do photography when you didn't have the fast film and the intense lights.
Ritchie: So you would take the photographs to accompany or to be in the newspaper.
Bulkeley: To go with, as part of the illustration. I also learned how to keep basketball score, but that was to keep me entertained during basketball, because I never liked basketball. Of course, that year I was in cheerleading, I had to go to all of our junior high games, and that's what everybody did, so you went to all the other games, too. But nobody ever bothered teaching us the subtleties of knowing where your best shot is from the floor and how you set up plays and make plays to give your best shooters the best shots from their best places. Nobody ever taught the girls that. And since I never dated anybody—which I much later learned wasn't because I was weird, it was because I was the boss' daughter—I never learned any of that. Although I learned to keep score, but not based on types of shots and shooting and from where; just shots and misses.
Ritchie: You didn't really understand the game.
Bulkeley: But I didn't understand the strategies and the finesses and nuances of the game. I did football. I understood football. But it was—well, for whatever reason, I understood football. Michael played; Peter didn't. But I started going to football early. I started having season tickets for football in grade school—fifth or sixth grade.
Ritchie: So you enjoyed that sport.
Bulkeley: Yeah, and again I have no idea why. There wasn't nearly as much of it, of course. Basketball was three nights a week, usually, one week night and both weekends, Friday and Saturday. And the junior varsity played before varsity. We weren't junior varsity; we were junior high. We didn't have as many games. But we all went to all of the high school games, too, and a lot of the out-of-town games, because they'd take school buses. It wasn't that we had three nights of home games; it was three nights altogether. But for whatever, the 40¢ or 60¢ or whatever, we could go on school buses, go to out-of-town games, so we did that. Nobody paid any attention to baseball. We did track and went to out-of-town track meets and wandered around. The track was also at the football field, and you could wander around that and watch it. But girls didn't do sports, so I just never learned about basketball.
Ritchie: Did that bother you at all?
Bulkeley: I knew as much as anybody else did. I knew more, because I had the score book, and people were always checking my score book to see the statistics on their favorite people. It was only the players and the coaches, generally, who were plugged into the play-making for the game.
Ritchie: So it was a mystery to a lot of people.
Bulkeley: Well, it wasn't a mystery. Everybody ran up and down and you shot baskets and made points, and that was enough activity for most people and enough to keep most people interested and engaged with the game—cheering and yelling. I just got bored, so I learned how to keep score, for something to do.
Ritchie: So this would be a part of your reporting? You would use this information in your writing?
Bulkeley: I don't think I ever wrote the sports games. A woman named Tede Verner, who was several years older than me, was a jock and was one of the women's amateur golfers, outstanding in the territory, even in high school, wrote a lot of the games. Gene just knocked them out and wrote them, ran the statistics. This stuff I did was mostly the routine calling up people—
Page 30 we heard So-and-so was on vacation, so we'd call up and find out, or the obits. No, the funeral home brought the obits; we didn't have to do those. We covered the Bunko clubs and Rotary and Kiwanis and all of that stuff, a lot of it by telephone. People would bring in pieces on the out-of-town guests or the little trips, or we'd hear about them and call them up and get them and write them. We had a club meeting book that had every organization in town and when it met—the sewing circles and the card clubs, the Eastern Stars and the Shrines and all of them. That was part of the regular work, checking on all of those, getting them in the paper. None of that stuff is there anymore. I don't think it still happens. It's not in the Argus, if it does. The college kids home, the new jobs.
Ritchie: So you would write it up and then turn it in to Gene?
Bulkeley: Or even put it over to be set in type. Especially the early years, I'd turn it in to somebody else, Gene or Mary Lou, to edit it. But we also had to do our own proofreading and put our own corrections in after the type was set, because offset was paste-up black on white, and then it was photographed, and then printed on the plate from the negative.
Ritchie: So you would see a paste-up of it.
Bulkeley: We'd see the photographic print out of the typesetter, columns of type, and proofread it, then paste in the corrections. Then the page would be pasted up from that, photographed. Then any imperfections on the page, we'd paint out—the lines that the shadows had made around words we'd pasted in or any of that stuff. We'd white-out or opaque-out. Then the negative would be used to print the plate, which then went on the press, and the part of the plate that was exposed held ink, and the part that wasn't exposed didn't. Then it offset on a roller onto the paper. Gene ran the press. Mary Lou did the chemistry. They both did the darkroom. I learned to do the darkroom part of photography, not of the plates. They had one of those huge cameras—enlarging cameras.
Ritchie: So you did the photography in high school?
Ritchie: You would take the camera?
Bulkeley: Yeah, but not all of it. Not a lot of it. Just some. Just enough to know my way around.
Ritchie: You mentioned dating in high school, and you alluded to the fact that you didn't date much.
Ritchie: Did your friends?
Bulkeley: Some people did and some people didn't. Some cousins did and some didn't. Peter, my older brother, and Bill dated a little bit. I mean, a couple of girls for a little while. But there were usually more of us at homecoming and proms and things without dates than with.
Ritchie: So even though you were the boss' daughter, it wasn't unusual that you would—you weren't the only one who didn't have a date.
Bulkeley: Right. And I dated Rick Dechow a couple of times, and I dated a guy that I met at the lake from Galesburg a couple of times, but that was all. There were group things going on all the time. There were sock hops after the weekend ball games, some after football, more after basketball because the gym was heated and open anyway. The Dechows had a full finished basement and a multiple-car garage, so most of those years during high school, if there wasn't anything else going on, there would be a big party at the Dechows. Some people may have sneaked out to smoke and drink, but most of us didn't.
Ritchie: Was there anything you didn't like about living there? Looking back, do you see any disadvantages?
Bulkeley: I never thought about if I could pick where to grow up, where would I have picked. My guess is even though I didn't learn how to learn very effectively, and had a lot more limits, the more I see that kids are doing and not learning, the more I think we probably had a more solid core education. In a little town where everybody looked out for everybody, we probably had a much more comprehensive upbringing than people who grew up in big neighborhoods of people all alike or people from similar backgrounds. [P.] David [Finks] grew up in an ethnic neighborhood that was various immigrants, but it was all first- and second-generation people, so in lots of respects, their outlook on today and tomorrow was similar, while their history was different. But we had the Down's Syndromes and the spina bifidas and the geniuses all in the same room, and we had the kids who only had two shirts and one pair of jeans, and those who didn't wear the same clothes two days in a row or once every two weeks, all in the same room. The smart kids and the shy kids, the bashful kids and the loudmouths. We ran into everybody. We had to live with the consequences of what we did, because there was no way to escape, which was especially important at the newspaper. If I misspelled somebody's name, I knew about it, because I had to confront—not confront, but I saw that person in church or school or wherever.
Ritchie: You weren't removed from them.
Bulkeley: That's right. I think we learned in a lot more comprehensive way. Because church and school and work weren't separated, the people who worked together also ran into each other at the grocery store, and the people who didn't work together ran into each other at other places. I think we were a lot better off to deal with a world brought together with communications and transportation than people who grew up in, and didn't think it was more sheltered or protected, but in more homogenous environments. Our town was all white except for two households of related-to-each-other blacks. But we had the economic diversity; we had the capabilities diversity; we had the expectations diversity; we had older people looking out for us; we had younger people looking up to us; we had peers looking out for each other that I don't think people got in bigger places. So in many respects, if I had to pick and choose, while it might not be as much fun, and while we might have had to scrap a little harder to make a place at big schools and universities, my guess is we all had much better foundations than a lot of people out of big cities.
Ritchie: For life.
Bulkeley: Yeah. I say that, and then I look at what some kids have achieved coming out of the crappy rural nothing places in the South or out of some of the no-democracy countries, some of the immigrants. I look at what some of those people have achieved, and I think we've probably shortchanged—a lot of my peers, economic peers, class peers, whatever—we've probably shortchanged everybody and not given back and done as much as we should have, when you look and see how much has been accomplished by people who had nothing to start with. I don't know.
So who knows? I guess I figure it's one of those things that isn't going to change, so just be sure I learned out of it. So I can't really answer your question shortly or directly.
Ritchie: This might be a good point for us to stop today.