Cynthia Young

NARRATOR: Cynthia Young



DATE: November 3, 2000

INTERVIEWER: Interview on November 3rd with Cynthia Young. So what we're going to start with--you just got off the boat. You're with your friend. You came with another female friend, right, who was working at the hospital.

YOUNG: No, I didn't. She was working here.


YOUNG: And I came to meet her. I had gone to school with her before. And she had lived here the winter before and there were absolutely no men in town because it was during the war. They hadn't started to come home yet. Julia. She worked in the hospital. And she said, "There's jobs if you want to apply for one." So I did.

INTERVIEWER: Jobs but no men.

YOUNG: Jobs but no men. And I had been working in New York City at a restaurant, in a chain restaurant. And I had about had it. It just wasn't really what I wanted to do. I loved the work, but I didn't like going into the City. I didn't care for it. So I came on the boat by myself on a gray day. And I can remember coming into Steamboat Wharf. I loved it the minute I saw it. The buildings were great. The atmosphere was great. And I grew up on Long Island Sound, so I felt very comfortable--the salt air, the birds. Everything was very much like my life as I grew up.
And so I worked in the hospital. I started in May. I arrived in May of 1946 and started my job. I was just a tray girl, a ward girl. And I had some funny incidences in the hospital. I can remember the superintendent there was a wonderful woman named Dorcas--Dorcas something. That might have been her last name or her first. And she explained to me, "You go into the men's ward and you sweep up and you dust around." And I said, "Okay." So I'd do that and then I'd leave it in the corner. We only had brooms and mops in those days. There were no vacuums, no floor waxers that they have today--no loud machinery. Actually, it was nice and quiet. And I did that that day and then the other rooms. And she finally called me, "Cynthia, you know after you sweep up you're supposed to take the crumbs there or whatever and you're supposed to dispose of them. You don't leave them in the corner of the room." I said, "Oh." I wasn't used to doing housework. And, of course, oh that summer the young local fellows were, as I say, coming home and some in and out of the hospital. And, of course, they'd tease me dreadfully when I was in the men's ward. I'd say, "I don't want to go in the men's ward." The women were fine. I got so I met a lot of women here. And even today I'll say, "I've known you for, you know, as long as I've been here. How did I ever meet you?" And whoever I may be speaking to say, "You were working at the hospital and I was in there having a baby or having surgery or something or other, you know." But it was a wonderful experience.
So along came Roger. The friend that I came here to work with, she was the dietician at the time. And, of course, we're right uptown. We have to see everything. And into the drug store we went.

INTERVIEWER: On Main Street?

YOUNG: Right on Main Street. And it was the first drug store when you go up Main. I think it's called Mac's. And no sooner had we come in and this young man who I thought was a Coasty--because the Coast Guard was quite active here--came in. And he had one of those blue denim shirts, you know, the regular outfit with the dungarees and blue denim--and it said RAY across his shirt. And I don't know, we kind of flashed eyes at each other or something. And he went out with two or three ice cream cones and we started to giggle. It looked so funny to see a guy carrying out. And I said to Avis, my friend, "Gee, I'd like to meet him. He's really cute, isn't he?" He went out in the car with these other Nantucket boys--and I can remember the _____--and said, "Hey, there's a young nurse in there that I'd like to meet." They all thought I was a nurse. I mean really and truly it was one of those things.


YOUNG: And in those days you said, "I'd like to meet somebody." I mean oh, if we'd struck up a conversation maybe we could have done it ourselves. But, you know, you just kind of waited for someone to say this is so and so. And I said, "Well, what is his name? Is his name Ray?" "No, it's Roger A. Young." Well, I don't know whether they knew _____, but that was his initials. So just a day or so later I was in the post office. And I used the post office box with this friend. And a girl from the hospital who's still around town--I think it was Ann Sullivan--she was the technician who we used to pull jokes on her. I don't think I could tell them all on sound, I mean on tape.

INTERVIEWER: The funny ones you can tell.

YOUNG: She'd be wonderful to talk to some day too--Ann Sullivan. And I think we were in the post office. And we said something to her, or Avis did. And Roger came in. And she went up and she said, "Oh, Roger. This young lady from New York wants to learn how to drive. She never got her license," out of the clear blue sky. So, of course, he picked right up on it. And that started the whole thing. It was within a week really--almost a week. And I had driving lessons in a Model A truck of the bicycle shop at that time. It wasn't this one they had. And these had these floor boards that just laid on the bottom of the front of the thing under your feet. You'd go over a mud puddle and the water would come right to my feet up on top of the dash. And you had a sparker here. You had to start it up on the--entirely different way to learn how to drive.


YOUNG: And I had to do the hand thing. Well, we'd just start off and he'd, you know, say, "Now this is how you do it. Come on, you start to learn to drive." Of course, it would usually be in the evening because we were both working. I don't think I had permission or whatever you need--what do you call it--a driving permit.

INTERVIEWER: Learner's permit.

YOUNG: I don't think we started that right away because we were sneaking around at night, you know. One trick he pulled right off the bat when I first met him is he was driving. And he went into this empty garage up on the cliff. It must have been a summer home--didn't have a door. And he said, "Oh, the battery died." And I didn't know him that well and I thought uh, oh, I don't like this. So he said, "Well, I don't know what we're going to do." I said, "You stay there and I will push this truck." And I pushed it out of the garage and, you know, getting the spark going and then I jumped it. After that I had no fear of him. But he was sneaky that way, you know.

INTERVIEWER: If you were pushing trucks around he probably had fear of you.

YOUNG: So that was really the beginning. And then he spent, you know, three times a day he's at the hospital. He was there for coffee. Then he'd come by at lunch--because I did the three meals. And the only one other thing that I remember happening early to me on Main Street--the first thing after I got here women wore dungarees--all the girls. And I'd come from the City. I had to get rid of all my city clothes because I'd been commuting into New York City. So, of course, the place to go was the Nabe[sp?] Shop. And I went in there and I had, you know, very little money because I had to wait until I earned some. And I bought the dungarees. And I left my wallet--it was like a wallet--on the pile there somewhere. I got so upset I didn't miss it until that night. And if I tried to call I forget. And the next day I went down in an absolute panic, and do you know my wallet was still laying in the same place.

INTERVIEWER: Unbelievable.

YOUNG: And I've always said that about Nantucket. Can you believe my wallet just laid on a pile of dungarees. You know, it was kind of back in the corner. The store entirely different then than it is now. It's all gussied up now, you know.

INTERVIEWER: Was it in the same place as it is now?

YOUNG: Oh, yes, absolutely. Same family. Yes. And I've never told them that. But I remember going down, you know. I probably only had about 15 dollars, if I had that much.

INTERVIEWER: But that was a lot of money.

YOUNG: Oh, that was a lot of money then. And there was a wonderful group of young nurses at the hospital that summer. They were all just filling in for the summer. They weren't here permanently. And we had just a wonderful time. We had beach parties and very little drinking in those days. See, that was the summer of '46. You'd think it would have been wilder. Well, there was a wild bunch. But I tried that bunch and I didn't care. It's a little too fast for me. And we had one fellow took a guitar and played and we'd sing. And the date thing was Coca Cola. And that was the other thing that Roger did--he lured me into his home. I had not been to his home. And he lived in 13 Indio Street--12 or 13--maybe it was 12. Big, red brick building there. And his father had completely restored that old house. There was a very good history _____. And so he said, "Oh, I want to take you home to meet my folks." I don't know, this maybe a week or ten days--I can't remember exactly. And he said, "But, oh, I have something wonderful I have to show you in the cellar." I said, "Wait a minute. I've heard about people kvetching, but I don't know what's in the cellar." And they had cages of bottles--Coca Cola. No one had bottled Coca Cola in those days. They'd all gone to the war to the fellows. It was all shipped overseas.

INTERVIEWER: How did they get it?

YOUNG: Well, they had a store. And the store was at the other end of Indio Street but they had moved out. So he apparently had that Coca Cola before the time, you know. I don't think he was hoarding it. And there wasn't cases and cases. But to me that was a big thing to have bottles of coke. And they were the little ones, you know, the cute little real heavy thick glass--green glass. So then we went up and met his parents. And we just hit it off right away. We got along very well. They were wonderful in-laws--really nice.

INTERVIEWER: Is that the key to a successful marriage?

YOUNG: Pardon me?

INTERVIEWER: Is that the key to a successful marriage--your in-laws?

YOUNG: Oh, it helps. It helps, yes. You hear about the awful in-laws, you know. I get along with my daughters-in-law okay, you know. I don't know whether they love me or not but we all get along. We're all pretty compatible. So then by September my job was over. I was leaving. It was just a summer job is my understanding. And I, as I say, have wonderful memories of the hospital and the people there. And I went back home. And Roger and I had already decided we were going to get married--boom, right away in June. Yes, we knew. We had just dated each other probably for a month. And I remember one night in May after I had--I hadn't quite connected with him but just barely--I saw him out with another girl and I was heartbroken. And he was going to a hog wrestle up over the hub.

INTERVIEWER: A hog wrestle?

YOUNG: A hog wrestle.

INTERVIEWER: In the building?

YOUNG: Upstairs.

INTERVIEWER: Upstairs at the hub?

YOUNG: And I said, "What is a hog wrestle?" "That's a dance." I said, "Well, how do they dance here?" I never did go to one. But after I found out he had a commitment, so he said, to this girl and he'd asked her. I said, "I'll tell you, you almost broke my heart when I saw you with this other girl going to the hog wrestle."

INTERVIEWER: I've never heard of a dance called the hog wrestle.

YOUNG: Yes. That's a Nantucket term. Perhaps you'll find somebody else that knows about it. So in September he came to Rye to my town. He had met my mother. After mother got an idea something was going here she hot-footed it up to Nantucket. And my father was living, but he was busy working in the City. And I didn't really tell her. I was a little shy about, you know, I found this wonderful guy. So she had met Roger. And then when I went home he bought my engagement ring and presented it. And we have a family story we tell about my father. He had an antique shotgun, a real old one over the mantle which a lot of people do. And my father was never sick a day in his life until he died almost. And he had three daughters and my other two sisters were married.
So when Roger arrived that evening--by the time he got down to the house it was-- Maybe it was early. Anyhow, my father was home that day, and we all said how come. He was never sick. He hadn't met Roger and he wanted to. And when Roger came in he took the rifle down off the mantle and he said, "Now, I've had three girls. And both of them have been married." And he said, "I have no intention of using this rifle," or something. It was a joke and Roger knew that it was, but it was kind of cute--his shotgun. He said, "We are not going to have a shotgun wedding." And we didn't. So we were married-- And that was September. And, oh, we had the constant letters and phone calls. And his mother used to teach Roger. She said all she ever hears him say is, "Okay, okay." And I was doing it on the other end. We didn't want our families to know what we were talking about on the phone. And we were married the next April.
I wanted a Christmas wedding. But my mother insisted on making my dress, and I had to wait till she got it made. And she kept making it smaller and smaller, so I had to get smaller and smaller to fit into it. And that was April. We were married in my home town. Roger's father got the first car delivered to the Island after the war--the Second World War.


YOUNG: And Harry Gordon who had the garage back here--they were good friends. And all we ever had before that was the truck. And it was a cream colored Dodge, as I remember it. And he offered us the use of it for our honeymoon.


YOUNG: And then we didn't know where we were going. We had a certain amount of money. You know, you didn't have credit cards in those days. He had a checking account. So you took cash and put a couple of checks in in case you got in trouble, and hope you had enough money at home. And we headed out in that car and went down to Florida. We didn't know where we were going--all the way down to Daytona Beach. It was wonderful. Neither one of us had ever been there. And the big deal for us was the orange juice. We drank gallons of orange juice. Isn't that funny, you know?

INTERVIEWER: Absolutely?

YOUNG: When you think about it.

INTERVIEWER: You could get orange juice.

YOUNG: I know. But I mean everyone else was drinking, you know, into the heavy booze and all that. But we had our time, you know, and we had a little _____. That was great. I got so badly burned I had to wear his white underwear in the car driving back. My legs were so red and so tender. I put on his white skivvies. And then he had the white-- And I kind of held them up in the car like that. Oh, was I ever sore. But I tried to get it all at once. And also in those days they had racing cars on the beach. Maybe they still do at Daytona Beach--right on the sand--which fascinated us.


YOUNG: And we stayed in all these little rinky dinky what do you call them--they weren't motels--they were cottages, I guess you'd call them along the way. Funny. They'd go and flit for you before you went into your room, you know, to kill the bugs.

INTERVIEWER: They did what?

YOUNG: They flit. Oh, you don't even know about that?


YOUNG: Well, it's like spraying for mosquitoes. In the old days--and I mean it's only in the forties--they had these tubes. And you'd fill it full of this chemical stuff and then you'd flit. And it killed anything that was in there. It was the worst smelling stuff in the world.


YOUNG: And that was down south. I always figured they were a little farther behind us, which isn't probably nice to say, but we were out in the rural area. I think we went down route one, you know. It wasn't a dirt road but it was narrow.

INTERVIEWER: Well, I don't think _____.

YOUNG: Huh? Oh, they weren't there--none of that stuff. I mean there were hogs in some places--was it Georgia maybe--there were hogs. There were no rest stops too, which was very difficult, believe me--and very few places to stop and get something to eat--and very few garages to get gasoline. And I do remember we stopped once to get gas. We were in the Oakies or somewhere. And Roger had a big bill. And the guy didn't want to, you know, he's snapping and looking at it and turning it over. You know, it might have been a 20 dollar bill, for all I know. And we were lucky we got gas really. He didn't want to give change back. He felt the money was fake. And I remember they were selling bananas there, and we bought bananas from him for good will. So we drove along eating bananas as we left. So back to Nantucket. Our first home was--we were very lucky. Roger had looked into it and had it all ready for us. I say we were lucky. It was a cold water flat--no hot water. We did have a bathroom.


YOUNG: The refrigerator was downstairs. We had an oil stove in the kitchen. And it was at 33 Mill Street, and our landlady was the most famous historian at the time on the Island--even more so than Eddie Starfel[sp?].

INTERVIEWER: Wow! What was her name?

YOUNG: Grace Brown Gardner. And she was a retired school teacher--had gone away to wherever they used to go in those days. It slipped my mind now because there weren't that many women that were teaching school back in the, you know, early years. And, you know, it's interesting. Her scrapbooks are all in the collection I think in the museum or somewhere. Every week she got two or three _____ Mirrors and cut up, so she did continuous stories so that she could continue the stories. We never paid any attention to them whatsoever. And we lived in her apartment. She was good to us. I mean we pulled jokes on her too, poor thing. What was I going to say? We lived upstairs. Now I've lost my train of thought completely.

INTERVIEWER: We were talking about historians.

YOUNG: Oh, this old house. And we had this big, round gate leg table upstairs and these chairs which I thought were old chairs--painted and that. And my mother came. I said, "Mother, look at this table. It's all rickety. These chairs are--" And Mother said, "For heaven sakes, that's a gate leg table and those are Hitchcock chairs. Now you treat them properly." The place was full of antiques. I didn't know about them. Roger didn't know. And we had these highboys and beautiful views and an old iron bed which was funny, you know. And we had our first child there in--let's see, when did we have Jessica--February of the next year in 1948.

INTERVIEWER: Now was she born in the hospital or in the house?

YOUNG: Oh, yes. No, she was born in the hospital. Yes, it was wonderful. They knew there what I liked. They sent me spaghetti and pea soup and all my favorites.

INTERVIEWER: It's nice to have contacts at the hospital.

YOUNG: Yes. Anna Gardner the cook was still there. And I knew all the nurses and all the ward people then. There's not more than two people left associated with the hospital anymore that I know. Ann Sullivan I think is the only one. Oh, Arthur Durocher[sp?] was the lab technician then. Oh, no he wasn't. He wasn't lab technician--excuse me--he was like an orderly. He used to come in and help me. He used to take my trash out of my little room where I took stuff, you know. So that was the only two left. Okay. We had our first child there--February. My first valentine--our first valentine. Roger was doing carpentry then because the bike shop closed up in the winter in the old days.

INTERVIEWER: Now did he start the bike shop?

YOUNG: His father.

INTERVIEWER: His father started the bike shop.


INTERVIEWER: So it's on the third generation now.

YOUNG: Yes, that's true.


YOUNG: We're probably the oldest family business that's still going. I want to ask Arno over here, John, when his family came--his mother and father. And I remember them. But it had to be later. Because when I lived in this apartment it was interesting, because all the young women around there were carrying their first babies. You know, it was after the war and we're all having our marriages and our children. And this other girl was from White Plains, New York. And we were used to going and getting real Italian pizza in an Italian restaurant. And we didn't have it here in Massachusetts. When I went away to school they didn't have it. They had this cold stuff in a cookie jar. She and I worked and worked to perfect pizza. And it was hysterical some of the funny things that we did. You know, we had to make our own dough and all that. Then the little boxes came out--Chef Boyardee--complete pizza dinner.

INTERVIEWER: I remember those.

YOUNG: Remember those?

INTERVIEWER: They're different from you. But, yes, my mom used to do those.

YOUNG: Same idea. So then we did those--and the little can of sauce and everything. Because they couldn't have been here yet or else we couldn't afford to go there. I don't know. None of us had any money at all. Roger literally had three jobs--the bike shop, carpentry for Mr. Norcross who's gone now a long time--great craftsman. And then he had a job at the airport for a little airline. And he'd go out there and do baggage or fill out papers or something. He didn't do any flying. And that's about all, except we continuously had children. The fifties was a wonderful time of our lives--I think of everybody here. The war was over. The economy was starting to build up. None of us had much money but it didn't matter. And whenever we had--
We did a lot of social life between our friends. We really didn't afford to go out to eat. I mean I can remember some of the restaurants, but it was very rare. And we always had like covered dish dinners. Anyone's coming you'd say, "What do you want to bring?" I mean if they drank they brought their own bottle--whatever they were drinking. We'd usually roll back the rugs and dance. It was very kind of home fun. And the kids-- Sometimes we'd take the children. It depended on, you know, whether it was a weekly thing we did, you know, in the middle of the week. And if we had a little baby I'd take a baby along for awhile and put him back in the bedroom. If they cried you just passed them around. But then as I continued on--we had our first child in '48. Then I had Robert, our first son, in 1950. And it's interesting how the dress changed too. I can remember my dress clothes were a few of my city clothes that I had left. Oh, I had some lovely clothes because I worked in New Rochelle before. And there were some wonderful dress shops around there. So I'd wait for the sale. This was before I came. But I had some nice clothes. But the dresses were all young. Of course, if I had hung onto them they still wouldn't have fit today I know. And I can remember I had a few for church. And after awhile I said, "I can't wear these." Dresses were going up, up, up--way up, you know. And all my shoes--my high heels went, well, particularly with the cobblestones on Main Street and things like that.

INTERVIEWER: That's right.

YOUNG: Oh, I'm trying to think what else we did. You know, we did parties. We did this wonderful series of shows. They were Eastern Star shows at the time, but it wasn't just Eastern Star ladies or men. It was open to the community.

INTERVIEWER: Now what is Eastern Star?

YOUNG: Eastern Star-- it was or I guess it is, it's not here right now--was the women's branch of the Masons.


YOUNG: The Masons, you know, their building up on Main Street. And my mother-in-law Mrs. Young who was a marvelous person--she was one of the last ladies. She and Grace Bartlett--I always say they were two ladies of Nantucket. She belonged. So, of course, you know, I said well, I'll-- You know, I joined their church too. I wanted everything to be smooth and happy and I'm pretty flexible. So I joined that, and that was where they had monthly meetings that I used to go to. And I did those all through my pregnancy, if I can remember. I'd get in there, and you had to make a little sign to get out, you know. And I'd think oh, I hope I'm going to get out of here in time. But we did these shows and we made them up. We called them like blackouts. A lot of people still would remember them in town. And we showed them only one night--Bennett Hall. We didn't have the big high school auditorium then. But we did show them at Cyrus Pearce School. They have a little auditorium or gym there. It's just a big open room with a stage. I think we had a couple there.

INTERVIEWER: Were they like skits or they were singing?

YOUNG: They were wonderful--singing, dancing, laughing. Yes, they were skits. And we called them blackouts because they weren't related. And we did a couple of really funny kind of, you know, we'd do takeoffs on other things. And, oh, that was wonderful. The whole town wouldn't miss it. And, you know, I think now what we did--we did minstrels too. That wasn't our group that did minstrels. That was the IOOS[sp?] or the Elks. We don't have Elks here. Someone else did do minstrel shows. Of course, then it was outlawed. And, you know, you didn't realize until after how that could have hurt people, you know.


YOUNG: And I never went on stage but, you know, once--no, twice. One time I went with my own faith[??]--with this musical thing. And we got all these evening dresses we borrowed all over the place. But another one we did--and it was a black face skit with Roger and I and Lillian and Bob Wayne. And we were all pretty creative in those days. And I said, "The only way you'll get me on is--" I thought no one would know me. Of course, everybody knew me. It was my voice, my body. But I'm glad we don't do that anymore, you know. We have Black people here, you know. So that was kind of the fifties. Church--we were very active in church. Roger was very active in Sunday school. His father was. His mother started having heart attacks shortly after we married. And I always said, "Oh, I hope I didn't cause them." She was a wonderful person. And after I had my first child, I had to move in and take care of her. And, boy, that was tough.

INTERVIEWER: I'll bet. To have a newborn and then take care of your mother-in-law.

YOUNG: A newborn. And she was wonderful. But they liked their main meal at noontime. Can you imagine having a new baby, mother-in-law in bed pretty much, and having to prepare a roast with potatoes and vegetables? Because the men would come home for this big dinner. That was really tough. And in those days you stayed--when you had a heart attack--you couldn't move. You had to stay in bed for it seemed forever--six weeks, maybe eight weeks--I don't know. Now I just want to tell you though. After we left that apartment we had one child there on Mill Street. And then--no, I wasn't pregnant then. We probably wanted to have more children. There was absolutely not an inch more room for another child there. It was very small. We had some fun experiences there, too.
But we started to go around and look for a place. And I don't think we asked a realtor. We started looking in windows or looking in the newspaper. And we went out to Old South Road because we heard there was a little house that was for sale. And first thing we did was go out and look in the windows. And we saw a fireplace. We both said, "This is it. It's got a fireplace. We want it." And so we looked into buying that. And it was interesting. With Roger being in a family business for so long--this would be 1949 _____. And he tried to get a GI loan in town, which was the thing in those days. They wouldn't give it to him.


YOUNG: Well, I don't know. He didn't have any credit. How did you have credit in those days when you only had your family and your business. They would not. And they might have been overloaded with GI loans, which is very possible. Because they were four percent.


YOUNG: Very nice.

INTERVIEWER: What a deal. Yes.

YOUNG: But, you know, for us it was all relative. We had to pay that extra, you know. But it was fair. And we didn't see it as such a deal. And so finally we-- I don't know how Roger met this man. It was a president of a bank over on the Cape. Wonderful. Walter Robinson was his name. And Roger called him and told him, "Do you have GI loans?" And he said, "Yes." And he explained what we wanted and how much the house was with ten acres of land.


YOUNG: And it was only going to cost us seven thousand five hundred dollars. [SIDE B IS BLANK]