Dana Junior Flanagan

Transcript of a tape recorded by Dana Flanagan on November 5, 1994 (Many parts of this recording have been paraphrased to make it more easily readable):

Your Grandmother Flanagan was one of ten children of Nathaniel Richardson Hall and Sarah Virginia (Christie) Hall. She was born February 2, 1875 in Lewistown, Mo. She was born on the site of the Lewis County Home just east of Lewistown, Up until a very few years ago, the house was still in existence, it has since been torn down. She died September second of 1932. I recall in my mother's last days, I was at Ft. DesMoines, IA. I had just graduated from high school and went to Ft. DesMoines for the Month of August to attend the Citizens Military Training Camp, a proving ground for college ROTC officers. There I received word that my mother was seriously ill and that I should come home immediately, which I did.

After Mother's passing, My dad and I batched at the old home at 929 Jefferson Street in Unionville, Mo. Then in the winter of 1932, I went back to high school to take three more courses that I hadn't had before, just to constructively occupy my time. In 1932-33, the Depression was in full swing and jobs were practically impossible to get. The best thing I thought I could do was to go back to high school and get some more since that didn't cost anything and I nor my father had any money for college. After spending the winter of 1932-33 at high school, in the spring of 1933, I got word from Claude Prentiss, a shirt-tail relation, through Uncle Rob Hall, that he had a job for me. He was manager of an A & P store in Maplewood, Mo. I recall going down to St. Louis to live with Claude and his then wife Nell. I lived with them in an apartment in the Maplewood car loop in Maplewood. the store was just down the street at 1791 Manchester. I worked there until about 1934 or 35 . My grandfather, Liberty K Flanagan, passed away on the 18th of November of 1932. My Aunt Jess (Flanagan) White invited me to come to Minneapolis to go to the University of MN. I did go to night school taking one course in accounting. I thought that no matter what business I might encounter, accounting might be of some benefit to me. I rode street cars to work, I didn't have an automobile, and studied lessons instead of the evening paper on the street cars. Finally, I managed to get through the year.

Then, the A & P Tea Company in Minneapolis--My old boss in St. Louis, a fellow by the name of Yde, had transferred to Minneapolis and he gave me a job up there-- The state of Minnesota enacted some very stringent laws regarding "Chain Stores". There was an old fellow down in Shreveport, Louisiana who broadcasted on the radio about chain stores. He was anti-chain stores. The A & P Tea stores decided to close their stores in Minneapolis. They closed about 25 stores in Minneapolis alone. This Mr. Yde had enough respect for me that instead of laying me off, he kept me on and let me go to various of the stores that had been closed and let me organize the inventory of these closed stores and pack it and prepare to ship it to DesMoines. So, I spent quite a little time at that.

After I finished with that, I went back to Unionville, and I had nothing to do there particularly. I tried everyplace to get a job and couldn't. So I went to Lewistown and worked for Uncle Rob for a while. Finally, one of Uncle Rob's friends decided that he wanted to run for collector of revenue of Lewis County, the same job that Bob Veatch now (1994) has. His name was Mr. James Scrimsher. My Uncle Rob put forth a very special, extra effort to get him elected, and in compensation he asked that I be made Mr. Scrimsher's deputy. I spent about a year or so as a deputy for him. I met your Mother, Dorothy Hansbrough at Mrs. Johnson's restaurant across the street from the courthouse. Dorothy had been a school teacher in the Monticello school for about a year before I started working there. I managed to buy a 1937 Dodge sedan, second hand, it was "in good running order" as they always say about second hand. We knew each other for about a year before we began dating. We would go to various places. We would go to Keokuk to a show or to Quincy to a show, although going to Quincy was quite expensive. It cost 50 cents to go across the bridge there. The Memorial Bridge was a toll Bridge at that time. And we would go up to Kirksville and all around here, there and everywhere. Finally, we decided that we would get married. Your Mother was very gracious to say, "yes," when I said, "Will you." We were married in Independence, Missouri at the parsonage of the First Baptist Church by Rev. Harold M. Hunt, who had been your mother's minister at Bethel Baptist Church.The Independence First Baptist Church was located just down the street and just across the street from Harry Truman's house. The house that eventually became the Summer White House.

After I quit the Lewis County Collector's office, I went to Louisiana, MO to work in the Hercules Powder Company that you see on route #79 on the way to St. Louis, nowadays. I was a cost accountant at that point. I installed some systems and methods that were rather unorthodox but which accomplished the job with high efficiency and accuracy. I fared very well there, but the plant was getting ready to close down, the war was over. My dad's cousin Jean Hutchison over in Kansas City, MO, who was incidently, Uncle John McKinley's daughter; got in touch with me and asked if I would work for her husband Roy who was a public accountant in Kansas City. I moved to Kansas City and lived there by myself. I worked for Francis A. Wright and Co. with Roy Hutchison as a public accountant. I helped them out during their busy tax season and then they decided that they had no more use for me. I went from there to the Consumer's Co-operative Association in North Kansas City. I hired on as an auditor-analyst, a glorified name for a P.R. person. I covered seven midwestern states; Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming. The job was to go into these small farmers' cooperatives, audit their records, prepare an audit report, report to their board of directors, and go on to the next one. I was still driving the old 1937 Dodge. Rationing was in effect at the time. Tires were rationed and so was gasoline. The gasoline was passed out very sparingly. I had an "A" card which allowed me very little gas. You just practically couldn't buy a tire. As all political things go, the rationing board, decided that farmers should have all the gasoline that they needed. Local co-ops would collect "R" (rural) coupons from the farmers. And when I audited, I audited their coupon account. Whenever I found a surplus of coupons, they became mine. On tires, I didn't have the same luck. I started out with two brand new tires and two that weren't so good. Before long they blew, one at a time. I went into the local rationing boards out in the country begging for coupons to buy new tires. They would say for me to take the one that I had and have it retreaded. So I'd take it down, have it recapped, and drive it for as little as 25 miles or as much as several hundred miles. I've driven tires with a hole in the tread of them big enough for me to put half of my size 13 shoe through, with an inner liner in it. They used to take an old tire, shred the rubber off it, and make what they called an inner liner out of it. When you put an inner liner on, it would cut your traveling speed down to 35 MPH. That was quite an experience. As things got better, the war was over, I got along better. I recall one trip to Colorado. The auditor that we had in the Denver area was slower than the seven year itch. He would start a job in one place, then go to another and never finish. My office found out what he was doing. They sent me to help him out. I bumped into some interesting things.

Around Lamar Colorado, eastern Colorado, near Rockyford, Colorado, where all the cantelopes grow. There was a Japanese Relocation Camp where they had brought fine Japanese people from the West coast and brought them to this camp to keep them under surveillance all the time to be sure they weren't doing things destructive to the war effort. They were shrewd and skilled people. All their businesses were cooperatives, every one of them. Stores, dry cleaners, beauty shops, barber shops, everybody reaped the benefit from doing local business. The Japanese people are skeptical.. They thought that the managers of the cooperatives weren't playing straight with them, they wanted an audit. I went in as an auditor. Their accountant was a whiz with an abacus, I swear I never saw anything like it. He was faster than some of the computers we have nowadays. He was accurate and he was good. But I had to audit, and did. After it was done, I presented my audit to the board of directors. It required a little translation. They decided that to be completely truthful, I should present the audit to the cooperative in a town meeting and allow their questions. I got up on a stage with the board and was introduced and answered questions. Some few asked sensible questions through an interpreter. Then things became quiet. I could see them talking among themselves in Japanese, but I couldn't get any sense from it all. I had no idea what they were getting ready to do! It was the most scary sensation that I have ever had. I didn't know what they were saying about what I had to say. But I never answered another question. I got out of that really easily, I guess. I enjoyed doing it; it was a really good experience.

After Mike & Pat were born, being on the road for three or four weeks at a time was quite a burden to their mother. She didn't drive or have a car. She used city busses. We had bank account problems because, the company kept me with expense money, but I would write checks that she didn't know about and she would write checks I didn't know about. Then we would be overdrawn and that didn't go over very well. The controller of Consumer's Cooperative Association, Dick Bland, asked if he could steal me as his office manager. My boss said no, he didn't want to do that. Dick Bland finally won out by going to the president of the cooperative. He got me. I worked for him about six months. The most hectic work of my career. I never worked for anyone who I had more difficulty with, more problems with, who disliked my work any more than Dick Bland.

I finally resigned and went to work for Marchant Calculator Company. My territory was East St. Louis, Granite City, Jerseyville,Illinois. We then had to sell our house in Independence to be closer to the new job. Harrison and Dorothy Underwood had shared a house with us in Monticello, they had a house in Roodhouse, Illinois. Roodhouse was in my territory, Harrison offered his house rent free for the summer if I would paint it. I think I paid $25 or $30 for that little air compressor just to paint that house. We moved from there to the Hansbrough House for four or five months, and I kept going to Lewistown in an attempt to buy the Locker in Lewistown. I had money from our property sale in Independence. We couldn't get together with Noble Morse, the owner, on a price. I got on with Cliff Smith, we had worked together at an ammonia plant in Louisiana, MO. He asked me to go to work for Smith Brothers Farm Equipment Company. I did, I spent a year or two there. I got peeved with the situation and went to work for Homer Phillips in the Gas Company. I worked with Joe Steinbeck and he was great to work with. Always a lot of fun, had a pleasant attitude towards work. For him, the easy way was always the best way. I went from there to the Co-op store. Also, sometime during this span of time, I had an electrical contracting business, called Dana Flanagan and Sons. Uncle Rob was a charter member of the board of the REA. Ory Holbert was Manager of the Lewis County REA. He was having trouble with local electricians who weren't wiring houses good enough. His inspectors were having to reject too much of it. I was given the privilege of being their exclusive wiring person, I didn't know too much about it, so I hired Clarence Bradum. He wound up being a V-P and owner finally of Heintz Electric in Quincy. But my business fizzled out. Part of the reason the business couldn't keep going on was that Ora Holbert died, his successors didn't choose for us to continue. We did some pretty good sized jobs, but still there wasn't enough to keep us busy. We put the wiring into the truck loading docks at Ayers Oil Co. In Canton, all with explosion proof electrical equipment. So that is a thumb nail sketch.

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Your grandmother worked for the A. P. Porter Company in Lewistown. She worked for him several years. From there she went to Shelbina where she lived with a cousin of hers named Lizzie (Christie) Cotton. She worked for a dry goods store in Shelbina. Mr. H. L. Holman in Unionville knew the owner of the store who recommended her to Mr. Holman and he hired her. At that point the Holmans owned what they called the Farmer's Store and my Dad worked at that store. He and My mother used to spend time together picking daisies. The Holmans also owned a Farmer's Store in Exline, IA. where my dad ran a company store for the coal miners, after they were married. Miners would come in and get their supplies. Dad would put it on tickets, then at the end of the pay period, the paycheck would come to him. He would take his money from their paychecks and give them the difference. They were married the sixth day of June in 1910. After he was at Exline for a while, my dad decided to go to Chicago and take a technical course on showcard writing and window trimming. I think the name of the school was the Kostner school where they taught how to make signs with a camel's hair brush and water based paint. He went to work at Marshall Field & Co. as a window trimmer. I remember my mother telling tales of riding the EL in Chicago. She told one story of a pickpocket snipping the diamond from a ring as a lady stood holding a strap. She was horrified.

From there they went back to Unionville, and Mr. Holman had incorporated the business into the H. L. Holman Mercantile Corp. Journey Holman, Aubrey Holman, and Ora Robinson and my Dad were stockholders (each of them had $1000 in it). My dad worked there for some forty-five years. Ora and My dad realized that their $75/month salary wasn't going to increase (It had been $125 before the depression). Dr. Holman was the peacemaker among the Brothers. After My Dad and Ora Robinson told them what they were going to do, Dr. Holman saw to it that they got all their money back. After my Dad and Ora started the R & F store on the West side of the park in Unionville, they prospered. They had made friends with many salesmen who had supplied them at Holmans. Capitalizing on that friendship, they were able to stock their store at a time when things were extremely difficult to get. I recall the Big Dam overalls made in Keokuk, "Best by a Dam Site". Nobody in Unionville had overalls during the war, they couldn't get them. Through friendships they got some Big Dam overalls, all they needed. The same was true of shoes. Shoe manufacturers wanted to see them succeed. They got all they could possibly give them. The store was a success.

April 5, 1945, only a few days after Pat was born, my father passed away. To begin with, he had a cataract operation in Kansas City only a few weeks before he passed away. Then, the operation was much different than today. Then they admitted you to a hospital, put bags on each side of the head, immobilizing the head. And kept you there for a week with bandages over the eyes. Then they put a pair of glasses on you that didn't fit on you, they didn't magnify much for you. He was in that stage when he was helping a driver unload a shipment of shoes, lifting 50 or 60 lbs. of shoes at a time. It wasn't long after he put the last one down that he had an angina. About 7 O'clock that evening, one of Gladys' neighbors called me and told me that he had passed away.

I don't think that I've mentioned that he married Gladys (Houston) Gulic in 1937 I think. She had a son by a previous marriage, J. C. Gulic (John Carr Gulic). Gladys was devoted to my father and made a good companion for him. When it came time to settle the estate, she was afraid I'd try to take the store away from her. I convinced her that I was there to help her and we got onto the best of terms. She was very kind to us. She permitted us to buy school clothes at wholesale cost when you were boys. Her first husband was Irvin Gulic, a veteran of World War I. Incidently, J. C. Gluic now (1994) lives in Hot Springs Village, AR. He taught at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the same room, for 30 years, it was quite a record. He graduated from Kirksville (Missouri) State Teacher's College and played football there.

This story is a rambling story, but please forgive it.

I got to thinking about high school. My father never graduated. He went to the eighth grade. He was very conscious of it. He insisted that I should go to school and get an education. He was a talented person in a lot of respects. His showcards were works of art, he did a beautiful job with them. He liked to play golf. My Mother didn't think much of the game. She kind of frowned when he spent $100 to buy a share of stock in the Unionville Country Club. I spent a good number of summers swimming in their swimming pool all summer long. We got our $100 dollars worth, I know. He was also a musician, he played a saxophone in the Unionville Municipal band. I never did play with him, but I played in that same band. I played what I called a "peck horn". When the bass horn goes "Oomp", the peck horn is the one that goes "peck-peck"; Oomp-peck-peck; Oomp-peck-peck. I always enjoyed music. We used to have a lot of fun in this band. Our band would hire out to other towns on the Fourth of July to do the honors in those other towns.

In high school, we would go to Kirksville for music contests. We would go on the train to Milan, change to the old OK Railroad and go to Kirksville. They found housing for us all. We would spend three or four days over there, getting into mischief while we were away from home. A tuba player stayed in an old hotel in Kirksville. Prohibition was going on. It was extremely difficult for kids to get it, because they might go home and tell mama. But one boy got a few too many to drink. He decided he wanted some bananas. He bought a lot of bananas . He ate all of them. When he got sick, he had to eject them from his mouth into the bell of his Sousaphone! Imagine the scrambling that had to be done to make that instrument ready to play before the next morning.

That old OK Railroad was quite a thing. We used to give the conductors fits. We would go to Kirksville to the dime store and get water guns. We'd go back to get a drink, get a cup of water and load up our toy pistols with water. When the conductor would go down the isle, somebody would sock him with a shot of water in the back of the neck. We'd have them going something terrible. They would threaten to stop the train and put us off. Another thing, there was always a rip cord that went down the roof of the car to signal the engineer to make a stop. They had a code to signal the engineer with, using this cord. We used to give them fits with that thing, too. Today those things wouldn't be thought of as a fun thing to do. Today the "fun" things are far, far more serious. It is hard for my eighty years to relate to them now. We played pranks. I say "we", I don't think I ever did. Of course there were out-houses to turn over on Halloween--Most everyone had one and nobody ever tore one down just in case the sewers would get plugged up. That was one of the pranks. The high school building in Unionville was a three story building. One Halloween, someone, somehow, managed to get a cow up three flights of steps and tie her to the doorknob of the superintendent's office. How it ever happened I'll never know. That was one of the choicest things to do on Halloween.

I went out for Football when I was a sophomore in High School. I didn't get to play any, they said I wasn't good enough. Junior year, I got to play maybe half a quarter. Third year, Levi Craig was coach. He had been a star for the Kirksville Teachers College team and used to play for the old Hilliard Chemical Team in St. Joe, a sort of professional. Levi Craig let me play more. The very first time he let me play I went in and did exactly the thing he told me not to do, and he had coached me not to do; and I broke my ribs by making a block the wrong way. My friend Dr. Holman, one of the Holman brothers, took me into his office and put a eight inch wide brasier of adhesive tape around my chest and a few weeks later I was out playing again. Two of my knuckles are still stiff from being stepped on by those cleated shoes. They were made of leather on heavy soles and they wielded a pretty wicked hurt.

Philip Kelly was a lifelong friend of mine. When we were in the 4th grade, we went to the old Northford schoolhouse, over the railroad tracks. I had gone to lunch at home, as I did every day, and when I got back, the school house was on fire. I cried because the schoolhouse was burning down, My 4th grade teacher assured me that we would have some place to go to school. We had fifth and sixth grades in the masonic lodge, seventh and eighth and on at the high school. The contractor who was clearing the lot offered 10 cents a dozen (or for ten, or for . . . ; I don't really remember) to clean bricks. Phil and I cleaned bricks every Saturday for months.

Philip had an Aunt Pauline Calhoun. She was very proud of him. She was a second grade teacher. Up around the third grade, for an assembly program, Philip was to be in one where she made him into a ballet dancer. She disguised him well enough that no one knew who he was. She was quite an artist. She lived to a ripe old age. One of her paintings was of the public square in Unionville with the bandstand in the center of the park and the hitchrails around the edge and the gravelled road. It was a great piece of artwork. I would have loved to have had it. I remember that square before that courthouse was built. I remember when they paved it and curbed it. We used to be sidewalk superintendents for that.

My dad bought me a pony when I was around 10 or 12 years old. Her name was Daisy. She was little larger than a true shetland. She was a really nice, highly intelligent horse. I learned to ride and respect and take care of and feed her. It was a sad time when my dad decided to sell her. It hurt him to sell her out from under me, but in those times, money was important. It had been a strain to buy the horse in the first place. It strained him to buy me a coronet, too. Actually, I started with a coronet, then later shifted over to my peck horn. My peck horn was an E flat alto horn. There are several breeds of them. There is a Mellowphone, a kind of circular one where the bell goes out to your left. Then there is the upright one, like a baritone horn. Then, of course, there is the French horn. They are all E flat horns.

About my grandmother and grandfather Flanagan: Liberty K Flanagan: K stood for nothing. He was millwright and a steamfitter. That is the only job I ever knew of him having. I am told much later that he drank quite heavily, which I think contributes to my father's high dislike for liquor. He held a patent for what he called a smoke consumer. This smoke consumer was a device that he installed in a furnace above the firebox, a pipe about 6 inches in diameter. About every 18 inches across the firebox, there was a slot. There was a second pipe inside with nozzles in it. Live steam was injected into the firebox through these nozzles. That brought additional air and oxygen to the airbox. That, in turn, superheated the carbon that was in the smoke, though the gasses were still there.

Grandad was an Irishman of course, and he wanted to do business in his own way. He wanted to be the president of the L. K. Flanagan Smoke Consumer Co. He wanted to be the everything. So as a result he never did get very far with it. He did sell some of them. Research Hospital in Kansas City installed one. There was a footwear company over in Jefferson City that bought one. Those are the only two that I can remember. He and his son Bob, my Uncle, went up into Canada and tried to get it going up there in Toronto. I have very scanty information about what happened up there, but according to my aunt Mary, it didn't sound like a very ethical encounter.

He and Grandmother Flanagan came to live with Dad and I after my Mother passed away. Grandmother, I remember, we used to have a coal cook stove in the kitchen. Coal was Our main fuel. Putnam county was underlaid with coal. My dad would trade a pair of shoes for a bushel of coal. My Grandmother would get out her old Cast Iron skillet, her enameled coffee pot, and it was a coffee pot, not a percolator, not a drip-o-lator, it was a coffee pot. She would cook everything in her skillet, even cakes almost, with a glob of lard inside of it. I think that was the only thing she ever used. Everything we had was fried. My dad and I got along with it all right. My dad got fat, but I didn't. My dad thrived on the coffee pot. My grandmother would fire it up first thing in the morning. All day long she'd just add a little more coffee, put some water in and away we'd go.

Uncle Bob Flanagan, my dad's brother, was quite a salesman. He had many, many jobs. He would go from one job to another as fast as you could blink your eyes. I recall one friend that he worked for in Toronto, Canada who manufactured a billboard sign that was made in such a way that you could light it up at night and when the lights were shining down on the billboard it would advertize, for example, Chevrolet cars and when it was lit from the inside, it would advertize Ford cars. It was done with silkscreened paintings. It is a difficult thing to explain. It was a technique of painting that was real, real clever. He did real well with it. Then I remember when he came back to the States, I met his wife Nell. They came by our house and spent a day or two with us. He brought his family. I remember my cousin Helen Flanagan, who was about my age. I enjoyed her very much. I don't remember exactly how many children he had, seems like it was eight or nine. He just passed away, oh, what, twenty years ago, twenty-five?

I'm about to run out of things to talk about. If you have questions, be careful about asking them. I don't always know what I've said before.

©1994, Dana Junior Flanagan