Oral History Interviews

Junior League Oral History Project

This project was a cooperative endeavor by the Junior League of Cedar Rapids and the Cedar Rapids Public Library.  The first interview was done on July 27, 1984.  The interview was of Julia Robbins Allen and the interviewer was Inez Lyon.  The last (90th) interview was of Tom Armitage and was done by Mary R. Curran on October 29, 1984.

The project was called “Cedar Rapids:  The Early Community”.  It focused on interviews of community members with varied backgrounds who remembered early 20th century (1900-1940) life in Cedar Rapids.  The Chairperson was Laura M. Derr with training led by Harold Ewoldt of the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Loren Horton of the Iowa State Historical Society.

We have a voice cassette and a transcription of all 90 interviews.  They were gifted to us by the Cedar Rapids Public Library and accessioned as of January 25, 2005.

Interview Transcripts

Interview Subject Date of Interview Profession and/or Topics Discussed
Allen, Julia Robbins 7/27/1984 Prominent people in Linn County
Andrews,Clarence 6/23/1985 Literary history
Armitage, Tom 6/23/1985 Director of Cedar Rapids Public Library; Vietnam
Armstrong, Esther  7/9/1985  Distinguished Coe College alum; married Robert Armstrong; influential figure in CR community
Armstrong, Robert  1/25/1985 & 3/26/1985  Coe College alum; grandfather was William Cooper (helped create Coe College); family part of Coe’s Board of Trustees
Atkinson, Edith 7/2/1985 Singer; Black history
Averill, Margaret 11/17/1984 Red Cross; St. Lukes; Worth Averill
Barge, Harriet 2/26/1985 Raising family in Time Check neighborhood
Basler, Eloise 9/8/1984 Family celebrations; traditions; national & local events
Baumhoefer, Helen 7/22/1984 Baumhoefer-Nursery Landscaping & Gardening
Black, Virginia 11/19/1984 Teacher
Bradow, Margaret 2/11/1996 Cedar Rapids Public Library
Byers, Frank 10/19/1984 Cedar Rapids childhood;  state gov/state legislature
Byers, Jean  5/7/1985  Involved in Eisenhower campaign; White Cross; family involvement with the Gazette
Cashman, Sister Mary Eleanor 9/9/1984 Sisters of Mercy
Cortez, Juan 6/23/1985 Black families and Oak Hill histories
Crawford, William 7/23/1984 Head of Kings Crown Plaster & Kings Concrete
Daehler, Mary 3/1/1985 Coe College alum; Coe history
Daniel, Robert 1/26/1985 Coe College alum lawyer; Great Depression; women’s rights
DeWees, Lawrence 6/28/1985 Childhood stories of first experiences (1st mail delivery, phone, etc)
Dieman, Edna 6/26/1985 Dance teacher at Dieman-Bennett Dance Theatre of the Hemispheres
Dixon, Barbara Douglas 2/14/1985  Life at Brucemore; the Douglas family
Dove, L.S. 6/24/1985 Railroads and trains in Marion and Cedar Rapids
Dunn, Clarence 6/4/1985 Stories of unions and factory work
Eckstein, Catherine 11/2/1984 Early teacher expectations
Ellwood, William 1/16/1985 FBI agent for J Edgar Hoover; Cedar Rapids corporate lawyer
Ely, John  6/24/1985  Worked at Quaker Oats for 37 years; stories of living in CR during the Depression
Fennell, Gordon 5/4/1985 On Board of Directors, started Gordon Fennell Export Company
Fisher, Fred 1/22/1985 Friends with Art Collins
Ford, Ena 6/5/1985 Social welfare worker during depression
Fryrear, Robert 1/17/1985 Vice President of the National Association of Retired & Veterans Railways employees
Glanville, Elizabeth 11/11/1984 Cedar Rapids society
Gruenwald, William  3/21/1985  Coe alum; father had experiences with Adolf Hitler; personal anecdotes of WWI & WWII
Gureno, Josephine  Not Specified  Alive during Prohibition Era; has memories of 2 Cedar Rapids floods
Hallagan, Sister Mary Lawrence 11/8/1984 Early history of Sisters of Mercy and Mercy hospital
Halpin, Francis 1/21/1985 History of East/West Cedar Rapids
Hixenbaugh, Mary 3/25/1985 Cedar Rapids Entertainment
Hladky, Joseph Jr  6/11/1985 Chairman of the board of the Gazette; Coe alum; helped with the organization of TV affiliates in CR
Ingram, Fatima 2/6/1985 Stories of childhood; family and business; Islamic beliefs
Katzoff, Morris 6/2/1985 Helped get fluoride added to city water
Kenagy, Roy 2/20/1996 Responsible for Children’s Services from state library
Kensinger, Ethel 3/4/1985 Stories of medical practices and procedures
Kesler, Roby 1/22/1985 Coe College alum & board member; memories of living near Brucemore
Krumboltz, Margaret 3/11/1985 Cedar Rapids community
Kolarik, Joseph 3/7/1985 Extensive early Cedar Rapids Czech history; Czech immigration to Cedar Rapids
Landis, Russell 5/30/1985 Helped start Elmcrest Country Club
Lawrence, Blanche 1/28/1985 Czech family history; history of CR symphony
Leidigh, R.E. 6/24/1985 Dental school and medical training
Lipsky, Joan 1/23/1985 Jewish family history
Lopez, John 1/31/1985 1st Mexican to graduate Washington High School; family stories and CR life
Lyon, Inez 2/25-26/1985 Prominent people in Linn County
McBroom, Lois 1/14/1985 Education; Coe College history
McHugh, Nancy  2/1/1997 & 2/9/1997 Daughter of Howard Green; worked at the Gazette; worked at the library (was knowledgeable of library politics)
McQuiston, J. Stuart 7/12/1984 Stories of change in patient care
Meffert, Clyde  6/24/1985  Medical school anecdotes; stories of how medicine has changed
Mendoza, Richard  1/24/1985 Anecdotes of being Mexican in CR; worked in the railroad industry
Miller, Ella 7/4/1984 Stories of local family and business tragedies
Mims, Tim  1/23/1985 Stories of being Black in CR; involved in NAACP; anecdotes of high school
Murray, William 5/18/1984 Coe College alum; stories of family and college life
Nassif, Mary  2/9/1985 Family stories of immigration to US through Ellis Island; Lebanese heritage; importance of Antiochian Catholic Orthodox Church
Neff, Irene  2/13/1985 Anecdotes of doing nontraditional things as a woman (held managerial position and learned to drive before her brothers); stories of growing up in CR
Nowatny, Lan  1/30/1996 Library history; ran Bookmobile
Perry, Ruth and Sam 5/15/1985 Stories of their life; Weaver & Hedy Witwer
Peters, Father Donald 5/22/1985 Priest at Saint Patrick’s in Cedar Rapids
Pickard, Irene 5/29/1985 Stories of family life
Powell, Virgil 7/16/1985 1st Black law enforcement officer in Cedar Rapids; History of Cedar Rapids Police Department
Quarton, William 11/7/1984 Pioneer in communication & media
Richardson, Ruth 3/28/1996 Stories of Cedar Rapids Public Library
Riley, Joseph 3/5/1988 History of downtown Cedar Rapids business
Ringer, Hazel  7/30/1984 & 8/28/1984 Classmate of Marvin Cone and Grant Wood; stories of growing up in CR; worked at the Gazette
Rorabaugh, Charles  3/10/1985 Stories of living in CR & growing up in the community; memories of particular places in CR
Schoenfelder, Elizabeth  3/30/1996 Interesting life growing up; library work stories
Siamis, Tom  5/7/1985 Coe alum; emigrated from Greece to US; worked in real estate
Smith, Vernon 7/13/1985 History of being Black in Cedar Rapids
Smulekoff, Al 7/23/1984 Family founded Smulekoff Furniture in 1894; stories of how the store changed and lived through the Depression and WWI
Steele, Ray 11/8/1984 History of early Cedar Rapids
Stewart, William
Thomas, Eleanor Cook 6/4/1985 Founder of Children’s Theater; history of theater in Cedar Rapids
Waffle, Norman 6/19/1985 History of Marion businesses; churches; local & national events
Ward, Harold Jennings 5/17/1985 Operated “Sunshine Mission”
Wasta, Erwin 5/7/1985 History of immigration; early business in Cedar Rapids
Welch, Ted 5/25/1985 Family history; People’s Bank during Great Depression
Wilheim, Zulina 10/26/1984 Czech heritage; Cedar Rapids Garden Club
Williamson, Elsie 3/2/1985 “Jelly Lady” at City Market for 30 yrs.
Wilson, Oliver 6/20/1985 Childhood and transportation/travel stories
Winterburg, Frances 3/4/1985 Coe College alum
Zeman, Frank 5/9/1985 Stories of independent stores and whole sale dist.
Zuber, Elise 3/4/1985 Life in the Amanas

Interviews on DVD

Thanks to volunteers Jerry Ferrie and Allan Eggers, the Linge Library at the History Center has a large number of videos available for viewing.  These videos, made over a period of several years, feature both famous local residents and those who just enjoyed living in the Linn County area over the years.  They tell interesting stories of past events in their lives, people they have known and the places they fondly remember.

Following is an alphabetical list of those who have been interviewed thus far:

Interview Subject Date of Interview Profession and/or Topics Discussed Length of Interview
Abodeely, Edna 10/14/03 Early Lebanese Culture  50 min.
Abodeely, Ernie  8/13/03 Lebanese culture, Army surplus store  58 min.
Barry, Liz 4/12/01 CR born, early aviator at Hunter airport  19 min.
Barta, George  3/28/04 Early 16th Ave. Saddle & Leather Shop  70 min.
Beatty, Lucille Lewis  4/08/04 Resident Lewis Bottoms area near Palo  58 min.
Becker, Harold  4/08/04 Chair. of Board Guaranty Bank & Trust  58 min.
Belden, Elizabeth 10/7/09 School Teacher , Dr. of Education UI  30 min.
Berger, Alfred  8/26/04 Berger Furrier business in Marion  57 min.
Bezanson, Peter  4/06/04 Pres. Morris Plan & Mor Am. Fin. Corp.  55 min.
Bramel, Grant 4/5/01 WWII veteran, P-40 pilot fighter  38 min.
Brooks, Bob  9/19/02 Local Sportscaster-KCRG,KHAK,KMRY  64 min.
Brown,Alice&Cray,Al  5/02/02 Lifelong CR resident & Hist.Volunteer  98 min.
Buresh, Ernie 4/28/05 Owners of Banks in CR & Linn County  60 min
Buresh, Ernie & Jo 5/12/05 Memories of Howard & Marg. Hall  29 min.
Burge, Vernon  1/08/02 Farmer south of Mt. Vernon  78 min.
Carr, Jerry  4/03/02 WMT Radio Announcer-D-jay  65 min.
Carson, Carl 3/15/01 Life long aviator of Linn County  65 min.
Carson,Carl & Mary 11/9/10 Desegregation of C.R. Public Schools  56 min.
Cashman,Sister Mary E  1/18/02 Mother Gen., Dean & Reg.Of Mt. Mercy  42 min.
Chadima,Bill  4/24/03 Hubbard Ice/Hawkeye Fire & Safety  55 min.
Charles, Timothy 6/11/2010  CEO, Mercy Hospital-flood of 2008  51 min.
Collins, Dr. Russell 10/17/01 C.R. Dentist, Africa/American  74 min.
Cray,Alberta,Brown,Al  5/02/02 Lifelong CR resident & Hist.Volunteer  98 min.
Curran, Guy “Bud”  1/14/02 CR baseball park Grounds keeper  53 min.
Dannels, Nova  1/10/02 Hist. Center volunteer  83 min.
Davis, Dick  8/20/03 Davis Dairy & early C.R. memories  83 min.
Daws, Beverly 5/6/11 Hiawatha resident  54 min.
Dlask, Elma (Pudil)  4/04/02 Ellis Blvd. Grocery store owner  50 min.
Dmitruk, Henry 6/7/01 Early aviator, Hunter airport,Collins  50 min.
Downs, Ann Krejci 11/15/01 United Airlines, Stewardess  75 min.
Dreibelbis, Pat 4/27/01 Early aviator, B-17 pilot, Vinton Bank  47 min.
Drenkhahn,Marilyn 4/27/11 Child @ Children’s home  19 min.
Driscoll, Ralph 6/26/01 Cons.business, Early aviator,Collins  49 min.
Estle, George 9/26/11 CEO – Tanager Place  48 min.
Farmer’s Market  7/16/03 Hist. Of CR market, by Lenora Watson  44 min.
Fielder, G. Rodriguez  8/26/04 Hispanic Heritage  63 min.
Flood Stories 8/12/09 M. Duffy, S. Gannon, & P. Keating  52 min.
Funcke, Peter 12/16/02 Retired Cedar Rapids police officer  78 min.
Furman, Ethel 11/29/01 Wife of railroad dispatcher, Rock Is.  69 min.
Geuder, Bob 5/11/05 Dir. Of Follies 26 yrs., & a teacher  47 min.
Ginsberg, Herman  4/01/04 4th generation family Jewelry business  44 min.
Glise, Tamara 10/28/09 Asst. Dir., C.R. Public Library  32 min.
Gonder, Ron  5/6/2010 Sports Broadcaster – WMT  radio  51 min.
Goodman, Marge 11/20/02 C.R. school teacher for some 35 years  76 min
Goodman, Marge 11/7/05 Country School Music  13 min.
Granger House  1/15/03 Marion Granger House Museum tour  53 min.
Greco, Leo  1/09/02 Local Country music Band leader  76 min
Hall, Harold 4/12/01 Early aviator in Linn County  72 min.
Hansen,  Donald 6/23/10 Memories of Grant Wood  33 min.
Hanson, Donald  copy “Yesterday” collection of home movies  24 min.
Hanson, Donald 5/14/2010 Collins Radio , Photo Dept.  74min.
Hanson, Paul C.  copy “Yesterday” collection of home movies  24 min.
Hanson, Vera-sister 4/17/04 Early Czech immigrants to Cedar Rapids  64 min.
Harmony Hawks  9/13/02 Harmony Hawks Chorus (local)  59 min.
Harris, Dr. Percy 12/11/02 C.R.-M.D. & Linn Co. Med. Examiner  115 min.
Harris, Lileah 11/14/02 Wife of Dr. Percy Harris, mother of 12  90 min.
Hasek, Dr. Ondrej  4/15/04 Cedar Rapids 3rd Generation Dentist  77 min.
Heald, Don 3/23/01 WWII veteran early Linn county aviator  38 min.
Hembera, Agnes White 4/28/05 Daughter of Brucemore caretakers  46 min
Henrici, Carl 10/17/01 EE at Collins Radio, ham radio oper.  52 min.
Henry, George 6/14/01 Photographer for Coe  62 min.
Hepker, Ralph “Bud”  1/13/04 Collins Radio Eng, Appolo, WWII Vet.  85 min.
History for Lunch  4/15/03  “Sports” people & city recreation  90 min
History for Lunch  7/01/03  Amelia Earhart (Rod Blocksome)  71 min
History for Lunch  8/19/03 Richard Scearce – Wright Connection  63 min.
Hoppenworth, Marv 6/14/01 Early aviator, Collins Radio  54 min.
Hunter, Mark 6/15/10 Historian of C.R. flood, 2008  97 min.
Jasa, Pauline  3/31/04 Truck farming & early City Market  59 min.
Johnson, Robert M.L.  4/21/03 C.R. mayor, Newscaster, IA Legislator  100 min.
Johnson, Ted 10/25/01 WWII veteran, founder of J-Tec  117 min.
Katz, Bert 10/20/04 Katz Salvage, Marion, Iowa  58 min.
Katz, Bert 10/20/04 WW II Military stories, “D” Day etc.  40 min.
Kazimour, Bob 10/21/09 Founder of RFK Trucking  58 min.
Kesler Eliza “Roby”  4/15/02 Coe, Author of Quiz Kids  65 min.
Kiecksee, Dale 4/26/01 Early aviator in Cedar Rapids  64 min.
Knapp, Russell  8/22/02 Security Corp. of Iowa founder  93 min.
Knecht, Vern  4/21/03 Country schooling,Vo-Ag Kirkwood Inst.  72 min.
Koehler History Center  9/15/04 Naming dedication of Hist. Center  32 min.
Koehler, Mary  8/14/03 C.R.& History Center Benefactress  72 min.
Krejci, Charles 10/18/01 Born in CR and stories of early times   83 min.
Krejci, Charles 11/2/01 47 yrs. In C.R. Banking business   87 min.
Krouse, Wallace 11/5/10 Past Pres. C.R. baseball club 91-2007  57 min.
Kubicek, Ted 4/20/05 C.R. lawyer for 30 years  110 min
Kubicek, Ted 4/27/05 Story of his FBI career  57 min
Lander, Clayton 4/12/01 WWII vet., Pilot for Collins Radio  31 min.
Larson, Dick 6/17/11 History on city of Hiawatha  54 min.
LCCDC 10/12/04 Linn County Child Development Center  95 min.
Lehmkuhl, James  4/08/02 Long time Cedarapidian  64 min.
Lewis, Doris M. 11/20/02 Linn Co. school teacher & farm wife  75 min.
Linge, Audrey, Ovel 10/20/05 Wife of David L.,owners of Cedar Mem.  68 min.
Lippisch, George 6/27/01 Lippisch Design, son of Alex Lippisch  58 min.
Lipsky, Joan 10/15/09 Psychologist, Legislator, Lawyer  59 min.
Liu, Lee 4/27/05 Former CEO & chairman of IES-Alliant  67 min
Lunning, Everett  5-13-2010  Early propane-gas Company in C.R.  93min.
Mahoney, Lorraine 12/5/02 Early Collins Radio employee  67 min.
McLeod,Jane & Frank 11/20/02 School teachers & parents of Clark  95 min.
Metcalf, Conger  8/20/04 Renowned Artist narrated by W.Whipple  50 min.
Metcalf, Conger 5/23/90 copy of conversation with  57 min.
Miller, George  1/24/02 Farm manager for Weaver Witwer  47 min.
Mills, Ralph  8/09/02 br-1902, IDOT, Mil.RR, Marion city Engr.  100 min.
Minor, Red 1/22/01 Early aviator, Collins Radio  92 min.
Munsell, Bill  8/21/03  CMF&Z  local Advertising Agency  72 min.
Myers,Virginia Sigmund  1/30/03 Social work in Cedar Rapids area  63 min.
Nance, Bob  8/22/02 WMT farm personality, Vigortone V.P.  76 min.
Nassif, Barb 11/8/01 C.R. Interior Designer- had business  73 min.
Nassiff, Mary 10/14/03  Early Lebanese Culture  70 min.
Neff, Lillian 10/1/09 Brd. member Emeritus Children’s Home  44 min.
Nejdl, Bob  4/15/04 Early Czech memories & Dog boarding  82 min.
Nejdl, Marjorie Kopecek  8/20/03  Telling about rich Czech heritage  53 min.
Nejdl, Marjorie Kopecek  4/17/03  Marj’s part-2 interview, Egg Art demo  37 min
Newport, Dale  3/31/04 Early City Market & Newport Florist  47 Min.
Novotny, Frank  4/29/04 His life & Czech egg art  55 min.
Nyquist, John D. 11/29/01 Collins Radio, management  70 min.
Oxley, Helen  8/07/02 Lifelong resident Linn county/Marion  68 min.
Pennington, Art  4/04/02 Major League & M&J baseball player  75 min.
Pinney Assemblage  8/26/03 Assemblage in Hist. Center Gallery  29 min.   Tape-91
Pisarik, Raphael  4/25/02 Life long Mt. Vernon/Ivanhoe farmer  107 min.
Polehna, Milton  4/06/04 Early Andrew Polehna meat market bus.  50 min.
Politis, George  7/17/03  Wilson Meat Packing plant Supervisor  43 min.
Politis, Wilma “Cookie”  7/24/03  Wilson Meat Packing plant employee  63 min.
Quarton, William 9/17/01 Broadcaster  104 min.
Quarton, William 10/16/03 Broadcaster interviewed at age 100 yrs.  65 min.  tape-94
Quinby, Bill  8/15/02 CR teacher,prin.,official  NFL-Big 10  84 min.
Rector, Jack  4/15/02 Collins Flight Control Engineer  73 min.
Reed, Cecil  8/08/02 CR black, bus. man, Legislature, writer  101 min.
Riley, Nancy 9/29/05 teacher, wife of Lawyer Tom Riley  89 min.
Riley, Tom 6/16/05 Lawyer, Author ,IA. Leg., Riley Law Firm  81 min.
Rutledge, Cheryl  1/31/03 Iowa Mfg., 46 yr. Employee  61min
Rutledge, Evelyn  8/21/03 Doll Collection  62 min.
Scheibel, Frank & Betty  4/18/02 CR born, Coe College, WW II Pilot  76 min.
Sedlacek, Dr. Richard  4/07/04 General Surgeon in Cedar Rapids  50 min.
Sessions, Chuck 3/15/01 WWII veteran, B-17 bomber pilot  56 min.
Sheronick, Jim 10/20/05 Story of Lebanon father, emigrant 1895  59 min.
Sheronick, Jim 10/27/05 Lebanese emigrant, Prudential Life Ins.  109min.
Smith, Herald 12/8/05 Founder of C.R.S.T. trucking company  62 min.
Smith,Alice & Barry, Liz  4/25/02 Lifelong C.R. residents  82 min.
Stickling, Sister Anne M  1/10/02 Mercy Hosp. Xray Sup. & teacher  78 min.
Stoner, Jean (Minish)  1/07/04 Mt. Vernon area Stoner Farm Corp.  72 min.
Swartzentruber, Art  9/13/02 Founder of Vigertone Co.  88 min
Tanager Place 6/12/11 Reunion of childrens home  80 min.
Thompson, Donald  5/02/02 Linn Co. farmer & WWII veteran  65 min.
Tlusty, Wilfred  8/08/02 Lifelong CR resident & Hist.Volunteer   82 min.
Trimble, Thelma  4/08/02 Mother of local sports family  80 min.
Turechek, Alma 6/7/01 Coe Professor of music, born in 1901  71 min.
Vigortone Barbershop  9/13/02 Local Barbershop Quartet  59 min.
Walters, Jack 2/23/01 Early aviation enthusiast  60 min.
Watson, Lenora Jelinek  1/29/03 Early C.R. Czech heritage Part-1  85 min.
Watson, Lenora Jelinek  1/30/03 Early C.R. Czech heritage Part-2  74 min.
Whipple, William (Bill) 4/5/01 CR born, General Ins. Business  50 min.
Williams, Don 2/22/01 Hunter airport employee  35 min.
Wilson, Mike 6/7/01 Early aviator, CR motorcycle dealer  60 min.
Wolrab, Mary  1/08/02 Wayside Farm south of Mt. Vernon  74 min.
Wray, Robert 4/26/01 WWII Vet., Pilot for Howard Hall  117 min.
Wright Brothers Copy of “Dreams of flying” from AE  85 min.
Yaw, Bob 10/18/01 CR born, Pres. Souvenir Pencil Co.  118 min.
Zazza, Jack  8/25/04 Plumbing/Heat.&Hotel Sheraton(Clarion)  64min.
Zlatohlavek, Mana-sister 4/17/04 Early Czech immigrants to Cedar Rapids  64 min.