My name is Gerry Waterson and today we are interviewing Evelyn Outcalt. The date is December 28, 2010. This part of the Historic Saranac Lake old history project and we are located here at the Saranac Village at Will Rogers in Saranac Lake, NY. (Also in attendance was Skip Outcalt, Evelyn's son, and Priscilla Goss, a Board Member of Historic Saranac Lake. They asked a few questions in the interview.

GW: First of all, Evelyn, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us. Let’s begin by asking you some basic questions to get this thing started. First of all, what were your parents’ names?
EO: Oh, Carl and Winifred ??
GW: Okay, and what was the location of your birth?
EO: New Brunswick, New Jersey.
GW: And what was the date?
EO: September 25, 1918
GW: Okay, and did you have siblings, you know, brothers and sisters?
EO: I was the oldest and I had a sister four years younger than myself and a brother nine years younger than myself.
GW: Okay, I’d like to ask you something about your early years, we’ll get started on that sort of chronologically. Do you remember when you were very young, the memories of your growing up. Do you remember happy times and what you did around New Brunswick and things like that? Do you remember your childhood memories, significant things, you know.
EO: Of course. I don’t think there was anything too significant or unusual, I mean and I didn’t always live in New Brunswick, I was born there and I lived in that area most of my life. There were a few years when I lived in Irvington and Hillside, two small towns in New Jersey and after I was married, well I started moving, during the war I was still in the New Brunswick area, I mean, when I say war, I mean World War II. And after that, I was married the same year the war started and so after the war we moved, during the war we lived in Brooklyn for a year or so and then we came back to New Brunswick, lived there a while, and then we moved to South Jersey to a little town called Tuckahoo. It’s near Ocean City, New Jersey, not Ocean City, Maryland and we lived there about four years. We moved back to the New Brunswick are for a while and then we moved to Delmar, New York in the Albany, suburb of Albany, and then we moved up here and I’ve been here ever since.
GW: Tell me a little bit about your mother and your father. What did they do? What did your father do for example, what was his job?
EO: Well, my father really was in the merchant marine. That was his real profession and he was in there when I was born up until I was probably five or six years old and for various reasons he started working on shore and he worked mainly for quite a few years in a Sears Roebuck store, he worked as a salesman in a store and then when World War II started, he volunteered again and went back in the maritime service and he was, what was his rank Skip (her son), do you remember? No, I don’t remember, he eventually was captain.
EO: Oh, he was captain of the ship, but there’s another title for what he held, you know like an ensign, what comes after ensign?
GW: So anyway, he captained the ship.
EO: Yeah, but he was also a captain, but he was not a captain by rating, he was sort of what....
GW: He was the captain of the ship. Sometimes an Admiral can be a captain of a ship, he’s an Admiral, but he’s captain also
EO: Yes, yes, exactly.
GW: And so he didn’t do that for a living. What did he do after that?
EO: Well, he stayed in the maritime service until he retired.
GW: Oh, okay, so he did do it for a long time.
EO: Yeah
GW: And what did your mother do? Was she a housewife?
EO: Well, before she was married she worked for the Michelin Tire Company. She was a comptometer operator and I understand that she was one of the very early comptometer operators, that not many people knew how to use them.
GW: I don’t even know what a comptometer is.
EO: Well, it would be like a forerunner of a computer. They computed things.
GW: I want to get back to a little bit more about you, about getting into your teenage years. What high school or high schools did you attend.
EO: I went to South River New Jersey High School. We were living in East Brunswick at that time and the students there, they were only schools through the 8th grade. When you got out of the 8th grade, you had to go either to South River or New Brunswick High School and the year that I graduated they said that we all had to go the South River, so I went there four years and graduated.
GW: Now, did you have interests, like were you in certain clubs or athletics or societies?
EO: Well, I always took an interest in drama, the drama club and I was in the junior play, I guess and the senior play. I played the violin in the school orchestra, although I was not a great violin player. Yeah, and I also was very loyal to our teams. The year I was a senior, our football team was undefeated and one of our star players became very well known later and he played football professionally, I guess, his name was Alex Wojohowitz and South River was a town where there were a lot of Polish and few Hungarian people, central European people.
GW: Did you hold any offices in any of those organizations, club president or president of your class, or class treasurer, or anything like that?
EO: I don’t know, it seems to me I might have been, no I don’t think I was, except for being in the drama club and in the plays and the orchestra, I don’t think I ever held an office, no.
GW: Okay. Now did you have boyfriends in high school?
EO: Oh my goodness, no! My mother wouldn’t have allowed it.
GW: She wouldn’t allow it? You didn’t go to proms or anything?
EO: Well, I finally got to the one when I graduated. I guess they called it the senior prom, but no.
GW: Did you work after school? Did you have an after school job or anything like that?
EO: No, I didn’t. I was little and it was depression time, it was very hard to get a part time job and as I said I was so little, I’d go to apply for a job and they wouldn’t believe me and how old I was.
GW: They thought you were too young.
EO: Yeah, they thought I was too young. So no, I never worked in high school.
GW: How old were you when you graduated?
EO: Oh, yes. I left out what we did do in South River, as I said, they had all these people who, well there were a lot of, I don’t know what you call them factories, they made, they don’t make them any more, but they made things like pillowcases and bibs and doilies and they were printed on a big piece of material and then they’d give these to local women and they would cut them out and finish them and one time I guess I told my mother I’d like to try that to earn some money and she got me a basket of it. I guess she had to get it in her name, got me a basket of these things that, they’d give you a whole thing like a wash basket and you’d have to cut them out. So I did that.
GW: Now did you have, I know you were in the drama club and everything, did you have any outside hobbies like stamp collecting or anything similar to that, any hobbies you remember?
EO: No.
GW: Young boys used to build model airplanes.
EO: Yeah, a lot of people had stamp collections going.
GW: But you didn’t do, you didn’t have that?
EO: I don’t recall that I had anything much like that.
GW: Now this may be a little difficult, but it’s kind of important. Back then, put yourself back in high school, what were your dreams for the future? I mean, did you have great aspirations and did you know what you wanted to be or was the world too young?
EO: Well, I wanted to be a journalist and I majored in journalism in college and I never got to be a great journalist, I worked on a couple papers I guess.
GW: I heard quite the opposite.
EO: Actually I worked, after I moved here to Saranac Lake and I was, I guess in my 40s, maybe, yeah 40s.
GW: So, your great aspirations came true?
EO: Eventually.
GW: A lot of us start out wanting to be firemen and we end up doing something. Well, I’m going to get to your college years and you did attend college, I heard. Now, what college did you attend?
EO: I attended, at that time it was called NJC, New Jersey College for Women, but since then the name has been changed to Douglas and its part of Rutgers University.
GW: When did you graduate, what year did you graduate?
EO: 1938
GW: And what degree did you get?
EO: Bachelor of Letters.
GW: Bachelor of Letters, that’s an unusual one. Your main courses of study, were they in journalism or English, what were they?
EO: Well, we didn’t get into our major until junior year, so I took a lot of English and history in my first two years and then the last two years, well I was still into English and history, but most of the last two years were in journalism courses. They had an unusual setup there for journalism courses. It was, they had a big room and they had an Associated Press machine, if you don’t remember all this, that’s how newspapers got their news, there’d be this machine set up and it made a terrible racket when a piece of news came over.
GW: Was it a ticker tape:
EO: The keys would hit the platen on the tape
GW: Oh, okay, it was like a typewriter, but different
EO: And it would go, you know, the machine would turn like a typewriter
GW: Now were you in any clubs in college or any athletic endeavors, or anything like that, sororities, anything?
EO: Nothing athletic.
GW: You weren’t on the basketball team? I can’t believe that, you look like a natural.
EO: I did take swimming. I don’t think I ever finished and qualified for the swimming team. No, I don’t think I was on any athletic teams.
GW: Did you hold any jobs when you were in college, after school jobs?
EO: Yeah, between my freshman and sophomore years I worked in an ice cream stand. It was called Holland Farms and we wore little costumes, well not, we wore white uniform type dresses, but then we had little aprons and little dutch caps and we’d run out to cars, take their orders, run back, get the orders then fasten them on the car with a tray that hooked on the window of the car. So I worked there every summer that I was in college and I, after I graduated I didn’t have a job right away, so the first summer after I graduated I worked there too.
GW: Did you have any college romances?
EO: No, well, yeah by that time I had met the man that became my husband.
GW: Was he going to college at the time?
EO: No, he was working.
GW: Okay, did you have any hobbies in college, anything extra you did, same sort of question as high school?
EO: No, in college if anything I probably did less because I lived at home and went into town everyday to college. When my father was working as I told you in Sears Roebuck and I’d hang around until he got out of work at 6:00 and go home, so I didn’t get a chance to do anything else much.
GW: Now, you probably weren’t in the military, but I’ll ask you, do you have any association in the military?
EO: No, I don’t. My husband was in maritime, my father was in the maritime, my brother was in the maritime, that’s all, I wasn’t’.
GW: So, you weren’t in it. Okay
EO: No, I was not in any military organization.
GW: Okay, well I’m going to get next your, the jobs you held in your life. You obviously graduated from what is now Douglas College and so you went out into the world. What was your first job, serious job, not part time?
EO: Well, my first job, aside from the ice cream stand, my first job, I guess it was right after, I worked all that summer after I graduated and I used to once in a while go down to the journalism department to see if they knew of any openings and I went in one day and they said there were no openings in newspapers. I can’t, I don’t know I can’t explain to someone who didn’t live during the depression how hard it was to get a job and even if you had a degree you frequently didn’t have anything that the degree prepared you for. So anyway, they said no they didn’t have any jobs outside, but they needed someone right there, in the journalism department who could type and it was, well the journalism department, Rutgers journalism department and the New Jersey Press Association, not the UPI or AP, but an association of editors and owners of newspapers in New Jersey, that was the New Jersey Press Association and they needed someone for a secretary for there, combined with the department and so I did that and it got so there was so much work they divided it up and one of the other women who worked there took the journalism department job and I stayed with the press association, no vice versa, she went with the press association and I stayed with the journalism department and I was there till after I was married and, I don’t know, I just decided I guess and my husband decided he wanted sort of like me to be a housewife, so I left, but then the war started and he was about to be drafted I guess. I went to work for Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick in what was called the war order department and I stayed there until I was pregnant and then I decided to leave. Women didn’t work too much after they had children, yet, they were beginning too, but anyway, I left then and I didn’t work again until after we moved to Albany.
GW: I didn’t ask you, just for the record, what year were you married?
EO: The year the war began— 1939?
GW: Well, in America it started in 41, in Europe it started in 39. Pearl Harbor was bombed December 7.
EO: Yeah, well I’m talking about America being in it. 1941
EO: And it must, yeah I was married, let’s see, May 30, and you said the war started in June?
GW: In the United States, it started in 1941, after Pearl Harbor
EO: Isn’t that awful, I can’t remember
Skip: (her son) I think you were married in '41
EO: I think so, yes.
GW: Okay, Now just for the record, what were the names of your children? And roughly what year were they born or exactly what year were they born?
EO: Oh, Wendy was born, yeah I was married in 41, that’s right. Wendy was born in 43, Peggy Ann was born in 45, Skip was born in 49, yeah.
GW: Okay, so after that tell us your progression from, let’s say Johnson & Johnson up New York State, you said you were at one time in Albany and then you came to Saranac Lake.
EO: Well, my husband was transferred so I came to Albany with him and the children were getting to the age where they were college age, and we needed more money so I went to work for the Empire State.
Skip: Public relations, was it?
EO: Well, the organization was sort of, did sort of public relations and it was a lobbying group really, more than public relations and they lobbied the senators and what do you call them, representatives I guess you call them in this state and they lobbied the governors office. They represented business and they were looking for any legislation that had anything to do with business or that they thought would affect business and they were lobbying to, well for their own side.
GW: What years were you there? Just roughly.
EO: Skip, you were in about third grade I think.
Skip: Yeah, we were in Albany from '55 to '59
EO: Wendy graduated from high school in '60 and we moved here in '60. Skip We moved here in the Fall of '59
EO: Yeah, and so I’m going by the June '60, four years before that, '56. You were in third grade again, we’ll go back.
GW: Well, okay we got the idea
EO: I don’t know.
PG: (Priscilla Goss:) What did you do in that job when you were there Evelyn?
EO: Oh, I was what they called the librarian and what my job was reading all the mail that came in and reading all the mail that went out and reading all the publicity that we received and letters about, from other people and keeping track of them and really it was a fancy file clerk.
GW: Oh, okay. Now I sort of got the idea that you followed your husband. Did he get a job up in the area after that?
EO: Yes
GW: What did he do?
EO: He was a boy scout executive.
GW: I see, and you came up, were you looking for work up here also?
EO: Sort of. When I told the man at the head of the New Jersey Press Association that I was moving to Saranac Lake and I was feeling kind of depressed about it because Saranac Lake had just had a lot of trouble in their schools and I said I don’t know, I think we’re being banished to Siberia and he said, oh don’t feel like that, Saranac Lake isn’t so bad, he said, in fact I know the editor of the paper up there. How would you like to go to work on a paper? And I said that sounds pretty good and he kept his word. He wrote to the editor of the paper and the editor of the paper called me in, Roger Tubby, and Jim Loeb was there too, there were two owners, but he knew Roger. They called me in and there was an opening, I think it was a part time job at first, oh now I remember, they wanted someone to work as the editor of a little weekly they put out in the Winter called the Schussboomer, it was about Winter sports and I said oh I can’t do that I’m sorry, I’d love to try it, but you’d be disappointed in my work. I don’t know anything about Winter sports, I never went skiing, I don’t anything about, I didn’t know what a bobsled was, so they said well you know, thank you for being frank and oh they wanted me to do that in the morning and work in the afternoon in the front office and so anyway, then they called me back and they, and I guess I said I didn’t want to do office work either, so then they called me back and said would you want to just work half a day just on the newspaper part and I said yes and so I took the job and I don’t know, I worked there until I retired really.
GW: What other jobs did you have at the Enterprise? I mean you started off at the low end.
EO: Well, I started off doing this reading, what do you call it?
GW: Proofreading?
EO: Proofreading, yeah. I did some proofreading and wrote little articles about things going on in town and kept the calendar and I don’t know, gradually I just got, I guess I did that and I kept doing more in the way of reporting, but I always was interested in the state and national news and we had an Associated Press machine and usually in the summer they’d hire a college girl to come, and they’d usually put her, I think it was always a girl, maybe once a man, put him on the press machine and I’d go on during my regular job so one year when they were getting ready to hire, I asked my boss, by this time the paper had been sold and a man named Bill Dolittle owned the paper, so I said you know, you’re going to hire someone to do the other job, the main desk and I’ll go on doing what I always do. I said why don’t you let me do that for the summer and just hire someone to fill in for me. So he said, well I had never thought of that, okay. So anyway, I got over there and I guess I never got back on the other desk again, I stayed.
GW: And what was your highest position at the Enterprise?
EO: Well, that was it really, they called it the editor.
GW: So, you were the editor, the top editor. So you kind of achieved your aspirations that you made early in life, in college.
EO: Well, a little bit.
GW: It wasn’t the New York Times, but it was still a good job.
EO: I wasn’t traveling around the world covering stories, but it was okay.
GW: Did you do other things in Saranac Lake? Did you work at your church or do anything like that?
EO: Yeah, I always worked at my church. Presbyterian Church.
GW: Did you volunteer for anything that they did?
EO: Oh, I don’t know, I always did things at church, I can’t tell you exactly, but I was on the session, my husband was on the session, I guess I was a deacon.
PG: You were our historian. Tell us about that?
EO: Yes, they called me the historian.
GW: What did you do for that?
EO: Well, it was with another woman, Judy Kratz and I, let’s see, we both were working, there came a time when they couldn’t afford to have a secretary at church and different women in the church were volunteering and I was one of them and my friend Judy Kratz was one and, oh as we worked we found we couldn’t, we were trying to straighten out the records because in the Presbyterian Church you keep a record of the time someone joins the church and all the different offices they held up until the present and we were trying to bring that record up to the present and we found we just couldn’t. The records were so bad. So what we needed were all the old books that had been sent to Philadelphia to the Presbyterian archival place and asked, we kept, first I guess we called them and asked them questions and finally we asked so many questions we decided we needed to see the books ourselves and our minister wrote and he got them for us and that was very interesting, we had from the very first meeting we had all the records and we had, I think we had everything but the financial records and someone had thrown those away. They thought they didn’t need them anymore and they had thrown them away, but we had all the others and we spent about two years going through them, did I tell you this before, I had a card table set up in a little extra room I had at home and we called it the Presbyterian Historical Society because we just left the card table up and the books were always open and we didn’t have to close them up and every night when we got though our work, so we just left them there.
PG: Now what year did that, did you start with Evelyn, wasn’t it the 1800s sometime?
EO: Yeah, 1890. That was when the church was organized.
GW: I bet you the present pastor, Joanne is very happy that you did all that.
EO: Well, she is and I’m glad that she is because nobody ever paid much attention to it. We wrote this history and it just sat there for years and there was a copy on the shelf and I had a copy and I guess Judy had a copy and that was about it and all of a sudden Joanne discovered it and she started using it and it was really very nice to know that at least eventually it was of use.
GW: It’s like the oral history we’re doing today. You know, it may sit around for a little bit, but somebody’s going to pick it up some day.
EO: Yeah, exactly.
PG: Now you must have done a lot of work at the library at the church, didn’t you?
EO: Well, yes. I guess, I don’t know how, I did get started on that and I tried to get the library straightened up, and I guess I did pretty much get the books cataloged and had a card catalog, a directory where you could find, so you could find the books, the directory was according to subject and author and so on.
GW: Now, this is probably an unpleasant subject, but I don’t know what happened to your husband, I assuming he died at some point. When did he die?
EO: He died in 1995 and he had emphysema, he was a heavy smoker.
GW: So that was unpleasant. Well, you didn’t want to come to Saranac Lake. What do you think of Saranac Lake?
EO: I like it now, I always laugh about it, but…
GW: Yeah, I was a resident, my boyhood was spent here in Saranac Lake and I had a doctor that I didn’t know was very famous, his name was Francis Trudeau and I didn’t even know that he was related to this cartoonist, I had to look it up one day, but my home really is Saranac Lake still. I didn’t live here that long, but it’s always been my home and I just wanted to know, you know, you’ve been here for years, I think people come here and then they love it if they didn’t to begin with.
EO: Yeah, that’s right.
GW: Recounting your life, what are your happiest times and what are your saddest times?
EO: Well, of course my happiest times I guess are when my children were small and raising them and it’s fun to have children and young people in the house and the sad times of course were when there were deaths. My mother-in-law and father-in-law lived with us for a while, they both died, my husband died in 1995, my daughter died just last year, Wendy, the older one, and…
Skip: Your granddaughter
EO: And my granddaughter, we lost her. Yeah, that was very hard when my granddaughter died.
GW: It’s always hardest when the very young die. How old was your granddaughter?
EO: Well, she was grown up.
GW: But she was young?
EO: Yeah.
GW: She may have been grown up, but she was young, 37.
EO: Oh, dear, that doesn’t seem possible
GW: Now is there anything else you’d like to add to all this, or anything you can think of that we didn’t cover.
EO: Seems to me we covered everything.
GW: Skip do you have anything to add or ask?
Skip: How old were you when you graduated from high school and college?
EO: Oh, I was young. I graduated from high school, I wasn’t 16 yet and you were supposed to be 16 to get into college, but of course my birthday’s in September, so I was 15 and 11/12 or something, and so of course it wasn’t too hard to make an exception there and so I was 19 when I graduated from college.
GW: That’s fairly young, I think I graduated from high school at 19.
PG: How did that happen that you graduated so early?
EO: Oh, it was mainly most of it was just from moving around. Some schools in those days had half year promotions and you would be in 3A or 3B and I was in, let’s see, my grandfather died and I was in the second grade and so we moved to a small town, Milltown, where my grandmother lived, and we moved in with her and just before school started my father got a different, was transferred in his job down toward Newark, Irvington and so my grandmother had this big house and needed some means of support so she decided to rent rooms to school teachers and school had started, the teachers moved in, we were sleeping in the attic temporarily until we could move, but it was like when school started and we were going to move late in September so my mother didn’t bother to start me in school. Well, when the teachers found out that I was just sitting around and not going to school one of them took me to school and so instead of putting me in 3A, she put me in 3B, so then when I moved finally, the teacher in 3B gave me a transfer slip to take to the new school and so I went in the second half of third grade so I lost a half year. Oh and way back in the beginning, I skipped kindergarten and that’s another long story, you don’t want to hear all that. So I had already lost a year and a half and then when we moved back to New Jersey I was moving from a 5A, I guess, and I came up here, maybe it was a 6A, anyway, I moved up here I lost another half year in there somewhere, then I got, I was in 7th grade and the teacher, oh I was in 7th grade and 8th grade was in that room too, but there was only one girl in 8th grade in the whole section so they decided she shouldn’t be in there alone and they just moved me over to 8th grade, so again I lost a whole lot of time. That’s how I got to be so young, not because…
GW: Now, we have to wrap this up because we only have so much tape time.
EO: I think so.
GW: But it’s been pretty exciting listening to you, though. It’s kind of a fascinating life that we had to condense down in 40 some minutes.
EO: Oh, I can’t believe it was all that exciting.
GW: No, you had a great life. I heard about you from other people in town and they always speak the best of you, so I was happy to do an interview. Well, people don’t think they’re heroes, but they are. Thank you very much.
EO: Well, thank you.
GW: No problem.
EO: It’s been a pleasure to tell my story.
GW: Well, we’re glad to hear it. I wish we had more time, but we’re a small town operation here so we don’t have much time to do things. Thanks for coming though.