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Interview with Betty Leiding [Undated]

Bonnie Ziff:

We can start this way. I'm Bonnie Ziff. I'm going to be the interviewer. The tape is being recorded by Bob Ziff. And, Betty, if you would introduce yourself and tell us where you are from, what your birth date is.

Bob Ziff:

Where you were born, all the basic information that you filled out on the sheet there.

Betty Leiding:

Okay. I am Betty Leiding. I was -- I live presently in Ridgewood, New Jersey; however, I was born in Framingham, Massachusetts. The year was September 6th, 1922, which makes me almost 80 years old come September. And at the present time I am still working. I've been in real estate for 30 years, but I'm sure you are interested in knowing about my enrolling in the Coast Guard. Would you like to hear that?

Bonnie Ziff:

Yes.

Bob Ziff:

But don't look directly at the camera, look slightly between Bonnie and the camera.

Betty Leiding:

Okay. All right.

Bob Ziff:

Jack, I need you to sit down. Sit down.

Bonnie Ziff:

Look at me. Sit down and be quiet.

Betty Leiding:

Because that's specifically what you're interested in, what I -- yeah, all right. During World War II I was very young, actually 20 years old. And I had recently graduated from business college, and my first job was in a local bank in my home town of Framingham, Massachusetts. And one day during my lunch hour when I went outdoors there was a trailer outside recruiting for -- the Coast Guard was recruiting women. And the slogan was, "Don't be a spare, be a SPAR." Well, I was very curious. We were all feeling very patriotic. Our boyfriends, girls we went the school with, enlisted in the service. My very dearest friend in the Army. So I had some interest. And in talking to the recruiter she told me what it entailed and where possible -- that we had a choice of where we wanted to be stationed. I would have to get permission from my parents since I was not 21. And I went home very excited about the application. I do believe I had to fill out an application. My father said, "No. Absolutely not. No daughter of mine is going into the service." Well, my -- all I needed was one signature. So my mother was very understanding, and she went along and signed. And the day that I had to leave I thought, "Oh, what have I done? I don't want to go through with this." I was really very frightened, apprehensive, not knowing what it was going to be all about. Well, we gathered at a certain point in my home town, got on a train, and we were sent to a recruiting station in Palm Beach, Florida. We were stationed at the Biltmore Hotel for our training, and most of us did work that we were familiar with, and because I was in the banking business, I was assigned to the finance office.

Bonnie Ziff:

Where were you trained? I'm sorry.

Betty Leiding:

I was trained -- it was a three-month training program in Palm Beach, Florida. It was the Biltmore Hotel, which was taken over by the Coast Guard. Our meals were wonderful. I blossomed into 20 pounds heavier. It was very, very nice. The training was very strict, very intense. And at the end of three months, they did give us a choice, where would you like to be stationed. Well, I was still a little home sick, so I thought New York isn't too far from the Framingham, Boston, area. I selected New York, and, my second choice was Washington, and third Philadelphia. None of these places were too far from home, so it was New York City that they assigned me to, and we had -- the Coast Guard had taken over a hotel. We were stationed in a hotel. I had two roommates. I'm still in touch with one of them. I don't know what's happened to the third. And the roommate, we do converse. She lives in Florida, and when we spend time in Florida we do see each other. She's the same age as I, and it's very nice. And then there's another girl who was on our floor where we were housed in the hotel, and she's in St. Louis, Missouri, and we converse by phone periodically. She's not in too good health. My other friend in Florida has hearing problems. I, fortunately, am so far so good. As I mentioned, I'm still employed. I love what I'm doing. And during the war when I was stationed in New York City, it was at -- let me think -- on Broadway. Yes, that's lower Manhattan -- 42 Broadway, to be exact. And I was assigned to the finance office, and one day I was informed that Commander Spaumburg of the Third Naval District had asked that I be his personal secretary. And I was very -- I thought, well, if I don't want to do that, I think I'll tell them. I said, "I'm not really interested in being his secretary." Well, I didn't realize I didn't have a choice.

Bonnie Ziff:

You were in the service.

Betty Leiding:

So I worked for Commander Spaumburg for the two years, and it was very pleasant. And he had two of us working for him. And every evening his chauffeur would give us a ride to our hotel. He was very kind. It was very -- it was interesting, but it was sad at the same time to see the boys who would leave on a daly basis for overseas duty, and we just felt good that we were helping. It was an emotional time, happy and sad. There were many activities planned for service people. I met my husband in the service on the subway. He was a cadet in Merchant Marine, Kings Point Academy. And he and a buddy wanted to -- I was with my roommate at the time, and we got on the train and he wanted to know where to get off at Times Square. Well, that was the beginning of a 52-year marriage. I didn't know his name; he didn't know my name. I simply told him where we worked, what we did, and the next day he went from the the first floor up to the 14th floor where I was to find me. And that was the beginning of our relationship.

Bonnie Ziff:

Now, where were the offices?

Betty Leiding:

42 Broadway.

Bonnie Ziff:

And that's also in New York?

Betty Leiding:

In New York. That's where I was stationed.

Bonnie Ziff:

You were living and you were working there?

Betty Leiding:

No. I was just working there. We were at a hotel. Let me think, 72nd Street.

Bonnie Ziff:

Do you know what the name of the hotel is?

Betty Leiding:

I'm trying to think of what it is -- Embassy Hotel on 72nd Street. I don't know if it's still there or not. I know the office is not there, because years ago I wanted to go back and see it, and it's another company, of course, that's taken over.

Bonnie Ziff:

Now, what was the -- in the office of the -- the officer that you were working for as a secretary, what was his position?

Betty Leiding:

He was a commander. Commander Spaumburg. And I have a picture of him, and I often wonder what has happened to Commander Spaumburg and his wife, because I eventually got to know his wife. They were young, so perhaps he's still living, I don't know, but it would be wonderful to know what's happened to him. He was in charge of the Third Naval District, and anyone who had to see him had to go through me, and so forth. It was very, very interesting. And there was certainly, socially, a lot to do. We had dances at the Waldorf Astoria and tea time at another hotel. As I said before, it was happy and sad at the same time, because boys would leave and we felt badly. And then I had -- one of my dearest friends wanted to go -- we had a choice -- we could have been stationed in Alaska or Hawaii. I still didn't want to be that far from home. She went to Hawaii and had a wonderful time. So, I don't know what's happened to her. I've lost contact, I would say, with everybody except the two that I mentioned. And it was a wonderful experience. And looking back, I mean it just seems -- oh, I did go through it, yet at times I think, no, it was just a dream. It's hard to think that you really went through that.

Bonnie Ziff:

When did you come out of the service?

Betty Leiding:

Okay. I was enrolled in '43, in 1946, January, I was discharged. Honorable discharge, of course, and married in February, the next month.

Bonnie Ziff:

Really. Were they discharging everyone at the time or just --

Betty Leiding:

It was voluntary. It was voluntary, so I could have stayed in.

Bonnie Ziff:

But you were getting married.

Betty Leiding:

Uh huh. And a lot of the girls were leavening, and so it was time to leave.

Bonnie Ziff:

Now, your uniform. What was your uniform like?

Betty Leiding:

Oh, the uniform was very perky. It was navy blue, and we had a white uniform, and the cute little hat, and gloves were appropriate in those days. We always wore our white gloves. And I've had my navy -- I don't know what happened to the white uniform. I have a seersucker -- that was for summer. The white I don't have. I do have the seersucker uniform. And the navy blue -- I had that preserved. It's in my attic. And one of these days I'm going to try to get it on and see if it'll fit.

Bonnie Ziff:

When you said your friends were going in, and that helped bring you into it -- there was -- specifically your friends were going into the services?

Betty Leiding:

Yes, they were. Different branches. My very close childhood friend went into the Army. And for some reason I was more impressed with the recruiter. I think it's because I talked to her first. She had already gone. I wouldn't have seen her anyway, so.

Bonnie Ziff:

Would you have considered enlisting -- had you considered enlisting before the recruiter?

Betty Leiding:

No. That did it. That was good salesmanship.

Bonnie Ziff:

I was going to say. Take a lesson, right?

Betty Leiding:

No. The thought didn't occur to me until I walked into that trailer.

Bonnie Ziff:

And it was patriotic?

Betty Leiding:

A patriotic feeling that I wanted to do something for my country. Oh, and we had an Army base stationed in our hometown, and we'd go to the many dances -- there were about two a week. And every week you could see that someone was missing. They were gone, and that just made you more and more determined that it was the thing to do to serve our country.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you -- I hate to ask you sad things -- did you lose some friends during that time?

Betty Leiding:

Yes, I did. Very sad. Yes.

Bonnie Ziff:

Do you -- what was some of the music that you listened to at that time?

Betty Leiding:

Oh, well, those were the days of Frank Sinatra. We were Radio City Music Hall. When he was first becoming popular and the girls were screaming -- I don't think I was one of the screaming girls, but, I was there. And Benny Goodman, and -- who's the one that was killed?

Bonnie Ziff:

Glen Miller?

Betty Leiding:

Glen Miller. Oh, yes. Many, many affairs dancing.

Bonnie Ziff:

When Glen Miller passed away was there a ripple effect, because he was in the Army and very much a supporter of, like, the USO type?

Betty Leiding:

Yeah, we all felt very badly and sad.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you used to go out on the town at all and enjoy New York during this time?

Betty Leiding:

Oh, very much so. We saw many, many plays, museums, whatever New York had to offer. It was a very exciting time for a young girl.

Bonnie Ziff:

How many people would you say you worked with or were in your unit?

Betty Leiding:

In my unit? Well, I was in the finance office and it was a huge, huge office, and I wasn't there very long when I was sent to the private office to work for Commander Spaumburg, so there were only two of us really, that we saw each other every day. However, in the next office there were two officers there that they were in charge of another division. I'm not sure what it was, but we were also involved with them and they were very nice?

Bonnie Ziff:

I know that the recruiter's the one who brought you to the Coast Guard, but it's kind of a quiet branch of the service, not quite as big as the Navy.

Betty Leiding:

That's true.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you have any thoughts along those lines when you joined?

Betty Leiding:

It didn't bother me at all, and I was very proud to be a SPAR. Don't be a spare, be a SPAR. And I never regretted that I didn't go into the Navy or the Army. I really -- down deep I didn't want to go into the Army. I thought it was just too big, and I knew this was a smaller organization.

Bonnie Ziff:

Now, your training at the Biltmore. Now, you were living on the beach there, right? BONNIE LEIDING: Oh, it was a very -- we marched in the morning. I mean, we were kept busy practically all day.

Bonnie Ziff:

They gave you classes?

Betty Leiding:

Classes.

Bonnie Ziff:

And then marching?

Betty Leiding:

Um hmm. Calisthenics.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you do any stuff on the water or --

Betty Leiding:

No, we didn't. No. Just marching around the water. Oh, and one time -- let's see, this was during my training. You're absolute right. I forgot about that. I have a newspaper clipping back home. I didn't bring it with me. They wanted to know if anybody would like to learn how to swim who didn't know how, and I was one of them. And Mr. Fishler -- Fisler, that was his name -- that he could teach anyone how to swim, whether they were frightened of the water or not. I thought, well, he's the one for me, because I don't like water. And I was in the class, and I passed. I learned, but I've never overcome the fear of water. I still don't like to swim. My husband and I live on an acre of property. We have a built-in swimming pool, and I don't think I've been in it more than once a year in the past 20 years.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did they train you in any -- I know you had a business background, but did they train you in any specialties while you were in training down there?

Betty Leiding:

Not that I can recall. I do know it was for the storekeeper -- it was a storekeeper class. It was all in mathematics, and -- yes, along those lines.

Bonnie Ziff:

So your title was --

Betty Leiding:

And we were tested.

Bonnie Ziff:

I'm sorry. What was your title while you were in the service?

Betty Leiding:

Oh, I started out in the storekeeping class, then I went to Storekeeper First Class, and the next step would have been Chief Petty Officer, but I didn't stay in long enough. That was the next step, and I did want that extra stipe.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you get some leaves? Where did you go on your leaves?

Betty Leiding:

Yes. We had some leaves. And I was always so glad to get home and see my parents. I am one of six children. And my father was eventually very proud that his daughter was in the service, so it really ended up well.

Bonnie Ziff:

I had a really great question I forgot. Actually, did you have anybody famous in, like, the USO programs or anybody -- have any brushes with anybody you met?

Betty Leiding:

I'm trying to think. Not when I was in the service, no. We danced to big name bands, but I did not run into anybody personally. No.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you -- in New York, were there blackouts? What was the general environment during the war?

Betty Leiding:

No. We never had a blackout in the years that I was there, that I recall.

Bonnie Ziff:

In the general environment of the United States at that time, did you have to -- there was some rationing of food?

Betty Leiding:

Yes, there was. I know my mother -- I can remember there definitely was rationing, but, of course, when you're in the service you get your three meals a day and you're not aware of any of this.

Bonnie Ziff:

So your mess was in the building that you worked in?

Betty Leiding:

Right. And they kept the same shifts that the Embassy Hotel had before the Coast Guard took over. We were fed too well. And at night, oh my. And we had a snack bar. They didn't call it that. I don't recall what they -- PX or something like that -- anyway, every night after at that you could go in there for ice cream and grilled cheese sandwiches, and we all had more to eat. And as an enlisted person you were not allowed to mingle with officers. And I thought, well, they're not going to tell me what to do. If he happens to be an officer, I'm going to date him, which I did.

Bonnie Ziff:

But your husband was a --

Betty Leiding:

He was a cadet. He was a cadet.

Bonnie Ziff:

I know what my question was. It was about, back to the training. Who trained you all. Was it women?

Betty Leiding:

Women training. Women officers trained us.

Bonnie Ziff:

And they were all SPARS?

Betty Leiding:

All SPARS. They are leiutenants. They must have gotten in -- well, they did -- they had been in a longer period of time and they trained us.

Bonnie Ziff:

Any regular Coast Guard or men?

Betty Leiding:

No. Not until -- no, we didn't encounter any men until we were assigned to our post in New York City.

Bonnie Ziff:

Now, aside from marrying your husband -- that obviously effected your life strongly -- is there any other ways that you feel that this whole experience really affected your life and some of the decisions you've made?

Betty Leiding:

Well, I think it effected my whole life tremendously. First of all, I never wanted to leave my home town. I'm one of six children. No one has ever left. It's where families -- you know, you grew up and married locally, and I wanted to be part of that, but because of the circumstances, things change and you accept it, and it's made a very adventurous life. I met people from all over the country. And my husband was from Chicago, so when we were married we lived in Chicago. Then transferred to Los Angeles and San Francisco, New Jersey, so I think it's made my life, in some ways, a lot more interesting, met more people. My family, sisters, they've been with the same -- it's more family, which is wonderful. I think it's very important, but I think because of this experience I've met a lot of interesting people, saw different parts of the country, and it was a great experience.

Bonnie Ziff:

That's our vocal interlude. How did you wind up in New Jersey, then. Is that where your husband was --

Betty Leiding:

That was a transfer. Yes. His job took him to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and then a transfer to New York. I fell in love with California. It was our first home. I did not want to leave. I said money is not important. I'll stay here. I'm satisfied, but men are very interested in getting ahead in their company, so we were transferred here. And he said we'll go back to California. Well, we never did get back, but you know what, it turned out to be okay because my children -- I'm only four hours away from the Boston area, and they did get to know their 15 cousins, so it's all turned out very well.

Bonnie Ziff:

What does he do?

Betty Leiding:

He was a district -- he is retired now, of course. I'm not retired, but he is. He was a district manager for his company.

Bonnie Ziff:

Which company?

Betty Leiding:

Hersey Manufacturing Company. They made water meters. They sold to cities and towns. And we had a very interesting life, met lots of nice people at the water works conventions all over the country. And I used to call myself Miss Betty Convention, because I was the hostess. You know, when you are a salesman, basically that's what he was. We'd have to entertain his clients, so.

Bonnie Ziff:

My husband slipped me a note on your friends, which you had already spoke of, your roommates. Did you clash with anybody in the service?

Betty Leiding:

Not really.

Bonnie Ziff:

You seem too nice to clash with anybody.

Betty Leiding:

They've asked me that same question about real estate. Have you clashed with anybody. I think that's why I like my job. I mean, there's something interesting, fascinating about everybody. I mean, that's how I look at it.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you -- you didn't receive any GI benefits -- you never went back to school or anything?

Betty Leiding:

No. I'm sorry that I didn't. One thing I regret that I didn't do that. I had the opportunity to go back to -- to college, a four-year college, and in retrospect I wish that I had done that, but I didn't.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you now -- so, when you finished the service you went to work or did you --

Betty Leiding:

When I finished the service I was married and I worked for a telephone company as a service representative for seven years, and then I had my family and stayed hone until I went into real estate.

Bonnie Ziff:

And that was 30 years ago, right?

Betty Leiding:

And they were in -- my daughter was in junior high and son was in high school.

Bonnie Ziff:

Have you joined any veterans organizations?

Betty Leiding:

No. But I was seriously thinking of doing that we are now spending six months in Florida, and there's a veterans association there that I was going to do it this past winter and I didn't, but I fully intend to.

Bonnie Ziff:

Where do you go in Florida?

Betty Leiding:

Naples. The west coast.

Bonnie Ziff:

We just bought property in Sarasota.

Betty Leiding:

Where?

Bonnie Ziff:

Sarasota.

Betty Leiding:

Oh, that's beautiful. Oh, that's wonderful.

Bonnie Ziff:

It's lovely area there. We're getting off subject. Did your military experience influence your thinking about war or about the military in general?

Betty Leiding:

Did I what? I'm sorry.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did your experience influence how you thought about -- has changed your thinking about the military and the wars in general?

Bob Ziff:

World events, war, what's happing --

Betty Leiding:

Well, I just think it's a dreadful -- and I thought at the end of World War II that we were going to live a quiet, peaceful, lovely life. I'm very disappointed as to what's happening. The world - as my daughter says, you lived in the best generation, and I think we did. I think we're going through terrible times. There is so much greed and hate and killing. It's very sad. Very sad.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did your connection with the military make you feel more --

Betty Leiding:

Feel more?

Bonnie Ziff:

Yeah.

Betty Leiding:

Oh, sure it does. Of course.

Bonnie Ziff:

For the soldiers?

Betty Leiding:

For everybody, yes, and the children who were being killed. I can't watch the news. It's very upsetting. Very.

Bonnie Ziff:

Is there anything you'd like to add that we haven't talked about?

Betty Leiding:

Let's see. What can we add? I can't think of anything, except that I'm very proud to have been a member of the military service. Certainly did our best, the people, my contemporaries, we did our our best.

Bonnie Ziff:

I think from my standpoint -- I'll throw this back out to you -- it is so unusual to meet women who participated, actually active military, in the war, in the second world war. And the SPARS, of course, paved the way for the women in the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. I think it was the reserves became the auxilary, right?

Bob Ziff:

The reserves because the auxiliary --

Bonnie Ziff:

The reserves because the auxiliary, so --

Betty Leiding:

Oh, is that it? Oh, the reserve is the auxiliary now?

Bonnie Ziff:

The reserve became the auxiliary at that time.

Bob Ziff:

Part of the reserves split off.

Bonnie Ziff:

He knows more about the history, so I think you have a lot to be proud of.

Betty Leiding:

Do you have any veterans in your organization now?

Bonnie Ziff:

Oh, yes. We have -- the auxiliary has a lot of veterans. Every war, every --

Betty Leiding:

I'd love to join, except I'm not a sailor.

Bonnie Ziff:

Well, I think we've covered everything. I thank you so much.

Betty Leiding:

You're very welcome.

Bonnie Ziff:

Did you bring any pictures that you'd like to show us? Why don't you tell us about them.

Bob Ziff:

Then we'll shoot them.

Betty Leiding:

That's when I first went in it. Let's see. And this is Commander Spaumburg. I want to know what happened to him. And this is the office I was in, in the finance office, contracts and leases, that's what we did. Let's see. And there's the white uniform that I don't have anymore. You can make a copy of any one you'd like. And this is my husband and I. I met him on the subway, I told you that, and that's it.

Bob Ziff:

Let's shoot these and we'll have you talk about each one. Close up. Let me shoot a low resolution picture.

Bonnie Ziff:

You're well photographed today.

Betty Leiding:

My son, who's an editor now, he was a cameraman for a while, and all he does -- he's obsessed with taking pictures of his only son. I said, "Walter, you're not allowed to come here with your camera anymore."

Bonnie Ziff:

Is that his one and only or his first?

Betty Leiding:

His one and only.

Bob Ziff:

How old is the kid?

Betty Leiding:

Ten.

Bonnie Ziff:

Oh, wow. We're not so good. Not so good. Now this is you. Do you think that's Central Park?

Betty Leiding:

Oh, this is Central Park. This one is Central Park.

Bonnie Ziff:

This is you and your husband.

Betty Leiding:

That was in Central Park, probably of '45, 1945. Wasn't that nice?

Bonnie Ziff:

Better than what they're doing now.

Betty Leiding:

And this was during my working days. This was in 1943, in the original office that I worked in, in the finance office.

Bonnie Ziff:

And where are you in this photo?

Betty Leiding:

I don't know where I am, if I'm in there. I have to be there, but I don't know where. This could be me right there, but I'm not sure. Hard to tell.

Bonnie Ziff:

What were you reading in this photo? You're all holding papers.

Betty Leiding:

Contracts and leases.

Bob Ziff:

That would make sense. That was your department.

Bonnie Ziff:

I love that. Ok, and this is the --

Betty Leiding:

That's the guy I worked for. Guy, yes, that's the gentlemen I worked for. He was a character. He was on his second wife, and the minute he walked in the office, I said, "You have a message from Betty." Betty was -- she didn't trust him I don't think. She wanted to make sure he came to the office. He was fun.

Bob Ziff:

If you can write out some of the names, we'll see, maybe we can research and see what happened to some of these people.

Betty Leiding:

Really? All right. I'll do that.

Bonnie Ziff:

And there you are in your white uniform. When did you use this uniform -- when did you wear it?

Betty Leiding:

For dress. You know, if we were going to the Waldorf Astoria where they had the service people there for dancing and food.

Bonnie Ziff:

It was a nice uniform. It came with a white skirt?

Betty Leiding:

Uh-huh and a white hat. There's no hat on that, is there? And that, I don't remember when that was taken. I think when I first went in because I just have one stripe there. One there. They're all in the beginning. I don't have any when I left.

Bonnie Ziff:

That should be all right, don't you think? You think so? Okay, you reshoot them again. You fix them all and this time we'll shoot them all.

Betty Leiding:

You want me to write the names down?

Bob Ziff:

Yes, please.

Betty Leiding:

On the back here? Where do you want me to write it?

Bob Ziff:

Write it on -- right over here.

Betty Leiding:

Yes, it really does.

Bob Ziff:

So, tell me about this picture here.

Betty Leiding:

Well, that was taken when I first went in. I don't think I have anything written on the back here. No. Lieutenant Richard Weinart, Commander Garland Spaumburg, and a Yeoman June Harlow. She was our roommate, former roommate.

Bob Ziff:

And where were you based?

Betty Leiding:

New York City with these people.

Bob Ziff:

Was this down in lower Manhattan, or where was --

Betty Leiding:

42 Broadway.

Bob Ziff:

That's where they are?

Betty Leiding:

Yup.

Bonnie Ziff:

I wish I knew what happened to her.

Betty Leiding:

You can do that? Wow. This modern age is too much.

Bob Ziff:

Where was your husband? In the Navy or Coast Guard?

Betty Leiding:

No. No. He was a cadet in the Merchant Marine, and he was discharged. He had a medical discharge.

Bob Ziff:

And tell me about this picture.

Betty Leiding:

Oh, it was just one that was taken when I was in the service. When I first started in my dress uniform.

Bob Ziff:

Okay. This really looks great.

Betty Leiding:

Bonnie, if you need to call me, always call me at the office on the voice mail.

Bonnie Ziff:

I will do that.

Betty Leiding:

Oh, he's so sweet. Does he usually nap?

Bob Ziff:

Yes, he does.

Bonnie Ziff:

He does, but his nap was completely thrown off today by his -- not by you, but my his speech therapist who moved his time to the middle of his nap.

Betty Leiding:

Oh, you can't do that.

Bonnie Ziff:

So it's been -- he was asleep, I woke him up, and if he sleeps more than ten minutes he won't go back. You can wake him up.

Betty Leiding:

The problem is driving. No traffic.

Bob Ziff:

And the psycho drivers on the road.

Betty Leiding:

Yeah. Oh, I see you. Your having fun. Your having fun.

Bob Ziff:

Tell me about this picture.

Betty Leiding:

Oh, that, too, was taken in my dress uniform when I first -- all these pictures when I first went in. After that I was too busy. I just have one son. One grandchild.

Betty Leiding:

Enjoying life, right?

Bonnie Ziff:

Oh, I have -- ever since he was born -- my day is Wednesday. I don't work on Wednesdays. I'm with Joe.

Bonnie Ziff:

And he's ten now. Is that the one that's ten? Because my mom and my sister, he's the only grandchild.

Betty Leiding:

They worship him.

Bonnie Ziff:

The sun rises and sets on him?

Betty Leiding:

Isn't that wonderful? They're not too far away.

Bonnie Ziff:

The socialite. She'll take a day off -- she's going to take a day off of work to take him to Sesame Point. You know, it's like she's so -- anything for him.

Betty Leiding:

Oh, isn't that wonderful?

Bob Ziff:

Tell me about this picture.

Betty Leiding:

That's when we were courting. That was in Central Park shortly after I met George.

Bonnie Ziff:

Why was he medically discharged?

Betty Leiding:

Sinus. Bad, bad, bad sinus.

Bonnie Ziff:

Oh, I didn't see that photo before.

Betty Leiding:

I didn't show it to you before. What are you going to do with these pictures?

Bonnie Ziff:

We're going to put them on the tape.

Bob Ziff:

The tape that we send.

Bonnie Ziff:

So that they'll be right on there and you can see them.

Betty Leiding:

Oh, if you can find out about these people I'd be thrilled.

Bonnie Ziff:

Bob's pretty good at finding out.

Bob Ziff:

We'll check with the Coast Guard.

Betty Leiding:

You know, this is the best, best time of your life. I loved everything I did. I loved being in the service. I loved working for the telephone company. Then I thought I'd never have children. I was the oldest of six, and I thought God is punishing me 'cause I used to say I'm not having any brats. Isn't that terrible? Oh, I'm wired.

Bonnie Ziff:

You are a lot of fun, Betty. (The microphone was turned off.)

Betty Leiding:

-- died of a heart attack. I jogged for two years. I think that's when I hurt my knee. The only thing wrong with me is I have one knee that's bone on bone. And I said to the doctor -- I'm a member of the Framingham Heart Study. My folks were in it. Have you ever heard of the Framingham Heart Study? It's world famous. They have been doing it for 70 years, and my mother and father were in it, and I am. Once a year I go to Framingham, and they check all parts of your body, especially the heart. This time it was the knees, the legs, bone density, and blood test. I don't know about the blood test -- they freeze it for future research. My bone density is above average for my age, but they sent me a written report, and I said send it to me, because if I go to Florida and I have trouble I want to have this. And I called the doctor right away -- they said if you have any questions. I said, "I don't understand my knee x-ray." I understood it, but I didn't want to. He said, "You're bone on bone." I said, "How come I can walk and do everything?" He said, "Well, just keep on doing what you're doing and you'll know." So that's it.

Bonnie Ziff:

That's amazing.

Betty Leiding:

Other than that, I feel great, and I wished I didn't know it was bone on bone.

Bonnie Ziff:

Back to knowing, the mind does --

Betty Leiding:

The mind is so powerful.

 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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