Hugh Holmes Norton,
Eleanor Katz, Elliott Macis,
Mary Sue Valenti,
INTERVIEW WITH TERRY MACIS
INT: Could you start by telling me about the work you were doing in Chicago.
TERRY MACIS: Well when I was in Chicago after the war, I went to work first at a cookie factory, and then from there I was pregnant with my last child, which was my daughter, and then I had a Lisa, then I went to work for T..... Radio, which I learned there about s.....ing, and about building your boards and stuff - so I did it for radio; and then I heard that they were going to be moving to Michigan - not Michigan I'm sorry, Indiana; and then my husband was working for Ford and they were closing down. So after that we decided to, friends of ours were going to California because Hughes we understand, was building up, electronics place, and ......... a little ......... ........., and work was bad in Chicago in '57/'56, so we decided to move out here. So we moved, we stayed in Venice for about six months, and we, he went to work for a streetcar company, and I was cleaning hotels to get a few dollars; and then we heard they had a house, and they were selling houses cheap in ........; so we bought a house in ........ Park, and we paid $10,999. So we had to put $600 dollars down.
INT: How did you get your job at Hughes?
TERRY: Well one of the fellows that was a fireman at Ford in Chicago, had moved out here and got himself a job at Hughes as a fireman - they had their own fire department in there. And so we were friends with them, so we, I was telling them that I'd like to get in there, because I said I had worked at Docal, and so I had experience. So he said well go down and put in an application. So I went down there, I put the application, and a couple of days later they hired me. So I went to work for them - and I went to work, at that time we were building what they call, I don't know if anybody knows, terminal boards; and we used to put the parts on, the little wires on, and then about two years later they went into, two/three years later they went into after that, into what they call circuit boards, which we didn't have to put in any more wiring, which was so much easier. And so I worked on that, and then in 19, I came over in 1962 or so, we had some people from Japan come out, they wanted to learn - we were going to sub-contract them to build the boards for us - to learn how to build them. So they came out, so we were teaching them. And so they stayed for a while, they learned how to do the wiring, and the cables, and all the work that you have to do to build your cabinets and so on for radar. And then they went back, so -
INT: Could you tell me what the work was that you were doing in making the circuit boards at Hughes, and then what those circuit boards were being used for.
TERRY: Well they were being used for -
INT: Make a statement first about terminal boards, and what they were being used for.
TERRY: They were being used, they were being used for to make radar cabinets.
INT: Start again.
TERRY: I was making the circuit boards, and also I went in for another department where we made the cables; and then they put those circuit boards into different things into cabinets, for the Navy and for the Army for their tanks - not tanks, but their trailers that they had for different things. And so that's what we did. I, that's all, as far as I got them - then later on, when I became an inspector, I used to inspect what I had built for many years, and we also had gotten several cases of cables and circuit cards from Japan, and we were inspecting them ........, and, but I had inspected at that time, and they did very well; and I knew then and there that one of these days they were going to get into it quite good. But, and then from there then I went Hughes expanded so many, so many places - then I would go to work in one building, and we were doing like cabinets and stuff, and then another; but then we had, then after the after the Vietnam war a lot of the fellows came to work for Hughes, because they had experience on the working, on those either in the submarines and the and the, or in the different places - so they had experience, so they came down as testers, so they were tested. But I have to say this: Hughes was a very good company to work for. it was like family. the supervisors were very good - they, and if you had a problem you could go to them and talk to them. The girls and the men, they were very good: if you had no way of getting to work, they always would volunteer to pick you up and take you there. So that is one of the reasons why I worked there as many years as I did.
INT: Did you get the impression that when you came to California that there were a lot of jobs in the defense industry?
TERRY: Yes I did. Yes, because Douglas was doing it, North American Rockwell was doing a lot of it; Lockheed was doing a lot of it; California was more or less doing a lot of for the government - doing a lot a lot of work for the government. And then they were, like they were they were making like airplanes sort of so they could have them for the Vietnam war, and yes there was a lot of work here. And Lockheed, so there was, you know, there was a lot of work - and that's why a lot of people came from Illinois, from back East, you know - and so it was nice, working.
INT: You came out from Chicago, where there was no jobs, and presumably it was pretty cold in the winter. What were your expectations on coming to California?
TERRY: Well I had, I had an aunt that lived out here in California, so she said the weather was always nice, so you didn't have to worry about, about having a big, a coal bill to put in your furnace, or because, or buy oil to heat - there was nothing like that. And she said it was very nice, and she said the people were very nice, and - and which was true, you know. Like I said, we enjoyed - we didn't have, we didn't have an air conditioner, we were here about maybe six years before we realized that we were not, you know, we have to have an air conditioner. So we bought one to put in the window, to cool us off at night, you know. And but it was, like I said, the, even the neighborhood that I lived in, we used to, the people there, my daughter, the neighbor used to baby-sit my daughter when I had to work overtime; and I would baby-sit when she went to school. So the neighbors were very good for each other, you know, and even here where I live, the same way they're for people, you know. So I, you know, I'm not sorry that I moved out here, you know.
INT: Both you and your husband were working. Can you tell me about how you managed to both work, and have children - and what having the two incomes really meant.
TERRY: Well he was working, he worked nights mostly, because he was a police officer, and I worked days. And then as the children got bigger, then he would work like from midnight to eight o'clock in the morning, and then my older son by that time was fourteen years old, so he was more or less in charge until his Dad got home. So we did that. And he would have, I would have Saturday and Sunday off from work, and he would have maybe two days off during the, during the week. So he was there, so that's how we were able to manage it, you know - and, which was good, because you know we were there all the time, somebody, and if we weren't there our neighbor, next door, Phyllis, she would she would always say, well bring the kids over here, I can go and get them, whichever, I'll go to school and get them. So people helped each other out, you know. So that's how it worked.
INT: And you had enough money between the two of you to buy a house. Tell me about when you bought it, how much it cost and whether you were able to do any improvements on it.
TERRY: Oh yes - like I said, we bought the house and a friend of ours bought the house down the street from us, that we came up from Chicago, and like I said, we paid $10,999, which is, tell somebody back in Chicago that, and they'd think it was a, you were buying a barn, you know. And it was nice - there was three bedrooms, one bath, and we increased, we had, put the, we put a blockwall fence, we put a patio out there, and we put in the corner of our back yard we put like a, like the desert, we put a little cactus and stuff, so we remind we're living in California. And we were paying at that time $117 a month, and that included our taxes on the house; but then every once in a while it would go up maybe $5/$10 per year, uh huh, and it was a, that was a, that was a twenty-five year mortgage for that, yes.
INT: Were you able to get the loan on it because your husband had been in the services?
TERRY: Oh at that time they, they had no problem - all we had to do, not because he was in the service, but he was working at that time for, he was a driving, he was driving a bus for LA, and so naturally they figured this was going to be a good steady job; and I had I had hadn't had a job yet, but I was cleaning, cleaning motels in LA, and because that was the only job I had, but moving out here, I signed that I was going to get a job - and so we had no problems, you know. And I did get a job, and I worked.
INT: So you told me that you bought a house that was new out here. Was there a lot of building going on in California?
TERRY: Yes there was. when I moved into B....... Park we had like, there was something like seventeen thousand people; and today I think there are seventy-three thousand people - and I moved out here in 1958; and that's the same thing with all the other little towns like A......., which is quite big - because Disneyland was going there, out here, and not very far, and so naturally all these people moved out here to get jobs; and people came here from back East, I met people that moved out here from Wisconsin, from Michigan, from all this - and back East; as a matter of fact there was one of the fellows that I worked with, his parents were in Virginia, and he was in the service, he heard about Hughes, so he got out of the service, was discharged out of the service, and he came out to California; and then he turned around, and shortly after that he got married - yes homes were pretty reasonable. You could get, of course, like I said, you could get a home, later on there was a home around the corner from us, they call it Dutch Haven Homes, and they were only paying, they paid $14,000 to get it; but they had two bathrooms, see - I only had one bathroom. So that was one little bit up - but you couldn't fail, it was very good; and even in LA they were building, and a lot a lot of people came to work here. And it was very good: food was about the same price, I think, as like Chicago was, you know, it depended upon what you eat, and what you want, you know - and so I used to always go into the sales, like most of the people, you know, because what we made, we had to pay, we had to pay our car payments, and then our, we had to turn round and pay our electric and gas, and the water bill; and then we had to save, and even though we had three children, we still had to buy them clothing, you know. So it was, we had to really stay on a budget in order to make it, you know.
INT: But you were able to buy quite a few things: you did some catalogue shopping, didn't you?
TERRY: I did. The only catalogue shopping I did was with Sears and Roebucks, because I had an account with them, when we were in Chicago. And so then we moved out here, they had a, they had a store in a catalogue area, so I got the catalogue, and I done most of that. I also J C Penny's out of catalogue area - we used to do it from them, because for the simple reason it was cheaper, and they would, we could go down and get it, and we very seldom we ever have to change, bring it back for, because the size wasn't right or anything. But then later on they started on getting stores in, like the best in all their different stores, where the prices were quite cheap; you could buy by catalogue, or you can go there and buy direct, whichever, you know.
INT: What sort of things were you able to buy during this time? Did you get a TV, a fridge?
TERRY: No well, no we had, we had a refrigerator, we had it shipped out, we had a refrigerator in Chicago which was old, and it had a little tiny freezer up the top, but that was about it. And then we shipped out our furniture, what we had, and so we had that for a couple of years, then we turned around and bought, little by little, as we could afford it - we didn't have no carpet or anything, so we had to save, we had wood, so we had to save our money; and then we got so much for a down payment, and we'd go out and buy our, we had a carpet put in, and we'd pay so much per month. Everything , when we got our paycheck, everything was like this goes for that this week, this goes for that, you know, like normal. I, it's still the same with everybody today, with most of the children they probably do the same thing, you know.
INT: Were malls being built at this time? Did you get strip shopping etc.
TERRY: Malls, you mean? Shopping malls? Oh yes, we had, we had a shopping mall not too far from us, that the kids used to love to walk down there, and that was their entertainment - they'd walk and walk through, you know, and they had an ice-cream place, and I would give them maybe 20 cents, and they'd go there and get themselves an ice-cream bar, or a cone for 10 cents, you know. And yes, there were malls, they were starting to build them, a Sears, Sears, they called it the Sears Mall. And then now they've got a lot of malls all over, and they have, now there are a lot of places where you can go and buy wholesale, you know. So it's, little's changed, you know.
INT: Can you tell me a little bit about being a Catholic, and the work you were doing with Hughes.
TERRY: Well when I worked at Hughes, we didn't have anything, a religious thing, but we did have a club that was called the Charm Club; and a lot of the ladies joined it, it was in the evening, and when we met once a month, and we used to volunteer then and go, we used to go to the veteran's hospital - and we used to get, we would all buy one little thing like a razor blade at that time, or a small radio or something, or anything - and then we'd go to the to the hospital and we would play, we would play bingo with them; and then we used to make somebody, we'd have about ten/twelve, and we'd always let them win something, you know. And then we also went to the, there was a place where they had your children that were what they called, they weren't, mentally - and we'd go there too, and we'd also play games with them, and leave gifts. And then we would also, if somebody was sick from our club, we would go in the evening time, from that club we'd go and volunteer to stay with them, and go wash their clothes, or help clean the house - and that's what the club was worked. But then, but the Catholics - being Catholics I belonged to the OS Society, and I still belong to the OS Society, over here in St Pious in B..... Park; and what they do, they do the same thing. They, we meet once a month, and if there's anybody who's ill, that needs help, they volunteer - we all, always bring food, canned stuff for, anything that's not perishable, and we bring it there; and then what they do is they turn round and buy boxes, and they donate that to the people that have a very low income in our church, or if somebody is by themselves - that's what we do with the church of St Pious.