Regents of the University of California and Evangeline Buell, dated June 10, were taught how to wash clothes and use the dryers and the special machines.

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Regional Oral History Office University of California The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California Evangeline Buell Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front Oral History Project This interview series was funded in part by a contract with the National Park Service, and with the support of individual donors. Interview conducted by Robin Li in 2011 Copyright © 2012 by The Regents of the University of California

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Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has b een interviewing leading participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the deve lopment of Northern California, the West, and the nation. Oral History is a method of collecti ng historical information through tape-recorded interviews between a narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well-informed interviewer, with the goal of pres erving substantive additions to the historical record. The tape recording is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity and clarit y, and reviewed by the interviewee. The corrected manuscript is bound with photographs and illustrative materials and placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and in other research collections for scholarly use. Becau se it is primary material , oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or comp lete narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable. ********************************* All uses of this manuscript are cove red by a legal agreement between The Regents of the University of California and Evangeline Buell, dated June 10, 2011. The manuscript is thereby made availa ble for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. Excerpts up to 1000 words from this interview may be quoted for publication without seeking permission as long as the use is non-commercial and properly cited. Requests for permission to quote for pub lication should be addressed to The Bancroft Library, Head of Public Services, Mail Code 6000, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000, and should follow instructions available online at It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: Evangeline Buell, fiRosie the Rivete r, WWII Home Front Oral History Projectfl conducted by Robin Li in 2011, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2012.

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iv Table of ContentsŠEvangeline Buell Interview 1: June 10, 2011 Audiofile 1 1 Background and family historyŠFather™s military serviceŠPatriotism, music and American identityŠNavigating race in 1940s West OaklandŠWar breaks outŠ NeighborhoodŠFilipino community, culture, and assimilationŠPolitics and remembering racial violenceŠHelping rural Filipino laborers with the harvestŠ Grandmother works at the Richmond shipyardŠGrandmother as role modelŠChildcare with two working parentsŠChildhood play in a diverse West Oakland neighborhood Audiofile 2 23 The end of war, father returnsŠGrandmothe r loses her job at the shipyardsŠFather™s war storiesŠPostwar changes in racism, the importance of being a woman who workedŠReflecting on the war yearsŠMarriage and family lifeŠReflecting on music and politics Also available in The Bancroft Library, Evangeline Buell™s memoir Twenty-five Chickens and a Pig for a Bride.

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1 Interview1: June 10, 2011 Begin Audiofile 1 1-00:00:00 Li: This is Robin Li speaking with Evangeline Buell on June 10, 2011 in Berkeley, California as part of the Ro sie the Riveter National Park Service Project. Thank you so much for participating in this project. 1-00:00:17 Buell: Oh, you™re very welcome. Li: Before we start out I wanted to me ntion the two books that are additional resources for future schola rs, the history entitled Filipinos in the East Bay in which you participated as a co-author for the Images of America series published in 2008 to your memoir Twenty-five Chickens and a Pig for a Bride: Growing up in a Filipino Immigrant Family, published in 2006. Both these books are so rich in images and stories and provoked a lot of ideas and questions for me, so hopefully today we can add to that history and add to those books. To begin with can you tell me your full name and date of birth? 1-00:00:55 Buell: Evangeline Canonizado Buell, and people call me Vangie for short, yes. Li: What was your date of birth? 1-00:01:05 Buell: August 28, 1932. Li: Where were you born? 1-00:01:10 Buell: San Pedro, California. Li: You talk about in your book the multi -racial background of your family. Can you tell me a littl e bit about that? 1-00:01:26 Buell: Yes. My grandfather was African Am erican, and he had three children in the Philippines, so my mother is half Fili pino and half African American, and my father is Filipino, and, of course, ma ny of the Filipinos were mixed with Spanish and Chinese, and he was a mixture of that. Li: Did you grow up with a sense of being part American and with a sense of African American heritage? 1-00:01:56 Buell: I grew up mostly with the feeli ng of being Filipino because I was raised mostly by Filipinos because my grandfat her died when I was four years old,

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2 so I didn™t really learn a lot of the Af rican American except in school. Then I had that experience in West Oakland because it was a mixed community of African Americans, Chinese, Mexican, and we were the only Filipinos in that area at the time that I was growing up. So at any rate, my family was made up of mostly Filipinos from different parts of the Philippines, and when they came over here they were isolated from their country. So most of them had to learn to speak Tagalog here, so I was raised by an Ilocano father and my mother, who was raised in the Philippines, spoke Tagalog and English, and my step grandmother spoke Kapampanga n, so I had that kind of mixture. Then my uncle was Cebuano, so these were all different cultures, Philippine cultures. So that™s what I grew up with, that mixture. Li: So did you learn all those different languages? 1-00:03:28 Buell: I learned some of the words, espe cially the bad ones. We all had to learn those, but I did learn Tagalog, Tagalog was my first language as a young girl, and then I lost it as I was growing up here. Li: What do you remember as the most im portant way in which you learned about your culture? Was it through food, or th rough music, stories, or dance? 1-00:03:55 Buell: Everything, because my family was very much into the culture and wanted us to learn it and to learn about our heritage. It was very important to them especially since they came over here a nd were isolated, and they couldn™t go back to the Philippines because of all kinds of circumstances, mostly because of the war, when the war broke out. It was very important to them to make sure that we learned our culture, so we learned it through food, through music, through dance, and through the stories. Li: So what were your aspirations as a young girl, did you have a dream of what your life would be like, what kind of person you would be, what occupation you might have, or would you have an occupation? 1-00:04:53 Buell: Well, my father, of course, was very much into education, so he wanted to be sure that we were educated and had that opportunity here, which they did not. I can remember when I was a young girl , I was about oh, maybe fourteen, I wanted to do a part-time job because I wanted to earn some extra money. I took this job as a domestic, and my fa ther was extremely angry about that because he did not want us to have th at image because he felt that there was more that we could do other than just being a domestic. You have to remember there was so much discrimina tion at that time, and those were the only jobs that Asians and people of color could do or were forced to do, really because the other professional jobs were not open to them. My father wanted us to work towards having those other jobs open to us, so he wanted us to have an image of being educated, so he said you should be a secretary, you

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4 Li: Wow. So would he tell you stories at a young age about his life in the military? Did you know about this as a young girl about what work he was doing in the Navy? 1-00:09:14 Buell: Well, he was in the Navy from 1917 and then I think he took a leave of absence around 1936, and he worked as a cook in a restaurant, not as a cook, but as a server or helper. He would help the chefs, and he worked in the restaurant down in Oakland for a while. Then he went back into the Navy around maybe ™39, ™40, somewhere in there. Li: Just before the war. 1-00:09:48 Buell: Yes, just before the wa r because they called them back. Li: Oh, okay. 1-00:09:52 Buell: So he went back. So at any rate, he worked in the re staurant during those years when he was not in the Navy. When he retired from the Navy, he worked in the Naval Supply, not supply, but Mare Island in Vallejo. Li: What did it mean to you to have a father in the military, did itŠ? 1-00:10:15 Buell: We were all very proud because in those days we were very patriotic, especially because of the war. And also he had more of an education, and we felt very proud of that, especially my family. He was very much into making sure that we were okay at school. He would go to all of our activities at school and encouraged us to complete our education. Li: Wow. 1-00:10:51 Buell: My father was very Americanized in comparison to a lot of the other Filipinos here. Li: Did he instill a sense of patriotism in you about America, or was it more about being FilipinoŠ? 1-00:11:04 Buell: Both, both. He wanted us to be very American, which is why he did not speak Tagalog to me because he wanted to speak English, yes. He was in the American Navy so he became very Americanized, and especially being a classical musician as well as a jazz musi cian. So he wanted us to learn that, which was very American. Especially the jazz and blues, and he would take us to hear all of the great performe rs of that music at that time.

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5 Li: Oh, wow. 1-00:11:41 Buell: Such as Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, he was very much into who™s the great trumpet player? Louis Armstrong. Li: So you saw all those peopleŠ? 1-00:12:02 Buell: I saw all of them in person, yes. Lionel Hampton, Cab Callaway, and I felt like I was being dragged to all these mu sicals, and I™m glad I was because I learned a lot. Li: So it sounds like he had a real vision for all of the things in the world he wanted you to have access to and experience. 1-00:12:23 Buell: Yes, right. Li: So did it ever seem that being a gi rl was, did you have as much access to education and experiences as a young girl as you think you would have if you™d been a son? Was there anyŠ? 1-00:12:39 Buell: Well, at my high school, unfortunatel y, because of the discrimination at that time, the children of color were not taughtŠwell, in the English classes we were taught how to wash clothes and use the dryers and the special machines because they felt that that was the kind of work we were going to go into. There was nothing going to be open to us, and so they didn™t teach English, just a few courses in English. But they concentrated on the domestic work. Some of the teachers were so much agai nst it that they took some of us aside and tutored us so that I could get into college. They would work with us after school. Li: Wow. 1-00:13:32 Buell: I remember taking literature courses, grammar, and so forth so that we could pass the test for college. They did this on their own time. Li: Were the other students participating in this extra work Filipino, or Mexican, orŠ? 1-00:13:50 Buell: Well, the ones in that class were th e kids that they thought could go to college, so there was about twelve of us that they tutored, maybe more. But they were Chinese, blacks, and I was the only F ilipino, Mexican, and I think let™s see, did I say Chinese?

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6 Li: Yes 1-00:14:20 Buell: Yes. Li: So did you have a sense of shared identity with these other people of color? 1-00:14:23 Buell: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, I certainly did, especially when we would exchange food. Oh, I learned so much about fabulous food from all these different families and the kids, and we would trade off. They™d come to my house, or we™d go to their house. I had fabulous Mexican food, Portuguese food, Chinese, Italian. You name it, we had it. It was just wonderful. Yes, we would exchange food as well as music, and that™s how I got involved in doing folk music because I learned a lot of Mexican folk songs at the time, and I did a lot of the dancing in school. Even in the home economics class and the cooking classes the teachers concentrated on the different ki nds of food like tortillas. We learned to make tortillas in our class. They learned about pansit from me, so yes. Li: So was your neighborhood pretty diverse? 1-00:15:29 Buell: Yes. I can tell you that the w hole block was Czechoslovakian, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, what else, African American, and that we were the only Filipino family. Li: But you all functioned as a neighborhoodŠ? 1-00:15:49 Buell: Oh, yes, we did. Especially during th e war, we all took care of each other, and especially during the blackouts, yeah. Li: So did you have a sense of fear or apprehension during the war thatŠ? 1-00:16:09 Buell: Oh, yes, very scary and especia lly when the blackouts, when the sirens sounded, and we all had to just run for theŠespecially at nightŠrun for the shades, pull down the shades, turn off all the lights, turn off your gas because [technical interference]. Yes, it was scar y because of the air raid drills and especially when the sirens sounded and we™d have to rush to go, like I said, pull down the curtains, turn off all the lights. And then in school, when they had the air raid drills we had to run and get under the tables and put our hands, cover our heads with our hands under the tables because we were all afraid of the bombs, bombing. Li: Wow.

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7 1-00:17:05 Buell: I remember when we were on the road driving from the country to get home, there would be an air raid drill and all of the cars had to stop on the road. The police would come up to us, tell us to turn off our headlights because there was an air raid. It was real scary when we were kids. Li: A lot of Americans I think imagin ed World War II happening far away. I think people felt vulnerable on the West Coast. 1-00:17:39 Buell: On the West Coast, we certainly felt very vulnerable. Li: Do you remember Pearl Harbor? Do you rememberŠ? 1-00:17:45 Buell: Yes, I do. Li: How did you hear about it? 1-00:17:46 Buell: Because it was on the radio, and I think I was about nine years old, and I remember that being very, very scar y. My grandmother and her husbandŠI called him uncle, that was her second husbandŠI remember them discussing it as we were listening to President Roosevelt announce it, that we were at war, yes. So it was scary, that my dad would have to go, and they mentioned that, and that he would no longer be with us for a long time, that he would have to go to war. They were afraid fo r his safety, and so we felt scared that we would lose my dad, yeah. Li: Had your family been following the Japa nese invasion of China, or the war in the Pacific before Pearl Harbor? Were you awareŠ? 1-00:18:45 Buell: Not so much, no, not until it broke, not until the war broke out. I think my father was very aware because he was called back early. Li: Right. 1-00:18:55 Buell: Before the war. Li: So he had a senseŠ 1-00:18:56 Buell: Oh, yeah, he knew. Li: So did Pearl Harbor change what it felt like to be Filipino?

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