Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Nina Calder, March 20, 2015

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Introductions and biographical information

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Partial Transcript: Thank you for joining us, Nina.

Segment Synopsis: Nina Calder was 82 years old at the time of this interview. She was born in Corbin and adopted by her grandparents. She had many family members who worked for the railroad; it was the main source of income for her family and for Corbin. Lots of factories came in and brought executives and jobs. 40-45 years ago growing up with grandparents was unusual. Her mother was lab tech who moved to Riverside, California. Calder went to a Catholic school that has since been torn down, Saint Camillus Academy. She grew up on Walnut Street and remembers growing up near downtown as being wonderful, but reminds that it was "a long time ago," before WWII.

Keywords: Adoption; American Greetings Corporation (Manufacturing plant); Catholic schools; Central Corbin (Neighborhood, Corbin, Ky.) (AKA Downtown); East Side (Neighborhood, Corbin, Ky.); Economy; Factories; Family; Grandparents; Jobs; Main Street--Corbin (Ky.); National Standard Company (Manufacturing plant); Neighborhoods; Railroader (Profession); Saint Camillus Academy (School); Stores; Walnut Street--Corbin (Ky.); Work

Subjects: Childhood; Corbin (Ky.); Education--Kentucky; Families.; Railroads--Employees.

00:06:12 - Passenger trains

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Partial Transcript: What do you remember about the railroads around that time?

Segment Synopsis: Calder remembers riding Pullman cars to California to see her mother in California. She describes the layout and experience of riding in a Pullman car. She thinks that the Pullman cars didn't pass through southeastern Kentucky; they would take the train from Corbin to Cincinnati and take the Pullman to California. She describes the process of boarding a passenger train.

Keywords: Beds; California; Cincinnati (Ohio); Dining cars; Food; Grandfathers; Harlan County (Ky.); Jobs; Passes; Pullman sleeper cars; Railroad conductors.; Railroad depots; Railroader (Profession); Seats; Train travel; Trains (Passenger)

Subjects: Railroad passenger cars; Railroad travel.; Railroads--Employees.

00:11:03 - Traveling

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Partial Transcript: Where all did you travel using the railroad? Where all did you used to go?

Segment Synopsis: Calder traveled to Saint Louis, and to California but not much elsewhere; people didn't travel much back then because "times were tough." People didn't start to travel to Louisville until she was in high school. In Louisville, they would shop for clothes.

Keywords: California; Clothing; Family; Fourth Street--Louisville (Ky.); Grandparents; Shopping; St. Louis (Mo.); Train travel

Subjects: Louisville (Ky.); Railroad travel.

00:13:22 - The Corbin Depot

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember the early years of the Depot?

Segment Synopsis: Calder doesn't remember the depot because they weren't allowed to walk on Depot Street due to its seedy reputation. As a school girl, she would stick to Main Street on the way to school. There used to be a square dancing club at the depot. Growing up Calder lived 5 blocks off of the railroad tracks and she talks about sleeping through the rumbles and whistles of the trains. She thinks fondly of the railroad as having "raised" her.

Keywords: Alcohol; Circus trains; Coal trains; Community events; Corbin Depot (Train station); Depot Street--Corbin (Ky.); First Methodist Church; Hauling; Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) (Restaurant); Kentucky Street--Corbin (Ky.); Lifestyles; Main Street--Corbin (Ky.); Passenger trains; Sounds; Square dancing clubs; Train tracks; Trains (Freight); Trains (Passenger); Waiting rooms; Walking

Subjects: Communities.; Corbin (Ky.)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Railroads.

00:20:10 - Family's railroad connection

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember, um--(coughs)--do you remember anything about your grandfather working on the railroad?

Segment Synopsis: Calder's grandfather worked on call when working with freight trains. When he began working on passenger trains he kept normal hours. Her uncle went to California to work for the railroad. Burlin (her husband) grew up in North Corbin and the railroad went by his house, and his father and brothers worked for the railroad; he was the only one that didn't.

Keywords: California; Grandfathers; Laurel County (Ky.); Passenger trains; Railroader (Profession); Routines; Schedules; Trains (Freight); Trains (Passenger); Uncles

Subjects: Families.; Railroad conductors.; Railroad passenger cars; Railroads--Employees.

00:22:57 - Great Depression years

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Partial Transcript: Nina, do you remember anything of the Depression years?

Segment Synopsis: Calder always had to live economically. She still lives frugally, inherited from her upbringing. Her husband's family had farm, and raised all their food. Corbin has never been rich. She says that the factories were wonderful for the area and its economy.

Keywords: Economy; Factories; Frugality; Jobs; Money; National Standard Company (Manufacturing plant); Spending

Subjects: Communities.; Corbin (Ky.); Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Economic development--Kentucky; Kentucky--Economic conditions

00:25:01 - Jobs

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Partial Transcript: Apart from the railroad and National Standard, where were other places that people could get jobs—Men and women?

Segment Synopsis: Calder says that the only jobs in the area were at the factories because the shops downtown were owned by the people who worked at them. She describes the locations of various stores during her upbringing. There were a few, but not many, women workers. She mentions the only Jewish family in Corbin. She talks about the few students who went to St. Camillus Academy like herself.

Keywords: Euster family; Factories; Immigrants--Jewish; Jobs; Saint Camillus Academy (School); St. Camillus Academy; Stores; Women; Work

Subjects: Corbin (Ky.)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Education--Kentucky; Employment--Kentucky; Kentucky--Economic conditions

00:28:31 - School life at Saint Camillus Academy / race relations in Corbin

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Partial Transcript: What was going to Saint Camillus like?

Segment Synopsis: Students at St. Camillus were taught by nuns with long habits and starched collars. She and her siblings were sent there for protection from her father who might fight for custody. She talks about race relations in town during her youth and the lack of families of color in Corbin today.

Keywords: "Day pupils"; Boarders; Catholic schools; Corbin High School; Dormitories; Fathers; Football (High School athletics); Habits (Clothing); Interaction; Italian immigrants; Minorities; Nuns; Private schools; Public schools; Race Relations; Saint Camillus Academy (School); St. Camillus Academy (School); Students; Train travel; Wilbur Hotel

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Childhood; Communities.; Corbin (Ky.); Education--Kentucky; Race relations; Railroad travel.

00:35:32 - Music and arts

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Partial Transcript: And just before talking about the school you also mentioned band concerts.

Segment Synopsis: Calder says Corbin always had a great school band. She was a charter member of the Fine Arts Society created by Betty Hamilton, which brings in entertainment 3-4 times a year. Originally just in Corbin, the association came to include Barbourville, Corbin, Williamsburg and London. Calder says that Corbin being between three county seats creates a lot of difficulty for Corbin.

Keywords: Betty Hamilton; Concerts; Corbin High School band; County seats; Entertainment; Fine Arts Association; Fine Arts Society; School bands

Subjects: Communities.; Corbin (Ky.); Music

00:38:19 - Religion / World War II

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Partial Transcript: Religion has come up quite frequently in the conversation that we have had till now, so what is the role of religion in Corbin?

Segment Synopsis: Calder says that the largest religion in the area is Baptist. Almost everyone goes to church. She says there was interfaith friction in the past but it is no longer that way. Calder says the Catholic church is well established now, she talks about the Jewish family in Corbin attending the Catholic school, and says they were accepted in the community. During World War II everyone knew when someone left for the war. She tells a story of two soldiers in war—one from Corbin died, and the other learned about it and married his widow.

Keywords: Acceptance; Baptists; Cars; Casualties; Catholic schools; Catholics; Church attendance; D-Day; Diesel engines; East Side (Neighborhood, Corbin, Ky.); Euster family; Jews; Methodists; Military service; Railroads; Transportation; Widows; World War II

Subjects: Communities.; Corbin (Ky.); Religion; World War, 1939-1945

00:44:23 - Going on a trip

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Partial Transcript: Nina, let's say that you are a young girl again--

Segment Synopsis: Calder gives more detail about traveling on trains during her youth. The local passenger trains had double- or triple-seats. They weren't as nice as the interstate passenger trains. There weren't Pullman cars or dining cars for routes from Corbin to Louisville, for instance. Seats were cushioned benches, and passengers wouldn't face each other. She says she wasn't aware of any divisions in classes for traveling; says that seats were alike. She fondly remembers trips to California, seeing different parts of the country. They didn't have television so they didn't know what things looked like and she was in awe of the Rocky Mountains. Her mother's second husband, Van, worked on the Hoover Dam and he gave Nina a turquoise ring that was found during an excavation. She describes riding the train from Cincinnati to Chicago. She says most seats were unreserved, except for Pullman Cars. She gives a description of the restrooms on trains: commode and "lavatory" (used to describe hand sink) together, and says there was no shower. She says she doesn't remember any train robberies; "life was good."

Keywords: Bathrooms; Beds; California; Children; Corbin (Ky.); Entertainment; Grandfathers; Hoover Dam; Meeting people; Mothers; Passenger trains; Passes; Prices; Pullman sleeper cars; Riverside (Calif.); Robbery; Seats; Train travel; Trains (Passenger)

Subjects: Childhood; Railroad cars.; Railroad passenger cars; Railroad travel.; Railroads--Employees.

00:57:32 - Changes / being raised by the railroad

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Partial Transcript: And what changes do you see now?

Segment Synopsis: Calder says people do not travel on passenger trains anymore, they drive or fly everywhere. Her grandfather worked for the railroad so she feels like it raised her and her siblings. She talks about how the railroad industry has changed, and also discusses how the community of Corbin has changed.

Keywords: Businesses; Changes; City-limits; Downtown Corbin (Ky.); Economy; Family; Family-owned businesses; Fathers; Grandfathers; Income; Locally-owned businesses; Mothers; Passenger trains; Railroad (Industry); Train travel; Trains (Passenger)

Subjects: Communities.; Corbin (Ky.); Families.; Kentucky--Economic conditions; Railroad travel.; Railroads--Employees.; Small business--Kentucky

01:02:19 - Hopes for the Corbin Railroad Museum and Corbin's future

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Partial Transcript: Since you have such an emotional attachment with the railroad, what are your hopes from the Corbin Railroad Museum?

Segment Synopsis: Calder says that she hopes that the museum thrives and that people flock to it. She is still conscious of the railroad and the importance of it for her family. She says she was taught to fear the railroad. She is happy for the current mayor and the job that he is doing. She feels that Corbin is still a good place to live and hopes that it will prosper.

Keywords: Corbin Rail Museum; Corbin Railroad Museum; Future; Mayors; Railroad (Industry); Trains

Subjects: Communities.; Corbin (Ky.); Railroad museums; Railroads.; Tourism--Kentucky