Haskell County Historical Society

Frazier, Mureal (Terry) - Interview by Sarita Fioretti

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BELLE STARR Rides in Haskell County, Oklahoma

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By Sarita Fioretti

Stigler High School
9 March, 1984

SARITA FIORETTI: Hello, my name is Sarita Fioretti, and I'm interviewing Mrs. Frazier of Stigler. Today is March the 8th, 1984. Mrs. Frazier is married to Lewis Frazier and her maiden name was Terry. I asked Mrs. Frazier if she could tell me something about her parents.

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, I was born in Warner, and my father was just a day laborer. They were good parents and were interested in my well-being and education and so on. That's just about the only thing I can think of to tell you about them.

SARITA FIORETTI: When did you move to Stigler?

MUREAL FRAZIER: I moved to Haskell County in 1931 when I married, and I've been living here in this community ever since 1934, about 50 years.

SARITA FIORETTI: What did you use for transportation?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, we had a car when I first married, a Ford.

SARITA FIORETTI: What was your occupation?

MUREAL FRAZIER: I taught school.

SARITA FIORETTI: What grade did you teach?

MUREAL FRAZIER: I taught the first three grades in Enterprise when I first came.

SARITA FIORETTI: How did you discipline your kids?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, in those days it was okay to paddle them if they needed it. If you felt like it, and pretty much talking to them, but as a last resort it was okay to paddle them.

SARITA FIORETTI: Do you see a big change in kids now than when you were going to school and when you taught?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, the biggest change and I'm not sure that it's in the children as much as it is in the parents. I think we're much more permissive. I think in my growing up that parents were too strict. I think that even I was too strict on my children when they grew up, but now I thing the pendulum has swung too far the other way. We really are maybe too permissive, that's just from two generations away looking on it. I may be wrong about it, but that's just my feelings about it.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did you have schooling when you were younger?

MUREAL FRAZIER: I went through grade school and high school and one year of college in Warner and then I graduated from Northeastern with a bachelor's degree.

SARITA FIORETTI: What was it like during the depression? Was it hard?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Yes, it was hard. What I remember the most was there was just no money, nobody had any money. Even though we taught school we were not able to get any money because the banks wouldn't take your checks or warrants and people were really desperate. It was just really desperate times and that was the first time the government came in with food and so on, for people really in need. There is a lot of changes in the housing. When I first came to the county, people lived in most any kind of house, but now most everybody has a good house to live in.

SARITA FIORETTI: How old were you during the depression?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, I married when I was 21 and I was teaching school in Muskogee County in 1929 when the stock market crashed, and I was 21 when I came to this county, so I was fairly young.

SARITA FIORETTI: What did you do for entertainment?

MUREAL FRAZIER: We went to the movies occasionally and then Lewis and I bought a radio which was quite a big deal. There was also a lot of community entertainment play parties, people would get together to sing, eat, and just talk, and to just look for our own entertainment. We couldn't go to the movies very much because we didn't have any money.

SARITA FIORETTI: What were some of the big issues?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, what I remember the most was when Franklin Roosevelt was elected president. Yesterday or the day before was the anniversary of the time that he declared a holiday for the banks. And all the banks in the country were closed to give them time to reorganize I suppose. It was sort of a scary time because people who had money in banks ere not too sure that they were going to get it. The government was really concerned with getting over the depression. To find a way to come out of it.

SARITA FIORETTI: What were some of the ways they tried?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Declared moratoriums on banks, the first welfare was instituted, and this is all I really know because I didn't know too much about the government then.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did you know anything about robbers, thieves, crooks, or famous sheriffs, etc.?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, I'm ashamed to admit this but I went to Pretty Boy Floyd's funeral. But those were the days that there were a lot of bank robbers and a lot of crimes. It seems like the criminals, we heard more about certain ones. For example, John Dilinger, Jesse James, and Belle Starr. During that time people were desperate for money and I guess they did what they could for money.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did you have anybody famous kin to you?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Not that I know of.

SARITA FIORETTI: Is there anything that you would just like to mention?

MUREAL FRAZIER: The thing that comes to mind is how much better off we are now even though we think times are hard. There are a lot of people without a job, but I think generally speaking people are better off, financially, and maybe in every way than they were in that time, even though we learned a lot of self-reliance, but we didn't have any (other) recourse.

SARITA FIORETTI: Tell me what did your husband do?

MUREAL FRAZIER: He was a teacher also.

SARITA FIORETTI: How long have you been married?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Oh, in May it will be fifty-three years.

SARITA FIORETTI: How long did you teach?

MUREAL FRAZIER: I taught forty years.

SARITA FIORETTI: How old were you when you started?

MUREAL FRAZIER: I was eighteen.

SARITA FIORETTI: What was church life like?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, I guess the church was the center of the community. In most of the activities in the community was centered around the church. We had regular services and church socials, and different departments would have parties and so on. It was really the center of the community's lives.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did you teach Sunday school?


SARITA FIORETTI: Did the church have any certain groups that they got together to help those who were bad off?

MUREAL FRAZIER: I can't recall any right now, but I remember that there was one family in our society that our missionary's society made clothes for them because they didn't have a mother. We did things like that for them, but I don't remember that we furnished them any food. We did try to help them though.

SARITA FIORETTI: How else were you active in church?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, I've always sung in church and lead singing in various churches and was music director in Main Street Baptist Church for several years.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did you use any instruments or did you just use your voices?

MUREAL FRAZIER: No, I didn't use any instruments, though I did play the piano some, though not much. I don't play well.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did you have any brothers or sisters?

MUREAL FRAZIER: I had two sisters.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did all the children in your family go to school or did they have to go to work?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, my youngest sister and I both finished school, but my oldest sister married when she finished high school, but I don't know if she ever finished college, but she did go to work after her children were old enough, but she never did go back to school.

SARITA FIORETTI: When you were younger what did you do in the household (chores, etc.)?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, I don't know if I was fortunate or not. My grandmother lived with us and she did all my chores just about. But my job was to milk the cow as long as we had a cow. That was the only thing I was responsible for.

SARITA FIORETTI: What can you recall that was good, if anything, about the depression?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, I can't think of any specific event, but I think the one good thing about the depression was that people were so helpless as for doing things for ourselves that people were so much, I don't want to say religious, but they were so much more closer to God because they realized that there was so much that they couldn't do for themselves. I think that was one of the reasons the church was so important in the community in those days.

SARITA FIORETTI: How did the people bad off get food and clothes?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, as I said they started the food program, and a truck used to go out to Enterprise once a month and they'd give people flour and so on. Everybody, at least everybody in the country, I don't know what happened to everybody in town, had a garden and raised their food, and canned and did as much as they could. I'm sure some went hungry but personally I didn't know of anyone who did. They may not of had much to eat or much of a variety, but they had enough to live off of.

SARITA FIORETTI: How did the war affect this area?

MUREAL FRAZIER: It sort of ended the depression because people had jobs. There were jobs in war plants, and everybody could work, and wages increased. Just sort of brought about the end of the depression. It's not a good way to end it, but that's what happened.

SARITA FIORETTI: How did it affect the families that had loved ones fighting in the war?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, it affected the whole community. From this community we had several boys in the services and we had two that were killed. It was just like losing a member of the family because the whole community was so close and both of these boys had gone to school with us. It was just like a personal loss when they were killed. So it was a sad and scary time.

SARITA FIORETTI: How were the conditions around Stigler during the depression?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, as I recall the only paved streets were two blocks on Main Street in Stigler. The rest were just gravel roads and most were dirt. So we've gone a long way as far as roads are concerned. And as I said most of the people lived in just very poor housing in what today we would just consider as shacks. That was the best they could do, and I don't think people were too unhappy with their situations. They didn't feel deprived because everyone else was in the same situation.

SARITA FIORETTI: What was the school building like?

MUREAL FRAZIER: In this community the school was just a framed building and used for the church men in the school. I guess the school in Stigler was that two-story Boone building and it was a two-story brick building, and we didn't have a lot of materials to build with. We didn't have a lot to work with, we were lucky if we had tablets, pencils, erasers, and chalk.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did you have sports?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Yes, basketball.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did both boys and girls play?


SARITA FIORETTI: What did they wear?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, I remember that I made what the girls wore, and the boys just wore jeans, overalls, and whatever. We just played neighboring schools.

SARITA FIORETTI: Was the girls' outfits skirts, shorts, or what?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Well, it was shorts, but not short shorts like now.

SARITA FIORETTI: Where did people in town go to buy their food and supplies?

MUREAL FRAZIER: There were stores, but Stigler hasn't grown too much business wise. There used to be some more stores by Dobyns and Lantz, and I hadn't been here too long before Shelton's came as a store. It's pretty much like it is now except there wasn't so many. Town used to be more like a gathering place on Saturday. You visited your neighbors on the street.

SARITA FIORETTI: Has anyone made any political promises to the people of Stigler?

MUREAL FRAZIER: Yes, there was Mr. Lyluas, Mrs. Brooks father. I remember this of course I didn't live in Stigler, but it was built behind where Mildred Dumas now lives and it was no bigger than a wading pool. I can remember that election year was very exciting. They'd have pie suppers all over the place, and you'd go to it and listen to everyone make a speech. It was just quite a deal.

SARITA FIORETTI: Did you have fairs or anything you used to go to?

MUREAL FRAZIER: They used to have a county fair in Stigler and it was held close to where the civic center is now. I don't recall too much about it though. It was sort of for FHA, and other people.

(This concludes the interview of Mureal Frazier, by Sarita Fioretti.)

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