Story by Esther Avila
The Fresno Bee / October 26, 2007
Watchtowers sprang up all over
Stories of the 'Greatest Generation'
Tulare County members of the 'Greatest Generation' share memories of World War II era.
More than 100
The stories, part of a
"This whole program was conceived in 2003 when I needed to write a grant," said Judith Wood, county reference librarian and project director at an Oct. 14 celebration party for the people involved at the
The project, titled "Years of Valor, Years of Hope:
"The main question we wanted answered was how that time frame affected them and how it affected the way they are today," Wood said.
They recruited 20 people who were then trained to do the oral histories, she said. In addition, they found 100 people who lived in
"We started interviewing in 2003 and started editing the stories in 2005," Wood said. "We ended with five boxes of tapes and transcripts of 104 different interviews."
Among the stories is that of Strathmore resident Ted H. Iles who was 70 in October 2003 when he was interviewed by Kris Gray for the project.
"They were gone. They were essentially rounded up with their families and sent all over the country to relocation centers," said Iles during that interview. "Suddenly our friends were gone, and we couldn't understand it."
Iles also said he remembers the original flag salute, which included extending the arm towards the flag.
"This continued until the early days of the war -- until they decided that Hitler's salute and that of Mussolini in
Iles' stories are but a few of many that have been transcribed into hard copies. The original tapes, as well as transcriptions, can be reviewed at the Annie Mitchell History Room at the Visalia Library.
Five other libraries and museums are also recipients of the four-year project: the
"It is such a great contribution to our local history room," said Sandi Farnsworth with the Porterville Library. "We are losing the history so rapidly. This is great for future generations and a great way to honor our veterans."
Ellen Gorelick, executive director and chief curator of the
"We're losing people of that era. It is a wonderful project that Judith has gotten involved in," Gorelick said. "The project is a combination of a lot of people's hard work. It has been very successful, and we will all benefit from it."