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Interview with Lena Templeton

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Lena Templeton talks about her childhood growing up on a farm in Pleasantmount, PA and her early education, and eventually moving to New York state. She discusses early work taking care of the office of a skin specialist in Binghamton, NY then getting married and having children, and finding work at Ansco's during the war. She details working at Ansco's including tasks she performed. She speaks about her interests and activities (dancing) as a retiree and her volunteer work in the community.


This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as: Broome County Oral History Project, Special Collections, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections for more information.


Broome County Oral History Project
Interview with: Lena Templeton
Interviewed by: Susan Dobandi
Date of Interview: 1 February 1978

Susan: Mrs. Templeton, could you tell us a little about your early beginnings, where you were born?
Lena: I was born in Pleasantmount, PA, on a little farm. A–and I lived there ‘til I was about seven years old. I started school there and the school teacher used to live with us during the bad winter weather, which we had piles and piles of snow in those days. We lived down there and my father used to hitch the jackass up to a little sleigh and we would go to school through the woods and then he’d have to come and get us and it was a one room school house and uh just sometimes the fire was out and we would freeze ah it was really something. Well, I went to school there a couple of years and and–ah then ah–my family–we moved to Pleasantmount in the village. That was outside about 3 miles where I started school, so we moved to the village and my father was in the livery business–raced horses around to the fairs and ah–I went to school there–a–I went to high school–I was in the eleventh grade and my father he moved to New York State.
Ah–was working for a realtor–oh Mr. Hoffman and they had a lot of land up to Conklin and they said they were going to fix it up and that lasted a few years and a when I was–a–18 years old I went to work to take care of twins and I stayed there nine months and then ah Dr. George Fox, a skin specialist in Binghamton on Main St.–ah–he wanted me to come and take care of the office for him. They had no nurses those days, you know. They they took care of their own. So, I went there and I was there for 5 ½ years. So, when I was 24 I was married and still around Binghamton and had four children–had twin girls and I a got married of course when I was 24 years old.
And something interesting too, my father-in-law came over from Scotland, Ireland in a boat and I can't tell how many–a weeks or months they were coming over but just in an open boat. They came over from Scotland, Ireland and I never did see him but ah it is ah my father-in-law used to tell about what a rough time it was and that it was a miracle that they made it you know. At that time there was no transportation by water. That was a good many years ago.
Well, I brought up my family and went to work at Ansco's. I was 42 years old and it was during the war and I ah loved my work. I did everything. I did packing. I took a man's job at one time as stock girl and I did perforating the film ah but the last 12 years there, I was a group leader and I enjoyed it and I missed it when I retired, very much. I enjoyed the friends I made and a it was a good place to work and it was those days a lot different than it is today. I started out at about $25 a week and when I finished up I was making better than a hundred clear. So–ah–that a was a very a interesting work and I made a lot of friends and I still have them so now I ended up retired and working here 8 years and I–really my life's not too interesting. (chuckle)
Susan: Well, it’s nice to–to be useful and that you’re helpful keeping house for this gentleman.
Lena: Oh and he appreciates it a lot. You know, one of his daughters is married to Dr. Gilmore.
Susan: Oh, did she?
Lena: Yes, that’s her coming in now.
Susan: Where does he practice?
Lena: Oh, he’s had a heart attack. He’s not practicing anymore. They’re in Florida, they’re just up here for business. That’s his wife. That’s his daughter—they don’t come too much.
Susan: Mrs. Templeton, let’s continue when you retired from Ansco. What you did with your life?
Lena: When I retired from Ansco the first year I was lost for something to do so I took up dancing took lessons for a year and I enjoyed it so much. It was something that I wanted to do all my life and a we traveled around and put shows on here and there and a it was very enjoyable and I use it now I feel so relaxed and free if I go out now, you know, I’m able to do most all the dances.
And then I was–a–just a by myself and I thought there is something I can do. So I watched the paper–they wanted somebody to come in to take care of an elderly couple so I started down there and I enjoyed it and a I’m still there. It will be 8 years this month that I have been here and it gives me something to do and it’s very satisfying to think that you’re helping somebody each day.
Susan: And now I don’t think you’d mind telling us how old you are?
Lena: No. I’ll be 77 April 27th.
Susan: Well, that is wonderful.
Lena: Ha–ha–But those dancing lessons, I really got a lot out of them. You know my daughters were so happy when I did it. All my life I–I wanted to I could dance, but not really good you know. But a–we went all over Elmira and put on dances. We had a ball. We had dance frocks and I felt so elegant. And you know, if there is something a–a–if there is something in your mind that you’d like to do–you have the opportunity to do it, it’s good to do it get it over with because you’re so satisfied with yourself that you accomplished it you know.
Susan: That’s right.
Lena: You’d be surprised those senior citizens how beautiful they dance just marvelous and some of those old ladies they’re in their 80s, they can just step around there like a feather beautiful, do all the new dances, the Bump. They do everything not just the waltz and foxtrot and what have you. They do everything. You should see it would be worth it just to go over and see them. Once a month they have a dinner and a dinner dance and they have live music, you know and you’d be surprised to see them, it’s really marvelous.
Susan: Well, I think I am going to make a point to go and watch some of the activities since I have been talking with people.
Lena: Sure, you just enjoy watching them. I haven’t been up recently. I had a bad knee. I had bursitis in it and I didn’t get–I got into work and back but I didn’t take in any of the you know–activities. I went to the State Hospital every month like that, but a–
Susan: Is that part of your voluntary work in the community?
Lena: Yeah–uh ha–yeah.
Susan: What did you do there?
Lena: Where? State Hospital?
Susan: Yeah.
Lena: We took refreshments there were about five or six of us went up a and that was from the Moose Club. We were members of the Moose Club and we took refreshments, sandwiches and cake and we–a–played bingo ‘til nine o’clock and then Easter we gave them a party, Christmas we gave them a party and in July we gave them a big dinner–half a chicken, watermelon and baked beans and salads. You never saw such a happy crowd in all your life. And we have about 75-80 of them that are able you know enjoy it and play bingo and what have you. It was really–is satisfying when I first went up there it was kind of depressing but now, I wouldn’t miss it for anything because when I go home I feel so good. They are just such happy faces. When you go there they are all waving at you you know and if you have different jewelry on they’ll say where’s your cameo, where is this or where is that you know they really are–they really are so happy to see you and some of them they–they you know aren’t able to come but that picnic–they look forward to it. They are talking about it for weeks before we go up there. If it’s nice we have it outdoors, if not, we have it inside. But that’s a big job. We fix the chickens at the Moose Club you know and take them up in roasters and we fix salads and watermelon usually–they do love watermelon but they have a ball. They feed them good up there but there’s things that they don’t get you know. They get good substantial food you know but not–not any goodies up there that you ordinarily get at home.
So, I really was busy before I came to work but it’s like my daughters say to me, you know they kid me a lot they say, “Mother you know what, it’s gotten to the point where we have to make an appointment with you in order to get you on the phone or anything,” because I’m never home.
Susan: Tell us about how you go bowling with them.
Lena: How I go bowling with them?
Susan: At your age.
Lena: Oh well I bowl once a week and I bowl with my twin daughters and two granddaughters and we have a ball. I look forward to it every week and I’d miss it if I didn’t go. It really is relaxing and no matter how tired I am when I bowl I feel relaxed. I go home and I feel like a new person. It’s always been that way. I bowled when I was at Ansco’s too you know so I don’t bowl as well as I used to but we’re second place we were last year so we don’t mind.
Susan: Well, you certainly have been a very active woman in the community.
Lena: Yes, thank you I have and I was active when I brought my family up too you better believe it. I had twins and I nursed them 8 ½ months without a bottle and did my own work and had one 2 years old at the time too so I had three babies.
Susan: Well thank you very much for the interview Mrs. Templeton.

Date of Interview



Dobandi, Susan


Templeton, Lena


13:26 Minutes

Date of Digitization



Broome County Oral History Project

Subject LCSH

Templeton, Lena -- Interviews; Broome County (N.Y.) -- History; Pleasantmount (Pa.); Binghamton (N.Y.); Ansco Company -- Employees -- Interviews; Volunteers

Dance class

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This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as: Broome County Oral History Project, Special Collections, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections for more information.



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The Broome County Oral History Project was conceived and administered by the Senior Services Unit of the Office for the Aging. Funding for this project was provided by the Broome County Office of Employment and Training (C.E.T.A.), with additional funding from the Senior Service Unit of the National Council on Aging and Broome… More

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