My Aunt Bev, firstborn of the five children of Thomas Mangan (my grandad), died a week ago today. I spent a few days with family last week remembering what made her such a remarkable woman. My dad recalls how now and again he’d be reading a letter to the editor of the local paper “giving the politicians hell,” and then he’d see his sister had written it.
Bev should’ve been a journalist — she loved to write, loved to spout on politics, and had a human touch that would’ve invited people to tell her their stories. Well, at least one of us Mangans got into the news biz.
Speaking of stories, my Uncle Mike recounted a gem: Back in the late 1950s, he hitchhiked all over the West; I think he knew every pothole in Route 66. One time he caught a ride to Sacramento and got dropped off on Interstate 5 in a boiling stretch of the Central Valley.
After a good bake in the sun, he finally got a ride from a guy heading southbound. On the way south toward L.A. the guy asked Mike where he was from.
“Really? I spent some time there myself. What’s your name?”
“You know a Bev Mangan? I used to date her.”
“Sure I know her, she’s my sister.”
(This is my all-time favorite “small world” story).
Anyway, about a decade ago I interviewed Bev for a web project called SevenQuestions. These are her Q’s and A’s.
What happened to you as a a teen-ager in the 1940s that convinces you teens haven’t changed much in the past 50 years?
The biggest thing that hasn’t changed much is that every teen wants to be popular in school, no matter how far back you go. We would all like to be the cheerleaders, the jocks, prettiest or handsomest or popular with the other sex in the “in”crowd.
The biggest difference is in the ’40s, nobody shot you for it.
Another Tom Mangan — your father (my grandfather) — was a traveling salesman always strapped for a buck. What was something he did to economize that makes you laugh when you think about it today?
In 1937, I was seven years old and an only child. My Dad was making about $15 a week selling refrigerators. The only economy he practiced that I can remember is that whenever we ran up too many bills at one address, we would move so that the bill collectors would have to search for us, slowing them down a bit.
We always lived in apartments and many times just moved next door or around the corner. I must have driven the school record keepers crazy!
What you were doing when you heard Roosevelt had died?
It was a pretty day in April 1945. I had just gotten home from school in my freshman year and was talking to some friends. A man came by shouting “Extra, Extra” selling papers from the Journal. We bought one and read the news.
Everybody was devastated. I remembered the last newsreel in which I had seen him, he looked ill. I took the paper to my parents. My father cried.
Tell a story from your first days as a new mother with Randy, your oldest son, that made you wonder if you were cut out for the mommy business.
As Ran is now 47 years old, it has been a while.
As a lot of new mothers find out after all the embarrassing stuff is over at the hospital, they are frazzled and nervous and now must take this little package home and take care of it. Their nervous reaction is passed right on to the baby and the result is “nervous tummy” which translates into lots of screaming, which can go on for days.
I for one would have gladly returned him, but there are no exchanges! Oh, the first day I knew, about 24 hours after we brought him in the door!
What did you think of television when you saw it the first time?
It was at a neighbor’s home and I remember wondering how on earth they got those pictures to travel through the air.
I knew it would be a long time before we had one. A little later on, my husband’s uncle got one and we would go to their house after work on Wednesdays to watch “Dragnet” and have a few beers.
Who killed JFK?
I believe Oswald was a patsy, but he was there. However, he was not alone.; the mafia, the U.S. government (CIA) and the hatred of so many important people had a lot to do with it.
It was a major conspiracy. The movie “JFK” with Kevin Costner comes closest to the truth.
Describe something you learned late in life that you wish to heck you’d known all along.
For all the young people contemplating matrimony, remember this. What you see is what you get. Don’t go into marriage expecting the things you don’t like about him or her to change. They won’t.