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Susanna "Sue" Harris and Edna Roberts oral history recording


Susanna "Sue" Harris and Edna Roberts oral history recording


An audio recording of an oral history of Susanna “Sue” Harris and Edna Roberts recorded in about 1980 about their lives in Oregon. Harris was born in 1921 on a ranch in Oregon. She came to Forest Grove, Oregon, in 1977 looking for healthcare during a time that she was ill. She grew up in a country neighborhood attending a one-room schoolhouse with eight grades and one teacher. All of her life, Harris walked to school and in high school, she had to walk further to Vernonia. Church did not play a large part in her life because the nearest church was too far away to easily access it. She went to business college in 1956. Harris talks about her family and where her parents are from. Her mother was originally from Oregon while her father moved from Denmark but over the years living in Oregon, he lost his accent. Harris recounts how they spent their holidays and traditions including Christmas, the Fourth of July, and the last day of school. For entertainment, she attended dances, the theatre in Vernonia with her boyfriends, ate out in restaurants with her family, but there was no opportunity for her to play sports because she had to ride the bus home after school and was unable to stay after school. Work and school were her priorities. Each week, her mother made her clean her room and that was the only housekeeping chore that she had. She remembers listening to the radio frequently and then comments on the different transportation that she had been on in her life including a horse and buggy, automobiles, a ship, and an airplane. The Great Depression did not affect her family very much since they were self sufficient on their farm. Harris did not remember the Prohibition or World War One, but she did remember World War Two and the announcements over the radio of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the signing of the truce to end the war. Then Harris talks about her two marriages and how they were brothers and both left her widowed. She never had any children of her own, but had her husbands’ children. Her favorite change in the world was electricity and not having to carry kerosene lamps around any longer.

The interview with Harris ends at about 21 minutes and there is a pause in the recording before it switches to the interview with Edna Roberts. Roberts was born in Washington in 1891, but lived in Park Place, Oregon, in a country house next door to her combo school and church. She did not have any full-blooded siblings but had many half siblings from her father and stepmother. She talks about Memorial Day and the Fourth of July as holidays that she remembers. Roberts did not want to talk about what she did for entertainment, though she never danced or played horseshoe, and cards were not allowed in her house. She remembers going to the theatre for the first time in Oregon City and working in a restaurant for a while. As a teenager, she did housework and babysat for a mother of three and was given a lot of responsibility in that job. Roberts also talks about the different modes of transportation that she had been on in her life. She also does not remember the Great Depression but remembers World War One over World War Two because of a nephew that had died in the first war. She finishes with talking about her two marriages and how she also did not have any children of her own.

There were many older women in the room with the woman interviewer and Harris and Roberts. At times near the end, it is hard to distinguish who is answering all of the questions, Roberts or another woman. They all agreed on liking President Eisenhower when he ran for president and that a country neighborhood where everybody knows everybody is a nice way to live. The recording has a lot of white noise in the background throughout the entire tape, but the voices are clearly audible throughout. At about 3 minutes into the recording, a high pitched screech noise starts and gradually gets louder until it stops at about 29 minutes.


Harris, Susanna




Friends of Historic Forest Grove

Is Part Of

Tualatin Plains Historical Society Collection


Washington County (Or.) -- History


1 sound cassette (38 min.)





Spatial Coverage

Washington County (Or.)
Forest Grove (Or.)


In Copyright

Original Format



Harris, Susanna, “Susanna "Sue" Harris and Edna Roberts oral history recording,” Pacific University Archives Exhibits, accessed May 23, 2019,