Interviewer: Sal Valadez
Language of Interview: English
Date: Oct 10, 2012
Delores “Dolly” M. Campbell
Note: Interviewer’s questions are in bold italics.
Well, good afternoon everybody.My name is Sal Valadez and I’m a researcher for the McLean County History’s Latino History Project.Today is October 10, 2012, and at Mary Trunnell’s home. She is the daughter of Delores “Dolly” Campbell.Delores is a descendant of one of the early Latino-Mexican families here in McLean County and we are very happy to be here. Okay, Dolly, would you give me your full name please?
Delores Mae Campbell.
And your maiden name?
Delores May Chavez.
And your date of birth?
September 5, 1931.
And, can you tell me who your parents were?
My dad was Pedro Chavez and my mom was Graciana “Gracie” Salazar Chavez
And you grew up here in Bloomington?
Did you have any brothers or sisters?
Yes.One sister has passed away, but I had three sisters and one brother .And I had a brother who died the same year and month that I was born in, like the 27th or 28th of September in 1931 [William].But I didn’t know him, he was an older brother.
Where were your parents originally from?Did they ever talk to you about that?
All I know is that it was Moroleon, Mexico.
Could you give me the names of your sisters?
The one who died… Lupe ? My oldest sister was Sante Maria [Chavez] Glasscock.And the next one was Pauline [Chavez] Hardin Birge. And my brother is Pedro Chavez and he is still with us. [Ancestor records show that there were 6 siblings, Earl Chavez who died the year of his birth, a brother William Chavez who died in 1931, and a sister Casameada Chavez Prather who was called Lupe]
Wow!And where does he live?
He lives on Taylor Street, but I can’t remember the address.
So, we may have a chance to get stories from him.
Well, my brother is kind of slow.His wife does all the talking for him.
Well, that’s no problem.We’ll talk to you about that.Did you have any other --?
I had -- okay, Pauline, Santa Maria, Pedro -- I said four didn’t I?I said Lupe died -- there were five of us.
Do you remember where you grew up on the west side?Do you know the address?
Yes, I do.903 North Poplar.
In relationship to the railroad yards, where would that be?
Right in our backyard.
You know, one of the mysteries we have is that in the Federal Census Records there are addresses given that says, railroad boxcars -- people living in railroad boxcars on the Chicago & Alton right-of-way . Do you remember where that boxcar community was?
Well, it will remain a mystery then until we can figure it out.Did anybody ever talk about the railroad boxcars?
Not much.I can’t remember that much about it.
So, you went to school here?
That was grade school?
Grade school, yes.
In Junior High?
There was no Junior High.It was first grade to the eighth, and then high school.
So you graduated from St. Patrick’s and you went to high school?
Holy Trinity High School.
Anything after that or did you --
I was in my senior year and I met my first husband and I quit. I didn’t graduate. I quit to marry him.He just swept me off into another world.
What do you remember about Saint Patrick’s?
I was very poor.My dad raised me.All my other brothers and sisters got married and left.Like I said, I was so poor that the Sisters would buy my Holy Communion dress and the different things I needed -- they would buy for me.They were very good to me.I’ll always remember that.
It sounds like a good memory.Not the being poor part, but certainly that people cared enough to take care of you.
Oh, they were wonderful.
Did you have any good friends there?
Shirley Golden.She married Tony Cottone
Oh, yes, yes.
He does our plumbing for us now and I’d talk to him and say, sure would be nice to do this, and we would go to ball games and do stuff together.She borrowed Ed’s truck.I was probably about 12 years old -- 13 years old -- at the time.We were very best friends.I had other friends, but she was my best friend.She died of cancer, Tony Cottone’s mother.
Now, what do you remember about your mom and dad?Any stories?
The thing about my mother -- I don’t remember hardly anything about her because I was only four years old when she went to the Fairview Sanitarium.I can never remember her being home.My dad raised me.She had tuberculosis.And my brother -- the one older than me -- he died of T.B. of the lungs.So, when my dad died, he died of T.B. of the lungs.So my doctor gave me all kinds of x-rays to make sure I wasn’t going to get T.B.
It seems like T.B. was a problem back then.
There was T.B. instead of Cancer.
So your parents died fairly young, is that correct?
My dad was 57 and my mother was 43.And my brother was 15.I didn’t know him.
So, how old were you when your father passed away?
I was 18, I think.I was married.
Okay, so you were already married and there was nobody younger than you at home.
No, I was the baby.
Tell me about your father.What was he like?
Well, he was a very lonely man because his wife was in a sanitarium for ten years and he was very depressed about it.And he raised me because the other kids all got married and left because I was the youngest one there.And he was so depressed that he got to drinking.He was bad for drinking, but he did work, but he was very much into drinking and that messed me up too.I didn’t like that.
And he worked for the railroad?What did he do for the railroad?
He probably worked with Paul’s dad?
He could have.
Did he ever talk about Mexico or his travels and how he got here?
He said he walked.
On the record, that’s what it says.
He never had a car.
Did he ever talk about how he got from his hometown to El Paso?
He walked.I don’t know how my mother did it.She was tiny, she was real small and she was very frail.
Do you know where she was from?
All I know is that she was from Mexico.They came together.
They were already married when they --
No.They got married in Topeka, Kansas.
And then they made their way here.Do you remember why?Did they have a connection with somebody here in Bloomington?
No, they moved to Chenoa.I can’t think of the guy’s name -- Garcia!Lorenzo Garcia was there and his mom and dad were Mexicans.For some reason or other that’s all I know, but I was the baby.
Their son, Lorenzo, their father’s name -- I think was Agapeto Garcia.And Lorenzo was his son, and Lorenzo passed away when his wife passed away two months ago, but her sister is still there.
I don’t know her, but I know Lorenzo and his mom and dad and partly his sister, but I was just a little girl, you know, about five or six years old.
So, when you were in grade school things were a little challenging because of the fact that your mom was in a sanitarium suffering from tuberculosis, and your father obviously had to work hard to try to make ends meet.So what did you do?What was your routine like?
Oh, I made myself go to school, which I hated. I still do.I more or less took over.I had that brother and sister that they sent to Lincoln School.With my big mouth and talking made them figure that I was pretty good so they let me stay with my dad, because my mother was in a sanitarium at that time.The State decided to take my brother and sister to Lincoln, Illinois.
How did that happen?
The State wanted more or less to keep an eye on things because my mom was in a sanitarium, you know.And my dad was home with the kids and they wanted to know where the kids were.And with my big mouth, they said I could stay with my dad and take care of him.I was known for my big mouth.
So, you were saying earlier that there weren’t a lot of Mexicans in Bloomington?
No, there were only the Segobianos and they were half.The mother was white and she had red hair.
You know, I’m curious.Part of the telling of this story is that -- for instance, your father being so far away from his native land -- how was his English?
Very poor.I helped him.I was a very smart little girl.I knew the Constitution and all of that stuff, and I worked with him to help him learn the stuff.I worked and worked with him.I was only about 11 years old, and I taught him things about the Constitution.I don’t know about it now, but then I was very set in my mind about helping.
That’s a lot of responsibility.As far as food was concerned, did your family eat Mexican food?
And who is the chef in all that?
My dad.He made Spanish rice and everything had to have tomatoes in it and hot peppers in it, and I was raised in hot stuff.And I still am today.
As far as tortillas, he made those?
He made the tortillas -- he had to make them.
Because there was nowhere to buy them like today.
Today you can go to the store and buy them, but then you couldn’t.He’d put flour together and whatever -- I forgot.I watched my dad make tortillas and then I started making them, and I was only about 10 or 11 years old. Because I was raising my dad.I didn’t have a mother.She was in a sanitarium.
And so, as far as music was concerned, were there any -- I know it was a very small community, but were there ever any get-togethers with other families?
I can barely remember because I was so small.Like I said, I was about four years old and my mother was in a sanitarium.But I was told by my older sisters that my mom and dad, they would pull all the chairs and table back and they would have a dance on Saturday night, and my dad would play the guitar.He played the guitar real good in Spanish.And they would sing and they would dance.I can’t remember that but I was told that. I kind of remember it slightly, but not much.
Now, do you know if there were any other Mexican families that went to St. Mary’s?No?Because our records show that there were a few.But obviously in those days you didn’t have a telephone?So, that made it hard.And no transportation -- no car.
I would have to go down to the grocery store and use their phone if we needed something.
And, who were some of the characters -- the people that you remember from being that young and in that neighborhood?
Well, the Segobianos lived right next door to us at one time.
And they were like a family to me.I just loved them -- I loved their mother.She was so good to me.As I said, I was raised by my dad.And she would wash my clothes and hang them up.She did everything for me when I was a young girl and growing up.She was more like a mother to me.
So, she was like family.
She was wonderful, as close as a mother.I will never forget them.
Now Paul was a little bit younger than you but you knew him from St. Patrick’s?
I grew up with him.They lived next door and then they moved down the street from me.They were always a part of my family because I always turned to his mom for my help.As I said, I never had a mother since I was four years old.
What was his dad like?
George — he was a wonderful person.He treated me like one of his kids.And so did his wife. Her name was [Elfa] May Segobiano.She treated me like part of the family.
And how long were you at that house?
Until I met my -- Mary’s dad -- I was about 16, almost 17.Her dad would walk me about a block to my house. Her dad was kissing me and my dad got mad!But I ended up marrying her dad anyway.
So, you lived there until you were 18 years old.
I lived at my dad’s house until I was about 16 or 17. Seventeen, I guess.
So, after grade school you went to Holy Trinity.Do you have any stories you want to share with us about your experiences at Holy Trinity?I mean, if high school is anything like the high school I remember!
Well, I was very poor and we had to pay tuition at Holy Trinity, but I couldn’t afford it so I worked at Boylan’s Confectionery when I was going to high school, and then in order to pay for my tuition, the nuns let me wash the blackboards, pick up things, clean up things for my tuition.That’s how I earned it because I wanted to stay at Holy Trinity.
Wow!And Paul went to school there also -- you next door neighbor -- a few years after you.
Leonard is the one who is more my age.He died.
How did you get along with people?I mean -- how did you establish friendships?
People said that I didn’t know a stranger.I got along with people real well,because I had a personality that was outspoken.
Were your high school days fun?
Yeah, they were all fun.In fact, the first year of high school I had a birthday and the nuns and all the girls in high school knew that my mother was dead, and knew that I was just with my dad, and they got up a party for me — gifts and everything for my birthday when I was in high school. So I was really treated good.
Fantastic!So, can you tell us a little bit about the social life in high school when you were there?You were working so you didn’t have time for football games or the --
Well, Shirley Governs -- that’s Tony Cottone’s wife -- when I had time we would go to football games.She would borrow Dad’s truck and would take me.I went to her house when she was dying and she said, “I will never forget that your dad was a fantastic cook.All those Mexican meals I went over and ate.”
He was that good!So, you weren’t able to finish high school.Now, you said that you were working -- where?
Boylan’s Confectionery/ Boylan’s ice cream, on West Market.
West Market, the Pub.
The Pub, yeah.
The building is still there.What do you remember about your neighborhood?Are there people from your neighborhood other than the Segobianos that really left an impression on you?
Oh, they were all good to me.The Squires, they were Catholics too. All the neighbors were just wonderful to me. My personality too helped some, you know.
Were there any other characters that stuck out in your mind — people with personalities that left an impression on you?
Well, just the Squires and the Segobianos.They were my neighbors.There were a few other ones, but I can’t offhand recall who they are.
That’s okay.The Squires -- what did they do?
They were just like family.
I thought maybe you knew what the father worked at -- were they all railroad workers in the neighborhood?
As soon as I got married I left the neighborhood, but I can’t remember what the dad did.I know that when I was a young girl I used to do a lot of ironing for people to make money.
So you worked at the confectionery store and you did ironing also?
I ironed clothes for people just to make extra money.And then I used to babysit for this lady.I used to walk down three or four blocks down the street to Mrs. Bock (?).Her husband was Mr. Bock (?).He had a grocery store years ago and I would go down and babysit for her.I always found work.I wasn’t a lazy person -- I’m still not.
But you do like naps!I think everybody likes naps!
I like to sleep late too because my husband and I used to stay up to three o’clock in the morning.We liked to watch TV.
Since you’re talking about your husband -- tell me a little bit about him.So you weren’t able to finish school --
That’s my first husband [Leslie Dewit Williams]. This is my second husband [Earl John Campbell] that I’m married to.I’ve was married to her dad about 13 years.It will be 49 years with my husband that I am married to now.
I’ve been married all of my life.
Congratulations!So, you didn’t finish high school.Can you tell us a little bit about your life after high school?
Like I said, I was going to be a senior in high school and I met her dad and then we got married, and the next thing I knew we were having kids together.
So there is more than one.
I had one, I lost one, and then I had another one.There were six kids I had and I lost about three of them.And I raised three.I raised nine of them. [Darrell Williams, Velda Williams Brown, Michael Eugene Williams, Mary Grace Williams Trunnell, Etta Campbell, Frank Campbell, Tina Marie Campbell Bush, and Dolly John Campbell Wilmoth]
So, Mary, you have brothers and sisters.
I had four daughters and two sons.And I’ve had step-kids too.
So, did you work at all after --
Oh, I worked all the time.
Tell us about that.
Well, I never did drive and my husband -- that I’m married to now -- I used to catch a bus all the time and go to Brokaw hospital and worked there for 11 years.I worked all the time.Before that I worked at Streid’s Restaurant as a salad bar gal.And then I ended up going to Beer Nuts.I retired from Beer Nuts -- I was there 15 years.And they had a big party for me -- I was well-liked.
Let me guess -- did they serve Beer Nuts?
My daughter Dolly just brought me some.Her name is Dolly John -- she was named after my husband.She was the baby.She always said, I’zz the baby!She works for Beer Nuts now and she brought me some Beer Nuts yesterday.
You seem to have always had a great attitude in dealing with the hardships and the passing of your parents.
I’ve always been that way.
So, what were the holidays like?
We celebrated what we could do.We had to use the food we had to eat, and whatever we had, we ate — mostly tortillas and hot chili and hot soup with pepper in it and lots of tomatoes.My dad always had a garden.We had chickens on the outside. We could have them in the yard, you know.
Yeah, now you get a fine, right?
The lady next door to us, she had horses in the backyard.
We’re talking about Poplar Street in Bloomington -- and so there were horses and chickens.
My dad had chickens and she had horses next door.
Were they laying chickens?
Evidently they were.And my dad always had a garden so we ate on the chickens and we ate on the garden — one way of surviving when you don’t have money.
And probably healthier than what we eat now.
But I was real skinny. I was so skinny. People think that I’m 60 years old.They say you have no wrinkles on your face.And I say, well my son is 62, how could I be 60!My daughter is 60.
Do you have any stories that you would like to share with us regarding growing up here in Bloomington?
All I can remember is that we were very poor, and it made it awfully hard.I don’t like to think about it.
But it seemed like people cared for you very much.Like Paul’s mom and your neighbors, and certainly the nuns seemed to.
Oh they were wonderful.
Do any of those nuns stick out to you?
No, not so much as the priests.
Oh, well, tell us about the priests.
I can’t think of their names now it was so many years ago.But we had Father ______________, I do remember him.He used to come to our house to visit us, you know.We were very poor but he would come to our house and visit us.
Father ___________ brought me a doll, and Father Irish (?) he was a big priest at St. Patrick’s.At that time I was about eight or ten years old.And they were just wonderful because they knew I didn’t have a mom because my mom was in the sanitarium since I was four years old.In fact, I wanted to go to the Courthouse and get a picture.It was 1935, I think, that The Pantagraph took a picture of our family and I wanted to get there to see it.You see I was about four years old when my mother was in the sanatorium -- I was born in 1931 so I was five in 1936.
We should be able to find that photograph.
I wish you would get me one.
Do you remember why your family was in the paper?
Because my mother went to the sanatorium and my dad was left home with five kids.I think that’s the reason why we were in the paper.I don’t know.Like I said, I was only four years old so I can’t remember, and my dad didn’t speak very good English.I used to have to speak for him, and I would get mad at people when they didn’t understand because he spoke very broken English.And I’d say, he said this!I had a big mouth on me.I’d get mad at people for not understanding.I can understand now why they couldn’t understand him because he spoke very broken English.
A lot of frustration on everybody’s part.
Yeah, but he did the best he could do to try and raise us kids.
Now to shift the conversation for a little bit to your daughter, if that’s okay with you.Can you share some of your stories about growing up?
Mary:I think as far as growing up, I was really, really lucky.We didn’t have a lot of money but we had this fabulous family, and to me that was worth more than any amount of money.Mom had Darrell, Velda, Mike and myself with her first husband, and Tina and Dolly with her second husband.When I was just four years old in came Frank, Earl, and Etta and my stepfather, who I consider my father.His children came to live with us.And so, collectively there were nine of us.Dad worked for the Illinois Power Company and Mom worked at the hospital forever and then she worked at Beer Nuts later.We grew up in a big house and walked to school.I mean it was like a little army because there were so many of us, and some of us were close in age because we were a blended family.I was just really, really blessed to have such an amazing family.We were a blended family, but my stepfather raised me as his own daughter, and my mother raised my stepsiblings as her own children.I really felt fortunate.
Delores:The mother gave them up, you know.She called my husband and said, will you take these three kids, and my husband says, well, you’ve got to ask Dolly.I’ve got to ask her to see if she will say yes.So they asked me, and I thought well, he helped with my kids and those are his kids and so I said, I’ll take them.
So, you didn’t have a boring household, did you?Now, let me get this story straight -- there were five of you with your first husband, is that correct?
And then, two more with your second husband.And your husband had three children with his previous wife, and she could no longer care for them --
Delores:Well, she wanted to go to Florida with her boyfriend and wanted to know if we would take the kids.And I said, yes I’d take them.
And they stayed with you and everybody was --
Delores:One big family.
Now I’m going to ask Mary a couple of questions.It must have been very unusual at that time to have a blended family, was it not?
Mary:It was. I don’t know if it was unusual to have a blended family.It was the only thing I knew.It was unusual to have such a large family, and it was somewhat unusual to have your brother, who was blonde and blue-eyed in the same class with you when you had black hair down to your waist and brown eyes.
So people were constantly going -- what’s the deal?
Mary:Another interesting thing was that Dad worked.We are talking about some really hardworking parents. Dad worked all day and Mom worked the graveyard shift.We never had child care, we took care of each other, and they compensated by working opposite shifts so we always had parental supervision.
Now, we may have to follow up with your story and the rest of the family somehow, but you are here.So, I would like to ask you a few questions.And you started down that road with how you grew up with a blended family.How was your experience growing up here?Where did you go to school?
Mary:I went to elementary school at Jefferson Grade School.I think it is now Bloomington School District’s office.I actually started at Irving School, and then my parents bought a home on McLean Street and I transferred over to Jefferson School.I went to Bloomington Junior High School and then Bloomington High School.I got married and had a couple of kids and went to Lincoln College.As far as like growing up in my household, it was so opposite from my mother’s experience in life.And I think that I can cherish the fact that she may have had this difficult beginning, but in our family we celebrated holidays huge!And we still do -- family meals and Christmas lists every single year.
Delores: The house is packed!
Mary:And there is always music and always chatter.So, I looked at my mom’s difficult time in growing up, but that was the first seventeen years of her life, and she has been able to have this big family.All of us care so much about each other.
Sounds like there is a lot of love going on.
Mary:Oh yeah and just support.
(To Delores)But you did share with your children your story about growing up?
Mary:We knew.We knew about the nuns and the Segobianos.We knew about the priests.One of the things that I remember Mom sharing with me was when she was little she got to have white bread.
Delores:Yeah!When I got married to my first husband, your dad, I ate some white bread and I didn’t like it. . . I just couldn’t hardly grasp that this didn’t taste like tortillas.And I had to learn how to. My husband went to his mom’s and stuff and I had to eat the American food and I wasn’t used to it.I was used to . . . hot chilis — anything I ate was hot. Tortillas, you name it, there was always pepper in it.
And do you still cook that way for yourself?Your family?
Just for myself.My [second] husband is a full-blood American white man . . . But her dad [first husband] used to make Mexican food with me.We used to make tortillas and tacos and stuff.We would all work on that and eat big time.It’s a wonder I ain’t 200 pounds — all that fattening food and those hot peppers gives you an appetite.You ought to know that.
Oh yeah.Look at me.
Look at me.
Well, you look great.I have to work out for three hours a day just to --
Oh, I used to work out too.I did all kinds of things, didn’t I?I used to work out.I was very cautious about my weight and my figure and how I looked.
I think part of it is that you have a natural gift that people would like to have, and part of it is obviously the smile and the attitude and the love that you have with your family.
I have a personality and a half.My kids say, Mom you don’t know a stranger.
Jeff: This is for Delores whose dad was Pedro.Did he collect a pension from the railroad, do you know?
Jeff: And the other question I had was -- and this is probably obvious -- you went to Catholic Mass as a child.And it was all in English?
Yes, all in English.Well, the priest spoke in Latin and we didn’t understand it all.I went to church and stuff like that.I was born and raised Catholic.
Jeff: Did you spend a lot of your time right in your immediate neighborhood?Did you get around the city a lot or just right in your neighborhood?
Right in my neighborhood.As I said, I went to Holy Trinity High School.My girl friend and I would go bowling together -- that’s Shirley Golden.She died.That’s Tony Cottone’s mother.She was my very best friend.
And that must be Amy Cottone’s grandmother
It could be.Tony Cottone’s mother.He’s a plumber.He still works for me.He’s Amy’s dad as I call him.
Oh Amy -- she’s married to a Cottone.