Judith “Judy” Faye Gunn

This interview was conducted by Samantha Nicole Neubauer on March 12, 2007 in San Antonio, TX.  as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Spring 2007 class.

Introduction

Judith “Judy” Faye Gunn (nee Halbardier) was born on April 14, 1943 to her parents Robert B. Halbardier and Inez Brown. She was born at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in San Antonio, Texas along with her three other siblings: Robert Allen who was born in 1937, Joyce Mae who was born in 1941 and Ronald Charles, born in 1949. Throughout Judy’s entire life, she has lived in San Antonio, Texas and does not plan on moving. While attending Sam Houston High School, Judy always held many part-time jobs including a ticket collector at the drive-in and in retail at Winn’s Variety Store. Soon after graduating high school in May, she married James “Wayne” Gunn on June 3, 1961 at the Hot Wells Baptist Church. From there, she worked at Alamo Iron Works as a secretary and was a Mark Kay beauty consultant. Finally Judy retired from the Texas Department of MHMR at the San Antonio State Hospital after 19 1/2 years of service. Throughout their life, Judy and Wayne had two children together: James “Jimmy” Dean on December 8, 1962 and Donna Lou on November 23, 1966. While living in San Antonio, Judy became Lutheran and is a member of Good News Lutheran. She considers herself a Republican but does not always vote according to that political affiliation. Judy loves watching her soap operas like Guiding Light. When she was growing up she loved to sew and attend dances with her husband and friends at the Hilltop Dancehall. Judy loves to go shopping with her daughter and granddaughter. She enjoys taking coast trips to Rock Port, Texas with her family and friends any chance she gets.

Transcription

What type of household did you live in as a child: upper, middle, or lower class?
Middle, middle class. Well, I remember, before I was six years old, we lived with my grandfather in town, the Harlendale area. I started first grade in town at Hillcrest Elementary. I just remember living with my grandfather, my mother, dad, and siblings and we were just one big happy family. It didn’t seem too crowded to me, from what I can remember. We lived next door to a grocery store and I can remember going over there often. The people that ran the place we real friendly and just love us. They had a daughter that I befriended. But, we just lived there ’til I was six or seven and then moved out to the southeast side of San Antonio off of W.W. White Road. My daddy was a carpenter and he built us a house. A big three-bedroom home. I remember that more because I was older. It was very nice and I still go back by it from time to time. It brings back old memories. I started the second grade out there at the W.W. White School and graduated from that area at Sam Houston High School. I was just proud that my daddy was able to build us a house, it was pretty nice.

Describe a typical day as a child.
Oh gosh…Well, just playing. Okay… this is weird, we had a gravel drive way and I remember I used to love to ride my stick horse down the drive way. That’s silly, but anyways. I used to go sit in my mother’s car in the garage and I would play like I was driving. I used to love to walk in my mother’s high heels on the concrete because I liked the sound it made. But you know that’s playing by yourself. Let’s see…I think my brother and I, we used to fight a lot be we didn’t know we were fighting, we were just having fun I guess, now that I look back. There were some girls that lived on the same street as I did. One of them, I would go up to her house a lot. She had polio when younger and was disabled but she was very smart. But, I would go up to her house or she would come to mine and we would always play jacks. We would just play jacks all the time. She had a piano that I liked to bang around on. I often wonder what happened to her from time to time. Then the other girl that lived on the same street, we were like in high school together. We ran around a lot together. Her mother would take us downtown to the Pig Stand down on Broadway and we would get those root beer floats or whatever. It didn’t seem like it was very far at all. And, now I know you have to get on the express way and go down Broadway. But we had fun doing that. We would spend the night together and watch TV late we lived close enough where I could just walk home.

What were your weekends like growing up in San Antonio?
Well, when I was younger, before I was a teenager, the family would go visit my grandma. We had an aunt and uncle that lived out where Calaveras Lake is now, that is were my daddy was from. We would visit with them, they had a big farm and we would just roam the bluebonnet fields and just run around and go through the creeks. I don’t know how we survived, missing the rattlesnakes. My uncle would take us riding in the back of his truck and let our feet dangle. He would take us up on the tank dam and we would just all holler afraid that we were going to fall in the water. We just had real good times out there at my aunt and uncle’s and grandma’s. I remember that. I guess those must have been the best times because I can’t remember a lot of them.

What were some of your favorite vacations you took as a family?
Umm, we didn’t vacation a whole lot, because my daddy, I guess he worked a lot. But I do remember we always went to the coast, just as that continues. We would go to Aransas, mostly with my parents. We would make it a family affair. You know, there would be several of our aunt and uncles, they would all come down there and we would all stay in these little cabins. I can remember my daddy and I were coming off one of the piers and I was about seven or eight, we were holding this fish line. Oh my goodness, it was just a little fish, but I guess it was a big deal to me. We would go up to New Braunfels; my daddy’s brother lived up there. He ran a hot dog stand; it was like a Dairy Queen now days. We always drove along River Road, before everything got so built up. We liked to go into the water area and play in the water.

What were some of your favorite places to go to in San Antonio as a child? Are any of them still around?
Yes, especially when we lived in town, I remember going to the zoo a lot, there probably wasn’t so much to do as there is now. It is so much bigger now. We went to Brackenridge Park. There were other parks on the south side like baseball fields and we would go there. My mother and sister and I went shopping down town, we didn’t really have any malls back then. But, we loved to go down town; we would always go to Joske’s, now it the River Center Mall. We would park there and just start walking up Houston Street to all the little stores. We even had time to where we could even go to the movies! Now it just seems like you don’t even have time to slow down and do that. You either go shopping or to the movies, you don’t do both. We would just walk Houston and Commerce Street; go up one down the other. Then we would come back and walk through Joske’s and do our shopping there too and then come home. Sometimes, if momma didn’t take her car, well we would either ride the bus to town and maybe get a taxi and ride home because we really didn’t live that far from downtown. That was fun.

What type of classes did you take at Sam Houston High School? Do you remember any of your favorite teachers?
Well I just took the classes that were required. I do remember a couple of my favorite teachers. My math teacher, I really liked math, thank goodness I was pretty good at it, but Mr. Morris was my math teacher, especially when I got way into high school. He was so nice; I even met his wife later on at the beauty shop where I used to go. My homemaking teacher was Mrs. Bradley. She taught me how-to sew. That really helped after I got married. I sewed a lot of my clothes. I made my daughter’s clothes that she wore to school. But those are the two that I can really remember that were my favorite.

Were your grandparents living when you were a child? If so, what are some favortie memories with them?
I can remember one, Grandma Halberdier in particular. She was the one that lived out in the country. Then her husband, who would have been my dad’s dad, he passed away, so I don’t really remember him at all. Then my other set of grandparents, which we lived with, my grandpa. I really don’t remember his wife because she passed away when I was two or three. I have pictures of her holding me, but I really don’t remember her. But I really remember my maternal grandfather, it was really nice of him to let us live with him. My mother would take care of him, and then help the kids out too.

Who were some of your friends when your were younger? Do you still stay in contact with them?
Well, of course the two girls that lived on my same street, no I don’t keep in contact with them anymore. I had two best girlfriends in high school, Loretta Montgomery, and then Mary Morris. I know where Loretta lives now, she lives in South Carolina, but we don’t really have contact. I lost contact with Mary also, but I would really like to know if she still lives in San Antonio or what. I don’t know how-to get a hold of her. I went to a reunion luncheon a while back and reunited with about half a dozen of girls that I went to high school with. They were just as sweet as they were in high school. We weren’t really close in high school, but you wouldn’t know that the way they are so nice and everything. They are always after me to be more involved with them. Then Sharon Sendemer and her husband Edward. I guess when they say that you go through your whole life with about two best friends, well Sharon is mine. I met her through my husband, Wayne. Sharon’s husband and Wayne grew up next door to each other and were just like brothers. We were in each others weddings and we had two children each. The kids grew up together. Sharon and I may not talk all the time but she is there if I need her and I all I have to do is just call her. She is just wonderful. Another real close friend I had after I got married was Janice McInvale. Wayne and I were real close friends with her and her husband, Buck. In fact, Janice and I worked together and Buck and Wayne worked together. We just loved them to death. Unfortunately, Janice passed away, but she was my other best friend, as far as friends after you get married. Buck and I still talk; he is almost like a brother to me.

Describe your jobs that you held as a teenager. Which one was your favorite? Why?
Let’s see, I worked at the drive in theater, Town Twin Drive in on North W.W. White road, which I don’t think is there anymore. I think apartments took it over. It was brand new when we went to work there. They had girls that were the ticket girls and we would go to cars and get their ticket money and get tickets for them. Then later on for some reason moved the girls to the concession stand. My sister and sister-in-law worked with me and we were just very young teenagers. It was fun, it was my first job. Then my other job after that was working at Winn’s Variety Store. That was after school, probably my last three years of high school I worked there. I worked there on Saturdays. That was fun; I just kept the counters straightened up. It seemed like I worked the fabric department a lot, and then I cashiered a lot too. All the young girls worked there, and then on the weekends I would work with the older ladies. I got a lot of experience working there. It was my favorite job because I got to meet a lot of people and I had friends working there. We would chit-chat if we could get away with it. I did like my supervisor; I still stay in contact with him, Charles Holesman.

After you got married, where did you live? Do you still live their?
Mostly out in the East Central district, not too far from where I live now. We either lived off of Foster Road, or off of Hildebrand. We lived in a couple different houses off of Foster road. I’ve always lived out in this area since I’ve been married. It took us about four years to move out the where I live today. We rented different places in the neighborhood until then. My step father gave us an acre of land. This house was built out at a lumber company on Military Drive and they would move it onto your property. That is where this house came from and of course we added on to it and enlarged it.

Describe how your present neighborhood has changed over the years.
I feel like as far as living here I’m not the oldest person living her but I’m getting pretty close to it. But I have lived her longer than anybody else here. My step-father and mother lived next door and the house is gone now and they are both deceased. You know… they moved this house in on a Johnson grass field, it had been farmed and everything. We didn’t have water, we had a concrete cistern put in that you had to catch rain or else you bought your water 2,000 or 3,000 gallons at time. About three rings where underground and one on top, but that was moved out when East Central water came through. We hooked up to that then of course we have propane gas. We didn’t have air conditioning back then, we had water coolers and fans but we were just young, we didn’t know what we were missing. I love my air conditioning now! Now all the land around us has been sold and there are like seven or eight families living right here. It has really changed. There is another family living a couple doors down from me and they are then next to being the oldest ones in the neighborhood. I know that I can always go to them and they remember the old days. We have had a lot of fun in this area…you know?

Why did you decide to live in San Antonio for so long?
Because, our family lived here and we didn’t want to leave our family. Wayne was a machinist at Southern Steel and he knew that if we moved to Houston we could make more money in Houston than San Antonio. I just about had a fit because I didn’t want to leave my mother! So sure enough, we didn’t move but he was a machinist and he was always a good provider. He ended up having good jobs; his main job he worked at for the most years was Central Freight Line. Then I worked also. We survived and we were happy, that’s the main thing, be happy. We just stayed in San Antonio.

Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?
Um…Well I hope I’m doing a good job for my granddaughter and I love her to death. I just love my family and I don’t know what the future holds for us but you can only hope for the best and live life to the fullest. Thank you for listening to me.

Analysis

From conducting this interview, I have learned a great deal about my Grandmother. Our relationship was already strong to begin with, but after the interview process, I learned so much more than I ever thought I would, which I feel made us even closer. Not only did I “dig” into her past and observe what her life was like before I was even a thought, I also noticed how fortunate I am to have someone like her in my life. I learned that my Grandmother is a very strong-willed, opinionated, hard working woman. She constantly held a job and worked intensely for her family’s well-being. I also realized how much fun my grandparents, great aunts, and uncles had when they were younger, just spending time with family and doing things outdoors like riding around on the farm.

I feel that the most important points of the interview were just to show how simple life was back then. The children of that era made their own fun with their imaginations like pretending a stick horse was real, playing dress up, or jacks. Now days it seems like a child can’t have fun without an electric device in their hands at all times.

Throughout the interview, my Grandmother would reminisce on certain things like her friends, Sharon and Janice, or how much the neighborhood has changed over the years. What you didn’t see in the interview transcription was the moments where my grandmother would tear up talking about how good her friends are to her, or how much she misses her loved ones who have passed away. The one thing that made her very emotional was talking about how her neighborhood has changed. She was devastated because she feels that she is not safe anymore where she lives and people are not as nice as they used to be. (I also tried to stay off the topic about my Grandfather during the interview process because the one year anniversary of his death was coming up and it was a very emotional time for both of us.)

Because of my Grandmother’s vivid stories and recollections of the past, I learned that San Antonio and the surrounding areas have changed dramatically. Not necessarily the environment and shops, but the people and ways of life as well. I feel that the type of people that lived back then were more sincere, appreciative and loyal to others and everything else around them. You can only find a handful of those people today, and they are mainly our elders who grew up to appreciate and be thankful for everything.

Every question that my Grandmother answered, I wanted to see if there was a picture to go with her story. It’s not that I didn’t believe her stories, but I wanted to get a better idea of her life when she was younger and I thought that a photograph would help. I love old pictures and getting the chance to see how much someone can change over the years.

During the interview process, one of the drawbacks of learning about the past was the fact that I got a one-sided perspective of it. No one else was there during the interview so I could only receive my Grandmother’s point of view on the subject. On the same hand, the benefit about the interview was her perspective! I loved “digging” into her past to see how much things have changed or even stayed the same in San Antonio. Not many history books or websites can give me those kinds of personal portrayals and insight. I think the interview was an effective way to learn about the past because I can get my Grandmother’s perspective and compare or contrast it to what I have learned already in my history classes or on the internet.

Timeline

  • Judith “Judy” Faye Gunn (nee Halbardier) born on April 14, 1943 to Inez & Robert B. Halbardier at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Attended Hillcrest Elementary School beginning in 1949.
  • Graduated from Sam Houston High School in 1961.
  • Began full-time work at Texas Department of MHMR in 1985.
  • Married James “Wayne” Gunn on June 3, 1961 at the Hot Wells Baptist Church.
  • Their son, James “Jimmy” Dean born on December 8, 1962.
  • Their daughter Donna Lou born on November 23, 1966.
  • Retired from Texas Department of MHMR in 2004.
  • Death of James “Wayne” Gunn (her husband) in March 2006 after forty five years of marriage.
  • Interviewed by Samantha Neubauer on Monday, March 12, 2007.

Annotated Bibliography

  • City of Port Aransas This webiste gives all the information you need to know about Port Aransas such as a calendar or events, chamber of commerse, and the background of the city. Copyright © 2006 City of Port Aransas. Last Updated: March 30, 3007.

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