On February 4, 2016, I flew to Corvallis, OR to visit with my 91-year-old father-in-law, Robert Benton Livesay, Jr. Bob lives at Timberhill Place, which is a 10 minute drive from his son Dave, and his wife Maggie. During retirement, Bob and his late wife Louise wrote a substantial number of stories about their lives, which I read ahead of time. At 91, Bob’s physical activities are limited, but his mind remains sharp and he enjoys conversation. As I was visiting Bob, Dave and Maggie for four full days, I decided that Bob and I should do a project together. With his agreement, I recorded a series of conversations where we discuss his life. In this post, I collect his writings and these recordings.
Let me begin with my collection of Bob Livesay’s writings:
- My Father: Bob talks about his father and best friend, Robert Benton Livesay
- Great Depression: Bob describes the great depression through his eyes, as an eight year old boy
- My First Car: Bob reflects on his 1936 Chevrolet coupe after learning to drive in 1940
- Brown outs and black outs, World War II — Beginnings: Bob describes how people in California cope with the break out of World War II, as seen through the eyes of a high school senior
- My Hidden Talent: Bob talks about being the star of the high school play, “Incognito” in 1942
- Incognito Playbill: A high school production where Bob Livesay plays the lead, Fred Collins
- The Import of Pearl Harbor: Bob describes how the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in the summer of 1941, changed his life
- Learning to Fly: Bob shares his impressions and feelings as an 18-year-old man, who had enlisted in the Army Air Corps on March 1, 1943
- Joy: Bob reflects on how the birth of two sons, Robert and David, fills him and Louise with joy
- A Christmas Story: Bob and Louise each tell their story of a difficult pregnancy that ultimately resulted in a special Christmas gift: the birth of a daughter, Luanne
- The Hat: Bob attempts to adjust to New York City customs while working for Texaco, and buys his first (and only) “top of the line” Stetson hat
- My Retirement Toy: After retiring from Texaco in 1987, Bob embarks on off-road adventures in a Jeep Cherokee with Louise
- A Visit Evokes Memories: In August, 2004, Bob and Louise visit the newly dedicated World War II memorial
- Grandad’s Hair -o- wing Experience: A story written for Devon by Grandad Robert Livesay
- Smoked Turkey Breast: Bob shares secrets for making smoked turkey breast
- A Letter from Bob Livesay: June, 2010, Bob writes to Rob and Jo, Dave and Margaret, and Allan and Luanne to express appreciation for a trip to the east coast
- A Sushi Experience – Up Close and Personal: Bob and Louise learn to make sushi from their friend Vi Omoto
Next, here is a series of the four conversations that we had during my visit.
As an aside, since this is my first attempt at incorporating an audio format into the blog, I uploaded the audio files to two sites, Soundcloud and Mixcloud. I will likely settle on one or the other for future projects, but for these interviews you have a choice. Here are links to the playlists, as well as the individual tracks.
- Playlists (Soundcloud) (Mixcloud)
- Early Years (Soundcloud) (Mixcloud)
- Flight Training (Soundcloud) (Mixcloud)
- WW-II and Texaco (Soundcloud) (Mixcloud)
- Family (Soundcloud) (Mixcloud)
Talking about Bob’s life would be incomplete without including the writings of his wife Louise. They were married two weeks shy of 65 years. Here are Louise’s writings.
- Prologue: Louise sets the stage for telling her life story, beginning in Oklahoma
- My Earliest Memories: Louise reflects on her first five years in Ardmore, Oklahoma
- My House and Neighborhood: Louise describes her house and neighborhood in Ardmore
- My Memories of Christmas in Oklahoma, circa 1933: Louise describes a typical Christmas, through her eyes as a child
- Best Friends: Louise talks about her best friend, Margaret Brown
- Mrs. Brown: Louise describes her second home with the Browns
- My Neighborhood Games and Friends: Louise describes the games she played with friends during childhood
- My School Days: Louise recalls her school experience growing up
- Life Before Television: Louise describes life with radio, prior to the invention of television
- My Sister and Me: Louise’s life opens a new chapter when her sister, Margaret Ann, is born when she is five years old. The story continues into adulthood.
- A Bittersweet Treasure: Louise talks about the bittersweet experience of moving beyond music as a career after becoming a talented musician
- My Mother’s Funeral: Louise recalls her mother’s funeral in August 1954
- The Affair of a Harried Hare and the Tarrying Tortoise, a Fable: Louise writes a tongue-and-cheek story about early married life
- Progress (?) in the 20th Century and how it has Affected my Life, the Automobile: Louise explores the pros and cons of the automobile, from both a personal and intellectual perspective
- A Favorite Recipe: Louise shares her secrets for great Sukiyaki
- Remembering a Friend: Louise reflects on her friendship with Betsy and Bob Richardson
- The Kit Kat Klub and How I Grew: Louise compares her grandchildren’s activities with those of her youth, in the Kit Kat Klub
- World War II and Me: Louise reflects on the impact World War II had on her life
- A Day to Delight the Senses: Louise talks about a favorite adult hobby — growing roses
Talking to Bob and collecting this material was a lot of fun for both of us. Being able to speak from 91 years of experience gives Bob and unique and valuable perspective on the world. He and Louise lived dignified lives that enriched the world through their actions, as well as through their children and grandchildren. As an aside, by compiling all their information here, it will be included in the internet archive, which is a non-profit internet library. Thus, historians, researchers and scholars will have access to this post, and the contents of all the links, for years to come.