Tuesday, March 20, 2012

World War II Bookmobile

The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In: A History of Fullerton.

Nancy-Lee Carmichael moved to Fullerton from Ohio in 1923. She had typhoid fever and pneumonia and the doctors recommended moving to a warmer, dryer climate. She got better. She graduated from Fullerton High School in 1925, and went on to get a degree in library science.

Miss Carmichael was living in Fullerton during the 1920s when there was an active Ku Klux Klan. She recalls, “A cross was burning in our yard, 318 West Malvern, in 1924 when I went out to pick up the morning paper. My father was running for the City Council. I still have that cross.”

During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration funded an excavation of Indian remains on the Sunny Hills ranch. “They discovered that there was an area up here where the Indians had been, and decided to look further into it, and they found a whole outline of the buildings. And they found a skull,” Carmichael remembers, “There is a subdivision there now.”

Carmichael worked for the Los Angeles Public Library for a number of years before being hired as the head librarian for Fullerton High School in 1941. She recalls high school superintendent Louis Plummer as “a disciplinarian…everybody was afraid of him.”

In 1943, when the country was engulfed in WWII, she took a leave of absence to become an Army librarian. She recalls, “I was at Camp Anza, Arlington, California for twenty-nine months...a secret staging area for the China-Burma-India theater of operations. Then I was transferred overseas to the Third Army. I had a bookmobile and covered ninety miles each day servicing all units in the 396th regiment stationed in Czeschoslovakia. I came back in 1946.”

When she returned, she was hired as head librarian at Fullerton Junior College, where she worked until her retirement in 1962.

Source: Fullerton College Oral History Program. Interview conducted by Anne Riley in 1971

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