Eugene Victor Routen

Oral history by: Justin Brager
Date submitted: December 4, 2012

Listen to Justin Brager’s Interview of Eugene Victor Routen


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I interviewed my great-grandfather Eugene Victor Routen. He is a survivor of the Dust Bowl and a WWII veteran. He went on to make the military his career.

Eugene was born at home in Seminole, Oklahoma, on April 17, 1919. It was Easter Sunday that year. He had two older brothers, Jesse and William. There were two little girls but they died as babies. Two years after Eugene’s birth, Raymond was born. His papa was a share-cropper. He had to give part of whatever they grew to the landowner every harvest-time. Times were always hard. He remembers having only one pair of overalls to wear–nothing else, no shoes, nothing. They were so very poor. The families picked cotton, all of them, to make a little extra money to get by. He recalled that when he was six, he had to drag a big long sack, picking cotton and crying, but not willing to quit. The boys finally got shoes when the weather got very cold and frosty. Eugene started to go to school in the second grade but quickly caught up, borrowing books so he could do his homework. He looked up to his teachers as people with knowledge of a wider world, and he wanted that.

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