Tag Archives: Pearl Harbor

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.

Frances Palmtag

Oral history by: Deborah McDonald
Date submitted: December 10, 2012

Listen to Deborah McDonald’s Interview of Frances Palmtag


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Frances Palmtag was born in Hollister, California on December 5, 1921. Her parents were Carl and Myrtle (O’Conner) Palmtag. She had two sisters, Hazel born (June 2, 1923) and Charlsie born (July 10, 1931). Her maternal grandparents were Benjamin and Mary (Niggle) O’Connor. Benjamin was of Irish descent from Offaly Ireland and Mary was of Swiss-German descent. Her paternal grandparents were Charles and Amelia (Krayer) Palmtag. Charles and Amelia were both born in Germany and came to America separately. Charles was from Emmendigen and Amelia was from Alsace-Lorraine. They were married in San Francisco. They settled in Hollister and had three children, Marie, Carl, and Muriel. They had a butcher shop in Los Banos. Frances believes her grandfather knew Henry Miller. They moved to Quien Sabe Ranch in Tres Pinos where Charles worked as a foreman. He saved his money and bought a ranch in Hollister and grew prunes, apricots and walnuts. He worked at both ranches for a while and when his son Carl came home from WWI he began working at the family ranch with his father. Carl was born on August 12, 1894 and married Myrtle O’Connor in February 1921. Myrtle was a California girl and was born in Hollister on August 4, 1891. Myrtle had a sister Ruby (Nyland) and a brother Benjamin.