Dora Saunders, 1984

The following comes from an interview with Dora Saunders conducted in the early 1980s: "My primary occupation was a homemaker, wife, and mother for my husband and four children in Annapolis, Maryland, where I lived from 1925 to 1983." Mrs. Saunders came to Champaign in 1983 to live with her daughter. "We had many close friends in Annapolis," she says, "and I still miss them very much as well as the old, familiar things of my home. "I was very active in the Methodist Church, working for the Board of Child Care and sewing for rummage sales and bazaars. My first employment was as a seamstress. I was nine and sewed men's shirts by hand. Each stitch had to be perfect or it had to be done again and we were paid by the piece. I worked in a store office after school until my marriage." Mrs. Saunders has warm memories of "my childhood in the country in Maryland with so many friends and cousins, so much laughter, so many good times." She also thinks of her grandchildren "who live such happy, carefree lives." She is most proud of her husband "who was a brilliant scholar and musician and a wonderful father, and my four children, with their varied lives and accomplishments." Her husband was a librarian for the U.S. Naval Academy for 43 years, until his death in 1957. In her lifetime Mrs. Saunders has seen families change drastically. "Families are broken up and spread apart now. My mother had very few material possessions, but she lived close to all her brothers and sisters on land where our family had lived for 200 years. When I was a child, children knew their aunts and uncles and many members of their family. Now families are lucky if they see each other on holidays." As for herself she says, "I think I'm doing well for my age. I try to do as much as I can for myself, but life has turned around for me. I used to take care of others and now others take care of me."

Source: Raymond Bial, There is a Season, Champaign County Nursing Home, 1984.