Elizabeth De Cola
(1913 Pittsburgh PA - 2004 Reston VA)
interviewed by Lee De Cola
Los Angeles, November 1990

These audio files are from a 220-minute recording in which I asked my mother about her life from her earliest memories to about the time I was born. The notes are from a 2015 project in which I converted the original tapes to MP3 and WAV files for distribution. The length of each track is in parentheses (mm:ss). If you want to know more, contact me at LDECOLA@COMCAST.NET.

1 THE BEGINNING (4:54) Grandparents; mother: Brown of GA; Civil Wah.

2 BIRTH OF PARENTS (5:53) Birth of mother Mattie Lee (ML) Brown (1877) and father David Duke (DD) Bradford; Cuba: grandparents met at dance, Mattie Lee spoke Spanish.

3 PARENTS MARRY (3:11) GPs marry, go to Chicago; David Duke a Northern Republican, Mattie Lee a southern Democrat and suffragette; birth of brother David Duke Bradford (II?); Pittsburgh: birth of Adeline Elizabeth Bradford, several moves.

4 WORLD WAR I (6:10) WWI: want to move south but not Atlanta; Mattie Lee wanted career but DD doesn't want her to work; Betty an 'unwanted' child?

5 MOVE TO PITTSBURGH (5:23) To Pittsburgh; brother defends a horse; Phillips Ave, circus, school, Schenley Park.

6 BRADFORD REBELLION (4:15) (David) Bradford Whiskey Rebellion (PA and not a Pilgrim!); left Pittsburgh, Betty a pretty child, liked school, had a tree house; recalls happy childhood.

7 RELIGION (5:37) Presbyterian Sunday school (to meet a better class of folks), Xmas tableau, Unitarians; felt like an only child of 3 parents, sometimes lonely and wanted a sibling/playmate; felt unpopular; glad not to marry young; to Tampa FL because of economy, depression, Florida boom.

8 HIGH SCHOOL (5:09) HS, not popular with boys; FL St College for Women, Father a hospital accountant; a reading, teetotaling family but father drank later, hid booze (her grandparents alcoholics?).

9 LIFE IN TAMPA (6:28) Life in Tampa, family built a "bungalette,"" doll house; Aunt Ruth (sister of father) lived with them, removed from an unsuitable (too tall?) suitor; Ruth as housekeeper; her mother didn't like this but it gave her lots of time to join clubs, take classes, Betty didn't like her much.

10 AUNT RUTH (5:35) Ruth the maiden aunt; Betty and ML go to Atlanta, more fishing; David visits, they would go places together, David in Army uniform, United Daughters of the Confederacy convention; poor self-image, not much social life but an active student.

11 FATHER WORKS AT HOSPITAL (5:25) Father a hospital bookkeeper, likes to cook; FL bust, but father still works; owned a lot in Clearwater FL, visited this.

12 BETTY AND MATTIE LEE AT COLLEGE (4:58) Betty and ML go to FSCW (now FSU); Betty writes plays, stories, invited to join literary fraternity; visits vets, cries at memory, anti-war feelings.

13 FL ST. COLLEGE FOR WOMEN (3:25) Four majors at college, loved school, liked science, invited to join men-only science club but refuses; summers in Clearwater FL.

14 FIRST JOBS (6:04) Grad school at University of Pittsburgh, works for ERA. No money worries, had car. Early memories: brother flew suffragette kite; visits a lamb? Tex Adams cat scratch, Xmas, bird whistle, brother complains of 'that brat,' who had holes in panties; chocolate Easter eggs.

15 ANTI-WAR FEELINGS (5:59) ML writes antiwar poem, Elizabeth still cries at Taps, but didn't argue with brother over his army service; antisemitism in family? Grad school, works for ERA, Red Cross in OH flood, Evansville KY; handles relief money.

16 COURT JOB (3:58) Job in court; a number of relatives (grandmother, GGM) died of cancer; MSW degree, loved Pittsburgh but returned to home in FL; liked Tallahassee but not Tampa.

17 RELATIONSHIP WITH KAY (4:12) Homosexual relationship with Kay? but not ashamed; visit brother in Ft Riley KS, job in Miami; child and hospital social welfare worker, dates social welfare board member, almost fired.

18 MSW THESIS (7:24) Topic of MSW thesis: post-hospitalization child care; visits Washington, misses oral exam; on a previous visit to DC was nipped by Pres Harding's (not Coolidge) dog Laddie Boy.

19 THE BAR OF MUSIC (5:18) Cruising in Miami, visits Bar of Music with gay friend Guy; night at Bar of Music Miami, meets Felix in hurricane; thinks him 'wonderful'; introduces self as 'Elizabeth' though everyone had called her Betty. Case worker with own office; USO dances, dates a Catholic who proposes; Dates, goes on picnics, with Felix, who has a child Joan in LA; Felix plays at BofM in Miami and Hollywood; she stays with Felix at Georgian Hotel Miami Beach.

20 TWO-PIANO SHOWS (5:01) Felix and Roger (first of many partners) 2-piano show at Bar of music; Lee wonders are they an odd couple (showman and social worker?) she likes being on the sidelines with own career; her self-image has much improved. She had had a few marriage proposals; Felix tells her about himself, daughter; he does shows at USO; a joke about a bear.

21 ELIZABETH AND FELIX ENGAGED (5:28) They meet in Miami, Felix ask her to make a home for 'me and Joan,' whose letters from Westlake school he shares with her; they move to Alfred St. in W. LA, Joan stays with them at times; Felix Lee (Buddy) born; have to move from apt, Joan helps them find the Martel Ave house; mother-in-law Edith Ginsburg dies in LA 1945.

22 DRIVE TO LOS ANGELES (4:37) Drive across US; Elizabeth and Felix share lots of letters, phone calls; no problem finding jobs in LA; June 11 marries; they'd been living together in FL and LA; she wants children, has miscarriage (ectopic pregnancy), works at Lockheed Aircraft.

23 BUDDY IS BORN (5:13) Buddy born; Marriage at All Saints church; Mattie Lee wanted them to have a church marriage though they're not religious; have to move from Alfred St; Martel Ave house is bare: bed, table, stove - they buy a fridge.

24 LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD (4:54) Life in Hollywood; Felix introduces her to show business, she likes it but prefers being on the outside looking in; recalls working for Red Cross in KY, a former lover; BofM center of their social life; friend Tim Henning (aircraft parts, British connection).

25 WORK IN LA (4:38) Friends in LA, Hollywood; she's a social worker, Traveler's Aid, part-time work; hires full-time maid Lessie (from another employer).

26 THE 2-WORKER FAMILY (3:29) Mary replaces Lessie as maid; Elizabeth never wanted to be a housewife; Felix works 8PM-2AM, 6 days/week, practices after shows; no night life for them; Buddy and Felicity hang out at BofM.

27 FELICITY'S HEART PROBLEMS (8:20) Felicity has heart trouble at 18 months: swelling of chest, enlarged heart; Dr Coleman gives digitalis for a year. But Felicity later swims, dances, denies any problem. Buddy in nursery school; Elizabeth wants him to socialize, not be a 'good little boy.' Never any problem finding work; works weekends at Union Station, Greyhound station, LA airport; Felix's various projects: piano courses, mail order business; they have a modest income, she makes 2 trips to FL by train and car; stays in motels.

28 FELIX DIES (6:24) Tape interrupted by a phone call from a friend. Then She and Lee argue (on tape) about her suicidal threats, discuss happiness and loss; they discuss his life, being settled. She says she won't move out of the 736 Martel house; cat interrupts interview, they go to dinner.