Friends since kindergarten,
Pearl and Nancy Eaton got married in their teens and had four children
in quick succession. Pearl served six years on the school board
and Nancy worked as a secretary in the local high school; but a large
share of their working life was spent in business together, running a
local oil company and filling station on the island. At the time
of my visit in February, 2002, Pearl was three months away from joining
Nancy in retirement. Their immaculate home is filled with evidence
of their many interests and activities, including Nancys needlework
and the Eatons fitness equipment.
It was one of those cases,
I guess, where we just did get married. Started
Were there things that
you knew you were looking for in a mate, in a spouse?
I dont think at
that... at that age, no. No.
I dont think so
know, and as the years go on, yeah, yeah. You do look for a lot
of things if you
you work at it, right?
I think any marriage you
have to work at, to make it successful. Really.
We was young, and we started
having children. We just got busy. She raisin the children,
I was out tryin to make a livin, and just
we both had
our things to do. We just matched good and pulled together.
Life wasn't easy for quite
a few years, really.
It really wasnt,
it was hard. We persevered; I think we had very caring and helpful
parents, certainly. If it werent for them, we probably wouldnt
be where we are today. But we had four children.
In a very short time.
And wouldnt trade
any one of them today for anything but, you know, at the time you think,
Oh, my goodness! Are we gonna get through this?
But you do, and you just
do what you have to do under the circumstances,
I feel. We look at people that graduate today, or just out of college,
or startin families, and it just seems like they expect too much.
And most times it just doesn't happen right away. Youre fortunate
if it does. But I dont think were envious of those that start
that way, I think you learn a lot by maybe struggling for a while.
I don't think it hurts anybody. You learn
you gain character,
Yeah, I didnt have
I came from zero. Loving family, but strict parents. And if
you wanted a buck, you went out and earned it. No one gave me anything.
Course, I thought that was awful tough at the time; but I learned
the value of a dollar very early in life. And I dont think
it hurt me now. Not at all.
How much of your day
was spent together in the workplace? How steady was that?
The entire time, actually.
He spent most of his time in the office, too, at the desk; telephone,
and handling business, and Iwe were together, right in the office,
you knowall the time, really.
Was it a benefit, or
a drawback? To be spending 24 hours a day together?
I kind of enjoyed it,
in a sense. As I say, she always had her thing, and did her thing,
and I didnt want to have nothing to do with that. Anything
that I wanted, as far as decision-making, [she would say] thats
up to you. Go ahead. If you want my help, Im right here.
Yeah. I think we
played really separate roles in the business. Even though we were
both right there. He worked very, very hard to build the business
up. Like he does everything, when he does it, he does it and he
succeeds. Lotta credit right on his shoulders. Really.
And they look at it
they look at it differently than a woman does.
You know, I certainly let him do his thing, but I also get irritated at
times; you feel sometimes like their whole energy is going into the business,
making the business succeed. I think any couple that probably work
together see the same thing.
But you see, you probably(to
Nancy.) I havent told you this beforebut
I almost resented when she wasnt there, when she got done, because
then I was all alone making these decisions. I didnt have
her to pang off til I come home, and then I tried to explain it
to her, and she didnt know beans what I was talkin about.
It wasnt that I
So it would be very frustrating
for her, then, cause Im trying to talk to her, and explain
to her, and maybe get her input, and she had no background. She
didnt know what I had done, soI found that a little frustrating.
(To Nancy.) You didnt know that, did
Yes, I did.
Oh, you did!
Sure. I knew what
was going on. But I think once Id worked there, and then went
elsewhere, I was happier working at school. I was happier working
at the high school. I really was, and I think he realized that.
I dont like to fightits
important to discuss things, but I am more one that will just kind of
walk away, but maybe talk things over later. I don't like hollerin
and hootin, I really dont. It upsets me greatly, so
I kind of walk away from it. Which does not always solve things.
I have a little different
outlook on that. (They laugh.)
I thought I was the one
thatI usually speak my piece, and then I dont like to argue
about it. She likes to keep goin. So I thought I was
the one that walked away. And you dont like that too well.
You get stubborn.
Well, yes, yes.
But I like toI have my say, and then
I guessbut, we
always work it out. I guess.
When you have your
say, is that the same as having your
I dont think so. (To Nancy.) Do
you? I guess, my view... I'm just telling what my view is on a particular
subject. Ill admit, I have strong views; I tell it the way
it is, and whether right or wrong, youll know where I come from.
Do you then listen
to the counterpoint argument, if there is one?
Yep. But then I
got a bad habit of not waitin too long. You know, bout
an hour, which is not very good on my part. Correct? But she
rambles a lot. I dont care for that; you can get to a point
without rambling round. Im tooIm a very
direct person; and sometimes it works against me.
Her retirement, she has
done well on her retirement. Now, June 1st, Im gonna try mine.
So that might be a little tussle. I understand that, Ive worked
all my life, and now Ive got to try to slow down and, oh, I can
find plenty to do for a while, Im sure. But she might have
Find some other things
to do! I know itll be different.
Really, because hes
never really been around. All of a sudden, youre ready to
retire, you think, oh, my goodness; what are we gonna do under each
others hair? Women can keep busy. Here I go again,
but I think women can keep very busy. And it
depends on how many hobbies and what-not men have, how happy that they
are in retirement. No matter what you have with each other, you
Have to do your own thing.
[Marriage] is a
lot of give and take. On both sides. I feel. And perhaps
you dont realize that in the beginning; I dont think you do.
You grow to realize. Youre not married to change
each other, but to try to understand each other and, I think, make the
best of the situation, if thats what you both want.
I think each one has gotta
find a role that theyre gonna play in the marriage to make it successfuland
the partners happy, I guessand I think thats one of our big
successes. I think weve done that. Nancy was home and
raising the kids, and this type of thing, and I, doing my financial part
of it, and doing what I could to make life a little better for both of
us. And I really think thatsif you don't pull together,
if youre not happy doing either one, I dont think it will
I think the world hasI
mean, its changed a lot. Since 55,
for instance. 1955. The marriage, and out of wedlock, and
living together and all, it has really changed. Im not carved
in stone. I certainly change with the society, but you might not
have to agree with it all; might not think that its the best thing
for everybody. Were all different. Some people can live
together for five years, and not even think of marriage and maybe be happy
as a lark. But I dont think that would have worked for us.
(To Pearl.) Do you?
I think the family is
in trouble. I really do, in this country. I think the strong
mother and father are not there like they used to be. And so the
next generation is getting weaker. And the next
generation gets weaker, because they don't have that strong backing behind
them or inside of them. I saw so much of that in the schools, itd
just make you sick. The way parents just dontjust send
their kids to school. They have children, and they just don't do
anything for em. How can it get better? It's sad, really.
Real sad. And maybe thats the trouble, that both parents have
to work today, to try to make a go of it.
Yeah, I feel sorry for
a lot of the younger couples today. That feel they have
to get out and work to survive. Or have everything that everybody
else has got. And I think the children reallyI know
the children suffer for it. Youve got to be very strong, and
very well educated today, I think, to try to do both.
We were in high
school when we got married. I brought, I think, four
hundred dollars into the marriage. Thats my savings I had.
And, man, we didnt have anything; but we had two strong families,
even though my family was split, my mother was a very strong, domineering
Today its too easy.
It's too easy for em. It is. I don't know, what else
do they have to look forward to, these young people today? When
they can go and live with anybody they want, and no fear of, say, pregnancy,
you know, and then if they get tired of the relationship they go on to
another one. And I don't think its producing well-adjusted,
happy people. I really dont. You can say Im old-fashioned.
But I prefer to stay a little bit old-fashioned. I think.
We have lots of grandchildren,
so well be able to enjoy them now
we have five.
Well, thats the
beauty of marrying young: youre young enough so you can enjoy