Oral History of Arthurene Wilson Cook

Dublin Core

Title

Oral History of Arthurene Wilson Cook

Alternative Title

Oral History, Cook

Subject

Sanford (Fla.)
World War II--United States
Great Depression, 1929
Railroads--Florida

Description

An oral history of Arthurene Wilson Cook (b. 1930), conducted by Joseph Morris on October 4, 2011. Cook was born in Orlando, Florida, in 1930, but migrated to Sanford around 1942. In the interview, Cook discusses life in Sanford, her employment experiences, her husbands and children, growing up during the Great Depression, prosperity in the post-World War II era, her husband's career in the railroad industry, her children and grandchildren, and her battle with cancer.

Abstract

Oral history interview of Arthurene Wilson Cook. Interview conducted by Joseph Morris at the Museum of Seminole County History in Sanford, Florida.

Table Of Contents

0:00:00 Introduction
0:04:15 Working at the Wilson-Maier Furniture Company
0:07:21 RECORDING CUTS OFF
0:07:22 Working at the Wilson-Maier Furniture Company
0:07:48 Working at Florida Fashions and the Family Loan Company
0:07:48 Getting married, divorced, and remarried
0:12:32 Life in Sanford
0:14:11 Growing up during the Great Depression
0:14:11 Post-World War II prosperity
0:16:31 Greater Orlando area
0:17:59 Working for the tax collector
0:21:54 Walt Disney World
0:26:50 Working at the Sanford Civic Center
0:28:28 Husband's career in the railroad industry
0:35:19 RECORDING CUTS OFF
0:35:19 Husband, children, and grandchildren
0:38:49 Battle with cancer
0:43:54 Closing remarks

Creator

Morris, Joseph
Cook, Arthurene Wilson

Source

Original 44-minute and 42-second oral history: Cook, Arthurene Wilson. Interviewed by Joseph Morris. October 4, 2011. Audio record available. Museum of Seminole County History, Sanford, Florida.

Date Created

2011-10-04

Date Copyrighted

2011-10-04

Date Modified

2014-09-14

Contributor

Vickers, Savannah

Is Part Of

Linda McKnight Batman Oral History Project Collection, Seminole County Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.

Requires

Multimedia software, such as QuickTime.

Format

audio/mp3
application/pdf

Extent

451 MB
146 KB

Medium

44-minute and 42-second audio recording
15-page typed digital transcript

Language

eng

Type

Sound

Coverage

Orlando, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Columbus, Georgia
Wynwood, Sanford, Florida
Magic Kingdom Park, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Sanford Civic Center, Sanford, Florida

Accrual Method

Donation

Mediator

History Teacher
Civics/Government Teacher
Economics Teacher

Provenance

Originally created by Joseph Morris and Arthurene Wilson Cook.

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by the Museum of Seminole County History and is provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.

Curator

Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

External Reference

Sanford Historical Society (Fla.). Sanford. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2003.

Transcript

Morris
It is October 4th, 2011, and I am talking to Arthurene Wilson Cook at the Museum of Seminole County History. I am Joseph Morris, representing the Linda McKnight Batman Oral History Project for the Historical Society of Central Florida. Could you tell us about yourself?

Cook
Well, I was born in Orlando in 1930, and we lived there until I was about eleven years-old, right after Pearl Harbor, so I would say, we moved into Sanford about 1942.

And, um, I have a very clear remembrance of Pearl Harbor, because I remember being out in the yard. And my parents had company, and I went in, and they were all listening to the radio. And they were talking about the Japanese were attacking Pearl Harbor. And the next day when we went to school, they called us into the chapel, and we listened to FDR [Franklin D. Roosevelt] declare war on Japan. So I can remember that very clearly.

We moved to Sanford, and we lived on Celery Avenue. And across the street from us was the Department of Agriculture. Had their, their farm, where they raised the various types of vegetables and things, and they tested them and all that kind of stuff. And my brother and I were absolutely enthused, because right up the road about two blocks—and after our house the blocks became long—they[sic] were farms, and they had all this tilled land where the artesian wells flooded the fields and watered them from beneath, rather than on top. And you could reach down there and the artesian wells flowed all the time. Well, we thought all that sulfur water was wonderful. Then we had to live in a house that had sulfur water, and it was not wonderful. Smelled awful. [laughs] But we thought that this was new. We had never lived in the country. We had lived in town—in Orlando—so we were not used to being out, but we went all up and down the fields and cut onions out of the agriculture people’s farm, and made onion sandwiches, and were just carefree, barefooted kids having a good time.

And, then when we moved to Sanford, I was I think in the fifth grade, and we were here for several years. And then, this is the middle of World War II. And my dad had been in the Army before, and had gotten out when he married my mother in 1927. So, he was drafted. And they were not drafting fathers, but they drafted him. And we did not own a home at that time. We were renting.

And so we went back to Georgia, to Columbus, Georgia, and lived with my grandparents during World War II while he was gone. And, Georgia was—at that time, had graduated in eleven grades. So when the war was over, I was a senior in high school, and my mother and dad and my brother moved back to Daytona [Beach], and I stayed in Georgia and finished high school. So, I came back, and I didn’t want to go to school another year, so I had already finished. So, and at that point, I went—I had gone to a commercial high school, so I had typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, and how to behave like a young lady in an office and all that kind of stuff.

Cook
So I went to work. And Mom and Daddy, at that time, they had moved over to Sanford. My dad was running a furniture store for another man, called Ted Davis Furniture Company. It was right on East First Street, and part of the downtown area now. And as time went on, the man that owned it offered my dad a partnership, which he took, and this took care of—as time went on, and after we were grown and married, my brother and I bought into that, and we owned the Wilson-Maier Furniture Company.

Morris
Okay.

Cook
But, um, I can remember we lived out on the lakefront, which—there’s still a bar out there, but it was down. It was the home of the people that owned the bar, and it was a real nice home, right on the lakefront, going toward DeLand. And when the hurricane came, they were advising people to get out of places that were, you know, dangerous to stay in, because it was coming right that way. So we went down to the store and I can remember, I got up on a stack of mattresses and put something down and went to sleep. So the hurricane went right over me. I had no problem. [laughs] But I remember out West First Street, which is now that main road [State Road] 46, that goes out to the mall. And all the businesses are out there—that was all agriculture, completely, I mean fields and fields and fields of it. And, um…

Morris 
What were they growing?

Cook
A lot of celery, and cabbage, and broccoli, and onions, and all that kind of stuff. And a lot of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines. I remember, I was sort of full of myself, riding with my dad one day out West First Street, and I said, you know, “This is a highly agricultural area.” He says, “Yeah, they do a bit of farming, too.” [laughs] So, but, uh, it was just a neat place to grow up in. The class that I would have graduated from—with—in Seminole High School, when I came back, since I had been here for several years with them, they sort of just wrapped me into that class, so that I had to go to all, everything, just like I had gone to school here. So it was a nice place to grow up. And—stop for a minute.

Morris
Sure thing. Please go on, ma’am.

Cook
All right, well after high school, I went to work for my dad in the furniture store, and, um, I was not very businesslike nor did I feel like it was—I just did not do well, so he fired me. [laughs]

Morris 
Your father fired you?

Cook
My father fired me. And I went to the employment agency and they sent me to Florida Fashions, which was right there on First Street in the 300 block. And it was a mail-order company for all kinds of clothes, and it was something to where everybody and anybody that could type had a job there. You just sat down and you typed out all—the order and who you will send it to. And it wasn’t much of a job, but anyway, you typed all day and it was downtown, and you know you could—at lunch, you could go downtown and have lunch, and all that kind of stuff. Anyway, I finally went to work for, um, it was the sporting goods people. That was downstairs from Florida Fashions and I was their bookkeeper, and this was right across the street from our store. So, um, I was working and waiting on people when I wasn’t busy doing keeping books, and the owner came in one day and he told me, he said, “Arthurene, I’m going to have to let you go.” And I said, you know—my first thought was, “What have I done?” He said, “There is no fault of yours. I will give you a very good recommendation.” Well, he said, “My brother-in-law has moved down here and I have to give him a job, and I can’t keep both of you.”

So at that, I went back to the employment agency, and I got, they sent me to Family Loan Company. Well, I went up there and they wanted to know if I could take shorthand, and I could, and type and books and wait on the customers there.

And I worked there until my first child was born. And that was about three years later. And, um, I married in 1950, and I had two little boys, David and Dan. And, in the process my husband came home one day and said he wanted a divorce. And, um, so, as time went on—didn’t take very long. Back then if you agreed and he agreed and they were going to do whatever, you could have a divorce in nothing flat. So I had my two little boys, and I had moved home with my mom and daddy.

And I got a job at the courthouse with the tax collector’s office, and I worked there for a number of years. And I always said when I got out of high school that it didn’t matter what kind of job I would get, but just something that didn’t have anything to do with money. So every job I ever had had something to do with money. [laughs]

And, then, a friend of mine whose husband worked for the railroad, I had been best friends with her ever since she had come to town. And I went over and a guy that I knew from high school, just very briefly—matter of fact, I was dating his best friend, and I really didn’t know anything about him, and he asked me out. And I said, “Well, you”—he said, well, you know, like going to the beach or going to the movies, or something. We went out to dinner and all, and I said, “Well yes, I would like to go, but,” I said, “I can’t always get a babysitter. There will be times that I would have to take my two boys with me.” He said, “Well, that’s not a problem. I like children.” So we started going together, and we went to the beach, and he reached over and put his hand on my leg, and I said, “Move your hand.” And he said, “Well, somebody thinks that I was their daddy.” I said, “I don’t care what they think. Move it.” [laughs] Anyway, we went together for a year, and we married in 1955, and we have been married a little more than 56 years. So I think it’s going to take. I think it’s going to. [laughs]

Morris
Crossed fingers?

Cook
Yeah. [laughs] So, but, to go back to our, um, what it was like around here. There was a division of the black and white communities. And there were only three really big companies that people could go to work for, and feel like, that they could probably retire from that. And that was Chase & Company, who—they raised all sorts of things, and vegetables of all kinds, celery being the main crop. And—but they did fruits and all sorts of vegetables, and cabbage, and carrots. You name it. The fields were everywhere. Matter of fact, when we lived out on the lakefront, the field behind us was—well, as far as you could see back toward First Street. Whatever they had was growing there, the man would always—there was some man that he rented the fields out to other people that actually didn’t own a farm. But they would—this was big, you know, large farming, a lot of it. And they would always say to my mother, “Whatever you need out of here, take it.” So if it was green beans, we had green beans. And if it was cabbage, you know, whatever, we had.

And to go back just a little ways, but—probably never get this transcribed. When I was growing up during the [Great] Depression, I was never aware of being poor, or not having anything, because nobody had anything to speak of. People didn’t own—very few people owned their own homes. Everybody worked. And, I mean, like my parents when the Depression came along—they had a thousand dollars in the bank. They got a penny. And, I mean, you know, but, I remember I got a bike, and I knew my daddy had redone a bike, you know, a secondhand bike, but it never bothered me. I got a bike. I didn’t care.

But, it was, after the war, there was a lot of boom going on and building houses and things, so there was lots of work for people. And I know when Walter [Cook] and I got married, we actually bought a house. The Navy was leaving here at that point, or they had gotten—they had built houses in the Wynwood section off 25th street, between there and 46 going toward the east coast. And in that area there, they had two lots of houses that they had built to rent to Navy people. And they quit renting them, redid them, and we bought one of them, where we lived for 31 and a half years. And we built onto it in every direction, but we lived there for a long time. But, you know, the downtown was just about all there was. When you got off as far as French Avenue—that was almost getting in the country.

And like I said about coming from Orlando, you would run into Maitland, and see a sign that said, “Ye Town of Maitland, County of Orange.” And I always thought at—so quaint. I just looked for it every time. And then when you got to Longwood, it was just a crossroads with filling station. I mean, there was nothing out there, absolutely nothing.

Morris
Not even agriculture?

Cook
I don’t remember much in that area, and of course, I didn’t do a whole lot in Longwood at that point. Never did. And you know, whatever shopping we ever did, you went to Orlando to buy it. When I first got out of high school, this friend and I—both of us worked, and we worked Saturday morning, and then the office closed at noon. And we would get on the Greyhound bus and go to Orlando, and do our shopping right there on Orange Avenue, have lunch, and then we’d get on the bus and come back home that night. And didn’t think a thing about it. We even went to Jacksonville one day and visited a friend that had gotten married, and went early on a Saturday morning and came back Saturday night. You know, the bus was the way to go.

But, uh, I was still working at the courthouse when Walter and I got married. And he was working for the railroad, and he worked at night. And back then I worked in the tax collector’s office, because they hired me because I was a fast typist. And I did all the—typed up all the tag numbers and who they belonged to. So then, when all the tax bills were written out—handwritten—the legal descriptions, the whole nine yards was handwritten.

So up when it was time to do like tags for Chase & Company—which they would have hundreds, because those little trucks that go back and forth across the highway, they have to have a special tag that they cross the highway. And we would have boxes full of Chase & Company things, and we did them at night. So we’d go back and we’d type all those and wait ‘til about 10 o’clock, and then I’d go home. And we had to write out all the tax bills.

And for the big companies—when I went to work in the courthouse in 1953, I was, uh—the big books, that had all the tax rolls in them, had Sanlando Springs. They were valued on the tax roll, I will say that. You could—on a tax roll, they were valued at $10 a lot. Why I didn’t buy out there for those lots, or well, uh—Sanlando Springs was a beautiful place to swim when we were growing up and going there. You could go in and they had this wonderful place to swim and you had picnics, and everything for years. And then when it started growing up, the whole place is businesses, and restaurants, and mortgage companies, you know, it’s just solid. And if you get there under I[nterstate]-4 now, prepare to tear out your hair, because traffic is horrendous. [laughs] But back then, that was just uh, right up the road.

But I worked until we paid my daddy off for the furniture we bought for our house, because we bought a house before we got married, and then we came back home and signed the papers on it that we, you know—so it would be in both our names. So it was all furnished and all before we got married, and I worked at the courthouse until about the late part of ’56. And my husband said, “One of us has got to raise the boys, and the other one has got to make a living, and I think I can do better than you.” Well, I knew that he could make better money than I was, because I wasn’t making but $25 a week. [laughs]

Morris
Okay.

Cook
So I went home and stayed home, and in about 18 months, or two years, we had a daughter. So I was very busy being a mother and a wife, and doing a lot of church work. I’ve been a member of First Baptist Church of Sanford since 1947. I’m still there, and I’ve done a little bit of everything there.

But, um, you know, back before [Walt] Disney [World], it was just a whole different thing. When my daughter was in high school, somebody told her that she could—if she was cute she could get a job at Walt Disney World, on the main gate of the Magic Kingdom. So she went down there and applied with a bunch of girls, and she worked there all through high school, and all through college, on every, uh—summers, Christmas, anytime they were off for any period of time, she worked down there. So we got in free, which was wonderful. And we got to see, you know, the Main Street Parade, when the fireworks went off for the Fourth of July, all of that stuff. And, you know, they drove back and forth. I know very few people that work at Disney World anymore, because of the traffic between the two places. It’s just not happening. [laughs]

But, um, I worked at the, um—I went back and forth to the courthouse. Shortly after—before, I had my daughter, they called me in and said they were going to go to—I can’t remember what it was—but what they said we had to do was type the entire tax roll into a metal plate, that they were going to print off this metal plate. And they were going to print tax rolls. So we had to do the legal, the name of who owned it, and all this, on, uh—and we were in the—this was the old courthouse. We were in the basement, and this thing, I mean—you know what metal cutting into metal would be. “Whoom whoom whoom.”

Morris
Yes.

Cook 
[laughs] It was really crazy. But, um, I remember Dottie Anthony—who was Dottie von Turbulis[sp] at that time. And she and I spent several—about a month or two working down there. Every time they had something that they needed, they’d call me in. And for years a friend of mine, Louise Austin, and I would go back and we would work when, um—there were twin sisters in one office, and when they left, they had to have somebody cover for them in the clerk’s office. And I worked down there many, many summers until they went to computers. And then I knew nothing about computers, and it was fast. And the [Seminole] County, by then, was growing so fast, they had, uh, you know—two people being out, it was nothing.

Morris
Oh, I understand.

Cook
You know, they, uh—but back when you do it all by hand, it was, it really was something. But, um…

Morris
So these were all jobs after you were married? And you would stay home with the children, but they would call you in occasionally for help?

Cook
Right. Right.

Morris
Okay.

Cook 
Yeah, I’ve even—they’ve called and said, “Will you come in and do the docket for us?” I would, you know, go in at one o’clock, sit down and type for four hours, and get up and leave. And they offered me a job and said I could come when I wanted to and leave when I wanted to, if I would just do it. So I told my husband about it, and he didn’t say much. So the first day I left him at home, I told him, “Now, the boys have homework. They need to do the homework. And they need to do it.” Well, he didn’t do anything. And I said, “I don’t know how you could expect me to work if you’re not going to help me.” He said, “I did not ask you to go to work.” He didn’t want me to go to work. [laughs]

But, uh, and then I did many, many years of, uh, when the voting—I was clerk of one of the precincts, the court, the [Sanford] Civic Center. I was down there first as just a helper, and then I was the clerk for a number of years. And that was, it was always a lot of fun, because you got to see everybody in that whole precinct. But by the time I was in my seventies, getting up at 4:30 and working until seven o’clock that night lost a lot of its luster. [laughs]

Morris
Oh, I can imagine.

Cook 
But the last election, we did early voting out at the office there on the airport. And I said to the gal—she was, you know, telling—complaining about it. And I said, “I used to work the elections.” “Would you like to work now?” And I said, “No, thank you.” [laughs] But, um, let’s see now who we—well, I’ve covered my job, and my family, and, uh…

Morris
Well, how about your husband’s job? What kind of work did he do?

Cook
Railroad. We didn’t cover the railroad. Uh, he was working for the railroad when I started dating him. And he had—they would call me and say—he’d be off on a run and they would call me and say, “He’s going to have to go straight through to Tampa. Will you have a set of clean clothes and something for him to eat when he comes through?” So you go out, and the train comes in, and you hand him this, and hand him that, and off he goes. And then we had been on train trips where the railroad would do a lot for their employees. And one time they took us all the way on the train to Rainbow Springs, over in—up around the Gainesville area. A day trip. And out to, uh, there was another springs that we went to one time. But, um, it worked a lot better that, you know, that I was at home and him working at night. Because in the beginning, you know, if you’re starting at the bottom, you work whatever. But like he says, they always were on time paying you, and you never had to worry about the check not being any good. It was a busy thing. And not everybody can live railroading. That is a whole different lifestyle, because they are gone probably 75 percent of the time. And you never know day, or if they work the extra board, you don’t know day or night, where they’re going. When the telephone rings, that’s when you go to work. And I know, I guess about the worst thing that ever happened to him on the railroad, was, um, he came home one morning, and he was pretty shook up. And we were eating breakfast, and he told the kids that he had ran over a little girl that ran in front of the train.

Morris
Oh, no.

Cook
And, uh, he had about three different people, that, uh—he was coming out of Tampa one time, and a lady looked up at him and walked right in front of the train. And then, of course they put on emergency brake, you know, you can’t stop a train on a dime.

Morris
No.

Cook
I mean, if you get stopped in a mile, you’re doing good[sic], and that’s with air brakes and the whole business. And he said the woman came up and asked, he said, “What happened?” And he said, “Well, there was a young lady stepped in front of me just as I got to her.” And he said she said, “What was she wearing?” And Walter told her, and she said, “That was my daughter.”  And, uh, he had about three of those, and they always—I mean, it’s hard.

It happened to my son, too. When my oldest son, David, became old enough, he worked at the store for my daddy and all of us. And he went out to SCC [Seminole Community College], but he was not a student at all. He wouldn’t even let us pay for his books or anything, he said because, “If I don’t do good[sic], then you won’t say, ‘Well, I paid for all this.’” He said, “I paid for it myself.” [laughs] So every Wednesday when he got off, he would go to the railroad and ask them about a job, and this went on for quite some time, but he got a job and went to Jacksonville. So that happened to him. But when you work on the railroad, that it was one of the things. People, cars, things run out in front of you and there’s no way to stop. And you just never know. But it’s a well-paying job, and the benefits were great, and we just adjusted.

Morris
Okay.

Cook
We just adjusted to the whole thing, and didn’t have any problem. And then when, right before he retired, we, on our 40th wedding anniversary, we took a train from Sanford to Los Angeles[, California], and then we rented a car and went up to Portland, Oregon. And we went space available, which is like half-price if you’re on another railroad. And we stayed there a couple or three days. Portland is a wonderful city to visit. And he got up about three o’clock in the morning, and he said, “I’m going to call and see what they can do about getting us going home.” And he came back in a few minutes, and he said there’s a young lady, she says, “I can get you home, not the way want to go, but I can get you back home.” And he says, “All right, we’ll take it.” And she said, “It’ll take five days.” [laughs] And we had to go back to L.A., and up to Chicago[, Illinois], and over to Philadelphia[, Pennsylvania], to Richmond[, Virginia] to Sanford. [laughs] But we had bedrooms all the way, so that was not too bad.

Morris
Oh, okay.

Cook
But the clothes that I wore on that trip—I don’t think I ever had on again. I was so tired of them. Oh, let’s stop a minute.

Morris
Sure thing, ma’am.  Ma’am, would you tell us a little more about your family? I know you mentioned your son in the railroad business briefly.

Cook
Uh, well, there was my husband Walter, and we had the three children. David was born in ’51, and Dan in ’53, and Sherry [Cook] in ’58. And now we have 10 grandchildren, and we have seven great-grandchildren. And just this past spring, in less than two months, we had three little girls born.

Morris
Triplets?

Cook
No. It seems that all of these children had finished college, gotten married, and they were all fairly close between the families, so all of them started having babies all at one time. [laughs]

Morris
Okay.

Cook
So we had four, and then all of a sudden three more. So we don’t have anything to even think about right now. [laughs]

Morris 
Rushed up [inaudible] a horde of great-grandchildren.

Cook
Yes. So that has kept us very, very busy. My husband has been retired 16 years. And up until a few years ago, we spent part of every summer in North Carolina. And then we thought, after a while, that we had—well, when we first started going up, you know, there were a lot of people from Sanford, and we had our own little Sanford in North Carolina. And we would spend the summer up there and do all sorts of things, and then, you know, they had to move back home. They might have died, went somewhere else, and all of a sudden none of those people are up there anymore. So it has made a difference.

But my oldest son David lives in The Villages, and that’s a very busy lifestyle and a whole lot of different way of living. Everybody travels in their golf cart, and if you want to be busy, there are a gillion[sic] things you can do. My son Dan died nine years ago, and my daughter Sherry lives in Carey, North Carolina. She works for the State of North Carolina. She spent nine years in the Marine Corps, and in that time married a Marine.

Morris
Oh, okay. She was in the Marines, then.

Cook
Yep. And she says, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” So she and her husband have four children, and David and his wife had four children, and Dan and his wife had two. So that was our 10 grandchildren, and trying to keep up with all of them wasn’t a problem when I was younger, and the older I get, the harder that is to do.

And back in 2001, I—well, let me go back. Back in ’96, I had a total knee replacement. When I woke up, they told me I had a blip in my blood protein that had to be investigated. Well, I had no idea what a blip in my blood protein could mean to me. So finally, I said, “Well, what do I have to do?” “Well, we’re going to X-ray every bone in your body, and if you have holes in them, we will start treatment today.” I thought, “Wow.” Well, I had the X-ray, and there were no holes in my bones, so they said, “Now you have to have a bone marrow transplant.” No, not—bone marrow biopsy. And if it is clear, you just need to have your blood checked every six months.” Well, I had the biopsy, and I had my bones checked every six months. And they did the blood work, and every time, they said, “If you don’t hear from us, we’ll see you in six months.” This went on for five years. At the end of the fifth year in 2001, they called me back, and they said that they needed to do some testing. And after about the third test, I said, “Is it cancer?” And he said, “Without a doubt.”

Morris
What type of cancer was it, ma’am?

Cook
Multiple myeloma, which is a blood-borne cancer. But if it is let go, it causes the bones to crumble. And so they told me that if you did not treat it, or if it was not diagnosed and, you know, nothing—you had no symptoms or you didn’t go to the doctor for years, you could be walking along and you could break your arm, your leg, your neck, back, whatever. So they told me that I was very fortunate that I had been checked for five years, and so mine had just become to the point where I had to have, uh—take care of it. So I started on the chemo[therapy]. And I lost all my hair, which is always a big shock to women. But, uh, anyway—and then some of the medicines they gave me, years down the road, after you’d been taking them a while—four years—I discovered that one of the medicines had destroyed my jawbone. So I had went to a doctor in Miami. He was the only one in the world—he found out about it, he worked on it. He went in the lab and did the pharmacology and all. And last October, I have a titanium jawbone from my ear to the middle of my chin.

Morris
Titanium?

Cook
Titanium.

Morris
Chewing will never be a problem for you, ma’am.

Cook 
[laughs] No. So, I’ve been in remission now about four years.

Morris
Okay.

Cook
And, uh, there’s no cure for multiple myeloma, but I’ll take remission. [laughs] And that’s where my energy went. [laughs]

Morris
Oh. Dealing with all the grandchildren got a little hard after that?

Cook
It got really difficult. So I wrote them a real sweet letter last year, and told them that I loved them all, that I would love to have them visit and all that, but I was going to, uh, I said, at Christmastime, I’ll always do the same thing. But all these birthdays and all, when you’re married, you know—we went from 10 to almost 20 real quick. And then they started having children. So I said, “I’m doing the great-grand[kid]s.” I will do those. And so far, none of them have complained.

But, yeah, I kept asking the nurses when I was first diagnosed, oncology nurses, I said, “When will I get my energy back?” They said, “Some time you never do.” But I have been very blessed, because when I got on the computer and looked at what multiple myeloma was in 2001, I did not expect to be here. So I am very blessed.

Morris 
Congratulations, ma’am.  

Cook
And, so our family has grown. And Sanford has grown like you wouldn’t believe. And in every community—all the places where the mall is—was all agriculture. And, used to, you would go for miles and miles between Orlando and Sanford and see nothing. And now there’s not as bare space between the two. [laughs] So there has been a lot of change, not all of it for the better, but there’s a lot of blessings too. And I thank you. That was it.

Morris
All right. Thank you very much, ma’am. 

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Morris, Joseph

Interviewee

Cook, Arthurene Wilson

Location

Bit Rate/Frequency

1411kbps

Locations

Categories