Jeannette Chapman was born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, on July 5, 1925. Her hometown of Cape Elizabeth was located on the coast. Her grandfather was an old country doctor and he was responsible for taking care of the people who lived on the many islands that were nearby. Although she was born in her grandfather’s house, and loved to go visit him, the house that she spent her childhood in was actually on the coast of the mainland. She remembers how friendly her neighbors were, and also how caring the community was overall. She also remembers that there were no modern conveniences in her little town like there were in other big cities at the time.
Growing up for Jeannette was full of surprises that not many children her age at the time were able to do. She had free rein around Maine as a child. She loved going to the beaches along the coast, or visiting the many islands with her parents. Every summer she would go to summer camp to meet new people, to spend time with her friends, and to learn new things. She also liked to go and watch Broadway plays in Lakewood, Maine. Later she even got to travel to almost every state in the country. Traveling was her favorite thing to do because she loved meeting new people.
She was also traveling during the great depression. At the time of the depression she had been living in a hotel. She had previously left Cape Elizabeth and had moved to Portland, Maine. She especially remembers about the depression that out of her hotel window she saw the “homeless” standing in a line down the street waiting to be served from the soup kitchen. She said that it had gotten so bad that some people, in place of alcohol, were drinking Sterno.
At the start of World War II Jeannette was still living in Portland, Maine. Her husband was always in danger from U-Boat attacks because he worked on a ship. During the war, she worked as a lab technician because she was too short to qualify for the Coast Guard. She also joined the USO and Civilian Defense Corps, where she learned to be an airplane spotter and how to feed refugees. The USO was important work because there were always many sailors in Portland because ships on their way to Europe or returning from the war stopped at the port in her town. She remembers how she could walk around at night and not worry that anything was going to happen because people were trustworthy.
During the cold war, she was living in Los Angeles and had a job working at Sears. She was also living in L.A. when the first moonwalk took place. She had moved to Santa Barbara when she found out about the assassination of J.F.K. She remembers how after the Vietnam War life was harder for her because she cared about all the lives that were lost. During the civil rights movement, she volunteered for the Chavez organization and was helping the workers.
Jeannette’s favorite time was the 50’s. She thought that it was a great time to be alive and that everything was wonderful. She lived in California at the time and could remember how everything was booming. During the 60’s she was still living in California and can very clearly remember the “Flower Children” and how things were very materialistic.
Jeanette says that the most important inventions of the last 300 years were automobiles, planes, and advances in medicine, such as penicillin. The advice she has for the newest generation, based on her experience, is that we need to find better morals; we need to make good decisions, because we have a freedom that she never had. The main thing is to have good guidelines and to stay close to home.