Monday, July 30, 2012

Amenuensis Monday - Ethel Mae Wilbur Mastin

Ethel Mae Wilbur Mastin was born on October 22, 1921, in Gilbert, Maricopa County, Arizona, and died on July 31, 2010. Her older sister Alice Jane Wilbur Waggoner also was present at the interview. Alice was born on March 8, 1911 and died on January 15, 1993. They were daughters of Everett Ray Wilbur and Nelly O. Duncan.

All census records from 1910 through 1940 show the Wilbur family living in the Gilbert/Mesa area of Maricopa County, Arizona, although the precinct numbers varied.

Ethel Wilbur married Bill Mastin in 1942. Gilbert Airport was built in 1946 by Bill Mastin and his brother-in-law, Joseph Wilbur. It was established on Everett Wilbur's property. This airfield has since been abandoned and is now the site of Mesquite Junior High School. A description of the airfield and its founder is online. An article about it was published in the Apache Junction Independent, on August 16, 2005.

At the time of this writing there is an online obituary for Ethel Mae Wilbur Mastin.

Visit the FindAGrave memorial for  Alice Jane Wilbur Waggoner.

Transcription of the interview abstract. All typos and misspellings appear as in the original.

Craig R. Schill
Dr. Hinton, Hist 399

INTERVIEWED: Mrs. Ethyl Mastin.  Born in Gilbert, Arizona, 1921. She is aided
                                 in this interview by her sister, Alice Wagner, born in Gilbert, 1911.
                                 The interview took place on March 18, 1989.

I. Early memories of Gilbert
     a. small town
     b. agricultural community
     c. 300 residents in 1920's

II. Early experience as a child
     a. water tank on farm
     b. cropdusters

III. Parents early settlers
     a. arrived at age eight (father)
     b. mother was in teens
     c. attended Tempe Normal School

IV. Gilbert in relation to Phoenix
     a. considered "a long way off"
     b. made trip once a year
     c. automobile was main transportation mode

V. Predjudice in Gilbert
     a. Spanish had separate grade school
     b. integraded in High School
     c. segregated physically but not emotionally

VI. High School
     a. 15 in graduating class
     b. everyone knew everyone

VII. Changes in Gilbert
     a. have happened too fast
     b. Mesa and Gilbert run together
     c. liked it as a small town

VIII. Weather and Climate
     a. very hot and uncomfortable
     b. early evaporative cooler
     c. slept outside, wet clothes
     d. generally miserable

IX. Crime in Gilbert
     a. hardly a problem

X. Church development in Gilbert
     a. Methodist & Mormon church established in 1907
     b. Catholic (mainly Hispanic) had to travel to Chandler for mass.

XI. Trips taken outside of Gilbert
     a. Summit camp, between Superior and Miami
     b. California

XII. Politics
     a. father was first mayor of Gilbert
     b. Alice Wagner was on City Council

XIII. Depression's effect
     a. no cash, used eggs for bartering
     b. almost lost farm
     c. took years to fully recover

XIV. More on Gilbert High School
     a. met in two story building, grades 9-12
     b. Junior High in same building
     c. Gilbert Historical Building was old grade school building

XV. Entertainment in Gilbert
     a. you made your own
     b. swimming in canals
     c. playing in irrigation pumps
     d. roller skating
     e. dances
     f. movie theatre
          1. closed twice, not enough people in town to keep it in business
          2. had to go to Mesa to see a movie
     g. church activities were a strong social focus

XVI. Childhood story
     a. kept Junior High class in grade school building because of trouble makers in one year ahead.

XVII. Life after High School
     a. ASU for 1 1/2 years
     b. entered Navy
     c. lived in Tucson

XVIII. Started Gilbert Airport
     a. only airport in Gilbert

XIX. Changes for better or for worse?
     a. some of both
     b. advantages
          1. activities increased
          2. retail opportunities increased
     c. disadvantages
          1. crime
          2. too many people
          3. drugs, alcohol