navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies Communities
Primary Sources logo Primary Sources

Mr. Dugas Tells About Sundays at the Park When He Was a Boy—Oral History

An oral history is a memory or story about past events that one person tells to another. Sometimes an interviewer will write down or record these memories. In the passage below Mr. Dugas tells what people did on Sundays when he was a boy and how things changed as he grew up.


Primary Source

“On Sunday…people…used to go out to the parks.…The parents would usually buy the kids all kinds of candy, peanuts, and popcorn.…I remember at the time that most of the men talked about their jobs, the children, and what they did when not working. They spoke of getting together and playing cards or going out with two or three families.…The women would always talk about how they were getting along; most of them took their sewing bags with them to the park and they would get together and show the kind of work they had been doing.…

When I got older I found that a lot of these people that went to the park either had cars or that their friends had cars, and in this way they would go to places out of town.…I remember that my father got a car when I was about 17, and he took the family and some of his friends out in the country for a picnic on Sundays. In this way they managed to break away to some extent from going in masses to Washington Park, but it ain't the same meeting place that it was years ago.

Yes sir, those were the days. Today they are victims of the machine age and they don't get around to seeing each other like they used to. Well, even the children are different—years ago they used to be satisfied with what they could get in entertainment by going to the park. Today they want too much excitement and aren't satisfied with going to the movies twice a week.”

Excerpt from an interview with Mr. Dugas by Vincent Frazzetta, July 5, 1939, WPA Box 18, 109: 5a

Background

About one hundred years ago, families used to go to the park together. In some communities, families would have picnics, hold bake sales, and play baseball games at the park. Mr. Dugas lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He used to go to the park with his family every weekend. There, they would meet up with other families in the community. Years later, Mr. Dugas shared his memories of these gatherings with a man named Vincent Frazzetta. During his interview with Mr. Frazzetta, Mr. Dugas explained that new types of transportation and communication, such as cars and movies, changed his community. He said that because of these advancements, fewer families spent time at the park together.