Oral Histories

Dorothy R. Rossignol


Dorothy Rossignol

Interview by Rusty Salmon

December 23, 2005 at the Dan O’Laurie Museum of Moab


Q: Do you have a middle name? And a maiden name?

A: Dorothy Ruth Jackman

Q: Birthdate?

A: September 29, 1930

Q: What was your father’s name?

A: Roscoe Elmer Jackman

Q: Your mother’s name?

A: Edetta Frances Sawyer Jackman

Q: Where were you born?

A: Niagara Falls, New York

Q: What year did you actually move to Southeastern Utah?

A: The first time, we moved to Green River, Utah, in ’63, from the Happy Jack.

Q: When did you move to the Happy Jack?

A: We moved to Deer Flats first in ’56, I think. And we were up there for a couple of years for White Canyon Mining Company. Then we went to Happy Jack.

Q: And when you say “we”, who was with you?

A: My husband, Robert Owens Rossignol.

Q: And you don’t have any children, correct?

A: No.

Q: We have the date and where you were born; what happened from the time you born.

A: I was a preemie. I was born almost 2 months early and back in 1930 in the depression, my father was a research chemist for DuPont in Niagara Falls. The depression hit and they didn’t need research chemists and DuPont didn’t want him. His father and mother had a little farm in Montana and with 2 kids, my older sister and me; he had to do something for a living. You couldn’t live on the land back there (NY).

Q: Does your older sister still live in Montana?

A: Not now, she moved to Arizona. He put my mother and 2 kids on the train because I was so spindly, he must have driven out in the car. The doctor told my mother when they were getting ready to come, that this kid won’t live past Chicago. Because I was nine months old and I had never raised my head off the pillow. I was sickly. I weighed less 2 months after I was born than I did when I was born which wasn’t very much. Anyway, when we got to Missoula, Montana, up the Rattlesnake, we moved in with my father’s mother and dad. My father got a job as a janitor in the school. He was the only one in the county school system that had a PHD.

Q: But he was working during the depression?

A: He was working. His folks had a little farm so they had fruit trees, chickens and cows and a garden. They were wealthy, really.

Q: Self sufficient?

A: Yes, and then my brother came along and then Detta came along.

Q: What were your sisters’ names?

A: The oldest sister is Eloise Inez; my brother John Roscoe; and then Edetta Frances.

Q: There were just the four children?

A: That’s all there ever was.

Q: You stayed in Missoula for all of your schooling?

A: Forever, until I got out of High School.

Q: Then what did you do?

A: I went into the United States Navy.

Q: Why did you go in the Navy? Montana doesn’t have a lot of seas around it.

A: Well, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after high school.

Q: Was this during WWII?

A: No, the Korean War. I mean I’m not that old. Anyway, I was going to go down – I didn’t tell anybody about this – and whichever recruiter came first; the air force, or the navy I would go in and see them. The Navy came first so I went in. When I was very young, I had fallen down and landed on my face and knocked eight teeth out. I pretty near didn’t get in because of those eight missing teeth. They thought I was okay, but I wasn’t twenty-one. You had to be twenty-one to sign the paper for yourself. This was in April, the year after graduation. They gave me some papers and they said that you have to get your father to sign these papers. I think that was the hardest thing I ever did in my entire life was to ask him to sign those, because he didn’t know anything about it. I’d talked to my mother about it and she said you have to ask him. She wasn’t going to. Whew! I finally got nerve enough to ask him. And that is the first time I ever saw my father cry. He did sign the papers and away I went. I went to Great Lakes, Illinois, for training and then I went to Norfolk, Virginia for schooling. That’s where I stayed.

Q: What did you do in the Navy? What was your job?

A: I was a personnel man so I knew where every ship in the navy was and what they were doing there. I had a top clearance. I even had the code to the safe; the safes in the office. We didn’t have electric typewriters, no computers, no fancy stuff. That was in the 50sand they didn’t have cell phones or copy machines. Everything was one original and seven copies – lots and lots of carbon paper. You didn’t make a mistake because, if you did, you got out an original and seven copies. You didn’t erase.

Q: Did you do a lot of typing?

A: That’s all I did. I was pretty good at it, but there was one fellow in the office that could type on an old manual typewriter 93 words a minute and not make a mistake. But we had a little fun in there too. One day one of the fellows – there were only two or three WAVES, women, in the office – One day we came to work and there (you know you pull out a shelf and your typewriter goes down in) this one fellow pulled out his typewriter and there was a cat with kittens in the hole. We made the Norfolk News with that cat and her kittens. She came and went and nobody found out how she got in that office. Ever!

Read the other Oral Histories