Bob and Dora Wechter
Oct 9, 2015 in your home
Tell the story of how you met and where you were in the time of your life when you met
D: I was two yrs before a divorce. Went to Temple with my then husband. Bob;s daughter was in charge of a youth group which my girls was in . She was there with Bob. She introduced my husband and me to Bob. Years went by and I separated from my husband , Bob called and we started dating. It was my first date. When I said hello . She said it was my first date. I said don’t worry, everything will be fine and I gave her a kiss on the cheek. That’s how
- I was terribly nervous. Not been out in years.
B: I had been going through a period of about 7 years of being single. When in 60’s . I had good times.
D: His wife had passed away
B: I had looked around at the Temple every Saturday a lot looking for things to do. I was in charge of membership. Got to know people. It was my form of integration with new people. Wasn’t that I was Temple wise. No religious background. Growing up. A way to meet people of same faith. And I had fun. So, I had lived in LA for a long period. I cam from Chicago. Worked in LA and bought a little place in SB for weekends, place we’re in now. This was going to be my 3 day weekend. Turned out to be. Ultimately joined the Temple, made many friends here. When I retired fr work at age 80. Been great.
D: He worked for the same company for many , many years as a broker.
B: 42 yrs and prior to that worked 15 yrs for my father . When I got out of the navy. In 1940 the US decided to build its navy and they had a draft. If you were 21.
Let’s wait on the war
Ask about you, two.
First met, what think about each other?
D: Well, Bob had a lovely reputation which I knew of before I knew him. Very well respected in the community and his work. A lovely family. His wife had passed away years before. Kind of knew him. Then met and he was so sweet. I had had some sherry before he came and I went to the door and told him I was separate.
Bob was 60 and I was 49
What did you think about D when you first met her?
B: I said, I kissed her on the cheek. I liked her very much. In a 7 yr period I was dating. I was free. To me, it was interesting, but D I sort of latched on at the Temple. I liked her. This was 1960s regardless of your age. This was an open society – new and different things to do. I was one of those. It didn’t take long. I liked Doris , so she was the only one I was dating.
How long till you married?
D: 13 years. I did not want to get married again. Serious talk into our dating . I don’t know if I ever want to marry again. Then after 13 yrs thgs happened in our lives caused change and we married and very happy for 25 yrs
B: We had a period where I had a son and he was ill. He was gay and he brought D and I into the gay society. He came to me when 17, Dad I want to tell you I’m gay.
I said, so what, You’re my son . He took D and I into his gay activities.
We met a wonderful grp of people. Did a lot of thgs tog. My son was ill. The day he died we decided we’d marry. We did.
D: He came back to CA from the east coast. He worked for Jimmy Carter. He was liaison for the gay community. He called and said, Dad I want to come back. I have Aids . I want to be with family. B gave him his apartment and moved in w me. End of that period. Now what ? Back to separate living? No, we got married.
Your son would have liked that?
D: We were friends.
D: He would tell me thgs. Don’t tell Dad
Kate: PFLG Founders live in Ojai. I taped one of them. Two sons gay.
B: I used to walk in the gay pride parade. I was very proud of my son. Didn’t matter that he was gay.
Kate: I have 2 sons, a daughter. I’ve wondered….how could turn ur back on who they are?
D: One of his friends disowned his son. Stupid and sad.
B: A period where they were thrown out of the family
Kate: story of a child…… how not love him…..
B: Am still communicating with the gay pride community
I would say, our life enhanced thru the gay community,
Kate: Neighbors , call them gaybors. We’re like famly. Two of nicest people and boon to neighborhood.
D: They’re people. Stop separating gay from big pool of people. Just ordinary, good, bad and indifferent.
B: I think the statistics are 20 %.
So here it is. D and I been here since “93. I don’t ever want to live back in Chicago, LA. This is the sweetest little town.
D: and beautiful. Another day in Paradise
B: We did a lot of traveling in our life. A job that required me to travel . We have traveld the world. Traveling has given us just a little more than the average person. We’re a very very happy couple.
How would you describe Doris to sb who didn’t know her?
B: When I didn’t know her. …..She was adorable. Our ages, I am 96 yrs old. So if I take myself back in time, I am looking at thgs differently. I loved meeting her, knowing her, learning. I couldn’t be happier. My first wife passed away early in life. Grew up in a different background. But Doris is a woman of the world. Terrific.I love her deeply. We’re buddies, real buddies.
How would you describe Bob?
D: One of the kindest, most generous people ever known in my life. Not only w me but his children, my children, with grandchildren. He give and he loves from the bottom of his heart. He’s a fine husband and gentleman. And I’m very lucky.
B: We’re both lucky.
Turn to each other smthg you’ll like and always remember
D; I would like you to remember I loved you w all my heart. You couldn’t have been kinder or better to me.
B: O h, Doris. You are the beauty of my life.
D: I’ll take it.
B: Glad, happy. You have made me what I am today ( laugh). We have had a wonderful life together. Don’t know how else to put it. I couldn’t be happier. But it comes fr within. My eyes are the weakest.
D: Good thg about his weak eyes….still thinks I’m adorable. ( laughter)
What values you have in common?
B: Love. Do for each other.
D: Family. Honest people. Have good morals. Good values. Treat everybody like we want to be treated. Teach our children that. Money isn’t the world . People are more important. Kindness . Kind of thing, both of us, have done through our lives.
B: Long time ago. We laid out trust wills. Nothing is closed. We just exposed the family to the things of the future. Everything is set up. Nothing to worry about. They (will) share w everything. D has two girls. I have one. We have a good family.
Look back on ur life as a whole, what learned most important?
B: You are who you are.
D: Have to be true to yourself. Kindness is very important in life. And honesty.
B: Trust in each other. We do. I am very happy that we married and have lived tog and shared our lives tog.
D: I do hope this will be edited and take away this junk ( laughs)
WWII story now?
D: He knows his story
B: In 1940 US want to increase armed forces, a general call , every man examined, if fit given chance to list. Coast Guard, Navy, Army. Sent fr Chicago where I lived to Philadelphia where inducted.
How old were you?
B: I was 21. While east coast I selectd navy. Sent to Norfolk Navy Yard. I spent 3 yrs working in bank, in Chicago after high school so I was attached to supply depart, then navy wing. Had PBYs , PBMs . Seafaring . Spent two years there. Then they sent me to N. Africa. Two years at naval air landing 65 min fr Casablanca , a place called Port le otley. Named after a French commander. Spent 2 yrs. Attached to a wing PBY and PBY s – large aircraft. I was there until the war ended. I was shipped back. $ ½ yrs. A good time. Got to places Casablanca, Decar, big cities in N. Africa
Worked on supply materials for the aircraft. I made friends that showed up in my life in LA, Sb no less. I was known as chief petty officer. Bunked separate fr air crew and officers. Bunked next to , llived in Dearborn , MI. When moved to SB received notice fr Jewish Fedration if needed them. Showed me a list of officers . Richard Kux as past president. When I was in navy I bunked next to a RK in the navy. Doris and I looked him up, he and his wife. We became wonderful friends. He passed away a couple yrs ago. One of those meetings
Can you talk what like being young men at that time?
Oh , sure. You related experiences. Memory is a big thg when you ‘re in 80s and 90s.
By the way…….Richard met w grp men here ( he invited me to have lunch),
Richard has passed on. ROMEOS . Retired Old Men Eating Out _I’m still having lunch every Tues with the ROMEOS.
Alan Genterman in that grp?
Repeats question above
Sure. Relate to thgs that happened. Driving to Casablanca in a jeep. A name. A town , it was nothing. Flew to Azores or a jeep to Tangiers. A free city. You could wear Ur uniform if not there more than a day and a half.
As a Jewish person gong into the war, did you feel important for you to serve?
Emphasize this. In Africa. Tremendous flow of Jewish people fleeing from Europe to Afrrica. The Jewish parents would come to the air base and invite the Jewish soldiers and sailors to homes for holidays, weekends. Got to meet a lot of people fleeing fr Europe.
Did they tell you much of what their experience had been?
No. Don’t recall other than general conversation. Interesting. We were people fr across ocean. . New and Jewish. That’s what they were looking for.
Interesting take jeep to Casablanca and Fez, big towns in Morroco. The walled city of Fez. In America no such thg. The wall entirely around the city. An experience to talk about.
How many years did you serve?
I served 4 ½ yrs.
How affected you?
They were good years.
Talk about leaving young wife. Betty
Betty fr small town. Met at NorthWestern. When she heard I was going over seas, had a sorority sister in the are a where I was going to ship out. She got permission from her parents to go to the Norfolk area where her sorority sister lived. So could be there while I was there. Then we had to get approval from the Navy to get married.We called Peroria and called Chicago get permission to get married Then to fly out. You got approval for whatever you wanted to do. She went back to Peoria. When I came back two yrs later we came back and lived up here.
The big thing is that you did what you had to do because you were in the service.
43:40 Pat Stopped ( 10-26-15)
We searched for a rabbi. And got married. We did everything by the book
Did you have a child before you went?
Was it hard to be away?
Oh, sure It’s hard. I can’t express that now. I bunked w Richard Kusk who was Jewish, married. No family. Went everythwere together. A two some. Utlimtately I found him on the west coast .
Got back to Chicago . She moved from Peroria to Chicago and we lived up here.
We did our honeymoom in Virginia Beach.
The big thing that came out of this aside fr the marriage was the relationship w Richard Kusps. Many yrs later the ROMEOS
As a young man in service, no, you didn’t see action, a sense what you were giving your life to?
The only period of time in N. Africa where there was fear when we were living among Bebers – the arabs – berbers. They did not like Americans. The Americans were there and wore an armed weapon when went anywhere near the Berbers. Never hurt us but always the fear. ( as there).
Wife : Was it patriotic thg for you to be there? Wish you weren’t there?
You really weren”t allowed to think that way. You were there. This is the way it was. This is what you had to do. That’s it
Think about it later?
The only time I thought about when had to go to Casablanca and were walking on streets. We watched ourselves. Knew we weren’t liked. No fear.
Ever think left home, joined military,part of large effort?
I knew I had role. Grateful for where I was. I wasn’t on ship someplace. Wasn’t in war zone. Grateful. Thg about being in small towns, walled cities, – you were around people you didn’t want to be around
Feel it was your duty?
You’re there because you had to be there.
Glad to participate?
Yah. New experience.
Grew. As a man , a person. Grew as a person.
Women played a role? Everyone?
Dora: My father was an airplane spotter. On the east coast. He’d go to a light house . Go and watch for planes so nothing came in. He had a grocery store. We had stamps, red, green, etc for sugar, butter and meat. Had to watch rationing very carefully. You saved tin foil, elastic rubber. We were kids. I was 12 yrs old. Very strong patriotic feeling. We were all part of the war effort. Felt that very strongly.
Wondered about rationing? Stamps?
Don’t know how they came. In the mail? A book of blue stamps, red stamps.People came in beg my father for extra butter , for company. Thgs were very limited. Meats were rationed too.
Came up w margarine?
Yes. They mixed it with color.
Not good for us. Any brothers who served?
No. I had two sisters. My older sister 16 and my younger sister 6 yrs younger.
Remember Pearl Harbor happening?
Yes, at a friend’s house sitting , in an adjacent room to those listening to radio – no TV then. Heard gasp. “Terrible thg just happened”. The Japanese just bombed Pearl Harbor. Didn’t know where it was. They explained.
Nobody I interviewed knew where. President Roosevelt?
We worshiped the Roosevelts. He was a god. The Fireside Chats. Radio was you’re your communication. Everyone listened to everything. He was positive and uplifting. The right man for those terrible years. Eleanor went on to become very special in her own way. Used to read her column. Very bright and interesting woman.
What did she write about?
About her day. What happened. Politics. Not folksy stuff. Thgs happening in Washington that apply to everyone. They were amazing. For the time wonderful.
Look back on your life?
Dora: I realize life a roller coaster. Up and down. The easier you can ride bumps better ur life is. Everything comes to an end – the bad thgs, the good thgs come to an end. The easier you ride the better ur life is.
I know thgs come to mind afterwards. Most important thg is that I am here w the lady I love.
D: And family. Bob just celebrated 96th birthday. We have been blessed with wonderful children, grandchildren. The day we married the sun shone.