This oral history interview with Mary E. Eyre was conducted by Vinita M. Howard at Eyre's home in Salem, Oregon, from October 6, 1989, to January 12, 1990. The interview was conducted in three sessions.
In the first interview session, conducted on October 6, 1989, Eyre discusses her family background and early life in Buckley, Illinois. She talks about a family trip to Oregon in 1902 and tells a story about an escaped prisoner who was making headlines at the time. She discusses her first year of school in Illinois. She then talks about life in Salem, Oregon, including the family banking business, the family home, and their neighborhood. She also talks about her education in Salem.
In the second interview session, conducted on October 12, 1989, Eyre continues discussing the family home and neighborhood in Salem, and describes features that were common in houses in the early 20th century, particularly woodsheds. She talks about her education in Salem; describes the old Capitol building and businesses in downtown Salem; and talks about the family's first car. She also briefly talks about some of the floods that affected Marion County in the early 20th century. She talks about anti-Semitic attitudes, popular fashions, and attending church. She speaks again about her education in Salem. She talks about cultural events, particularly those organized by Chautauquas; the lead-up to World War I; and the education of her siblings, as well as their families and careers. She discusses attending Willamette University, and describes the campus and student body. She then talks about her career as a high school teacher in North Bend, Oregon, and at North Salem High School. She talks about some of her students, including Cecil L. Edwards, Edith Green, and Mark Hatfield. She also discusses her own political beliefs.
In the third and final interview session, conducted on January 12, 1990, Eyre discusses her fan collection, and also describes some of her travels. She then talks about her 1963 run for the Oregon Legislature and her involvement in various organizations, including the teachers' union. She talks about school funding, mandatory retirement ages for teachers, and what she believes makes a good teacher. She closes the interview by discussing grading, year-round schooling, and her hopes for the future of Oregon.
Eyre, Mary E. (Mary Eleanor), 1897-1999