Mary Frances (Kennedy) Lawrence

Mary Frances (née Kennedy) Lawrence
Born: April 9, 1922 Died: April 14, 2012
Friend of Madelyn (née Payne) Dunham

Mary Frances (Kennedy) Lawrence Interview

Interview ID: 08
Recorded: June 21, 2011
Location: In her home, Augusta, Kansas
Videographer: Steve Cless
Interviewer: Teresa Baumgartner

Interview Summary

Frances Lawrence was a friend of Madelyn Payne. They were close friends, but according to Frances they had a falling out when Madelyn’s mother discouraged the relationship. Frances was in poor health and we were told having trouble with her memory at the time of the interview. She did not seem to have any problems remembering, but there were some long pauses, as occasionally she became emotional and not sure she wanted to continue. It seemed to bother her that she did not approve of Stanley Dunham, and that some of her memories were, in her perception, negative. In accordance with her wishes, the original interview was edited for public viewing on the website.

Run Time: 41:33

Transcript/Finding Aid:

Finding Aid Notes

00.00-00.14 Camera, sound adjustments
00.15-1.05 Personal information: Frances Lawrence, nee Mary Frances Kennedy, 88, August 9, 1922 at 1700 Fairway in Augusta.
1.06-6.02 Friendship with Madelyn, skipping school and the end of a friendship: Frances started school with Madelyn at Garfield, and they went clear through school together. Frances lived on Clark Street, Madelyn on State, so didn’t spend a lot of time together outside of school, but became “great good friends” in high school. Frances describes a rock wall that extended from State Street up around high school where students met at noon. She tells the story about the day when Darlene Scott (who lived south of town), Madelyn, and Frances decided to skip school, went to Cooper Drug Store, and smoked in the drug store. According to Frances, Madelyn’s mother told the school authority who called that Madelyn had been home, while the other two mothers did not defend their daughters. Frances was suspended for a day. According to Frances, it ruined the friendship because Madelyn’s mother blamed Frances for leading them all astray. This incident occurred toward the end of their senior year.
6.03-8.47 About Madelyn’s siblings, sister and Charles: Frances remembers that Madelyn’s little brother spent a lot of time tagging along with Madelyn and her friends during high school. She notes that Madelyn was very smart and on the honor roll all the way through school, until their last semester in high school. Frances connected this change with the fact she started going with Stanley that semester. Frances and Darlene did not like Stanley.
8.48-11.11 Teenage hangout, working at aircraft plants: During high school, Frances went to work for Peterson Drug, where all the kids hung out. Booths and jukebox in back. Occasionally, Stanley met Madelyn there after school. After high school, Frances worked at Cessna, while Madelyn worked at Boeing. From that point saw very little of each other. Frances met her husband, Raymond Lawrence (“Dutch”) at Cessna. Both he and Stanley were attending Butler (Junior College) at the time, so Stanley would “always” catch a ride with him. *They didn’t double-date, and Frances does not know where he met with Madelyn (see below).
11.12-11.37 Marriage of Stanley and Madelyn and Stanley’s job: Stanley worked at a furniture store in El Dorado. After they were married (or after their marriage became public knowledge?) he worked at a furniture store in Wichita. (There is a gap in recording in this section. Frances received a phone call and needed a few moments break from the interview during this time.)
11.38-17.29 Other friends, high school play, ride-sharing: Frances remembers that “Ginny” (Virginia Ewalt), was in a play with Madelyn. She remembers mutual sharing with Madelyn of wishes and dreams (before the cigarette incident) *She recollects that the ride-sharing (see above) occurred during the first summer after high school. She and many of Madelyn’s friends did not approve of Stanley and there was negative talk about him. She remembers when the two met at Peterson’s Drugstore, they arrived separately. She also reflects that although her friends (including Frances) made fun of Stanley and Madelyn knew it, she never showed anger at their mocking or that it bothered her. Frances notes that both Stanley and Madelyn were tall as she contemplates what the couple had in common.
17.30-21.21 About Madelyn’s personality: Frances says that Madelyn had a wonderful personality, laughed and joked all through high school, and (although she was a topnotch student) she had a lighter side. She partook in group encouragement of boys who rolled marbles on floor during study hall. They also teased the teacher and Madelyn was part of that.
21.22-26.56 Madelyn’s friends and youthful play: Frances reflects that Madelyn was an important part of her life through their school years. Also in that circle of friends were Darlene and Mary. Frances remembers that Madelyn lived “on the corner, and most of behind and clear down to next street was the city service pipeyard.” As children they played with a group of friends in the pipeyard, inventing contests using pipes as an obstacle course. These were oil pipes and this may have occurred during junior high.
26.57-32.22 Future plans and romance: Frances thinks Madelyn may at one time have wanted to be a teacher and had the traits that would have made her a good teacher. She thinks Madelyn would have liked to go on to school and blames Stanley for this too. She notes that prom night was when they eloped. They may not have shown up at the prom. No one knew they were married at first.
32.23-36.49 Rivalry between El Dorado and Augusta youth: Frances remembers a fight between the El Dorado boys and the Augusta boys out on the [railroad] tracks. They put bars of soap in the ends of hose contributed by girls, wet them down, and used them as slingshots. She remembers Madelyn being a part of that. Augusta won. When the Augusta boys took the fight to El Dorado using rotten eggs as weapons, they were caught by police. Frances’s brother was the only lefty, so when they got caught, he was the only one police knew for sure had participated in the fight, but the whole truckload of boys ended up in jail.
36.50-41.33 Ending thoughts: There is a gap in the recording at this point. Frances worried aloud that she hadn’t shared anything positive in her narrative. She muses on the weight of being the story teller for someone beyond her own family. She reflects at the end that Madelyn had planned on going on to school (wasn’t sure earlier in interview). Frances also reflects on Stanley Ann and her out-of-the-ordinary choices in life, ending with the thought that Madelyn always went after more.