Chapter 1: Childhood, Early Adulthood, and Marriage
21:41:12:13 - 21:41:35:02
L. My name is Lisa Sonneborn and I'm interviewing Charlotte Twaddell. Am I pronouncing your last name correctly?
C. Yes you are.
L. I wanted to make sure; Charlotte Twaddell on June 18th at the Chester County Office of Intellectual Disability Services in Chester County, Pennsylvania and also present is our videographer Ginger Jolly and Charlotte do I have your permission to begin our interview?
21:41:35:05 - 21:41:47:25
L. Thank you. Charlotte I'm going to first ask if you can tell me your name and when and where you were born.
C. My name is Charlotte Twaddell and I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
21:41:48:09 - 21:41:57:03
L. Did you come from a large or a small family, Charlotte?
C. Rather small. I just had one brother two years younger than myself.
21:41:58:06 - 21:43:15:09
L. And can you tell me a little bit about your father? Can you describe him for me?
C. Yes. He was um an accountant with the Pennsylvania Railroad. His dad had also been with the Pennsylvania Railroad as the station master and so he went right into that field and uh was there for 40 years. And he was, um, the king of the … king of the castle. He was very, a very strong person and, um, a very good person and a good dad. And um, I'm thinking that uh probably what played a part in his manner was the fact that he and my mother were married 15 years before I was born and they wanted children but just didn't have any children and thought they weren't going to have any children and suddenly I appeared. So both he and my mother were a kind of a little older parents and uh, and that played a part.
21:43:15:29 - 21:44:19:22
L. What can you tell me about your mother? How would you describe her?
C. My mother, uh, was one of four children and worked in Philadelphia at Wanamaker's as a book buyer in the book department before she was married. And funny enough I've never, I never thought to ask wither of my parents how they met and it's a little late now so I won't know but they did and they were married and as I say for a few years before I came along and then two years later my brother came along. And she was again a very strong person, a very spiritual person, uh. She was a stay at home mom and I think that a lot of my background would be very, very different from what you would find today in a lot of cases because when you go back to my childhood you're going back a while.
21:45:26:00 - 21:46:53:25
L. I wanted to ask you if you could tell me a little bit about your childhood; maybe one of your fondest childhood memories.
C. Uh, well I had a wonderful childhood, really. Um, my parents were very loving, very stable, um. My grandmother lived with us, my father's mother, lived with us until I was 17. And uh I have no, no really unpleasant thoughts about my childhood. As I look back it was really wonderful. I probably didn't appreciate it as much then as I do now but it was wonderful. We used to go away every summer for the summer to my other grandmother's home who lived in Wildwood, New Jersey and as soon as school was out we left, uh, and went to her home. My mother and my brother and I and stayed for the summer until after Labor day and we really never liked to leave all our friends but after we got there we had friends there and then we really didn't want to come home so it was very pleasant. We had so many experiences at the seashore too that, uh, were wonderful; really wonderful. Yeah.
21:46:53:27 - 21:48:32:05
L. You lost your father at an early age I believe?
C. Yes. Unfortunately my father had heart disease and had had a heart attack when I guess I was about 12 when he had his heart attack. And back in those days, of course, things were very different. He had a long recuperation and they didn't have the medical knowledge in those days. I'm going back to 19… well I'm not sure what year it was that he first had the attack but he passed away in 1949 and uh, that was very unfortunate. Now I was 17. I had just graduated from high school and I graduated in June and he passed away in August. It was quite a blow to our family because as I said he was the king of the roost and he, he uh… I tease and say he was like E. F. Hutton when he spoke everyone listened. But he was very loving and extremely missed. When he passed away it took a lot of, a lot of adjustment to realize that he was gone. My mother, however, stepped right up and took over and did very well. My brother was just 15 so she had a 15 year old boy on her hands to get raised and uh, and I had just graduated from high school and entered the working world. So she had quite a bit to cope with but she did well.
21:48:33:14 - 21:50:30:04
L. Thank you. So you said you entered the working world. Can you tell me what your career ambitions were as a young woman?
C. Well I would certainly liked to have gone to college however my dad made it very clear that if he was going to spend college money it was going to be for my brother because he was going to get married and have children and raise them and have to provide for a family and I would probably get married too but I'd have a husband. So I was extremely upset with that trend of thought but I had to accept it and so I went ahead and became a secretary in Philadelphia and I worked for a large, well a small company at first and then eventually a larger company. However I enjoyed singing and I wanted to further a career in singing. Two of the fellas that I went to high school with started a band and we played the college dances throughout Philadelphia; for Penn and Temple. And that was a lot of fun and led to a couple of little stints on television. However, uh, in the meantime, I met my future husband and after we got serious and marriage was in the works, that sort of put an end to the, and end to the career. I then got another career and that was singing lullabies for my first child. So that ended, however I followed the singing throughout life because I sang with church choirs and did a lot of solo work with the church choirs and that was very rewarding and lots of fun.
21:50:30:09 - 21:51:51:09
L. Can you tell me a little bit about your husband; his name and where he was from?
C. Yes, mm-hmm, he was, my husband's name was Hibbard Moore Twaddell and he was from Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. He was a country boy and uh, had, came from a big family. He had five sisters and two brothers and so overnight I had six sisters in law; all local and so it was a big family and lots of comings and goings and children and very exciting because I came from a small family and I was delighted to have all these relatives. I think even today my children have like 32 first cousins, yeah, most of them around in the county, uh, but it was fun. And he was in the restaurant business. He had served in the Army for five years in the Second World War. He was a bit older than I and uh, he was ready to get married and settle down and so we did and moved out to the country which is not country anymore but it certainly was country long time ago. That was in 1951.
More Interview Chapters
- YOU ARE HERE: Childhood, Early Adulthood, and Marriage
- Children and Discovering Daughter's Disability
- Involvement with Chester County ARC
- Looking for Supports for Daughter, Placement at Elwyn
- Community Living, Successes and Challenges
- Charlotte's Current Advocacy Efforts and Thoughts on the Current System
- Reflections on Work, Inspirations
About Charlotte Twaddell
Born: Philadelphia, PA
Parent, Advocate, Former President Chester County ARC, Former President Pennsylvania ARC
ARC, Community, Elwyn, Embreeville, Group Homes, Guardianship, Medication, Nursing Homes, Pennhurst