An Interview with Leon Cisco

by Connie Matthews

March, 1988

Leon: I was born and raised in Franklin, Indiana in a town of about 5,000 population. The high school was located in the northeast part of the city. We walked a mile each way from my home to school each day. We came home for lunch as there was no cafeteria in the high school the four years that I was there. The curriculum was very similar to what is in the present schools I imagine. We had algebra, English and geometry.

Connie: Did you have P.E.

L: No. P.E. was not a required subject then.

C: You didn’t have very many athletes in your school?

L: No. It wasn’t required and most of them didn’t go in for it. We had the chemistry and physics classes. We had some accounting you could take and a course in government and one or two other required subjects that I don’t remember.

C: Did you have electives that you could take – like foreign language or anything like that?

L: No. The year I started in high school as a freshman, they dropped the foreign language requirement and the year after I got out they set it up again. So, I got through four years of high school without any foreign language which is very unusual because I don’t think you can today. I think all the schools require that you have some foreign language. There were about 450 students in this high school from the city of Franklin and the surrounding area. There were a few students who were bussed in from outlying sections, but mostly just local children. The families living in Franklin made up the majority of the school. My graduating class consisted of 68 boys and girls.

C: Did you do a senior prank?

L: No. No senior pranks.

C: None at all?

L: No, we had nothing like that going on at the school at the time. I imagine there was some that we didn’t know about, but that’s a general thing. I remember my brother played some pranks. He was always in touch with the superintendent because of the pranks he used to play in school. For the most part it was just a normal, four year high school.

C: Did you have grades and test?

L: Yes. We had to take test at the end of each semester and had grading similar to what you have today. It was very similar to what our children had when they came along. A lot of the students – there was a Baptist college in town – Franklin college – a lot of the students went from high school into this college, but I didn’t. I went to work for a year and a half and then I went into business college – Indiana Business college in Indianapolis for a year and a half.


C: So did they accept you in that college on your work from high school?

L: Right. From my high school work I was accepted. It was right in downtown Indianapolis in one of the office buildings. We had shorthand and typing and I took two or three different bookkeeping and accounting courses during that year and a half.

C: So did you get a certificate after a year and half?

L: No. It wasn’t a complete course. I did not complete the two years that it was set up for.

C: But you got employment.

L: Yes. I got employment as a result of learning typing and shorthand; that’s what I did when I first got out. I worked for Lincoln Oil Refining Company in Indianapolis in their office as a clerk. I used some typing and shorthand during the time I was there. They closed up in the Depression and moved their office out of state so I was out of a job for about almost a year. Then I went to work for a wholesale drygood house as an elevator operator and I worked there until I got another permanent job with Union Carbide Corporation at their Speedway factory where they manufactured acetylene gas for welding purposes. I worked in the office and in the plant too.

C: So did they hire you on the basis of your business college?

L: Right.

C: So that helped you a lot didn’t it?

L: It certainly did. That’s where they had gone for students. There were two other boys working in the office that had both graduated from Indiana Central College. So that’s where they went to get another one when I was hired. I was working in the plant in the morning and in the office in the afternoon doing shorthand, typing and letters, and so forth. And then, that was in 1934, and 1936 I was transferred to their oxygen plant in the east part of Indianapolis as a clerk and doing office work there for about a year and a half. I worked for the superintendent of construction. They were doing some major construction work at the plant and I worked as his secretary and office boy and everything else for that period of time. Then an opening came in the plant office – what they used to call chief clerk – he was kinda of the head person in the plant office and I was assigned to that job and I stayed with it until I was transferred to Decatur, GA in 1942 into the sales organization as an administrator’s assistant in the Sales office. I stayed with that the rest of the time that I was with the company until they transferred me to Birmingham. I was doing similar work in Birmingham office and then I was transferred to New Orleans to open a new office. I was in charge of it for two years and then they closed it up because the sales in that area weren’t sufficient to support the expense of a branch office. I then went to work for one of their distributors from 1968 to 1975. Then retired at age 65. I had taken early retirement from Union Carbide when they closed the office in New Orleans. I was given the privilege of having that type of setup where I could take early retirement.

C: So your education had really taken you a long way?

L: Yes. Education was the whole thing. Office work and accounting.

C: Were there accounting classes in high school that you could take?

L: I don’t recall. If there was, I didn’t take it for some reason or another. I liked math and did good in algebra – made straight A’s and was very good. In elementary school in the sixth grade I was right at the very top of the class in all of the math work that we did. This one girl – we had races in doing math work on the blackboard – and between the two of us one of us would always seem to win. I always liked that all the way through school. I stayed with it when I got out of school and went to business college. I decided I didn’t want to be a stenographer or a secretary, so I took the other side of it.

C: Did you ever get into trouble in school?

L: In the first grade was the only time I ever got in trouble. One day I was going to school and it was raining. Walking to school I had gotten my feet and clothes wet. The teacher was letting some of the children take some of their wet garments off and she wouldn’t let me take mine off. It made me kinda mad and I kinda of sassed her or something and she slapped me. Of course you couldn’t do that today. That was the only time I ever got in trouble. I missed, when I was having my leg trouble, one full year of elementary school.

C: Did you have to make that up?

L: Yes. I made it up. I skipped from the fifth to the sixth grade. I started out in the fifth grade after finishing the fourth and then they found out that I was well qualified to do sixth grade work. So they skipped me on to the sixth grade. I lost out between the fourth and the fifth. I was then back up to where I should have been. Then we moved from the sixth grade to another building on the south side of town for seventh and eighth grade. We had two real good teachers there.

C: So you had the same teachers that taught ever subject? You didn’t move around?

L: No.

C: Did you do that all the way through high school?

L: Yes. Teachers were qualified to teach certain subjects and if you wanted a particular subject then you signed up under that teacher. That was unusual. I don’t think they do that today.



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Transcribed and converted to HTML by Robert Matthews