Elma Jean Hoyenga from Peachtree Village Retirement Community
Updated: Jul 27
Elma Hoyenga - John Wayne
Interviewer: Tell me about John Wayne!
Elma: He graduated from high school. He left. He left Glendale and his dad worked for the studios and he moved in with his father. When he left he was 17 he had just graduated high school and from then on for the next five Christmases he never forgot to send a little three-year-old girl a present. It always impressed me because he was such a wonderful wonderful man. He really was and to pay the attention that he paid to a three-year-old it was quite interesting. And then when he went to live with his father in Los Angeles and he went to work oh, he applied for a job. He couldn’t find a job. So he went to work, oh his father worked for the movies but he was a gardener or a caretaker or something. And his father kept saying, well you know you gotta try out. Well he had no talents of anything, you know, particularly. He decided he would ride a horse.
Elma Hoyenga - John Wayne pt 2
“He figured he could ride a horse. He had never been on a horse in his life. So that’s how he got started in movies is he went and applied for jobs as an extra and took riding lessons. Well, he was very good at it and he got picked up, oh within the first three months. And that’s how he got into the movies. His father worked there. He was just an extra for a while and the thing that always impressed me with him is here I was three years old when I first met him and 14 years later you know he’s still corresponding with me for Christmas and holidays. Just as though I was part of the family. He used to sit outside and wait till I got home from school and then he’d come and play croquet with me. I had a brother who was crippled and he couldn’t do any kinds of sports or anything but he could play croquet. So John Wayne in two or three of the other neighborhood children used to play croquet with him.”
Elma Hoyenga - John Wayne pt 3
“The thing that always impressed me was how kind he was and how sweet he was and thoughtful because you know I was three years old the day I met him. I lived next-door to him until he graduated from high school. He was 17 or 18. Always sent me a Christmas card or Christmas present but he always, or called me. He kept in touch with me for about 10 years and then we lost contact. But he was such a wonderful man and not many people like you hear on the television that when he walked through the door he filled, completely filled the doorway. It was true he was extremely tall. He was 6’4" but the fact that he still remembered a little three-year-old girl do you know just like a brother or a cousin or somebody else.”
Elma Hoyenga - Elma’s Mother
“My mother was a buyer at, in Beverly Hills. She’d never worked a day in her life but the first day, the first day she went to work she was selling stockings at Bullocks which was a department store, still is. And she went to work for Bullock’s right away and within three months they needed a buyer to go to Italy and they chose her to go. She was only 19 years old and she went to Italy and when she was in Italy they sent her to two or three of the big fashion houses to buy clothes. And they put her in girls and teenagers because I was three years old. So I was a girl and teenager and that’s really the only thing she knew about selling but she went to work. Just never worked a day in her life.”
Elma Hoyenga - Shirley Temple
“She (my mother) went to work there and the first time Mrs. temple came in she just called and Mrs. temple wanted to make an appointment to come in and bring Shirley in to get some clothes for Shirley Temple. She had just been hired in the movies. They wanted to know when would be convenient and that was just a few days after Shirley Temple was hired as a movie star and she wasn’t really popular right then. But from that day on every time she would go to Bullock’s Wilshire she'd call ahead and ask for my mother and she would always bring Shirley in and my mother says oh I know my daughter you know would love to meet her. She says do you have any idea when you’d be here? And she said well, when would be convenient for you? Anyways she came in so that started a friendship with Mrs. Temple.”
Elma Hoyenga - Elma’s Brother
“My brother was, when he was born the doctor that delivered him was drunk and my mother, they found out when he was about three months old that there was something very wrong and he was crippled from the day he was born. For years I knew the story my dad told me the story but my mother never mentioned it because it just broke my heart, my mother's heart. But anyway he ended up, when he was three years old, I had to aunts and uncles they asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he’d puff his little chest out and say “I’m gonna be a lawyer!” So the family always went with it you know. He’s still gonna be a lawyer! He went to UCLA. He put himself through college on a scholarship.”
Transcription and Audio Edit by Ileana Chavez and Samantha Alcaraz.