Special Collections Oral History Program
Evelyn (Axelson) Larson Green
Campus School, ca. 1920-1923
Two-year certificate, 1929
Gerald ("Jerry") Larson
Campus School, ca. 1943-1950
Interviewer: Tamara Belts
Date of Interview: July 23, 2005
Location of Interview: Evelyn Green's home, Birch Bay, Washington
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TB: Today is Friday, July 23rd. My name is Tamara Belts and Iím here with Gerald (Jerry) Larson [JL] and his mother Evelyn Green [EG]. Theyíve agreed to do an oral history. Mrs. Green both attended as a [Normal Training School] student, a normal school student, and came back and got her degree from Western in 1950. Also her son Jerry went at least to the Campus School and so he may be making some comments too.
JL: And also graduated from Western.
TB: Okay, and also did graduate from Western. We may be capturing two stories here.
So for Mrs. Green my first question is how did you choose (or your parents choose), to first attend the [Normal Training School]?
EG: I think I was about a sixth grader and my neighbor wanted her daughter to go up to the college because her daughter had to change from grade school to high school and she wanted me to go along, of course. The girl was older than I was. So we went up there. At the end of the year I was supposed to change. I was going from the sixth grade into seventh grade I think it was and I would have to change schools. Of course I was scared to death of changing schools so after I had been up to the college with my neighbor girl I kept going there the rest of the year. And from then on I was just at the college. I went through the grade school; I was in the seventh grade at that time. They had one year I think it was of high school training and there were six or seven kids in that -- that was all. I suppose thatís why they discontinued it. Anyhow by that time I had moved; my family had moved to the south side and I kept on going up there. Always afraid to change, you know. I was afraid to change so I kept on going there. I went forever it seems like.
TB: Yes. Now what exactly were the years or grades that you attended the school?
EG: In grade school?
EG: Seventh grade.
JL: She was born in 1907 so it would be about 1920, roughly.
TB: Then you went there how many years? To the [Normal Training School] at that time?
EG: I went just that one summer. I had been going to the Lincoln School which ended in sixth grade and I had to change schools. Iím always scared, by going up to the college campus school that one summer I got acquainted so I wasnít afraid then. Instead of changing to the Franklin School I kept on going to the college.
TB: How many more years did you go there?
EG: Oh dear.
JL: Three years? Junior high, you went to junior high there. Seventh, eighth, and ninth [grades], then she went to Fairhaven High School.
TB: Okay. Did any other members of your family attend the Campus School/ [Normal Training School]? Obviously your son Jerry did.
JL: Two sons.
JL: And Eric you met the other day, he also went there.
TB: Oh Eric went too, and then you went, and whatís your brothers name?
TB: OK. Where did your family live when you attended the [Normal Training School]? Where were you living?
EG: We were living on Humboldt Street.
JL: That was the first year then they lived at 916 Twenty-First Street.
TB: So when you were going to the school you lived at 916 Twenty-First Street. How did you get to and from school?
EG: My feet. I walked.
JL: We walked too.
EG: I walked everyplace. We didnít have cars like you people have nowadays.
TB: Do you have any favorite memories of walking to school then? Any big adventures that happened?
EG: I timed myself one time when we lived on Twenty-First Street. I worked downtown. I was a little older. No bus in front of our house. So one day I left the house and I was right beside the house. They had a street clock downtown that would strike every hour. Just as I left the house I heard the clock strike, and so I timed myself. I walked up to the college and I took every shortcut I could remember, through peopleís yards and everything, and I got downtown. There used to be a street light downtown, at Dock and Holly (whatever they called it then) and this clock struck again. It took me fifteen minutes. I never did it that fast before. But I took every shortcut.
TB: Now when you were a student in the [Normal Training School] did they serve lunch, or did you bring your own, or what happened at lunch time?
EG: I must have taken my own because I never ate in the cafeteria. But I donít remember carrying my own lunch either.
TB: They did have a cafeteria then when you were in the campus school?
EG: Not for the campus students.
TB: So you ate in your rooms?
EG: Thatís what we would have to do.
JL: Did you go to class in the same part of Old Main that we did? When you went to junior high was in the same spot?
EG: Yes, it was in the same place, that end of the building. But we never went down there.
JL: The South end of the building on the second floor
EG: One or two of the big events when I was up there at the [Normal Training School], they had something going in the auditorium and they took us kids in there and we could sit in the last two rows to see what was going on. In the auditorium, I remember when we went there, we stood for a little while in the very back to find a place -- the far section of the audience, first two rows, were men. All the rest were women.
TB: Who were some of your favorite teachers when you were at the [Normal Training School]?
EG: [I admired one teacher very, very much. She was a student teacher. We had student teachers all the time. Was there Miss Crawford that was head of that department? Of the upper grade kids? Anyhow, this one teacher would write on the black board, that hand or this hand (showing writing with left, and then right hands). I used to admire her. She was a beautiful writer.]
TB: What were your favorite subjects or classroom activities when you were there (Normal Training School)?
EG: I really donít remember anything special. I always liked math pretty good. Of course, it was called arithmetic. I didnít have any trouble with any of that stuff, so I guess I was just an average student, you know.
TB: Do you remember anything more about what your classes were like?
TB: Do you remember what other kind of extra-curricular activities you might have done as students or what you did at recess, the games that you might have played?
EG: No, I donít. It was a thrill if we ever got down to the big gym. We never went to the little gym. You donít even know where they were, I guess. But, anyhow, once in a while weíd get a chance to go down there. But I think we only went to school a half a day most the time.
Some of those names want to come to my mind so badÖ
TB: Miss Montgomery? Did you ever have Miss Montgomery?
EG: I know the name, but I didnít have her. She might have been the supervisor of the lower grades.
TB: I think thatís exactly what she was; I think youíre right on. What were some of the differences that you found when you went to [Normal Training School] from what youíd experienced at the public school?
EG: I think about the only difference that I can think of, in public school at recess time we went out. When I got up to campus, I only went a half a day for a while, that just blended in. I donít remember much about that.
TB: Thatís fine. What were the changes when you shifted and went to high school? You went to Fairhaven, what was that like?
EG: Well, it was different. I was going to campus school in the eighth grade, ninth grade. There were five or six kids in that class, thatís all. Then I had to switch and go to Fairhaven High School. I donít remember anything particular.
TB: Thatís fine, thatís fine. Iím just trying to find out if people really perceived some differences. Then, later on, Iím still talking about the Training School, but when you were going to the Normal School; did you do any observing in the Training School?
EG: No, I donít think I did any at all.
TB: Okay. Any other favorite memories of your Training School days?
EG: [The ladies dormitory Ö Edens Hall. It was on the south end of the building, and it was an old wooden building. I think it was a tan color. I used to walk up from our place, up Twenty-First Street and there was a grocery school there. Barbara Jenkins lived there, but there was something about her family, but I donít know. Barbara Jenkins lived there, she was a good student. It was her home. Then there was a sidewalk past the dormitory, and that was about a two story building, up to the main building. In the middle between, south of that, was a play field. We played [every] time we had an opportunity out there.]
[TB: Anything else?]
[EG: Well, the big gym, of course. We didnít get to go down there too often. We had to have tennis shoes.] I canít really remember [anything else]. I went there in the seventh grade, with that neighbor girl. Then I stayed on and she went to the [Whatcom] High School.
TB: What was her name?
EG: Hedvig, H-e-d-v-i-g. Englund, E-n-g-l-u-n-d.
EG: Yes, Englund. It was a Swedish family that lived across the street from us.
TB: Okay. Now weíre kind of going to shift gears and ask you about your time when you were at the Normal School the first time. Why did you choose to come to the Normal School in 1927?
EG: Mainly because it was familiar to me.
TB: Okay. You graduated from Fairhaven. Did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
JL: [Not at first]. There were a couple years when you worked downtown in an ice cream parlor.
TB: So why did you choose to do that at that point in time?
EG: It probably was because I was familiar with it. I was familiar with it because I had gone through the grades there.
TB: Did you know you wanted to be a school teacher?
EG: I think all little kids want to be teachers, especially the girls. I had one school teacher, I donít know her name, but I always admired her up there. She taught penmanship. And she could write at the blackboardÖ
TB: Gragg. Miss Gragg.
EG: No, she was just a student. Because we always had a student teacher in our room and then a supervisor would kind of kept some kind of records for those teachers. But that was part of their class. But she could get on that blackboard and take her left hand and write and take her right hand and write.
TB: Oh my goodness.
EG: One was as good as the other.
EG: I donít remember her name but I remember how well she could do that writing. That, naturally, was a penmanship class. She was a student at that time.
TB: Do you know why she went to Western?
JL: Well, they lived on the 900 block on Twenty-First street so Western was a short walk away and I donít think there was any consideration of anything else. They didnít have that much money for her to go anywhere else, I donít think.
TB: It was just time to go on to school.
JL: Yes. After you finished high school you keep telling me that you worked at the ice cream parlor for a couple years. Why did you decide to go to school instead of keep working at the ice cream parlor?
EG: Well, I worked down at the cannery. My mother worked at the fish cannery and they were pretty busy and shorthanded. I had had rheumatic fever that winter, but my mother was a good doctor so she got me through that. By the way, doctors never came to your house, everything was by telephone. My mother talked to the boss and they were shorthanded, apparently, or they would hire kids, because I was under sixteen, yet. My mother talked to him, and he gave me a job, too. That bothered my hands I had had rheumatism in. She asked if I could have a different job where I wouldnít have to touch the raw fish. The manager put me on what we call a litter, [which] was a stack of tin lids that were going to be put on the cans before they go into be canned. I had to fill that thing and keep it full of tin lids. Theyíd slip down and Iíd have to refill it and keep it full all the time. I did that most of the time. That was an easy job and it didnít bother my [hands], I got over the rheumatism I had that winter.
TB: Then when did you start working in the ice cream parlor?
EG: Well, I met a girl down there. She seemed to be a little older than I was, sheíd married real young. Sheíd had a baby and the baby died. I remember that so well, she kept talking about that. Anyhow, she got a job downtown at a little dairy there. They sold milk and cream -- just like a grocery store, only just dairy stuff. It was the Tulip Creamery. She wanted to know if I wanted to work down there. So, I got a job down there -- part time. That must have been í25 or í26, shortly after I had finished school. I worked there in that block, is that the 1400 block of Cornwall Avenue? Anyhow, it was just a little dairy where they sold (like a small grocery store) -- bread and butter, milk and cream and that stuff.
Then there was a wholesale house in the next block that was owned by this Tulip Creamery. They decided to close the retail and thatís where I worked. So then I had to get another job. By that time I started looking around a little bit. I went to work down on Holly Street at a place. It was the Tulip Parade -- a big parade -- on that day. I was one of the girls that took the order and ordered it from the fountain and then [took it back out to the customer]. Well they got behind, the parade was just over and they got too behind. One of the girls got my order fixed up for three or four people and by the time I took it over to the customer the customer had got tired of waiting and had gone. That made me kind of disgusted. It wasnít my fault and the manager didnít get after me about it. (All these managers used to have an office upstairs in the back of the room and they kept an eye on all the employees down below). Anyhow, I wouldnít go back when my two hours was up. I had a rest, a half hour rest and I never went back. I donít remember what that was called.
And then what was the question you asked me?
JL: You talked about an ice cream parlor.
EG: Oh, yes. That was an ice cream parlor. Then I went to work from that up close to State Street only that was called Elk Street in those days. And there was a little place up there and I got the same kind of a job, a girl behind the counter fixed the milk shake. When you poured it into the glass itís foamy at the top and it doesnít spill over but itís kind of scary. I didnít have a tray or anything. I went over there, this is my first customer there, and she gave me my order and it was a milkshake or something like that, and I just carried it scared to death it was going to spill, over to the table and left it; when my time was up, my two hours, I never went back I was too scared.
TB: So you went up to Western then because it wasÖ
EG: Familiar to me.
TB: Familiar to you. You went there, I think, from 1927 to 1929 and got a two year certificate.
JL: She graduated. That was the first year where they didnít offer lifetime certificates; up to 1928 I guess they did.
TB: She got just her two year. They were building the library during that time. Do you have any memories of them building the new library?
EG: I remember the old library. Of course, where they built that new library was a hill, quite a high hill. Mr. Kibbe had a house on top of that hill. His son Merle Kibbe was in my class. At that time there was a lot of them living there. They were going to build a library in there and there was big hill. They had to take that hill out of there. Mr. Kibbe was an instructor; he lived on the top of that hill. Of course, he had to move then. So he moved down onto Twenty-First Street, half block down the street on Twenty-First Street. He had a son named Merle, Merle was in my room.
TB: Do you remember any other houses that were up there?
EG: I remember there were two or three houses, and they moved the houses. I think they moved all of them. The one that Kibbe had was moved over onto Twenty-First Street.
TB: He moved his own house and lived in it again on Twenty-First Street?
EG: Well, yes. He didnít do the moving, of course. Then he lived there for quite a while. He was a person that would go buy old houses. I donít know if he fixed them up so much but they were empty and first thing you know there would be somebody living there. He bought an old house across the street from my parents that would be in the 900 block on Twenty-First Street. This was a big, square house. At that place, we were on the hill side, so my side of the street I had to go up stairs to get up to my yard and on the other side of the street where Kibbe was you had to go down. Mrs. Kibbe used to have a bicycle. That was unusual for a lady. Sheíd ride that bicycle up and down that street [to beat the band]. I donít know where she was going, but she was going up toward the college and of course her husband was working up there.
JL: They both bicycled all over.
TB: Both of the Kibbeís?
TB: Oh, wow.
JL: I think his wife taught at Western, too, Iím not sure.
TB: Iíll have to check. I know that youíre also going to have received a bachelorís degree from Western in 1950. Did you go to school any other place besides Western?
EG: No, I donít think I ever did.
TB: Okay, and then have any other family members attended Western?
JL: Your brother, didnít your brother go for a while?
EG: Yes, he did.
JL: Clarence Axelson. But he didnít graduate?
EG: No, and Royal Young, too, I think there was one year of high school up there.
Royal Young was one of them that went, I know.
JL: But heís not related.
TB: And then you went.
TB: Jerry went. Did your other boy, Jack?
TB: And then Eric went?
JL: Eric went to the college, yes. Jack and I we were at the campus school [and at the college].
EG: We lived on Twenty-First Street for so many years and the kids could walk to school, didnít have to cross any streets. That was one reason why I kept the kids up there, started them up there and kept them there.
TB: Okay, so what was your first job after leaving Western?
JL: Why donít you start with the placement office? You can talk about how you got the job.
TB: How did you get your first job?
EG: Oh, I got it through the placement bureau. Everybody did that. They were ready to sign me up for eastern Washington. I was tickled to death. It was graduation day and I was tickled to death because I had a job. I didnít have a job up until that time, jobs werenít too plentiful. Then at the last minute they came up with [this job] that was in eastern Washington. I hadnít been in eastern Washington to know anything about it, but it didnít sound good, never did. It sounded like a scarce place, not too many people lived there. Anyhow, the last day, [when I went into Miss Hopper], she had this extra job that came in on graduation day. It was on the west side of the mountains and I preferred that. She said it would be all right for me to cancel my contract that I had already signed and take the second one and send a friend of mine over to eastern Washington. I did and up until recently she was living in Bellingham, sheíd been out of the state for many, many years.
TB: What was her name?
EG: Off hand I canít tell you.
JL: Thatís when you picked the job to go to Deep River.
TB: How did you get to Deep River?
EG: I got to Deep River. I went down to the railroad depot in south Bellingham; they didnít know anything about a Deep River place. They sent me over to the north side and I went over to the north side and they told me. They told me all these different ways to getting there. I had to go to Centralia or Chehalis; I knew they were next door neighbor towns. I had to go to them and then from there I had to take a boat across the Columbia River. I had my trunk and that had to go along.
End of Tape one, Side one
JL: You went over to the Oregon side.
EG: I was the only one going to take the boat. But I would have to take the boat and that would be in the morning. I had to wait there for about four hours in the middle of the night. I took a room at that hotel. They called me early enough. My trunk was still down at the depot, or waterfront. I got on; my trunk was on there and I was on top of the trunk. We went across the Columbia River [and] into Oregon and when we got into Oregon I had to get on a train. (The instructor in Bellingham had told me all these things). Then that train went toward the Pacific Ocean and I [had] to get off at Astoria, Oregon. I got there and from there my trunk (and me) had to go to a scow that was down there. Of course they knew I was coming too, so they were kind of watching and they took me across the river to a place called Deep River.
The train came down once a day and I had to sit on my trunk until [it] came down. It was a logging train it didnít work on any schedule. But it [came] down once a day. There was a grocery store there and they told me just to wait so I waited there till [the train] came. Then when they get to the end of the [track], thereís a pond there where they dump the logs. [That was] the first time Iíve ever seen them dump the logs. But the track is fixed so that the logging train would tip up on one side and all the logs would fall into the pond there. [The] store keeper told me to stand back and all that. They expected me so then I walked over to the train which was only half a block or so and the flat car was empty. You know a flat car -- it just [has] a floor on it -- thatís all, no walls or anything. They put the trunk in the middle and my little suitcase with it and me sitting there. I donít know if I sat on the trunk, I sat on something there, it wasnít a regular seat. Anyhow, I was the only thing on the train then. The train was empty, all the cars were empty, and they were taking me back up to the mountains. So I had lots of confidence in the other fellow because I didnít know where I was going.
Anyhow, we got up to the place where we were going. It was ten miles up the hill and a good track all the way. We got up there, the [train] stopped, and it stopped just so my car would be in front. There were houses on both sides of the track. They stopped there and I thought people were all out there to meet me. But they werenít. It was the mail train, the mail was on there! When we got there they unloaded the mail and they unloaded me. But they went another half a block and unloaded my trunk and that was when I met the first people. The school building was right across the street there, too. My house was about a short block from the school and the railroad track was in the middle, houses had been built on both sides. The houses were very much like the home in town. It wasnít one with an automatic bath and hot and cold water and all that, in those days there werenít any anyhow. But there were houses on both sides for about half a mile up the road, one here and one there. All together I think there must have been maybe 25 or 30 houses.
JL: Your salary in that first job wasÖ?
EG: It was Ö I donít remember what it was, it was unusually high. I felt flattered to take it.
TB: $1040 per year, I think you said, in your [write-up].
JL: I think that was done a couple years ago.
TB: How long were you there, at Deep River?
EG: Was it two years?
JL: Two years.
TB: Where did you go, then?
EG: Oh, that was when the market crashed.
JL: You told me that the market crashed (on the east coast) when you got your job.
But it took two years to affect the west coast.
EG: Oh, I was tickled to death it happened back there, it wasnít going to bother me a darn bit. A year or so later it began to bother.
TB: So what happened?
JL: The logging company closed.
TB: Where did you go to work after Deep River?
EG: I stayed there for two years, was it? My house was furnished and I had a good little house with two rooms and a wood shed attached to it. The railroad track was just like the street, itís only two or three steps down to the level ground and there was the railroad track. The first day that I was there, there was a whole mess of screaming and breaks and all that kind of stuff. Of course I didnít know anything except that it was dark. I got out on my porch. My porch was oh, about that square, three feet square, something like that. It was raised up off the ground just a little bit and the railroad track was just like the street, only a couple of steps down to the railroad track. The people next door to me (I didnít know anybody yet), but the people next door to me had two or three kids. The screeching started and the screaming and the excitement. I went out on my deck, but nobody paid a bit of attention to me -- just a lot of excitement around there. Well, the next day I discovered that a little girl they had, she was five or six years old, she was deaf. In the family there the women seemed to be deaf. The mother was very, very hard of hearing, or deaf, and there was a girl in the middle grades someplace and she had ear problems. Well, the little girl was out on the track and a hand car came down. A hand car is a little one that the men run up and down the track with just for there own use, usually. They pump it, they stand in the middle and they pump it and it goes up and down. Well, it was dark and they didnít see her and she couldnít hear it, of course. She got hit and thatís what all the excitement was about. Up the street, about three quarters of a block there was a telephone. So somebody went there and telephoned for an emergency. Astoria, Oregon had to send a special boat across the river and then up to the place on the train, no, they took the girl down to Naselle in the flat car and met the train there, met somebody there. And the little girl went over to the hospital. She improved all right, but she didnít go to school that year, I donít think.
I was there for one year and there was another school, the same thing, five miles down the road, a Bellingham teacher down there. They had one more teacher than we did. My group would get jealous, you know, this neighborhood is jealous of that neighborhood, because we have 25 kids and they have 25 kids, and we have one teacher and they have two teachers. I had to have a meeting, at the advice of the community, of course. They were jealous of the other half of the district. We had a meeting at my classroom one night and I had to put all those figures on the board and I didnít hardly know what they were all about, but there had been a couple of old time teachers had gotten married when they got down there and they knew the racket. Anyhow, they insisted that they have a larger school because we had 25 kids and they had 25 kids. They had them for two teachers and we had them for one teacher. And thereís jealousy, a lot of jealousy there. So, anyhow, by the time school was out that year, they had decided to put in another room. So during the summer they put in another room and the next year we had two teachers. That meant my little cottage that I lived in had to be enlarged, also. Then Ethel McClellen from Centralia, I guess she was, she was hired for the other job.
TB: She taught with you?
EG: Yes, she taught with me then for, was it one year? And the market crashed. That market had crashed of course the day when I graduated, and I was just glad that it wasnít local. But [now it was] local, getting to the point where logging camps would close. I think Ethel was there just that one semester.
While I was down there, of course my parents worried about it, so they had to drive down. They had a Chevrolet touring car at that time. They had to drive down to Deep River to see me and make sure I was all right and all that stuff. Ethel McClellen was from much farther south than Bellingham was. Anyhow, the school went out of business then.
JL: And you went back to your folks; you went back home.
EG: Yes, and then I had to go back home.
JL: She met my father shortly thereafter, so there wasnít a second job.
TB: Okay. So, now weíre going to talk about where you were living when you were at Western the first time. It sounds like you were living at home from what youíve already said.
TB: Okay. When you were a student in the Normal School, who were your favorite or most influential teachers and why?
JL: When you were in college.
TB: Did you remember Mabel Zoe Wilson? The librarian?
EG: Wilson Library. Not particularly. I didnít have very much to do with those people, you know.
EG: Just the teachers. I remember where their office was and thatís about all.
TB: Do you remember anything else about your time when you were at the Normal School? What classes that you liked or what other extra-curricular activities that you might have done?
JL: When Clarence and you were both in college, Clarence was a runner.
TB: Oh, so, did he run in some track meets and stuff up there?
EG: Yes and he rated pretty high. With the three colleges of the state I donít know that he was the top one but he just missed it or something. But he was getting tired of school, anyhow. He was more interested in girls. They had big bleachers built out in the playground. They used to have a game, I guess about every weekend, and of course, my brother was a runner, he was active in all the sports.
JL: And they had the bonfire back in those days, didnít they?
EG: Yes. They had a great big bonfire out there. That would be the beginning of the fall season. They had a big jamboree out there. That would be on the playground. I couldnít tell you whatís there right now.
TB: Probably some buildings.
EG: You know where the bleachers used to be?
TB: I do. They just built those in 1922.
EG: Yes. They built them in 1922?
TB: I think so. It was a whole new thing. They built Waldo Field -- it was called Waldo Field.
EG: I graduated from high school in í25 and that would be about right.
TB: I have interviewed one person older than you. Heís 101. And he went to school in 1922. And they just named the field and thatís when they came up with the [mascot name] Vikings. [That] got established right then, too.
EG: What was that manís name, do you remember?
TB: Howard Wilder.
EG: No, I didnít know [him].
JL: Do I remember you telling me at one time, when you were in college they participated in a Tulip Parade, the college did?
EG: Took part in the Tulip Parade?
EG: Oh, yes. We always did that.
JL: The college did.
EG: Bellingham had a big parade.
JL: Well, was it a group of students? Was it the student body? [Did] they put a float together or the band go down or what was it?
EG: I donít remember the float now.
JL: All right, well maybe there wasnít one.
TB: Anything else that you remember from your Normal School days? Were there dances? Or what kind of things did you do for fun?
EG: Well, that was after I graduated from [high school] and went back. When I was going to Normal School, the gym class had us make costumes for ourselves. I guess you would call them that -- made out of -- I think it was cheese cloth, something real, real thin. They had to dip them and have them in [a] certain color. They were just like a sack on top of you with gathering here and thatís about all. The gym classes wore that. I donít know whether [they all did] -- just one course did, I guess. I remember one time we had to go down around Fairhaven Park and play out there. Play we were birds, I guess, and fly across there with all this rag that we had on.
TB: Weíve got a picture of something similar to that.
EG: The dress was just a seam in the shoulder and that was all, there was no hem in the bottom or anything. They were real light. I donít know what they were made of, I want to say cheese cloth, but I donít suppose thatís what they called it. And we went down to Fairhaven Park one day, played that. We were supposed to pretend we were dancers in the wind.
TB: All right.
JL: Her brotherís granddaughter, whose name is Julie, would be Julie Axelson, she graduated and is teaching in, I think, Bellingham High School now. She has my motherís gym outfit from the college. When mother moved out of the place on Twenty-First Street, that was one of the things that were still there, so, she gave it to her.
TB: Thatís cool. Was it black?
JL: Black and they had a white top. We werenít sure if the top was original or not, and the black kind of bloomer thing and the shoes.
TB: Okay, we donít have any shoes but one person did give us a gym suit and itís an all black one piece thing. Are there some other memories that you have of that time youíd like to share?
EG: No, I donít; Art Morris was there, was one of our students, Royal Young was one of our students.
JL: You mean classmates.
EG: Classmates. Is it Eric, Earhark there, lady, instructor?
TB: [Emma S. Erickson, Teacher of Technique].
EG: She was kind of a supervisor over the students, not the kids but the students. I just kind of remember that name.
TB: Well, wonderful.
PART II Ė Jerry Larson Interview
Well, while Iím here Iím going to ask does Jerry mind if I go through some of these questions with you, since you also went, to?
JL: No, thatís fine.
TB: Okay, but feel free to chime in. So, how did you happen to go to the campus school?
JL: We were on Twenty-First Street so it was about a mile away, like you said it was a [sidewalk] all on one side so we walked. We lived at 907. The buildingís still there. It was a grocery store when my folksí had it, but itís an apartment now.
TB: Okay, and what grades, then, did you attend?
JL: I started in second grade, went through the ninth.
TB: And what years were those?
JL: Well, I finished high school in Ď53, so it must have been, ninth grade must have been Ď50, soÖ
TB: So you must have went to the new campus school, the new building?
JL: Yes, the new building must have beenÖ
EG: It started about that time.
JL: I remember going to at least one year of grade school in the old building. I remember that because we had a beehive mounted in the window. Dermot Cunningham and I watched the bees a lot. Dermot graduated from Western too.
TB: Right, okay. And then both [you] and Jack went to the Campus School and Eric went to the campus school.
TB: Eric didnít, just you [two].
JL: Jack got through the eighth grade then it closed. He was one grade behind me.
TB: Okay. You lived on Twenty-First [Street], so how did you get to and from school? You walked, then, too?
EG: That was one reason we went there, was we didnít even have to walk across the street. By that time I had married the fellow across the street and he had a grocery store and I didnít have a lot of time to waste and I would take the boys up once in a while, but then they didnít have to cross the street or anything.
JL: I donít remember this, but [Jack] apparently didnít like the walk, so he would get a ride. I donít remember getting rides, but maybe I did. We had a pony for a little while and he rode the pony and he tied it behind the grade school for a couple days Ďtil they found out who was doing it [and] told him not to do it anymore!
TB: What about lunch? Did you have a lunchroom?
JL: You know, when you mentioned that before I was trying to think about lunch. I think I carried my lunch, but I couldnít say for sure.
TB: And do you remember any of your student teachers or other classmates?
JL: We had the same classmates all the way from 2nd grade to 9th grade, sure.
JL: I probably could, I donít know if I could name all 25 of them, but I could do a pretty good job.
EG: I donít remember making lunches for you, are you sure you didnít buy your lunch up there?
JL: I donít remember.
EG: I kind of think I had to pay five or whatever it was, a head.
JL: You didnít give me money to buy lunch so if lunch was provided you paid for it some other way.
EG: Yes, well, I paid for it that way, I think. I think I had to go up there when I registered you.
JL: I remember in grade school, we had to have a rug. We had to have a rug because in the morning and afternoon we had to have a rest time or nap time or whatever it was.
We would unroll the rug on the floor, I remember that, but I donít remember carrying my lunch.
TB: What were your favorite subjects or classrooms activities?
JL: Well, I rather preferred the gym classes.
TB: Gym classes.
TB: Thatís fine. Any other thoughts about what the classes were like or were there a lot of student teachers observing orÖ?
JL: Oh, we had, and I canít say this for every [class], the lower grades Iím not sure about, but most of the time there we had three or four cadet teachers every quarter. So we would go through about 13 teachers a year there. I remember, by the time we got to eighth grade, they thought we were pretty much on to them (the cadet teachers) and could manipulate them or whatever. It never donned on me that we were, but maybe we were. They were concerned about it.
TB: Did you get a feeling sometimes you were always being watched or was it not a big deal? That was just the way it was?
JL: No, in grade school I was a slow reader so if I got an awful lot of attention, which wasnít all that welcome, really. But I guess it probably helped, I suppose. I remember in junior high, the teachers I can remember, Miss Hunt was seventh grade, Jerry Punches was eighth grade and I believe the ninth grade I think her name was Miss [Shephard]. And then we had one other science teacher in junior high. It was a male, [Howard D. Rushong].
TB: I might be able to fill it in, Iím not sure. What were some of the differences that you perceived between campus school and public school when you made that transition?
JL: Well, I donít know that I couldÖI only went to first grade at Lowell.
TB: Okay, so when you left campus school and went to high school or whatever.
JL: Yes, see, I went to campus school through the ninth grade then I went to Bellingham High School and then back to Western, so Iím pretty much a product of Westernís [educational system]. The big difference is we never had grades.
JL: We always got, from second grade on, weíd get a written evaluation which wasnít much, it was about two sentences, maybe three, very short paragraph.
TB: Do you think that was good or bad, to not have grades and have this written evaluation?
JL: It took me a while when I got to high school to really [adjust]. I didnít learn and this probably is just me, but I didnít learn that you had to work a little harder to get a better grade.
EG: I think it was your problem. It was. Everything was strange, entirely different than the public school was.
JL: Well, I canít say that, but I worked at it, but I didnít put extra effort in, whatever just kind of happened happened. We didnít have homework back in those days that I can recall.
TB: So at the grade school, going to the campus school you didnít have homework?
JL: I donít think so, nothing of any significance. I think we might have had a little in junior high, but we didnít have much. It wasnít until I got to high school. Well, the classes were so much bigger when I got to high school. And there were so many more kids; I was with the same 25 all the way through.
TB: Thatís a pretty elite group to be just one of 25 students.
JL: Actually, there were a couple changes, but thatís just a couple over that period of time. Curt Smith was in my class. You know him?
JL: And Gary Ciley, I donít think he, no he didnít stay in town. Alene Ross, Don Andrus, he went to Western also. He got a doctorís [degree].
End of Tape one Side two
JL: Well, Paul Hanson, Larry Johanson was in the class, Paul Mueller; girls, there was Allene Ross; Ross, he was the president of the college later.
TB: Alan Rossís daughter. Okay. Do you have some favorite memories of your experience?
JL: I think a memory outside of just the school itselfÖI remember in grade school, Dr. Haggard was president of the college and he was enthralled with his campus, the grass.
We had for our recess, for a couple of years; we had to go pick the rocks up in front of campus school.
EG: What was his name?
TB: Dr. Haggard.
JL: When I got older, when I got into college I went downtown and I would buy these used cars and I bought a used car, an Oldsmobile, a black Oldsmobile. It looked like it was kept pretty nice, you know, it had been shined so much that the paint was worn off.
JL: And I went into a gas station one time and the guy says, ďOh, you got Dr. Haggardís car. Every time he came into the gas station we had to check his battery.Ē
TB: Oh, my goodness.
JL: So, I ended up with his car.
TB: Do you have any other comments about the campus school that we havenít talked about?
JL: Oh, we had sports. Well, Sam Carver was our coach. He had student coaches, really. He stayed pretty much in the background. He was the one to oversee the student coaches.
EG: And the Kibbes lived across the street from us for a long time.
JL: We had a basketball team and a baseball team and track. We didnít really have a track team. With 25 kids in the class there were what, 12, 13 boys, so that was pretty tough. We never did win. The only other school that was comparable in size was Assumption.
TB: But you did regularly compete with the area schools?
JL: Yes, Whatcom and those bigger schools. Track, they always had a city track meet. A lot of times it would be up in that field that you were talking about. Sam Carver was coming around and recruit people for a one day kind of event. We went out and tried to compete. Sometimes we did alright.
JL: One of the student teachers [was going to have us] make [a] movie. Now, I donít remember what kind of movie it was, it didnít have a plot or anything. Itís when 8 mm were just coming out. We did it over on the playfield. It never worked, of course, because something went wrong with the camera. But that was an experience I remember.
You know thereís one memory that she has from college that she (mother) didnít talk about. But it is kind of pertinent up here in Blaine. You went on a field trip for Western one time on a boat up to Semiahmoo. I donít know where you started from, but you went up to Semiahmoo on a field trip.
EG: Oh, the point out there.
TB: Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
JL: And they put you ashore and you said that you walked up to the old Indian graveyard.
EG: Before you go into, whatís the name of that section?
JL: Semiahmoo spit, yes.
EG: Semiahmoo. On the hill there, just before you enter Semiahmoo and itís on the water side of the spit. They told us that there were Indian graves in there. No oneís ever supposed to be digging in that and all that. Then we walked from there up to the point. That was a long ways to walk. It looks like nothing, but it was quite a ways to walk.
EG: Is there anything else you want to know about that?
JL: No, the interesting thing is thatís where Blaine put their sewer. When I was a kid it had a six foot cedar fence around it. So you get new people moving in, they donít know whatís what and [somebody should have said something].
EG: The first time I was up there was with a class from the college. We made two or three trips. Another trip was to the Indian [settlement], before you get out to the spit thereís an Indian settlement. What do you call that?
JL: Semiahmoo spit?
EG: At the beginning of it.
EG: Yes, around the reservation. Thereís a bunch of graves around there. Indians didnít useÖ
JL: You mean around Lummi?
EG: It would be on the main land.
JL: On Lummi?
JL: By the Nooksack River?
EG: It was on the mainland, at the end of the road. Thereís a church there and then just to the left thereÖ
JL: I think sheís talking about Lummi.
EG: We went down there and they had little places fixed up like a little fence piled up.
JL: Yes, thatís the Lummi. The church is still there and the graveyard is still there.
EG: Yes, they had a few of those down there and then each family had one.
JL: It must have been the Washington history class.
EG: Could have been. I remember the light bulb in that church was like a wheel off of a wagon. The instructor who was there with us that day said that so many people had been trying to buy that light. I often wonder if I go up in that church again if that lightís still there. It was a bigger light, just like a big wheel and a globe here and there on it. I havenít been up there in years.
TB: That would be interesting to go see.
EG: That would be the Indian church.
JL: Anyway, you know, we just had a good time going to school; since we had one group of kids growing up together. We did a lot of things together outside of school because it was such a close group.
TB: Now, weíll shift gears; why did you choose to attend Western?
JL: Well, Western was a short distance away and since I really didnít have any big aspirations as to what I was going to do, after high school it was just kind of an automatic thing for me to go up to Western, which I did.
TB: So, what were your dates of attendance at Western?
JL: I started in the fall of í53. I didnít finish until í60 because I was in the army for a couple of years, because you got drafted back in those days.
TB: Right. Did you go to Korea?
JL: No, I was a little bit young for that, it was a year or two after that.
TB: But you still got drafted anyway in the late Fifties?
JL: Yes. And I commercial fished for all of the summer time and a couple falls.
TB: Okay, so what degree or certificate did you receive from Western?
JL: Well, you know I got two things from Western. I was in Arts and Science. I donít have a teacherís degree. I thought I got a BA with a major in math and physics. But I joined the alumni (lifetime [membership] thing) and they sent me back a certificate that said something a little bit different. It was an Arts and Science kind of degree. I think it was kind of the first degree they offered beyond teaching certificates because it was just kind of changing over then.
TB: Should be a BA then. And then you said already that your brother Jack also attended Western?
TB: Okay. So what was your first job after leaving Western?
JL: Well, actually, when I finished Western I went down to interview with Boeing. They told me at that point that they really werenít hiring (that was in the spring), but if I came back in the fall things mightÖ So I went fishing again that summer and I went back in the fall and I got hired. I was there 34 years.
TB: Oh, so youíre retired from Boeing now.
TB: Okay. Did you live at home all of your time at Western?
JL: No, I thought one year (I think I was about a junior by this time), that since I wasnít really doing real good, (I had too many distractions at home), I would live closer to campus and see if that would make a difference. And it did. I joined a couple of guys; we rented a small house a couple blocks away. I only stayed there one quarter, but that kind of changed my habits. I did a lot better after that. But mostly I was at home.
TB: Who were your favorite or most influential teachers and why?
JL: What do you need, 180-some credits? I got over 100 in the math department. [James L.] Hildebrand and [Harvey M.] Gelder were the two math instructors when I first started. Then [Frederick M.] Lister came along when I was there. Then the last year I was there another fellow came along [Sheldon T. Rio]. I didnít have him very much. He came from Oregon State, I remember that. I remember he commented that he had never seen so many algebraists because he was not, and it was the first time I was exposed to something besides because it was pretty heavy on the algebra side, the curriculum was.
TB: Your main course of study then must have been mathematics.
JL: Yes, right.
TB: What classes did you like best or learn the most from?
JL: Well, obviously I enjoyed the math. I enjoyed physics too, but there wasnít a whole lot there for physics, but it was enough to get a minor. For that I had a new, a younger instructor [William J. Dittrich?]. I donít remember his name. He had just come in.
TB: What extracurricular activities did you enjoy the most?
JL: Well, thatís part of living at home; you donít really get into all the activities. I went to some of the football games, not a whole lot, and maybe a few more of the basketball games. We did intramural sports.
TB: What kind of intramural sports did you play?
JL: Well, I had a friend up there and he signed up and wrote me up as captain or manager on this basketball team. He didnít even consult us, he just did it. But we had a good time, so that was the main one. I think thatís the only one. I did turn out for baseball when I was there; I just got in one game. That was my freshman, maybe sophomore years. The baseball coach in those days was Martin.
TB: Oh, Joe Martin?
JL: Joe Martin. And then they switched after two years, they got rid of him, because they got a new big basketball coach in by the name of Bishop.
TB: Oh, Gayle Bishop.
JL: Gayle Bishop. Yes, he coached basketball and baseball for just a few years. After that Gayle coached basketball at Highline Community College.
TB: He coached at Western?
JL: Oh, yes. Then in order to get him I guess they also gave him baseball. That was the end of my baseball career. Under Joe Martin, I probably would have played a little bit more, but under him I didnít play at all.
TB: And heís even from Blaine, right? Didnít he live out here for a while?
JL: Yes, he lived out here for a while. I think he originally probably was from over in Sumas.
TB: Yes he was; Iím from Sumas.
JL: But he owned what is now a restaurant at the beach. It wasnít big enough to call it a grocery store. I think he had a few rentals [too].
TB: Didnít he always have a summer basketball camp or something up here?
JL: Well, he coached Blaine a year or so, when they had one really good player that was coming along. McGee, the kidís name was McGee. Somehow he got up there to coach during that guyís tenure. Then as soon as that guy graduated then Bishop Gail left.
TB: Any other comments about your college days?
JL: You see the college grow over the years. The original tennis courts that I remember were where the music building is now (I donít know if itís still a music building or not). Then, our junior high days, we were on the second floor of the wing that faces the campus building. Then the gym, I donít know if thatís the gym sheís talking about, but that was on the first floor. The little gym, itís still there? Itís probably not a gym.
TB: Old Main, physically, that exterior wall could be the same. But I think itís probably the Old Main Theatre now. Thereís not a gym, per se, in Old Main anymore.
JL: It was a small gym in those days. The college had dances down there, too. I can remember in college you had to take dance, some kind of dance, I donít remember what they called it.
EG: That small gym was about in the middle of the building, wasnít it?
JL: No, it was underneath where we had class from junior high. The dressing room was on one side and then there was a hallway and the gym wasÖ
TB: So it was almost underground?
JL: Part of it might have been a little bit underground.
TB: Iíve heard people call something the little gym before and I know that itís not really still a part of Old Main. Itís been renovated and changed. They made big changes in the seventies and maybe even in the early nineties again. I know it doesnít quite still exist in that form anymore.
JL: Going back to the junior high, actually, because I donít think we did it in grade school. But in junior high when they had their entertainment series (it was once a quarter or something), as she was able to, we would get to go up and weíd either have a special little performance for just the junior high or whatever. I remember Burl Ives was one of the guys that came through. There was a black singer there who had a real big voice that was kind of impressive. There were some others, but those were the two that really stick to mind more than others. That was kind of fun, really.
TB: Thatís come out a couple different times, what a wonderful lecture series they had.
JL: Mrs. Booth, who taught at college, also was our music teacher in grade school and junior high, I guess. And grade school in particular, Iíll never forget this, about a week before Christmas or maybe two weeks, before school, she would play and we would sing Christmas songs.
TB: Well, is there anything else I havenít asked that either one of you would like to say? You think youíve said it all?
JL: Oh, Iím sure weíll think of something, but I think weíveÖI remember where the old field, you called it Waldo field?
TB: Waldo Field.
JL: I donít remember that name, but it wasÖ
TB: It could have been different.
JL: It was just the athletic field. The track, maybe thatís what we called it, the track. But behind the bleachers, along that hill side there, we would go back there and collect fossils. There were a lot of fossils along [there] -- leaf fossils.
TB: Wow. Thatís interesting.
JL: And those days, see I was there in the fifties, that would have been 30 years, but still the hillside was no vegetation, it was all sandstone.
TB: Oh, wow. So, I wonder when all the vegetation started growing back?
JL: There must have been some soil put there or something. I also remember the pool from the gym, not the little one but the main [gym], before Carver Gym. Yes, we used to swim in there even in grade school.
TB: Thatís still there, the poolís still there.
JL: I was there in the second grade. I learned to swim out here (Birch Bay) in salt water and then when I went in to swim in that pool, I took a big jump -- in my memory I took a big jump -- I felt like I was in the middle of the pool, which I wasnít. But I found out I couldnít touch bottom and I couldnít swim. That scared me and it took me about two more years before I got back in the pool.
TB: Yes, because salt water is much more buoyant, right?
JL: Yes, and down here it never gets steep, youíre almost always touching bottom.
TB: Okay, okay. Wow.
JL: I donít remember who our gym teacher was, outside of Sam Carver there must have been somebody else.
TB: Margaret Aiken? Does that ring a bell?
JL: Well, I canít say, but it could be.
TB: Yes, I know there are pictures of her. She was a P.E. teacher and I know there are pictures of her in the pool.
JL: Some of the people who were in my brotherís class (one year behind me): Lappenbuschís son was in that class, and the Stimpson family; Ed Stimpson was a year ahead of me and his sister, Catherine, was a year behind in my brotherís class.
TB: Did you keep in contact with any of your classmates? Do you guys still have your own reunion group or something?
JL: I kept in contact with Don Andrus and Russell Rude. They both have passed away.
Curt did set up that one campus reunion which was pretty well attended. Weíd get together because we all went to high school after that. When we had our fiftieth high school reunion all the campus people that were there got together and had a picture. It was only Curt and I on the male side and there were maybe six of the girls. Larry Johansonís still alive and Paul Hanson, but they werenít there. Anyway, a pretty small group.
TB: Well, there is going to be a big reunion in 2007 and thatís part of what weíre gathering. We always try to do oral histories, but in 2007, I think from June 2007 through January of 2008, Whatcom Museum is going to have an exhibit featuring the campus school. Then theyíre going to have another reunion sometime during that time.
So, youíll be hearing more about that. Anyway, thank you very much and Iíll shut off the tape now.