Special Collections Oral History Program
Mary (Haggen) King
Campus School, 1954-1960
Interviewer: Carole Morris
Date of Interview: January 8, 2007
Location of Interview: Miller Hall, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash.
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This interview was conducted with Mary Haggen King on January 8, 2007, in Miller Hall. The interviewer was Carole Morris.
CM: What is your name?
MK: Mary Haggen King.
CM: How did you happen to attend Campus School and what years did you attend?
MK: We lived in the neighborhood, on State Street and I guess my parents signed me up when I was born. You had to get in line quickly to get into Campus School, but I think in my case it was because I was in the neighborhood.
CM: And so you had siblings who attended here?
MK: I had a brother, Rick, that was three years older, and he attended.
CM: So they thought highly of the school?
MK: Yes, yes, plus it was convenient.
CM: What years did you attend?
MK: Iím trying to think . . ., I was born in 1947, probably what, 1953,  I would say until 6th grade. I think 1960 is when I was in 6th grade . . . round about that time.
CM: Do you remember if your family paid any fees to attend?
MK: I donít think that there were any fees at that time, no.
CM: You said you lived on State Street. How did you get to and from school?
MK: I walked. Usually I walked with my brother or friendsóthere were a lot of us on Forest and State and we walked to school together.
CM: Do you remember any of those friends that walked with you?
MK: Jennifer Yanco and Linda Webber, and Jenniferís sister Elizabeth.
CM: Was Jennifer in the same grade?
MK: Jennifer was a year younger. Oh and Mary Young! Mary Young was a neighbor and we all walked together pretty much.
CM: Thatís nice . . . did you go up a trail?
MK: From Garden Street to High Street there was a ramp, a cement ramp that weíd take and it was all trees and very wooded at that time. There was nothing on High Street: there were homes and then an alley running behind High Street where the Viking Union is now.
CM: So that was fun?
MK: It was fun! And occasionally we would get a ride; if it was really raining hard one of the parents would drive us to school. And we would walk home for lunch often too. I think we got an hour for lunch and weíd go home.
CM: Thatís a question on here, what you did for lunch?
MK: Well, sometimes I would stay. I think when I was younger I would stay and have hot lunch, and I can remember the dumb waiter that came from the kitchen. When we were in third grade and above we were upstairs and I can remember the food coming up in the dumb waiter. When I got older it was quite a thrill to be able to go home for lunch -- to be trusted enough to walk home.
CM: So when the food came up was it on trays?
MK: It was on trays.
CM: Each student got a tray?
MK: Well, yes, it was on trays, and I believe we had a dining room that we sat in. We sat in the dining room and we each had a tray and I think we would walk up and get our milk. I donít really remember. When we were younger, like in Kindergarten, we would have a break and we would all get milk and I remember hating to drink the milk. I didnít want it, I didnít want the milk, but we had to drink our milk.
CM: Do you think it tasted bad, or--?
MK: I donít know I just remember I didnít want the milk. But I remember the food. I remember it being very good. And it was a hot lunch, and then it was kind of a treat, occasionally we would get a cold lunch, or when we would go on fieldtrips I think theyíd pack lunches for us . . .but we had quite a kitchen as I recall.
CM: Was there a fireplace in the dining room, do you remember?
MK: I donít remember a fireplace in the dining room, there could have been.
CM: Well, I think theyíre some pictures, but weíre not sure when they covered it up. Who were your best pals in school that you hung out with?
MK: Well, letís see, Nancy Zurline, Cherie Tarte, Katie Morse were really my best friends, and then Mary Young was a year behind and Jennifer Yancoóthey were very close friends. And I still see them today, most all of them.
CM: So you grew up with them, went to school with them, and youíre still friends?
MK: Some of them went to middle school (which was called Ďjunior highí) at Fairhaven, and then we went through high school. So, we had twelve years (some of us) together.
CM: Who were your favorite or most influential teachers?
MK: Well I love Mrs. Vike. I attended her 80th birthday this summer. I liked Mr. Lamb, my sixth grade teacher, and Miss Nicol and Miss Casanova, Kindergarten and first grade, were fabulous. After they retired and moved they would still correspond. They were exceptional teachers. I canít think of a teacher I didnít like. Miss Kinsman in fifth grade had beautiful white hair and she was wonderful too. We all loved Miss Kinsman.
CM: What did you like about them?
MK: I think they were such warm teachers. They seemed to take such an interest in us personally. Miss Kinsman I remember, compiled my poetry and made a book for me and she seemed to be nurturing and yet very encouraging of any skill you might have. They brought out the best in us; I think they were very positive. The teachers made you feel special, and I think they just encouraged us more than anything. I think they were just very wonderful and positive people. They liked teaching. You felt they liked teaching and they liked the students and didnít have favorites. Well maybe a little bit.
CM: So you wrote poetry?
MK: I did! I did! There was a poem in the Campus School annual that I wrote, and looking at it, it was pretty darn simple poetry, and obviously I didnít go on with writing poetry, but I love books and I love poetry. That is one thing I will sayóthey did so much reading to us, all of the teachers, I can remember sitting on the rug and the teacher sitting on a chair in front of us reading poetry and I was mesmerized by it. The expression of the teachers . . . itís a fabulous memory for me. I think that was my favorite thing about the school was being read to. It gave me such an appreciation of books and poetry I thinkóthat I didnít see in my children. I donít remember them commenting, of course they were read to, but that was a huge part of our curriculum I think. Reading was stressed a lot. Reading aloud, was wonderful.
CM: You brought a book with you.
MK: I did.
CM: Do you want to read from that?
MK: Itís Silver pennies. I canít remember which teacher, I know it was either first or second gradeóbut it is a lovely little book of poems that Iíve saved. Thereís one poem that stands out and thatís ďOverheard on a Saltmarsh.Ē And I can still hear the teacherís voice reading it, and Iíll just read a little bit of it:
Nymph, Nymph, what are your beads?
Green glass. Goblin, why do you stare at
Give them me!
Give them me! Give them me!
Then I will howl all night in the reeds,
Lie in the mud and howl for them.
Goblin ,why do you love them so?
They are better than stars of water,
Better than voices of wind that sing,
Better than any manís fair daughter,
Your green glass beads on a silver ring.
Hush! I stole them out of the moon.
Give me your beads, I desire them.
I will howl in a deep lagoon
for your green glass beads, I love them so.
Give them me, give them.
CM: Thatís nice.
MK: I have saved most all of my poetry books and they just make me happy when I look at them. I can just hear the teacherís voices. I can go through one book in particular and look at all the poems and rememberówell, not all of them, but I can remember a lot of themóand I think thatís something that is not as common today as it was.
CM: Do you remember this room?
MK: I believe this was the first grade room. I thought there were window seats in the alcove, and of course this wasnít out hereóit was grass. I remember looking out and there was grass. But we used to grow plants in milk cartons in the windows and I think our SRA reading was somewhere in the corner too. I remember all the colors of the different groups, and how we were so competitive to move up from red to blue. We were all competing to get better. But I do remember the alcove; I think that was actually a reading area. I think that little corner was a reading area, a quiet reading area, but that may not be right.
CM: I think it is; we have some pictures.
MK: Do you? Yes, I think it was a reading area.
CM: So that was a big emphasis, reading?
MK: It was. I think it was a big emphasis. I think that the language arts and reading, was a huge part of ourówell, it was a big part for me. Math wasnít, reading was. I loved it.
CM: But were you taught math?
MK: We were taught math. I donít remember much about math. I remember in sixth grade we were studying, I think it was South America or Mexico, and math was incorporated. Our whole day was focused on this unit that we were studying, and our math was the currency in the country. We had to use the paper money, and that was our math, figuring out, how we would buy something or what change it was. But I donít remember math a lot.
CM: So when you travel are you able to do currency?
MK: No! No I donítónot in Mexico, no. I donít remember a lot about that.
CM: Oh well.
MK: I know, Ďoh wellí. That wasnít my strong suit for sure.
CM: I think weíve heard that from other students.
MK: I really donít rememberówell, I guess I remember problems on the blackboard. I donít remember a lot of mimeograph things but problems on the blackboard . . . we would have to put them on our paper and then do the math. I believe we would copy it from the board. I could be wrong about too, but I donít remember a lot of math.
CM: Do you remember if you had regular text books at all?
MK: Math books?
MK: Maybe in the upper grades. I believe we did after third grade because we had desks then that you could put your books in which was a huge thrill. When we got desks it was so thrilling to be able to have your own book, and I loved it when we would get a new bookóthey hadnít been used by another class. As I recall, our curriculum did change quite a lot, year to year. Anything kind of new, we would get at Campus School. I could be wrong about that, someone else may say ďyouíre cuckoo.Ē
CM: No, I think youíre saying the same thing that other people have said.
MK: I just remember loving the new books.
CM: You were saying, anytime you got a new curriculum you thought they tried it out on you the next year . . .
MK: I think we were guinea pigs to a degree. It seems like we had new books often, and it was thrilling. It was fun to get new books and to get to take them home. It was exciting for me.
CM: Do you remember any of the student teachers that worked in the classroom.
MK: I was just looking over my annual today. I donít think I would have remembered, but as soon as I saw Mr. Taylor, I remembered. We had men and women, it wasnít just women. Of course we liked some of them better than others but we always had three. I think we always had two or three and our teacher. That was always fun and weíd get new people every quarter. Some were nicer than others.
CM: Did you feel special having college students working with you?
MK: Oh I think so, yes. The part I didnít like was the observation of the college students. Theyíd bring these little stools, like camp stools, and sit in the back of the room. Theyíd just be observing, [but] we would have different focuses. I was very nervous, I didnít like it. Knowing the day that they were coming, I would get very upset. I think it scared me, I didnít like performing. We didnít necessarily have to go in front of them doing anything, but they were watching us, observing us as children.
CM: And maybe the student teachers, observing them as well?
MK: Maybe, I donít know about that . . . I donít remember that, I just remember we would have different focuses when they would come in and be doing different things. And I think sometimes they were just observing us interacting, we werenít even in our desks or doing anything in particular, they were just watching us.
CM: Just to learn how children learn. Anything else about the teaching materials or the teachers themselves and how they taught?
MK: Well, I do remember a set of child craft books that I loved. It seems like they were over in the corner. [When] we had free-time with reading, we could take our library book and read it. We had time to just spend with books and of course that was one of my favorite times. I loved that.
CM: Anything else you remember about the teaching or the materials or the curriculum?
MK: Like music class?
MK: We were lucky because we had professors that would come in and actually teach our music and the thing I remember the most is the pitch pipe. I loved the way the teacher did the pitch pipe, and I wanted one; I remember asking my mother, ďPlease, could I have a pitch pipe.Ē When I played teacher at home I had the pitch pipe and I loved it, I loved the pitch pipe. Miss Chesarek was the music teacher I remember the most and we werenít very nice to her. She was a bit strict; and then after Miss Chesarek was gone we had Mrs. Hines and she wore wonderful clothes, I can remember I loved the days she would come because she wore such fun clothes. But my most vivid memory is the pitch pipe. We did wonderful assemblies at Christmas. We would have very elaborate assemblies, and each class would perform a song, or a couple songs. We would get on the stage, there were stairs, steps going down, and weíd be arranged by our heightóand I was tallóand we would sing. It was nerve-wracking for me, it was in the auditorium and the parents would all be there watching us.
CM: Was it in this building, the auditorium?
MK: Yes! We had [such a] nice auditorium that I believe we would also gather all of the classes if there was a particular film or [if] someone would come to the school. It wasnít just for the Christmas program. We were there occasionally, but it was quite a long time ago.
CM: And you mentioned going on fieldtrips, do you remember any of those?
MK: I remember one fieldtrip, Glen Smithís parents had a dairy and we went to their dairy. It seemed like we were so far out of Bellingham. We took the busóand what I remember is just driving and driving and driving. Well, the oddest thing is, the dairy was at the corner of Iowa and Yew Street! And now I drive by it every day and itís nothing. But it was all countryside, [and] pasture and that was a fun fieldtrip.
CM: What did you get to do?
MK: We watched them milk the cows, I think we actually got to milk the cows; we watched the process. Then we took a fieldtrip up Sehome Hill and hiked and had a picnic, and that was toward the end of school. I was reading this in my little journal that I foundówe did a trip to the refinery. Now that must have been quite a fieldtrip because that was a good distance. And a trip to the newspaper, and we watched how the newspaper was made. I donít remember any other fieldtrips specifically.
CM: Did you go to the plywood mill or anything?
MK: The pulp mill?
CM: Mount Baker plywood?
MK: Probably. We could have gone to the paper or pulp mill that sounds like something we would do. As I remember, we did take quite a few fieldtrips because we would get to ride a bus. We didnít have a school bus that came to Campus School, so it was quite thrilling to get on a bus, because the children either walked to school or were dropped off by their parents, so it was quite exciting to ride a bus.
CM: So itís like the city bus?
MK: I think we had an actual school bus.
CM: They hired a bus?
MK: I think they did, yes.
CM: Thatís a good experience.
MK: Yes, it was.
CM: Do you remember if you received grades, or what kind of reports you got?
MK: We did not receive grades, at the end of the year, a very extensive written report. They pointed out your strengths, and not in a negative way, but would say areas that you could improve. But I remember they were all typed I thinkóand really thought out. I remember I always got the comment that I was very shy and very quiet, which people find hard to believe today, but I was a very quiet child and kind. They commented a lot on our character as well as our academic performance. I wish I could find them today, because they wereónot scary, I donít think it was a frightening thing, but they would say if you were strong in art, or the area that they felt you excelled in, so it was like a critique of our performance, but it wasnít graded, we never did have grades. I donít believe we had grades even on tests . . . it was more nine out of ten or 80 percent. You really knew where you stood as you got older when you were tested, but it wasnít a graded system. It was quite a shock getting to junior high and getting grades because we had never had letter grades. You still knew where you ranked, even without the grades. I mean we were pretty savvy as we got older.
I remember the SRA reading . . . that was a skill and you would strive to get better because it was color-coded like I said. You knew where you were. We had groups and they really were slow, average and fast. Children quickly figured out which group was the lowest group, and you didnít want to be in that group. I believe that was reading, and math. I think both subjects had groups, and you worked on different things depending upon which group you were in, but you still [knew] where you [stood], and we were divided that way.
CM: Did it put any personal pressure on people?
MK: Well I think it did, in that you were quite excited if you moved up. You knew that you had been doing well and I think there was an incentive to perform because you wanted to move up. There were certain children that were always in the high group, and I think I was always in the average group. But you knew the kids that we would call ďthe smart onesĒ because they were always in the high group.
CM: What happened to the low group? Did they get pressured from other kids?
MK: Well . . . I think we werenít always nice. I donít remember any incident, but some kids really struggled with different subjects, and I think we were very diverse. I think we were not an elite school, everybody was [not] gifted, I think there many levels of students. But I think they worked to not differentiate who was smart and who was stupid, I donít think that message was ever sent. But we knew more or less, but I donít think the low groups were picked upon. I think they were very discreet in not making us feel less than the others. But we would strive to get better.
CM: Do you remember creative activities like crafts?
MK: We had a lot of art. I think we had an exceptional exposure to art. We would go to the other departments, we learned weaving and we did a lot with clay. I believe first and second grade we had easels and wonderful paints. We were really encouraged I think, with the artsócreative writing, I think I remember going to the speech department and our stories being recorded. We would make up a story and it was recorded which was very nerve-wracking for me. But I think the arts were a huge part of Campus School.
CM: So when you learned weaving did you actually go to the Art department?
MK: Yes we did. We would sit at the loom, and I believe we actually made a little mat. I think we did, you know we allóit was Miss . . . Oh I canít remember the professors name, but we were exposed to a lot of art.
CM: And so pottery was in the pottery department?
MK: I think we did some of the clay in our classroom. We may have had actual potteryówith spinning, you know the potterís wheel. I think we did that too. I donít remember exactly what we did.
CM: So did you go to the Chemistry Department or anything like that?
MK: I donít remember the sciences.
CM: Did you got to the gym?
MK: Oh my yes and I was not good at the gym. Miss Weythman was our teacher, she was very strict. We would go to the gym, I think about three times a week, and then every other Friday we would go swimming in the pool. The thing I do remember is the wool bathing suit, or cotton, I donít know what it was, but it was ugly and the bathing cap. We had to learn to dive. We did that through sixth grade, we would swim every other Friday or Thursday. It was something I didnít really like, so I didnít look forward to that. Then we played a lot of games and learned different gamesóit wasnít just go to the gym and play. I believe we even learned some dancing as I recall. The student teachers often would be in the gym. That is an area [where] they would teach us different things. That was always fun because theyíd have new games, and we liked that. Miss Weythman wasnít a lot of fun. We would play baseball in front of the school. When it was nice in the spring, weíd go outside.
CM: Was it the whole class, girls and boys, playing together?
MK: Yes, yes it was. We were divided I believe, not by gender but . . .
CM: Just teams?
MK: Yes, teams.
CM: Did you ever come to summer school at Campus School?
MK: No I didnít ever come to summer school and I donít remember many children coming to summer school at all.
CM: There were some.
MK: Were there really? No, I donít remember anything about summer school.
CM: You talked about lunch, what about recess? Were you able to play?
MK: I donít remember many recesses. I think we were encouraged to go outside when it was nice. We would have games that the students would organize with each other. But I think I wanted to stay in probably. I think we could go to the gym and play at recess with the teacherís supervision. I donít remember too much about recess.
CM: What else did you do around Campus? Visit the Library?
MK: Oh I loved going to the library. And I remember having to be very quiet and choosing a couple of books at a time. We all wanted the same book [it seemed like], and the one that stands out the most is Nip and Tuck [Caroline D. Emerson, A hat-tub tale: or on the shores of the Bay of Fundy]. That was a series about little animals, and that was a favorite book of mine. Everyone wanted it, so we kind of tried to get there fast so we could get that book.
CM: Thatís great Iíll have to write that down. What grade level did you say you left and went to public school?
MK: Sixth grade; that was the end of Campus School when I was there.
CM: And you went to which school after that?
CM: And how did that go: the transition from Campus School to public school?
MK: I thought it was a big shock. I would say getting letter grades was so different. We didnít have nearly the one-on-one attention. It was much more structured at the Junior High School. I think we all floundered a bit. I think it was a much freer environment, especially the learning environment; it wasnít nearly as structured as the public schools. I think English was so different; to sit there and diagram a sentence was a lot different than what we had done. I thought it was shocking . . . what I remember of it.
CM: Do you feel that the education you got somehow helped you in other ways though when you left here?
MK: I do think it helped because I think it was a very positive, nurturing experience for all of us. I think I appreciate it now as an adult looking and comparing it to the public schools that my children attended, not that they werenít good experiences, but we had an opportunity to do things that I donít think public schools did. I think all of the exposure to the different departments. We had a foreign languageówe had a teacher come in and teach us French. I donít think it was done in the public schools. I think because we had so many teachers we were much more individualized in our attention, our learning, and I think that it allowed for more creativity. I donít think I felt especially creative as a child but now I can look back at my poetry and [think]óthey nurtured thatóthat maybe I never would have had that opportunity in another school. They valued things; Iím not saying the public schools didnít value [things], but because of our system, we were allowed to do things that may not have been possible in other schools.
CM: Do you think maybe you could see what the potential was, even though you werenít in an environment that nurtured that later on, you maybe saw things you could do that you might not have otherwise?
MK: I think as an adult, and especially as Iíve aged, I do see potential that maybe I didnít feel due to some of my shyness. But I think the encouragement was one of the strongest things.
CM: So you might go back to writing poetry?
MK: Yes, I mean sure, I should try it.
CM: What further education did you pursue? Did you go to college?
MK: Yes, I went to Western for two years, then I went to the University of Utah and graduated with a teaching degree and did not use it. I was married and had children shortly after, but I think it was wonderful to be back in Campus School taking classes because it had become part of the college when I was [here]. Miller Hall became part of the college and I remember coming back and thinkingóbecause it hadnít been that many years at that timeóof all the different aspects of being here as a child.
CM: So it was nice to be back in the building?
MK: It was.
CM: So youíre still in touch with a lot of your classmates?
MK: A lot, yes.
CM: And youíve brought us some of your memorabilia. So are there any other memories or things that you want to share that we havenít covered?
MK: I remember in Kindergarten a corner of the room with . . . it was wood, but it was a stove and the pots and pans, and being able to play in that little household area. I think we had a small broom. Then another thing I remember is making the cranberry sauce and I think that was either Kindergarten or first grade. We made cranberry sauce and then put it in jars and gave it to our parents for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I donít remember which, but it was so special! And the things that we were able to do because we had so much supervision I think is different than what you would be able to do with one teacher and twenty-five children. We were able to do a lot of creative things that were strong memories for me -- really strong memories.
CM: Was the stove made out of wood?
MK: The stove was wood.
CM: So it was just painted to look like a stove?
MK: And I think it was a painted burner, and I think there was a doll bed, a little crib. But I just remember the stove, and then as a young adult, I remember in high school going to the museum and there was a whole re-creation of our classroom, and the stove was there.
CM: You mentioned that before and so I want to track that down!
MK: Yes, it was at the museum.
CM: So you were in High School when that exhibit happened?
MK: Yes, I think I was in high school, and I went to the museum. The school had closed and I went to the museum, and there was the stove from Campus School.
CM: So they did an exhibit on the Campus School?
MK: Yes, yes, they did, I mean I think after it closed . . . it certainly was a huge part of the community.
CM: Anything else?
MK: I donít think so. I just loved my teachers; I just thought they were incredible. I liked my teachers after I left Campus School, but our teachers here were strictóI think they were all quite firm and no-nonsense, but they really cared for us as individuals and brought out the best in each and every one of us. The best thing about Campus School is being valued as a human being and doing our best.
CM: Do you remember anything about your parents in relationship to the school?
MK: Oh yes, my motherómy birthday is in December, and every year she would have my whole class of girl classmates down for a birthday party. We would go on our lunch hour. Mother always made place cards for each girl, and then she had a table cloth and each year each child would sign it, and my mother would embroider her name. I donít remember our parents working in the classroom like they do today, but they were of course here for the assemblies and for our conferences and what not. I do remember my mother said when I started Kindergarten that she had to sit here for two months. Iím not sure it was really two months, but she said I didnít want to be at school, and she had to sit and watch me because I didnít want to stay. That was Kindergarten, and she would sit in the back of the room while I attended school, and they allowed that. I donít remember her sitting in the class, but thatís what she told me. She said, ďYou didnít want to be there.Ē I remember different parents; the kids that were picked up waited in the back of the school, by the back door, and we werenít allowed to wait outside, we had to wait insideóor they had to wait inside with the teacher standing on duty and then the parents would come and pick up the kids that rode home. I was always jealous because I had to walk. But it was fun. I donít know what else is really significant that I can think of.
CM: Oh, the Bluebirds! You brought pictures . . .
MK: Oh the Bluebirds, yes. That was at Mrs. Lindsayís, Suzy Lindsayís mother was the Bluebird leader for many years, and we would go to her house after school, all the girls that were in Bluebirds. And then it was really special the day we could wear our Bluebird hat and vest to school, and our pinówe had an actual little Bluebird pinóand it was quite exciting to be a Bluebird.
CM: So you got to wear it all day because you had the meeting?
MK: Yes; oh it was fun.
CM: Thatís nice.
MK: It was fun to be a Bluebird. I donít think we had Girl Scouts; it was pretty much just Bluebirds. I donít know if we moved up . . . that was kind of a younger activity it seems like. I think maybe first and second grade. But I think we were very close-knit. Maybe thatís the way it was at every elementary school, but I think we formed friendships that Iím not sure other students had. It is amazingóone girl and boy married each other from our class.
CM: Oh who was that?
MK: Cherie Tarte and Brent Walker. I was at a Christmas party at their house this year. I think we formed lasting friendships that I donít hear about with other schoolsóbut that may be the same. But we seem to have a real bond from being at this school. Even today, when you mention Campus School thereís something unique about it. We had very strong ties to each other as well as the school. I think we all felt special. I think we were made to feel very special; not elite, but lucky to be a student at Campus School. I donít know what else to say.
CM: Well thank you!
MK: Youíre welcome, youíre welcome!