SOMETHING OF MYSELF
by Marie Trupp Krieger
(copyright Marie Trupp Kreiger)
THE HOME OF MY CHILDHOOD
[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V]
My daily routine began with setting the table for the breakfast meal and setting the food on the table. I always washed the dishes before rushing off to school in the mornings. At noon, I rushed home to eat lunch, again prepared by the lady of the house, quickly scoured and rinsed the tableware by hand and dishrag (no automatic dishwasher in those days). Back to school for my afternoon classes and immediately after the day’s dismissal I was on my way with my homework for the following day. No loitering was tolerated as chores were waiting for this busy teenager. Since this home lacked laundry facilities, the dirty clothes were carted to a different residence for laundering on Monday mornings. The ironing was an after-school project on Tuesdays, a regular job. I was curious concerning electric cords, sockets, etc, so one day I stuck my finger into a socket withdrawing hurriedly for a lesson on electricity. Ordinarily I set the table for our supper and peeled potatoes to be boiled. Mr. Williams brought home the meat to be fried at the last minute. A bell attached to the front door of the shop alerted Mrs. Williams that a customer had entered which interrupted some of our meals at times but not very often. She also carried a line of stamped embroidery goods--pillow cases, dresser scarves, table cloths, hand towels, etc. Silk stockings rather than nylon occupied the shelves, also. The proprietor ordered coats, hats and dresses from the Seattle and Spokane wholesale houses on trial from which she would select the appropriate articles to be sold. The rest of the garments were returned via mail which I transported to the post office, another duty I performed occasionally after school. Mr. Williams drove the family Model A roadster, a one-seater with a small trunk for his line of work in which he also brought home the freight and mail. Odessa also had a dray line used for deliveries to the other businesses.
I had acquired a few skills such as crocheting and embroidering before entering high school which proved to be an asset. Whenever I had finished my homework and school assignments, I was busy with needlework. I considered it recreation while at the same time I earned money. Mrs. Williams displayed the finished product in the windows of her shop to advertise the stamped goods. Eventually the completed item was purchased by a customer in her search for a last minute gift. How fortunate I was to have taken advantage of such an opportunity! I embroidered and crocheted for my mother, too, items which are still in the family today. She traded butter and eggs or cream for the stamped goods.
I spent some of my spare time reading magazine articles and stories in The American and Good Housekeeping which were very fine magazines at that time, informative and educational. I wasn’t too interested in the short novels. I liked reality and facts. The teachers of English assigned required reading of library books for book reports but what I really hungered for was time to learn how to use the library facilities. That opportunity was granted many years later in summer school at Washington State College, and I became a librarian in addition to teaching in high school at Tonasket, Washington, where I had completely recatalogued the entire library along with the typing of all the title, author and subject cards. A herculean task without extra pay. The daily and Sunday Spokesman-Review were available in my secondary home in Odessa. I attended Sunday School and morning church services at the Saint Matthews Congregational Church and Christian Endeavor in the evenings, a service held for the young people. I sang in the Junior Choir and practiced on Thursday evenings, a weekly session I really enjoyed. Since I lived on Main Street in the downtown area, I always had to walk alone but the streets were safe then.
For several months in the spring of 1926, I had ridden with the minister, the Rev. Johannes G. Eckhardt to the country church, Emaus Congregational on Saturdays or Sundays for religious instruction in the German catechism in preparation for confirmation. I was confirmed on June 20, 1926. My classmates were: Elizabeth Homberg, Marie Lenhart, Martha Kissler, David Iltz, Fred Kissler and my brother, Jacob Trupp, who were all about 13 or 14 years of age. I had sewed my own dress for the occasion.
The fabric, a crepe de chine in a light tan, wasn’t a simple material for a novice to handle or manage. Subjects in my first year of high school included a course in sewing and Mrs. Grace Williams was always eager to assist me whenever I was confronted with a stitching problem. I altered dresses which were hand-me-downs donated by Odessa townspeople.
I couldn?t participate in after school hours? activities, no time for play except basketball games by the boys? and girls? teams in the evenings. I was a true and loyal supporter by cheering the teams on to victory. Orange and black, high school colors, portrayed in some of the songs and yells by the students in atten¬dance urged the team to win the games. Proud we were of our teams who earned and received trophies for their efforts. Some of our superior athletes took honors in more than one sport activity. In school each class elected its own officers who presided over the meetings when held. The training these students experienced in¬fluenced them to assume responsibilities as student body officers. The Boys? and Girls? Glee Clubs performed and entertained at different school functions includ¬ing Christmas programs. I always admired the students’ talents. I took part mostly in church programs. Too bad we didn?t have a school paper to record the news. That was one item I introduced and carried out in my teaching career.
I studied German for two years to enhance the language I already spoke; knowledge I still use now in my reading, translations and understanding of my native tongue. It is said a person who knows two languages can be classed as two persons, a plus situation.
I always worked on my parents? farm during the summer months to the point of poetic inspiration in my writing of “Approaching the Farm”. Milking cows, a daily routine, hoeing weeds in the garden plot and Russian thistles in fields of summer fallow (land left to rest a year), the feeding of chickens and ducks, cleaning coops and barns , the everlasting day in day out tedious farm jobs kept one busy. The waste water was carried to the pigs. One summer I drove two head of horses hitched to a dump box while my brother Fred handled the six horses and the header. We cut all the hay. The dump box, a replica of the header box with the back side missing so the hay could be dumped from it into the field for a later pickup by a regular headerbox drawn by two horses and possibly manned by two men. After the loading, it was hauled and forked into a hayloft or on a haystack in the field. The hay was fed to the livestock during the winter and early spring months. Straw, after the grain had been removed from the stock was also utilized as feed or bedding for the farm animals. The header was a harvesting machine, McCormick-Deering, pushed by six horses. It had three wheels. One was the drive wheel which created the power to run the machine. On the rear was a single wheel with a platform over it on which sat the header puncher to drive the horse and steer the machine, also to raise and lower the cutting bar. It had a long spout with revolving canvas dra¬pes in it to elevate the unthrashed grain into the headerbox, which was pulled alongside with two horses.When the box was full it would be driven to the stack and pitched onto the stack by hand while another empty headerbox would take its place alongside the header. The summer of 1929 my father, Jacob, and I cut our entire crop in this manner because the grain was so short with poor unfilled heads that this was the most inexpensive method of harvesting what there was.
I was unaware of the fact that a neighbor girl coveted my job in the Williams? household but her method of telling tales out of school went unheeded. I had not informed my employer of not planning to return to school. Because of my persis¬tence to continue my education, I lured highschoolers from our neighboring farms to Odessa to work for their room and board. The town families who participated by opening up their homes to assist young people?s desire for an education deserved to be commended in giving up their privacy for such a worthwhile project.In later years, school buses provided the crucial transportation so that the students were able to live at home with their parents and siblings. My youngest sister, Helen, took advantage of this opportunity plus a lot of abuse from the naughty boys because of her shyness.
Before I graduated, my parents had moved three miles south of town to a farm on a bus route and one heard whisperings such as: “Why doesn?t Marie live at home now?” That fell on deaf ears; I was proud of my independence at such an early age. I always appreciated my parents? approval since I was extra baggage at. home. My mother wasn?t ready for the rocking chair; in fact, a rocking chair never enticed her because she enjoyed work to her dying day, at almost 82 years of age. I was available for her “Golden Years” by performing household duties she no longer had the energy to execute. We were never allowed to shirk our responsibilities, that was considered laziness (Faulheit) which was disgraceful to one?s character, making one feel guilty and ashamed. Living in town, experiencing the convenience of a bathroom and running water, especially hot water was a Godsend three times per day while washing dishes. From that time on I have always considered doing dishes a fun time. I had set a goal in my life and I relished the requirement in attaining my objective.
The people I admired most were my teachers. Who else might be available to set a fine example for a teenager or be in a better position to do so? I also got caught up in the fact that we were not very well-off people financially and education was really a way to improve my standard of living. Public education is an investment. It worked that way for me. Mr. L. W. Lee, the Superintendent of the Odessa Schools held that position for many years, a tremendous influence and credit to the community. D.W. Buchanan, a former football star served as the high school principal, boys? coach and taught chemistry. When I was a sophomore, a Mr. Franzen held that position for that year until Mr. Buchanan?s return. About eight years after my graduation, I had the privilege of teaching under his supervision at the Endicott Schools. If there ever was a disciplinarian, he was it! Katherine Krehbiel taught Home Economics and German; I remember she lived at Rev. Graedel’s house during the week but spent the weekends with family members in the Lind and Ritzville, Washington areas.
An interesting episode linked to my German studies may be told at this time as to increasing my written knowledge and grammar of another language. This was a time to realize the reason for knowing one?s English grammar. The question is sometimes pondered, “Why study a certain subject?” The answer became obvious! Little did I know at the time that my first teaching position depended on my knowledge of German and English. I had also leaned toward writing, especially since the fifth grade. We were trained to read an article to be rewritten in one?s own words, later to write of personal experiences, the farm supplied an unlimited source within a family of nine.
Finding a subject for an original 2500-word theme required in my Senior English Class pre¬sented no problem under the tutelage of Miss Eleanor Byers. I must have thought about happiness a great deal because I entitled my story –“Happiness At Last”. Was I surprised when Miss Byers read my story to the class; sad to say I never learned what the other members had written. Miss Byers directed the music for the entire school. She gave me a Webster?s English dictionary which I used during my college days and teaching career to which she had a tag attached with the following words: “From someone who likes orderly surroundings"--Miss Byers.
Miss Gertrude Schlauch, the math mentor encouraged me in my algebra and geometry studies. I memorized the geometry theorems; in fact, the entire textbook because I just couldn?t reason them out. No doubt benefitted in the line of self-discipline. Lo and behold I fumbled my way through solid geometry and Algebra III; no more math until after marriage as the bookkeeper for our refuse business. In the meantime, I had managed my money.
A class in General Science under Miss Schlauch followed by Biology taught by Mr. Franzen and a Chemistry class completed the science courses. History from Ancient to Modern to U.S.History and Civics by a Miss Gilbert, Miss Proctor and L. W. Lee gave me the foundation for college, no Mickey Mouse stuff. I passed up the oppor¬tunity for a typing class; many years later I picked it up in practice sessions at the end of a day of teaching school. A lucky move I had made to satisfy a requirement in my library classes at summer school at WSU.
I was blessed with many fine friends during the years of 1925-29. The community had built a new high school building, and my class of 1929 were the first graduates to hold commencement exercises in it on May 17th. Again I had sewed my own dress in pink chiffon trimmed with pink lace and my long braids lost in the barber?s shop in 1928 were a thing of the past--so I thought. My short hair was marcelled but I allowed it to grow again in college; once more I had long braids until many years after my marriage. I had not grown in stature but in realizing that knowledge is an endless field to pursue to eternity.
I mentioned earlier having access to the Spokesman-Review. I read the cartoons “Dagwood and Blondie” and “Little Orphan Annie” every day. “Dorothy Dix” was the most interesting column, much like “Dear Abby” or “Ann Landers” found in our Portland paper today--information stressing the use of common sense in current problems. The Spokane Daily Chronicle was an evening paper. It, too, became extinct after the invention of radios. Now with television there is less reading, and the telephone has replaced letter writing.
I remember the school authorities getting excited about a smallpox epidemic. They had had one many years earlier when vaccinations were administered to young girls leaving hideous scars on their upper arms. This time it was directed to the legs. Evidently I had been exposed to small pox in grade school because my brother Hen¬ry?s body showed a few pox and our school was closed. This time in high school a Dr. Thompson, a general Practitioner, performed that duty. Dr. Bresee, a long time Odessa dentist pulled teeth. I had a toothache and was in need of dental care. I wanted permission from my father to visit the dentist in his office. He politely informed me if I sought dental care, he would not be responsible for the bill. My father claimed lack of money but he and the dentist managed to work it out, and I had my tooth or teeth pulled, just two which were two too many.
The prairie father was lax and uninterested in the things that mattered and were of importance to the family members. My father, a man of many friends and strict integrity and above all had a firm hand on his family. By today?s modern standards would seem unduly stern. Yet many times I was thankful to have been reared that way. I gave second thoughts to temptations because of my strict upbringing. For instance, one evening after a school function a group of us high school students walked down a road, I was on my way to my temporary home when all of a sudden the group ran into a backyard to steal apples. I stood on the road for minutes in deep thought but soon sauntered down the road leaving my so—called friends behind. I could not accept their escapades in the future. Once in awhile in my growing-up years I was confronted with uncomfortable episodes in which discipline played an important role. Come what may, I resolved never to be in that position again. I?m not too sure that doses of reality aren't important in building character. People who have struggled to get where they are today seem to have the richer personal history and better survival instincts. I was proud of the fact that I was neither tardy or absent from school during my high school education. I had a few discom¬forts with my throat but didn?t have a tonsillectomy until the summer of 1936 be¬fore beginning my first teaching position. I was long overdue and especially fortunate not to miss college classes on account of sore throats and colds.
I also had a habit of literal translations; I recall several: I thought a Mr. Swartz, our neighbor should be Mr. Black and that table salt walks instead of runs. After accepting ridicule good naturedly I tried to be more careful but it?s still easy to misplace an adverb. I also discovered an idle brain is the devil?s work¬shop, a statement made by our senior class president, Flobelle Lenhart at the banquet in 1929. Our class motto read “The higher we rise, the broader the view” and the class flower, the pansy, while our class colors were orchid and silver. The adjective naive described me perfectly after growing up on a farm and earning a di¬ploma by attending a one-room country school house for eight years. Did I ever have a lot of catching up to do! Imagine my chagrin when a former high school classmate remarked, “How did you ever get through college when you were so dumb in school?” At least no town cop ever grabbed me by the collar to threaten me with a jail sen¬tence! I had no desire to run around on the streets at night and get into trouble. Besides, my father was determined that none of his children should ever land in jail and we were well aware of that. I don?t remember that I ever felt that the rules were too strict or I was deprived of anything.
The arrival of May 17th, 1929--a joyous day and significant event not easily forgotten by an 18-year old who realizes it?s not an end but a very important beginning. During my teaching days I often reminded my students of this truth:
High school years are the best years of one?s life, cherish them! “That?s exactly what my dad tells me,” remarked one student. Now I was confronted with a dilemma of major proportions; I yearned for a plan to continue my education at an insti¬tution of higher learning. Where was I to get the money? Preparations must not be overlooked, time must not be wasted if my goal was to be accomplished. One had to be in the upper 1/4 of his graduation class to be accepted at WSC. I have forgotten the exact requisites, but I believe the Odessa School Superintendent followed all essential instructions for my entry. I had written to the YWCA, an office in connection with the college concerning a board and room opportunity similar to my previous situation. My memory fails me again as my thoughts return to the wonderful people who gave what knowledge they possessed so readily by advising me. What influenced me to forge ahead into unknown circumstances? “It” was out there wait¬ing for me.
Already the summer of 1929 due to lack of moisture, wheat crops around the area suffered growth to the point that our harvest produced inadequate hay which was almost impossible to cut. Stalks of grain, deprived of sufficient height produced practically no complete ears of wheat; consequently, a blow of major proportions to the farmers. That describes my father?s predicament and his only alternative left was to salvage something without incurring hardly any expenses. That summer, my father, my brother Jacob and I cut the entire crop with the header and header box. There was no threshing of grain to be done. My father had promised me wages, but he had no income. My spirits sank to their lowest level. My brother Fred came to the rescue by borrowing $150.00 from my Uncle Con Libsack which covered my first year?s college expenses with a surplus for the next year. I had remodeled hand-me-downs in the line of clothing. One didn?t keep up with the Joneses those days since we were all struggling to keep our heads above water. The emphasis to remain financially able to stay in school took precedence over all else. The purchase of a large trunk which is still in my possession today sufficed as a storage area for my belongings. Most high school graduation gifts proved to be useful. Just why did I need an incense burner? So with $150.00 in cash secured in a handkerchief and Henry driving the family car under strict orders that nothing, absolutely nothing dare happen to it, Henry and I left for Pullman, Washington in lofty hopes of finding employment. I?ll never forget the date--Saturday, September 20, 1929.
Lo and behold! Mrs. Mabel Preston, a widow was waiting for me at the YWCA. Mrs. Grace Williams? recommendation read as follows: To Whom it May Concern--The bearer of this note, Marie Trupp, who was with me thru the four years of high school, faithfully attended her duties, proving herself to be reliable, industri¬ous and very trustworthy. I was hired, and after settling in, Henry left for home. I looked forward to the so-called Freshman days; the class totaled 1160 members, the largest ever. After the collapse of the stock market in November, enrollment decreased sharply within a few months. Required placement tests conducted during the first week with satisfactory results, assigned me to a regular English class. “Bonehead” English classes designed for students lacking grammar, correct spelling, etc., offered an intense review, a preparation for theme writing. No college credit was given for the course. Most professors seated the students alphabetically in the classroom; I recall sitting next to a huge football player, I wonder now how he fit his body into the average-sized chair. Already I was preparing myself for teaching by assisting him with his lessons. I?m reminded of a statement made by Cicero , “What nobler employment, or more advantageous to the state, than that of the man who teaches the rising generation.” One of the first papers Miss Da¬kin required of each student in English I, was entitled “Introducing Myself.” Her comments--her availability and offer of help in time of need–
One might suppose the depression was hard on morale. This was certainly not true of a single young lady successfully advancing through university. My spirit was never stronger. I never lost my sense of humor nor my optimism. My mother?s fa¬miliar words, “Time is short, the journey of life is a one-time thing,” sustained me. There have been times in my later life, of soft influence, when I let situations get me down that would have never fazed me in my strength of morale during the hard days of the Thirties.
My first temporary home at Pullman was located at 1505 Maple Avenue at the west end of Maiden Lane. It behooves me to relate that in 1960 while I was confined to St. Vincent?s hospital in Portland, Oregon, I met one of the six maidens after whom the lane was named. Mrs. Mabel Preston, a single mother of four grown children taught 2nd grade in the Pullman Public Schools in a building situated on a hill west of the downtown business district. The town of Pullman had been built within the rolling Palouse hills allowing an uphill trek to the college campus. The availability of a town passenger bus appeared restrictive, but who could af¬ford to ride it even at 10 cents; private cars, a luxury to be used only in an emergency, were few and far between so walking kept people healthy. A well-utilized private delivery service handled groceries and packages.
Mrs. Preston?s rented house had a street-level floor and an upstairs; it was classed as a rooming house approved by the college. Only three of the children lived with their mother while engaging in part-time employment in conjunction with college studies; the youngest, a high school senior. Three male graduate students occupied two of the three bedrooms upstairs. College rules allowed me to work an average of four hours a day in exchange for room and board eliminating four hours of courses each semester. That meant almost an additional year before graduation could be achieved, but that didn?t discourage me in any way. In the intervening years, I also discovered that additional hours had been added to qualify one for a teaching certificate. Before my first year of college began, I had had a dream about the home I would be working in since my hopes for obtaining a job were ever present in my mind that summer. The dream was quite in detail--I would work for a lady whose blond son resembled someone I knew. That proved to be correct.
I assisted with household tasks such as cooking, mainly preparing vegetables, set the table, washed dishes every day, while Saturdays were devoted to changing beds and cleaning rooms. Continually urged to speed up and work a little faster, I remember running up and down the stairs in order to accomplish the prescribed duties. I shared a bed and an unheated room with the oldest daughter. My evening studies took place at the dining room table. Pullman?s exceptional cold winters involved snow and arctic winds; in fact, the wind blew most of the time. My bed-mate informed me that my body was not to touch hers even though we were required to share covers. That required some manipulating for both of us; she would wrap the cover around her back U leaving me with the bare facts of hanging on to the quilt all night long which I tolerated without complaint. I lost respect for those teenagers because of their unkindness to their mother and me. I applied for and obtained another position at the YWCA for the fall of 1930 after enduring countless verbal abuse for months. When a young married couple sought housing in the spring of 1930 and Mrs. Preston envisioned extra income, her son moved in with a graduate student vacating an upstairs bedroom to which my roommate and I moved our belongings.
I had looked forward to spending my spring vacation with my parents, but that was not to be. The head of the house was obliged to attend a Teachers? Inland Empire Institute at Spokane, Washington. She distrusted her daughter who had fallen in love with one of the graduate fellows and felt my presence might inhibit any hanky-panky. I¬magine my chagrin when I discovered later that the lovers rendezvoused in my bedroom when I was sound asleep. I had left my unmentionables in plain view causing the boyfriend some embarrassment; I had feigned sleep and overheard a remark made by the guilty parties.
Next door to Mrs. Preston lived one of Pullman?s physicians, a Dr. Kimzey with his family. His son, Jim, had contracted pneumonia and barely recovered; a touch and go situation causing the doctor to stroll back and forth in his driveway. When it was necessary to consult Dr. Kimzey in his office about a foot problem that year, no bill was ever sent. A kind hand extended in an emergency is not easily forgotten. I was enrolled in a swimming class, a physical education requirement to graduate by diving into the deep end of the pool and swimming its length. I discovered several in-grown warts (veruca vulgaris) on the bottom of my feet caused by a vi¬rus transferred from the shower room floor or the pool. One requirement--undress completely in a cubicle, walk barefoot to a desk, pick up a suit, take a shower and slip on the suit before entering the pool. Medication eliminated the warts but a reappearance plus additional ones contracted from the same pool required a trip to the Colfax hospital by Dr. Ford who administered xray treatments entailing a fee. That incident occurred during my second year of swimming lessons resulting in a de¬mand for vessels containing an antiseptic solution into which one stepped before entering and again after leaving the pool. That settled the wart episode! I almost drowned in that pool. After struggling into a swimming suit for the first time, I rushed to the entrance ladder. While somewhat apprehensive at the first glimpse of the water, there was no hesitation on my part as I climbed down the short abrupt ladder at the shallow end. Whoops! no warning of the stream of water rushing thru an opening to sweep me away into deeper water. My next recollection of what I remember had happened found me clinging to a long pole with both hands. An alert instructor had pulled me to safety on the other side of the pool. “That?ll be it,” I thought to myself, but at the insistence of the rescuer, I remained in the water to begin lessons which proved to be useful monetarily a few years hence.
Imagine my happiness when the first year of college ended. I had pledged Daleth Teth Gimel, an off-campus sorority in hopes of becoming a member the next year. The organization provided social life in the way of functions among a group of girls who lived in private homes. Before the stressful year?s end, I sought and obtained another job for the fall of 1930. The home I had resided in disbanded that summer after my decision not to return. I had practically no contacts with the family after that.
With my first class beginning at 8:20 a.m., I was not allowed to leave the house until 8:00 a.m. Troy hall housed the dairy department and my German class. The hall stood at the eastern end of the campus calling for an uphill swing by dictating a fast walk with some running on a sidewalk through an open field about the distance of a mile at least. Pure exhaustion as I plopped into my classroom chair at the sound of the bell, poor preparation for concentration and recitation. For comparison: In 1986 the campus core covered more than 600 acres with about 36,000 acres in nearby farm land. At the present time, WSU is comprised of more than 100 major buildings and residence halls.
I was a glutton for punishment by loaning my roommate $1.20 to be repaid before summer vacation. I had also presumably sold my botany book to her brother without collecting the money. When my brother arrived to take me home, neither one could be located, but I had placed my trust in their promises. Hadn’t my father taught me to have faith in people? Since I had not wanted to confront them personally in the fall of that year, I decided to write a letter requesting payment. Thus her reply:
1505 Maple Avenue
July 11, 1930
Miss Marie Trupp
Route 1, Box 3
Enclosed please find money order for one dollar and fifteen cents. According to your latest statement the amount in full is one dollar and twenty cents. You will be able to learn at any United States Post Office that a money order costs five cents, but is a comparatively safe way for sending small amounts through the mail. This will, of course, explain to you the reason for the slight difference between your statement and the amount enclosed.
It is hoped that your health has not been seriously impaired by worry over the possibility of being asked to wait another month for payment of such a negligible amount. May you rest assured that no such thought ever entered the mind of your debtor.
If you would read Emily Post in some of your leisure hours you would learn that it is very bad form to remind even the most sinful of their shortcomings. If you had ever read Locke’s essay on the Nature of Human Understanding you would probably not have committed such a gross error.
As far as any transactions with Dudley are concerned, I suggest that you coamunicate directly with him. Third party deals seldom have favorable results. Also, such a course invariably involves a collector’s fee. Let me know if I can be of any further service to you.
P.S. It will be unnecessary for you to bother about a receipt; I have the money order slip.
A decided drop in enrollment surfaced in the fall of 1930 on account of a "Great Depression." Faculty members were urged by the President of the College, Dr. Holland, to open up their homes to students by offering room and board in exchange for services. Definitely an incentive for the faculty to hold their positions in a declining economy. Eva S. Williams, a widow and mother of five young children, had farmed them out among her relatives for a year in order to study child development in a special college in Chicago. Returning to Pullman and her family, Mrs. Williams became an employee in the Home Economics Department. This lady established a nursery school, a first, at the college in combination with a senior Home Ec Class. A few professors with their wives opted for a one-child family for various reasons; mothers weren’t employed outside the homes. Pullman had experienced a building period of houses north of the campus where many faculty members resided. This enabled the professors to walk to work. The enrollment of the three and four year olds in nursery school proved to be beneficial for the children and their parents. To study the development of children is an interesting field to which I was so fortunate to be subjected. Living with this family of five growing children was an education in itself. In addition, I read the books prescribed for the course Mrs. Williams recommended. I had access to the real life constant financial struggle a single mother experienced. I was more determined than ever to avoid that type of situation. We lived in a rental house on the southern edge of the campus ($50.00 per month). Utilities, food, clothing, medical bills, etc., for a family of six covered by an additional $150.00 monthly income was hardly sufficient. We ate many baked potatoes, meat loaf and vegetables. Milk in bottles was delivered to the front door. The lady of the house sewed all the clothes for her children. In spite of the daily grind of keeping one?s head above the water, we were pretty much a happy household. After the supper dishes had been washed, I had a private room to which I retreated to prepare my lessons for the next day. The five children attended the Pullman schools. I spent two school years and one summer with this family. What memories! “Adventures in Living,” might be a fair title for pages and pages of interesting experiences re¬lating to the responsibilities apparent at that time. I drifted away from this fam¬ily, too, but for a different reason. A few years ago while checking through some of my memoirs, a clipping from a WSU alumni paper surfaced; Mrs. Eva Williams was living in a Huntington Beach, California, retirement home. Was I too late? I mentioned her name to a former Tonasket High School student of mine who resided in the same town. My letter reached my former employer but a response from one of the children showed up after she had passed away. I learned that Wayne did not survive World War II. He was one of the most pleasant children with whom I?ve ever been in contact. That smile lingers in my memory! The twins, June and Jean, with their blonde curly hair were so lovable; Mary Lou, her mother?s helper, encountered first-hand knowledge a-mothering at the ripe-old age of 10, while Jim, a 6-footer at age 12, assumed a fatherly role. Mary Lou and her husband paid us a visit a few years ago; she is exactly the lovely lady she wanted to be, attractive and charismatic. Jim found his niche in a line of work resulting in an important assignment on the Alaskan oil pipeline before his retirement. Mrs. Williams had never remarried and our recreational walks led us to her parents' home, the Smalleys, who lived on the outskirts of Pullman. An imperative housing situation left Mrs. Williams no choice about leaving college hill to locate on Pullman?s west hill where additional schools were available. She also felt a live-in college boy might be a positive influence on Jim.
After mentioning her plans to her neighbor, Mr. Lickey, a widower with 3 daughters and a faculty member of the electrical engineering department, Mr. Lickey approached his su¬perior, Mr. Royal D. Sloan, about a job for me my third year of college. How fortu¬nate I was to find that each job I left had prepared me for the next one! Now I was to live on the north side of college hill, still within an easy walking distance.
The Sloan household involved a three-year old boy, Danny, who called me “Ree” and his parents. Jane, the only child of a navy officer, and the housewife , did not work outside the home. A fairly new house sporting hardwood floors, oriental rugs and ma¬hogany period furniture presented an elegant appearance to a country girl. Moreover, again a private bedroom with closet, dresser, desk and a bathroom just outside my door! I cooked the breakfast and washed the dishes before leaving for my first class every morning only to return home for lunch after which more dishes to do plus more classes or study periods. Opportunities presented themselves for study at the library during the day as well as evenings and weekends. On Tuesdays, a period before lunch, I enjoyed attending convocation, an assembly of interesting activities such as an address or other entertainment, always educational. A staff of college students pre¬pared a weekly newspaper, The Evergreen, with campus news. I discovered many years later that a former Endicott, Washington, high school English student of mine edited the sports section during his college days, a grandson of a Russian-German immigrant.
I was Danny Sloan?s “baby sitter”, but we didn?t use that term those days. He was an extraordinary child, very much loved by his parents. When his mother asked him, “Do you love me, Danny?” He?d reply, “So much, I haven't so many words.” When Danny
and I made cookies, he?d run out of patience and say, “I have to go to town and buy some.” He was a delightful youngster! I helped prepare the supper and set the table to be followed by more dishwashing. Usually I did the ironing on Tuesdays before supper time because Mrs. Sloan did the family laundry on Mondays. I cleaned the entire house on Saturdays. As before, the requirement for earning one?s room and board totaled an average of 14 hours? work per day. I was very appreciative of this oppor¬tunity and showed my gratitude by performing extra work.
I usually managed a train ride from Pullman to Ritzville, Washington, for Christmas and spring vacations where someone from home met me about a distance of 30 miles. Imagine my dismay and shock after that first return Christmas vacation trip upon learning that Danny had barely survived a bout of pneumonia.
One year after spring vacation , I decided to hitchhike to Pullman. I left Odessa with my suitcase (a shoebox) in which I carried $5.00 among other meager possessions for my trip. I hadn’t revealed my plan to anyone. I barely had reached ths eastern edge of town (Odessa) when two men in a truck offered me a ride to Spokane. I remember sitting between them in the cab for a great visit. After dropping me off at the south end of Spokane, I continued my hike not knowing if I'd reach Pullman by nightfall because I was too timid to thumb for a ride. Consequently, I walked many miles before an offer of another ride. This farmer reached his destination before entering Pullman which meant I had some more walking to do past a few farmyards at dusk. Lo and behold, I spotted a gaggle of geese coming down the lane startling me--the only scary moment of the day. No more hitchhiking by myself. One fine spring Sunday afternoon a girl friend of mine and I followed the railroad tracks from Pullman to Moscow, a distance of nine miles. Then we phoned her mother who picked us up with her car and took us back to Pullman. Recreation was practically limited to foot traffic even though a movie could be seen for 50 cents but who had an extra nickel? But despair never entered my mind.
Clothes for the college school years weren’t a major problem; fashion didn’t dictate. The main concern involved cleanliness via washable fabrics and comfort. One could create a blouse from a yard of cotton material for 25 cents or less. One summer I designed and sewed four blouses by using the same foundation pattern, different materials for each garment and fashioned an original motif for the neck of each blouse which fastened down the front. Then it occurred to me the idea of a unique sleeveless, open-front, collarless jacket by using bleached flour sacks (my mother always had extras) as a basis. I cut out a back piece, two front pieces and stitched some patchwork of printed cotton materials together as one does when making a quilt. Then I basted the pieces together and trimmed off the excess. I quilted the three pieces which were then sewed together for the garment and finished with bias tape. Imagine my surprise to discover many years later the same idea in a magazine. By then, there were skirts being made, too. I had purchased a navy blue wool skirt to complete my wardrobe for the fall months ahead. Lo and behold the unexpected incident transpired. I stumbled and fell cutting a slit in my skirt, my new skirt. How would I mend it? How could I have been so careless? It cost me 50 cents at a tailor shop for a professional repair job. What a lucky break!
A former Odessa banker had been transfered to a Pullman bank. Since he was single, his mother and sister moved to Pullman and kept house for him. I visited them sometimes because it was someone from home. That reminds me of an article I read in the August 1971 National Geographic as follows:
Oologah Lake, Oklahoma, in the northeast, drowns the birthplace of Will Rogers but his words about it still ring true: "Everyone has deep in their heart the old town or community where they first went barefooted, got their first licking, traded the first pocket knife, grew up & finally went away thinking they were too big for that Burg, but that is where your old heart is."
It wasn’t too unusual for Pullman’s streets and sidewalks to sport a good covering of snow in the winter months. While walking, the crunch, crunch sound reminded me of home. This particular Saturday evening seemed to be an ideal time to visit friends from home. I had stayed a little longer than customary. On my way home on a well-lit street, I spotted a man standing alongside a house. I immediately assumed a trot, running as fast as my short legs could carry me for a block, dashing madly up a steep hill without slowing down. I don’t know how I mustered the courage and strength, but I needed to outrun him. I heard his footsteps which didn’t seem to increase in intensity, but I never looked back until I reached the top of the slight slope. I took a deep breath, snatched a glance to gain sight of him standing at the bottom of the incline. Another 100 feet to go before reaching the front door of my temporary home, to unlock the door, to thank my lucky stars to be safe from harm. I don’t believe my heart had beaten any faster at any other time or ever since. I had sensed the immediate danger and learned a vital lesson. That ended the visits although I continued my walks to the college library. It closed at 10:00 pm, after which the sidewalks teemed with students on their way to their residences.
I don’t recall a campus policeman. It was a beautiful time in America, a religious country. We had been brought up to have ideals and principles, to be clean, decent, honest. Of course we were not all that perfect, but one thing is sure: We were taught to love God, to love Jesus, to love our country, to love our fellow men. And we had a happy time. Those are some of the reasons the students weathered the depression in the thirties. They were prepared to make sacrifices. It was a sad time for some who had to drop out returning later to complete their education or not at all.
Preparing breakfast for the family wasn’t always a pleasant task because the couple’s bedroom located above the kitchen presented a problem. Mrs. Sloan remained in bed until serving time so it was absolutely essential that I be as quiet as a mouse; dishes didn’t dare rattle while being removed from the cupboard and set on the table, not the best for one’s nervous system, but I weathered the demand. Now that my husband is retired and spends most of his waking hours in the house, noise of kettles rattling in the kitchen isn’t exactly music to his ears either. I spent two years of my college days in this home, most of them enjoyable without any regrets. Entertainment among the faculty consisted of dinner parties followed with bridge by the selected groups held in their private homes, which afforded me the opportunity to become acquainted with many professors and their spouses. The women preferred Readers Clubs for afternoon activities but all in all they led peaceful and busy lives while raising their small families. Their character traits can best be described with terms such as wholesome and kindhearted, setting outstanding examples for the younger generation to follow. The usual Sunday outing for Mr. Sloan, his wife and son entailed a ride in the family auto. During this excursion, emphasis was placed on the surroundings. The results were a very observant child. I recall the young fellow's definition of a hole, a round thing without a lid on it. Today, Danny, a 1952 WSU grad in Political Science is on the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He was his parents pride and joy, having been born in their late thirties, an only child whom they had never expected to produce.
I’m reminded of President Eisenhower when he celebrated his 69th birthday. He said that he looked back nostalgically "to the conditions he knew as a child." He described these circumstances with the following words: "Love of God, fairness in human relations, independence and responsibility, concern for the welfare of others, the conviction that each free individual could through his own efforts achieve a full life--these were all included in an idea which was as much a part of our home as the food we ate and the clothes we wore."
I almost forgot to mention one pair of the shoes I wore during my student days. Believe it or not, a delightful pair of alligator pumps (a perfect fit) were discards from the exclusive residential area known as the Portland Heights salvaged by the scavenger trucks in Portland, Oregon. My father attended the Brotherhood church conventions held during the winter months. He almost always returned home carrying a gunny sack filled with shoes given to him by a friend, a refuse hauler. Since shoe repair tools comprised part of the eastern Washington farm equipment, the head master performed those duties. While a young man, my father had taken advantage of a cobbler apprenticeship in Frank, Russia, a distinct blessing after the age of 60. I remember piles of shoes and tools in the middle of the kitchen floor for all of us to walk around or stumble over during the course of action. Horses’ harnesses were repaired in the summer kitchen, a building beside our house where a wood heater kept the men folks cozy.
I majored in Spanish, minored in German, French and English. Other required subjects involved a lecture course in economics taught by Richard B. Heflebower. I'll never forget "the law of supply and demand". I had no background for that matter. A possible career in business sounded too far-fetched although practiced favorably many years hence. I also studied sociology, psychology, speech, education, botany and zoology before graduation. Since I had a room-board work requirement to fulfill, credit hours were limited to 12 hours per semester, lengthening the four years to five with a total of 131 hrs., only 128 hrs. needed for a degree. By 1934 changes occurred in the form of additional credit hours including cadet teaching. No life diplomas anymore. Instead the issue of 5-year certificates followed by more courses earning subsequent 3 year documents to remain qualified.
A few notables in the early thirties brought fame to WSU: The president, Dr. E.O. Holland’s tenure lasted from 1916 to l944, twenty-eight years of outstanding services preserved in a book by William M. Landeen and presented to each 50-year member of the class of 1934 on May 31, 1984 by the WSU Alumni Association. Edward R. Murrow, the 1930 student body president, became a radio personality and news correspondent in London during World War II. Orin E. “Babe” Hollingbery, the head football coach for 17 years, took his 1930 team of Cougars to the Rose Bowl. Conditions concerning positions had more stability then in spite of adversities in the economy in comparison to the present day.
I received a B.A. degree (Bachelor of Arts) on June 11, 1934. My parents and the youngest sibling, my sister Helen, attended the graduation ceremonies after which I rode home to Odessa with them. Mrs. Sloan’s offer of accommodations for the previous night’s lodging had pleased my guests and me very much. College for me had been an investment of more time than money but definitely a “life enrichment program”.
Even though I wasn’t qualified to seek a teaching position yet, it was imperative that I sought available work of any kind to supplement my summer earnings for the fall of 1934. I had acquired a promise of a full time housework job upon my return at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Thompson. Mr. Thompson held a position teaching French in the Foreign Language department, and his wife Edna was a homemaker. Their household, comprised of two children, a daughter Laura Lee, aged 7, and a son Richard Sackett, about 11 months, completed the family circle. My wages amounted to twenty dollars per month plus room and board. The work period was to begin September lst, 1934 and go to February 1st, 1935. My sister, Helen, came to Pullman to replace me in the Thompson household so I could resume my studies; we shared the basement room for nine weeks until I departed for Spokane. Since there was no official goodbye after the conclusion of my job, Mrs. Thompson showed her appreciation by informing me of the excellent duties I had fulfilled in her home. She related Mr. Thompson’s message to the effect that their house was clean all the time. I remember bending over and constantly picking up anything that didn’t belong on the floor, even something almost invisible.
I ate one meal a day at the college bookstore; it offered a special lunch for 25 cents. I still have copies of ten or so menus; for example, breaded veal, sweet potatoes with fried apples, creamed cabbage, banana salad on lettuce leaf and two slices of bread with butter one of whole wheat and the other white. Mrs. Thompson invited me for supper sometimes. I also babysat in the evenings at different faculty homes to earn 50 cents.
I washed dishes at a Methodist church occasionally. I ate very sparingly; I was very lucky to escape any illnesses.
During the five months I lived in the Thompson household, a new house was erected at 1905 "B" St. into which we moved before Christmas. Mrs. Thompson and I transplanted her favorite rose bushes to the new premises in the dead of winter. It was my suggestion even though I had never contemplated or experienced the moving of a rose bush. They did survive, and everyone was happy. Coal was the primary fuel used in the Pullman homes, a furnace with a hopper which the men folks kept filled and a stoker which fed the coal automatically into the fire box. I remember tossing a very dirty diaper into the fire box; I couldn’t make myself launder it. I do not know if Richard’s mother ever discovered that one of his diapers was missing or not. My personal involvement with a growing child from a period of eleven to fifteen months exposed me to firsthand knowledge of the joys and displeasing problems of rearing such a young child. It certainly satisfied my motherly instincts encouraging me to move on to better things, especially after 5 months of disagreeable and wretched encounters with the other child, seven year old Laura Lee. Too bad the doctors didn’t discover her allergies sooner. Whether the food allergies caused her behavior problems is another matter, but she kept us all upset.
For instance, every evening I had a terrible time after ushering her to the bathroom. Next, getting her to remove her clothes was like pulling nails with a person’s teeth. Then followed a dissertation by me to get her into the bathtub; then a discourse after her bath to step out of the tub; then more talk before she slipped into her pajamas. Finally to her room (rather reluctantly); more discussion about hopping into bed; later an exchange of words concerning the idea of staying in bed. I remember how her mother would plant herself outside the bedroom door so Laura Lee would remain inside the room and hopefully in bed. Imagine tolerating such nonsense!
One time while I was feeding her little brother, Laura Lee knocked the spoon out of my hand and her brother’s mouth simultaneously. Another time when she interfered with Richard’s feeding I grabbed her, threw her to the floor and sat on her. I had threatened drastic action before; anyhow this brought her mother scurrying to the scene to investigate the ruckus. Well, no more messing with Richard’s meals after that episode . I suppose that today a child psychologist might diagnose the perplexing matter as “an attention getter” with a touch of jealously. Laura Lee grew up, graduated from Mills College in California, married and raised 3 children, and became a grandmother, but she has had her share of health problems. Richard received a degree in Political Science from WSU in 1955 after a year of study abroad at the Institute of Political Sciences of the University of Paris. Following graduation he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England where he received the degree of Arts. He has been a Foreign Service officer in the Department of State since 1960, serving in The Netherlands Antilles, in Niger and Viet Nam. Now a diplomat with the U. S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Richard is married and the father of three. Electricity rates were considered high in Pullman, so Mrs. Thompson’s request became a habit. I decided what foods to remove from the refrigerator before opening its door; in other words, open the refrigerator door as little as possible to conserve energy. I don’t waste electricity in my own home today even though it is more economical, but I open the refrigerator door more often. Jars of baby foods didn’t line the kitchen shelves in those days; enough fruits and vegetables were prepared via cooking, straining and refrigerating to last for 2 or 3 days.
After completing my studies (11 hours of credit) from February 1st, 1935 ending a 9 week period, I traveled to Spokane, rented a room for the next 9 weeks to earn six hours credit as a cadet teacher at John R. Roger’s High School in German and Spanish classes under the supervision of a master teacher, Mrs. Marie Bovee. I ate one meal per day at noon in the school cafeteria, mostly a 15 cent bowl of soup to satisfy my appetite while at the same time eliminating a concern about a weight difficulty. I lived near the Lewis and Clark High School located in downtown Spokane because the director for the student teachers from WSU taught an evening class twice per week in which we cadet instructors were enrolled; a course in teaching after which I was awarded a 5-year certificate on June 9, 1935.
I was aghast on the last day of the John Roger’s High School classes when the pupils cleaned out their lockers; I happened to be standing at the bottom of a stairway when my horror turned to disgust as books, papers, ink bottles, etc., came sailing down at my feet. Ten years later when I taught at Roosevelt High in Portland, Oregon, I stood near the lockers of my home room while all the discards landed in the waste basket. No other rooms could boast of clean hallways. I even picked up books which belonged to the library as I walked down the hallway. One teacher even remarked when she spotted me, “That’s OK, they do that every year.” My thoughts were, “not when I’m in charge.” “The janitor picks up the books,” she replied. Good deal!
[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V]