SOMETHING OF MYSELF
by Marie Trupp Krieger
(copyright Marie Trupp Kreiger)
THE HOME OF MY CHILDHOOD
I was always thankful for the opportunity and the availability of earning extra change. I didn’t stand on a street corner asking for a quarter. The first time I was confronted on a Portland street by a young man soliciting a quarter, I wondered to myself, “just what do you think you can do with a quarter in our inflationary economy?” It didn’t occur to me until later that he might collect more than one. Besides, my busy mind was occupied with reaching my next destination since I'm always in a hurry. My willingness to work extra and my performances were passed along via word of mouth by my regular employers, so offers of ironing clothes, special dish washing or baby sitting for 50 cents or 75 cents were accepted. I remember baby sitting without pay in an emergency. In spite of my thriftyness, I had to borrow $50.00 from the Students’ Loan Committee connected with the college at 6% interest on February 2, 1934. Mrs. Grace Williams of Odessa co-signed the note which I repaid on September 6, 1934, after my summer job. I didn’t wait until I had been hired as a teacher to clear up my debts. "Pay as you go” was my motto which holds true today, fifty-four years later. My 8th grade classmate expressed misgivings about my ability to teach school. A former farm neighbor offered advice by saying, ”Well, Marie, after you repay your father, you’ll be able to save same money.” My father who was standing beside me replied, “Marie doesn’t owe me anything.” I surmised she hoped I’d tell her who supplied the finances. It never occurred to me to remind people to mind their own business.
In addition to toiling for my room and board during the school year, I was gainfully employed for the summer months. My siblings and parents deserve credit for subsidizing my income with 25 cents, $2.00 or $5.00 when an apparent exigency existed. My bookkeeping system--a notebook in which I recorded my borrowings, cash on hand, expenditures and later my repayments--gave me the total figures of the cost of my college education as $600.00 over a six-year period in cash receipts.
The summers of 1929 and 1930 included farm activities, chores, field work and cooking for my brother Fred’s harvest crew. I stayed at Pullman for the summer of 1931 with the Eva Williams family as their housekeeper. My brother Henry, a bachelor, also yearned for a farm hand in 1932, so I became the chief cook and bottle washer (we had no bottles), prepared three meals every day (a good supply of potatoes, meat and bread), milked a cow twice a day, assisted with harnessing and feeding the horses and mules, greased the harvesting machine and drove 16 head of horses and mules hitched to the combine for $1.00 per day. My mother supplied butter, eggs, meats, bread, etc., which we picked up on Sundays. Harnessing horses entailed some doing; first, I placed a collar into the manger into which I climbed to be able to reach far enough around the horse’s front shoulders. That was quite a procedure because of my stature.
The handle of the grease gun had to be turned to the right and then reversed each time until a new invention some years’ later, an improvement devised by just pushing the handle at each grease cup until the container needed refilling. When the combine moved, pulled by the horses and in operation, one managed to regulate it with a special lever keeping it level to avoid tipping on a hillside. The raising and lowering of the cutting blades on the header (that was called punching header) required skill so as not to pick up sod nor the opposite such as picking up too much of the stalks. After the grain harvest was finished, Henry loaded the sacks of wheat on a wagon pulled by two horses. I climbed up to sit on a sack of wheat and drove to the warehouse in Odessa. My fashionable garb consisted of a wide-brimmed straw hat, man’s long-sleeved shirt and a younger brother’s bib overalls. Wasn’t I lucky not to be required to do the unloading? Mrs. Grace W. Williams drove to Henry’s farm one day to photograph the activities in which I was involved. Henry farmed the Bob Emmett place on the north hill of town. The pictures are proof that I handled the horses. Even at the meager sum of $1.00 per day, I was able to pay for my tuition and books for the 1932-1933 school year.
I became life guard and supervisor at the Odessa, Washington, swimming pool the next two summers, 1933 and 1934. On August 18, 1933, a swimming carnival was held. The article in the Odessa.Record described it as follows:
Patrons of the city swimming pool on Sunday presented a deep sea drama as the annual water sport’s carnival. The legend centered around a young girl, Florence Dobson, who had gone to swim at the 0cean and became drowsy, lying down to rest. She falls asleep and is surprised by the appearance of mermaids and mermen who take her to the bottom of the sea, where she was entertained by their swimming and diving. About 70 children took part in the activities. Frances Walents, as the balloon girl, announced each event by bursting a balloon. Lamar Strate, garbed as a frog, was a leading character. Wayne Schuman, aged five, was the youngest child to dive from the spring board. Glen Strate and Walter Catlow served as clowns for the afternoon. A duck which was turned loose among the swimmers was finally captured and claimed by Eleanor Weber. A large crowd attended the carnival. The drama was an original pageant prepared by Miss Marie Trupp, guard.
For the two summers I lived in town in a one-room shack located in my Uncle Adam Libsack’s chicken yard. The little house belonged to my Uncle Con Libsack in which he had lived during the winter months before he was married. The lodging was free, but there were no cooking facilities so I picked up lunch meats, bread, etc., for the two-month period and ate very little to save my salary for college expenses. So, my parents supplied me with ready-cooked food but I neglected my health to a certain extent, one method for controlling one’s weight but definitely not the best. Beside selling tickets, my responsibilities entailed cleaning the bathhouse (the dressing rooms) and the pool. The latter, a sizable task, involved scrubbing the inside walls by using a handbrush and a garden hose. I remember a slight heat stroke on the job one day. I didn’t delay climbing out of the pool and hurrying into the bathhouse because I saw black spots before my eyes. When the pool needed cleaning, one of the swimmers dove to the bottom, pulled the plug after the facility closed for the evening to be cleaned the next day. The pool was refilled ready for swimming the day after. The sun warmed the water for swimming that afternoon. A Red Cross swimming instructor gave lessons for several weeks in the summer of 1934. I’m indebted to Mrs. Grace W. Williams for her help in the procurement of this position and park board whose members were: Sol Reiman, L.C. Weik and Mrs. J.R. Parrish. The season tickets sold for 75 cents to grade schoolers, $1.50 for high school students, and $2.00 for adults. Swimming was a popular summer recreational endeavor especially in dry areas like Odessa, Washington, which meant so much to the children in this community when the townspeople decided to build this pool and establish a city park. I always felt an indebtedness toward the Odessa residents of the early thirties and wish to show my appreciation again with a special thanks for that job opportunity. I contribute to the OHS alumni association and the Odessa Museum established by the Odessa Historical Society to substantiate my gratitude.
I had registered with a placement agency in Spokane in hopes of obtaining a job in the teaching field for the fall opening of school. The depression was winding down somewhat, but I lacked experience. The task ahead didn’t overwhelm me as I renewed my strength with the words in the following poem:
With luck and pluck
And a singing heart
Straight onward may you press
Where every step of the pathway leads
To happiness and success.
After being unemployed the summer of 1935 with an eye on a possible teaching job which didn't materialize, I lived with my parents who farmed the Hardung acreage. My father discovered there wasn't enough income to purchase another set of farming equipment for Jacob and Daniel to be on their own, and he couldn't farm by himself. So the decision was made to schedule an auction, sell the equipment and head for greener pastures. Since my father's hay fever curtailed his enterprises, it was decided to try either the Washington or Oregon coast. I suggested Portland rather than Tacoma. In comparison, Portland's Russian German community was much larger with four German Congregational churches and a Lutheran facility. My father's profound interest in theology opened opportunities for occasional visits among friends and members of the German churches in the Pacific Conference. A trip to Portland, Oregon, accomplished favorable results after contacting the Rev. Edward Grauman, pastor of the Brethren Congregational Church. The Rev. Grauman's moral support and expertise resulted in a small farm consisting of a walnut orchard with a crop to be harvested, rabbits in hutches and some furniture in the residence to provide the family with a starting point in a new environment.
An auction-day sale of the wheat farming equipment scheduled at the Odessa farm supplied the proceeds for the move [to Oregon]. My brothers constructed a trailer, loaded into it our minimum possessions to be transported and headed west. The driver of the car pulling the trailer soon discovered it to be overloaded and top-heavy when it almost tipped over on the first turn. After that, caution prevailed culminating in a successful venture. When I think back should I consider it bravery or ignorance is bliss? The middle of October marks the date in 1935 when all of us arrived at the city of Beaverton, Oregon to settle on Cooper Mt., southwest of Beaverton. We ate the rabbits, the only available meat, harvested the walnut crop; in the meantime, considered the best market approach. Eventually my father and I chose a trip to Odessa, Washington with a trailer load where I practiced my salesmanship skills at .25 per lb. or at 2 lbs. for 45 cents. My Dad elected to raise hogs, a refuse hauler friend's advice because vegetable trimmings could be picked up at the Farmer's Market in downtown Portland without any compensation. The heavy lifting proved to be more than my Dad could manage. I've never forgotten the immense amount of water released from above that winter. Our drinking water had more than its share of mud to our displeasure. My father drove to church in spite of the weather, narrowly missing a mud slide one morning. All of us, needed to look for jobs, the farm couldn't sustain us.
My parents purchased a house on N.E. Mallory Avenue practically around the corner within the same block as the church, having borrowed the funds from one of the members. My sister Helen and I inquired at the YWCA in Portland concerning housework positions, sub-sequently assigned to two different households. I began a job on January 16, 1936, in the home of the Rev. Perry C. and Grace Hopper. The Rev. P. Hopper held the pastorate at Westminster Presbyterian Church. The couple's two children, Ruth and Bill, plus a nephew completed the family. In July I signed a contract to teach German, English and direct plays at Endicott, Washington, the school year to begin on August 26, 1936, for 180 school days at $996.00 per year to be paid in 12 monthly installments, Helen's employment with the Roberts family was within walking distance of my living quarters. We enjoyed each other's company on Thursday and Sunday afternoons and evenings, time allowed by our employers. Walking and exploring the city and its environs happened to be a great pastime. No district seemed restrictive until one afternoon as we were to cross the Burnside bridge going east. All of a sudden my sister and I began running as fast as our legs could carry us across the bridge to the east end; a glance at each other brought forth simultaneously a question to this effect: "Did you see what I saw?", said she, said I. Someone stood inside a building at a window in full view and waved. That ended the Burnside strolls.
Dental care was uppermost in my mind for the $40.00 I received the first two months. As I look back today, it appears to have been the best investment along with continuous precautions these 52 years. I've heard a horse's teeth depict its physical health. I didn't fare that well; the removal of my tonsils took place in August before I left for Endicott. Dr. O. Uhle removed my appendix the next summer.
Westminster Presbyterian Church in N.E. Portland expressed a need for a janitor. When Rev. Hopper mentioned that to me, I recommended my brother Jacob. At first the pastor hesitated; he felt a young man shouldn't have to settle for that kind of employment. Jacob was hired and lived in the basement utilizing the kitchen facilities, then my brother Daniel moved in, too. The boys managed quite well and Daniel enrolled in a mechanical school to prepare himself for a vocation. Dad breathed a sigh of relief--four fewer mouths to feed. Farming no longer held any interest for my father who then sought and purchased shoe repair equipment at 4618 S.E. Woodstock Blvd. By 1937, my father was established in the trade he had learned while an apprentice in Frank, Russia. His next move brought him closer to home in a rented building on the S.E. corner of 6th and Failing. His final move to 3619 N.E. Union with his shoe repair equipment where he purchased the building was a wise one. He kept busy repairing boots and shoes for the shipyard crews of World War II. The neighborhood changed, many of his friends had gone to their reward, he lost his enthusiasm especially after my mother had passed away, expressed his lonesomeness, retired at the age of 78 to do a little traveling. He had accumulated a small nest egg for a rainy day and before his death at age 86, felt the best years of his life were spent in the City of Roses. Walking to church services and his job provided him with exceptional physical and mental health almost to the end of his life.
February 2, 1936 became a turning point in my life--my future was to take on a new meaning, a big change. As Helen, my sister and I left a Christian Endeavor meeting that particular Sunday evening, we were escorted by a young man on our way to employment places, private homes in N.E. Portland. He directed us along the way to his home and invited us inside. There we met Walter C. Krieger who had reached a friend's house after attending the same church services. Walter often stopped by the Henry Dillman home to visit before continuing to 9th St. where he resided. I was impressed with Walt's intelligence, knowledge of national and local events especially history and geography via radio, the daily papers, etc., good manners and good morals, personal habits (no smoking or drinking). He had assumed the responsibilities for his parents' welfare, his father having been partially paralyzed by a stroke. Not having a steady job, he worked as a substitute in the Portland Fire Department during the regular firemens' vacation period. His high hopes for a permanent appointment were dashed when no openings occurred before he reached the age of 25, the age limit set by the civil service board. Walt's hobby and first love had been salmon fishing to which he was introduced as a young boy by his playmate's father. Since I enjoyed the outdoors, it was only natural for me to become involved in that activity. We had many things in common; experienced the depression begun in l929, accountable for our own well-being and future success so we faced the concerns which lay ahead of us. Thrift and hard work, traits attributed to our heritage, played a significant role as we projected the ultimate. My meager earnings resulted in few savings to be applied on clothing purchases for my first teaching position. After paying for the removal of my tonsils, I borrowed funds from Walt to buy a skirt and three-quarter length coat to match, to be repaid after the receipt of my first check at Endicott. Our romance was blossoming.
I left Portland on August 21st via train for Endicott, Washington, arriving there on Saturday morning. A teachers' meeting had been scheduled for Monday afternoon, August 24th, and classes began the next day. The schoolhouse housed the first eight grades and the high school students. I lived on a southeast hillside in the home of Bess Meyers where her husband and mother, Mrs. Fanazik, also lived. Four teachers occupied the three bedrooms upstairs, room and board at $30.00 per month. Bess had planned for two of us to share a room and bed, the largest room with windows facing north. A misunderstanding developed forcing Bess to find another roommate for one of them. A tiny room with a window (more like a peephole) facing east had been assigned to me. While unpacking and getting settled, I was interrupted by a knock at my door. There stood Bess and the first grade teacher, Nona Kunz, with tears running down her cheeks. She had been ousted from the room she occupied first. Bess said,"Marie, would you mind having a roommate?" With no hesitation on my part I replied, "Oh, No! Not at all." So Nona and I shared the smallest bedroom, a double bed that couldn't be moved stuck in a corner, a dresser, an easy chair, a straight chair and a small table. Walt had sent a new Montgomery Ward radio with me and that pretty much covered the table with a little space for letter writing, correcting papers and lesson planning. At that time teachers were required to fulfill many extra duties. The other teacher who refused to have a roommate spent many of her evenings sitting in our easy chair while one of us sat on the bed. We were never invited to her room. Bernice took advantage of our generosity. By spring Nona and I moved to the Endicott hotel where we had more room at a cheaper rate. We ate our evening meal at the only restaurant in town run by Mr. and Mrs. Stanfield.
Endicott was a small town whose inhabitants as well as those of the surrounding farming area were either immigrants or first generation to be born in this country. Most of the immigrants claimed to have been born in Jagodnaja Poljana, Russia, spoke German, the language of their forefathers who migrated from Germany to Russia, 1767.
My first afternoon in town while walking to the postoffice, a Mr. John Weitz who had come out of his house met me on the sidewalk. He spoke the German language and said,"I heard that you are to teach German, come in, I want to see if you can read it." Well, I passed that test. One day I stopped at the drug store owned by Endicott's two doctors who were brothers. I was confronted by one concerning his son. He remarked, “Danny received all A's last year." I replied, "He will this year if he earns them." One time Danny's parents took a trip to California, returned with some grapefruit. Danny appeared one Monday morning with a grin on his face holding one; handed it to me and exclaimed, "This is as sweet as you are." The thought that I was quite sour crossed my mind. Danny was a hemophiliac, a good student and athlete. Information reached me a few years ago that Danny chose to be an ophthalmologist. His cousin, Byron Henry, not nearly the student Danny was, owns the chain of stores called "High School Pharmacies" in the Vancouver area. His pharmacies were first to ban the sale of cigarettes. The latter did not jibe with dispensing medicines.
I encouraged all of my students to continue their education because learning is one of the genuine sources of happiness in life--and an enduring one. I tried to pass along not only subject matter but the influence I had received from my teachers such as: an extension beyond the classroom, making students better citizens and the world a better place to live. Whoever is teaching students today not to begin at the bottom of the ladder and eventually rising to the top via hard work is unaware of the consequences. Too many people today came in the front door and, before they've demonstrated any skills or displayed the attitude that tells you you've made a good hiring decision, they want to know where they're going to be next year and five years down the road. They don't know what they're missing in the process. A man's (or woman's ) work is part of his existence. People improve their living standards by putting in time and effort. Nothing in life comes easy. No one should judge where a person is today or where the person came from, because everyone has personal agenda as to what, for him, constitutes progress. For some it's material things; for others it's learning. For some it's both. To achieve more in life, work.
I discovered as most teachers did then, that I was ill-prepared and alone when dealing with numerous behavior problems I encountered daily in the classroom. In all my college training no one ever talked about these situations. During my school days, we had been instilled with fear more or less and respected the teachers, so didn't remember any special discipline problems my instructors needed to struggle with. My master teacher informed me during my cadet teaching that my height might be a handicap requiring me to stand a great deal of the time to stay on top of any predicament which might appear. My first year of teaching could be compared to a nightmare; almost all the teachers were new or had never taught in a school system before. I heard the janitor was instrumental in the firing of personnel every year. The Superintendent's distrustfulness applied to his suggestions of levying penalties to misbehaving students complicated matters. Absenteeism ran rampant; his methods appeared inadequate concerning school attendance. Already I noticed the difference in pupils' attitudes toward formal education and the lack of discipline even at home in comparison to students in the late twenties and early thirties.
My salary for the second year had risen to$1,275.00 and the third to $1,284.00. Mr. Morrison had accepted a position in Newport, Washington, and my high school principal became the Superintendent of the Endicott schools. What a difference! The last two years under a new leader can be described as enjoyable, challenging, exciting and not too difficult. I had earned the respect of the students and their parents influenced by a stable environment. A school is as good as its principal. The top problems consisted of talking, chewing gum, making noises, etc. One time I was standing near a six-footer (he was sitting down), who refused to stop talking after I had repeatedly urged him to be quiet; a book in my hand became a handy weapon when I used it on the top of his head, that hushed him up. I sensed that made him very angry but so was I.
My first year German class under my direction produced a high school monthly paper entitled "Der Monat" including many interesting features from November 1936 to the end of the school year in 1937. The responsibility of the weekly school news to the Endicott Index, the town paper rested on my shoulders. The students in one of my English classes assumed the task of gathering the news before school hours to write it up as a class assignment. I had a super sports writer who played in every sport. He chose teaching as his career, English at that. How proud I was!
I had signed a contract to return to Endicott for a fourth year before I enrolled in summer school classes to renew my teaching certificate. My superintendent requested library courses to qualify myself in accordance with state regulations prescribed by the Washington State Board of Education.
Summer school had hardly begun when I was approached by Mr. Notson, the Tonasket, Washington Superintendent of Schools who had a similar idea and offered me a position at a higher salary, a $16.00 raise to $1,300.00 a year. I telephoned Mr. Buchanan at Endicott who assured me a release from my contract would be granted upon the receipt of my written statement. One of my frisky library science classmates lashed out at me in a teasing manner by singing--a tisket, a tasket, Marie's going to Tonasket--that created a happy atmosphere. I became excited about living and teaching in a remote territory, a change in terrain, no doubt, with its majestic barren hills just short of mountains; a valley of orchards bordering both sides of the Okanogan River appearing confined while viewed for miles from the high school campus as one of Tonasket's many scenic assets. On this historic stream, at its confluence with the Columbia, was located the first white settlement in what is now the State of Washington.
My imagination ran wild as to the type of people I might encounter after my experiences with Russian Germans at Endicott. With an Indian Reservation not too many miles away, could there be a few remnants of the race enrolled in the school? My fears loomed up unwarranted after a scheduled teachers' meeting on August 26th,1939 and the opening of school on the 28th.
Summer school, a pleasurable experience at Pullman, seemed more like a vacation, no comparison between it and my regular college studies. Free of financial problems with complete responsibility for my actions, my library courses applied to specific projects interjecting a noteworthy meaning to my life. I had rented a room in a private home at 311 Campus Avenue for the eight-week session. I remember a daily walk to the heart of downtown Pullman for nourishment in a restaurant at supper time. In case of only one alternative, whatever the allure soon disappears to become routine.
Besides the Library Science courses, it was necessary to fulfill other requisites in the line of college courses for the renewal of a secondary teaching certificate. The three at that time were: American Gov’t.-Politics 101,Student Guidance-Education 157B and Mental Hygiene- Psychology 170. After the two summer sessions,1939 and 1940, I was granted Certificates of Library Training making me eligible as a teach-librarian in any accredited high school in the State of Washington as long as I had a valid high school teacher's certificate for schools of 100-500 enrollment.
An educated person should have an appreciation of good books. We had been taught the importance of the physical care of books and their replacement values in the family home since we possessed so few; perhaps an explanation of part of my intense love of books. Finding one's niche in life is rewarding in itself. A teacher-librarian has the best of all possible worlds; unlimited knowledge at one's finger tips waiting to be instilled into others. The first summer's first class project necessitated cataloguing the Edison School Library, a grade school in Pullman adjacent to the campus. We classified the books into the different categories as to fiction (novels) and non-fiction, then numbers were written in white ink on the back binding of the books from 100 thru 900 indicating whether it pertained to history or languages, etc. That was broken down again as to the kind; for instance, American, etc.
Pockets were pasted into each book containing the typed number into which a card was inserted for checking out the book from the library. The borrower's name and due date appeared on the card before it was filed to wait the return of the book. Typing a set of three cards for each book namely: title, author and subject matter to be filed alphabetically into a file cabinet, a liability assumed by the class, completed the herculean task. That very summer we also recatalogued the Kent, Washington High School Library located between Seattle and Tacoma. Four members of the class including me spent the last two weeks of class working in that library. I was in charge of filing the title, author and subject matter cards which had been typed in Pullman. Was I ever fortunate to have had the foresight to have taught myself to type which I had accomplished after school hours during my three-year stint at Endicott. A frequent deliberation occurs--must I be busy learning and working every minute of the day?
Sometime during a person's maturing years, one stumbles upon the fact that one cannot learn too much because the availability of that information comes in handy inevitably. Living a life is a constant educational process as it should be. Henry D. Thoreau said, “I want to live my life in such a way that I won't come to the end of it and find I haven’t lived at all.” Personal letters of appreciation and commendation from the librarians and superintendents of those two schools reached our library science instructor, Miss Mary Helen McCrea (a walking encyclopedia ) who dispensed copies to those closely involved.
The summer of 1940 found me busy recataloguing the entire Tonasket High School Library with all the necessary typing besides completing nine hours of class work. At this writing, May, 1988, I am very happy to have executed that assignment in 1940-1941.
Besides teaching five English classes and managing the high school library, I directed the Senior Class Play,"Here Comes Charlie!” in the spring of 1940 in evening sessions, supervised a monthly edition of a school paper in the senior English class and served as Sophomore class advisor the first of my two years at Tonasket.
I lived in a daylight basement apartment near the school grounds and batched with three other teachers, The school edifice and our living quarters rested on a hill above the downtown business district. I didn’t mind the walking but climbing that hill bugged me even though I didn’t resort to that procedure every day. The four of us agreed to take turns picking up the mail, grocery shopping as well as the housekeeping chores. I was corresponding with my boyfriend so I would rush downhill to the postoffice at 10:00 p. m., then exerted all my strength during the uphill trek.
For the 1940-1941 school year two teachers and I rented a furnished house, shared the housekeeping and divided the expenses. I taught a class in Spanish besides three English classes, controlled the affairs of the library, directed the Senior Play, "Uncle Cy Hits A New High", a very funny and hilarious comedy, plus senior class advisor duties. In the spring, the senior class of 50, Mr. Notson and I as chaperons, sneaked to Chelan Lake for the boat ride to the head of the lake--ah, the wilderness and scenic beauty--indescribable. Everyone assembled at the dock for the day’s ride, our picnic supplies included for the noon meal, at the head of the lake after which the boat ferried us in the return trip to the loading dock, an all day’s sojourn and a splendid method of handling teenagers in those days.
I must regress and relate about the appointment of senior class advisor which had been bestowed upon me at the beginning of the fall term as a complete surprise and somewhat as a shock, too. I didn’t especially appreciate that strain (I expected it to be) because when the class were Juniors the previous year, the boys pitted themselves against the girls, a commotion I didn’t expressly care to handle. Their former advisor approached me later about the change. . . . "How come, how come?" My reply, "I really don’t know, Mrs. Luna Deane, you may have them." Of course, I continued with the assignment in an orderly fashion that year.
I tried to teach 50 students in Freshman English so when all had entered the room, the door was closed before placing several chairs in front of it to accommodate the pupils. My earnings that year totaled $1350.00.
As Senior Class Advisor I was impressed with the capabilities of the students in their extra-curricular activities especially; most of them had finished the eighth grade at a country school where their teachers had done an excellent job. I was particularly amazed at the girls’ maturity; they seemed so responsible in handling their school functions. It’s difficult to explain how much knowledge I acquired from them. I don’t intend to belittle those who grew up in town as they, too, proved to be exceptional. Every fall the Tonasket Schools closed for two weeks during the apple harvest season, and practically every high school student worked in the orchards or in the sorting or packing houses.
At Endicott in the wheat farming community, the harvest season was usually over by school opening time. There, also, most of the people lived on farms, the area referred to as the Palouse Hills where the soil’s productivity excelled that of the so-called Big Bend Country in the vicinity of Odessa and Ritzville. Both schools outshone themselves in extracurricular endeavors such as music and athletics, matching their wits and strength with the best in their respective county’s programs. I believe I was one of their most enthusiastic supporters as they displayed their abilities to the fullest. The community stood behind them as well; one soon discovered that the schools’ and churches’ functions played a vital role in the entertainment field.