May 26, 2009; interviewed by Cheri (Stadler) Ryan
[“Um”s and other speech fillers have been omitted.]
Cheri Ryan: [tape starts mid-sentence] —2009, this is Cheri Ryan at the Alderwood Manor Heritage Cottage in Lynnwood, Washington, and today I am interviewing –
Mary Wickstrum: Mary Wickstrum. Humb—Mary Humble Wickstrum.
CR: And Mary, can you tell me your age and your address, please?
MW: [laughs] [edited for web publication] Edmonds, Washington, 98026.
CR: And when were you born? I guess that’s easier, maybe, than your age.
MW: Oh, well, it was December 29th, 1922.
CR: And you were born where?
MW: Deer Park, Washington.
CR: Kay, and when did you start living in Alderwood Manor?
MW: May 5th, 1934.
CR: And where did you live?
CR: —before that, okay. So you came out here —
CR: —and when you moved to Alderwood, where was your home at?
MW: On Poplar Way.
CR: Poplar Way. And who was in your family?
CR: And is Janice younger or older than you?
MW: She is older.
CR: A couple of years?
MW: About four.
CR: About four. And why did your family move to Alderwood Manor?
MW: Well, I don’t really know, exactly, other than the fact that my dad wanted to live in the country, and this, at that time, was country. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] What was he doing in Seattle?
MW: He was a—Well, he worked in a business building [clears throat] downtown as a janitor. He was a carpenter, or he is a carpenter by trade, but being the Depression, he took the job he could get.
CR: So when you moved out here, did he continue to work in Seattle?
MW: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
CR: So did he commute?
MW: Yeah. Well, he had to. We had this wonderful Model T car that I hated with a passion, and he would drive back and forth. He, of course, being a janitor, had to work either swing shift or graveyard, and he—Once in a while, he would use the Interurban. But that was a pretty long walk from Eighth and Stewart down to University and Second, Second and University, I think it was.
CR: That’s where he worked.
CR: At the office building.
CR: And did he continue to work down there the whole time he lived out here then?
MW: Oh, heavens, no.
CR: Oh. Kay. What did he do then?
MW: No, he finally got a chance to go to Alaska as a maintenance person for the cannery in— I think the first one was Craig, Alaska, and the next year I think it was Sitka that he went to.
CR: So was that summertime work, he’d go up there in the summer— ?
MW: Yes, yes. But by then he was no longer working downtown.
CR: And your mother and you and your sister stayed here then?
MW: Oh yes! Yes, we ran the show.
CR: You ran the show. Well, what was the show? [laughs]
MW: The show was a cow and a calf and a couple of pigs, a couple of goats, chickens. Not a— Well, yes, we did have a big chicken coop by then, so we were joining the egg capital of the world. [laughs] What else? Well, we had a dog and a cat. And then the three of us. So that was the show.
CR: That was the show. The animals and then, I assume, a garden?
MW: Oh, heavens, yes. And then that meant, of course, the canning, because there was no such thing as freezing at that time.
CR: So what type of things were you canning?
MW: Well, let’s see, we started out with peas, and we would pick the night before, a couple of washtubs-full of peas, and then the next morning, after milking the cows and taking care of the animals and all, we would sit down and start shelling. And when we finally got enough [inaudible — for? where?] mother could start filling jars, she would quit shelling, and she would start putting them into the jars and using—and I think we had a—I think we had a boiler at that time, I don’t think we had a pressure canner yet. And then, of course, let’s see, the corn would come on, but there’d be—well, we had tomatoes, we would can tomatoes, and canned applesauce. Anything we could get our hands on that would go into a jar, we did.
CR: Did you—The animals you talked about, did you butcher some of them and can that, or did you—?
MW: Yeah. Well—I don’t remember whether we canned any of the pork. I know we made patties—sausage patties—and we put them down in lard in the crock. And evidently it worked because none of us died of food poisoning. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Were there—You mentioned apples; you had fruit trees?
MW: Oh, heavens, we had an orchard. We had a whole pie cherry tree or orchard in the front of the property. And it seems to me as though the property was three hundred feet road-wise.
MW: And so that was full of pie cherry trees, and it seems, I think there were, like, five cherry trees in a row.
MW: So it would be that deep, and then the three hundred feet long. [clears throat] And [clears throat] we could can some of those, but it seemed as though there was some kind of a bug that flew around, laid eggs, and when you would open the cherry to get the pit out, there was the worm looking at you. [laughs] So [clears throat] that kind of finished off the pie cherries. [clears throat] But then we did have [clears throat. To self: Geez!] — we did have sweet cherries, we had five or six sweet cherry trees. And one of them was a very early [clears throat] ripening tree, and the birds would get that one. So you planted a tree for the birds.
CR: For the birds.
MW: Yeah. And then down in back we had apples and pears and plums, and you name it, we had it.
CR: Do you remember what kind of apples they were, or— ?
MW: Oh, they were Gravensteins.
MW: [laughs] And then I think we had a Transparent, which would be the first apple.
MW: And I don’t remember of us—probably had a later apple, but I don’t remember that. The Gravenstein was, and still is, as far as I’m concerned, the apple.
CR: The apple. So was your piece of property five acres, like—
CR: Five-and-three-quarter. And when you first moved out here, did your dad know anybody that lived out here?
MW: No, no.
CR: He just heard about it?
MW: Yeah. And they traded even up, the house in Seattle they traded for the property out here.
CR: Oh, where was the house in Seattle at?
MW: On 28th Northeast. 5549 28th Northeast. [laughs]
CR: That’s good! You remember that!
MW: Isn’t that wonderful? [laughs] The new memory is what’s bad. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] So they just traded with the family—Who was living in the house that you bought here in Alderwood Manor?
MW: Let’s see. Mr. and Mrs. [inaudible – Holt? Hull? Hall?]. What was—Oh, I can’t remember what their first names were. But she, he had a bad heart, and she worked at a bank in Seattle. And at that time, you couldn’t work and have grey hair, so she had—and that was the first person I knew of that dyed their hair. [laughs]
CR: Really? [laughs]
MW: Isn’t that ridiculous?
CR: Yeah! [laughs] Nineteen—what?—thirty-four?
MW: Yeah. So anyway, they almost queered the deal because there was a water assessment against the property that Mother and Dad had not thought to tell them about, and I think it was, like, fifty dollars.
CR: In—The property in Seattle.
MW: And I think it was around 50-75 dollars, which is just absolutely ridiculous now.
CR: So the house in Seattle, was it a—
MW: It was a five-room house. Two bedrooms and a single bath, a living room, and Dad added, had added on to it, so the kitchen had been enlarged so there was an eating space in that. And then it had a big back porch that in the summertime we would put a bed out there and we could sleep out and—
CR: Sleep there.
CR: So the house in Alderwood, what was it?
MW: Two rooms.
CR: Two rooms. [laughs]
MW: And a path—
CR: And a path, to—? [laughs]
MW: [laughs] The outhouse. [laughs]
CR: The outhouse.
MW: Yeah. [laughs]
CR: And so—
MW: We had a pumphouse, too—
CR: So how old were you when you moved—?
MW: I was eleven.
CR: Eleven. So did you feel it was a fair trade? [laughs]
MW: I didn’t really think much about it.
CR: Were you happy with it? Coming out here?
MW: Seemingly so, because—Of course, we were raised where you didn’t argue with your parents, which was a long time ago. [laughs]
MW: And what they decided to do was what you did. So the day we moved out, it was just absolutely bucketing rain. Oh, it was the worst day you ever saw in your life.
CR: What time of year was it?
MW: May 5th.
CR: May. Kay.
MW: And the next morning—Dad had to go to work that night in town, so—I don’t remember what transportation he took—but anyway, I—the day dawned, and it was the most glorious May day you ever saw in your life. The sky was blue, the sun was out, it was just, just gorgeous, you know. And I walked up to the—He had taken the Interurban, because I walked up to meet him, and that was my first time of finding my surroundings. [laughs]
CR: Because where was the Interurban stop then?
MW: In back of Wickers store.
CR: Okay, so it wasn’t too far from your house.
MW: Oh, no, no, no!
CR: You could probably almost see it.
MW: Oh, almost, but the farm was in the way. [laughs]
CR: Yeah, yeah.
CR: So—You moved in, two rooms.
CR: I assume your dad, being a carpenter, what did he do to the house eventually?
MW: Oh, well, he built the house that’s sitting there right now [Sno-Isle Genealogical Society’s building at Heritage Park in Lynnwood]. In fact, the back—the front bedroom and a little bit of the living room is the old house.
MW: And that just got incorporated into what is sitting over there now.
CR: And how many bedrooms did it end up having?
MW: Two. [laughs]
CR: And indoor plumbing, I assume.
MW: Oh, of course. [laughs] By all means!
CR: What year was that, do you remember?
MW: Let me see. [to self: Jan was married in ’40, I think, so]—It had to be sometime in—they were married in September, so it had to be sometime during 1940.
MW: And—Of course we did have the plasterboard, or the wallboard, or whatever you call it nowadays, up and the door was on the bathroom, but the rest of the house was two-by-fours, and you could look through from one room to another. [laughs]
CR: So it was kind of your father’s ongoing project?
MW: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
CR: Did he ever see it complete?
MW: Oh, heavens, yes!
MW: Yes, yes. It was—let’s see, I graduated in ’41; it was pretty well done in ’41.
CR: Oh, okay. And so then how long did your parents live in the house?
MW: Until they died.
CR: In— ?
MW: Dad died in ’76 and Mother died, I believe it was ’81.
CR: Okay. So they were able to have a long life there then.
MW: Oh yes. Oh yes.
CR: And did they continue the gardening and the trees up until the end?
MW: Oh heavens yes, oh yes.
CR: Still had many animals, or—?
MW: No, no, the animals had gone. Mother was—Dad died first and Mother had a cat. But she didn’t have any other animals.
CR: So when you moved here, you were eleven. Did you—Were you able to find any children close by?
CR: There weren’t any.
CR: So, who—Do you remember who your neighbors were on either side, or across the street?
MW: Oh, yeah. The—Well, there was nobody across the street at that time. It was still the Demonstration Farm. But Mrs. Hannah Parker, who was the postmistress for a number of years, lived next, just south, north of us. And Harry Bonine lived just south of us. He had a lot of, he had several double-unit chicken coops, and he had a brooder house, and an incubator house, you know, so we thought he was wealthy. [laughs] Whether he was or not, who knows.
CR: Wealthy in chickens. [laughs]
MW: Yes, yes, he was rich and he had capital.
CR: And Parker, did they have a farm, too?
MW: No, no. She had, I think it was three acres. Now he had been in the First World War, and had contracted tuberculosis, so he was over in Walla Walla in the hospital over there; they didn’t have a hospital over here that was for veterans. And so she lived alone, and, as I say, became the postmistress for a number of years.
CR: So you moved here in May and you said there weren’t kids, so that first summer, before school started, what do you remember doing?
CR: Working. In the garden—?
MW: In the garden, yeah. We—I can’t remember when we got the first cow, whether it was the first year or the second year, but— Well, we had to build the chicken coop first, and then it was built on the hillside, so down underneath the chicken coop became the barn. And of course years later, it became my sister’s daylight basement. [laughs]
CR: Oh! They built a house—?
CR: Oh. Where was that located on the property?
MW: Right where this house is sitting.
CR: Where the cottage [Alderwood Manor Heritage Association cottage] is sitting today.
MW: Where the cottage is, yes.
CR: Okay. So this would have been where your chicken—
MW: House was.
CR: —house, and your barn underneath, and then your sister turned it into—
CR: She just live in the basement then, or—?
MW: No, no, they tore it down. Because the freeway [Interstate 5] coming through took their, their property out.
CR: Oh. Where was she living?
MW: They were living off of Filbert, which is 196th, and, well, it was an extension of Filbert. Came up the hill, and made a right turn and went over the [Interurban] tracks across from the church, the little white church [Alderwood Manor Community Church] and then went on down Beech. So I—Well, there’s no cross street or anything to identify it now.
CR: In that area.
MW: In that area.
CR: You mentioned that you went and you met your dad when he came on the Interurban. Did you ride the Interurban into Seattle ever?
MW: Oh, I think maybe three or four times.
CR: Three or four times. And it was to visit people, or—?
MW: Yeah, or to go downtown for something or other.
CR: Did you ever go by yourself?
CR: How old were you then?
MW: Oh, geez, I don’t know. Maybe fourteen.
CR: And how was that? Was—
MW: Oh, it’s—The ride on the Interurban was great because they would, on the straight stretches, they would open it up and the train rocked.
MW: And so you, it was just like you were flying. [laughs] You were probably going forty miles an hour. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] But the fastest you’d probably ever gone.
MW: Yes, yes. It was really—And the trains that I had been on, of course, never traveled, or never rocked like that. We would take the train to Spokane to see my grandparents and—But that train never rocked on its—And at the time we were using it, it was a single car. In the early times of the Interurban, of course, it was two cars.
CR: Mm-hmm. So that was your big journey in to the city of Seattle.
MW: Oh, yes. Yes, yes.
CR: And what did you do when you got to Seattle, do you remember? Shopping?
MW: I—I guess it was shopping, or—
MW: Or maybe went to visit somebody; I don’t remember that. But it was, it was different.
CR: So you said that first summer you worked, and then school started. So what grade did you—?
MW: Well, I went and I started school when we moved out —
CR: Oh, so—
MW: There were still about six weeks of school left.
CR: Oh, so you were the new girl at the end of the school year?
MW: Yeah, yeah. And I had been in—In Seattle, they had A classes and B classes, depending on when you were born as to which level you would be in. Being a December child, I couldn’t start until the February thing, so I was, like, in 6B, and so for just six weeks later, you know, for the—they stuck me in the end of the fifth grade out here. And at that time there was one room of grade per grade.
CR: And was that a little different than in the city of Seattle?
MW: Oh, yeah! I went to Bryant Grade School, and there were several classes of my level.
MW: But the thing that astounded me was that they were having arithmetic out here that I hadn’t seen! So it was probably just as well they stuck me back.
CR: In the fifth grade.
MW: Yeah. [laughs]
CR: So then in the fall you started the sixth grade?
MW: Yes, yes. Uh-huh.
CR: Kay. But your sister didn’t go to Alderwood [Grade School], did she?
CR: Because she was older.
MW: She came on, she was a Freshman.
MW: So she went down there—
CR: She went down to Edmonds [High School].
MW: Well, she finished her Freshman year in Seattle at Roosevelt [High School].
CR: Oh, okay.
MW: And then she came out here and was a Sophomore.
CR: Okay. So do you remember who the fifth grade teacher was that you had when you came out here?
MW: Mm-mm. Mm-mm. [No.]
CR: And then how about any of your other teachers?
MW: Oh, there was Mr. [Thomas] Tucker, who was, I think, eighth grade. And—I didn’t like him too well. And there was Mrs. [Eula] Stallings. And Mrs. [Jennie] Beebe was principal, and when she would walk the hall, you could hear the drums roll. And she had quite a reputation; I’m sure she was a very nice lady. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] What was her reputation?
MW: She was mean. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Did you ever experience that?
MW: No, no, I didn’t. I was too meek and mild in those days. [laughs] Something happened in between. [laughs]
CR: Oh! [laughs]
MW: But Johnny Grand and Dick Hill met up with her paddle.
CR: What had they done?
MW: Well, they locked Mr. [W.H.] Osborn, the band teacher, in the trailer out in the backyard at the back of the school. [laughs] And he and—The boys had been in there, practicing their instruments, the triangle and the cymbals, [laughs] and the janitor came in and was talking to Mr. Osborn, so they boys left, and the door was there with the hasp on it, and it was just too much for them, they couldn’t resist putting the hasp [laughs] [inaudible]. And finally, Mr. Osborn and the janitor did escape. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] The janitor was in there, too?
MW: [laughs] Yeah, yeah, well, the janitor came in to talk to Osborn, you see—
CR: [coughs] Oh!
MW: And so anyway, the boys were invited to the office. [laughs]
CR: Cordially, huh?
MW: And they got a couple of whacks. And in those days, you didn’t go to jail for whacking a kid. [laughs]
CR: So were these two young boys, were they troublemakers, or was this just a one-time— ?
MW: No, no, they just—No, it wasn’t just a one-time [thing]; they were just full of holy-moly.
MW: [laughs] And they happened to have names that followed each other in the alphabet—
MW: —so they were constantly together. And they were very, very good friends, and were up to the ages of whatever they were when they died.
CR: And were they in your grade?
MW: Oh, yes! Oh, yes.
CR: Okay. So you went, they—all you go to Edmonds High School then?
MW: Oh yes.
CR: Ah. Did they get in trouble down there, too?
MW: Not that I remember. They got in trouble with Mrs. Stallings one time where Johnny was sitting in front of Dick, but he kept turning around, poking at Dick, and Dick would poke back, and Mrs. Stallings would tell them to stop it, and that sort of thing, and she’d be in jail now if she did what she did then. She finally got our jump rope out of the coat closet and tied Johnny to his seat. Well, that didn’t stop him from turning around. And in those days, we didn’t have Scotch tape, so she went and got a couple of paper towels and tied them around his face. [laughs] And Johnny got to sticking his tongue on the towel until, [laughs] until it came through and then he’d turn around and wiggle his tongue at everybody. [laughs]
MW: How that poor woman [laughs] kept her sanity—
CR: [laughs] It just kept getting worse and worse! [laughs]
MW: [laughs] And as I say, she’d be in jail now if she did this.
MW: But, you know, I knew Johnny for years after that and he was a really, a neat guy, still full of holy-moly. But anyway, the two of them, when they get together, even as old men… [laughs]
CR: Who else do you remember from Alderwood Grade School? Who were your friends?
MW: Oh, Mary Miller, she lived up Beech, to where the road turned, which isn’t there anymore. Marjorie Saxe, Hazel Macdonald—they were in high school. Irene De Graff, she lived up on Ash— up on 28th, I guess it was, or 24th. It was up on top of the hill, anyway. And—Well, right now, I can’t think of anybody, but …
CR: You said that Alderwood was a much smaller school when you came out, but was it a good school? Did you enjoy your time there?
MW: Oh, yeah, school was school.
CR: School was school.
MW: Yeah, alright. And my daughter ended up going there; my nieces went there, and my daughter went there. Then, of course, by the time she was through the sixth grade, they had Junior High, so… But in our day, you either went to the eighth grade and directly into being a high-schooler, which, during, well, when my niece, oldest niece, was going, it was too much of a stress to transfer your children from eighth grade to Freshman [in high school], so they made the Junior Highs so they would be able to transition.
CR: Oh, transition.
MW: Which, as far as I was concerned, was a pile of— [stops self]. [laughs]
CR: So, when you went to Edmonds [High School], did you take the bus from Alderwood?
MW: Oh, yes!
CR: Did it pick you up out here in front of your house?
MW: No, we walked up to the grade school—
CR: The grade school.
MW: —where the bus stop was, and, of course, in the pouring down rain, you didn’t carry an umbrella, you just let the water run all over you.
CR: Oh yeah.
MW: And, you know, thought nothing of it, and then you’d wear a wool coat, and by the end of the day, you’d open that locker and the smell of wet wool would knock you over. [laughs]
CR: You told me a story once about a paperboy.
MW: Oh, Howard Hill?
CR: Yeah. What’s that story?
MW: Well, we had a real thing going, and I think, it must—it was in grade school, because in high school we hardly ever saw each other. But he would deliver the Seattle Times, and of course it was about the same time each day, so I would casually walk out to the mailbox or the paperbox, and he would start whistling when he came on to Poplar, and then we would call each other names, or something or other. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] And then he would ride off, huh? [laughs]
MW: And he would ride off into the night, yes. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Ah, what a cad.
MW: [laughs] Yeah, right. Well, what a romance. [laughs]
CR: And was he your age?
MW: Oh, yeah. He was in my class.
CR: In your class.
MW: Mm-hmm, yeah.
CR: Where did your parents shop?
MW: Well, at Wickers, the Alderwood Mercantile. And I guess Dad would do some shopping down at the Pike Street [Place] Market because he was, his office building was a couple of blocks away from it. So he would do some of his shopping there, and then we had, we would take eggs up to Herm’s [Wickers], and trade them for groceries. And my sister, the dirty rat, wouldn’t take them up. I always had to do it: it was a lowly job. [laughs]
CR: Let Mary do it, huh?
MW: Yes, yes. So, Mary did it. I guess maybe that’s how I got pushy. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] And where did you shop, like, for clothes, or those kind of type things. Was there a place in Alderwood, or—?
MW: Sears and Roebuck catalog.
CR: The Sears and Roebuck catalog.
MW: And there wasn’t much clothes shopping that went on.
CR: Did your mom sew?
MW: Well, yes, but this was the Depression, and I think my dad made, like, sixty dollars a month, or something like that. Of course, at that time, you could live on that.
MW: Now you can hardly get through a day.
CR: When he traded the house from Seattle to Alderwood, was it a free-and-clear, or was there a—
CR: So he owned it—
MW: Yeah, evidently. I’ve said to Jan several times that he, they must have owned it, because the only thing that almost queered the deal was the water assessment, so, if they had been buying it, there would have been a contract or a mortgage on it.
CR: Yeah. Okay.
MW: So they, evidently, must have owned it, and they probably paid fifteen hundred dollars for it in those days. But again, the fifteen hundred was hard to come by.
CR: Mm-hmm. Now, you talked about the car, that first car—
CR: How did, eventually, he get a different car that was more acceptable to you? [laughs]
MW: [laughs] Yes, yes. I think maybe, oh, I can’t remember what year the car was. It was a Plymouth, and it was blue, and it was a four-door. It was luxury. I suppose—I’m trying to relate this to what year in school I was. Well, anyway, [clears throat] we finally did get it, and it was probably, maybe five, six years.
CR: That car was a little bit more acceptable to you. [laughs]
MW: Oh, yes. That one was, that one was a car. [laughs] That other thing, in the wintertime—we didn’t have a garage, of course; we were lucky we had a roof over our head—Dad would bring the points in and put them behind the stove to keep them warm so—And then he would take a kettle of hot water out to, and put it in the radiator because if it was freezing, we didn’t have antifreeze, so you had to drain the radiator. So, before he could go to work, he had to get the points out there and do whatever he did with them, and take the hot water out and get the thing started and let it warm up, and…
CR: It was quite an ordeal.
MW: Oh, yeah! It was a real production!
CR: Did your mom drive, too?
MW: No! [laughs] Oh God, no! [laughs] She [inaudible — damn near?] killed us! [laughs]
MW: We were driving in to my grandmother’s, and Dad was having Mother drive because she should know how to drive, and she was going to make a left turn, and there was a car coming, and she turned right in front of it. [laughs] And Dad had her stop the car and he had her get out and he got in. [laughs]
CR: Was that the end of her driving? [laughs]
MW: That was it. [laughs]
MW: And none of us would ever let her get behind the wheel again. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] I understand.
MW: [laughs] Yeah.
CR: So, what year did you graduate from Edmonds High School?
CR: And what did you do after that?
MW: Went to Seattle Secretarial Business School.
CR: For how long?
MW: Oh, I guess a year. I don’t…
CR: Did you get a job then, after that?
MW: Oh, yes. I had my first job.
CR: Where was that?
MW: It was Friedlander’s Jewelry store at Fifth and Pike [Seattle].
MW: Pike. Yeah, Fifth and Pike. And Louis, the father, was still in there. It was a family, of course. And Louis—I’m not good at accents, and I really disliked shorthand and typing, that was not what I wanted to do, but my mother said that this was what I was going to do, so lucky me. And anyway, Louis’ friends would come in, and of course they all spoke Yiddish, and he would say “Mein girl will take your letter.”
MW: So “mein girl” would sit there sweating bullets, hoping that I got everything he said.
CR: So he just offered your services to his friends?
MW: Oh, yeah! Oh yes! [incredulously] No big deal! [laughs]
CR: No big deal, oh, okay. [incredulously]
MW: If they needed a letter written, “mein girl” would do it.
CR: “Mein girl.” [laughs] How long did you work there?
MW: Oh, I suppose—not, not a year. And, of course, the war was on, and I got this wonderful job in the Smith Tower, on the twenty-second floor, and it was with General Cable Corp—
[end of side A]
[beginning of side B]
CR: [tape begins mid-sentence] —Smith Tower for a cable company?
MW: Yes, and there were about, I’d say maybe, fourteen, fifteen layers to the submarine cable. And so these were all funny names, like [Junkacoat ?], and [Junkaseal ?], and things of that sort. Well, I had never written any of that kind of stuff down in shorthand before. So, again, I had this wonderful experience of hoping I got it right. [laughs] I never did get fired, so evidently—
CR: Well, there you go.
MW: —I must have done it right. There was one time, Dale [her husband, Dale Holtcamp] was shipping—of course, during the war—and I came to work one day, and of course you never knew when the ship was going to come in—he was in the Merchant Marines—because of the big secrets that we had to keep. And, the fellow that I worked with—his name was Jimmy Johns, and I always thought his parents must have had a warped sense of humor—and so we went through this transcribing and doing all of this, and it got to be lunchtime, and Jimmy said, “Oh, by the way, your husband came in, called this morning, he’s in port.” You know, I almost jumped up and throttled the guy. [laughs]
CR: “By the way.”
MW: Yeah, “by the way.” And, of course, he didn’t want me to know because we had to get this correspondence out and he assumed that I would just dive away, you know. So, anyway, I punished him: I didn’t come back from lunch. [laughs]
CR: You never came back, huh? Ever. [laughs]
MW: [laughs] I came back the next day.
CR: Oh, okay! [laughs]
MW: But I didn’t come back that day. [laughs]
CR: When did you get married?
MW: December 21st, 1942.
CR: And where’d you meet your husband?
MW: At school.
CR: Oh. He was in your class, or—?
MW: He was in my Biology class.
MW: And [clears throat] the teacher was beginning to call order and this six-foot-two, skinny rail redhead came sneaking in the back [inaudible — part? door?] of the classroom and dropped his books [laughs] —
CR: Sneaking in, yeah.
MW: Sneaking in. And of course his name was before my name, so he sat next to me.
CR: What was his last name?
CR: Holtcamp, okay.
MW: And—[to self: Oh, I must go look to see if the bricks have been put out there.] But, anyway, he plunked down beside me and I looked at him, and he looked at me, and, I don’t know, I guess we went out a few nights afterwards. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] So how long did you work at the cable company then, after—?
MW: Oh, I suppose it was probably a year, or maybe more.
CR: And you didn’t get fired. [laughs]
MW: No, no. You know, I really was amazed that I—That first episode of shorthand was—I detested shorthand. God. [disgustedly]
CR: So, where did you and your husband live?
MW: Well, [clears throat] we boarded with a couple of people that I was boarding with when the war, well, when I went to Seattle to go to work.
CR: In Seattle, mm-hmm.
MW: Yeah. And then in—let’s see, ’42 we were married, so I think it was ’47 that we moved out here. Back out here.
CR: Back out here.
MW: Because he was from Meadowdale and I was from next door [to the AMHA cottage]. [laughs]
CR: So where did you live out here then?
MW: Right, right where the Wickers store is [in 2009 at Heritage Park in Lynnwood].
CR: Oh, so you built a house there?
MW: Yes, yes, Mother and Dad gave us an acre of ground. They gave us the endpiece from what was the middle section, so—Well, they had the middle and we had the north end. And we got this house from Navy housing in Bremerton, and I always said that our house had been imported from overseas.
CR: [laughs] Well, you’re right.
MW: Yes, yes. They were selling the Navy housing, and they had been pre-fab built, so when they roofed, they connected all the houses, they were all next-door to each other, and they were, all they had to do was take a saw and cut through the roof—
MW: —and separated the houses. And a friend of ours had been in the service and he could—get this [?]—I can’t believe this. We paid seventeen hundred fifty dollars for the house, a thirty-gallon electric water heater, an electric stove, and a wood circulating heater. And then they had to move it. So they had to jack up all these houses, put cribbing under them, back trucks under them, move them down to the bay, put them on barges, and there were three to a barge, and they had to be set up, of course, on cribbing there, and then they’d go into Lake Union, they backed the trucks under them again, and delivered them to wherever— [laughs]
CR: Did they take them through the locks [Ballard Locks] then? To get to Lake Union?
MW: Yeah! Yeah!
CR: And then put them on another truck and brought it out here.
MW: Yeah. And they—Of course, we had the foundation ready for it, and it went on absolutely square. And of course the houses were a bit grubby. They had had—This was ’47, they hadn’t been used for a couple of years, and when they had, I don’t think the people really kept them all that—
MW: —splendiferous. But, anyway, we had to—We painted it, and we picked out this color from the Sears catalog. Oh, Dad worked at Sears by then—
MW: —so we got his ten percent discount. We’ll use his ten percent discount!
MW: But anyway, we picked a grey. Well, it looked like a light grey to me. So anyway, we picked it. Well, when we got it, it was more what I called a Navy blue grey; it was ugly. And I kept saying to Dale, “Oh that’s terrible, that’s terrible.” And finally he said, “Damnit Mary! I can’t help it!” [laughs]
CR: [inaudible] You get what you get, huh?
MW: Yeah. And, well, it stayed that grey forever. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] You learned to live with it.
MW: Yeah, yeah. I wouldn’t have known which house to go to.
CR: So, the seventeen hundred that you paid for the house, did that include the moving?
MW: Oh, yes! That was it!
CR: Really? That was it?
MW: That was it!
CR: Wow. Do you know any other people that got those houses around here?
MW: Yeah, there’s one down in Edmonds.
CR: Is it still there?
MW: Yeah. And it was—Ours was a three bedroom, this one down there I think is a two bedroom. It’s never been added on to.
CR: Where’s it at in Edmonds?
MW: As you come down Maplewood Hill and you wander around to come down to Caspers corner, well, it’s kind of across from the Methodist church [Edmonds United Methodist Church, 828 Caspers Street, Edmonds].
CR: Uh huh?
MW: It’s a little, little house. It’s sitting there.
CR: Sounds like a great deal.
MW: Oh, it was! Such a deal!
CR: So how long did you live in that house, then?
MW: Well, let’s see. We added the garage on the first, the first year, I think it was. I can’t remember what time of year it was. It had to be in the spring. But anyway, we added the garage on, a double garage, and of course Dale really didn’t like building stuff, he was not a carpenter. And if he could finagle some way of going fishing, [laughs] he went fishing.
CR: [laughs] Good man.
MW: [laughs] Yeah, right. So anyway, we had, the roughing was in, the sidewalls were up, the roof was on, but the windows were on the north side, and they were not put in yet, and the door hadn’t been hung yet. And that winter we had the wonderful—Oh, God, [inaudible] forget—snow storm or… blizzard, I guess is what I’m trying to say.
CR: Uh huh.
MW: And it was really, snow was all over the place. And we had been at a friend’s house for Pinochle and dinner, so when we came out of their house, here was this snow, deep, deep. We had to dig the car out of their driveway, and got the chains on the car, and we got down to [Highway] 99 and the snow was so dry that it was blowing off it. So we had a heck of a time keeping the tires and the chains into the snow.
CR: Oh, my.
MW: So we get home, we roll into the garage, we go in the house, he turned the water on, and there’s no water. The pipes had frozen under the house. Now this is one o’clock in the morning, and we decided that we had to thaw the pipes out; we didn’t want them breaking. So we get a bunch of candles and we glue them on to a board, we crawl under the house. [laughs] We could have burned the place down. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] That’s what I was thinking.
MW: Yes, and of course we had faucets all open, so when it finally broke loose, we could hear the water running. And then we knew we could get out from under the house and go to bed. Then we did finally get—Well, he put the windows in very shortly after that.
CR: Had snow blown into the garage?
MW: Oh, yes, oh yes. Yes. And the wind. I’ve forgotten what strength it was, but it was, it was a real blizzard. And the door got put up shortly after that, too. The—I don’t remember whether we had the shakes on the outside or not, but anyway, it didn’t take long to get that taken care of. And then we added, I guess it was—No, we added the back porch on, which [inaudible — was like?] ten feet by eight feet, or something like that, and, of course there was no heat out there and the washer and dryer was out there, so in the wintertime I had to keep a hundred-watt bulb inside the washer so that it wouldn’t freeze. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Ingenious.
MW: Yeah. Things you’ll do. And then, before Joan was born in ’55, we added the living room and dining room on. So ours was the house like Topsy and just growed. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Just growed. And was your sister still living here at the time? Next door?
MW: No, she wasn’t here. She was up at her other house, off of Filbert.
CR: Oh, okay. So they only lived here for a couple of years, then?
MW: Oh, no. They moved here in ’60. They moved down here in ’60 or ’61.
MW: And we didn’t move out of here until—what?—ten years ago? When we went over to the condos.
MW: And, of course, I guess if we moved there ten years ago, then the park [Heritage Park] has been here for ten years.
CR: They started the groundbreaking in—Yeah, I think it’s been probably open about four or five years.
CR: So what kind of work did Dale do that he didn’t like carpentry?
MW: He was a stereotyper. [laughs] Now you don’t know exactly what that is.
CR: [laughs] No, never heard of that before.
MW: Well, it’s in the newspaper trade, and it no longer exists, but it was the process of taking the plates that the linotype make up to the plate that goes on to the press and prints the paper.
CR: Oh, okay.
MW: It was—All of the newspaper trades were a very good trade to be in, and they paid well. During the recession, their union had worked out so that everybody would have at least four days’ work a week [inaudible — for? or?] the majority of people. So everyone gave up a day or two every week, but they all survived. Anyway, he was still a stereotyper when he died, but then the advent of computers, where they can make it directly from the linotype people or [inaudible] heavy suffrage.
CR: Mm-hmm. Oh, yeah.
MW: So, I have no idea—I’ve often wondered what he would have done as a living after that.
CR: What year did he pass away?
CR: He probably would have done it a little bit longer, but—
MW: Oh, yes! Yes, yes. It was a number of years before it totally collapsed.
CR: And you mentioned your daughter Joan; is that your only child?
MW: Yep. One was enough.
CR: One was enough. [laughs] Okay. And then you remarried—
CR: What year?
CR: And still lived in the house then?
MW: Yes, yes. His house was farther down Poplar.
CR: Oh, he lived on Poplar, too?
MW: Oh, yeah. Well, we’d known each other for—Well, since his kids were little dinky, and before, long before Joan ever showed up.
CR: Ohh, okay.
MW: So—and his wife passed away of liver cancer.
CR: And what’s his name?
MW: Howard Wickstrum.
CR: Howard Wickstrum, okay.
MW: And—I don’t know. He came in one day and announced he was—We’d been friends, you know, as I say, for years—he came in one day and announced he was never going to get married again. And he said it several times and I said, “Fine, I don’t care whether you do or not.” [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Yeah.
MW: [laughs] And then something happened… [laughs]
CR: What year did you get married?
MW: Seventy-six, I guess it was. Yeah: my dad passed away that year, we got married that year.
CR: So you were still living in the house and you sold the property to the city of Lynnwood?
MW: Mm-hmm, right.
CR: And you still had your dad’s piece?
MW: Oh, yeah. Oh, yes.
CR: So the whole thing got sold as one?
MW: Yeah, yeah. Mm-hmm.
MW: We had been renting Mother’s house because she had gone in to a nursing home, and then it got to the point where it wasn’t worth our worrying of renting. Being a landlord is the biggest pain in the neck. I’ve been there a couple of times and no thank you.
CR: Mm-hmm. So, did the city approach you to buy it, or did you—Was it on the market?
MW: It was on the market.
MW: And this realtor came to see us.
MW: Of course, it was a big secret as to who he represented.
CR: Oh, really?
MW: Oh, yes, yes. But anyway, so we got our realtor and let them fight it out.
CR: And that was ten years ago?
CR: So eighty—
CR: About ’89, end of the eighties.
MW: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
CR: Okay. So, anything else you can think of about the old Alderwood Manor days?
MW: Well, let’s see—Jan and I were Rainbow Girls. Neither one of us wanted to be Rainbow Girls, but Mother just knew we should. And Mildred Hudson Nelson that lived up at the end of the road was also a Rainbow Girl, and she, too, couldn’t figure out why she was. [laughs]
CR: And was Rainbow part of the Masonic [lodge/organization]?
CR: Was your dad a Mason?
MW: No, my grandfather was.
CR: Oh, your grandfather was.
MW: No, my dad didn’t want to belong to anything much.
MW: Yeah, he was a freelance boy. But—Yeah, I—Helen Weigel and Mavis Slettebo are both gals that were, lived out here forever, and they were Johnny and Dick in female form. What those two couldn’t hatch up wasn’t worth considering.
MW: So, I guess it was once a month, we’d have a potluck luncheon, and those two would just drive you wild. [laughs] Whether they’re still with us or not, I have no idea.
CR: And so the Rainbow, did you meet over at the Masonic lodge then?
MW: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
CR: And what kinds of things did you do, besides the potluck lunch?
MW: Darned if I can remember.
CR: You can’t remember? [laughs] You just—
MW: We would have a meeting, I guess, once a month. We had to wear long, white dresses, and so—My dad wasn’t about to waste his time taking us up there, and so we would walk and we would wear our everyday shoes and carry our silver sandals.
CR: Oh, silver sandals!
MW: Oh, yes, you had to be up with it. And so sometimes the white dress had a few mud spots on it.
CR: By the time you got there. [laughs]
MW: Yeah. [laughs] And by the time you walked home. And of course, there was nothing to walking around here because the cars didn’t go that fast, and there weren’t that many, and how else were you going to get someplace?
MW: Jan was treasurer for [inaudible] Girls once, and we had to put some money in the bank and the bank was in Edmonds, so she and I walked down to Edmonds, [laughs] down Maplewood Hill, and going down wasn’t too bad—[laughs]
CR: But coming up—[laughs]. Was there any other clubs that you had belonged to, like through high school, or—? Rainbow was it?
MW: Yeah. Mother had been very active in her high school, so she was great on trying to convince us that we should, but, well, Jan is not a joiner, and I wasn’t much of one at that time. But—Oh, now I’ve lost it.
CR: Well, did your mom belong to any clubs out here?
MW: Garden club.
CR: The garden club.
MW: That was a fifty-year, or fifty-some year membership.
CR: The Alderwood Garden Club, I assume.
MW: The Alderwood Garden Club, yes.
MW: She would—They had a flower show one time, shortly after Jan’s house got built, and they set it up in the basement of Jan’s house. It really was fun to have them all there, you know?
MW: And—Because normally, it would be at the Masonic temple. And why they did it at her house, I don’t remember.
CR: So it was where they did flower arranging, and that kind of thing?
MW: Well, yeah, and horticulture.
MW: Yeah. And Mother listened—She was fairly good at arranging, but it wasn’t her passion. The planting the seed and getting the end result was her bit.
CR: And she had a pretty good green thumb?
MW: Oh, yes! Clear down to her shoulder blades, you know. And Jan and I, even today, you know, we say, “Well, where’s Grandma when we need her?” [laughs] She would plant seeds in milk cartons and have them on the windowsills, and then when they got big enough to be transplanted in to their next stage, then they would be moved out to the back porch. And then they would be moved to the cold frame that was outside, and then they would be distributed. And I had a fence around my place that took in a half an acre, I’m sure, and I would have petunias almost all the way around that. And Jan would have petunias; Mother would have petunias. [laughs]
CR: Because she had started that many seedlings.
MW: Oh, yeah! Yes. And then we had to save the fuchsia baskets, and over at the house, if they would just put back the patio, the structure, as it was, she would have so many hanging baskets over there that you could, I could hardly walk through without bonging myself on them.
MW: And they had latticework up on the east part of it with a big opening for window-like. And that would be all begonias and fuchsias and that sort of thing. And then down below that, they terraced it off and she had roses and other things in there. And I want them to put it back where it was, but the —
CR: Mmm, it would be beautiful.
MW: —the master gardeners don’t seem to… [laughs] That’s a whole ’nother ballgame. [laughs]
CR: Yeah. Did you go to the church, the Alderwood Community Church?
MW: Oh, yes, yes, and I taught Sunday school there, like a good girl.
CR: Oh, did you? Did you get married there? Where’d you get married at?
MW: No, we got married in the house.
CR: Oh, in the house.
CR: Okay, that was convenient. That was convenient.
MW: Mm-hmm. Well, see, it was during the war, and Dale and I came out one Thursday or Friday, I don’t know, either one, and announced that we were going to get married the next Monday, and—Well, he had just come in, he had a week, the ship would be in for a week—
MW: —and this is at Christmastime, and Mother was just furious. She didn’t want me to get married, I’d have thirteen children, and he’d be killed, and… [laughs]
MW: …because it wasn’t her idea—
CR: It wasn’t her idea, huh?
MW: Yeah, right, right. But anyway, bless her pointed head, she threw a party together, and the following Monday we were married, and she had a light supper going, and my mother-in-law and my mother got into a big fat beef in the kitchen.
CR: Oh! About what?
MW: [laughs] I don’t remember. It was something that we weren’t going, Dale and I weren’t going to do, or weren’t doing right, or something. [laughs]
MW: [laughs] And a friend, our friend who I boarded with, from Seattle—of course, we’d known her from day one—she finally told them to shut up. [laughs] A wonderful way to remember your wedding day. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. [laughs] Who married you?
MW: Reverend Burgess.
CR: From the church?
CR: Oh, he just came over and married you there.
MW: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
MW: And he was a short person, and Dale was six-two, and I’m in heels, we were about the same height, so you could only hear this voice coming up and we were blocking any view.
CR: Oh! Nobody else could hear him or see him, huh?
MW: Yeah, they could hear him—
MW: —but they couldn’t see him.
CR: See him.
MW: And so, as his habit was, after he’d done the deed, then he would turn you and introduce you as Mr. and Mrs.
MW: Well, he couldn’t remember the whole name, so he would say “Mr. and Mrs. Holt,” and Dale would say “camp,” and he would say “Holt,” and [laughs] Dale would say “camp.” [laughs]
CR: [laughs] They had a little routine going on there, huh?
MW: [laughs] Yeah, right. So, anyway, it took.
CR: It took, huh? [laughs] Even though the mother-in-laws had their little—
MW: Yeah. Right, right. Eighteen years later he [Dale] was drowned.
CR: So, your dad, though, you said he didn’t like to join things, so he was never—
MW: No, he was never—
CR: Did he have any old friends, I mean men out here that he ever got together with, or he just—?
MW: No, no.
CR: Pretty much just went to Seattle and did his work—
MW: Yeah, yeah, he was pretty much a loner.
CR: —came home and worked in the gardens?
MW: Yeah, yeah, and he worked himself loony.
CR: Did he? [laughs]
MW: Yeah. Because he would—We had a wood-and-coal [?] stove in the two-room house, and this Monarch stove was the focal point of the room [laughs], and so to get wood, he would go down in to the back woods and cut up things that had fallen, and there were a couple of snags, as he called them, that he fell, and he would cut them into, like, three or four stove lengths, and then he’d pick that up and carry it up out of the woods on his back, on his shoulders.
CR: And was it a cooking stove or a heating stove?
MW: No, it was a cook—it was a range.
CR: It was a range. So a wood range.
MW: Yeah, yeah. And when we moved in, there was no hot water tank, and of course our range had the coils in the firebox, so we somehow or other got a hot water tank. Well, every once in a while, the tank would start gurgling, and you’d have to go open the faucet, and the steam would come out. [laughs] Why we didn’t blow the place up, I don’t know. [laughs]
CR: Well, and you said when you first came out here, and you had a path to the outhouse—so what did you do for baths and such?
MW: We had the galvanized tub that we put the peas and the corn and like that in when we picked them to can, well we used that was the bathtub; and for my height, believe me, it was tricky. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Were your mom and dad tall people, too?
MW: No, Mother was about five-foot-six; Dad was about, maybe five-eleven.
MW: So, you know, they weren’t outsized.
CR: Yeah, yeah.
MW: But then I came along. [laughs] And Jan was always about five-six.
CR: So that was the peas, every—That washtub worked for everything.
MW: Everything went into the washtub.
CR: I bet you were pretty excited when you got the bathroom, then.
MW: Well, we almost didn’t know what to do. [laughs]
CR: But you had a bathroom in Seattle, didn’t you?
MW: Oh, heavens, yes!
MW: Oh, yes! Yes, yes. And in the outhouse, Mother had very nicely planted a Dr. Van Fleet rose, it’s a climber, and it’s an old, old, old—I don’t think they, it’s even in existence anymore. But anyway, she planted it in front of the door of the outhouse so you could walk in behind it and get in to the outhouse, but in the summertime, you see, you could leave the door open and you had this lovely rose bush and— [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Was it scented?
MW: Oh yes! Oh yes.
CR: Was it a nice scent?
MW: Yes, it was—If I had a place for a rosebush, and I could find one, I’d be very happy to have one because—
CR: And what was it called again?
MW: Dr. Van Fleet.
CR: Dr. Van Fleet.
MW: And it was a pink, kind of a—not a salmon pink, and not a pink-pink, but it was a very soft color. Lovely aroma.
CR: Well maybe we’ll see if the master gardeners can find us one.
CR: Thank you, Mary. This has been very fun. [laughs]
Transcribed by tv, December 2012