August 22, 2007; interviewed by JoAnn Rossi
[“Um”s and other speech fillers have been omitted.]
[Note: A third voice, male, can be heard on the recording periodically, talking in the background, or agreeing with comments made.]
JoAnn Rossi: [tape begins mid-sentence] […inter]view of Betty Bailey Arnold, who is a long-time member of the Alderwood community. I’m going to ask you some questions now, Betty. Here goes.
Give me your full name and your age, if you don’t mind, and your address.
Betty Arnold: Well, my name is Betty Bailey Arnold—Betty Anne Bailey Arnold. I was born in 1919 in Seattle. My parents’ name was [sic] John and Marie Bailey. We moved to Alderwood Manor in 1927. I started school in basically the second grade. We— In Seattle, I attended school there, and they had half-years, so I start—, because of my age I started a bit, a half a year, and so they [at Alderwood Grade School] put me back! That was a big shock to me. But, I had Mrs. Durbin [sp?], who was the most precious lady. And she was such a mothering person. I remember her so clearly and so dearly. She was really lovely. She salvaged me; I was so timid. I was a redhead, freckled kid, gangly, and I guess perhaps I was a little bit sort of self-conscious of my appearance.
Are there any other interesting things you’d like to know? I find that just reminiscing is so dear and interesting.
JR: Where did you live when you first came to Alderwood Manor?
BA: Well, we lived at Summit Station, which was the highest point between Seattle and Everett on the electric train [Interurban]. And our property butted right up against the railroad tracks, five-and-a-half acres that my parents bought for two thousand, five hundred dollars [$2500]. Can you imagine this? It was all stump land except for one stump, and a half-acre cleared. It had a house with one bedroom, a kitchen, and a living room. And we stuffed [laughs], we stuffed Mother and Dad and three kids in that little building. And it was a charming thing because the wind whistled through the cracks. [laughs]
We had a barn, and that was about it. Sort of a semi-chicken house. My father was not a farmer, but he loved the country. And the reason they came out was because there was transportation. At the time we came, we had to go through Bothell from Seattle to get to our place. And so we came up to Wintermute Corner [Mill Creek] and passed Martha Lake, and then up to Federal Way, and that was the name of our street. So we followed Federal Way on up to, across [inaudible] Road, which didn’t have a name, and then of course it was dubbed Bailey’s Road. It never stuck, but it was dubbed Bailey’s Road.
So that’s about the beginning—Well, I’d like to tell about the first day that we arrived at our home. Not the first day that I’d seen it, because the first day I saw it was on Easter Sunday in 1927, and it was a beautiful day. But the day that we actually moved in was pouring down rain, and it was May, the early part of May. And that’s what I can remember, how cold it was. And the living room had one single light hanging in there, and it was so dismal. Ooh! Anyway, one of the problems that we encountered was, we had a family cow, Molly. And Molly was, Molly was transported to our home by an Italian fellow that we knew, he had a truck and a truck driver [?]. And he had managed to—he and my father managed to get this cow in that back of that truck. Well the weather was so horrible they couldn’t get her out!
JR: Oh my goodness.
BA: [laughs] So we had to all sit around until it was daylight; she wouldn’t come out. Anyway they managed to get dear old Molly out of that truck and into the barn. Molly, by the way, had twins that year and the twins lived, but Molly didn’t.
JR: Did you have any other animals or pets where you lived?
BA: Oh, we had numerous animals throughout the time. We had— We came—we came with a dog, that was about it. The dog and a cow, yeah. We had a dog that we had had for many years, a black English [inaudible]. And, unfortunately—this was my father’s very, very big pet—unfortunately—Mike was his name—he came to a quick end under the wheels of the Interurban.
JR: Oh boy.
BA: That was so sad. But, that was the way it was. We kids, I think, managed to survive lots of disappointments in those years because it was accepted. It was deep Depression…
JR: That’s right. And did you ride the Interurban then?
BA: Well of course, because all I had to do was walk through five acres to the Interurban to go to school, and they issued a book of tickets so we could ride. One of the interesting events that I can recall on the—riding the Interurban was we stopped at Martha Lake. This was the change where the Interurbans passed. And of course right there, the Interurban right-of-way had cut through a homesteader. Mr. [Samuel?] McGhee. And Mr. McGhee would come out and meet the train, probably about the time when we kids were coming home from school, because it was in the afternoon. And he’d meet the train, and the conductor would do some of his shopping. He would bring McGhee his mail and of course the [inaudible]. One of the things I remember so vividly is whenever he would have fruit, he would share it with the conductor, and the conductor would share it with the kids. And the apples always smelled like the horse barn. But that didn’t matter. It was fun anyway! Can you imagine having a little horse manure on those apples? [laughs] Anyway, that’s one of the things I remember about riding the train. And of course very lovely because they had plush seats, they always had that, not a [inaudible], but head— oh—
JR: Little doilies?
BA: Doily-like. And it was always fresh and starched and clean, you know.
Man: No seat belts.
BA: No seat belts.
BA: But they had a smoking portion of that car, or of most of the cars. And— Of course, I never liked to have to sit up close to that area, I was always hoping to sit close to where the conductor was. So that’s about, I would say, some of the interesting things I remember riding the Interurban. It was sad when that actually was no longer available to us.
JR: That’s right.
BA: So the next thing we did was, we walked from our home, to the Martha Lake Road, which is 164th, and buses—not school buses, mind you—but Mr. Echelbarger had trucks. He had an ancient old bus. Broke down, I won’t say how often, but it was very frequent. So we rode this truck when they had wooden benches, and when he’d stop, we’d all roll forward to the front. [laughs] And whenever we hit a bump, you could imagine what it was like. I don’t know how we ever survived without serious accidents.
JR: You had a soc—I mean, what was the social life like where you lived? Because you were near Martha Lake, and your life centered a bit around there, did it?
BA: Well, yes, most— Really that was it. We had our own family that we spent a lot of time with. But our social life basically was the Martha Lake Community Club. And it was a building, as I was talking about some of my friends, it was a building like an old chicken house. And it didn’t have running water, or… The restrooms were privies. And it was heated by oil drum, and there was one gentleman that I remember so well, he was so faithful. Chub [Walter] Tutmark. And dear old Chub would be there early in the morning, stoke up the fire so we wouldn’t be freezing. On the perimeters, let me tell you, it was freezing cold! [laughs] Anyway, that’s where I started Sunday School.
Well, no, early on we would go, take the Interurban and go to church and to Alderwood [Alderwood Manor Community Church] where Reverend Burgess and, in the Masonic Temple because the Alderwood Manor Church was not built yet. But that was a little difficult for us, so we, most of our time was at the Community Club. And it was started by a gentleman by the name of [Thomas] Bellingham. And he and his wife [Mary] had this Sunday School; it probably was sponsored by some church group, but I don’t recall what that was. So, not only did I go to Sunday School there, but my children did!
JR: You mentioned the Masonic Temple. Did you have some activities there as a young— as a child? Attend anything there?
BA: Well, yes, actually the school, they didn’t have room for large events like Easter or Christmas plays, and they would hold it [sic] there. So that’s about as much as I remember. Well, of course later, the Garden Club always had their annual luncheon and everything, and that was a big thing for me.
JR: So was your family quite active in social affairs of Alderwood Manor?
BA: No, my family was not. My father worked very hard during those years. My mother was very [inaudible]; she was timid. She really never socialized. She knew the neighbors, and they were social, but she never joined anything. Her business was caring for her children and struggling. My mother was a child that was born— They claimed she weighed less than two pounds, that’s what the family said, and they never expected her to live. Well here she was, out there, struggling on the farm. I don’t know how she did it, I really don’t. Hard work.
JR: And this was in the time of the Depression, too, wasn’t it?
BA: Yes, absolutely. And she mended our clothes. How many times have we mended socks? As long as the socks held together, we mended. And I learned how to mend socks, let me tell you. I think one of the things growing up that was one of the most unpleasant parts of the whole business was washday. Washday, I always ended up having to do socks. [gasps] That was a horrible job! But it was to be done, and as we were always prompted, we all pulled together, you know. Everybody has to. And as growing up, when summer was coming along, my father and mother always grew a huge garden. Mother canned, Father made a wonderful root house with a little stream running through. And he would go out with our horse—By the way, we did eventually buy a horse, because we needed to plow. And—Tony was his name. And this horse would—Dad would take the horse and a stone boat [?] out into the stump land and he would find cedar logs that were rejected, pull them home… He made buildings, he made shakes, but this root house that he made was a huge log, cedar logs [sic], and then he covered it with dirt. So that’s where we stored our vegetables, Mother’s canned goods, when she—when they milked the cow; we didn’t have a separator, we put all the milk in pans, and then she would put it down in this root cellar, and as it cooled, the cream would come to the top, and she had a spoon—a special spoon—that she could skim that cream right off. I never learned the skill, it was much too hard. But for many years, I kept that spoon until our home was [inaudible].
JR: Did she make, churn the butter then, too.
BA: No, she didn’t churn the butter; we did. And sometime the butter wouldn’t churn. If the fat content wasn’t just right. If it was too warm, oh wow! It wouldn’t make butter.
One time we kids were just joking around, and we spilled the whole mess on the floor. [gasps] Mother was devastated, of course. But luckily we had a second dog and that took care of the situation. [laughs] So it was left to mop up the mess [?]. [laughs]
JR: Let me see, I was going to ask you about— During the Depression, did your family have a car?
BA: Oh yes.
JR: Some stage thing [?]. And what was life like during the Depression?
BA: Well, I think I touched on a little bit of that.
JR: Pretty much.
BA: We didn’t have a refrigerator; we didn’t have a washing machine. We didn’t have running water. Well, we got running water pretty soon after, but we had to dig the well deeper because the well that was on the property was basically service water. And as soon as the summer came along, why, the well would dry up and then Dad would have to carry water in big drums because we, we raised chickens, we raised— We had two cows, sometimes three. We also had hogs. So they all needed water. So we re— We actually, between my father and me, because I was the oldest, we dug that well deep enough so that it would keep water going the whole year. Then we had an electric pump.
JR: How did you take baths?
BA: [laughs] Yes. Let me see who had the bath first. I guess the baby was the one that got the bath first, and of course the washtub was the largest that we could— So we all—whether you fit in or not, you managed. [laughs]
JR: You took turns in the bathtub.
BA: Yeah, we took turns.
JR: Do you remember what it was like during World War II, which started in 1939? That was the end of the Interurban, in 1939—
BA: Yes, actually the end of the Interurban brought my husband to me. He and his family moved in across the Interurban tracks. And my father at that time was looking for someone to ride with. And so Verne [Arnold, her husband] had advertised for riders, and he had my father, he had a lady who lived on Meadow Road, called Mrs. Johanson [?]. Bless her heart, she was a widow trying to support, I think, four children. He also had Mr. Wintermute for a rider. And then another gentleman—I don’t remember who—lived at the bottom, right along Swamp Creek. But anyway, that’s how I met my husband.
JR: I see, okay. I was wondering—So, did you begin dating then, when you met?
BA: Well I didn’t like him.
JR: Oh! [laughs] Tell me about that!
BA: Father brought him— Well, my father had been talking about this nice young man, and I said, “Oh, there can’t possibly be anyone that’s just perfectly what you said [?].” Anyway, eventually he brought him home, and I thought he was a smart aleck. I didn’t like him. Mother invited him to dinner the next day, and she had short ribs. My husband does not like short ribs! I don’t know how he managed through it, but he was very [laughs] — he managed to survive that. We laugh every so often about that first experience of his. But that evening— As I told you, we had cows, and my mother made butter and we sold to the neighbors. We sold cream; we sold butter; sometimes milk. And it was my duty to deliver. So as the day went—the afternoon wore on, it was getting dark, and mom says, “You know, you’ve got to deliver this stuff to the Johnsons.” “Okay.” So I invited him along. Well, we didn’t take the road, because I had a short cut that ran from what is now Ash Way to Madison Way, and the people that we were delivering, had to deliver to lived on Ash Way, [corrects self] or on Madison Way. So I took a path that we had made—in fact, I think it was a path that some of the kids walked from that area to catch the Interurban many years before. Anyway, I didn’t know it, but I guess my husband Verne was, he was scared to death. He thought certainly some big, bad wolf would come out and eat him! [laughs] He never told me, of course, so he asked if he could hold my hand. And I thought, “Well, now, this is strange. I’ve never had anyone ask me to [laughs], if they could hold my hand.” So that was the first time I really had at least some impression, positive.
JR: And then when were you married?
BA: Well, we were married probably a year-and-a-half later. 1940.
JR: 1940. So you have been married, how many years?
BA: Sixty-seven years.
JR: Sixty-seven years. That’s wonderful, congratulations.
BA: And you know, he’s kept the romance going. He has. He’s never failed to give me one rose for every year that we’ve been married. You can imagine how—what a big bouquet I get. Well this past year, since he’s been quite incapacitated, he recruited a couple of cohorts to help him. And instead of buying me a huge bouquet, and give it—they would give it to me, he gave the roses to the— Well one of the people at the Chateau—we were living at the Chateau Pacific at that time. And they distributed them to all the dinner tables. So when we came down I saw roses on every table. And not only that, but he’d had a banner made over the entrance. And of course I got a lovely corsage.
Our youngest daughter and her husband were married on the same day of the month as we were, and so we celebrate often together, now, these later years. So they were there with us, and we had a four-course dinner, wine, and the Chateau really treated us nicely that time. It was wonderful.
JR: What a lovely memory.
BA: Oh, it was! It really was.
JR: And then you had children, of course—
JR: —and, now were you still living in the same area, around Martha Lake, when you and Verne married? Or did you —?
BA: Oh yes. Of course, I was living at home at that time. Well, for a period of time, I worked out. But by the time we planned to be married, which of course was May, I was, yeah, I was back home, I guess. So— We were married in Seattle at the church that he was baptized in. And now it’s a historical—it’s First Methodist in Seattle. And of course it was during those troublesome days of war and he was Naval Reserve. So very shortly after we were married he was brought to active duty. And our first child was born [inaudible – “on”?] Pearl Harbor, at that time, and unfortunately that child did not live. But it was a very frightening time for me because I didn’t know whether I was going to see him or what, because he was kept on base. He was at— I don’t know whether it was called 91 or 51. Anyway it was down in Seattle.
JR: Pier 91, I think it was.
BA: Pier 91.
JR: Uh huh.
BA: Pier 91. Was it? Well maybe that’s what it was.
JR: Unless there was another pier at that time.
BA: No, but they had a different number for it, and then it was changed.
JR: He was Navy then?
BA: He was Navy and had been brought back to duty. And so— They did let him come, just briefly, for about one hour off the base to see me and see our child. And then of course the child did not live, as I say. But that was a very frightening time for me.
JR: It had to be. Because you were still out here and he was down at the base.
BA: Yeah. Oh, yes.
JR: Did you have a telephone?
BA: No, we didn’t have—. The people who lived on Meadow Road were friends of ours, the Olsons. Ernest Olson. I played with Lenore. Lenore’s since passed; that was one of my girlhood friends. And I’d like to go back and say Frances Thompson was my very good friend. And the Janet family, who lived on Tenth [10th] Avenue. The two girls there, I knew them quite well, and a few others, but those were my closest girls growing up. And one of the birthday parties I had—my birthday is February, of course—and Mother had planned this lovely party, and they were all coming on the Interurban. Well they couldn’t, [laughs] because the snow was so deep! I think it was way up over my knees. That was a really rough—and that was, hmmm, that was probably 1930.
BA: I imagine 1930. Or— Yeah, because— It must have been; I was probably about nine or ten.
JR: That sounds right.
BA: I just had to remember, you know, Zelma [Janet] and Ethel [Janet]. Yeah. Anyway—
JR: And so are all of these people just memories now? I mean, are they, are any of them still alive?
BA: Nope. Well, now, I don’t know about Ethel, but I know that Zelma has passed. I’m not sure about Ethel; they moved to other states and so I haven’t seen her in years.
Well, and going to school, one of the things that I remember— the Stadler family. When I saw Emil, I just went, “Oh, my treat [?].” He was so heartbeat [?]. He wore a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and he strutted around like a cowboy. Very shy person, very shy person. But we really had eyes for one another. Anyway, he’d do nice little things for me, and we were in band together. Anyway, we never did anything serious in the way of friendship, but when we got into high school we did. We used to date.
JR: So you dated him.
BA: And you know, he had to go out and plow fields for the neighbors in order to get enough money to go to the movies [laughs] or whatever we were going to go, skating or whatev—
[end of side 1]
[beginning of side 2]
BA: [tape begins mid-sentence] …things I remember in school. I can remember every teacher I had, the ones I was particularly fond of, some I had great compassion for. Mrs. Fulkerson. Mrs. Fulkerson was a widow trying to support two kids. She was a very lovely lady. But she taught fifth grade, and fifth grade, the boys can be just obnoxious. And so they would just be on her case, and the poor darling would have to go out in the hall and cry. I was so irate, I— oh! I could have knocked the—those boys… Anyway, I never did anything, but I know how, how disgusted I was to think that they would pick on that sweet woman. Then there was Miss Turner, Miss Ruth Turner. But one of my very favorites was Miss Bush [sp?], because she had that artistic nature that I have, and we just hit it off beautifully. Miss Casper, she was my fourth grade [teacher]. She was a very charming young lady. Of course she was not married, so I guess that was [laughs] interesting too.
And I always sat close to certain boys, it seemed, because of our names. And one of them—one of them was John Barnes [sp?]. John Barnes was an aviator in World War Two and was killed over in Africa. And then there was Bob Thomson. Bob Thomson, bless his heart, came from a good-sized family that lived on what we call North Trunk or Martha Lake Road. And I still know members of his family that live close to it. His sister is ninety-four, still going, but Bob is not. But Bob, unfortunately, had a distinctive problem, and that was— During [the] Depression, the shoes we had to have weren’t of very good leather. And I’m going to tell you it was pretty tough sitting [laughs] in front of [laughs] these shoes [laughs], if you know what I mean. It’s a delicate thing but I— He was a dear boy. But oh sometimes I could hardly stand it. [laughs] Anyway, that was local fellows that I knew. But when I was in the second and—mostly the second grade, I guess—there was a cute little guy, his name was Teddy [Theodore] Drechsler. [to self: Teddy Drechsler. I think it was Drechsler.] Anyway, every day he would buy a candy bar, because we had available, if you could get to the store across the street, why, we could buy candy, you see, or ice cream. And he would give me his candy. Well, of course I wasn’t fond of him, but apparently he was fond of me! [laughs] Ah, he was a sweet thing. In fact, I think for several years he did that. Anyway, I don’t know what happened to Teddy. [laughs] It was interesting.
JR: Did you ever shop, or did your folks ever shop, at the Wickers Store?
BA: Well, my father knew Herman very well. He actually worked where my father did, years before he bought the Mercantile. So of course we shopped there. And Anita would get very irritated because Herman would take time with my dad. They’d go back in the warehouse, and they would laugh and joke about things that had gone on in the place that they lived, or worked, before. So anyway, I remember that. And of course it was very pleasant for Father to have a, have someone that he could joke with. Because my father was sort of a serious fellow; he spent most of his time working.
JR: Yeah. Did you ever attend the Juvenile—what they called the Juvenile, or Junior, Grange?
BA: No, we didn’t take part in that. We— Well, later, when I was a teenager, we always went to the dances. Oh yes! That was a big thing. Yeah.
JR: The Demonstration Farm, which was very close there to Wickers Mercantile, did you ever spend any time there at the Demonstration Farm, or your parents?
[momentary loss of quality in tape]
BA: …there were chickens, there were baby chicks there, so we would go down, and Dad would always have me— Since I was the oldest, I got in on a lot of things that boys generally do, and so that was one of the things I remember. As I recall we had a Ford Coupe, [laughs] and so we could only carry just so much in that Ford Coupe. But it was very interesting, and I can remember the smell. It had a baby smell. You know, incubators do. And so that’s what I recall mainly about the Demonstration Farm. And how beautiful it was, because we always passed it as we were riding the Interurban to home. It was always beautiful; well-kept.
JR: There were lots of nut trees, weren’t there?—
JR: —And berries, and— besides the chicken coops, and all that.
BA: Yes. And of course the, oh the poplar trees, too, that bordered it. And of course it set it aside from everything, and the white fences. Yes, it was very striking.
JR: How about high school, when you went on to high school. Did you—you must have met some new people there from—
BA: Oh, yes.
JR: —who came from other schools.
JR: And that was in Edmonds, in downtown Edmonds.
BA: Yes, I met a lot of people from Edmonds. But of course, being from Alderwood, we were kind of on the outside of the fringe, but that didn’t matter. We always find a friend or two, yes. Laura… Oh golly. Duston. Laura Duston and her brother lived in one of the old, old houses, and I was fascinated with this house. So they would invite me to stay overnight, so I got some of the fun of Edmonds, but I was never part of that clique. I knew them, and —
[pause in tape]
JR: Would you have any special memories that we haven’t covered, something that just might have stayed with you over these years?
BA: Well, I don’t think I mentioned anything about the brothers and sister. I had two brothers, Jack—well, John Bailey, Jr.—and Richard—Dick. Jack was three years younger than I was, and Dick was five years younger [than Betty]. But what was so outstanding in our family was the arrival of our sister. I was fourteen years old in 1933; Joan arrived. 1933. She was a blessing. Of all the difficult times during these years, we could hardly wait to get home to see our baby. My father was the same way. And I do remember her—she’s still with us, my brothers are no longer living, but Joan is living in Maple Valley at the present time. But with her arrival, it just slipped through those most difficult years, because it was very cold during that time. We had a freeze that started—I think it was about ’32 —it started in November and didn’t actually clear up until February. And the year that she was born, which was ’33, it was equally cold, and we couldn’t afford coal to keep the fire going, because of course you know we didn’t have a furnace, so we had one stove in the living room, one stove in the kitchen. And my father would go out with the horse and collect bark from the old stumps that were still standing. He would dig off this thick bark with his bar, and he would bank that up and it would be just like coal. It would last all night long to keep us warm. And when that child was born, she was born in January, right when it was extremely cold. But she was beautiful, and we all thought so. So that, I think, was one of the biggest blessings we ever had during the Depression. I think that’s probably the sum of what I can say about my family.
[pause in tape]
BA: … I remember Bert Gillis [Herbert Gillis]. Bert Gillis was a madman behind the wheel, but he never failed to deliver the newspaper. And during these real deep winters, like I mentioned being so cold and frozen for so long, by the time that the thaw came, why, the roads were nothing but just a mass of mud. But Bert knew how to whiz that—and I can’t remember what kind of a car; I guess he really wore his cars out, but he always had a new one. And he would gun it, and he would be airborne from one high [laughs] [inaudible] to the next! But he always managed to get the paper. And of course he didn’t come all the way down to our home, but our paper box was at the Y between our—Bailey’s Road—and Madison. And sometimes it wouldn’t be able—he wouldn’t be able to get through that sea of mud and he’d have to drop it off at Martha Lake Road. Anyway, I do remember this man, how faithful he was, but he had a drive that I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone [do] ever since! [laughs]
[end of interview]
transcribed by tv, November 2011