October 11, 2005; interviewed by Cheri (Stadler) Ryan
Cheri Ryan, Alderwood Manor Heritage Association: This is an oral interview with Shirley Keeler on October 11th, 2005, interviewed by Cheri Ryan.
Cheri Ryan: Shirley, can you please give me your, um, full first name with your maiden name, and when and where you were born?
Shirley Keeler: Shirley Grace Echelbarger Keeler, and I was born in Dupree, South Dakota, in 1921.
CR: And can you share with me how you got to Alderwood Manor?
SK: Well, I was not quite two years old when we left Dupree and—to come to Alderwood Manor—because my grandparents were all there. And …
CR: Your grandparents, who were they?
SK: Uh, Albert Fay Chase was my mother’s father and the mother’s name was, uh, Grace…
CR: And how did they get to Alderwood Manor?
SK: Well, you know, that part I might not know too well, because I, I, they were just always there.
CR: They were always there. Do you know when they came?
SK: Not really.
SK: They lived— I know that they lived in Woodinville because mother and dad were married in their house in Woodinville in about 1917.
CR: So they lived in Woodinville first —
CR: — before they lived in Alderwood. And your mother came out here first, or your father?
SK: Mother. Uh, dad was an Iowa farm boy and, uh, he got drafted, and mother was out here going to the University of Washington, and he, uh, came out, and when he got drafted he came out and they got married and he went off to war.
CR: Your parents knew each other before, though?
SK: Oh yes.
CR: Where did they know each other from?
SK: In South Dakota.
CR: In South Dakota.
CR: Had they gone to school there?
SK: Well, dad went in Iowa. I’m not real sure about that, now that sounds ridiculous but I’m not real sure about that. But they, they had lived in the same area for many years.
CR: So they were married, what year again?
SK: About 1917, I think.
CR: And then your dad went to war —
SK: Uh huh.
CR: — right away?
CR: And, was she pregnant when he left for the war, or…?
SK: Uh-huh. Well, if not, she, at least she had a child while he was gone. [laughs]
CR: While he was gone —
SK: Don was born.
CR: — Don was born. And then they moved back to South Dakota. Is that correct, or … ?
SK: No, when they came— Well, yeah, they did. When he got out of the service, dad wanted a homestead. Being a farmboy, he wanted a homestead. And so they went back to South Dakota and that’s when I was born, there, and of course as happened to many people, it just wasn’t in the cards for homesteading. And so they packed up in the fall of 1922 and, uh, came back to Lynnwood and I, as I say, I was just about a year-and-a-half old.
CR: And when they came back to the Alderwood area, where did they settle? Where did they land at?
SK: Well, they were in the Edmonds area. They found a house in Edmonds to rent, and dad went to work for, for the, uh, oh dear, it was an oil company here in town at that time, and they had a, down here, long gone but, uh, that’s where he worked.
CR: And were… I know you’ve had more brothers and finally a sister born. Were they all born, like, while you lived in Edmonds, or how long did you live in Edmonds?
SK: Not very long, ’cuz I was about, uh, … Dean— Don was in the first grade when we moved up. My grandfather had built this house in Alderwood Manor that was at, on Spruce and Wall [now 188th] at that time, and— The house, by the way, still stands. It’s being used and everything, it’s right there. But of course the streets have changed, as far as what they’re called.
CR: What are the streets called now? Do you know?
SK: It’s 188th and 40th.
CR: And who’s in the house currently, or do you know?
SK: I really don’t know and I’d love to find out. But I haven’t, I just haven’t taken the, you know, ’cuz I didn’t know who it was and you don’t know how receptive people are, and…
CR: So, it was, your grandfather had built the house.
CR: Was he living in it?
SK: And he was living in it, and then when he got a job at the Edmonds High School, he was “Pop Chase,” the janitor at the Edmonds High School for many years.
SK: And, uh, then they bought a place here in Edmonds and he and Bam moved over …
CR: And Bam was… ?
SK: That’s my grandmother. Grace.
CR: Okay. So, they moved—you kind of switched—they moved to Edmonds and you moved up to Alderwood.
SK: And we moved up to Alderwood and, uh, so Don, Don was just about halfway through the first grade.
CR: And when he was in first grade, was he going to school down here in Edmonds?
SK: He started here, in Edmonds.
CR: And then…
SK: And then transferred up there when we moved.
CR: To Alderwood.
CR: And, so he started first grade and you were probably, what? A year or two behind him, then, starting school?
SK: I was, yeah, I was two years behind him starting school.
CR: So you had to wait—
SK: Oh, yes.
CR: —to start school. Was that hard?
SK: How would I know? I was a happy kid. [laughs]
CR: You were a happy kid.
CR: Um, so once you moved to Alderwood, then your mother, she was still having children.
SK: Oh heavens, yes. [laughs]
CR: So, [laughs] will you share with me, then, besides Don [Donald], and yourself, then who was born after that?
SK: Dean [Leo Dean] was the next one. Kent [Charles Kent] was the next. And Dale. And Wylie, and Stanley, and Alan, and twenty years after Alan was born, we had a baby sister.
CR: Twenty years after Don. Alan or … Alan was your younger brother, Don was your oldest.
CR: So there’s twenty years between Don and your sister?
SK: No, there’s twenty years between me and my sister.
CR: Oh! So there’s even more between Don…
CR: So twenty years between girls.
CR: How did everybody feel about that?
SK: Oh! You thought that the world was coming, just absolutely blooming because everybody was so happy it was a girl!
CR: Was she spoiled?
SK: Of course!
CR: Oh, okay. And were you still at home when she was born, or…?
SK: Oh yes.
CR: You were?
SK: Uh huh.
SK: I was home. I worked. But you know, there was a lot to do and I, I guess I raised those, a lot of those kids as they were comin’ up, so I had a lot, a lot of responsibility.
CR: Well, I’m sure. Um, so tell me about Alderwood Grade School. You started there; it was first grade?
CR: And you went— Was—It was an eight-year school?
SK: Uh huh.
CR: Can you tell me any memories, teachers’ names?
SK: Oh my goodness. Miss Wines [sp?] was my first-grade teacher, and I think she was my second-grade teacher also. Mrs. Durbin [sp?] was the third-grade teacher. Mrs. Fulkerson was the fourth-grade teacher. [sighs] I’m stallin’ a little on this one.
CR: That’s okay, we can come back.
SK: Yeah. But we had, uh … oh, dear … Tommy Tucker was one of them, and there was one other one. Our class was so big that, that they had two, they had two teachers for my grade and they had two different classes.
CR: From the time you were in first grade, or did it grow?
SK: No, it was just in the, in the eighth grade.
CR: Oh, in the eighth grade you became two classes.
CR: You were one class up until then.
SK: Pretty much.
CR: And the principal—Do you remember anything about the principal?
SK: Jennie F. Beebe!
CR: And what do you remember about her?
SK: She was quite a gal. She, uh, she was very strict, and tough. And it was probably a good thing.
CR: And was she the principal the entire time you were at Alderwood, that you remember?
CR: Do you remember when she left Alderwood?
SK: No, I don’t.
CR: So from Alderwood, then … you were there the whole time. Did you ride a bus, or did you walk to school?
SK: We walked to the bus, and it, uh… Well, for grade school, we just walked, ’cuz we were under a mile. And, uh— But high school, then, we had to walk down to 196th, which wasn’t the name back then, but it is now.
CR: What was, what was 196th called back then?
SK: Oh, Alderwood Road, I think.
CR: Alderwood Road. And it went down into Edmonds?
CR: So you caught the bus there?
SK: We caught it right at Spruce Way and, uh, and the bus took us to Edmonds.
CR: It took you to Edmonds.
CR: Was that a treat, getting to ride a school bus? Or… ?
SK: I don’t know, I just guess you accepted it.
CR: You just did it.
CR: You did it. So when you were in grade school, who were your friends?
SK: Oh my goodness sakes. Well, the girl across the street was Mary Denby, and she and I had grown up together, and one of my good, good friends, and still is my friend today, is Jean McClellan Hoff. And, uh, oh there were a lot of them, but those were probably the main ones.
CR: Probably because they were close, like you said, across the street, so you probably played with her a lot?
SK: Yeah, we were close.
CR: What kind of things did you play?
SK: Well, I’m sure it had baseball, or… I have always been very athletical and I think it was self-defense. [laughs]
CR: Brothers didn’t want to play with dolls, did they?
SK: No! [laughs]
CR: And you talked about helping raise your brothers. Did you help your mom—in what ways—around the house?
SK: I don’t know, I was always busy. Uh, I helped with the washing, I did the ironing. I changed the beds, I … I can remember being sure that the little boys were all dressed for Sunday School and ready to go on time and clean. Uh, just … Man, I guess I should have been a nanny! [laughs]
CR: When you talk about Sunday School, where was that at?
SK: Well, it started out in the Masonic Temple, the— We didn’t have a church, and uh, so they, that’s where it started. Oh, I guess it started across the street in the buildings across from the old Masonic Temple. And they had Sunday— classrooms in there, and the church and all the rest of it was up above, too, and, I mean, they used both buildings, and uh… We also used the … the, uh … oh, what’s the little one over in the Demonstration Farm? The community kitchen, they called it. And, uh, we used that building for lots of things. For, uh, not just church and stuff, but we had socials there, and dances, and I mean you, you created, our parents created their fun. It wasn’t there to go to, you know what I mean? And uh …
CR: And so the, then the church— From the community hall you started the Masonic Temple. What was the name of the church?
SK: The Alderwood Community Church.
CR: It was Alderwood Community Church —
SK: It was Alderwood Manor Community Church, originally. I think they’ve dropped the “Manor” now.
CR: And so, you said, you, one of your jobs was to get the boys ready for Sunday school —
SK: Oh my, yes.
CR: And did your family always go to that church?
SK: Oh, yeah.
CR: Were any of you married in there?
SK: Frank and I were.
CR: You were. Other of your brothers and sisters, do you remember?
SK: Uhh… [starts going through siblings’ names to self] Oh, I, I can’t remember.
CR: Okay. And, when— What kind of things— Like you said, your parents created things for you to do. What kind of things were there for you, like at the school, to do? What kind of classes were you taking? Just, you know, there’s the typical things, but —
SK: Yeah, that was it.
CR: — did they have other activities or sports?
SK: Not too much. They did have a huge play area behind the school, and it had the rings, you know those … what do they call them? The things that you go around and around on, and … Anyway, they had things like that to do, and I seemed to enjoy that very much.
CR: Playground equipment kind of stuff.
SK: Yeah. Playground equipment. And there was, oh, I don’t know, we were always busy.
CR: Did the school, like, did they put on plays, or… ?
SK: Oh, yeah. Uh, I can remember some, but not… It didn’t really make an impression on me.
CR: When you went down to Edmonds High School, how was that different than going to Alderwood? Was it a lot bigger?
SK: It didn’t bother us. I mean, yeah, it was different, but, uh—
CR: Were there— There were kids from— Of course the Alderwood kids went down, but where did the other kids come from, that were going to Edmonds?
SK: They came from Esperance Grade School and the Edmonds grade school. So there was the three different schools that drew to it, yeah.
CR: And did you feel like you all became one, or was it —
SK: Pretty much.
CR: — each school had their little clique?
SK: Um, …
CR: So what year did you graduate from Edmonds?
SK: In 1939.
CR: And do you remember how many were in your class?
SK: I think it was about 116.
CR: Oh! That’s pretty large!
SK: Oh, yeah.
CR: And did you do anything special after graduation? Was there a commencement exercise?
SK: Oh, yeah. Oh my, yes. Edmonds High School, that was the first time they did some remodeling on it, was the year that we graduated, and, so consequently, the auditorium was all torn to heck. And… But! The Alderwood Grade School had had a new platform, or a stage, built on the activity room there, the gym, and that’s where we graduated from.
CR: You went up to Alderwood Grade School—
SK: Alderwood Grade School. [laughs]
CR: — and had your commencement up there? Oh!
SK: That’s where we had it!
CR: And then, after the commencement, was there a party, or any kind of celebration?
SK: Oh, nothing big.
CR: Nothing big, just went home?
CR: Went back to doing chores probably.
SK: Probably. [laughs]
CR: So, after graduation, did you go to work?
SK: Yeah, I, well… I… Oh yeah, I worked at Butler’s Echo Inn, which was the favorite hangout of all the kids at Echo Lake. And I worked there for a while, and I … I drove an oil truck, I did— I did all kinds of things.
CR: Well, speaking of the oil truck, is that the business your dad had at that time?
SK: Yeah, yeah.
CR: And is that the business he always had, or … ?
SK: Um, well, he always had a truck; he was in trucking from the time I can remember. And there’s pictures around town that you’ll see of his truck. It’s got a chicken on the side of it and there, there used to— I don’t know exactly where they are right now, but there are, there are pictures around Lynnwood…
CR: And was that a truck for— That wasn’t an oil truck, that was a different, like a —
SK: Oh, no no no, this was —
CR: For hauling, for freight?
SK: For hauling, yeah.
CR: And what did he haul?
SK: Oh, he did moving jobs, and he, he went to Seattle Monday, Wednesday, and Friday if anybody had things to be picked up, and— It wasn’t a real lucrative thing, but it worked out. And then the oil business came along and, uh, it just went from there.
CR: From there. And that was, became kind of a family business?
SK: Yeah, it did.
CR: And how many of your brothers were involved with that?
SK: Uh, there were, uh, let’s see… [to self: Dean, and uh, Wylie, and Stan.]
CR: Did they take the business over from your father then, or … ?
SK: Um, yeah, eventually Papa just… Well, he moved to California for his health, and, uh, so then he opted out and the kids took over.
CR: When did your father move to California?
SK: Uh… Gosh, I don’t know…
CR: Was your mother still living, or … ?
SK: Oh, yes!
CR: They both moved then?
SK: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah! But dad was, you knew he was an arthritic…
CR: Yeah. Was your sister, had she finished school, and …?
SK: Well, she was, yes, she… Well, I don’t remember that because she went places with my mom and dad when they would take a trip. They’d take Jeanne quite frequently. They went around the East coast and did a, a New England trip, and they took their little trailer and their daughter, who— She was in, I don’t know whether it was junior high or high [school] at that time, but the profes— She went to the teachers and they gave her permission to go and gave her the work that she needed to cover and so she went. She got a lot of things like that that the rest of us didn’t. But it didn’t matter to me.
CR: Did she graduate from Edmonds, too, or … ?
SK: We all did.
CR: You all did. And so when your parents left Alderwood, what happened to the house? Did they sell it, or …?
SK: Yeah, it was. Sold.
CR: And were you married by that time?
SK: Uhh… I can’t remember when they left. We were married in, uh… See, I can hardly remember that. It’s been that long. [laughs] Well, no, we were married in ’44, and, uh… Gosh isn’t it crazy?
CR: Well, I’m gonna come back to you being married. I want to ask: when you lived in Alderwood, where did your parents shop?
SK: Well, Papa went to Seattle, like I told you, and he hauled groceries for Dahlin’s Red & White Store, and Wickers, and so most of our grocery shopping was that way. Otherwise it was probably done through the catalog.
CR: Most things, besides groceries, the things you needed, like clothes …
SK: Clothes. Most of it would be in the catalog.
SK: Or Montgomery Ward’s, either one.
CR: Was that a big deal, when the catalogs would come?
SK: Oh, my, yes! We’d just flip through it! [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Would you fight over it to see who got to look first?
SK: No, it was a guy that said, “Mon dibs… I get— Mon dibs to get the first,” and so whoever said it first got it.
CR: That’s how it worked?
CR: Did your, um, did your mom drive?
SK: Well, sadly, yes. [laughs] Mother was not a good driver, but she, she could drive.
CR: If she needed to, to —
SK: Yeah, to go to the grocery store, or if nobody else was around, or… But, uh, and she would drive, she drove to church if nobody else was around.
CR: And do you remember where you got your mail? Was it delivered to your home, or did you have to go…?
SK: Uh-uh. Our mail was always delivered, that I can remember.
CR: And it was probably a Route 1 address, or …
SK: At that time, yeah. Yeah.
CR: Okay. And you said that— So those were basically how you got your groceries, your dad just would bring home what your mom needed. She probably would give him a list, maybe, or…?
SK: Yeah, probably.
CR: But he was hauling things from Seattle out to the grocers for them.
SK: For their stock, yeah.
CR: Okay. And, so, now tell me: you talked about you got married in ’44 —
CR: — to Frank Keeler.
CR: And how did —
SK: Carl Franklin Keeler.
CR: Carl Franklin Keeler. How did you meet?
SK: Ah, I guess we’ve known each other all our lives. His folks, of course, are from Keeler’s Corner, and he— They moved, he moved down when he was about, oh about 7 years old. No, he wasn’t that old. But he was— No, he wasn’t, he was much younger than that. But he was just a little kid. And, uh, and there, there was a, oh there was, the Legion had a deal then that the people would go to the meetings and just, they were little hometown things, that, uh… So we had known, my folks had known Keelers since they probably first came there, and they came in 1927 from Canada. Frank’s mother was a Canadian.
CR: And, are you, were you in the same class at school?
CR: No? Okay.
SK: Frank was, Frank was— No, I’m three years older than Frank.
CR: Oh! You got a younger man.
SK: You betcha.
CR: A younger boy!
SK: [laughs coyly]
CR: Did that make some of the girls jealous?
SK: I don’t know. I didn’t, I really didn’t care. [laughs]
CR: So, but, you didn’t, when you were in high school, you were probably friends, but —
SK: Oh, yeah. We’d known each other. But, uh, it wasn’t until, uh— Well and then I, I wanted to go to college, and I had an uncle that taught at Oregon State, and he told mom and dad that he, if they would let me go, that I could babysit for them [uncle and aunt], and they’d take care of me. So, that’s what I did. And I went to Oregon State, and I took a secretarial course because I wanted to get, so that I could work. And, uh, so I took it— I went one quarter, and that’s when my mother, I came home for spring break, and my mother announced that she was pregnant with my sister. She didn’t know it was my sister at that time, but— So I had to leave school. I mean, I couldn’t go back.
CR: You needed to help out.
SK: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. She had to have help.
CR: So, you just, you came back to Alderwood after that one quarter and did you go to work someplace then, or … ?
SK: [laughs] Right around home.
CR: Right around home.
SK: Yeah. Bam lived in the house next-door, Bam and Daddy Al. So we, we had a lot of things to take care of and— But there was so much to do. We had canning, we had, uh … And the boys were even good about it. Don was excellent. We took a trip one time to Spokane to see some relatives and they took part of the kids and Don stayed home with the rest, and while he was gone he canned all the green beans. And he was, he was not very old, either. But he did it.
CR: These green beans—were they from your garden?
SK: Out of the garden!
CR: What other kind of things did you have in your garden?
SK: Oh heavenly days! We had apple trees and we had prune trees. We had all kinds of trees. And, uh, we also had pigs, and we raised pig feed, as well as all the ordinary garden vegetables that you have, and, uh, we had plenty. So…
CR: Was your house on one of the typical five-acre tracts that Alderwood had done?
CR: So, did you have any other animals besides the pigs?
SK: Oh, yes! We had cows, and we had rabbits, and we had chickens, and we had … [sighs]
CR: So —
SK: We had them. [laughs]
CR: — and so, the garden and the animals were to feed you.
SK: Oh, yes. Oh yeah.
CR: They weren’t for selling to make money, or … ?
SK: Not at all. It was just a matter of keeping ahead of it.
CR: Keeping ahead. When, uh, like if you butchered a pig, was the meat canned, or was there a locker, or … ?
SK: At the beginning… You know I can’t really remember, but when the lockers came in, it went into the lockers.
CR: Where was the locker at?
SK: Right in Alderwood.
CR: Do you remember the name of it?
SK: Uh, yeah. Oh dear. [to self: What was their name?] It’s been a few years. But they were there. He had a— He was a— It was a meat market and the lockers.
CR: So you just rented a locker and would keep your meat there and go get it when you needed it?
SK: Yep, yeah.
CR: Besides that, you mentioned the Red & White and Wicker’s. Do you remember any other businesses in Alderwood?
SK: Oh yeah, they … Yeah, we had a hairdresser, and we had a haircutter, and we had a, uh, Leland Walters had the little gas station and he was a repairman. And then there was a grocery, a meat market next to that. And, uh, … I don’t want to get too far ahead because, you know … and that’s about all I can think of right there.
CR: How about a library. Was there a library in Alderwood?
SK: Yeah, there was a library, but it was clear up at, on, uh, 36th [Ave W] and, you know where you cross 164th [St SW] and then it becomes 35th [Ave W]?
SK: As it goes this way? Well, right about there was the library.
SK: And my, Frank’s grandmother was the librarian.
CR: How long was the library up there for?
SK: Oh, I, I really don’t know! It was always there, as far as I knew. And when it quit, I don’t, I can’t remember that either.
CR: What was his grandmother’s name, do you remember?
SK: Of course! It was Lillian. Keeler.
CR: And she was the librarian?
CR: Was it a very big library?
SK: No. Just, just a small house, really.
CR: And did you ever go there and check out books, or … ?
SK: No, no.
CR: It was far, pretty far for you to go?
SK: Yeah. Well I couldn’t walk, you know, ’cuz it was— Where we were over on 164th, it was—
CR: I know there was Martha Lake and Lake Serene they used to call Mud Lake. Did you ever go to those lakes in the summertime?
CR: Would you walk there, or go as a family, or … ?
SK: We used to, it’s the one time we used to take the old ’55 [Seattle-Everett Interurban trolley] up and go to … But then, when we went to, um, Lake Serene, which is Mud Lake, uh, for years and years and years, Mother and Dad took us, and there, they had a swimming hole and the fathers would build a dressing place for the ki—for everybody. And, uh, somehow or other in the wintertime, the fishermen would come along, and they’d use that fence for wood for their fire. So every year they’d have to rebuild that fire [fence]. [laughs] But we swam there for years. And then, of course, they eventually sold it off and that’s where Lou Williams lived. And, uh, so then we had to do something else, and so we went over to Martha Lake, and they gave us, with a fam—
[end of side 1]
[beginning of side 2]
CR: So at Martha Lake it was a resort, or a park.
SK: It’s still there today!
CR: The resort. And so they would charge for you to come into it …
SK: But they gave us a season ticket.
CR: A season pass.
SK: Yeah. And it worked just fine. And, hey, we never even stopped at the gate, we’d just wave and go on. [laughs]
CR: They knew you well.
SK: Very well.
CR: So is that something you would do as a family on the weekends, on Sunday, or did you kids do during the week, or … ?
SK: Well whenever we could get away, we did, yeah. But I can remember thinking, ‘Darn, why didn’t I cut the kindling earlier?’ or something, you know, ’cuz I wanted to do something and I didn’t get to because the kindling wasn’t cut and that was my job. [laughs]
CR: Your job was to cut kindling?
SK: Cut kindling. That was one of them that I did.
CR: That was probably an important job.
SK: Oh yes! Gotta get the fire started!
CR: So, did it seem like each one of you had your own specific job? Or was it more of everybody just pitching in?
SK: I, I think so. I mean, the boys would have told you that that bossy old sister told us what to do and how to do it, and… [laughs] But sometimes I had to kind of push a little [laughs] to get any help. [laughs]
CR: That’s probably understandable, you being one of the oldest. You’re the bossy sister, huh?
SK: Yeah, that was me.
CR: On Sundays, your family went to church, then what else would you do? Would you come home and have a big dinner? Would you go visit friends … ?
SK: No, with a, the number of us, we didn’t go visiting too much. But we had people come in. And we always had dinner on Sunday about 2 o’clock, seems like it was always chicken, and uh, but we always had a nice meal.
CR: You mentioned earlier that your grandfather and your grandmother moved, that they were living next-door to you—So they moved back up from Edmonds.
SK: Oh yeah.
CR: Were they living on your property or did they buy another piece of property?
SK: Well it was a, I, I’m not sure if they ever bought— They must have bought that property, or Pop probably deeded it to them. But, uh, because they, they lived there … [to self: Oh, what has it been?] … They lived over on 196th [St SW]. Know where Conklin’s is, at 196th?
SK: Well that, that is where their old house was. It’s long gone now, because they’ve rebuilt. But they lived there for a long time when they came up from Edmonds. And then, I can’t remember if Daddy Al had passed away—I think maybe he had—and I can’t remember the year. But, then, they built a house down on this corner of our, of Papa’s property, for Bam, so that…
CR: So the house was most likely on your property—
CR: — on the corner of it?
CR: You referred to “Papa,” or “Pop” —
SK: Well, I call my dad “Papa” now, and I, I know the kids didn’t call him “Papa,” but I don’t know why I do. But I do. It just comes out that way.
CR: Is that what you called him when you were little?
CR: You called him “Dad”?
CR: And your mom was …
CR: Was “Mom.”
CR: But now you refer to him as “Pop.”
SK: As “Papa.”
CR: But you don’t know when that started?
SK: Well, it was, it was long after Frank and I had been married, I think. Because Frank worked for my dad in the auto freight.
CR: Was he working for your dad when you got married?
SK: No… I have to really wrack my brain here.
CR: Well let me ask you this: how did you and Frank— you knew each other for a long time. How did you actually get together then?
SK: Well, I think it was his fascination for trucks. I really do. He just— Maybe, maybe he was working for Papa at that time. I really don’t remember when he started. But, uh, he went to work there.
CR: So he was around a lot?
SK: Oh, yeah. Yeah. But I, well and he was, uh, also an athlete, and I’ve always been athletical. And so we had weekend ballgames, and stuff like that, and uh, so we always would go to those, and, uh, it just was supposed to be.
CR: You said your parents were friends with the Keelers.
SK: Oh yeah.
CR: Who— Do you remember any other families that your parents were friends with?
SK: Oh, heavens, yes. There was Gert [Gertrude] and Harry Hill, and there was Emma and Charlie [Charles] Thompson, and there was, um, [inaudible whispering to self: Oh, there’s a lot more than that.] … hmmm…
CR: Were these neighbors, or were they church people, or how — ?
SK: They lived all around us. Some of them were just down the street this way, and some were up the street this way. But they had a good nucleus of friends. They called themselves the Dirty Dozen. [laughs] They played cards.
CR: What kind of cards?
SK: Pinochle! And, uh, but they’d get together once a month, and, uh, and they’d all come and … Why can’t I think of who … Oh, Walt, and, um, Marla. He was the mechanic— Dick, Walters is his last name.
CR: A mechanic … Oh, that had the gas station.
SK: That had that gas station in town, yeah.
CR: Where was the gas station at?
SK: It was right, oh, let me see. Oh, there’s nothing there now. It’s where the new thing went [possibly meaning the Lynnwood Convention Center?]. But it was right on, uh … Remember how 33rd [Ave W] used to come around like this?
SK: Well, it was right, just right there, on 196th.
CR: So right, kind of in the center of old Alderwood?
SK: Oh yeah.
CR: So he was the mechanic.
CR: So he was one of the Dirty Dozen?
SK: [laughs] He was one of the Dirty Dozen. [laughs]
CR: And would they, like, uh, take turns having it at their house?
SK: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
CR: Would you kids get to go, or no?
SK: Oh, no no! No no.
CR: That was grown-up time?
SK: Yeah, grown-up time.
CR: And did they just play cards, or did they have dinner first, or … ?
SK: Uh, I, I think once in a while they would have dinner, but the majority they just would have a little refreshments.
CR: And did they play for money, or … ?
SK: I don’t know.
CR: [laughs] You don’t know.
SK: Probably not, because it’s all on paper, I think, with them, because I don’t think any of them, at that time, you know, things were not that lucrative and …
CR: And that brings me to, because of the Depression: did you feel it, as a family? Um, or… do you think … do you think about … I mean, were you aware of it at the time, I guess.
SK: Um, my mother was a seamstress, and so she did a lot of sewing, and so she made over a lot of things, and, uh, … But no … Yes, I mean, yes, we realized things were tight, but I don’t think it really, um, uh, made that much of an impression …
CR: Your dad was always able to find work?
SK: Well, yeah, he had the truck, and he had this, he went to Seattle back and forth, the auto freight.
CR: And… [pause in tape] I was wondering, when the war [World War II] came along, did that make a big impact on your family? Having a lot of brothers?
SK: Yeah, it did. Uh… I had four brothers in the war. And they all came home, without a scratch.
CR: What, uh— That’s pretty amazing.
SK: Yes. [inaudible – “Most”?]
CR: What, uh, did they, were they all in the Army, or … ?
SK: No, it was the Army and Navy.
CR: The Navy?
CR: And was there a time— Did your, do you remember, did your mom, did she worry a lot, or…?
SK: I’m sure she did, but she, you didn’t know it.
CR: She didn’t show it.
SK: Uh, because— I know she did, because the day all four of those boys came home, she was a basket case.
CR: Did they all come home together? Pretty much? Or… ?
SK: No, no. Well, I can’t remember, because they— See, Kent went to a school that… I can’t remember the name of it, but anyway, it was a program where they put you through college and then when you get through with college, then you have to serve two years. And Kent did that. And so he was here, and Dale was in the South Pacific, Dean was in Europe. They were all around, and, uh, but she was mighty broken up when they came home.
CR: I imagine. To have four sons…
SK: Yeah, it was nice.
CR: Were there things that, um— You hear about rationing, and things like that. How did that affect your family during the war?
SK: Oh, I’m sure we struggled.
CR: You said you made a lot of things. Like what? Your mom was a seamstress, so she could sew…
SK: Well, and besides that, we had, uh, our own meat and, uh, and we had cows, so we made, we had butter. And mother, she would sell, she had friends who thought her butter was wonderful. And so they’d buy it from her.
SK: And, uh… I never liked it. I still don’t like butter. [laughs]
CR: [laughs] Just didn’t like it?
SK: I just don’t like butter. So.
CR: [laughs] That’s okay.
SK: Frank doesn’t either. [laughs]
CR: He doesn’t either, huh? [laughs]
SK: Yeah, you look, I haven’t got a slick in the ’frigerator.
CR: Ah. Um, you said that, I think you said that your parents, then they moved to California … Did they pass away living in California, or did they come back up here?
SK: No, Papa died down there.
CR: And then…
SK: And mother came then. She stayed another year after he, he, uh, passed away. And then she came up. But we had a wonderful couple that lived next-door to her. She was in a mobile home park. And, uh, the couple were just real good dog, eyes, uh, seeing-eye dogs. And, uh, they just took care of her. And then finally, it got to the point where she would go in, and put her dinner on to cook, and then she’d forget she’d done it, and she’d go and lay down and take a nap, and so… She did this two or three times and they finally called and they said, “Hey, I think you’d better plan on doing something, because it’s unhealthy.” And so we did, we went down and we brought her up, and she lived in, uh, oh, at the assisted living that’s just this side of the hospital. Anyway, she lived there. I can’t remember the name of it now.
CR: So I’m going to switch subjects here a little bit. You said you and Frank got married in ’44?
CR: So where did you first live?
SK: Well, for the first year we lived at Richmond Highlands. And, uh, in a ramble [rambler]. And then, and Frank, he was working for my dad then. Or I should say the auto freight. And by that time the auto freight had gotten to a pretty good size and he and Gordy had gotten together, and, uh… Gordy Mc— … Oh, anyway, the one that owned the Edmonds … and they merged.
CR: Oh, okay.
SK: Anyway… What did you ask me?
CR: You lived in Richmond Highlands – I had to think about it, too! – so for a year you rented down there.
SK: Yeah, and then these houses started being built up on 164th [St SW], that were just down the street from Frank’s folks, and, uh— So we went and looked at them, and that’s the one we lived in for 46 ½ years.
CR: So it was 164th and … uh…
SK: It’s on 164th.
CR: What’s the other —
SK: It was 4-7… about 47th [Ave W]
SK: Almost to 48th Avenue. But it was the one, well, it’s the only one there now!
CR: It’s— The house is still there.
SK: Yeah. But, uh, it has a big swimming pool in the backyard, and, I mean, it has everything that these kids wanted and it just makes me sick.
CR: So you lived there for how long?
SK: Forty-six-and-a-half years.
CR: Forty-six-and-a-half years. And Frank, he worked for your dad. For how long?
SK: Oh, gosh, I can’t remember. But he stayed in trucking, and then he went to … he went, he worked for, oh uh … [laughs] [tape paused] Well, he went driving for tanker companies and he did several of those, and eventually got his own rig. I guess he started with his own rig, by gosh.
CR: So he was always in business for himself, most of your marriage.
CR: And did he just work by himself, or did he have employees, or … ?
SK: No, no, he did it. Well, yes, we did. We had one employee. He was a great, great guy, and he liked to go to work like, oh, two or three o’clock in the morning, and then he’d get back in time to have breakfast with his kids, and then he’d go on and finish the rest of the day, you know driving, whatever he had to finish. But he was a wonderful employee. You want his name?
SK: Okay. [pauses]
CR: We might have to ask Frank for that.
SK: You might have to ask Frank for that, too! [laughs]
CR: [laughs] So, you got married in ’44; was Frank in the military service?
SK: He had been.
CR: He had been before you got married?
SK: Uh huh. But, uh, he got, he was only in about a year, and he had a bad, he had one knee that was not good. And, uh, he was supposed to have been on limited service when they took him, because he wanted to get into the Navy in the worst way. And they, just, they were closed every time he went to go. And, so he finally got drafted then. And, uh, so he was not supposed to be marching, he was supposed to be driving cars and doing those things, and one day he was out on this march and he says, “There was no way I could get out of it,” and, uh, so the old leg let go and, he, he just had to sit down next to the road and a big officer came along and said “What’s going on here? duh-duh-duh-duh,” and, uh, but they put him in the hospital. That was in Kentucky someplace. And, uh, it … He never could work [in the military, presumably] again.
CR: So he was discharged?
SK: He was discharged, yeah. And he came home and… But he was fine. We played baseball, we swam, we did everything. But it was just a matter of, you know, whatever it was. Well, eventually, he has had knee-replacement since.
CR: You said Frank had his own business; did you help him out?
SK: Oh, sure.
CR: With the books?
SK: Bookwork, and the telephone, and … yeah.
CR: And then you had two children.
SK: Two children.
CR: And when were they born and what were their names?
SK: Our oldest daughter was Joni Irene, and her married name is Schwenke, and, uh, she was born, uh, September 28th, 1946. I had to think. And, um, she now lives in Bellingham, Washington.
SK: And, uh— Do you want anything about her kids?
CR: Not right now. I want your other daughter’s name is … ?
SK: Is Jill. She’s Shirley Jill, and her married name, she … Do I say about her first husband?
SK: Uh, her first husband was Jim Coan, a great guy, and he dropped dead at about 47 with a heart attack. And she was single for about 10 years. And, uh, she remarried this year, and— She went to a class reunion and one of her classmates came back that hadn’t been to a reunion ever before, and— So she’s known him since they were in grade school, and his family all still live in Lynnwood and, uh… So they were married a year ago now and they’re very happy. He’s a commander, stationed at Washington, D.C.
CR: Kay. And since you lived on 164th with both the girls, where did they go to school?
SK: Uh, well, uh, [laughs] they were changing things then. Um, you want grade school or high school?
CR: Sure, no, grade school.
SK: Well, Joni started at Alderwood, then the second grade she went to Martha Lake, and then she went to Maple Park, and then [laughs] I think by this time she was about ready for high school. And, uh, but she went to Mountlake Terrace for her high school. And Jill went to … what’s the one on, right on the corner of …? Hmmm…
CR: Did she ever go to Alderwood?
SK: No, uh-uh. ’Cuz, see, we were on the other side of the highway. And that was kind of, depending on the bus situation and where the population went, our group was kind of one that got switched around here and there, wherever they needed them.
CR: Because they were building new schools at that time.
SK: Yeah, and changing them so! But, uh, Maple Park she went to, Jill. And then she went to Meadowdale Junior High, or High School.
CR: So you lived in the same house for all those years and the girls went to different schools.
SK: Oh yeah!
CR: When — When do you remember — What do you remember when Alderwood started to change? Does anything specific… ?
SK: Oh, well I don’t know that I can define a particular … But you did notice it when … I don’t know. I worked in the oil business, too, for my folks, or for my husband— my brother, and, well, we owned the company. And, uh, but I worked for 10 years, and the last five years I worked in Edmonds and, uh… But, I think… I think probably during that time you could see the upscale things that were all of a sudden, land was disappearing and the trees were disappearing and here was a house or a building or a … It’s more than I like.
CR: Was that in the forties, or into the fifties, do you think?
SK: I’d say forty. I didn’t tell you when Jill was born either, did I?
CR: I don’t remember, but you can tell me again.
SK: Okay, no I didn’t. I gave you Joni’s, but I didn’t give you Jill. Jill was born, um, December 6th.
CR: And what year?
CR: And do you think things had started changing?
SK: Oh yeah. They’ve changed— Well, I guess that’s just progress, I don’t know. And I think you accept it as that.
CR: So, when, like, when all your brothers and your sister—were they born at home?
SK: Uh, everybody was, but, uh, my sister. She was born in a hospital.
CR: Which hospital?
SK: Uh, it’s the one that isn’t anymore.
CR: In Everett?
CR: Oh, Seattle. So by the time your sister was born, things had changed from kids being home and the doctor coming to the house?
SK: Yeah, yeah.
CR: Do you remember the doctor’s name that would come to the house when the other kids were born?
SK: [sighs] No. Doctor Hattie [?] was the first one, and she was here in Edmonds and Don, my brother Don, that’s where mother went when, before they went back to South Dakota. And I was born in the Milton house back there. And as far as doctors, I don’t know. But the Miltons were old, old friends of my folks’, and, uh, darned if they didn’t all migrate out to Edmonds.
CR: Oh really?
SK: Yeah, yeah.
CR: Do you think they kind of followed your parents out?
SK: More or less, yeah, I think so, because they were very good friends. And we were friends after they came here. But they were a great couple. They had four kids, and … But anyway, they aren’t any— The name was Milton, but I don’t think it’s anybody that you would know.
CR: And they lived in Edmonds, though?
CR: But probably your parents had told them about the area, and [it] maybe sounded a little bit better than South Dakota?
SK: Oh, it must have, yeah. Must have. ’Cuz they came out and lived here until they all died.
CR: Being you and Frank, you lived in the same house for so long, do you still feel that the area was a pretty good place to raise kids?
SK: The only way. Yeah. It was great. And, hey, when we had our— We put that pool in, and we had it for 23 years before we moved, and it was— we were never invaded with people coming to say “Can we come swim?” And, our friends, we’d have to call and say, “You can come to the pool today.” “Well…” We’d say, “Well, we told you to call. We’ll be honest with you, if we have something planned, we’ll tell you.” But that’s the way it went. It was wonderful. We had a super, super good time. And it was a beautiful neighborhood. But now, these poor kids that are left … not good.
CR: Does, um, and I’ll talk to Frank about this more, but is any of his family still around?
SK: No. His grandparents are both gone, and his mom and dad are both gone.
CR: And did he have brothers and sisters?
CR: So he was an only child? So what was that like for him to marry you, from this big family?
SK: Fascinated him. Honestly, he’d come to pick me up and I’d think we’d never leave because he, he’d get so interested with the boys chattering and chittering and [mock sighs].
CR: So he not only got a wife but he got a lot of brothers.
SK: Oh, boy, did he!
CR: And they all got along?
SK: Got along fine.
CR: Enjoyed, he enjoyed … It probably made it a little easier that you didn’t have to argue about where to go for dinner, or anything. There weren’t a lot of choices, huh? [laughs]
SK: [laughs] Oh, we got along fine.
CR: The tape is almost over, but I, just some random thoughts I thought: Do you think— Was your mom a good cook?
CR: What kind of things did she make that really …
SK: Oh, it didn’t matter what she made, it was excellent. And she could take one little thing like that, that big, and make it go around for all of us. I don’t know how she did it, but she did. And it was always palatable, and very good, and…
CR: What are some of your other memories of your parents?
SK: Dad was an excellent dancer. Mother had two left feet. [laughs] We used to kid him about, she was so little and he was so big, that all he’d have to do was put her up on his feet and they’d just be fine! [laughs]
CR: Did they go dancing?
SK: Oh, to the Legion dances, and they were once a month or something like that. But I loved to dance with Papa.
CR: So he was, where’d he get the dancing at?
SK: I don’t know but he sure was light on his feet. Big man.
CR: Huh. What else do you remember about him?
SK: [pauses] Do you put everything in this, or do you take some of it out?
CR: I can take it out.
SK: Okay. [quieter] He swore a lot. [laughs]
CR: I think that can stay in ’cuz I don’t think that that’s uncommon! [laughs]
SK: Well I don’t know that I blame him, with all those boys. But he was yelling at somebody all the time. But they probably had it coming.
SK: But we had to put the hay in, in the, up in the a—, above the barn. Just all the things that go with country living. Well the Stadlers know how it is.
CR: He had to probably stay on top of them.
SK: Yeah. But as the boys got older, they could do it themselves. That’s the way it goes.
CR: I think we’ll end with that. [laughs]
CR: He swore a lot, and there’s nothing wrong with you admitting to that!
Transcribed by tv, October 2011