Kay Lamb Oral History Interview

Dublin Core


Kay Lamb Oral History Interview


Hanford Atomic Products Operation


Kay Lamb was one of the original teachers at the John Ball School in North Richland, a school made out of hutments that served the North Richland Construction Camp.




Hanford History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities




Those interested in reproducing part or all of this oral history should contact the Hanford History Project



Oral History Item Type Metadata




Kay Lamb


CREHST Museum, Richland, WA









KAY: I arrived in Richland in 1948. My husband opened the John Ball School in North Richland. I guess

it was at the time General Electric took over and there was more construction going on. A large trailer park

was built where the business are now in North Richland. The school opened on February of 1948 and was

open until 1955.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, Kay tell us a little about the difficulties in construction of the John Ball School or

any other funny stories. Different type of stories about this unique school.

KAY: When we arrived, the first phase of the school was there. There were twelve hutments. Six

facing on each side facing a wide hall. There was no planting around there at all. Nothing but gravel and

sand. The wind would blow. Some teachers blew right out of town when they encountered their first dust

storm. The first day of school, I think there were 60 children registered. On the second day, there were 60

children. On the third day there were 153 children enrolled. There were 160 some trailers in the camp. At

the end of that school year they had over 400 children. There was double shifting in order to take of the

children. This, of course, demanded more trailers so they added more Quant-sets, and also a huge Quant-set

which was the cafeteria and auditorium. They were able to take care of the children in that way. The halls

were nice and wide. Some of the P.E. classes had to be held in the hall. Some of the Art classes, also were

held in the hall. Art Classes in nice weather were outside on the side of the river. When the alarms came

for practice drills, the children scampered outside. The children then lay down in a ditch. This was between

the schoolhouse and the river. There were many, many funny things that happened there. All of the

teachers that were out there said, “That it was a wonderful experience just to have been there under those


INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us some of the funny things that happened?

KAY: Well, I cannot think of anything right now, but there were lots of funny things that happened.

INTERVIEWER: You will probably remember some as we go along.

KAY: Yes

INTERVIEWER: Okay, How long was your husband principal at John Ball School?

KAY: My husband was principal for that year, 1948-1949. From there he went to Spalding’s and was

principal for Spalding’s School. James LaCair followed him as principal, and then he moved to the

Sacajawea School; Winfield Fountain was a popular principal out there. Eric Sodaburg was the last

principal and the school closed in 1955. The construction camp was gone, and the buildings there now

are Battelle‘s.

INTERVIEWER: Some of these Quant-sets were taken out to…..Were they demolished.

KAY: The school is all gone now.

INTERVIEWER: They got rid of all the Quant-sets all together.

KAY: Yes, but the trailers were each on 40 feet (foot) lots. In every square block, there was a washhouse,

shower and bathroom facilities.

INTERVIEWER: Where were the trailers in location to the school?

KAY: The school was along the river. Trailers were all around it.

INTERVIEWER: All around the school.

KAY: All around the school, yes. As one of the women I was talking to the other day, she said “They

asked them where they would like to put their trailer, and they said close to the school”. The answer was

“Yes, you and everyone else.” She said, “The school was on “A” Street and we were on “U” Street.”

INTERVIEWER: Okay, you taught at Lewis & Clark. What year did you start?

KAY: Yes, I started teaching in the fall of 1948 at Lewis & Clark. Lewis & Clark School was close to our

home. Our children went to school there.

INTERVIEWER: How big was Lewis & Clark School?

KAY: Lewis & Clark School, I do not remember exactly how large it was. We had three teachers at each

grade level.

INTERVIEWER: What was the average number of children you had in a classroom? What grade level did

you teach.

KAY: I taught the fourth grade. We had 30 to 35 students in the rooms. The first year I taught, we had a

fire at Lewis & Clark School. We then had to go into smaller quarters. I remember, we just had to

crawl over the desks to get around, because I had 35 students. That was quite a year too.

INTERVIEWER: Now, you taught all subjects then as a fourth grade teacher. There were no specialists

really at that time. Did you give a P.E.?

KAY: Yes, we had boys and girls P.E. classes. There were two P.E. teachers, one Art, and Music

teacher. We had all of those plus… a Librarian and a Reading Specialist who helped us with children who

were having problems. That is when I first started, we continued to have that, and improved on it.

INTERVIEWER: Kay has a scrapbook here from the John Ball School. Kay is going to explain a few

things here in it. There is a picture, that picture was taken in what year, approximately.

KAY: Oh, it must have been 1948. This is the faculty. My husband and the secretary. And this, of

course, is a picture of the whole area here. Here is the school and these are the trailers.

INTERVIEWER: The trailers went all the way around the school. Well not all the way around.

KAY: All of these areas, and here is the school. I guess this is the school right here.

INTERVIEWER: Now this is a shot of when it first opened.

KAY: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: How far up North Richland, was the Ball School? It was beside the river and what

street presently now would it be close to?

KAY: I am not familiar enough with that. It would have been closer to the river than Battelle. Right across

from Goose Island. We were there at the time of the flood. That was the Spring of 1948.

INTERVIEWER: Okay, now this page is special. Okay, go ahead.

KAY: The Art teacher, Janet Baconstine, made these for some occasion we had. They were on newsprint

and charcoal. Anyway, this represents the Lambs arriving in Richland in 1948. Here it shows us getting

settled. This picture is of the janitor taking the lady teachers to an outhouse, because there was no

plumbing the first few days.

INTERVIEWER: John Ball School had no plumbing.

KAY: That is right. When they first opened. So, the janitor took them out to this abandon outhouse. Here

the woman is guarding the door, so no workman would come use it while it was occupied. Then here’s a

picture of us: the wind blowing and the sun shinning on John Ball School. The teachers often brought their

lunches, so they would get together at noon. This picture is where one of the teachers is peering in the

closet to get out the food. This is a picture of the janitor setting in the hall on his cart eating his lunch.

In this picture, the teacher is scurrying to put their food away from lunch as the bell rings for school to take-

up again. At the end of the school year, the teachers gave a party and they gave my husband, presented my

husband with a chair. I think it was Loretta Roadie, carrying this chair past the office trying to be sure he

did not see it.

She took it to where they were having the party. This is the picture of a child during a

dust storm. Here, they finally got, the heat was coming on, but it was hot and we did not need the heat

anymore. This is my husband and Ernie Curtis having a coffee break. This is a picture of my husband

at the desk dreaming about the gymnasium and cafeteria they would have. This is Vera Edwards on the

playground, and the dust has come-up and she has lost her P.E. class. Here they are, she and Bill Bressler,

playing ping-pong in the hall. This is the one I told you about that left during the dust storm. This is a

picture of the nurse, Ruth Heingardner, when she was ill. Here is a sign when the cafeteria will open.

Finally, in May. The drinking fountains, you see, she made a joke of them. This one was a

funny little incident. Here is the janitor wearing a gas mask cleaning-up during a dust storm. The dust is

coming in the windows.

INTERVIEWER: Now, did you experience the same problems with dust in Lewis & Clark School?

KAY: Oh no. Not nearly as bad, but we had to put a rag over his face and send him to the basement. You

see there were lots and lots of kids. At that time, there were a thousand kids in that school.

INTERVIEWER: In the John Ball School, a thousand kids. Now what grades.

KAY: Well, that went through the 8th grade. Elementary school. Kindergarten thru 8th grade, until

Carmikel was finished. Then the 8th grade went….the seventh and eighth graders went. In 1971 they

moved into the new building.

INTERVIEWER: So, you were there.

KAY: I was there just a half of a semester. We moved in January, and I retired in the Spring.

INTERVIEWER: So you did not get to spend much time in the school.

KAY: No, but it was alright with me. It was a new concept of schools. They had what they called “Pods”.

It was all an open area.

INTERVIEWER: Yea right, things changed in the 1970’s quite a bit in education. That was the California

attitude that started coming in.



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CREHST Museum, “Kay Lamb Oral History Interview,” Hanford History Project, accessed July 7, 2022, http://www.hanfordhistory.com/items/show/4645.