ABC [Alphabet] Houses Panel

Dublin Core

Title

ABC [Alphabet] Houses Panel

Subject

Richland (Wash.)

Description

Oral history about living in Richland, Washington Alphabet houses during the 1940s and 1950s.

Creator

CREHST Museum

Publisher

Hanford History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities

Date

03/23/1999

Rights

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

Language

English

Identifier

RG1D-4A / T.2010.052.030

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Terry Andre

Interviewee

Steve Buckingham, Tom Clement, Joan Sherwood, Margaret Fortune, Phyllis Granquist, Paul Beardsley

Location

CREHST Museum

Transcription

ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

TITLE: ABC HOUSES PANEL
INTERVIEW DATE: MARCH 23, 1999
INTERVIEW LOCATION: CREHST MUSEUM
INTERVIEWER: TERRY ANDRE
INTERVIEWED: STEVE BUCKINGHAM, TOM CLEMENT, JOAN SHERWOOD, MARGARET FORTUNE, PHYLLIS GRANQUIST, PAUL BEARDSLEY
TRANSCRIBER: JUDY SIMPSON
LENGTH: 57.34 MIN.

TERRY: My name is Terry Andre; I am the Education Coordinator here at CREHST. We have a number of different education programs; many of them geared toward children and some of them for all ages or family. Tonight’s program; we have some very special people here; many of whom volunteer for the Museum. What we will be talking about tonight “What it was like living in the Dust”. I know we think; we have dust, but you might hear some stories that there was dust and then again there is dust. What I would like to do is have our group here introduce themselves; starting with you (Steve Buckingham) and going around. If you could introduce yourself and what letter house you did live in or currently living in and what year you first moved into one of those houses. I would appreciate it.

STEVE: My name is Steve Buckingham; I first lived in the dormitories’. Then when we got married we moved into a “B” House, and then we moved to Kennewick. (Group and audience are laughing)

UNKNOWN: So you bought a “B” House?

TOM: I am Tom Clement; When DuPont transferred me here, why I wasn’t married. They gave me enough gas stamps to drive out here from Ohio; I had some of them left over so I took a vacation in June and went up to “Lazy F Ranch” up in Ellensburg and there I met my wife in Seattle. We got married in August; we moved into a “B” House in December; we took the first one we could get. We stayed there until after the War; our oldest son, Tom, was born there; then we moved out to Kennewick and we bought a farm out there; moved out there. It got so it took an hour to get to Richland after the, this is after the war, and the construction had started at Hanford again. It took an hour to get to work so it took two hours one-way. So that is when we moved back in where we are now in a “Q” House; we have lived in a “Q“ House ever since they were built; right across from Chief Joseph‘s. It has been a very interesting situation I think.

JOAN: I am Joan Sherwood; my husband came out here in December of “55”and came back to Schenectady, New York in April to get married. So we came here as honeymooners to Richland; that was in 1956. We lived in a Prefab; a 3 bedroom Prefab for 2 years and then bought a Ranch, a “Y”; lived in that house until 1965.

MARGARET: I am Margaret Fortune, and we washed in on the Flood of 1948. We live in a trailer for a little while because we could not get a house at all. Then we had a 3 bedroom Prefab and we live there for awhile; then moved into a “C” House when they were built. Then when they sold the houses they would not sell us half of it; well we said “Okay we will find something else so we bought a “V” House; a 3 bedroom Precut; we lived in it until we built our present home in 1963.” I taught school, at the John Ball School, out in North Richland; course a lot of you might know it as (inaudible). I haven’t done anything but taught school; it was a Hutment School. We’ll talk about that.

PAUL: I’m Paul Beardsley; I arrived here on the on the 29th day of December, 1943. I spent the night in what was called transient’s quarters at that time. I was just telling this lady (Phyllis) that; that one thing that was rather unique about that was that they opened that Hotel for occupation on the 24th of December of 1943 and we got in on the 29th of December; the labels were still stuck on all of the blankets, the sheets, and everything else. I was assigned to the patrol group; since I came from a DuPont plant in Oklahoma as an instructor. I had to spend my 2 weeks of time in Hanford to get oriented about what was going on; didn’t find out very much, but found out a little bit. So when I came here; when I was transferred back to Richland. I was not eligible for a house until November of “44”. I got a 3 bedroom Prefab up on the corner of Williams and Wright. Where the Spalding School sets that was where the railroad was that went out to the plant. After that, after my son had small pox and so forth; I got drafted in April. So I had to leave so we moved back to Okalahoma City. I went in the Navy; I was in the Navy for a little over nine months; got out on the basis of having three children. One, I had two when I left here and one waiting to come; when the third one came well that was an automatic “out of the service” as far as the Navy was concerned. So I got out of the Navy and I called out here and talked to them and they said, “Come back”; you can have your job back. I had just been elevated to a Lieutenant just before I got notice that I was going to have to go into to the service. I came back at the same rate that I was before I left. I got an “A” House; I was in that “A” House for about 18 months. My wife had an accident; broke one of her feet and leg; so at that time they were building the Ranch Houses; so I called upon because I had three children and had another one on the way, the fourth one, the only fruit picker that is with them, with the family. I got the “Z” House, and the Ranch Houses, those are a 4 bedroom, Ranch. It has been altered to the fact that there are only 2 bedrooms in it now. So I have been here ever since.

PHYLLIS: My name is Phyllis Granquist came to Richland very large with child in 1947. We had an “A” House waiting for us; which always reminded me of a Monopoly Hotel. I am still in the “A” House; still climbing up those 13 stairs on the one side; I sort of live half way on the other side too; since I had a sewing alteration sort of business, on the other side which gave me room to expand. I am still in that darn old “A” House.

TERRY: Now how many of these houses had lawns already or how many people had to plant their lawns?

TOM: No lawn we had to plant it.

PHYLLIS: No lawn.

TOM: Had to plant it.

PAUL: When I moved to the Ranch House there wasn’t anything but dirt…

TOM: That’s right.

PAUL: because that was the first of the Ranch Houses that was occupied; I think it was in March of “40”; tell me,

PHYLLIS: In “43”?

PAUL: No, No, No, No, No, it was not until “47” or “48“I think.

PHYLLIS: The Ranch House?

PAUL: Yes, the Ranch House “48”.

PHYLLIS: We could get the book. It will be in the book.

PAUL: She was talking about dust.

STEVE: You know they painted the houses; they were painting the outside of the houses during a dust storm one time; our houses are dust colored. There were three, or you had your choice of four. I think you had your choice of four colors; green, blue…
(The sentence is inaudible).

TOM: (inaudible)

PAUL: Yeah. Yeah.

STEVE: Oh that didn’t carry good… and beige.

TERRY: So you could pick the inside colors?

STEVE: Yeah, you get your house painted every 3 years.

TOM: Yes

PAUL: The outside of your house that was another subject… The inside you could almost; at least they gave you a selection to choose from.

TERRY: Was it red?

PHYLLIS: Oh yeah, it was the outside a red color.

PAUL: They gave you a selection to choose from.

TERRY: Was it red (houses)?

PHYLLIS: It was rust…brown…ah….color.

STEVE: Bargain paint color.

TERRY: That was a bargain color, okay.

MARGARET: If you lived in a Prefab or sometimes precut sometimes you had a peach tree or some kind of fruit tree on the premises.

PHYLLIS: Oh yeah, good or fruit trees. We got the Chinese Elm.

JOAN: We had a prune tree (inaudible- possibly out on our Prefab).

TERRY: What about the Prefabs were any of you in them when they had the flat roofs?

GROUP: All answered, “They all had flat roofs”.

TERRY: How long did the flat roofs last?

PAUL: Until they sold them.

TERRY: Really that long? Oh.

PHYLLIS: (Inaudible) I watched them go out, two of them around my area.

PAUL: I was not sure if they were done then or not.

STEVE: The hot water tank used to be right in the kitchen; there was hardly any room in the kitchen; the hot water tank took-up about half of it. Then when they put the pitch roof on they put the hot water tank up in that new attic; it leaked.

PHYLLIS: Yeah, and then they built a little thing to get into the attic, but you had to have a ladder to climb up on the outside.

STEVE: When the wind blew.

PHYLLIS: If the water tank leaked you were in real trouble.

TERRY: How would you ever get the water tank out?

PHYLLIS: Who cares?

GROUP: Laughing. I don’t know.

PHYLLIS: Leave it there and find a place for it downstairs.

PAUL: I found out that a hot water tank belongs on the ground floor not the…not up in the attic. I had one that leaked.

TERRY: The movie I was running earlier, “Termination Winds” they were talking about a night coming home from work and going into the wrong house. Is this a true story?

STEVE: Well it happened to me indirectly; I was single at the time and I was dating a young lady; she lived in an “A” House; up in one of those little cul-de-sacs’ off of Sayers‘. I took her after the dance; I took her home and dropped her off in front of the house. She got clear upstairs before she realized; she was in the wrong house; somebody was snoring; she said, “Nobody in their house snored”. You know Richland was a very safe town; we never locked the doors. There was absolutely no crime in Richland. Why would you lock your doors?

TOM: That wasn’t on Black Court, was it?

STEVE: Well that was almost 50 years ago.

PHYLLIS: Someone came into your house?

TOM: No, I don‘t know. (Laughing)

STEVE: The houses were all decorated the same and all the same furniture.

TERRY: So the government really did provide the furniture?

GROUP: All answered yes.

STEVE: Yes everything was furnished.

PHYLLIS: I still have a lot of it.

STEVE: Even the light bulbs.

PAUL: Heywood Wakefield, I think was the furniture. It was good furniture; very good furniture. Yeah.

STEVE: It was Maple; Maple furniture. We still have some.

PAUL: There is still a lot of it around.

TOM: Oh yeah.

TERRY: Now you mentioned too, about the light bulb.

STEVE: Yeah the light bulbs were furnished.

PHYLLIS: And window shades.

UNKNOWN: And the coal was furnished.

PHYLLIS: You would go down to; you know where the Public Health is now, that was the storage or something; that is where you went in. You really had to talk to those people in there to get new window shades. They were just stingy about it. Then the kind you had to wind-up with a fork you know; then you would let go and whish; oh they were dangerous.

PAUL: I just noticed in the paper, I believe it was today or yesterdays’, this guy Challises that had shot-up old Bill up there (inaudible) his father ran the shop where you could get your furniture. That was in the building where City Hall sits now; now sits. From the corner of what is that Lee?

PHYLLIS: Jadwin.

PAUL: Jadwin and what is that?

PHYLLIS: Swift.

PAUL: Swift, yeah right. I aught to know where they are, but I can’t do it.

STEVE: Then the other joy was the furnace.

GROUP: Oh yes!

STEVE: In the “O’s” and “A’s” and “B’s” and all those houses.

PHYLLIS: I still got that big thing you stuck out there and made that terrible noise; that shook the clunkers down. I hung on to it.

TERRY: I have no idea what you are talking about.

STEVE: They were big old natural draft coal furnaces; big huge things. Coal was furnished you know. When you needed a ton of coal you just called the tenet service and they would deliver a ton of coal. In the winter time; you know you would try to bank fires so it would last all night. Enviably that dam furnace would blowup.

PHYLLIS: Oh, I remember that.

STEVE: The coal gas would accumulate and it would ignite and blow the door off the furnace. The house would fill full of smoke.

PHYLLIS: When they delivered that coal; you really never new when they were coming. They would just come and drive-up; they would open that little window, because they apparently knew which window to open, it would be awful if they… That coal rumbling in and be all sooty and awful.

TERRY: What about the Prefabs?

STEVE: The Prefabs were electric heat.

JOAN: They were 220 heaters and you could plug them in any place.

MARGARET: We had a young couple that lived right across the street from us and lived in a 1 bedroom Prefab. She was in the habit of running out to hang her things on the line and every time she’d go out the door would lock behind her. So she would come over to our house to call downtown; they would come to open the door for her. That happened about every week; I think. I told her, “Put a key outdoors some place so you do not have to call”; I guess they finally got tired of it. She did do it.

STEVE: In the wintertime, in the morning, people would be firing up the furnace to get up; get that old furnace up. There would be a black haze over town. When our baby arrived we tried to hang diapers; they didn’t have dryers in those days; they could dry over the furnace or hang them up. We had the dingiest diapers in town; black soot over everything. That was in addition to the dust.

TOM: They gave you a clothes line though.

GROUP: All agreeing nodding their heads.

UNKNOWN: I remember the close line up side down.

GROUP: Every one is agreeing with the last statement.

PAUL: I can remember when I was living up there in the Prefabs. The only telephones that were available to the people who were somebody; I mean they were the top dogs; they had telephones; but the rest of us had to go down the street to a telephone pole to use a phone.

GROUP: All agreeing and nodding their heads.

TOM: I remember that.

PAUL: So we get notice from the airport out here; I happened to be stupid like most men can be stupid once in awhile. I was riding a motorcycle and I didn’t have any more idea of what I was doing except I knew that it would go. We would get notice from the Airport that there was going to be a wind storm; well because all the houses all had these umbrella clothes lines, We would drive along and had a horn; and we would notify people to let those things down; because boy I tell you the wind would hit those things and they would lift off because of that kind of stuff.

TERRY: How would you be identified if you didn’t have a phone? Who would notify you at the start?

PAUL: Well they notified patrol headquarters for the airport and they’d give us that information; then we would go out all of the guys either in cars or out on bikes; going out through the town notifying people that there was a wind storm on the way to put their clothes lines down. That was the only communication that you had; if you were sick it was almost impossible to get; you just had to go to the hospital or you had to go where the doctors were; that was the only way you could get any treatment, because couldn’t call and have somebody come out until they finally got telephones for people. It was a mess for awhile.

PHYLLIS: We got a phone because I was pregnant at the time; that was the only reason; well that was fine. Then I got an ulcerated tooth, only one I ever had in my life; I didn’t know the name of any of the Dentists; so I called up the operator and I said, “I just don’t know”, so she read me off all the names of the Dentists in town; it came to close to sounding Scandinavian; I said, “That one is fine”. He was our Dentist for many years. I was fortunate.

TERRY: Tom did you have a comment?

PAUL: Well when my son came down with scarlet fever;

TERRY: Jump in Tom.

PAUL: of course at that time, the Health Department came out and of course you were quarantined; I mean they put the big sign on the house and nobody could get well…milk was delivered by Carnation Milk…

PHYLLIS: Oh yes, I remember.

PAUL: and so we were instructed to tell the Carnation people that they were not to pickup any of the bottles that had been used; so we would stack them up when; they would leave the boxes they were in; we had, I’ll bet you we had 50 or 60 boxes or I mean gallon bottles stacked up out on the side of the house. At that time they treated that disease with ah, ah, I can’t even think of it now, but anyway it was one of those things that you had to drink a lot of water. That boy, I tell you, we were on his back all the time to drink that water; to drink that water; to drink that water. Back then I was paying him a nickel a glass. Even that money got scrubbed by the Health Department; they took all of those milk cartons down to wherever they take them; I suppose cleaned them or aerated them or whatever they did; that was one of the real experiences of. I could go in and out because I was working; my wife had to go in clothes that; she had to wear, what do you call them? The ladies wore the over there…

PHYLLIS: Kimono?

PAUL: Kimono yes or something likes that; every time she came in or out; I mean she had to change into it. We had one baby that was just about 6 months old; it was a little bit you know it was touch and go there for awhile hoping that nobody else was going to get that.

PHYLLIS: Was it small pox or was it scarlet fever?

PAUL: Scarlet fever.

JOAN: Well we came late to this party, so we missed a lot the stuff these guys went through. We were here about 3 month before we were able to get into a 3 bedroom Prefab up on Willard. The only thing that was furnished at that time was a very small range and a refrigerator. My first challenge was the windows; I made four fairly good size windows in the front of this house; the ceilings were not very high so the windows were almost floor to ceiling. I had to cover them quickly; I bought some sheets and had to go out and find a secondhand sewing machine so I could sew some curtains for this place. If you look at the pictures over there; all those little windows in front and all the little windows up each side. They were weird sizes you had to make them; you could not go out and buy curtains for these things. So that is what we had to do; there was no backdoor in the Prefab.

STEVE: Just a garbage door.

JOAN: Except that little trap thing…is that what it was?

STEVE: The garbage door.

JOAN: Garbage door, well we wondered.

TERRY: Was your Prefab skirted or did you have something around the bottom?

JOAN: I think it was skirted; I don’t think any of them had foundations.

STEVE: No.

JOAN: When they finally sold them they had to put a foundation under them.

PAUL: They moved 400 of them out; most of them went over to Pullman; to college and they were used by students the, fact of the matter is, would any of you know Rick Rile, he was (inaudible) he and his wife went to school over there and he lived in one of them; at that time when they were going to school. There were 400 of them that went out and then they were replaced by the Precuts; that is how come we got the Precuts.

MARGARET: I don’t know about curtains and how they worked when you got here (Joan); originally there were no curtain rods; you had to go down to down to CC Anderson’s to buy this little tape and fit it into this little slot; sewed the tape to a curtain and then these pieces were on the tape every so often; slide them on and that is how you got your curtains up.

STEVE: Prefab was interestingly slim they slid in the bedroom the kind of pulled in and slid over the slot; and when you put them back there was a latch on it; when the wind blew the dust would come in like you were standing outside.

GROUP: Some saying, “Yes that’s true”.

TERRY: I have a question for the ladies: What were the biggest challenges as far as the cooking or cleaning. In the movie, “Termination Wind Storm” it talks about keeping their plates turned over; until it was time to eat because the dust had come in. That isn’t true.

PAUL: That is a little far fetched.

JOAN: The dust was terrible.

PHYLLIS: The dust would come in and you would see little pyramids of dust after a storm; you would go around and see that. I said to myself “This is ridiculous I don’t want to put up with this all the time”; because I had to borrow a vacuum, we could not afford a vacuum, we borrowed one from a friend that came at the same time down at the other end of town. So I got this rope caulking, you know that grey round stuff, I just stuffed it in all the windows of course you could never get the window open again. But that stopped it and everybody else kept complaining they could not figure out; I thought I was doing…I thought I was pretty smart.

TERRY: You didn’t have any air conditioning?

STEVE: No.

PHYLLIS: I had a swamp cooler; which was a terrible thing.

UNKNOWN: They were a live saver.

PHYLLIS: After awhile they got moldy.

STEVE: Swamp cooler oh yeah.

STEVE: It had excelsior in it that water would drip over it and let the air through.

PAUL: The Ranch House’s had oil or the first they were coal; it was such a lousy firebox. You know about three ounces of coal in there and you would hope it would make it through the night, but it never did. In order to keep them from putting another thing on the house, one of these evaporators,

PHYLLIS: Swamp coolers.

PAUL: swamp coolers. What I did was I took the back room or I guess you want to say porch no that is not what they called it, it was a utility room. I took that window out and I put one of those wire things in there with that brown…what they call…that tank.

STEVE: Excelsior?

PAUL: Excelsior and put a little hose up at the top so that the water would come down; then a drain pan with a hose.
It ran on down the side of the house; but I had to image what happened at the backdoor.

PHYLLIS: Flowers.

PAUL: No, it was not on the flowers; it was right at the backdoor; where that happened there wasn’t any concrete so
I really had a muddy mess for awhile. Then you take the cover off the furnace and turn it on; that would pull the air and it would go through it and down; distribute it. It worked pretty well for awhile.

TERRY: What was there for shopping?

PHYLLIS: Campbell’s Grocery.

Joan: CC Anderson.

STEVE: Every neighborhood had a little grocery store, drug store you know in almost every neighborhood.

PHYLLIS: We had Thrifty Drug.

STEVE: Yes. Then Downtown over here in the Greenway there was a CC Andersons’.

PHYLLIS: We had one Safeway didn’t we?

STEVE: Yes a Safeway.

UNKNOWN: That was just across the street from CC Anderson’.

STEVE: Yeah right.

JOAN: And Finns was there the “Photographer”.

PHYLLIS: And the Frontier Tavern was there.

TOM: Frontier Tavern yeah I remember that one.

PHYLLIS: It is still here.

PAUL: When I came here there was a grocery store on there where ah; what’s that place up on the corner of “B” and George Washington Way?

PHYLLIS: That would be the Salvation Army.

PAUL: No, No, not that one.

TOM: There was a grocery on south (inaudible).

Paul: Trustworthy Hardware was there. It is now called (inaudible) or whatever. That was a grocery store and the guy that had that grocery store, came down from Yakima, I will think of the name of it in a minute.

TOM: Garmos.

PAUL: No, No, No. Campbell’s was down where the church is; the Foundation Forest or the Forest Foundation or whatever and Garmos was up on what now is Goethals which was…

(There was a glitch in tape; dead time air.)

RESUMING TAPING:

PHYLLIS: That is not in town.

PAUL: The big building down here on…

TERRY: What did you do for fun?

STEVE: “What did we do for fun”, that’s a good question.

MARGARET: We went to the movies.

STEVE: Well I was single when I first came here; we formed an organization called “The Dorm Club” and we had some of the best parties. That is when we all met our wives. We would organize trips to the ball games; in fact I was the Social Chairman for a couple of years. We would go to plays, over in Seattle; or go to Pullman to a ball game; or Seattle for a ball game; go camping, organized camping trip. We never had any lack because skiing in the wintertime; we never had a lacked for something to do.

JOAN: The Richland Players and the Light Opera had things going on for a lot of years; so they put on show all the time.

PHYLLIS: I went to the movie theaters.

JOAN: We played a lot of bridge, a lot of bridge, neighborhoods you know.

STEVE: And lots of (inaudible).

UNKNOWN: Excuse me, wasn’t the gas rationed? So how did you? How are you able to go out of town?

STEVE: Well that was during the war; after the war the gas (inaudible) during the war. During the War you could not get any gas.

PAUL: During the war you could not get any gas.

PAUL: During the war you could not get any gas. There was gas here.

UNKNOWN: So this was after the War that you went traveling.

UNKNOWN: Out at old Hanford it was (inaudible).

STEVE: No I came after that.

UNKNOWN: That’s another lesson.

PAUL: Yeah right.

UNKNOWN: I was here January 11th to July; I believe (inaudible).

TOM: Were you. Was that in the Barracks‘?

UNKNOWN: Yeah. Yeah.

TOM: In what year?

UNKNOWN: What year? That would be “44”.

MARGARET: There was a dance place up at the south end of town. (Inaudible) they are saying something about the Social Club.

STEVE: Well there was the Castle Club and the…

PHYLLIS: There was “The Officer’s Club”.

STEVE: There was one out here south of the town…

PAUL: “The Korda Club” just across the street from where the City Sewer Plant used to be; there was a divider down there and it sit right in the middle of it. That was for all the employees in the plant except government employees. The government employees had their own it was called “The Castle Club” it was up where Westgate is now. It was an old house and they put another building along side it; that was where all the government employees went. Boy I’ll tell you what; they had some (inaudible) going through. I was up there for a couple of them, I’ll tell you what, and they were not for those who didn’t have a (inaudible).

STEVE: Out towards the Richland Y; the roadway used to be down on the flats before the flood. There was “The Red Mill” out there an old barn; then farther on out you could turn toward, up toward Prosser, there was “The Jungle Club” which was an after hours place. It got raided periodically. You know in those days “The Bottle Club” was the only…you had to bring your own bottle.

TERRY: Okay there was a (inaudible) the bottle club.

STEVE: There were “Bottle Clubs” you could not buy a mixed drink.

PAUL: I don’t think many people know that during that early part of, I guess it was in “43” and “44”; while they had Hanford going that there was one section that was for Blacks; I tell you they were just absolutely, they just about drove all we guys in patrol group; just about drove us all nuts. But all of the things that they had; there was a divider which the women were over here and the men were over here; just like it was where the white people was. There was a ladies Dorm and the rest of it was all the men’s. Oh I’ll tell you there wasn’t hardly…I was in Hanford for two weeks going through the school; I don’t think at least once every second day, or maybe it was the third day of the week, there was always, almost a revolt down in that Black area. Oh some of the meanest people, I’ll tell yah.

UNKNOWN: They wanted to be together.

PAUL: Uh? Yeah right. You just could hardly keep them apart.

TERRY: I heard a story was it yesterday or today; one of the docents was telling me that, “When the wind and sand storms would come-up and if you saw a kid playing out in the yard like a toddler or baby; you would just run and grab the kid and get him inside. Whether, it was yours or whom ever just to get the kid out of the dust; because they would get scared; then it would storm”. Anybody have that kind of story?

STEVE: Well you could see the storms coming in over the hills; just a brown cloud just descending down on town. Boy you would rush to get your laundry off the line.

JOAN: I’ll tell you my introduction to the Pacific Northwest; I am from Schenectady, New York; you know the Hudson Valley and the (inaudible) Valley; lush, green you know gorgeous. So we got married and we flew out; my husband had left the car in Spokane. We got into the car and got down as far as Ritzville and a dust storm came up. It was so bad that the State Patrol had a huge truck with these big spotlights on the back; they took each car through this area of dust. I do not know if they were going on a map…no not a map…

PAUL: Radar?

JOAN: I don’t know it was not radar. I don’t know how they got the truck through, but they would take a car through, and comeback and get a…I was terrified. By the time we got down to Pasco; well there was this big sign and I looked to see what it said, “Road Closed”. The road must have been closed just about as soon as we got on to it coming down 395. At that time, it was a two lane road and it was (she is showing with her hands how curvy the road was with her hands) terrible hi-way.

STEVE: It is still the closest with the dust storms.

PAUL: There are still plenty of the wheat fields up there.

GROUP: All are nodding their heads yes.

JOAN: Anyway that was my introduction. Coming into George Washington Way; and you know that Frank is pointing out this is; the post office; that is the Library; all this stuff. All I could see was these tiny little trees growing all along the road; nothing was very big yet.

PAUL: I think the maddest I have been since, I have been here, is when the changes Jadwin from, from, from…

UNKNOWN: Goethals?

PAUL: From Goethals, yes. I tell you I was absolutely mortified; because George ah what did you say?

PHYLLIS: Goethals.

PAUL: Goethals, George Goethals is the guy who built the Panama Canal. The fact of the matter is there is a hundred, I’ll tell you this story, there are a hundred and four streets in the Richland area; that are all named after Core of Engineers, engineers. I had a big fat run in, not more than about two months ago, with the City because a little two block; up where Denzel’s is now called “Ogden ” and they changed “Ogden” to…

UNKNOWN: Provo.

PAUL: Yeah, Provo. Well I happened to be driving down; I live in that general area, I was driving down Wright and I saw this sign up there and I said, “Hey that is not suppose to be there; they have changed the name.” So about two days later, in the newspaper was a little article, written by a guy who was delivering to people who needed to have food; he had a lady that lived on Ogden and he was up there trying to find Ogden, and he could not find Ogden; it was gone. I thought, “Ah hah boy that’s a good one for me; now I will really get down there and get in those guys hair and I did too. What happened was that they did not know that there were a hundred and four streets in this town that were already named and are over fifty years old, but they know now; everybody in the City knows now; I can let you…I have got a ... if I can find it. I have got a copy of “How they were all named”; anyhow, I went down to City Hall; I jumped on the new City Manager the first thing, and so forth. Finally, they decided that what they would do…there is a whole list and every one of those that are listed here; there is a story about them.

PHYLLIS: Oh really.

PAUL: That was written by a guy by the name of “Paul Nissen”; Paul was the Editor of “The Villager” the local newspaper. He wrote this to Colonel Mathias; it listed all of the one hundred and four names; along with it, took from their…there is a history about all the men who served in the Core of Engineers, and have listed what their…or what they did or this kind of.

JOAN: The Museum needs to have that.

TERRY: Yeah, we would love an email.

PAUL: Anyway I gave this to the Clerk; he proceeded to say to his to one of his ladies in the place there, “To go made some copies of this so somebody could have a copy of it. It turns out that everybody in every department in the City of Richland has got a copy of this. (Paul holds up paperwork.) But they did not change it back. The reason that it was even changed was, there was, out in Hills West there was a street out there named “Ogden”; what they wanted to do was they didn’t want to have double names; in one part of town and the other part of town. Which made it difficult for the Police and Fire and so forth; so they changed that one. I told them, hey leave “Ogden” here and change that one over there. They didn’t go for that. Anyway, this is available and if anybody would like to make a copy of it, you are certainly welcome to it.

PHYLLIS: I live on Van Geisen so I am sure that, that is in there.

UNKNOWN: Tell us the story about how Goethals changed to Jadwin; or what?

PAUL: Goethals was changed to Jadwin; why I do not know. I have never been able to have anybody tell me “why”.

UNKNOWN: So there still is a Goethals.

PAUL: Goethals was the second main highway, Main Street in Richland. Up until…

STEVE: Where they did the uptown district, wasn’t it?

PAUL: Yeah, when they came when they were going to build, uh?

UNKNOWN: It was after that.
-
STEVE: Was it after that?

PAUL: But anyway they changed it and changed it to Jadwin. He was one of the engineers, he is written up in here.

PHYLLIS: Kadlec, I wish people would not say “Kad-lack” it is “Kad-lick; it gets me so mad.

UNKNOWN: When did the Mart Drug Store get started?

PAUL: The Mart ah…begs pardon.

STEVE: Well what was the cafeteria?

GROUP: All talking at once and I can not make out what any single person is saying.

PAUL: There was a drugstore on one side and a …

PHYLLIS: And a … (inaudible something dropped and was unable to hear Phyllis’ answer)

PAUL: No, No …

UNKNOWN: A jewelry store…

PAUL: What was his name? That had the jewelry store uptown.

UNKNOWN: Nihart

PAUL: Yeah, Nihart. He had his shop in that and so one night they had a dance in the cafeteria; took all the tables out and so forth; “Jack Teagarden and his Orchestra.”

PHYLLIS: Really? Oh wow.

PAUL: And they played a dance in that building.

STEVE: It was really a pretty large cafeteria. There were serving lines and you would go down the middle; holding a tray.

PHYLLIS: Oh I mean the building.

JOAN: It was open all night.

STEVE: It was open; 24 hours. You would get off swing shift; a bunch of us would gather in there, and carryon. We would be there in the morning when the dayshift came in to go to work.

PAUL: It almost had to be because all these people were working; you know they were working all shifts and they were coming in and going; they needed a place to eat and so forth.

STEVE: The food was not all that great.

PAUL: I’ll agree.

PHYLLIS: You know speaking as briefly as shift workers and the painting. You could have a choice; well the shift workers would chose that really dark green or a dark red. I swear that they must have had black too; because they could sleep during the day. When we got to buy our houses and do our own decorating; that was heck to cover over; because that was (something tone) over. It helped them sleep because it kept the light out.

TERRY: When it came time to buy the house how was the posed pricing set and do you think it was fair?

PHYLLIS: It was very fair, very fair.

GROUP: Whole group agreeing that it was fair.

PAUL: The original price almost had a World War III as a result of it. They finally got them "jewed" down to the fact that they would make them a little better. The fact is; I bought my house and I paid $4750 I think…

STEVE: It went to a tenet.

PAUL: A four bedroom Ranch.

STEVE: We were the junior tenets in the “B” House so we were way down on the (inaudible-list) so that is why we moved to Kennewick.

PHYLLIS: I think we paid about $17000 or something for the “A” House.

MARGARET: At market price.

PAUL: They got in it when they were kids.

PHYLLIS: Well I got a Duplex House. Now they have it at $85000. I have not really done a thing to it.

STEVE: Single people when they came to town had to live in dormitories’. Only a very few, high mucky mucks, single mucky mucks, got houses. There were a few people to finagle some deals. My sister-in-law came here to teach school; she somehow or other, she was a single lady, she somehow or other got a Prefab. I think she was the first tenet in it. She had that Prefab all these years and we inherited it from her. You had to have a roommate; the Housing Office would tell you who your roommate was.

PHYLLIS: Really?

STEVE: Yeah we didn’t get a choice; because I finally managed to get into an apartment and my roommate left; they told me who I had to take in with me.

JOAN: We were in a Prefab and it went up for sale. I think that we were probably just about the last area to be put on the market, so to speak. We got this (holding up a piece of paper) and it was a notice of “Offering of Single Family or a Duplex House for a First Priority Purchase”. Since we were living in the house we got the first priority to purchase this house. It was appraised by the FHA at $3275; this is 3 bedrooms Prefab. The sales price on the property however, was listed at $2783.75; Two thousand seven hundred eighty three dollars and seventy-five cents. Being appraised value left 15% and it went something like if you thought, the City of Richland was really going to go, you took the 15% off, but if you did not think it was going to go then you paid the full price; then you could get the government to buy it back. If you took the percentage off you were stuck with that house see. I think like I said, “One of the last areas to go up for sale”. We knew the house was going to be too small for us; I think by that time we already had a little boy. So we started looking around and found a Ranch House up on Chestnut; we had 93 days by the way to consider this; at the end of the 93 days we put a $100 down I guess we would buy it. Then we put the house up for sell; we advertised it probably in the little “GE Newspaper” and perhaps “The Columbia Basin News” I think the name of the paper at the time.

PAUL: Yelp that’s right.

JOAN: We set for a Friday night at 7 o’clock; well these places were “HOT” (inaudible); all of a sudden traffic you would not believe, cars parked up and down. There they were standing at the door trying to get in. So we opened the door at 7 o’clock and these people went swish and within two or three minutes a guy was back to us and said, “We’ll take it and we’ve got (we were asking $3500 we were going to make a little bit of money) we have $3500 worth of Saving Bonds we are going to cash in and pay cash. Just like that (Joan is snapping her fingers) we sold that house and had a down payment for the Ranch. Well my husband was pretty smart so he figured it out that if we bought the Prefab, sold the Prefab and bought the Ranch all in the same day we would just have one set of closing costs. Then we moved into our “Y” House.

PAUL: We have not talked about the schools. The only building that was available, for the first people who came here was Lewis & Clark and right adjacent to it was the old Richland High School. Which later became the….uh…?

STEVE: The American Legion.

PAUL: Yeah the American Legion occupied it and they ruled it out, and Bonnie moved it out. This lady was talking about (pointing to Margaret) the one out in West Richland…

PHYLLIS: John Ball.

MARGARET: No North Richland.

PAUL: Yes John Ball; sorry it was North Richland. I am sorry. North Richland of course was almost a “Little Hanford”. There were a row of house’s that faced the river; and from there up for about four, I guess about four lanes between that and George Washington Way; were rows of, where the people brought their trailers, so forth, they lived in those trailers. I have it here somewhere here what the number of kids that were in that school... But anyway it does not really matter. When they got ready to leave, just like they did Hanford they just closed down and they moved out. The guy who was the Superintend out there, Ray Lamb, became the principle of Spaulding and that is where all my kids went to school, was at Spaulding. The other day I was going through, I am the worst person for keeping something. I tell you I have enough to write four books; I am thinking about doing that This thing I found is called “The Hanford History Timeline“ and it lists all of the things here that have to do with Hanford period: When they came; When they were done; Who did them, and so forth. I tell you I got involved in that thing and I could not quit; I just had to do it; I just had to redo it all; everything that I knew; when all the reactors were built; when they were operated, when they closed them down, and so forth. When all of the contractors came in, from time to time that would be starting out with DuPont and then with GE and with all those other guys, and so forth. It tells: When the reactor started, stopped and all the other things. In January 10th of “1946” bids were received for dismantling “The Ghost Town of Hanford”. There were a lot of those buildings that were brought in and were out at North Richland. When they brought the Military in they put all those guys out there with their deals to shoot those things up in the air.

PHYLLIS: The missiles?

PAUL: The missiles. Then they needed some more help or some more room so they…from Pasco; from the Naval Depot they put those on barges, and barged them across the river, and they were put out there at Hanford. Just beyond where J. A. Jones shops were. Is there anyone here that remembers about J.A. Jones?

TERRY: You know what, our hour is flying. You know what I would like to do is just open up for a couple of questions, and then we are going to have to wrap-up; it’s already almost 8 o‘clock. Then afterwards I am sure we can spend sometime mingling and chatting. Is there a question over here?

UNKNOWN: To the lady that taught at John Ball School; “About how big was that school; do you think?”

MARGARET: I can’t tell you how many children, but it was made of Quantum’s; they lined they all up sort of each side and ran a hallway down threw the center. When I came they had a section down here and a section over there, and they were putting a big one in the middle then. That was our cafeteria or gym or whatever we didn’t have at the time; also the Library and Principles office. I remember the first day of school; there were so many kids standing at the front door. When we got our students assigned to our rooms we didn’t have even a folding chair for the children to sit on. Immediately we went on shifts; we taught one half in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.

PAUL: Well it was established: February 16, 1948, and it was opened with 136 students. The peak enrollment was 900-2100 students in January of 1949. The school closed June 30, 1955 by the U.S. Army and the first principle was Raymond Lamb.

MARGARET: We had 5 first grades.

PAUL: I don’t know how many of that Quantum’s they put together.

PHYLLIS: They didn’t have kindergarten at that?

MARGARET: Yes we did have kindergarten.

PHYLLIS: Oh you did have kindergarten.

MARGARET: We were still having air raid drills at that time; so the Quantum’s would not be much protection. So we went out between the Quantum’s and the river; they dug a ditch and it must have been; be 12 feet deep and 12 feet wide. When there was an air raid alarm went off; all the kids went out the backdoor and across that sand block playground; then down into that ditch and we would all lay on our stomachs.

PHYLLIS: In the dirt?

MARGARET: Yes in the dirt. I tell you it was not bad getting down, but just try to get all those little first graders back up that hill.

TERRY: Quantum? What is that?

PHYLLIS: Yes they were the round “U” building.

TERRY: Composed of metal?

PAUL: You know the big ones down here at the Cities.

TERRY: Oh at the City shops. Oh, okay.

MARGARET: (Inaudible)

TERRY: They would be awful hot.

MARGARET: (Inaudible). Swamp cooler on the outside

TERRY: Swamp cooler would keep it cool.

STEVE: They have a picture of that back (inaudible).

PHYLLIS: Oh yes we do upstairs.

TERRY: I have never heard that before; I did not know what that was.

MARGARET: When we had a dust storm the custodian waited just before we left…

TAPE ENDS

Duration

00:58:02

Bit Rate/Frequency

317kbps

Files

Citation

CREHST Museum, “ABC [Alphabet] Houses Panel,” Hanford History Project, accessed July 7, 2022, http://www.hanfordhistory.com/items/show/4655.