Annette Heriford

Dublin Core


Annette Heriford


Hanford (Wash.)
White Bluffs (Wash.)


An oral history interview with Annette Heriford conducted by Bill Putnam for the B Reactor Museum Association. Heriford is a displaced resident of the Hanford-White Bluffs area


B Reactor Museum Association


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


Tom Putnam
Greg Greger


Annette Heriford


Tom Putnam: And kind of what place you are in this story, just identify yourself and then if you could just begin telling us—

Greg Greger: When your parents got here.

Annette Heriford: Yes, well I’m Annette Heriford, and my parents—my actual history started back around 1910 when my father and his brother came out here because of some big publicity on the Hanford Project—the Hanford-White Bluffs area. They had a cousin that was in real estate and they were promoting this area as the earliest fruit-producing section in the Northwest. I don’t think either one of them had ever farmed or done any type of orchard growing—or fruit growing, I should say. But they came out in 1910, and then my father went back east and met my mother—this was in 1918—1919, and she came out to Hanford. At first she said she thought it was the jumping-off place of the whole country. But they both learned to love the country. I was born in Kennewick, 1920, and returned to Hanford when I was nine days old. So that was my real home.

Putnam: I think—excuse me—I think I’m going to have to ask Jim.


Putnam: Okay. Start again with you name.

Heriford: Okay. My name is Annette Heriford, formerly Annette Buckholdt. I’m a true native of the Hanford-White Bluffs area. My history started back in 1910 when my father and his brother came out to Hanford. They had a cousin in real estate and he was promoting this area as—with everyone else at that time—it was the earliest fruit-producing section of the Northwest. So they invested all their money in the Hanford. We lived out about three-and-a-half miles. And I lived there and went to college at the University of Washington, and in fact, I was in my last year when we received word in March of 1943 that we’d have to move out, and we had 30 days’ notice. And that was quite a shock. After the initial shock and—finally resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be a part of this war effort, we were so busy working—we worked six days a week. Once in a while, I’d work seven days and nine hours a day. So that I didn’t have time to really think about all the unpleasantries of having to move and lose my home town, and all of my friends. The fellas had gone off to war in 1941. I was reading my diary the other day, and it said in 1941, I was at the University, and I believe it was—that was on a Sunday. And on the 8th, I wrote in there that I can’t believe that I would ever live to see the day that the shades would have to be drawn, we had blackouts, and I had forgotten some of this until I reviewed that. But it was quite a time in history.

Greger: I think, maybe, a point that you might expand on is a little bit about the community—the kind of community it was, and particularly relating to Richland. Was Richland just a town out there that you maybe played in your school sports or what? And then another—we’ll ask another question and I think maybe we want also a little bit more of your and other—what you think are other people’s feelings about how was this takeover really done? How did you hear about it, and other than the official notice, were there rumors ahead of time? I think this is of interest. But you might start with growing up in this kind of a thing.

Heriford: Oh, it was a marvelous place to grow up. I thought—and still think—it was the greatest place that a child could ever grow up in. And all of the people that’d come to our White Bluffs-Hanford reunion say the same thing. Because we had such a freedom. We swam, we rode horseback and we hiked. I said, we felt like the Indians before us, because this is what we did, was sort of replace the Indians that have roamed there. However, we did mix. The Wanapum Indians came down and they had rodeos. They came to the stores there. I have some videotapes of some of their activities that way. But no, if I could name any place in the United States, that would be the place that I would have liked to have raised my children. But we had such a close-knit community—or communities. If there was any activity going on, everybody in the community participated in it. The schools—we had good teachers. And of course, we lived in a different era. Then we were leaving—pardon me—learning reading, writing and arithmetic and discipline. And in those days, you respected the older people. You respected your teachers, even if you weren’t always satisfied with what they were saying. But the people still have that bond. And other people marvel at the bond we have amongst our members. Because we still carry that. It’s not like friends down the street; we were all one family. If somebody needed help, why, we helped them.

Greger: You might take a bit of time to tell us about the White Bluffs group, which you’ve been talking about. How long have they operated, and what is their official name?

Heriford: Oh, we’re the White Bluffs-Hanford Pioneer Association, and this all started the summer that they had been evacuated. Of course, most of them had to leave in March of 1943. They had the 30 days—March or April. And they started meeting in the Prosser park. This continued up until our 25th year. And then we met in Richland, and we received permission from the Department of Energy to go back to our home sites for the first time in 25 years. You have to realize that the fellas who’d gone off to war and perhaps left, some of them in ’41, but ’42 anyway, and they had never stepped foot on their home site from that time. So they had no homes to come back to. It was a sad time for them. It was a sad time for all of us. But despite that, when we get together, we don’t remember any of the unhappiness that came about. We just have a real good time when we’re gathering out there at the river and along our old home sites, and where these schools used to be.

Greger: I think, for this purpose, we probably would like to hear what you have to say about the reaction to this notification. Was there any clues ahead of time? What about that? How did people feel? What did they do?

Heriford: No, we really didn’t have a clue ahead of time. I think it was in December—November, December—that I noticed that they were drilling down at—would have been the west end of our orchard. And my dad and I said, gee, wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were drilling for uranium and they would find it, or oil or something. We had no idea. So when we received official notice that we had 30 days, most of us were in shock. In fact, now, when I look back, I don’t remember going to see some of my friends that lived clear on the other end of town. You didn’t have time to think, gosh, I wonder what they’re going to do, or where are they going to move. You were so busy with your own immediate family. In this case, my father and I found out that if we went to work for them, we could stay in our home. We lived three-and-a-half miles outside of town. So we did. I went to work in blueprint. My father—I don’t know what he did right at first—but then he was surveying. In fact, he ended up surveying the street that I later lived on where the Jefferson School was built and where my father graduated. But we have histories written about the people, how they felt and it’s just something you can’t describe—to lose so much in such a hurry. If somebody were to knock on your door today, and you had no forewarning, and saying you would have to leave, you would lose your friends, your town, and you would move some distance away. You’d just about have to put yourself in that position and wonder how you would feel about it.

Putnam: What had happened? Give us an idea of what kind of condition people were faced with.

Heriford: We didn’t have any money. People didn’t receive anything at first. And then a lot of us received such a small amount, there wasn’t enough money to move anyplace. Of course, your neighboring towns set up their prices—Yakima and Sunnyside, Grandview—all of them, because real estate started going sky-high then. And there wasn’t enough money to purchase anything come near anything like you had in Hanford or White Bluffs. A lot of people just had to leave, and if they didn’t have a truck, I know a lot of our farm machinery was just left on our place. Because there wasn’t any place to take it. But I think by my father and I working and staying for another year, that transition period was easier for us. Because we had gotten into the work pattern there. We were just patriotic enough that we anxious to do anything to help win the war, and to end the war.

Greger: Were you able to live in your own home?

Heriford: We lived in our own home for just a little over a year. So that helped a great deal. And a few families were able to do that. The homes in town, like my grandmother’s house—she had long since passed away, but—her house was torn down. I rode horseback into town and saw the house. They were picking it up with a scoop—whatever the equipment they had—and that was quite a shock, too. But as I say, once we got into the job and we were so busy, and then I was anxious to see what was going on. The first job I had was blueprints. So I did cover the Areas. And that’s where I became acquainted with the different—the B Area, the D Area, the F Area. But of course at that time, B Area had no significance to me, no more than any of the other areas. During the time that I worked in blueprint, there was a lot of excavation, the reinforcing bar was put in. They were getting ready to pour concrete. But before there was much construction done, actual building there, I had transferred to youth activities and became a youth director, which was an exciting job. I enjoyed it.

Putnam: That was during the construction period? So there were a lot of activities, community activities for—were these the kids of workers and things like that?

Heriford: Yes.

Putnam: Tell us a little bit about. I never heard about that.

Heriford: Well, we had 50,000 people come in in what seemed like overnight. I started to work in June, but I had been there from the very conception of the whole Project, as far as we knew about it. They came in in March, and as I said, I watched some of the residential area just being completely cleared. It remained the same out where I lived. But the rest of the town was just being razed and erased, so to speak. The Administration Building was built that housed all the DuPont workers. We had recreation for all of the children. They had a wonderful program for them, and later on, in 1944, they had a manmade lake. I used to swim in the river when I got off work every night, but I guess they felt that they needed something that would be safer for the youth. So they built a manmade lake—built a lake directly south of the village. And I taught swimming there. They had a marvelous program. They had diving, swimming meets there. We taught all kinds of sports. Money was no object. We had bingo parties for the children. We had a youth center for them; it was manned every day of the week that I can remember. I don’t know about Sunday—I won’t say for that—well, I think so. I had Monday off, so it was probably manned during the week. But I know it was six days a week.

Greger: In that kind of community, were—there must have been an awful lot of curiosity about what the big project was. Did you hear much talk about this? Any speculation?

Heriford: No, it’s amazing. I’ll have to say that DuPont had the best safety program I’ve ever seen and they also had the best security that I have ever seen. Of course, it was during that era, and it was the war effort. So I really can’t compare it, because that’s the only one war effort project I have worked on. But I don’t ever remember discussing it with my friends. Because we knew it depended on security, the successfulness of it. And when I look back, I am amazed at that, that people really didn’t discuss it. We wanted to contribute everything we could to this effort. Because it was a serious war at that time. When they came in 1943 and all they told us—it was needed for war effort. And believe me, that’s all I knew until the day that they dropped the bomb.

Greger: What was your reaction then, on learning this? What circumstances did you learn it?

Heriford: When they dropped the bomb?

Greger: Mm-hmm.

Heriford: I was over in Yakima. We were over in the Wenas country visiting people that formerly lived in Richland. They have Snively Road and Snively Canyon. These were named for our friends, Harry Snively. And they owned a great deal of land at one time on Rattlesnake Mountain and all that land around by Horn Rapids area. So the government asked him if he wanted to sell part of it, or all of it. He said if you’re going to take it, take it all. And then I think he was sorry afterwards. But anyway, we had gone over to visit them, and listening to the news—it was Gabriel Heatter in those days. Very dramatic. When he said that they had dropped a bomb, I still didn’t get the full impact of an atomic bomb. I knew what an atom was, but still—you just didn’t picture an atomic bomb—or conceive of it in your mind. At least I didn’t. And then of course that was on Hiroshima. Then later, the Nagasaki one. When the war was ended, I was living in Richland. That’s when I felt—that was a day of celebration to us, because we had lost a lot of fellas—per capita, we lost a great number of fellas in our communities. And I should say when I heard about the other, in Yakima, my parents had moved to Richland by that time. So that’s where I was living.

Greger: What went on in this celebration that you mentioned?

Heriford: Here in town?

Greger: Mm-hmm, or anywhere.

Heriford: It was open house, all up and down the streets. And I remember people putting out washtubs full of beer, Coke, whatever. And people—it was a very friendly community to begin with. But people that perhaps you didn’t know that well, it was like one big family that day. It was an exciting time. We knew that the fellas would be coming home. And I think we felt a little different, too, because having lost our home and gone through that sadness of all that, I think we had a feeling of pride, because we had contributed. We had truly given. By giving up everything we did.

Greger: Was there any thought by anybody that you might be able to go back, now that it was over?

Heriford: Well, not at that time, because you know they were—well, the war really hadn’t ended as far as getting our troops home and all that. So, no, at that time we didn’t think about it. But later, that’s where I wanted to go, was go back home. In fact, as old as I am, I always say I’d love to go back and have some land there. Live out my years along the river. If they’d allow a few more friends to be there.

Putnam: That’s something that’s very nice.

Heriford: Maybe I’m not answering—

Interviewer: Oh no, you’re marvelous.

Putnam: Oh, no, you’re doing beautifully, it’s just—it’s great, it’s really--

Heriford: I’m not a good TV—video person.

Putnam: Please, no, you’re very good. I’d like to know—

Heriford: Because I know you’ll only take a segment of it.

Putnam: Well, I’d like to hear a little bit more about—and we’re going to run out of tape in just a little bit. Oh, I better actually change tape. I’d like to hear—[VIDEO CUTS]

Heriford: The question, and I’ll just tell a little bit about the towns and taking that into Richland, and—

Greger: Okay. Okay.

Heriford: Well, Hanford and White Bluffs actually were two great rivals back in days that I remember and all during my school days. We were seven-and-a-half miles apart. Sports were vital in both schools. We didn’t have TV and we didn’t have everything that’s going on. Sports are still important in the schools, I know, today, but with us, it was our main activity during school time. So we had such rivalry that until the time our school burned down and we had to go to school in White Bluffs—that was 1937. We always blamed it on White Bluffs, that they burned our school down. Later, theirs burned down and they blamed it on us as retaliation. But of course, we joked a lot about it, but I think some people might have believed it, too. After we went to school and became integrated, we really built up quite a bond of friendship there. We loved it. But as far as activities and outside activities, going to other towns, we crossed the ferry at White Bluffs or at Hanford. I know in Hanford, we crossed the ferry, and went downriver for a ways, and then you went up a little winding road through the bluffs, and we drove right from there to Lind, Washington, and then on to Spokane. So that was our highway in those days. So going to Spokane was a big treat. We had our Senior Sneak up there—our 1938 class. But heading—and Pasco was another place to go, because we could get in the theater with our student body pass for $0.16. Go to the M and M café, I think it was—Chinese café afterwards. No one had much money—you have to realize this was during the Depression years, and money was scarce. But we had—everybody was creative and ingenious, I think, when it came to just having fun. On the way to Pasco, we came through Richland. In the early days, you came—we left Hanford and you went straight to Horn Rapids. That’s where the Wanapum Indians used to do their fishing, and they would camp there. That was one of the places, I should say, that they did their fishing. They built scaffolds, just like you see nowadays. But then the road wound around by the Snively place. We went over one little bridge and it would wind back and forth over another little bridge. We came out—what is now known as West Richland—came over the twin bridges, there. From West Richland, came into town, via Van Giesen. The Grange Hall was where the Lutheran church is now, and into town. So we went through Richland, but our main purpose at that time was to get to Pasco and Kennewick. Kennewick used to have a lot of parades. They had rodeos. Just getting out of our two small towns, any town that was bigger was quite a treat. So was Richland, I know a lot of the boys probably went to Richland, dated some of the girls there. But we did have sports with Richland. They had a good basketball team. In fact, one of my best friends went to—they had to move; they had a dairy farm. And she went to school in Richland. She said she’d beat us. We’re still arguing about that. [LAUGHTER] But all of the towns played an important part in our lives. Of course, we had the friends, the Snivelys, so we did come to Richland every so often.

Putnam: It was a very productive agricultural area, wasn’t it?

Heriford: Richland was a beautiful community, really. A lot of real nice farms. I don’t think people realize that, just how far the farms extended. They were clear out to—well, just south of where your 300 Area is now.

Putnam: Some of the literature, the old literature I’ve seen, this was sales literature that talked about the long season and the early crops. Was this in fact a competitive factor in fruit growing?

Heriford: Yes, very competitive. Because we were two weeks ahead of the rest of the market. And I have newspaper clippings where our fruit went to New York and was so well-received, it was shipped abroad, shipped to the Orient. It was predominantly apples. We had quite a few people who raised soft fruit like peaches, apricots. But I think the main crop was apples, because when you start sending soft fruit—in those days, especially—it would never have lasted that great a distance, with the containers—the shipping that we had at that time. In the early days, I have to mention about the sternwheelers. That’s how fruit was hauled. It was taken down to Pasco, Kennewick, probably, and then it was shipped by rail. Because the railway didn’t come into Hanford until about 1913—I think it started around 1912 up in White Bluffs. Then they put in the cold storage plant in White Bluffs. So that’s where they got their ice and shipped the cars from. We used to all pack fruit during the summer to earn money to go to college, or just to earn money for expenses when you were in high school.

Putnam: Did you have electricity, for example, in Hanford and White Bluffs?

Heriford: We did, we had electricity, we had cold running water, and your bath facilities were outside. I mean, your outdoor bathroom—outhouses, as they called them in those days. I remember visiting friends and staying all night, and several of them used lamplight to study by. So I thought, well, we were really fortunate to have electricity. But yet it was exciting to go to somebody else’s house, where they did use the lamps—oil lamps, kerosene lamps.

Putnam: I grew up in rural Missouri, born in 1945—in town, but I used to visit friends out—they didn’t have electricity sometimes. So it’s not so unusual, really, that—we forget how long ago that was—or what a short time—how far we’ve come in that length of time, how much we take for granted.

Greger: [UNKNOWN] One area I wonder if you’d like to comment on: it seems to me that you were in a unique position in that you got the job. I was wondering, what is there to say about the period when everyone else moved out because of the notice, and then what happened? What was the sequence of this whole thing moving in there? Could you kind of describe that period?

Heriford: Well, to say the least—

Greger: What did you see?

Heriford: To say the least, I was overwhelmed. Because I went to town quite often. I wanted to see—I lived out three-and-a-half miles. I wanted to see what was going on. And to begin with, they were all men, construction workers, and it wasn’t exactly a safe place for a 22-year-old girl at that time, or at least you didn’t feel safe. They did start up where they had dances right away, and I loved to dance. As time went on, we used to dance about five nights a week. So once it happened, every night was a Saturday night, I think. They had a lot of activity. They built the recreation hall that we had. They used three shifts round the clock, and as I remember it, it was eleven days. I’ve heard other numbers, but I remember them saying eleven days at the time. This was where we played city basketball. They had prize fights, we had dances, we had big name orchestras—Kay Kyser of course was one of them. Just lots of activity coming in there. We had Truth or Consequences program, which I got involved in. I worked in youth recreation, and so I attended all of the functions at that recreation hall, if youth were involved at all. Because our main director of the recreation program insisted that we be there to see that everything was quiet and also safe. Something I’d like to get into, which I didn’t—when the government came in, you have to realize that we had gone through a period of Depression, after the big crash of ’29. I have the books that my father—they kept track, and the receipts and all. In fact, it used to be that we went to California before this crash. And then during the harvest time, or it was time to prune, why, we would come back. Dad worked for the oil—Union Oil Company, I think, down there. But then as the Depression set in, of course, we didn’t travel anymore. That was the end of that. But the farmers had to get loans, not because they didn’t have good crops; there wasn’t a market. An apple still cost $0.16 on the train I rode in 1936. I went back to Pittsburgh and Cleveland and I couldn’t get over the price to think that one apple cost $0.15 when the farmers didn’t sometimes reap that much out of the box after they paid the fruit companies. Everything had to be done as to processing—processing the fruit. And the grower ended up without anything. But I know my parents would get a loan, and they had to pay the help, the pruning, the picking, everything. So it was quite a period in time that was a struggle for all of the farmers. And the fruit growers. So when the government came in, they just—they were thinking about these times and perhaps the land wasn’t worth anything. That was beautiful land. And you could go out there now, in one year’s time everything would be green and start producing. You go to Desert Air now and look at the orchards. But we had a marvelous location. We were protected, I think, a lot from the cold that they might have farther south. They speak of the 200 Areas, now, I think when they take the temperature or wherever it is, at 622. Well, they didn’t—we never had that cold of weather. We didn’t have very little rain fall, so we depended on irrigation. We had a wonderful well, so that helped us.

Greger: Back to the official notice, one other account I’ve read said that some of the people first clue was a notice in a Spokane paper, of a declaration of the taking, I think they called it. Did you hear anything before the official notice out there that was significant?

Heriford: No, I didn’t—I don’t remember at that time reading anything. As I say, when you’re in shock, sometimes you forget some things.

Greger: What form did that notice come in?

Heriford: Well, I thought we received a letter, because I have some of the information as to the price. Like they offered us $1,700 for our 30 acres and our home and our well and everything. And the well cost $1,900 to bring in the line and then the motor. I have the papers from the motor. When you see all this, you—I think I became quite ill at the time. I just couldn’t accept it. It seemed so unfair. There was no justice as to the price. But then after we—as time wore on, and we were working, I went to work in June—not until June. But I’m at a loss for words there. Truly.

Greger: Did the fact that you were a native there make any significant difference in your work as to relationships or any—

Heriford: Oh, no. I’ve often thought about that. But I was Q cleared, and I delivered blueprints and took care of the classified material. We didn’t have a shredder in those days. It went down to the dump grounds. They had a steel cage, everything had to be burned. I had to shake the ashes, make sure that all of it was burned. That was part of my job working in the blueprint. I was cleared, because when I delivered blueprints, and they said, why do you want to do this, if you’ve had college training? Why don’t you be a secretary? And I said, well, first of all, this pays more than being a secretary. And second, which I’ve told this so many times, but it’s true—I wanted to see what they were doing to my land. Driving there every day and I still didn’t know what they were doing except tearing it all up. And huge building foundations.

Greger: What actually happened with the land that belonged to your place? What happened?

Heriford: Our home, evidently, was left there. And not taken, probably, until the ‘50s. And it was moved to West Richland—no, to Benton City, along the river. But I could never locate it. They kept telling me it was along the river. The Webbers had moved it. They got a contract and did quite a bit of the moving of the homes. Some of the homes were just torn down. But the big screen porch was taken off, the shutters were gone, the roof had changed, and it wasn’t until about three or four years ago that I recognized my house by my bedroom window, after it was shown where it was. But they tore up our orchard, and the trees are still laying there. So I like to go out in the spring, walk around. The spray pipe--we had stationary spray pipe—to begin with, people had a sprayer that was drawn by horses, mules, and you went up and down the orchard. That’s how they sprayed. And when it was empty, why, you had to fill it up with the spray and the water again. But then when we had the stationary sprayer, my dad had overhead spray pipe into the area, and faucets then where he could hook into any one of those pipes and spray, which made it a lot easier. Then they pulled some of the trees, too, in the late ‘30s, because he kept all of the Extra Fancy Delicious. And our cherry trees, the orchard was bordered by cherry trees on the north and south ends. But I like to go out and see the remains even yet.

Greger: Was nothing physically built on your—

Heriford: Oh, no, there isn’t anything. Nothing. I see what you mean now. No, there wasn’t anything built out there. So it’s easy for me to go right out to my place. None of that area. It was all on the other side of Gable Mountain.

Greger: You might comment again about the relations with the Wanapums. Just a little bit more, if there’s more to say.

Heriford: Oh.

Greger: You knew about—well, you knew where the villages were, of course—the main one up by Priest Rapids.

Heriford: Yes, now we had several people who actually visited move to Priest Rapids. The Webbers—Russell and Dorothy Webber moved up there. So they knew Puck Hyah Toot, or Johnny Buck as we called him, and they knew quite a few of the Indians. Dorothy Webber was telling me just this last week, she said, one of the ladies would just come up and open the door and walk in. They felt free to do whatever they wanted. People always had good remarks. I mean, they felt kindly toward the Wanapum Indians. And Mr. Reierson who owned the trading store in White Bluffs said that Johnny Buck would come in, want to know what bills his people owed, and he would pay up. He really admired Johnny. Joe Brill was our bus driver. He owned the airplane. We had an airstrip between Hanford and White Bluffs. And I forgot to mention, we also had what they called the in-between area, and that’s where I lived. If you lived out three miles out from town, I think you were in the in-between area. So when they wrote in the newspaper, it would always be In-Between News, Hanford News, and White Bluffs. But we had a newspaper, and if anybody made a trip to Yakima, they motored to Yakima, or they motored to Pasco, that was big news. Specially in the early days, when they had a car with a motor in, that was news. When the touring cars came into town. Because some of our early pictures show the hitching posts in front of the stores. I have a lot of those pictures in the 1920s and earlier. That was something that—I don’t know what happened. I know with security in town, when they came into our area, we weren’t allowed to take pictures. But I think we still could have taken pictures prior to the time that was really taken over. I’m just lucky that my friend and I took a lot of pictures. I think we must have had a premonition, because we had little Brownie cameras and we took pictures of everyone and everything. Her pictures burned up, but I still had mine. So we still have quite a few.

Interview Two: Okay well—

Heriford: It’s blinking, is that--?

Putnam: It’s almost to the end of the tape.

Heriford: Well, I just talk so much. I shouldn’t talk so much.

Putnam: Oh, no, that’s exactly what we want. It’s just—




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B Reactor Museum Association, “Annette Heriford,” Hanford History Project, accessed May 28, 2024,