WA Peninsula, SC Washington, High Lakes of NW WA, NE Washington & Idaho, NC Washington, NW Montana I,
Low Lakes of NW WA, SE Washington, NW Montana II, NW Montana III, Biography of a Man, A Fisherman's Wildlife, Lakes of North Idaho

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$19.95 / Perfectbound
ISBN: 9781457536311
256 pages

$28.95 / Hardcover
ISBN: 9781457537271
256 pages
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Excerpt from the Book
BELLINGHAM - 1940 to 1943

In Bellingham, we first lived in a house on a hill to the west of Sehome Hill. It’s the hill that Highland Drive crosses now, and the house overlooked Bellingham Bay to the west. We owned the top of the hill, and there were two houses on our property. We lived in the main house, and the cabin was rented out to some schoolteachers that were from over by Wenatchee. The hill was still being logged back then. It’s all condominiums and big houses now.

Our neighbors, who owned most of the rest of the hill, were the Jenkins family. George Jenkins and his wife Alan had a house that was huge for those days. Mr. Jenkins was a retired sea captain. Their daughter, Barbara Blood, had recently lost a baby and lived with them. Because she was still recovering from the death of her child, and I was just a little kid, she kind of took to me.

The last time that I saw Barbara Blood was when she lived in Bremerton in the early 1960’s. We went with her to a stage performance of “The Wizard of Oz” at an outdoor amphitheatre that was billed as “Theatre in the Woods”. She died in Bremerton in 1983.

I remember Mrs. Jenkins getting after me once because I’d messed with their honeybee hives. When she asked me why I’d blocked the opening so the bees couldn’t get out I told her, “Because they sting me”.

Mrs. Jenkins and her daughter Barbara had a lot to do with the museum in Bellingham for many years. The museum is still in the same place today that it was back then.

My sister, Wilma, was born in November of 1940 while we lived on the hill. That house burned down in early 1941, and we lost everything. An organization that helped people out when something like that happened, might have been the Red Cross, I was too young to remember, gave us clothes and blankets.

After we lost our house we had to completely start over. Because someone else was living in the other house on the property, we were homeless. We lived in a little dinky camp trailer while my dad built a house for us to live in. After he got it built, he hand dug a basement under it, bringing out the dirt in a wheelbarrow on a packed dirt ramp. When we moved into the house I got the camp trailer that we’d lived in for my room. Thought it was pretty cool at the time. We were still living there when World War II started.

That Christmas, right after we got into World War II, I remember my dad buying an electric train set. I got to help him put it together. For a little kid starting out in the depression when everybody was scraping to get by it was really a big deal, and left a lasting memory. Little things mean the world to a kid when you have so little.

We lived in the house that my father had built until he got a job with Bloedel-Donovan in a factory that made wooden boxes. I remember the excitement when he got the better job that was going to mean more money.

The new job meant we were able to buy a new house on Kentucky Street, out where the Coca-Cola place is now. Seems like it was about the time my sister Evelyn was born in January of 1942 that we moved into the new house. It was on a small farm; I think about 18 acres.

We had a Jersey cow that provided our milk, cream and butter. We also had about a thousand chickens and some pigs. Just down the road, where the main intersection with the old highway is now, was a farm store called Brown & Cole. That’s where we sold our eggs. In the fall a couple of the pigs would be butchered and smoked to provide most of our meat for the winter. That first fall, which would have been 1942, the smokehouse caught fire and burned down and we lost our winters meat.

Dad would buy truckloads of trimmings from the box factory where he worked, and that was our firewood. Most of the homes back then also had stoves that burned coal.

On the farm we raised a garden, and there was also a big orchard. In those days you tried to grow most of what you used. Neighbors grew some of the things that you didn’t, and everybody’s extra was bartered so that in the end everybody had what they needed. We went from the great depression right into the world war, and everybody helped each other to get by. Even as a five-year old kid I realized how tough things were.

About 3/4 mile west of our farm was a wooden pipe factory. They made wood stave pipe. They’d use cedar to build the cylinder, wrap it in spring steel, and coat it with tar. I remember when it burnt down, talk about a hot fire. Black smoke just rolled out of it.

When we lived on Kentucky Street there was a German family that had big, long greenhouses. There were rows of them several blocks long. They grew a lot of the produce for Bellingham. For some reason that I never figured out, a lot of the people in the area really didn’t like Mr. Bellman. Maybe it was because he was born in Germany, and we’d just gotten into the war, I don’t know. He was good for the area, because most of the produce that people had came from his greenhouses.

There were some big farms that grew crops in south Bellingham back then, but they didn’t have greenhouses like Mr. Bellman did.