Harlan Jackson

Interviewer: Tamara Belts
Date of Interview: December 12, 2006
Location of Interview: Special Collections, Wilson Library, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington

TB: Today is Tuesday, December 12th, 2006, and I’m here with Harlan Jackson who was an alumnus of the Campus School as well as an alumnus of Western Washington University.  He did sign the Informed Consent Agreement, and we’re going to do the questionnaire for both the Campus School alumni as well as the Golden Vikings.  So our first question is: How did you happen to attend the Campus School?


HJ:  Well, that choice was made by my parents.  I don’t know why they picked the Campus School.  They’d drive us (my sister and I) to the Campus School everyday and there was someone else in the neighborhood – Vicki Hyde, I believe it was – sometimes her parents would take us, sometimes my parents would take us, and they’d drive us up to the Campus School.


TB:  Excellent.  Did anyone else in your family attend the Campus School, and what were their names?


HJ:  Well, my sister, Wendy, attended the Campus School.  She was a year behind me.


TB:  Okay, what were the years and grades of your attendance?

HJ:  Kindergarten through sixth grade; it would’ve been spring of [1955] when I graduated.


TB:  Did your family pay any fees for your attendance at Campus School?


HJ:  I’m sure they did.


TB:  Where did you live when you attended the Campus School?


HJ:  We lived in an area in Bellingham called Edgemoor; on Bayside Road.


TB:  And how did you get to and from school?  You shared part of that.


HJ:  Yes, just by carpool mostly.


TB:  And do you have any other favorite memories of that experience?


HJ:  Well, sometimes, to get home, I would jog or run.  There used to be trails through where Highland [Drive] is, in that area.  There were some swamps in there and I could jog all the way down into the Fairhaven area, and go home.  I’d do that once in a while.  Most of the time [though] I’d wait for my dad to pick me up after he got off work.


TB:  So what’d you do in the afternoon between when school got out and he got off work?


HJ:  Sometimes we’d play on the monkey bars that were in the back of the Campus School lot.  There used to be a road that drove up behind the Campus School, [where you had some room to park.]  


TB:  And what did you do for lunch?


HJ:  Lunch, I think they used to have a cafeteria we used to go in.  I remember my favorite dish was when they’d have green beans, I remember that, buttered green beans.  But the food was pretty good.


TB:  Do you remember any favorite classmates and please name them for us?


HJ:  Well, a lot of [my favorite] classmates would have been ones that were in my class.  Gale Pfueller, who lived up in the same neighborhood, Biff Dickerson, who’s still in town (Gale’s still in town, actually).  There was John Rice; Bart Wachter, who was a good friend of mine in sixth grade, we used to have a lot of fun together.  There was Gary Kulbitski his dad was a football coach for a while, then he moved on I think when we were in high school.


TB:  Who were your favorite or most influential teachers?


HJ:  Well, I think my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Van Wingerden.  I really enjoyed him.  He was the only man teacher I had, so I guess I kind of liked that.  Miss [Merriman], I thought she was really a good teacher.  I think she was my fifth grade teacher.  We used to have an exchange with a class in Canada, and I can remember we went up there, and we were told how strict they would be and how everyone would stand up and so we went up there and stood up when the teacher walked in.  I think things have changed up there quite a bit.  Then their class came down to be with our class one day.  She used to do a lot with puppets, so we had a little puppet show that we had for them.  I can remember that, that was a lot of fun.  And I think another thing was I always liked PE.  The play fields were out in front of the school, and we’d have swimming over in the swimming pool, which was kind of a big deal for us.


TB:  Oh, nice.  Do you remember any of your student teachers?

HJ:  I remember Mr. Ferguson in sixth grade, he was the basketball coach; at that time we had a basketball team.  And some of the time that’s why I was late for my dad to pick me up, because I would have basketball turnout.  He’s about the only one I can remember now, but I really liked him.


TB:  What were your favorite subjects or classroom activities?


HJ:  I think we made candles in first or second grade, and that was a lot of fun.  And the puppets were all fun, of course; and sports [were] always important for me.  In fact, when I was in fifth grade, some of us fifth graders organized a football team to play the sixth graders.  We worked and had turnout on our own, stuff like that, and we went down to one of the lower parks.  I think one of the college kids actually came down, was walking by, and started to referee for us, and we had a good game of tackle; which probably now days you wouldn’t be allowed to do.  I think it ended up in a tie.


TB:  What kind of learning materials did you mostly use?  Regular school textbooks, or materials created by your teachers?


HJ:  I think in earlier grades a lot of it was probably created by the teacher.  But I do remember we had this set of books like, “See Spot Run”, that type of books, in the early elementary grades.  I’m not quite sure what we had in fifth and sixth grade and fourth grade, but I think it was a little more set.  But we had a lot of student teachers, and that was in a sense probably good and bad, because you didn’t really have a good continuation of things from one teacher to another.  When I think back, I think that so many student teachers – nine of them in a school year – was probably too much and probably was detrimental to some of the learning [opportunities] that were offered.


TB:  What kind of grading system was in use during your attendance?  Letter grades or narrative reports?


HJ:  I think it was just a report.  I don’t remember ever getting a letter grade.


TB:  Do you especially remember any creative activities, such as weaving or making things?  You said you remembered the candles.


HJ:  Yes, I remember the candles, I remember the puppets, but I can’t remember if we ever made any puppets or not.  But that’s about what I can remember right now.  We did a lot of stuff in Kindergarten, I remember that; a lot of painting things.  Of course we had specials for PE, one of the PE teachers at the college was our PE teacher.


TB:  Was that Miss Weythman?


HJ:  Yes, Miss Weythman.


TB:  What was it like for you to be observed so often by student teachers?


HJ:  Well, I think it got to the point where you just got used to it.  You didn’t really think of it.  I guess I was kind of a rebel in a way, because I used to like to give some of them a bad time -- particularly the women ones.  I’d test them out.  If the student teacher liked sports, then he was okay right off the bat, but if he wasn’t involved in sports in high school or something, then I kind of liked to give them a bad time.


TB:  Did you attend summer school at the Campus School?


HJ:  No.


TB:  What out of classroom activities did you engage in?  What did you do at recess, lunchtime, and what did you enjoy the most and what games did you play?

HJ:  Well, a lot of the times during recess, we’d go out and play tag or we’d – I don’t know if we used the bars very much in the back of the school, but during football season someone seemed to always have a football, so we could throw the football around. You  were allowed to do a lot more than you do now. There was times we’d go down to the gym after school.  I’m not sure if we were supposed to be down there, but we’d play bombardment in the gym.  You had three gyms; one we used for basketball, one was a side gym where we had bombardment, and then there was the Kindergarten gym, I think it was.  It had a lot of big wooden blocks you could make things out of.  And even though we weren’t in Kindergarten, we would love to sneak in there and build things.


TB:  Did you visit the college itself, the college library, attend assemblies or sporting events or anything else at the college when you were at Campus School and then any special memories of these experiences?


HJ:  I think we went over to the library a couple times.  In the springtime, a couple years, we used to go out on the knoll and have sort of like a picnic thing towards the end of the school year.  Well, we went over to the swimming pool, that’d be a visit.  There wasn’t much up here, then, you know.  You had the old track and the old gym and Highland Hall and [Edens] Hall.  When I first started, they didn’t even have the science building, or the auditorium, you just had the old library.


TB:  At what grade level did you enter public school?  Why did you transfer and what was the transition like for you?


HJ:  It was the start of the seventh grade, and that’s because sixth grade was the last year for Campus School.  I don’t think I had any problems of transition.


TB:  Did you not find grades a surprise?


HJ:  No, no, I didn’t.


TB:  Please share any specific differences between public school and Campus School that especially affected you.


HJ:  I think that the Campus School was weak in teaching the basics of spelling and things like that.  I think that affected me, because my spelling is not as good as I’d like it to be.  I have to always check over everything so I think that was a disadvantage.  Actually my parents wanted to move me into the public schools a little sooner, because they felt maybe I wasn’t getting what I should get.  And I and my sister, we were having so much fun up there, we kind of raised a ruckus and they decided to let us finish out.  But I think I found that the public schools were a little harder at the time, and I think part of that reason again was because we had so many student teachers.


TB:  What further education did you pursue: college, graduate, or professional school?


HJ:  I went on and got my education degree and taught school for thirty-two years.


TB:  If you later attended Western and majored in education, did you observe or student teach in the Campus School and what was that experience like?


HJ:  No, I did not.  In fact, the Campus School was gone by the time I started student teaching, I think, or it was getting close to the end.


TB:  How did your attendance at the Campus School influence your life and/or career?


HJ:  Now, that’s a tough question.  I picked up some good discipline.  I remember one of the things in sixth grade was the traffic patrol that we used to do.  There was a couple of us, depending on who had the most days, because we were always assigned days, and when you got so many days I think you got a star or something.  So there were two or three of us who were always asking somebody else if we could take their days.  So, I think I got a kind of discipline there, and I think I got some discipline in sports.  It’s really hard to say how it’s all molded together.


TB:  Are you still in touch with any Campus School classmates and if so can you help us contact them?

HJ:  Well, I’m still in contact with my sister and Pat O’Conner, but I think you already reached him.  I see Gale Pfueller once in a while.  I think most of the people I’ve mentioned you’ve already kind of shook your head that you were acquainted with them.  Some of the girls, I don’t know, Jane Clarke, I forget what her married name is now, and there’s Janet Gregory.  She’s on the East Coast somewhere, I think.


TB:  Do you have any Campus School memorabilia, including photographs, class publications, crafts, artwork?


HJ:  I don’t know if I have any artwork or not.  My mom might have some stuff somewhere, I don’t know.


TB:  And please share any other favorite memories of your Campus School days and any comments about areas not covered in the questions above.


HJ:  Well, I think a lot of the fun was watching the buildings go up.  The science building used to be kind of a swamp where that is, and we used to go down there and catch frogs.  I can’t think of much else.  I remember kind of running around the track.  Oh!  We used to go in the restroom. We’d play, like cowboys or something, and we’d try to ambush each other, making the sounds of guns and things; which would make the woman teacher very upset because she couldn’t come in.  She would be yelling and holler that she was going to come in.  We used to do that all the time and we had a lot of fun doing it.  I suppose if I had a little bit more time … Oh!  Another thing I remember, too, is, I think it was the fourth grade class it used to have a beehive in it.  We used to watch the bees come in and go out, and that was always a lot of fun, too.  And when it snowed, everyone would run and look out the window.  The teachers would try to get us to sit down, same as they do today.


TB:  Right, some things never change and apply to every school.  Okay, that’s all of our Campus School questions.  I guess we’ll just jump into the Golden Vikings. 


Part II: Golden Viking Questionnaire


TB: Why did you choose to attend Western?


HJ:  Well, it just kind of happened.  As I graduated from Bellingham High School, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do.  I thought I’d go to Western for two years then I was going to transfer to Central, that’s what my plan was.  But then I got up here, and I made new friends, and I made better friends, I guess, with some of the old friends I had, and so pretty soon I ended up staying here the whole time.


TB:  I’m fascinated.  Why were you going to go to Central?


HJ:  Oh, I think just probably to leave home and get away, but that never happened.


TB:  What were your dates of attendance at Western?


HJ:  I think I started in fall of 1961, and graduated in 1966 I think.


TB:  What degrees or certificates did you receive?


HJ:  My Bachelor’s of Education.


TB:  Did you receive any other degrees elsewhere?


HJ:  No.


TB:  What was your first job after leaving Western and any distinctive memories of this experience – salary, work conditions, etc?  And please share any information about your subsequent career.


HJ:  My first job was at Everett, and at that time, everybody from Bellingham kept saying, “Why would you go to Everett?” Because Bellingham and Everett used to [have] a tremendous rivalry.  I think the starting salary was $5400.  I wondered how I was ever going to make enough money to save up enough money to ever buy a house or anything.  I majored in PE so I taught PE and coached and that was at North Junior High in Everett.  After four years, I moved up to the high school and spent twenty-eight years there.


TB:  Have any other family members attended Western?


HJ:  My dad; I know he picked up maybe his Master’s through Western.


TB:  What was your father’s name?


HJ:  Harlan Jackson.


TB:  Oh, so you’re a junior?


HJ:  Right, he was an assistant superintendent of the schools in Bellingham for many years.


TB:  Was he an assistant superintendent of Bellingham schools when you were going to the Campus School?


HJ:  No, he was coaching and teaching at Bellingham High School.  I think he probably was getting a little pressure to, and that might have been one of the reasons he wanted to transfer me.


TB:  Where did you live when you were going to Western as a college student?


HJ:  Well, I lived at home for two years, I think it was, and then I lived in a house on Iron Street.


TB:  Any favorite memories of those experiences?

HJ:  No, but we always seemed to have a lot of fun.  It was a really interesting makeup, because we had some people in the house that were real, real conservative, and some that were real, real liberal.  And we used to get in some good discussions.  Every once in a while we’d even have a faculty member come down from the college and we’d have a good discussion.


TB:  Who were your favorite or most influential teachers and why?


HJ:  Dr. Flora was, I thought, an excellent teacher.  He made things very interesting.  Dr. Taylor was also very interesting and very challenging.  You always had to be really on your toes when you had a class from him.  Dr. Tomaras probably did the most.  He was my PE instructor for a lot of my classes, when I decided to major in PE.  The reason I majored in PE was because of Dr. Tomaras.  I just took a PE class for the fun of it, it was the History of PE, and I enjoyed it so much I decided to take some more classes.  When I took a few more classes, I decided to major in PE.  At one time I was thinking of majoring in history, so Dr. Tomaras had a lot of influence in me.  Dr. Lappenbusch was a real character, I liked him.  He was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever known.  Mrs. Kirkpatrick, she really made kinesiology interesting.  She was really a good teacher and we all liked her and liked to have classes from her.


TB:  So your main course of study, then, was physical education.  Which extra curricular activities did you enjoy the most?


HJ:  Well, I did a lot of intramurals; I played intramural basketball up here.  That was a lot of fun.  We would do things on the sides, you’d get to go out on the weekends and things, but I think intramural basketball was the thing I did the most.  I remember one year – they used to divide us into leagues and we were about the middle league in the building, but we started winning a lot of games and one of the guys knew somebody that was down at KPUG radio (that was the radio station everyone listened to in those days). And you know, he’d call up the score of our intramural game, and pretty soon they were announcing our scores over the radio, and they’d say, “We’ll be waiting for the next game, to see if they can beat so-and-so.”  It did irritate some of the people on the other teams, but it was kind of funny.  Finally we got beat in the play-offs.  But they’d say, “And now, the next important game...” and then they’d give our score, and then they’d say, “And the NBA’s results...”


TB:  So what was the name of your team?


HJ:  I can’t even remember the name of it anymore.


TB:  Please share any other outstanding memories of your college days.


HJ:  Oh, I can’t think of anything else, you know, just typical things that college kids do.


TB:  Well, I’m curious … That would be the very early years, but any thoughts about the Vietnam War or people’s attitudes about that?  It would seem like you were here in a time when there were beginning to be a lot of changes.


HJ:  Right.  There was, that’s right.  The war was starting to kick up and we were starting to get the war movement.  I can remember we went into register for classes and there were about 30 people laying around on the floor, making it hard for you to get into register for classes.  So, yes, there started to become a debate on campus and the hippies started, that movement was picking up, it was a big transition from the crew cut to the long hair, the marijuana was starting to show up, and acid.  There was a transition; you could see a real change in some of the students.


TB:  Anything else that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to comment on?


HJ:  Not right now, probably in another hour, I’ll think of a lot of things.


TB:  Okay, well, thank you very much.


HJ:  Thank you.