Special Collections

Special Collections Oral History Program


Frank "Moose" Zurline and Vi Zurline

Campus School parents, 1953-1964

Interviewer:     Tamara Belts

Date of Interview:     November 8, 2005

Location of Interview:     Interviewees' residence, Bellingham, Wash.


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Authorized Transcript

This interview was conducted with Moose (MZ) and Vi Zurline (VZ) at their home in Bellingham, Washington, on November 8th, 2005. They are the parents of two Campus School alumni, Nancy Zurline Wutzen (Sixth Grade 1960) and Frank Zurline, Jr. (Sixth Grade 1964). The interviewer is Tamara Belts.

TB: Today is November 8th, Tuesday, and I am here with [Moose and Vi] Zurline. We are going to talk to about the Campus School from the parents perspective. Our first question here is how did you decide to have your children go to Campus School?

VZ: Well, Moose having been a graduate [of Western], we had so much information on the Campus School on how excellent it was; and some of the people I had gone to school with went to the Campus School. We had to register the children just as soon as they were born to get them in at the time it would come up for their Kindergarten.

TB: Iíve heard that, itís fascinating.

VZ: It was kind of competitive to get your child in!

TB: So how many of your children attended Campus School?

VZ: Well we just have two, a girl and a boy, and they both went to Campus.

TB: What were the years/grades that your children attended?

VZ: Iíve got to think a minute now. Nancy was born in 1948.

MZ: I graduated in 1950.

VZ: 1953 she would have gone into Kindergarten, wouldnít she? Yes, she went into Kindergarten that year, and then Frank was born in 1952, so he was three years behind her.

TB: So he probably started in 1957?

VZ: Probably.

TB: And then how far did Campus School go to? What grade?

VZ: Grade six.

TB: Have any other family members attended or taught at the Campus School? I guess that would include cousins or any other relatives?

VZ: Mooseís Uncle George [Hunsby] as a youngster went to what they called the [Normal Training School] up there at that time.  He was born in 1898, so it was in the early 1900s. I donít know the exact date, but he often talked about that. He was even honored when they had the reunion.

TB: Oh, in 1993.

VZ: Yes.

TB: How did your children get to and from school?

VZ: We had to take them. We had a neighborhood pool, the Irvins and the Halls and us. It was every day.

TB: Did they serve lunch at the school or did you prepare a sack lunch, or do you know what the lunch time experience was?

VZ: I canít think. It seems like I fixed their lunches for them. Isnít it funny how you forget those things.

MZ: I canít remember any lunchroom at the school at all.

VZ: Well you donít know. They did lots of things up there, but I made their lunch.

TB: Do you remember the names of your childrenís teachers?

VZ: I do. In Kindergarten, they had Miss Nicol; Synva Nicol. In first grade they had the one we liked, Miss Casanova. Second grade wasÖisnít it funny how you forget? Third grade was Marglen, wasnít it? Marglen Vike. Well, she was the main teacher. There was Priscilla Kinsman in grade five. Iím trying to think who the other teachers were. My kids would know. I canít remember exactly.

I got very well acquainted with Miss Nicol and also with Miss Casanova. With Nancy, we didnít have much reason to talk to the teachers, but with Frank we had a lot of reasons! When he was in Kindergarten he lisped. He couldnít say Ďyellow.í That bothered Miss Nicol. So thatís how I got to meet Dr. Carlile because Frank took speech from him. Isnít that interesting? And of course having all those facilities the Campus School could use.  There were a lot of things done very well that way I thought.

Nancy was the kind of student that was very sweet. When she had Miss Vike or Marglen, she said, ďOh I just love her.Ē I said, ďDid you tell her you loved her?Ē And she said, ďYes, I sat up straight and tall!Ē   Then Frank was full of it, and he had a classroom full of kids that were just full of it. He didnít have any trouble, he was a good student and he profited a lot more from Campus School than Nancy did for some reason. Nancy was in a class (I could name a lot of the kids) of pretty sharp kids.  I think being shy [hurt her].  Miss Kinsman told me at the end of the fifth grade she didnít realize Nancy wasnít learning. With those kinds of things, I had no trouble with Frank. He was right in there. Nancy did fine. She went to college and everything. But you never know what the public school would have done for her. It might have been the same. But she got lots of good attention and they had lots of things like we had Christmas programs for two weeks before school. The singing and whatís the galís name that just married Von Bargen?

TB: Evelyn.

VZ: Evelyn. She was the teacher and she wouldnít let Frank sing in the choir! Itís the little things like this is what you remember. They had some really good experiences up there.

MZ: I used to remember Miss Casanova, her brother was the head football coach at Oregon.

TB: Iíve heard that.

VZ: She was a nice lady.

MZ: She was always coming to the games.

VZ: They were all nice people up there. One day I went to pick Frank up and he was sitting in the window looking out like this: L. So I went in and I said, ďNow whatís the matter?Ē (You know thatís the way it is).  Miss Casanova said, ďSit down and Iíll tell you whatís the matter.Ē  Boy, she had really a way about her. It was so cute.

MZ: And you know the classes were limited to twenty-five. The quarter I taught at Campus School, it was like gravy train compared to when I had forty-five or fifty at other schools.

VZ: But I thought the Campus School was really a good thing for our kids on a general basis. Every child is so different. Sometimes when children are more aggressive and sharper on the trigger or something, which is more aggressive probably, I think the teachers notice them more, donít you? I think with Frank, he didnít have much trouble and Nancy, as she went on to school, she didnít have trouble either. It was just the difference of their personalities.

TB: Going back to the Christmas program, as parents, did you go sing with them in the morning then?

VZ: Yes. It was fun. We knew all those songs.

TB: Was that one day a week or every morning?

VZ: It seems to me it was every morning for so many days before Christmas. I thought that was a wonderful thing. Dr. Taylorís daughter, Herbís daughter, was in Frankís class, wasnít she?

MZ: I went one night to a Campus School meeting with her parents and Herb Taylor was the speaker. Youíve heard his name. We were sitting at a table like this and then he walks over and sits on the table and crosses his legs and gives his speech. That was the first time I had ever seen that.

VZ: The thing that you noticed, too, is that he had very opinionated ideas of what should be done. But of course he was very bright.

TB: Who do you think were the favorite or most influential teachers and why?

VZ: Well I must say that in the first two grades, Kindergarten and the first grade, you couldnít beat those two, Miss Nicol and Miss Casanova. I canít think, was George Lamb on the staff?

TB: He was at some point.

VZ: Was he? Because I keep thinking about him up in grade six, Iím just not sure who their teachers were. One of the kids could tell you. Iím sure some parents would think Miss Kinsman was [great], but I didnít find her that [good] for Nancy, maybe thatís it. I donít remember with Frank.

TB: As a parent, what did you like about the curriculum or think was the most beneficial for your child?

VZ: Well with our kids, I think they had so many individual things. We had Renee up at school that taught French. They had French everyday. You know, conversational French. He was a darling kid, he came fromÖwas he Belgian or French?

MZ: Belgian.

VZ: I donít know what happened to Renee, he lived with a family here but he was a good kid and it was fun for those kids to have that. There were all kinds of music available, and also gymnastics. They all had opportunities like that. I think the numbers made a difference, only having twenty-five. I think probably [we didnít have any problems] except in behavior sometimes with Frank. But I think if there was something a child needed, they would get that attention. I felt that way.

TB: Were there any issues related to there being so many teachers in the room, with the student teachers? Was that ever a problem for any of your children?

VZ: No, I never heard them mention it, did you Moose?

MZ: No. I couldnít see any problems at all. I think they had much more opportunity at Campus School than people, say, at Larrabee. They learned the basics. Like for instance, when they had to take a French class, they had a boy who speaks it. They had more opportunities, much more. All the kids I went to high school with who went to Campus, I could notice a difference.

VZ: Oh a lot of kids I can mention to you, John Slater was a Campus [Schooler] he was in my class. Jean Burnet, Suzanne Rykken. All those kids went to Campus.

TB: Do you have any other thoughts about Ė this is skipping years a little bit Ė but when you entered Bellingham High School and Campus School kids [were also entering the] school, do you have an specific memories about that?

VZ: Well of course I always had the impression that they came from a little more affluent families. That I think just shows you the parents that worry about the kids and getting them in. It maybe was just my own way of thinking, but I thought they came from families [with money] and so you would see them progress. A lot of my friends were certainly top students and excelled in a lot of things.

MZ: I think they were all better, in my opinion, the kids in Campus School . Those kids also played on the basketball team, and none of them played football. I donít know anyone who went to Campus School that played football. They liked basketball instead.

VZ: I donít remember that. Loren Rankin went to Campus, his dad was a teacher at Whatcom. Do you remember Loren? Heís active with the alums. I think if you ask any of my girlfriends, because we all still get together a lot, it seems like the people that went to Campus School were right in there.

MZ: I think itís more rounded, the ones I knew. I remember my first time teaching school at Western, at Campus School, my one quarter, the first time Iíd ever seen them come out with an easel. They would turn the big easel over. Other teachers in other rooms, even at Larrabee, it was pinned on the wall.

VZ: They probably had all the necessary tools to work with.

MZ: Casanova and Nicol, they were teaching students plus teaching teachers.

VZ: Youíre bound to make it a well-rounded education. It would be interesting for me to have you just ask my two kids what they think sometime.

TB: We are trying to do alumni. How did the Campus School communicate with you as a parent? What kind of feedback did they give you on your childís progress?

VZ: Well, we got notes and we got calls if there was anything to discuss.

MZ: Teachers meetings.

VZ: We had meetings, regular meetings. Dr. Hawk was the principal, wasnít he?

MZ: Yes.

VZ: He was a nice man, easy to talk to. I canít think of anything else.

MZ: I remember the first parent meeting I went to, we got out at the end of the building to come in, it was a brand new building, pretty new, with that ramp going up, so there was no stairs. That looked good to me.

VZ: It was a nice auditorium.

TB: What types of special programs, if any, were the parents invited to attend?

VZ: Anything the kids were in we were invited to. It seemed like we were included in a lot of things the Campus School put on.  I think first because they had that nice auditorium, donít you? I think so. They wanted to make sure that people knew what they were doing up there. I got that feeling.

TB: Do you remember what sort of corrective behavior tactics were used on misbehaving students?

MZ: You got locked in the coat closet!

VZ: No they didnít!

MZ: Yes, they did. (Maybe it was at Larrabee.)

VZ: Donít talk about when you were in school, sheís asking about Campus School.

TB: Tell me about Frank Jr. It sounds like he misbehaved a little bit.

VZ: Heís a good kid. Weíre naturally very proud of him, but theyíre just such opposites. Nancy has her Dadís wonderful, easygoing way, and Iím afraid to say that Frank has my, do it [my] way [personality]! Heís always been, I think, popular with his friends. He still has a lot of good friends and I think that he just needed this guidance that they gave him up there, because he had a rough class. He had Jim Bennett, the Bolster boy (whom I loved) Danny Bolster, the Vosti twins, theyíd jump over the ledge even! The older Vosti boy was in Nancyís class. We were notified any time [there was a problem] 

MZ: They kept in good touch.

TB: What did they do when kids were misbehaving? How did they quiet them down? Did they just split them up?

VZ: I suppose. They would certainly let the parent know. We were always informed immediately.

MZ: Iím serious, they opened the coat closet door and put a chair in there and set them on it.

VZ: I donít think so.

MZ: If you get someone else to tell you the same story, then itís true!

TB: Were there parent volunteers in the classroom or any kind of PTA or something?

VZ: I donít remember any parents being involved in the classroom, but I certainly knew all the parents, because anything they had, we were all there. There was always such a wonderful parent cooperation I guess I would call it. Where today, I guess some parents donít even go to the meetings. I guess itís a different world out there now.

TB: What were some of the differences that you perceived from the public school?

VZ: Well first of all, the size of the class. Now Iím not sure how big the classes were at Lowell. What else? I think probably just the individual support they would get. I think there was a constant feeling, because you did get to know the teacher pretty well when I think about it. Funny, I canít remember those other names.

MZ: I noticed [the difference between] that one quarter in Campus School with twenty-five students and a lot of help from the head teacher, and [my] first job with Edison -- first day out, forty-five showed up! It was a change.

VZ: Automatically you know you canít give the attention that you could for twenty-five kids.

MZ: I probably didnít give them any attention, I was scared to death!

TB: What was the transition like for your children when they began to attend public school?

VZ: Well, they went down to Fairhaven and they both loved Fairhaven. We had no problems at all there, did we? And of course we lived on Park Ridge right there so they could walk to school. It seemed to be a happy time for both of them. Then Frank, when he went on to high school, Sehome had just opened, but Nancy went to Bellingham. She graduated from there.

MZ: Fairhaven was seventh, eighth and ninth; [junior high] we called it then.

TB: What do you perceive as the strength of the Campus School?

VZ: You mean the strength of the kids who went there?

TB: I guess the strength of what you thought the school offered your children. Some of it youíve already alluded to.

VZ: Yes. I think the association was good. I think there again like I mentioned, there were all types of people. There were professorsí kids, there were business peoples kids, or teachersí kids like ours. I got the feeling that everybody that was a parent had a reason to have them there and would cooperate, you know what I mean? I guess now in the public schools itís not too easy.

MZ: I really think all the years playing sports and seeing those kids on campus, we always thought they were smarter. No question about it. They got a better education. We called them ďsissifiedĒ because we were rough and tough. While we were out on the football field, they were playing tennis.

VZ: They were probably studying or they were taking the cello. I think every one of them took a music lesson. Jean tells me now about how she hated the cello! Every time I see a cello player I think about that, itís funny.

TB: What do you perceive as the weaknesses? Were there any weaknesses at the Campus School?

VZ: The only weakness I could see was (and this is just from Nancyís experience), if the child was an exceptionally bright kid, which a lot of them were, there was too much attention shown to them. I think that itís easy to, you know if a kidís real smart and they know everything, itís pretty easy to always include them. I think that would be my only criticism.

MZ: Yes, thatís probably true.

TB: Any favorite memories of your childrenís Campus School days?

VZ: Well I think our favorite memories are the songs and getting together in the auditorium. Thatís what I always think about, donít you? And Dr. Hawk brings back wonderful memories.

MZ: Yes. Christmas programs, with the kids involved, music and all of that. Always it was hard to get in, remember? Everyone wanted to go there.

VZ: All the parents attended. You felt like you were a part of it. Now maybe they did that at Lowell too, I donít know, because we certainly felt a part of that at Fairhaven.

TB: Anything related to the Campus School that I havenít asked you that you would like to comment on?

VZ: I canít think of anything. I pretty much have said my feelings. What do you think, Moose? We didnít even pay a fee, did we? There was no fee I donít think. I canít remember.

TB: That is a question we usually ask. We think it was actually considered to be a public school and they wouldnít have charged any kind of tuition because it really was a part of Bellingham public schools.

VZ: They were teaching the teachers. Yes, of course. I donít remember any fee. I know that the hardest part was always having to pick them up. I remember Ray Lee that had the Woodstock out there, he said to me one day, ďThank god this is my last time to pick up kids at Campus School!Ē   Funny things like that because there was no transportation otherwise.

TB: You mentioned that Dr. Hawk was a great guy. Could you elaborate on that?

MZ: He was a public relation guy, honest to god, public relations. He greeted the parents at the door, and when I was student teaching there, he would come in and sit and listen to your class, just walk in, just nonchalant.

VZ: He was an exceptional man.

MZ: When you were student teaching and the class was over with, heíd even tell you, ďYouíre doing a good job, Moose. Keep it up, youíll be a good teacher.Ē  He did that to all of us!

TB: Okay; well, if thereís nothing else, Iíll shut off the tape. Thank you.