Special Collections

Special Collections Oral History Program


Georgia (McCush) Heald

Campus School, 1938-1948

Interviewer:     Tamara Belts

Date of Interview:     March 15, 2006

Location of Interview:     Interviewee's residence, Bellingham, Wash.


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Authorized Transcript

This interview was conducted with Georgia McCush Heald on March 15th, 2006. The interviewer is Tamara Belts.

TB: Today is Wednesday March 15th, 2006. I am Tamara Belts and I am here with Georgia Heald who was a Campus Schooler. We are about to do an oral history and she did just sign the Informed Consent Agreement. Our first question is how did you happen to attend the Campus School?

GH: Iím not sure! I just did. My older sister was a Campus School student and my mother was a graduate of the Normal School. I just did!

TB: Did anyone else in your family attend the Campus School? Your sister did.

GH: My sister.

TB: What was your sisterís name?

GH: Mollie McCush; she was three years ahead of me.

TB: You mentioned that your mother had attended the Normal School. When did your mother attend the Normal School?

GH: She wasnít quite sure when she graduated, but I would guess that it was around 1920. I think she figured she must have graduated in 1921 or 1922, something like that.

TB: What was her name when she attended?

GH: Garno. Freda Marie Garno. Itís usually spelled G-a-r-n-o. It sometimes has the French spelling. I think then thatís what she was going by.

TB: What were the years and grades of your attendance?

GH: I went from Kindergarten through ninth grade from 1938-1948.

TB: Oh perfect. Do you think your family paid any fees for your attendance at the Campus School?

GH: Not that I know of.  It was never brought up!

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

GH: We lived on the South side, 331 S. Forest Street.

TB: How did you get to and from school?

GH: Sometimes I would get a ride with my father, and in those cases I was usually late! I also remember walking with other friends in the neighborhood and riding a bicycle.

TB: Do you have any particular favorite memories of this experience?

GH: I remember some cold mornings when I felt like my knees were rather cold!

TB: Yes! Thatís fair. What did you do for lunch?

GH: Some people went home for lunch. I never went home for lunch. We lived a mile away. I remember eating lunch in the school room when we were still in Old Main, before we moved to the new Campus School building. I remember Miss Kinsman showing us the proper way to use a soup spoon so that you werenít slurping it into your mouth! I also remember eating in the classroom sometimes in the new building, but there was also a little cafeteria there that we ate at. When we were in junior high, we went over to Edens Hall to the cafeteria there for lunch.

TB: Letís talk a little bit about this because it wonít really come out in the questionnaire otherwise. When you started Kindergarten you were in Old Main, isnít that correct?

GH: Yes.

TB: Where was the Kindergarten room in Old Main?

GH: I guess itís what you would call the first floor. The gymnasiums were down below. It was the southwest end of that floor.

TB: What grades were you in Old Main for?

GH: Kindergarten, first, second, third and then junior high (seven, eight, nine).

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

GH: I have many; Diane Griffith Eiford, Sadie Walker Maher, Lora Snider Gudbranson and Galen Freeberg.  Those four are all deceased.  Other close friends included Barbara Larson Porter, Virginia Langdon Farrier, Marion Zwaschka Jones, and Anne Morey Hildebrand.

TB: Who were your favorite or most influential teachers?

GH: I think most of them were, but I particularly remember Mr. Rushong who was our eighth grade science teacher. We had a cat dissection. It was a wonderful class. He got me interested in biology. I went on to get my BA in biology and interned in medical technology and worked in the field for twenty eight years, so he was probably the most influential as far as long-term.

TB: Right, right. Do you remember any of your student teachers?

GH: I remember them but I donít have any names.

TB: Thatís fine. What were your favorite subjects or classroom activities?

GH: Math and science and music, especially the orchestra, which performed in junior high. I played the string bass in the orchestra; and swimming in the pool.

TB: Who taught music? Or who taught the orchestra?

GH: Miss Booth was the music teacher in grade school, which was mainly singing. Mr. Regier was the one that taught orchestra and taught me how to play the bass. Dr. DíAndrea was also there, we worked with him too. This is a list of our teachers.

TB: Yes. Music: [reading aloud] Mira Booth, Bernard Regier and Frank DíAndrea. Oh, and Marjorie Muffly taught PE!

GH: Yes.

TB: Letís go back to some of your favorite teachers. Can you remember some of the characteristics of Miss Nicol?

GH: Yes. I think we were her first Kindergarten class.

TB: Wow.  She was there through the Sixties.  The school shut down in 1967.

GH: I know. I had a friend, it seems like she had a daughter that started Kindergarten there. She remembered talking to Miss Nicol and she was saying she had to retire because now she was getting children and grandchildren of her original students!

TB: Everybody loved her I think. Iíve heard good stories about her. What about Katharine Casanova?

GH: She was a wonderful teacher, also. I was at the all-Campus School reunion in 1993. They read a letter from her because she was in a nursing home in California. I donít know whether we all wrote individual letters. Anyway, I remember writing her. The story in the letter she had sent that was read at the reunion was talking about one of the students when asked who wrote the Surprise Symphony and the answer was ďPopeye!Ē and she said I was the one who did that! I got a nice letter back from her. Itís here somewhere. When she died, I have that information somewhere. Miss Elliot you are going to ask about next?

TB: Yes.

GH: I remember in second grade, this is one of my best memories, her reading to us out of this book, which is called A Hat-Tub Tale, or, on the shores of the Bay of Fundy; the tales of Nip and Tuck who are these two wonderful creatures who lived on the Bay of Fundy. I wanted to find this book because I wanted to share it with my children and grandchildren (my grandchildren at that point). I finally discovered that my cousin Marcia Ireland Brookbank had the book. Miss Elliot gave it to her for her children. Iíd be willing to loan that but I do want it back!

TB: Yes, and I just want to get the complete title down because someone else has mentioned remembering the Nip and Tuck and they just called them ďNip and Tuck booksĒ and we didnít know what the title was.  Iíll say it even though I am going to write it down. The title is A Hat Tub Tale by Caroline D. Emerson with drawings by Lois Lenski. 

GH: Lois Lenski. She had a whole series of childrensí books that I remember.

TB: Weíve got to find a copy of that.  Excellent! That was Miss Elliot. What about Miss Kinsman?

GH: Miss Kinsman was always beautiful with her white hair. I remember eating lunch in our room in third grade and Miss Kinsman showing us the proper way to use the soup spoon. You kept it away from you so you werenít slurping it into your mouth. That was the year we moved to the new building.

TB: What was that like? Was that exciting?

GH: I wasnít there at the time because I broke my back in a diving accident at the pool in one of the swimming classes. I was out for about two months and they moved during that time. It was in the spring.

TB: Wow. So they moved in the spring of 1943? Would that be right? Or 1942?

GH: That sounds right. I think it would be the spring of 1942.

TB: There are a lot of pictures taken in May of í43.

GH: The picture that I gave you with the building under construction was 1941. It had the date on the back.

TB: Either way, it was pretty exciting then when you would have come back in fourth grade then to the new school.

GH: Yes.

TB: Was there a lot of anticipation of the new school? Well obviously your father took a picture. Did you watch it being constructed and get excited about where you were going to be going?

GH: Yes. For the first year I remember when it rained there was a big boardwalk that went all the way out to the driveway. It got pretty muddy because it wasnít finished and landscaped.

TB: Right. Letís keep going through your teachers a little bit here. Was Miss Elliot a little harsh or a little strict?

GH: Yes, a little more than Miss Casanova and Miss Kinsman.  Miss Merriman also was.

TB: Kind of strict?

GH: Yes.

TB: What about Edna Channer then? She was fifth grade. I donít know anything about her.

GH: She was very nice.

TB: Iíve never heard anything bad about anybody, Iíve just heard of some being stricter than others. I think some people had Miss Elliot in fifth grade.

GH: Miss Channer had a Southern accent even though she had been in the Northwest for many years. 

TB: Wow. What about Jean Ferguson? Iíve never heard anything about her?

GH: I think she was a good teacher. I donít have any particular memories.

TB: Anything about Miss Odom?

GH: Miss Odom and Miss Channer were roommates, they were very close.

TB: One of them was older though, right? Well, it doesnít matter. I think Iíve heard one of them was quite a bit older than the other one.

GH: Well, when you are that age, they are all old!

TB: Thatís true! What am I thinking? I donít know them, they were gone by the time I came. Anything about Mr. Bremer or Miss Shephard?

GH: Mr. Bremer, I donít remember where he was from, but he convinced the whole class not to say Ďcrickí, that it was a Ďcreekí!

TB: Oh!

GH: So I keep thinking of him when I hear of people who analyze your speech and [are able to] tell where youíre from. I think we all say Ďcreek,í but we didnít before then! Mrs. Shephard got married. She was Miss Wagner and she became Mrs. Shephard.  She and Miss Hunt sort of ran the junior high.  With Mrs. Shephard I remember diagramming sentences forever and ever and ever!  That was one thing I could do quite well.

TB: When you went back to Old Main for junior high, what was that like? Did you really have one teacher all the time or did some of the college teachers come in or was it really like one classroom all day with the same teacher?

GH: We still had basically one room, but like Mr. Rushong came in and did the science with us and he was wonderful. We would go down for art. We went somewhere and Miss Plympton and Miss Peck were art teachers. I was never good in art! We went to cooking and sewing with Miss Reiman, who became Mrs. Barron and also recently died (since Iíve been back).  We all liked her and we were always trying to fix up Miss Reiman with Mr. Rushong!

TB: Thatís fun! Any thoughts about Linda Countryman? Any cooking stories?

GH: I remember people playing tricks and screwing up the recipes and all, but I didnít do that of course!

TB: Mr. Rushong, Iím going to write that down.

GH: And I donít think he was a student teacher, I think he had some kind of a position, but I believe later he went on and got his PhD from Stanford.

TB: I also have to ask you about Miss Gragg and penmanship. Did you have her all the way through school? Did she always come in and do special penmanship sessions?

GH: Yes; over and over and round and round.  Iím afraid Iím one of her failures!

TB: I donít think youíre alone! I hear lots of stories about penmanship. You all seem to have distinctive penmanship or people didnít feel like they met up to her expectations.

GH: I never met her expectations!

TB: Do you know if you learned cursive right along or did you print for a long time?

GH: I think we started cursive in like third grade or something.

TB:  I get mixed stories.

GH: I print very well!

TB: The next question is what kinds of learning materials did you use mostly (regular school texts or materials created by your teachers)?

GH: As far as I can remember they were just regular school textbooks.

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

GH: No letter grades. Narrative reports and parent conferences. I think we usually just got one at the end of the year in the spring.  But they did several parent conferences during that time. I know that I have some of those in this house but I donít know where they are at the moment. If I find them before the reunion Iíll let you know.

TB: Excellent. Do you especially remember any creative activities such as weaving or any other kind of artwork?

GH: In third grade with Miss Kinsman we made blanket squares on little looms for blankets to send to the soldiers in World War II. I have one of the ďWeave-ItĒ looms like we used.  It is not one from third grade, but one that fellow student, Clara Carver found and thought I should have.  I would be happy to loan it for the exhibit.

TB: Nice!

GH: Well we made the squares, I donít remember putting them together but that was when I missed a lot of school. We could have put them together too, Iím not sure. I remember in junior high we had a social room where we designed and made and painted a valence for the windows which was a big class project or school project.

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

GH: I donít really have any special thoughts about it -- it just happened. It was nothing unusual.

TB: Yes, if you started in Kindergarten it would just be normal. Did you attend summer school at the Campus School?

GH: I did the one year after third grade when I had missed essentially two months of school.

TB: Was it very different from regular school?

GH: Well the main difference was that you had other students (students from other schools)!

TB: It depends on the era but sometimes people that were coming back to go to summer school would bring their children and that was kind of like their daycare. At least by the Fifties Iíve heard of someone going to summer school because their parents were back in school.

GH: I didnít have that feeling.

TB: Just other kids that maybe needed extra help, is that kind of what summer school was like during that time?

GH: Yes.

TB: And actually, do you mind sharing? What happened? How did you break your back since you did break your back at school in swimming?

GH: I swam forever, from toddler age, and was a good swimmer and diver. I guess I was a deep diver, and of course they always had you sit on the edge of the pool and dive in at the shallow end, which I did and I hit my head on the bottom and crushed two vertebrae between my shoulder blades.  So I was out of commission for a couple months, laying flat on my back. I had to learn to walk again.

TB: Did they have an ambulance in those days? What did they do after they realized you were injured? Called your parents?

GH: My mother was there because the parents used to come and watch when we had swim class.  So my mother was there and I think she just took me to the doctor. I donít remember any ambulance.

TB:  What other out-of-classroom activities did you engage in? What did you do at recess and lunch time? What did you enjoy the most and what games did you play?

GH: As I mentioned, we had the social room in junior high where we had a phonograph and weíd dance and play bridge. We also had a little snack stand there that was in the closet. We had candy bars and I think we had some sodas and things and I especially remember frozen Uno Bars which were a big hit. In the ninth grade I was in charge of ordering and stocking the snack bar.

TB: Excellent.

GH: During recess the boys always loved and I always hated bombardment.  I think itís still [being played] under different names.

TB: Actually people in the Fifties still called it bombardment. We did an oral history with a woman who called it bombardment and she was there in the Fifties. Iím glad to hear that word again. I know that from your pictures that you were in Campfire Girls which probably was an extension of school but were there other things like dancing? Did you have any dancing classes or what other kinds of things?

GH: We had dancing classes but they werenít at school. When we were in junior high we used to do a lot of things. We got into square dancing, which we may have gotten some instruction at school, Iím not sure. We had a couple square dances. We had school dances down in the gym. I remember we had a big carnival one year down in the main gym.

TB: How many gyms were there in Old Main? Or in the training school part of Old Main?

GH: The ones that we used were the girlsí gym and the boysí gym, which were on the south side.

TB: I think itís where the Old Main Theater is now.

GH: Yes.

TB: And there were two then? There was a boysí and a girlsí?

GH: Yes. Then there was the bigger college gym that we didnít [use] but we had some dances there. This was sort of more in the center part of the building.

TB: I think Iíve seen pictures of it sort of behind Old Main.

GH: Yes, on the back side. Then we also went over to [the Physical Education Building] for a lot of our gym classes, too.

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

GH: Well we used the childrenís library in the main library building in elementary school. In junior high we used the main college library for research papers. Weíd buy things at the bookstore. We attended a lot of the football games and basketball games and track meets. I especially remember before we moved to the new building, the old Thanksgiving assemblies in the main auditorium in Old Main.

TB: Excellent. Going back a little bit because you were a Campus School cheerleaderÖ

GH: In ninth grade, yes.

TB: Do you remember what sports the boys must have played that you were a cheerleader for?

GH: Basketball.

TB: Just basketball was their only sport?

GH: Yes. The boys organized themselves, or maybe they had done it in gym, a football team. And I know from high school reunions that they challenged Fairhaven and played Fairhaven and may have played Whatcom too. There were also track meets with other Junior Highs, but no cheer leaders.

End of tape one, side one Ė Technical difficulties on side two Ė took most answers from completed questionnaire.

TB: How many girls were cheerleaders?

GH: There were three of us.

TB: Who were the other two?

GH: Diane Griffith and Barbara Larson is what I remember.

TB: What were your outfits like?

GH: We had navy blue pedal pushers and white sweatshirts with a ĎCí on it.

TB: Alright. Now this is probably the same [referring to her ĎCí] as what the boysí was like right?

GH: I guess so.

 TB: Did you [cheerleaders] have any coaching or just figure out your own cheers then?

GH: We just did our own.

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

GH: Tenth grade to go to high school; that was the first time we ever got a report card. I didnít know what to expect. It seemed really strange. I remember the first report card and I got all As.

TB: Excellent.

GH: I didnít know what to expect but I managed to go all through high school with a 4.0 average so I guess I figured it out!

TB: Thatís right, thatís excellent.  So you went to Bellingham High School?

GH: Yes.

TB:  Any other thoughts about that transition?

GH: A lot more students, but many friends. I found research papers easy Ė we had been well trained Ė some students from other schools were not.

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

GH: I am one of the many poor spelling students from Campus.  We never had any phonics.  We were taught to be independent thinkers and to research problems out.

TB: What further education did you pursue?

GH:  BA from Stanford University in biology. Internship at King County Hospital (Harborview) in medical technology.  I worked as a medical technologist for 28 years with some time out for children. 

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

GH:  It gave me life long friends, and I believe an outstanding education (except for spelling).

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

GH: Yes and yes.  I have arranged two reunions for our class (1988 and 1998) and have a fairly complete roster of addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

TB: Would you be willing to serve as a contact person for your class for the purpose of encouraging participation in the Campus School Reunion planned for 2007?

GH: Yes.

TB: Do you have any Campus School memorabilia (including photographs, class publications, crafts, artwork, etc.)? May we contact you about these items? 

GH: Yes and yes.

TB:  Thank you very much.