Special Collections

Special Collections Oral History Program


John R. Kienast

Campus School, 1921-1929

Interviewer:     Christine Kendall

Date of Interview:     August 30, 2005

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

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Authorized Transcript

This interview was conducted with John R. Kienast at his residence in Bellingham, Washington. The interviewer is Christine Kendall.

CK: My name is Christine Kendall and I am interviewing John Kienast, who attended Campus School. When you attended Campus School, did you go by John or did you have a nickname you went by?

JK: John.

CK: Just by John. How did you happen to attend the Campus School? How did that come about?

JK: Well, we only lived a block from there.

CK: So you were enrolled early on. What were your years and grades of attendance? When did you start Campus School?

JK: 1921.

CK: 1921. Did you start going there, John, in Kindergarten or first grade?

JK: First-grade.

CK: How long did you go to the Campus School?

JK: Until I graduated; until the eighth grade.

CK: You just walked back and forth to school, obviously, since you lived so close, I suppose.

JK: It was just a block, two blocks.

CK: Any favorite experiences from just walking to school when you walked back and forth?

JK: I donít remember any!

CK: What did you do for lunch?

JK: I went home for lunch.

CK: You went home. So did Jack. Did you have any favorite teachers while you were at Campus?

JK: Oneís name was Montgomery. Miss Montgomery. She was a tall slender gal, she was the leader of the group for the year.

CK: Jack seems to remember a Miss Casanova.

JK: Oh yes. I was in school when she came.

CK: You were going to school when Miss Casanova came?

JK: Yes. But I was farther up than she taught. She taught in Kindergarten and moved up as she got older.

CK: Jack thinks that maybe she taught Kindergarten or first grade or something. He liked her. I canít remember the other teacher he remembered that he liked a lot. So you remember Miss Montgomery. How about any of your student teachers? Do you remember any of the students that taught there as well?

JK: Names?

CK: Do you remember any names or any characteristics of anybody?

JK: I canít remember.

CK: How about classmates? Who were some of your chums that went there?

JK: Larry Carr. Iím trying to think of the classmates. You get mixed up between schools.

CK: Oh, sure. Did Gladys Lee go to that school or did she go to Whatcom with you?

JK: She went to Whatcom.

CK: Did you have any favorite subjects or classroom activities that you recall?

JK: You mean the classes I liked the best?

CK: Yes.

JK: I suppose it was mathematics and history.

CK: Did you have any favorite activities? Jack remembers making model airplanes when he was there. He said it was very hands-on; they made a lot of things.

JK: I donít remember doing anything, but we must have.

CK: When you were there, the classes were actually in the Old Main building, is that right? The big, old building?

JK: Yes.

CK: Did you have first floor classes? What part of the building did they have the Campus School in?

JK: We were in the South building. There was one big long building up there, still is. We were on the right hand side on the end.

CK: At that time, did they have student teachers who would observe your classes, who would come in and watch you?

JK: Oh god, yes.

CK: Yes; lots of them? Did that interrupt you at all?

JK: They were all different. Of course, we were taught by the kids; and we had a room teacher, and then the student teachers, and then the supervisor over all that.

CK: Oh my. So a lot of people in the classroom with you at one time?

JK: No, not many. Some of the classes were only eight or nine people, they never filled the room completely.

CK: Oh, really? Thatís a small class!

JK: Well, that wasnít the most popular school in town, either. There was a feeling in the town, I think, that it was more like a private school, which it was.

CK: Did your parents enroll you very early on?

JK:  Yes, you had to enroll a year or so early.

CK: And your sisters also went there. Did Vera go there?

JK: Vera didnít go there. Celeste did from the fifth grade to the eighth grade.

CK: Jack thought both of them went for some reason. What extracurricular activities do you remember engaging in or things that you did at recess or lunchtime? Games that you might have played and things like that.

JK: Oh, god [laughs]. I donít say I remember, because I donít I guess.

CK: Since you went home for lunch, did you go back early though, do you think?

JK: I went home for lunch.

CK: Thatís what you said, that you used to walk home for lunch when you went to school there. Jack said he did that, too, whereas other kids I guess used to stay there and when he went there they had a special cafeteria just for them.

JK: They had a cafeteria when I went there.

CK: Just for the school kids?

JK: There werenít many kids in the college! Three hundred, maybe.

CK: Did you often interact with the college itself? Did you go to classes that were also for college students or just for you?

JK: They had interview classes. They had interview art class. Weíd have a regular teacher and then sheíd ask the questions, although they had probably written them, but then you had to answer them. Theyíd give us a chance to listen.

CK: Did you have a special library for Campus School?

JK: Yes.

CK: Was it in the main library?

JK: No.

CK: It would have been in Old Main, I suppose.

JK: It was in the same wing as the Campus School, but it was on the top floor.

CK: Was that the entire school library, or was that just for Campus?

JK: I donít know. There wasnít anything like that to worry about.

CK: Were there any sporting events or plays or things like that up at the college that you also would attend?

JK: There were plays. We didnít have any scheduled athletic events, but we used to play Sehome, it was down the hill

CK: Oh, you did?

JK: Yes, and some of those. Lowell.

CK: Baseball, or basketball?

JK: Baseball.

CK: So your school team would actually play another school team, then? You would go and compete against the other schools?

JK: Yes. It was just a friendly game. It didnít count for anything.

CK: What was it like then when you went from attending Campus School to public school? What was that transition like? Was it kind of different?

JK: It wasnít tough. I think that we were a lot freer in our speech. The high school had some student teachers, too. We got both sides of it. I donít know what else to say. On one side of town, you went to Whatcom and on the other side of the line you went to Fairhaven.  I was assigned to Fairhaven but I wanted to go to Whatcom.  Fairhaven only had about 300 students, Whatcom had 1,200 so I petitioned and went to Whatcom.

CK: My cousin, Betty, sheís a second cousin; she was a student teacher for Campus School in the Forties. When she was a student in the Bellingham schools, she remembers that when the Campus School students merged into the public schools, they had a lot of self-confidence. Thatís what she recollects, that they seem to go right into student government.

JK: I donít think thereís any problem there.

CK: No. She said that the Campus School students seemed to be very self-assured.

JK: I think we all had a little more attention.

CK: Did you go to Whatcom after Campus School?

JK: I went to the Normal School. Thatís why I was at Campus School.

CK: I meant after you left that school, the next school that you went to, was that Whatcom?

JK: Whatcom.

CK: Were there some specific differences then between your public school and the school up at the Normal School that you remember that especially affected you?

JK: Public schools, you had one teacher usually. At Campus School, we had teachers for different subjects.

CK: Just like college.

JK: We had a supervisor for each grade. There were eight grades. They had Kindergarten for a while, but they quit it.

CK: Did you have any other memories about that experience or comments not covered by the questions that Iíve already asked?

JK: I donít think so.


CK: This looks like it might be some of your school mates, some of your school chums from the Normal School.

JK: Looks like it. See this is the end of the school.

CK: Right there.

JK: Yes. I donít even recognize any of them.

CK: Although I recognize you in some other pictures as we turn the page.

JK: Thereís one of me.

CK: Yes.

JK: And this is Paul Wells and I, I think.

CK: Paul Wells. Now what did the Wells family do?

JK: Harter and Wells Piano Store.

CK: And I donít know where thatís taken, it looks like your standing on a Ö

JK: This is up on the Nooksack River.

CK: No kidding.

JK: Thatís me and thatís Paul. And thatís Paul and thatís me in there, and I donít know who that is.

CK: And that looks like you.

JK: That looks like me.  

CK: Thatís a lovely little photograph album.

JK: And thatís Paul.

CK: So you were good friends. Did he live on your street, on Garden Street?

JK: He lived a block from me.

CK: Oh, and then I think you missed one page there. Go back one. Looks like youíve got some short pants on there, knickers, or something.

JK: You didnít wear long pants.

CK: You didnít.

JK: No, you wore knee length.

CK: How long did you wear the knee length pants? At what age did you get long pants?

JK: Probably right around the sixth grade or something like that.

CK: And youíre here. That looks like its either Boda or Little Boda standing back there.

JK: Hereís the dog.

CK: Great looking dog! And then youíre holding a couple of kittens there.

JK: Yes.

CK: Jack was looking at that and saying there was no wood there. Thatís where you used to pile wood.

JK: It must have been in the summer.

CK: Yes, thatís what he said too, must have been summer. So who is this over here?

JK: I think itís my sister.

CK: Celeste?

JK: Yes. I donít know the name of that seagull here.

CK: Why thatís Sammy Seagull. This has Luana Russell.

JK: Luana.

CK: Oh, so she would have been a next door neighbor then.

JK: She was my next door neighbor.

CK: Oh, Iíll be darned. L-u-a-n-a.

JK: Yes.

CK: Did she go to the school up there too?

JK: No she went to the Catholic school.

CK: Oh. Now that looks like youíre camping out. Youíve got a tent.

JK: Sure, weíre camping out there.

CK: Is that scouts you think? Or? You look like the Foreign Legion.

JK: I donít know what that thing is around her hair.

CK: I think youíve got hats on that have cloths down the back, like, you know, to keep the sun off your neck.

JK: Oh. This is someplace.

CK: Yes, by the water, by the looks of things.

JK: Near a dam. See the dam.

CK: Oh yes. And Jack says this looks like Frank in Seattle.

JK:  I donít remember Frank being that husky but Ö could be. He wasnít very tall.

CK: Thatís it. But itís a nice little Ö see they could blow up those ones of Campus School if that would be okay with you. They could make copies of these, since it shows that end of campus.

JK: Who blows them up for you?

CK: Tamara Belts and Marian Alexander, or Jack could actually also do that. So who is this sitting on the front porch of the house with the cute little puppy?

JK: One of my sisters. I think thatís probably Vera. 

CK: Wow. She must have had a Marcel wave or something.

JK: Oh yes. They all had Marcel wave.

CK:  Thatís pretty cute. Well, thatís it. I guess thatís our interview John. Did you have any other memories of those times? Or any comments not quite covered by the questions? I guess I forgot to ask you one important question: How do you think going to that school early on influenced your life? Did it have any impact on you, do you think?

JK: I think we were freer to speak our minds in classes. We werenít afraid to talk. 

CK: A little more self confidence then.

JK: We werenít self conscious.

CK: I think you were self confident. If you were free to speak your minds, right? Self assured. Well thatís that. I think Iíve asked all the questions on the sheet. 

JK: When are you going to write it up?

CK: Iím going to take it up there tomorrow.