Special Collections


Special Collections Oral History Program



Mark Hardie

BA Ed., 1953


Interviewer:     Carole Morris

Date of Interview:     June 21, 2003

Location of Interview:     Western Washington University, Viking Union

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Authorized Transcript

Note: This interview was conducted with Mark Hardie (BA Ed., 1953) in the Viking Union on June 21, 2003. The interviewer is Carole Morris. The interview took place during the 2003 Golden Vikings reunion.

CM: Why did you choose to attend Western?

 MH: I had been recommended for a scholarship, a Western Alumni scholarship, and received it.  And I was interested in doing work with people, and I thought teaching would be a good occupation.  I had never done any teaching or mentoring with students before, but I had a scholarship that I really needed.  So I applied and got in.

 CM: Where were you living at the time?

 MH: I lived in Vancouver, Washington, graduated from Vancouver High School in 1949.

 CM: And how did you hear about Western?

 MH: The secretary in the office knew me; I had known her for years in the high school office.  And she had seen the application come through to the principal, and she tracked me down one day, and she said, “There’s a scholarship application to Western.  You ought to think about it.” 

 So I thought about it, and I ended up getting the application, completing it, and got it.

 CM: Do you remember how big the scholarship was, or the cost to come?

 MH: Two hundred dollars a year and it was for one year.  Then I got acquainted with the secretary in Dean MacDonald’s office, who said that there were some scholarships that were not completed; somebody had gone for a year, and it was open, and said, “You ought to apply.” 

 So I ended up, for the next three years, picking up unused scholarships that were… I can’t even remember now what they were.

 CM: So that covered your costs then?

 MH: A good part of it, yes.

 CM: And where did you live while you were attending Western?

 MH: I lived at Hanson House down on High Street where a residence hall is now.  It was next door to the Viking Café.  I lived there my first year.  My second year I moved into [stoke] furnace for a private family down on Forest, had a friend move in, and we batched there.  And in my third year, I moved back to Hanson House with the same friend, and we lived there.  And my last year I was at MRH.

 CM: What’s that?

 MH: Men’s Residence Hall, which is now the office right up the street, the big building right at the entrance of [Highland] Drive.

 CM: Oh, OK.

 MH: It’s a set of offices now.

 TB: [Editor’s note]: College Hall.

 CM: OK, and what dates did you attend Western?

 MH: From 1949 to 1953, the winter and spring quarter of 1955.  Then I came back sometime in the 60’s for one class during the summer.

 CM: What degrees or certificates did you receive?

 MH: I got my BA in Education in ’53.  I came back after doing graduate work at Colorado State University, which is now Northern Colorado University in Greeley, and realized I needed to have a fifth year completed, so I saw Frank Punches, and Bill O’Neill in the Registrar’s Office, and they said, “You’ve got your Master’s?”

 [I said], “Yes.”

 [FP/BO] said, “Well, that’ll satisfy your fifth year.” 

 So I didn’t develop a fifth year plan but was given my certificate.

 CM: And what year was that?

 MH: 1960.

 CM: And that was from Western?

MH: Yes.

CM: What other degrees, if any, did you receive elsewhere?

MH: A Masters (MA) from Greeley (Northern Colorado University).

CM: In education?

MH: In education.  I majored in administration and minored in counseling and guidance.  My major here at Western: I took courses that I felt I needed.  My advisor was John Porter, and later Frank Punches, and they approved my schedules, but when it came time to graduate, I had no major, and so I ended up with three minors in math, science, social studies, and something called professional classes, like how to teach math, how to teach social studies (laughter).

CM: Now we call it methods, probably.

MH: It was a methods class, yes.

CM: What was your first job after leaving Western?

MH: U.S. Army (laughter).  I spent twenty-two months in the Army, eighteen of which was in Korea.  I came back from Korea and lived and worked in Bellingham.  My wife was also a graduate of Western in ’53, Phyllis Albrecht.  And she had been living and working here in Bellingham and at the university -- college at that time.  And then the following year, in 1955, at the end of ’55, we applied to go to Alaska and teach on the Pribilof Islands, the Fur Seal Islands.  We signed a two-year contract; it was a two-teacher school.  The second year, we went over to St. Paul Island.  It was a four-teacher school.  In the middle of the year, I went back to St. George, the first island I was on, to finish out (one of the teachers passed away), and then my third year there, it was a three-teacher school, and I taught middle grades.

CM: What motivated you to apply to teach in Alaska?

MH: I had always wanted to travel someplace.  I like traveling a great deal.  And some friends of ours knew of some people who had gone to the Pribilofs. We were able to save money.  We laughed about it and then thought, “Might be a good idea.” 

So we went up, and we saved enough money to come back and buy a car and put me through graduate school.

CM: So they paid more than they would have down here?

MH: Yes, my starting salary was probably about maybe forty-three, forty-four; I can’t remember.  I think my last year’s salary was up just over five thousand, which was much better than what it was down here.  Besides that, we had transportation paid up and back on a ship, we had our living quarters, which were brand-new: cottage, never been lived in, radiant heating in the floor.  We paid ten dollars a month for propane, electricity, and the house was completely furnished from silverware to bedding -- complete.  It was fantastic.  They were native Aleuts primarily that we taught, nice kids, close community, and we had also a few Caucasian students who were children of the administration of the island.

CM: How many students and what grades?

MH: The school was first through eighth, and we had about fifty students. The first year I taught grades four through eight; my wife taught first through three.  And she was only there part of the year because she became pregnant on our trip up, so then, the rest of that year I ended up teaching first, second, and third grade also.

CM: And were you the only teacher then?

MH: Yes.

CM: Wow.  So was your certificate for all grades?  Do you remember?

MH: Yes.

CM: And then where did they go to high school or did they?

MH: They went down to Sitka to Mt. Edgecumbe High School, or they went over to St. Paul Island where they picked up the ninth grade, but then after that they had to go to someplace else, generally it was down to Mt. Edgecumbe, across from Sitka.

CM: Do you have any particular memories that stand out about teaching there?

MH: Oh, yes, we knew everybody; we were well-known on the island because we were an important element, as teachers.  The people were very, very good to us, we enjoyed them.  In fact, one of the boys that had finished in my eighth grade class ended up coming down to Vancouver, Washington, and living with my parents to go to high school.  His sister ended up coming down a couple years later and going to Portland to live with my sister and her family.  It’s just such a neat experience, eight miles of roads, we walked everywhere; the wind blew constantly.  In the summertime, it was windy and cloudy.  In the wintertime, the ice pack would come in, surround the island, the sun would be out, calm.  And one day the boy that ended up coming down, and living with my parents, we were out hiking across the island, and we were along the shoreline, and he said, “Isn’t that a beach ball down there?” 

And I thought, “Beach ball?  What’s a beach ball doing up here?” 

He said, “I’ll go down and get it.” 

So he went down, and between the rocks was a beach fishing float, glass float, that was about eighteen inches in diameter, complete with rope, complete with a piece of bamboo that stuck up as a marker where that was.  The other end of the bamboo, there was a rock encased in rope to keep it (the bamboo) straight up.  And it was his, and I told him, “I’ll beg, borrow, and steal that from you.” 

And he said, “Well, I’m going to give it to my mother, but I’ll ask her.” 

We went out later with a truck and picked it up, and his mother wanted to see it, and then she said, “That’s OK.”

I could have it.  And I still have it.

CM: Was it from Japan?

MH: Yes, every year, there’s lots of smaller beach balls that would float on, and, in fact, before we left, just months before we left, a huge storm had washed thousands of those balls of all sizes pretty much – they were the smaller ones that are so popular, and some a little bit larger.  In fact, there were so many, the native kids would go out and break them against the rocks (laughter), which disturbed us, but, you know, that was theirs.  It was…

CM: Something to do.

MH: Yes.

CM: Well, let’s go on.  What happened after that?  Where is your next job?

MH: Oh, I came down to Mount Vernon.

CM: And what year was that?

MH: And that was in 1960.  We’d been in touch with a fellow in Mount Vernon and thought that would be a good place to apply.  I applied.  There was a fourth and an eighth grade position open, two positions, and so I took the eighth grade position.  I taught social studies and math. 

No, when we came back from Alaska, I went to Greeley and got my Master’s, and then we came out here.  In my Master’s program, I had taken some audiovisual programs. I was interested in using overhead projectors, which were brand-new at that time.  I tried to convince the principal to buy some, and he said they were ridiculous (laughter).  Anyway, I taught there for a year.  Also in my Master’s program, I had taken a course in school evaluation, in which the community evaluated the schools.  And one of the Board members had heard about it and proposed it to the Board and the Superintendent, and they accepted it.  They put out a bid asking for people in the community and school district to apply.  I was a young teacher.  My principal said, “Forget it, they don’t want you.”

I talked to the elementary supervisor, and he said, “Talk to the Board member, talk to the Superintendent.” 

So I did.  I applied for it, interviewed, and got the job over some of the good old boys (laughter).  I had 150 community people working on fifteen committees.  I came out with two strong recommendations, one to have P.E. teachers for elementary school, which was something new coming in at that particular time, and a counselor in the seventh and eighth grade.  My minor was in counseling and guidance.  I created a job.  And I began a counseling career then and spent twenty-two years as a junior high counselor.  Fantastic.

CM: And where was that?

MH: Well, six years in Mount Vernon.  Then I went to Puyallup, and I was down there for twenty-two years as a junior high counselor.

CM: Is that your favorite age group?

MH: Oh, yes.  I loved seeing the seventh graders come in, eighth graders, they’re OK, ninth grade was so nice to see mature, confident people leaving.  Eighth grade girls are the worst creatures in the world.  I love them anyway, but they drive me crazy (laughter).

CM: What were they particular challenges that you faced?

MH: When I started as a counselor, our main concerns were spit wads, sassing, length of hair (it was beginning), and the problem that seventh grade girls had because they insisted on wearing nylons, and they didn’t know how to wear them or care for them, and parents would scream at the school, saying “Why do these girls have to do it?” 

And we would say, “We don’t want them to do it.” 

And then, of course, when I left, the problems were pregnancy and drugs and sassiness and parents that were totally overbearing.

CM: Do you think teacher education needs to adjust to compensate for different problems now?

MH: Well, yes, there is no home life now.  The school becomes the home because during the waking hours, that’s the kids’ primary contact.  And I can understand why schools get pushed into that when there are either two people employed in the family, nobody’s home when the kids come home or when they leave, and if they are, they’re preoccupied with some other things; or there’s a single-parent family, and there just isn’t enough time to work with kids and give them some direction, which kids need.

CM: Do you think the general public is aware of the problems that face schools these days?

MH: Those who are concerned, yes, but there are a lot of parents that didn’t have parenting skills inflicted on them because, after World War II, women were used to working, and everybody was making good money, the economy was going crazy, and so they weren’t home to teach living skills to their children, so those children and now their grandchildren are going through without any direction, and our mobile society keeps things going so much.

CM: How well-prepared do you think the teachers starting now are or at the end of when you were working?

MH: Well, I think education keeps up with things, but then we got to realize education is about twenty years behind; it always is.  When I was in junior high school, we had a dean of boys and a dean of girls in Vancouver.  When I was in graduate school, it was being espoused that that was the thing that schools needed to have: counselors, dean of boys, dean of girls, whatever you want to call them, to work with boys and girls.  And of course now it’s gone on beyond that: there are counselors, there are social workers, there are physical therapists, occupational therapists that are all contributing and trying to help kids grow up.  So I think, yes, I think they’re better tuned-in, but we’re still running behind.

CM: To switch a little bit, are there any personal achievements you’d like to tell us about (awards, citations, personal bests of any sort)?

MH: I think one of the most gratifying parts of my life is that I have been blessed with working with some fantastic people.  There are only a couple of people that I have a total dislike for that I’ve had to work with.  But everybody has been so helpful, marvelous to work with, difficult sometimes, but I respect that, by and large.  I’ve been involved. When I was in Mount Vernon I was in the Junior Chamber of Commerce and went through the chairs and up to being a state officer and went to Japan as an international director, and so I’ve had some contacts with people that have given me a great deal of encouragement, and I feel fortunate to have had that.

CM: So you honor your personal connections?

MH: Yes, that would be a good way to put it.  They are some good connections.

CM: Do you maintain those connections still?

MH: To some extent.  While I was here at Western, I had a fantastic time.  I was a cheerleader for two years.  Were you at the meeting this morning downstairs?

CM: Just part of it.

MH: It was talked about Lappy and Big Mac making contact in the high schools.  Big Mac had come down to Vancouver on their spring recruiting tour, and of course he was talking mainly to the basketball, football, and track, and as we were leaving, and at that point I had applied for the scholarship, Mac said, “What is your name and what sport do you have?” 

And I said, “Well, I don’t have any sports.  I’ve been a cheerleader in high school for two years.” 

And Big Mac, in his kindly way, said “Oh, that’s good, we need good cheerleaders.”

So I ended up being a cheerleader here for two years.

CM: I’ll be darned.  Was that fun?

MH: Yes.  Oh, yes, oh, yes.

CM: How many cheerleaders were there?

MH: We had usually three or four boys, and we had five or six girls.

CM: Did you have to practice a lot?

MH: Oh, we practiced, you bet.  We had routines.  We didn’t do any acrobats or anything like that, which I wish we would have, because I was interested in that, but…

CM: It’s still pretty athletic, though?

MH: Oh, yes.

CM: What other things did you do while you were here?

MH: Personal bests?

CM: Or other activities while you were attending Western?

MH: I was involved in several clubs: Ski Club; I was in FTA [Future Teachers of America], I was President of FTA one year; Student Body President for a year; I was on the Board of Control for a year and half, two years.

CM: What’s the Board of Control?

MH: The ASB legislative group.  The times have changed, haven’t they (laughter)?

CM: No, I’ve never heard that term.

MH: Haven’t you?

CM: No.

MH: Oh, yes, it was the legislative element of student government.

CM: And what did you do?

MH: We had a budget of over $50,000, and it was probably one of the most extensive budgets managed by a student group of schools of all sizes throughout the West Coast.  I went to a conference, and people were amazed at how much control we had over drama, music, athletics, clubs that we provided funds for.

CM: And how did it get to be that size?

MH: It was established – I don’t know whether it was Dr. Haggard who helped establish that – I don’t know when it came up, but it was well and going, and we had a $50,000 budget, and there were schools larger than us that might have had a $30,000, and they just looked at us and said, “How do you do it?”

CM: Was it funded by student fees or by the school?

MH: Yes.

CM: Student fees?

MH: Yes.

CM: So did you have a particular position or role that you played?

MH: I was Student Body President, and the Board of Control was made up of a dozen students who had applied to be on the board for one quarter, two quarters, three quarters…

CM: So it’s kind of like what we call Electing Board now?

MH: Yes, it was an ASB Board, is what it was.

CM: And you were elected by your peers?

MH: By the student body.

CM: And how long were you president?

MH: One year.

CM: One year.  And what year was that?

MH: ’52-’53.

CM: So did you participate in political activities as well?  You said legislative…

MH: Political activities, there were no political clubs per se, but there were clubs relating to college activities.

CM: So Ski Club, ASB President…

MH: United College Christian Fellowship, the Swim Club…  Every student activity we had something to do with, in approving.  And dances, we approved what dances that a club might have and where it might have it and the time that they would have it and the fee they would charge if they would charge admission.

CM: So you yourself were involved in some of those clubs then personally?

MH: Personally I was, yes, before I was Student Body President.  I maintained activity afterward in, you know, whatever activities were going on.

CM: So you kept pretty active?

MH: Very active.

CM: You were a group person?

MH: Oh, yes, got to, got to be around people (laughter).

CM: Were there any other family members who attended Western?

MH: My wife.  When we graduated, we were married, she was from Colorado.  One of our sons graduated, I don’t know, in about 1980-something.

CM: His name?

MH: His name is Michael, and he got a degree in psychology [Editor’s note: BA, 1988].

CM: And your wife was here when you got married?

MH: Yes, while I was in the service, she came back to Bellingham to live, and then we were married for thirteen years, we taught in Mount Vernon together, and when we separated and divorced, I moved to Puyallup, and she stayed there and went on with her life beyond that.

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

MH: I hated history, but Keith Murray brought it to life, and he’s always remained a dear, dear friend.  Dr. Knapman, had him for a couple science classes, thoroughly enjoyed him.  Miss Pabst, had her, she was very accepting of how kids thought and would help them move their thinking to be wider and more accepting.

CM: Was that an education class?

MH: What kind of education?

CM: What class did she teach?

MH: Science.

CM: Science.

MH: Basic science classes.  I can’t remember if she taught, she might have taught a methods class, too.  I can’t remember now.  Dr. Haggard – dear, dear, dear, dear friend.  Big Mac, what a personality.  The classes, social studies with Dr. Murray, certainly.  Another person in the school that had a great deal of influence that I worked with was Sam Buchanan in the Finance Office.  He was in charge of school bus drivers, and we had an old, old bus.  My last two years, I was a bus driver, and would take classes on their field trips.  In the winter, I drove to Mt. Baker for skiing for the day.  Sam Buchanan was a very valuable friend in my life.  Those people in that office were just great to be with.  Sam had a way of dealing with me.

CM: Any other memories or things you’d like to share?

MH: I think what’s already been mentioned before in some of the comments that were made this morning: the personal touch.  Every teacher that I had knew me, knew my name, knew something about me, made me feel very welcome, and it was that way throughout.  I was involved in some things that maybe helped them to know who I was, but the fact that they did know me was important to me.  That personal touch was very good, and I haven’t been on campus for classes, I don’t know what it’s like now, but I would certainly suspect it’s still there.

CM: How many students were in a typical class?

MH: (Laughter) Most classes about twenty-five, maybe thirty, except for Dr. Murray’s class, which was in an auditorium, in the old auditorium in Old Main.  What is it?  The west end of the building that overlooks… there was an old, old, old auditorium there before the music auditorium was built, and I think he might have had 125 kids.

CM: He was popular?

MH: Very popular, very popular.  And, even though it was a large class, he knew everybody, and he made it … he made history come alive.

CM: The Archives Building is partly named after him.

MH: Oh, is it?

CM: I think so.

MH: Where is the Archives?


CM: So, finally, if you’d like to take a moment to consider the impact on your life of your education and experiences at Western, we would appreciate any comments that might help Western enhance its message to legislators, policy makers, and fellow citizens during this time of great challenges for higher education in Washington State.

MH: I think probably one of the most important things is that schools – I know cost-effectiveness – it’s well to have large groups and large classes, but, in this day and age, because there is less parental influence, we need to have smaller classes.  We need to have more personal contact between an instructor, whether it’s a doctorate or if it’s a lab assistant, to have with students and to know what they’re doing and how they’re thinking.   Working in small schools has been so good for me personally.  I’ve worked part of a year in a high school: large classes, and a lot of disinterest.  And, so, I think it’s important to maintain small classes and make sure that instructors know their students and work with them.  In fact, when I started teaching in Mount Vernon, one of the things that the principal did was to encourage us (laughter) -- if a student asked us to come home for a dinner, to accept it, so that we would get to know the kids and their families and what they’re faced with.  You won’t hear that now (laughter).  In fact, some would be fearful of going into a home.

CM: Any good ideas of how to get that message across to people that need to hear it?

MH: Keep hammering, keep working at it.  I mean, education typically is twenty years behind, and it’ll get there, and then there’ll some other problems.  We’ll have to just keep working at it.  Dedicated teachers will do it, and there are lots of dedicated teachers.  Not true with some administrators; you know, they’re on a power trip or something, but the grass roots teaching is really it.

CM: Any final thoughts?

MH: Western is very special.  I’ve been on the Alumni Board, President of the Alumni Board one year.  I had some marvelous experiences through the years associated with Western…  It’s important.

CM: Great.  Thank you very much.