Special Collections

Special Collections Oral History Program


Mary E. (Johnston) Bond

BA, 1937

Campus School, 1923-1929

Interviewer:     Tamara Belts

Date of Interview:     January 10, 2006

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


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Authorized Transcript 

This interview was conducted with Mary E. Bond at her home in Bellingham, Washington, on January 10, 2006.  The interviewer is Tamara Belts.

TB: Today is Tuesday, January 10th, 2006 and Iím here with Mary Bond, who went to the [Training] School and also attended Western.  She did sign the Informed Consent Agreement and she knows that sheís being recorded.  So our first question is how did you happen to attend the [Training] School?

MB: My cousin was going to what was then the Normal School learning to be a teacher.  I had been enrolled at Lincoln School in Bellingham, which was not my school district.  My parents were a little leery of letting me go to Silver Beach, which was the school in my district.  They felt there were too many tough children going there and so my cousin suggested that I go to the [Training] School.  Now that involved two separate street car rides to get from my home, which was a block from Whatcom Falls Park, to the campus.  But, I managed that very nicely and thatís how I happened to go to the [Training] School.

TB: Who was your cousin?

MB: Her name was Nylepha Granger.

TB: What year did you first start attending?

MB: Well, it would be 1923.

TB: What grade were you in?

MB: First.

TB: Oh, so you started right away, almost.

MB: Well, this cousin had taught me to read when I was four and I had my library card and was reading adamantly by the time I started school.  I only stayed in the first grade a few days and then they put me in second grade.

TB: Did anyone else in your family attend the [Training] School?

MB: Yes; my brother did, later.

TB: And what was his name?

MB: His name was Con.

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

MB: I was there for, letís see, I also skipped the third grade.  So I was there for six years.

From, did I say 1923? 

TB: [Yes.]

MB: To 1929.

TB: And you went through eighth or ninth grade, then?

MB: I went through eighth grade; they didnít have a ninth grade at that time. 

TB: Did your family pay any fees for your attendance at the [Training] School?

MB: No.

TB: Where did you live when you attended the [Training] School?

MB: I lived a block from Whatcom Falls Park, a wonderful place to grow up, by the way.

TB: How did you get to and from school?

MB: I took the Lake Whatcom street car, which went from Silver Beach down to the center of Bellingham and circled around, then came back out.  I transferred when I got downtown to what we called the 16th and Garden street car, which went up Garden Street.

TB: You took yourself to school starting in first grade?

MB: Yes.

TB: Pretty amazing.

MB: Well, I had a little trouble at first.  My mother went with me to make sure I knew how to do it.  But what I had not realized was that the Lake Whatcom street car changed its pattern according to the hour or the half hour.  It went around the blocks downtown in a different direction.  So, I went down and waited on what I thought was the right corner to catch the car to go home, but the street car came in the opposite direction.  I was totally confused.  So I went over to the corner where that car had been and the next one came where I thought it would have been, but it wasnít there anymore.  Fortunately an older girl came along about that time and she straightened me out.

TB: About how long did it take you to get to school then?

MB: I would say about forty minutes.

TB: What time did school start?

MB: 9 oíclock. 

TB: So you left about eight.  What did you do for lunch?

MB: Brown bag, most of the children carried brown bags, but there was a cafeteria there and on occasion I would have soup.  My mother thought I would need soup in addition.  That would be five cents.  Sheíd send me [to school] with a nickel for my bowl of soup.

TB: Oh, nice.  Do you remember any favorite classmates?

MB: Well, my best friend was Annabel Bolster. 

TB: Who were your favorite or most influential teachers?

MB: I have varying memories of all of them.  I suppose Bertha Crawford in the eighth grade.

TB: Can you identify what was special about her?

MB: Well, it was that she had a variety of interests.  She wasnít just focused in on one thing.

TB: I know sheís come up before; she was a favorite teacher of a lot of people. 

MB: She was quite stern, but once you got used to that it was okay.

TB: Do you remember any of your student teachers?

MB: Yes, I remember Barney Chichester.

TB: Oh, wow.  So do you know what grade that was in?

MB: Yes, thatís when I was in eighth grade.

TB: What were your favorite subjects or classroom activities?

MB: Reading, always.  The nice thing about the [Training] School was that we had access to all the college departments -- home economics, science, art.  Our teachers would take advantage of what was available there, which made it a very rich background.

TB: Did the [college] faculty, then, come in and teach your class?

MB: We would go to their department and use their equipment, like the home economics department had all these stations where you practiced cooking.  That was fun.  We werenít just in one room all day.

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

MB: Well, as I said, we had so many more resources than the ordinary classroom would have at a regular school.  We had access to the library and to all the college equipment.

TB: Now, when you were there, was your own classroom just one room?

MB: Yes, but we had the As and Bs, there would be two groups in one year.  It was like having a mid-year graduation. 

TB: I donít quite understand that, Iíve heard about that before.  So in your class, it was almost like two different classes.  There were two different levels that were being taught in different ways.  Could you have started the year in 2B and then went over to the third grade in the middle of the year?

MB: I did that. 

TB: What kind of grading system was in use during your attendance?

MB: You know, I canít really remember.  I think it was A, B, C, D.

TB: So letter grades?

MB: Yes, letter grades.

TB: Do you especially remember any creative activities, such as weaving or making things?

MB: Oh, for example, in the fifth grade I remember making Roman books, which we made using paraffin.  You would write in the paraffin, but it would be different symbols.  You didnít try to learn Latin, but that was the idea.

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

MB: We called them spy classes. 

TB: Spy classes?

MB: Yes and that was kind of fun; I remember one time in particular in the fifth grade. Eleanor Osborn was a stickler for punctuality; we were having a spy class that morning and it so happened that I had had a problem getting to school because of the transfer.  Iíd missed my transfer and I came in ten minutes late, just quaking in my shoes, here was this room full of students observing.  She beckoned to me and I went over to her and she put her arm around me and spoke to me, wanting to know what the problem had been.  I didnít get into trouble.

TB: Excellent.  You got saved by that spy class.

MB: I did, indeed.

TB: Did you attend summer school at the [Training] School?

MB: No.

TB: What out of classroom activities did you engage in?  What did you do at recess, lunchtime?  Which did you enjoy the most?  What games [were] played, any of that kind of thing?

MB: Well, I got involved with the Camp Fire Girls.  I think I was in seventh grade.  From that point on, I was quite involved with their activities.

TB: Was the Camp Fire Girls actually on campus?

MB: The group that I was in was on campus.

TB: Do you remember any other kind of games that you might have played, like at recess? 

MB: Well, there was a playground where some of the buildings are now, and the square.  There were swings and things of that sort.

TB: At what grade level did you enter public school?

MB: Well, when I finished eighth grade I went to Whatcom High School.

TB: What was it like, the transition, was it difficult?

MB: No, it was fun.  I was a little scared, butÖ

TB: You did attend public school briefly before you went to [Training] School, right?

MB: For thirteen days.  My mother mentioned that from time to time.

TB: Please share any specific differences between public school and the [Training] School that especially affected you.

MB: Well, I think that the fact that I had exposure to so many different parts of the school, like the science lab and the home economics lab and art and all that.  I think it gave me quite a bit broader background than I would have had in regular school. 

TB: Maybe you noticed when you went to high school that there werenít as many different kinds of activities.

MB: Well, they were different.

TB: What further education did you pursue?

MB: I came back to Western and graduated from Western with a BA.  I went to the University of Washington and did a year of graduate work in music.  I taught in the Vancouver schools for three years before I was married.  My husband was getting his doctorate at Columbia University at the time.  Heís Dr. Bondís youngest son.

TB: How did you actually meet him?  Was he going to Western when you went there?

MB: No, no, he was home for vacation and he was helping his dad.  His dad did the salmon bake every summer.  I happened to get there early because I hadnít walked over from the school, I had gone home.  By that time my mother had died and I was keeping house for my father.  I went home and got my father dinner; then I came back on the street car and waited for the group that was hiking from the college.  He was driving back and forth bringing supplies for his father.  I was sitting on a pile of lumber waiting for the group from the college.  He kind of noticed me.  So, when we were finally at the salmon bake after everyone had been served, we were sitting around talking and he came over and sat beside me and asked me if Iíd been the person whoíd been sitting on that pile of lumber and I said, ďYes.Ē  He left the next morning for Columbia University, to finish his doctorate. but he had gotten my address.  But when he wrote to me he forgot whether my name was Mary or Anne, at least, thatís what he said.  But he did write to me.

TB: Oh, nice, nice.  Now, where were the salmon bakes really at?

MB: They were at what was called the Rocks, itís over on the south side, thereís a park there now, I forget what itís called. 

TB: Marine Park?

MB: Marine Park, right.  And it would be just below that area. They had the salmon bake there every year.

TB: Can you remember a little bit about how they made the salmon?

MB: Well, [Dr. Bond] was a specialist at that.  As I recall, he wrapped the salmon, I donít know if it was in seaweed or just what.  First of all, he had the fire going ahead of time, so it was hot.  Then he would take the coals off and bury the fish and put the coals back over.  It was delicious.

TB: If you later attended Western, which you did, and majored in education, did you observe or teach in the [Training] School?

MB:  I did student teaching with Irene Elliott in the second grade. 

TB: So what was that like?

MB: That was fun because Miss Elliott was a picnic.

TB: Did you student teach then all day or just parts of the class?

MB: Half a day.

TB: Were you responsible for everything that happened in that half day or you just did certain parts or lessons?

MB: I would start out just a little bit of the time, first of all with reading poetry when the children would come in after lunch.  Miss Elliott was very fond of poetry and we did a lot of A.A. Milne and that sort of thing.  I really got into that.  Iím doing the same thing with my great-grandchildren now.

TB: Oh, nice, nice.  How did your attendance at the [Training] School influence your life and/or your career?

MB: I think it was a broadening experience for a child.  I already loved to read, but it encouraged my love of reading.  It was while I was in the eighth grade that the library was built.  I had my first introduction to the childrenís library there.  We were quite excited about the library.  In fact, we would go over and observe different phases of its development. 

TB: You mean [watch them] physically building it?

MB: Yes, we were particularly intrigued by the doors that were covered in leather; I remember that.

TB: Thatís interesting, we still talk about [those] now.  We say (and we donít know where we got this idea), that theyíre covered with whale skin.  But we canít find any evidence, nothing to prove that thatís what they are.  Itís interesting that you [called] them leather doors.

MB: We were told they were leather.

TB:  Are you still in touch with any of your [Training] School classmates?

MB: No, Iím about the only one left.

TB: Well, would you be willing to serve as a contact person for your class?

MB: I think I have so many disabilities that it would be difficult.  I have a hearing problem and my vision problem -- I canít read, I canít write.

TB:  Do you have any [Training] School memorabilia?

MB: No, I havenít.  There was a reunion sometime back.

TB: There was a big one in 1993. 

MB: That was the one; I met a lot of my friends then.  It was fun, particularly, looking over the publication.  We had what we called the Junior Viking which was our own personal newspaper. 

TB: Please share with us any other favorite memories of your [Training] School days or any comments about areas not covered by the questions above.

MB: Well, your questions have brought back all kinds of things that were buried so far back that itís a little hard to get them out.  I enjoyed my experience there very much. 

TB: Thatís fair.  I realize I skipped over a question here.  You touched on it a little bit, but actually, where was the [Training] School when you were there?

MB: In Old Main.

TB: You were at the south end of the building, I think, right?

MB: Yes.

TB: You [students] must have been on two different floors?

MB: Yes.

TB: Well, actually this question is, did you visit the college itself?  But of course you were kind of integrated into it.  Did you attend assemblies or sporting events or anything else at the college?

MB: Yes, on occasion we would actually go to the assemblies.  Mr. Fisher was a great one for having assemblies and he would bring in various entertainers, tenors, musicians, performers of different sorts, and speakers.  When there was something that would be of particular interest to children in the [Training] School, they would be allowed to come too.  We always had a Thanksgiving Festival.

TB: Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

MB: Well, there would be some sort of performance on stage, with people dressed up in costume.  We always sang the Thanksgiving songs.  We also got to do plays.  I remember being Alice in Alice in Wonderland.  We used the, I donít know what they call it now, the auditorium in Old Main.  Weíd get to have use of the stage and all the props. 

TB: Did a lot of your parents, then, come to watch?

MB: Oh, yes, parents would always come to see that.

TB: We have a lot of pictures of different student productions.  Okay, I think thatís my questions about the [Training] School, unless you can think of anything else I didnít ask.

Part II Ė Golden Viking Questionnaire

TB: Weíre going to go on and ask the Golden Viking questions, because Mrs. Bond did also attend Western as a college student.  So why did you choose to attend Western?

MB: My mother had had a stroke.  I had a scholarship to Pullman, but it was important that I stay home to take care of my mother.  In fact, I stayed out of school for one year when she was first handicapped, she was bedridden.  She regained enough strength and ability to care for herself that I was able to go to school, but it was out of the question for me to go away.  So Western was handy, and if it had been a school for morticians, I probably would have gone there. 

TB: What were your dates of attendance at Western?

MB: Well, letís see, I graduated from high school in 1933, but I stayed out of school for the following year.  So, I was there in 1935 through 1937.

TB: What degrees or certificates did you receive from Western?

MB: Well, I got a teaching certificate in 1937; then I did summer schools and got my BA.

TB: You must have been one of the first to get your BA from Western.

MB: Yes, right; at that time it was the Western Washington College of Education.

TB: What other degrees or certificates did you receive elsewhere?

MB: I got my orthopedic credentials at the University of California in San Francisco.

TB: What is that?

MB: That is the equivalent of the sixth year.  It enabled me to teach in orthopedic schools in California.  I had taught in an orthopedic school in Milwaukee, where my husband was assistant superintendent of schools, but I hadnít had special training.  He just assigned me to their orthopedic school and I loved it.  So when he went to San Francisco State to chair their special education department, I started work for my credential there.

TB: Now, whatís an orthopedic school?

MB: A school for children who have physical handicaps and are unable to meet with the regular school.  Many of them at that time were polio children, who required physical therapy.  They would receive the physical therapy right [at] school.  At Gaenslen School in Milwaukee, which was one of the first orthopedic schools in the country, we had two swimming pools.  There would be regular classes, but there would be a supplementary staff of, I would say we had six physical therapists and two occupational therapists and two speech therapists.  The children would be taken from the class individually for their therapy work. 

TB: Did you also go to the University of Washington?

MB: Yes.

TB: And got a music degree?

MB: No, I didnít get a degree; I took the subjects I was interested in.

TB: Have any other family members attended Western?

MB: Yes, all my children; I have three children; Nick, Margo, and Denny [they all] graduated.

TB: What was your first job after leaving Western?

MB: I taught music in the Vancouver, Washington schools. 

TB: How long were you down there?

MB: It was just three years.

TB:  Then after that you got married?

MB: Yes.

TB: And then where did you teach?

MB: Then the war came along.  My husband went into the Naval Reserve and we were stationed in Washington, DC where he was the chief investigating officer for the Navy.  I didnít teach, I had two small children at that time.  In fact, I didnít go back to teaching until my children were launched.

TB: Where did you live when you were going to Western?

MB: I still lived out there by Whatcom Falls Park.

TB: Any favorite memories of that time?

MB: I was on the Viking staff and I enjoyed that greatly.

TB: Oh, the newspaper.

MB: Yes, Joan and Phil and Nancy were all in that group.  It was called the Viking gang.  We had all kinds of social things on the side.

TB: You knew Ma Burnet.

MB: Oh, yes.

TB: I interviewed her daughter last September.  Sheís down in Menlo Park. 

End of side one.

TB: Who were your favorite or most influential teachers [as a college student] and why? 

I know that your father-in-law was [one of] your favorite teacher[s]. 

MB: I had a very bad background in mathematics.  I had skipped two grades because I could read so well, but the math background was left completely alone.  I worked very carefully counting, I learned to count on my fingers and come out with the right answers.  I said, ďDad, I sure can count with my fingers.Ē He said, ďWell, you always have your fingers with you.Ē  I got the principles of mathematics from him, which I then applied when I went to Vancouver.  In fact, they had me teaching arithmetic down there and they would have new cadets come and observe my class.

[I also enjoyed Donald Bushell in music. He was responsible for my year of study down at the University of Washington. I had absolute pitch and scored perfect in dictation.  I was also fond of Miss Sundquist in science.  I was out on a field trip when my mother died and Miss Sundquist came to get me]

TB: What was your main course of study?

MB: Primary.

TB: Just the primary grades.

MB: Right.

TB: What classes did you like the best or learn the most from?

MB: At Western, I just said the mathematics, which was very new, was a whole new concept to me.  I liked my English courses with Dr. Hicks.  He was such a character. He taught me to read, I mean, meaningfully, because he would give quizzes about once a week.  He would manage to pick out the meat of what our reading assignment had been.  Early on, I was believing everything I read, if it was in print, it was the word of god.  He taught me to be a, whatís the word, discriminating reader and to question what I read.  Of course, thatís been a life long advantage.

TB: As a college student, what extracurricular activities did you enjoy the most?

MB: I was with the Camp Fire Girls, even then. 

TB: What kinds of things did they do at the college level, or were you involved in helping the youngerÖ

MB: Well, I was supervising at the camp, for example.  They had a wonderful camp down on Samish Island.

TB: And then of course, the newspaper.

MB: That was number one.

TB: We already talked about this, that you did student teach at the [Training] School.

MB: Yes.

TB: Do you have any comments about that?

MB: That was fun. 

TB: Any other special memories of your college days?

MB: Well, just off hand, I enjoyed the Rec Hours.  Youíve heard about those, they were in the gym, Friday night, dancing.

TB: And what about the barbeques, was there just one every summer?

MB: One every summer, it was traditional.  Granddad was kind of in charge of the recreation program, because he always led the hike up Mt. Baker.  He did that forty times.

TB: Where were you in 1939 when they had the avalanche?  Is that when you were down in Vancouver?

MB: Yes, I remember that because that was the first year Granddad didnít lead the hike.  I was with him when we were driving in Bellingham and he looked up and saw the mountain and he said, ďIíve never seen so much snow at this time of year.Ē  I got a telephone call about four oíclock in the morning from Mrs. Bond. President Fisher didnít drive and he wanted to go up to the mountain because thereíd been this accident.  Theyíd come and gotten Dad earlier, as soon as this happened.  President Fisher wanted to go up, so Mrs. Bond asked if I would drive him up, which I did.

TB: Wow, so what was that like?

MB: It was pretty scary.  We knew something terrible had happened and at that time we didnít know exactly how many students had been lost.

TB: Do you know how the word first got down to Bellingham that it had happened?

MB: I think by telephone, because they called Dad as soon as it happened, to go up and help. 

TB: Any other thoughts about that or about Dr. Fisher?

MB: Dr. Fisher had a very tragic happening while he was there.  His wife had been hit by a car and injured very severely and left her in a pretty fuzzy mental state.  While she recovered physically from the accident, she never completely recovered mentally.  Her behavior was strange to people who didnít know the background.  I remember, when I was at the University of Washington, the youngest Fisher boy, Chuck was there.  He was taking care of his mother at that time.  She was keeping house for him and Mr. Fisher at that time had [gone] east.  When we lived in New York he came to visit us from time to time.  I would always make butter cookies and he could sit there and empty a whole plate.

TB: Going back to when you took him up there ([to] the avalanche), [do you have] any other memories of that time when you were waiting to hear or find out what was going on?

MB: No, there was sort of a committee set up to try to coordinate any news that came and thatís where I left Mr. Fisher.

TB: So you didnít stay upÖ

MB: No.

TB: You came back down. 

MB: I remember him (Dr. Fisher) with great affection and admiration.

TB: How many classes did you have from [Dr. Bond]?

MB: I had, letís see, two; first was the basics of arithmetic, which is what I should have had years before and then techniques for teaching arithmetic in the class.

TB: Do you know how he got started doing the salmon bake?

MB: He just had the ability to do that kind of thing and it was something that grew. 

TB: Do you remember hearing any other stories about how the family came out to Washington, because hadnít they been someplace back east.

MB: A lot has been done on that over at archives.  In fact, my daughter in law has gotten a tremendous amount of material on him and thatís in the archives.

TB: Anything else that I havenít asked you that youíd like to comment on?

MB: Well, letís see.  No, I think thatís it.

 TB: Well, thank you very much.