Dorothy Graybael Scott's account of family and social life at a Cedar Falls railroad camp (in east King County) was originally recorded on June 15, 1993 as a part of the Cedar River Watershed Oral History Project. Dorothy Graybael Scott moved to Cedar Falls in 1922, as a young girl. Her father, Carl Graybael, worked for the Milwaukee Railroad in Cedar Falls, as a substation operator. Cheryl Meyer conducted the interview at Mrs. Scott's North Bend home.
Excerpts From the Interview
"I was born there [in Seattle] at Ravenna Park. I don't know if you're familiar with the Ravenna area near the University [of Washington]. My folks ran that little ice cream store. It was kind of ironic. They were right at Ravenna Park where they had the bandstand and everything. That's where I was born, in that house. They rented it about a year. Then we get in the ice cream business here [North Bend] for 20 years --Scott's Dairy Freeze. Our kids took it over — they all like ice cream!
"I thought it [North Bend] was really in the "boonies," because I'd lived on 16th Avenue NE in Seattle. It wasn't developed then, either, too much. I know we had a dirt bank and no houses in front of us. It was sure a change for our mother. That first year we got snowed in for about a month, and couldn't get the groceries up to us from North Bend. She said we were eating cereal at the last — I don't remember. She could stretch anything a mile. First ... I think it was about three days before anyone could get up from North Bend. We didn't have an automobile then. We rode the train.
"They were still constructing the dam when we come there. They were trying to sluice behind the dam and seal it with mud, so they could control its water that was seeping. They had these great big sluicing hoses. And we were always working up there. And then of course they had the big wooden pipelines which went to Seattle. Let's see, I think they went to Barneston too. There's a dam in there or something at Barneston.
Stuck in the Mud
"My dad bought this '27 Chevy. We thought it was great! He didn't know how to drive. We started for home. They were building a road which is still there, going into Fall City down the hill. It was just a bunch of mud. We don't know what a detour is, nowadays. Detours in those days were crude! Dad got stuck in the middle of that mess on a Sunday, and we were so embarrassed, holding up all of, probably, six cars. We were scared to death, but we made it. I always loved driving that Cedar Falls hill before it got so many people on it. I had a little '32 Plymouth coupe, and I used to really love to gun it down that hill! I've gone down there many times, and it sure hasn't improved much in the years I've known it.
"[We got gas in] North Bend. There was Suckes Snyder and North Bend Garage -- it was Churchill Garage, at that time.
"We'd get these shots. I remember the first year I took the inoculation, how my arm swoll up and I got a fever. It was terrible! We weren't supposed to swim in the lake [Rattlesnake Lake]; we weren't supposed to do anything like that. My brother couldn't swim. We made what we called "pontoons," like an outrigger, a big log and a small log. We could go out and paddle out in the middle of the lake. I'd see Mom watch from the kitchen window and watch my brother fall in that lake, and he couldn't swim! He used inner tubes and tied a fish line to it and set the line, I guess you'd call it. Oh, we had fish that big! They were beautiful fish! We had some good times up there.
"Once in awhile, we got invited to go swimming in the City pool. But I learned to swim in Rattlesnake Lake on an inflated pillowcase. That was our pool. I used to love to swim.
"The lake would freeze over in the '20s, and oh, it was a beautiful! We'd go up there skating. People would come as far away as Seattle. At that time there were still trees out in there, and they'd put fuzes on these trees, and we'd skate along. I don't know how thick the ice was.
"When Rattlesnake Lake used to go down, you could see the foundations of the old houses there, and of course that was quite intriguing. My sister [Lois] found arrowheads and Indian-head pennies. She also found a log with [the words] Ezra Meeker carved on it. I forget what she did with it.
"Blackberries. We had wonderful blackberries. The hills would burn over every year. We had to go out and pick blackberries. Watch out for the bears. Those little bitty berries, not these ornery old things out here now. We used to take them in when we got a car, a '27 Chevrolet was our first car. We'd pick a crate of blackberries and take them into Augustine Kier -- that was the grocery at that time. We got eight dollars a crate for them. I guess that was terrific at that time. But boy, we worked for those berries!
"There were three picture houses in the valley. One in North Bend. We used to own that apartment house right there on the corner at the stoplight. That tavern that's behind there was part of that building, and when they widened the road at one time, they moved that piece off and moved it where it is now. The corner part was the theater.
"When we owned it, the furnace was down in the old pit, back there. There was a theater in Snoqualmie where the Union hall is now. Mr. Cochrane built the Meadowbrook Theater. He owned all three of them at that time. Zella Parsons played the piano for the silent pictures; also Mrs. Cochran.
Social Life at the Power Plant
"I remember at the power plant, they had more activities than the rest of them. I think they were a little better educated, let's say. They were college-educated. A lot of the women were teachers and the men had gone to engineering, etc. There were quite a few very talented women up there. Grace Brooks had a lovely voice, and she used to sing. And I know there was a Mrs. Simpson who was a wonderful piano player. Mrs. Harmon taught music. They had recitals. We had to learn to play the piano. I took lessons for years; that was a ritual. I think she charged six dollars a month and had a class on Saturday. I just hated it! She told me I was the most unmusical person she ever taught! And I agree with her! My sister is a wonderful player, an organist. I try!
"Anyway, we had recitals at Harmon's and people from North Bend would come up. She had a big house. That is one of the houses that are left, there, and they are making it into kind of a conference center. We didn't go through it this time, but it is open. They said we could go in there for our picnic, if we wanted to. It was a big house, to start with. And they're making it so people can have sleeping bag etc. I don't know what's in there. She had a big dining room and big living room and big kitchen. All old-fashioned.
"I took Mom up once, when we could still drive up our old alley. The substation was gone. The only way I could locate our house is because there was a tree planted in front of every house — a maple tree. Apparently, they just burned them down, too, and filled in the holes. It's just pitiful when you think of all the people who used to live there.
"My dad was a radio nut! He had the first radio in town. TV before he passed away. He and Harry Snyder. He lived in North Bend and we got terrible reception up there. Dad had a line strung up the mountain, across the railroad track. It was very poor reception, but I do remember "Amos and Andy," "Mert and Marge.
"We had a coal stove in the living room. We'd have popcorn and apples on Sundays, and Mom was great to read to us. She was really a super mom!
"[My mom] was a great cook! She could do anything! Mom always had a main dish and meat — pot roast, hamburger patties, meatloaf, porkchops — they were cheap! You know, the nice, round-bone pot roasts that you can't even find anymore! Pot roast and hamburger. We always had meat and potatoes and salad and dessert. I remember when she got her first Mix-Master — gee that was great! Because she had this three-egg sponge cake that you beat forever, and we kids always had to beat it for her with the hand beater. I still have the recipe.
"Mother was a wonderful seamstress. I never had a boughten dress until I went back to 4-H Congress in Chicago, one time, and I got to have a three-piece suit from Glaziers! A knit suit! I just thought I was something! Lyle stockings. She made all our clothes. I don't know what the rest of them did.
"I remember our first refrigerator — a big, old Frigidaire. That was a treat! I made ice cream out of canned milk. A can of canned milk and lemon juice, put it in the freezer and let it get ice crystals, and then you beat it like heck, and you had ice cream! Of course, it doesn't compare with what we get now. I'd probably just turn up my nose, but as you see, I'm an ice cream nut! I've been one all my life!