Nordic Heritage Museum Vanishing Generation Interview with Olaf Kvamme, Part 2

  • By Jennifer Carell
  • Posted 9/22/2004
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5756

This is part 2 of a Nordic Heritage Vanishing Generation Oral History Project interview with Olaf Kvamme (1923-2013), conducted by Jennifer Carell on May 2, 2000. In this continuation, Olaf talks about visiting his Japanese classmates in Camp Harmony, the temporary internment camp at the Puyallup fair grounds. He describes the Norwegian-speaking 99th Infantry Battalion, his own World War II service, and his post-war work with the Allied Translator and Interpreter Service in Japan. He tells of how he came to be a teacher after the war and finally a Seattle school administrator who dealt with desegregation in the Ballard area district in the 1970s. He also gives a short history of the Scandinavian churches in Ballard.

Olaf Kvamme: If I hadn't been up there at the grocery store, who knows what would have happened.

Jennifer Carell: It worked out. Now, this is 1941? You said August of '41 when this decision was made.

Yeah.

A pretty significant time --

Yeah.

(Continuing) -- in our history.

Yeah.

What was it like? What was going on for you ... and your friends?

Well, the one thing that, of course, was that just a while later, after Pearl Harbor, all of the Japanese in the area -- see, you had all of the rumors and things. Is somebody being picked up and somebody's gone or that sort of thing. Of course, we -- and then the -- I was out of high school, but they had the early graduation of those that left in, probably in April, March or April, April, I think, of '42.

Uh-huh.

And they initially went down to the Puyallup fair grounds, Camp Harmony they called it. And I, at least I would say three times, and maybe more, went down to Camp Harmony to visit with classmates. And there was a barbwire enclosure that you'd -- they'd go and get the person and you would -- and the one that I visited with probably most often, although not the only one, but Yohei Sagami, he was killed. He was in the 448th regimental combat team. And it was interesting, in the Garden of Remembrance, down at Benaroya Hall, I went through that and I noticed that Yohei's name wasn't on there and I -- it's -- I've got that corrected. So -- because I'm active, you know, in an organization of Japanese language Army Veterans, all -- mostly all Nisei. See, I'm the only Caucasian that shows up, you know, most of the time. So, through that group I've had some documentation. They knew Yohei and so --

Uh-huh.

(Continuing) -- so they were able to --

I'd like to know a little bit more about that period. Do you know anything about how word was sent to families that they would be picked up or taken or --

No. The -- I don't -- I guess, you know, the Bainbridge Island Japanese were the first to go, and then I guess it was a matter of weeks before our friends were gone. And the -- I think maybe it was, you know, sort of a self-selection kind of a thing. You know, you're going, and so they must have had some, you know -- between 19 -- between December 7th and when they left in March or April, there was enough time to do the documentation.

Okay.

But I don't know -- I don't remember seeing any notices or any posting or anything of that kind, but --

And you would have been --

I would --

(Continuing) -- in school at this point, so you would have been --

I would have been in college.

Right.

And -- but that notification, if there were something that -- certainly Wing Luke at the museum ought to have some of the kinds of things like this, but of course, then, you know, there was the natural kind of things, the blackout and -- at night, and the shades, and all of that sort of thing.

You're saying that --

Everybody.

(Continuing) -- all the houses --

Yeah.

(Continuing) -- and buildings had to have all the windows covered and --

Yeah.

(Continuing) -- no lights showing.

Yeah. And then there was a lot of camouflage of stuff, the Boeing plants and that sort of thing, you know, camouflage nets and stuff, and then there's some interesting stuff in the -- yeah, as long as we're on the subject ... I'm going to get something.

(Pause)

I -- when I was in Japan, this was 1946, I picked up some English language magazines by -- and -- oh, which one would be the best? And I had them bound, but --

What does this say on the spine here?

Japan Times Weekly.

Okay.

And there was -- well, and this was -- these were, you know, islands off the Alaska -- in Alaska, but -- oh, ho, ho, ho. If I just would take my time, I'd find it more quickly. July 2.

And these were publications for what audience?

For the English-speaking audience in Japan.

Okay.

And for the -- for --

In the military?

(Continuing) -- in Asia, Asia. No. It was general --

Anybody. Okay.

(Continuing) -- general public. "U.S. Nationals leave." Well, this was when the Japanese took the Kiska and Attu and --

Aleutian Islands?

Oh, here, here.

Okay.

The -- here is Vancouver, "Japanese Triumph Once Again." You know, they -- here's "Consternation Reigned In Portland," and this, of course, was a large fabrication, or it -- there were some -- some things happened, but it wasn't -- you'd get the impression that, you know, that the West Coast --

It was exaggerated?

Yeah, oh, hugely --

Okay.

(Continuing) -- hugely exaggerated.

Let's see, this was (inaudible) --

It's 1942.

Japan Times Weekly, Thursday, July 2nd, 1942

Yeah.

(Continuing) -- and that was Page 6.

Uh-huh. This was --

Starting this article. "Japanese submarines triumph once again."

That's -- yeah. "Furious attack on military installations on Vancouver Island," and then there's West Coast ports and then there's -- Seattle is mentioned in here, but there's some interesting stuff, nice cartoons. This is -- really has to do with Ballard. Here's Roosevelt holding back the truth.

It's a little cartoon.

Uh-huh. The result of the Coral Sea naval battle.

Hands over the mouth.

And here's Churchill saying, "Our friends will help us."

And he's on crutches with his --

Uh-huh, yeah.

(Continuing) -- arm in a sling.

Yeah. And so, anyway, it's -- anyway, that was the thing that --

So, there was a bit of propaganda, you would say?

Yeah, yeah. This -- so --

Okay.

So -- but it's interesting that there's this whole identification that -- with Japan that as a kid from school and then in the Army and, sort of, working for them and I know going back and visiting the owners of the farm where I worked most of the time after they had -- and then when I was in the Army in Chicago, at the University of Chicago, some of the people who had gone to camp were released to go, if they stayed on the -- some other area, and visiting and having dinner at their home in Chicago. And so that -- it's been a sort of a -- there's a sort of a Japanese interest.

Theme. Yes.

Uh-huh.

Well, now, the family that you worked for the most ...- what was their family name?

Yoshioka.

Yoshioka. And they were, at one point, in Camp Harmony?

I'm sure they were at -- in Camp Harmony. It's interesting. I probably would have felt a little presumptuous to visit the, you know, the older adults. They weren't classmates --

Okay.

(Continuing) -- and they didn't have kids that I knew.

Okay.

But they --

Now, who were the classmates that you --

Well, it would be Hiroshi Fujima, and -- Fujita, and, you know, Yohei Sagami, Hiroshi Sakahara, Kaori Kimura, you know, those -- now, the ones that I really visited was, that I can really identify, is Yohei Sagami. There were others, but, you know.

Was anything said on those visits about their feelings about being there and --

No.

What did you talk about, for instance?

No. You just -- it was just a sort of passing the time of day. You know, it's -- I don't know if there was anything significant. There were no world-pressing issues.

And how long -- do you remember how long they were at Camp Harmony? The time that you said was April -- or March and April of --

They were there for quite a while. I think they must have been there, certainly, until, I don't know, I'm just guessing, they had to be there until the fall.

Okay.

And then most of them went to Idaho, Minadoka, most of the ones that I knew, unless they were a kind of a recalcitrant type. You know, a few of what they called the no-no boys.

What did that mean?

It meant that "I'm not going to play this game with you. I'm not going to -- I'm not going to be subservient. I'm a U.S. citizen." And the no-no boys didn't go -- wouldn't volunteer for the Army and there was, in the Japanese community, there was a long time a sort of division between the no-no boys and the -- I -- "I'll do whatever you want me to do."

The yes-yes.

So, that's an exaggeration, whatever, but, you know, it's an amazing time, though, that -- you think of that lack of privacy that you have in the -- and, but anyway.

Do you have any idea what happened to those working farms when these families were sent to Camp Harmony?

No. The farmer I worked with, they got their farm back and were successful farmers. The Sakaharas -- a Filipino family took charge of that, and they weren't as effective farmers as the Sakaharas were. So that many -- many of them, you know, were run down when they -- people came back, and, of course, they didn't all come back. Some had left camp, and I don't know what the circumstances were about how you left camp. You couldn't go back to the West Coast, but -- so -- but many places, you know, people lost their property. Taxes weren't paid and stuff of that kind.

And now, you mentioned that you're part of an organization of Japanese- Americans? Or --

Yeah. What it is, it's an Army -- people who were in intelligence-related activity in the Pacific area related to the use of the Japanese language.

Okay.

And so, that was -- and so, therefore, most everyone -- you know, this shows that -- what happened. The American-Japanese, Japanese-Americans would go in the Army, would go to the language school. Some were proficient, some weren't, but if they weren't, they went to school, and then they had a lot of instruction in military terminology, identifying what kind of a tank it is and what kind of an airplane it is and what kind of a gun it is and that sort of thing. Even if they were proficient, they -- well, they probably didn't know those things, and that was in Minnesota. And then the white guys, like myself, who had no identification with this, went to school. I was 12 months at the University of Chicago, eight months at the University of Michigan, in the Army. Then went and joined them in Minnesota. We then became the officers, they were the team. So, you had the white officer, and the people who knew something, in terms of language, were the Japanese- Americans.

I happened to be in the very, very last class at Michigan, so we really didn't finish. I didn't get to Michigan. Well, anyway, the war ended in August and my class --

Of 1945.

(Continuing) -- '45, and so my class wasn't finished, but we -- essentially, things ended in terms of going to school. And so, I had the choice of becoming commissioned as a second lieutenant or going home, and I chose to get commissioned and go to Japan, which was a great idea. So, anyway, that's enough of that. .

No, this is good. You mentioned earlier, when you first talked about this, the term Nisei?

Uh-huh.

N-I-S-E-I --

Uh-huh.

(Continuing) -- is that right? Can you define that for me?

The second generation of the -- Issei is immigrant, first I-S-S-E-I, then Nisei, then Sansei. It's Issei, Nisei, Ichi ni san, counting.

Okay.

Issei, Nisei, Ichi ni san.

Okay. So, for Japanese-Americans, the parents would be the Issei --

Yeah, if they were --

(Continuing) -- that had just come?

Yeah.

And then the children who were born here would be Nisei?

Yeah.

Okay.

And then the -- the ones that are college-aged now are Sansei. Most of the Japanese that are -- that came around here were from Hiroshima area. Many of them, that's the -- I think that's the strongest -- they have the same thing as the Nordlands Group and the S?nfjord (phonetic).

Yeah. You know, it's amazing how alike this whole story is.

All immigrants have their --

Yeah.

(Continuing) -- have their groups.

Yeah.

Well, let's get you from college ... up to this point. You were at Pacific Lutheran University starting in 1941 in the fall?

Yeah. Then was drafted in '43.

Okay.

I -- essentially two years of college. [Then] I went in the Army.

... How was that for you?

(Continuing) -- went through basic -- okay, you mean at PLU?

At PLU.

Just basic English, political science, you know, the ...undergraduate requirements, and lived at home. We had 300 kids in school, in college.

Okay.

And most of the dorms and buildings at PLU now are named for the people who were there then. And these are people who were there then who are true missionaries in every sense of the word in terms of, you know, somebody bringing them three pounds of hamburger, or, you know, going without pay for long periods of time and that sort of thing. You know --

And you're saying just to make a go of it?

Yeah. Just -- yeah. Just to -- and you had the -- anyway, the -- then into the Army. And Fort Lewis then was the -- sort of the reception center, and this was my first decision point where I put down that I knew some Norwegian on my papers at the beginning. Well, all of a sudden, they said, "Will you go down to classification," and pulled out. Well, what did I do now, you know? And so, at any rate, when I went down to that office, the issue was, did I want to volunteer for the 99th Infantry Battalion, and at that time that infantry battalion was at Camp Carson, Colorado, training on skis up in the Rockies, somewhere.

And you mentioned earlier that was all Norwegian-speaking --

Yeah. That was Norwegian speaking -- that was one of the requirements, or one of the -- for getting into that unit. And there are people around here who were in that unit, and it has a history. They never went to Norway until after the war was over. They were -- after the war was over just -- they were -- they sent them to Oslo and were in Oslo when the king returned from England after the war. There's great symbolism, you know, and -- but they got pounded. They were in the European war and were in some really tough -- the Battle of the Bulge issues in Belgium and Germany, up in there. They -- there was a -- they had a rough, rough, rough time and many, many casualties. And they had been prepared -- the assumption was that they might be needed to be dropped into Norway somewhere, and what the circumstances would be no one really knew.

It's interesting that there were only three language Army units during the war. One was the Japanese, the 100th Battalion, 100th Infantry Battalion, that was with the 448th, then the Norwegian 99th Battalion, and then there was an Italian battalion that never really got off the ground. So those were the three ethnic units where language was a prerequisite.

I didn't know about that.

I never knew until -- you know, I never, after that 99th at Fort Lewis in 1943, I never heard about that thing again until I got involved in Ballard.

Well, so there are local people that were in that battalion --

Yes, uh-huh.

Who would we know from the local area?

Well, I have visited with one, and I'm sorry, I don't remember his name. I'm sure I've got it -- a retired dentist lives in Magnolia. Olaf Lunde, do you know that name?

Is that L-U-N-D-E --

Yeah.

Electric?

Right, yeah. He was the one that founded -- his brother was in that unit. I don't know if his brother lives -- no, I think his brother is dead now.

What was his name?

It was a Lunde --

Okay.

(Continuing) -- but I -- there are books on the -- one of the artists that were out -- was out here two years ago displaying stuff at the museum, he was in that unit, and he did the illustrations for one of the books on the -- but there -- the unit has reunions, and it's referred to -- I don't know, I'm sure that it must be -- I don't know if this would be helpful at all. Just --

Sure.

I'm just going to grab something.

So, is this a book about the battalion?

Yeah, yeah. It's the history of the battalion.

The 99 --

99th.

(Continuing) --99th Norwegian speaking --

99th Infantry Battalion.

What's the name of it? The Norwegian Americans by Arlo W. Anderson

Yeah. This isn't about -- this isn't -- I'm just wondering if it didn't -- doesn't make some reference that -- well, 203 -- make some reference to what they say. Oh. He talks about the First World War. "The 99th Infantry Battalion was an exception, activated in July, 1942, at Camp Ripley, Minnesota. It originally comprised of 1000 men of Norwegian descent, some of them born in Norway. Courses in the Norwegian language and training and skiing were compulsory with readiness for the Allied invasion of mind. Captain Harold D. Hanson's battalion suffered many casualties in the Normandy Invasion and then at Aschen (phonetic). Eventually the survivors landed in Drammen and Oslo and paraded with selected American units in the victory celebration in the Norwegian capital." And --

And Lunde that you mentioned, what was his first --

His brother.

(Continuing) -- name again?

Olaf. Yeah. It's his --

Oh. We don't know his --

I don't know his brother's first name, but if it's something that you are interested in, I've often thought that, and maybe I have an -- something about who the people were around here --

And Lunde Electric is the --

Yeah.

(Continuing) -- company that you mentioned.

Well, yeah, but that -- those are -- the owners now are not Lundes.

Okay.

I wonder if I would have -- hmm.

I want to make a note --

Yeah, I may be able to give you a better reference. I've got the folder anyway.

Oh, good. Good.

That's Dr. Harry Niehaus, and he lives in Bal -- in --

This is a newspaper article from The Western Viking.

Well, yeah. And here's from The Western Viking.

October 20th, 1995, "Norway's Royal Couple To Meet the 99th Battalion Vets."

Uh-huh.

It says, "William Colby, former CIA Director and three other members of the Norso Group that parachuted into Norway in March, 1945, to assist the underground movement." Also mentions Brigadier General Owen Summers, Commanding General.

Yeah. Here's -- there was a -- something at the museum that the -- in Norway, the 99th Battalion --

Ah.

(Continuing) -- and fighters from the fjords and so there's --

Oh, these are wonderful.

If there's anything -- if you want to take this folder --

So, we can make some copies of these?

If you want to take the folder and, you know --

I would love to. And there's another article from July 21st, 1995, Western Viking, the correspondent is Oscar Moe.

Yeah. So, this -- it's a miracle I could find this that fast.

I'm beginning to think you have an archive back in there.

I do. I --

You go down the hall, you come out with books, pictures, articles.

Anyway.

This is great. Now, I have -- so I'll make a note of that, that we can make copies. Now, at this point you've said no to the 99th Battalion.

Yes.

You're in a -- at a point where you can decide yes, I want to go with this battalion or not?

Yeah. And I said no. The thing that had -- at that point, before we -- you were inducted, you could take a military test, an Army test, and -- that would potentially see whether you were qualified. Not that -- whether you were going to be accepted or anything, but did you meet the qualifications to be considered for some kind of specialized schooling in the Army. And so -- Army General Classification Test, AGCT. And so I had taken that test, and my score was high enough to be considered. So, I knew that much and so I -- that -- so, but I -- so, I said I'll take my chances and whatever I'm going -- wherever I'm going to go. And so, went in like everybody else, did my basic training. And --

Was that at Fort Lewis still?

No. At Camp Roberts in California.

Okay.

And a 17-week basic training. And then at that point there was a something called a Star Unit. I don't know what the Star stood for, but it was a screening unit, screening for -- as to whether you would go to school or not, whether you'd be accepted. And I'd put down I knew some German and some Norwegian and German. I, you know, I had taken some German as a freshman and sophomore in high school, and I knew zero.

And so, I -- they called me up before this board and they -- some guy says something in German to me, and I start "ich" something. And I quickly reverted into Norwegian, and he says, "What's that?" And so, I says, "Well, that's what -- I guess that must have been Norwegian."

And so, that was the extent of that. And so, okay. Then -- you never know what happened till -- you know, but that was that. And then some time later, after I finished my basic, there were three of us out of, I don't know how many of -- were in that group, were told we were -- we had orders to go to Chicago and the -- to the University of Chicago.

And when would this have occurred?

This would have been in November of, -- let me see, I went in the Army in '43. No, November of '43.

Okay.

November of 1943. And so, we traveled together alone on a commercial train. And one fellow was a very delicate -- played the violin very nicely, seemed as if he may have been a -- from maybe Tehran, but maybe sort of a borderline in there somewhere.

Okay.

The other guy was named Chuck Polminaik, and I remember Chuck's name because he was a tough Pole from Chicago. Played in the University of Washington football and -- Seattle. And the three of us were on this train. Polminaik was an operator. He told this other kid, whose name I don't remember, "Get out your violin and walk down the aisles playing your violin and I'll pass the hat. You take 50 percent and I'll take 50 percent."

What a racket.

And so --

Were you in uniform?

Yeah, oh, yeah.

Oh, goodness.

You had to be in uniform at that time.

Okay.

So, we got to Chicago. Anyway, then, I never saw them again, except I saw Polminaik years and years later. I decided I'd give him a call. He was back here, owner of an oil company. So, I had lunch with him one day, but that was enough. He's still around and --

Okay.

And then, so, when we were at the University of Chicago and they asked, "You're going to study language, and here are the three languages: Russian, Chinese, or Japanese, and you -- and make your choices." And I said first choice Russian, Chinese second, and Japanese third. I thought that Japanese would -- I couldn't imagine anything any harder than when I heard those people talking. So, that was that, and it was a --

And Japanese was --

Japanese was what I was given.

Okay.

My third choice. So, I don't know. I better stop on that.

Oh, it's wonderful. And now, what was the path, then, from -- you went to Japan eventually?

Yeah. I went to Japan in the spring of 1946. The war ended in '45, and then I went to Fort Snelling. And then made the decision to get commissioned. And then -- so I was in Japan in 1946, most of 1946. Came home by Christmas. I wanted to stay longer, but I had to either stay for another full year or if I was going -- if I wanted to stay. So, I didn't want to stay another full year. I wanted to come back at mid-year to start school in the next summer, but no choice on that.

No. So, what happened next? What were the next steps?

Well, in Japan I had -- I was able to feebly do the introduction of an interrogation of two Japanese generals who were -- had been stationed during the war on the Russian-Chinese boundary. And, of course, on the Chinese side. And there's no, I mean, there's no way I could interrogate them.My language skills were inadequate, but I could say in Japanese, you know, what's your name and -- but you had a Japanese civilian who -- you asked the civilian what to ask and so, that was that.

And then I was trans -- that was called the Allied Translator and Interpreter Service. You had Australians and everybody in that unit, we were living in one building and --

And where were you in --

In Tokyo. And so, then I was transferred -- or, stayed in that unit, but assigned down to the MacArthur's intelligence headquarters in the Dai Icki building, the building where MacArthur was. And then his intelligence fellow was General Willoughby, and then Colonel Sharp was one of Willoughby's guys that -- and I was one of Sharp's persons. And what was my job was to proofread stencils of the daily intelligence summary, which is very interesting in terms of you got to see what was going on in China, what was going on in the press, what was going on in the Philippines in terms of your -- and it was a secret document that went out daily. So -- but my job was really the proofreading and production, seeing to it that it was typed up and on its way.

Now, you called it a stencil. I just want to go back to that for a minute. A stencil?

Yeah. Well, you know, the blue paper you typed on with a -- and you put on the machine.

Yes, okay.

Uh-huh.

So, it enabled it to cop -- make multiple copies.

Yes.

So, you're looking at the original --

Looking at the --

(Continuing) -- for that?

You're reading the blue copy for mistakes and --

Okay.

(Continuing) -- sending it back and retype this or, you know. And you're under pressure because -- to have it correct. You don't want any mistakes to be going out because I remember once I was called in. Colonel Sharp called me and said, "Now, what about this?" And the term had been -- that had been used was "polity", and he had assumed it should be "policy", and I had stopped at the word and used a dictionary and knew that polity was the correct word.

So --

So, you could defend yourself.

I got by.

Good. Now, what were your thoughts at this point about coming home and what your life might be like in the States?

Well, at that point I was thinking well, I'll probably try to take advantage of this experience, and when I go back to school, go into Far Eastern Studies. And I had the idea of the diplomatic service or something of that kind and so -- but -- and when I came and entered the Univer -- I went to the University of Washington. I did have a degree, by the way, from PLU on the basis of Chicago and -- which was a surprise. I had sent my -- all my Army records to PLC, at that time and while I was in Japan, here I got an -- I -- with no thought about what it was, the purpose. I just thought, you know, they ought to have my records. And come in the mail my Baccalaureate while I was in Japan.

So, what was your degree then? What --

It was in Far East Studies and from PLU. And, of course, they'd never had a course in it.

Amazing.

Yeah. They wouldn't do -- you know, you'd have to finish up there now, but, you know, that was --

So you came home with a degree?

I came home with a degree, but when I went to the University I -- you sort of stayed -- stopped --started all over again. So, I have a B.A. from the university, also.

And what did you study there?

Political science, and then I became a teacher, see, into education. I started out with political science with the first goal and -- but for some reason I just said, "Well, I don't know. I'll -- I'm not sure I want to do this and I'll take this modest road."

Okay. And here you are.

Yeah.

Well, you chose teaching. What drew you to that when you were in -- at the University of Washington? How did you move from political science to that?

Well, I just don't know. I think that somewhere I must have read that the first step in the immigrant experience is teaching, you know, before you aspire to something.

So, you were just doing your duty?

Yes, uh-huh.

Now, did they have a program at that time where you did any student teaching, or--

Yes.

What was that experience like?

My student teaching, now here we come to the purpose of this oral history, was at Ballard High School.

Yea!

And, yeah, I did my student teaching at Ballard. Not -- I didn't know Ballard -- I mean, I knew Ballard but -- and so, in the -- in U.S. history, the teacher of the course was -- his name was Frank Rowley. He was very active in the teacher's union, and the main thing that was taught in the U.S. history was labor history.

And so, we went to the Knights of Labor, and the Foundation of the American Federation of Labor, and all of this -- at any rate, that was. . . And then getting a job was the next step, and high school teaching jobs were not easy to get right at that point. You --

And, what year would this have been?

This would have been 1948 when I -- if I -- and for the beginning of the 1948 school year. And so, I happened to, at a basketball game down at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, happened to run into two people that I had been at PLU with, the Erickson brothers, Elmer and Harry Erickson, and mentioned that I was trying to find a job and Harry says, "Well, that's no problem." And they came -- they lived in Kapowsin, which is a little spot up near Eatonville up beyond Orting, up towards Mount Rainier.

Was it K-A-P-O-W-S-I-N?

Uh-huh.

Kapowsin, okay.

And so, they said, "Well, we'll give Andy a call." And so I went up to Kapowsin and interviewed with the superintendent, and they had had a hard time finding teachers out -- up in the toolies, and so I spent one year there. And the superintendent said "Now, you don't want to stay here. Look what happened to me," he said. So --

How old was he at this point would you guess?

Well, he was in his mid-50s, I think, at that point. And so, then I went to Seattle the next year, but I moved from a high school teacher to elementary. Seattle was -- couldn't find enough elementary teachers so you had -- I got an emergency certificate and came to Seattle, and that was that.

Well, where did you end up in the district that first year back?

The first year I was at Colman Elementary and stayed there four years. Went out to High Point for -- in a sort of a semi-administrative position for all three years.

Uh-huh.

Went back to Colman as principal. And then from Colman to Madrona as principal, and then from Madrona down to the Central Office for the next 25 years.

Okay. Well --

Yeah.

(Continuing) -- we have to go back to Ballard. I don't know -- you said that you were there for a -- was it a part of a year that you were --

Yes. For the --

(Continuing) -- at Ballard High School?

Yeah. For the -- and the other school identification with Ballard was that at -- years later, my administrative responsibilities, I had -- I was the administrator that the principals of all the Ballard elementary schools reported to.

So that the principal of Webster, where the museum is, or North Beach, or Adams, or Whittier, or all those, that was -- my territory was that northwest quadrant and the southeast quadrant.

Okay. And what years -- or, what about -- what time period would that have been?

Oh, that would have been in the six -- between the 60s and the 70s, somewhere in there. So --

Okay.

(Continuing) -- earlier 60s.

Okay. Any impressions of Ballard from that year in your mid-20s at the U and at Ballard High School for -- is it part of a school year that you were there doing U.S. history?

Yes, uh-huh.

What do you remember about the high school itself and sort of the community, the culture feeling?

You know, I didn't gain any lasting impression, really, that -- I didn't come away with a feeling that this is a great school --

Oh.

(Continuing) -- or this is a terrible school. It just sort of that's the way it is and, it's --

I can understand that. As far as the community itself, was there a large, the student body itself, was there a large Scandinavian population at that time, or had that changed, or --

Yeah.

I'm curious.

Well, I don't know. I know that, you know, it was -- at that time, it was obviously an all-white school. There was none of the movement in by any minority group. Always thought of Ballard, however, as if you wanted to say where would American Indians be living, you'd say in Ballard or over in South Park. And I relate that to the fishing industry and the fishermen and the intermarriage of Norwegian fishermen with American Indians and I've always felt very, very badly, got -- I -- that no real work has been done on that topic. I remember once calling the specialist in the University of British Columbia, Victoria, and around, and I said -- they say it's a great research topic, but there's nothing on it. And so that there was -- there's a little bit of that left in Ballard, I think. But --

What about students at the high school?

Yeah. I just don't remember but that -- I know at Fife High School we had a small contingent of Indian students, American-Indian students because the Puyallup Tribe still owns quite a bit of that property. But if somebody wants to tackle -- in fact, I've got a -- I was just talking about that, and I decided I was going to call a woman who works at the University. I don't know if she still works there. Her name is Letoy Eike, an American-Indian and who grew up learning all of the Norwegian stuff and handwork and all that. She went -- sent to an Indian boarding school where the -- I think they must have had a bunch of Norwegian Lutherans teaching those kids. And so, at any rate, it's something that should be -- somebody should do.

Is the museum aware of this?

Yeah, but, you know, who -- we don't have anybody. There's no one there that could -- it takes a university graduate student. So . . .

Now, what's happening in your personal life about this time? I'm thinking about 1948. You're 25.

Yeah. I've got -- that -- this -- got married in '49, in the summer of 1949, and that was when I came to -- that was really a motivating factor of coming to Seattle, the Seattle School District. I may have -- may well have stayed at Kapowsin --

Okay. Despite your --

Yeah, yeah.

(Continuing) -- superintendent's warnings.

For another year or two, but --

Okay.

(Continuing) -- anyway. In fact, Aileen, at the time, well, she was working at the school district headquarters and was arriving to school with the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools. And she told him, you know, that I'd applied for a job as a high school teacher, and he said, "You know, he'll never get it, but if he wants to teach elementary school we're looking." So --

And what's her full name? I know we have it on your sheet, but --

Aileen, with an A, A-I-L-E-E-N, Marie, and her maiden name was Trostad, T-R-O-S-T-A-D.

Okay. Aileen Marie Trostad.

And, also, the -- you know, both of her parents were born in Norway.

Okay. And she was born --

In Seattle.

End of Part 2 of a two part interview.


Sources:

Audio cassette interview by Jennifer Carrell, May 2, 2000, Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle.


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