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Home of the Good Shepherd (Seattle): Oral History Interview with Sister Valerie Brannan
HistoryLink.org Essay 10026
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Toby Harris conducted this oral history interview with Sister Valerie Brannan, who served as Directress of Girls at Seattle's Home of the Good Shepherd. The interview was conducted on August 17, 1999, in Portland, Oregon.The oral history project was funded by the King County Office of Cultural Resources (Landmarks & Heritage). For 60 years, from 1907 to 1973, the Home of the Good Shepherd, located at 4649 Sunnyside Avenue, in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, was operated by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to provide shelter and education to troubled young girls. In 1975 the City of Seattle bought the property, and later transferred it to Historic Seattle for use as a multi-purpose community center
Sister Valerie Brannan
Tell me when you first knew you had a calling to become a nun and why you chose the Good Shepherd order.
I think I had a brief calling to religious life when I was in grade school, because I used to follow this one sister around all the time. And then I ... went through all high school and didn’t pay any attention to vocation at all. After I graduated, I was able to get a job during the summer and I was having a wonderful time enjoying my freedom.
After high school. However, towards November, I began to realize that I was being called to religious life. I used to go out to the convent to visit my aunt and the sisters, and see the girls there. I just loved working in that type of work and so I thought, "No, that's what it is for me," rather than teaching. I became filled with the work they were doing and wanted to devote my life to the girls who were less fortunate than I. I had been trained with the Dominicans and Holy Names sisters who were wonderful women. But I knew that was not my vocation. I really wanted to work with the girls. Finally the necessary plans were made to our Seattle convent and I entered our St. Paul provincialate in February of 1938.
Then your great aunt --
My great aunt was a Good Shepherd sister and the work appealed to her more than any other. My recollection of her was of extreme kindness. When she came to the parlor to visit my grandfather and my two brothers, in her big pockets she would have goodies to pass out to the three of us. Her one desire was to become a religious and it became apparent when she packed her trunk and slipped out without her brothers' knowing.
One thing about her -- she never mentioned vocation to me. I think she prayed but she never mentioned vocation, for which I was grateful. Because I felt that it was more important [that it] come from God rather than [from] some being.
Did she ever tell any stories of the early days when there were just five of them that started out in Seattle?
No. I do know that when she was in the convent there, she used to work with the orphans. At that time, the bishop asked the sisters if they would take over the orphanage until help came. Then the Sisters of the Sacred Heart came out, Mother Cabrini's group, and they took over the orphanage. Our sisters were relieved and were able to continue their work with the older girls.
When you came out to Seattle, do you remember about when that was?
I was already in Seattle.
So you never went to St. Paul?
Yes, I did. I went to St. Paul when I entered the convent, I went back to St. Paul to noviate there. No, I've always been in Seattle.
When was that? What years?
It was in the 1930s, probably about 1934 or 1935.
And when did you enter the convent?
Nineteen thirty-eight. February ... we left for St. Paul January 31st and we landed in St. Paul on the 2nd. I had the little postulant dress on and I wasn't used to the veil. So I'd take it off and then when the porter would come, I'd put it back on again.
How long were you a novitiate?
Two and a half years. Six months for a postulantship and two years until profession. Then three years for final vows. So it took awhile, five and a half years, I think, at that time.
When did you come back to Seattle?
I went up to Vancouver, Canada for a year. And then I was sent back to St. Paul to make my final vows.
And then you were missioned here? Back in Seattle?
I was left in St. Paul after my final vows for a couple of years and then I was sent to Helena, Montana for about two and a half years. From Helena, I went on to Denver for two years. Sister _____, the superior in Helena, asked for me to come. So then I had the girls in Denver for two years. And in the meantime, she contracted cancer; I left then and came back to Seattle for a year.
When was that?
About 1938, wait a minute, 1948, I believe.
And what did you do for that year?
I helped with the girls. I had charge of the girls in Denver and I had an assistant job when I was in Helena. And then from Seattle, I was missioned to Portland. And I helped with the girls and was the assistant. And then when Sister left, there was another sister and she took over the group. After she left, I was named directress of the girls.
When you spent that one year in Seattle, you were an assistant?
Yes. I helped with the girls.
Was that when Sister Serena was there?
And then you were in Portland.
And then I came to Portland, probably between 1949 and 1950.
And then when did you go back to Seattle?
I didn't go back to Seattle. I was sent then to St. Paul, Minnesota, to finish my schooling. I went one semester in St. Paul and Sister needed somebody for the class in Sioux City, Iowa. I was there for about five or six months. And then the superior here in Seattle needed somebody to take care of the girls. I think that was in probably 1958 or 1959.
Right away, you were the directress?
Yes, directress of girls. And then I remained until I left.
How were you prepared for this work?
In our second year we were able to go over and work with a sister who was responsible and had the training. I had typing and shorthand. And I also helped down in the laundry with the Pullman. The Great Northern, Northern Pacific and Pullman books, I used to help work with that.
That was quite entailed. You had to keep things up because you'd have a man come out and check. I had quite a bit of experience in that area. And that year I worked back in the little junior class which were girls that were not committed to the big class.
Was that in St. Paul?
Let's go back to Seattle. Were there any differences that you can remember that stand out between the Seattle home and some of the other places?
I think the way the girls were handled was pretty much the same. They had restrictions and so many of our girls had come from homes that were not what they should be. Of course, some of them would run away until they got adjusted. Once they'd get adjusted, they were fine ... all the policemen knew me there in Seattle [laughter]. I remember one of our former girls was attending Seattle University and knew Father Andy. And when she found out one of the girls had run away, she used to get ahold of Father Andy and have him help her get the girls back in. We didn't have a lot but when they were mixed up, they'd been running from all other homes, foster homes, and from everything else. But after the girls were settled, we had no trouble.
What would happen when they would run away? How would they run away?
Just any way they could get a chance [laughter]. I remember one girl, she was a darling girl and she'd always have her purse with her. And she used to have her good shoes and her stockings on and I thought, "Uh oh, you're up to something." So I sent for her one day. And she said, "What do you want?" "Oh, I don't know," I said, "What do you have in that purse?" And finally I was able to get her to open it and here was her toothbrush and toothpaste and all ... she never did run. But you know, many of them were so in need of attention. And they knew this was one way of gaining it.
So you would call the police when they would run?
Not always. We'd wait and we'd wait.
How long would you wait?
Probably three or four hours. Sometimes they'd come back.
Would you notice it right away? Did you do counts or ...
We knew pretty well. It was very evident. But once the girls were settled down, they were fine. They became just wonderful, helped us also because they would help with the other girls that were mixed up. And if something was wrong, sometimes they'd tip us off. They knew that we really cared about them. And I think this was the most important thing in their lives because many of them had not had that. They'd had too many mothers and dads in their lives and just couldn't take it. Many of them were abused, both physically and sexually. And so it was very difficult for them. But once they were settled down, they realized they were in security.
Tell me about the Good Shepherd philosophy. Did you follow Sister Mary of St. Euphrasia's instructions and how did you carry them out?
Definitely. She had a rule for the class. We did follow them. Of course, if she'd been alive today, she'd be a leading psychologist because she just knew how to handle them. And I think this was our particular charism because we were able to understand why certain things were professed at that time.
Tell me about that philosophy.
She always used to say, "It is better to give them milk than it is to punish." If girls didn't behave, we'd have them go off and sit in the corner … and then they'd come around and they were fine. And I think this was so important because Mother Foundress really loved the girls and had a real charism for their lives. And she knew how to handle girls. I think that we followed her philosophy all these years.
What were some of the rules and privileges that the girls had?
Once I got into the group, I was able to get the place renovated so we had an opportunity to get the girls home-like atmospheres. At first, we had the large group -- I had 150 girls and I had one sister helping me. We had sisters in the school and in the laundry and the kitchen. We had a sister who was in the ceramics department and she was wonderful with the girls. But this is the thing that was so important -- in the early days and I think in all larger institutions, people were probably used in one area, but this became a different philosophy and had been in several of the other houses. Also, under the superior there, we painted the dorms. We were able to do all of that and they had their own living room, dining room, kitchen, and dorm.
In each group? Each group had their own --
In each unit. Yes. And I never had to worry on Saturdays. The girls would have their places shipshape. They took pride in their work. I had a star system. If the girls didn't follow and do what was right in the star system, they didn't get their time home for that week. So it was really incentive to them and of course, sometimes, they didn't. But then the next time, they'd have it for sure ...
Was that star system used before you came too? Or is it something that you started?
I probably had heard of it. It wasn't there at the school, no. Our auxiliary was so good to us. They got our swimming pool for us. The kids had a lot of sports going, on the 4th of July and big holidays, we'd always plan something to keep the kids busy. It was hard. In the beginning, they never did go home. After we got the groups, then the girls went out and had their times out.
And there was just one big dorm before that?
No, there were three dorms and they made a fourth one down in the dining room -- partitioned that off, too. No, at first we had the large group. But 150 girls is pretty much and that seemed to be the way things were handled in the old days. Eventually, we were able to break the home down into groups. Sister Helen Louise was the assistant to our superior. She was the one who helped me break the home down into groups. We had 30 in the groups at first and then we had 20. And then we went down to 15, I think. It was more of a home-like atmosphere rather than just the big institution.
Where was your cell?
I was up on the third floor.
When you say third floor, are you counting from the basement or from the main floor?
And that was in the front of the building?
No, behind the chapel.
The chapel on the second floor but I was the third but it was behind where the chapel was.
On the south end?
Yes. It was so nice because every year Boeing would give something to us if we requested it. One year, we wanted to have our kitchen upstairs so the girls could have their experience up there. On my third floor we had a darling little kitchen. We used to do our own cooking up there. There was a window up there and they'd sit on the board and look out at Lake Union. They used to just love that.
Where was that that they'd be sitting?
It was kind of a ledge up there ... It was off our rooms, off the stairwell. Each area had its own kitchen, dining room, and dorm. The superior was very good and she let me get whatever we needed to make it homey. We got new bedspreads ... our own little quarters. It made it so much nicer.
Were you ever frightened?
If the girls were especially hostile. Were they ever violent? Physically?
No. I never had that problem with the girls ordinarily. I think that once you won the girls and they knew that you cared for them and that you were willing to do anything to help them, I think that made a lot of difference.
Were there some girls who had serious psychological problems?
Yes. We had a psychiatrist. So if there were some that were psychologically mixed up, we would have them check with the doctor. I know that the girls have said to me many times, "I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't come to the home."
Did any girls ever just show up at the convent for help?
I had one youngster -- we sent her home. She wasn't what you'd call a real problem. But one Sunday morning, she came in the back with her little suitcase crying and she wanted to come back in.
Did you ever have anybody show up at your door who had never lived there? Somebody who was running away?
Well, if we did, we would refer them to a caseworker. We didn't just take them right in. We worked with caseworkers and social workers very closely. In fact, I worked with Everett, Yakima, Tacoma. I worked with Seattle. If we had any trouble and we saw that a girl was really not suitable for the home, then we would call the caseworker. They'd be right down at our door to pick up the girl.
What would happen when a girl first arrived? Who would bring her?
The caseworker, generally. Sometimes the parents, if the girls were out of hand. Sometimes they'd come from different agencies so it wasn't necessarily through the juvenile court. Parents were more frightened, I think, not handling the situation. I think that was why they often had to get some kind of help.
What would happen first when they came? Did they get assigned --
They were given a big sister to take care of her, to see her through and they became close. And we generally would try and place her someplace near her dormitory, or in her work.
There were four other sisters that worked under you?
As time went on, there were three sisters and we had one laywoman take the fourth group. We had meetings every once in awhile, [to] see how things were going with the groups. So we kind of connected.
Were the groups all doing the same thing? Describe a typical day.
Of course, we had four years' accredited high school. In the later years, the girls did not go to mass. We had mass here. We had girls from all different denominations there, Catholic, Jew, black -- not all different denominations but different races, and so they would go to mass at first in years when they had the big dormitories. But we decided it was not the best thing to do so some of the girls would come in to mass and then they'd have their breakfast. And then they had to be at school. And then we had the laundry ... it was Northern Pacific and Great Northern, Hill gave us that work many years ago when we first started out. So they worked on the mangles, they did the folding and the tying, the bundling and all that. They did not work in the laundry washing, in the washhouse.
They did that before school?
No. They had their schooling. They went regularly to school and then they would have their times in the laundry. They had various times in between classes and mostly on Saturdays and Sundays.
Were they independent about getting up and getting ready or did they have to line up, go to another part of the building together?
I had a little bell.
Oh, you had a bell that you would ring?
A little tinkler. Some girls would do sewing and some worked in the laundry. And some worked in the kitchen. They had all different charges and we were so grateful to have a place where the girls could really be busy, especially weekends or when there was no school. For instance, Christmas, we'd have two solid weeks. It was good for the kids. And I remember going into one home, and the closet was just folded like that -- just perfect. That's what they learned, the neatness and the orderliness and so forth.
Did they all have to keep everything, do everything exactly the same way? Were their lockers their own?
No. The Northern Pacific Railroad and ...
Oh, folding for the laundry. I see.
And then, some of them worked in the kitchens and some worked in the house so they all had different jobs. Some worked in the sewing room. They'd make aprons for the group or make skirts for the kids.
What did you do while they were at school?
I'd go visit different areas. And then I'd have work for the caseworkers. I had talks with the judges and social workers. So it was a pretty much 24-hour a day job.
Did the girls ever earn income?
Yes. They used to earn so much for every star that they had or something. I don't remember now. We used to have a little store and they could go down and get stuff from the store if they needed it. We'd keep the money in the office, and if the girls needed things we'd have the allowance so we'd be able to help them with their petty cash.
Could they ever go off on their own? Did they ever leave the grounds?
Oh, yes, in the later years. Some of our girls would go out for a walk if they were trustworthy, go to the park or whatever.
Did you still lock doors between the corridors when you were first there?
We had to and they knew it. They knew that they couldn't trust themselves. But later on, we first had screens on the windows and we took all those off when we started our roofs.
Bars or screens?
Did you have an alarm on the windows?
There was an alarm on the windows in case somebody would decide to go out at night so we'd catch them.
Was that after you took the bars off?
The alarms might have been there all the time. But we tried to make it as homey as we possibly could under the circumstances.
Did you still check their mail?
I think, in the beginning, they had to because, you know, these fellows were outside the window.
Fellows were outside the window?
I'll never forget one night, we tried to pin it down but we weren't able to do it.
You tried to pin what down?
That they were out there.
It was a certain boyfriend. Most of them tried to be honest about things. And the more you trusted them, the more they tried to abide by that.
Who decided when it was time for a girl to leave?
They were there for at least a year. We tried to hold some of them to graduate. And in fact, I can remember one girl determined she was going to leave her junior year so we let her go. She didn't finish school then but she went back to school eventually and became a nurse, raised her three children ... . As long as we could hold them and they had no one to help them, we would try to hold them longer. Some girls were there for two or three years. And they stayed and graduated with the rest of the Catholic schools down at the auditorium. In my time we had one girl who graduated and asked to remain. Because she had a severe heart condition and had previously been operated on at Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle, we thought it best for her to stay so as to be close to her doctor. Gradually she began to have a great deal of trouble breathing and we felt it necessary to send her to the hospital where she could get some relief. Within a week her condition worsened and we received word of her death, which occurred on the feast day of our foundress St. Mary Euphrasia, April 24th. What a shock it was to all of us. We brought her home to the convent and had a beautiful service for her. All the sisters and the girls attended.
Normally you would keep them there until they graduated.
We couldn't always do it but we would like to. We would talk to the caseworker and they'd check the home situation. The families used to come and visit us too. They knew whether or not the kids were ready to come home.
What was the procedure when a girl was leaving? Was there any sort of ritual?
If the girl's home situation was okay, we'd let her try it out there again. And if not, then they would try and get her into a foster home or get into someplace where she had a little bit more freedom.
Were they all leaving at different times during the year? Or usually in the summer?
It was generally the end of the school year or the beginning of the school year. Many of these kids would skip school outside. And so when they came to us and they found out that there was a solid system there and that they were able to get the work and not be upset about outside things and so forth, they really settled down and became much better in their schoolwork. They were really smart kids but just didn't apply themselves.
They were able to graduate? Were there some who couldn't do the work?
There were some, of course, that couldn't. We had one girl who graduated and she went into nurses' aid training and has used that her whole life. Now she is working towards her nurses' training. We tried to see if they were equipped enough so that they would not have to go back into the same environment.
Did a lot of the girls stay in touch with each other? Make good friends there at school?
It's quite surprising how many of them really have. Some, no, because they moved away.
There were no restrictions about that?
Do you remember the fire in 1967?
I surely do.
You were there that day?
I was on the third floor. I was down ordering uniforms for the girls; it was on a Sunday. Somebody called down and said there was a fire in the attic. I heard the kids were coming down; they had the little kitten in their hand. And they were coming down, in perfect order -- I was surprised -- as I went up. I got a fire extinguisher and the whole area was on fire [laughter]. The kids were out in the yard all day. Certain girls went into the kitchens and got food for the firemen. I remember the firemen said, "You know, it's not bad coming to a fire like this." There was a lot of fire damage, water damage that went down into the chapel and down the stairs. But the fire had been set. Sister had had the girls working up in the attic putting costumes away. And she had told this one girl, when they were finished, to put the key in the little box outside of the room. She didn't. So the next day she went up and set the costumes on fire. The thing is that the firemen knew right away. So the girl was out of the house in two days.
During those years, it was in the late 1960s, that they had so much freedom? They had more freedom?
Did you give the girls keys?
Those that I could depend on.
Did everyone have a chance to be a big sister? Or was it only certain girls that were big sisters?
If they wanted it and if we felt they were worthy of it. Oftentimes the girls would say something about "my little sister." I think we tried, if the girls were there with us for a length of time and they were able to handle the situation. Because then you didn't have to worry about the little girl getting into anything and if the other girl found out she needed more help, she'd come and let me know that she wasn't working with her and so I would try and get somebody else for her.
So there was a lot of trust?
This is what we had to do -- let the girls know that they were trusted.
What about outings? Did you go on some outings?
Yes, we took them places. I'll never forget one year -- I called my friend in Friday Harbor. I just had six girls left; the others had all either gone home or were on vacation. June asked me if I'd come up and I said, "Well, June, I have six kids on my hands." And she said, "Well, bring 'em up." So we did. We took the ferry up [in] our station wagon.
It was just you and the six girls?
No, Sister Patricia and I went up, Patricia Marie. We took the boat over to the island and they couldn't get off the island. You see, there were new kids. But they had a swimming pool down below and of course, they spent a lot of time down at the swimming pool. We were up there about four or five days, I think. And she and her husband were just darling. They gave Sister Patricia Marie one room and gave me the other. And they slept out in the living room. And the kids slept out ... it was ... kind of a porch there, with a tree growing up through it. The last night we were there ... they had a lovely dinner for us. And the seniors, we used to take up to Victoria in May. Unfortunately, it used to be on Queen's Day and it was so packed up there. We'd go out on picnics. I remember I took the kids out across the water. And we had our picnic, we all sat down at the table and the bees started in. You should have heard the screams.
But as the girls were going out, they didn't need to do so much because they were at home with their own families or going out with somebody. We used to have a Lutheran group. They would come and get the Lutheran girls, went to the Lutheran church and then spend some time during the day. And the girls always remember [the] beautiful time we had at Christmastime. This was before they went out. In fact, when they started to go out, we wanted to go back to the old days. We'd have midnight mass and they'd come down in procession singing all the Christmas carols and then they'd go down to the dining room and it was decorated beautifully. And we had little gifts there for them. Then we'd go up to the assembly hall. And we had the stage decorated beautifully and Christmas trees on either side. Then in the afternoon, they'd open gifts and we always saw that the girls had something. We always had to check that because it was hard on some of those kids that didn't have families that cared.
So you interacted with the community, you went out into the community?
I had to go to the courts, went down to juvenile hall. And we had the Boeing Company. They were so good to us. One year they got us beautiful typewriters and desks. Another year they furnished our beauty parlor so the girls had courses in beauty parlor work. And that came out of their fund that they donated each year. And United Good Neighbors was very good also. One year sisters got suitcases and things like that for the girls. And they'd get clothes, shoes, and stockings and outfits. And then when they'd leave, if they needed money, we'd see that they had it if their parents didn't seem to take care of it.
[Looking at photos. Here looking at a photo of the swimming pool.]
Were there rules about things like that and about the swimming pool? Were there particular hours that they could --
In the summer, yes but during the school year, they were busy in school. When I was there, we got umbrellas and tables around and chairs so it looks a little different. But this was definitely created by our auxiliary[?]. They saved their money and I think this cost $30,000 in those days. Now imagine what it would cost. But this is the laundry building.
There was no school in the summer?
They had summer school for some of the kids that had to make up.
Could they go swimming in the pool at night?
Ah, the sisters went in at night.
They caught us one night [laughter]. What did I do, I lost my glasses. It was my day off and I slipped down to the cottage --
The cottage that was --
The cottage that was down off the property there. So I came up with one of the sisters. And didn't realize I could not find my glasses. The next day I had to go down there without my glasses. The kids were cleaning the pool and found them. So that was the end of that. Once in awhile it was covered at night so they could use it at nighttime. I didn't do it all the time but when I had a day off or something.
Did the girls have control over their time or were things really structured?
No. Things were structured -- there were different times when they had freedom. But we did have a certain amount of jobs they had here. Otherwise, they would get too restless. They weren't ready for that.
What was on the third floor, which would be the second floor, the north wing --
That's where the chapel is. On the second floor, not the basement. We counted the first floor where they come in and then the second floor was our ladies' dormitory and ....
Did you have your meals with the sisters or did you have your meals with the girls?
I used to come over, run over and eat with the sisters. So we had to kind of hurry to get back.
Do you feel that the needs of the girls changed over the years?
Oh, yes. Girls could not be handled the same as they were in the early days because it was more of a regimented situation in those days. But they were happy. The girls really enjoyed ... they had a lot of things going too. It was just the idea that things had to change. And then I went, in 1955, to St. Louis because we had a directress' meeting. And there was one sister there, I just admired to no end, because they knocked down a wall. They got the fathers to come and help, their girls' fathers. And they shaped marble into tables.
When you came to Seattle, were you the first one to come up with those ideas? It was very regimented in Seattle before that?
No, because when I was in Sioux City, they did some changing there too, although it was smaller.
Did you feel that Seattle was behind? Seattle was more regimented still than other places were?
Well, if you want to call it that. It was different. No, I think many of the homes were regimentated to a certain degree, if you want to call it that. I hate that word. But --
What's another word? How would you describe it?
I don't know. In those days, they had big classes and it was just a hard situation, I'm sure but I was in favor of the homey atmosphere.
Did you have favorite places in the building or on the grounds? You said you went and slept in the cottage on your days off?
So that cottage was vacant?
Yes, it was a nice little place we had, comfortable.
Where was that?
It was probably down by the playground. When they had that playground put in, they filled the swimming pool; that's one thing I felt bad about.
It's a garden now.
I always felt bad about that. Because the kids really enjoyed it so much. Anyway, the summerhouse was here, then they took out the trees that weren't good anymore. We had beautiful orchards. And they took out those and then they put the others around the edge. It was close to the driveway going in. More to the fence.
So it wasn't really very far down the hill.
No. We'd go to different places towards the end. See, we were semi-cloistered for many years. After Vatican II, it all changed. When you're with the girls, you're so much more out.
Do you remember, what were your favorite places?
Didn't have too much time for favorite places, didn't have a lot of time because you maybe have a short period, you'd have to be back with the girls. It was really a 24-hour job. It wasn't work, it wasn't just a job -- except on our days off. And I'd take a vacation. I used to go to the ocean, for a week. We'd all go down there. And then I went to Angiers in France, and [to] Italy. And I can't even remember, oh, it was in 1962. That's a long time ago. I was almost 38 years old.
What was your most challenging situation?
Now that you asked me, I can't think. I don't know.
Well, what about something funny?
One time, we were missing a girl. She was always looking for attention. We had come in from the yard and she was missing and we looked all over for her. Finally, somebody looked up in the chimney in the summerhouse and there she was. She [dunce and drooker?], all black, you know. But that girl came from a very difficult family and it's a wonder she ever turned out the way she did. She graduated and married. But her marriage didn't last and I saw her just before I left Seattle. And she was doing all right on her own. We had lunch together but I'll never forget that ... we laughed about it that time.
The girls were allowed to have pets?
Yes, up in our dormitory, each group had a pet; my dormitory had a pet canary. And the one downstairs did too. Well, the other one got a disease of some kind so I had to get rid of mine also. So I said I'm not going to have any more pets so we took the kids out to the Lion's Club on Camano Island for the weekend and they had their suitcases on top of the station wagon, six of them. Somehow they weren't on there tightly enough. They fell off, just one of them fell off. Of course, in those days, the girls used to wear their dresses -- they didn't wear pants -- to mass. And they had their good shoes on because it was after Easter and they got new shoes for Easter and stockings and so forth. So this was the bag for two of them that fell off so we went back and we could not find it. Somebody had picked it up. And the girls really felt bad but I said, "Do you want to go home and get something else?" And they said, "No, we'll handle it." So we stopped in at Stanwood, and they had a little box there that the kids had found with two little dogs in it. And they came running up to me. "Oh, can't we have a puppy?"
It was so cute. And in the meantime, they got what they needed, toothbrushes and toothpaste. And then I finally gave in. Because I could see that they were heartbroken over this other mess. I said, "Okay." They were in these little teepees, sleeping out in the woods and they had that little dog all night long. They'd pass him from one place to the other. My name was Sister John Eudes and so the kids decided they were going to call him "Camano Eudes." Then Sister Helen Louise had her dad come out from Minneapolis. She went down to the dog pound and got the most troublesome dog down there. They named him "Chipper" but came to find out it wasn't a chipper -- 10 little puppies.
Where did those dogs live?
In the yard. When we used to go back to the home, they'd be running around looking for us. It was so sad. But we were able to get them out on a farm so they were taken care of. They were so cute.
Who took care of them?
The girls. They delighted in caring for the puppies and would get their food and whatever they needed. The food was kept in a cupboard outside the laundry. Sister Michael was in the laundry. They just [got] so much care and love back there. She'd be out there with them -- after laundry time. They'd run around, the two of them.
We had kittens too. Because I was so provoked -- I had a Naugahyde set, yellow and brown. We'd had it covered before from the olden times and the kittens would scratch on it and cause holes everywhere. I felt real bad but we took it out to Christ the King with us and it lasted all the time we were there.
I had one girl mention to me that when she was released, when it was time for her to leave, she was woken up in the middle of the night. Does that sound like something that --
Doesn't sound like anything that I know about. Why would they come late at night?
I don't know --
That wasn't the custom. It might have been something unusual where maybe they came from a distance and were heading back --
And they got there at night?
That might've happened. Other than that, I don't know.
Did the girls usually know when they were going to be released?
They had an idea. They had an idea that it would be soon.
Could I look through that yearbook?
I wouldn't like it if [unintelligible] saw it because they're more recent ... Where was this from? I don't know. These faces here, I don't mind that but this right here, I don't know that I would.
What if I covered up the photographs that showed the fronts of their faces, or whatever you would feel comfortable with? I would be willing to do that.
I would not like to have girls' faces shown. You never know what might come up in years to come. It's a legal thing. We never did it when we had the girls. We didn't ever expose them because we didn't think it was fair. Because after all, when they grow up and have their own homes, things could be thrown up again. So this is why we're very, very careful.
Was that the one you're most concerned with, those two?
And this one is okay because they're far enough away?
Yes. This is okay. This is records. And then dividing our living room from our dining room, we had records hanging down, then the little bookcase. It was cute, it was darling.
Was this around 1970 also?
Do you have anything else that you'd like to share? Any other memories or thoughts?
Well, there are so many memories I could write a book myself. Use the experience of being with the kids but I can't think of anything right now. I think you've pretty well cleared it.
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Home of the Good Shepherd (Breitung & Buchinger, 1907), Seattle, April 17, 1922
Photo by Asahel Curtis, Courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg. No. A. Curtis 42734)
Home of the Good Shepherd, outdoor recreation with summerhouse, ca. 193s
Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province
Home of the Good Shepherd, wash room, commercial laundry, with Leonard Boyle, laundry superintendent, n.d.
Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province
Home of the Good Shepherd, on grounds behind summerhouse, n.d.
Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province
Home of the Good Shepherd St. Euphrasia dormitory, ca. 1960s
Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province
Home of the Good Shepherd, pool where present tilth children's garden, after 1959
Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province