Schooling at Cedar Falls, 1922-1940

  • By HistoryLink Staff
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2456
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This excerpted account of schooling at a Cedar Falls railroad camp 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 as a substation operator for the Milwaukee Railroad in Cedar Falls. Cheryl Meyer conducted the interview at Mrs. Scott's North Bend home.

Excerpts From the Interview

"The first school was across the lake. Over on the far side. Grace Brooks was one of the first teachers, and also Lyda Thompson, Marion's mother, was a teacher up there in that original school. And she tells of them having some kind of an epidemic. It was before my time.

Small School, Big Impact

"We had just two teachers, to start with. First Miss McSorley and Mr. Meyers (principal) and later Miss Lombardine and Miss Peterson (principal), and then when Miss Vinup came. She got the principal's job and Miss Peterson took the lower grades. Miss Vinup started a 4-H club. We had one of the best 4-H clubs in King County.

"Just the regular curriculum at that time. We didn't have the special things. I remember Miss Vinup had a music program. She'd play classical music and try to educate us that way in the older grades.

"Our 4-H club had a meeting once a week. My mother taught sewing and different ones came in and taught cooking. We were just average, I guess, what they taught then. Just good basic education.

"A lot of these students my age went on to college as a result of her instruction. The Fuller boys from North Bend, their dad would bring them up to our meetings. We had our own band, the '4-H Band.' They finally built a gym and they put a basement and furnace in the schoolhouse. There was a teachers' cottage.

"We put on dances -- people came from all over the valley. The 4-H would serve punch, and they 'd have their own orchestra. Mrs. Harmon played piano and Mr. Harmon played saxophone, and Jasper Whiting played drums, and Mr. Wallace who was Lorna Young's father, played ... I think violin. It was just a wonderful group! There were always card parties and lots of social activities up there.

Student Body

"Over 30 students. I just can't remember. There were six in our class, six girls. We went all through grade school and high school together.

"There was Helen Jordan -- her mother was the postmistress; Edwina and Doris Williams from Camp Two -- they're twins; Muriel Erland -- she come later, her father was the depot agent; Marjorie and Barbara Lane; Johnny Francis started in our class. There's only about six or eight, I think, and that was about average.

"My brother started first grade there, and he was with Bud Francis and I think one of the Willhight boys, as I remember. There was a Francis in almost every grade. Of course, there were so many kids. And then Norma Crews was younger than I, and Frank Crews, I think, was about a year older. His brother Art was about a year older than that. They are about two years apart. They were all there at the time. There was quite a few Willhights. There were the people from the Power House. They were younger families and, of course, came after I got out of school.

"Florence Hain, Cathy Stillick was a senior, I think, when I was there. They were a little older. The Raffinellis -- there were two Raffinelli boy twins, George and Russell -- and Gina and Flora Raffinelli. Their father was killed in a railroad accident. He was section foreman, I believe. The two boys are still living, and Gina's still living. Flora passed away awhile back. They have all come to the picnics. They're just scattered all over.

School Pride

"Our school was much better than North Bend. Always was. We had a one-to-one teacher. If you didn't learn your "Three R's" you didn't get out of there! My brother was held back a year and my mother made up her mind he was going to graduate. They sent him to Broadway High School in Seattle. He was one of the first to graduate from Edison VoTech and immediately was placed in a job at Continental Can Company.

"Miss Vinup taught boys' basketball, and of course there was all the Francis kids up there, and the Crews kids. They didn't have enough for another team to practice against them, so us girls were the second team. When we come down here to North Bend High School, we had to play girls' rules, and we didn't go for that. I didn't take P.E. any longer than I had to; it wasn't very interesting after playing boys' rules. They won the King County champion for basketball team, with that group.

"We had so many more activities than North Bend ever thought of having. They never had a P.T.A. or anything, like we had. They didn't support their kids like we did. The parents weren't interested. There was never such a thing for North Bend. I thought we received a good basic education, up there. Because like I say, they come from all over -- Carnation, etc. Of course, they used to have dances around, down there, like the dances at Raging River and at the North Fork -- that's where my husband and I really got together -- the North Fork dance. I think it was called the Moose Hall. There was a dance at Carnation. The one at Cedar Falls was well conducted. I mean, Mr. Harmon wouldn't allow any rough stuff. Nobody ever got "lit" like they do now. We didn't know what "pot" was, and a few other things.

"North Bend High School was a small school -- it was less than a hundred. And at that time, teacher wore suits to school and you addressed them as "Mr." and "Mrs." You were very formal. You had respect for your teachers. It was very different from now. I feel sorry for kids nowadays.

The Schoolhouse

"It was a two-room schoolhouse. It was there until the logging camp tore it down. Mountain Tree used it for an office until just a few years ago. It was just two rooms and there was a coat-room in the front hall; boys' in the front, I think, and girls' in the back hall. There was a washbowl in each and a storeroom between. They built the gym, and then they enclosed it.

"Our desks were those old kind -- a seat with a desk in front and made of iron and wood. A shelf underneath to put your books. They were all on runners so you could roll a whole row of seats at a time. We always had oiled floors, in those days. Bare wood, and they oiled the floors, and that was supposed to keep the dust down, I guess. We didn't have carpet like they have nowadays!

"When we went there, there was a great big, old stove with a great big metal thing around it in each room; you had to just stoke it. They put the basement in and put the furnace in there. We didn't have electric lights when we first went there. We had the hanging lanterns from the ceilings."


Excerpt from Cheryl Meyer Interview of Dorothy Graybael Scott, North Bend, Washington, June 15, 1993, Cedar River Watershed Oral History Project. Transcripts housed at the Cedar River Watershed Facility in Cedar Falls, a department of Seattle Public Utilities.

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