(Fifth in a family legacy series. As before, when I write Dad’s story I switch to third person, since he was Henry long before he was Dad. Unlike the post about Eileen’s beginnings, I had a transcript of a first-hand interview with Henry and relied on that for much of this piece.)
As my father told it, his mother was as kind as his father was tough.
On his maternal side, Henry came from a family that was obsessed with family lineage; his mother and aunt traced it back to the pre-Revolutionary War period to Ninian Beall, who was given a land grant from the Crown where Georgetown (in Washington, D.C.) resides today. On his paternal side, he came from a situation so dire that his father ran away at 13.
Henry’s father, Admiral Franklin (A.F.) Campbell, never talked about his Campbell family background. Family records indicate that his father, Frank Campbell, was his mother Mary Baker’s second husband. When Mary Baker died, her obituary listed two surviving children and four stepchildren, but Henry never met his grandparents.
In an interview in 2000 with Betsy, Henry shared what he knew:
He grew up on a dirt poor, hard scrabble farm. But he was under a very severe father, which explains some of the harshness with which he treated us. He always wanted to be a loving father, but he couldn’t bring himself to all the way.
When he was 13, he ran away from home. He went to Chicago where he picked up bottles on the street and washed them and turned them over to bottlers to make enough money to eat. He was very much living on the street. Somehow he got a job on floor of the Chicago grain exchange when he was 17. When was 18 or 19, he caught the eye one of the traders on the floor who made him his assistant. By the time he was 23, he had made $100,000. This was in the 1890s. The crash of 1898 came along and he lost most of it, but he’d saved enough to go to dental school. I think it was a two-year course in those days. After the first year, he was made an assistant to one of the professors, which paid his tuition and board the second year. He left there and came West, went to Seattle.”
Early 20th century Yakima
Henry often shared this story as a way of explaining what Yakima was like at the turn of the 20th century:
It was still a little bit of the wild west. Dad was an expert card player, so he used to spend some time in the back room of the Old Pastime, which was a saloon in those days, before he was married. He would go in there after work, play cards. He was very good at it. The Pastime Saloon was between Front and First Street on Yakima Avenue, in the middle of the block. Long narrow room. The front end was given over, in my day, to a soda fountain. In the back room, they had card games, with a bead curtain in between the front and the rear, much like you saw in the old movies. There used to be a man in town named Jake Cottrell, known as Uncle Jake, with no visible means of support. He’d be around for a while, and then he’d disappear, and later come back, pretty well off again.
The story came out that he was a horse trader. He would steal the horses on the east side of the mountain, run them over to the west coast, sell them, and come back to Yakima. The local sheriff said, “Okay, you can be here if you want to, but keep your nose clean and we won’t bother you.” He loved to watch my Dad play cards. Dad would be in the back of the room, against the south wall, in a corner table. Uncle Jake used to sit behind him, up against the wall, in the corner, and watch him play. Uncle Jake was something of a dude, a striking figure. He had quite a reputation as a gentleman. It seems there had been a local bravo who came into town and breezed around saying that he was the Montana Kid. He borrowed $50 from Uncle Jake. The kid comes back into town a month or two later and spreads it around town that he owed Uncle Jake $50 but he wasn’t going to pay it, and if Uncle Jake didn’t like it, he knew what he could do. On this particular day, Uncle Jake was sitting in the back watching Dad play cards. The Montana Kid comes in and orders a whiskey. The game went on. The kid had his second drink. Dad said, “I see that’s Montana Kid at the bar.” “Ya, I seen him when he come in,” Uncle Jake said.
Dad was waiting for fireworks but nothing happened. The kid was well into his third drink when Uncle Jake said, “Gentleman, excuse me.” He walked into the front room, behind the bar. He reached around in front of the kid, took the diamond stick pin out of the Montana Kid’s cravat and threw it down on the counter. The kid started to turn around and Uncle Jake stuck a gun in his back and said, “Now, put your hands up on the bar. We’re all gentlemen here. I understand that you decided would not pay me that $50. I’ll keep your diamond stick pin and we’re all even, if that’s okay. And if that’s not okay, you and I will go out in the back alley, and I’ll give you the first shot, and I’ll bet you drinks on the house I’ll hit you five times before I go down.” The Kid turned to his friend and said, “Look in my pocket and pull out that roll of bills and give Uncle Jake $50.” And he picked up his stick pin and walked out, and was never seen in town again.
Jessie Harrison Snively (along with her sister Janie and her brother Harry) was the child of Elizabeth Harrison Martin Snively (1858-1937) and H.J. Snively (1856-1930), or as Henry called him, “the Grand Old Man.” H.J. served as district attorney, legislator, and was a Democratic candidate for governor and prominent attorney. Among other cases, he defended a “negro murderer” at a time when blacks were presumed guilty of any crime involving a white victim. The Yakima Herald carried this front-page news story:
The negro’s face grew almost pale as the clerk approached the words which would determine his fate, and as they were passed and the verdict was only manslaughter instead of the harsher one that was expected, he turned toward Mr. Snively with a look of gratitude on his face. Well might he do so, for there were few men in the courtroom who believed, after hearing the sentence, that anything else but the masterly handling of the case by the local attorney had saved the black criminal…. Whitley was charged with the murder of Edward Curtis, a white man at Toppenish, and it was alleged that he shot (Edward) Curtis down in cold blood for the simple reason that the latter called him ‘shine.'”… The feeling at Toppenish ran very high at the time and Whitley would surely have been lynched if there had been any one who was capable of leading a party for such a purpose.”
Henry described his grandmother and grandfather and their home in the 2000 interview. Although Henry didn’t mention it, a 1970s Yakima newspaper column noted that H.J. brought a bear from a circus as a pet for his son, Harry; after neighborhood children teased it, it became a problem and H.J. had to get rid of it.
He was as far as I know much an influence on my family, but also very much the preeminent figure in town. He was a very successful criminal lawyer with an enormous reputation for effective defense of criminals. Criminal law was a big deal in those days, and he was very effective at it and very effective in front of a jury. Not that I ever heard him. In fact that’s one of the things I wish he had thought to do and taken the time to do, was invite me, as his grandson who was nominated by the rest of the family to be his successor in the law, to see what he did in preparation and watch him do his job in a court. It would have made a big difference to me I’m sure. He was a big figure in town, but as far as his family and his daughters were concerned, he was god.
The family homestead was on more than a city block at 16th and Yakima Avenue, the block between 16th on the east end and Uppers Ditch on the west end, halfway up the hill, opposite Park Avenue [the current site of the Central Lutheran Church]. The family home burned before I saw it and was replaced by the house I knew, which was a three-story frame structure. The bottom floor was strictly laundry room and all that stuff. The second floor was the living room, dining room and a big kitchen, with a big pantry. There was a big display cabinet – 10’ long, chest high, with all kinds of Indian artifacts. My grandfather was at that time a strong voice for the Yakima Indians. He represented them in court when need be, and was very much involved in tribal affairs, and used to spend a lot of time down on the reservation near White Swan, just south of Union Gap. As a result of gifts from those contacts, he acquired a lot of artifacts. I don’t know what ever happened to them.
Elizabeth, H.J.’s wife was quite the Virginia woman. The origin of the Martin family was Tidewater Virginia, which was a plantation area with magnificent homes. A slave area, I’m sure, to maintain those places. Eventually we visited the region where the Martins originated. Martinsville is 40 miles north of the North Carolina border and that is apparently where Grandmother’s family came from.
Jessie was particularly close to her sister, Janie, who remained in Yakima throughout her life. Harry, the brother, died many years ago; his wife, Pearl, brought several of the family antiques to Henry’s home in Tacoma – including the four poster bed that once belonged to Thomas Harrison and was used by him in the Naval Observatory where he lived and served as its clerk. “Uncle Thomas,” who began working for the federal government in 1848, when John Quincy Adams was President, had at the age of 95 racked up the longest continuous service of any federal employee in one branch of government (the Interior Department). Over the years, friends continually tried to secure a retirement pension of $100 a month; he received a pension – finally – on August 20, 1920. By then he had voluntarily demoted himself (and his pay) from senior clerk to second class clerk, feeling that age was interfering with the efficiency of his work.
Janie and Jessie were raised to be modest and refined young ladies. Though they were young women during the final efforts to grant the vote to women in Washington state (which passed in 1910), it is unlikely that the family approved of suffragettes. We have no records of their education, but most likely they attended finishing school. They engaged in the expected pastimes of the day, such as embroidery and painting of china. In a letter immediately following the war, Janie made it clear that she disapproved of “Mrs. D.” and that Eileen would do well to emulate her more demure sisters-in-law, Louise and Letty Ann.
Jessie and Janie were so proud of their heritage that they secured membership in the Colonial Dames of America. These days, the C.D.A. is a little obtuse about its aims, but its early membership materials made it clear that it was a society for “gentlewomen.” A letter written by Mrs. Joseph Rucker Lamar, the former national president of the organization in the 1960 proceedings of the Washington state chapter of the National Society read:
“We insist that the descendant shall have inherited and have exemplified in her life the qualities that made her ancestor eligible, that she shall (in other words) have kept alive the traditions of her race, that she shall not only be patriotic, but that she shall bring to her patriotism the influence and force that spring from a life devoted to noble ends; that, in short, she shall be be truly representative of the best in American life.”
Jessie and Janie collected a trove of books with pictures of historic homes and monuments in Virginia and Tidewater Maryland, marking those with family connections like these (click to enlarge):
Jessie and A.F.
Jessie and Admiral (A.F.) were not a love match. Jessie was unusually tall for the time – 5’8″ – and, while the prettier of the two sisters, probably not considered classically attractive. According to cousin Louise, Grandmother Jessie was warned that A.F. had a relationship with a woman named Erma when he began courting Jessie. (Jessie would eventually divorce A.F. after tolerating the alliance for nearly 50 years, when he was involved in a car accident with her. A.F. is buried with Erma.) He plainly thought that he would be marrying money if he could secure Jessie as his wife; however, most of the family’s wealth was expended on Harry’s failed ventures, including what is still labeled Snively Ranch on the Hanford Nuclear Site. Henry explained in 2000:
Janie and Jessie were the daughters of the big wheel in town. My speculation was that one of the reasons he married my mother was for exactly that fact. He figured that the day would come when he would come into a sum of money left by my grandfather Snively to his granddaughter. But the old man died broke, trying to keep his son in business. Uncle Harry, my mother’s brother, lost at least two fortunes in sheep ranching.
The way it came down to me was that Mom knew my Uncle Ed, who was a surgeon (and a very good one). Apparently he attempted to court Mother but Grandmother Snively would not permit it until the elder sister was married, so he wound up marrying Janie, his second choice.
I don’t know how my mother and Dad met – probably in church. He was a very handsome young man. Dad was very much the dude around town. He had a matched pair of trotting horses and a carriage. I’m talking about somewhere in the early 1900s. I saw pictures of him – he used to have these sealskin gauntlets he used in the winter time that went up to the elbows, and a big seal hat. It could be really cold in Yakima. I remember walking to school with snow up to my knees. Zero to ten below was normal in the winter time. Really cold.
The A.F. Campbell family’s resources came from his dental franchise operation. Because A.F. was a dentist, the household was among the first in the area to get a telephone; the phone number was 547. Henry described his father as the “Painless Parker” of the west, with several “dental parlors” in Washington state including Yakima Dental Parlors and Florence Dental Parlor in Seattle. Eventually A.F. limited his practice to Yakima and focused on cosmetic dentistry; his clientele included Spring Byington, a 1920s actress of some fame. A.F. kept an exhaustive scrapbook of advertisements for his dental parlors and those of competitors. In one ad, he argued why it was ethical for dentists to advertise: “If a dental company have offices magnificently fitted up, with all the modern appliances for dental work, have competent and courteous workmen, and make reasonable charges, there is just as much reason for the public knowing these things as there is for knowing that John Wanamaker is conducting his summer furniture sale…”
Henry was born October 24, 1916, a middle child between his older brother William Franklin Campbell (“Big Bill”) and Edmund West Campbell, Sr., M.D. In family lore, Bill was “the handsome one,” Ed “the sweet one,” and Henry “the smart one.” In photos, however, it is Henry who looks to be “the sweet one,” throwing his arms around his big brother Bill in one photo (prior to Ed’s birth).
Henry’s earliest memory was having to wear short pants at an age that he thought deserved long “big boy” pants: I remember we got invited to a party at the Yakima Country Club. Dad didn’t belong to it but Uncle Ed did. I was six years old and I was supposed to come to where the party was. I went out and hid in the shrubbery because I had a pantywaist on. It’s kind of like a garter around your middle and you button your pants to it. I had no hips so it kept your pants from falling down. But mostly, I was embarrassed because I had short pants on. Any boy who was any boy at all at six had long pants. Don’t think this isn’t a big deal. Your honor depends on it. I was in a pantywaist. It was so humiliating.
Henry and his brothers grew up in a large (4,000 square foot) home built on nearly 2 acres not long after Jessie and A.F. were married in 1911. The white wood-frame home at 102 Park Avenue had three bedrooms and a three-sided sleeping porch with huge sash windows that nested completely flush with the upper and lower window casements, designed to catch any breath of a breeze during the long, hot Yakima summer nights. Outside, it was embellished with a trellis, which Henry used to sneak out at night. The yard had a big expanse of grass which the boys would have helped to mow; they were also responsible for helping to maintain the many fruit trees:
The hardest thing I did was having to thin the pear trees or peach trees out in back, in mid summer. The fruit grew in clusters. Instead of six or eight in a cluster, you’d remove some so they would grow bigger. Hot! Sweaty! Peach fuzz all down your back! Miserable.
I also took out the clinkers in the winter. We used to shovel the coal, get up in the morning, shake the coal down. When I was about 10, Dad bought an iron fireman. What an iron fireman does is automatically feed the fine pea-coal into the furnace. Overnight the cinders would clinkerize, build up a hard, foamy detritus cinder or ash. I’d take those out every morning before I went to school.
Henry’s relationship with his older brother, Bill, and other boys, was sometimes contentious. Slight for his age, he was determined to build up strength, which he did by swimming in the open irrigation ditch that ran along Park Avenue with a current about the speed of a brisk walk:
I started swimming in the ditch, which had several benefits. One thing it did for me was it made me refine my style, using a flutter kick instead of a scissors kick, because it works better. I switched from kind of a half side stroke to a straight crawl. At first, I would swim up from the swimming hole to the bridge across the ditch at the Parson’s house, which was probably 50 yards, against a 3 or 3 ½ mile current, and then I’d drift back down. And then I started going to the Park Lane bridge, another 50 yard stretch. And then finally up to the siphon at Summit View. After a couple of years I would do that three or four times – swim out and drift back. That did a lot to build up my muscular strength in my shoulders.
Henry remembered life at home in a 2000 interview:
I remember Sarah, the black cook, a fine woman. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. She was a very affable person. This was before the Depression, which hit us about 1930 or ‘31. There was also a woman, Hallie, of indeterminate Nordic ancestry. Big woman, somewhat plump. Dad fired her because a man stayed one night in the basement with her.
Dad would get home from the office about 5. He was a dentist. He would mix himself a mint julep with nothing but the best straight bourbon whiskey. I asked him once, ‘What do you think about Scotch whiskey?’ He said, ‘Son there’s only one thing worse than Scotch whiskey and that’s Irish whiskey.’ He would have one or at most two, and dinner would be served promptly at six. We all sat at this big table; I sat on the west side, Dad was on my right at the south end of the room. Then Bill, then Ed, then Mom. We all had dinner. Everybody talked but the kids.
Henry, who maintained a life-long love of hunting and fishing, was exposed to both by his Dad, although he wistfully wondered, late in life, why his father did not seem to want to spend time with his sons engaged in these pursuits. A.F. was often in the Yakima paper for his outdoor sports accomplishments — breaking 96% of 1,125 targets in a trap-shooting tournament, capturing the record for the largest fish taken with tackle in Lake Keechelus (a 29″ Dolly Varden trout weighing 10 lbs.), catching the largest Chinook salmon in the Tieton River (40 1/4″) — and his expertise in bridge.
I must have been 6 or 7 when my Dad bought me a BB gun. I would get up in the morning very early, 3:30 in the morning. I’d walk up our backyard through the Howard place behind us and into the Gibson’s orchard, and hunt sparrows. English Sparrows were anathema in an orchard. Then I graduated to bigger birds; if it moved, I shot it. I could injure a Robin but I couldn’t kill it because they were too big. We had a big wisteria over our back porch, gorgeous in the summer time. In the winter, of course, it was just a bare framework. Mother’s bedroom overlooked that on the second floor. So I could get up there, open the window, and get the juncos that would roost up there.
One of the most embarrassing, even shameful, occurrences when I was 13 and I went duck hunting for the first time, down in the lower valley, below Toppenish, just off the highway that goes over the hill to Goldendale. Dad belonged to a duck club there with maybe 8 or 10 members. There were two big ponds. The big one was maybe half a mile long and a third as wide. So there was room for a number of duck blinds. Dad liked to hunt on the upper, smaller pond because there was usually no one there. He never gave me instruction on how to shoot. He just gave me the gun and turned me loose. The shame of my early period was shooting some ruddy ducks. They flew in and sat down out there and my Dad told me to shoot them. “What do you mean shoot ‘em? Dad, they’re out in the water, they’re sitting.” He said, “I know that. Go ahead and shoot ‘em!” I didn’t want to do that because it wasn’t sportsmanlike, I’d read that in a magazine. You only shot birds on the wing. So finally he urged me and I did it, and I killed one. When I went to pick it up I was so shame faced I haven’t forgotten having done that to this day.
I’m guessing I was 10 years old Dad when gave me a 22. The NRA had a junior rifle club. My brother Bill and his running mate Jack Callahan went up to Cowiche Canyon. (Jack’s father had a dry goods store in town; come the crash of ’29, his father killed himself. Apparently he left enough to take care of Jack and his mother.) It’s a narrow cleft. We would get out on the ledge on the shaded side and, looking across at the sunny side, watch for the rock marmots to come out and sit in the sun. It was about 75 yards across, a long shot for a 22. The marmots used to raise hell in the farmers’ alfalfa fields, so they welcomed it. The object was to hit them in the head so they couldn’t crawl down into their burrow. If they crawled down, you lost; if they just laid there and twitched, you won. Very politically incorrect these days. We used to go to a place just south of the duck pond to hunt jack rabbits. You would take a shot at one, and if you missed one, he would run around. But they will circle. So you’d get them when they ran back around. That takes a bit of doing. I once shot a crow down out of the air with a rifle, and a pheasant. That’s instinctive shooting.
1935 was a fabulous year for birds. There was a big drought in the east. I theorized that they came west to get away from it, but I doubt that could be true. One day, early on that season, the limit of ducks was 12. There were 12 hunters. We went out and we were all back at the clubhouse within one hour with a full limit of ducks. Except for one hen, they were all green mallards. The sky was lousy with birds. I remember shooting two doves, one with each barrel. I took one with a right barrel and one with a left barrel, swinging.
My Dad was an avid sportsman. He was a great fisherman. He would take his buckboard and drive up through the Naches, up into what is now Cliffdale, and fish the Naches River, the American River, the Bumping River, and the Tietan River. He often stopped off at Aunt Nell’s place in the Nile valley. They were pioneer types, fairly elderly. He told the story about getting up one morning and going out to the front porch. By the front door was a rattlesnake lying in the sun, so Dad killed it. Aunt Nell came out a little later, and said, “Oh, doc, what would you do that for? Poor little fella didn’t mean no harm.”
Dad occasionally took me fishing up the Yakima. I was with him when I caught the biggest trout I have ever taken out of the Yakima River. The next day, dressed (de-gutted), it weighed 3 ½ lbs. It had to be a 5 lb. trout.
Henry was moved ahead two grades growing up, and lamented that he got nowhere with the girls, not even Suzanne Bartlett, the neighbor across the street, whose mother seemed to have second sight any time he came close to being able to make any kind of amorous advance. Henry described his high school experience:
I was 16 when I graduated in 1933. I entered into senior year at 15, which is much too young. I remember going to the principal’s office for tutoring. The principal used to send for Jack Hollen and I to go up to the top floor for arithmetic tests to see how we would do. We were the whizzes in class at that. If we were to do a sum in our head, Jack was quicker than me by a heartbeat or two. If it was on paper, I was quicker by a heartbeat or two.
He did have a coterie of guys with whom he enjoyed outdoor activities and other pastimes:
Kenny Colvin was a small man but very athletic in nature. One of our classmates, named Jack Hawkins, whose Dad ran a paper supply house providing paper for fruit packers, tackled him on the steps of high school – something like that – and wound up crippling Ken. That pretty well killed his athletic aspirations.
We used to play a lot of poker with George Crum and George Sears. The Sears family owned a big hardware store in town. George Crum’s family didn’t have a dime. The mother was widowed. They were skinning by the best they could but he was a real bright kid, and a good friend of mine. I was friends with Dick Jacobs, possibly Bob Barks and one or two others on the periphery including Craig Walker. I remember when George Sears got in it for the first time – we were teaching him how to play – and we got into a betting situation. I had folded my hand by this time. Someone was holding a flush. And George, not quite know what he was doing, was betting a buck or so. George called his bet, saw the other guy’s flush, and said, “God, I’ve got nothing but a full house.”
It was with these friends who Henry ventured out after high school graduation to hike the Sand Ridge Trail, starting out from Rimrock Lake — a 20 mile hike over challenging terrain. When he returned, Henry said that he sat down and polished off an entire loaf of bread and jar of jelly. “Nothing ever tasted so good,” he said.
Henry first attended Yakima Valley Junior College before transferring to the University of Washington. Free from the strictures of home and enjoying his membership in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, he apparently did not cover himself in glory academically and came close to being brought home by his father.
Henry begged his father for his indulgence and a second chance to remain at the university:
I received your letter. In answer to it I have no defense, no have I anything I can honestly say in my own defense, except this one thing — if you feel that in the name of whatever faith you have left in me, you will give me the remainder of this quarter, I will prove to you in fact – not words – that that faith is justified. If I fail to do so, I shall no longer ask for support from you, except such as you, out of charity, extend to me until I can get a job.
Dad, I could write you begging for babying, and give a lot of reasons why I am “different”, “misunderstood”, but whatever seems to me to have gone from my makeup, and whatever my stupidity has merited, at least I have pride enough left – foolish as it may be – to deal honestly with you. Were you different than you are, I probably would have done just that, but it is impossible in view of the fairness with which you have dealt with me.
Dad, I rather hesitate to write this, because I don’t know whether I can express in words what I feel or whether you will accept it in the objective and impersonal sense in which I mean it. Nevertheless, it is simply this: that right now there is nothing I want so much in the world as the faith, love and respect of you and Mother. If I cause you to lose that, then I frankly feel no purpose in pursuit of life, or any further exertion, because when those things go, with them goes my self-respect, and that gone, I should have nothing. I hope you can understand what I mean, that you don’t consider it simply poor melodrama in an attempt to work on your sympathies, because in that event this were better not written. In any case, this is the last you will hear of anything of the sort.
May I then repeat that I ask only this next month’s indulgence, and that, if I fail, I shall remove myself as quickly as possible from your responsibility as no longer worthy of your consideration.
Your loving son,
A.F. apparently wrote the Dean of Students, who wrote back saying that, as far as he could tell, Henry was a fine young man, and he should be given the benefit of the doubt. Henry stayed.
Henry’s career goals at the time were not of his own making. His family had determined that he would become an attorney. What he loved was literature. As an adolescent, he had discovered “classics” like the ribald Rabelais. (Though a 16th century writer, its humor was apparently attuned to adolescent boy humor 400 years later.) Henry continued to be amused by this passage about the gigantic baby Gargantua who underwent a process of experimentation to discover a “rumpswab”:
I affirm and maintain that the paragon arsecloth is the neck of a plump downy goose, provided you hold her head between your legs…. You will experience a most marvellously pleasant sensation in the region of your scutnozzle, as much because of the fluffy underplumage as because the bird’s warmth, tempering the bumgut and the rest of the intestines, actually reaches your heart and brain.”
Henry moved on to Shakespeare, developing a particular fondness for Macbeth. Eventually that love of literature enabled him to cross paths with Eileen during his senior year at the University of Washington. Henry vividly remembered that spring, when co-eds shed their coats and tweeds to wander the Arboretum in their “diaphanous skirts.”
They called Henry “love in bloom.”