Category Archives: Family history

My Grandmother’s Legacy of Suffering

Quip in The Yakima Republic, 1887

Quip in The Yakima Republic, 1887

I’ve come to realize my grandmother had an enormous impact on my life, though not in the way you’d expect. Born in 1885, Jessie Harrison Snively Campbell was raised to promulgate the standards of her patrician ancestors, who traced their footprint in the New World back to the 1600s. Late in his life, my father admitted my grandmother didn’t approve of me. I was too outspoken and (thus) headed for trouble.

I’ve spent the week sleuthing about my grandmother, background for a memoir I’m writing about my father. In my self-indulgent fantasy, I wanted to demonstrate that she believed in the value of women in the same way that I do: that they are just as intelligent, have at least as much to offer society as men; that they have the right to fulfill their ambitions, to being heard, to earning a wage commensurate with their talents. In other words, I was examining my grandmother’s life through a feminist lens.

When I discovered that my grandmother’s mother, Elizabeth Harrison Martin Snively, helped found the Women’s Club of Yakima in the late nineteenth century, I thought I was on to something. Women’s clubs were one of the primary tactics used by the suffrage movement, and the Yakima club was affiliated with the Washington State Federation of Women’s Clubs, which played an important role in the movement. In 1919, the year that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was approved, Yakima’s women’s club presented a program — “history in the making” — on Elizabeth B. Phelps, who had served as vice president of the National Woman Suffrage Association when it was founded.

In my great grandmother’s 1937 obituary, it was noted that the Yakima women’s club started as an afternoon card club, but it was decided that women could play cards in the evening and use the meetings to “increase their knowledge.” Hmmm. Hardly the stuff of firebrands.

The West did play a critical role in securing the vote for women. In 1910, Washington was the first state in 14 years to modify its state constitution to give women the vote. That momentum propelled the movement in Oregon and then California.

In 1910, my grandmother was 25 and, for another year, still living under her father’s roof. Her father, a prominent attorney, had been the Democratic candidate for governor in 1892. Suffrage must have been discussed at home, but to what extent did my grandmother have an opinion or voice it?

Five days before the election, the Yakima Morning Herald quoted a prominent suffragist as saying, “The way men vote next Tuesday on this matter will depend largely on the light in which they regard their wives. If they consider the women they have married fairly intelligent human beings, capable of thinking for themselves on matters of general interest and welfare, if in a word, they consider them helpmates, equally responsibly with themselves for the success of the homelife and the family prosperity, they will vote ‘yes’ and no question about it.”

The day after the election, November 9, 1910, the Yakima Morning Herald trumpeted election results across the top of the page:

Democrats Gain Control of Five States



The “local option” referred to the prohibition of alcohol.

The lead story began:

“What have you heard?”

“The entire east has gone democratic.”

“To h__l with the entire east. Is she wet or dry here?”

And there is the story of the election day interest in North Yakima Tuesday.

The same paper carried its first story about voting rights four days after the election:


To Demonstrate That Confidence Shown in Them by Men Is Not Misplaced


Activity in Legislation Will Probably Work Itself Out Along Lines Affecting Welfare of Children and Home

Here, finally, were the results: the change to the state constitution was approved by a two-to-one margin, a landslide.

This was what caught my eye:

“There had been little suffrage agitation here, practically none of the women’s organizations… coming out pronouncedly for it, though there were individual suffragists in their ranks… [M]ore men voted for suffrage than against; this, too, when in many cases the men asked their wives how they would vote and were told to vote against it.”

I could imagine my great grandmother and grandmother among the women protesting that women needn’t vote.

I grew more offended as I read on:

“…[T]he vote on the suffrage amendment reflects greater credit on the fair-mindedness of the men than on the public spirit of the women. At one or two club meetings held since the returns were in, it was hard to discover whether the women were pleased or not. There is still talk, and among intelligent women, too, of the duty of the home, and the unwomanliness of going to the polling places.”

And then came the veiled threat:

“If the women go to extremes of impractical reform, the men will soon feel that the confidence was misplaced. If they take the matter rationally and quietly, making their points slowly and intelligently, they will not only get what they are after, but the admiration and support of their fellow voters as well. In matters pertaining to the welfare of the children and the home, in measures for the sanitation and beautifying of the cities, and in the cleanliness and freedom from adulteration of the food supply, they are pretty sure to meet little opposition, and these are the lines along which the women will naturally work. It isn’t likely they will be out after the offices.”

As long as women remained obsequious, stuck to “women’s issues,” and didn’t steal opportunities for public office from men, things would be dandy.

So why do I credit my grandmother for shaping my life? My grandmother stayed with my grandfather for over four decades before she finally divorced him. From the very beginning of their marriage, he maintained a second household with his mistress. He bullied his sons and my grandmother. According to my cousin, my uncle begged her to leave. Divorce wasn’t impossible even when she married; four were reported in the paper on her wedding day. In 1910, one woman won the “immense verdict” of $16,000 against her in-laws for alienation of her former husband’s affections. The plaintiff alleged they turned her husband against her.

I don’t know if my father ever spoke to his mother directly about her marital situation. What I do know is what he did when raising his own daughter. He made sure I had marketable job skills so that I would never be trapped in a loveless marriage.

The unhappy couple in 1953

The unhappy couple in 1953

Copies of The Yakima Republic/Daily Republic, the Yakima Morning Herald and The Yakima Democrat were accessed on September 15, 2015, at the Washington State Library in Tumwater, Washington.


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Home in Tacoma: Family Life After the Marines Part 2

(Seventh in a family legacy series… almost done, I promise!)

In December 1969, I had never lived anywhere longer than three years. That all changed when the family moved to 8601 43rd Street West in University Place, the kind of community where kids generally went to school together from kindergarten on. The only problem was that hadn’t lived there from my early elementary years. I was on the outside looking in while students whispered and slipped each other notes in core class. But frankly, maybe everyone feels that self-conscious in 7th grade. They weren’t unfriendly, just segregated into class structures like 7th graders everywhere. No one had to tell you who the roosters were, or the partyers, or the nerds.

Thank heaven for Ellen Palmer, the other new kid. We discovered each other standing next to our lockers and soon found we had a lot in common, including being from ex-military families. With Ellen, I could face anything.


We were down to two children living at home, Dean, in 10th grade, and me. Scott was still stationed in Germany and busy raising Marc with Jody, and Bruce and Camille had moved out on their own with Sandy in South Seattle.

Decorating our home for Christmas was one of the first priorities. We unpacked Mom’s angel collection, which she displayed on a bed of “angel hair” (spun fiberglass), lit from underneath by a string of lights. We acquired a Douglas fir tree, festooned it with colored lights and metallic icicles, and hung our old favorite ornaments: glass globes that survived the various moves, Japanese court ladies’ silk balls (temari), wooden jumping jacks, and yarn angels. Out came the felt stockings we had made in while still living in Washington, D.C.  Jody, Scott and Marc arrived for the holidays on leave and Mom invited old friends from Seattle and Everett to come warm the house: Kay and Bruce Straughan, Patsy and Rick Lukens, and Jim and Sheila Campbell. And Santa brought Dad just what he wanted.


We all found things to like about the new house. Although it was about a mile from Puget Sound, it was situated near the top of a hill and commanded a spectacular view of the Sound and the Olympics – when it was clear, that is. The rhododendrons, already mature in 1969, grew to at least a dozen feet high and surrounded the house with color in the spring. Dogwoods, lilacs and camellias also made their appearances according to their seasonal schedule. But the showpiece was a Mt. Fuji cherry tree that exploded with double pinkish-white blossoms along its horizontal branches each spring, just outside the dining room window.

Mom always made an effort with the garden and landscaping wherever we lived, but she really put her heart into the yard in Tacoma. She planted the rockery in the back yard with roses and seasonal flowers, set off by trailing greenery. In shady areas, she planted colorful impatiens. To the front yard she added a rose garden with some of her favorite specimens, especially yellow-throated Peace roses tinged with pink and apricot.

Three outdoor areas facing the West provided plenty of opportunity to enjoy the yard and view: a wooden deck that ran the entire length of the upstairs level, which Mom embellished with hanging baskets of fuchsias, a large deck downstairs off the recreation room for entertaining, and a patio just off the kitchen which turned out to be perfect for barbecuing and making ice cream in a hand-cranked freezer.

The L-shaped living and dining room became the focal point of the house for family dinners, cocktail parties, bridge parties and PEO meetings, with the bay windows and a sliding glass door providing seasonally-changing vistas. The fireplace hearth made a natural place to display Mom’s favorite brass tray and Japanese or Chinese statuettes, while the wood box was converted into an indoor garden featuring orchids, ferns and plants with colorfully variegated leaves. Scott built a cabinet for the stereo and furnished it with a state-of-the-art turntable, receiver and speakers, which Mom quickly filled with a collection of operas, classical music and Broadway musicals (“South Pacific,” “Kiss Me Kate,” My Fair Lady,” etc.). And there was always room for humor, which used to be delivered by LP: Andy Griffith’s “What it Was, Was Football,” and an album with a sketch about an astronaut who refused to go into space without his crayons. (Every family has those one-liners that no one else understands, but results in the recall of the entire story for those in the know. One of our family’s was, “I want my crayons….” from that comedy album.)

Though the setting was elegant, our family dinner tradition usually included the singing of children’s songs from a long-lost album: “The Sturdy Elephant,” “The Hippopotamus,” “The Policeman and the Little Bum.” Also in the mix: a few nonsensical rhymes passed on by Dad’s father. One began,”I went down on hilter halter, and came upon filter falter…”

Nearly-naughty limericks were also favored, such as: “There once was a young woman named Kroll/Who had a sense of humor exceedingly droll/At a masquerade ball/Dressed in nothing at all/She backed in as a Parker House roll.”

And of course there was the recitation of Great Poetry. Dad would inhale deeply and with a booming voice begin, “Speak!” The initial startled response over, he continued with Longfellow’s first few verses: “speak thou fearful guest/Who, with thy hollow breast/Still in rude armor drest,/Comest to daunt me!/Wrapt not in Eastern balms/But with thy fleshless palms/Stretched as if asking alms,/Why dost thou haunt me?”

The well-trafficked kitchen had room for a table where four could sit, and a built in desk under which first Boot, and then Katie and Beall, and finally Meg curled up with the hubbub of the family nearby. The upstairs also included a full-sized office, which doubled as a bedroom when Sandy or other family visited.

Downstairs, the full basement easily accommodated our friends and activities. Dad and Mom appreciated the large storeroom with an old furnace reminiscent of the many-armed beast in the movie, “A Christmas Story.” It didn’t belch smoke, nor did Dad have to do battle with it, but it turned on and off loudly throughout the chilly nights. Across from the store room was Dad’s workroom, a man cave with built in drawers for every type of tool, nut and nail, as well as space for Dad’s gun safe. His shotgun shell reloading equipment served as an alarm clock of sorts on weekends; first the waterfall sound of the shot being dropped followed by the ka-chunk sound of the lever being depressed to crimp the reloaded shell. Over and over and over again.

Dean and I had bedrooms on the corner of the house at ground level. To me there were few more mesmerizing sounds than that of rainfall on the sidewalk outside my window. The large “rec room” included a pool table, an acquisition intended to help Dean build social connections after he broke his shoulder playing football not long after our arrival. The downstairs fireplace was often stoked and putting out heat, great for napping in the Lazy Boy recliner during the college football and basketball games that were often on TV.

Mom led the usual routine in establishing our social connections. She became active in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and PEO, and soon collected a group of couples with military ties, especially Bob and Jean Hankins and Peggy and Joe Woods, with whom they celebrated the Marine Corps’ birthday every November 10.

Dad continued his habit of walking, devising three- to four-mile routes that he rapidly covered in an hour. He shot skeet in tournaments and later helped to plant and raise pheasant on Ft. Lewis. Returning to his roots in Eastern Washington, he hunted for duck and upland game in their seasons, beginning with dove and moving on to pheasant, quail, hungarian partridge and chukar. Mom could make them all taste good.


These hunting and shooting adventures were favorites for everyone. As adolescents, both Sandy and Marc were invited to learn to shoot skeet at Ft. Lewis. In addition to hunting at The Family Hunt Club in Othello, hunting chukar in the Bridgeport area up above the Columbia river was a favorite of both Bruce and Dean. Although I didn’t shoot, I loved it when I accompanied Dad. Bruce remembers staying at the Y Motel (running joke: Why? Y not…). In the pre-dawn hours, we’d arise and dress in heavy woolen Filson pants, sweaters, jackets and hats and gloves, prepared for below-freezing temperatures. Dad drove the “beast,” the four wheel drive green truck, to the field, and we’d begin walking uphill along a stream channel. The ice-encrusted shorn wheat fields would crunch under our boots as we entered the farmland, the cold air striking our faces. Then the sun broke over the horizon and the scene was bathed in white winter light – a tapestry of cream and tan colors sparkling as ice crystals caught the sun. Katie and Beall, the two springers who succeeded Boot, bounded away, but always responded to Dad’s whistle. Later, Meg, a Brittany, loyally retrieved birds.

Bruce remembers one trip a few years later when Katie started getting “birdy.” “As we crested the rise,” Bruce wrote Dad, “it opened up into a sunlit shallow bowl. You were slightly downhill and to the left with the dog, and I slowly walked into the depression. About ten yards in, the birds began to flush. I hit one, then another, and the birds kept flushing and flushing, in the hundreds. I heard several shots from you, and saw more birds fall from the sky. We spent the rest of the day picking up scattered birds from that same initial flock. Since then, neither of us has ever seen a group of chukars that large in one spot.”

Not long after we moved to Tacoma, Grandmother Campbell moved from her apartment in Yakima to a convalescent home nearby, after breaking her hip. After our dinner each night, Dad religiously packed up a plate for her and took it to her at Abilene House, returning around 9 p.m.


It was around this point that I discovered God, boys and mascara, not necessarily in that order. After attending the Camp of the Holy Spirit on Mt. St. Helens, I came home with the fervor of the born-again and mooning over my first boyfriend, who nicknamed me “Butterfly.”

When I turned 53, I realized that I was exactly the age my mother was when I turned 13 and overnight began to assert my independence. Menopausal women and adolescent daughters make for a volatile brew.

There was yelling, there was foot stomping, and there was door slamming. And a lot of statements like, “You don’t understand me!” The photo below was taken later, but it tells the story:


In 1971, the family anxiously awaited letters while Scott served in Vietnam. Though he said he was not in danger and far from the front lines, Vietnam was Vietnam. The evening news continued to display the mounting death toll. Fortunately, Scott returned unscathed a year later, and upon his return was awarded a Bronze Star medal for meritorious service. He was recognized for the accuracy of his projections on a monthly and fiscal year basis as to how much fuel the Army would use, and setting up the regulations for an allocation system in Vietnam.

1971 was also about the time that Bruce and Camille divorced. Sandy lived with her mother on Bainbridge but continued to spend most holidays and summers in Tacoma. Bruce moved home while he worked on his undergraduate degree at University of Washington.

In 1972, both Dean and I were in high school, and immersed in activities. Dean played football and volunteered during summers at a camp for mentally disabled youth operated by the Boy Scouts. He continued to be involved in Scouting, and completed the rank of Eagle. I had become very involved in the Episcopal Church’s House of Young Churchmen as well as choir and theater. And dating.

With Dean getting ready to graduate in 1972, Dad was concerned about the difference between the family’s income and “out-go.” Kicking off a series of family conferences, he noted that the family was expected to spend about $2,500 more than its income. Something needed to be done.

Dad approached the family about the need for a plan. He facilitated the meetings using a Management By Objectives technique, with a formal agenda and notes recorded on a flip chart pad. Beginning with a discussion of “where are we now,” a number of significant facts were put on the table including this one: “Dad’s physical condition – family plans depend on his ability to continue to earn. He is a valuable person to all of us, and earning power aside, we need him as Father, husband, counselor and guide.” Mom stated that the house needed more effective supervision and she needed to “spend more time on deck”; that said, she also said that she needed more help to maintain a home that she could be proud of and “one which provides the climate in which we can all be our best and do our best.”

My contribution? As stated in the minutes that were distributed by Mom after the meeting, “I am too tired and busy to help as much as I’d like to because of too many concerts lately and the demands of my homework.” I also complained that, “I don’t like this process because it seems too impersonal… a family should not be organized like a business.”

Wow, I really jumped right in there. Meanwhile, Dean (quiet to this point) offered to find a part-time job and Bruce committed to find a job to reduce the impact of his schooling. (Dean did indeed find a job at a service station and Bruce found a position in a lab. I assume I continued to be involved in school and applying copious amounts of makeup.)

Dean applied for and was awarded an NROTC scholarship, which meant that he would be headed to Marquette and its cold winters. After a year, however, he dropped his commission, feeling that since he did not intend to pursue a career in the Navy, it would be unethical to continue to finance his education on their dime; he transferred to University of Washington.

Bruce rebounded into a brief marriage, and began the process of rebuilding his life by joining the Navy.


The family financial situation must have eased a bit in 1973. Dad bought Mom a diamond “engagement” ring to celebrate their 32nd anniversary, and Mom and I were able to visit Scott, Jody and Marc in Germany. Turned out that Scott does a passable Schuhplatteln, the Bavarian folk dance. A few months after this picture was taken, Scott and the family returned to Washington state after the Army decided it had too many non-commissioned Captains.


Despite being in her 32nd year as a parent, Mom proved herself game when asked if she would host a foreign exchange student. Lisa Larsson of Stockholm joined the family for my senior year. And when I was selected as my high school’s Daffodil Festival Princess, Mom and the ladies of St. Andrew’s stepped up to build Curtis High School’s first Daffodil parade float.

Lisa Larsson and Betsy Campbell Stone

That spring I was accepted into Occidental College and prepared for the wind-down of my high school career. The rug felt pulled out from under all of us when Dad’s job was eliminated, putting our finances – and college – in jeopardy. Fortunately, Mom’s connections with PEO led to an offer of a Trustee Scholarship from University of Puget Sound. If I kept my grades above a 3.5 GPA, my tuition would be covered. Though initially disappointing, it turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened.

Dad did secure another position within Weyerhaeuser, but the stress took its toll. In the spring of 1976, he visited Dr. Starr’s cardiology clinic in Portland at my uncle Ed’s urging, and was immediately admitted for open heart surgery. His first of three. And around the same time, his mother had a stroke and passed away.

Life went on. I got my first job (working at the Tux Shop in the Tacoma Mall), and my first car, a used Rabbit. Dean graduated from UW and went on for his master’s degree.

Tons of important, REALLY important, milestones happened after this. Bruce married Kathy Manzari and they brought Vincent into the world in 1981. Betsy married Todd in 1982 and gave birth to Madeline (“Maddie”) in 1987 and Thomas (at present, “Thom”) in 1992. Dean married Gwendolyn Snyder and they began their family with Alison in 1995 and added adopted Eileen, then one, in November 1999. Scott married Pat Ford in 1991. And Bruce married Bronwen in 2001, and adopted Isaac George in 2010.

But this is a legacy series about Henry and Eileen, and my brothers’ stories and mine are still being written. We’ll leave those for the next generation to describe.

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A Brave New Life After the USMC, Part One

(Sixth in a family legacy series)

I ended the fourth post of this family legacy series by describing our family as “walking wounded” when we sailed to the West Coast months after the massive heart attack that forced Dad’s early retirement from the US Marine Corps in 1963.

This is where the family story is also part-memoir. From the period of Dad’s career in the Marines, I have only flashes of brief memories. My memories really begin in Seattle.

As we moved into our Seattle home at 2701 11th Avenue East, a brick Tudor house reached by ascending 42 steps, I felt unsettled. I think we all did. Even the welcome addition of a dog – a black mutt Dean named Laddie – didn’t change that.

Not only our family had changed. The world as we knew it was changing. In the summer of 1963, the Beatles had launched the “British Invasion,” the American Heart Association began its campaign to eradicate smoking, the Equal Pay Act was signed to outlaw wage discrimination based on gender, the race to put a man on the moon was in full swing with both American and Soviet teams successfully orbiting the Earth, Kennedy made his famous Ich bin ein Berliner speech to a crowd of 450,000 in West Berlin not far from the recently-erected Berlin Wall, the nation increasingly moved to a war footing for Vietnam, 23 people were arrested at a civil rights sit-in at Seattle’s City Hall, and hundreds of thousands marched on Washington in support of racial equality and jobs, stirred as Martin Luther King told the assembly, “I have a dream.”

What a time. The house was a little scary to me. The blue curtains with the kokechi doll print that kept my room cool in Honolulu made it dark in Seattle’s rainy climate. I was convinced that the sealed opaque glass window on the stairwell led to a hidden attic where – surely – something lurked. The downstairs basement was cold (and it didn’t add to my feeling of safety the next year when my mother chased us out of the house during aftershocks from the 9.2 magnitude Great Alaskan earthquake).

It was time for me to start growing up. I learned to ride my bike right there by Devil’s Dip, the nickname of the precipitously steep slope in the next block of 11th Avenue East. And Mom insisted on making sure I learned how to swim, which somehow didn’t happen while in Hawaii. I hated undressing in the damp, chlorine-smelling women’s dressing room at the UW; Mom said I was “nasty nice” for being too modest. I tended to get worked up when I was upset and could wail like a fire engine, which I soon learned would result in a dose of discipline with Dad’s belt. (Though Dad gave up using the belt soon thereafter, we all knew and dreaded the swish-snap sound as Dad whipped his belt out of his trousers.)

I felt out of place, happiest spying on passers-by in nearby Roanoke Park from my hidden eyrie in a tree. I bird-dogged my brother Dean wherever he went, including his visits to Robbie Racz, the neighbor boy across the street. Until I was chased by the boys downstairs, I’d loiter in the hallway while Robbie played Dean the new Beatles album on his record player. I had begun to hone my little sister strategy while we lived in Seattle; I couldn’t compete on size, ability or knowledge, but I had annoyance down pat. Dean ignored me at his peril; I could sing the nonsensical Japanese nursery song lyrics ad nausem: “Moshi, moshi anone, anone, anone… Moshi, moshi anone, ah so desu-ka.” When we moved to Seattle, I imagined myself an expert at surreptitious surveillance. Unbeknown to me, Dean and his friends were on to me. They first ditched me while spying on the overgrown mansion at the top of Devil’s Dip, which we imagined was inhabited by ghosts rather than the two old sisters who actually lived there (still, reminiscent of “Arsenic and Old Lace”). Another time, I tracked them all the way down to the overpass that led to the floating bridge; several years later, Police found the remains of 4 year-old Heidi Peterson near the embankment there, ending forever the period of innocence when parents could tell their children to just go outside and play until dinner.

Dean, Robbie and me (of course)

Dean, Robbie and me (of course)

It was a rough introduction to our civilian life.

Dad told me in recent years that he was disabled for two years as he recovered from his heart attack. He re-entered UW’s law school, the program he interrupted in 1941 when he joined the Marines. But he concluded what he suspected before; he simply didn’t like law.

Like many vets he counseled in later years, he had to figure out how to translate his experience in the Corps to fit the requirements of civilian posts. He eventually went to work for Weyerhaeuser, hoping to apply his experience managing officer assignments to manpower planning and human resources in the corporate environment. Though he never complained, he came to have little respect for the politics of a major corporation. The Marine Corps was a meritocracy; advancement depended on successful performance in a range of settings, from staff to operations. Dad was to learn how staff was regarded in an operationally-driven lumber company like Weyco. Pretty expendable. After years of sporting a regulation Marine Corps buzz cut, Mom had to nudge Dad to loosen up his look a bit and wear his hair longer, at least on the sides.

They had four children to put through college, and there was never any question as to Mom and Dad’s priority when it came to education. Scott headed back to college at the University of Washington, Bruce enrolled at Lincoln High School, and Dean and I walked through Roanoke Park across the freeway to ancient Seward Elementary School, built between 1893 and 1917.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 8.18.41 PM

It was there, sitting in my first grade classroom on November 22, 1963, that my Principal came on the speaker to announce that the President of the United States had been killed.

As disappointing as it was to be shoved out of his Marine career, Dad seemed to embrace being back in the Pacific Northwest. Ski clothing and equipment was acquired for all of us – bulky boots and skis that reached to the wrist when your arm was fully extended. I remember walking up and down the concrete aisles in the REI warehouse, which looked the part of a 60s sportsman’s co-op, with fascinating curiosities like freeze-dried food and mountaineer’s gear.

Dean remembers getting in to the family’s little yellow rubber raft and fishing among the lily pads of Portage Bay for bass. He taught Dean how to use a bait casting rod to toss bass plugs and pork frogs right up against the old pilings at the south end of the bay. About that time, Dad also resumed hunting, heading east of the mountains to Uncle Bill and Aunt Louise’s house in Wenatchee. “The first time out or two I was just a retriever,” Dean wrote to Dad, “but the next year I got to shoot a little bit.”

Skiing at Mt. Pilchuck

Skiing at Mt. Pilchuck

Dad did his best to help all of us find our footing. He led Dean’s Scout troop, assisting the boys with pursuit of merit badges and introducing them to fishing. One casting lesson ended with a hook firmly embedded in Dean’s scalp. I desperately wanted to be a Boy Scout. Not a Girl Scout, not a Camp Fire Girl, but a Boy Scout. I settled for participation in Camp Fire Girls and tried to content myself with our crafts-oriented curriculum, embossing copper, tooling leather, weaving hotpads and blanket-stitching red felt “wallets” to hold a selection of sewing needles. Not only was I prohibited from joining the Boy Scouts, but I had to endure being around obnoxious 4th grade boys when they came to our house for weenie roasts (one tossed up his masticated food on my shoe in an act I took to be hostile). When my first grade teacher reported that I was a fast reader but had poor retention, Dad led the charge to get me to read and summarize passages of the Frank L. Baum Oz books.

Mom, too, reconnected with old friends from the University of Washington. I remember accompanying her to visit Dr. Wagner, her former signing coach. At 46, she was soon back to practicing arias she hadn’t sung in over 20 years. She acquired season tickets to Seattle Opera and reveled in its repertoire, favoring classics by Verdi, Mozart and Puccini, while Dad leaned toward Wagner. When Aida came around, I accompanied her to what was my first opera, dressed in my Sunday finest, awed by the magic of the sets and the music, and thrilled by the pomp of the attendees as they walked up the grand staircase.

At St. Mark’s Cathedral, the giant though still unfinished Episcopal Cathedral atop Capitol Hill, Mom sang in the choir while Dean and I attended Sunday School.

On the homefront, Mom adjusted the family’s diet to accommodate Dad’s low-salt, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, although when I look back at my favorite dinners from that period, I can’t imagine how these were healthy choices: chicken tetrazzini (made with 9 tbs. of butter), Chinese hamburger hash (seasoned with soy sauce), and shrimp creole (featuring a tomato sauce base). To compensate, perhaps, there were also plenty of roasted chickens, Cornish game hens and cubed steak – all purchased from the Sand Point Naval Air Station PX, which made a huge difference in stretching our family budget. To keep our bones strong, we were encouraged to drink milk at every seating. Facing the challenge of keeping a family of six in milk, Mom economized by training us to drink reconstituted powdered skim milk.

Dinner was always a sit-down affair, usually all together under the glittering prisms of the dusty crystal chandelier. (Yet another strange thing about the house: the previous owners had tiled over the dining room window with 12×12 black veined mirror tiles, perhaps for privacy from the neighbors. Mom, who intensely disliked dark rooms, quickly removed them.) With times as volatile as they were, there was plenty to discuss at the table. I remember one conversation that revolved around the mystery of that day’s missing newspaper – and the discovery later of a front page picture in which Scott was front and center in a protest against US involvement in Vietnam war. Children weren’t expected to be seen and not heard, as had been the case in Dad’s childhood home. If we didn’t understand a word and asked for its definition, we were promptly told to fetch the dictionary.


We all developed friends, and friendships with other families. Soon I was invited to join other neighbor kids as they watched “Saturday Afternoon at the Movies” on TV (with fare like “Creature from the Black Lagoon”). In Washington DC, Mom and Dad had become acquainted with the Lukens family. Fred, his wife, Patsy, and their large and lively branch of the family moved West a few years before we arrived in Seattle. It was natural for the families to reconnect. Though we occasionally visited Mom’s cousin Harriet’s family in Los Banos, and our Uncle Ed and Aunt Letty Ann’s and their sons in Yakima, we didn’t have family nearby. Having the Lukens family was like having loaner cousins.

For every one of us four, there was an “opposite number” of similar age, with a few spares. Paddy was Scott’s peer, Molly was friends with Bruce (out of which Mom expected a romance to blossom), Dean could choose from Peggy or Rick, and I generally played with Ricky (my age) or Tommy. (Kimberly was a later addition, just as I had been to my family.) At their rambling house on Capitol Hill, the younger set played tag, hide-and-seek, and, if I had my way, “Kingie,” a made-up game that inevitably involved a royal Queen or King being waited upon by his or her subjects.

Being back in the Pacific Northwest gave us the opportunity to return to a special place in Mom’s memory, Payette Lake, in McCall, Idaho. Each summer, we piled into the car and drove the 500 miles (sans air conditioning) to the Ponderosa Pine-forested summer retreat owned by Mom’s uncle on Wagon Wheel Bay. When we started to feel we’d worn out our welcome – Uncle Lynn could be pretty intimidating – we started staying at Lena Lukens’ cabin across the bay.

After three years, Dad announced that we would be moving to nearby Everett where he would become Personnel Director of Weyco’s large lumber operation. Though the chaotic family gatherings with the Lukens wouldn’t end, they became less frequent when we were 30 miles away. Although we were used to moving about every three years, I had come to like my school – especially my beloved third grade teacher, Mrs. Dingley. Seward was an inner city school and my friends and acquaintances reflected the diversity of Capitol Hill: African-American Cecilia Lee, second generation Japanese American Julie Aoki, and my Scandinavian-American best friend, Lisa Frolund, who had the added attraction of owning a Barbie Dream House and actually living in a house that kind of looked like it on Boyer Avenue overlooking Portage Bay.

Oh how I loved Lisa Frolund's Barbie Dream House

Oh how I loved Lisa Frolund’s Barbie Dream House

We moved to 2507 Helena Lane in Eastmont in 1967, a suburban community south of Everett and north of Seattle. We acquired a new dog, a moose of a Springer Spaniel named “Boot” with whom Dad planned to hunt upland game in Eastern Washington. (Sadly, Laddie disappeared with a bunch of other neighborhood dogs, victim of a dognapping ring.)

A lot of kids our age lived on the new block, including Shari Schoonover. Shari – who I called “Shoutz” – was as uncool as I was; we were perfect for each other. By this time, my mother had let me stop wearing my hair pulled straight back from my face secured by a giant bow that looked like a propeller, but I still looked fully the part of dork next to sophisticated young gamines with popular names like Keely or Kelly or Kerry (so much cooler to have a “K” name). My crooked overbite didn’t help, although that was soon to be attacked by a Seattle based orthodontist, Dr. Leslie Erickson, who was always delighted to listen to my constant attempts at poetry. At least, he convinced me he was. I turned out to be a six year customer of poor Dr. Erickson’s and I rarely showed up for my monthly appointment without something for him to appreciate.

The family adventures in hunting quickly resumed. Dean remembers pheasant hunting in the Ephrata area with the old “White Trail Grange” association. Quentin and Mike Schoonover (Shari’s father and brother) joined Dad and Dean for an pheasant shoot that turned out to be more like visiting a chicken ranch than hunting in rural farm country. On opening day, at least 15-20 pheasants were just milling around the willows in the middle of an alfalfa field. They stopped the car, lined up, and at noon pushed them across the road and up to an elevated ditch bank, where they started flushing in flocks. Dean emptied his old 16 gauge Browning A-5, reloaded and shot again, without raising a feather. None of the party hit birds; the birds unexpectedly all flushed almost straight up.

Eastmont was surrounded by a lot of undeveloped property, and people on nearby farms often had horses, which fed an obsession. By the time we moved to Everett, I had moved on from reading the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Pippi Longstocking series. I inhaled every Marguerite Henry book and imagined myself atop Phantom (Misty of Chincoteague) or Sham (King of the Wind). I really wanted a horse. And a cat. I got the cat (the diabolical Tuffy), and a few riding lessons at a nearby stable. With matters left to me, I talked my classmate’s parents into letting me clean stables on their “Funny Farm” (its real name) in exchange for free rides on their mean-tempered Shetland ponies. They got the better end of that deal.

Looking back, Eastmont was probably chosen for its modest home prices and decent schools. Things were tight financially and soon grew tighter. It was the only time I knew my parents to argue – really argue – and once I heard Mom fling the word I feared most into the conversation: divorce. Women’s liberation, besides opening career possibilities for women, brought with it a rise in divorce. I had heard of kids whose parents divorced. And then there was that friend of Mom and Dad’s who wore caftans and announced that she had freed herself and graffitied obscenities on her bathroom walls. Would my Mom be liberated? Would she start using the F-word? Could my parents split?

Scott had finished college and was drafted into the Army in January 1967. Fortunately, his first tour was in Germany. I was pretty shocked when he called with the news that he would soon marry Jody, daughter of an Army general, in Karlsruhe, Germany. Their honeymoon getaway car? An Army tanker.

Mom did what she always did, setting up familiar activities in a new town and establishing new social connections. She joined St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church and soon our home was filled with the smell of ironing as she brought home a weekly load of altar linens. She sang in the choir, and I (ever clingy) insisted on sitting next to her, singing along. Shari and I completed confirmation classes, donned our virginal white dresses and pinned circular lace doilies to our head for the big moment. I still remember Bishop Ivol Curtis greeting me with a handshake so firm that his Bishop’s ring nearly crushed my finger joints.

Mom arranged bridge foursomes and small cocktail parties featuring pu-pu’s she learned to make in Hawaii: teriyaki mock drumsticks, rumakis, sliced pork tenderloin with hot chinese mustard and sesame seeds. When fondue became popular, a bubbly pot of melted cheese was added to the buffet table.


For the first time, Dean and I weren’t attending the same school; I was at Jefferson Elementary while he moved on to junior high. He continued to move up the ranks of Boy Scouts, while Dad stepped up to Scout Master.

With me more at a more independent age, Mom began to have a little more time for herself. She resumed golfing after a hiatus stretching back to college, always walking the course in her Bermuda shorts and sleeveless blouse, and poured, sanded and glazed ceramics with me at a small studio. After the house was quiet each night, evenings would find her quietly smoking in the kitchen until around midnight, when she went to bed.

Then Bruce, a sophomore at Western Washington State College, came home with a bombshell. He was going to be a father.

Mom did what she always did: she rolled with it. I’m sure they discussed the options, but very soon I learned I was about to be a sister-in-law, and an aunt, before I turned 10. And, as it turned out, a Godmother.

1968 - (from right to left) - Hank, Eileen, Camille (Bruce's

I moved out of my comfortable upstairs room within ear shot of the living room and my parents’ room to a windowless bedroom in the basement down the hall from my brother Dean. Smelly boy territory, as far as I was concerned. But it was worth it, as Cassandra Eileen Campbell, Bruce and Camille moved in with us after Sandy’s birth on February 26, 1968.

And a year later, on March 23, I became an aunt again, with the birth of Marc Christopher Campbell to Scott and Jody.

1969 - Marc, about 6 mos

I had hit that gangly stage that follows childhood and precedes young woman hood.

Betsy - 5th & 6th grades

That summer, we headed to Eastern Washington to visit Mom’s childhood friend, Barb Kidder Ringrose, and her family in Colville, WA. On July 20, it was blisteringly hot. I felt a little awkward in my cotton two piece bathing suit; whatever fit my top at that age didn’t fit my bottom. But the curving water slide that landed in the Ringrose’ pool, with periodic diving exhibitions by their older kids, helped to pass the time while we waited, and waited, and waited. About 1 p.m. we learned that Apollo 11 had landed on the moon. Almost five hours later, Neil Armstrong was heard through the static to say: “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

That fall, I made the move to 7th grade, joining the 8th and 9th graders on a campus that seemed huge after my small elementary school. But before I adjusted, we learned that Dad was being promoted and transferred to a position at Weyerhaueser’s corporate headquarters in Tacoma, WA.

Tacoma was best known in the Seattle-Everett area for its aroma, due to the pulp mill in Commencement Bay and Tacoma Smelter around the corner. The house hunt extended from Dash Point to the north, to as far south as Lakewood. Finally, the family settled on 8601 43rd Street West in suburban University Place, spending the most it had ever spent on a house, $42,500.

In December 1969, just in time for Christmas, the family moved.

Next: Home in Tacoma


Filed under Family history, Uncategorized

Dad’s Origins: Both A Storied and Broken Past

(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.

Campbell origins

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

A potlatch party at Fort Simcoe on July 4, 1894 - HJ is in the chair behind the man lying down and Lizzie is behind

A potlatch party at Fort Simcoe on July 4, 1894 – HJ is in the chair behind the man lying down and Lizzie is behind

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.

The Snivelys

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 around 1920

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.

102 Park Avenue in 2000

102 Park Avenue in 2000

Bill and Hank with their dog, Rock, in front of Aunt Janie's house

Bill and Hank with their dog, Rock, in front of Aunt Janie’s house

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.

High school

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.

College years

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:


Dear Dad:

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.”

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My Father’s War

Henry at the 23rd Marine's base camp in Maui, 1945

Henry at the 23rd Marine’s base camp in Maui, 1945

(Third in a family legacy series. In the second, I tried to imagine what Mom’s experience must have been like on the home front, which I titled, “My Mother’s War.”)

Like many men of the Greatest Generation, Dad was always quick to deflect attention from his accomplishments during the war. The real heroes, he said, were the guys who were wounded or died. As a child, I morbidly wondered if he ever killed someone. So far removed was it from my experience that I thought of it like something from a movie. I never found out if he did, never asked him, perhaps because when the topic of the war arose, there was always a pause. For a moment he seemed far away, remembering scenes, perhaps. Or people.

Only in the last 15 years of his life did he share information about his role during the war. Even when sharing relatively lighthearted stories, he would often be moved to tears as memories welled up.

After instructing recruits at the base in Quantico for two years on rifle marksmanship, bayonet training, mortars, map reading, nomenclature, and cleaning of all the military weapons, he received orders to join the 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division in 1943.

He was to serve as R-4, Regimental Supply Officer.

When I was young, I didn’t think being a supply officer sounded very exciting. But Dad would put it in context for me, explaining, “Your intelligence officer tells you what the enemy can do, while your supply officer tells you what you can do.” The supply officer’s job is to ensure combat readiness by having the personnel and materials in the right place at the right time to achieve the combat objective. The lack of food and supplies confounded Gen. Robert E. Lee on his northernmost advance to Gettysburg, and we know how that ended. Had the Confederate Army had adequate supplies, things might have turned out very differently.

Dad’s explained his first assignment, loading a ship in San Diego in preparation for the 4th Marines’ deployment to the battle lines in the Pacific in December 1943 or January 1944:

“I was told to take a communications group and establish an advance command post with about 15 guys.  Rhett Williamson was S4 Supply and Logistics Officer.  …He had stuff coming from five places.  The first time I know about it is a truck shows up at the gate for instructions.  We start getting these loads of stuff.  Loading should have been pre-planned.  Rhett isn’t down on the docks.  It’s chaos unless I do something about it.   This went on for 10 days.  When we got through, we were the only ones in the U.S. who knew what we had and where it was. Louis Jones, Regimental Commander, asked Rhett what was going on and kept him standing there until 4 a.m.  Then he said, “Campbell, you are now R4 (Regimental Supply Officer).

“We got it all on there.  At 2 a.m., I got a call at the gate.  ‘We have a load of explosives on there.’  The Commanding Officer said he didn’t want any explosives on the base without him knowing about it.  So I called him at 2 a.m.  I never heard from him again.

“At 6 p.m., we’re all loaded up.  We were supposed to leave at 8 a.m.  At 7 p.m., a truck shows up with ammunition.  I asked him what was in the trucks.  He said enough for a round of fire for an entire regiment.  So I told them to unload the ship, put everything on the dock, and put the ammunition in the boat.

“That’s how you load a ship. You figure out what you need in terms of beans and bullets.  You figure out what you need first and put them on last. We disembarked right on time.”

According to John Costello writing in The Pacific War 1941-1945, the 4th was to participate in Operation Flintlock, the plan to assault Japanese positions in the Marshall Islands that were being used as bases for ships, submarines and air staging. The battle plan was hotly debated because of the bloody lesson of Tarawa, which had resulted in heavy losses.

The plan called for attacking two positions in the Kwajalein atoll. Roi-Namur, the northern objective, was made up of two islands connected by a narrow causeway. In alignment with battle tactics learned the hard way based on the first two years of the war in the Pacific, the islands were blasted by battleships for three days before the amphibious landing.

Now S-4, Dad’s job was to get materials ashore. He secured a boat driver and chose to land supplies after the first wave of infantrymen but ahead of the next wave.  Company Commander Shelton Scales’ jaw was said to have dropped when he landed on the beach and found Dad there ahead of him. The attack that began on Jan. 31, 1944 was mopped up by Feb. 3.

Saipan was a challenge of a different order. The Battle of Saipan was part of “Operation Forager,” which aimed to sieze Saipan, nearby Tinian and recapture Guam in the Marianas. According to Costello, “Operation Forager’s 535 ships and the 127,571 troops assigned to the American assault in the Marianas made it not only the largest force yet assembled for any naval operation but also the instrument of a new phase of the war.”  Now American troops would attack well-defended bases of Japan’s inner defense line rather than pulverize atolls.

Bombardment began June 13, 1944, and D-Day was two days later. With over 3,000 killed and 10,000 wounded, it would become the costliest operation for American forces to date – but that cost paled in comparison to Japanese loss of life. Five thousand Imperial Army soldiers died in suicidal Banzaii attacks, and an estimated 22,000 civilians died, principally because their shelters were in harm’s way and indistinguishable to Marines who cleared suspected bunkers with explosives. Even more horrifying, an estimated 1,000 women and children jumped off a cliff to their deaths based on orders from Emperor Hirohito suggesting they would be heroes on a par with soldiers in the afterlife if they did not surrender. Taking Saipan took six weeks.

Dad received his first Bronze Star in 1944 for his efforts on Saipan. The citation read: “By his initiative, perseverance and outstanding ability, he not only provided by proper planning for the supply of his organization but during the early phases of the Saipan operation while beaches were congested, under heavy hostile gunfire, and threatened by Japanese counterattack, he through several sleepless days and nights not only insured the combat supply of his own unit, but also supplied other units for whom immediate supplies were unavailable…. During the entire operation on Saipan, lasting for a period of approximately one month, never once did his regiment suffer for lack of supplies or equipment.”

As costly as Saipan was, it brought Tokyo within range of B-29 bombers.

Operation Forager continued when, two weeks later, two Marine divisions landed on Tinian on July 24. Costello wrote, “Inside a week the Marines had won control of Tinian with only four hundred casualties, in what General Smith was to call ‘the perfect amphibious operation of the Pacific War.'”

Here’s how Dad described it to me in 2000:

“Tinian was heavily defended. Although there were good landing areas on the south side of the island, at the Corps level, they decided against landing there and instead chose a small landing beach about 100 yards wide. They figured they could get people on the beach and it wouldn’t be defended.

“D-Day was 7 a.m. Scads of landing craft were offshore. My regiment was in reserve for landing since they were part of the assault on Saipan. They were supposed to move in behind the initial troops. The initial landing proceeded okay. The 2nd regiment was supposed to land – to come through us and proceed.  We were supposed to wait until after they were off of the causeway.

“I borrowed a jeep and talked to Col. Jones.  He said, ‘Campbell, I want all communication vehicles and anti-tank guns ashore.’  I took a boat to talk to the control officer, Col. ‘Jack’ Horner.  Col. Horner said, ‘Campbell, I’ll get to you as soon as I can.  I have to land the 2nd regiment ashore.’  I told him, ‘Col., we’re astride.’  He said, ‘Campbell, I told you I’d let you know—now goddam it, get off my boat.’  I looked for a hole and put my men ashore.  When I told Col. Horner later, he threatened court martial.

“The main attack came in that night. Regimental guns killed 600 Japanese that night with 36 mm anti-tank weapons that shot canisters of grape shot. It didn’t last long.  Our counter-attack broke their back at the end of August.

“We found beer in a Japanese dugout.  Every man in the regiment got a bottle of beer and the rest went to Division.

“Saipan is where the Japanese jumped off a cliff rather than be captured.  They believed they would be tortured by the U.S. The remaining pockets of resistance ranging from squad- to platoon-sized raised hell – it was really dangerous. Our battalions were spread out on the North end.  At night we formed a defensive perimeter.

It was on Saipan where Dad experienced what he called “the hairiest situation”:

We had overcome the emplacements and had set up three or four encampments along the plateau.  At night, the Japanese who were still loose on the island would open fire.  Every night gun battles would break out.  LtC. E.J. Dillon, who was no friend of mine, would call and tell me he was out of some supply – like illuminating shells.  I was the supply officer, and it wasn’t really my job to get it to him, but as the senior supply guy, I felt responsible.  So I’d reconnoiter a jeep. It galled me that I didn’t have one assigned to me like some officers who could swan around in theirs with some burly guy sitting on top of the supply boxes with a BAR.  This required going across ‘no man’s land,’ the narrow perimeter of the island.  I’d been over the road once but I really burned rubber with a 45 in one hand. We’d head out in the dark down the long road to deliver the shells.  I could imagine an ambush anywhere. Never had a problem but I sure felt grateful to have my skin by the time the war was over.

1945 V mail

Henry’s V-mail to his parents on August 3 from Tinian:

It’s been a long time since the last letter, and since I wrote it, the battle for Tinian has been fought and won, although we are still mopping up. Things will relax a little now, I xpect, so you can expect to hear from me with more regularity than in the past.

This will serve to do little more than advise you that I am perfectly OK, and so far unscathed. The Tinian fight has gone considerably easier than Saipan, but I’m glad that it’s over – it was officially announced secured night before last, although mopping up still continues.

You letters – from all of you – have been arriving as the mails do, and they are always eagerly read. I’m glad Eileen could be with you as long as she wash – wish I could have been there too. However, even though I could not, I feel I was well represented. It must have been a lot of fun, and from your letters and Eileen’s, everybody had a pleasant time of it.

As for myself, I am – as I said OK, and am at the moment enjoying a little relaxation. That won’t last, of course, — R-4s, like woman’s work – is never done. Any staff officer is in that position.

Sometime soon I expect I’ll be getting around to putting own on paper such account as I can give of the Saipan and Tinian operations, but don’t look for any spell-binding report. It’s mostly hard work, the excitement is occasional, and then not very exciting in the re-telling.

I send you all my love. It is a wonderful feeling to have a family like mine safe at home.

Your loving son,


Source: The Pacific War: 1941-1945, New York: Atlantic Communications, 1981, p. 669

Source: The Pacific War: 1941-1945, New York: Atlantic Communications, 1981, p. 669

The 4th Marine Division had a chance to recover after Operation Forager’s success, not seeing action again until February 19, 1945. Other Marine divisions, however, were plenty busy, especially on Peleliu where the 1st Marines engaged in battle that was bloodier and more grueling than Guadalcanal. Col. Chester “Chesty” Puller’s 1st Regiment clawed up a cliff, under fire from Japanese who rolled grenades down on them from caves, gulleys and holes, costing the regiment a third of its strength. Peleliu was taken on Nov. 25, 1944.

According to Richard Newcomb, author of Iwo Jima: The Dramatic Account of the Epic Battle that Turned the Tide of World War II, it was inevitable that the Allies would have to take Iwo Jima. To attack Japan, it would need the island as a fallback for B-29’s. Iwo Jima was the only island in the area capable of supporting several airfields, an objective of the mission. It would be the first American attack on Japanese home territory.

When Dad talked about Iwo Jima, he usually started by describing its long, narrow beach of volcanic ash (described as a sticky, glue-like substance) over which Mt. Suribachi and the cliffs loomed, riddled with Japanese defenses. Iwo was a stone fortress. Violating Japanese military doctrine, the island’s defenders developed a plan to wait until Americans had penetrated 500 yards onto the island. Then and only then would weapons open fire from the airfield, supported by artillery on Mt. Suribachi and the plateau. Sixteen miles of tunnels connected Japanese concrete artillery emplacements. After initial fire, the guns at the airfield would withdraw to the north.

Bombardment of Iwo began on June 15, 1944. The 4th Marine Division began landing at 8:59 on D-Day, February 19, 1945, against high winds and four foot surf.  Here’s how Dad described it in 2000:

When we pulled in offshore, the light was growing.  You’re up on the deck.  You see this ungodly ghostly tower rising 600-700’ in the air.  It was a volcanic spire, the goddamnedest thing I ever saw.  Scary.

“The island was shaped like a pork chop.  It was a volcanic mound with steep sides, honeycombed with caves.  It overlooked the beaches we landed on – the Japanese had perfect visibility.  Down at the far end was another escarpment looking the other way.  We had one fine officer who took a posthumous award for scooping up men without leaders and taking the key point (Chambers).  They got all shot up.

“High velocity anti tank guns were looking right down at the beach.  It was probably 500 yards or more from shoreline to airfield.  It was D+2.  We were in a pillbox, our first command post.  The gun opened up.  There was a tremendous concussion over my head, sand came down.  I think a round bounced off the ground on top of the command post.

[The 4th Marine Division could only advance some 50 yards on D+2 as it pushed northward, experiencing high casualties as it attempted to clear pillboxes, caves and tunnels.]

“The next night, the Japanese had mortars – 240 mm – as big as a trash can.  You’d see it go up.  You wouldn’t know where it would come down.  They dropped one about 30 yards outside the pillbox.  It lit into a crater where we had 15-16 people. Just like that, they were gone. We lost some very good men, some who were friends of mine.

[By the end of D+3, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions had suffered a combined 4,574 casualties.]

“The longest walk I ever went on – I don’t know how far in miles or yards – was on Iwo Jima.  We were in reserve because we’d been all shot up.  We’d probably lost a third of our troops by then.  My job is to prepare to take over, so I need to know where everyone is, their weaponry, etc. I had to walk alone to the command center from my division’s headquarters.  It seemed like miles, but I wonder how long it really was.  I went to collect our orders and check the situation map.  The map was surrounded by people and it was hard to get much of a view.  Periodically, however, the Japanese would start shelling and while everyone scattered, I could copy the map.  Worked great.”

Iwo Jima, and its specific objectives, earned gruesome nicknames – the Red Island, Blood Beach, etc.. The 4th Marine Division faced formidable defenses in Hill 382 (for its elevation), which would become known as the ‘Meatgrinder.’

Although American forces had overwhelming superiority, Iwo Jima was the only battle by the Marines in which the overall American casualties exceeded those of the Japanese. American losses reached 6,821 with another 19,217 wounded. Dad received his second Bronze Star with “V” for Valor for his efforts as operations officer, 23rd Regiment, 4th Marine Division.

For its actions against enemy forces during the war in the Pacific, the 23rd Marines received the Presidential Unit Citation Streamer with one Bronze Star,the Navy Unit Commendation, the American Campaign Streamer with four Bronze Stars, and the World War II Victory Streamer.

The 4th Marines were pulled back to base camp on Maui to reconstitute their ranks, which had been decimated by the campaign for Iwo. After receiving an ultimatum threatening Japan with “prompt and utter destruction,” American airman dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6 and on Nagasaki on August 9. On August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced his acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, kicking off a national frenzy of celebration and kissing servicemen. The Instrument of Surrender was signed by the Japanese on September 2 aboard the USS Missouri.

It’s hard to imagine that the war did not change Dad. It must have. But as he explained to Mom in a letter, “…it is as if there is a hard shell around me and that ALL of this present life went on outside me.”

He came home.


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When the USMC Faced Extinction

The USMC Commandant testified to Congress against marginalizing the Marines

The USMC Commandant testified to Congress against marginalizing the Marines

I could have titled this post, “Dad’s Other War.” Though my father shared anecdotes about some of the back room haggling that went on during discussions about potential unification of the Armed Forces, I had no inkling of the depth of those discussions. During two assignments at Marine Corps Headquarters – the first in 1946 and the second in 1959 – he was in the thick of it.

Then I came across an article Dad had clipped and saved, “The Marine Corps Fights for Its Life,” by Richard Tregaskis, published in the Saturday Evening Post. Tregaskis was one of the first embedded journalists, and his book about the first 45 days on the island of Guadalcanal with the 1st Marine Division ranked on the New York Times bestseller list and was made into a movie.

The article began, “Why are the Army and the Air Force trying to humiliate the Marines by reducing this proud outfit to the status of a police force?”

As sensationalistic as the lede was, it was not hyperbole. Tregaskis reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were meeting secretly to consider papers that were later made public when introduced at a House-committee hearing.

The article published this excerpt from a memorandum to the Chiefs of Staff by Gen. Eisenhower (US Army):

The following is proposed for consideration…. (1) That the Marine Corps is maintained solely as an adjunct of the Fleet and participates only in minor shore combat operations in which the Navy alone is interested. (2) That the land aspect of major amphibious operations in the future will be undertaken by the Army, and consequently the Marine Corps will not be appreciably expanded in time of war. (3) That it will be agreed the Navy will not develop a land army or a so-called amphibious army. Marine Corps units to be limited in size to the equivalent of a regiment, and the total size of the Marine Corps therefore limited to some 50,000 or 60,000 men.”

Tregaskis also included an endorsement of Ike’s proposal by Gen. Carl Spaatz, who added that the Marines should be “lightly armed” with its roles and missions only “to protect United States interests ashore in foreign countries and to provide interior guard of naval ships and naval shore establishments.”

In other words, naval police.

The Marine Commandant, Gen. Alexander “Sunny Jim” Vandergrift, asked Congress to save the Corps and pointed out that the Marines have been engaged in nearly every battle since the nation’s founding. He counterattacked with this statement:

“The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. If the Marine as a fighting man has not made a case for himself, he must go. But I think you will agree with me that he has earned the right to depart with dignity and honor, not by subjection to the status of uselessness and servility planned for him by the War Department.”

The Senate and House passed two different unification bills. According to Tregaskis, the House bill guaranteed roles and missions for the Marines and Naval aviation, while the Senate bill did not. When the bills went to a joint conference committee, the consensus was ultimately to preserve the Marines’ role. An unnamed Marine officer was quoted as commenting, “Few Marine officers will ever realize how close the Marine Corps had been to virtual extinction.”

When I interviewed Dad about some of his memories in 2000, he shared this story about a proposal to unify the forces:

I’d been in grad school at Ohio State in personnel administration and training.  I’d been assigned to the Military Occupational Project.   The joint staff at the end of WWII recognized there are people with very highly placed skills who end up being misplaced during the war.  They needed more information about what jobs require people with high level skills and who the people are with those skills.

“They had 300 people working on it, led by Col. Dunn.  Because I’d been to advanced schooling, I was assigned as the Marine Corps’ representative.  The joker is that I had Marine Corps HQ looking over my shoulder.

“The thing got bent around so that they decided to divide people by intelligence, based on their score on a test.  Navy said, ‘We have all the ships, we should have all of the brightest people.’  Air Force said the same thing.  Army said, ‘Bullshit!’  That’s what pulled the thing apart; they couldn’t agree.

“I convened a meeting with one representative of each force.  The Army guy was completely out of his depth.  Rubens [offering a proposal that was a ringer] asked, ‘Can we agree to this?’ If we agreed to the principles to take all the bright guys and give them to Navy or Army, what would the consequences be?  It was apparent this was a trap.  I said, ‘I’d like to say a few words.  Recognize that if we agree to this, we have agreed to everything else.’  All realized they needed to confer.  Rubens offered me a job!”

Postscript: According to the United States Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, the National Security Act of 1947 resulted in coordination of the services without merging them. And discussion continues. Deliberations about implementation of the 1986 Department of Defense Reorganization Act “demonstrated that the services are still distinct and independent, despite certain movement toward unified operations and joint organizations.” The Strategic Studies Institute website page notes: “…the [Department of Defense] must ensure that the services are not so reduced in stature and influence that they lose their motivations and abilities to compete for scarce defense resources and accomplish their other national security roles and functions.”

Dad told me, “You can see why I hated to leave the Marine Corps.  I had an absolute ball.”

Semper fi, Dad. You did your part.

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Family Life with the Marine Corps

(Fourth in a family legacy series. Subject to revisions by my brothers!)

After defeating monstrous evil in the world, modern America breathed into being in the last gasps of 1945. As Life magazine noted in its special edition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, Bogie married Bacall, Jackie Robinson was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers and Bess Myerson became the first Jewish Miss America. Detroit wasted no time gearing up, producing 2.1 million cars, a 2,500% increase, in 1946. With a half million people living in quonset huts and many more bunking with relatives, the GI Bill’s mortgage program sent people flocking to newly created suburbs.

Eileen settled in with Hank, Scotty and her mother in Alexandria, VA.

Eileen Campbell and Scott

Eileen – and most likely it was Eileen who set the schedule – gave the couple 18 months before saying “oh what the hell” and conceiving Bruce, who was born June 29, 1947. (An alternative explanation was a miscarriage, which she mentioned she had somewhere along the line.) Although he was a healthy, happy boy, Eileen and Hank must have been concerned for the surgeries he would have to undergo to repair a cleft lip.

Bruce Campbell

Eileen, Madeline, Scotty (now five) and baby Bruce settled in to life as a normal post-war married couple.

Eileen’s photo albums from the late 40s seem to be lost, but she undoubtedly enjoyed the freedom from the many wartime restrictions on the purchase of food, stockings and fabric for dresses.

Hank took up his post in the G-1 Division at Marine Corps Headquarters in March 1946, the group that included the Commandant and various staff functions. He landed at HQ just as a lively discussion began about the possible unification of the four Armed Forces. Perhaps that’s why Henry always corrected someone when they suggested he was in the “military”; as far as Henry was concerned, he was a Marine. In 1945, Adm. William Halsey was quoted as saying, “One might just as well as a committee composed of a Protestant, a Catholic and a Jew to save our national souls by recommending a national church and creed.” The discussion about unification continued into the late 1950s as the cold war raged.

In 1949, the family moved to Worthington, Ohio for just over a year when the Marines sent Henry to the Navy Post Graduate School at Ohio State University in Columbus. By then, Eileen was pregnant, and their daughter Madeline, known as Midge, was born on January 18, 1950.

Madeline Elizabeth Campbell - first year photos

After completing his course work in Ohio in 1950 (personnel administration and training), Henry was assigned to the Office of Manpower Utilization at the Department of Defense, with offices at the Pentagon. Eileen packed up again, and moved the family into 4213 Matthews Lane in Kensington, MD, which had become a commuter suburb for Washington, DC. They jumped back into the fray, getting Scott established in school and signed up for Cub Scouts.  As Den Mother, Eileen led a summer project making “Indian” outfits and war shields (cotton muslin stretched over hoops). Meanwhile, Bruce played cowboy, refusing to take his boots off, even at night.

Bruce's 4th birthday

Bruce’s 4th birthday

It was during Henry’s duty at Department of Defense that the couple suspected something was wrong with little Midge. Henry’s brother, Ed Campbell, a hematologist-oncologist in Boston, diagnosed her as having leukemia. At the time, nearly all children with leukemia died (compared to the current survival rate in excess of 80%). Uncle Ed treated Midge with an experimental regimen of corticosteroids, supervising her care and that of other children at Walter Reed Hospital. Her pictures show her growing progressively heavier as a side effect of the medication.

Uncle Ed with Midge

Uncle Ed with Midge

As Midge became sicker, the family spent as much time together as possible, including treasured days on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware during the summer of 1953.

1953midgemomdad copy

Henry’s most painful memory wasn’t the war. It was Midge’s final days. After being in remission for a period, she sickened and was in an oxygen tent in the hospital. He remembered her calling out to him, “Daddy, help me.” He could do nothing, he said, and pounded his head against the wall in the hallway in frustration. She died on October 22, 1953, months before her fourth birthday.

In February 1954, having delayed his departure as long as possible, the Marines sent Henry on a solo tour to Gifu, Japan, where he assigned to serve as Division Assistant G-2 for the 3rd Marines. In rapid succession, he became Executive Officer of the 9th Marines and then Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines.

Eileen had learned she was pregnant about the time that Midge’s health deteriorated. Medical officers advised her to abort the baby, suggesting that the stress would be too great for her. She would have none of it.

Henry’s letter to Eileen from Gifu, lost during his move to California, spoke of his agony in not being able to be with her in the period of mourning following Midge’s death. When Dean was born on April 20, 1954, “it was as if the sun came up,” Henry would say later. Within weeks, Dean needed a haircut.

Dean's christening

dean's first haircut


Henry’s pictures and stories suggest he did have some light moments in Gifu. He and Cliff Atkins shared a small cottage and had a housemaid named Musemei. “Around that time,” Henry said, “there was a political movement afoot in the Pentagon to try to fashion the Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force into a single armed force.  This led to us receiving a message from the Commandant which read, ‘No longer shine your leather with cordovan polish.  Polish it tan like the Army.’  We handed our shoes and belts to Musemei and asked her to shine them with tan polish instead.  ‘Hai, hai,’ she said.  About a week later, we received another message from the Commandant.  This one said, ‘Disregard former message.  Shine your leather cordovan.’  Henry called Musemei in and told her to change all of the belts and shoes back to cordovan colored polish.  Her response:  ‘Goddam Marine Corps.  All time changie changie.'”


By this time, Henry had been promoted to Major. He acknowledged that he had benefited from rapid transfers during his career and noted that that there were 37,500 men in the Marine Corps before WWII, and well over 500,000 by the end of the war.

With two children, a baby, her mother and Buffy the dog, Eileen was relieved when he returned from Japan in April 1955. She wrote on a picture, “The plane that brought him home.” Soon, however, it was time to pack up again and move the family to Kingston, Ontario, where Henry began a two year assignment as instructor at Canadian Army Staff College.

Eileen and Henry loved being back together and reveled in the camaraderie of the Canadians who were notorious for party games like passing the orange (without the use of hands) and curling (a form of shuffleboard played on an ice rink involving brooms and granite stones).


Scott, at 13, made friends with the locals and skated with them on the St. Lawrence River. Bruce took his turn as a Cub Scout. Dean, meanwhile, bravely set off in the neighborhood at two years old, going door to door. When a nice lady opened the door, he would announce, “I’ve come for my milk and cookies.” “How could I say no,” neighbors would tell Eileen. Henry later said that he used to worry about Dean the most because he was so trusting.

That open-eyed naïveté led to an incident that became family lore. When Dean was about three, Eileen realized that he wasn’t at the house. She immediately began canvassing the neighborhood, learning that another small boy was missing. Eventually their search took them down to the nearby St. Lawrence River, where the ice was begin to break up and ice floes float out into the river. There was Dean and his little friend. Eileen took a two by four and paddled his fanny all the way home.



Dean Campbell

Weeks before returning for Henry’s assignment as Executive Officer, Marine Barracks, Betsy was born (Elizabeth Harrison) on June 15, 1957. The family packed up and settled back in Kensington again, this time at 9916 Old Spring Road.

This would have been the sixth move that Eileen managed. Each time they arrived at a new post, she paid a social visit to the Commanding Officer’s wife, calling card in hand, as expected. She joined the Officers’ Wives Club, and did an exemplary job of supporting their activities. She loved Washington, D.C. and the social whirl that went with an officer’s life in those days.

Henry and the Commanding Officer of Marine Barracks, then-Col. Leonard Chapman, innovated the evening parade a Marine Barracks, a proud tradition that continues today. Within a year, Col. Chapman – who Eileen called “Chappie” – was promoted to Brigadier General. He became the 24th Commandant of the nation’s oldest armed force in 1967.

1959chappie copy 2

Welcoming the Secretary of Defense

Welcoming the Secretary of Defense

In July 1959, Henry received his Colonel’s eagles and was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps as Head of the Officer Detail Section. In an interview in 2000, he shared this explanation of his role:

“I spent two years as head of officer detail, a high visibility job. I had some very good junior officers and had read all of their fitness reports.  I said, “I have great respect for you, or you wouldn’t be here.  On your integrity relies the efficiency of the Marine Corps.  I will not permit anyone to play favorites or I’ll skin you alive.

“Not long after I joined the Officer of Manpower Utilization, Gen. Jim Masters, head of the intelligence section of Headquarters Marine Corps, called me to his office.  Had a young infantry man with him, a Captain, and told me he felt he was being mis-assigned to a staff job.  I pulled his record – he was a good man.  He’d been in Fleet Marine Force for 7 years, a great job, but he needed to let others have that opportunity.

“I called in Andy Hedish. We agreed the best thing we could do was order him to Marine Corps HQ and get his feet wet. I talked to Gen. Masters and said, ‘His transfer is strictly according to policy.  He needs staff experience.’  He just sat there and looked at me.   I said, ‘I have no doubt that the way to advancement is not by saying no to superior officers.  But I told my men if I caught them playing footsie, I’d skin them alive.  I can do no less.  If you have a problem with that, you should talk to my superior officer.’  I walked out.  The junior officer went to the staff job.  I heard no more about it.  There’s no power involved.  The policies are very carefully thought out.

“There was one exception and it was me.  I’d been in grad school at Ohio State in personnel administration and training.  I’d been assigned to the Military Occupational Project.   The joint staff at the end of WWII recognized there are people with very highly placed skills who end up being misplaced during the war.  They needed more info about what jobs  require people with high level skills and who the people are with those skills.

“They had 300 people working on it, led by Col. Dunn.  Because I’d been to this advanced schooling, I was assigned as the Marine Corps’ representative.  The joker is that I had Marine Corps HQ looking over my shoulder.

“The thing got bent around so that they decided to divide people by intelligence, based on their score on a test.  Navy said, ‘We have all the ships, we should have all of the brightest people.’  Air Force said the same thing.  Army said, ‘Bullshit!’  That’s what pulled the thing apart; they couldn’t agree.

“I convened a meeting with one representative of each force.  The Army guy was completely out of his depth.  Rubens asked, ‘Can we agree to this (I forget the details)?’  The proposal was a ringer.  If we agreed to the principles to take all the bright guys and give them to Navy or Army, what would the consequences be?  It was apparent this was a trap.  I said, ‘I’d like to say a few words.  Recognize that if we agree to this, we have agreed to everything else.’  All realized they needed to confer.  Rubens offered me a job!

“Gen. (David) Shoup (who later was Commandant) wanted to have a presentation made on all of the non-availables.  When you did a plan, you set aside a certain number of people for the “Jesus factor” – on leave, sick, etc.  That number runs about 80% for planning figures.  The meeting was to be a formal briefing in Gen. Larson’s office. ‘Who wants to do it, Gen. Larson asked. I said, ‘General, I’ll do it.’  I was assigned a planning officer to do the legwork.  He and I did our skull practice.  We took three slices of the entire Marine Corps on a given day and looked at where they were, using the latest records.  We counted every one of ‘em.  Not long before, we had instituted a transplacement battalion, which replaced an entire battalion at one shot.  It represented an enormous advance in a battle situation backfilling a battalion with individual replacements, where they don’t know their officers.  Transplacements are intact teams that remain together, and they can fight.  After Iwo Jima, the teams were broken. When a transplacement battalion was placed, you had a big flow of non-availables that week.  We made our presentation to the Commandant.  Then I stood by to take questions.  Gen. Shoup said, ‘Col., that’s an excellent presentation.’  He greeted me by name after that.  You can see why I hated to leave the Marine Corps.  I had an absolute ball.”

The Marines sent Henry for advanced education again in 1961, this time to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., after which he was assigned to Headquarters, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific in Honolulu.

Dean on Old Spring Road

Dean on Old Spring Road

Three months before the family was due to travel to Honolulu, Eileen’s mother died. Betsy remembers being unable to wake her Nana from her nap. At 76 years of age, she had had a heart attack.



Buffy, the family’s beloved cocker spaniel, was deemed too old to make the 5,000 mile trip or survive the required quarantine upon arriving in the islands. Off the family of six headed across the country toward San Francisco with Bruce and Scott driving one, while Henry, Eileen, Dean and Betsy rode in the other.

Driving cross country

Driving cross-country

Although airliners became popular as a model of travel from the mainland to Hawaii in the early 1960s, the Campbell family cruised to Honolulu on the luxury ocean liner, the SS Lurline. As the top-ranking officer on board, the family enjoyed the Admiral’s quarters. The family arrived deeply tanned after their ocean crossing (except for Betsy, who remembered being dosed liberally with Dramamine to prevent seasickness).

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 10.03.24 PM

July 24, 1962 - Arriving in Hawaii

As Henry assumed his duties, the family settled into Pearl Harbor’s housing community, Makalapa. In the fall, Bruce attended Punahou, a private high school, Dean entered 3rd grade and Betsy started kindergarden.

Scott and Bruce took surfing lessons from a guy named Rabbit Kekai, a native Hawaiian who was a well-known surfer on Oahu, who worked at the Outrigger Canoe Club on Waikiki. Scott said, “Dad was really great about turning us loose with the family Chevy Corvair, and we’d load our surf boards on the roof and head off to whatever beach had good waves.”

Eileen grew her hair longer and pinned it up in a French twist, donning island muumuus for comfort. With help at home in the form of a Japanese maid, she had time for hobbies and took courses in Japanese flower arranging. Her spare, elegant creations were set in low bowls held by “frogs” that were camouflaged with pastel sea glass she found washed up on the beach. She collected Japanese “mud men” statuettes and sometimes added them to her designs. The family’s furnishings were adapted for the islands, too, with rataan furniture and electrified white ginger jars lamps with illuminated bases. The house smelled of plumeria, Brownie Surfrider suntan lotion and the pungent salt-and-grass smell of tatami mats.


For social events, Eileen learned to make Asian- and Hawaiian-influenced “heavy pupus,” appetizers such as tempura, won tons and teriyaki-marinated chicken mock drumsticks. She even purchased some heavy, red silk brocade with the intention of having a cheongsam dress made for her. While demure at the neckline and buttoned to the throat with frog closures, they often have a dramatic slit in the side seam. While being fitted, Eileen reported that she tried to get the seamstress to make a slit to just above the knee. The seamstress kept pointing to a spot lower on Eileen’s calf, repeating, “Not Chinese lady.”

In his last years, Henry often remembered jumping up and down in the waves at Barber’s Point with Betsy on his shoulders (which they learned later had a notorious riptide). Looking back, it may have been days before the event that changed the family’s life.

Dad near Barber's Point, 1962

1962betsy copy

Henry felt a crushing pain in his chest and asked Scott to take him to the base clinic, where they quickly recognized he was having a heart attack and directed him to go to the hospital. In the 1960s, the chance of dying immediately after a heart attack was 30 to 40%. Even survivors might never be able to work again. For that reason, having a heart attack was cause for automatic and full retirement. Henry’s career in the Marine Corps abruptly ended.

As Henry was recovering, Eileen was hospitalized for emergency gall bladder surgery. Before she came home, Betsy was mauled in the throat and face by a neighbor’s German Shepherd. The family moved off base, to a house on the east side of Diamond Head, several blocks from the beach. The family was walking wounded by the time they sailed to the West Coast to begin a new life in the cooler climes of Western Washington, as suggested by Henry’s physicians.

Next: Civilian life in the Pacific Northwest


Filed under Family history, Uncategorized

My Mother’s War

(Second in a historical series for a family legacy book. Again, I will refer to Mom as Eileen in these years before she was Mom.)

When Eileen and Hank married, just 19 days after Pearl Harbor, the Marines were on full war footing. They found a minister who would marry them at the Post Chapel in Quantico on Dec. 26. No church wedding, no fancy dress, no friends in attendance – just Eileen’s mother and a couple of witnesses. Hank had a full 12 hours leave for his honeymoon.

Life Magazine's Hex Party

It’s hard to imagine the rapid changes that the couple confronted in 1941. A February 1941 copy of Life, the all-photographic news magazine that dominated the weekly news market, was still taking a light hearted tone with headlines like, “Bombed London Railway is Remade as Good as New in Four Hours.” An article explaining the aiming of field artillery boasted, “The gun crew works like a football team.” The rest if the issue was devoted to the belles of President Roosevelt’s birthday balls to raise money to fight “infantile paralysis” (polio), vacationing in Biscayne Bay, and “the blondest of the new crop of New York debbies” (debutantes). In the story, “Life Goes to a Hex Party,” amateur sorcerers in Washington try black magic against Hitler.”

Even though the U.S. was not yet in the war, the seriousness of the situation was already personal to Eileen. Her cousin, John Driscoll, to whom she was very close, was killed in a training accident when his plane collapsed on September 26, 1941, a week before he was to have received his commission in the Air Corps of the Army. Having already lost her father that February, Eileen would have grown up fast.

Then Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7. The war was no longer “over there.” It was here. Henry later noted that the Marines fully expected at attack up the Potomac River, aimed at the nation’s capital. Immediately, a nation-wide blackout went into effect. Gas masks were distributed. Machine-gun posts were added alongside the White House and U.S. government buildings.

The two set up housekeeping together in married housing in Quantico, VA. In an interview with Betsy in 2000, Henry told her, “Because I was an expert shot, and also a good student, at the end of the ROC class I was selected to go back to Quantico as an instructor, which I did for two years. I went back to the same company I had been officer candidate in.”

Within two months, Eileen was pregnant, like many of the wives. Scott was born on November 13, 1942. With Hank working hard, she and other new mothers supported one another, and likely played occasional hands of bridge while swapping tips about baby care.


Eileen Driscoll Campbell and Scott Campbell

Henry was promoted from second lieutenant to first lieutenant during that first year, and wrote his brother, Ed, that he expected to remain in Quantico with the newly formed G Company until the early part of 1943.

So though Eileen would have known Hank would come safely home each night, at least for a time, they knew many others were in harm’s way. Hank explained later, “The first two years of the war were very tough on my classmates; they were expendable. The casualty rate among second lieutenants was high.”

Within months of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Wake Island and thousands of American forces surrendered in what would become the Bataan Death March. Corregidor was overrun and the Philippines were surrendered. Things finally turned in November 1942 after a victory at Midway and hard fought land and sea battles for Guadalcanal, which became Japan’s most staggering military defeat. Late in 1943, U.S. military forces deployed new amphibious warfare techniques that aimed to obliterate Japanese defenses. Even with the new strategy a success, U.S. Marine losses were heavy at Tarawa, a small atoll. On the first day of the attack, casualties were 20%. It took 18,000 Marines three days to secure the small island at a cost of 1,300 dead. Hank lost a close friend.

Hank shipped out in the third year of the war for the Pacific with the 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division. He would have sailed out of Honolulu as part of the “Big Blue Fleet” on January 22, 1944, bound (although he didn’t know it yet) for the Marshall islands where he would join the attack on Roi-Namur.

Henry left with a memento that Eileen’s friend helped her to create: a pin-up style snapshot of her immersed in a bubble bath. The wives conspired to create the images as a way of reminding their men what awaited them at home.


At some point, Eileen went West to stay with Hank’s family in Yakima.

In those years before the 24-hour news cycle, Eileen would have anxiously awaited news reports of actions, which were often delayed for security reasons. Or she might have seen news reels with thrilling images of victories and frightening scenes of destruction. She wouldn’t have known where Hank was until well after the fact, when V-mail arrived. Very likely she would have breathed a sigh of relief after learning he was safe following the victory at Saipan.

The Admiral Campbell home in Yakima settled in to a rhythm, with Scotty enchanting Grandmother Campbell and Aunt Janie. Upon meeting Eileen, Grandfather Campbell was reported to have said, “Son, a pretty face will fade away, but a good pair of legs is a joy forever.” Grandfather Campbell, who ran away from a hard-scrabble Kentucky home at the age of 14, had an eye for such things. He maintained an extra-marital relationship with Erma and retired to her home after dinner to play cards on most evenings; Mom was invited to play bridge with the pair and Grandfather’s friends.

As a mother of a young child, Eileen would have supported the war effort by caring for Scotty. More than two million women worked in war industries and another million as “government girls” in offices, while others plugged the hole in manpower by driving trucks and manufacturing in factories. Everyone pitched in, however, by adhering to wartime rationing, planting victory gardens and salvaging scrap metal, rubber, cooking fat and nylon and silk stockings which were needed for war supplies.

An article saved by Eileen explained how to fill out the consumer application required to obtain Ration Book Number Two.  The application was distributed via newspapers “in recognition of the fact that newspapers reach practically every individual in the United States.” To complete the form, you had to go to your pantry on Feb. 21, 1943 and count all cans, jars and bottles containing 8 ounces or more of store-bought food: canned fruits, vegetables, soups, etc. Coffee (and sugar) rationing had begun in 1942 and all citizens were required to inventory the coffee on their shelves on Nov. 28 of that year. You then calculated the amount of coffee to which you were entitled by stating the pounds of coffee you inventoried in November minus 1 pound for each person 14 or older in the household. Then you counted the units of cans on your shelves and subtracted five cans for every person in the house. Based on the answers provided, you would be issued Ration Book No. 2. If you had coffee or canned food above your allotment on hand, those stamps would be removed from your book. You couldn’t buy items at the grocery books without the appropriate ration stamps.

The Campbells and Eileen also wrote Henry regularly. Victory mail (“V-mail”) was censored, transferred to film, and printed back to paper, saving shipping space for war materials.

Saipan grabbed the U.S. imagination not only for its size and violence – it took 71,000 U.S. troops six weeks, over 3,000 losses and another 10,000 wounded – but for the horror of the mass suicide of roughly 1,000 Japanese women and children who lived on the island. Emperor Hirohito had declared that civilians who died there, rather than surrendering, would have equal spiritual status in the afterlife as soldiers.

Hank went on to Tinian, and then Iwo Jima. By February 15, 1945, a quarter of a million troops were ready to attack the island’s 20,000 Japanese Imperial Army troops, who were well defended by a warren of interlinking caves and tunnels. Iwo Jima’s casualty rate – with 24,000 wounded and 7,000 dead – was the highest in the history of the Marines.

In late March or early April of 1945, Eileen would have gotten word that Hank was safe after the 23rd was pulled back to Maui for R&R, and to reconstitue its ranks after so many were lost.

The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, and on August 15, WWII was finally over with the surrender of Japan to the Allies.

Between Tinian and Iwo Jima, Hank wrote to Eileen about the effect of the war on who they were as a couple: “I expect we’ve both changed this year—-yet I think we’ll be surprised at the smallness of the change. The part of me that’s fought the war out here—-is NOT the part of me that is the half of ‘us.’—-I feel strongly that it is the mechanical person out here fighting, and that the real person—-the one YOU know—-is in a state of suspended animation.—-Perhaps an accurate explanation of the fact that I never write what I’m thinking about and feeling—-that I neither feel nor think—-and it is as if there is a hard shell around me and that ALL of this present life went on outside me.”

By November, 1945, Hank landed in Southern California where he was reunited with Eileen, Scott, Eileen’s mother, and Hank’s Aunt Janie.

Hank later said he had to fight for his pants at first, with Eileen so competently in charge at home. He and Eileen drove to Washington D.C. with Eileen’s mother and Scotty to find a place to live when Henry began his new assignment at Marine Corps HQ in its Plans and Policies Division.

Next: the post-war years

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Bringing Back Mom

I stopped talking about Mom the past two years. As Dad’s memory faded, he no longer seemed to mourn her. When I did bring up the topic of Mom – perhaps commented on something she would have enjoyed or her birthday – his pain was visible. So I stopped bringing her up.

But now we are preparing to bury Mom and Dad in the plot at Arlington National Cemetery that was reserved for them when they buried my sister Midge there in 1953. I’ve set an ambitious goal for myself to write some sort of a legacy book for the family, something that tells the story of Mom’s Driscoll side as well as Dad’s Harrison/Snively/Campbell clan.

I’m posting bits of memories here, augmented by some historical stuff. Since this series of posts is not about the experience of caring for or losing a parent, its primary interest for readers may be as a peek at life in the West in the early 20th century. Because Mom was Eileen long before she was Mom, I refer to her by her birth name when I get to the section about her personal history before my brothers and I came along.

* * *

Dad said it best, “Eileen is a personage.”  Eileen Driscoll Campbell did more than fill up her corner of space. She could fill a room with her personal power and presence, and she influenced the course of everything and everyone around her.


The older I got, the more I wondered how it was that my parents were 40 and 41 when I was born, when most of my friends’ parents were younger. My brothers are 15, 10 and 3 years older than I am.

Eventually I became old enough to ask whether I was planned. Mom would demur, answering only, “Every once in a while, we just said oh what the hell.”

Two characteristics were apparent in her statement: she wasn’t hung up on being proper, though she was every inch a lady, and she had the ability to live in the moment.

Some of that character came from being an only child. Born on July 3, 1917 in Boise, her mother, Madeline (born Maude Grace Spieles on Nov. 30, 1885 in Chicago) and father, Dean (born April 24, 1883 in Tekamah, Nebraska) met and married only two years prior, in 1915.  When Eileen was born, they were 31 and 34, old for the times.

But some of Eileen’s independent streak may have derived from growing up in the West, when the West was still wild. Eileen had grown up on her grandmother Hannah’s knees, hearing stories about how “Han-Han” came “West”… when the West was Minnesota.

Hannah Driscoll, 1935

Hannah Driscoll, 1935

Hannah’s family left Pennsylvania to take advantage of land grants created under the Homestead Act, claimed 160 acres of land in Martin County, and erected a rudimentary sod house on the prairie. After almost 10 years, they gave up, tired of Minnesota’s terrible blizzards lasting days, the menace of prairie fires and the last straw, the grasshopper scourge of 1873. “Settling to the earth they were a crawling mass devouring every green thing except the wild greens,” Hannah wrote in her memoir.

In 1874, the family struck out for Nebraska in two horse-drawn covered wagons, where they established a farm in Tehama. Hannah married John Driscoll in 1881, who landed in town following his discharge from the 64th N.Y. voluntary infantry after the end of the Civil War. When John’s health failed, years later, they sold the bank and lumberyard John had established, and struck out for the west coast. The family had tickets to the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland in 1905, but never made it farther than Boise, where they permanently settled.

Mom's father, Dean Driscoll

Mom’s father, Dean Driscoll

Dean’s photo album from the early 1900s look like a movie set, with Native Americans on the streets and horse-drawn carriages. Letters from John to his Dean’s younger brother Lynn, away at college, shared news big and little of Boise (population 17,000) at the turn of the 20th century: a visit by William Jennings Bryan, foreclosures of businesses by the Sheriff, plunging land values, small pox and ptomaine poisoning outbreaks, fatal auto accidents as cars replaced horseless carriages, an arrest of an acquaintance for insulting a woman (“he said he was drunk”) and the institutionalization of another into a “mental asylum” in Seattle.

Eileen must have felt the world ripped out from under her when her father died in February 1941 of hypertension. It is perhaps because of his early death, at the age of 58, that we heard so much about Dean.

Eileen and her mother were extraordinarily proud of Dean’s reputation in the community as a respected attorney in private practice and later as a one-term Representative to the state legislature and Assistant Attorney General. (Aunt Janie, Grandmother Campbell’s sister, apparently had a real snit about the Driscoll focus on Dean, writing from Oceanside where Dad had returned home from the war, “I am so sick of Mrs. D’s everlasting hammering on the Driscolls.”) A Harvard Law School graduate, Dean was admitted to practice at the U.S. Supreme Court, though he never argued a case before it.

Short (5’6″) and energetic, he had a shock of thick brown hair and dressed immaculately, never appearing on the streets of Boise without a fresh flower in the lapel buttonhole of his fresh white Palm Beach suit in the summertime (and rarely without an Antony Y Cleopatra cigar parked in his mouth). The buttonhole flower came from his mother Hannah’s yard “starting with the snowdrops, first flowers through the snow, and as spring and summer progressed, violets, lily-of-the-valley, pansies, pinks, through the fall-flowering marigolds,” Mom wrote in a letter to historian Gwynn Barrett to assist in his research for a book on Uncle Lynn. Dean had a strong sense of duty to his parents and stopped to visit his mother on the way to the office every morning, eating buckwheat pancakes whenever they were offered.

Despite his reputation, the Driscolls weren’t wealthy. His income level may have been due to the small town nature of a law practice. In a letter in 1912 to Lynn, Dean’s father wrote, “…Dean says he has made $200 a month since he commenced business but has only collected $400 of it. He is well satisfied but I hope he will get money soon as I have been putting up for him so far….”

Dean held most of the details of his law practice close to the chest, but we know he represented immigrant communities including Basque Americans, which had (and has) the largest concentration in the U.S.; in Mom’s last years, lamb was the dinner entree for which she always had an appetite, a holdover from her memories of participating in the Basque community’s annual lambing camp. She recalled that her Dad could dance the traditional La Jota, and Christmas Eve dinners didn’t begin until her father had stopped by the Archabals, a Basque sheep ranching family. He was posthumously awarded the Order of the White Rose of Finland for service to that community as chairman of the State for the Finnish Relief Fund.

He liked vigorous sports and sparred with professional boxers when they came to town.  Mom later wrote that he like long runs – “five miles at least” – up into the foothills. At the Y, he played handball often and boxed nearly every day, in addition to playing on the “Bankers” Twilight Baseball League team.

Mom wrote:

“The first thing anyone should say about Dean Driscoll is that he had absolute integrity. I don’t think it was possible for him to compromise — or “adjust” or “compensate,” as we say these days. He had extremely high standards of ethics and performance for himself (probably a contributing factor to the high blood pressure which killed him) and for those close to him. And he simply didn’t bother with people who didn’t meet those standards.”

Mom also wrote that her Dad had a “keen wit and sense of humor and was a master at rather cutting repartee. He used words sparingly – but very much to the point – and often devastatingly.”

Pranks were big in those days, and Mom remembered this story of his youthful mischief: when a minister came to visit and put his hat near the heater, Dean slipped a piece of Limburger cheese inside the hat band, with predictable results. She wrote, “My Dad didn’t think I was very funny, tho, when I tried the same trick in the pocket of a leather jacket belonging to a friend, thereby ruining the coat. I never could figure out a way… to equal or emulate his Halloween feat back in Nebraska boyhood when he and his friends put a cow astride the church roof. Even he didn’t remember how they got it there – but it was a community effort to get it down.”

She also recalled the story of a widowed friend of her parents who coquettishly said to Dean, “Oh, Dean, no one loves me and my hands are so cold. Will you hold them?” He retorted, “God loves you and sit on your hands.”

Mom was very close to her mother, who she described as loving, caring and shy. Madeline was embarrassed by her lack of a college education, to which we were told Dean would reply, “You have an educated heart.”

We have few insights into life at their home at 1504 N. 17th Street. We know Eileen was fond of their Chinese cook, Fong Wing, who disappeared during periodic “tong wars” between the two competing societies in Boise.

Dean was hardworking, even a workaholic. Mom wrote, “It was his habit, as long as I can remember, to go back to the office after dinner, work until midnight or so – and then drive out across the desert, to ‘blow the cobwebs out of his brain’ as he put it.”

At his mother’s insistence, Dean had signed a temperance pledge so Dean and Madeline’s home was alcohol free. Every family has its “oft-told-tales” and Mom often recalled one about an especially hot evening when her father said, “You know, Madeline, I think I’d like to have a drink.” After conferring, he set about preparing a Tom Collins and brought one out to Madeline, who was sitting on the porch. She declared, “I believe this is the best Tom Collins I’ve ever tasted.” After a moment, Dean exclaimed, “Oh my god, I forgot to add the gin.”


Age 7

Age 7

In her childhood pictures in the 20s, Eileen’s dark brown brown hair was cut in a chin-length page boy that complemented her strong chin, and high and prominent cheekbones. She had an outdoorsy look about her, with toned arms and legs, and coloring associated with the “Black Irish” (leading one family friend to inquire if there might have been a little racial mixing in generations past). Her brown eyes sparkled and her generous lips framed a bright smile. Even in the pictures of her as a teenager in the 30s, when the style was for girls to look demure, her face still conveyed a sense of individualism, determination and intelligence.

Mom rides on the shoulders of a pal

Mom rides on the shoulders of a pal

Either because of her father’s model or her own innate competitiveness, Mom was a Tomboy. It wasn’t that the boys on the street wanted to play with her; it was just that she was the only one who had footballs and other sports equipment. Because she hunted with her father nearly every weekend (until high school when she said she found dances and dates too exciting to miss), he taught her to drive when she was 11.

Eileen’s photo album shows her out and about in her elementary days, in her sailor-style uniform at Girl Reserve Camp, rowing a canoe, on a class bird-hunting trip, climbing a tree. Several friendships formed in childhood stayed with her for life, especially Barb Kidder Ringrose, Betty Ash Hearne and Raine (Lorraine) Moats. Many of the pictures display nicknames: Mugs for Barb (Eileen was Mug-Wug), “Prunes” for Eugene Stokes. They learned to play bridge and took ballroom dancing lessons together. Especially important to her from childhood on was her relationship with her cousins Harriet and John Driscoll. (John died in a training mission during WWII, a loss that Eileen always carried with her.)

Even in her youth, Eileen wasn’t one to back down from a fight. In 1999, Raine wrote to share this memory after their grade school, Lowell, beat Park School, which had a reputation for being tough: “One of those girls kept coming up behind me and hitting me on the back of the head. I was the timid one and so tried to ignore it. This apparently got the best of Eileen because she ran back and started hitting and fighting this girl, maybe because she was hurting and annoying her friend. She really tore into her.”

By the age of 14, Eileen’s pictures show her “cutting up” with groups of friends, a growing circle of boys and girls. The girls got together and formed their own mock sorority, Eta Beta Pie.

Eileen’s social circle expanded in high school. Based on pictures, boys began to appeal to her beyond their utility for sports and horseplay. In the picture below, she coquettishly styles herself for the camera, perhaps a precursor to her turn as a shoe model for the prestigious I. Magnin department store during college. She spoke later of a romantic interest in Stanton Stringfellow, with whom she was featured in the Flora Dora follies. Stanton set a Robert Herrick poem to music for her with the lyrics, “I dare not ask a kiss/I dare not beg a smile/Lest having that, or this/I might grow proud the while. No, no, the utmost share/Of my desire shall be/Only to kiss the air/That lately kissed thee.”


Leaving for college, 1935

Leaving for college, 1935

After Eileen graduated, she initially attended Mills College in California, an all-women’s college. She participated in the choir, and eventually transferred to University of Washington where she majored in music (focused on vocal performance) and was an active member of Gamma Phi Beta.

In the spring of 1939, Eileen and Hank were both enrolled in “the grand old man” Dr. Padelford’s course on Browning. Every couple has a how-they-met story, and Henry would usually tell it. He would set the stage by explaining that he did not attend class the first few days, having a free pass – thanks to a fraternity brother – to taste the wares at the Rainier Brewery. But the third day of class, he was there, albeit disheveled and worse for wear. As class began, most of the seats were filled, but one remained open next to him. “Then this vision entered the room,” he would say, “dressed to the nines.” Eileen took one look around the room, saw the chair next to Hank, and promptly took another seat in the back corner. “She came into class that first day on Brook Fink’s arm,” he would say, “but after two weeks, she left on mine.”

Their courtship wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. A houseguest at the Gamma Phi house turned out to be from Yakima, so Eileen ask her if she knew Hank. “Oh, yes,” the visitor replied, going on to note that he was the boy who had his pin on a girl back home. When Henry arrived to collect Eileen for their date, he said he knew something was wrong the minute he set eyes on her. She gave him $5 for train fare and told him not to come back unless he had his pin.

After that, they were an item. Both graduated in 1939. Eileen once expressed to her father an interest in becoming an attorney, but he rebuffed the idea, saying there would be no “female barristers” in the family. After graduating, both lived in Seattle, Eileen in an apartment where Henry spent a great deal of time. He entered law school, since the family expected him to become the family lawyer, while Eileen took clerical courses. By late 1940, Henry knew that the law was not for him, and he became increasingly convinced that the U.S. would soon be in the war that was tearing apart Europe.


In love, 1940

In love, 1940

Henry enlisted in the 5th Reserve Officer’s Commissioning program of the Marine Corps in January 1941. From there, Eileen and Henry’s stories diverged. Eileen said that Henry wrote her in September or October of 1941 and asked her to join him; Henry held that he sent no such offer. After Pearl Harbor, however, Eileen immediately took a train east and the two married on December 26, 1941.

Next: the war years

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