Elda Clinton, b. 1916

I’m Elda Ann Orme Clinton, born July 14, 1916, in Tolt, Washington.  Then, it was Tolt, and then it was changed to Carnation.  Lived here my whole life.

My mom and dad came in 1915.  My dad’s mother lived out here, and then he got married.  He married my mom, and they came on out here. South Dakota, I think it was, they came from. My dad was more of the business type.  He had taught school, and worked in a bank.  And my mom was from the big farm country—the people.  And somehow, they made a lovely couple.I don’t know how they met, I really don’t.  I’ve forgotten now.

There were seven of us kids.  I was next to the oldest.  Five boys, and then the seventh one was my sister, a baby.  The baby of the family was my sister.  And all the boys are dead and gone, and my sister and I are the only ones living.  She’s in Yakima, and of course she’s been married for sixty-some years, she and her husband—married to the same man.  She will be eighty-one the eighteenth, in a few days.  And Leon is five years older.  His mother was Mrs. Grant.  She lived to be a hundred and three years old.  Just south of town she lived out here.  Anyway, Leon taught school, and they had a motel.  And they owned it for seventeen years, I think.  And he taught school for many, many years. He started up at Twisp, and then he went to Yakima, to West Valley High.  He graduated from the college there in Pullman.  And they have one son, Gary.  He was a college graduate, and he served time in the army.

My parents were very strict.  There was no alcohol in our family.  They didn’t allow it.  No profanity.  They were very strict, very strict.  We had a wonderful life, really. We played all the little old games.  We lived down there on the home place all those years, ’til I got married. East of town here,  down there by the hill, a thirty-acre place.  It’s still in the family.  We used to have a lot of snow, and there were a lot of kids, as many as seventy-five a night would come:  little kids, middle kids, big kids.  And they were wonderful, they never harmed anything.  My dad and mom would let them come in the main gate.  We had cows, and they were wonderful, always closed the gate real good.  And they’d come over to the house to get thawed out.  And my mom let ’em come in by the big ol’ wood stove, and they’d get thawed out, and they’d go back to the hill again.  And everybody, a lot of kids there remember Orme’s Hill, from over there. We weren’t allowed to get out and go out and chase around a lot, but we were allowed to have kids down home all the time. We played Kick The Can and Steal The Sticks, Anti-Eye-Over—all those kids’ games.  Hopscotch and baseball and everything.

My dad worked out.  He worked in mills.  Then he worked for the county, and just did anything he could get to do; enough to make a good living.  During the Depression it was wonderful: we had chickens and a few cows and had a big garden. We went through that Depression.  I wouldn’t take a billion dollars for that experience, though, because there wasn’t any work much, and money was scarce, for nearly everybody.

My dad did what he could do.  Then when I got old enough, I….  We all graduated from school, and I got a job at the grange store when I was just out of high school, and I worked there twenty years of my life—ten years ’til I got married.  I had two kids.  Then I stayed home with my kids for fifteen years.  Then they hired me back at the store again, and I worked there another ten years.  And that helped with the income.

We didn’t have electricity at the home place; wood stoves and kerosene lamps.  We never had electricity ’til I got married and moved up to Elton.  Then one of my son’s  brothers built a new home for my parents down there, and they had electricity put in, and running water.  Well, there was a well, but they had running water put in.  Had an electric well put in.

We just never had many cows; just two or three cows is all my dad ever had.  But I milked one once.  My mother says we girls didn’t have to milk because we had brothers.  But I milked one bucketful one time, and it was the hardest work I ever did!  It was a fun experience, but it was hard work. We did everything.  We helped take care of the animals, worked in the garden.  Everything that was to be done, we had to help.  My parents were strict.

Mom had all her babies at home.  We were all born down there, except my dad….  We moved away.  He leased the place—I guess I was in the third grade—we moved for two years up to where Gary and Bonnie Remlinger were, on that place up there, way back.  My dad leased the place out to a gyppo logger, and they logged up on the hill.

We were all born at home, except my baby sister was born up at that house.  All six of us were born down in the old home. I remember when my baby sister was born.  I was seven.  I was such a little tom-boy. I had to help take care of my baby sister, and it bugged me, because I was such a little tomboy.  I wanted to play! I didn’t have to baby sit that much, just now and then, because my mother was a wonderful mother.  She hardly ever left home.  Mothers then didn’t leave home.

My mother had to do everything!  There were no conveniences way back then.  She washed by hand on the washboard.  Nearly everybody lived that way then—we weren’t the only ones.  That was when there were no conveniences. She worked early ’til late.  Oh my! a rough life.  But she was wonderful.  My dad too.  They were wonderful people, really—good, honest people. She washed and cooked and baked and worked outside in the yard in the garden—anything that was to be done, she did it. Oh, it wasn’t easy!  She did a lot of sewing, yes—always—on an old treadle machine.

She never complained, never.  Women then were different than now, you know.  It was really a harder way of life. They have all the modern conveniences now, which makes a big difference.

I always liked school a lot. And I was in the honor society.  I wasn’t the best—I didn’t even want to be.  I didn’t care.  School was easy for me—thoroughly easy, you know.  And I have one brother, my oldest brother, he was an extreme.  We’re made like we’re made, you know.  And he was one of these extreme students, and school was just easy for him.  But he got a little bit mischievous because he didn’t know what to do with all of his mentality, I guess.  They say kids like that….  Anyway, in high school—I don’t know if he ever [would have] graduated, but his teacher, one of our teachers, Mr. Jennings [phonetic], he used to live here in my house at one time, before I ever lived here.  And he was one very intelligent man, too.  And he understood that kid.  I don’t think my brother Warren would have ever graduated, but Mr. Jennings, on the side, his senior year, taught him trigonometry, which Warren just devoured.  That had never been heard of way back then, in the schools.  He understood my brother Warren, and that he needed more than just the lessons that he was being taught.  So he just devoured that trigonometry, and he graduated from Tolt  High School. He didn’t go to college. He went  to  Alaska when he was eighteen.  He graduated and left.

I did everything in high school.  I played ball and we used to have to play volleyball, basketball, and baseball.  It was a good high school.  We had good schools, good teachers, very good teachers.

I  wasn’t allowed to go out on dates.  I wasn’t attractive until I got older.  I didn’t go on dates until I was out of high school.  Then I did a whole bunch.  I wasn’t allowed to go to a public dance until I was out of high school.  My parents were strict.  Then I made up for lost time when I started goin’ to dances.  It was real fun, and I learned to dance.

Never got married ’til I was twenty-six.  Married and lived with one man.  Married my husband August 8, 1942.  We went to Madison,  Wisconsin, on our honeymoon.  He took me back to meet his father.  I had him for forty-two years, married him in 1942, had him for forty-two years, and he died right here at home, with cancer.  Very good man.  We had two sons, Chad and Doug.

Elda Clinton
Date of interview: 01/13/06
Interviewed by Jerry Mader
Supported by a grant from King County 4-Culture Heritage
Transcribed by Jardee Transcription, Tucson, Arizona