Fred Brumbaugh, b. 1929

My name is Fred Brumbaugh, my birth date is 8-19-1929; Frederick Laverne.  I never use it. My birth certificate says Monroe, but my aunt says I was born in Carnation.  I’ve got one aunt in Oregon, she’s a hundred and two.  There were just eight in the family—my dad was the only boy.  He was born in Minnesota.  This town used to be 400 people, and you knew everybody in town.

My parents fought a lot; but my Dad was never home, he was up to the garage all the time, workin’.  Kids didn’t have like these kids, they’ve got everything to play with.  Christmas, you got school clothes.  Get a bicycle once in a while.  These kids got everything.  They got a swimmin’ pool  they put up in the summer.

When I was a kid, everybody charged everything—the groceries and everything.  Everybody paid the first of the month.  But see, everybody knew everybody in town then.  Now nobody knows anybody.  As I say, nobody works here, they go to Bellevue or Everett or someplace.  There’s no working at all now, loggers are all gone.  My dad had a  sawmill up here, and it shut down.

He had a furniture factory, too.  He had two partners in business.  I don’t think they ever made any money at it. When I was growing up, we’d hay in the summertime don’t do that anymore.  Carnation Farms moved to Tolt, hired a lot of people, used to be Carnation.  They own a lot of houses in town, too—Nestlé’s now.

I went to school here. We had what’s called the grade school up here.  That was the wood building; they tore it down and built this new one. There was a shop up there at the High School, learned to weld, work on cars—that’s all gone. Maybe they still have that, I don’t know. Now they got computers and Spanish and all that crap.  There was no computers.  I took typing.

I was as good in school as I could be.  Kids now, they pick ’em up right in town.  We walked.  We walked every day.  Now they pick it up right here in town.  These people over here, they haul their kids to school every day.

When I was a kid, you knew everybody.  You had your chores to do at home.  Fourth of July, the old man always cut hay here.  The day before the fourth, if they get that hay in; they worked your ass off. They used to have big carnivals here, great big carnivals.  They didn’t have a carnival out here; had to go uptown.  The parade lined up right here, so I could see it all. I don’t know anybody.

I was married once, that was enough; thirty-five years. Mother and Dad was married until they both died.  My mother and dad—back then, nobody got divorced.  Women couldn’t get a job, they had to stay with the old man. Now women can get pretty good jobs, and education. See, when I was in high school, you didn’t have to have an education get a job in the woods here, something like that in a sawmill or something.

When I was growin’ up we had a milk cow and a beef cow, had a horse.  We had chickens, had to gather the eggs.  Had to milk the cow every night and morning.  I had a sister, but she’s dead and buried up here. I got my funeral all paid for. I can get buried in a military cemetery for nothin’, but I ain’t gonna do it.  I’ll be buried next to my grandmother.  She was blind for years and years.

My grandmother used to live in that house right over here, right next to my mother and dad.  In fact, she give my dad the plot to build his house on.  She was blind, ever since I can remember.  She was all right, as long as you didn’t move anything in the house. We used to all get together for Thanksgiving, all the relatives would come out here and have a big dinner, and we drew names for Christmas—two-dollar limit for presents.  Only one person.  Everybody brought turkey and stuff like that.  As soon as my grandmother died, that was the end of that.

My grandparents came from Minnesota.  My dad was born in Minnesota.  But they come out here when he was one year old. They lived over out of Chelan for a few years.  I think they moved to Monroe.  Then they moved over here.  My grandfather, he died before I was born. My grandmother and my grandfather had eight kids—one boy, my dad.  All the rest were girls. My Dad was mayor of Carnation. They got about ten bucks a meeting. I think he was in about twenty or twenty-four years.  He went in about when Roosevelt came in—not Teddy, the other one, Franklin. He liked being mayor; it’s somethin’ to do.  Of course the town, there wasn’t much to do here then.

Nobody had a car.  I didn’t get a car until I was twenty-one years old.  Nobody had any money to buy a car.  My dad had a partner, they were in business together.  They had one good car, and an old Model A.  Somebody had to be workin’ all the time.  That Model A drove back and forth to work.  Now everybody’s got two or three cars.

When I was a kid, you didn’t have no time for fun—you worked all the time. Had to get ready to milk the goddam cow 5:30,  6:00 every day.  When I worked down here, I had to milk the cow in the morning before I went to work, and I had to come home and milk the cow.  Of course you ate at home.  Then I went to work for my dad up to the mill, and I paid my mother room and board.  She done all the cookin’; washed my clothes.  When I was in the army, I got married, before I went to Alaska.  Then I got out of the army, and I was broke, my wife was workin’, ’til my dad give me this land here, and I started buildin’ this house.

When I was a kid I’d fly a kite, ride your bicycle around.  We had no time for fun.  You know, you had somethin’ to do.  Old man bought a lawnmower.  They put an electric motor on it, I’d go out and mow the lawn and make a little money.  But you gotta learn to work someday.  Things were a lot different in them days than they are now.

My mother was pretty strict, more than my dad.  But he was never home; workin’ all the time. He wouldn’t get home until about eight o’clock. His partner would open up early. He was a mechanic.  He owned his own garage.  When the lumber yard only worked four days, you see, he moved up there; they put the garage in there.  Had a wooden floor in it.  The first garage was up here somewhere.  As I say, everybody knew everybody in town them days.

Fred Brumbaugh
Date of interview: 02/09/06
Interviewed by Jerry Mader
Supported by a grant from King County 4-Culture Heritage
Transcribed by Jardee Transcription, Tucson, Arizona