Robert Andraelli, b. 1923

My name is Robert Andraelli, born March 7, 1923. I was born in Snohomish, Washington on a farm down there, born there.  Stayed around there about six years.  Then we went and bought another place, and then we stayed out of Carnation for about a year, and then I didn’t even know they bought the farm.  And then he told me, “We can go on the farm and stay now.”  So wound up there.  I liked the place we were at before, because we didn’t have nothin’ to do, just play.  When I got on the farm, I had to do some work.  That fit in pretty good, too—I just kept working. I was about five years old.  I went to school the first year, in the first grade.  We went over on the farm and stayed there, and they said they bought the farm, so we moved over there and had a little bit of work to do.  Everything went just perfect. Kept you healthy.  Had somethin’ to do all the time.

My Dad was a farmer.  He just wanted to do his chores and do the farm work, and then we’d go to church every Sunday.  Then we used to go and meet people once a week, and went home and went to work again, and went to school.  That’s the way it went on the farm. His name was like mine—Robert. He come from the old country.  My mother came from Italy.  Then he landed in California, with this friend.  Then he came north up here, with his friend up here, and they started farming.  The friend went to work in a bakery when he first came over here.  I don’t know what happened, he landed on the farm, and they both—well, they went to work him and my dad.  Then he went on his own.

When he just got out of the army over there, he must have been about twenty-one, twenty-two years old. He was in the Italian Army, three years in the cavalry.  That’s how he knew about horses pretty good. He knew my Mom over in the old country, they were neighbors.  He went back and he married her, and he came over here. Had to wait ’til the paperwork was all straightened out. My Mom could speak English; she probably picked it up—not really 100 percent, she could get around pretty good.  My dad was over here longer, he could talk better. I can pick it up in a hurry.  I can listen to people talking, they’ve got kind of a different dialect. It’s all the same. They come from a town that was nine miles from the Swiss border, by Lake Como.  You can find it easy on a map.

We had to do what they told us, and that’s about it—like anybody else.  They told us what to do, and we did it. I had two sisters and one brother. My oldest one, named Lena, but they nicknamed her Lee.  My brother was named Dino in Italian, but it’s Don in English.  And the youngest one, Mary May, I called her May for short. My sister lives in Oregon, one of ’em; the youngest one, May.

Growin’ up on the farm, we got a lot of exercise.  You had to live by the rules, get up early and get the chores done, go to school, and come home at night.  Sometimes I used to stop down at the café and help one guy for a while, then go home and feed the calves.  When I was late helping him, my mother fed the calves—she helped with the chores so we’d get done.  He’d want to get done at a certain time, my dad. In the morning I mostly washed up and ate breakfast and got my books and headed out for the bus—didn’t have to do chores in the morning.  I had to keep clean to go to school.

It was a sixty-acre farm, had about twenty dairy cattle, milk cows and a few young stock, and a bunch of chickens—just like a common farm.  They all had ’em that way.  The milk truck come picked the milk up every morning—they were in cans.  You had to keep everything nice and neat. Had to be when the Seattle milk inspector come around once a month to check and see how clean it was, and check the milk and see how cold it is, and see if it had any antibiotics in it.

We all did the milking; my dad did, and mother did, and brother did, and I did.  My dad most of it, but we all pitched in and helped, so if something went wrong and they needed somebody, we would all pitch in and did it.  Dad  put hay up in the summertime, and got that out of the way.  Had a big garden in.  We planted a bunch of beans and corn.  We had a lot for the cannery kept that going all summer.  Things slowed down in the wintertime, though, not much to do, feed the cows a lot of hay and grain and wait for the bad weather to come.  It used to come all the time, snow and ice and a lot more work.

My brother and  I we went different places.  Then we went fishing.  Just get on the river.  One weekend we caught seventy whitefish in two days.  But the only thing, they’re a nuisance, them whitefish.  They follow the salmon around, they want to eat up all the eggs—the whitefish.  Same with the steelhead.  They’ll chase after the salmon, eatin’ up all the eggs.  As quick as they lay the eggs, they’re right behind ’em, eatin’ ’em—steelhead and whitefish.  We used to give the fish to everybody that wanted ’em—we had too many. My hands usually get cold, and feet.  We had to stop at one place all the time, invite us in to eat.  We give ’em some fish.  I liked to go by that place, because they always wanted to give us a dinner and warm us up.  And I sure liked that place.

Oh, we went fishing and swimming and went different places when he learned enough to meet different people at the church on Sunday—knew a lot of people.  Used to take us there.  Different people come around, too.  We used to go and pick bark.  They picked that cascara bark for medicine, because they used to come over and they wanted to make a few dollars.  They had to dry it and then break it all up in small pieces in a barrel with a shovel.  Then we had to take it and sell it in sacks.  They’d make medicine out of it. We’d look for cascara trees.  There’s a place I went—a couple of places they wouldn’t let you pick it. “C’mon over, we got a lot of trees.”  We used to  make a few dollars.  We had to dry it, and sometimes it all the time rained, and we had to take it inside the barn where you got the hay, to dry it.  It took longer, but we got it dry.  Most of the time, you stick it on the roof, or hang it, like clothes, on the clothesline.  We didn’t use the clothesline, we didn’t want to get it dirty.  We put up another line, a couple three more lines.  Sure works good, and you get a few dollars.  Didn’t have no place to sell it, we had to take it North Bend or Duvall to get to buy it.  Another guy used to buy it, lived down the road from our place.  He used to buy it wet, but he didn’t give you much for it.  So all the time dried it, to get more money for it.  Because when it was wet, it weighed like a ton.  When it was dry, you’d get the full amount. Only a couple of cents a pound, when it was dry.  But money was money them days.

Robert Andraelli
Date of interview: 09/20/06
Interviewed by Jerry Mader
Supported by a grant from King County 4-Culture Heritage
Transcribed by Jardee Transcription, Tucson, Arizona