Narrator: Don Goodwin (DG)
Interviewer: Ed Baroch (EB)
January 4, 1996
Moses Lake, Washington
[The following is a verbatim transcription]
Tape 1 of 1
DG: Iím Don Goodwin, born and raised in the Mae Valley area, lived here all my life in the same residence that Iím living on now. My parents came to Grant County in roughly 1907. My dad came from Wenatchee and his family, his father, homesteaded in the Hiawatha area, which is west of Mae Valley, which is also west of Moses Lake. My mother came over from England when she was seven years old, and landed on the east coast and migrated to the Hiawatha Valley, and her family, mother and dad and the family, also homesteaded in the Hiawatha Valley area. I was born on the, as I stated before, where Iím living now in 1931 and attended a little school in Mae Valley for two years. First and second grade. First through sixth grade was in that one room schoolhouse. And then that was consolidated with the Moses Lake school, and then from then on attended Moses Lake School.
We farmed in the Mae Valley area. I can basically remember as a young lad, hardly old enough to do much on the farm yet, my dad still farmed with horses. And as I got, around the time I got a little older to help, well then we graduated to tractors, which are now, would be almost considered a garden tractor. Twelve horsepower was a great tractor in those days. For us as a graduation from horses. We raised a lot of potatoes and alfalfa hay and corn and quite a bit of livestock. In those days before the irrigation project came in there was a lot of vacant land. We ran our livestock on, and round them up in the winter and brought them to the ranch and fed them, and turned them back out on the range in the summer months. In those days, weíd put the potatoes up, and picked them all by hand in burlap bags. And pickers would pick about sixty pounds to the bag and set them in rows and then the truck would come along, theyíd throw them on the truck and haul them to town. Itís quite different from the way that they handle potato process now. . .
EB: Was your farming at that point done through irrigation, and if so was it pumped water or from the lake?
DG: Our farms was irrigated out of wells, and in that Mae Valley area at that time was mostly all hand dug wells. And so it had to be in an area that was shallow enough that you could dig, which was under eighty feet, was practical to dig by hand. And those wells were dug, like I said, by hand, and the gravel was what we call (windlast?) up, with buckets out of the bottom, and then those wells were forty inches, about forty inches deep, and they were curbed with wood. And that was good for about ten, twelve years, and then the wood curbing would start to rot so then they would place a pipe down in the well and fill in around the dirt, and then from then on it would be a, more or less just the same as a drilled well would be today. But, my dad, in the early years, did do a lot of well drilling and also digging, well digging in that Mae and Hiawatha Valley area, for a living. . .
DG: And in about the fifth and sixth grade, which would be, just guessing, about the mid-forties, there was an influx of population, of workers at Larson Air Force Base, and also the irrigation project. The Columbia Basin Irrigation Project was starting and so there was a shortage of homes and consequent the influx of population to the point where the school system would not handle the population increase, so there was one year there. . .
I can remember when the city of Moses Lake, back when it was a town, it was 365 people, and it didnít seem to change one or two, for years. Until the project started coming in, and thatís when a lot of people started coming with it, to work on the dams and the canals and everything. Not, that was probably a process of oh, five, six years. Started north of Moses Lake and ended up clear down to Pasco. But, right around Moses Lake seemed to be the big hub of all the irrigation canals in all directions, clear to Quincy. So Moses Lake took the big share of the increase in population from the workers. . .
. . . Block 40 north of Moses Lake was the first, and then that was, Forty-one was east, more towards Wheeler, Forty-two was south of Moses Lake towards the Sullivan Dam, and Forty-three and Forty-four was east and west of Warden, and north of Warden and then all, right on down the line. Block 89 was in Mae Valley, and that came in in like 1956. . .
. . . Most of those units were, actually at that time they considered, you could make a living on 120 acres, 80 to 120 acres, and a lot of farmers did that. But as time went on, and then it got more costly to buy equipment and the cost of raising the crops increased, it kept requiring more and more acres to make a living, and I donít know what the average size farm is now. I suppose four or five hundred acres for a family, thereís a family size farm. . .
. . . We used to have three hundred and fifty dollars an acre in our potatoes by the time we harvested them. Now they got probably twenty-five hundred to twenty-eight hundred an acre, or more. . .
EB: How was the land allocated when the blocks came open?
DG: Well, the government land, the government land, I guess they allowed the veterans to draw on it. And the other private land was just, if those who owned it wanted to farm it, they developed it, and if they didnít, they usually leased it out to someone. There was a lot of this land sold, way back, many years before the irrigation project was actually a reality, just on a dream. And thereís a lot of land out in our area, that we run sheep on and cattle on. There was just nothing but rocks, just to raise off of good grass for about six weeks in the spring and maybe two or three months in the winter, depending on the rainfall. But other than that, it was so rocky you couldnít even begin to think about farming it, but there was a lot of speculators that sold that land to people back east and California and all over. Tell them about this mammoth project that was coming in to irrigate it all and a lot of these people bought that land sight unseen. And my dad and many other folks that farmed the land around would, those people were tickled to have someone just pay the taxes for the use of, for grading so. Like I said, my dad would pay the taxes on that land for the people, keep the taxes paid on it, and just for the use of it in that little bit of time in the spring and the winter time. Then occasionally, people would come out to see what great land they had to develop, and here they find out it was nothing but scab rock and waste land and they really got taken, a lot of people did on it, because of the big promise of this big irrigation project, gonna do wonders for everything. But, there was a lot of real good land and a lot of the people that owned that, a lot of them, what they did was they let somebody develop it for five years for free rent, you know, just for developing it in those days. Where some of them would develop and sell, a lot them bought it and moved here from out of the area. And it was almost every state in the union, you could talk to people youíd find that moved here. A lot of them came from the Dakota and Colorado and different places. . .
. . . Our farms are still irrigated out of wells, and itís up till just recently in the last year or two PUD rates, it was, it probably is still cheaper, quite a bit cheaper than the Bureau water because the irrigation project water is roughly twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five dollars an acre, depending on the class of soil. Plus then the power to put it through the sprinkler system, where a lot of the well water was free, based on the certificates from the State of Washington.
EB: How deep are your wells now?
DG: One well is seventy-six feet deep and oneís about eighty something and the otherís about, oneís eighty-two and the otherís about eighty-five.
EB: So the table hasnít dropped dramatically in your particular area?
DG: No itís, it actually came up a little bit because of the Sullivan Reservoir. It backs up and feeds those some. But in those days they were strictly fed by Moses Lake itself and in one year I know the, was the regular runoff, up in north, clear up to Davenport. It drains actually into Moses Lake. Now itís fed through the Columbia Basin Project as a kind of a waterway through, transferred into the Sullivan Reservoir and on down into the Pasco area, but in those days weíd strictly depend on runoff, and that fed our lake, our wells, all that were two miles from Moses Lake itself. The water would filter back through the rocks and fill our wells up. And as we would pump those year after year and thereís a water, the runoff did not happen one year. The wells started to get a little dry, so my dad and uh, whatís, Senator? Tub Hanson, he wasnít a senator then, but he became senator, was a neighbor of ours. And they went down and got a blade and went along the bank of the lake and busted that crust. The moss had sealed it all over, then busted that crust along the bank there on the rocks. And the water just roared in there, sounded like a river running into the bank of the lake. In fact, Tub Hanson mentioned later he said, see carp have trouble swimming against the current, it was running into the bank so fast. So then there was some farmers out on the south end of Moses Lake, which is considered now Pelican Point area or Potato Hill Road area. They were afraid that the lake was going to all run into the bank over there and dry up their wells. So they come running over there with a bunch of clay and dump trucks and dumped clay in there to seal it over. So then my dad and Tub Hanson went to court to get the judge to make them cease and desist, which he did. The judge said that that water had been going into the bank for years and years and they had the right to do what they did, so then the judge made them come over and dig the clay out and haul it away. So, quite a few interesting things happened in those days just in order to get water on our land.
EB: So they did the digging right at the water level on the bank?
DG: Yeah. . . just to bust that crust along there. And that moss would eventually seal over and it wouldnít allow the water to come in as well, and so, this one year it was so much lower that they went in and just busted it loose. Surprising now with all the shorelines and management acts and all this, how much trouble youíd run into just going in there with a blade to bust the crust loose. . .
. . . Weíve seen so many changes over what happened years ago. We were free people more or less in those days, and then we arenít, weíre controlled by any and everybody it seems like. . .
. . . I was an ASC committeeman, elected by the farmers for fifteen different years, and I was a thirty year member of the Soil Conservation District Board, which is also an elected board. And as my, in my high school I was real active in Future Farmer of America. In fact I was a charter member of the Moses Lake Chapter now. It started in 1945, the year I started high school. . .
. . . And in Ď64, I think it was, it was getting pretty evident that the size farm operation I had was getting to the point where it was small, too small to make a living and I didnít really desire to go out and buy more land or lease more land, so at that time I started leasing my farmland out. And started selling real estate in Moses Lake, farm real estate primarily and some commercial in the winter months. So I was in real estate for sixteen years and in that process, of course, got quite active in working with the county planning commission on zone changes and plattes and land use issues. And that, I was approached then in 1976 by a group, the retiring county commissioner had been in office sixteen years and the field was open for a county commissioner. . .
. . . So I put in sixteen years myself as county commissioner. At that time, when that sixteen years was up, decided that I didnít want to run anymore. It was getting to the point that there was so many, many controls and, on local government that we had to force onto the population that it got real discouraging. . .
EB: What were some of the major issues while you were on the commission?
DG: . . . Probably the biggest issues was, we were an agricultural county and it was real evident that we were using a lot of chemicals. And the estimate was six hundred thousand container a year of agricultural pesticides. And no place for those to go, except in dumps and, who knows where. Buried and wherever else. A lot of them are pretty hazardous. So it was the desire then of the county and the Department of Agriculture, or Department of Ecology, to establish a dangerous waste site, to try to get rid of these containers. And rather than just see them dumped at will and a lot of the, as the chemicals would change, use in the new chemical, then there would be always some of these left over, in these farmers barns and shops and wherever they kept it. And after a while the cans would start to rust and you know what would happen, theyíd just dump it. And so we decided to develop a site for what we could call dangerous waste, not hazardous waste, to take care of these pesticide containers. In conjunction with that we were going to have a collection site, with stainless steel tanks to collect these hazardous materials, these liquids and things. Store them temporarily till they can be hauled to an approved site, at that time was Arlington, Oregon, which would be the hazardous waste site. Thatís where the hazardous waste would go. And so, we decided to contract that out to private industry. All three of us county commissioners felt that private industry could handle things like that a lot better than government could. And it, consequently, as times changed and a lot of things changed, it was eventually dropped by the developer as not practical any longer, so it. In the meantime, I guess there is a pickup site once a year for these agriculture containers. But, there still needs to be a place to dispose of these within the immediate area. You know thatís sensible costwise for the farmer. Otherwise, theyíre out there, theyíre being dumped, and out of sight, out of mind, I guess. You donít see them, you donít know theyíre there, but itís still a problem, I think. Iíve talked to farmers, you know they were close enough friends and all, that would tell me, said, you donít know whatís buried out there. You know, what weíve pushed into holes and covered with loaders and stuff.
EB: So, for all the publicity in the eighties and early nineties on this issue, why, you feel that itís still on the table?
DG: Yeah, I donít know yet how to handle it, but I do know somebody should come in and put in a site. We shouldnít expect to dump our stuff in some other states, no more than we want other states to dump their stuff here. So I think each state should be responsible, either by contracting with the other states on an agreeable basis or handling it themselves. But, I think the states themselves ought to get involved in this. You know they regulated all the permits and everything, and so if theyíre gonna put the pressure on private industry, make it so tough for them to develop a site with all the regulations, then the alternate to that is the state get in it themselves and do something with it. Thereís gotta be a place for it. Either that or quit using the chemicals and thatís, you all know that we canít do that. Now anyway, thereís nothing, no substitute for them, so if weíre going to use them, weíve got to figure out a place to dispose of them. Thatís probably the one, most, I suppose, alarming thing that happened in my [term]. And it strung over so many years that it almost took up the whole sixteen years. . .
Of course we were also so hit with an increase in population, which also was an increase in jail population. And that law and justice element is one of the most costly things that county government, um, the estimateís seventy-five percent of county taxpayers money goes to take care of those that break the law. So we were hit with a new jail. The state told us that we had to build a new jail or theyíd shut us down and, which we did. They paid for it, but then we had to operate it under their standards. These are some of the things that I mentioned about control that, were kind of irritating. They set the standards on how we operate it and our jail increased from eleven employees to twenty-three employees just by moving into the new jail, and that was all county expense. . .
EB: . . . How did [farm boards] operate in your earlier years of working with them?
DG: Well, the Soil Conservation Board still is active in that respect, in education. Back in the early years, when the Basin Project first came in, there wasnít even any land developers here to, with equipment that was capable of leveling land, so the conservation districts themselves owned equipment. And they would do leveling for the farmers. And they did the survey work and laid the ditches out and, and leveled the land so that it would, that the water would run. Everything was real irrigation then. There was no sprinkler systems, not even handline. And so it was really valuable at that time, even though they were a public agency, they were working on private farms. And in those days it was acceptable. Now itís unheard of, you know. For any public agency to take their equipment onto private land, but. They, the district did. . .
. . . Now the farmers donít see near the help from the Soil Conservation District that they did back then, in the early years.
EB: Were you ever involved in spray circles yourself?
DG: I own a circle now. I did develop finally in 1990. We had some land that was sand, blowsand land that looked impossible to level. It was so rough and I just passed it up and passed it up, and finally in 1990, the taxes got so prohibitive to where I really had to do something with it. And at that time I looked in a little further into leveling it and I had the irrigation company in town come out that did leveling and developing and put circles and all on. Looked at it and he said, ďNo, it can be leveled.Ē
And so we did level it and, to the tune of about $250.00 an acre which was real surprising, and put a circle on it. I lease it out along with my other land, but I still only own about a hundred and seventy acres, irrigated, which still isnít big enough to make a living on. Especially if you were going to start today and, with the equipment youíd have to invest in, it would be prohibitive to get started.
. . . because of the cost of electricity increase, itís forced them to go more and more to a low pressure system, which I guess had cut the power bill a tremendous amount. By having a low pressure. On the low growing crops they have the drop down nozzles that sprinkle right down on top of the crops, so you eliminate that drop of mist and sprinkler thatís six, eight feet there and through the year that, when itís hundred degree weather, that eliminates a lot of the evaporation that way too, by getting it down where the crop can use it there. . .
. . . Everything is more technical today than it was back when we raised potatoes and now they got soil people running out there, two, three times a week taking tests and you know, we used to feel the ground with our hand and if it would still hold together with a clot, well it was still moist enough and as soon as it started to break apart weíd get the water on. Now, of course, you can, we usually figured about a six to seven day rotation when we wheel irrigated and now they can go over it in twenty-four hours if they want to, with a circle. Itís made things so much easier with the farming than it was back in those days. . .
. . .Rummaging around some of my stuff. I keep everything I guess, so, digging around the other day and found some of the old potato picking belts that I still own, back from when we picked the spuds by hand. The belts that wrapped around your waist and you drug the potato sack between your legs and picked the sacks, the spuds up and put it in the sack. There isnít probably ten percent of the people nowadays if youíd show it to them that would know what it even was. . .
EB: I think thereís a photograph of one of them in the Mac, in the files. . .
DG: I gave Monty. . . one of mine that I had.
EB: Letís turn for a minute to the development of power in this area, especially in Grant County, in the PUD, which of course was one of the major aspects of the development in the area. And you werenít in politics at that stage, at least as county commissioner, but you certainly were involved, Iím sure, to see how this rather small county was able to pull off the building of two very significant power generation facilities. Iíd like your insights and comments on that effort.
DG: Well, like I stated, in the early years when we farmed we were under Washington Water Power, and that was private power. And there was no competition from anybody, so they just about had their own way. The power was extremely high priced. They were extremely independent, and today, for instance, if you want to leave the main power line and go back to the field, you pay the first twenty-five percent of it and the PUD picks up the rest and distributes it back throughout the power bill. In those days, the Washington Water Power, if you left the main power line you paid for every dime of it. You paid for every bit of power before you ever used it in the spring for the whole year. Now the PUD bills you in the summer and they bill you in the Fall. You got a little bit of season, you pay to begin with, but very little compared to your whole bill. But, it got so restrictive and so expensive that the local, those few farmers that were here pursued forming a public utility district. And as I remember, my dad was real active in that, in contacting our local legislators to get, I think they had to have special legislation passed in Washington D.C. to do this, to build the dams. So they formed the PUD and then started working on the two dams, the Priest Rapids and the Wanapum Dam, to generate our own electricity, which is the big reason why the irrigation projectís here today, is because of cheaper electricity. Grand Coulee Dam went in in the thirties and forties, primarily just to serve water on the project. The electricity was a thing of the past. I mean they didnít, wasnít enough electricity, it was just surplus. But now, Grand Coulee Dam has, I suppose, sold enough power, way more to pay for that dam that was originally just put in primarily to irrigate the Columbia Basin Project with. But today the power, yet I think our power, maybe Chelan County might be or Douglas might be right close to us, but weíre the cheapest power, I think, in the whole United States. . .
. . . When the dams were built they only reserved, I think it was thirty-six percent of the power for our own use and the other sixty-four percent was sold to outside interests, California and all the surplus. And that was sold at a pretty good profit, so that profit returned back into the, was distributed back through the PUD and so it made a cheaper rate for all the user. And as power got more expensive everywhere else, then industry started looking at this area because of the cheap power. And so consequently, theyíve just about used up all the surplus power we have, which has also created. . . to buy quite a bit of power from Bonneville Power Administration, which is quite a bit more expensive than our local power. But I think our local residential rate is about two cents a kilowatt, I think.
EB: Who were some of the main players in the PUD at that time? Your brother, obviously, was one.
DG: There was Eric Peterson, whoís local, still living here. Al Clawson, who is still here, has the Mini basket and Pat and Park Grocery, was originally. And George Schuster, who recently passed away, that was a commissioner, PUD commissioner. . .
. . . The two to the south is what feeds most all of Grant County and those are public utility owned, Priest Rapids and Wanapum. But, Grand Coulee does provide some of the Bonneville Power electricity that we buy now, but up till just recently it was just strictly our own local PUDs that generated power. That, also, even though itís public power generated, it provided a good source of revenue for the county, our own budget in the county. I donít know what it is now, but when I left office we were getting about $880,000.000 a year from power that was generated and sold from Priest Rapids and Wanapum Dams as a source, in lieu of taxes. So there the PUD was a benefit even to all, to everybody, even though, along with cheap power they were also a big contributor to the county budget.
EB: Those were funds in lieu of taxes, you say? Tell me how that works.
DG: Well, thereís a certain amount that they call the generation tax and the power generated which would be all of it. And then a certain amount from power thatís sold, the sixty-four percent that was sold out of the area. There was a tax on that too. And that was part of this legislation that was passed when they formed the means of putting in the dams. Iím not as familiar on that probably as I should be, but as I remember being told, the best I can, thatís.
EB: So there is that ongoing income. . .
DG: I wouldnít doubt now, probably less rather than more because of the amount of water that has to be blown over the dam and not generated or you know, passed on through, passed by the fish situation. Theyíre not selling anywhere near the power that they used to sell, and so I presume that figureís probably lower now than it was then. My last recollection, about $880,000 I think is what was generated to the County.
EB: Let me switch a little bit and talk a little bit about OíSullivan Reservoir. I donít recall exactly when it was built, but itís had an impact on the area, here, and also down below into the . . . Lake area and so forth. What are your recollections on that?
DG: . . . That was part of the irrigation project. In fact that was necessity, OíSullivan Reservoir, to back up the water as a reservoir for clear down as low as Pasco. And that was also a catchall for the Winchester Wasteway and a lot of the waste water. The early years, like I said, when everything was real irrigated. Before we had sprinklers they would catch that water, time after time after time, every time it would run off someoneís field, theyíd run into a canal and go into someplace else and then thereíd, and somebody would pump out of it and they claimed, I think, that most of that, a lot of that water was recovered five times, some of it, and resold again and pumped. But as sprinkler systems came in and then you donít see near the runoff that a lot of the . . . irrigation was converted to sprinklers so that you donít see the runoff that you used to. But, that runoff water also went into OíSullivan Reservoir, but that was a backup water. And I can remember as a kid, we used to run cattle down to that area. And weíd round up cattle and there was, all there was this, Crab Creek went right down to the bottom of that, which is now OíSullivan Reservoir. And you could just almost jump across it.
In the forties, late forties, I guess, early fifties, is when they started putting that reservoir in there. And I think this dam is five miles long if Iím not mistaken. And thatís part of the influx in population that created the increase in school enrollment. . . A mammoth amount of employees came to work on the different projects around Moses Lake. To the fact that there was such a shortage of housing, a lot of them were living in tents and just garages and anything they could find. Just living, you know, until they could build some housing. . .
DG: . . . unbelievable
EB: Yeah, thatís one thing I found when I came here is that the technology in the agricultural community is very high. Through necessity, but certainly through economics as well.
DG: Yes. And theyíve even improved the storage facilities for these potatoes too. I know back when we raised potatoes we had our own little storage to hold some of our potatoes, not all of them, but. It was just an underground, kind of underground storage banked up on the sides with dirt. We could keep potatoes in there, oh, maybe the first of April if we were lucky. Then it would be warm enough outside, with no refrigeration theyíd have a tendency to start sprouting, so if we hadnít sold them by then we needed to move them out. But now they store them right on, clear through, the only time they shut the plants down is to do some repairing. Maybe it isnít a month out of the year.
And then, in those days everything was fresh packed potatoes. Everything went to market and they bought them. In grocery stores now, I guess thereís probably like fourteen, fifteen percent of the potatoes are fresh packed. The rest all go to processors. Mashed potatoes or hash browns or french fries. And I guess that percentage even increasing that process because of the foreign markets now in foreign countries are getting so theyíre eating potatoes moreso and less rice and stuff and so. Itís created more of a demand for processed potatoes. . .
[End Side A]
[Begin Side B]
EB: . . . My next question was a little bit related to the sugar beet industry, which at one time was a very major part of the economy of the Moses Lake area. And then because of the processing plant shutting down, it became a thing of the past, although now weíre up to the point where it couldnít happen again in the future. Don, what comments would you have on that industry?
DG: We raised a few sugar beets back during the time when the processing plant was here in Moses Lake, originally. I think the, I think they brought that plant over from Montana originally, in 1950. Well it started up in 1953. . . At that time I think there was probably sixty, seventy thousand acres of sugar beets raised here. As of now, they are now raising sugar beets again, but even in those days I think the sugar content was run around seventeen, eighteen percent, which is higher than in any of the other areas. Higher sugar content and the tonnage was at that time, twenty, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight tons was a pretty good yield. Where compared, where they pulled this plant out of Montana, I guess they were down to ten, twelve tons to the acre. So, consequently it was a pretty good crop for the farmers. One thing about it if they, it was a, their acreage was allotted to them, they couldnít just plant all the beets they wanted. There was controls on the acreage. And, but if you had a beet allotment, youíd more or less go to the bank and the farmer would loan you money to plant other crops too based on the security of the beet crop, cause it was a pretty sure thing. If anybody knew how to raise beets, theyíd, with the water that we have here and the fertilizer and the, and um, it was valuable to have this beet allotment. . .
. . . the late fifties they decided to increase the production of the plant because they had enough acres here that they needed more production so they built on some new, part of the plant was new equipment and that didnít work too well because it didnít mesh too well with the old equipment. And so they had a, consequently had a lot of breakdowns. But beets were pretty successful here until in the late seventies when the federal government. Well the federal government gave so much a pound, I think it was sixteen, seventeen cents a pound, subsidies to the beet industry for every pound of beet sugar that was raised, and the story was, I donít know how true, what the really, how true it was. But I guess that they, the beet company needed another cent a pound raise in that sugar support to make it profitable to keep the plant open and the government didnít agree to increase that support by that cent a pound or so, and so consequently the sugar plant closed here and also, U & I was a sugar company up in Utah, and the sugar company also closed their plants in Toppenish and I think, Idaho. I donít think they even exist anymore as a plant. But that also, that sugar plant in the winter months, when they started harvesting beets, starting in about the twentieth of September, then they started the plant up and start processing in the winter months, probably about the first part of October, and that would continue on probably, early, the middle part of February. And that was a, they had probably about 125 people that worked year round at the plant, but they hired another hundred and fifty or two hundred at harvest time to process the beets, and that was a big source of revenue for the farmers, in those days. Farming was pretty tough and many of the farmer out, employees out there on the processing end during the campaign was farmers. They looked forward to it year after year after year. They work a shift, a eight hour shift out there and then come home and harvest the crops or farm all day and go back and, and that was a seven day a week. They never shut the plant down, at Christmas, New Yearís, Thanksgiving or anything. It was just, but, I remember I worked there four winters and we got a dollar fifty-two an hour and man we, over time and all, it was all the same. That was really something, you could take home a hundred dollars a week. And that was. Boy that was bread and butter to live on through the winter, so. So when that plant, in 1978, closed down, it was quite a blow to the farmers and to the finance industry and also to the business people in town. There was quite a loss of revenue there, for the businessmen. Youíd have thought by listening to people that theyíd pull the blinds, Moses Lake was going to close up and move out. But we survived it and went on and better things.
In the last three or four years now, theyíve started to raise beets here again. They ship them to, I donít know if itís California or Colorado or Oregon, maybe. From here for processing, but theyíve increased I think to this last year, Iím not sure but I would guess around nine to ten thousand acres. . .
. . . Lots of times I donít think they did because they didnít have the controls now that they have, you know the safeguards. But anyway, the last year that my dad had apples, when he decided to pull the trees out, the broker would sell the apples back there, then theyíd pay the freight on them and all the costs and then send a check to the grower out here for what was left. So the last year that we had apples, my dad got a bill for more freight. The apple didnít bring enough to pay the shipping cost and the handling cost, so my dad got a bill fro more freight from the railroad. And of course in those day you didnít have any money. There just wasnít any money and my dad wrote the railroad and told them. He said he just doesnít have any money to pay any more freight, but he said heíd give them more apples if they wanted to take apples to apply on the freight bill. . .
. . . One thing that we really have to look forward to is this relicensing of these two, the Priest Rapids and Wanapum Dam, after the fifty year period is up in 2005, I think it is. And it would be awful easy if they have to go before the federal government to, FERC, I think they call it, the Federal Energy Commission. Anyway, to get those licenses back, relicense. And it would be, thereís a deep thought that there might be a possibility that through all the jealousy of the private power and a lot of the other power companies that are paying so much for power that they might want to blend our rate in with everybody elseís instead of us having that cheap power anymore. And that could have a big impact, if that happens, on the Ag. industry in this area. If that rate say would go up to four or five cents a kilowatt, instead of half to two cents that the industry pays now for power, that would probably have as much impact right now as anything I could see. If, the relicensing on those dams. . .
EB: . . . Do you see that trend continuing? While things that we donít farm now would be farmed and also the yield would continue to grow they way it has during your lifetime?
DG: I think itís going to have to. As the costs keep escalating, theyíre going to have to find newer crops and ways of raising better crops and more tonnage. I just read in the paper the other day where now, is it Filipinos or one of those countries that wants our, I think itís our hard, white wheat, I think it is, for bread. Now thatís being supplied by Australia. And theyíre, developed a strain of our own now and theyíre letting out more of the seed this year, hopefully to produce enough that we can start filling that production ourself. . .
. . . All those things I think is going to have to continue for the Ag. industry to survive. How well, I think, you know there was a big spurge there for a long time about big corporations taking over agriculture. Well, I donít think youíre ever going to compete with the individual ownership that can control his own hired men. I donít think big industry will ever compete with that small. I say small, but maybe up to five, six hundred thousand acres. At least the one guy can get some control over himself, rather than a board of directors or some big outfit that never sees the farm land. Theyíre just into it for the investment. I donít think theyíll ever be able to compete with the private operated farm, where the farmer lives there and has some control over them and maybe does a little repair work in the shop in the winter on his equipment and stuff like that. Youíve seen a lot of them come and go. The big ones. . .
. . . When I was growing up on the farm, it was mostly work. It wasnít, in fact I remember, I think when I was about seven, eight years old I fell out of tree and broke my elbow and we didnít even have a car to haul me to the doctor. And I had an uncle that did and the nearest doctor was Ephrata. But anyways, things were pretty tight when I was growing up as a child. And my folks were more or less the type that worked daylight till dark seven days a week, so really we didnít do much traveling. And I got into this real estate and did quite a bit of traveling of course on that. . .
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