Oral History

Narrators: Gloria Lampkin and Ernabel Mittelsdorf


Ernabel Mittelsdorf, right. Gloria Lampkin, left.

Interviewer: Donna Sinclair
Date: April 9, 1999
Place: McNary Dam

Interviewer Introduction [pause in tape]

[Begin Side A, Tape 1 of 1]

GL: My name is Gloria Lampkin and I live in the Echo, Oregon area. And I was born September the ninth, 1927, Everton, Missouri. During World War II we moved to Vallejo, California and worked at the navy shipyard there. After the war, in 1946, we returned to Missouri to a several hundred acre farm. Having sold that, my parents and family moved to Stanfield, Oregon. My dad who had employment at Hanford in the Tri-City Washington area, after arriving in Oregon, saw a sign that they were hiring at the Umatilla Army Depot. So he applied for work there, and they put him to work, along with my brother and then my sister, and also my mother worked for a while there. I applied and the Corps of Engineers at McNary Dam called me, and I came to work at McNary in May 1953 where I stayed until November 1990, and I retired. I'm still living in this area.

DS: Are you still living in, and you're living in Echo, right?

GL: I live out in the country.

DS: Out in the country.

GL: On Echo Meadows Road, Echo, Oregon.

DS: So when you first started at McNary Dam, that was before the dam actually went on line, but it was after the dedication ceremony.

GL: No, it was not after the dedication.

DS: It was before.

GL: Yes, they um, were still working on putting the generators in. I saw each and every one of one through fourteen installed at the time they had their little dedication ceremony. When I first came here I worked on top of the hill, not down at the dam because there were no offices here at that time. And I worked in security. We had 24 guards, which they do not have now. And a year later I was transferred to the powerhouse. It was at that time called the Service Section. It has since been renamed Administrative Office.

DS: That's right up there at the dam, right?

GL: That's right on top of the dam overlooking the lake.

DS: So you were saying that you actually prepared the dedication pamphlets.

GL: Yes, we made pamphlets for the dedication which was in September 1954. I don't remember what all the pamphlets were for, but there were different things that we typed. We typed them on stencils and ran them on a mimeograph, like, until the stencil would run out and then we'd type a new stencil for the same identical pamphlet, and run another bunch of thousands of that. And they were leaflets that were handed out at the dedication concerning the program, and I don't know what else. They were information.

DS: So you attended the dedication?

GL: Yes, I attended the dedication.

DS: About how many people were there?

GL: Well, I don't know. They did make an estimate one time. Let's see, this is when they were getting ready for it. And uh, there were several thousand at the dedication. It was September the 23rd, 1954. Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated it.

DS: So you saw, you saw that?

GL: Yes, I saw it. Saw all the people. They borrowed all the folding chairs from all the churches and schools that they could in the area to set up for having the seats.

DS: So since you worked at the dam, then I imagine that was, you were involved in the preparation for that ceremony, or not?

GL: Not directly with the ceremony, no. They had the chiefs of the sections and the colonels and the chief of engineers and all of that that prepared the arrival of the president.

DS: Could you tell me about that, kind of describe what that day was like?

GL: Well, it was a nice day. It didn't rain or anything like that because I remember sitting out. I arrived that morning for some reason. I can't remember what it was now. And uh, I wanted to see the president arrive. The top of the dam and everything was closed off, everyone had to come down below. And they had several speeches from the Chiefs of Staff and the Walla Walla Corps of Engineers District Office. And possibly from Portland. There was some military there. And uh, I believe it was the Umatilla School Band that played, wasn't it Ernabel?

EM: Probably.

GL: And then they had some speeches, and then someplace along the way the president, Eisenhower turned the switch that turned on [whispers] generator three, wasn't it?

[discussion of which generator was turned on by the president, a cartoon in the scrapbook at McNary Dam, it is decided that it was number five]

GL: I guess it was number five, and I can't remember, the light was supposed to come on, and I don't know if they connected the right wires or something, but they got it straightened up.

DS: Oh, so it didn't come on, it didn't come on at first. Is that where that cartoon, I wondered, is that where that cartoon came from?

EM: The story I heard or remember is that they had an electrician underneath the, hooking them rather than depending on the switch to turn the light on.

GL: Yeah, I remember that too.

EM: Because they didn't want any mistakes, did they?

GL: Um-hum, I remember that too. It really didn't turn it on like the people thought it did. They connected a wire under there. That's right, and turned on the light bulb.

DS: Okay. Symbolically he was here pushing the button.

GL: That is right, um-hum, that is correct.

EM: Making sure.

DS: There's a picture of the two of you there.

GL: We were right there, going to scare the birds away. I don't know why they used an owl, they used. But anyway.

EM: I'd forgotten about it.

GL: Um-hum. And these gals here all worked together for a long time. [talks about photos in the scrapbooks]

. . . And then they had all the housing development up on top, and then we had all the silver trailers that was over on this other side for all the construction people to work in.

DS: Wasn't that called Silver City?

GL: Silver City, yes, uh-huh, but it was part of this McNary Townsite that's all up here on top now.

DS: Oh, I see.

GL: And then they had a tall, chain-link fence along the highway there. It was really quite nice, but when they got rid of it they took it down. And they kept it really manicured. It just looked beautiful.

DS: Did you live there too?

GL: No, I did not live there.

DS: What area did you live in?

GL: I still live in the Stanfield-Echo area.

DS: Oh, okay, and then drove to work here everyday.

GL: Yes, I did. Fifteen miles from my house to my parking lot. And they also in the early years, had housing across the river on the Washington shore, called Homoga.

DS: Was that in Plymouth?

GL: No, it was just across the dam, right at the butt of the dam where the locks are. Just straight out in the dirt out there. Um-hum, yes. And I guess it was infested with a lot of rattlesnakes, had to watch out for.

DS: Moreso than over here?

GL: Oh yes, I mean that's the general talk anyway.

EM: Remember they had the bachelor quarters too that they built.

GL: Yes, but they were up here.

EM: Yeah, right. . .

GL: Yes, up at McNary Townsite, they had what they called bachelor's quarters and all the men that worked here that didn't have families here yet, or maybe going to move later with the McNary Dam Contractors or whatever, they lived there. Or people that worked for the Corps lived there. In the very beginning when they built this townsite, they really had planned quite - the headquarters to be there. And it was going to be a big construction, but as I understand when someone who was over all of it came here to look, decided to move it to Walla Walla.

DS: Oh, is that right?

GL: Because it was so desolate up here.

DS: So the district offices would have been here instead of in Walla Walla?

GL: Yes, um-hum.

DS: Oh, wow.

GL: That's what their original plans were. And because they didn't like the looks of the area. Then, at that time there wasn't much to Tri-Cities either, so.

DS: I was going to say, [laughing] well I can't imagine that it was a whole lot different.

GL: So they decided on Walla Walla.

DS: Oh, so McNary Townsite almost became.

GL: The Walla Walla District headquarters, had this one fella not. I don't know if it was the colonel or the general or whoever it was, district engineer at Walla Walla, that was going to move. Whoever it was, or whoever came to look at it decided they didn't want to move their families to this area.

DS: Oh, I see. So they stayed there and that became.

GL: So they started looking at Walla Walla and there was the old army barracks up there. So they moved into the army barracks, and had their office there for many, many, many years. In fact, I think until about 1994.

EM: Until ninety something, yeah you're right.

GL: Um-hum, then they built a new building, '92, three or four, right in there, they built a new building. Until that time they stayed in the old army barracks.

DS: Now the army.

GL: Moved out after WWII.

DS: The army, I guess the army impact is pretty strong in this area.

GL: Um-hum.

DS: Because of the army barracks at the school, the Umatilla Army Depot, the Corps of Engineers. So who was the project manager, or who was in charge when you were here?

GL: Let me see, the first project engineer was Richard L. Earnheart. But prior to that they had, well they had a man named Neff, didn't they? He wasn't military.

EM: I think he was a resident.

GL: He was a project resident engineer. And prior to Neff was a colonel. Now, isn't that right? When Earnhart came, and he came in May '53, the same year that I did. And he was the first project engineer, see. And they change from resident to project engineer when the construction began to kind of phase down a little.

DS: How did things change for you as things began to wind down a little bit?

GL: Well, my particular job didn't change a whole lot. However, when things began to wind down, and they came up with. What was that before computers?

DS: Word processors?

GL: When they close out the lock operators. What was that called? Remote control.

EM: Oh! Okay.

GL: When they began to have remote control of the dams from the control room. This was prior to computers, they laid off the lock operators. Um, except for maybe one or two, and the fish facility operators.

DS: What kinds of things did the lock operator and the fish facility operator do before?

GL: Every time there was a lock, they kept a lock operator on duty on all time over on the Washington shore. And they also kept a guard on duty around the clock. And then when they came into what was called remote control, they uh, some of those jobs were deleted. And then the fish facilities, the fish ladders, they had fish operators, fish-weigh operators. And they did something with the fish ladder, and they had a number of them. I'd say eighteen or twenty. And the same with the lock operators. And when their jobs were finished, some of them were transferred to the Dalles, and a number of them went to Ice Harbor. Ice Harbor was just starting up. And a few years after that, they cut down on the guards gradually until they were all gone.

DS: So how long did they have the guards around?

GL: Well, I think along about the time of that remote control business. In the sixties, wasn't it?

EM: Um-hum, it was around '65, I think.

GL: Some place in there.

EM: I, that's just a guess.

DS: So it was pretty heavily guarded before then?

GL: Yes, they had a guard on duty around the clock. They had one over here they called the guard station, and that's where the visitor center is now. And then they had a guard post at the Washington shore. And then they closed that down, and then they had a roving, one roving guard on duty for a while, up and down the river, the parks and across the dam. One. And then they finally rift that job. And some of those went into general maintenance and resource areas, field positions there. The best I remember that's what they did. So that was a number of jobs and also when I came to work here we had about 75 operators. There was an operator at each, every other generator and he had a desk on every elevation, and then when remote control came in, they did away with all of that. Those positions. And now there's not very many. I'm not sure how many. Twelve maybe.

DS: So there aren't that many people working here anymore/

GL: No, it isn't. Also when they had the McNary Townsite, they had about 25 maintenance people working, to keep it manicured the way they would like it. They, when someone moved out they repainted the houses.

DS: Yeah, the army keeps up their quarters pretty good.

GL: It was kept very nice.

DS: Um, do you know when they turned over the management of that area, McNary town, to the county or is it the city?

GL: No, they, first they turned it over to an Indian, reservation people, and they were going to build something up there and put some Indians to work. That didn't last very long, and then [pause]. Did Umatilla get it after that or was there something in between there? They did sell it to another group after that, and they sold it for ten thousand dollars to someone. And they were going to put some businesses up there and rent some houses and, my goodness, several businesses went in.

EM: . . . the business district, what was the old administrative offices.

GL: Yes, what was the old administration office and the admin. office, the security office and all of those. I can remember a Sears & Roebuck was up there. There was a beauty shop up there.

DS: Right there in McNary.

EM: A theater.

GL: Uh-huh, a theater and.

DS: That's along that road that's.

GL: Um-hum, the main one that comes in.

DS: The main road that goes into the town.

GL: The main one that comes in. Um-hum, um-hum. And prior to that when the government had it, it was a recreation center and offices. And I'm not sure what happened to those people, but then, if they let it go back or what. Because then after that the government negotiated with Umatilla, and it became part of the city of Umatilla, and that's the way it remains today.

DS: So did you have friends who worked in that area when you were working here?

GL: Yes, uh-huh.

DS: It's my sense that it was kind of, that it was pretty, kind of a bustling place.

GL: It was very much so. And it was very reasonable for those people to live there and work as they did because, a faucet broke, you called maintenance, they came and fixed it and anything happened, you wanted it repainted, they'd come and paint it and it was kept up very well for very minimum. Probably fifty, sixty dollars a month.

DS: And where did you say your husband worked, at the depot too?

GL: Well, he's, he, when we first came out here he came over to work for the McNary Dam Contractor across the river, on the Washington shore. And he rode the ferry boat and uh, I can remember him saying some of the guys would be late and they'd just run and they'd jump, from the shore to the ferry boat, to just barely catch it in time. And he, he worked probably six or seven months and came down with, had an appendectomy, and he never did go back. He did other things.

DS: Do you remember how long it took to get across the river in a ferry boat?

GL: I don't think it took more than fifteen or twenty minutes.

DS: Do you remember how much it cost? Did they have to pay everyday?

GL: I think the people that worked over there didn't pay. And I can't remember if it was a special ferry or what. But I can remember going over on the car, when we would cross over to go up into Washington we had to take the ferry. But I do not remember what it cost. It wasn't very much. Do you remember?

EM: No, I don't know that I ever knew.

GL: Uh-huh. But I've ridden that several time. And my in-laws came out one time to visit us and I said, "Oh we gotta take you over and you can cross the Columbia River on the ferry."

EM: Oh, you mean the regular ferry boat?

GL: Uh-huh.

EM: Oh, that was. I can remember when a ferry boat ride was fifty cents or something. Whether it was there or the Dalles or. My dad operated ferry boats.

DS: Is that right?

GL: I can remember them. I remember them saying, "We're not getting on a ferry boat!" So they wouldn't ride it.

DS: They didn't want to get on a ferry boat?

GL: They were afraid of it. [laughs] Never been around water.

DS: Well, do you remember what the river looked like before the dam went in?

GL: Well, I can remember when I first came here, it was just a little small stream a-running, it wasn't too wide. And my husband went to work for a fella by the name of Ian Pinkboilen who ran the coal ranch, and in February each year he had sheep over in the Horse Heaven, and he said, "Well now, February we'll drive the sheep across because that's when the river freezes." And they'd drive the sheep across the river then because it was froze hard enough that they could drive them across. Of course there's no way that this river would freeze in any spot now. It's too wide and too deep.

DS: Did you ever see it freeze?

DS: Well, yes, one year. It wasn't very deep. It certainly wouldn't have been safe to get on it, but it just froze out here on the lake in back of the dam, after the dam was built. And then it snowed, and it just looked like the ground, you know, because you couldn't see it. But of course it wasn't safe to be on it. It was running underneath.

DS: I bet that was pretty, though. I know there's a picture in here, of.

GL: We did take a picture one time.

DS: A tug. Yeah, in 1949. Were you around for the big freeze? Here we go. Here it is. Could you look at that? This is the tug that took the workers back and forth across the river. So this is after the ferry boat then, right?

GL: Um-hum. Forty-nine and Fifty we had a lot of cold weather, and it was cold, and it was freezing up every place. We had snow. My, my. I don't think it's been that cold and snowy and icy since, do you?

EM: It hasn't been that cold.

DS: Somebody told me it was like twenty degrees below in the Dalles.

GL: I'm sure it was. It was twenty below everywhere around here. I don't think we've had that since.

EM: Where I live the water was on the opposite side of a railroad track, and the water froze so that we'd really, we had to pack water, you know. The only way to keep a car going was to keep it running. Because couldn't, you know, they didn't have the things then that they had a few years later. It was cold.

GL: And this Green Hut Cafe was up here during the construction of the dam. And a number of years ago it became a Baptist Church.

DS: Oh, is that right?

GL: After the construction and everything. But it was here if '53 because I ate there in '54, and I'm not just sure when it went out. Probably around '56 or '7, because of the cut down in people and.

DS: So did things change quite a bit? After the dam was built in the area, did the population go down or was there a lot of unemployment or? How did you see things shift as you know, there were less people needed to work in construction?

GL: Well the people here. Most all of them got jobs either at Ice Harbor or one of the other dams, the government people. And as the construction people finished up they just moved on to another construction job. And then they did away with the silver trailers and then things like that, and the people started, that stayed around here, then went to one of the towns around. But I don't think that any of them lost population. They might have stayed about the same for a number of years. And.

EM: Umatilla became a twenty-four hour city. It wasn't like a day time city. It was a twenty-four city. Any time day or night, there was activity. And this is true apparently where people are working around the clock. I don't know if it still is, but a few years ago I went to, I visited a dam site town.

DS: Where was that?

EM: I think it was in New Mexico. Well, anyway it was, it really reminded me of the old Umatilla back when there was, just everything was open. The grocery stores were open, people were, you know everything was open. It was a bustling place.

GL: Yes it was, and then.

EM: A lot of people and a lot of excitement.

GL: And they had the Silver Dollar Tavern down here.

EM: Lots of taverns.

GL: And the lights were all around it.

EM: Lots of taverns and lots of lights.

DS: Yeah, I heard that at one point there were like 22 taverns, in the late 1800s actually, in Umatilla. I don't know how many there were during the dam days.

EM: A lot more than now. . . but not like, I know what you're talking about, that was railroad construction. . .

[End Side A, Begin Side B]

[DS asks EM about where she was born]

EM: And so they lived there when I was born. So I've always lived in Boardman. The only time I've been away is at school, basically.

DS: So the town of Boardman that has been removed, is something. Were you living in Boardman when that happened?

EM: Oh, yes!

DS: Yeah? What do you remember about that?

EM: Losing the river. We lived on the river, and losing the river was probably the most traumatic thing. That was, the river was free flowing and, and when I was away that was the first thing I did was walk down by the river and listen to it rustle, you know. And that's, so that was not a good thing to lose. But that's the way it is.

GL: The town of Boardman is completely moved.

DS: So do you still live in Boardman?

EM: Still live in Boardman.

DS: You still live in Boardman, and how do you like the new town? How does that?

EM: Oh, fine, fine, it's. Yeah, uh-huh, nothing's quite like the old [laughs]. But it's good.

GL: Tell 'em the difference in the population, the old and the new.

EM: Oh, we had a hundred, about in the old town. And now we're probably up to, I don't know what it is, probably twenty-five or twenty-eight hundred.

DS: So it's grown that much.

EM: But it's grown a lot in the last few years. But it was about a hundred, I think. And there was an outlying irrigation district that had other, more people, but there was about a hundred in town.

DS: So you actually lived right on the river?

EM: Yes, well not on the bank, maybe two hundred feet maybe. We, we owned to the river like for probably a half mile down the river, and that was, you know that's the first thing you do if you're away, why you walk down by the river and, so that was a shame to lose that. But. And the town, actually the town's, the highway has moved twice, three times. So it's been a lot of changes in Boardman over the last years.

DS: [talks about a film for the old schoolhouse in Boardman. EM has seen the footage before, talks about Riverside High School students editing footage of the old town]

GL: . . . When I came here between the dam and Stanfield, other than passing through Hermiston or between here an Hermiston, there wasn't anything. And then you know when the dam started up, people started moving up here on the hill, and they named it Power City, and then they started a little housing development up a little further, and they called it Charlestown. And those two areas developed after the dam.

DS: So that's how Power City came about?

GL: Yes.

DS: I've been wondering about that. You know you drive through there, and now it says it's managed by the Bureau of Land Management. . .

[GL says Ernabel can talk about how they named it]

EM: Oh, they had a contest and my mother-in-law suggested the name Power City so she was.

DS: Oh, really.

EM: Yeah, she named Power City.

GL: She won a savings bond. . .

[DS asks about involvement in community life. GL says she was glad she didn't live where she worked - too much gossip. DS asks about changes in technology at the dam. GL progressed from a manual typewriter which she didn't want, but was glad later, and then from there to a computer. All laugh.]

DS: Did you become pretty proficient with a computer?

GL: Well, I couldn't repair it! [all laugh]

EM: Gloria's a repair woman, she repairs most everything. She's good at fixing things. . .

GL: When I began I was switchboard operator reliever, and all the calls had to come through the switchboard, and then that was a change when everyone had a phone on their desk and it rang directly rather than coming through the switchboard. So there were a lot of changes.

DS: Do you think it was easier as time went by or more difficult because of the technology?

GL: Well, I was happy to learn it. I think it probably was easier. I kind of drug my feet. I didn't want the change, but after you make the change it's fine.

DS: [to EM] Did you drag your feet too with learning some of the technological stuff, going from stencils to computers?

EM: Oh, no. No. Of course I was not involved like Gloria was with stencils so much and that sort of thing. No, I welcomed change. . .

[they talk about liking the copy machine and computers with laser printers. DS asks about the story behind the picture of the two women holding wooden owls]

GL: Well they had so many pigeons up in this electrical work, that it was just making a mess and ruining everything. And there was a lot of them at the Washington shore. And someone came up with the idea that if we'd put up these mechanical owls that it would take care of the pigeon problem.

EM: Scare them away.

DS: Did they make noises or something?

GL: Yes, they did, they'd make noise. They had some type of a battery or something in them that they'd squawk every so often, supposed to help scare them away. Well after a few weeks the birds became familiar with the owls and it didn't bother them.

EM: They must have put that picture in all the papers around, it really got. . . around the country because I heard from people that I hadn't heard from for a long time, you know. So they had that picture all over.

DS: It's a cute picture!

EM: The owls got a lot of publicity, but they didn't do much.

GL: We were standing out on top of the dam when they came out and said, come on out and let's take this picture. . .

[there was a starling problem later]

DS: Did it ever make you nervous, working at the dam?

GL: No, I enjoyed it. I liked walking down through the powerhouse and looking at the different things that they would do.

DS: How about you?

EM: No.

DS: I just wondered because it's so massive. To stand there and see the drop, you know, the difference in the water levels and just, when you think about the pressure of that. . .

[Gloria talks about her mother being fearful of her working on Saturdays and being alone, but she says there were always people around]

DS: How long have the fish counters been around?

GL: Shortly after the dam was built, probably in the late fifties, wouldn't you think?

EM: I don't know.

GL: I remember when we started hiring them.

EM: I imagine, I imagine.

GL: They count on the Washington and Oregon shore. . .

[DS asks if either of them ever did fish counting - neither did]

. . . and any time I tell anyone that I worked at McNary, "Oh, did you count fish?" [chuckles]

[GL says she worked in the administrative office. Looking at the scrapbook. There was an office at the army depot before the buildings were completed in Umatilla, then they transferred to a Quonset hut at the warehouse area (the fenced building). Have had two new warehouses since then. Tours of the dam began after the dam was completed. The dam employed a lot of construction people. Asked about accidents that occurred during construction]

GL: . . . Oh, I heard a few stories. There was some fella that was lost in some kind of a bucket, and they was raising him out through here in the early construction.

EM: I don't know how many were killed, do you? It wasn't.

DS: I was told it was like five.

EM: I was going to say, it wasn't a tremendous amount like you read, at some of the other dams. It wasn't like that at all.

GL: No, it wasn't.

EM: But safety was always such a concern, and a lot of emphasis. You know anyone who, if someone worked unsafe they would be fired. So it was always a concern.

DS: Did they have a lot of safety meetings and things like that?

Both: Um-hum.

GL: Let's see, we lost one fella that was electrocuted down in the powerhouse. . . [1960] . . . the one on the bucket was during the construction, early construction, and they were making concrete pourers or something on some of those pillars that were poured and they were lifting them from one thing to the other. Something about the story, the bucket dipped down in the water or what, and it, they never did find him, did they? That's the only one I know of that they didn't find.

EM: I've visited dams and I've visited so many I can't remember which one. But in the tour spiel they said that for every million that was, they expected to lose a life for every million dollars that was spent. . . That's not the way that I saw the picture at all.

DS: No, not when you're talking about $257 million.

EM: And they didn't expect to lose any, you know. I mean so much is, there was a lot of emphasis on safety.

[DS asks about hard hats. Even the office crew wore them. Gloria still has hers. Both women like to visit other dams. Look at photo with ice in the Columbia River above McNary Dam, November, 1969. There is a cabinet at the dam where the old memorabilia is kept. Looking at the scrapbook. DS asks about how people felt about fish counters. When did it become controversial around the dam]

GL: Well, when they first started getting the fish screens. And I think they spent more on fish than they ever did the dam, is my thinking. Back east where they have salmon.

EM: A tremendous amount of money that probably isn't.

GL: Done no good.

EM: Well.

GL: Maybe it has, I don't really know.

EM: I think they've spent more of it than anybody knows, you know too, I really do.

GL: And back east where they have salmon, and no dams, they've disappeared. The dams didn't have anything to do with that. . .

DS: [to EM] So you were there at the first shovelful of dirt being turned.

GL: We saw her. Right there she is. . . [Ernabel is in a newspaper photo standing right behind Mrs. McNary as she turns the first shovelful of dirt]

EM: That was the first and only time I skipped school, high school, and I was going to school in Pendleton.

GL: And she never once thought of working here at that time.

EM: No, I didn't. And we came down for the, a car load came down from Pendleton for the groundbreaking ceremony.

DS: So you're right there near Mrs. McNary. And is that Janet Paige? Janet Paige.

EM: Um-hum. Hadn't even heard of her.

DS: I hadn't either, until today [all laughing].

EM: I hadn't either until that day.

GL: I heard of her afterwards.

EM: But, we decided we should come.

GL: See a movie star.

EM: Probably, probably. . . skipped school, and skipping school was not an option [laughs], you know back then.

DS: Did your parents know?

EM: Oh, well they must have known later.

DS: Since you're in the newspaper, right?

EM: Must not have been a big problem.

DS: Well, can you think of one of the most interesting experiences that you had while you were working here?

GL: I remember the dedication, thought that was nice. Means we had a president here.

DS: Did you get to meet him?

GL: No. I didn't get to meet him, but I did get to see him from out here, up there. [to Ernabel] Did you get to meet him?

EM: All I remember about the dedication is that we were told to be here like at four o'clock in the morning, and someone came around and told everybody but me that you don't have to come at four o'clock in the morning. And I was here by myself for I don't know how long before, I don't know what time the others, it was really early, really ridiculous, you know but I was here. And couldn't figure out what had happened. . . .

GL: And then after the dam was completed and the lake was all filled, we had a lot of boating. And I know several times when I would come to work, especially on a Monday when they'd had all the sailboats out. There'd be, oh a lot of sailboats out there, a number of different times. Which we never ever had that before. . .

[talk about recreation a little, GL says they went to the parks]

DS: [to Ernabel] How about you? Did you spend much time on the river when you were a kid?

EM: A lot of it.

DS: What kinds of things did you do?

EM: We had a, a boat. My dad had been on the river for a lot of years. He'd had a ferry at the Dalles, and Maryhill, and had spent a lot of time around the river. So we had just a little boat and it could be a rowboat or a sailboat or a little motor on it. Just a little boat. And not big fancy boats like they have now. We'd just, we'd go over to the island. We used to even go over to get away from Boardman, go over to the island.

DS: To Blalock Island?

EM: Yeah, to spend the night.

DS: Oh, so you camped there?

EM: We camped, we'd camp out. My dad always took a little generator or something so we always had lights and, so we could read because I always liked to read. So we used to camp out and swim in the river, and we weren't fishermen, and none of us fished.

DS: Can you describe what Blalock Island looked like?

EM: [sighs]

DS: If you, let's say you're standing on the Oregon shore and you're looking out toward the island, what would you see?

EM: Well, just an island with some shrub, brush I guess it would be called, not shrubs, brush. And nothing special, nothing, there were some sandy beaches and we used to, like I said we used to go over. We're talking about an awful long time ago. . .

[DS talks about the community history project]

EM: . . .Today a lot of people have boats and there's a lot of recreation and there's a lot of water skiiing.

GL: Boat docks.

EM: But we were the only ones who had a boat in those days. You know, no one else, that was the first boat in Boardman.

DS: So you could go back and forth. [asks if EM knows Margaret D'Estrella whose family lived on Blalock in 1936. EM says that's amazing, it's around the time she used to camp at Blalock as a child. Says her family just camped on Blalock, but that was unusual]

GL: People did go camping back then. We used to go to Sacajawea Lake after Ice Harbor, or actually we never.

[EM says she's talking about through the thirties. She came to work on the dam in 1950, worked until 1990. Never intended to work there for so long. Mother had a restaurant in Boardman. Someone suggested she apply at McNary, so she did]

EM: . . . and it was a wonderful place to spend a lifetime. And what made it great is that picture of five women there, together, there were four of us a long time.

GL: We worked together a long time.

EM: We worked together a long time, and it was. . . [they were lifelong friends]

GL: Well there's another thing I thought of. Prior to raising McNary Pool back here, the Pendleton Grain Growers . . . silos, the Pendleton Grain Growers up here. Prior to that they were located down in Umatilla. But they had to move them because of the dam, and now they're up here.

DS: [talks about seeing a picture of the PGG elevators during the flood of 1948. GL talks about the old water tower for the town. DS says the inside of the dam still looks like the 1950s, the control room included. Looking at photos in scrapbook - talks about Kay, the womens' mentor]

[End Side B, End Interview]

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