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WALTER and MARILYN ERICKSEN
Columbia River Dissenters Series
Tape 1, Side 1
4 October 1999
WE = Walter Ericksen
ME = Marilyn Ericksen
CH = Clark Hansen
OHS Inv. #2722
Walter Ericksen was born in 1918 in Wasco County. As an orchardist and a leader of the Wasco County Fruit and Produce League, Ericksen charted the pollution and smoke from the Harvey Aluminum Company by taking aerial photos over a 21 year period. In 1960, he brought a trespassing suit against Harvey Aluminum Company for causing damage to his orchard via pollution. The Harvey Aluminum Company had stipulated in 1959 that the plants would be smokeless and fumeless. Ericksen won the case and the aluminum company had to make changes, which included installing new filters to catch harmful fluorides.
CH: This is an interview with Walter and Marilyn Ericksen at their home in The Dalles, Oregon. The interviewer for the Oregon Historical Society is Clark Hansen. The date is October 4, 1999, and this is Tape 1, Side 1. I thought we might begin by finding out a little bit about your families and their backgrounds, how you ended up and how they ended up in this area and where they came from.
WE: All right. I was born May 14, 1918, in the Lower Mill Creek Valley, only a few hundred yards from where we are at this time. I never really got out around in the world except for my military service and some travel. My mother, Sybil Wisner Ericksen, laughed about being a little bit of everything, Scotch, Irish, Welsh and German, are some of the things that she mentioned. She came from Clear Lake, Wisconsin, in, I think it was 1904, with her family. They had a restaurant and they moved out west here. My fatherís family came here. My grandad, Nels Ericksen, came from Denmark when Kaiser Wilhelm was wanting him to be a stable boy and he thought he would just rather sneak out, as a real young kid, as a stowaway. So Iíve got a stowaway grandad [laughs]. But, he came to The Dalles and did a lot of things around here. He had an uncle here that lived just up the creek aways and he did grafting in the nursery and other farming jobs and finally bought seven acres downstream from where we are at the city limits of The Dalles on Mill Creek.
CH: Now, he arrived here about what time, then? What year, do you remember?
WE: Well, in the very early 1890s was when he came, and he was married and my father was born in 1893. My mother shortly afterwards in 1894. So that ties them in. Grandad bought seven acres inside of the city limits down about seven blocks from here and it was a family joke, more or less, that he made more money on seven acres than dad did on the ranch that weíre on now, part in the city and part out. There were 70 acres, 63 to be exact. My grandad made more money on seven acres in those early days sending produce to Portland on the steamer on the river. The Bailey Gatzert and several of the others, theyíd ship produce down there. My father, Frederick Jonathan Ericksen, got this place in 1929, one month after the crash (no I meant to say one month before the crash). And one month after the crash, he couldíve got it for one-tenth of what he paid for it. But, I hauled produce to Portland after I graduated from high school and it took about ten years to pay it off.
CH: Now, did you observe the produce going down on the steamers?
WE: No, I believe, if I stretched it, born in 1918, that sometime before 1925, I can remember going down with my dad in an old 1914 Ford truck. The Stadelman Ice Truck, was the oldest truck in town. We bought it ďusedĒ and we hauled the produce down, and Iím pretty sure I remember vaguely seeing it unloaded on the dock for the steamer to pick up, but that didnít last very long and then the highway, of course, became the way and the railroad. So, I have two brothers. Fred is currently the mayor in Arlington and seven years younger than I, and Russell has a wheat ranch out between Condon and Lone Rock, a pretty good-size ranch, and heís getting up there in years. (Eleven years younger) My occupation through life was, I would say, primarily, farming, truck gardening for those early years, and when I got out of the service, this ranch, flat ground that youíre on, raised up to 20% of all of the cantaloupes in the State of Oregon per year, not always, but on good years, 5,000 crates, and Iíve seen where 20,000 was the total production for a year in some of those years. So, for seven years after I got out of the service in 1945, I raised primarily, just cantaloupes. Up until that time, Iíd haul produce to Portland, from 1936 to 1942 when I went into service, seven years, and at that time, there were at least ten different types of vegetables, peaches, apricots, and cherries. So, in that seven years, made 500 trips to Portland down the old crooked highway. Coincidentally, the last trip I made to Portland, I went down the old highway and they opened the new one and I came back on the water grade one [laughs]. Thatís kind of typical of my luck in life, I think, which tells you something!
CH: When was truck farming or commercial agriculture first established in this area?
WE: Well, if you go back far enough, right at the turn of the century. As a matter of fact, I have a clipping that my granddad sold one crate of eggplants for $14.00 in Portland and it set a record. That was sky-high, but that was in the 1890s. After the turn of the century, the big crop in The Dalles and Mosier and Deschutes was asparagus. They shipped it out of here by carloads and that was the big thing, but fell off.
ME: May I put in a little story?
CH: Sure, go ahead, Marilyn.
ME: Relative to the asparagus, there was a man out Chenowith that had a lot of asparagus. His family harvested it and he took it, mostly he sent it, but one day he went down with a load and he sent a telegram back to his family. He said ďCut it off. Donít break it off. Holtenhoff.Ē That was his name! [laughs]. That story has come to me from several different sources, so I think there must be some truth in it.
WE: He sold his asparagus on the Yamhill Farmersí Market on Yamhill Street and he was a man of few words.
CH: Why were those products grown here? Were there particular qualities about the soil or the weather that made this a particularly good area for those products?
WE: Yes. I think probably asparagus likes a fairly sandy soil and that was Mosier and the Deschutes, and asparagus grew real well around The Dalles here and seemed to be something that was more profitable and less perishable. Tomatoes was a big crop for many years after 1925.
ME: Asparagus was not labor-intensive, either, except during harvest. You planted it and then it came up year after year and you didnít have the yearly planting, you harvested it and then it went to seed. You just left it until you cut it down and it came up again next year.
CH: Was there irrigation in this area?
WE: Yes, somewhat. (Cricks, ditch irrigation...) Water from Mill Creek was used for ditch irrigation.
ME: Water wheels in the creeks.
WE: My political affiliation. You really want to know that? [laughs] Well, Iím a little conservative. As a matter of fact, Iím more conservative than conservative. So, naturally, Iím a republican. Iíll get into that a little bit later. My education included going to high school and graduating in 1936 at The Dalles High. I had no further education for seven years. For the first day out of high school graduation, I hauled a five-ton truckload of cabbage to the Portland Market. I had never been there before, and it was a green deal, but from then on, I made those 500 trips in seven years. I liked hunting and fishing and I didnít care about the service, but I was exempt because my father was stone deaf and couldnít haul the produce to Portland and sell it. So, for a little kid just out of high school, I jumped into a pretty big bite, I thought. In the summertime, I took care of hauling and selling the produce. In the wintertime, I hauled and distributed another product that we got from the cattle barns out here [laughs] for fertilizer for a couple of months.
CH: Was agriculture the mainstay of The Dallesí economy, or were there other things that also were major contributors to the economy?
WE: Oh, I think if you include the wheat, which they had a warehouse here and there was a lot of sacked wheat that went through the mills here. Wheat and fruit. There were about a dozen truck gardeners and they were about half and half Japanese at the time.
ME: There was also a railroad station that was a round house and a tie plant, which was contributing to the economy.
CH: What were your first experiences that you recall on the Columbia River, or your first contact as a child with the Columbia River? What kinds of things did you remember from those early years?
WE: Probably fishing for salmon here on the Columbia and steelhead on the Deschutes was almost more than a hobby. I caught a lot of steelhead.
CH: Was that a major source of food for your family?
WE: No, my problem with that was finding enough people I could give them to! [laughs] I got 39 steelhead one fall, hook and line.
CH: It sounds like people with their zucchinis at the end of summer; they donít know who to give them all to.
WE: Thatís right.
CH: Do you recall what the Native American community around Celilo was like?
WE: Yes. Smelly. There was a lot of Indians that came when the salmon were running and it was quite populated with tents and shacks built up and the Indians fished with spears and mostly dipnets and they caught a lot of salmon. You didnít have much trouble catching salmon in those days. They were just thick in the river; not the way they are today. I liked hunting and fishing well enough that I hated to go in the service. I started to say that, in 1942, I was in Class 2A because it was more important to get the produce to Portland and sell it. I mentioned that my next brother was seven years younger and, in 1942, he got to do the same thing as I did in 1936. The draft board thought, well, if he can haul it to Portland as a kid, then I donít need to be in 2A. Then that converted to 1A in the fall of 1942 and I beat them to the punch and went to Portland and enlisted in the air corps, and fast. At that time, it was six months before you would be called up because of the number and they put in a college training detachment right after I enlisted and, instead of having all the next spring to hunt and fish and fun, I was called up Valentineís Day of 1943 and went to college in Logan, Utah. After that, I went to Santa Ana for some reassignment, and three months in Logan, Utah. I had two months in Santa Ana, and then I went to Dos Palos for primary training, Bakerís Field for basic training and way down in Marfa, Texas, for advanced, where I graduated. I had put in for heavy bombers, because I had a tendency to get a little airsick at times and I thought being in a flight with the big bomber would be a better deal and I always had good enough grades and flying experience that I got what I asked for, and I got to be sent to Sioux City for operational training for two months and then in the fall, on October the 8th, uh-oh, it wasnít October the 8th, it was in early September when we graduated in Sioux City. There were three squadrons of nine crews: one went to England, one went to Italy, and they broke my heart and sent me to Langley Field for training for radar navigators and bombardiers. So I spent two months in Langley Field flying those guys up and down the East Coast and, oh, I was sweating, saying ďThat warís going to be over and I wonít get to fly in it.Ē I had a goal Ė youíve got something here about goals Ė I had a goal that I wanted to get the air medal Five Missions to sort of, in my own self-conscious way, to feel like I paid for a million or two dollarsí worth of flight training. It would have been a great experience. Well, along about October the 8th, they thought that it was time for me to leave Langley Field with a brand new radar B-17 ship and I was on my way to Italy. Those other two had been over there for a couple of months already, but I got there, and I can well recall a misconception. I think most people would have had the same misconception. I wanted to fly a mission, and the first mission was Vienna, and the goose bumps were an inch high! [laughs]. It wasnít as exciting as I thought it would be. The flack was real heavy and I decided that Iíd like to revise my thinking quite a bit at that time [laughs]. So, to go on with that, I was invited to be a squadron leader in my third mission, which, the normal way was 15 missions flying wing, 5 as deputy lead and 5 as squadron lead. I liked formation flying. I just loved close-in flying and, on my third mission, I was flying with the squadron CO overlapping wings and got his attention. He sat after the target on the rally and for an hour, he was in the left-hand seat and I was number three just to the left of him about fifty feet and he sat with his head twisted around watching. Only twice did he straighten it out. I thought he was going to get a kink and I thought it would be kind of fun to see that happen. But, he took over the controls and had his co-pilot observe for about a minute and then the other time was when he had his engineer. But the rest of the time for an hour he watched and I set that plane there just like it was strapped to the other one and it never wiggled. He called me in after that and invited me to fly the rest of my tours as squadron lead, which was unheard of. At the same time, he said ďIíd like to have you be the Plans and Training Officer for the squadron. Howíd you like that?Ē Well, I was very agreeable to anything he wanted to do. At that time, right afterwards, I flew the deputy lead position getting checked out and had a couple of bad experiences I wonít go into, but Nathan Twining, General Twining, of Portland, Oregon, was head of the 15th Air Force and out came an order that all rotation, 25 missions, and you got to come home. Hey, this is great! Well, things are going so good that everybody flies 35 missions and we had seven squadron leads with only one or two missions left to fly and Iíd move right in. With seven of them flying ten more than they thought they had, they were disgruntled, to say the least. It was a lucky break for me, in a way, if you want to be lazy and have a good deal, because I wouldnít fly for 75 or 80 missions and, since we didnít fly everyday, that was maybe three or four months I could sit around and twiddle my thumbs. I wasnít about to do that, so I stayed flying deputy lead for the rest of the war through 31 missions.
CH: And you were based, during that time?
WE: In Foggia, just out of Foggia, Italy, Southern Italy. We flew into eight or nine different countries that I dropped bombs on in that time. But I had an opportunity going there. The deputy lead position is the center of seven ships in the middle, and I always thought that was kind of comforting because they take somebody in their perimeter. But our squadron started flying so tight after I had overlapped wings, that as far as all of the pictures Iíve ever seen or anything Iíve ever heard, I cannot understand why we didnít get a lot of recognition, because when we went to the target, it was just a little black spot as far as you could see - seven ships laying right in against each other - and, consequently, there was a plus for that, in my opinion, and itís only my opinion. We only had one time, on my fourth mission, in which fighters attacked our squadron. They never attacked it while I was flying, and Iíll tell you about that one in a minute here Ė I think itís interesting. But we were flying so close, I would assume that a German fighter seeing all those real tight flying planes would say ďGee, those are a bunch of real professional hot dogs! I donít want to go in and attack them, and, if theyíre flying loose, they can pick on a ship thatís out aways.Ē Which happened on my fourth mission. I was Plans and Training Officer and I had to check out a new crew. The pilot was the First Lieutenant and I was the Second Lieutenant, but he had gone through Cadets as an officer, big wheel, and he just didnít seem to be able to fly or listen, either one, and on the mission when I was checking him out, I turned it over to him after about an hour and said ďThis is the way we fly it,Ē and in two minutes he was 300 feet off to the left and way back. I said ďWhat are we doing back here?Ē and took over. Five times he went back there and I brought the plane up into formation. When we got to the target, I stayed tight and flew it most of the way home. As he left the plane that day, I can still clearly remember so well, and Iíll mention the name, he took out the back end. Heíd had enough of me and just wouldnít pay any attention and he got about fifty yards from the plane and I hit the ground and hollered ďRuckart!Ē That was his name. He stopped and spun around and the exact words I used Ė I hope theyíre acceptable Ė but I said ďYou fly that way tomorrow,Ē because he would fly the next mission with his crew after being checked out. ďYou fly that way tomorrow and youíll get your ass shot off!Ē The next day, he was flying in the back end of the formation number six and they got up to Poland Blackhammer Oil Refinery and heís back there about three to four hundred feet. The reports from the rest of the crew that were all up there in the tight knot said that ten FW190's came in and each one made one pass. We lost a B17, brand new, and nine innocent airmen, and it was his fault. That was the only time that they ever picked on us and that was the reason that he was so far away and that I assumed I never had a shot fired at me out of a fighter plane. I had 313 holes in the plane on one mission from flack, and thatís like a seive youíre flying around. During the first thirteen missions, I had over 100 holes every time Ė the flack was pretty heavy Ė but no fighters. So, I weathered that and got to come home and I had decided the day I enlisted that I was going to be getting out just as quick as I could and I did. I got out and came back to the farm. I flew with the 347th Squadron and the 99th Bomb Group, carrying the Pirates famous group, and the Fifth Wing and the 15th Air Force out of, actually, Tortarella was the name of the field and itís ten miles east of Foggia. Through the winter, it was cold. We didnít have any heat. Thereís no trees and no wood. So, we rigged up 30-gallon drums used for oil drums and made a stove with a tube out of some busted-up Wellington English twin-engine bombers that were cracking up all the time - they were on the other side of the field from us - and we set about an eighth of an inch, or maybe a little more, of tubing with a valve on it and it would drop a 100-octane drop of gas into a can of sand and go Ďwhooshí about a foot flame and then it was out. But the tip always had to be red so that the next drop ignited. All night long Ė whoosh, whoosh. And, one drop at a time didnít even give us enough heat to dry our soaking wet clothing that we had flown in all night long. It was still wet in the morning. So, you couldnít get dry and the temperature Ė we had one light snowfall and one or two light frosts, but it was between 32E and 40E all winter long. Sleeping in wet clothes and cold tent Ė it looks like they could have done better, but we survived! Well, I graduated, as I said, in Ď36 and seven years later I entered the Air Corps. You want to know about teachers? Well, there werenít really professors in high school, but we had some good teachers. I got good grades and thought I was living the life of Riley. I wasnít politically active at that time at all and, yet, I was forming conservative ideas pretty strong. A few years after I got back, I was appointed, elected actually, to the Wasco County Agricultural Stabilization Conservation Service, the County Committee, itís called. Itís a government job and I served on that for 15 years. In 1968, Mr. Stadelman was on the State Central Committee and he asked me if I would be State Chairman, which is a pretty high jump for a guy that isnít politically oriented, but he wanted somebody Ė I admired him as one of my ideals. He could have appointed some candidate that had lost an election to this job for name familiarity to run again and win. He told me that he had checked with some people around that knew that I saw the way it ought to be and acted accordingly with no political advantages or preferences who called the shots, and when he came, thatís what he wanted as a State Chairman, so he put my name up and for four years, I was head of that agency for the State. They handled all of the Federal farm programs and administered the bank account payments - all farm payments went through my hands.
CH: So, what kind of work did you do then Ė you were referring to ďstabilization.Ē
WE: Youíve heard of the Soil Conservation Service?
WE: Well, itís a sister function, but the Soil Conservation Service is a non-paying voluntary job except for the bureaucratic staff, but they had committees and volunteer service. In ASCS (Agricultural Stabilization Conservation Service), since we handled the money, the County committeeís jobs were nonpaying, but the State - I got the same GS14, which was way over my head at the time, and I was around through all of the committees in the State, visiting and traveling and I enjoyed that very much.
CH: And that was during what period of time? That was for four years?
WE: The four years were Ď68 to Ď72 under our dear friend Richard Nixon and you ask here who are some of the people that I admire. And, Iíve got to say that there is one man that I admired. I didnít have any love for Richard Nixon, but when I got in, back when we were flown to Washington for orientation, he gave us a lecture and said that ďYou have, in Oregon, 117 people on the staff, paid.Ē And he says ďWeíre going to downsize this government 10%Ē while Iím in office four years. And there was no ifs, ands or maybes. If somebody quit, you didnít replace them. If somebody would get fired, you didnít replace them.
[End of Tape 1, Side 1.]
Tape 1, Side 2
4 October 1999
WE: You want early work experience. I was in truckgarden for seven years and about seven more after I got out of the service - made 14 - and all the time I sold fruit and fruit seemed to be a better way, less intensive care, it took so much labor picking cantaloupes and picking tomatoes. You had a gang of guys and the last year, in 1952, seven years of cantaloupes in a row, and I told my wife ďDonít ever let me raise cantaloupes again!Ē We started them, of course we had the fertilizer we hauled in the wintertime, but plowed the fields in March, planted the cantaloupes in April, hoed and thinned and took care of them through May, June and July, and they came on in August and some into September. When I added up that yearís labor and expenses, it came to $14,000. And when I added up what I had sold in cantaloupes, it came to $14,500. And I said ďI worked for six, seven months for $500. Donít let me ever make the mistake of staying in this business!Ē At that time, I was operating - had various numbers - but I had operating seven different small orchards on a share basis for people who couldnít handle them and wanted somebody to do it. My reputation was taking care of theirs first and mine second. It didnít make it very hard to get a job or an orchard. I had a big orchard here next to me, Bill Williamsí, that he had turned over to me. He was rather ill and couldnít farm it. So, I had a number of different orchards and in Ď53, I went into cherries, peaches and apricots, increasing my cherry planting and area. This whole flat here of 10 acres was cherries, which froze out two out of three years and when they got a disease it wasnít too good, so I just pulled them out. But I ended up with about a hundred acres of cherries and managed to continue until 1958. My bank account was enough that all of my bills and debts were paid and I was even. What a wonderful feeling! Anytime Iíd made money up until 1958, all those years, I had a place to put it against what we were talking about, the national debt now. I was out. In 1959 when the aluminum plant hit town, I was back in the hole again. We had a real bad year and thatís another problem which has bugged me all my life since then.
CH: So the cherries, after you had the 100 acres of cherries, did you stay primarily in cherries, then?
WE: Primarily. Up until 1958, which wasnít too many years, I had a few acres of peaches that I sold in Portland, a few truckloads, about three truckloads a week, and I had five acres of apricots, and they hadnít been very high priced. I sold those in 1962, the five acres of apricots, to a nursing home, Valley Vista, from Hermiston, and that was a lot better way to handle that deal, except that I got an education. I co-signed so that they could build a bridge across the creek Ė pretty heavy investment Ė and my credit was so good that I just signed it. My banker didnít tell me that if they didnít pay, I had to, and they went belly-up. So, I ended up with a deal with the Bank that I owed them instead of them owing it, and it would have sunk me, but I got a partner and got into the nursing home business in 1962.
CH: So thatís the reason why you took over the nursing home was to keep from going into further ...
WE: Yes, well, I had thousands of dollars tied up and it wasnít worth anything on a fifth mortgage! Donít ever take a first mortgage! Again, if it gets up to a fifth, turn around and run! But Iím not the kind of a guy that runs, and I stuck with it and paid off some mortgages and took care of things and eventually came out a winner. We got it paid for. So that was another bit of education. Weíre getting down now into the meat of the coconut when you talk about the aluminum plant. It came in 1958. In 1959, it was in production. New crop was almost a total failure. It was rough. 1960 was even worse. In 1961, the fumes from the plant didnít hit us and I had a little frost damage, about 50%, and still had a much better income, but we were beginning to see the effects. The first effect from the aluminum plant was my apricot orchard when the county agent came down and said ďWhatís the matter with your apricots?Ē They were just about ripe. You know what a sucker is? The new growth...
WE: Well, the apricot on the trunk limbs inside had suckers on them at that time and theyíd grow about a foot and a half and had leaves and, if that smoke plume came in here, within three days, it burnt the leaves clear off. You got a stick. But, real quick, as soon as you had a few days of fresh air, it would grow about a foot, and have leaves on that foot up above where it was. That went on through the summer until when he came down, we were looking at suckers that were an inch and a half in diameter to base, twelve feet tall and never more than a foot of leaves on the very tip. Now thatís a condition that, when you are watching your orchard and you know something has happened and you canít believe that the pollution from a little old aluminum plant there and a little smoke is going to do anything, but every time the smoke comes in, the leaves burn and fall off, and every time thereís clear air, after 10 or 12 times, youíve got to be pretty dumb not to figure out whatís going on! [laughs].
CH: Now, on the aluminum plant, which company was this that ...
WE: This was Harvey.
WE: Yes. Harvey Aluminum was the first one. He came in and set the plant up and said it would be absolutely smokeless and fumeless and do no harm. Big deal. But nobody knew enough about it to think anything but thatís a big boost to the city and the businessmen, naturally, could see all kinds of advantages with a big industry coming in.
CH: Were there any other aluminum companies in the area at that point?
WE: Troutdale was Alcoa.
CH: But not around this area...
WE: Thatís the only one in Oregon, as far as I know.
CH: And, were there other business that have been built in this area for use of the power from the dams by that point? Celilo Falls was Ė the Dalles dam began in what year, was it Ď56, Ď57?
CH: Ď57? And the John Day started up about Ď68, didnít it?
WE: Pretty close. Plus or minus a year.
CH: So, just to go back a step, what was it like when these dams were being built? What were you told that the electricity from them was going to be used for?
WE: I donít think we were told. We understood, probably by assumption, that itís a great thing when you harness that tremendous river, and I still have that feeling that itís a shame to let that water go to the ocean without milking a little bit of electricity out of it. Itís a lot cleaner than the atomic energy and coal fired plants. Itís free, itís going by, and, along that line, those fish that I didnít catch and that arenít there now, arenít worth a pittance compared to the value of the electricity. And any time you start operating like some of these environmentalists, and the spotted owl shuts down all the forests, thatís another issue that Iím very upset about because Iíve flown over most of the forests in Oregon, a lot of it in Washington, and I raise cantaloupes. And every year, I planted a new seed and I got a new set of cantaloupes. And every year, you put any type of forest tree in the ground, 40 to 80 years and you harvest another crop. Itís this clear-cut baloney they put out is a bunch of malarkey. I plowed up the field where the cantaloupes were and, if you have to have a clear- cut in order to get the good Douglas fir, thatís the way you do it, and Iíve flown over enough Ė donít tell me how much ground is involved in a clear cut Ė but after four or five years, itís already green with Christmas trees and 15 years at 25-30 feet high and on the way, thereís a crop of tremendous value, and the quantity of ground, if you get up there clear up in the satellite and could see all of Oregon at one time, you wouldnít find very much percentage is clear-cut, but itís for a purpose. Youíre farming it, and the Forest Service doesnít utilize that productive value that weíve got. Weíre throwing it down the tube. Itís terrible.
CH: Everybody has their own ideas about how things are and theyíre all valid and worthwhile to consider, so...
WE: Thereís none of these 74 species that have come up now they claim are endangered, the whole lot of them together arenít worth 1% of what the forest is and, at least every hundred years, you donít have the loss you can harvest. If youíve flown over Oregon or Washington and you mentally tried to block off 1% a year for 100 years, you wouldnít block off very much and youíd have an awful lot of timber to cut, 1% of all of the forests. So, the perspective is down the tubes. (Last paragraph is intended to convey that if 1% of grown timber could be harvested each year, and the area replanted, you would be harvesting a renewable resource.)
CH: Did you have any feelings about the activities that were happening up at Hanford? You mentioned Hanford a little bit earlier in your conversation.
WE: Yes, can I go to where it really hurts and feels good both at the same time? Do you remember Harry Truman? Do you remember the two bombs he dropped?
WE: Well, let me tell you. I had a tour and completed 31 missions and I had to have 35, but I had enough seniority that I came home in July. I had 30 days off on the 8th of August. The first bomb had gone off and tomorrow the next one goes off. But where am I? Iím going to Westover, I think is the name of the field in Utah, where they would assign me a B-29 crew and a B-29 and give me just 30 days to learn how to fly and Iím over there. And if you think I didnít learn that first day over Vienna, I didnít want to be part of getting caught by the Japs, being shot down, and thereís nothing Harry Truman could have done to please me more than to drop those two bombs. Enough said. Donít ever let anybody tell you that it was a horrible thing. The Japanese lost 100,000 or so, but itís a known fact by all the research, that, had we had to attack Japan on the mainland, go in force, we would have lost well over a million men before we even got a good start. Weíd lose a million or they lose 100,000 Ė percentages Ė keep your perspective level.
CH: Actually, what I was thinking of more was on the, in terms of after the war, and some of the, you know, it was just a huge operation over there, and there have been some concerns about leaks that have come out of there, and I was wondering whether this community, and youíre being down river from that, whether that had any...
WE: Hereís a good opportunity if I can keep talking fast enough, because you can get the black and the white of it over here on the other side [laughs].
CH: Okay! Alright! Youíre referring to your wife [laughs].
WE: As far as Iím concerned, we had to have enough atomic bombs to match and bluff the Russians. Itís a shame that we didnít, when we had those two, say ďno more atomic bombs,Ē and then police the situation. But once they started, and their attitude was to beat us, that plant had to operate. Iíve been over there and through it, and itís true that theyíve got those cells where they store the waste and it may go into the river. The picture that I drew from it is down so deep and in concrete that itís not apt to leech into the river. If it does, itís a bad thing. I canít deny that, but do you want to go without the use of the atomic energy thatís developed there and let the Russians beat us and try living that way? So, again, itís one of those decisions between a rock and a hard place. And Iíll give equal time to the boss [laughs]. Come on!
ME: [laughs]. Before I was married, I was an x-ray technician and Iím very aware of what radioactivity can do. Itís smokeless, itís fumeless, you donít see it, smell it, know that it even is there. I have Ė my concern with the Hanford area is the management of it. From day one they were not respectful of the power that they were dealing with and the danger that came from emissions. Theyíd say ďOh, itís just a little bit.Ē As an x-ray technician, periodically we wore a little dental x-ray in our pocket with a paper clip and if we ever developed that and saw a trace, even a faint outline of a paper clip, we knew we had to modify how we were using our machines and our equipment. And I never picked any up. I worked in a very good office. Again, itís the management and the attitude of management, and the attitude of government, which is not demanding that greater care be taken, and they think that if they bury this in concrete, it will stay. When we used protective shields in x-ray therapy, they were lead and lead is the thing and, if I remember correctly, itís the square of the atomic weight that determines how much radiation it will stop. Concrete doesnít have [laughs] a very solid core to stop anything. It may contain it, but itís not going to stop stuff going through it. And there is ground water outside of these silos that they put them in that can pick up this stuff and I have long learned that you donít believe everything you read in the newspaper. You look at the source that put it in as best you can and, depending on whether itís an independent reporter or somebody with a release out of Hanford or a release from Washington, D.C., you get different pictures of it at either ends. Absolutely nothing or itís very, very hazardous. We do, we in The Dallas, have the perception of a very, very high level of cancer among the people who have lived here. I inquired, one time, from the Cancer Society, and they said ďWell, itís a normal rate,Ē but word now is, from some of the doctors and some of the people who have this, that there is a higher incidence of cancer in this area. Now I donít know about going on down, but itís scary. And you canít see it coming. You canít dodge it. Itís either there or itís not there. So, itís not the development of their product that I object to. It is the lack of care that theyíve used in controlling what theyíve done.
WE: Wasnít that nice of me to give her free time? [laughs].
CH: Well, I guess one of the most controversial things in all that was what they called the Green Run, where they intentionally released a certain amount of radioactivity, wondering what the effect would be in the surrounding area. And thatís been one of the most controversial parts of their history. I think that, actually, the Green Run began in 1949, and theyíve recorded some pretty high cancer rates in the area right around that, especially in milk and things like that. When were you first aware of that happening, either one of you?
ME: Oh, not until just recently. Well, ten years or so, relatively recently. In 1955, I had a thyroid excision [laughs]. I had lived in The Dalles, well, Iíve lived here all my life, but came back in Ď47 and had minimal x-ray treatments for sinusitis when I worked in the office. They donít do that anymore, and they probably shouldnít have been doing it then, but they were learning. So, I canít blame it all on radiation that picked up, but itís cumulative, and this is something they do not admit to. Trojan would not admit to its being a cumulative effect, and one of their PR men said ďWell, weíre only twice the background levelĒ [laughs]. He didnít talk to me for a while after that! [laughs].
WE: Clark, so far Iíve pretty much kept this to my background and so forth. The next thing Iím going to take some time talking about is the Columbia River as you mentioned. Let me just pause with a couple of things I see here. I was in the Air Force for 33 months before I got out. I got out and a few years later, joined a flying club and then I bought my own plane, which I had for 30 years. One of my hobbies that I didnít mention was coyote hunting. I probably had a gunner that shot more coyotes from my airplane than anybody else around the state. Iíd go out in the wintertime when the snow was on. If I could get off here and fly around for two hours, I never failed to get a one, and sometimes four. So, that was a hobby. And then, having the plane, several times I was called on to the point where the County Clerk asked me if I would join Search and Rescue. And, as Search and Rescue, I found a number of people that were lost from time to time. There was one time, out at the other side of Wapinitia whatís that hill out there? I canít say the name of it right now, but itís next to the Indian Reservation. Some deer hunter, the first day of season, got up on top of that and he got lost and started downhill, but he was heading toward the Indian Reservation, which is down, down, down for a long ways. And they sent me out to look for him, alone, that is, I had a spotter with me, but just the one airplane. And after about an hour and a half, I found him way off of nowhere and the Indian crew that were looking for him in a Jeep, there were four of them, were over the hill about a mile and a half, two miles from him, and Iíd seen them. So, I flew down low, I couldnít land on the fairly open little hillside that he was on, but I rolled the window down and cut the power and hollered ďFollow me!Ē And, I flew down the canyon and around the corner to the road where the Indians were, and then flew over the other way behind the Indians, and they stopped and turned the motor off. I throttled down and hollered and they heard me ďFollow me!Ē So, the two got together and they found him. And, I was kinda pleased with that. I had one problem. My hat flew off when I opened the window and the Indians picked it up and brought it in to me [laughs]. Okay, there were three or four other times that I have been successful in finding somebody, but that was just an aside.
So, you want to start in on what I think of the aluminum plant?
CH: Okay, we might as well begin with that, then.
WE: Well, as you know, I started back in 1961 taking aerial photos of the smoke during the time that the...
ME: May I introduce this topic by saying when they were negotiating to get the plant in here, all of the publicity, and I still remember the banner headlining across The Chronicle was ďPlant Will be Smokeless and Fumeless.Ē So, we welcomed them.
WE: Well, Iíll go back to when I started taking pictures in 1961 of the smoke, I lost my train of thought. These photos were taken by MelOlmstead, who had a photo shop in town, named ďMel-oís,Ē and was a professional photographer that could testify in Federal Court and they couldnít find enough reasons that he wasnít qualified. That was one hurt that the aluminum company had and they didnít argue about it, they didnít call him up to verify anything. They left him alone, but as you can see here, until about 1982 from 1961, every year I had an album of the time the cherries were in bloom.
CH: Now, did you do this on your own, or were there other people you were working with?
WE: I was representing the Wasco County Fruit & Produce League. I was the Wind and Weather Chairman because I had this weather station here, the U.S. Weather Bureau, from 1962 on, and for a long time, years and years, I would call in to the Portland station at the airport at 4:00 in the afternoon, give them the temperature, the dew point, the observations that were pertinent, and with that, they would make a frost reporting forecast for the next day. So, that was official. That wasnít a paying job, but it was official. And then, the Fruit & Produce League paid Mel a minimum amount to put the albums together. He only charged us his cost for film and albums. But I kept that up to basically show that there was trespass, their fumes, and it was interesting that in all of the trials against the aluminum plant, these albums came in use and were never really contested. I remember one time in particular when I thought I was going to catch it. They wanted a couple of the albums Ė they had all of them for a few days out of court, and they had found a place where there were three different bits of smoke in the picture and if I could remember, I could pull it out and show you, but one of them happened to be a 50-gallon barrel out here at the Catholic School where they burned their odds and ends, papers, and there was smoke curling up about 15 feet high, just a little column of blue, and the question was that day ďIs there other smoke in the area?Ē And thereís such a mass of their smoke, I think they figured Iíd say no. I said ďYes, itís possible.Ē There was an incinerator out east of town about a mile at that time and it was putting out a little bit of smoke and it was going up the canyon that way when their smoke was going this way pretty much at that particular picture.
What was the other one? There was one other bit of smoke Ė I think it was a batch plant out here on the west end of town that had fired up and was putting up smoke, but the three sets of smoke did not mix, and they asked me to identify such and such an album and look through and see if I could find some smoke. And then they asked me about these three, and I picked them out, no problem, but other than that, they quit right there.
CH: May I ask you a question, and maybe this is more of a legal term, but what qualifies as trespass concerning fumes or smoke? How do they determine that? Do you know what the laws are regarding trespass?
WE: If you can show damage and prove that it came from them to me through the air on my property Ė thatís trespassing.
CH: So, is trespass more than just the smoke being here? Does it have to be damaging in some way for it to be trespass? Or can it be trespass just by being here?
WE: Well, they can be trespassing just by being here, but you canít file a claim against it Ė thereís no harm. But, if you have damage done by the smoke, then you have to prove it. And throughout the trials, we get down to talking about one part per million and then we get down to talking about one part per billion and then we talk about a fumigation test that the County Agent did in a sealed tent to a tree to see how low you could get Ė how little the fluoride and the question was presented to him, the County Agent then in on this study, ďWhat level do you consider...Ē
[End of Tape 1, Side 2]
Tape 2, Side 1
4 October 1999
CH: This is an interview with Walter Ericksen at his home in The Dalles, Oregon. The interviewer for the Oregon Historical Society is Clark Hansen. The date is October 4, 1999. This is Tape 2, Side 1. So, go ahead with what you were saying there.
WE: Well, the amount of fluoride in the air has never reached a level at which there isnít damage. We were talking about trespass and to prove it was almost impossible. Their lawyers got down to technicalities and picking it to pieces. It was real hard, but Arden Shenker was able to pull things together and convince the jury what was really taking place and the trouble we were having.
CH: Could you just state here the years the trial was going on and who Arden Shenker was and how you spell his name?
WE: Arden is A-R-D-E-N. Shenker S-H-E-N-K-E-R. And Arden was a lawyer in the firm of Tooze, Kerr, Tooze, and Ed Peterson, who is on the State Supreme Court and was also on the letterhead later. Arden had just come to the firm and was green and itís kind of a joke the way he tells it, that Bob Kerr handed him the papers and he said ďHere, this is yours.Ē And that was in, I think, 1960. And from then on, he was the lead attorney. 1960 to 1963, at which time Judge Kilkenny from Pendleton said to clean up or shut down.
CH: Now, could you take us from 1960 to 1963 as to what you did during that time to document your case and how Judge Kilkenny came to his decision to tell them, give them the ultimatum that he did.
WE: Hey, thatís a long time ago! [laughs]
CH: But it would be interesting to find out how you developed this.
WE: We had the three years of photographs, which were very conclusive. We had the records of production in Ď61 when we didnít have much smoke and the big crop. Ď62 again, we had a heavy smoke and a light crop, as we had in 1960. But these things are not what the Court will allow as proof. This is circumstantial, and they throw in the fact that thereís weather conditions and frost and so forth. But we had been doing some research, fumigating and like I said about those apricot suckers that grew so violently, we had things that you could see were different. They claimed at the time that they were supposed to clean up, that they had to put in a bunch of fancy new filters and were doing a lot better job. And they got a reprieve and they sent some records down to California that we had hired a specialist that could go in the plant and do his own testing and research and heíd found some pretty fancy things about how they were using more power when they would take the tests Ė they would use a lot of power to filter the fluoride and as soon as they got the tests, then they went back to making aluminum. Electricity available to them was rationed, so that they had to choose whether to use it for filtering (electrostatic process) or for producing aluminum.
CH: Now, are these comparable to scrubbers that would be on the top of smokestacks?
WE: Thatís the scrubbers, and to electrostatic precipitators. And the electricity that they use is a problem and what he found was that, in the time period that they were taking the tests to see how good they were, power use went way up, and then the rest of the day it went down. That didnít go over real good. They couldnít explain it. So, the company then, seeing the handwriting on the wall, real quickly wanted to go into arbitration. ďOh, we want to arbitrate.Ē So, they started in. I wouldnít be surprised if it was Ď64, and the Judge determined that each side would pick an arbitrator Ė thereíd be three of them Ė and the two arbitrators together that were selected would pick the third. Well, the aluminum company would not agree to anything we offered, but we found ďOh, no, not thatĒ and that went on for three years.
CH: Now, who were you trying to find as an arbitrator? Who were you suggesting that they complained about?
WE: Well, Iím trying to think Ė the one that we got was a professor at, I think, itís Utah State College, that had done some research and was willing to call the shots the way they were. But what we found consistently was that they were always bought off. They were going to work for the company. And we finally got told by the Judge that we had to accept an offer and they got Ė what was the manís name up at Washington State University at Wenatchee?
ME: Those names are all gone.
CH: Would that have been Norm Whittlesey, by any chance?
WE: No, no.
CH? This is at Wenatchee?
WE: But he was the third one. For year after year, he couldnít see past the end of his nose, but same thing as I told you about the growth on the apricot trunk, the burn on the cherries, and another thing that Marilyn and I had done in a research way that they said wasnít scientifically good enough. Every year weíd pick out representative limbs when they were in bloom. Marked them, counted the blossoms and counted how many made cherries. And we were getting 10%, 7%, 5%, is all that would set fruit and the rest of them were burned, the pollen was destroyed apparently. But, this was consistent and it also registered better percentage the further you got from the plant. When you get out of town, youíve got real high percentages. One place here thatís way out in the area, but clear out at the end, had 55%, and I had 7%. So we had done that kind of research every year consistently and we put it in the record, but they said it wasnít statistically sound. So, it kinda gets to you when you canít get a bite into things.
CH: And these were the arbitrators who were saying...
WE: Well, the arbitrators were listening to the testimony and we had to give them everything that we did, open book. They didnít always open their book quite the same way, but they did Ė Taylor was his name, right?
WE: And he was for them for four or five years, but come right around 1970, he began to see the light and he must have been a pretty good religious sort of guy, because he couldnít quite go with the aluminum plant and, eventually, he got on our side. And, just seeing it, close enough, all the time, convinced him.
ME: Or we could just say that he was fair and he finally saw that we did have substantiating pictures and evidence for our position.
WE: So, one of the things that I testified to in the flying outside of the pictures Ė one time the smoke was, there was probably a 15-mile an hour east wind and I got out there and they were pouring it out pretty good. It wasnít going to hurt anybody. It was going over the hill at Mosier and over the hill at Hood River and down into Odell. And I followed it all the way to Odell, open the window with another farmer I had with me, and we could smell the aluminum plant smoke at Odell. I testified to that. And another time, I had Mel that took the pictures, the smoke was a strong west wind, I said ďLetís see how far we can smell it.Ē We crossed the Deschutes River clear into Sherman County and then flew Ė it was only a band of about two miles wide out there Ė and we could smell nice fresh air Ė boom! Ė aluminum plant for two miles Ė fresh air Ė clear to Sherman County.
CH: Is there any kind of definitive tests that can be done to demonstrate how much fluoride is in the air?
WE: Well, when you get down to half a part per billion, you know, theyíve got a stand right there by that pole that they check every day, and theyíve got tubes and air and water and they draw the air through the water and test it. And when thereís smoke here, they come up with how many parts, but it was for, probably 10 or 15 years, they didnít have the ability to cut it down to a part per billion. Thereís no instrument, like a speedometer in a car that says how many miles youíre going, thereís no instrument that will tell you what the level of fluoride is. And when you get down to half a part per billion in the air, half a part per million on the leaf. So, thatís the two separations, but a half a part per billion in the air is not very much.
ME: The young man from Hood River devised a collecting system. You flew him in the clouds, and I donít remember the particulars of that, but I remember the testimony. When he testified, they asked him ďWell, where did you fly?Ē And he said, ďWell, mostly in the air.Ē And the Court just broke up [laughs]. He didnít mean to be funny! But, he did measure some of the clouds and the amount of fluoride that was in them at that time.
WE: He had a filter and a deal out here heíd hold outside and he had a way of calculating so much air.
ME: It was so much air through and a certain length of time and he did ...
CH: Is there any naturally occurring fluoride from anything else?
WE: Nature has fluoride...
CH: But in the air?
ME: And diesel. Diesel trucks put out fluoride. So, you burn diesel in your furnace, why, youíre probably putting out a little. I donít know for sure that a furnace does, but areas that have a lot of diesel traffic are ...
CH: Were they testing the fluoride coming out of the chimneys? Do they know how much was actually coming out of the chimneys?
WE: Through that deal right there Ė theyíve got Ďem around town Ė three of Ďem, in different directions.
CH: But right at the plant. Iím ...
ME: We couldnít trespass there [laughs]. They could have.
CH: But couldnít that have been asked for by the arbitrators or the judge or ...
WE: I started to tell you. Let me finish.
WE: The judge Ė they claimed that they had done such a super job of now filtering much better some years later Ė I think it was 1970s. And they had sent the tests from these things to the plant in California to be looked over and they lost them. They had all four, five buildings out here. And the one, on the west end, was especially bad, and we knew it was bad, and they lost that and asked the judge if they couldnít just take the average of the other four and put on that one, and that got them down within tolerance. Lyiní buggers! [laughs]
CH: So, they didnít try to re-do those tests, then, to compensate for the one that was lost?
WE: Oh, no!
ME: Well, the last testimony Ė the thing that finally cracked it Ė was a young man from their lab who testified, but thatís clear at the end of the story, and he indicated that they did repeat the tests and, strangely enough, they kept repeating, they sent out and got more samples, repeated the tests until they got one that would pass, and if theyíre being that unfaithful to their commitment, why didnít they just fake the numbers than to keep these kids Ė some of them worked two days right through the night Ė and the saying in the lab was, ďWell, we have to do it until we get it right.Ē Arden managed to get in, itís not hearsay, but itís a saying.
CH: Was there any proof that they were turning off those filters during the other times of production?
WE: Thatís the man and the specialist from Vancouver, Washington, that we had that could go in any time by surprise, but he got in and checked the electrical consumption and thatís when he found the answer to your question that it was bad.
ME: Well, he had the Bonneville Power records, of their consumption, too.
CH: Oh, so you could tell by the ...
ME: And he could tell by the consumption. They were limited, you see, to how much they could have, and...
CH: I see. And the filters used so much electricity that it was easy to document.
ME: Right. They compared the electrical consumption with the aluminum output, and if they have the same amount of consumption and low output, they knew that the filters were running. And if the aluminum output went in, they knew thatís what the electricity was being used for.
WE: Technicalities in court, federal court, with the judge, are this: I went up and cut a limb about a foot long and I wanted to enter it as evidence the same as these as fact. I told you about the apricot. Iím back to it again. 12 feet long. A cherry limb that had been there for 13 years, I flipped it off and it was about the length of this piece of paper, about maybe 10 inches, grew new wood 10 inches long in 13 years, less than half an inch a year. Now until the aluminum plant came to town, the standard length was about 30 to 36 inches, and we had a standard pruning practice of cutting about in the middle just real quick with the clippers and leaving half of it so they didnít get too long and limber a tree. So, here you are, a 36 inches, and now I got 13 years, itís not even a foot. That was what was before, and for several years, my hired man and I, we worked together very close and went to school together, would prune, you see a limb up there, a long straight one, we cut it in half. Holy smoke! Weíre cutting five years of growth back! But that was one of the things that came about as evidence, but I started to bring this point out for was the fact that I got the limb and I can show you that limb and swear to you where it came from. Everything official. But it wasnít good enough for the judge. You canít enter that because we canít preserve it for the record. And he wouldnít let that in. So, we had a hard time and it was so frustrating to have the community on my back. They didnít believe we had the damage and, at the end of one trial in state court, Wilson Meyerís trial was moved to Hood River and the closing arguments were heard and everybody that heard them was just sure that we had a cinch on it. But somebody from the aluminum plant got to town and told the paper how it had gone and the aluminum company was going to be all forgiven and everything. They werenít guilty. And the paper printed everything in the companyís favor, but when the decision came out, he won 100%. So, it was just bias, even through the news media, that this same man offered to buy a page or two pages and put the testimony in so that the people in town could read the facts that were given in court. And the paper wouldnít print it, wouldnít accept his money.
ME: They were being influenced by other advertisers who were not going to patronize them if they were too overt.
CH: So, how many employees were at this company? Do you have any idea?
WE: I wouldnít want to make that comment.
ME: Four hundred comes to mind...
WE: Four hundred comes to mind at one time.
CH: And most of those people lived in this area then, in The Dalles?
WE: Yes, they were local...
ME: Many came to The Dallas just to work at the aluminum company.
CH: So, when you started making your claims against the company, could you describe what the reaction was in the community, then? I mean, youíve described a little bit, but could you describe a little bit more?
ME: They split. The community split. It got to the point where we were recording things, evidence, and we had to be careful who we got for babysitter. Well, you donít want somebody whoís a child of management out there to have available some of your notes and pictures and things like this, so youíre careful. People dropped out of certain churches that had a lot of cherry orchardists in them and the cherry orchardists were outspoken about their dislike of the aluminum company and these people who worked there took it personally. We had a young man who worked for us who we didnít see for quite a while and then he stopped by one day and he had a job at the aluminum company. And he said ďWell, you know, itís funny, they told me not to be friends with you, not to associate with you, but theyíre not going to tell me what to do. I parked my car out front and Iím going to come see you whether they want...Ē [laughs]. But we had four neighbors, three neighbors, down the street, we were nodding acquaintances. Our kids were the same age, they went to school together, they were in, like, 4-H, together, things like that, but it was only nodding. Other neighbors...
WE: There was no bitterness, no skullduggery or problem. The neighbors here understood the problem and they were really good. I left out something else I was going to say here, in the first section. I thought ĎCan I brag a little bit?í
CH: Go right ahead.
WE: In 1989, I received the award of Citizen of the Year for The Dalles community by the Chamber of Commerce. And in 1999, in the plaque over there, I was given the award of Pioneer of the Year for the Wasco County Pioneers Association. So, I was fired with that. Thatís kind of an aside...
CH: Well, I think that it demonstrates, doesnít it, that there were a lot of people in the community who did respect you and that itís an indication of what some people felt.
WE: Well, things arenít so bad on the surface anymore. There were some things that went on that Iíd like to point out. We were talking about how the aluminum company deceives, controls, leans on EPA. At the time that a trial was coming up early, it might have been even Ď70, thatís 30 years ago, they had a deal where they had an outflow of water from the plant through the filters, or whatever, that go into the river. And it was about as wide as this table and it was two inches deep flowing down, millions of gallons a day that was supposed to be from the fluoride that they were taking out of the filters. Well, if this was the case, Iím kinda tied up in knots because I want them to put it in the river instead of the air, but I donít think they ought to be wrecking the salmon. Now weíre getting down to the Columbia River again. And, I went down and got a five-gallon pail of the water that they were dumping in the river, millions of gallons a day, brought it out here across the creek behind the barn, it was in the wintertime, I donít remember...
ME: It wasnít very cold. It might have been fall.
WE: Yes, fall.
ME: Or early spring, but it wasnít cold.
WE: But I could catch fish over there by the minute and I took a five-gallon can of water out of the creek and got half a dozen six-inch trout. I thought Iíll see if thereís acid or how hot this stuff is that theyíre putting in and I had to shock them. Just disbelief! I couldnít imagine! I put a trout in their water and in 20 seconds he was stiff and slow enough and not moving. 20 seconds! But in the first second he went in and he came up to the top standing on his tail with his mouth outside trying to breathe air. His gills not red, turning pink, to gray, within five seconds, and he didnít want any part of that. He couldnít stand it and his scales began to come off and his body turned light gray to almost white. 20 seconds - totally dead. And thereís a thing, but I canít remember what they call it right now, a fish tolerance thing, and I believe itís 50 parts per million, I could be wrong on this, but thatís what I recollect from thirty years ago. At that level is where fish are killed. And, since this died so fast, I had somebody quietly take a check on it and it was two or three hundred parts per million in that water. But that was enough, that it was killing fish. Now couple that with a deal that I saw on television, maybe 15-20 years ago, that the Western Washington University, part of the Washington State Ag, itís a branch, they ran a study, it was something like I was talking about, how...
ME: Pullman, I think.
ME: I bet it was Pullman.
WE: No, Pullman is in Eastern Washington, and this is Western College, west of I-5, but they had the picture and they showed two bodies of water flowing through a channel, concrete deal, and they had salmon down at the bottom. And the salmon could not find the way on the side that had the fluoride. It killed their ability to, what is it that drives them into the right stream? You know, the fish are supposed to come back to their spawning grounds.
WE: And they have something in their system, whether itís smell, taste or what it is, but they can go back, and this very low amount of fluoride that they used, itís on a test, and theyíve got it. It killed it so the fish couldnít find their way. Well, that may have something to do with our fish problem. It may not. But itís covered up. They showed it once. I donít know how it ever got out to be shown, but itís a state college...
ME: Well, they ended this requirement. I mean, it was an ending request that they do that, and it was published. But I havenít heard anything more about it since.
CH: How much waste were they putting into the river per day?
WE: I couldnít measure that, but I will say this: I wrote a letter to, one of the 10 centers for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the nation and in Seattle, they moved it from Portland to Seattle, and I wrote the letter to Seattle and told them about this deal about the fish and within one monthís time, the aluminum company put a cut down in the rock and buried a steel pipe and dropped the water 20 feet below the surface or some other amount below the surface, but itís where boaters had been able to get the water where it flowed over and into the boat, they could collect it that way. Within one monthís time of when I asked them to make a report on it, somebody was on the inside and protected and they fixed it and then they went up to the John Day Dam and did the same thing.
CH: There was another plant up by the John Day Dam?
WE: Thereís an aluminum plant there, too.
CH: Arenít plants that discharge material in the water allowed a certain length for it to combine with the water before the water is tested? Isnít there some kind of a formula for that?
WE: Yes, I suppose there is. It wouldnít matter. They could either take the raw stuff and take the quantity compared to the flow of the river, but if one-half part per million in the water is gonna be so bad on things, any amount is going to possibly destroy the fishís ability to find his way, and thatís another one of those things that you canít prove, but itís certainly a potential.
CH: How big was this pipe that was going into the water would you say?
WE: Why, they dug the ditch in solid rock and covered it with solid rock and buried it in the river and I canít say.
CH: But, the one that was going before that, the one that was...
WE: Well, there was one that was going through a ditch that came out of the plant and across the county road out there and through some property, I think they owned it, into the river, and it was just a little creek flow.
CH: About how wide would you say?
WE: Oh, about as wide as the table...
CH: So, five or six feet?
WE: Five or six feet, and appeared to be about two inches deep, coming in smooth and they had a drop on it...
ME: Well, thereís a settling pond first, and then it came out over the settling pond and then it kinda sluiced away and went down, because we dipped into a deeper place to get that bucket.
CH: I see.
WE: But itís...
ME: I donít know if weíre remembering here that our problems started with Harvey Aluminum and it is barely possible that we caused them enough problems that they were happy to sell to Martin Marietta, so along in the middle, we just continued our battle [against] the aluminum company, but it became Martin Marietta. Martin Marietta made the big mistake of keeping the same pollution crew that Harvey had. Had they replaced them with new people, we might have had our problems...
[End of Tape 2, Side 1]
Tape 2, Side 2
4 October 1999
ME: ...with Bonneville.
WE: We spoke about how the pollen is affected in all the plants [and] flowers. Pollen burns, the fluoride burns the pollen in a matter of 15 minutes to a half hour, and in that length of time, the petals on a cherry blossom will have a thin film up to maybe a 32nd of an inch of burn around the petal, within thirty minutes. And the other thing that is more indicative, if you take the pollen off the stamens in a blossom and wiggle it in your fingers, you end up with yellow powder, yellow chalk. I didnít mean chalk, more like talc, the pollen is yellow and itís soft. And within 15 minutes of the time the smoke in our pictures in here comes across to the orchard, 15 minutes, and itís just like hard pepper, just hard pepper. Now one of these times, Mel was coming across, we take off here and climb out until we can take a picture of the stage blossoms of those orchards on that bench, first picture. Second picture is right out here, of the plant, and the third picture is the one that gets right behind it to show it. We came across the orchard up there and smelling nice, spring blossoms, fresh air, beautiful, and we got just past my sonís house up there on Cherry Heights, and you could of heard him clear down here, Mel said ďOh, my God! Smell that!Ē And it was the aluminum plant. And I went through it, turned around and came back, about 200 feet through it, and we hit the other, and you could smell it just as fresh and clear as could be. You can smell it when itís there, but this really got him. ďOh, my God! Smell that!Ē
CH: But how do you document something like that?
WE: Thatís a problem!
CH: Yes. And the other thing is, if this is so harmful to these trees and to the fish, what about the effects it might have on people?
WE: Well, you canít measure down to a half a part per billion further than that, and when you get down to that, itís your opinion against somebody elseís opinion. Itís almost impossible to document, in my opinion.
CH: But, are there things, illnesses or chronic health conditions that can be caused or irritated by fluoride emissions?
ME: I think there are none that have been proven or documented, but, you know, asthmatic problems and things like that, I would expect, would be increased, that the problems would be increased with any kind of pollution, and this is a drying agent that...
WE: You know, this is the drying agent in four-hour enamel, over 24-hour enamel, they have fluoride in there and it dries the enamel in four hours instead of a long time. Thatís what they use.
CH: I see, so the fluoride is used, is not necessary a by-product in the making of aluminum, but itís made for this enamel that is put on the aluminum, or ...
ME: No, no, no, no! Itís a by-product of the reduction of bauxite.
CH: I see, I see, I see.
WE: The by-product aluminum, when the paint company wants to have four-hour enamel, they get a hold of the fluoride. Thatís all there is to that part of it, but the...
ME: But weíre dealing with a gas, you see, and what they put in the paint is another form for it, and what is in toothpastes is different than what flies around the air! [laughs]
CH: Itís a different form.
WE: Well, the fluoride is a product that they have to have to make aluminum. It has something to do with electrical reduction. I donít know just exactly what it is, but they found about halfway through this long period since they came to town that, if they use these electrostatic precipitators and save the fluoride, that some of it they could use to put back in to take the bauxite and make aluminum. It was a product they had to have and they could use their own product. So they have gotten better and better. I didnít tell you about the peaches. Damaged the peaches, cherries take 60 or 65 days from the time they bloom until you can eat them. A peach blooms about the same time in the Spring and itís just at least twice as long before itís ready.
ME: Except your early peaches.
WE: Well, alright. Thatís a different story, but the average peach. The suture on a peach, originally nature had a leaf, and it folded the leaf together, and made the fruit and the pit, and where it folds together is called a suture. And on peaches, most varieties and some are extremely susceptible, that fluoride, within the time period of four months instead of two, that suture on the side that folded over, will raise up about as big as a finger laid on top and be oversized, and then come down to the normal size of the peach and it will be bright red. And that is red all the way down to the pit when the rest of the peach is green.
ME: And it ripens early.
WE: And this put an end to my peach operation. I had to quit. I couldnít sell them in Portland.
CH: Was this happening to other people in the area, too?
WE: Yes, thereís very few peaches in the area. Thereís one large orchard up on top of the hill there, a couple miles further away, and this year, he called the company out and said ďLook, my peaches are falling on the ground. They got the same old suture, and your fluoride has done some damage.Ē Now to be fair, I would say this year, I have observed another thing about the growth I mentioned, three feet new growth. The plant was out of operation for two years, and bango! We had 30 to 36 inches new growth. Those two years with no fluoride. This year, weíve got about 20 inches, on an average, of new growth. The growth comes when the treeís in bloom and boom! The little leaves just grow like crazy for about a month. And we got that growth. The peaches that are hurt may have had damage that came later in the summer, and you never know when theyíre putting it out. But, a foot and a half has been the average growth on years when the smoke isnít too bad in here with the aluminum plant. But what happened to the three feet we used to have? In connection with that, in 1958, the last year we had no fluoride in the trees, we had great big balls as big as a big cantaloupe of cherries all the way around the limb all the way down to the trunk, just loaded, and the limbs hanging on the ground in the dirt. And they were so thick that year, I canned the cherries, and the minimum acceptable size for a Royal Anne canned cherry was so many hundredths of an inch, I canít remember the exact deal, I could get it, but the important thing was that 95% of my fruit just barely made number one size, but here the load on the tree was fabulous. And in Ď55, we had the same load and back in, before I went to service, it was customary to have the trees, all those blossoms stick, and they were just a big round rope to the ground and since the aluminum plant has been here, we have never had it, not once.
CH: And, then, you said, at one point, that after Harvey Aluminum was sold to Martin Marietta, that, at one point, the company was closed for about three years...
CH: ...two years. What happened during that two year period, to your crops and the crops of your neighbors?
WE: Well, they were good, and thatís when they got that old fashioned normal growth and normal set on the tree. If they shut down, it changes. We have thought maybe the fluoride is in the wood and carries through in the roots, but it didnít really show us anything that you could put your hand on and say this was different. [laughs] Weíve got used to taking five and ten year averages of this damage and that damage, and we want to watch it for a while, but it was very obvious that the fluoride not being here brought us back to one of the good old days. That pretty well covers what Iíve got. Iíll throw in one on political activities. Iíve been on a Central Committee for a long time. For nine years, I ran a bingo game here that raised enough money that we have a irrevocable trust that brings in interest every month to keep the original Wasco County Courthouse open. That was built in 1854 and is the oldest Courthouse west of either the Rockies or the Mississippi. And itís been moved seven times, and I got enough money to move it the last time, it was about $35,000. We sort of led it, but there was quite a bit of help. But the bingo game has assured that it will remain financially stable. Another nine yearsí stretch of my career...it asks here what my hobbies and experiences are. I was on the Wasco County ESD, Educational Service District, through the Rajneesh deal [laughs] and I got the sign off their darn school district as chairman when they were leaving. We put it back to normal the way it used to be, but I went through that period of time.
CH: That was a rough time.
CH: Yes. But, you know, going back to the lawsuit, the lawsuit began in, you said, 1961?
ME: Was it Ď60?
CH: 60. And then that went through to...
WE: And then they got down and plead with the Judge and had this trip that they lost the records in California and they said ďWe want to agree to arbitration.Ē And that came up, was stalled until Ď66, and determination was made in Ď72, and this was when Taylor got around on our side and we ended up with about everything we asked for, and he was with us on that.
ME: But there was a delay in them getting their report out and, with the way the thing was written, we had to decide, within a certain length of time, if we were going to arbitrate again or sue. And the first arbitration had been not very advantageous for most of the farmers, so we elected to go back to court before we got the result of the second arbitration. The second arbitration was pretty good, but because of this time lapse, and we had to make the decision before we had the result of the second one, we went back to court.
CH: That would have been when in the time line...?
ME: Ď72 was the first one, and then Ď73 or so...
WE: I actually was the lead one in the second case because when they settled in Ď72, that nominal amount, they were going to clean it up, and we thought that was great, and they hadnít cleaned it up like they said they had, and I was added that position for Mr. Meyers here in State Court, and [laughs] Harveyís attorney turned to me and snapped at me. He says ďWell, are you gonna sue again?Ē And I turned to my attorney and I says ďMight as well. Itís still doiní damage.Ē So, it became Ericksen, et al., on the second case. But there was, I think, fourteen others on it. My reward was about $850,000.00. I had it pretty well established of what I should have and what I didnít have and Iíve been keeping awful tight records for 30 years, so I got a big lump sum and the next litigate came up and was...
ME: Our son got an award there, so it was over a hundred that we got together, wasnít it?
WE: No, that included his and Kortgeís and everybodyís, three or four, five...
ME: We got 90% of what we asked for, which was unheard of.
WE: About $600,000, $500,000, but anyway...
ME: The next person you were talking about...
WE: Yes, the next one kind of hocked it up a little bit and made a claim of how they skinned pickers and counting buckets. Supposed to be 20 pounds to a bucket. They claimed they could get 25 pounds in a bucket and pay the same price. It didnít hit too well with the jury and they gave him a minimal amount. But he hadnít kept records, didnít know what it was, and was just kind of grabbing figures out of thin air, and that didnít go over very good with the jury...
ME: The trial was held, first all of the evidence was presented for everybody...
WE: Against the trespass. Prove a trespass.
ME: Yes. And then we presented our losses. We were the first.
WE: Each one of the 13 or 14 had to go individually before the jury and make their claim for what their dollar loss was. But the first part of the trial was just did you trespass or didnít you?
CH: And this was during 1966 to 1972? Was that the period for the first trial?
ME: See that, Ď66 to Ď72 had been handled with the...
ME: ...arbitration. So this began when...
WE: In Ď73 and ended in Ď82.
WE: And this was when we got this large award, 90% of what we were asking for, the judge wouldnít give us any consideration for ten years of loss and interest. I lost it here. $100,000. And I should have 6% interest every year for 6 to 10 years, shouldnít I?
ME: Doesnít work that way!
WE: They took it away from me. And, in a lot of cases, they do that. They allow interest. But he wouldnít allow the interest, so we were down there, but the bunch of growers, it was about Thanksgiving time, and they put the squeeze on and the aluminum company came up and said ďWeíll give you two and a half million dollars. Take it or leave it.Ē
ME: For everybody.
WE: For the whole bunch. So, what amounted to a decision was the group, if they wanted to accept it or didnít. It didnít matter to me. I could go on through and get Ė and this didnít include punitive damages...
ME: We had the choice of going on with punitive damages or accepting the settlement, and we often talked it over. Arden called us all together and we all had our say, and we went back to the fact that, originally, our suit was for a cease trespass and if we achieved that and some losses, then the farmers would be as whole as they were going to get for what they had lost, and they could get out of debt and go again. If we went for punitive damages, which the evidence was good enough that we thought we could really come up with some big ones, but it might take ten years, and in that length of time, some of these old guys might not be here [laughs]...
WE: Two of them had already died.
ME: Their farms might be gone, and it seemed wiser to take...
WE: That was their choice. We didnít do it, but the punitive damages were $15 million.
ME: And how they happened to settle was we were presenting our evidence and then along toward the end, Arden called some people from Martin Marietta. This young man came, good looking young kid, and his story was that he was a cherry grower, young fellow, just starting, but he also worked in the lab at Martin Marietta. And he thought he could do these things together and somehow Money magazine picked up on him, contacted him and wanted to know if they could do a feature on him, just this enterprising young man who was in the orchard and the aluminum company. Well, he knew enough to ask the brass out there if Money magazine could come and take pictures, write the article, and they said ďOh, yes, lovely, lovely, lovely.Ē He set it up and didnít check back again, but just took the guy out when he came, and they stopped him at the gate and they said ďYou canít bring him in here! We have a super secret process!Ē Well, he was embarrassed. His feelings were hurt. Here was a nice opportunity for him, so he went in and talked to him and who knows? It was ďI quit!Ē or ďYouíre fired!Ē but it ended. And he thought about it and thought about it and he was young enough to be the age of some of the sons of people who were suing. So he went to one of these kids and he said ďWould your dad like it if I testified and could you arrange it for me?Ē Well, the orchardistís son knew right what to do and he came down and told about working in the lab and getting these reports that had to be sent in to Ė he also went to California.
CH: So, to California...
ME: So they, but they, no, it wasnít, either. That was the first one that went to Pittsburgh. Harvey sent their stuff to Pittsburgh. This had to go into the DEQ with the right measurements and they had to just keep repeating the tests until they got it right. Arden handled it very, very well, and you could see the concern [laughs] at the defendantsí table, and it was the next day that word came out of Ė whereís their headquarters? In Maryland...
ME: ...Bethesda, with an offer to settle. That young man was the clincher in it and they did it to themselves. They werenít fair with him. They werenít honest with him, and he would not have lost his loyalty to them, Iím sure, if theyíd played it straight. But he was certainly a blessing for us.
CH: How long was this case in Judge Kilkennyís court?
WE: From Ď60 through Ď72.
ME: But Judge Kilkenny didnít do the whole thing.
CH: He didnít do the whole thing?
ME: No. He did the first part, and...
WE: Thatís the only time he was on the bench, but it was under his control. Heíd tell them what to do, Iím sure.
CH: He would tell the arbitrators...
ME: I donít remember.
CH: Was he overseeing the work of the arbitrators? Was that how it worked?
WE: He was the one that finally said ďI told you each to pick one and the two of you that are picked to pick the third.Ē And he was still the one that said ďWell, this has gone on long enough. Just pick somebody!Ē
ME: That was back at the beginning, but then he was advanced down to the...
WE: I donít know.
ME: Court of Appeals...
CH: The Federal Court of Appeals?
ME: Yes, he moved on down there. I donít even remember who the judge was at the end.
CH: Well, anyway, and then the second time, with the suit, then, that you began in Ď73-Ď74, and went into 1982, that was in whose court then?
ME: That was Federal Court, but I donít remember his name.
CH: Now, earlier, you had mentioned that Peterson, that was the law firm, wasnít it?
ME: That was the law firm. Yes, he was just a member of the law firm. We didnít deal with Ed at all.
WE: He was the fourth man down, it was Tooze, Kerr, Tooze and Peterson.
ME: And the other Tooze died and then Shenker moved up...
WE: Lamar, Jr.
ME: But it was just before Thanksgiving. It was six weeks and they drew that Federal jury about three days before the end of the term [laughs] and they got another six weeks onto it, and it was the day before Thanksgiving that they brought their verdict back in. We were sitting around, just doing what you do when you wait for a jury. Then Arden invited us to his home after the thing came in and Kerr came out, too, and he looked at the amounts that were awarded for each year, each incidence, and each orchard. We had all these years and two orchards that we were doing. So, Kerr sat there and just shook his head. At every one, he just shook his head. He couldnít believe it. So, it was really a very well handled case. Arden did a beautiful job. And, with the likes of Walter Ericksen, with his mathematical head, had this formula for determining his losses, and it was a lot of math. We didnít have computers then, the best you had was [laughs]...
WE: I canít remember names, but I can remember figures.
ME: And it was like the books. Even if they didnít study the figures, it was impressive that it had been done, and there were these many sheets for each year, with the different kinds of cherries, we had fresh shippers, we had...
WE: Canning and brining and freezing, but...
ME: ...and the value, and...
WE: And I always had a factor for frost. I knew how much frost. I kept the weather, and I checked how badly they were frozen, and I calculated to the best of my ability, right down to what I should expect.
ME: And our son Dan was replacing part of his orchard, so he very carefully reduced the number of acres. Heíd take out two acres. Heíd reduce the number of acres on his papers, and this was impressive. So I think thatís where we came ahead and we did know what we were doing! [laughs]
WE: I think weíd better...
[End of Tape 2, Side 2]
Tape 3, Side 1
4 October 1999
CH: This is an interview with Walter and Marilyn Ericksen at their home in The Dalles, Oregon. The interviewer for the Oregon Historical Society is Clark Hansen. The date is October 4, 1999, and this is Tape 3, Side 1. A few questions about, first of all, the court case that you had. You were saying, before we broke for lunch, that you talked about the settlement that you had. Was that actually from the decision of the trial, or was it an out-of-court settlement that happened before everything was finished? Do you recall?
WE: Was this the first trial or the...
CH: I think that Iím referring to the second one, but the first one is the arbitration and then the second one was the trial, right?
ME: The one that came back in just before Thanksgiving Ė the foreman of the jury read each title and how much they awarded for each thing. It was a long list because it was so many years, and it was two different places.
WE: See, the first part of that was in Ď63, were they guilty of trespass period. And then they were, so we hadnít asked for money. They were going to clean up. Thatís what we sued for, to clean up, not for money, for about five ten years there, and finally, our attorney said ďThey donít understand. Youíve got to put money on the line.Ē And this was in Ď72, I believe, when the money was the key thing. And this was the arbiters. So, thatís when your question referred to...
ME: No, who made the decision?
CH: Was it a jury decision?
ME: Yes. And we later visited with some of the jury members and learned from the Ė I think he was the only person with a college degree on the jury Ė otherwise there were housewives and just general workers, whatever, and he came in always with a briefcase and he was a computer analyst, I think, for one of the bigger places, and he told us ďYou know, that lady from Salem? No way did she want to give that money!Ē She looked at Dan, our son, and says ďHeís too young to have that much money!Ē [laughs]. So, he negotiated this. He was the one who managed to get them all thinking in the same direction, and Iíve forgotten just what process he used, like everybody write down what you think and weíll go from there. But it was quite a lengthy process, determining the amount, and finally they all agreed.
WE: Two men, fourteen people on the jury, two alternates that were eventually dismissed, and the end result was ten women and two men. As Marilyn said, this one woman felt that we had clearly won the case, deserved the money, but it was just too much for my sonís share of it. He was just...
ME: He was too young for that.
WE: ...two or three years out of college, and he shouldnít have that much money. Thatís strange, but the rest of them were pretty interested in my figures and accepted them and we ended up when they compromised with her, thatís how we get down to 95%.
CH: Oh, I see. Did you feel that you were adequately compensated?
ME: Oh, yes [emphatic response].
WE: [pauses] Yes, except that I thought we were adequately compensated, but I felt that the judge erred in not allowing us for interest from crops that we lost as far back as 1960 in the first one, and it was 12 years before it was settled, and interest was not included for those 12 years. The aluminum company took the money from me, both in Ď73 to Ď82 in that earlier trial Ė they restricted me from the use of money that I would have earned in those years. Why shouldnít I be able to put it out at interest and be awarded? Thatís the only thing, but the amount of money wasnít really the issue, in spite of it being three-quarters of a million dollars, plus or minus, with three or four, as I mentioned, I farmed for three or four people, and I gave them exactly the same share that I would have if Iíd been harvesting the crop. So I didnít get all that money, but thatís immaterial.
ME: Thinking through this, they awarded us this lump of money and after that happened, Martin Marietta came with this lump offer to settle with everybody. And when Arden and Ė Bill Sheridan was the other attorney then Ė went over it, they felt that since weíd been awarded this, we should have that much. But when you took it off of the total, it didnít leave quite that much for the rest of the people to divide. So, Arden talked to Walter and wanted to know if he would shade it a little bit, concede some so that the others could get more nearly a fair share. So, Iíve forgotten just what percentage that we said...
WE: I made an offer. I thought this was pretty tough, pretty strong. I said ďWell, if we give them 10% of our money and you divided it with them, how would that sound?Ē And the two attorneys were just tickled to death. Apparently, they had talked to the others and anything that we were willing to break down was a donation sort of thing, and I was just about to say a minute ago, it didnít matter what the money was, clean the plant up and let us continue to live with you in the community, and that was our aim, goal and desire. So, the money, oddly enough, wasnít the big thing, where most people would think it was.
ME: The second and third parties in the trial did not have very strong presentations. They had not kept good records, they had not really looked at their orchards carefully. But the fourth one was a big holder and they had a very good case to present. They would have been big winners, too, Iím sure. So, if somebody didnít quite get what they should have, it would have been those people, that didnít have the opportunity.
CH: What about the legal fees in all this? How was that dealt with?
WE: It was...
ME: Well, we were lucky on that! [laughs]
WE: It was arranged [laughs] several ways. If it went to the court as it did, it would be a certain percentage. If it was appealed further up, it would be a higher percentage, and if it went to the Supreme Court, I think it was 50%. They would earn it. But since this was a semi-out-of-court settlement, the attorneys were fair, we felt. They had made us Ė their original proposition was just a flat deal, and I donít remember if it was a third, but theyíd just take a certain amount, and we kind of adjusted that, but the attorneys earned their money. They said that itís one of the Ė I donít know how to say it Ė that law suit wasnít one that they got rich on, gravy, they got a stack upstairs, clear to the ceiling, of records that they had kept on it. You see, once itís settled out of court, theyíre sealed. And thatís the reason a lot of this that I told you today is hearsay for me, but we would like to have gone to the punitive damage deal and made them pay solely because itís on the record. The next time anybody wants to sue, all of this high class, technical fine data of research, is locked in the basement of the Federal Courthouse. It canít be used again. So, now, it becomes harder to establish a position and thereís no one that has kept the wind and weather records and the frost damage and consistent things that I did. In fact, none of the others ever did. They kind of leaned on me. And I had the records and they were solid. This is what I said earlier. It was a time in my life Ė 20 years or 21 Ė that I was behind the 8-ball with most of the people in the community for being in a lawsuit against the industry, and I had to keep the records and itís not really easy when you say that it was down to 31ļ on such-and-such a date 17 years ago, and if you make a mistake, youíre out in the woods. Youíve got to keep those records in your head. That was a trying condition, and thanks to my good wife, she knew where things were, and Iíd put them down, and we didnít make any mistakes. But those guys were out to see if they couldnít trip you up.
ME: Well, they did pick up about a four-ton discrepancy in production records against our income or some such thing, and they brought it up and...
WE: On one six-acre block out of a hundred.
ME: So this was toward the end of the week and Arden came over and he said ďWalter, you go home and find those records.Ē I said ďArden, weíll have to excavate the basement.Ē [laughs]. He said ďExcavate the basement.Ē So, we came home and we spent the whole weekend going through files and papers and all at once, Walter let out a yell and it came to mind then of a cash deal that he had for some fruit to be shipped to Alaska, of all places.
WE: Let me cover this. I was in both Stadelman Growersí Association and my dad had been a charter member of The Dalles Cooperative Growers. I stayed with the orchard that was his with the co-ap, but I was also on the other. But those were all records on the books. I had a six-acre block up here that I had first leased and then bought from that little old lady that got it in a will and the tonnage, six acres, I claimed that I could get eight ton to the acre. One particular year, I had 48 ton down, but I only had 44 ton in these two coops. Well, Iíd sold in Portland those seven years ahead, and I knew all the buyers, Pacific Fruit, Safeway, Fred Meyer, and then there was this fellow that trucks produce to Seattle to be put on a boat to go to Alaska, kind of an in-between man, and he wanted some cherries. Well, Iím busy with a whole crew and trying to pick a crop of cherries, and I donít have time to go down and take the 24 hours and be on the market. So I got on the phone, called for my good customers and said ďIf you want to buy a ton of cherries, Iíll get them down to you, but Iíve got to have the order in.Ē And every one of them took a ton, four of them. And how much are they? Well, we were getting them probably 20-22 cents a pound. I said 25 cents a pound. You figure out what four ton at 25 cents is. That was four ton. $2,000 I got. Fortunately, like some of these other growers that didnít have quite such a good thing, my income tax records showed a list of $2,000 cash, four ton of cherries. And Arden Shenker had gone into a huddle with their attorney and the Judge Friday night off in the corner and he was nodding his head yes, yes, yes. Full confidence that I wouldnít be cheating any place, but when he came over and told us, I think he probably had his fingers crossed. And Monday morning, I was the first guy on the stand, and when I went into it, you could just see their attorney wilt! [laughs] I had it explained, right to the penny, and I think that helped. It didnít need help, but the jury was impressed and I could go home over the weekend and find it in that left-hand corner. It wasnít anything that I had written down with my production. The other was over on the trips to Portland and checks. Anyhow, it was fun to get off of the hot seat so slick. [laughs]
CH: Was the case ever used for, your case, for any future litigation?
WE: No, because all of the records, it was settled out of court, and once it is, the testimony and everything is sealed. There was a later case in State court, in which we had to represent certain evidence. I could use these albums and pictures and that case came out 100%, if I remember right. There were a number of women on that jury, and one interesting thing, this is on the record, but I think anybody, itís long enough ago, the jurors were out late at night. They came in, and there had been a case Ė which one used the Jerusalem?
ME: I donít know Ė that was Wilsonís in Hood River.
WE: Yes. In Hood River. That Jerusalem cherry, Jerusalem...
ME: No, Arden mentioned...No, they had...Arden brought up some figures on fluoride effects on Jerusalem Cherries and the jury all kind of, and the women all smiled at each other, and the opposing attorney popped up and he said ďWell, a Jerusalem Cherry isnít a cherry. Itís just a little ornamental shrub that grows out here.Ē
WE: And Jerusalem [laughs].
ME: And, of course, [laughs], Arden was Jewish [laughs], and Iím still not sure that Arden didnít just throw that in to be less than perfect, because he had had a criticism about that once. But the next...
WE: Okay, Iíll finish it up. Then, when the jury went out and came back, they came back with a potted Jerusalem Cherry plant and gave to Arden Shenker. Now, when the jury favors an attorney that much, it says something. They were impressed with his presentation.
ME: [laughs]. Well, the reason Iím suspicious that he might have just played dumb on this because his wife said, ďWeíve had a Jerusalem Cherry on our breakfast table for weeks now.Ē [laughs]. But heíd told about one time in law school, he made the perfect presentation and he countered just right and he thought heíd done everything perfectly and he didnít get a very good grade. His professor said ďYou have to be human. You were more perfect than human, and the jury wants to know that you are a human being.Ē And at one time before, he held up the judge and said ďOne more question.Ē Then he kind of looked like he was thinking and then he put his head down and said ďIíve forgotten.Ē [laughs]
CH: And he did that intentionally?
ME: Iím sure he did. Yes. Well, yes, because I asked him about it and that was when he told me the story about being the perfect person. [laughs]
WE: Weíre off the subject. Iím sorry.
ME: But he did have the sympathy of the jury.
CH: Sure. Was the company required, as a result of your suit, to make changes?
WE: Yes, every time.
ME: They volunteered. That was part of their offer of settlement. ďWe will pay so much money and we will commit to certain...Ē You probably remember the testing and the conditions.
WE: Six stations around, of which this is one, and when they got down and pleading to the judge at the end, they said ďWell, thatís going to be awfully expensive to run tests on six stations every day all the time. Weíd like to change it to three.Ē And theyíd change it to three that arenít really dynamite directions, and that we had them scattered around town, one in the hospital over there where a lot of the smoke was. So they finagled. It was a neat trick.
ME: Well, they also Ė what I was hoping you would remember Ė the cherry growers set up a board, and the cherry growers also had some stations that they checked, and if they exceeded, dah, dah, dah, limitation, it was named, two times in a week or two times running something, they would pay so much money to each litigant. And if, under other conditions, they would pay a lump sum like 20 or 30 thousand dollars or something to the Fruit and Produce League, who are the ones who did all the Ė like they paid the bills for the flying and all this Ė and they were behind the growers. And there was a stipulation they would test so often, and it was indicating their good faith that they would continue and I think this was...
WE: They voluntarily offered $10,000 to each litigant if they had violated. Beautiful! Instead of six, they only got three. They can only violate half as often and instead of we having a man, you might say neutral, they furnished the inspection and checking the records. It was very nice. And the judge agreed to it.
ME: Well, Dan was on the committee, along with Linda Omeg and somebody else.
WE: Dan is our son. Go ahead [statement directed to ME]. We hadnít said anything about Dan being our son, I think...
ME: Well, I thought weíd said his name. He was on the committee and my recollection is Fruit and Produce League also took records. Arden Shenker would remember that, if Arden will visit with you, and I would think that he would.
CH: Alright. Well then, whatís happened to the orchards and the pollution situation since your case?
WE: Well, as far as the direction that their fumes are, the amount of blasts we get, it varies from orchard to orchard. However, there is one consistent thing in my mind, had the aluminum plant been a way down, like it was for two years, everybody would have had a much better crop. This year, it looked like everything was perfect, and Dan had (heís got all the orchard that I had now, my son does) and he had about two-thirds of a crop, and thereís just no reason why, other than they didnít pollenize like they used to, and Iím concerned that is a big problem. A crop like we had in 1958 of small cherries Ė they had changed the demand for bigger cherries due to the way they were producing in other areas. They sell Ė the bigger cherries bring a real high premium, and if we had some of those real heavy crops, they might be at a much lower price. So this is not considered a favor from the aluminum company to thin our crop for us, they just do it, I think. I think that the fruit as a whole does not set on like it used to, and if they werenít here, I have every confidence in the world to believe that it would go back to. There are other areas where there is no fluoride like we used to be. So, you have to make these suppositions. You canít grab it out of thin air and prove it, black and white, and until you can, you arenít in a very strong position in a court suit. Thatís the sad part of it.
ME: The aluminum company though, under this management of the attorney who was their liaison with Bonneville and the man who was the head of the union put their heads together. Of course, when they closed, it put a lot of people out of work. It was hard times. And the union workers agreed to go back to work for half of what they had been working for and this attorney just took care of all the legal part and the agreement was what profit they made then would come out as a bonus. Well, after the first year of operation this way, and of course, it was to the best interest of everybody, to them and us, for it to be a good community neighbor. Well, the first year, the bonuses came out, and after a week, the used car lots were almost empty, there wasnít a refrigerator or stove available in town [laughs].
WE: This was an employee-owned company at that time...
ME: And it was big bonus time. They have never had such good bonuses since, but they havenít had the aluminum price that they did that year. So, it was bonanza days and it was a very, very upbeat thing for the community and for Martin Marietta, and we were glad to see it.
CH: So, why did the company close? What was the reason for that?
ME: Well, partly, I think it was this decision and the bad feeling. I think partly it was a market thing.
WE: The price of aluminum was down so far...
ME: Everything kind of just came up all at once.
WE: Primarily that must have been the reason because I never saw the company do anything to help us because of their good-heartedness.
ME: And the other thing, Martin Marietta is a prestigious company worldwide. They have an excellent reputation, and here was a big ugly blot on it, and if they shut it down and didnít do that anymore. Now these people are part of, what do they call it, a...
ME: chain...cooperative. Yes. Itís kind of a contract thing. They do this part of the process, and I think, ultimately, Martin Marietta still gets the aluminum in the end, but their market is fixed.
WE: The employees that own the company do the work, take the ore in, send the aluminum out, Martin Marietta still has their hands on the aluminum, but all of the costs of production and profit goes to the Ė Bret Wilcox operation has got control l of practically all of it Ė he was a Bonneville attorney, I believe, that had to do with writing the contract for aluminum companies, the electrical contract with the government, and he finagled his way in to be able to get control if he had the employees behind him and they came behind and...
ME: Well, heís a smart man and heís a public spirited person, and the aluminum company now is cooperative, and they support the local activities and Bret has deep pockets, and he makes good contributions towards things like the Discovery Center and things like that.
CH: Well, one thing I wanted to ask you about, in terms of the way the company operated, was that, in the early days at least, the aluminum companies had operated mostly at night when there wasnít a lot of other power being used and that was part of the rationale that they were able to get lower rates from the government, originally, was that they were able to operate at night, and that also at certain times, their power could be cut back. Theyíve operated for many years during the day now, havenít they?
ME: Mmmm-hmmm [affirmative response].
WE: Did we ever see them cut back any in the daytime before?
ME: I think they probably...
WE: We donít think they did. We always felt that, from observation, you could drive around on the County Road behind the plant, there are great big doors at the end of each cell block and they were always wide open at night, but they werenít wide open in the daytime. So, they were letting the fumes out on us at night, and thatís why you saw those big heavy clouds. In the daytime, the air is warmer, thinner and where it was, itíd be about 2,000 foot depth, maybe 6 to 8,000 feet is cloud. You could fly underneath and you didnít smell it, and then youíd hit it for 200 feet. Youíre on top, and that is the cool density at night, but as it warms up in the daytime, that goes from 800 to 2,000 feet. So, your intensity within that cloud is diminished by the distance, number of times it takes. So thatís normally the condition. Of course, if itís a rainy or a cloudy day and it doesnít get hot, itís not going to be up to 2,000, but flying through it so many times, I could go up and when I got to 2,000 feet, I was pretty well above it.
ME: I think we were never aware, from observation, of a time that they were less smoky than others.
CH: Well, all your photos are daytime photos, of course, and...
WE: Early morning...
ME: Early morning.
WE: Thatís the night smoke.
CH: I see.
WE: Itís sitting there dead still at 7:30.
CH: Thatís right. You said that you were doing this in the early morning of what was left over from the night.
WE: 7:30 to 7:45 takes in 95% of the pictures.
CH: But I noticed that a lot of your photos were of smokestacks that were actively putting out, so there would be...
ME: See, this was 7 oíclock in the morning, theyíd took it, always.
CH: And, letís see here, for a long time, the aluminum companies had used a large percentage of the electricity generated by the dams. I think that, at one point, it was almost two-thirds, or about two-thirds, and then in more recent years, it had consumed about a third of the riverís energy. There was some speculation about people that, because energy rates were so much higher for peopleís use of the electricity, that even though it was justifiable to have all those electric companies back in the Ď40's for the war effort and then for the Cold War that followed that with all the aircraft that needed to be built, but now, perhaps, instead of the government subsidizing this industry, that they should have to be competing with the private households that compete and the other businesses that compete for that electricity, and if they canít, then perhaps they have to go their own way.
WE: It would appear to be a fair situation. With the exception of a consideration that I would not object to. There is a condition that, within a five-mile radius from the producing dam, the rate is much lower because they donít have to carry it, what do they call it, transport it over the big lines. And that should be taken into consideration on their behalf, but they should, it seems to me, be required to pay as much for their bulk rate as my PUDís bulk rate and then the distribution is expensive for the small lines. You add that on, but the base rate is...
[End of Tape 3, Side 1]
Tape 3, Side 2
4 October 1999
WE: ...the orchards. Okay, go ahead, Iíve got one thing Iíd like to say.
CH: Go ahead.
WE: Is it on?
CH: Itís on. Yes, weíre going.
WE: Alright! I had peaches, as I said, although I was just a very small drop in the bucket. There were other growers that had more peaches and most everybody had some peaches, and there were a few places where they primarily specialize in peaches. And it wasnít very many years after the damage to the suture from the fluoride to the peaches, they had the same thing up at Wenatchee and that plant, and they put the peaches out of business pretty much there. The peaches just generally, the production dropped way, way down here. I took all of mine out and a lot of the growers took all of theirs out. Curtis has got a pretty big planting up on the skyline, which is above the 2,000 foot level and should be away from it. Most years he sells the peaches like he used to, but the buyers in the Valley at fruit stands come up and get them by the truckload and they can sell them. Theyíre peaches. But they donít ripen evenly and they donít have the flavor that they did. This is recognized by the cannery here that goes down to Red Bluff and Redding to get their peaches to can for local distribution. They wonít can them out of that orchard. At most, eight years. So, this year, heís having an awful time. They come and get a load of peaches and two days later, theyíre spoiled. And peaches, Iíve had peaches, a truckload to Kienowís Food Stores when I still had enough to have 500 boxes and the last two loads, Juan Young, who has now passed on, wanted my last two loads wrapped in wax paper. And the last time I was there before I took the peaches out, I remember coming in about six weeks after I delivered the load and I was walking around the store visiting with him, and hereís this stack of peaches on display out there. The most brilliant red pretty things you ever saw. I had big peaches. And he said ďHow do you like those for peaches? I get good peaches now.Ē And I said ďI gotta admit. Theyíre a lot prettier than what I brought.Ē He showed me the end of the box. It was my box, been kept for six weeks in cold storage and the color on the Haleís red pit came through the peach, the whole peach is red and the skin outside. The most beautiful thing I ever saw. Six weeks and now itís two days, three days, and theyíre gone. They donít hold up. So thatís why peaches pretty much changed, if youíre talking about fruit along the river here. And apricots Ė I had a letter I wanted to put in the Court record that the buyer for Fred Meyer, Fred Meyerís produce buyer in Portland. I dealt with him on all kinds of produce and I could call up and talk over the phone, just as solid as face-to-face, and make that deal and if he said it was such-and-such, that was it. Count on it. And the last load of apricots I ever took to Portland, 500 twenty-eight pound boxes. He had them for a while. A day or two. He hadnít sold them, like always, kept them in a cooler, and they were spoiling and bad, and didnít look good. Where I had gotten two and a quarter or two and a half a box, which was pretty good money then. He called me up and he says ďYour apricots arenít worth a darn! What happened to them? Youíve always had good apricots. Whatís wrong?Ē Thereís nothing wrong with those. They were beautiful when I brought them down day before yesterday. He says ďWell, I tell you what. You come down and haul them off or Iíll dump them for you.Ē I said ďMy gosh. Whatís going wrong?Ē He said ďWell, Iíll tell you what Iíll do.Ē I didnít want to come down to haul them off and sell them to somebody else. If he wouldnít take them, they werenít very good. So, he says ďIíll go across the street to the Corno Brothersí market there and see what Jimmy will give me.Ē And he called back in about an hour and says ďHeíll take them for 75 cents a box. Do you want him to take them or do you want me to dump them or come get them?Ē So, I sold them for 75 cents and then I went down, I was through going to Portland for a while. I drove down and got him to sign a letter to the effect that something had happened to my Ďcots and he wasnít going to do business with me on that basis. When I found out what was wrong with them, heíd be glad to reinstate my credentials and that was that. But I had the letter. He said ďThereís something wrong with these Ďcots, and I donít know what it is, but itís never been like this.Ē And that was the year that the fluoride went in.
ME: That was the kind of little thing that we kind of built up, we accumulated along the way that some of the others didnít...
WE: And thatís how I sold the nursing home property Ė five acres of apricots Ė to the outfit, a doctor and his brother-in-law in Valley Vista of Hermiston, who came down and bought it for, I think it was $30,000, $5,000 an acre, or $6,000, and I about fell over backwards and said ďYou got it!Ē And they went bankrupt and I had it. I really had it! [laughs] In the end, I came out all right.
CH: Well, anyway, wait. One thing I wanted to ask about was the, I noticed that, going through my notes, there was some discussion about The Dalles Irrigation Project that would be done in 1961?
CH: What do you know about that? Were you part of that irrigation district or...
WE: Iím the guy that hung out for the simple reason that Iím adjacent to the city. I had four subdivisions, four additions to The Dalles, and two of them are inside the city limits and Iím adjacent to it, and two are outside, and this whole field here is now in the process of being developed, 28 lots right there. Itís a little early to talk about it, but the plat has been approved by the Planning Commission, so as long as thatís going to be approved, the way this set-up of the irrigation district is, if they lock in a given acreage, you have to pay so much a year per acre for the water. And if youíre going to split it up into little tiny lots, itís going to be a tremendous nuisance and they wouldnít like it. So I thought Iíd better just stay out. And the far out orchards that Iíve got, what Dan has now, are in the district, but the home place, we call it here, was out. So thatís the reason Iím in and out [laughs].
CH: Has that been a fairly successful irrigation project?
WE: Most successful. It more than doubled the production of the cherries. Theyíve interplanted them much, much closer and with the water thatís sufficient to keep them coming, theyíre getting much higher production and the trees are healthier, itís better. This field here that I pulled out because of frost and fluoride both. Dad planted it fifty feet apart Ė 20 trees to the acre. Standard was about 33, and now itís 100 to 200 trees. They call it high density, they plant it so close together and hedgerow them, like France, some of them. A lot of them are doing that, and those that arenít are still what we call interplanting. Theyíre putting another row in-between each row, one way or the other. The irrigation district has been a boon to the community of orchardists, excellent.
CH: So, itís been a pretty successful project, then.
WE: Yes, right.
CH: Now, what are the rates like for the irrigators on getting water? I presume this is pumped up, then, from the Columbia?
WE: Itís pumped from the Columbia through five stages. Thereís one you passed at the crown of the hill here. On the way to town on this side, thereís kind of an open reservoir and it pumps from the river up to that and then it drops out of that down to a pumphouse underneath and goes up to another tower, then another tower, and it successively fills. If itís the right quantity of water that the growers are using it doesnít fluctuate so fast that the pumps are going on and off. The electricity was cheap, not for the aluminum plant entirely! [laughs] They got cheap rates on that.
CH: But the rates you got Ė what would they be, compared to Ė or not necessarily you, but the other irrigators Ė what would the rate be for getting water from the Columbia versus, say, a household or...
WE: Way, way down. I was two or three mills for a long time, then I went up to five, and I donít know if itís one now or not. Iím not sure where it is. Iím not in on that. But, itís a very reasonable rate. Youíre entitled to something in the neighborhood of thirty acre-inches a year, which is sufficient for this kind of planting here, and if you are getting dry on a dry year, youíre charged an additional pro rate amount for what you use over. Itís a good, a real good thing. Now, when they went into the project, it had to be all or nothing, and I was the guy that was nothing and all! [laughs] But, all or nothing, they draw a line around and they drew a lot of lines this way, I didnít like it, it wasnít very democratic. The guys that wanted it, would get in and theyíd force the others to take it. But when they got done with that line of orchards that wanted water, and youíre inside of that, you bought the water whether you wanted it or not. I think 99% of it was, 98% was orchards that, some of them had wells, some of them had access to creek water that they were pumping, and they felt that they couldnít maintain their own system as economically as to be under this automatic price. They delivered 60 pounds of pressure to your highest orchard, highest point, so that you never had to do anything but just turn on the valve. There was no Ė you arenít ever responsible for keeping the pumps going or anything. Thatís the Bureauís problem. So, all of the growers inside of that had a nice set-up where itís all sprinkler irrigation. No drip, no ditch.
CH: Would the sprinklers at all have helped with the pollution coming from the aluminum company? Could, by sprinkling over your trees, after the pollution had come down, or when it was coming down, would that have helped at all? Could that have helped?
WE: Well, youíre allowed four gallons per minute per acre, and you have to run that over twenty days, so to speak, Iím saying roughly. Some number of days, you divide it so that at no time can you get more than maybe five to ten percent of the orchard protected. We were going to use frost control like the pears in Medford, overhead water and put ice in the trees. Well, I was against that for a different reason. If you put enough water on, a tenth of an inch an hour, you create icicles, and as long as youíre creating icicles, that fruit will not freeze, but when the sun comes up, for a while, the guys say ďHey, itís getting warm,Ē and they turn it off. And while that ice is melting, itís freezing the bud. Itís gone. So you have to keep the water running until the icicle is all melted. That was a problem, but we didnít have that problem because we didnít have that quantity of water to cover 5,000 acres.
CH: I see, I see.
WE: And so, that wasnít the situation.
CH: I had been reading about the aluminum companies and what they were paying for their electricity and, I had mentioned earlier there that there were certain times that BPA could cut the power going to them if they needed or, or wanted to, say like, in times of droughts.
CH: But, I had been reading where the aluminum companies also got special considerations that didnít have anything to do with the workings of a hydro system and that, in part of it, the price that they would pay Bonneville for electricity would go up and down with the world price of aluminum.
WE: [laughs] That was a hitch that this clever Brett put into the contract which meant that when the aluminum price was high, heís doing fine. But when it gets down so low that the electricity costs too much, then the government wants to get rid of that bulk amount of electricity that they wouldnít sell otherwise. And in addition, thereís another angle on that. The aluminum companies, when they run short of enough electricity from Bonneville and Bonneville says that ďWeíve got to cut your quota down so that you canít produce 100%,Ē then Bonneville will run a direct current line to Los Angeles and Los Angelesí other source of electrical power, whether itís gas or coal, theyíve got a surplus at the same time, usually that weíve got a shortage, so they ship that up here at their price, so theyíve got to pay more for it, but they can continue to produce. So, itís this kind of a deal and if you can figure out where the fingers cross now! [laughs]
CH: But how do you feel about the rates being tied at all to the price of aluminum?
WE: Well, that isnít something that I should feel about. Thatís a deep and intricate bunch of weavings of how they do it and whoís running it. Letís say how I feel about it Ė itís another political [laughs] problem thatís handled politically, pretty much. Whoís got the most swing, but if they can work it out, so that itís profitable, thereís a lot of aluminum plants that are being, I think, built in China and the Scandinavian states and in Europe, France, Switzerland. Thereís more aluminum production and the price is depressed. Now, at a time when itís depressed enough, theyíll close the plant. Itís just hard economics.
CH: But one estimate for the cost to taxpayers between 1986 and 1996, was a billion dollars or more, and thatís a lot of money.
WE: We pungled up the taxpayer.
CH: So, youíre paying for that...
ME: Weíve paid for a lot of that plant [laughs].
WE: [laughs]. Clark, thereís another factor that you didnít put into the equation and itís very important. I want that supersonic jet thatís in Hull 24, major atomic weapons, and at the same time, have 12 tactical weapons in one B-2 15, minutes from here at Mountain Home, Idaho. Theyíve got a squadron of 21 of them, and I want to be damn sure we got enough of them, because all weíve got to do is not have enough of them, and youíll speak Russian or Chinese or something else. And when you get down to the production of aluminum, thereís somebody higher up than us that knows what the bottom line is, and weíd better be sure, be practical, that whatever we paid for aluminum and electricity, we canít afford to be low man on the totem pole, or even number two. Youíd agree with that, right?
CH: So you feel, then, that thereís sometimes when itís justifiable for the government to subsidize an industry if it means that the national defense is somehow in jeopardy?
WE: I flew in the Air Force and I believe strongly that national defense is number one. Nothing is more important than our defense, because once you lose that, you take what they give you. And Iíve seen what the low man on the totem pole gets, and it isnít fun.
CH: The other thing I wanted to ask you about, in the articles that I was going through from The Oregonian, they had, in 1989, this article here referred to Martin Marietta as being the target of a federal lawsuit that they agreed to spend at least six million dollars to clean up the hazardous waste from the aluminum plant in The Dalles. Iím wondering, first of all, if there is any connection to your cases in terms of, you were saying earlier in the interview, that a lot of the changes that had to be made in the company were actually picked up by the taxpayers. And Iím wondering if, is this a case where the EPA or whatever appropriate part of the government turning around and trying to get this out of the aluminum company or was it something separate from that?
WE: They didnít get anything out of the aluminum company period. Taxpayers footed the bill. Thatís inside of that agency. They spent the money, now six million dollars is not Ė is it six million?
CH: In this particular...
WE: I think itís six million. And thatís really peanuts. The point is that itís tax dollars and they made the pollution. They should have to clean it up and take it out of their profits. Thatís wrong!
CH: Yes, they said there was nearly 400,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and the purification of all of the contaminated ground water at the site and the lawsuit had been on the behalf of the EPA under the Superfund Act that was...
WE: Government money, Superfund money.
CH: But I think that the EPA was trying to get compensated from the company in some way for the money that was being spent to clean that up.
WE: Well, I never heard of them doing that. Iím suspicious, but that is not a major issue one way or the other as far as Iím concerned. What bothers me more than that and greater is that quantity of water that killed that fish in twenty seconds stiff. Wasnít even wiggling! And you put him in there and he come right straight out of the water with his head. He wouldnít even take a mouthful of the water. He was just breathing air! Can you imagine? And his gills, within five seconds, were this color. They were red when he went in, and in five seconds it fried him.
CH: They were white.
WE: Yes, white. So, that issue is pollution. Iím sure that there isnít that amount of ground water out of that 400,000 cubic yards, leaks from rain that would go over the surface to the river, and it was sitting on a solid wall of asphalt, solid rock.
ME: Asphalt or basalt?
CH: Basalt, okay.
WE: Solid rock itís on and if it soaked down to that, it would go over and into the river, the same as this other water is.
CH: Well, some of the other chemicals that they referred to, aside from the fluorides that youíve been talking about, were also the sulphates and the cyanide and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, which were emitted into the atmosphere, which contaminated the soil and sediments. So, was there any reference in your litigation or in any of the other incidences that youíve been talking about in the community here of the effects of these other substances?
WE: Theyíre about that high and fluoride is way up there high. Ruckelshouse. Does this ring a bell to you?
CH: William Ruckelshouse?
WE: You were a kid when I was arguing with him about it in Portland, but he was head of one of the federal agencies and I was down there knowing a little bit about the inside here, and he was talking about what all the government controlled. They had absolute levels of cyanide and all that b.s. that you couldnít put out. And I asked him ďWhat happened to fluoride? Thatís the one thing thatís really the most potent there is.Ē Well, thatís not included. They didnít have that on the books at all. No restrictions. And it seems strange to me that the thing that the halogens Ė how are you in chemistry?
CH: Halogens, yes, sure.
WE: Whatís the top one? The strongest acid there is? The only one that will etch glass?
CH: Hydrochloric acid?
WE: HYDROFLUORIC acid.
CH: HYDROFLUORIC acid, okay.
WE: Itís way above any of the others, is hydrochloric and sulphuric and nitric and maybe one more. But hYDROFLUORIC acid is by far the hottest. Thatís why the fish cooked in twenty seconds, I think! [laughs]. But that will etch glass, and I asked him and he just gave me a run-around. I wasnít important enough, because so many of these other industries back East are putting out those other chemicals. None of them but the aluminum plant really emit fluorides. So they didnít even know about fluoride.
ME: Well, unless itís a gaseous state, it probably wouldnít bother the blossoms and wouldnít bother the production, but the fluoride gases, and I guess Ė were there fluoride particulates too, Walter, that came out?
ME: There were fluoride gases that were the hazardous ones for us and, apparently, nobody had complained before and they hadnít studied them.
CH: Well, there was also reference, too, that it contaminated the ground water.
WE: Well, now, in this situation, I think Iím correct, the 400,000, if you had gone out to the plant, thereís five long cells, and when you look at them driving down the freeway, you would swear that they are north and south, but theyíre east and west. Itís cock-eyed around. But on the town side was this just beautiful grave mound of 400,000 cubic yards. Thatís where they pushed everything up to. But then they put a great big thick vinyl cover over it and they could collect at the bottom of that in a ditch like the one Iím talking about, all the water that the rain put on it, and then they arenít leaching it. And unless itís soaked through the vinyl, that pile is just laying there dry dirt. And if it did leak through, it would go down to this bedrock where it couldnít penetrate into the deeper aquifer and would run off the surface into the river.
CH: Well, they said there was some threat to the water in the river.
WE: Some what?
CH: There was a threat from the contamination in the soil to the river. Now, I know The Dalles has its own water shed up here sort of on the side of Mt. Hood, or at least the side of this part of the range, and so they donít get their drinking water from down here, do they?
WE: Not yet [laughs].
WE: Well, they spent, what, $25 million?
ME: I donít know.
WE: They had a deal at the council pass that they were going to prepare to take the water, 25 million gallons a day we needed, and they were going to take it out of the Columbia River and pump it clear up to the top of that hill in a reservoir and then filter it and then have an ample supply when industry really comes booming in here. Well, theyíve got more water now than they need by a heck of a lot for a while, until the industry gets here. But they want to take it out of the river and there are other contaminants, arsenic over in Montana from the gold mining, and stuff that comes into the river, and mercury. We had a professor, I think he was, from Butte, Montana, Montana University, he testified in the trial for us, and he had gathered sturgeon in the bottom of the river here, and they had quite a bit of mercury in them, right at allowable level, here. So, all of those things come down the river. He was a real good witness.
CH: But apparently, they actually found cyanide in the ground water down here at the site and that the water was contaminated. This was in 1983, which was right after the time that your suit closed, and that some businesses and one residence in the area depended on the contaminated ground water for their drinking and industrial consumption. So, would you know if that was much of a controversy here?
WE: No, I think what happened was, part of that annexed into the city and itís got the same water up here as the watershed. Water supply from the city area and anybody thatís in that shallow of a well Ė itís above the basalt rock Ė is taking it, but I canít understand how the cyanide could get across the railroad track and across four lanes of freeway and over into the domestic housing area.
CH: Unless it was going underneath.
ME: Yes, if it went down to a gravel...
WE: It is bedrock, though. Itís gotta go across on the bedrock and itís not going to do that. If it comes out of this pile, itís there with the carpet over it and itís collecting. Whereís the water that goes into that to let it down? Itís dry dirt, and I donít see how it could possibly be any more than imagination.
CH: Well, they said that the users of those wells would have to be reconnected to The Dalles water system.
WE: Yes, and then they...
[End of Tape 3, Side 2]
Tape 4, Side 1
4 October 1999
CH: This is an interview with Walter and Marilyn Erickson at their home in The Dallas, Oregon, and the interviewer for the Oregon Historical Society is Clark Hansen. The date is October 4, 1999. This is Tape 4, Side 1. What you were referring to on the material down there is what this other article referred to is also from The Oregonian in 1989, and it said that most of the waste material is what was dug up of the potliner waste, which was used for the landfill around the smelter and that the sludge from the plantís air pollution scrubber system would also be disposed of and that, as part of a second clean-up phase, they would install, what at first you hear is what, Leach 8 Control System and impermeable cover on the landfill and then contaminated groundwater would be pumped into a large tank and treated. So thatís what you were referring to there. Would they treat that water somehow and put it back into the river or do they have to dispose of it in another way, do you know?
WE: Frankly, I never heard of them treating that water, in any way, shape or form. Of course, thatís their business. Itís awful closed inside, but we should have heard something about how you would treat fluoride to get it out.
CH: Right. Well, it said here that, under the Federal Superfund Law, Martin Marietta would be responsible for the entire cost of the clean-up and also must reimburse the EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for expenses they incur while overseeing the project.
WE: It sounds awful good! [laughs]
CH: [laughs] But I take it you donít believe it!
WE: [laughs] If you believe that, youíll believe anything!
ME: Sometimes in the paper, you hear what is supposed to happen...
WE: And there were times, as Marilyn mentioned earlier on one of the other tapes, that they would pay the bill and then the State would reduce their state income tax or federal by a like amount, and they paid the bills, if you understand what I said.
CH: Sure. Well, do you feel comfortable about the way the plant is situated now and what theyíre doing now? Do you feel that itís better than the way it was before?
WE: Well, youíve asked two questions that are diabolically opposed [laughs]. Itís better than the way it was before, but itís not good enough. As I said, a half part per billion in the air was proven in fumigation on cherries in Mosier under the State Department of Agriculture to show that that level was too high. It didnít say what it was, but it insinuated that virtually no fluoride could be tolerated by the blossoms. Itís a drying agent and anything that dries the pollen reduces the time that the bee can pollenize the fruit. So you have some crop production and itís interesting to note, and why I donít know, but in 1960 when it was terrible, the worst year, and we had a very light crop, there wasnít even any cherries when those apricots grew 12 feet long, and we know it was extremely high, but there are a few that will pollenize, somehow, but it is effective, and any time you reduce my total net worth, Iíll take enough exception to it.
CH: [laughs]. Well, are there other things about the river that youíre concerned about at this stage?
WE: Oh, Iím too old to worry about them, really, Clark. There are some things, but theyíre not big enough to start a hassle over and get into a discussion as far as Iím concerned.
CH: There really isnít anything, then, that youíre not...
ME: Well, itís a shame to see it degraded with the pollutants that are in it...
WE: I was objecting here long ago, when The Dalles cherry growers and the Stadelman Fruit Company had to reduce the sugars of the brine cherry vats where they kept the brine cherries and thereís sugar in them, and they were putting that in the river. Well, it was a four-inch pipe and it wasnít half full fiddling out there and it cost each of them something like a million dollars to put in the filters to run it around and clean that amount of sugar out. Very expensive, and now theyíre doing that. Thatís one of these things that you have to do. Well, if those two outfits had to do it for a little dab of water that didnít amount to anything, but thatís sugar, and itís supposed to cause algae and other things if thereís enough. But if the quantity of fluoride going into the river doesnít affect the total flow of the volume of the river, certainly half of a four-inch pipe just falling out easy, divided over the whole river, shouldnít make much of a difference.
CH: So why do you think that they were treated differently?
WE: Because theyíre farmers and they donít have the political dollars in the right places. That aluminum plant Ė Iíve told you enough things today that you ought to recognize that they buy their way out of everything. When they didnít get pulled up on those fish that I sent a description, I said ďYou make the test.Ē Thereís a name for the level of any pollutant, but fluoride, for instance, so many parts per million that fish can tolerate until he dies in a given length of time, and itís fifty, if I remember right, something, but all I said was ďYou make the test. Find out for yourself, but donít let it ride. Itís important.Ē And a month later, it was important enough that both the John Day plant and this plant dug down through the solid basalt and buried a great big pipe and then put it twenty feet down under the water and if you want to get a sample and you donít trust them, you can get a diver to get it. Now, theyíve got a deal where they can take samples out of the pipe, someplace, and those samples are sent into DEQ or EPA. They do it. I donít know why you trust the crook taking his own samples. If heís not a crook, he shouldnít object to somebody honest taking them. But I know what happened, and I donít have to stretch the story any at all on what that fish looked like, and when he looked like that, he was hurting! [laughs] Poor guy! I had a half a dozen of them, and every one did the same thing. About 15 to 20 seconds, and theyíd be breathing this way and then theyíd just tip over and float and their skin was real light colored, not quite white, gray, scales are beginning to come off in twenty seconds, just peeling off. But the fish wasnít wiggling. No life left. Thatís pretty fast.
CH: Have you ever called this to the attention of anybody else that might want to investigate it further?
WH: Well, I thought that the EPA was about the top level, if they were going to do it, and theyíre supposed to be unbiased, a government agency...
ME: Of course, these were their maximum emissions, too. I mean, this was way back when they were very dirty. Thatís not recently that weíve done that.
CH: Of course, what youíre also saying, though, is that you donít know, because theyíre testing their own water.
CH: So, youíre presuming...
WE: Well, theyíre not even going to make that test! The aluminum companies are not going to make that test. If the EPA doesnít, it goes untested, and thatís what bothered me. Test it! Find out! Theyíre sure in a hurry to test that sugar content in the fruit industry here, and they get real rough about it, but...
ME: However, they have learned that, by collecting the fluoride, it is an economic benefit to them. Itís a big bundle they donít have to spend for fluoride if they can collect what theyíre emitting. So, itís to their best interest to be just as clean as they can. Get all that fluoride back into the system.
CH: So, they collect the fluoride and then use it over again?
WE: Well, yes. They buy fluoride to make aluminum, the smelting. They have to add fluoride to the pot.
CH: With the bauxite?
WE: Yes. Right. When itís cooking, they add fluoride and thatís what boils out, but thatís part of the process. And so they...
ME: That was the newest idea that came out of Japan and that was a super secret idea. They wouldnít let Money magazine in to take a picture of it. Well, I suppose if youíre very knowledgeable, you can maybe pick up something from a picture, but [laughs] Iím sure there could have been pictures that would have been very innocent!
CH: Okay. But it seems the money...
ME: Oh, yes! Yes, itís an economic advantage for them to be clean, so, I donít know whether theyíre any better people than they ever were. I think they are. I like to think they are. But, economically, theyíre looking at the bottom line, and itís to their advantage.
CH: Well, is there anything else in all this that you would like to make any additional comments on any of this or anything else youíd like to say?
WE: Well, Clark, I wore out complaining, and it didnít get me so far. We won the lawsuit, and that was quite a consolation, but anymore, I just donít have the drive and the wherewithal to complain. So many times, itís just bounced off like water off a duck, that I just give up.
ME: They have a different attitude, though, now. Their little measuring station up here, they come out and take it every day, and Brett Wilcox, before cherry season, will call and theyíll want to know ďIf you see any sign of any damage from our emissions, if you see any change in the blossoms, you call me. I want to see them immediately.Ē And this kind of attitude you can live with. They do blow potlines, I mean, it happens in the best of places [laughs] and itís possible that there could be some damage.
CH: What happens when a potline is blown?
ME: The crust breaks and all these emissions come out, just great quantities of smoke...
CH: The crust of what?
ME: Of the pot.
WE: See, itís a big tub, bath tub, and they put in the bauxite and the fluoride and they cook it up to, I think itís 2200 degrees, but I just throw that out, itís real hot and fuming, and thereís a crust that forms over it immediately and that holds everything in there so that underneath it, it looks like rough aluminum on top of the crust, not that far, and then down below, itís either orange or white molten material. And thereís something that happens there and they end up with getting all the bad things out and the aluminum is left. And they go in with a great big powerful handtruck and a big wastebasket that big around with a suction on it and stick a nozzle down in the bottom of the pot and suck that liquid out into this container and then take it someplace and pour it into a bunch of molds and theyíve got their aluminum. Thatís just a kind of a rough, quick way, but thatís how they get the aluminum out, is to break the crust and it was breaking the crust that was one of the things in the trial that was where a lot of the fluoride escapes in that tremendous heat. It just boiled out. So theyíve tried to make the break-in smaller, but thatís part of the process.
ME: Arden could help you a little on this technical stuff.
WE: He can tell you anything you want to know about it. I think you asked me questions that Iíve given you some answers off the top of my head. When I say 20, itís in the ballpark, or I donít really recollect for sure, but itís a figure. But Arden, most likely, will have the specific technical figure that you need to fight. And Iím not fighting when I tell you this, Iím just telling you how disappointed I am that we ever had that aluminum plant come to town, because Iíd have been a multimillionaire now a long time ago.
ME: You talked about the growth of The Dallas Ė it was around 5 to 6,000 when we were both in school and then when the aluminum company was built, and shortly after The Dalles Bridge and The Dalles Dam, it just...
WE: Went up to about 13.
ME: ...and we are around between 11 and 12 now, but that does not count all the residential area that is west of us that is not in The Dalles city limits, so weíre probably 13 and up.
CH: And what is a result of that? This new area to the west?
ME: Just little ticky tacky boxes out on the flat [laughs]!
CH: But why are they coming in?
ME: Oh, well they came in for the...
WE: To build the dam and the bridge.
ME: ...and the bridge and the aluminum company.
CH: I see.
ME: And then, shortly after that, Goldendale Aluminum was built. So, there just kept being a use for them and theyíve kind of absorbed in. I donít know Ė weíre shifting population. Weíre becoming more senior.
WE: But thereís a lot of people who have moved to The Dalles from California who are sick and tired of traffic and older people that are just flat retiring and thatís one place where weíre holding our own. Well, the industry -- weíve got a 150-member adult jail for four counties. Thereís one in here, and I think 25 for juveniles, which is larger, and there are some industries, small ones, that have come into the Port district, but itís got lots and lots of room for expansion and people are kinda skeptical about coming here. Weíve got a habit of arguing over every two-bit item that comes up Ė thereís two sides to it Ė and I donít blame people for not coming and taxes are high and all, but with the way theyíre moving out of California and disliking it and some of those places, I canít see that thereís any possibility that weíll fall off. Weíre going to gain slowly or faster.
CH: So, just a minute ago, you were referring to the Goldendale Aluminum Company and I was going to ask you that if the controversy surrounding the company over here might have had any effect on further developments in terms of other companies coming in like that and locating here Ė whether that might put a damper on other aluminum companies or other companies like...
WE: I donít think the quantity of electricity would be sufficient Ė the amount that the aluminum plant would take would be a viable thing. They have talked about Ė this is Northwest Aluminum here, and they bought the John Day Plant, which is Goldendale Northwest Aluminum, and they talked about having a rolling mill, something connected with the aluminum that wouldnít put out the fluoride, but it would be additional. We had a saw mill here. Weíve got a chip plant, and you know whatís happened [laughs] to the environment on that end of it, so thatís kind of down. But weíre picking up, the Bailey family is probably the biggest cherry grower here, and theyíve got at least 25 families, year round, mostly Mexicans, and several other growers have 15 families. And these Mexican families add to the grocery storage usage and the service station. They donít add to industry, but as these orchards increase, thereís going to be more people. Now, one of these years, I donít think thereís enough Mexicans to pick all of the fruit that theyíre planting around. Have you been out to Dufur?
CH: Not for a long time.
WE: Well, if you wandered around Dufur, thereís 300 acres and 500 acres and 100 acres of orchard that used to be wheat. And, itís a week later or ten days, so they pick here, and they can use the same crew out there, theoretically. And some of the big growers are moving out there. Theyíve got several large tracts over at Dallesport now, but thereís only so many Mexicans that come up here, and we had a problem with Mexicans coming up into California and getting jobs in restaurants and working in the orchards. But those that worked in the orchards used to come up to California and pick olives, no olives are after here Ė what did they pick? Apricots and peaches, and then the cherries, and then they moved to The Dalles, and this is 7-8,000 people and thereís twice as many over in Yakima Valley and the government had a special program that some of the real do-gooders thought that it was terrible that these people had to migrate Ė that they couldnít settle down and have a home in California and live there and work. Itís terrible that these people have to migrate Ė drive from California up here to get a job that pays twice as much. One of these times, if theyíre going to settle them all down there and we donít take the whole population of Mexico up here, weíre not going to have enough people to pick all these trees. Thatís my concern, and has been for 40 years, that the amount of Mexicans here, some years, is just a squeeze to get enough help to get your crop off before itís overripe.
CH: Back in the 30's and 40's, where did your labor source come from?
WE: Well, Alabama and Arkansas. Mexico.
ME: Well, then, before that, high school kids picked cherries.
WE: Iíll make you a bet. Any size you want Ė you get a high school kid to come out here in my orchard and pick cherries, you win! [laughs] They wouldnít pick cherries on a bet! They want to be down sitting on that forklift.
ME: Yes, they want to yard out Ė they want to drive the rigs.
CH: One other question I wanted to ask you, too, was on the bauxite that goes to the aluminum companies, where is that generally coming from?
WE: I was afraid you would ask me that! Generally, it came from Australia and the West Indies I think it is down there, and weíre kinda snotty. You should ask an aluminum employee!
CH: [laughs] I was under the impression that it came from a long way and I was wondering whether, in terms of the world wide market, there were efforts to have these companies located closer to where the source of the material...
WE: The big expense is that electricity and where they can get cheap electricity, thatís where theyíre going. It doesnít cost them that much to load a big freighter and freight it in. It seems like itís a little expensive. They come up to Portland with a great big freighter and load a whole trainload of box cars with bauxite and then they bring them up here to John Day, and thatís nothing to get them to run it up by rail.
CH: How come they have to transfer it to rail to get it up to John Day because John Day is still on the river, isnít it? Or are you referring to off the town of John Day?
CH: The dam?
WE: The dam.
CH: Canít the boats take the aluminum...
WE: Those are ocean freighters that canít make it up into the...
CH: Oh, the canals.
WE: ...past Portland.
CH: I see.
WE: Theyíve got that, apparently Ė Iíve lost the word Ė for cleaning the crud out of the river...
WE: Dredging. Iím sorry Ė I told you I was getting old! [laughs] Theyíve got it dredged up to Portland where these freighters can get, but they canít get on up to The Dalles and John Day, so they just put it on a train. I wish theyíd put your Portland garbage on a train and keep it off the highway. You didnít run into a pain in the neck, by any chance, coming up, did you?
CH: No, no.
WE: Thereís a truck every hundred yards. Theyíre just so thick on there, along with the car traffic. I heard we were going to put the speed limit up to 70 or 75. Top 75. When they did, all the truckers go 75 now and somehow, somebody asked a technical question: ďWhat is the law?Ē And itís still 65 for cars and 55 for trucks. But if you arenít going 74 miles an hour, every truck out there on the road will pass you! I know. Iíve been up to Arlington a couple of times and here recently down to Portland once or twice. Iím either getting old enough that Iím more concerned about my reflexes or those truckers arenít giving me enough respect! [laughs]
CH: [laughs] Well, is there anything else youíd like to say about the Columbia River Basin or the problems that youíve had to deal with over the aluminum companies or any of the other issues that might be ...
WE: No. I hope when we have another election, to get off on that angle, that we get somebody with integrity. Iím kind of tired of both parties and their attitude of taking care of their own pocketbook instead of using common sense and good reason. They should be able to think back in Washington the same as we do out here, but it doesnít seem like it! [laughs]
CH: [laughs] Well, I appreciate the time that you and Marilyn have given me today, because I know itís been...
WE: Itís a pleasure.
CH: ...a long time, and I presume that all these albums that you have here on the table are not here all the time...
WE: No, I wanted to bring them out so that you knew what I had, and if the Oregon Historical Society wanted them, thereís two sets of them. I ran into a problem, a nasty problem. See, these have been in court, and this set, but I forget why I had to go down to the post office, just before going to Portland to testify at one of the trials, and it was kind of embarrassing, I set the books off on a table to go to the counter and stopped for just a minute, and I came back and three or four of them were gone. Somebody from the aluminum plant knew what they were and they just skimmed out with them, and I didnít know for sure just how many, so I just ordered another complete set from Mel. He made a whole set. Put them together this way and everything. The Fruit and Produce League was tickled to death to pay for them Ė they were valuable Ė but they have a set someplace in their vault, and Iíve offered these to the library here and they say they just donít have room. I donít know, but I would think that things like this that show the town so clearly and all... Now this area right here is all built up Ė Uxness Motors is right in here now Ė filled up the whole lot and all of this is built. The jail sits right here on half of this property and on the corner, I canít find it right now...
CH: Well, it must have been very expensive to have put all these pictures that are, not only the cost of the airplane flights and the photography itself, but also the beautiful way that theyíre mounted into these wonderful books.
WE: Mel did a beautiful job for us Ė he and I went to school together Ė and he was the kind of a photographer that, when he took a picture, he could stand up in court and they couldnít knock him off, and they could ask a lot of questions about ďwhat setting did you have on that?Ē and ďwhat camera?Ē I wouldnít know from Adam, but they knew he knew and there was no use putting him on and trying to get his credibility attacked, so they just left the whole thing alone. The only thing they did was those Ė I havenít seen the smoke that I was talking about here...
CH: Well, yes, you did show me...
WE: They tried to trip me up on that. You see, hereís up the creek, the next ranch. This is that house that I was in Ė in the front of Mt. Hood Ė is right about in here. You get a chance to compare Ė you can look at a tree Ė these two are pollenizers because theyíre about four or five days or a week ahead and you can tell by the color. And a lot of things that are quite interesting. Above all, you can go through here and on April the 15th, this orchard was in bloom. Another year, you could get April the 15th and see how far it was ahead or behind, and since itís 21 years, youíve got a pretty good way of checking the timing of the year, whether itís high or low and all. For a reference situation, theyíre valuable.
CH: Yes. Well, they are, and youíve made a wonderful investment in time and resources and I appreciate your time today, too. I appreciate it and Iíll be talking to you soon about anything in the future regarding this. Maybe we can come back and ask you some more questions, if we get to.
WE: My legs Ė Iíve got paraneupal muscular atrophy, one in 200,000 in the United States has it. The muscle is gone and the nerve, and it started in one foot and then both of them, clear up to my ankle, and now itís clear above my knees. Iíve got no feeling at all. Itís hard to walk. I trip myself every once in a while because I canít tell where my feet are. But, I canít walk a block and come back. Iím too weak. Itís taken the strength out, so...
ME: Arden would be glad to visit with you.
[End of Tape 4, Side 1 and end of interview]