Interview with Bonnie Sharp
2013 April 5
Highline Historical Society Site
Interviewer Barbara McMichael
Introduction: Bonnie is a descendant of the Morasch family that was very prominent in Burien. She has come to the collections today to talk with our curator Nancy McKay and to tell us a little bit of what she recalls of her family. So, go ahead Bonnie, take it from the top.
BLS: What started it all was, I had this newspaper article about Dottie Harper moving my family house, the Morasch family house. I can remember being at the house one time, in my memory. I probably was there more, but I just don’t remember it.
My grandmother on my dad’s side of the family was a Morasch. She was Hattie Morasch. She apparently grew up down there and she met a man, Harland D.(stands for Detimus) Sharp. They got married and they had two children. Harland D. Sharp, Jr., which is my uncle. He was born in 1923 or 24. Then my dad John, he went by Jack Preston Sharp and he was born in June of 1926. I’m not exactly sure where they lived at that point.
My mother and dad got married in 1948 or 49. I came along in 1950 so it was probably 1948. By that time, my grandmother, Hattie Morasch Sharp had divorced Mr. Sharp and she had remarried a guy named Philip Watling. So I always knew her as Grandma Watling or Hattie Watling. I have no history from him, and he’s really no blood relative of mine. I know he worked at Boeing for awhile. Everyone did on that side of the family so I have no connection.
BLM: What do you remember about your Grandma, Hattie? Did she talk about her childhood or anything like that?
BLS: No, she didn’t. I know that when she got married again, she married I think in 1949, or maybe late 1948, something like that. Philip Watling, her new husband had a race horse that he raced down at Longacres. This is a picture that was taken at Longacres of the horse winning the race and then my Grandmother Hattie in the winner’s circle with the horse.
BLM: Did they have horses at their house in Burien? Was she living in that house?
BLS: At that time, I think they had moved to Columbia City on Edmunds Street, just about a block and a half away from the post office down there in Columbia City on Edmunds Street. That’s where I remember going and seeing her all the time, was down in the Rainier Valley, Columbia City.
When I was born they used to take me down to Longacres. Of course because Grandma had a horse, we were back in the paddock. They couldn’t figure out why I was getting sick all the time. Well, they finally ran allergy tests on me, and horses were at the top of the scale, hay and everything, that was down there. Well no wonder my eyes would close shut and I couldn’t breathe.
BLM: So what were the years that you were down there at the track?
BLS: It would be like 1950, 51, maybe 52. I was just a little baby, I don’t remember it. These are just stories that have been told to me.
BLM: Did she have a stable of horses down there or was it one horse, what do you recall?
BLS: As far as I know it was just the one horse.
BLM: Do you remember the name?
BLS: Yeah, Jen’s Folly . . . Jen’s Pet. That’s all I know. I’ve heard stories of going down there in my little stroller and baby buggy and stuff. But I don’t remember it.
My Grandmother Hattie was a telephone switchboard operator at the old Bon Marche, downtown. We’d go out and we’d spend the night. She’d always take me, walk down the end of the street, all dressed up with our white gloves and our little skirts, and little patent leather shoes and the white anklets, because that was back in the 50’s and you did that. You dressed up to the nines. We’d go downtown and she would introduce us to all her co-workers back in the switchboard. So we’d go back in the innards of the Bon. She was so proud of us. Then we’d go upstairs to one of the restaurants and we’d have lunch at one of the restaurants inside the Bon because I’m sure she got an employee discount. But she was so proud of showing off her grandkids to her co-workers. I can remember that. Then we’d walk out and walk around town a little bit. Then she’d go “We’ve got to get on the bus.” It would always be, “No Grandma, the bus is back there, it’s not here.” Because she would always get disoriented. She eventually died from Alzheimer’s. and I think it was probably the start of Alzheimer’s back in the early 60’s. So she could never remember where to get the bus to go home. Then we’d take the bus and my parents would come out and pick us up. We’d got to spend the night with Grandma.
BLM: Do you remember anything else about the Morasch side of the family? Any other stories and you can explain why you don’t remember much if you wish.
BLS: I don’t really have very many memories of the Morasch side of the family. My dad worked nights when he was married to my mother. So at night we were kind of stuck at home because he took the car to go to work. So we were kind of stuck in those days. Not too many people had two cars. It was just the one and you made do. Because he worked at night, we didn’t see him an awful lot. Then he moved out sometime in 1962 because I think he was fooling around with somebody else. Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer and he didn’t believe her. So she said, “Get out of the house”. So he got out of the house. Then she started divorce proceedings.
So in 1964 when they were officially divorced, he remarried within two or three weeks. And never told any of his kids that he was doing this. It was just all of a sudden. We knew her because she had been my little sister’s Godmother. So I really didn’t have any use for her at that point. I was old enough to know what was going on. As far as I was concerned she was way down here at the bottom of the list and there were people more important than she was.
Then in 1967 my mother remarried in January and the last time I saw my dad was in December at Christmas in 1967. From then on there was no birthday cards, no Christmas, nothing. That’s why I don’t really have a whole lot from that side.
My Grandmother would come out. She would come out with Philip Watling, her new husband. It was funny because my Grandpa Phil, which is what I called him, he’s the only Grandpa I knew on that side of the family. When my mother got remarried he came out and he had been a supervisor at Boeing for my stepfather, my mother’s new husband, and they knew each other. So it was like, “Oh ok, you did ok.” and they just got along. Then they moved down to California for a while. Then they came back to Seattle and we kind of lost contact with them. I remember reading in the paper that they had died, but no formal notification or nobody called me and said your grandma or grandpa died. Very strange.
BLM: Show us your scrapbook and tell us a little bit about that.
BLS: My littlest sister, several years ago for Christmas, put together a scrapbook. It’s pictures of us when we were growing up. (showing photos) That’s my mother’s mother and this is the sister that put this together. There are pictures of Hattie in here. There’s my mother, there’s John Sharp, that’s my dad. We were in Camp Fire.
Here’s Hattie. And that was my dad.
We were at the World’s Fair, looking real happy about it. That was my mother’s parents. That was my Grandmother’s little sister, Aunt Ruth.
There’s a picture of my dad and the three of us girls. We were at the ocean.
This is just who the pictures are. (Showing list of photos)
On my mother’s side of the family she had an uncle. My grandmother’s brother would write letters to her when he was in the war. So we’ve got those and we’ve saved them. You could tell that he was sending information. He found this girl that he liked and he told his sister, my grandmother Ethel that if she wanted to bring May over, she could. He was trying to get together with her and eventually they did get married.
BLM: Now here’s the wedding (announcement).
BLS: Showing announcement.
BLM: What about the ski classes, what’s that about?
BLS: My mother and my dad were on the ski patrol and they also organized ski classes for the Seattle Public Schools. (Showing newspaper article & photo) My mother is here and I think that’s my dad, and that’s my mother’s brother Bill. So I skied since I was a little tiny squirt.
These are just death notices and some of them are in Norwegian or Swedish. This is from my mother’s side of the family.
I do have some other pictures. This is my uncle Harland’s daughter Pam. These pictures were taken back in the 50’s.
This is Hattie and Philip Watling.
BLM: Is that their house?
BLS: This was taken in the backyard of their house on Edmunds Street in Columbia City.
BLM: Do you know why they left the mansion in Burien?
BLS: I have no idea. Maybe it was because Hattie got married. I don’t know.
BLM: But she had been the child to live in that house?
BLS: As far as I know because I’ve gone through on Ancestry.com and have picked up some information. This is Mary Morasch which is mother of Hattie Morasch and they were living in Sunnydale. I’ve been able to get some stuff off the internet and some stuff I can’t. My cousin’s daughter had blocked a lot of things from the Sharp side of the family so I couldn’t access it, which made me very frustrated.
(More photos) That’s Hattie and that’s my dad, John, and this is my dad.
This is Hattie and her new husband Phil Watling.
That’s Hattie with my two little sisters.
BLM: What are their names?
BLS: The middle one is Gloria and the littlest one is Darlene.
BLM: There were three girls.
BLS: Yeah, three girls. More pictures of my dad.
BLM: He was a good looking young man.
BLS: That’s me and my dad. I think that’s on the way up to Snoqualmie. There used to be a place where you could pull over and get a drink of water at a drinking fountain and that rock was there.
So there a few gaps that I’m trying to fill in
BLM: Thank you very much Bonnie.