March 8, 2008
This is Cyndi Upthegrove. I am talking today with Lillian Isernio, who is a pioneer of the Highline area and who has agreed to talk with me about her memories from Angle Lake School. I think Lillian first of all that I want to thank you for being willing to do this with us. And tell me your maiden name and spell it?
My maiden name was Lillian Manzo, M-A-N-Z-O.
I have been told that you lived very close to the school.
On 192nd. About maybe 4 long blocks, but they were longer blocks too.
Can you describe where you lived?
There were maybe one or two houses around us and we walked up to Angle Lake (school), which would be mostly woods and almost at the top by school was the Kumasakas. It was the Japanese family that had greenhouses. We always saw them and we would feel safe again. You know, we were walking. You know, we went rain or shine, thunder or lightening. We were going to school. As I told my walking friend, “No galoshes, no rain gear. Just whatever we had on when we went to school.”
Now did you have brothers and sisters?
I am the youngest of 5.
Were they brothers or sisters?
I had three brothers and one sister. My sister was 7 years older than me. My last brother was 4 years older than me. Since we were born in South Park, they all went to Concord. I think my sister went maybe one year to Angle Lake.
And then your family moved?
When I was 5 years old my dad moved us up to 192nd. It was a farm alongside of another farm. He was a truck farmer – and this is what we did, we worked on the farm. I can remember that my sister and I on Sundays (we had horses then, it wasn’t tractors), we had horses because that’s what we came up with from South Park. They would bring this sled up and it would be just piles of onions. And my sister and I would have to tie all those onions. Today you have Twist-‘ems. Years ago it was like we would have to go get them…we called them “oonges”. It was like a dried up tree that we’d dry them. We’d cut them and dry them and then we’d twist them. And that took a lot more time. After that we would have to wash them all up and put them in the crates. Then my dad would bring them to either the Market or whatever – commission houses that they did. So that was our livelihood.
So did you work every day after school?
Oh yes, There is one thing I have to say about my parents, God rest their souls. Our education was #1. Even though they were both from Italy. My dad had been here longer. From the minute I would walk into the house Mama would say, “Lili, you gotta homework?” My homework had to come first. Then whatever it was, then I would do whatever chores we had to do. Everybody worked together. We had an artesian well so we didn’t have hot water at first when we first moved up there. And my Mom worked the Market – and since my sister was 7 years older. My dad was never really a well person but he still was doing the driving. And then of course my brothers, because of education being #1, they all went off to college. They were both in colleges. The boys got the college education, by the way.
But your parents spoke English?
Oh – definitely. My Mom got here when she was 18. And the first thing my Mom said, I can still remember, that she was sent to the Market the next day to work for my uncle. But my dad brought her here they lived in with my dad’s brother and his wife and he said, “Nunzio, (which means Nancy) you need to go out in the garden.” Well Mama thought it was a garden like a flower garden. He had her in the garden the next day, put her on a bus the day after, I think it was a nickel, and she went down to work the Market. Of course there would be a lot of immigrants down there anyway at that time. But personally, her main priority was to become an American citizen and speak English. I tell you that to this day I take my hat off to her. Our focus was education but then to become an American citizen and her English might have been broken but she knew what she had to say when she had to say it.
What an interesting lady.
Yes she was. I was Lily to her.
Was she little, like you?
Yes, she was. Mama used to tell me that she weighted 98 pounds. She was perhaps about 4’9” and worked really, really hard. I lost my dad in 1949, and those were the days when you wore black from then on. Even going to school my mom made me wear the black skirt and the black sweater for quite awhile. It was a real sacred thing for them to show their respect when someone was deceased.
And your father died when?
And how old were you?
I would have been a junior in high school.
He died young.
He was 59 years old. They didn’t know what heart problems were then. I remember he couldn’t put his shoes on. He was a heavy smoker.
Lots of people were then.
It was Bull Durhams to Camels. I have to share this – we never went to doctors and I had an earache one time and it really hurt. My dad blew smoke in my ear. I think that nicotine must have been the cure and if that didn’t work then they put the olive oil in it. I used to watch him roll those Bull Durhams and was so impressed. He always sat backwards in a chair and our radio was one of those freestanding radios and he would listen to the Rainiers, the baseball – because he wasn’t really well. All the work was mostly done by us. My dad was mostly in the house after he really started to get poor health. I think that if I could go back there are certain things that I wish I could to do over. Not because we were so naïve. We were really very naïve. Everything was so secretive back then.
Private. I think that’s a better word.
Going to school. We never had problems in school. I do remember one boy, I was telling my friend. His last name was King, a little Afro American boy. He was really kind of a devil. One day we were playing baseball and the girl broke the window in the school and he took the blame and it wasn’t him at all. So here was a kid who was always in trouble so he just decided, ”What the heck!”
Let’s start at the beginning. Did you begin your school career at Angle Lake School?
Oh I did.
And somebody walked you to school?
My dad walked me up to school. Now you’ve got to remember that if we went visiting you were always with family. So all of a sudden he takes me up to the school and I see this big building and kids, I can still remember the day when he walked me in and I started to cry. Cry. Cry. Cry. And my first grade teacher’s name was Miss Stewart.
They didn’t have kindergarten?
No. They didn’t have preschool either. She was so kind. She had my dad stay in the classroom. The classrooms then were maybe 40 or more, who knows. I think sometimes they were combined.
So here was this first grader, didn’t know anybody, hadn’t been left by anybody…
So my Dad sat in this little white chair, all day long. I don’t remember going out to recess because I was too afraid. The next day he was back up with me again. She never said anything. I didn’t cry anymore because he was my comfort zone. Gradually he went out the door. Schoolroom doors then had the windows, and I could look up and he would be standing outside in the hall. Eventually, there was a farm (they had cows), Carol Eckman lived further down…and I got close to somebody and we started walking. It was Carol, me, Dudley Johnson, all in first grade. (Miss Stewart’s) house was in South Park and our youngest son Joe’s in-laws live in South Park and the street that we go by to get to their house is still where Miss Stewart’s house is and I’m not kidding, every time we go I look to the left at that corner house and think of Mrs. Stewart. I could cry thinking about her. She was so kind.
You said the school was so big.
It was big.
Do you recall if that gymnasium building was there?
It wasn’t at first. It came later on while I was still at school. Actually it was like a cracker box. It was just a box. We were so thrilled. We never had PE. There was no such thing as physical education. We went out for recess. The boys usually were in cords and T-shirts. You didn’t see them in jeans or tennis shoes. Girls were in dresses and they were like these big drindls. And as I told you Gaylord Rasmussen and Stuart Gornsey would save Carol and I the teeter totter. And we could hardly wait to do it because after we bounced down our dress would fly up. And it would fly back. It was our joy. And I don’t think we knew what tights were either.
And you wore oxfords?
You know, in our household it was whatever shoe we could get. Since we worked in the Market I can remember my Mom taking me down…she used to call it the Salvation Army but I think it was a place for rummage sales. I would get one pair of cotton socks, shoes, a coat and maybe one or two dresses. I can remember Mama saying that she only had $10 to spend. And those shoes would have to last us. And if they started getting a hole we’d put cardboard in it. But see, no one else was any better than you. The only ones who were a little bit more exclusive – those who lived at Angle Lake.: the Matlitches, the Hassans who had 7 Gables, the Jabers. I still picture going with Juanita (Jaber) and standing on a fence. I can’t remember what I was looking at – was it pigs? But even though they lived at Angle Lake, these people, they weren’t farmers. That was the whole thing.
Do you remember if you learned to read in the first grade?
No – but most of it was because we never had any pre-school. Everything was kinda basic. We had to learn to write our name. We didn’t do these things at home. Farmers didn’t sit down and say, “Do this”. Everything was from scratch. Learning to do your letters, learning to write. I remember the Dick and Jane books…..Dick and Jane books…..
What year would this have been?
1938, when I started first grade. I was born in 1932. My second grade was a combination second/third with Miss Grove, and there would be rows and she would have to give us the assignment and then she would move over to the next one. Nowdays when they do combination they put slower kids who can do better with combination so they can do pretty much the same class level. I don’t remember ever having to be scolded about anything.
I think we were probably fourth or fifth grade when we got to do band, and that’s when I took trumpet. Well again, because my family was very musical and my brother was going to Central, Mr. Hurtz (?) was a professor there and he knew that we didn’t have anything, so from the college he gave me a trumpet. So I played the trumpet in grade school.
I heard you sang.
Oh yea. I sang. When I was growing up we all sang. If we’d go to weddings we all had turns. As my mom says, I was the change of life baby. Everyone was two years apart and then came ME. And Mama was treated for a tumor. I said, “Mom how can you have four kids and let the doctor think I was a tumor?” But you know, Cyndi, they had the kids at home and a few hours later they were out on the farm again working. So they had the fallen stomachs so you wouldn’t know if you were pregnant or not pregnant. Because you just worked. So being the last of 5, I kind of was pushed under the rug a little bit, not because I wasn’t liked, but just that they were too busy doing everything.
I still sing. Everybody had to do what they had to do.
Pat Hollowell says that she recalled her first classroom there as being one that divided in half.
That would be our combination.
…And that there were two classes, one in each side and that they would open it up for assemblies.
I just remember it opening up because I don’t think we were divided too often. I just remember the second, third, I don’t remember a thing about fourth except that Mrs. Willard was the fourth grade teacher. My favorite other teacher was my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Morrow. Every time I ‘d go in the morning to pick up my grandkids in Federal Way that I watched… every time I’d go up that hill (I’d always take that cutoff), I’d look at the end of the building because that was where the 6th was, the last room, and I’d look at that last room and all my memories were of my 6th grade. When we did work, like long division, it was done in pen. Today these kids are real (?) I try to do this with my grandkids. Here’s the line,,,,, this number goes here…..they just DO it. Not too much in a private school, but in public schools its… no wonder they can’t find the numbers because they don’t stay precise. But boy, I tell you, our papers were just perfect. You knew exactly where those numbers went.
And you learned very traditional rote math.
Everything was very traditional. Can you imagine? I don’t know if I was fifth or sixth for division. We’d be a lot slower than what the kids are doing today. I couldn’t begin to even help my kids. Maybe third or fourth I can help. Once they get into that upper grade with this other math… and I don’t know about public schools but the math that these kids get here at St. Francis is WAY beyond. But they also have an advanced math at St. Francis, and our grandson Anthony’s in there. Thank God that Joe works at Boeing and he’s been able to help.
We learned basics, we learned reading, penmanship was the # 1 thing. I can still remember penmanship papers. We had penmanship papers every day. A lot of schools don’t even do penmanship anymore. The kids at St. Francis still do penmanship with the letters. But they even do letters different now than when we did. Its really hard for me to sit down and say, “You are doing that wrong.” “No, that’s the way…”
But at least they are doing it.
Oh yea, they do it. And there’s another thing I learned a lot was spelling. I can spell anything unless its way up that it can’t pronounce it. We were tremendous spellers. Reading was a # 1 priority. You have to remember, too, Cyndi, we never got to go home and read a book, because we had to work. So it was getting our homework done. I do remember our social studies classes.
Did you have books in your home?
Reading books? No.
No, no. Actually, I suppose that in those days it would be semi-poverty, when you think about it. We lived to survive. We had the farm. We had the pigs. We had the cows. I had a goat. We had the horses. Then, the horses because we lived on 192nd where they dig, that…. Where they are right next to Tyee Golf Course, was the other farm. And if you dig, it was like peat moss and so the horses started to sink. And we had to get rid of them. We had one horse named Queenie, and that horse was a big white horse. And my dad had to get rid of her. The guy was coming from Enumclaw to use her for lumbering. So at the very end of our farm we had all of our crates piled up very, very high, and we took Queenie out and we hid her back there when he came all the way from Enumclaw. You have to remember, Cyndi, Enumclaw wasn’t nearby.
And he called…. My dad never hollered at us. (My mom, God bless her, did the correcting.) And he called and he called and we didn’t answer and the guy left. I tell you, did we get an earful after that. But we cried and cried when that horse had to go.
For entertainment for each other, other than our music, you’d sing. Pretend you were a radio station. Gong, gong, and the time. And then we would sing. My brother played the accordian. When I was growing up in South Park, Clady Washman (sp?) had a player piano and I would sit under that player piano and would just play it like mad and pump. And I’d pretend I was playing. Again, I got piano lessons. It probably cost a quarter then, who knows? And of course we had choir – chorus. That wasn’t a class, we just had to do that. We didn’t have a choir class. If we did I don’t remember it.
Do you recall occasions when parents came to school for Parent-Teacher Conferences or Christmas performances or any thing like that?
Nothing. Really strange. Not until we got into junior high school. Then we had the Christmas programs and the singing and – its kinda cute because I always used to get the lead part, but I won’t mention names but she was a doctor’s daughter…and got really upset that I, you know (not clear) and doctor so-and-so’s, and she…so Mr. Lemon, God rest his soul, Highline had dividers up above like music rooms, and he had us go up without knowing what room we were in, so she wouldn’t think that he was favoring me as the singer. My brothers, because I always asked the Blessed Mother, my brothers used to call me the Virgin Mary at home.
Everybody laughs at this… We had kind of a knoll. I used to stand on it and sing” Little Sir Echo”, and I would wait for the echo, but it would never come (sings). Entertaining myself. Then when I got a little older – maybe sixth grade – I stood on the knoll and I was Kate Smith and I was singing God Bless America (sings). Nobody laughed at you for doing this.
Was the airport there?
Was it all wooded?
No. Right next door was another farm. Way down at Des Moines Way was another house and then a grocery store.
So the swale down there where Tyee Golf Course is now. Is that where your farm was?
Well part of that was where Tyee is, but there was another farm alongside.
So you went down into that valley and over toward Des Moines Way?
We went to 192nd, this was where you would go.
It went all the way across.
It would go all the way up to Angle Lake. My mom and dads farm was here.
Which is to the south
Which would be part of Tyee. But the other farm which wasn’t ours. The road took care of both the farms. I can remember the DiPianos living there at first. Their son, they thought he had a stomachache. You know, we didn’t go to doctors. And they lost him at 16 years old because his appendix burst. 16. And that was a real trauma for us because death was a real frightful thing. These Italians would just go into rages and they wanted to keep him at home for 3 days like they did in Italy. But that was a real trauma.
And then the Philippinos moved in and ran the farm. We had a billy goat and we called him Billy. After he got so big my dad sold him.
So Phillippinos moved in and ran whose farm?
Next door. And you know what I found out, too, when my Mom was bought out by the Port? We never did own that property because we never had the money. We never owned it. We always paid to Greenbaums. That was their name. They would come and get the rent. When they came and got the rent he would give me a quarter. I remember that quarter.
So the Port bought your home?
They didn’t want the home. The first house we had was just a piece of nothing. Then my dad bought a house from the first move of the airport. He paid $700 and they moved it to where our farm was. Because farmers had basements. The other house didn’t have a basement. It was just a house when he moved us up there when I was five. In fact, we had so much snow that one year we couldn’t open the doors. Farmhouses then were just flat…a door and a window…. like what you draw in school. I remember when we had snow all the way up to the door. When they bought this house, when they moved it over there they left it on the stilts-like. And we were waiting for them to close it in so we could have a basement. But they never could and so when the wind blew the house would shake a little bit and scare the living daylights out of us. So we had nothing on the walls. It was just the wood. I remember the linoleum was kinda half worn from this house that we bought. In fact we bought it from Mr. Furman. He was a real prominent person at the time. We bought this house – cause they were being bought out by the Port. That was our second one that my dad put up there and that one we just thought was just something else. It had Venetian blinds. It was a little bit more elaborate. That was our $700 house.
You had hot water in that one?
That one we did…but the other one, no. We had to boil the water. And our sink, my sister and I were very fanatic about. And even though we didn’t’ have anything we would mop the floor. The sinks then had like curtain around them and we would make sure it was clean. So we just had the sink. We had a wood stove, naturally, and that was the only heat. We would wash our socks, our clothes and we’d hang them behind the chimney. And I would say to my mom, “How can Santa Claus ever come because we didn’t have a chimney”
And Mama said, “No, Lili – he come.”
Our Christmas trees were – because our farm went up in the hilltop, way up maybe before 200th. (I think you turn about where that Bull Collela place is.) My brother Ange and I would look at those big trees (because we cut wood). And we thought that top looked pretty good. So we would cut this big tree down – this BIG tree – chopped away to get that top for our Christmas tree. And we would make those rings and we waited for my aunt and uncle to come to bring us something for Christmas. And it’s a miracle we didn’t have a fire. And our next lights were those big outside lights…those great big outside lights. Those were what we put on the tree. And we didn’t have a fire. On Valentine’s Day we got wallpaper books and made our own Valentines. There was no such thing as parties like that at school.
You didn’t celebrate birthdays at school?
No. We didn’t at home either.
Did you take a lunch to school?
Oh gosh, yes. They didn’t have hot lunches there. It was my Mom’s bread. It was good the first day but the next day you were afraid to take a bite out of it. For breakfast it was bread. And everybody sliced it for breakfast. On weekdays we dipped this bread in coffee so it would get soft. I can still remember, I think it was Miss Grove, talking about a good breakfast and how important it is. And she said coffee could shrink you and stunt your growth. I never did tell her that I had coffee and bread because I was not very big. I was sure. So I figured I got stunted. My mother thought my brother Andrew was gonna be a dwarf because he really was short. But we thought coffee was doing it. We had coffee with a lot of milk in it. We had our own cow. Or else we just had milk, but never cereal. We’d kill our own pig. We never could be there when they killed the pig but we sure had to do with the sausages and all the other stuff. We were protected one way and then to another.
As we were growing up my second brother – we were all down at the garden and my sister and I were at the house and he was getting the fire ready for them to kill the pig.
He said he was going to put gasoline on it – and he came in the house – to this day I can picture – that he came in the house and he was just BLACK. When you’re on the farm you call, you scream bloody murder. The only doctor was doctor Stetson and he was one of the brothers of the Stetson hats. We had to go all the way down there.
Where was his office?
Down on Sullivan Street in South Park.
Anyway, they bandaged him all up. He had to go to the drug store in South Park. It was called Wolfe’s Drug Store. He used to live in Highline years ago. Whatever they did they came home and all he had was two little nostrils and a little hole to eat. And you know he never had one scar on his face? The only thing is he lost his hearing on one side. So our life style was so much different than today. We never felt sorry for each other.
At first, Angle Lake went to 7th grade, but I didn’t. I went to 7, 8th and 9th at Highline.
That was junior high school.
Do you have any of your school photos?
You know, I haven’t had time to look. I know that I had one of me holding this thing with whatever grade it was. But this household is just a little bit too busy for me to look for it. I do remember having one. I have more pictures of me in high school. I found something that I thought you might get a kick out of. My other grandkids have this house with a pool in it and I said, “Nanna had a pool when she was growing up.”
I said, “Yea.”
So I’ll share to you what we washed the radishes and onions in. You see my brother Ange and I in it. (shows photo) Then I don’t know why I had this picture. (shows another photo) You can see in the back that I look like I have nothing around. We would carry the vegetables up with the horses. And I’m sitting there and I’m in shorts. But because we worked the garden all the time we just wore halters. I am holding the dog and I am in shorts. And Phil teases me about it because it looked like I didn’t have anything on. Once you got into high school and junior high school then there were pictures, and other kids took pictures.
Lets talk a bit about Angle Lake. You said it looked really big to you. And they built the gym while you were still going to school there.
In the back. You know where you were putting your first stuff in there? First there was a little tiny building facing south southwest towards the back of the school was the gym.
The annex building where we were putting our things?
No, the other building – that was the gym. There used to be a wooden building back there but I don’t know what it was.
There is a gym there.
There was something back there before the play yard.
It could have been storage. We never got to go in it.
Were there organized sports activities of any kind?
No, we played baseball. But, no. In my sister’s era there was. If they did we didn’t get to go.
Did your sister go to Angle Lake?
No, cause she was 7 years older than me.
So you were the only one in your family that went to school there.
My brother Ange is 4 years older than me so he may have been there.. But most likely he went to Highline right at that time when they changed to 7th grade. And the 7th and 8th graders were on the west side of Highline High School. The last door …and it was divided and that’s where we had the junior high school. We were definitely separated from the high school.
Was there anything physically about Angle Lake that you remember that stays in your mind?
Well I think the closeness we had as kids.
You stayed friends with a lot of these people?
We all went to Highline if we went or we didn’t move. I still think of Stuart Gorenson or _____________ I know where Joe Matelich went because his sister Colleen went to St. Francis. I used to be every close to Carol Eckman. We did everything. Every July 24th we got to go to Woodland Park Zoo and I got to wear one of her Swiss polka dot dresses, because I didn’t have fancy stuff. And when she got into high school they started hanging around different kids and my way was not their way. That’s what I’m saying now all of a sudden they just talk so highly of me. I really didn’t fit in with their criteria. Because it was those from Three Tree Point and cheerleaders and stuff, and where I was the musical one. If it wasn’t for my music I probably wouldn’t have got to do anything. Because I was in choir and I was in band. And I remember that I was chosen Track Queen for junior high and I didn’t know what to do. I had to sing with ___________ (?)
And I was the Track Queen for 7th grade.
Angle Lake meant to me, even when I go by it now and it’s boarded up. The first thing I said to Phil is, “Oh no, they’ve boarded up Angle Lake.” And when they didn’t board it up before and I would see holes in those windows, my heart just – In fact I can cry.
They did put a fence around it to try to keep people out, but apparently recently before they completely boarded it up someone got in and ripped all the wire out of all the buildings and stole the wire and stole the brass doorknobs.
One thing they did not get were the leaded glass windows over the north door. So they are giving those windows to the Historical Society.
What a shame that they did that. Its kinda like having a doorknob from a house that was torn down. Neat floors and big rooms.
Great wooden floors,
They were big rooms. Mr. Friet. You couldn’t have asked for a better principal.
What was he like?
He was a big man. And his son, Jim, was the same way. In fact I went and got my annual and I went to see Jim because he was in band. I think then everybody took music of some sort. It wasn’t the athletic bit as much as it was music. The arts. And I looked at our band picture in the annual and I went, “My God, he looks just like Mr. Friet.”
As far as physical education, if we didn’t have one we probably just thought, “Good, it’s recess.”
And your favorite thing was the teeter- totter?
Oh my. And the swings, we had the swings…because see your skirts could fly up, and the teeter totters…You know every time I go up that hill I still can picture where it was, facing that road. As you go in.
It was where?
It was on the east side of the building.
Is that right?
And then the backside was the play yard. That was all nice lawn. We had to walk up that hill.
You mean to get to school?
It was a nice front yard then. Not at first it wasn’t, but we always had the teeter totter and the swings, and then baseball or whatever we were playing in the back. That was our entertainment.
Did you ever go back up there when you were a little bit older and use the play yard?
No my sister, cause she was older, she played baseball for somebody. I don’t know what it was. I could tell you about this gal….Buela Johnson, a great big Catholic girl and she hit that ball and it went ACROSS the road. And that was a big — man, we just thought that she was probably 14 or 15, we didn’t know. My sister would play ping pong for activity there.
In school, Yes.
Where was there room for a ping pong table?
You know, I don’t know. That probably was when maybe we got the….maybe hey played it outside. I know she would get in trouble when she didn’t come straight home. She’d go up there to play after school and should be home doing our stuff. I just walked right straight home all the time.
You walked right down 192nd and you were home?
And Mrs. Kumasaka, the grandma, would see us because she had these cherry trees and its so ironic…
And it was all heavily wooded?
Lot of woods. If there would be a house after awhile, it would be back inside (the woods). They weren’t anything big. Then as you got further down where there was another road and there were brothers that lived in this big old tall house. They weren’t farmers. They were brothers that lived there. The Ekmans took really good care of them. When I go to Washington Memorial I know somewhere where they were buried and I think of those brothers and I don’t remember their name. And we had a smallpox scare and I do remember that. We had to line up and go to Doctor Stetson to get the smallpox shot. That was in 1943 when they had that. We all were so proud cause we got to go to the doctor for that vaccination. We were just looking at our scars cause we got to show off something.
There was not a doctor out here?
No, he was the closest and he would come. And he would come if we got like….when my brother had pneumonia he came. Dr. Stetson would come out to our place.
Did he drive?
No, he had a horse and buggy then. He came up with them. And then when I had to go to him his wife was his nurse in the little beanie hat and the little glasses, and he had the little glasses and he couldn’t hear. And we had to talk through a horn. And he had this big German Shepherd. Now remember that we had never been anywhere but home and school and all of a sudden here we were in this doctors office and he’s got you on the table and here was this big German Shepherd, and you had to talk and hear and its gonna hurt you. Then you were done. So all of this was, “Oh my gosh!”
Big excitement. And then I remember my mom worked the Market and I came down with something and I called my sister and I said, “I’m dying.” And she put cream on me. I must have had the measles. I was in the bedroom and mama must have said to draw the shade. I looked in the mirror, the bedroom mirror, and I saw all these red spots and called my sister, “Come quickly, I’m dying.”
The chicken pox.
I could have had the chicken pox. I came down with the shingles this past summer.
We didn’t go to doctors. We didn’t have shots. Everything was home remedies. We ate stuff from the garden. They used to spray this stuff with the real hard stuff then to kill bugs in the celery. We used to wipe it on our pant legs and eat it. Then where the horses were, the pond where they drank would freeze over and I would go down and pretend I was Sonja Heine. If I wasn’t Kate Smith I was Sonja Heine. Then I’d go to Carol’s, and they had it better. There we would make the butter. Churn it up and down. And we did the hay. We were doing the hay one time and we were on the truck, and the pitchfork hit my hand. It went right in there and was bleeding. I remember they brought me in and Mrs. Ekman put a bunch of lard on it, bandaged it up and that was it. No tetanus shots. I still think about this and this arm. Sometimes you can have unhappy, sad times, but they never leave you. (cries)
It sounds like it was actually a wonderful childhood with friends at school and friends in the neighborhood. In that era everybody worked hard. All the homes worked hard.
There were the Landes that lived closer. I don’t know what they did. One of them was further up. I think he was the one that maybe was the policeman. My brother and I growing up had an old Model T Ford. We had another part of the farm that was up where the airport is. We’d had to go do the radishes. We had no windows in it, this Model T Ford.
No. No glass. So we put window shades up. My older brothers, to scare us, had him stop us one day. We had just this stick shift and were scared us to death. We had these pull up window shades so we wouldn’t be cold. You stop and think about some of these things….(laughs)
So your dad rented more farm space up where the airport was?
Yes, we didn’t even know it was ours. We did radishes there and we’d have to go pick them.
Did your brothers take the produce in to the market?
After my dad got sick, then it was my brothers.
Did you ever go in?
I was there all the time.
At what age?
Probably whenever there wasn’t school I probably was there. I can remember that at 9 years old. I would go to the Market with my mom.
How long did it take to get in to the Market? It must have been awhile.
We left about — by the way, underneath Des Moines Way is a brick road and my dad helped build that road.
I used to sit on his lap and drive home. And he used to say…
And you’d come home on Des Moines Way?
We’d come home on Des Moines way and I’d sit on his lap driving. He’d let me drive, There’s no lines. Nothing. I used to say, “Pa, you’re in the middle of the road.” We never saw a car. We had the truck –diamond T truck. He goes, “Lili, I build-ed this road.” And he did. He really did help build the brick road. And when we had a bad snowstorm and they dug really low and that brick is still there.
Yes I know.
Then we started getting a few more (people). We were the only farms right there, and then up the hill was the Kumasakas.
So you went down Des Moines Way to 192nd and cut off to your house. And it was all brick.
It was all brick and (going) we always went through South Park…over the bridge and up to the Market. Usually we went up First Avenue. Once and a while would be Georgetown but not too often unless we got our ice. We had an icebox and we had it out on our porch. But again, when my mom passed away I remember Father Lynch saying, “Well, where did you go to shop?” We didn’t. Because we grew everything, mama made the bread. We would go to Peabody’s Store maybe for a penny to get some candy.
Would you make your clothes?
No, we wore second hand clothes. No. We never made clothes. My sister took sewing from at Highline from Mrs. Howell (?) and didn’t learn a thing. (laughs) We didn’t have a lot of clothes. I probably was lucky if I had two dresses, maybe. I always just remember the coat. My hair was really curly and my sister would put it in rags. Curly rags. As I said, we just WORKED. And for entertainment was me running around playing Sonja Heinie.
When did your mother die?
Mama died 1991. We had to move her from the airport. She was the only one left up there. Nothing left. And all our barn had was a little dinky light. The farm windows came all the way down where our basement was in the house. I would be scared to death to take my Mom home when I’d have her. I’d say, “Mom, hold up…”
“I no scared. I no scared. Nobody touch-a me.”
And we had four-party line telephones. Where you’d have to wait. The wall was a yellow wall. I just hated boys because my brothers would make all these different dates and they’d put them on the phone. Mama called one night and said, “You know, there’s a car there and they park a long-a time.
I said, “Ma – don’t open the door!” But see, nothing feared her. But when we moved her down here on Des Moines Way to be close to me she was scared to death on this main drag. Then she let strangers in there, too. They never had fear. We never locked a door. Nothing.
And nothing was ever taken?
No – there wasn’t vandalism.
So you raised your own fruit too. Apples?
No, on the farm, no. To be honest with you, I don’t think we ate that much fruit. I don’t believe we could afford to eat the fruit. And even the Market then had the wet stands and you had to raise everything and if they found out you went to the commission house and bought it you would be laid off. You would go early in the morning – like 6:30, so you would try to get the best stand to set up with. But it would be really cold and sometimes mom would send me to the Liberty Theater to warm up. Or across to what used to be a Mannys to go get some cocoa or something to stay warm. You still did it in the winter, too. Then my sister worked. She worked the bigger stands, the ones with the produce. That’s how I met Phil, at the Public Market, my first date, my first love. Because my mother wouldn’t let me date!
I used to say to my mom, “Ma, how can anybody find me out here?”
“No worry Lili, they find-a you.” (laughs) I had to go to the Market. He worked the big stand and my sister said, “Oh, there’s a cute boy. And he went to Cleveland and I went to Highline. We were both seniors in high school when we met.
And both parents approved?
Oh definitely my mom. You had to have an Italian and a Catholic or don’t bring them home. Because my dad was gone my mom was really protective. Mama knew his grandma. She didn’t know his parents but she knew his grandma. That’s the way the Italians were. We didn’t really date because he went to a different school. He finally asked me to go get a hamburger once.
I said to my sister, “How am I going to pay?”
She said, “Lili – HE”S going to pay.”
If you want to know why they call me Lili – because in Italian my name is Liliana so she calls me the Lili.
That’s a pretty name.
I was named after my aunt and her name was Lillian. She was English. My name is Liliana Antoinette Manzo.
Did your mother have stories from her early days?
My mother remembered everything. She remembered her songs way back. How she was lucky to go to school through 8th grade there. She had all sisters. And they sewed.
When did she come to the US?
She was born in 1899. She came when she was 18, so it was something like 1916. My dad had been here before. He came when he was 14 or 15, and became an American citizen and was in WWI. When they came they lived with someone else who was already here.
Where did your father fight in WWI? Back in Europe?
Well wherever WWI was, because when Mama passed we had this certificate that he got. He’d lost his first wife with that bad influenza and left him with two kids.
So when my mom came the sister stayed with the grandma but she brought his son who was just a baby with her. Can you imagine a 19-year old coming 14 days on the boat? You couldn’t bring anything with you. You were down in the lower part of the boat sicker than a dog. You talk about…
…the trip that will never be over.
You know, Cyndi, when they got here they were proud to be here and they worked hard here to become an American and do American things.
People say, “How come you don’t speak Italian?” My older brother was the only one that could speak Italian.
Your never spoke Italian at home?
She never did unless she got mad at me. Then I KNEW she was mad.
It will break my heart when they tear down Angle Lake (school).
Again we would go to Angle Lake. The Matelichs were living around the lake. Mama said I could never go on the lake. Joe Matelich was…you know we still DID these things. We had a slide at school too. And when you go on a slide what do you do? You slide and you come up. I remember being at Angle Lake and Mateliches must have invited us to some doings, they being in 6th grade. Mama must have said I could go as long as I didn’t go on the water. Cause I went. I was there, so I didn’t sneak and go. There was no such thing as sneaking and doing something. And I saw the slide and thought, “I want to go on the slide.” And I went on the slide…..Angle Lake has all those lily pads to the left of the lake and I got into all those lily pads. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Joe Matelich, cause he lived on the lake he reached in and pulled me out and to this day I am scared to death of the water. You ask my kids. If I get this deep into the water I freak out.
He was the lifeguard.
He must have been because every time I see Joe I think about that.
I think young men that grow up on lakes are pretty comfortable around water.
I remember one Fourth of July we were in grade school and some firecrackers went off in his pocket and Joe had this humongous scar and indentation on his leg. He’s lucky he didn’t lose it. You know, when you think about this we didn’t have these medical but they seemed to survive. He had a terrible scar, though. But Angle Lake was — you know, we were all in the same boat.
Was there a school bus?
For Marion, yes. Marion came during fourth grade.
Weaver. She came from McMicken Heights. So they did have a school bus. But they left them at the bottom of Hwy 99.
And they had to walk up to the school?
And Marian said when you went to school by yourself she went in, got on the bus and everything was fine and she went to school. Came home on the bus and she got out of the bus without thinking that it was the opposite way. And she couldn’t find her house. Nobody there. They just leave you off.
“So Lil, I panicked. Where’s my house? Where’s my house?” And she said, “I turned myself around. And there was my house!”
They just built those houses so she was in the exclusive area of McMicken Heights. Actually, Marion came from more of an exclusive family.
Pat Carter lived in McMicken Heights.
Oh yes, that was an exclusive area.
She doesn’t describe her upbringing as exclusive at all.
For Marion this was the new development. She didn’t mean exclusive with high mucky muck. It was a new development. They were just ramblers. There was nothing big. And my best friend, Patty Stuart Anderson lived over on Des Moines Way. She came over a lot. And still is a very good friend of mine. Of all of the kids from Angle Lake Patty is still the one.
So she went to Angle Lake?
I didn’t know that…..not Patty Anderson Stuart from Highline. This is another one. This is a Patty Anderson different. She still converses with me. I was telling someone that I came home one day — she’s had a lot of health problems and we met at the Olive Garden and I came home and told Phil that – how I count my blessings – she couldn’t chew the bread, those rolls from Olive garden, because she had new teeth and they didn’t work and she had to walk with a cane. I thought, “Lord, thank you for what you’ve given me.”
Well, you worked hard. People worked when they were young.
We did. We did, Cyndi. We worked hard. And then when I started to date Phil I had to get my radishes and onions tied before I could go anywhere. You just had to do it. You just had to do it. I don’t regret it. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves.
No, of course not.
I’ll share this with you about the Kumasakas.
I had a dermatologist and he retired and told me that he didn’t want me to go to anyone around here. So he gave me three names and I saw the name Kumasaka. I chose Kumasaka at Valley General. I went in there and asked, “Doctor, did you have Grandparents that lived on 192nd?” And he said, “Yes.” It was the son of one of the sons.
I think it was George. Yukio became a pediatrician.
And that was one of the brothers.
And I’ll tell you. They all came out of Angle Lake too. (laughs) And he’s a doctor. So if you stop and think about it, we were all musicians,
And immigrant families.
Most, except for the Landes. I remember the hardest thing is that in WWII we lost one of the neighbors sons got killed. It was a real trauma for us in the family. There used to be a store called Malmberg’s Store with the gas station. That’s where we’d stop to get our gas and get candy once in a while. That was the farthest we ever went. We never passed that area from Angle Lake (school) down except to cross the street when we went to the lake that one and only time.
I hope I gave you what you wanted.
It’s a wonderful story. I really appreciate it. Great pictures of growing up in that neighborhood. If I have more questions I will come back.
I want you to know it made me a better person.
It sounds like a great place to grow up. I will come back another time and we’ll talk about another part of your life. Thank you, Lil.