Mardelle Brutzman and Ken Brutzman

Recorded August 15, 2011 Archived August 15, 2011 37:27 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY008187


Ken Brutzman, 56, interviews his mother, Mardelle J. Brutzman, 77, about her life growing up in the Tri-Cities area and about her parents.

Subject Log / Time Code

Mardelle’s father was born in Missouri and eventually died of a heart-attack.
When she was in first grade, the family moved to Yakima.
One of her uncles came with his wife to stay in the house where Mardelle’s parents and grandparents were already staying.
Her mother started working for the Public Utility District, and this was good for her depression.
During her school years in Pasco, if your family didn’t work for the railroad you did not belong.
She met her future husband when she was a sophomore in Pullman.


  • Mardelle Brutzman
  • Ken Brutzman

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:03 My name is Ken bretzman. I'm 56 years old. Today's date is August 15th, 2011, and we're located in the Tri-Cities, Washington.

00:15 My name is Mardel still brotzman. I'm 77. Today's date is August 15th, 2011 or less in Tri-Cities, and I'm Ken's mother.

00:32 Also Keith and Kathy's mother. Thanks for coming mom.

00:39 But I'd really like to know how Okay is what you can tell me about Grandpa show Harold your father and what you know of his childhood and how we ended up out here.

00:54 He was born in Missouri. He was the Second Son there were three boys and a girl his father died of a heart attack when he was six, I think so he was left for the mother but for little kids.

01:17 The fit her family thought that the sensible thing to do what each one of them take a child and then she wouldn't have to worry about it. Well, of course grandma was very stubborn and she would have no part of that. She was going to keep her family together and some of her family had come to Ellensburg. So they all got on the train and came to Ellensburg and that

01:43 Didn't work out after a while or something. I don't know. They went back to Missouri someplace along the line. She fell in love again with a Scotsman did head come to this country is an indentured servant.

02:00 And that created more confusion and One Wing in the family that

02:06 But apparently they must have loved each other cuz they were together about 60 years before before Grandad cuz I never nude dance dance. Anyway, they ended up back in Ellensburg and Grandad said he tried farming summon. Oh, he did during the second world war. He was a security guard at Grand Coulee Dam, and that was the most

02:42 Best paint job he ever had and they lived a very normal life all they that we're up there, but there was a lot of times that it was pretty pretty me either.

02:56 But anyway, dad

03:00 Here, I'll just tell the Second Son ended up graduating from Ellensburg High the same year that your grandma.

03:09 Verona Woods stole graduated that you graduated in 2017

03:15 At that point they went they got to end in November then they got married after the June graduation. Dad was selling washing machines.

03:26 By now, I don't remember for who but anyway, the doctor told him that he'd have to take his wife to California for the winter where it was warm, or she wouldn't live through the winter. So the kids took up their honeymoon was to go to California will somehow by the time I got out of Ellensburg his mother and step-dad her mother and father and I think her big brother and I don't remember whether Clinton was married or not. They all went to California for the winter.

04:08 Because the older generation were farmers and you know, it was all right to go in the ended up picking lemons to buy groceries. That's what the men do and they ended up in Gridley, California.

04:26 Hey my nipple in the town. There was a grocery store and it said Clark Stowe's grocery.

04:36 So Dad went in and introduced himself and Clark decided that while he probably could use some more help since his name was stole now. As far as we ever could trace there was no relation probably back in England a hundred years before but they were very happy down there and eventually the older generation came back North Dale two years later mom and dad came back to Ellensburg and Dad couldn't find a job.

05:07 So he went to work this was what about 1929 928 or early 29 their best friend from California had come back to Ellensburg and he was driving truck for Union oil. He got no soul. Somehow he got

05:29 Foot in the door and dad went to work for Union oil.

05:34 And the first thing they did was they sent him to White Bluffs to be The Station Agent other words. He was he was the whole thing and white Bluffs. He was a retailer. He was the wholesaler. He was a truck driver. He was the bookkeeper he was

05:53 Anyway, like what Bluffs was just

05:58 A white spot and not much of a road.

06:01 The tale that they tell me is that they loaded all their possessions in the car and they went out of town on a

06:11 Paved Road, and they drove and they drove and they drove.

06:17 And then there wasn't a paid Road anymore, but there was still telephone lines.

06:24 Well after while there wasn't telephone lines either of my mother started to cry.

06:32 But they were very happy really happy. It was a very good genial community and what Bob said that time and Dad delivered gas and oil and White Bluff Sand and all up and down the side of the basin.

06:51 Did he did he deliver east of the river or did you take a ferry across the river go up the Yakima Valley Kanye West Was Won white bus for us to Sunnyside now. It was the same kind of a job. He was the one man the whole thing.

07:23 Except that of course, she got a whole lot more customers and it was a better thing and that's where I was born in 33 and

07:36 Well after a while they decided to promote him and they promoted him to Yakima still with Union oil.

07:47 I was four when my wife day. Yeah, come on, and that was not a happy experience because every time Mom and Dad made plans to go away for a weekend or a vacation or something something always came up and he always had to work and it got to be

08:07 Well, I am jobs do one day I was I had been in first grade for a week. He came home from work and he said I quit how did you guys buy a house in Yakima, or we still living in Sunnyside house headed upstairs had French doors between the dining room and one of the bedrooms on the first floor it had.

08:42 A gas stove rather than a wood stove or a mom was afraid of the gas. But because I had been sick.

08:54 They had doctor bills and they didn't couldn't afford to keep so then they rented one half of a duplex.

09:03 Down on

09:06 Now I think on 7th and we lived in that duplex that that was where we lived within there was a one-bedroom. I had it. I was still sleeping in a crib, even though I was in school at the foot of your bed in this one bedroom duplex, but they got the bills paid because

09:25 And of course needless to say when he came home and said I quit while their mom started to cry. He loaded this in the car and the dog.

09:38 And we went to Long Beach for the week. And I don't think she had got a very much out of it cuz she cried most of the week and when we got back to yeah, he looked around and decided that he could run out of gas station and even though it got mad and quit unit oil body was all right, so he leased the station at the corner of 5th and Lewis in Pasco, and we moved down here, but there was no place.

10:14 In a Swiss 1939. There was no place suitable for his family to live in Pasco. So we moved in with the grandparents in Kennewick out on the farm and

10:32 Because we've moved in grandma got indoor plumbing for the first time.

10:38 Okay, and it was always one of those things how families accommodating we moved in September and the house was ready and I spent New Year's Eve.

10:50 In the new house

10:52 In Pasco

10:54 But Mom put me in the car every morning and drove me to Kennewick to school cuz she didn't want me to go to three schools of one year.

11:03 Oh, okay. So the house was built at base. Look at 9th and Nixon dad were gone. Right and that house was on the outskirts of town when you built it, right. It was a half a block to the city limits, but somebody in Pasco had had the foresight and when we built the house they came in with a

11:35 Yeah, I really called anyway, they just scrape the dirt off the sand off and they were curbs and sidewalks and they had already planted those locust trees. They were blocks and blocks of West Pasco, which is practically of downtown. Now that had her ups and sidewalks and trees already planted and then the city watered it was trays.

12:04 What was the

12:05 Means of moving from one house to another and then finally to the house.

12:13 White families doing it in families. Don't do this kind of thing. But when we moved in with Grandma and Grandpa course it was it was in the fall. So most of the Harvest was over as far as that's my language, but my uncle he work for

12:38 Not the Corvette reduce the other one.

12:45 Civilian Conservation Corps

12:48 No, no, I had an uncle that was work for the in the CCC to but anyway, he was an engineer and they built down. Is that awful. Anyway, he came for Christmas and brought his wife and three kids.

13:08 So at Grandma's house that we were then three families.

13:14 And there was always a Hired Man and the if the hired man had a wife she was household help. They stay also in the house kind of an added room then eventually there were two added rooms at one became sort of a garage, you know, I did that are pretty so they added on to that because there were too many tools. They couldn't get the car in the garage and

13:49 I understand that. Anyway, we all had the flu that your Christmas. So here's this whole household multiple Generations all with her flu tried it.

14:02 But Mom and Dad and I and my cousin Harold went over and spent the first night in the house.

14:12 And we had his Wheaties for breakfast the next morning and don't ask me why I remember that but

14:21 And the house always have the basement but not the expansion right now. Okay. Alright, this is about 1940 and right and the gas station was where a Shell station right across the street and a downloaded Xbox. There was a standard station was a half a block away.

14:46 And to make ends meet

14:49 Dad drove one night away. Prosser

14:55 I took

14:57 An osteopath Georgia playlist an osteopath he was blind. It was a big man. I mean a Licious round you was six.

15:07 Two or three but he was all those that big around also and he went and practiced Thursday nights and Prosser so Dad troll George up there and stay the volume for patients and then Mac that gave him some extra money while I was getting start at your

15:28 What sounds like there was plenty of competition and what did Brenda?

15:42 Now we would say she was probably depressed at that time there with all kinds of other things, but

15:50 Well, then, of course.

15:52 The war started and you couldn't get tires what tires you already had in stock you had to give back you couldn't get gas.

16:04 So Dad went they started to build the Navy base and when they started it was Austin got me that built the naval base in Pasco. So dad went to work out there is trying to keep her.

16:17 And tried to teach mom how to run a gas pump to see if she could keep the station open and the few gallons of gas we could get to sell. Well Aunt Jan was actually mom's out. It was my great-aunt Jeb came because she was a real tall, but she was a farmer too, but she she never married and she could do anything America do or at least she thought she could so she came to help Mom and they decided after a week or two that that was the first the first customer had to show him how to turn the pump on.

16:54 And so they course they just closed up the station then I don't know what kind of arrangements they made with you to know how I have no idea. Of course, you're so dad. Grandpa was working for Austin company when they got through in Pasco. They sent him to get build an air base and Julio.

17:18 So at that point of course why Mom and I went and we lived in La Push which is down the road. And that was one of the one of those places for it was just one room. And there was I slept on a folding hot at the end of their bed and then we folded it up every morning and put it in the closet in the closet didn't have a door on a date just had a curtain and if there was inside Plumbing, but they had put the toilet on what was the original porch. So you had to go outside under the porch and down the porch which was maybe 15 foot and open this door into this cubbyhole. But that's all that was in there was the toilet there was not a wash basin or a tub.

18:12 There was little we had electric lights when

18:18 The power station was on they turned on the power station in the morning. So we had power for an hour in the morning before the den went to work when a man got home at night. They turn the power back on and they were supposed to turn it off at 7 or 8 or something. But if

18:40 Adults got together on the weekend and played pinochle. Sometimes the power station and went clear till then died.

18:50 But that's what we had for.

18:54 Dad said that the kerosene like everybody add kerosene and we're not good enough for me to say to study by. I'm so Grandma got one of those Gas Lantern. She had one store. I supposed to sell her and we could get gas for that. And so that was horrible. I studied because the really the electric light supposed to hurt from feeling very good. But and what school did you go to?

19:27 Quileute headband it a good size school and it had to brick buildings. But one of the buildings burned the year before we got there. So they divided the remaining building. Would you be in the gym into two classrooms and the other half they just left it as a gym, and she

19:53 4th 5th 6th North 3rd 4th and 5th grade wear in one room

20:01 And the first and second grade were in the other room.

20:06 And there were

20:08 5 5th graders of which I was one of the big kids all or Bosch clear into Forks.

20:19 The little kids in La Push the Indian kids wear school in an Indian school. They did. It was not until they got about Middle School that they went with the question. I was going to ask that was a question. I was going to ask

20:39 Okay, so you did 5th grade and then when did you guys move back to Pasco?

20:50 Just about the time that school was out. They were going to build air base and an Alaska and dad said he wouldn't go.

21:02 So we went back to the Tri-Cities and

21:07 Herschel Kidwell was through wholesaler for Union oil and Herschel was in trouble with your general and they told Dad that if he go to work for Herschel, it straightened out the books Herschel wouldn't lose the business. So that's what he did. He went to work for Herschel with his fingers crossed that he wouldn't get drafted because after all they only had one kid, he was really too old, but just barely and that little long until I was a senior in high school and he got mad at Herschel.

21:50 If you lived on Herschel YouTube understood anyway, he went back into the same service station that he had rented years ago and ran it.

22:02 4 years

22:04 He went to work. I think I graduated like on the 7th of June and they open that station on the 1st of June and he ran it until

22:16 I graduated from college so that would have been for years and and the last

22:27 And hit in about the time that we got to Seattle in 55 dad had passed his insurance exam and that's when he went to work for Mutual of New York.

22:46 When did he have his heart attack his first one?

22:50 When he was 73.

22:57 No, he had a bad back from

23:00 Where's my oil barrels? That's what?

23:05 Okay, that was some reason I was thinking he had a heart problem. But anyway, when when we lived in La Push.

23:13 Really are our whole cabin wasn't much bigger than this. Well, you know how big they were eventually she went to work too, and that was the best thing that ever happened to her that she had to get up. But so then when we came back, she went to work for the PUD in Kennewick because Aunt Jan was working.

23:42 At the PUD in Kennewick, that's how she got the job.

23:48 Public Utility District, that's okay. Yeah is not Universal.

23:59 All right, and now Verna?

24:03 But allergies terribly.

24:12 Always was frail mostly due to allergies probably.

24:21 Well, they've come so far really now. I really think that a lot of it was depression.

24:31 Mom, was it hurt her that she was adopted and she never talk to it, but me about it. You're never the only reason I know is because Dad told me.

24:46 But

24:51 When she had to get up and get dressed and go to work. She was well those years which means you know, I think that

25:01 Having some social interaction. Tell Mom I said no Mom's birth certificate says she was born in Goldendale. She wasn't she was born in Portland and Grandma was there and grandma said she saw mom's.

25:20 Natural mother at the end of the hall and she was a little dark lady and she she was a new Widow and already had two or three at Jiu-Jitsu see how she could work and support the one she already have a take care of a new baby to was so

25:40 And was this person American?

25:44 The natural I have no I have no idea his birth certificate. The doctor was real cute when he wrote it it because it said he sat on the side of the bed by the new mother and observed her and the baby.

26:02 Okay.

26:05 Observe this someplace. I think I've got it, but I've seen it. But all I know is what Dad told me about.

26:17 Sense

26:19 It within the last year I did the DNA thing for National Geographic. I always thought that mom maybe was a gypsy are they tell me now that she came from Spain my Heritage came from

26:38 And I can't roll my R's makes no sense. I can't tell you anymore about that the other side, you know that the other side there are Stowe's in England Israel, and and we know that they came to Vermont and where did Grandma grow up in Goldendale or right now had a sawmill?

27:18 Out of Gardendale, and of course grandma would Stranahan

27:24 Okay, and so she was good friends with the Indians that the flat has that came from Montana every year to go to swallow and they would bring her berries going one way and they would bring her Sam. I'm going the other way.

27:46 But grandma was was educated Grandma went to Mills College. Why is she married a man with a third grade education?

27:55 But he was handsome and he was charming and he was a lot of fun.

28:03 But that's a whole nother story about.

28:07 All right, so broke and they moved to Goldendale and

28:15 He farmed for a while and gold at Dale this Grandpa was as I'm talking about them as I get didn't work out too. Well, and so follow Uncle Clinton was going to the State College of Washington informant. They moved to Pullman and Ariana Dairy to help.

28:36 The big boy get through school mom and dad went for one semester after they came, North from California.

28:47 So they were cougars to yes.

28:58 That brings us up to you graduating from high school. Okay, but how were your high school years?

29:08 Was it?

29:09 Pretty normal. I mean it's kind of just after the war but it was

29:20 Pasco has always been in my estimation kind of a closed down if you were not a realtor you didn't belong.

29:32 And my family were. Railroaders. However is 60 years down the line some of those people whose fathers were real orders and some of the new people to town. We still see each other.

29:48 And I are good friends and

29:52 Right, so, you know.

29:56 What did you have a lighter? We have 60 year reunions this year and every probably twelve of us. So did you know dad while you were living in Pasco times and we had been?

30:22 Several parties because he was a demolay and I was a rainbow land and we all ran around like the devil lies. The rainbow was all kind of ran around together. And of course, I know the rainbows because grandma taught sewing at the 4-H so and I had known all these kids in first grade and he was a johnny-come-lately and so we just

30:51 And then the first time he was one of my sorority sisters brought her little sister to stay at my house. And we got out at all for the little girl to play with and she was dressed in a coat made out of the fabric that was on the Davenport at your father's childhood home because my grandmother had reupholstered the and I got the scraps to make

31:16 Okay, okay.

31:23 Well

31:25 I was sitting by the window on Friday the 13th, February.

31:32 In a cost accounting class and this young man kept looking.

31:37 I didn't know it was that me or out the window because it was the first Sunshine we had in weeks and

31:51 I would Dad I'm thinking you was looking out the window while I went back.

31:56 So after class invited me for a cup of coffee.

32:05 And you guys were both in the Greek system in Pullman.

32:14 So did the Delta Zeta is in the fade as eyes get together for team up for homecoming or anyting but he knew me but if it was after all if we were both students why there was and then wait turned out we were both Tri-City in sand.

32:48 So you guys got married in junior year?

32:59 We got married in Moscow.

33:03 What across the border?

33:05 Well, we were ready to get married and my parents thought we ought to wait until we were true school and you know one thing can 17 others and so

33:16 After the deed was done while everybody said, okay.

33:21 All right.

33:23 So did you so so you were born in Foreman move back to the Tri-Cities or did you stay informed know we were back to the Tri-Cities the school? Why would you let the cat out of the bag and after a big hullabaloo why everybody decided that it didn't matter that we were married and if we could find a place to live.

34:00 Okay, so you two can

34:03 Live together as cheap as one by themselves, but it's less expensive them.

34:12 All right.

34:16 So after

34:19 I was born and you guys was graduated from Homan and you both got your degrees. I must have made the families proud. I would assume.

34:29 I would hope so. I hope they seem to accept the fact that you know, he'll had taken over the business from mr. Henderson.

34:48 So

34:51 But you're but blowing hard your father out of school went to Seattle.

35:03 So you're in a half or so and one of Grandpa bretzmans France in Seattle?

35:11 Work for Logan in Hanford, which was the big stationer and Seattle and know that Tom had worked on typewriters and stuff and during the summer. I need this and that so they hired him away from Boeing. He didn't like a Time clock at all and that's how we got into this.

35:35 Stationery business 57 while then they offered a job and after much debate we decided we could probably live closer to our parents. Oh, well, it was we had it. We had a repairman that this repairman stayed for quite a while. So he was mostly sales mostly typewriters and it just kind of grew out of the typewriters. There was a. In there when we did a lot of Remington Rand filing system because we had Remington Rand typewriter stuff.

36:29 It just kind of evolved understand totally when I came into the business. I wasn't interested in gifts and arksen greeting cards.

36:43 The retailing isn't really our bag.

36:47 Tell her anyway about at a time money if there's anything else you need to know.

36:54 Know that I didn't realize the grandpa was born in Missouri. For some reason. I thought he was a Dakota person. But by the time the game from 2 was not the same part of his right? But yes, they were both from, Missouri.

37:14 I think that's really all I wanted to do know this time.