Interview with Paula Holm
Oral History Item Type Metadata
Northwest Public Television | Holm_Paula
Robert Bauman: Good to go?
Camera man: I'm recording.
Sound man: Yup, I’m recording too.
Bauman: Okay. Can you hear me all right?
Paula Holm: Yes.
Bauman: Okay, great. So we could start maybe by having you say your name and then spell your last name for us.
Holm: Okay. You want me to start right now?
Bauman: Yeah, that's fine.
Holm: Paula Mary Holm. My maiden name was Bruggemann. Do I need to spell that?
Bauman: Yeah. That would be great.
Bauman: And my name's Robert Bauman, and we're conducting this oral history interview on August 6th of 2014, and we're interviewing Paula Bruggemann Holm in Yakima, Washington.
Bauman: So let's start, if we could, if you could talk about your family a little bit, especially about your parents. And if you know when they came to the White Bluffs area and what brought them there?
Holm: My dad was born in Germany, and he wanted to come to the States to be a farmhand, have a farm, so he chose to venture to New York and then come across the states, and he settled in the White Bluffs area and purchased the land, from--it was a German fellow by the name of Von Herbert. And that started the whole process. He was able to have enough funds to purchase the ranch. So that's what got it started.
Bauman: Now, was he married already to your mother, or was he single when he came over?
Holm: He was single, and my mother was working at the ranch with her sister and my grandma, my mother's mother. So they could all handle, between all of the family, they could handle the ranch hands, which I can't recall how many they had. But that long building that they called--The long building existing there now that's kind of disintegrated down to a few existing blocks was actually called the cook house. Didn't you have a different name for it?
Bauman: Warehouse is the name of the building.
Holm: Warehouse, no, that was the cook house, and my grandma was the chief cook and along with my mom and my mom's sister. It was just kind of a unique family situation, and it worked out real good. I was somewhere in the mix, but I wasn't really involved in the whole situation because I was two and a half, three years old--three years old when we had to leave. So it's real hard to go back that far.
Bauman: Sure, yeah.
Holm: I don't think you could do it yourself.
Bauman: Right, so talk about your parents a little. What were your parents' names?
Holm: My dad's name was Paul Ludwig. My brother's name is Ludwig. My mom's name was Mary. So I am Paula Mary Bruggemann--Bruggemann-Holm.
Bauman: And so how did your parents meet then? Do you know?
Holm: Well, just they had met there on the ranch because my dad needed a certain amount of help, and I guess that's how they had met. I don't really know all the details there, but my mother hadn't married yet, and my aunt was married, and my grandma was married, of course. So my mom and dad were married in, oh, let’s see, 1936 or so, and then my brother was born in '38, and I was born in 1940.
Bauman: And what was your mom's maiden name?
Holm: Mary Etta Hoard-- H-O-A-R-D.
Bauman: And do you know where she was from originally?
Holm: She was from, well, let's see now, oh, wow, the Portland area.
Holm: Anyway that area there somewhere, and that's all I can tell you about that situation.
Bauman: Now I know you were very young when you left there. What do you know about, and I know most of this would be from your parents telling you or maybe your brother telling you, but what sort of crops were grown on your land there?
Holm: Well, mostly soft fruit, the apricots and peaches and, and then my dad had sheep. I don't know if he had goats or not, but he had sheep, and quite a large amount of sheep because he had sheepherders help and dogs and everything that goes along with it. And one of the fellows that helped him sheep herd was the father of one of the fellows that lives here in the Moxee area, I believe it is. I don't have his name right now--Hernandez or--pardon? Martinez, and I've talked with him, but he's so bitter about this whole situation, it's hard to get a lot of information out of him. Because his dad worked with my dad, and he had such bitter memories that his son, which is the one living now, is so down on the situation. I've talked with him a couple times, and it's been very interesting. But it's just hard to talk about.
Holm: Especially for him when his dad was right there working with my dad.
Holm: Oh, excuse me, I'll have to retrace on that. My mom was from the Galvin area in Centralia.
Bauman: Oh, okay.
Holm: And they had an old, old farmhouse out there. And that's where her best friends were living, and she still visited with them up until probably five years before she passed away. But it was kind of a large family, and she really enjoyed that area, a very nice, quiet area, and she went to school there, and graduated from high school. But then after that, I don't know. I don't really know, unless they maybe had gone to dance. You know, they had grange dances then. Maybe that's how she met my father, but I wouldn't be able to tell you. [LAUGHTER]
Bauman: I noticed in doing some research looking back there was a reference that—an old newspaper--that your mother in 1939, I think '40 was secretary of the grange in the area where the ranch was.
Holm: Oh, uh-huh, yeah. Yeah, there was a picture, some picture, in a photo. I noticed that, which I wasn't aware of at all. And she belonged to some women's club.
Bauman: So going back, I want to go back a little bit to your father again. And you mentioned that he came from Germany, and do you know was he looking for somewhere to farm, to buy some land?
Bauman: Do you know why eastern Washington, how that happened or just there was land available?
Holm: Well, I guess that would be the situation. He found the land here or in White Bluffs or whatever, and it was real appealing, and so I don't know how long his search went on. I don't know how long he tried to pursue the situation, but that's what he wanted to do was farming.
Bauman: Now, I've been out to the site, and I've seen what's left of the building there, and I know there are also these large ceramic irrigation pipes there that you can still see parts of. Do you know terms of other outbuildings what else was there, besides the house and the cook house?
Holm: No, just the pastures to keep the animals when they were supposed to be in. And I wasn't allowed to go out, because when you're so small, you're around the house most of the time. And my grandma was quite protective also. Helping my mom with the children, and cooking for 17, 18 people was not an easy job. So when my grandma helped and went shopping with us, she had a harness deal that she put on me because at that time when children were small, I guess that was the best way to be sure that they don't get away from you. Of course, nowadays are different. They don't take care of the children like they used to. Whatever the children do, that's fine--run away or run two blocks ahead of your family. It doesn't matter. But my grandma was pretty strict. So she wanted to know where we were at all times. [LAUGHTER] So I, at one time--I guess this is my brother's story. He was out in the fenced area, along the fenced area, and got kicked by one of the animals because he shouldn't have been there at that time. So but I'm sure that that was something that he had mentioned in the other interview, which was kind of funny. But other than that, it's just real hard to remember any of the--I don't even remember the house.
Holm: That's the thing that really gets to me. I just can't remember the house at all, where the living room was or where the bathroom was or nothing. It's just really--but when you go back in your life, I don't think you can remember when you were two and a half, three years old either. I have a slight vision of where on the surroundings, but that's about it. And then when we moved from that area and had to get out, I think that I do remember there was a substation at Hanford. That was some good friends of my folks', and I would stay there because they were busy moving. And I don't remember if they moved temporarily to Sunnyside or not, but they moved in this house. I'm sure it's down by the junior college, and I was playing on a lot. They had a house that they rented, and then there was a little house the set back on the lot, and I was playing there with the gang. And somebody was batting a baseball, and I was too close behind him, so he hit me in the head with the bat. [LAUGHTER]
Bauman: Oh, no.
Holm: And that was like three years old, three and a half years old or whatever it was, and that's why I remember that house so much. But we were only there for a short while, while my dad and mom were trying to secure place to find. And they bought the house from Damon Canfield. He was not a senator, but somebody that was kind of involved in government things. And my dad always, of course, being in that nice, antique house out there, which was kind of actually European, more European than anything you could find here, he always, always said, oh, this house is just--it's just not a good house. He just like sold me a piece of junk. And he was always disappointed in that house, because it wasn't a quality house. So he probably wished he had his stone house back.
Bauman: Right, right. So when he purchased the land, was the house already there--the house and the other buildings?
Holm: On the ranch?
Bauman: On the ranch, yes.
Holm: Yes, it was a complete package. I don't believe he built anything or added on anything. He just took over, and that was that.
Bauman: Mm-hm. So you mentioned your grandmother would take you--she had to go shopping.
Holm: Yeah, she took me shopping.
Bauman: Do you know where she would go?
Holm: They had to go to Sunnyside. That was the only closest place with enough shopping, because they were kind of far away from--I mean, there's no corner grocery stores or anything like that that would suffice, because they had to buy quite a few things to feed that many people. And then when I went with my folks in their '38 Chevy pickup, is that correct? We always made a stop, and that's very interesting. I don't know if my brother remembers. I don't think I'm making this up. Sometimes I think I am, but we always made a stop along the road, along the highway somewhere, on the way to Sunnyside because there was this old hermit, and he had a name I think. But he thought so much of my mom, he would always say, oh, hi, Mary. And I would be sitting there on the seat, and we always stopped and talked to him. But he was an absolute hermit that was living out in the no-man's land or desert or whatever, and he had a full beard, just like Santa Claus. But he was so interesting to talk to, and they always wanted to stop and say hi to him or say hello. And that's about the most exciting thing I ever remember, because we never passed him up without speaking. But when I tell my brother about that, he--of course, a lot of times he stayed behind. He wasn't always--he was old enough that he could stay behind and not have to go on these shopping escapades or whatever. But other than that, there's nothing that is real interesting enough that I can think of.
Bauman: So my sort of impression now is the ranch was fairly isolated, away from any of the towns.
Holm: Yeah, uh-huh.
Bauman: Do you know who some of the closest neighbors might have been? Did your parents ever talk about any of the families?
Holm: Gilhuly. Gilhuly was--and I don't know what his first name was. He was pretty close there and his wife. In fact, I think he's still living today. They live right down across from St. Paul's School in quite a nice brick home. But his wife isn't real interested in this Hanford situation because she is the daughter-in-law, I guess you might say, and she wasn't there. It was just her father-in-law, I guess you might say. And there was Gary Wills--W-I-L-L-S--that was living in that area with his wife, because when they moved, they moved along the same time as my folks. And then they moved down to South Seventh Avenue, and they kept their friendship up until the time that they passed away. So they must've lived--I don't remember them from the ranch, but that's why they kept up the friendship because they were neighbors. And there's a few other names that I can't think of right now, but if they were mentioned, every once in a while, I recognize my folks mentioning that name.
Holm: But I don't think that there is any other names that I can remember. I'd have to see a list.
Bauman: Sure. So in 1943, of course, your parents and anyone living in that area there was notified that they had to leave.
Holm: Uh-huh, my folks didn't really, I guess you might say, burden us children with that kind of a situation. Because they were quite private people anyway. And if they would have talked a lot about the situation, it would have been kind of a bad deal for us. So they just--Papi talked about it in the evening when we went to bed, because we went to bed like 7:30, eight o'clock, not 11 o'clock, like a lot of kids nowadays. And so they would talk among themselves but not involve us.
Bauman: Sure, sure. Later, when you were older, grown up, did you ever talk with them about it, about having to leave?
Holm: No, my dad, I think, would have had a hard time discussing that, or talking about. So they didn't, no, they didn’t really talk about it at all, that I can recall. But as children, or younger, you're not interested in that kind of a thing anyway, and then when you're older you think, hmm, boy, that was sure too bad that I wasn't better informed. So, no, they didn't—I can't ever remember them discussing it at all.
Bauman: When we were talking earlier, you mentioned that you and brother, Donald Gary Peterson, back to the site a couple years ago or so. I wonder what that experience was like for you. Did it bring back any memories, or was it more sort of you learning more about this place?
Holm: Well, yeah, learning more because my brother really hadn't talked about it very much either, so I'm kind learning, just from reading the articles that have come up during this whole research, which is very interesting.
Bauman: So after your parents got the notice then had to leave, your family then moved to Sunnyside briefly. Is that--
Holm: Well, I don't know if they went to Sunnyside, and, if they did, it was probably just for like two or three weeks, because they would have been coming this way to look for a property. In fact, I may have stayed with that family. I stayed with my aunt in Portland, I know. They moved all separately, and my aunt moved to Portland to Sandy Boulevard. And my folks, in the process of moving, had sent me there with them, because it's hard to move with small children. And I think they used Mayflower Moving. I remember that huge Mayflower truck, and I spent time down there waiting for them to get their bills all gathered together, and we you have to go down the office and do this and do that. But I do remember it was Mayflower. And I stayed with my aunt like three or four days, at least, because they needed the help. And that would be when I was three plus.
Bauman: And then eventually, your family moved to Yakima.
Holm: Yeah, they found the house up here and came and got me, and we moved in, and that was that. It wasn't exactly the best situation because I think my dad had to build or add a little bit to the--there was just a garage, an old garage, shop area or something, and he had to build on a big platform for fruit. So it wasn't the situation he wanted, but that's the only thing he could find at the time.
Bauman: So, the cook house is one of the few structures left, not just from your ranch, but from the whole area there, very few structures.
Holm: Yeah, yeah.
Bauman: Why do you think it'd be important for people to learn about these small towns and the farms and the people who lived out there before the war?
Holm: Well, it's Gary and the other people involved kept calling it the warehouse, and I don't believe that that is right at all. Because my folks always stressed the point that they had a lot of an awful lot of stress or load on getting everybody fed at one time. And it was kind of like a longhouse, actually, with tables, of course, and it was quite a production to get everybody fed and back out helping. So I do believe that that's what it was called, but the other structures, I don't remember a whole lot about. But it's kind of nice to have everyone knows the different structures that were out there. But when we went out, even when I was younger, we went out to check on things, but there was really no interest because I didn't really know what was going on or what to think. I don't know, when you're small, you just don't realize what goes on with your parents and such.
Bauman: Right. You told the story earlier, your brother, about getting kicked by an animal. Are there any other stories or things that he's told you that--he's a little bit older than you--that he remembered that--
Holm: No, we just were always playing out in the yard. And I can't remember now if there was a little bit of a fenced yard, but you just draw such a blank that it's real hard to tell you anything more because I just was so young.
Bauman: Sure. You mentioned earlier that your father talked about that the house there being superior to--
Holm: Oh, yeah, it was a much better constructed and very solid house.
Bauman: Did he talk much at all in other ways about the ranch, about the place at all or--
Holm: No, he couldn't. He just couldn't talk about it. So he didn't, I guess. That's what you might say. Just like all the other people. There isn't very many people that--they're probably passed away now, but there wasn't very many people that could talk about that because it was a horrid situation. That is that.
Bauman: Well, I don't have any more questions for you. Is there anything else that you would like to say or something I haven't asked you about?
Holm: No, I don't think so, not at this time. I just wish that my brother was here to maybe help you a little bit more. He could be here in a little while.
Bauman: Well, hopefully we can arrange that. But I really appreciate your time.
Holm: Yeah, I just wish that I could tell you more or come up with more, but I just like draw a blank.
Bauman: This is very helpful and very interesting, so thank you very much. I appreciate it.