Marie Hansen (White) Oral History

Dublin Core


Marie Hansen (White) Oral History


Richland (Wash.)


From information sheet packaged with oral history: "Born 1914 Marie Hansen, father Peter O. Hanses. Moved to North Richland in 1918.

She told a couple stories after you left, Todd. Once concerned her father's payment from the condemnation. She mentioned he received $1700 for 17 aces. Then the feds came around each year for several years with more money. Once or twice they brought checks for $1700 again and her father told them to send the money back the feds needed it worse than he did. The last time they came they brought a check for around $3000. Her father said the feds must be doing better and he kept that check!

She also told a story about a deaf man getting locked into a cold storage building because he couldn't hear the owner calling out that he was locking up."

Marie White (Hansen) is interviewed about her childhood in Richland, before it was taken as part of the Hanford Site.




Hanford History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities




Those interested in reproducing part or all of this oral history should contact the Hanford History Project




RG2D-4A / T.2010.052.03

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Todd Kenning and Connie Estep


Marie White (Hansen)






CONNIE: The government came in and offered how much money again?

MARIE: My dad, $1700 dollars.

CONNIE: For how many acres?

MARIE: 17 Acres and a two bedroom house, well, barn and the whole works. I had 10 acres, nothing on it but irrigation water and they gave me a thousand.

TODD: Wow, that wasn’t very much for those days.

MARIE: It wasn’t nothing, they were paying us at pre-war prices and we had to go out and buy at wartime prices, they weren’t taking that into consideration, at all.

CONNIE: And grandpa used that money and bought property in Kennewick?

MARIE: He bought 5 acres in Kennewick for a thousand dollars and didn’t have a thing on it, not even irrigation that you could use; you had to change the pipes and everything.

TODD: There wasn’t a house on it?

MARIE No, no house, no nothing.

TODD: Where did you live then?

MARIE: Well we got an extension out here and we stayed in our own house, until he could get one built down there, but like I say, he went right to work here, so he only had weekends down there on the house, him and one of our neighbors. Our neighbor was a carpenter, so he and my dad built it.

CONNIE: And why did he decide to work at Hanford?

MARIE: Because he was going to get everything back he could after taking his home away from him.

CONNIE: And then every year the government came around and offered him a check?

MARIE: Offered him $1700 I don’t know how many times and he said if Uncle Sam’s that bad off, take it and give it to him. Then they finally offered him $3,000 and dad said well Uncle Sam must be doing better, I’ll take it.

CONNIE: So, he finally decided he’d go ahead and take them up on their offer.

MARIE: He decided he’d better take it.

TODD: Is the house and the land still in the family

MARIE: No, it’s all torn down out there

CONNIE: In Kennewick, though grandma still lives in one?

MARIE: No, my parents have passed away

TODD: The house still there?

MARIE: Oh, yeah. I rented it for a long, long time and then I sold it. My health got bad and I couldn’t put up with renters anymore.

CONNIE: It’s on Rainier Street in Kennewick


TODD: Do you go by every once in a while?

PERSON IN BACKGROUND: Oh yeah I think we’ve all lived there once.

CONNIE: Now over here where the butcher store used to be, you were telling us a story about the butcher store.

MARIE: That’s where they built the cold storage, they all, everybody went together and they put in money and built the cold storage. And there was a deaf man, a deaf-mute and he was in there one day when Mr. Grass, the butcher was going to lock up and he hollered of course to see if there was anybody in there but, the deaf man couldn’t hear it, so he got locked in there. He made all kinds of noise he could and beat on things and in the night I don’t know just when, somebody heard a noise in there and listened to it and decided there was somebody in there so he went down to Mr. Grass’s house and got him to come up and unlock it and sure enough, there was that man. He bowed and scraped and did everything he could to thank him.. He packed meat, Grass had meat in there curing, halves and quarters the deaf man moved the meat from one side to the other to keep warm, to keep from freezing to death. He knew to do that, quite an ordeal for him.

CONNIE: Now you told me the community went together, on the ice house, how did it come to be?

MARIE: Well everybody had a locker in there you know, I don’t know how the government handled that in the end. I don’t remember hearing anything about that.

CONNIE: Before that there were spots out on the river?

MARIE: Well that was the personal ones; the Hubbard family had a house, an ice room. They made double walls and filled them with saw dust and in the winter time they cut ice off the river. I remember great big blocks of ice, they cut or sawed the ice off, then all went together and everybody had ice in the summer time; not a whole lot, but a treat, it was a treat, we could make ice cream or something like that.

CONNIE: And did you guys go in there and play?


CONNIE: Were you suppose to?

MARIE: Kids weren’t supposed to, but we snuck away every once and a while and got in there and played and in that sawdust and reach down in that sawdust and find a hunk of ice and rub our hands on it. It was nice and cool in there. It was a no-no.

TODD: That was a no- no.

MARIE I don’t know if that should go on tape or not.

TODD: You go ahead

MARIE: Well, I was working the parcel post window and the lobby was full of people, standing in line you know. And here come a woman with a whole bunch of packages went around that line and plunked her packages up on my counter. I said lady the line forms back there, she said you will wait on me. I said lady the line forms back there. She said I’m Mrs. Col. Mathias and you will wait on me. I said I don’t care who you are, the line forms back there and that’s where you’re going to go. She said you’re just as servant of the public and she said you will wait on me. I said, no I won’t, I left the room and got Mr. Pettycord. I told him what was going on and I said you can fire me, but I’m not going to wait on that woman. He came out there and of course he worked her packages, but he told her, don’t ever come in here again and cause trouble with my girls. I’m having a hard enough time running this post office with the help I can get and I don’t want anybody belittling them.

TODD: Did she ever do that again?

MARIE: I never saw her. I told her I’ve never seen your name on my paycheck yet. Well you’re just a public servant, she said. Regardless, the line forms back there. I don’t know if you want to put that in there or not.

TODD: Oh, that’s great; she was the wife of a pretty important person.

MARIE: Yes she was, to me she was another customer and I kept saying, the line forms back there, those people were on their lunch hour, most of them, you know, hurried down to the post office to take care of business and then someone pull something like that, it wasn’t right.

CONNIE: You worked at the irrigation district too, didn’t you?

MARIE: I was working at the irrigation district over here where the art gallery is. Ed Pettycord would walk down the hill everyday and say, Marie you’ve got to come help us, we need help real badly. I said, I’ve got a job here Ed. Ed said but your not busy now, all the irrigation property is gone. He said, come and help us and Mr. Fletcher tried to talk me into staying at the irrigation office. Ed’s pulling me to the post office. I finally felt guilty, I wasn’t working, and I was working just part time at the irrigation office, so I went up to the post office. I got full time and a half.

CONNIE: Never got paid for full time?

MARIE: Never got paid for full time, no. Course those people working at the post office were just filling in between shifts or something or on their day off. They got paid for every hour they put in. But us that were permanent put in our 60 hours and got paid for 40.

GRANDDAUGHTER: Okay grandma tell us about Grandpa Hanson, how long it would take him to get to town to get groceries and what you and Auntie Pauline used to live for.

MARIE: Well we were 5 miles out of town, the transportation we had was a horse and wagon. My dad would leave in the early morning, my mom would give him a list a mile long to fill and we would always put candy on there. Every once and a while, he’d forget the candy of course. But mother would make us a batch of divinity, bless her heart. But anyway it would take him from early morning until dark you know, because he wouldn’t hurry the horses, my dad was real good to animals, he wouldn’t hurry the horses, so it took him all day long to drive down and get groceries and come back with our candy. My mother would make us divinity, she, an old hand egg beater to beat those eggs and I look back and think; how in the world did she do it.

GRANDDAUGHTER: How old were you when Grandpa Hanson worked for Carton Meat Packing Co?

MARIE: I was 3 years old when we came here and he was working for Carston.

GRANDDAUGHTER: And what was he doing, helping him….?

MARIE: They were running sheep here. They’d bring them down here to pasture in the winter time and lambing and shearing in the spring. He worked for him for a long time, before we moved on to the farm

TODD: Did you know any of the Rosecrans family?

MARIE: I know the name, but don’t know him.

GRANDDAUGHTER: The changes you’ve seen over time, just in Kennewick, from the festivals that used to take place and the houses, you know you told me a story about the people that lived in that house on the corner of Rainier and Kennewick Ave., how far out it was perceived to be from downtown Kennewick

MARIE: Oh yeah we were way out in the country when we moved out there on Rainier and 4th Ave. and there was hardly anything between us and town and nothing the other way that would amount to anything, just a couple of farms. My first address there was Route 2 and then they changed it to Larch St., then it finally became 4th Ave., but it was way out in the country when we moved out there. There were no houses between the house I’m living in and the one the folks had built on Rainier. I’m around the corner from them and there was no houses between us, that’s all built up and ah my dad sold his 5 acres in lots. He had it plotted and sold all but he kept 2 lots, that the house was on., platted the rest of it and sold them off in lots. In fact he sold it to man who couldn’t buy the lots. My dad would give a deed to one lot and he’d build a house and sell it and he’d pay my dad off. My dad would give him a deed to another lot and he’d build a house, he built duplexes is what he did and rented them all out.

GRANDDAUGHTER: Are those the houses behind grandma and grandpas house?

MARIE: Yeah, all those duplexes in there were all grandpa’s land.

GRANDAUGHTER: So, what did you do for fun back then grandma, did you go dancing?

MARIE: I went dancing.

GRNADDDAUGHTER: Where’d you go dancing?

MARIE: Even when I worked 60 hours at the post office, I went dancing on Saturday night. I told my mother that’s the one night I’m going to have for me, Saturday night I’m going to go dancing. I got home about 4 in the morning got up and went to Sunday school and church and then I went out to the post office an awful lot of Sunday’s and worked 2 or 3 hours out there to catch up on stuff I was behind on. I did all the book work in the post office, payroll and all that stuff. I went up on Sunday’s a lot times..

TODD: Back to the dancing, where did you go dancing?

MARIE: Do you know where Mr. E is now, up on Union and 4th Ave?, there is triangular piece of land there, what did they call it, the Highland Country Club or something, built a club house there and they had dances.

TODD: And you’d dance all night long?

MARIE: As long as they’d play. I danced every dance too, I’ll have you know and I went home by myself. Oh my golly, I used to drive from North Richland clear down there by myself on Saturday night. One night somebody watched me get in my car and followed me, scared the jiminy out of me, they followed me out, there was quite a few houses built in here by that time, drove around and around those houses thinking I’d lose them but, I couldn’t lose them. I didn’t know a soul that lived in any of them. I was tempted to stop and knock on a door on one that had lights but I thought I hate to do that too. So I finally struck out the bypass highway toward home. I’d speed up and they’d speed up. I’d slow down and they’d slow down, they never tried to pass me or anything that is what I expected, that they’d try to run me off the road and finally I came to the road that turns up to where the Fletchers used to live, Mr. Fletcher was the one I used to work for in the irrigation district and I swung into their place and the car went on by. I sat there for quite a little bit, I knew if Mr. Fletcher came out to investigate he’d be glad I did it. I came back out and got on the bypass highway and went on home I never ever told anybody that happened to me or my folks would have put their foot down boy, they wouldn’t have let me go…..

TODD: Did you go dancing the next Saturday night though?

Marie: Oh yeah, it didn’t stop me. I was pretty scared though.

TODD: But not scared enough to stop dancing?

MARIE: No that was the only pleasure I had those days was that Saturday night dance, ‘cause work 10 hours a day you don’t feel like going out until Saturday night, you can dance, you hear the music and you can dance.

GRANDDAUGHTER: Although you’ve been married a time or two, grandma.

MARIE: I don’t think they want to know about that.

GRANDDAUGHTER: No, you were mostly a single mom, raising two children.

MARIE: Yes that’s right. I buried two husbands and I divorced two and I made an annulment on one.

TODD: Do you remember the big flood in ‘48?


TODD: Were you living in Kennewick then?

MARIE: Yeah, I was living in Kennewick, but I was working out at the post office 10 hours a day. I didn’t have time to look and see what was going on, but I remember it was real bad.

TODD: You worked in the post office in North Richland?

MARIE: No, right here in town, we were in this building up on Lee and a, I don’t remember what’s in there now.

GRANDDAUGHTER: It’s an attorney, part of the bank building.

MARIE: People began to flock in here then they built a bigger building on 9th Street and that’s where we worked from there.

CONNIE: Wasn’t there a drug store with a soda fountain or a lunch counter, tell me about that again, who had it?

MARIE: Can’t even think of name of it now, can you?

CONNIE: That was kind of the place where everybody went, wasn’t it?

MARIE: Yeah, that was about the only place to get something to eat, outside of your own home, that little drug store and fountain.

CONNIE: And the strawberry festival and grape festival, those were big events?

MARIE: Yeah, they were the main attraction before the fair built up; you know the county fair built up…. I’ve seen a lot of changes, since 1918. Sit there and talk for hours, didn’t we, telling her about all the things that took place in my life.

GRANDDAUGHTER: I would like you to tell the story about when, how you got to go over to business school and all the time you spent working and going to school.

MARIE; Well, my husband died when I was 24 years old, my son was 18 months, no education, no nothing and they hired women in the schools to cook, you know lunches for the kids. I went to the County Commissioner to see if I could get on cooking. I tried to farm, but I raised strawberries, picked two days on them and the crop was gone, no more markets. Everything I tried went that way, so I tried getting on there cooking and Jay Perry was Commissioner at that time and he said Marie you don’t want to be a cook in your life. How about going to Business College or beauty school or something, he said we can help you a little bit. So they gave me $15 a month, for tuition, room and board for me and my son and books, that is what I got. I went to school in Longview and my sister lived in Castle Rock and she took care of my son for me. I gave her $10 dollars a month for board and room, but of course she was pregnant with her first child, so I was doing all the house work, the washing, the ironing and everything and going to school. I worked at the school, worked for my tuition and made it in 6 months. Mr. Fletcher went to my folks and said is Marie ready to go to work because; I’m going to need a secretary in the office. My mother said I think she is. My mother called me right away, so I came home and went right to work for the irrigation office but, it was only part time, but it was, I think they gave me $50 a month, which looked like a million to me at the time. I worked part time until like I said until I went to work for Ed at the post office.

GRANDDAUGHTER: Your farming endeavors weren’t all bad, because you had a pretty good mint crop one year.

MARIE: Yeah, the year I went to Business College in Longview, I had planted; I forget what it was an acre or two of peppermint. I tried to weed it and keep it clean and do other things too and I, the weeds got pretty high on it, but I went over there and worked and pulled some weeds and there was a whole bunch of good peppermint down amongst those weeds. My dad didn’t believe it. I irrigated it and took care of it. My dad said you can’t get anybody to process it with all those weeds. I said there’s a lot of peppermint there I don’t care; there’s a lot of peppermint in there. So, my dad went and talked to his neighbor who had a still or what ever you call it to process the peppermint, get the oil out of it. He came over and looked and said there’s not much oil in there, it’s mostly weeds in there, I’ll have to charge you by the wagon load, he said I can’t charge you by the pound like I do everybody else, pound of mint oil. So he charged me by the wagon load. He started running it and the oil just poured out of it. I got $400, almost $500 out of my mint oil that fall, that was a God send I’ll tell you. But that was the end of my experience with peppermint or anything else. The government took it after that, that was in ‘41 and in ‘42 we got our notices to be out in 30 days, so that was the end of my farming. And then I went to work in the insurance business. I knew the lady that was working for Mr. Campbell at Farmer‘s Insurance. She called me at 10 o’clock one night, she said Marie I need help awful bad, can you come down and help me for a week or two. I said, well I won’t work 8 hours but I’ll work 7, cause Amber’s mother was a baby then. So, I went down and helped her and It turned into a full time job and finally I worked 16 years as a secretary for the agents and I got my own license, then I was an insurance agent for 16 years when I retired.

CONNIE: What year did you start helping her out?

MARIE: ’56, no ’52 I believe it was.

CONNIE: So you worked at the KID, then you worked at the post office, then you worked where?

MARIE: Farmer’s Insurance

CONNIE: Then where?

MARIE: Well, I worked for Judge Winkenorder, that Kennewick kangaroo court, we used to call it. He called me one night and said he needed a secretary, could I work part time? I said sure. My mother took care of Amber’s mother and I worked for him 2 or 3 years and then Judge Mooreback, you’ve heard of him?, he’s still around.


MARIE: He a, cause Judge Winkenorder had already quit and Mooreback took over. He started laying down the law to me, told me I couldn’t do this and I couldn’t do that and I run out of stamps, I’d have to go take my money and buy stamps and ask him for my money back, it went on like this. One day I forget now what he did, but he did something that didn’t set with me and I just picked up my purse and things and said I’m through. He said you can’t quit I’m going to put you to work in my office all day long. I said oh no your not. He said well you can’t quit. I said just watch me big boy. I said I can quit any time I feel like it and I feel like it right now

GRANDAUGHTER: Why’d they call it kangaroo court?

MARIE; because that’s what it was

TODD: That’s funny, that’s a new one.

MARIE: You didn’t know I worked for Judge Winkenorder, oh yes I used to go out with him when he’d perform marriages and take notes, brides dresses and stuff you know. Oh yeah, that was fun. Well I think they’re getting a lot of stuff they’re not interested in.

The End



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CREHST Museum, “Marie Hansen (White) Oral History,” Hanford History Project, accessed April 21, 2024,