Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing about the changes to Pullman during the 90 years of my life so far. In the early 1950s, Harvey Road was the north city limit line for College Hill, True for Military Hill, Dexter for Pioneer Hill and, I think, Center for Sunnyside Hill.
We had two grade schools, Edison on College Hill, Franklin on Pioneer Hill, and three grades in the basement of the high school for those living on Sunnyside Hill, so the little ones didn’t have to cross Grand to get to Franklin. There was no kindergarten in Pullman in the early days. That came after I was long gone though I vaguely remember some parents putting together a sort of one exclusive of the public school system.
The coliseum hadn’t been built yet and basketball games were played in Bohler Gym. It was also used as a venue for the community concert series that we shared with the University of Idaho. Actually it was sponsored by a private group that used the facilities of both colleges — half in each one. They contracted with The Sol Hurok agency and we had many of the really top classical performers here like Marion Andeson, Jose Iturbi, the Don Cossack choir and Paul Robeson, to name only a few. When I was old enough to behave myself and appreciate what I was witnessing, my parents bought me tickets, too.
In Pullman, the concerts were held in Bohler, at Idaho, in their administration building auditorium. Locally, the college music department had weekly Sunday afternoon “vespers” in Bryan Hall featuring faculty and student recitals, Occasionally they had other professional performers, too. One I particularly remember was Roland Hayes. He had a small tenor voice that was so pure and clear. He held that audience, including me, enthralled.
Once a year, the college held open house in all the departments on campus where the students showed off their work. We would walk around campus going in every open door to see what they had to offer. I remember watching some fellow preparing a pelt for a taxidermy project for the Conner Museum and receiving a little vial or perfume from someone in the chemistry lab. Best of all were the ag exhibits, We were introduced to all the animals, many on leads in the old fieldhouse.
In the summers, we spent a lot of time exploring the campus on our own. The KWSC radio station was a continuing attraction. We spend a lot of time watching the teletype machine to read the latest news and watching the announcers and disc jockeys at work though the windows of their sound-proof studio booth. Considering how pesky and annoying we were, most were remarkably patient. I think they rather enjoyed the attention.
When I was really small there was only a dirty and algae-ridden pool. It was a big step forward when they built the swimming pool over by the railroad tracks. From that time on through high school and beyond, I almost lived there. In the mornings, they gave lessons so you could qualify for the Red Cross certificates. Afternoons were strictly playtime and that was where you could find me. They may have had evening hours for adults and families. If they did, we never availed ourselves of them.
Campfire Girls had a lot of activities for girls. I remember taking a cooking class that was held in the demonstration of the Washington Water Power office on the corner across the street from the old post office. This was shortly after the Depression, when people had the money to replace their old coal or wood burning stoves, and cooking on electric was so very different. I could go on and on about the changes to Pullman — most of them good, but I don’t have the time or word count.
Harding lives in Pullman and is a longtime League of Women Voters member. She also has served on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center board. Reach her at .