Bellingham Centennial Oral History Project Records

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Format: 2019/07/23

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Betty Russell interview [transcript]
Betty Russell interview [transcript]
Interview by James Hillegas as part of the Bellingham Centennial Oral History Project. Betty (b. 1924) discusses her childhood in Bellingham living in both Park Street and Smith Road houses. She focuses mainly on traditions particular to her immediate family such as Christmas, religion, and weekend activities. One of her occasional getaways was going with the family to a beach on the Lummi Indian Reservation. She mentions her relationship and experiences with her father who was a logger and later a longshoreman. In addressing the Longshore Labor Strike in the 1930s, she illustrates the reaction of the community and its direct effect on her family. Betty reminisces about first being an independent seamstress at 14 years old, volunteering as a receptionist at Graham Airport, and attending the old Sehome School to learn to be a sheet metal mechanic. During World War II she worked at Boeing in Seattle becoming one of the first women workers on the floor of the Boeing plant as a mechanic mostly building B-17s. She also recounts both her family's and the community's reaction to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and further discusses serving in the hydrographic office of the Navy in Washington D. C. Here, she remarks about differences between the east coast and west coast. Interview length: Two 60 minute cassette tapes.