Monthly Archives: March 2017

My First Plane Ride


My First Plane Ride

By Iva Bailey

The other night when Judy, my daughter came home from Seattle, where she works, she was showing me her plane ticket to Hawaii she had gotten that day. She is all excited about taking her vacation in Hawaii this year. It brought back memories of my one and only airplane ride sometime in the 1930’s. I must have been about 15 at the time.

My girlfriend Bernice was a couple of years older than I was and was able to get a job at the Puyallup Fair in a hamburger concession. That was the year there was an added attraction at the fair. A man who had a small plane was taking passengers up over the city and fairgrounds.

The flight started in the parking lot at the fair and Bernice’s concession was close by so the pilot often ate lunch there. Before Fair week was over my friend became acquainted  with the pilot and he offered to take her for a ride. He told her she could take a friend. She asked me to go along.

I will never forget that ride. The plane was a two-seater affair. The pilot sat in the front seat and the passenger in the back seat. There was really only suppose to be one passenger but there was room for two small people if they sat close together. It was all open air and when we started up the wind stung my face and tore at my hair. It seemed as though we were going straight up, it wasn’t so bad until we flew over the Puyallup River and hit a down draft. We dropped so far I thought we would never stop. Looking down the city blocks looked like tiny squares. It was so noisy from the rush of wind and the sound of the motor Bernice and I couldn’t hear each other when we tried to talk so we just clung to to-gether.

Coming down was even more scary but we landed alright and  I was sure glad to feel the ground under my feet when we got out of the plane.

When I got back home, feeling brave and proud at what I had done, I found my dad had a different feeling about my escapade. Until then I thought of it as just another midway ride, maybe a little more scary than most, but to my dad, it was something else. Looking back now I can feel how my dad must have felt. Airplanes were fairly a new thing. They weren’t tested or kept in repair like they are today. Dad had started out with covered wagons and horses. He accepted cars but he never wanted to fly. I guess some of his fear was instilled in me that day because I have always been hesitant to fly again.

When my brother Verle went into the Air Force during the Second World War, only I knew the fear in my Dad’s heart. He never let on to my brother how he felt. I can still see his face pale when we would hear of a plane lost over Italy where Verle was.

My kids couldn’t wait to take their first plane rids.  I watched my two boys take off over the Pacific, Jerry to Korea and Jack to Viet Nam and  I watched them come back again.

Now Judy is going to Hawaii but the plane that will take her there is a lot different from the one I flew in that memorable day and maybe some day soon I’ll say a little prayer and fly away too.

Dance Marathons of the 1930’s

Dance Marathons of the 1930’s   

By Iva Bailey    

While looking through some old pictures the other day, I came across an old picture postcard of a dance marathon held in the old Century Ballroom near Tacoma. The picture took me back to 1936, the peak of the Great Depression. Now it all sounds pretty weird but then it generated a lot of interest and was inexpensive entertainment. There was a kitty you were expected to drop a coin or two into which was to furnished the prize for the winners.

The couples who were in the dance marathons were usually sponsored by some local business establishment for the advertising it would bring them.

The contestants danced for fifty minutes and then had a ten minute rest period. They didn’t really dance but they had to keep moving or be disqualified. They would take turns sleeping, when one was asleep the other had to hold him up and keep him moving. It looked kind of funny to see a girl with a big, tall guy draped over her shoulders, asleep. Some times they would almost fall. That made it more exciting, the audience would clap, stamp their feet and yell the contestant’s name out to wake him before he was counted out.

It was all very exciting to me at the time and I went as often as I could. My dad thought the people, that would be contestants in such a thing, were crazy and the people who would go to watch them, just as bad. I know now, that he was right.

The contest went on for several weeks and one by one the couples would drop by the wayside. As the numbers of contestants dwindled down, the excitement of the spectators rose. The couple seemed to be walking around in a daze and you could tell it was sheer torture for them to keep going.

I’ll never forget how disappointed I was when it suddenly ended and I wasn’t there to see the last couple fall out.

The old Century Ballroom is gone now but the hours I spent there still remain in my memories.

My Grandma

This story is about Margaret Ragsdale Caple. Although my aunt says she was born in Kentucky all of her records indicate Missouri as her birth place. The family came to live in Puyallup sometime between 1900 and 1904.  The Puyallup house, in this story, burnt down in the late 1930’s. The G.A.R. home mentioned was the Meeker mansion. Today it has been restored back to to the way it was when it was Ezra Meeker’s home and is a museum.

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with grandchildren in 1923

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with her 5 grandchildren in 1923. Standing in back are Robert Caple and Blanche McKay. The girl standing in front is Iva Caple Bailey and the older baby is her brother, Roger Verle Caple. Margaret McKay is on the right.

My Grandma

by Iva Bailey

I was only twelve when my grandma Caple died, but I have many good memories of her.

For the first eight years of my life, grandma lived right next door to us in Puyallup. We all lived on 16th street, south-east, in what was then called Meeker Junction.

The house grandma lived in was a large, two-story, white house with a big bay window in the living room that grandma called the parlor. There was a porch that went almost all the way around the house. This was the home my dad grew up in and the house that was for a short time, my second home.

My grandfather Caple had died in 1920 when I was only two years old. I really couldn’t remember him but his memory seemed to live on in the house too.

Grandma had snappy brown eyes and long beautiful hair when it was combed out she could sit on it. She would let me brush and comb her hair, then she put it up on her head with big, bone pins and pretty combs. To me she was beautiful.

Even though grandma was born in Kentucky, she was of English parentage and she was an avid tea drinker. She and I had many tea parties, complete with Johnny cakes, as she called the little cakes she made. I remember, in particular, the sassafras tea she would make for us.  It tasted so good to me then.

Years later, when I was grown up, I bought some sassafras bark and made some tea, but it didn’t taste the same as grandma’s.

The feather bed she had brought with her from Missouri, in the covered wagon. How I loved to spend the night with grandma and sleep in the big feather bed. In the morning there would be sunken spot where we had slept. She would let me help her fluff and make up the bed again.

When I was about eight, grandma traded the big white house in Puyallup for a house in Orting, which was about ten miles away from Meeker Junction. She was a Civil War veteran’s widow and as such was entitled to commodities. To get the commodities she had to live in Orting where there was a colony of soldier’s widows. There was then, and still is, a soldiers home there.

Once a month the army officials would deliver grandma, coffee, tea, sugar and other staples. To grandma on her small widow’s pension, this was a big help.

I can remember how really upset I was by this move. Grandma traded houses with a lady by the name of Mrs. Zettiker. I didn’t like this lady. She had taken my grandma’s house away from us, or so I thought in my childish mind. I can remember my dad trying to explain to me that it was to grandmas best interest that she make this move.

Mr. Zettiker came and she changed grandma’s house. She put a bathroom in the room that had been my play house. She tore off the big porch that my cousins and I had played on when it rained. All this didn’t make me like her any better. I was glad she never lived in the house. She rented it out and I had several “best” friends there during my growing up years.

I would visit grandma every chance I had, which was pretty often. Dad worked in the logging camp which was above Orting, so he would take me along often, when he went to work, and I would spend the day or week-end with grandma. We had some good times together, grandma and I.

It was the summer before I was twelve that will always live in my memory. Grandma had gotten up early one August morning to water her garden. She left me sleeping in the big feather bed that she and I loved so much. In a short time she was back. She was talking to me but I couldn’t understand her. She lay down on the bed beside me and I knew something was wrong. I don’t even remember getting dressed, but I guess I did. I ran to the neighbors and hysterically told her that something was wrong with my  grandma.

The neighbor helped me call my dad in Puyallup. We had no telephone at home, so I had to call a neighbor who got Daddy to the phone. I was so hysterical by the time Daddy got to the telephone he could hardly understand all that I was trying to tell him. He knew something was wrong with grandma.

 By the time my mother and dad got to us, grandma was in a coma. She had a stroke and never regained consciousness.

They moved her to the G.A.R. home in Puyallup. There she died a few days later on August 5th, 1930. She was seventy-two.

She was laid to rest with my grandfather in the Orting Soldiers cemetery on August 8th, which happens to be my dad’s birthday. It seemed to me then, that part of the light had gone out of my world.Headstone-Caple, Margaret Malinda (Ragsdale)

Movies Of Days Gone By

cinematographic camera with cinema icon vector illustration design

This short piece on movies of long ago was in the envelope along with the previous posted story “Grandmas Do Wear Pants.”

Movies Of Days Gone By

by Iva Bailey

Yesterday, the second day of 1988, I sat watching some old silent movies on the television with my two granddaughters, April and Johni. The girls thought they were really funny. I suppose to young people who have never known anything but wide-screen talking movies they do seem a little odd.

My earliest memories of going to the movies were at the old Dream Theater in Puyallup. The theater wasn’t very big and was only open on Saturday and Sundays. It was heated by a big old wood heater. If you got there early you would freeze until the fire got going good and before the movie was over you would be roasting. We would start out by setting down in front by the heater and gradually move back as the heat got to us. There was a pipe organ that was played all during the movies. As the excitement on the screen built up, the music would get louder and louder. I remember how I would set close to my dad, so he could read the conversation flashed on the screen. It was much easier for all concerned when I was old enough to go to school and learned to read for myself. I especially like the dog stories and Rin-Tin-Tin was my favorite.

When I was older and could attend the movies by myself or with a friend, there were serials that were continued from week to week and would always end at the most exciting spot, that kept us saving our nickles so we could go week after week. Sometimes we could talk the doorman into letting us in for free. Then we could buy a bag of popcorn or a candy bar. Nickles were hard to come by in those days.

Later on when the talking movies came in, another theater opened up. It was called the Liberty. This theater was larger and more elaborate. The Liberty is still there but the old Dream Theater has been gone a long time.  The town wasn’t large enough for two theaters after television came in.

Once in a while now when some movie is supposed to be special, Jack and I go, but they just aren’t the same. They leave nothing to the imagination, they tell it all.  The old movies, April and Johni and I saw on television may have been funny to them, but to me they brought back memories.

Grandmas Do Wear Pants

I found this story in an envelope, on it my aunt had written, “my one and only time I got printed but I never got to see it. It was in a Minnesota paper in the 1997.”

Apparently it had been printed in the Eastern Itascan  of  MN in their “Then and Now”column. The story was probably written in the 1980’s.Lady's Cotton Lounging Set, 1930s: Grandmas Do Wear Pants

by Iva Bailey

Last week-end our young grandsons came to spend the week-end with us. Mike the elder is five and doesn’t miss a thing. The first thing he said to me, “Grandma you got a dress on.” He sounded so surprised and pleased. I hadn’t realized until then that it had been so long since I had worn a dress. I guess in Mike’s young life he hadn’t seen me in a dress very many times.

When I was Mike’s age, woman always wore dresses. Some of the little girls wore coveralls. I remember the ones I had. They were trimmed in red. They had a drop seat that was very inconvenient. I could never button or unbutton them myself. About the only time I wore them was when my Mother wasn’t feeling well and had to cut down on the washing and ironing.

I’ll never forget the time I went to play with my little friend Janie who lived at the end of our block. I couldn’t have been more than five at the most when Janie’s dad saw me dressed in my coveralls, he told her she couldn’t play with me because “nice girls didn’t wear pants.”

My feelings were really hurt and I went home crying. My Mother was upset too when I told her what had happened. I never really liked Janie’s dad after that although later I picked berries for him; I was always a little bit afraid of him.

The next pants I remember having was in the 30’s. My aunt Josephine who worked at the J.C. Penny store in town and was always up on fashion of the day, gave me a pair of what they then called beach pajamas. The ones I had were red and black print material and they had flared legs. I can still see them in my mind. One Sunday we were going on a picnic at Five Mile Lake,  just out of Puyallup.  I proudly dressed up in my beach pajamas and feeling like a movie star, I considered myself ready to go, but my Dad thought I was wearing my night-clothes and told me to go get dressed. I finally, with my aunt’s help, convinced him they were proper attire for the beach.

When the war started in the 40’s and women began working in factories and ship-yards, they started wearing pants more and more. They were comfortable and less hazardous around machinery. But still there were places pants were never worn by women. When my daughter Judy first started to school about 1963, girls wore dresses to school but gradually they started wearing pants. At first I let her wear pants one day a week. Soon she talked me into two days and it wasn’t long before jeans were the “in” thing. A girl wasn’t “in” unless she had a pair of red tag Levi jeans. One time while she was in Junior high a girl tore the red tag off her jeans. She was really upset and I had to sew it back in.

I too, gradually started wearing pants more and more but did wear a dress to church, weddings and funerals.

Now pants are everywhere. No wonder Mike was surprised to seem his grandma in a dress. It has been quite some time since I wore one, but Mike sounded pleased to see me in a dress, maybe I better start wearing them more often. After all I am a grandma. When I tried to get my grandma to wear pants, not long before she died at 96, she said to me, “Oh mercy no honey, grandmas don’t wear pants.”

 Yes they do Grandma but I think I will surprise Mike again soon, and wear a dress.

Grandma’s Wash Tubs


Laundry drying on the rope outside

The Grandmother in this story is Martha Smith Phillips. She was born in 1877 in Tama County, Iowa. Her family moved to the Black Hills in the 1880’s and she worked in a laundry for a short time in Riverdale, Wyoming before marrying Alexander Phillips. She passed away in 1973.

Grandma’s Wash Tubs 

By Iva Bailey

When I go to do my wash in these days of automatic washer and dryers, I think of my Grandma Phillip’s wash tubs. They were two big galvanized tubs, one for washing the other for rinsing. They sat side by side on a bench in the kitchen close to the wood range, where the water was heated in a wash boiler.

In my earliest memories the tubs had to be filled from the water heated on the stove. Later coils were put in the stove and a tall range boiler or tank,as we called it, stood in the corner and was connected  to the coils in the stove. Grandma thought then, that she was special to have such a luxury.

Grandma always washed on Monday. The clothes were scrubbed on a wash board. If they were really dirty they were then boiled on the stove in the boiler after which they were put in a tub of bluing water to rinse.

Grandma liked windy days to wash clothes.The wind would blow them dry faster and they would smell fresh.They were hung on the line with round-top peg clothespins.They didn’t have the spring kind until later. They were better because they wouldn’t fall off the line. The whites were always as white as snow waving in the breeze.

Tuesday was ironing day. She never put off ironing like I do when I wash clothes in my automatic washing machine. It is so easy to put it off, I hate to iron. Grandma liked to iron. She had two flat irons she heated up on the stove. She always tested it with a wet finger. If it sizzled it was just right for ironing. She ironed with one a while then, the other heated one. She especially liked doing up, as she called it, the white men’s shirts. She had worked in a laundry in South Dakota in her earlier days and was never happier than when she was ironing.

Grandma also used her tubs for baths before bath tubs. She also used them for canning fruits and vegetables. The jars were washed and sterilized, filled and cooked in the jars. I remember green beans always took a long time. It was a hot job in the heat of the sun and the heat of the stove.

Grandma Phillips lived to be ninety-six and before her life ended, she had some of the conviences of modern-day, but I think the happiest days were the days she would hang her sparkling white clothes on the line to dry.


In this story my Aunt tells how a Model T truck helped keep her family going during the Great Depression. I don’t know if it was the same truck or not but my Dad and Aunt also told of a vehicle their dad owned with wooden spokes on the wheels. When the weather was hot and dry, the spokes would dry out and become loose. They would then have to stop and soak the spokes in water until they swelled and would once more stay in place.


by Iva Bailey

In 1930 the depression had started. The logging camp my dad worked in closed down. It was hard to find a job then. There was a box factory in town that made berry boxes, but it was only working part-time and they were laying off workers. It was the same with the two lumber mills we had. There were fruit canneries but they only ran in the summer time.

Dad decided to start cutting and selling wood. He bought a Model T Ford truck and he leased some logged off land up above Orting on Stony Creek. It was some of the same land he had worked on as a logger. When the loggers went through they had just taken the larger trees. There were lots of trees left that were good enough for wood.

I’ll never forget that Model T Ford truck. It had solid rubber tires. He didn’t have to worry about them going flat they were already that way. It wasn’t the most comfortable riding truck, but it was always fun for my brother and me, when dad would let us ride in the back. We were also the envy of all the kids in the neighborhood.

Dad would start out early in the morning and cut a cord of wood and come back home. If he had an order for the wood he would deliver it, if not he would take it to town and set on  the street until someone came along and bought it. There were others selling wood also so it wasn’t easy to sell. There wasn’t much money in the wood business then. He was lucky if he got five dollars a cord, most of the time it was less.

It was quite a job keeping that truck running.  When dad wasn’t cutting and hauling wood, he was working on the truck. He picked up an extra motor and when one motor gave out he would change it for a good one. Then he would repair the bad one and have it ready for the next time the motor gave out.

One time when he was coming down a steep hill with a load of wood the brakes gave out and he couldn’t stop. He managed to ride it out down the hill without any damage. After that when we kids would go with him, as we sometimes did, he would let us walk down the hill and pick us up at the bottom. He didn’t trust that truck.

Another time a wheel came off when we were coming down the road. He stopped fast that time. He had to unload the wood fix the wheel back on and reload the wood.

The steering gear broke once when we were all riding in the truck. I can remember wondering why Dad was driving down the middle of the road. After he stopped he told us he hadn’t been able to steer it. We were lucky we didn’t have the traffic then like we have today.

That truck was a real challenge to my dad but he managed to keep it running and to make a living for a while. Times were bad and it would be quite a while before they got much better.

An Unforgettable Experience

Here is another logging camp story written by my Aunt about her family’s move to Kinzou, Oregon. Today it is considered a ghost town. It existed as a company town from 1927 until 1978.

An Unforgettable Experience

by Iva Bailey

One day in the summer of 1928 our family, my dad, my mother, my brother and my-self set out on a trip to Oregon. Our destination was a new logging camp opening up in the Blue Mountains near Condon, at least this was the largest town I can remember near the camp.

My mother had asthma and the doctor had told daddy that a high dry climate might help her, and Kinzou was that.

My dad had been preparing for this trip all winter. He had built a cupboard that fit on the running board of our model T Ford. In this cupboard, my mother put all the staples we would need in our long camp-out on the way to Oregon.

To us this was a long trip, as most of our trips up until then had been to logging camps surrounding the Puyallup Valley.

My mother had made us blouses and skirts out of some kind of khaki colored material that would not show the dirt, because it would be hard to wash clothes on the road. I can remember those clothes so well. They weren’t very glamorous but they were serviceable. We had a new tent and daddy had made us beds out of canvas that he set up on blocks of wood we would pick up after we got there. They rolled up so they wouldn’t take up much room. I can’t remember too much about how they were made and I can’t remember being uncomfortable.

We started out from Puyallup one morning right after school was out so it must have been in early June. We went as far as Winlock, Washington which is probably about 60 miles from Puyallup. We had friends who lived there so we stayed over-night with them.

The next night I remember we stayed in Vancouver, Washington. We weren’t traveling very fast but with our model T and the load we had that was fast. I can remember going through Portland. This was the first time I had been out of the state of Washington and going across the Columbia river into Portland, Oregon was something to see. The Columbia river was quite a bit larger than the Puyallup river where we lived.

We must have camped at several places before we finally got to Condon. I can remember Condon though because the trees and everything were so different from the ones we had around Puyallup. It was very hot and dusty.

In Condon daddy bought us a little stove. He hadn’t wanted to carry one all the way from Puyallup and take up our precious space in the car. We bought the food supplies we would need before we went up into the hills to the camp.

The road up to the camp was narrow and rough. If we didn’t stay in the tire tracks we would get stuck in the sand. I can remember one place on the road in particular because it scared me to death every time we went on it.

The model T was really quite top-heavy with our cupboard on the side of the car filled with staples and all our other gear. This place in the road slanted into a canyon. We would have to all get on the other side of the car to keep the car from going down into the canyon.

We finally got to the camp and looked around for a place to set up for the summer.

Daddy had told me there would be rattle snakes there so I was looking for them, I sure didn’t want him setting our tent up on a snake. I can’t really remember seeing one but I imagined a lot.

This was a new camp and they were still building. My dad got a job unloading bricks from a rail road box car. It was a hard job but my dad being a logger was use to hard work.

I can’t remember to many things that happened in particular while we were there but there were a few unforgettable experiences.

There was a mill-pond where they dumped the logs they brought out of the woods. It was hot there and the people, especially the kids, would swim in the pond. Verle, my brother and I couldn’t swim but were allowed to wade close to the shore. On this day Verle went too far out and was climbing on a log when it rolled. He went under the log and I started screaming. There was a man close by and he pulled him out. I was sure scared and watched him a lot closer after that.

I can remember another day when dad decided we would go into town for some supplies. There was a company store in the camp but the prices were higher than they were in town, and you didn’t have much choice. I never really looked forward to those trips into town because of that road.

It was a very hot day this time. We hadn’t gone very far when we had a flat tire. We had a spare one but the tube had patches on it. It was so hot the patches would melt off and we would be flat again. Dad patched the tube all the way into town.

We finally got there and bought a new tube before the return trip. I had taken us so long to get there, dad was afraid it would get dark before we could get back to camp. He had heard they were building a new road that would be a short-cut back. He figured it might be finished enough for us to get back so he decided to try it. It went a long ways but not far enough. We came to the end. It was very narrow road with a canyon on both sides and absolutely no way to turn around.

Dad made us all get out and he backed all the way out while we walked. Needless to say it was dark when we got back to camp. I never was so scared in my life. There were no street lights out there in those woods and I knew what was just off that road. It was a deep canyon. To this day I have a fear of narrow roads and I think it all began that day.

We stayed in the camp about two months. Dad worked in the mill and filed saws for the loggers. My mother didn’t seem to be getting any better in fact she was having all kinds of problems. Dad decided we had better leave and get back to civilization where there were doctors.

The day we left was so hot and my mother was so sick, I will never forget it. We went to Toppenish, Washington. Toppenish is close to Yakima. She had relations there.

We stayed there the rest of summer and daddy worked in a prune orchard. My mother was better there and she was happier with relations. We went back home in time for school it was a summer I will never forget.