Lucille Smith Recalls North Bend in 1940

Ten years ago Lucille Bonifas Smith was kind enough to answer some questions about her life in 1940 for Assistant Director Cristy Lake during a dinner visit to the Eagles in Snoqualmie when the Museum had been working on a 1940 exhibit. Lucille was Cristy’s Great Aunt. Below is what she had to say:

Lucille Lois Bonifas Smith (1924-2017)
Lucille being held by her grandmother Olive Pearl Crites Claridge with her great grandmother Amelia Ann Shineflew Crites and mother Willena Lucille Claridge Bonifas (pregnant with sister Betty) while still in Colorado. c 1925.
Tumbling at the YMCA a few years later.
Lucille’s mom Willena in front of their farm house with Joe Sheppard Lucille’s cousin, c 1943.
North Bend Baptist Church. (Image of church c 1908).

My name is Lucille Lois (Bonifas) Smith.  I was born in Eastern Colorado in Yuma County, the oldest of born to Louie and Willena Bonifas.  I was the only one of the four of us children that had a doctor attending.  I was named after mom; Lucille, her middle name.  I don’t know if my middle name was after my father, an aunt or just because they liked it.

In 1940, I was about 16 years old.  I was still in high school at North Bend High.  It was fun.  I was involved in the YMCA.  We did parallel bars, tumbling and Indian Clubs (kind of like bowling).  I also belonged to the Girl Scouts; we went camping and spent a week at Lake Sammamish and a week up in the hills at Lake Hancock. 

In 1940, I baby sat by the month for people by the name of Van Dykes.  She worked at Thompson Café and he drove a truck.  They had one child, I think he lives in Monroe now. 

I lived in North Bend; it was a farm with a nice big house.  Ralph Freeman now lives in our grape patch.  We raised cattle and had a dairy.  We had about 10 milk cows, a couple of horses, a dozen or so chickens and 2 or 3 pigs.  Our family was made up of my parents, my sister Betty, and my two brothers John and Walt. 

We spent our summer afternoons down by the river; it was the Middle Fork.  We would go down to that bridge too, there were some good swimming holes.  We lived by the Thrashers, Offields, Bluhers, Fullers, Currys, Harris’, and Harts.  The Bluhers and Currys had kids our age.  We would have bonfires at the beach. 

We had been in the house about a year, we moved there in 1939, before that a mill house.   The community was close and friendly.  Every Wednesday night was the discount night at the North Bend Theatre, I think 10 cents. 

My father worked at the Bremerton shipyards.  He stayed over there with an uncle.  My grandparents moved there too.  Dad drove a bus there most of the time for the other employees.  He left working at the Mill in 1939 because he and the union didn’t get along.  They had slashed his tires at one point because he wouldn’t join. 

John worked at one of the neighbor farms occasionally.  Betty and I also waited tables at the Alps Café and then the Monogram.  We worked the Swing Shift and during school breaks during the day too. The Swing Shift was usually about 5:30 pm until Midnight.  We worked both during school and on breaks.  We worked the same shifts together and walked back and forth.  We would eat at the diner when we worked there, but otherwise didn’t eat out much.  Frank (Marsalis) would cook us up a nice T bone steak.  I would eat mine and Betty’s both because she didn’t like hers.  She would sometimes eat a hamburger instead, but we didn’t get much choice because he would cook it up and give it to us.  He owned the Alps Café and later Thompsons (co-owned).

We walked to school most the time, but had the bus if we wanted. We could get out of bed later if we walked.  Betty and I went to the Baptist church in North Bend.  I played the piano there.  Betty and I also went to Youth Club on Wednesday Nights at the church.  We went to that church because it was the closest church, we walked.  Mom would occasionally go to the Catholic Church and Masses.  She wasn’t Catholic, dad was; she just like it; but she didn’t go to church much.  Dad never went. 

North Bend had quite a few cafes then like now.  We would grow some of our food and buy the rest.  Mom always had a garden.  Lee’s Grocery, Glaziers Dry Goods, the Bakery, the Gas Station we all went to.  That George Wyrsch was a heart throb, he had a nice red convertible; he was too old for us though.  The Dry Goods carried material and clothing.  We bought most of our clothes.  Betty, Fern Bonsgaard, and I would spend most of our time in Seattle buying clothes with our $15 a week paychecks.  We took a bus to Seattle from North Bend; it went down through Fall City.  It took about an hour.  Lenners was my favorite shop; they carried the clothes we could afford and liked.  We couldn’t afford Fredricks but we were there and Fern would try on shoes. 

Alps Cafe

We wore dresses and slacks.  We would were nylons with seams or we painted our legs and drew on seams.  We all wore girdles with slacks and dresses.  Our shoes were saddle shoes and 3 to 4 inch high heels.  We did our own hair and I wore mine back.  At night we did it up with pin curls all over our head.  We occasionally wore hats for dress, like going to church.

Heavens yes, we had a car.  Mom drove once and a while but she didn’t have a drivers license and didn’t drive too much.  I think dad intimidated her.  I had just gotten my license in 1940.  I drove all I could.  We would go to Seattle and just around.  Our car was a Studebaker.  If you drove to Snoqualmie, that was really getting around.  Dad had a Hudson Terraplane before the Studebaker.  He was always changing car, upgrading.  He loved to drive.  I don’t know where he bought them all. 

Mom, John and Walt’s job was milking the cows.  Mom made sure Betty and I never milked a cow.  She had always had to milk cows and wanted to make sure we never HAD to.  We got to drive horses to pull the hay up to the barn.  We had to pump the water for the cattle from a well in the pasture fairly close to the house.  My mom didn’t belong to any organizations, she just took care of us kids.  She always canned.

At some point I would go up to the Mount Si Rec building and man the phone in case of attack.  That didn’t last too long, but I don’t remember exactly when that was.  I didn’t go to any of the lectures about the war in Europe or help pack care packages.  The war did not really affect me at that point.

We were always involved with family, both sides.  Aunt Clara lived in Seattle.  We saw them about once a month.  Her sons would come out and stay and we would go stay there.  Joe and Herb would give Betty a hard time because she couldn’t take the teasing.  Joe got killed in the war.  He had a job delivering news papers.  He kept us informed, told us were babies came from and all of that.  He was few months younger than me.  He was nice.  Herb was a couple years older than me.  The first time we met, Herb took me by the hair; Joe, Betty; Neil took John and Gene took Walt by the hair and led us around the room.  Then we were all fast friends.  That was about 1933. Their youngest brother Dickie wasn’t born yet.  Mom’s side was in Enumclaw; they moved out from Colorado in 1934.

North Bend c 1945. Lucille lived on a farm just off camera at the top right of the image just passed the current Nursery at Mount Si.