MORA BLOG ITEM SEVEN
by Doug Evans
The year 1942 was an especially significant year for the World, for the United States, for Mount Rainier National Park, and for me personally. This was the first year of America's participation in World War II. In the U.S. the military draft was in full swing; many of the male employees, including most of the rangers of Mount Rainier were gone. My family and I moved from the mill site of the Paradise Mining and Milling Company down to Longmire. In the spring I graduated from the eighth grade at Ashford Grade School and in fall I entered Eatonville High School as a freshman.
My mother, Florence Evans, was hired by the Rainier National Park Company at National Park Inn at Longmire as the assistant manager. We moved into a Company house located in the old cottage area just west of the Inn. None of those buildings exist anymore. This was a significant upgrade in our standard of living, from the primitive cabin at the mill site to a house with running water, indoor bathroom, oil heat, and electric kitchen appliances.
The reality of The War was ever present at Mount Rainier. Not only were many of the men gone, but all of the concession housekeeping cabins were removed from Longmire, Paradise, and Sunrise and hauled to the Puget Sound area for employee housing near the shipyards and the Boeing airplane factory. The army made much use of the park for a variety of training and recreation purposes. Military airplanes, such as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, were in the sky around the mountain virtually every day. Blackout rules were enforced even in isolated out of the way communities such as Longmire. All houses were fitted with blackout shades or curtains on the windows.
Also in 1942 I started my first job as a salaried employee. Congress had enacted war time legislation authorizing the National Park Service to hire seasonal and part time employees at sixteen years of age and for concessionaires to hire at fifteen years. I became fifteen in December, and went to work for the Rainier National Park Company in November—at age fourteen. (The general manager, Paul Sceva, was a good friend and politically influential.) I was hired as a laborer at $0.25/hour plus room and board. Since I was a Longmire resident, unlike most of the other Company employees, I opted to sleep at home.
Perhaps the saddest event of our lives during 1942 was the rounding up and deportation of the Japanese American families from the region to the various internment camps. National had a large Japanese population. The men worked for the Pacific National Lumber Company, and their children were our classmates at Ashford Grade School and Eatonville High School. The National families ended up at the Tule Lake Camp in California. They never came back.
PHOTO: Doug Evans and his mother, Florence, Longmire, 1943 (I think mother was aghast at my ever growing feet.