Carl's work for the civil service led to a job with the Washington State Employment
office in Pasco. He went to work there in 1944. When it became apparent that the job
would be permanent, he began to look for a home. There was a housing shortage in the area
because of the Hanford nuclear development. In the process of inquiring about a job in the
Kennewick schools, Carl and Harriet met Mr. Desgranges, a school board member, who
wanted to sell his property on the Columbia River. He owned a home with a small acreage
of cherries. Eugene had spent the summer before making apple boxes in Yakima and was
able to loan his Dad the money needed for a down payment. The crop of cherries the next
year or so covered the balance of the payment due. After 14 years in Yakima, the Laneys
packed their belongings for one last move. They spent the next 31 years living in
Harriet took a position as a fourth grade teacher in the newly established school
system of Richland, Washington, the home of the atomic bomb. She continued for fifteen
years teaching fourth grade in Sacajawea and Jason Lee schools. Her first year in 1944 was
in makeshift accommodations. Some rooms held up to fifty children!
After settling in Kennewick, the Laneys joined the United Methodist Church. Not a
great deal of consideration was given to the matter. They had faithfully attended the
Methodist Church in Yakima. This was the denomination in which Carl and Harriet had
been raised. After about a year of warming a pew at the Methodist Church in Kennewick,
Carl was rather dissatisfied with the situation. Then he was pressed by Rev. Coan into
teaching an adult Sunday School class. From that time on he spent 10 to 12 hours a week
preparing for his Sunday lesson, reading the Bible and commentaries. Of course, he
benefited as much from this teaching as those who attended.
In a letter of appreciation to Rev. Coan on Thanksgiving, 1957, Carl writes, "Over
the years I have spent many hours each week in the study and preparation of the lesson in an
effort to make it mean something for the class. I can't claim any great success for that
objection, though the class is very loyal to me and has an attendance of 12 to 18 each
Sunday. It should be many more for a church of this size. But what I feel so grateful for is
what this effort has done for me in spiritual growth and understanding. I have attained a
degree of Christian maturity that I fear never would have taken place otherwise. I lack words
to express my gratitude and thanks to you for your part in getting me started down a wider
highway of Christian fellowship and service. God was speaking to both of us that day."
Over the years he became a proficient and rather popular adult Sunday School
teacher at Kennewick Methodist Church. "One older lady who was very knowledgeable
complimented him many times," recalls Harriet. "And he was good." Carl and Harriet
served actively together in Kennewick Methodist Church for 25 years.
These were active and busy days for the Laney children. In 1940 Eugene went off to
Seattle to begin a course of study in Forestry at the University of Washington. That same
year, Stewart went off to the Naval Academy, having completed two years at Yakima Valley
Marguerite married Bill Rasmussen on September 18, 1942. In June 1943 Stewart
graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and received an assignment on the
Battleship Pennsylvania. Following his flight training, Stewart became a naval aviator.
Eugene took a break from his university studies in the summer of 1943 and followed
in the footsteps of his brother to become a Navy pilot. His first solo flight was in Texas on
January 19, 1944. He wrote his mother a special letter expressing how happy he was to be
able to fly.
The year 1944 brought two new members into the Laney clan. On February 7th,
Doris married her long time sweetheart, Stan Childress. The autumn of the same year
brought a daughter to the Laneys household--this time a daughter-in-law. In Yakima on
October 21st, Stewart married a Navy nurse, Alma E. Neuhausen. Everyone knows her by
the name "Jay."
The next daughter to join the Laney clan was a southern belle, Clyde Black Chivers,
whom Eugene met while hospitalized in Dublin, Georgia. The two were married March 5,
1947 in Dublin. Carl and Harriet traveled all the way to Georgia to attend the wedding.
In June of the next year, 1948, Harriet's father, Zechariah Stewart, died of tuberculosis.
Grandmother Stewart (Annie) then came to live with Carl and Harriet in Kennewick. She lived
to be 94 years old, spending the last 14 years of her life with the Laneys in Kennewick. Most
of the older Laney grandchildren remember great grandmother Stewart. She would sit in her
rocker and weave rag rugs. I remember her as being quite alert, and, with the help of her
cane, pretty steady on her feet even in her last years. She enjoyed visits by her great
grandchildren and always had a smile for them. She died in February 1962 and is buried at
Riverside Memorial Park in Spokane.
September 12, 1948 was marked on the Laney calendar as the date of the marriage of
the last Laney daughter. On that special day at Kennewick Methodist Church, Miriam
married Vaughn Dorsey, a mechanical engineer whom she met while attending Oregon State
The property purchased by Carl had a beautiful view of the Columbia River. But that
was destined to change. The flooding of the Columbia in 1950 resulted in the "home on the
river" being more like the "home in the river." It was decided to build a dam to control the
flooding. The army Corp of Engineers also began building a dike to protect the property
along the river. The dike and roadway was to go right through the house, so the property
was condemned. But Carl was able to buy the house back for $3,500 and move it about 100
yards away from the river. Instead of facing the river, it now would face Metaline Lane. The
mail box read, "J. Carl Laney, 947 Metaline Ln."
The Laney family home at 947 Metaline in Kennewick
In 1951 Carl decided to retire from his work with the Washington State Employment
Service in Pasco and build some rental homes. He built a cinder-block duplex on the
property next to his house on Metaline. Later he build a wood frame house on 12th avenue
in Kennewick. Beyond the duplex on Metaline he built another lovely wood frame home.
These homes provided some security and retirement income for Carl and Harriet.
Harriet taught school until her retirement in 1959, giving twenty and one-half years
to her teaching career. She first retired in 1958, but was called back to teach one more year
when the fourth grade enrollment exceeded that of the previous year. She was 67 years old
when she completed her last year. This last year of teaching brought an unusual challenge.
Harriet recalls, "My last year in Richland, we tried dividing the 4th grade into three groups--
high, medium and low. At my own choosing, I had the low group. That was a real challenge
and an interesting one. Children who had been having problems were able to achieve with
their own group. The satisfaction and joy of seeing them happy and developing is one I shall
From all reports I have heard, she was an excellent teacher and motivated the
children with love. There has always been a special place in Harriet's heart for children.
Her love, patience and kindness made Mrs. Laney a classroom favorite. A slightly
embarrassing highlight of her career was on the first day assembly of teachers during one of
her last years at Richland. On the sidewalk at the main entrance was written in lipstick,
"Mrs. Laney is the best teacher in this school." This was a heart warming "thank you" from
just one of the many students whose lives Harriet touched.
Harriet's starting salary in 1912 was $60.00 per month. She retired from teaching in
1959 at a salary of $477.00 per month. She was on the lowest salary schedule for she had
only two years of formal training before receiving her Life Diploma. Things had changed a
great deal between 1912 when Harriet began teaching and 1959 when she retired. She
writes, "In 1912, the teacher was the center of the community activities. All sorts of
entertaining was done for the teacher. She must be invited for dinner and stay overnight.
Over the years, the position of the teacher in her community has gradually changed so that
she lives her own life."
In addition to building and maintaining the rental houses, Carl kept busy doing
gardening with the large garden area they enjoyed on Metaline Lane. He raised fruits and
vegetables. I remember going out to the garden with granddad and seeing him dig up a
delicious looking bunch of nice long carrots. He usually harvested a fine crop of corn and
grew the best peaches in Kennewick.
|Home on the River
Settling Down in Kennewick
The cross Carl built for the
United Methodist Church in
Kennewick. It is still there in