WHC Biographical Article
By Carolyn Wood, Longview Author. A version of this article appeared in the Cowlitz Historical Quarterly, June 2006, Volume 48, Number 2 and is used by permission of the author and the Cowlitz County Historical Society.
Some knew her as The Duchess of Cathlamet, Madam Queen, Mrs. Highways or The Little Old Lady in Logging Boots;
some knew her as blunt, outspoken, effective, feisty, relentless, ruthless, compassionate, humorous, and a
practical idealist. The woman who was to become, during her forty-three year political rein, an enormously
powerful legislator in state and national politics, was born Julia Carrie Butler, on June 14th 1907. Julia,
daughter of Maude Butler and maternal granddaughter of Julia Ann Kimball seemed destined to serve the greater
good of the greater number. Her mother and grandmother's strong social consciousnesses would influence Julia
all of her life.
Julia honed her legislative skills in the Washington State Legislature from 1939-1960. She took what
she learned to Washington D.C in 1960 –1974. She gained a reputation as a master legislator who refused
to back down from special interests groups or greedy politicians.
Julia entered the "New Frontier" with President John Kennedy; Julia was sworn into the United States
Congress, November 1960 and President Kennedy was inaugurated January 20, 1961. Being born female never
stopped Julia from playing on an equal playing field with men. She enjoyed their company. She wasn't
offended by her male colleagues' off-color jokes and at the same time she possessed a tender passion for
poetry. She often used the same rough tactics her fellow politicians used, but she wasn't afraid to bring
her heart to the podium. In 1964, during a speech about Civil Rights in Cowlitz County she said, "…we must
find the right answer in our hearts."
She liked pretty things; nice clothes, Persian rugs and antique furniture. Her garden, with its
boxwood hedges and rose gardens was a place of joy and renewal. One day someone walking by saw her
trimming her hedge and asked her why she didn't have a gardener do that. "Because I like doing it myself", she replied.
In the early 1980's when Peter Sechler was 13 he worked in Julia's garden. Julia often hired young people.
It was her way of mentoring. Pete worked off and on as gardener through his freshman year in college.
"I see the image of her with a basket over her arm," he remembers, "her gardening gloves on and clippers
in her hand. She was the proud harvester, selectively picking. The house was always full of flowers,"
Pete's memories are fond and vivid. "I felt a sense of being in a special place when in her garden.
The tall hedges made the world outside seem far away. She was like the kind grandmother, sitting
beside me weeding. She liked to transplant, always kept things moving."
From Julia's journal – 1983:
May 29 --- Yesterday, I was alone and worked in the garden entire afternoon. Planted seeds as memories
flooded back of all the Memorial Day weekends Henry and I gardened. Weather cooler.
Julia's list of political firsts is impressive. She was:
- First woman elected to the Cathlamet City Council
- First woman to serve as chairman of a County Democratic Central Committee
- First woman chairman of the Roads and Bridges Committee of the Washington State House of Representatives
- First woman to be speaker pro- tem of the Washington State House of Representatives
- First woman to become chairman of the Western Interstate Committee on Highway Policy Problems of the 11 western states
- First woman chairman of The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
- First Democratic woman to serve on the House Appropriations Committee
- First woman to serve as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation
- First woman to serve on the House Democratic Steering Committee
No other woman in the history of the United States had ever possessed the power Julia held as chairman
of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies. She served as chairman from
1967 until her retirement in 1974.
A few days after Julia's birth in a Portland hospital, she was brought to the family home in Cathlamet.
Julia's grandparents, Julia Ann Kimball and James Freeman Kimball purchased the house in 1885.
James was born in Maine and Julia Ann in New Hampshire. They moved west from North Woodstock,
New Hampshire in 1877 settled first in Tumwater and then in Cathlamet. The family's collective
memory extended back to the beginning of American independence. Some of Julia's ancestors fought
in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812. Her paternal grandfather volunteered in the
Mexican War and her maternal grandfather in the Civil War. Her father served in the Second
Oregon Regiment in the Philippines during World War II.
Julia was named after both grandmothers – Julia Ann Kimball and Caroline Brownlee Butler. While Washington
State was a territory there was a brief period when women had the right to vote. When the territory became
a state women lost the right to vote. This did not sit well with the spirited, independent minded, Julia
Ann Kimball. She thought of the illiterate men, who understood nothing about government who spent the day
downtown getting all boozed up at The Blind Pig and then afterwards voting for whoever they were told to
vote for. It was just common sense that a woman was capable of making intelligent decisions about political
Julia Ann Kimball's rage was matched by her compassion. A desperate mother came knocking on her door one
night; her three children were choking to death from diphtheria!
"I'm coming", Julia Ann said, "but you can't", the distraught woman replied, "you could catch it, and your
little girl"…. "Don't worry," Julia Ann said, striding past the woman, "I've had it and my little girl will
That night Julia Ann reached down into the throats of three children, pulled out the phlegm and saved
their lives. Julia Ann Kimball was that kind of a woman. (From an oral interview with Julia, titled,
"Making A Difference" compiled and written by, Jennifer James-Wilson and Brenda Owings Klimek. June 1990)
Julia Ann didn't think there was anything she couldn't do.
Maude was the only child of Julia Ann and James Freeman Kimball. She began painting in 1895 while attending
a Portland high school and went on to produce nearly 200 works during her life.
Maude graduated from high school at the age of 16. She earned her teacher's certificate and taught school
in Skamokawa and Cathlamet. In 1905 Maude married Don Carlos Butler. Don Carlos was a building contractor
and came to Cathlamet in 1891 to bid on building the country courthouse. He got the bid. He later became
sheriff of Wahkiakum County.
From Julia's Journal – 1938:
"Tomorrow is mother's wedding anniversary - how long ago it must seem - and how remote that October
day 33 years ago when she promised to love, honor and obey - or did she strike that? Undoubtedly. She
has been consistently a "mover for women's rights."
In 1904 a woman could run for certain public offices but could not vote. Maude was the first woman to
run for Wahkiakum County School Superintendent. She won and was re-elected in the next election. In 1906
Maude became pregnant with Julia.
Pregnancy was not, in itself a disgrace, but being pregnant while holding public office definitely was.
Maude was asked to resign. Maude Butler refused, finishing out both terms – pregnancy and superintendent.
Julia was born June 14th 1907.
Julia was soon joined by brothers James born December 16, 1908 and Donald born June 7, 1911. In 1916
Maude's husband, Don Carlos, died at the age of 50. Three years later, eight-year-old Donald was run
over by a delivery truck in front of their home. Donald was the first motorcar fatality in Wahkiakum County.
Donald at first appeared to be recovering in the family home, but Maude was persuaded to have him taken to
Astoria for an operation. Later, a physician told Maude that the journey to Astoria had brought on her
son's death. It was then Maude began studying Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Keys to the
Scriptures and became a Christian Scientist.
In 1920 Maude moved to Orting, in Pierce County, supporting her two surviving children by teaching school.
Maude became the first woman principal of Buckley Grade School. Her strength influenced Julia mightily.
Julia said in a 1980 "I think women shouldn't be afraid to face the future, no matter what their
circumstances." (Quote from an oral interview with Julia, titled, "Making A Difference" compiled and
written by, Jennifer James-Wilson and Brenda Owings Klimek. June 1990)
Julia, mother, brothers, grandmother. Property of David Hansen. All rights reserved.
I USED TO THINK SHE THOUGHT LIKE A MAN BUT AS I GOT OLDER I SAW SHE THOUGHT LIKE A WOMAN.
-- Julia Armstrong Julia's friend
In 1935 Maude moved back to the family home in Cathlamet. Julia called herself just an average American
girl when she was growing up. Maude home-schooled Julia until she entered the 4th grade. Julia was
forced by Maude to wear dresses, but she never let that stop her from playing baseball on the street
with the boys. Later, Julia would play hardball with tough political players. She didn't flinch or
blink when they tried to intimidate her. Instead, she'd hurl back whatever was thrown at her, with
spit and spin on it.
In 1916 Woodrow Wilson was running for president. Julia, who was nine, "just liked him", and
volunteered to hand out campaign buttons. When her grandmother, Julia Ann, a staunch Republican,
discovered that her granddaughter was supporting a Democrat, she threw the buttons in the fire
(author's interview with David Hansen)
At 10, Julia in front of Cathlamet High. Property of David Hansen. All rights reserved.
While attending Oregon State College in Corvallis Julia Butler earned her college tuition by working
as domestic help for wealthy Portland families. Julia attended both Oregon State and University of
Washington. One employer, having lived in India, made the mistake of clapping her hands to summon
Julia. Julia told her that she was not a servant! She was heard more than once during her political
career proclaiming , "I might be a public servant but I am not anybody's servant!" Julia went into
politics to serve the people. She could never be bought by special interests.
In 1930 Julia graduated from The University of Washington with a degree in home economics. Don't
let the degree fool you. Julia had no intention of settling down and getting married. "I was going to
have a career all the days of my life. I had no more use for getting married and settling down than a
pig had for Sunday." (Quote from an oral interview with Julia, titled, "Making A Difference" compiled and
written by, Jennifer James-Wilson and Brenda Owings Klimek. June 1990)
Nor surprisingly at that time she did she possess any political ambition; Julia wanted to go into business,
she wanted to manage things. She considered a law degree but she was earning her own way through college
and it would have meant an extra year. At that time there were few opportunities for women in law. In the
summers of 1929 and 1930 Julia was the dietitian for a Seattle Girl Scout camp. With encouragement from the University of Washington, Julia went into the food business and operated a tearoom in Bellingham. Two weeks after she started, every sawmill in town shut down. The Depression hit the poor and working class the hardest.
Julia saw the desperation and fear in people's eyes; men were unable to provide for their families.
Self -respect was quickly becoming as rare as a job. When there was one job to be had, the street was
lined for blocks with men wanting that job. A Harvard graduate came into her teashop looking for a job.
He'd wash dishes, do anything. She had to turn him away.
A woman began showing up at the kitchen door, asking if there were any bones for her dog. The dog was
never with her and Julia began suspecting that she might be taking the bones home to feed to her family.
Julia's instincts where right. After that at the end of the day the employees were told to empty the
steam tables and give the food to the woman when she came asking for bones.
Those hopeless times drove an impression deep into Julia's heart that would stay with her for life.
She believed government needed to help those who were willing to work for a better life. Part of that
responsibility meant that had to be available for girls as well as boys and for the poor as well as the rich.
Julia always loved to write. When she was a girl during the late teens and the early 1920s she wrote and
directed plays. The plays were held in the backyard of the Butler home and tickets were sold for a penny a
piece to neighbors. All proceeds went to the Red Cross.
In 1946 Julia wrote a play depicting the Birnie family, founders of Cathlamet, for the town's centennial
celebration. She went on to write, direct and produce more plays in Cathlamet. Theatrical blood seemed to
run in the family; Julia's brother, James, would later go on to head the drama department at the University
of Southern California.
In 1933, Julia was living in Orting. She had been writing all day and wanted to get out for some air. She
suggested to a friend that they go and watch the legislature in session. As she sat in the gallery watching
the proceedings on the floor of the state legislature she said, "I think I'm going to be here some day."
In 1935 Julia returned with Maude to the family home. She worked at Doumit's grocery store and in the
Wahkiakum County Engineer's Office while working on historical children‘s novel, Singing Paddles. The
Doumit and the Butler families were old friends. In 1935 Singing Paddles, was published by Binford and Mort.
The book won the Julia Ellsworth Ford Foundation Award. This gave Julia a great sense of satisfaction and
renewed her resolve to be a writer.
George Hanigan was Julia's friend and her attorney. George remembered Julia had the professional talents
of an actress and the timing of a comedian. He said she knew her audience and adjusted to the situation.
"In about 1963 I was going to law school and working a title company in Spokane. I had to contact and
deliver some documents to a Spokane attorney who was a legislator, whose name I apologize for not remembering.
When he learned that I was from Cathlamet, he asked me if I knew Julia Butler Hansen, George Hanigan told him
that he knew the family very well. The legislator told George how much he admired and enjoyed working with
Julia and then revealed more."
They were both Democrats. However, one time he was sponsor of a bill with a good chance of passage that
came up on the floor. He spoke in favor of the bill and when it was Julia's turn she very strongly spoke
out against the bill, describing how harmful the law would be if it was enacted, and how it should never
have been submitted for consideration. This angered him.
It was against the rules of the legislature for a member to swear when addressing a colleague of the House.
Julia got a chance to reply to his remarks and very angrily tore into him personally, questioning his lineage,
his sanity and what a mistake it would be to vote for the bill, at the end, calling him a "bastard." He was
infuriated and got up and forgot what the bill was about but tore into Julia personally, at the end calling
her a "bitch!"
Julia was again recognized by the Speaker of the House. She got up, tears streaming down her cheeks and
speaking softly, and acting very hurt. She said, "How could any of you vote for a bill sponsored by a man
who would, on the floor of this house, call another member of this distinguished group, a bitch," emphasizing
the last word. When the vote was called, his vote for the bill was the only "Aye" vote! After the vote, tears
gone, Julia smiled at him. She had prevailed again!"
In 1970 the U.S. Forest Service held a public meeting at Lake Quinault. On a stage a long table was set up
for the federal officials to sit facing the audience. The audience was made up of angry homeowners who had
built on land around the lake on a 99-year lease. New rules were being proposed by the government. The air
was electric. When the meeting started Julia, who was sitting in the audience, was asked to come and take
her place at the table on the stage. She said, loud enough for the audience to hear, "I am Congresswoman
Julia Butler Hansen. I represent the people. And I will sit with the people I represent."
In 1937 Julia was the first woman to win a seat on the Cathlamet City Council. She ran for city council
because "there was some sewage problems that I thought needed attention and it didn‘t seem to me that
there was anything being done about it. And then some Democrats in Cowlitz County persuaded me to go and
work in the legislature and learn." (Quote from an oral interview with Julia, titled, "Making A Difference"
compiled and written by, Jennifer James-Wilson and Brenda Owings Klimek. June 1990)
In 1936 Julia worked in the steno pool in the state legislature. It wasn't long before she was offered a
position in the bill-drafting department. She jumped at the opportunity. In 1940 Julia began learning
about roads while working for the Wahkiakum Engineer's Office. Meanwhile back in Cowlitz and Wahkiakum
counties Democrats wanted representation in the state legislature. They wanted Julia to run but Julia
was not sure. She didn't relish the thought of giving speeches and said she'd never even considered going
into politics. (However, she later was heard to say, "I've always been interested in politics.")
Dorothy Armstrong worked on Julia's first campaign and was later employed as an aid. "Julia didn't want to
run at first. She was a very clever woman though and a lot of people wanted her to run. The Democratic
Central Committee said, ‘we need a woman in politics.'"
John McClelland Sr., founder of The Longview Daily News, played a key role in convincing Julia to run for
The following excerpts from Julia's journal reveal a woman who feels the world of politics creeping into
her precious private world. There is a sense of trepidation here, a realization that her time will never
ever be quite her own again.
From Julia's journal 1938:
Autumn is usually a lovely time - hillsides gold and scarlet, a fir snapping on the hearth-the copper
shining apples-rain falling outdoors, not so this; votes, votes, votes. Left wing - right wing. Election.
Life has little beauty left - when all mankind has been reduced to a vote and power is his quotient.
The leaves still look lovely in the Chinese jar on the old chest and the spinet shines in the firelight --
but they have no vote only a priceless kind of beauty born of man's kind hands.
Election is now very close and one is always a bit near the edge peering over.
I like campaigning, going into Mr. Citizen's home and trying to understand his life, then fit him into
the uncut pattern of our dreams and ideals, we who would serve him must know him.
The Eve of an election drove through the county end up at A.C.I.O meeting in Cathlamet. Wire from James A.
Farley, wishing me luck.
The day after ---Victory --
Haven't been to bed since yesterday morning at 7. Worked on reports all night long.
I began a poem in the car today and I'm putting it aside here until I can actually find time enough to
finish it - as some of the words fascinate me.
I must soon go to Olympia and find a place to stay. Studying legislation and parliamentary procedure.
When Julia began her legislative career, she earned five dollars a day for sixty days (the length of the
legislative session.) When the legislature was not in session, Julia worked in Cathlamet at the Wahkiakum
Engineer's Office. In 1949 salaries were raised to $100.00 a month in the legislature with no expenses.
Julia Ann and Maude had instilled in Julia from a young age that it was important to serve not for money
but for the reason that you believed something needed doing and you were willing to do it. This was the
approach she took.
Julia amassed knowledge and power while serving in the state legislature. She traveled a great deal and
talked with a lot of people during the ten years she served on the Interstate Committee on Highway Policy
Problems of the 11 Western States. She became very well known. She laid the plans for the first
interstate highways and traveled to many parts of the country speaking to groups that wanted to adopt
her highway plan. World War II was over and the nation's roads were in terrible shape. Everybody wanted
repairs and more roads.
The Ford Motor Co. published "Freedom of the Road", a publication that summed up the nations road situation.
Julia was described as, "one of the outstanding highway leaders. Her struggle for better roads has made her a
national figure in this legislative field."
In the ten previous years before Julia became chairman of The Interstate Committee on Highway Policy
Problems in 1950, the committee had eight different chairmen. No long-range plans could be sustained. Julia
came along and pumped her determination and force into the position. She became the Chairman of the Western
States Highway Policy Committee and earned the title "Mrs. Highways."
Four women served in the Washington State House of Representatives when Julia was there and most of the
men thought that was four too many. It seemed ridiculous to the men in the legislature that a woman would
want to be the Chairman of House, Roads and Bridges Committee. Julia insisted she knew more than most of
the men did about highways. She was right. Her years in the county engineer's office proved to be a great
training ground. Julia demanded to be judged on the merit of her ability not her gender. She got the
October 29, 1956, John McCelland Jr. wrote in a Daily News editorial - "News correspondents say she is the
only woman they ever saw who can enter a room full of men and talk to them in their own terms and be
accepted as an equal."
From 1942 through 1949, only $46,759,352 in highway funds was spent in the nine counties of the Third
District. During the next eight years, from 1950-1957 the total jumped to $149,370,951. In 1958 some
$21,286,110 was spent in the district. Improved highways between Vancouver and Tumwater meant a reduction
in the highway death toll from 8.2 deaths in 1947 to 2.4 in 59.
Bob Bailey met Julia in 1951 when he was a state senator for the 19th district and Julia was a representative
of the 18th district. In 1965 he became Julia's District Administrative Assistant and served in that position
until 1974. "Julia had a lot of power, and she earned it. Around 1946 or 1950 or somewhere in there, rural
places like Aberdeen, Oakville, South Bend and so on, wanted highways. Everywhere in the state were
starving for highways. The war had led them to the potholes you see. Julia got in there and recognized
their needs. So I had a highway project in my district, I'd introduce the bill and get the credit for
it at home Bailey's Bill. It would go into the pot on her highway committee and she'd start working on
it with committee members. She'd bring that bill up and say, "Let's see what we can do about this," and
she'd put it in the budget. She kept everybody happy. I never asked her to put my bill in there or said I
wouldn't vote for her unless she put my bill in there. She worked it out with all of us in need and each
one had been considered and she came out with an overall state highway program. She then got great support.
No one could turn her down and there is great power in that."
Julia wanted Bob to go back D.C with her when she was elected into Congress in 1959. He decline. "I knew if
I went back there and she got into one of her 'Miss Muppet Moods', I'd quit and there'd I'd be on the other
side of the country with my family and no job." Bailey called Julia a pioneer when it came to opening the
doors of legislative committee sessions to the press and public, taking a fact-finding committee
"on the road" to find out what the people wanted in the way of highway programs, and explaining to people
that in order to get something they'd have to be prepared to pay for it. "When she became more powerful
on the Highway Committee, she became more in demand, and would be asked to speak here and there. She had
to pay her own expenses when she went to these communities. I think that was real strain on her."
Julia became an expert on highways but never lost sight of the importance of education. She had her name
on hundreds of school bills and was especially proud of her work on a school support bill that set up a
new method of distributing school monies on the basis of need. In 1951 Julia submitted a bill that added
the 13th and 14th grades to the public school system. This made it possible for Lower Columbia College
in Longview, then called Lower Columbia Junior College, to grow.
OIL AND VINEGAR AND SWEET WINE
Henry Hansen was a longtime family friend of the Butlers. Henry's father Chris Hansen, worked for Julia's
grandfather, James Kimball in the 1880s. In 1939 Julia and Henry eloped and were married. Julia was 32 and
Henry was 56. Henry's two sisters felt Henry was unsuitable for Julia, who was college educated and
considered very sophisticated. (author's interview with David Hansen) Julia disliked Henry's sisters and
had nothing to do with them. Henry was a tall man – soft spoken and handsome man – who worked as a blacksmith
in a railroad shop at the Oregon American Timber Company. in Wahkiakum County. Henry had a natural wisdom
and could carry on a conversation with anyone, regardless of their position.
When Julia was in Congress, she and Henry lived in a Georgetown row house. One day, Julia saw Henry standing
on the sidewalk talking with Secretary of State Dean Acheson who was known to be stuffy.
"What were you talking about," Julia asked when Henry returned.
"Logging," Henry replied.
Some described Julia and Henry as oil and vinegar, adding that they mixed well.
Julia was most content when she and Henry were working together in the garden.
Henry was proud of his wife's achievements and when Julia heard him bragging about her she'd tell
him to stop it. Julia was asked to christen a submarine. She was in the center of everything that day.
While she was breaking the bottle of champagne against the new sub with camera's flashing and newspaper
reporters surrounding her, Henry was well away from the center of activity, having a good conversation
with one of the submarine's welders.
When Julia was ready to fly into orbit over something that was upsetting her…which happened often, it was
Henry who calmed her down by gently saying, "Now, Puss..." Henry's patient tone was always in contrast to
Julia's impatient and often critical voice.
The following entries from Julia's journal reveal the tenderness they shared:
September 29, 1939
Henry and I are curled up here in bed, lazily chatting of ships and sealing wax and cabbage and kings.
I like being married, particularly at night --Warsaw fell day before yesterday.
From Oct 10 to Dec 13 Henry was home on strike, we had two months of getting better acquainted and I can
say confidently I am not sorry I married, love wraps me, around with something gentle, soft and smooth.
Julia lived at the Oregon American logging camp with Henry for a while. The loggers were away from camp
during the day and Julia spent the days writing. It is clear from Julia's poetry how nature and history
influenced her writing.
West of April (circa 1950)
There are lilacs, scorched and bare
Ashes of cabins burnedv
Lingering smoke scenting Novembers' air
An unburied, twisted gold ring, wind gusts laced with a prayer
From those who left spring's warm noon
For greener land, a sand weed dune
Lines on Oregon's ledger page beside death, fear, rain-swept nights
War drums pounding across the sage
Painted canoes in hurried flights
Chansons of the last beavers brigade
Serving empires bead- calico trade-
Julia was an avid writer and reader. Many Northwest history books line Julia's bookshelves in her home,
along with those titles are the following: The Soul of America an Oregon Iliad, Force of Democracy,
Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-1945, The Spanish American War and Philippine
Insurrection, The Berlin Diary, Pearl Buck's Imperial Woman, The Complete Works of Washington Irving,
Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, Doctor Zhivago, Tales of Land and Sea by Joseph Conrad and Churchill's History
of The English Speaking People.
As a habit, Julia stayed up until one or two in the morning and rising around 11:00 or 11:30. Henry
prepared breakfast for Julia every morning and carried it upstairs to their room. When David was a young boy,
the Sunday morning ritual included Henry putting extra wood in the stove in Julia's room where the three
of them ate breakfast as Julia told animal stories for David.
Julia and Henry's only child, David, was born in 1946. Henry was 63 and Julia was 39. Julia and Henry set
up house in the family home with Maude when they married. Julia was frequently occupied with legislative
duties, and Maude took the role of mother to David when she was gone. This created a strong bond between
grandmother and grandson. While Julia was not known for her patience, Maude provided a soft touch.
Maude died in Washington DC in 1963. In the last month of Maude's life in 1963, David went to her bedside
every day after school, patiently and lovingly helping her with her evening meal. He gave her the same
tender care she had so willingly given to him.
In 1946, Julia had an opponent for the first time. Still in the hospital after giving birth to David,
she was busy writing letters and organizing her campaign. She won, but it was close. Julia thought
about leaving politics when David was born, but she listened to her doctor and thought better of it.
"You know," he told her, "you're never going to be happy just staying home, and besides your son will
be better off it you don't make him the center of your life and treat him as a possession."
(From an oral interview with Julia, titled, "Making A Difference" compiled and written by,
Jennifer James-Wilson and Brenda Owings Klimek. June 1990)
In 1951, Julia was responsible for pushing through a big bond issue that created a new four-lane
highway (later named Interstate 5) that stretched from the Canadian border town of Blaine to
Vancouver, Washington. She was responsible for acquiring the funding for the Puget Island
Bridge in Cathlamet and the Peter Crawford Ridge connecting Longview and Kelso. Julia got things
done by earning support from Republicans and Democrats alike.
In 1954 Democratic leaders tried to persuade Julia to run for Congress. She took a poll and realized
she could not beat Russell Mack. She declined to run.
When Julia made up her mind that was it. "It was her way or the highway," remembers friend, O.W. Kaipi,
(known to his friends as Kaipi) "'I'll listen,' she'd say, ‘but it's gonna be the way I say.' She knew what
she wanted and she was going to get it. You didn't want to mess with her. She could put you down real fast.
There were people who didn‘t like her but more people liked her. Anybody that needed help Julia was there to help them. She was a great person. "
In 1931 Kaipi was a new kid in town and a senior in high school. His future wife, Peg Gorman introduced
him to Julia. Years later, Kaipi got on the train in Kelso and saw Julia, who invited him to sit down
Kaipi explained that he'd had no luck in getting the Cowlitz County Commissioners to grade and gravel
a four-mile section of road near Toutle. "I just had a fishing shack up there but there were five families
living up there with school age children and the bus had a terrible time trying to get up that hill. It
was nothing but mud and ruts."
Six months later the road was paved and a new bridge was added. "Cathlamet Republicans Mitchell Doumit,
Ray Mooers, and R.L. Goodfellow. loved to tease Julia. They had some political matchbooks made that read,
"Don't let Julia fool ya". They handed them out when Julia was around just to irk her. Without her knowledge,
but with her suspicion, they supported her. They never handed the matchbooks out when she wasn't there to
witness their prank. In 1955 the Daily News asked Julia what was the most exciting experience in her long
legislative career, she answered without hesitation, "It was the night I stood up and 'scalped' bill after
bill to get the Highway Commission created." Scalping is taking a bill that has been approved by the Senate
and rewriting it before it goes out to the floor for a vote. She ‘scalped' four Senate bills in one night.
David Hansen laughs when he remembers the time in 1939 in the State legislature when his mother knocked
a fellow legislator down who had questioned the "pre-ancestry" of another member. "My mother told him to
apologize. He said he wasn't about to apologize. She told him to take his glasses off." She gave him
another chance to apologize, but he didn't take it and she knocked him down. "Mother wasn't always
On November 8, 1960 Julia was elected simultaneously to the 86th and to the 87th Congresses to fill
the vacancy caused by the death of United States Representative Russell V. Mack. She pledged to "serve
in Congress as I have tried to serve in the Legislature, considering mankind first and myself second."
(Longview Daily News 1960)
THE NEW FRONTIER AND THEIR BRIDGES
Julia stood on the inaugural platform on the capitol portico with other members of Congress on that
bitterly cold Friday, January 20th 1961 as she witnessed President John Kennedy's inauguration. Julia
felt heady from the exhilaration of the event. The air was crisp and cold and everything seemed perfectly
focused. It was a new beginning for Julia and she felt the motion of life taking a wonderful sweep upward.
Julia with John F. Kennedy, May 24 1961. Property of David Hansen. All rights reserved.
Julia put her thoughts into a Daily News article she authored "He looked strong, courageous and filled with
the adventure of beginning to walk across ‘The New Frontier.' As I looked up, across the wide expanse of
blue sky threaded only by naked branches of the trees near the Justice Building and on that structure the
American flag was flying in the wind almost as if it were pinned against the sky. It seemed to me that in
that moment all America was speaking with the voice of freedom."
Alan Thompson, Julia's newly appointed administrative assistant and press aide, stood with Henry and
David. "Later, because it was impossible to catch a cab on Capitol Hill, the four of us walked many blocks
through the snow covered streets in the euphoria of the modern Camelot that was evoked that day, not
realizing that spirit of public service would never be that strong again in this country nor the faith
in the possibilities for good in our system of government." Thompson remembers that Julia couldn't wait
to get started on her trek across the "New Frontier." The two years Alan spent as Julia's personal secretary
were frantic ones. The high pace and high stress just about did him in. "One of her early associates had
explained to me that Julia was like Queen Victoria, of whom it was said, ‘When she started to sit down,
the chair had better be there.'"
Alan laughed when recalling the day he'd had it with Julia's "scathing supervisory style" and went bursting
into her office to quit. "But before I could utter my outrage she greeted me with effusive praise for my
ability, my loyalty, my patience and as a result, totally disarmed me."
John Kennedy was still a Senator in 1960 when he appointed Julia to his Natural Resources Advisory committee.
She believed that more money should be spent on pollution control and more money put on natural resource
protection and natural resource preservation. She was forward thinking and believed in bipartisan cooperation
to get things done. Kennedy liked that. President John Kennedy's family, had strong New England roots as
did Julia's family. One day he said to Julia, "I hear your people were New Englanders."
Julia meeting with other House Appropriation Subcommittee chairmen in the White House Cabinent Room with President Lyndon B. Johnson. Property of David Hansen. All rights reserved.
"Yes," Julia replied "and they where there two hundred years before yours." (author's interview
with David Hansen)
In 1962, Kennedy wrote in a letter to Julia: I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your
substantial contribution toward the formulation of the program to combat the problems of the lumber
industry and to improve its competitive position. In addition, you have been one of the most dependable
supporters of our programs for national and international progress, and we shall need your assistance
in the 88th Congress. With warm personal regards, John Kennedy.
In March of 1964, at a dinner given in her honor in Longview, Washington, Julia gave a moving tribute
to the late President and his widow.
On this same evening she said, "The civil rights problem is a moral problem that has been with us for
three hundred years but has been forced into its present crucial stage by its economic features. Parents
of these children who are prevented from improving themselves demand education that will allow their
children to move out of the lowest economic level where there is no hope. It must be in the heart of
us to meet this problem. It is much easier to hate than into love. But we must learn to love."
David Hansen recalls an incident that took place during the Johnson administration. In 1967, President
Johnson was involved in the selection of the committee and subcommittee chairmen. Some of the men wondered
how a woman – Julia, in this case – would do chairing a subcommittee and Johnson replied, "She'll
do just fine."
Later, word came down from the President that the budget would need to be cut. Senator George Mahon,
Chairman of House of Appropriations Committee went to talk with Julia.
George was from Midland, Texas, and Julia said, "We're going to start there, George. We're going to
start in that district."
"You can't do that," Mahon stammered.
"Well, the President wants to economize," Julia said, "and we'll start right there."
"My mother was very assertive", David Hansen said.
In 1972 eight Indian organizations put "The Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan" which took over
Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Washington D.C. to protest the many broken promises made to the
Native Americans by the government.
Julia was home in Cathlamet and ready to go back to Washington D.C. when Ted Natt, then a reporter for the
Daily News and later its publisher, interviewed her on the subject. He asked whether she was surprised
by the protest.
"The problem of the whole thing has been the Vietnam War," Julia said. " All our budgets have been
butchered. We are behind on construction. It would take a $100 million to place their hospitals in
"We didn't get involved in The Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan," says Quinault elder, Guy McMinds,
"We made it a practice of always working through Julia when we had a problem."
"When I first met Julia I said, there is a woman I'm not going to cross. Julia looked people
straight in the eye when she spoke. She was very quick and articulate, she spoke plainly and directly,
whatever she said you knew she meant it. She had a big district, but she made it around to talk to
everybody. She advocated for the fishery people, for the timber people, for the business people and
the poor people. That's Julia's legacy.." (author's interview)
While Julia was Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies during
the 1960s and ‘70s, the budget for Indian Affairs increased every year. Julia brought water to the
barren Navajo Reservation, built healthy clinics in Oklahoma and led the way in the reconstruction
of the Claremore Indian Hospital in Oklahoma.
"Julia wanted Highway 101 to continue its coastal route from Taholah to near Queets,
which would mean traveling through the our reservation," McMinds said, "so we laid down our
criteria and we wanted a limited access highway so people couldn't go traipsing off and burn
down the forest, and that was okay with her. In 1963, the Quinault Bridge was finished but the
highway didn't go through because the State changed its mind about making the highway a limited
access highway. They wanted access to our beaches and we wanted to keep our beaches pristine."
The bridge is what some of Julia's critics have dubbed "The Bridge to Nowhere."
Two months before Julia's death Shirley Grenfell called her. Shirley needed to write a thesis
for a college program she was taking at Evergreen College. She asked Julia for suggestions. Julia said,
"Write about my bridge."
Cathlamet attorney Tom Doumit recalls the role Julia played in his life and the lives of so many
other area residents. "My world was Cathlamet when I started to work on her 1972 campaign in 1971.
I was a freshman in college. And I was on the road and saw parts of western Washington I'd never seen.
She was a mover and shaker for these people, the Indians. One of the most profound influences she had
on me was expanding my vision of the world and the possibilities for me to make a difference in the
bigger world. When I went to DC, in the summer of 1973 as an aide, that was a quantum leap for a
kid with my experience."
"The kids in this country are wonderful," Julia said to Daily News reporter, Dick Pollock on
October 29, 1968. She had just returned from Chehalis and Centralia where she held a forum with 2,000
high school and college-age students. Dick Pollock described Julia in his article as "ecstatic, smiling,
laughing, almost the personification of energy" on that day.
"They're concerned about Vietnam," Julia said about the students, "And they want a better way to
nominate and elect a president and vice president. And I agree with them on all counts." Julia was
opposed to the electoral college.
Julia is quoted in the Daily News (circa 1967). "In Every generation you will find young people
on college campuses protesting something. It was true when I was at the U of W and I believe it
has been that way ever since and will continue to be. God help us if there is ever a time when our
young people are not idealistic and concerned about the individual's human dignity."
"She was a promoter of young people and opportunities," said Tom Doumit. "She listened to rock
stations to keep in tune with what they were thinking. "'You really like that?' I asked her once.
She was listening to it with a purpose. It kept her in touch with the next generation. She was an
astute leader of the times. They were not many women plowing that field when she was doing it. She
was a groundbreaker. She had to toughen up. There were men there that didn't want women there. She
was where most women didn't dare tread. When I was in high school in the late sixties and early
seventies, it was a volatile time, Vietnam, Watergate. I got to sit in on the John Dean hearings.
These were interesting times; I knew Julia was, if not in the center, close to the center of what
was going on in those activities. She was a staunch Democrat and Nixon was a despised Republican
During her final year in Congress, the Watergate scandal dominated national politics. On August 6,
1974, Julia called for President Nixon to step down, saying, "I think his resignation is all that's
left to save the dignity of the office. Many of us in Congress suspected the President's involvement
in the cover-up from the beginning."
Julia went to the beauty parlor like other women did. Her hair was always perfectly styled. But unlike
other women Julia sometimes went to the barbershop.
From Julia's journal - 1938
The beauty parlor, which by the way, is the largest waste of time known to womankind. I never
begrudge time in a barber's chair as there a body can find all the information in the world on anything.
It is the public forum of America.
In a story published in the Daily News in 1981, Julia expressed her feelings about the abortion issue.
"Just remember that all these people want to write a law saying when life begins, and these same damn men
don't care about the child once it's on Earth." She didn't believe in prayer in school. "Every child in
the state of Washington should have the right to worship as he or she pleases and no prayer on earth can
be devised to fit all categories of this worship." (October 5th, 1971 Daily News)
"JUST GO AHEAD AND DO IT!"
Julia was an historian and she was forward thinking. "We have to remember that the more dependent we
become on foreign supplies of oil the higher they will raise their prices." (Daily News Sept 1972)
She had guts. David Hansen remembers someone calling his mother on the phone, telling her they were
going to blow up the house. "Well," David said, "she yelled back into the phone, ‘just go ahead and
do it!'" They didn't.
Tom Doumit's memories are vivid. "She very seldom, except to her staff, showed her vulnerable side.
She never did that in public, she always projected a public persona of confidence and competence
because she had it, she had it in spades. Which brings me back from what I learned from observing her.
She was a very "human" being. She had a reputation for being a rough and crusty politician. I was privy
to see how she felt when false accusations where directed at her. She was a very sensitive person. A
sensitive listener. When she was attacked by critics she took it personal and seriously. Sometimes she
made the critics pay and other times she just took it. People in power are just real people struggling
with personal issues just like everyone else. Fallible people just like everyone else. This is a power
political operator but a very vulnerable human being, maybe it's where she got her crustiness because
of her sensitivity. To protect herself, over compensation."
Jerry Walker was a Stanford graduate and worked as a legislative assistant for Julia from 1966-1968.
Julia lived in Georgetown and…"I lived a half an hour drive away. One of my responsibilities was to
pick Julia up every morning and take her home at the end of the day. She would say to be there at
nine to pick her up and I'd be there right on time and she'd be pacing the sidewalk asking what
took me so long."
Jerry remembers Julia having a soft side and a not so soft side. Her soft side gave him permission to
start his job two weeks later than the designated time so he could be married in California. And when
the National Guard called him up for training she had to keep his job open, but she didn't have to
keep him on the payroll. But she did keep him on the payroll, which made it possible for Jerry's wife to
visit him while he was away. "Her not so soft side? She liked to be angry with someone on the staff
all the time. She would rotate between different staff members. And when she worked late she forced
everyone on her staff to stay late even if there wasn't anything for them to do."
Julia could be extremely forceful. She was on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The meetings
were often heated as the military aid budget was being discussed. Jerry's job was to take the
stenograph notes to the Defense Department and see what they wanted to have taken off the record
and put as classified.
Julia told Jerry at one point when the Defense Department wanted to take something off the record,
"You tell them; NUTS... that's going to stay on the record!"
The Vietnam War was a bitter pill for Julia to swallow. She remarked often how much could be
done in social services for the price of one jet plane. Jerry said he managed to stay on her good
side. The end of his employment with Julia came in 1968 when in the fall he returned to Stanford for
his graduate degree. He is now Assistant Provost at the University of Southern California.
Liz Lineberry was Julia's personal secretary from 1969 until Julia's retirement in 1974. She went on
to serve as personal secretary for several Secretaries of State and now works for Condoleeza Rice.
Liz's husband, E.C. Lineberry, has vivid memories of the years his wife worked for Julia..
"They were both perfectionists and got along great and had happy times. Julia's job was to prepare the
budget because she was chairman of The House Appropriations Subcommittee of Interior and Related Agencies.
For weeks she and Liz would be working on the budget. They'd push the desk chairs against the wall and
spread all the papers out on the floor; they'd work till 2 or 3 in the morning. The budget was so well
prepared. Julia was precision and knowledge and this was her attitude and her dedication. One person
in the house would always vote against the budget because it wouldn't look good to have it a hundred
percent with no argument. Julia was well thought of on The Hill because of her dedication."
One of E.C.'s favorite: Julia was paged while she and Liz were shopping in Georgetown. "A
quorum was being called and Julia needed to be back on the Hill to vote. Julia told Liz to hit the gas
and run red lights. At one point when the ride was becoming scary Julia said that this reminded her
of something that her good friend Hubert Humphrey said. Julia told her that Hubert Humphrey jumped in a
taxi and told the driver he needed get back to The Hill fast, the driver sped through the city, and at
a point Humphrey worried about his safety and told the driver, "I'd rather be Hubert Humphrey late,
than the late Hubert Humphrey."
E.C said that politicians have to live two lives. The one in D.C and the one at home. "In Washington
D.C you can't afford to trust people. So there is always this mistrust going on."
"I live in a man's world," Julia said, "and I operate that way. A woman has to work twice as hard
as a man to get accepted. You can't be an incompetent woman. If you are, the men will laugh you down
Julia thrived on challenge. "I love legislation the scrambling, the rough and tumble. I like the
association with my colleagues, I like working with men. I enjoy the exchange of ideas. I enjoy
accomplishing something." (From an oral interview with Julia, titled, "Making A Difference" compiled and
written by, Jennifer James-Wilson and Brenda Owings Klimek. June 1990)
When Julia was in the state legislature, she challenged John O'Brien for the position of Speaker of the
House of Representatives. She lost 27 to 23. After the vote she went around shaking hands. "No hard
feelings," she murmured graciously, until she came to the two men who had engineered her defeat,
Representative Len Sawyer and Representative August P. Mardesich. "No hard feelings," she said and then,
lowering her voice added, "but I'll get even with you, you sons-of-bitches." (May 19, 1988 Adele
Ferguson, Syndicated columist)
Sawyer became Speaker but was later forced to resign. Mardesich became Senator Majority Leader but he too
was later forced to resign. Perhaps they didn't know they were playing hardball with a woman that had
been playing hardball with boys since she was a girl. Julia was never one to go back on her word.
In 1968 Julia introduced a resolution before Congress that proposed an amendment to the U. S.
Constitution. In an interview with the Daily News, she said, "The quality of rights under the
law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Congress and the several states shall have the power to enforce the article by appropriate legislation."
Julia wanted to end all discrimination that was based on the sex of the individual. "Inside, Julia wasn't
too sure of herself," said Bob Bailey. "She had a sensibility of insecurity, but who would contest her?
No one could touch her politically after only a few years in Congress. You hear stories that she swore
like a logger. When she got angry she knew the right words to use, but she was a lady and well educated
and knew how to speak well."
Once, Bob was driving Julia and a couple of her friends to Olympia for a meeting. "We were late and she
told me to speed up. Then I got pulled over by a State Trooper. He asks to see my license, and Julia
says from the back, "I'm a Congresswoman and I'm out from Washington DC! And what are you doing stopping
citizens when you should be out catching crooks or something?!" She was getting madder by the minute.
The other ladies were saying, Julia don't do that. The officer asked me to get out of the car and I did.
"I'm going back to Washington DC and make a report about you." Julia added angrily from the back seat. The officer looks at my billfold and sees that I was in the State Legislature. The officer became very apologetic. ‘Just wanting to make sure everything was alright,' he said. ‘Now go on your way now.'
One of the women in the back seat said to Julia, "Quite a turn, Julia. It seems that Congress isn't as
affective as the Legislature." I got a kick out of that. You see, it was my position that got us
off, not hers."
Bob told the story to Sid Snyder and he told Adele Ferguson and it showed up in her column in
The Columbian, May 18th 1988. Bob shifts in his chair, he smiles for a moment at his cat then
remembers the father with a son in Vietnam. "He called and wanted to talk with Julia. I told
him she was at home and wasn't available to talk with him but that I would be happy to talk
with him. The guy wouldn't be put off, so I said, okay here is what you do. You go down to
Cathlamet where she lives. Knock on her door, she'll open it. Tell her why you're there and
she'll complain 'you elect a person to office and my God what do people think, don't you ever
give anyone any rest?' Let her go on and when she's all through she'll say, 'well seeing you're
here you might as well come in,' and when you go in you'll be set down and offered tea and then
you won't be able to get out of there because she won't let you go. The man called me the next
day and said, 'how did you know exactly what she was going to say?' Because I've seen it so often."
Julia was proud of creating the legislation for The National Foundation For The Arts. On April 4, 1974,
Julia was given a medallion at The Eisenhower Theatre in the Kennedy Center for her legislative
efforts in behalf of the nation's arts programs. To show his gratitude for Julia's commitment to
the arts in 1968 Gregory Peck came to Longview and attended an appreciation dinner in her honor.
Julia with a strong supporter of the arts. In May 1968 Gregory Peck attended an appreciation dinner at the Monticello Hotel in Longview. Property of David Hansen. All rights reserved.
Julia had to be creative when pushing through support for the arts. "The greatest problem is a
controversial item that can't be easily explained, one that looks like a luxury item or a frill --
like arts and humanities. To a mid-westerner, arts and humanities doesn't mean anything. But to the east
side and west side, it's important." She told Senator Claiborne Pell, D-RI to hold up on the authorization
bill so if someone objected they could say, "'not authorized yet.' That took the steam out of the boys
then the Senate could put it in while they were in conference and agreed on it." (Richard F. Fenno Jr.)
During Julia's leadership 55 new areas were added to the National Park System. She oversaw an increase
of over 130% in the National Park Service budget. On January 25, 1961, Julia introduced the Fort
Vancouver Bill. The new bill would extend the park's size greatly. The bill passed May 1, 1961.
She created the legislation and influenced its application to create the Indiana Dunes National
Park. If not for Julia there most likely would not be a Lava Caves State Park or the White Tail
Deer Refuge in Cathlamet. Julia created The Gold Passport (Golden Age Passport) that gives senior
citizens a free pass into any National Park.
Iris, the name of one of Julia loved flowers was also the name of a dear friend; Iris Hedlund.
Iris is a sweet woman with eyes that sparkle with intelligence and warmth. "Julia needed to be
thick skinned," Iris said. "If someone said bad things about me I would be upset, Julia couldn't
afford to be that way." Iris had never heard Julia say she was sorry to anyone until the day she
heard Julia tell her she was sorry. Iris had been Julia's secretary back in the early days when
Julia managed Hanigan's Title Insurance Company in Cathlamet. They'd shared a lot of years. When
Julia went into the State Legislature Iris became her District Secretary. It was said Iris was
like Julia's shadow. Iris took down 140 words per minute in short hand. That's fast, but it was
not always fast enough for Julia. One day Julia was angry about something to do with Mt. Hood and
was dictating a letter so fast that even Iris couldn't keep up. Julia grew impatient with her.
Iris had enough and told her she quit. An hour later Julia phoned her, asking her to come back to
the house and talk things over, at least come over and have a drink. It was the only time Iris had
ever heard Julia say she was sorry.
When Julia became a Congresswoman she wanted Iris to move to Washington D.C with her. "You
know my constituents," she said, "you know my personality. I had given up so much for my country
you should do the same."
But Iris wasn‘t willing to ask her family to move back east. Her husband had a job to think about and
her children were in school. Iris In those months when Julia was nearing the end of her life it was
Iris who went to see her everyday. Iris went on to become Wahkiakum County Assessor. David Hansen
and his family include Iris in all their holiday dinner celebrations.
THE QUIET YEARS
In 1974 Julia decided to retire from Congress, she was 67 and Henry 91. Julia didn't want anyone
thinking she was leaving because of Watergate. (More House members than usual retired that year,
15 Republicans and 4 Democrats, although they gave personal reasons, Watergate was thought to be
the real reason.) It was just the right time for Julia. Henry needed more care and wanted to end
his days in Cathlamet. "I'm a Westerner," she told Mary Russell from the Washington Post, "and I
want to return to the West where I can do as I please, hang up the telephone or take the damn
telephone off the hook, and when people I don't know appear at my door and walk in without knocking,
I'll have the great opportunity of telling them it is my private home."
In 1975 Governor Dan Evans appointed Julia to a six-year term on the Washington State Toll
Bridge Authority and State Transportation Commission. She served as chairman of the Washington
State Transportation Commission from 1979 till 1980.
In 1981 "after a great deal of thought and some regret," Julia wrote a letter of resignation to
Governor Dixy Lee Ray. Henry is now ninety-seven, almost totally blind and needs Julia's constant
care. "Others will serve you well and with vision and probably with more patience for the selfish,
greedy, power lusting demagogues and the ignorant, than I." Henry died December 1981 at the age of 98.
After retirement Julia wrote two children's stories and was working on a historical novel. She
gardened, did needlepoint (always in the design of beautiful flowers). She kept up with what was
going on in the world. She thought Ronald Reagan's "New Federalism was "Gobbledgegook". She loved
to cook and bake. In late August Eli Doumit would bring around tubs of blackberries for Julia.
Julia's blackberry pies with their flaky crusts were unforgettable. In 1983 reporter, Jim Stasiowski
asked her what she was doing these days. Her reply. "At present, I just lit a fire in my wood stove.
Thanks to the PUD rates, I've returned to 1914."
Retired Julia raking her vegetable patch with granddaughter Julia Ann, Spring 1982. Property of David Hansen. All rights reserved.
Stephanie Prestegard was employed by Julia in 1986 and1987. She ran errands for Julia and did whatever
needed to be done. Out of the habit of politeness Stephanie knocked twice before entering Julia's home.
Julia had grown increasingly deaf and Stephanie knew she could not hear the knocks. When Stephanie arrived
Julia was often sitting contently in her favorite chair. Stephanie never heard Julia complain about the
limitations of old age; instead she sensed an "innate inner strength. She was an incredible, incredible
woman. She was such a great role model; she was a wife, a mother, a highly respected person in the community,
then there was her beautiful garden, she wrote plays and stories and poetry, and had an amazing legislative
The last time Stephanie saw Julia was December 1987, five months before Julia's death. Stephanie was home
from college for the holidays . They exchanged a lively conversation about the classes Stephanie was taking.
Julia wanted to know everything.
Christmas was Julia's favorite holiday. Stephanie once helped Julia put up a tree; every ornament had a
story and every ornament was thoughtfully and carefully placed on the tree. Their visit was drawing to a
close when Julia asked.
"Oh Stephanie dear, do you think that maybe you could wrap some Christmas presents for me?"
Stephanie was happy to and sat on the floor at Julia's feet wrapping gifts. The gifts were wrapped and
"Oh, could you open some gifts for me? Friends have sent gifts and I can't read the cards. Could you read
the cards and open the gifts for me?" Stephanie knew Julia's sight was failing. The first gift was opened
and the card was read. The gift was a box of fruit and nuts, the second gift was also a box of fruit and
nuts, the third gift was the same and so was the fourth. It was on the fourth box of fruit and nuts that
Julia declared, "Well my dear Stephanie, it looks like my friends have gone a little nutty on me!" With
that Julia threw back her head and laughed. It was a deep, unrestrained, Julia laugh.
Peter Sechler was on spring break from college when he called Julia. He needed some extra money,
could Julia use a gardener for a week? Yes! Peter mowed, raked and edged. He worked hard and felt
a deep sense of satisfaction when seeing the pleasure on Julia's face as she walked in her garden.
Daffodils, Tulips and Hyacinth were in bloom. And Julia's adored early blooming Christmas Rose was
out. Lilac buds were growing plump. The Wisteria vines were awakening and sending forth new shoots.
Fruit trees were beginning to blossom. Julia passed through the French doors of her study, sat on the
small brick patio and surveyed the beauty of her beloved world of flower, shrub and tree. Her garden
was in order. All was well.
Spring came again to the garden and the large, round white, clusters of flowers gathered on the
snowball tree. But it was David and his wife Nancy who gathered the flowers that summer, laying
them on Henry's grave and then Julia's. Julia died May 3, 1988 of cancer.
Alan Thompson delivered the eulogy at Julia's funeral. "Julia was in the right place at the
right time. She had always, and did always, epitomize this spirit and act out this faith."
Alan closed Julia's eulogy with lines from Tennyson's poem Ulysses. Julia would have liked that,
or was it she who insisted upon it? "The light begin to twinkle from the rocks; the long day wanes;
the slow moon climbs, the deep moans round with many voices. Come my friends. "Tis not too late to
seek a newer world."
To enter the world of Julia Butler Hansen is to be in her study, nestled in one of the twin Queen Anne
chairs that are positioned to catch the most heat from the open fireplace. The aroma of a rich blend of
English tea steeping in the teapot beside you pushes the town outside the study away so that Main Street
Cathlamet seems miles away instead of the dozen yards away that it is.
There is something now discerned that was not present before the tea, before the chair, before the fire.
You lean slightly forward and look back at Julia's Congressional desk and her Legislative chair and the
bookshelves that surround them. The walls of her cozy study covered with personal photos of United States
presidents and their families with words of regards written on them to Julia. There are photos with Julia
and these men and other men in meetings that are making decisions that will impact the biggest nation
in the world with repercussions that reach around the globe. But this is not what is tugging at your sleeve;
it is something else, almost a whisper; a persistent whisper.
You sit back and take another sip of tea and then your eyes rest on a set of French doors. You go to the
doors, open them and step out onto a small brick patio and know, without question, that the whisper
came from here and that you have been called into the most private and personal world of Julia Butler Hansen –
The little patio off Julia's study, with its wrought iron railing, is on the west side of the house.
The garden slopes gently from the house, impressing even deeper the feeling that you are entering a
magical world while leaving behind the mundane. Like the Queens Guards in front of Buckingham Palace,
two English Yews stand at each side of the entry to the garden from the patio. Christmas Roses, a shade
loving plant grows low beside the yews. The Christmas rose, one of Julia's favorite plants, peeps from
hidden places throughout the garden.
Boxwood hedges bring the distinction of an English garden to Julia's garden. At some point, she bought
a boxwood and from that she took cuttings. The results are the many boxwood hedges in the garden, two
of which wrap around circular flowerbeds. The garden is walled in by giant rhododendrons and a forest
of laurel hedge with some tall evergreen trees. The Wahkiakum Country Courthouse is visible through a
slight parting of the hedge and trees. It is actually only yards beyond the garden but appears more
like a sketch against the sky.
A wrought iron trellis, covered with a climbing rose, was made by Henry. Beneath the trellis sits a
bench that invites you to sit and take in the beauty. An apple tree with thousands of pale pink
blossoms drips with rain.
Trumpet Vine, Helianthus, Bleeding Heart and Sweet William, Lilac, Wisteria and Columbine are longtime
residents in the garden. The oldest resident is the one-hundred and thirty year, pear tree and the
apple tree that lives despite its trunk seemingly only half there. There is the rose planted the
year of Julia's birth in 1907. Foxglove, Bachelor Buttons and fragrant White Phlox fill the flowerbeds,
along with Day Lilies and Lemon Balm and Hyacinth.
A small pond offers itself to those who have curiosity and time; hinting that it may reveal some held
onto reflection, some words that had been said there and remembered there.