The following is an interview done on February 17, 2007, by Arline Lyons and Audrey Cain with C.B. Harston about when his family came to Albion and some of the highlights of his work with the community. When the Harston’s were choosing where they would live, Ruth told C.B. that she didn’t care where they lived, as long as it was not Albion. C.B., Ruth, and three girls moved to Albion in the spring of 1954. They choose Albion because they liked the rural setting. The last two children (a girl and a boy) were both born in Moscow because that’s where their doctor lived. It was a bit difficult to get to Moscow quickly and their last baby was born just minutes after they arrived at the hospital.
The family lived at 501 E Front street in a house built in the early 1900’s that had undergone at least three modernizations.
C.B. worked for Washington State College (now WSU) as an Extension Specialist. He specialized in soil chemistry, soil fertility and water management. C.B. traveled all over the state and so had limited time to invest in the community. He ran for city councilman and was elected. He then went to Pakistan for a couple of years. When he returned, Burt Harrison had taken a foreign assignment. Burt was serving as mayor of the town at the time and C.B. was asked to finish out Burt’s term with the stipulation that C.B. had to promise to run for election the following term. He agreed and served as mayor of Albion for four years.
As mayor, he felt like the town had lived in the "dark ages" long enough. Lots of the ordinances were outdated (i.e. You could only own chickens at certain times of the year, you could not let a horse go over 10 miles an hour on a bridge, etc.). He hired a professional from Seattle to help update the ordinances.
Albion also needed a sewer system that was better than septic tanks. The County officer supported the idea of having a sewer system installed. Since C.B. went to the West side frequently, usually several times a month, he was in a position to get in touch "with the powers that be" in Olympia and make arrangements to get bids on a sewer system. He received a bid from Spokane and later Lewiston matched the bid. Lewiston won the bid and installed the system. There were people who fought the idea of paying for a sewer system, in fact, they went door to door to oppose the idea..
C.B. helped the city buy the land where the sewer system is today. When the system was installed the monthly bill was less than $10.00 per month for both water and sewer. When C.B. and Ruth heard that the Bill Lipe family had bought the house next door they were excited to have new neighbors. They heard the Lipe's had children so figured they must be gardeners and tilled up a garden spot for them. When the Lipe's arrived Harston's learned that the Lipe's had never gardened before.
When asked how the town has changed, he stated that the town has actually changed very little since the time they arrived here.