B Street

The Notorious Playground of Coulee Dam

Lawney L. Reyes

  • $19.95 paperback (9780295988535) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2008
  • Subject Listing: History / Western History; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir; Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 184 pp., 32 illus., 5.5 x 8 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

B Street tells intimate stories about the street of shops, restaurants, bars, and brothels where the workmen who built the Grand Coulee Dam spent their recreational hours and wages. From the beginning, B Street was the place to play and let off steam for the white workingmen who had faced the hard times of the Depression. It was a raucous playground that denied blacks and most dark-skinned Indians access to the frivolity, good times, and pretty ladies that were the main attractions of that provocative place.

This vivid story of a colorful era is based largely on the memories of Lawney L. Reyes. As a young boy he wandered B Street with his little sister, Luana, and their dog, Pickles, while their Indian mother and Filipino father eked out a living running a Chinese restaurant. His mother's diary and the stories told by his parents and older members of the Sin-Aikst tribe contribute to his story.

Reyes tells of hard times, dreams, and extreme courage and reveals the humor, toughness, and recklessness of the adventurers who came to work on the dam. He also describes the history and culture of the Indians whose villages were flooded and whose way of life was irrevocably changed by the building of the Grand Coulee Dam.
Lawney L. Reyes is the author of White Grizzly Bear's Legacy: Learning to be Indian and Bernie Whitebear: An Urban Indian's Quest for Justice.
Introduction: The Grand Coulee
1. Moccasin Telegraph
2. The Town Hall
3. Family Planning
4. B Street
5. Working Stiffs
6. Pretty Ladies
7. Woo Dip
8. Show Business
9. The China Man
10. Ceremony of Tears

"This book offers a nice counterpart to drier stories of reclamation and is a quick read that would be suitable in classes on Native Studies, memory, biography, and history."
-Oregon Historical Quarterly

"[Reyes] grieves for the tranquil and nature-bound culture of the Indian village but relates, in the voice of an excited child, his delight at watching life in a rip-roaring Western boomtown that everyone knew was temporary."
-Seattle Times

"B Street is ultimately a profound testimony to the history and culture of the Indians whose way of life was overwhelmed with change through the creation of the Grand Coulee Dam. Highly recommended."
-Midwest Bookwatch