HERITAGE JOURNALS: STORIES COLLECTED BY 6TH GRADE STUDENTS OF JAQUI EICHER, 2002

“As you know, I was raised on the Goin’s Farm, north of Jefferson. I never wanted to live anywhere else but Jefferson. Oh! how I liked to go to town!

Trips to Albany usually meant a visit to the doctor or dentist–something to be dreaded–or a trip to the bank. But a trip to Jefferson (other than church on Sunday) meant a stop at the grocery store, hardware store, lumber yard, feed store or library. And if we were lucky, a stop at Gibson’s (we called it Gippy’s). Now this store was dark and the floors creaked–but there were all kinds of neat things to look at and in the back there was an ice chest with Dixie cups and a cooler with Nesbit’s Orange pop. If we were good we got a treat, which we ate or drank while Dad would check pennies for old ones or buy rolls of pennies to check at home. Dad had a coin collection. He would bring home several rolls of pennies and we would check for old or special ones. Then we would put the pennies Dad didn’t want to keep in paper rolls to take back to the store or a bank.

The store was dark and dingy and– I suspect–none too clean, but I remember it as warm in winter and cool in summer and full of interesting things.

 

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HERITAGE JOURNALS: STORIES COLLECTED BY 6TH GRADE STUDENTS OF JAQUI EICHER, 2002

Tobogganing When I Was a Boy

East of Salem there is a small community called Pratum. This is where I grew up. About 1/2 mile East of Pratum there is a river called the Pudding River.

One Winter day it snowed a lot–12 inches–and it was cold, as the snow did not melt.

A group of boys, including my older brother (6 years older than I), had a toboggan which would hold about 5 fellows. We got it out and started going down a nice hill toward the Pudding River. There was an old rail fence made out of wood at the bottom of the hill, next to the river.

When we went down the hill we would stop approximately 100 or 150 feet short of the rail fence. “Oh, what fun!” We were having a great time when the older boys came and took the toboggan. When they got tired of it, we were back at it again.

That evening they got buckets of water and put it on the hill. The temperature was cold, so the water turned to ice.

Well, the next morning was Saturday, so no school. Us little guts got up early and beat the older boys to the toboggan. We were having lots of fun and would stop before the rail fence. The older boys came and took the toboggan away from us. We thought that was so mean. They got on the toboggan and went down the hill just zooming. When they got to the bottom of the hill, they couldn’t stop. They went right through the rail fence and onto the ice on the river. The ice was not thick enough to hold all the weight and they broke through the ice. All the boys went in the river. The water was only about three feet there, but they all got sopping wet.

Well, do you know what? Us little guys were able to toboggan the rest of the day. The older guys had had it. This happened about 1940. “Oh, what fun!”

–John Wenger

HERITAGE JOURNALS: STORIES COLLECTED BY 6TH GRADE STUDENTS OF JAQUI EICHER, 2002

Conner Community

“My name is Dee Chambers. I moved to the Conner Community with my parents Elmer and Jennie Chambers and two sisters when I was in the fourth grade. We moved into a shack of a house with only one light bulb and  no running water. The toilet was out back of the house. The house was a board and bat construction. That is: wide boards were nailed on to the frame vertically and narrower boards were nailed over the cracks between the wide boards. The house was situated in the place where Larry Langmade now lives at the East end of the Dever-Conner overpass. The walk to Conner school every day was about a mile each way.

“My closest friends at that time were the Miller boys who lived North of what is now Higbee Drive. The house they lived in had to be moved when Interstate 5 was built. So Lynn Hoefer purchased it and moved it to its present location where Lynn and Claudia Hoefer still live. In the summer we used to go swimming at the bluff on the Santiam River. More about the bluff later. We only lived here for about a year, then my parents bought a farm in the Jefferson area so we moved to Jefferson. After we were there for about a couple of years, World War II ended and a young fellow (his name is Dale Turnidge) came home from the army and wanted my parents’ farm so they sold it and bought another one back in the Conner community. We moved back there across the road from the Davis family. The Cook family was just down the road a short distance as was the Pesheck family. It was back to Conner School again and it was a mile walk each way. And that’s where I grew up.

“Conner School was a two room school: 4 grades in each room. I graduated from the 8th grade at Conner then went to high school in Albany. I finished high school and started farming. Many years later, when my parents quit farming, I purchased their farm and moved into the house they had built in 1951. Many years later I sold the farm to my son who lives there now with his family.

“When I was going to school at Conner, the school was heated with a wood stove, so the older boys got the job of going to school early and took turns one month at a time to start the fire in the stove. That way the school would be warm when the teacher and the rest of the students got there. We got $5 a month from the school board for this chore.

“A couple of things I remember about growing up in the Conner Community:

“We went swimming at the floating bridge. The Turnidge family had a farm on both sides of the Santiam River on what is now Don Turnidge’s farm in Linn County and Keith Johnston’s farm in Marion County. They build a pontoon bridge across the river. It was just  a couple of big logs with boards nailed across it. It was anchored to each bank with heavy cables so that you could drive on it. It was a great place to swim–we had a lot of good times.

“Another thing I remember is the ball games. The community liked to play softball. So much in fact that Albert and Walter Harnisch built a ball diamond for us just South of where Craig and Beth Christopherson now live on a piece of ground that was though to be too rocky to farm. It is now planted to blueberries. The Harnisch men even put up lights for us so we could play in the evening after work.

“Back to the bluff: it’s where the Santiam River and Bluff Road meet. It has always been called The Bluff by everyone in the community. I don’t know this for a fact, but I was told this by some of the old timers who would have known. Many years ago, sometime in the mid 1800s, across from The Bluff, on the Marion County side of the river was Syracuse City. There was a ferry there that hauled people and their goods across the river. This was before there were any dams and flooding was a regular occurrence. One winter a real bad flood happened and washed the town away. The people living there decided that perhaps it was not a good place for a town. So it was not rebuilt. Instead they built a new town up river on higher ground and named it Jefferson.

“Having lived in the Conner community now for almost 60 years I can say it’s been a good place to grow up, live and raise a family. A lot of changes have taken place in the period of time. A lot of people still think of us being out in the country, but the city is getting closer all the time. Why, city water is only three miles from our farm now. It’s certainly not the country I remember as a kid growing up. By the way, I forgot to mention that I am Abby Chamber’s Grandpa. I can’t help but wonder when she is my age and looks back at the Conner community what changes she will see; what memories she will have. I trust they will all be good ones.

–Grandpa Chambers

HERITAGE JOURNALS: STORIES COLLECTED BY 6TH GRADE STUDENTS OF JAQUI EICHER, 2002

Winding the Maypole

“Winding the Maypole, a Jefferson tradition. As a third grader at Jefferson Elementary, winding the Maypole on May Day was a much anticipated event. The girls all wore skirts the same color as their streamer on the pole. The boys wore white shirts with bow ties the color of their streamer. I’m guessing that the boys were not nearly as excited about dancing around the Maypole as the girls were! If the pole was wound correctly, it made a beautiful pattern. I can remember practicing for what seemed like hours trying to get it right. The winding of the Maypole took place on May Day, along with other May Day festivities such as the parade.

“When I was a fifth grader, the teacher asked us girls if anyone in the class had a red skirt. They needed 3 or 4 girls to hold the banner for the parade and they had to have red skirts to match the banner. I REALLY wanted to hold the banner and march so I said that I did have a red skirt, which of course, I didn’t.  However I did get selected and went home and told Mom (Roberta Chambers) that I needed a red skirt TOMORROW! My mother was very gracious and made me a red skirt that night. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t tell her the whole story and the fact that I fibbed about the red skirt! Marching in the parade was a highlight of my 5th grade.

“I attended school in Jefferson from 1st grade through 12th grade. I graduation in 1974. Our family lived in Dever Conner the entire time I was growing up. I have one brother, Rod Chambers, who is Abby’s father. I enjoyed a wonderful family life growing up on a productive, working farm. The work ethics that were instilled in me as I was growing up have been a wonderful benefit to me. I learned to work hard, set my standards high, and reach for my goals. I wanted those same things for my won family, so we settled in a community similar to Dever Conner, just on the other side of the mountains in Central Oregon. We have a small ranch in Powell Butte. I teach school where my sons Jamie and Chad both attended school.

“Abby wanted me to mention that when I was in high school, I painted the big purple and white lion on the gym wall. At that time, the high school was what is now the Middle School.

“This journal is a great project and will become a keepsake for Abby, I’m sure. It was been so interesting reading all of these entries and I have learned a lot.

–Linda (Chambers) Swindle

Post-It Note

I’m in my 7th month working at a job I really enjoy: selling jewelry and stringing pearls for Olufson Designs, a jewelry store in downtown Corvallis. This gig began as a part time job working at their silver shop on Madison Avenue in the front retail shop of the TOBY POMEROY company (where the BEST jewelry is created by Brandon, Brandon, Hank, Toby and Les). Just before I started work, I was told that Les’ dog Tawny had recently died. “Oh,” said, “I’ll paint her portrait for you.”

In my efforts to tidy up at the shop, I found an old wooden platform that would make a perfect canvas for an Australian Shepherd named Tawny! For Les’ birthday I finished the painting. Overall I was happy with the results: I included a bird (Les, his wife and his 3 year old are avid bird watchers) and Les’ favorite strand of pearls from the Olufson’s Jewelry store). Most importantly, I was able to include the “snaggle tooth” that Les’ sister Elisa insisted be in there! It sounded like Tawny’s most recognizable feature. Les kept the painting in his work office where he at first said it made him feel sad, but now makes him smile.

Just yesterday, Les passed on one of the best stories I’ve heard in a long time; one that makes my heart melt to a warm liquid consistency.

As I was putting my son to bed, he had some Post-It notes and he asked, “Papa, what are these yellow papers for?” I told him they were made for people to write things on that they wanted to remember. His son replied, “I want to remember Tawny Pup.” So he drew a picture of a dog with a big tooth and we posted it to his bedroom wall.

Then Les told me the best news! He and his son were in the work office together when his son noticed the painting of Tawny.

“I miss my Tawny Pup,” he said as he reached over to touch the snaggle tooth.

He recognized his dog in my painting! It makes me ridiculously happy to know that what I painted can convince a three year old that it is his former dog, and maybe bring back some sweet memories of his beloved canine family member. Knowing that Tawny (as a visual image) won’t fade away in the early memory of this boy is what really matters to me. It’s what my work as an artist is about.

Continuing The Walk, 3

The world continues to weigh heavily on me. AlthIMG_0260ough I don’t find it easy to do, my goal is to focus on those I meet face-to-face in my neighborhood more than I focus on our national political scene and what I can’t change. The thing is, since I’ve been locally focused, I have been impressed by the beauty around me; in the people I know (and those I don’t know) that pass through my days here in Corvallis, Oregon.

Last I wrote, Pearl and I had just passed Bob’s Mirror and Glass and Robnett’s Hardware. Now, she’s ready for the city dog park and it’s the perfect time of day–2:30 in the afternoon. There are fewer dogs at this time and most often a higher rate of low-to-the-ground dogs like Pearl. So that’s where we’re headed.

We pass the coffee shop on the right, then the last block of apartments and businesses and Pearl is at a restrained gallop. Lately, I’ve had to take her in through the small dog entrance because she gets anxious while I remove her harness and the bigger dogs crowd the gate, waiting for her to enter so they can sniff her. She puffs herself up and growls ferociously, making everyone think she’s awful and mean (which she’s not) and say, “Oh, she’s a terrier” (which she is) . She runs around wildly in the small area until she seems ready to run with the bigger dogs. Timber is here! A Husky that Pearl recently played with and now loves to follow around (mostly to see whether she can get him to chase her).

Pearl didn’t love Timber at first; she was scared. Timber didn’t act rattled by Pearl’s bark or bared teeth initially, which seems to be important to Pearl. Now they run off across the park to see who can make it around the big Fir tree first. It’s Pearl, after a speedy barrel roll through the wood chips. Timber’s human is a quiet woman who always chuckles at Pearl’s antics and who always tries to get Pearl to allow a quick scratch behind her ears. So far, no luck but Pearl is getting closer and closer to allowing it. Right now, as Timber takes a water bucket break, Pearl makes a quick drive-by sniff of her shoes, which makes us both chuckle.

Dog park behavior, both the dogs and the humans, always leaves me with a lot of thinking to do. I’m always relieved when people can see past Pearl’s scruffy feisty greetings because I want them to know how wonderful she is. She puts on a big show with people who seem threatening to her because she doesn’t want to get stepped on or called, “So cute” (so demeaning) one more time.

I can relate in some ways because I feel threatened by certain human behavior and am still learning how to stand my ground in order to avoid being stepped on. I’m not very good at it sometimes. I end up giving people the unintentional mixed message that I don’t care for them when really, I’m just scared of getting hurt. So I teach Pearl to be less grumbly when she meets new people and she teaches me to stand my ground when I have strong feelings about something.

The walk back up Second Street to our apartment is usually not a direct route. We stop back by River Jewelry so that Pearl can collect some more love from her good friends there. Once home again, Pearl  breathes a sigh of contentment and flops over for one of her many naps.

Tiny Garden

Just outside the outer door of my apartment building (and just about on every block of downtown Corvallis), there is a a garbage receptacle. My landlord designed it and it is brilliant in my opinion. Made of cement, it has two compartments–the lower one houses the actual garbage can and the upper one is reserved for planting flowers. There is just enough space for a little bit of soil and a few pansies or succulents. The outer cement housing is decorated artfully with glass mosaic.

Unfortunately some late-night customers of the bar across the street ‘planted’ cigarette butts in the planter atop this garbage receptacle. For the first year of life in this apartment, I’d walk out the door, see the ashtray/planter and silently complain about the jerks that misused the planter. It took me a year of complaining before realizing that I could do something about this problem.

Up until then, I kept thinking, “I wish the authorities would do something to fix this. I wish someone would plant some flowers there. I wish someone would make those people stop putting out cigarettes in the planter.” One year of this.

The problem: I didn’t see myself as an authority; as anyone who could do anything to solve any problem. I’m still working on it. Through some trauma in my life, I have come to think of myself as nothing and no one. This has made it tough to succeed in many things during the past two years.

IMG_0443I am working on it though, and after a year of walking out that apartment door and seeing that planter, the idea that I could plant flowers there struck me. Finally. Since I didn’t have funds to buy much in the way of plants/flowers, on my daily walks, I took starts from the other planters on other blocks. Mostly, I planted succulents since I wouldn’t need to water often. The most surprising thing about it all is–the plants are thriving and no one is using that planter as an ashtray anymore!

My friend likes to use a phrase when she hears negative thoughts spin through her mind: Remove and Replace. This ashtray to flower planter experience has given me a perfect image of this phrase. I can thrive when I remove the old negative ones and replace them with more helpful ones. Sometimes this idea helps me a lot. Now all I need to do is to pay attention to that planter when I walk out my apartment door each day. And water it occasionally.