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

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

In The Unraveling

Thread that binds us

is impossibly strong;

we are more closely knit

than we can fathom

(even if we do try

to deny this often).

 

Seams sometimes split;

some places need

more mending and tender

care. In mending, time

has a strengthening way

of altering the original.

 

Sometimes in the unraveling

we find and follow

the thread that binds us;

it’s then we see how

strong we are and what

we have been together.

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.

Home

 img_9269 “Corvallis is too perfect. I’m here to make sure it’s not perfect,” the man says, with a direct stare. He’s eating fried chicken, sucking on the bones and licking his fingers. My dog scratches the ground and whines as we watch the man. I can smell the savory smell and my own mouth waters. My dog and I are inside the downtown dog park; the man enjoying the chicken is just outside the fence looking in. I just asked if he could please move away from the fence because it’s so challenging for my dog and the others in the park. “No,” he says, “that has nothing to do with me and it’s a good time for you to train your dog.” His main goal seems to be to make life hard for others.

This was yesterday. An Oregon native, I have made a purposeful choice to live and work downtown Corvallis. Over the past year, I have witnessed an increasing wave of people creating the kind of challenges this man presented me with.

This letter is a call to action: Please, Corvallis! Of all the times and eras, this is the time to make life easier for those around us (our neighbors). This mounting wave sweeping through town can weaken us or strengthen us, depending on how we respond. Corvallis is not perfect, but I’m trying to make it better by helping my neighbors, even when it requires hard work. How will you respond?

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.

Home: Continuing the Walk

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When Pearl decides to  wake up, we usually walk down Second Street for our morning walk. When we continue down past Grassroots, the independent bookstore (at which you can purchase blank journals graced with an original acrylic print of a Pearl painting I created for the cover), we see Blackledge Furniture, a 3 story furniture shop and local landmark. When I first adopted Pearl, we’d walk by and window shop; she made me laugh every time by leaping and bouncing for joy at all the ‘bedrooms’ on display. Pearl was fond of jumping on beds for a time.

Across from Blackledge is a motor bank drive through. On Saturdays I take advantage of the free parking–a secret Colin the jeweler let me in on after we’d known each other for a few months. Down the street from Blackledge is the quaint U.S. Postoffice. This is where I go to mail my letters and bills. Since I live and work within two blocks, I am lucky enough to be on the same mail carrier’s route for both jobs and my home. Joe. He remembers our names and expresses concerns about neighbors. It’s easy to see the sparkle in Joe’s eyes and he still has time for stories and jokes. When I first moved in to my Second Street apartment, I was shown where mail would be delivered, but when it came around to mailing my first bill, I wasn’t sure where to post it, so I asked Joe. “Well,” he said, some people use a clip to attach it to the mailboxes, but you could also walk it down to the post office.” I didn’t see the humor in this at the time, but I do now. I enjoy walking two blocks and seeing the historic Post Office in person.

Lately there have been large groups of folks sitting outside with various signs requesting money; some with dogs, some with skateboards. These people have various degrees of friendliness. Pearl has learned not to bark at dogs as she walks her in-town walks, but sometimes these people and their dogs challenge her (and me) and it makes it very hard to get past them on the sidewalk. This changes my feelings of going to the Post Office every time. Most times, I leave feeling anxious and frustrated at a world in which so many people don’t have what they need. I also leave feeling like saying to one of this sign-holding people: “Hey–I wish I could help, but I don’t even have enough money to pay my rent right now. And I’m working two jobs.” But then I remember that I have a place to sleep, a sweet-faced dog at my side, and two jobs.

When we continue down Second Street, we pass the construction of a new hotel and what is going to be a County museum eventually. This will change the South end of Second Street, which has been somewhat forgotten for a time. Most shopping is up two blocks, where my apartment is. I’m eager to see how it affects parking and the general personality of down town.