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

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

Jefferson Then

My family moved to Jefferson in the Spring of 1946 from Southern California following World War II. My father worked in the shipyards and my mother ran a boarding house there.

We came to Oregon so the family could work in the fields which we did, starting with strawberry picking, mint hauling, bean picking, corn picking, etc as all were done by and before mechanization of those crops. There was no minimum age limits, so we all could work, and did all summer. We were all responsible for making enough for all school clothes and expenses. When we came to Jefferson, there seemed to be a lot more business than today.

Downtown had a Confectionary where we could go for ice cream, milk shakes, etc. There was a drug store, Doctor, Theater, two active lodges (Masons, Eastern Star Oddfellows and Rebeccas), a blacksmith, variety store, several grocery stores, several service stations and cafes, just to name the first part of the business area.

The “Terminal” was on the highway (Second Street) and was the bus terminal as Greyhound busses came through regularly. This was prior to the construction of Interstate 5 and highway 99 was the main north/south highway going through Jefferson.

Having been born on the Texas Plains and raised in Southern California among the Palm Trees, the thing that amazed me most was how high the fir trees grew! And I never knew that mint was a farm crop.

I have lived in Jefferson now for 57 years, married a Jefferson born native, raised a family, worked and retired in Jefferson and have see many, many changes take place in town. Major businesses destroyed by fire include the Evangelical Church, the Mari-Linn Co-Op and Freres Lumber Company, each of which have been replaced except the Co-Op.

A bank came to Jefferson in 1963, a new post office in 1960 and again in the early 1990s.

In 1946 there was one school that included all 12 grades. Now there are three schools as the population has grown to require a grade school, middle school and high school. Jefferson will continue to change.

–Margaret Hire Knight

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

When I was asked to write a story about Oregon, my thoughts went back to the time when I first came to teach school in the town of Jefferson. Yes, to be exact it was but a wide spot in the road but it was an important wide spot. Why? Well it’s importance stemmed from the fact that it was situated on the two main arteries of travel–the railroad and the highway. At that time much of the passenger traveling was done by rail for buses were just beginning to come in to use. Most of the trains were made up of freight cars and passenger cars. The trains made regular stops at the station which was located at the east end of Church Street. The men working for the railroad company picked up freight that was being sent out as well as outgoing mail and deposited freight and mail being delivered to Jefferson residents. Travel was so different in those days for the pace of travel was far less speedy than it is today.

This is not a very interesting story by perhaps it will give an idea of what traveling conditions were like seventy years ago. The automobile industry has made such a deep impression on our mere existence in this world. We must stay alert just to keep up with the crowd.

It might be of interest to readers to compare our methods of travel to that which was used by the early settlers of this area. The method of travel used by the great grandfather of my husband, Gilbert was the covered wagon. Jesse Looney came to the Willamette Valley in 1843 to look this area over, then he returned with family and some friends to make a home in the area that is now known as the Looney Butte area. He staked a land claim and later staked claim for his children when they came of age.

It was shortly after my arrival here in 1930 that I met Gilbert Looney and in 1933 we were married and for the life I’ve had in Jefferson I am truly grateful.

–Geraldine “Gerry” Looney

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

I first came to Jefferson in 1943 by a rather circuitous route. My older brother was in the army (World War II), and I came to Hermiston with his wife. From there I went to California to live with my sister whose husband was also in the army. When he was sent overseas, my sister, their baby and I came to Jefferson to live. I’m not sure what the population was then, but it was a very small town: one grocery store, a dime store, a gas station, a post office, and that’s about all. Oh yes, there was a tavern where the fellows could buy a beer. It was in the building now known as Bugsy’s. It was then called simply, The Terminal, and there was also a row of cabins there. We had Greyhound bus service then with buses coming and going several times a day. Only a scattered few teenagers had access to cars. There was also a mail train that came through once a day. A post of some kind, with a hook on it was beside the track and as the engineer slowed down, he would hook the bag of mail on to the post. From there, the mail carrier took it to the post office and distributed it.

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

The Chambers Family

We are all in the Surburban which is loaded with 5 bikes, 2 sets of golf clubs on the roof, heading NW out of Death Valley towards home, the Willamette Valley. We are considerably browner and hopefully more rested than one week ago, although that is up for debate.

I will begin this journal entry with a quick survey of Oregon memories from my childhood. When I was young my dad worked for a finance company and got transferred a lot. We lived in Newport of several years and I remember mom being continually frustrated by sand in the house. My brother, Kevin, disengaged the gear shift on the car in our steep driveway and when it started rolling, he jumped out, catching his jacket on the door handle and was thrown under the wheels. Kind of a bizarre memory, the but the kind a child remembers. My mom had to scrub his scalp and pick gravel out with tweezers. It was not a fun time.

In Newport I also remember the big Columbus Day storm. We were all with our babysitter at home waiting for Mom to get home from her job in Depoe Bay. I recall the howling winds and our screen door blowing off in the wind and flying down the street.

We lived in Toledo next and I remember our black dog Lady having a litter of pups. They were so cute and that is when I developed my affection for puppy  breath. I also have a fond memory of learning to iron at about age 4–my dad’s handkerchiefs when he went away on a business trip. He praised me and made a big deal about the good job I did.

Next we moved to a house on Siltcoos Lake. It was an awesome place with a huge patio overlooking the lake and our dock. There was a bit of decline to the lake and the yellow Scotch Broom that covered the hillside glowed at sunset. Our dock had some logs that were attached forming a triangle. I remember bobbing for hours at a time with a life jacket on while my dad and his brothers fished. Fishing was so good; they would take clothes baskets down and fill them with Bass, Crappy and Blue Gill. I spent hours studying the lily pads that bloomed around the edge of the lake. I thought they were so interesting–how the roots came up through the murky water with pads and beautiful floating flowers. It is interesting how certain things you encounter through life take root. In later years I became a competitive swimmer because of a love of water that I’m sure developed while bobbing in the lake and also, I took the first of many painting classes because I wanted a painting of lily pads (which is hanging on a bedroom wall in our cabin).

I remember picnics at Honeymon Parkin Florence. If you’ve never been there, the park has a wonderful lake surrounded by sand dunes. We would run down the dunes and plunge into the lake until we were exhausted.

Then we moved to Reedsport where I started first grade. The only thing I remember about the school is that my boyfriend, Timmy Timchuck, gave me an Indian Head ring. Out behind our home we had a small creek. I spent hours watching and catching tadpoles and salamanders. They fascinated me. . . the way the legs grew on fishy bodies. While we lived in Reedsport, the great flood of 1964 hit. I remember going to my grandparents during the flood which I loved. Going to my grandparents in Aloha was always the most fun. At the time, it was hard to understand why everyone was so serious, but having now experienced the big flood of 1996 first hand, I can totally understand.

We moved from Reedsport to Lebanon midway through my first grade year. I went to St. Edwards School were the nuns taught us a strong phonics based curriculum that I have always appreciated. I recall playing “Heads Up, Seven Up” at our desks after lunch on wet winter days. I also remember reading our Weekly Readers about inventions we’d see in the future. They showed how vehicles would look in the future. They were sleek aerodynamic spaceship looking rigs that I unbelievingly marveled at. We now see these predictions by the hundreds. We call them mini-vans! I also recall reading about telephones in the future that would have a monitor where you could see the person you were talking to. The idea was so futuristic; it was hard to imagine by one of our computers now has an eye-cam that allows one to see the person they are conversing with on the internet. What inventions will our kids own as adults that are too unbelievable to imagine to us now?

While we lived in Lebanon we had heavy snows that stacked up to be 3.5 feet deep. My brothers and sisters and I made tunnels through it. We felt so sorry for the birds who couldn’t find food and died in the snow so we fed them for a week while the snow slowly melted.

After 4 years in Lebanon, we moved to Albany where we bought a home on Calapooia Street, right next to Henderson Park. It was a fun place for a kid to live because there were always kids to play with. Back in those days, Albany Parks and Recreation had summer programs at all the city parks in town where a college student was hired to run an activity program for any kids whom wished to participate. They had daily crafts where everything was provided free of charge. We played lots of games and went on short field trips to places around town. It was great fun and kept many kids occupied. A person has to wonder why so many programs that were funded back then are no longer possible. All the neighborhood kids would congregate at the park on warm summer evenings and play Kick the Can. It was exciting sneaking through the dark trying to avoid getting caught. We all had an open-door policy and spent a lot of time at friends’ homes.

Talking to some of those same friends in recent years–they have remembered how they loved coming to our house because my mom always had a huge pot of spaghetti sauce simmering (which she was famous for) and everyone got a spoon to sample. They also loved the hours we spent in our living room where my mom gave Polka lessons. We’d move all the furniture out of the way, crank up the stereo to one catchy Swedish tune or another, and we’d all be twirling around laughing and getting sweaty. The little kids would stand on Mom’s feet so they could get the feel of it. Everyone called my mom the “Mother Bear.”Years later, when we had kids of our own, they called my mom, “Nanna Bear.”

Our neighborhood was close to downtown Albany. It was very different back then. The downtown area was alive and thriving as no malls or big shopping centers existed yet. Two Rivers Mall where the Wine Depot Deli and Pastabilities are  used to be Payless Drugs. It was the place to shop because hadn’t been built yet. J.C. Penney’s was thriving in a building on First Street that is now an antique mall. The Venetian Theater had movies that all the kids went to on Saturdays. There was nothing better than an orange Crush Soda and a box of Flickets. Cleo’s was a favorite hole-in-the-wall next door to the Venetian where we’d go for inexpensive burgers. Also downtown, the library (which is now the historical library) used to have lots of kids supposedly working on projects for school, but I think they were there mostly to socialize.

The kids in the neighborhood would often times ride their bikes the five mile loop through Bryant Park to Riverside Drive, past West Albany High School and back to the park. We’d all take our swimsuits and stop off at one of the two swimming holes on the Calapooia River which was along the way. There were tree swings that dropped off into deep pools. It was such an adventure. Times have definitely changed because I’d never allow my kids to do things like that without an adult supervising.

Many of the kids in the neighborhood picked strawberries and pole beans in the summer to help earn money for school shopping. We’d catch a bus and go to different farms–Hoefer’s, Schlegel’s and Chamber’s–to labor away sunny summer days. Little did I know that Hoefer and Schlegel would become good friends or that I’d marry a farmer named Rod Chambers! We had a lot of fun in the bean field. The tall pole beans provided lots of cooling shade. I never made more than $5-$6 a day but it added up. And we couldn’t forget the entertainment. One kid, Scott Sprague, stood on top of his 5 gallon bucket and chewed up a huge handful of beans until it became green slime. Then he’d slightly bend over and let the green saliva start to drip towards the ground. When it would get close to the ground, he’d slurp it back up into his mouth. He’d continue this for long periods of time while we all rolled around on the ground in fits of laughter. Perhaps that’s whey I only made $5-$6 a day?

My journal entry isn’t chock full of historical trivia but more personal memories. These events that I’ve told you about Abby all helped mold me into the person I am today and in turn they have carried over in motherhood as I raise you, Justin and Josie. It’s fun to think about all the childhood memories you are presently creating and which of our family adventures you’ll laugh at as you retell them to your own children. Dad and I love you a lot and are proud to have the three wonderful kids that we do.

–Respectfully Submitted, With Love, Kim Chambers

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