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!”
“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.
The following entries are collected by 6th grade students (now long graduated) during the 2002 school year to help build community in the small town of Jefferson, Oregon.
“I will attempt to relate my family’s arrival and early days in Jefferson, Oregon. My grandparents moved from Montana to the Jefferson area after World War I. My father and his brother arrived here after discharge from the army of World War I. They married local Jefferson girls and had children.
“The brothers started a garage and service station business in Jefferson to serve the new mode of transportation, the automobile. The business started about 1926 and was called, ‘Jefferson Garage–Knight Brothers’. Location was on the corner of Main Street and Ferry Street, now a vacant lot.
“I was born in April 1928; my home was here in Jefferson and has been to this day. I have some recollection of the events that happened in my childhood. Building was taking place in this part of Jefferson. The new concrete bridge over the Santiam River was under construction and was completed around 1933. As a little five year old, I barely remember bridge materials all over the place–on Ferry Street, Mill Street and the vacant lot (now the Rick’s Market parking lot). The building site was off limits to this five year old.
“About this same time, 1932 or 1933, Knight Brothers Garage needed more room and built a big brand new garage across Ferry Street facing the major highway 99 and the new bridge. This building still stands, and after major remodeling, is Rick’s Market.
“After graduating from Jefferson High School in 1946, a tour in the U.S. Navy, 52 years of marriage to my wife, and 10 years of working at Freres Building Supply, I received the appointment of Postmaster in Jefferson. This covered many years. The Post Office was then located in the old defunct Oregon Bank Building just north of the present Sterling Bank. In 1960 the Postal Service built a brand new building on South Main Street (what is now the Mexican Bakery). I spent 28 years as Postmaster, retiring in 1988. The ironic thing is that I ended my career across the street from the original location of the original Knight Brothers Garage of 1926. Jefferson has been my life. I love it here.”
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.