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Our Yesterdays - Oregon Life Journeys
James F. Bishop
Memoirs of My Boyhood Days on Willow Brook Farm Poultry and Dairy Enterprises
Memories of My Early School Days
Celebrating the Fourth of July in the 'Teens and 1920s
My Grandmother, or A Child's View of Death
Music in My Life
Wild Flowers in the Tualatin Valley
Schools of Washington County
Susannah M. Harris
Dear Old Golden Rule Days
Labors of Love and a Nag
The Sound of Music
Dancing in Model T Days
Selections from My Life Story
Fair - 1905
Foods Mother Cooked
DEDICATED TO ELDERS EVERYWHERE
"Definition of an Elder: An Elder is a person who is still growing, still a learner, still with potential and whose life continues to have within it a promise for, and connection to the future. An Elder is still in pursuit of happiness, joy and pleasure, and her or his birthright to these remain intact. Moreover, an Elder is a person who deserves respect and honor and whose work it is to synthesize wisdom from long life experience and formulate this into a legacy for future generations."
--From the Live Oak Project
This book and the accompanying display of photographs and oral history tapes are the outgrowth of a series of "Exploring Local History" courses held in Forest Grove, Hillsboro and Beaverton in 1980-81, sponsored by Washington County Cooperative Library Services Outreach to Elders and Handicapped. The approximately 60 individuals who attended these 8-week courses were fairly representative of elders throughout Washington County. They included men and women with origins all over the United States and several foreign countries, from all walks of life, some in good health, others confronting physical and visual handicaps. They were residents of nursing homes, retirement homes, apartments, and single-family homes. They ranged in age from early 60s to mid 90s. They had in common an interest in local history.
As coordinator for the local history classes, I was fascinated by the richness of the life experiences of these people and by how different their daily lives had been from my own. Reminiscences about holidays and special events were a source of delight and much was recalled about the past of Washington County and other Oregon communities. These recollections are an important community resource but are for the most part unrecorded. "Our Yesterdays" was developed to record a sampling of these recollections and to share them with a wider audience so that many more residents of Washington county could benefit from a knowledge of our common past and a sense of connectedness with the generations before us. It is hoped that this project will give you, the reader, a sense of having met the five people featured in this book and the accompanying display, and that you will see this as a beginning. I hope you'll want to read more about local history, to visit some of the marvelous museums and historical sites around Oregon, talk to elders around you that remember how it was, and write down their stories and your own story to share with your family, your community and the coming generations.
Project Coordinator and WCCLS Outreach Librarian
Heartfelt thanks to the following people who volunteered their time and talents to make this book possible:
Editorial Assistant: Judith Falzon
Typists: Adella Ward and Judith Falzon
Collaters: Donna Leer and Adella Ward
Cover Art & Display Lettering: Lois Stevens
Writers: Vernice Goodman, Frieda Berger, Susan Moore, Sue Harris and James Bishop
And special thanks to the people and organizations who made possible the "Exploring Local History" courses from which this book grew:
Mary Cowan - Volunteer Discussion leader for all courses
Dick Matthews and the Washington County Museum staff - for sharing artifacts, resources and ideas as well as making guest appearances
Forest Grove City Library, Hillsboro Senior Center and Elise Stuhr Senior Center staff for providing meeting spaces and other help.
National Council on Aging Senior Center Humanities Program staff for providing textbooks, tapes, posters, diplomas and the original idea for the course.
Victor Thorly for recording local history articles on cassette
Betty Sheldon for typing local history articles in large print
Special Mobilities Transportation who made it possible for nursing home residents and homebound people to attend.
Dr. Margaret Gilbert for serving a resource person on historic architecture and Forest Grove history and assistant discussion leader for the Forest Grove course.
James F. Bishop
Memoirs of My Boyhood Days on Willow Brook Farm
(Consisting of Lots 15, 23, 24, 25; a total of 23.23 acres)
By James F. Bishop, Poultry and Dairy Enterprises
Bishop Farm Home, 1911
I am thinking back to my early childhood on Willow Brook Farm, along Durham Road, 2 1/2 miles south of Tigard and Oregon Electric train station in Tigard, and 1/4 mile east of U.S. Hwy 99W on Durham Road. This was during the First World War period between 1914 and 1918.
Where Summerfield commercial district is now located there was a thick stand of second growth Douglas fir timber, straight and tall, bordered around the edges with thick growths of hazelnut, vine maple, Oregon grape, and ocean spray brush.
There were also some big, tall, pine trees in an open pasture to the east of the fir woods, where a little creek ran between some Oregon ash trees along the west side of our farm property (Lot 15) of Willow Brook Farm.
My father had put up a barbed-wire fence along this line, and some years later, a woven-wire fence. There was another grove of fir trees, tall and beautiful, just west of the fence line.
I enjoyed crawling through the fence when I was four to eight years old, and climbing some of those trees with lower limbs touching the ground. They were easy to climb.
My, what a view from their tops! To the north, the heavily wooded south slope of Little Bull Mountain; then, to the east, more groves of fir trees along Durham Road, and south, along Willow Brook Creek to the Tualatin River.
My Dad and Mom were raising purebred Buff Orphington chickens, using separate little hen coops (2) for each brooding hen, with a brood of fifteen to twenty chicks scattered out feeding in the open grass field below me. It was fun to watch the little chicks run here and there, sometimes I would see two chicks pulling on the same worm, with their mother sticking her head out between the wooden slats in the front of her coop, clucking and anxiously watching her chicks.
When a hawk would fly over, Mother Hen would let out a high-pitched squawk. Some of the chicks would instantly squat and lie still in the grass; others would run fast to mother, and the safety of the coop. They had to watch out for cats, too.
Dad would move the A-frame coops each week to a new, fresh spot in the field. I would help put out the water jars, one for each coop, made by inverting a fruit jar full of water into a saucer-like base of glass or metal.
I enjoyed feeding the ground mixture of wheat and corn to the baby chicks near where the (3) mother could reach it too, and hear the hen clucking, and the chicks' happy cheeps as they ate.
The chicks grew amazingly fast. They soon were able, in the three of four weeks, to take care of themselves as they became well-feathered.
Dad, whose name was M. Frank Bishop, and Mother, Vina C. BIshop, hatched chicks in the early years of their business by putting fifteen eggs under each setting hen. In twenty-one days the little chicks pecked their shells open, and I would watch them come struggling out.
By 1918, Dad had two incubators in the cellar of the apple house. He would fill the trays with hatching eggs -- some from neighbors -- and push the egg-filled trays carefully into the kerosene-lamp-heated incubator. Each evening he would pull the trays out, one by one, and turn each egg over so that the little chick inside would develop properly. What a thrill when they started to hatch! To see tray after tray of little, fuzzy, struggling and cheeping chicks, bobbing their heads around, with their beady little black eyes beaming! Their fine, wet, fuzzy (4) feathers soon dried and each chick was a soft, lovable little light-brown or yellow ball of life, so much fun to hold.
To fill customer orders by express train shipment, Dad and Mom would carefully place ten to fifteen little day-old chicks in each of four compartments of the corrugated cardboard shipping box that was ventilated by penny-size round holes in sides and top. After filling several of these boxes according to their orders, Dad and Mom would take them to the Tigard Railway express station for shipment. I can still hear the cheeping chorus coming from the chicks in the shipping crates stacked one on another awaiting the soon-coming train.
Dad also occasionally received chicks this same way from other poultry breeders in order to increase or maintain the health and virility of his breeding stock.
In those days, it was common to ship settings of hatching eggs by express. A setting consisted of fifteen fertile eggs. Dad shipped many settings of hatching (5) eggs, and in turn received many settings for incubation.
During the early 1900s and through 1925, poultry shows were very popular. Many fanciers developed a great variety of breeds, with emphasis on color of plumage, conformation of body, type of comb and wattles according to what the judging book called "Standard of Perfection."
Many local communities had poultry and animal shows in school sheds, and at state and county fairs. Dad, for several years, exhibited his prize Buff Orphingtons in local Grange-sponsored shows, at the Washington County Fair in Shute Park, Hillsboro; and at the Oregon State Fair in Salem. He taught me how to fit birds and show them.
During the early 1920s, however, showing poultry for plumage and confirmation began to diminish in favor of breeding chickens for egg production. During this transition period, Dad reduced his poultry projects, and started buying and breeding purebred Jersey cattle. (6)
James & Eugene Bishop Feeding Chickens in 1917
First Bishop Family Car - A Motel-T Ford Commercial c.1919
He bought more land, fifteen acres (Lots 23, 24, and 25, Willow Brook Farm), in 1919; and also bought our first automobile -- a Ford Model T Commercial, with bench seats paralleling the sides behind the front seat.
We farmed with a team of bunchgrass horses until dad as able to purchase a small tractor, at the end of World War II, in 1946.
We cut oats and vetch hay for the cows with a horse-drawn mower and raked it into windrows, then shocked it by hand with hay forks and pitched it loose onto a wagon hayrack. Finally, we pulled it into the barn hayloft with a two-pronged steel hayfork connected by a rope and pulleys to the peak roof of the barn, and powered by horses. I usually drove the horses.
I enjoyed working with the horses -- plowing, disking, harrowing, seeding, mowing hay, hauling wood, cultivating row crops, hauling manure. It was all hard work.
Sometimes, when I was tired and sweaty, I wondered (9) if such a life was worthwhile. But, I realize that it taught me many good lessons, and helped to build within me lasting and worthwhile character traits which I still appreciate and am thankful for.
My father preferred registered Jersey cattle of the St. Mawes and Ladd breeding. Eventually, he built up a herd of seventeen or eighteen milking cows, though not all of them were registered. He had a registered St. Mawes bull, several others bulls of differing breeds, until he went out of the dairy business, when the last of his three sons when off to university in 1937-38.
We never had a milking machine, always milking by hand. This kept our hands strong. It was fun at milking time to squirt milk into our cats' mouths as they sat begging for milk.
It was quite a chore, morning and night, every day of the year. Some of the cows had small teats and so were very hard to milk. Some were good kickers, and we had to restrain them with metal hock holders, or by (10) putting a rope around and in front of the back legs, hip bone and udder, and then tightening the rope so that the cow could not put her foot in the milking bucket.
We sold the milk in bulk in five and ten gallon metal milk cans to the Red Rock Cheese Factory.
We cooled the milk as we poured it through a cotton pad strainer into the cans, which stood in a hardwood tub filled with cold water. The filled cans were taken by wheelbarrow to the milk stand in front of our farm, on Durham Road. From here, the milk truck driver, Mr. Boyer, picked it up daily, delivering it -- along with many other small dairies' contributions-- to the cheese factory.
It is interesting to note that part of the old Red Rock Cheese Factory is now (1981) housing the Tigard Chapter of American Legion, at the intersection of S.W. 72nd and Old Pacific Hwy 99W, just across the highway from the present Fred Meyer shopping center. (11) Seventy-second street used to be known as Red Rock Road. For over thirty years there remained a big red-painted rock in front of the cheese factory designating the site.
Mom and Dad also bottled whole milk in quart glass bottles with stiff, waxed cardboard caps. We had a hand powered Delaval cream separator. Some of the milk was run through the separator, and the cream bottled in half-pint and pint sizes. The skim milk was fed to our dairy calves, pigs and chickens.
We had a hard wood butter churn; I often turned the cream in the churn to make butter. Mother worked the buttermilk out using wooden paddles and a wooden bowl, and formed the butter into pound sizes with her wooden butter molds. She then wrapped the butter in waxed paper and it was ready for sale.
Sometimes, she would also make cottage cheese to sell. We eagerly drank the rich buttermilk --- Umm-Mmh!
Summer 1925 - The Bishop Boys: Eugene, Wilbur & James hoeing corn.
The bottled milk, whipping cream, butter, eggs and cottage cheese was transported by Dad with his horse and wagon to his Yamhill (12) street market book between 4th and 5th on Yamhill in Portland; many customers came every Saturday to buy farm produce on the street market.
Other products Dad took in season included cherries, apples, prunes, cider, sweet corn, green beans, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, melons, turnips, beets, carrots, tomatoes, berries, flowers (such as violets and daffodils), dressed whole chickens, fryers and broilers.
My brother Eugene had 4-H club projects of New Zealand red rabbits and Berkshire hogs which he showed at local and county fairs. Dad would butcher the excess animals, cut them up, and sell them at the Yamhill Street market, along with the occasional veal calf and dairy cow.
In the latter '20s through the mid '30s, my younger brother Wilbur helped Dad carry on with the dairy and market chores while my older brother and I were in college, and then in business. (14)
Frank Bishop tending his farm produce at his stall on the S.W. Yamhill farmer's street market btwn. 3rd & 5th. in Portland
I grew up participating in and enjoying all this rural activity. I appreciate the wonderful family togetherness, and moral and spiritual stability that is my rural heritage. I love and appreciate God's creative handiwork about me: the soil, the plants, animals, rivers, streams, lakes, mountains and ocean have remained a source of intense satisfaction to me throughout my life. What a great and powerful God we have, who is personally interested in our physical and spiritual well-being. Happy is the person who puts his trust in Him.
James F. Bishop
Memories of My Early School Days
First Church in Tigard, 1886 Emanuel Evangelical was located in pass between Big & Little Bull Mt. and S.W. Pacific Hwy. The old cemetery which was behind the church is still there. (17)
My first week of school in 1918 was memorable to me because on September 5, Thursday of that week, I became six years old. What a way to celebrate. I had been looking forward with eager anticipation to that first week of school. My older brother, Eugene, was in the fourth grade. He thought school was fun. My mother and father knew some of the teachers. They spoke well of them. My Mom and Dad told me I would be learning a lot of interesting things and making new friends.
Our farm home on Durham Road was two miles from Tigard Elementary School, then called Butte School, on S.W. Pacific Hwy. The road was gravelly and dusty in the summer and rather soft and muddy during the rainy season. Mother fixed me a lunch of jelly sandwiches, an apply, cookie and milk in a half-pint glass milk bottle. She packed it all in a five-pound round tin lard bucket with a wire handle and a press down lid.
I had met my teacher before when Mother went with me to school, but I do not remember for sure if Mom went with me on the first day. I guess I was too excited and in a hurry to get to school. I walked with my older brother. He showed me the way. We walked along the side of graveled Durham Road to U.S. 99W (now S.W> Pacific Highway); then northeasterly past several farms, up to the south slope between little and big bull mountain past the Evangelical church on the right just at the top of the pass; then on down past McDonald's store at Tigardville and the school, on the property where it is still located today. It usually took about 40 or 45 minutes. Sometimes it took an hour to walk to school as sometimes I would walk along in the ditch beside the road. Often I would stop to throw a rock or look at a bird. However, I did that type of thing mostly on my way home because I got out earlier than my brother. I walked home alone many times. When it rained I liked to float sticks, as boats, in the water flowing in the roadside ditches.
At school during recess and lunch times I enjoyed playing ball with my friends, also circle tag, farmer-in-the-dell, marbles and tin can hockey. (19)
I had a little "T" stick with which I often propelled an iron hoop along the road. Sometimes I would knock a tin can with a crooked stick along part of the way home. There were few automobiles to watch out for and they went slower in those days.
I wall remember one day that I was unusually late getting home. I was playing in the water, making dams in the ditch, floating sticks and walking in the water. I was nearly home and down in a dip in Durham road. As I looked up I saw my mother coming to meet me. I noticed she had a switch in her hand. Wow! I knew right away that I had played to long. I should have been home an hour ago. Well, I made the remaining distance home in short order. My Mom kept me hoppin' with that willow switch applied to my legs. I believe that was my last time to loiter on my way home from school.
Our school seemed to be a big building to me. It was a two-story white wood-framed building with a bel-fry and flag pole on the roof. There were four classrooms; Two on the first floor with grades one through four and two on the second floor with grades five through eight. There was a stairway to the second floor (20) starting just inside the double front doors on the east side of the building facing the highway.
The first and second grades were in my room. Some of the desks were wide enough for two or three pupils, others were single desks. The desk tops were wooden and could be raised for storage underneath of books, pencils, pens, crayons, scissors, erasers, ruler and extra paper tablets. There was an ink-well and a slot to lay pen and pencil on top of desk. The stand of the desk was made of black sculptured cast-iron metal.
I liked learning the alphabet and putting the letters together to make words. Learning to write according to the Palmer Method was great. The teacher always would do it so beautifully. We would practice in unison. Learning to read simple stories about "Dot and Dash" was fun. The McGuffy, Nelson and Edison first grade readers had wonderful stories about children, travel and history. I especially enjoyed reading nature and animal stories. The teacher would read a chapter a day from an interesting children's fiction book to the class. (21)
Arithmetic was hard for me, especially the story problems. I guess I had trouble concentrating because I had so many other things I would rather do.
The teacher's desk was at the front of the room near a round wood heating stove. A blackboard made of slate-stone was on the front wall. Some of the students had individual slates to write on with slate pencils. It was a special privilege to write or draw pictures on the big slate board with chalk of various colors. We used flannel cloth or felt erasers to clean the chalk boards. To get them clean for the next day we would use a damp cloth.
First activity of the school day was the ringing of the bell. All students would come running into the building and line up in double lines, each grade by their classroom door. We would then march into our room, stand at our desks facing the american flag and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1921, when the new school was built and E. Britt Nedry was Principal, we would march into the gym which was large enough for all the students to salute the flag together and repeat "The Pledge of (22) Allegiance" in unison. We marched in to music being played on the school Victrola phonograph. Then we enjoyed a time of singing songs like "America", "The Star Spangled-Banner", "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean", "America the Beautiful" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Sometimes we would repeat "The American's Creed." Singing rounds like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Three Blind Mice," "Little Tom Tinker", and "Merrily, Merrily" was great fun. This type of enthusiastic beginnings of our school day inspired me to do my best. It also built into my character a deep respect for my God, country, and other people.
During the spring of 1919, we were having a clean-up day for the school yard, as well as accumulated trash in the classrooms. Large amounts of paper was stuffed into the wood stoves in the rooms. The stoves got so hot that sparks and flying ash set the school roof on fire. No fire trucks were available. Teachers, older students, and neighbors formed water bucket lines and two-wheeled carriage with hose and hand pump was hurriedly brought in an attempt to put out the fire, but to no avail. The two-story wooden school building (23) burned to the ground in a couple of hours.
During the initial stages of the fire on the roof, older students, teachers and some neighbors helped carry out school records, books and what furniture they could. Very little was saved except some items on the first floor. I remember so vividly standing across the highway at a safe distance with the other first and second graders and watching what seemed to me a great disaster and tragedy. The smoke and flames rolled hotter and higher. I remembering watching some of the teachers and older students go in and out of the building carrying out books and supplies before the fire advanced too far. I say my own bother, Eugene, go in to help, but I did not see him come out. I was terrified. I took off on a run for home crying. When I got home I told Mother that Gene was burned up in the school. What are we going to do? Fortunately, I later found out that hew as safe, had watched at a safe distance to building burn to the ground and then he came home.
We finished the school year by going to St. Anthony's Catholic School in Tigard, just down the highway about one-quarter of a mile. During that summer local farmers, businessmen and carpenters got (24) together and built temporary "chicken-house-type" wood frame structures in which we went to school for two years until the present building was completed and ready for occupancy in the fall of 1921. Our new principal, E.B. Nedry, came, I believe, in 1920. He was my eight grade teacher. The other teacher I remember very well was Miss Irene Schmokel, my sixth and seventh grade teacher.
Following graduation from Tigard Elementary School in 1926, I went by school bus to Beaverton High School, I.R. Metzler was the principal. The bus was owned and operated by Virgil Meyer, of Meyer's Garage in Tigard. Mr. Meyer employed William "Bill" Maurer, a Tigard student attending Beaverton High, to drive the bus in 1924-26, and another local student, Darrell Frewing, to drive it in 1926-27. During this time Tigard people voted to build a high school. By the fall of 1927, Tigard Union HIgh School was a Reality. Students from Tualatin, Sherwood, Six-Corners, Metzger and Tigard attended. W.C. Gauntt was our first principal. So following my freshman year at Beaverton High, I attended Tigard Union and graduated in the spring of 1930. That fall, there being few jobs (25) available and our farm not able to provide sufficient cash, my folks encouraged me to go on to college. I enrolled at Oregon Agricultural College, Corvallis, in 1930 and graduated with A B.S. degree in Agricultural Technology in June of 1934. This was a great experience for me. I had the privilege of working my way through college by part-time employment in the Veterinary Medicine Department. Drs. J.N. Shaw and B.T. Simms were my immediate supervisors. I appreciated them and others of the department. They contributed much to me personally and to my education.
James F. Bishop
Celebrating the Fourth of July in the 'Teens and 1920s
Our Forth of July on the farm started with a window-shattering blast! At daybreak my father, M. Frank Bishop, was up. He tied a half stick of dynamite to a ten-foot pole. He secured the pole to a fence post a good distance from our house on Durham Road. He put a good long fuse with the cap that he could reach up and light with a burning match. After lighting the fuse he would run for the house.
My brother, Gene, and I would be asleep in our upstairs bedrooms when all of a sudden we would be instantly awakened by a shaking blast of dynamite. We at once knew it was the Fourth of July on our farm and Dad had done his celebrating with one big blast!
Out of bed we hopped, dressed quickly and ran downstairs to open one of our packs of firecrackers and light off a few. Time for chores, so to the barn we went and milked the cows, fed the horses and chickens. Mother always prepared a sumptuous breakfast after which we got to fire off a few more firecrackers. We often put (27) them under tin cans, sticks or in dirt piles to watch the items blasted into the air. In the evening after dark we enjoyed setting off a few skyrockets and Roman candles, finishing off with a few sparklers.
Usually at this time of year Dad had begun cutting hay and raked it into windrows in preparation for shocking. But the Fourth was a special day to celebrate our country's freedom and we took the day off, other than doing the regular morning and evening chores.
As a family we joined in with the Evangelical Church community celebration by going to the annual Forth of July picnic at Elsner's Park out Beef Bend Road near Schamburg's bridge on the Tualatin river.
My Dad headed the refreshment committee, in charge of serving the ice cream, candy and pop. Everyone got all the store-bought and homemade ice cream, candy and pop they wanted. I especially enjoyed what we called Eskimo Pie - a piece of chocolate covered ice cream on a stick. We always had a choice of lemonade and soda pop of various flavors.
The women would set the picnic tables loaded with delicious hot dishes of great variety, salads, pies, cakes and cookies. (28)
We all had so much fun participating in races like three-legged, sack, 100-Yard Dash and a great tug-of-war, with prizes for all.
In those days the Tualatin River was not polluted. Some farmers brought their row boats or canoes and took picnickers for rides up and down the river. We would also swim in one particular spot under adult supervision. Many of us used auto tire intertubes to float about as we kicked and splashed our way about -- Even having water fights occasionally.
By the way, I used to go fishing in the Tualatin river. I used a hazel bush stick for a pole, some fish line with a float and an angleworm on the hook. I have caught many of what we called sunfish or croppies- a little flat fish about the size of a grown man's hand. They were very good eating. Bass were often caught with the use of more sophisticated fishing equipment by some of my friends, but I never was able to catch any.
After dinner in the park we usually would rest in the shade of the fir grove and listen to a program presented by various singing groups. Some groups presented short patriotic skits. Usually a public official would give an inspirational patriotic address on why we celebrate the Fourth. At time current political issues would be debated and discussed.
Games and fun for the youth continued until it was time to go home and do the evening chores.
Occasionally after dark and the chores were done, Dad and Mom would take us boys somewhere in the Portland area where we could all enjoy a commercial display of fireworks like along the Willamette river near the Sellwood ferry landing where the Oaks Park is now located near the east end of the Sellwood bridge.
I remember on one occasion we viewed in westside downtown Portland a Chinese celebration. People were costumed as various kinds of animals, dragons and caterpillars. There would be chanting, singing and ringing of bells along with setting off of multitudes of firecrackers and sparklers.
This day of celebrating the independence of our country and the forming of our republic made a lasting impression on me. I still like to celebrate it with my own personal family and friends. We are proud of our (30) country and flag. We are thankful to god for our country and all the blessings and freedoms we enjoy. (31)
Groner School 1913
where I attended 1st grade during the 1916-1917 school year
In the Spring of 1915 when I was five years old, a friendly neighbor girl took me to the two room
Mountain Side School
south of Schools as her visiting guest. This was a customary practice in those times to inform a child a bit about procedures before entering school the next autumn. I was excited, thrilled, and inspired by the experience. That evening at the dinner table I announced, "I'm going to be a teacher when I grow up." The family laughed and at that point my determination was sealed.
The following September I enrolled as a first grader and school became a real part of my life. On the second day of school the teacher was reading to the children and I was very busy cutting a piece of paper with my
new scissors, snub-nosed and blunt as they were. Without a word to me, the teacher walked back to my desk, snatched my precious scissors, cracked my knuckles against the desk top, then walked back to the front of the room. My hand ached but the loss of my scissors made a deeper ache inside. (33)
Six weeks later they were returned to me when I was checking out of school because my family was moving. My education was ended for the year as our new residence was near a timbered area with too great a distance and danger of falling limbs for a six year old to tackle alone.
September of 1916 found me going to live with my maternal grandparents at Schools were I was to attend the Groner one-room school. It was located midway between the present Groner School and the former Groner home now occupied by the Virgil Bish family. Incidentally, my father built this home about 1936. That school year was not too exciting as I already had been in school six weeks; I was one year older than most of my classmates and the work was so easy that I did not have much patience with the other students.
On my way to school, I crossed the Tualatin River on the old covered bridge. The slightest sound would enlarge and echo so I usually entered on tiptoe. As my fear increased, I walked faster and faster, the sounds grew louder and louder, and by the time I (34) reached the other side I was running pell-mell at my top speed. This happened morning and afternoon practically all year.
Tualatin River Bridge at Scholls 1920
Tualatin River Bridge at Scholls - I crossed this bridge twice daily going to school in 1917-1917
By the term beginning in September 1917, my parents were back on their own property so I resumed my studies three and six, took my Oregon state eight grade examinations and graduated in May 1922 while I was still twelve years old.
My sister sprained her ankle and so rode our old pony Tim to school and kept him in a barn next door. Tim had a phobia about having anything pass him. When a car came by he would run out of control until he was winded by his heaves and he had to stop to wheeze, snort, and cough. We learned to turn and face an approaching car then continue when it was gone.
When I was a seventh grader, I was chosen to represent my school at a spelling bee at Midway, which was another one-room school toward Laurel. When the evening program was over, I went out to get Tim, my transportation, and he was gone. I found out later that some boys untied him as a prank. Some (36) neighbors who had a car took me home with them. We telephoned my family by six o'clock the next morning to inform them of my whereabouts. Tim was at home waiting to get in the barn.
I took ninth grade at Mountain Side, just what the teacher wanted. For many this was the final schooling they would ever receive. Ninth grade work was only given in two-room schools. Now I was ready for city education in Hillsboro. The town students looked down on "country kids". I lived in a tiny rented room and worked preparing dinner for a private family for $2.50 per 5-day week. I went baby sitting evenings and worked in the cannery summers at 27¢ per hour, sometimes ten hours per day, until I reached my senior year. By then a union district had been formed with bus service to the outlying districts. This meant I could live at home and go to Hillsboro Union High School. It also meant leaving home at 6:30 am with a lantern to meet the bus at the Mountain Side building which was the end of the line. We returned by 5 pm, picked up our lantern (37) which had been left at the school building, and would be home by about 6. This was the first time in my life I had been allowed to carry matches.
In March, a chronic condition I had been bothered with for years, developed into an acute attack of appendicitis and I had to have an operation. The doctor told my mother, "No more school for her this year."
My mother answered, "O.K. doctor, but
My sister brought me books and assignments so my ten day stint in the hospital was filled with study. I even memorized an entire act, all characters, a play for my French class. In 3 1/2 weeks I returned to school with a compromise. I had to stay in town with no more bus riding.
Finally came graduation. I had a dress that I made at a cost of $1.78, and a borrowed pair of white shoes one size too small. When the evening program was over, I rushed to the car and began to cry uncontrollably. All the years of work, frustration, and anxiety were over and I let go. To many school days are the best (38) years of their lives but to me they were nightmare years, all work and no outside activities or social contacts.
My dad had to sell a cow to pay the hospital when I had my operation. The next fall I went to Portland to work. First I paid the doctor his fee, then I began to save my money for college as I still wanted to be a teacher. I worked one year then went to Ellensburg, Washington to live with relatives and work for my room and board.
At this time Oregon required one year beyond high school before teaching and Washington required to years before granting a teaching certificate. In June I came home and spent two days in the county school superintendent's office taking the state teacher's examinations. I passed all sixteen tests and received my teaching certificate. Jobs were scarce and most schools had already hired their teachers for the following year. Late in August the primary teacher for Mountain Side resigned. The chairman of the school board telephoned and offered me the job, eight and a quarter month at a salary of $90 per month. This was high (39) pay for those days and of course I had to do my own janitor work. Also, I had my youngest brother as a first grader and that could make a whole story in itself.
The following year I returned to Ellensburg for my second year and graduated with the class of 1931. When I got home, I signed a contract for eight and one-half months at $80 per month for the Pleasant View School atop Chehalem Mountain. This was a one-room school partly in Yamhill County and partly in Washington County.
The school was the center of community life. during my two years at Pleasant View, 1931-33; we had programs, socials, get-togethers, potlucks; anything to get the people of the area together. Here I met my husband whom I married in February 1932. Had he lived, February, 1982, would have been our golden anniversary. When we married the neighbors gave us an old fashioned shivaree which lasted until morning with stories and music that kept everyone awake and alert. (40)
One noon my husband came to the school and snow balled with the older boys. As he left, he lured them farther and farther down the road. When the bell rang to take up class they were so far away that they were 15 minutes late. I just held school that much longer in the afternoon.
On Good Friday we staged and Easter egg hunt with about 10 dozen batam eggs that my husband and I had lovingly colored and decorated.
One afternoon, an 8th grade boy reported to me that a piece of cake he had saved from his lunch was missing. When we went back into the classroom I bluntly stated that someone had stolen his lunch. I added that I was certain every mother packed enough lunch for each person, but if anyone was really hungry to come to me privately and I would share as I usually had more than I needed to eat. The next morning a 7th grade boy came to me with a small package, said he was sorry to have taken R's cake and that he personally had made a cake then night before and brought some to replace what he had taken. Soon after a 6th grade boy came with a small parcel, said he was sorry and that he (41) had brought some cookies to replace the cake he had taken. Indeed, I was puzzled. When I got the three boys together I found out R had 2 pieces of cake left in his lunch pail for afternoon recess.
At the end of that school year I retired so that my husband could get work. In those days it was unheard of for two persons in a family to work for salary and a wife working outside the home was a curiosity. Fourteen years later I went back to teaching because my husband had a serious illness and was unable to ever work again. On this second turn I worked 26 years before retirement.
I sometimes hear people speak of "the good old days". Yes, we had our fun and joys but we also had our sorrows. I have pleasant memories but I would not care to return to the depression years. I just hope that my children and grandchildren fully appreciate the advantages they have in modern today. (42)
In the 1920s we attended the annual July 4th Happy Days celebration in Shute Park in Hillsboro. We did not own a car, so my father hired a neighbor to take us: Mother, Dad and four children (another brother was born later).
We had to leave home by am, and would stay until after the fireworks display. Dad and the neighbor went home earlier in the evening to do the chores and care for our animals. Later on they would return to the park. Preparations were underway days before the trek-- cooking, baking, and assembling the articles necessary for a sixteen hour stay in the park. Upon our arrival, we picked a spot for camp and set up food, blankets, extra clothing and other things Mother had learned to include such as first aid for bee stings to sunburn, and a mending kit.
After setting up camp, the first project for us children was to reconnoiter and assess the offerings of rides and concession to decide which ones we would (45) frequent. We were allowed to bring one dollar to spend from our strawberry picking earnings. Most rides were ten of fifteen cents; of course, we usually chose the ten cent rides to get the most for our money.
A distant relative, Herman Koeber owned the Hillsboro Candy Kitchen. He always had a concession stand at the park for the Fourth of July celebrations.
One year, about 1920, he asked me to be the constant companion and keeper for his son, who had recently fallen from a tree and broken his arm. the remuneration was to be everything the son wanted to see, eat, or do for the day. I believe he spent all of $5 on my, making it the best celebration I had ever attended!
One year, my sister and I wore our Easter organdy dresses to the celebration. The day was hot and sunny and we burned through the sheer material. Before the fireworks were over, clothes had rubbed on our burns, and broken blisters. Any movement was painful. For many days after that we had unpleasant reminders of just how hot it had been that Fourth of July.
A few years later I received another painful burn (46) when a piece of metal from a fireworks display fell back to earth. I could not get out of the way in time and the metal landed on my arm.
For many years Hillsboro had a daylight fireworks display on the afternoon of July 4th celebration. The rockets contained figures of animals and people; once we were thrilled to see the American flag come floating down. Of course, there was always a wild scramble by the young folks to retrieve the inflated rubber objects.
Christmas of 1916 I was living with my maternal grandparents at Scholls. I attended the old one room Groner Elementary School first grade.
The highlight of the season was a community program and Christmas tree at the Methodist Church (still in use, although it has had many additions and alterations over the years). I was taking part in a drill with lighted candles. When I returned from the stage after my performance, and sat down, I felt a warm sensation. I rose, but my dress stayed behind-- part of it stuck to the candle wax someone before me had left on the pew. I had to put on my coat to hide the (47) empty space on my backside. That was the last time I wore the purple satin dress that had been made for me from a relative's cast-off.
Later, at Grandmother's family Christmas, someone screamed as a package caught fire from an open candle flame. The tissue wrapping was burned away, but the contents were intact-- only scorched. This was my gift: A leather backed New Testament, with Jesus - words printed in red letters, no less. Still have it today, the burned edge a reminder of the old custom of putting real candles on the Christmas tree. It's a wonder there weren't more fires and holiday disasters in those early days.
Veterans' Day will always be Armistice Day to me. Our only contact with World War I was a newspaper that came by mail one day, maybe two days, after it had been printed.
Early in November 1917, when I was attending the old two room schoolhouse at Mountainside, south of Scholls, a neighbor came to the school building with news she had received by telephone. Germany (48) had agreed to an armistice. Our teachers dismissed classes and the school bell was rung for hours. Before this, no one but the teacher was allowed that bell robe, but that day I was allowed a short turn on the rope. This gave me inner joy, especially after the torments I had suffered as I read the long, daily casualty lists.
The next day, word came: False Report, War Not Ending".
When November 11 came, we again heard word of an armistice. This time, we continued school as usual, only later learning confirmation that the war was actually over. (49)
My Grandmother, or a Child's View of Death
My maternal grandmother was an unusual woman in many ways but the most unusual thing about her was her appearance. She was nearly six feet tall, large bones, had an enormous frame and at the prime of her life she weighed almost three hundred pounds. To us her grandchildren, she was "Big Grandma", while my paternal grandmother who never reached one hundred points in her life, was "Little Grandma."
My grandmother was Grandpa's right hand man on the farm they operated at Scholls (Margaret and Charles Koeber). She could hoist a forty point box of apples or pears or lift a fifty pound sack of potatoes as if they were toys. When the wagon was loaded she became Grandpa's driver and his ears. He was quite deaf and as a result of being caught in a Kansas blizzard when he was a young freight wagon driver, Grandma would harness and hitch up the team of four horses, leave the farm at 4 am and and drive to Portland (50) Where she had regular customers for her fresh farm produce - vegetables, fruit, flowers, eggs, ducks, chickens, nuts, butter, cider, honey, even wood. She made this trip twice a week at the peak of the season making calls at small neighborhood grocery stores and then house to house on Portland's west side. We lived in Portland when I was four and I recall my mother meeting grandmother on her route and allowing me to go home with her. Grandma contrived a makeshift bed on the wagon floor and I watched the stars overhead as we jolted along.
As I wrote before, I went to live with my grandparents the September I was seven and attended the old one room Groner School as a first grader. Grandmother was very special to me. She made my delicious school lunches often including one of my favorites- home made cottage cheese. She made over clothing discards from her youngest daughters until I had more clothes than many girls my age.
My clothes and childhood treasures were kept in a homemade trunk that Grandpa made by putting leather strap hinges on the lid of a wood packing case. (51) Grandma covered it inside and out with a pretty pink flowered wallpaper. I used this box until I was a young woman.
Three of my aunts were still living at home. They planned a gala Halloween party for which I had a special witch costume. One young man who had grown up in the neighborhood and was now living in Portland, sent his regrets. Most guests came by horse and buggy. The horses were put in stables in Grandpa's large barn. In the midst of the games, a masked, sheet draped character dashed through the front door and continued on through the house and out through the kitchen.
When the party guests were ready to depart they found a real surprise. They discovered that harness parts had been juggled and exchanged, buggy wheels removed or changed around, and some horses had been turned loose in the barn lot. My aunts and grandparents took lanterns and went to help get things organized and put back together correctly. It was 3 or 4 o'clock the next morning before all was in order (52) and the last guests were on their way home. During all this time, I sat in front of a dying fireplace fire, afraid to go to bed and afraid to replenish the fuel as I was not allowed to build fires. I was one chilled frightened when my family returned. Much later we found out that the man from Portland had come with Grandma's help, he was the mysterious intruder.
For Christmas Grandma gave me a lady doll made of leather stuffed with mohair and she had china head and hands. She was gowned in a blue print percale dress, trimmed with rickrack and carved white pearl buttons. In another package was an exact copy of the dress, made without a pattern, to fit me. My dress was gone many, many years ago but I still have my doll and her original dress.
For Easter Grandma gave me a pair (of) white canvas high top button shoes with my very own buttonhook to fasten them.
About the middle of May when the school term ended, my mother came for a visit and then took me home with her. In about two weeks we got a message (53) that Grandma was ill so we all went back to Scholls.
Scholls Community Church where I attended church and Sunday school from 1916 until 1932 when I married and moved from the area.
On my 8th birthday, June 1st, the ambulance came and took Grandmother to a Portland hospital Before leaving she asked to see me alone. As I stood by her bedside, her parting words made such an impression upon me that they have stayed with me through the years as sort of a sacred pact.
The doctors operated, found a 20-lb. tumor and cancer in every internal organ. They were helpless to do anything for her. Within ten days Grandma was dead at only 54 years old. I was devastated. In my childish way I felt responsible for Grandmother's passing. I had carried wood, gathered eggs, set the table, washed the dishes and had done many odd jobs. I just knew that if I had not gone home Grandma would not have become ill.
Later that year in July 1917, my mother allowed me to go to the beach at Rockaway with a favorite aunt and cousin from my Father's side of the family. We stayed over a month and my cousin and I became very close. I still have the diary she kept that summer. (55) The shock and depression of my Grandmother's loss began to dim. School started and I was very busy as a new brother had arrived in September making us a family of four children.
In January 1918 my beloved cousin passed away after a long bout with rheumatic fever. Again, death had reared it's ugly head in my life. Two persons near and dear to me had been taken away within a six-month period of time. Why? I kept asking myself why. In later years I developed a belief that this early testing of faith and endurance was to help me face crisis after crisis as they developed in my future. Time after time as problems arose, I mentally referred back to difficult times I had survived. Each time I went forward from that point. I firmly believe The Almighty has ways of testing us and our responses show the character that we develop. I believe I became a better more understanding person because of early experiences in my life. (56)
Music in My Life
When I was a little girl in what is now Orenco, my mother had an organ. She purchased it for $40.00 and of course, it was one of those that you pedaled with both feet. She played hymns and taught us little songs, especially before Christmas. They were in German, but we spoke German Swiss at home so we understood most of the words. I can't remember when I couldn't sing.
When I started attending Orenco School in 1909, one morning the teacher had us sing "America". Of course it was all strange to me. When they sang "let freedom ring" I though they were singing about me and I wondered why. Toward the end of the year we learned "Red Wing". I can still recall most of the words.
In the fifth grade we had a teacher who really loved music. Someone had donated an old organ to the school. Miss Julia Hatch kept the organ in her room (57). She had us sing patriotic songs and old-time songs like "Love's Sweet Old Song", "Home Sweet Home" and Old Kentucky Home". The school purchased some paperbound books called
One Hundred and One Best Songs
. I think they were about 60¢ per copy. We thought they were wonderful. Once a week, the other rooms would come to Miss Hatch's room for a sing. Some of us had to stand along the walls, but I loved it. We sang "Juanita", "The Star Spangled Banner", "Silver Threads Among the Gold", "The Old Oaken Bucket" and many more.
The next year Miss Hatch had gone back to her missionary work and Miss Ruth Jones came an taught the 1st and 2nd grades. She also taught music to the high school. She was a real hardworking musician. She could play the organ and also the piano that was in the new auditorium. We sang once a week there as well as at programs and school meetings. I think Miss Jones had aspired to be a great opera singer. When she sang soprano in the church, she drowned out the whole choir. When we were in high school, she taught us some selections from the great operas. (58)
When I was about 12 years old I heard my playmates talk about taking lessons. We had no piano at home, but there was the old organ. When I asked my father, he said he couldn't afford it. My aunt, my mother's sister, heard of it and offered to teach us. She had a large family, whom she was teaching music to also, but with the help around the house afforded by her three daughters, she though she could find enough time to teach us too. She bought a music course in on book for which my father paid, but otherwise the lessons were free.
On Saturday morning we hurried with the work. We made the beds, mopped the floors and tried to get everything done before dinner at noon. Right after dinner we put on our coats and walked through the woods to my Aunt's house. The short cut must have been almost two miles. My ant gave us our lessons, starting with notes and counting time.
We had music lessons all that winter until about the first of April when my uncle told us that my aunt was too busy now to help us any longer. We had a (59) good start but I surely hated to stop. I decided to teach myself and my sisters too. I made little booklets from wrapping paper to jot down the assignments on and we started in. Somehow we learned together.
My senior year my father was quite ill and after Christmas he was bedfast. My brother was in the 8th grade and my oldest sister was a sophomore in the little Orenco High School. So that we could all go to school, the Orenco principal devised this scheme. While my brother and sister milked the cows and did the outside chores, I cooked breakfast and packed lunches. Then I ran for the train and went to school for half a day. At 12:30 my brother and sister left for their half day of schooling and I came home to take care of my father and do all the work I could. This worked pretty well until the 1st of April when my father said that he just couldn't stay alone that long and that I had to stay at home. I must have cried about it and thought that I couldn't possibly graduate but they let me study at home and I graduated with my class. My brother and sister then went to school all day for the last two months. (60)
Two years after I finished high school my best school girl friend persuaded me to take teacher's examinations and then 6 weeks of Normal School, after which I could apply for a teaching job in grade school. I passed my examinations, with much cramming and, as my father's health was now much better, he gave me permission to go to Normal School with my friend. She encouraged me and helped in every way she could. She urged me to join the Girl's Glee Club. We had a very fine leader, Miss Louise Woodruff. I thoroughly enjoyed singing with this group. At last I was back hearing and learning some new music.
That fall I started teaching in a one-room school way back in the hills. I had 9 pupils, ranging from 3rd grade to 8th. I tried to choose songs that we all could sing. We sang for 15 minutes every morning and the children loved it. Programs were very popular in the days when there was no radio or TV. We planned a nice Christmas program, but alas! One week before Christmas it started to snow and by morning it was three feet deep. So they closed the school, took me (61) down to the train station, and I went home to spend Christmas with my family.
While I was teaching, I boarded with the family of one of my 5th graders. I was very interested when the father and the son each took out a violin and started to play. I liked it so well that I ordered a violin set for myself for Christmas. It came from either (Montgomery) Wards or Sears. People called the catalog the "wish book". The set included a case, and instruction book, and all the supplies you needed. I started to scrape away and soon could play some little tunes. I couldn't get much help from the others because in the hills everybody played by ear. After Christmas when I came back I tried to practice a little every day. My the end of the year I could play a little. I taught at a different school the next year near Cornelius. I practiced a little whenever I had a little spare time.
After two years of teaching I felt that I just had to have more training. I had saved as much as I possibly could of my earnings, so I decided to go (62) back to Normal School. I also found out that a violin teacher came over from Corvallis once a week. I went to see her and signed up for a lesson each week. She was very good with children so it worked just right.
After a few lessons she suggested that I should ask Miss Peterson, the conductor, if I could play in the Normal Orchestra. There were about six of us that played third violin. You have probably heard some one saying they didn't want to play second violin and third is even lower, but I didn't mind for I was learning and having fun too. They called it "obbligato" violin to make us feel good. I sand with the Women's Glee Club and practiced two nights with the orchestra. I was really busy with that and all my other classes.
That fall I started teaching at
, a logging town in the northwestern part of the county. There were two churches there. The larger one was the Catholic Church. They had services once a month. The priest came up from Banks and held services for both children and adults. On that Sunday the small Presbyterian (63) church was rather empty but all the other Sundays the children all came to our Sunday school. I played the organ for both church and Sunday school and nearly all the children I had in school were there. I was teaching grades one to four. I taught the smaller children while the minister taught the older ones. He came down from Scofield early Sunday morning and started the fire and made things ready for Sunday School. Church wasn't very well attended. Sometimes there were not more than two or three in the audience.
Once in a while there was an accident in the woods and there would be a funeral in our little church. I was asked to play for the funeral and though I "trembled in my boots" I gave it my best. In one such occurrence a young man, about 18 or 20, was killed. I felt so sorry for the wife. Most of the girls were about 16 when they were married. Very few of the students went to high school. There had been a small high school at Buxton for a few years but by the time I arrived it was closed. The boys would seek employment and the people thought it wasn't any use to educate girls for they would soon get married anyway. Those who wanted to go to high school had to drive down to Banks or walk if that was the only means to open them.
After teaching two years at Buxton I spent one year at home so that my youngest sister could go to business college and earn some real money. That year I continued to take piano sessions and as I was not so tired, I made better progress. The minister's wife organized a girl's choir and I enjoyed singing with them even through I was much older than most of the others.
Another opportunity had come to me. Orenco had a very fine brass band from about 1915 through the 20s. The members came from the town and surrounding country. The director came from Portland. His name was Ingram. They looked so nice in their uniforms and shiny brass instruments when they gave a concert in the church. They almost raised the roof in addiction to blowing your ear drums. The church had very good acoustics with its high ceiling beams exposed. (35)
When World War I came wages shot up. The Orenco Nursery, which had borrowed heavily, could not repay what it had borrowed. They couldn't afford to pay much higher wages to their workers. They had to close up and most of the people moved away to find work elsewhere. Several workers started small nurseries.
The Bethany Baptist Church had quite a number of young people who had played in the band. They started an orchestra in their church. It was mostly brass but they had a bass viol instead of a drum, 4 violins and a piano. Some neighbors of mine asked me if I would like to play and also said they would pick me up on practice night and bring me home again. This seemed to good to be true and I played with them for over a year. The next year I started teaching in the home school. I laid my violin aside and have not played since. I still have my violin and maybe I could outdo Jack Benny if I tried.
Wild Flowers in the Tualatin Valley
Our home was set far back from a little back road about five miles east of Hillsboro. Out in front was a field that was very wet and collected standing water when it rained hard. One sunny spring day when I was maybe six years old, I wandered out toward the road. There was a wonderful surprise for me. I found pretty little pink flowers on slender stems, six to eight inches high, all over the wet ground. Joyfully I picked a handful and took them to my mother. Afterwards I learned to call them Spring Beauties. Wild flowers often have different names in other localities.
Perhaps the very first spring flower in our valley is the lowly dandelion. In the first or second grade there was a story about a thief who stole a bag of gold pieces and when pursued, scattered them all over a green meadow. The next morning the children saw all the golden coins and they were filled with joy. A fairy had come in the night and changed all the gold pieces into beautiful golden flowers. The children ran (67) and each eagerly picked a handful to show to their mothers. Those were the first dandelions.
When I was in my 2nd year of teaching in a one room school, there was a little boy in the second grade who had two older brothers in the upper grades. He was instructed by his parents to wait at school until they were ready to go home at four o'clock. As he had about two hours to wait every day he became very tired and bored. One day he made a lot of noise.
And as I probably too was tired and irritable, I called him up to my desk, asked him to hold out hi little hand, and gave him a few stinging raps with a ruler. When recess time came, he ran out to play with the others but soon he was back and his tiny fist he brought me a handful of golden dandelions he had picked in the school yard. I think that was the most beautiful bouquet that was ever presented to me. I couldn't punish him again after that.
When we were all a little older, my sisters and I ran to the woods behind the barn where we found handfuls of Easter Lilies. Later we learned that they (68) were called 'trilliums' because they had three leaves on the stalk and three white petals in the blossom. There were hundreds of them in the woods and every time we could get away, often on a Sunday afternoon, we would go to the woods to pick Easter Lilies. When we brought them home we put them in #2 1/2 tin cans and decorated our home with them. The only tinned goods we brought were tomatoes with puree so we called them tomato cans. They cost the fabulous price of the three cans for a quarter. A grocery wagon came from Beaverton once a week. A Mr. Cady owned the grocery store. It was surely wonderful service he gave us. He hired a driver who brought you your groceries, ordered the week before, took the eggs you had to sell, and took you order for the next week. He usually ate his lunch at our house after he had put a bag of oats on each horse. Oh! I almost forgot. Before he left the kitchen he would take a bag of hard candy out of his pocket,and shake out a handful of mixed candy for us, which we divided amongst the four of us as evenly as we could.. We always were ready for the handout unless we were at school. (69)
The trilliums bloomed in March and early April. Toward the end of April we found the beautiful Lady Slipper. They were a soft orchid red and white, very delicate, and only three or four inches tall. They had a lovely scent. As they were so small they were very precious. If we found a handful of them, we carefully put them in a small glass or a small glass or a small vase. They always grew in partial shade on the edge of a patch of woods.
About the same time we found an orchid flower, a little taller, that we called "Crow Bills". Others called them "Shooting Stars". They were about eight inches tall but they did not have the wonderful fragrance that the Lady Slippers had. There were also white anemones on very slender stems. Some called them Windflowers.
On our way to school we found many wild iris. They were a reddish purple and grew out of a clump of low grass-like leaves that were quite stiff and sharp, there were hundreds of these and we picked many handfuls of them. Sometimes we tore them apart and made parlor lamps out of them and set them in the middle (70) of the path as we walked home. I haven't seen any of these purple iris for many years tho' down at the coast there are a few very pale lavender ones to be seen.
I recall many flowering shrubs as well. One of the earliest was a wild plum with almost white blooms. These are still plentiful in any patch of brush. Then about April 1st the red currant started to bloom. People liked these so well that they dug them up and planted them in their yards. Another was the Mock-orange with beautiful white waxy clusters of bloom. There were also seedling apple or crab apple bushes with pink and white blooms about the 1st of May. Oh! I forgot to mention the Oregon Grape which blooms in February or early March. The blooms were a creamy yellow contrasted against the shiny dark green holly-like leaves.
Early in May the Dogwood trees started to bloom. They grow at the edge of a patch of woods, often reaching twenty or thirty feet tall. They grow so tall reaching for light and sun. Another shrub that blooms (71) the latter part of June or early July is the Ocean Spray. The creamy white plumes are very beautiful. There are several kinds of white flowering shrubs that, I believe, are classed as Spirea. Another that we were fond of was the climbing vine called Honeysuckle. It climbs spirally around other trees or bushes and then when it get three or four feet from the ground it starts to bloom. We would pick the blooms and suck out the sweet nectar. Toward the end of May the road sides were lined with Blue Lupines.
The wild roses started to bloom about the same time, making the edges of the road look like a garden. The large wild roses grow on bushes four or five high. They are about two inches in diameter, a lovely bluish rose color and have a distinctive fragrance. They grow on bushes four or five high. They are about two inches in diameter, a lovely bluish rose color and have a distinctive fragrance. They grow on rather wet ground, and other places such as roadsides, mentioned earlier, and moist areas in pastures. The early settlers no doubt cut down many acres of rosebrush with a brush hook when clearing their fields. There was another kind of wild rose called the Sweetbriar, I think. It had long trailing (72) stems with much smaller roses, about one inch across. These were pretty, too, as the five or six feet fines were full of little roses and green leaves.
A familiar sight in swampy places was a large plant called Skunk-cabbage. It belonged to the lily family so some folks called them "Skunk Lilies". About March they would send up large yellowish-green leaves and the lily would rise up in the center. The lilies would resemble Callas somewhat, and have a very strong odor.
A friend of mine told me that a woman friend of hers had said that she was going to bring "Skunk Lilies" to her funeral. She was kidding, of course. Shortly after that my friend was in an automobile accident. When she wrote to me she said, "Well, It's time for the 'Skunk Lilies' now." I figured she still hadn't lost her sense of humor. She was soon back on the job.
One of our favorite wild flowers were the violets, both blue and yellow. Cat-a-corner from the north front of the schoolhouse was a little park that the city of Orenco set aside for the use of its citizens. (73) It had clusters of young fir trees from five to twenty five feet tall and also a little meadow where the violets grew. They built a circular bandstand in the grove where the Orenco band played on the 4th of July and other important holidays. The city had also thoughtfully enclosed the park with three strands of barbwire. It must have been fixed so that it could be opened on special occasions.
The blue violets grew in the grass of the little meadow, they were a deep blue, almost purple. They were so thick that we could run over there and pick handfuls every day. They were only three or four inches tall but we brought them to our teacher, who put them in a low bowl or vase. We often ran over there during the noon hour. One day the bell rang and in my haste to crawl under the barbwire fence I raised my head up too soon and a barb punctured my scalp. It started bleeding and I ran, crying, to the primary room. The teacher took a 2-quart syrup bucket, which, I think was used to wash the blackboard, and with a soft rag and some cold water washed most of the blood out of my hair. (So much for sanitation). (74) Fortunately, it did not become infected.
In shady places on the edge of the woods were some taller light blue violets. They had longer stems reaching for the light. They also grew near the edge of the woods, sometimes where it was mossy.
Across the creek from our farm was an abandoned farm. There was a grass meadow where we found wild strawberries with their pretty white blooms. Among the strawberries we found a furry gray flower which we called "kitten's ears". I think that somewhere I read that these were called "Mariposa Lilies". The petals were soft and furry, and you could stroke them with your finder.
Flowers are so often called by various local names. In the beautiful color picture book by Ray Atkeson are pictures of the lovely creamy white "lamb's tongues" that we found in the pasture, but in his book they are called Avalanche Lily. It makes you think that she grow up only in the mountains but we had hundreds of them in an open patch of our woods. In the same book are pictured yellow "Lamb's Tongues" on the lower slopes of Mt. Hood. (75)
When I was in Normal School at Monmouth I studied biology. We used many reference books and in one of these I found what the author called "Indian Pipes". He said that it was the only true orchid in Western Oregon. Lady Slippers were called orchids but they have green leaves and a bulb root. One year we had a 4th of July picnic in our woods. After dinner we started running through the woods. In a dark place we found these strange little pipes growing out of the mold of fir needles and other leaves. They were about four inches tall, of white delicate structure and soon turned black as they aged. they were so very delicate and easily broken. This was the only place that I have ever seen them.
In damp places, a plant grew that was about ten or twelve inches tall and it had a cluster of blue flowers at the top of the stalk. These flowers would turn into green pods which my father called "Coffee Beans". At that time many people bought their coffee, either green or roasted, and ground it themselves. It was my job to grind the coffee at home before I went to school, but as our beans were always (76) roasted, I didn't see the beans while they were green. When you pulled up one of these blue flowers it had a small white bulb on it about one inch in diameter. It was said that the Indians called the plant Camas, and they gathered them for food.
The woods and fields were full of many other flowers and weeds. Some weeds have very showy blossoms. Take Jimson weed and Tansy Ragwort, for instance. Both are poisonous to cattle and other farm animals, yet their bright yellow blossoms stand out in the summer fields. In the woods, Solomon's Seal with it's creamy bloom, is very attractive too. Other flowers that bloom in the summer time include fireweed, tiger lilies, ever-lastings. Wild carrots are called Queen Anne's Lace, and they are so lovely with a few roses. I haven't even mentioned buttercups or clover blooms. There are so many that I will just have to give up. (77)
Schools of Washington County
The schools of Washington County at the turn of the century were quite different from those of today. Most were 1-room schools placed strategically, to put them within walking distance of their pupils. Most of the children walked at least a mile; some walked three miles or more. Some students rode horses or drove a buggy with one or two horses harnessed to it. The horses were tied to a tree or fence post to await their master's return with perhaps a bag of oats for their noon meal. I can remember a neighbor's three young ones driving past our place with a buggy and a team.
As I approached school age, my parents decided not to send me to school until I was eight years old because I was too small to go alone to the Shute School. The Shute School was the nearest to our home and was at least a two mile walk away. Oregon law said you had to start to school at age eight, but there were no truant officers. So, whether or not you attended school depended on your parents. But before I turned eight, a miracle occurred in our community. (78)
Some men purchased a large tract of land and started a nursery. Many workers moved in, bought a small lot or a tract of 5 or 6 acres, built a small house and were happy to have a job paying real money. I think the ordinary worker received around $25 or $30 a month, working six days a week from 6:30 in the morning until 5:30 or 6 at night. This influx of workers and their families turned our rural farming community into the town of Orenco. A drug store, 2 general stores, a confectionery, hotel and the Orenco Presbyterian Church were established to serve needs of our growing community.
The leaders also planned to have a good school for the children of the workers. Night classes were held for the parents so that they could learn English. Most of them came from Eastern Europe and knew very little English. They called a meeting of the parents, explained the plan to them, and they voted bonds for $20,000 to build the first unit, a four room school. Construction on the Orenco School began right away but could not be complete until the next year. (79)
So that school could start in September, a tent school was erected. They put up a long building, boarded up to the eves, and finished it off with two thicknesses of canvas for a roof. It was divided approximately in half with a canvas curtain. A large heater was placed in the upper grade section (4th - 8th) while the little folks (grades 1st - 4th) were sometimes cold as they were in the south section where the wind and rain had full sway. It was there in the tent school that I began school at age 7 in the fall of 1909. There must have been 50 to 60 pupils to begin with.
We had a good teacher in the primary room, named Alma Curtis. After Christmas we started attending school in the new buildings. It looked so beautiful: 12 ft. ceilings, white plaster,and shiny varnished woodwork. There was also a hot air furnace that kept us nice and warm.
The furnace burned fir cordwood which was purchased in 4-ft. lengths. Every fall a large saw came to cut the wood into shorter lengths. I can still hear the whine of that saw. The teacher must have heaved a sigh of relief when that saw left. It made such a loud screech (80) every time it made a cut.
For the first three years in new school building, only the two downstairs rooms were used. Then as the number of pupils grew, three rooms were put to use, and soon it was four. Later on, another $20,000 in bonds was voted to build on a second unit. This contained two rooms below and an auditorium on the second floor. Programs were very popular in those days as there were no radios or T.V. The auditorium had every seat filled and many standing in the back.
When I was in the seventh grade, it was decided to have a small high school. The first year, it included only 9th graders but there must have been a dozen students as students came from surrounding districts. The second year, I think grades 9 and 10 were included. The following year, they had a four year high school. Two teachers were hired for the 25 or 30 students attending. Subject matter was limited, but that year they featured book-keeping. Many of the girls wanted to get a business job. A few months at business college in Portland and they were ready to go to work. Some of the students were 16, 17 or 18 and in the eighth grade, so they were eager to get a job. (81)
About this time, the 1st World War started and several of the boys enlisted. When I was in the 11th grade I was the only student in the Junior class. The others went either to Hillsboro or Portland. The following year the high school was cut down to 9th and 10th grade only, once again. The district had to pay tuition to whatever school a student wished to attend. As a senior, I, too, went to Hillsboro High. We had to buy our own books and furnish our own transportation. The Oregon Electric Railroad Co. ran frequent commuter trains from Portland to Forest Grove so we could ride the train to school for about $4.50 a month.
For a number of years, Mr. B.W. Barnes was the County School Superintendent. While he was in charge, we always had a May Day celebration. Hillsboro High chose one of their girls to be the May Queen and all the schools packed lunches and came to the County Courthouse yard to celebrate. To us country children, it seemed so wonderful. Each school tried to put on a special number. Some sand songs, others did a maypole dance. Of course, the climax was the crowning of the May Queen. We all (82) went home tired but happy and hoped to come back next year.
The small independent school districts did not last as new larger districts were formed. Some held out for quite a while, but eventually all were part of a larger school system. I began my own teaching career in 1922, at the Green Mountain school, 4 miles from Buxton. I had 9 students. My own children rode to school on bicycles down the Cornelius Pass Road. Every day I prayed that no harm would come to them. I was worried by the big log trucks that passed them carrying loads from the Tillamook Burn. School buses were not finally introduced until the late 1950s, after my children had all gone on to high school. Hillsboro High School had buses to take them to school. Schools of Washington County have certainly changed. (83)
Susannah M. Harris
Memoirs: "Dear Old Golden Rule Days"
Kist is gone now, and every day fewer people can say that they ever heard of the place. It wasn't really ever much of a district as far as buildings go. A schoolhouse stood on one side of the road and a farmhouse on the other side. At one time, the farmhouse served as the post office, but a rural mail carrier was brought into being around 1920, and the post office was no longer needed. A mailbox on a post became the mode of receiving mail between Vernonia and Timber.
By the time I was born in 1921, automobiles were taking the place of horses and buggies, but Dad didn't retire his old buggy until seven years later, when he bought a Model T Ford. I don't remember ever riding in the old buggy. Mostly the buggy sat in the shed and was a favorite place for us kids to pretend we were taking a trip. I don't remember why, but I was always headed for (84) New York. To this year, I have never seen New York. Mother hitched the team to the buggy one time, along about 1931 or '32, and took a neighbor lady May Ohler, off through the hills to visit Mrs. Jablonski. Gosh! What we kids wouldn't have given to go on that excursion! But there was school to attend.
We lived just about halfway between Timber and Vernonia. Since Vernonia was the bigger town, we always went there to do our shopping. Then too, like Vernonia, Kist was in Columbia County, while Timber was located in Washington County, so all the school functions were in the Vernonia direction.
The first train ride I remember was around 1924 or 1925. I was not yet four years old and the engine looked mighty big to me. Later, I saw the round table where engines were turned and serviced in preparation for sending them out to help other engines pull a train over a hill. Most of the rail traffic was logs being brought down out of the hills to the mills, but Pullman coaches, and box cars loaded with produce (85) also went to the little towns on the coast by way of Timber.
In September of 1927, one shy little girl walked alongside her big brother to start school. There was a total of eighteen students in all eight grades attending the one-room schoolhouse. That had been the greatest number of students to attend Kist School in a single year.
We lived over a mile from the school, and each day my brother Carl and I walked down the hill in the early morning, joining up with the neighbor kids along the way. There often was as much dawdling along the way, but we were always there in time for the big bell in the tower to peal out its command for us to get in line.
After pledging our allegiance to the flag, we marched up the steps and into the school to stand beside our seats until the teacher said, "You may be seated."
I have heard it asked, "How did you ever learn anything in a room where all grades were being taught at one time by one teacher?" Personally, I think it taught us concentration. While an eighth grader was reading about how our United States government was run, (86) a first grader would be reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb". The teacher knew just how much we were concentrating on our work when we would giggle at a small voice saying, "Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet". A sharp word from the teacher soon settled one and all back to their lessons.
Come noon time, the primary grades were dismissed a half-hour before the older students. We would gather up our lunch boxes, which were usually a lard pail, tin cigar box, or paper sack. I was one of the few carrying a brand new pink lunch box with "susie" scratched on the lid for identification.
Mother always packed a good lunch for my older brother and me, and later for my younger brother Laurence. Like all kids, we would trade sandwiches or cake or cookies. I remember when mother found out I was trading my good ground beef or chicken sandwiches for a cold biscuit with jelly or gravy on it. She marched to school and asked the teacher to stop such trading. There were poor people in our neighborhood, especially families with umpteen kids to feed, so some were lucky to have a cold (87) biscuit with gravy.
I was a shy little kid from up on the hill. It was close to a mile up that hill and not too many kids would climb the hill just to play with us. So my bashfulness kept me hanging back from playing with the other kids. I hated being teased, and all kids tease. My name being Susie Mae, the kids soon tagged me Sassy Mae.
I believe the most embarrassing of times throughout my whole school years happened one morning just before lunch. The primary grades were all out playing when my under-panties came unbuttoned at the waist and the seat dropped down, hanging below my skirt. I didn't feel a draft, and thus didn't know of the hanging flap. The other kids spotted it and started saying "Flap", and the taunting began. I flew off to the outdoor restroom where I had my cry and stayed until a seventh grade girl, Mildred Smith, (bless her sweet soul) came and got me to join in with the rest of the kids to eat lunch. (88)
Susannah M. Harris
Memoirs: Labors of Love and a Nag
The horses in my life were for labor, not for pleasure; so, about the only time we got to ride a horse was to take Old Dolly or Pet down to the spring watering hole the days the horses were being used to do the farm work.
The lane to the watering hole was not too wide, and had a high bank on one side and a rail fence on the other. Now the rail fence had a strand of barbed wire running along the top, and it seemed to me that the horses would delight in raking us against the wire on that fence. I still have a scar when I wasn't quick enough moving my foot, and one of the barbs snagged my ankle.
I never heard of tetanus shots until I was thirty years old. Mother put a bit of Lysol in a pan of warm water and I sat soaking my foot for what seemed like (89) hours but was probably only ten or fifteen minutes. Then a good daubing of iodine -- and a howl from me -- and I would be sent on my way.
Dad brought a younger horse to help ease the load on the two older ones. Stacks had never been broken to ride, though Carl made a few attempts to lay across his back, it always ended up with Carl sliding off (before being thrown), and then leading the horse to the watering hole.
One day, I went to the barn -- probably to play in the hay loft -- and there was Pet in the stall with a brand new little colt. I hadn't even known one was expected. We kids were elated, and began to make plans for training him for riding so that we could ride him to school. But, we wasn't very old when we found him lying in a ditch. He had fallen and broken his neck.
This was just one example of the heartbreaks experienced by children raised on farms or ranches.
After I married my husband Sid, a burro came into my life. Jackie was supposedly bought for Sid's son Lee. Jackie was soon broken to harness, and he did (90) more labor than pleasure work. Lee seldom rode him, but often I would put on his bridle, mount him bareback, and ride him around Tigard.
Jackie had a mind of his own. When he would come to a railroad track, he would refuse to cross it. All my persuasive words and movement would be to no avail.
One day I was riding him across a field; we came to an embankment. I thought we would go down the embankment at a slant -- but Jackie had other plans. With no warning, he made a flying leap over the bank, landing solidly on all four feet at the bottom. I found it very difficult to sit down for several days after that leap.
Lee hitched Jackie to a clod smasher one afternoon, intending to level our garden spot. The burro lay down and refused to get up until he was unhitched. When Sid got home from work that evening and heard our woe-begone story, he sent Lee out to hitch Jackie to the clod smasher once again. Sid stood in the background, watching. True to our story, Jackie went round the garden spot a few times, then lay down. Sid walked over (91) and took the reins. He yelled, he slapped Jackie with the reins, but all was in vain. Sid was loosing his patience.
There was a chain laying on the smasher; Sid picked it up and cracked the burro over the tailbone with it. Jackie came to life at once. After that, whenever he hit upon a stubborn trip, the rattle of a chain would convince him it would be better to go on.
We had Jackie about five years when an old fellow traveling by covered wagon pulled by a steer and a burro stopped in the Tigard area for quite a few weeks. The man was traveling across the United States and selling picture postcards of his expedition to pay his expenses. Besides the steer and the burro, the man had a terrier dog, a bantam rooster and a goat. One day, the steer died. The old many obviously needed an animal to help pull his menagerie. Before I knew what was afoot, Sid had sold Jackie. (92)
Susannah M. Harris
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