By Pat Edwards
In the spring of 1963, I found myself living in Tigard, Oregon in the home of my best friend in college, Connie, and her new husband, Dick Ruhlman. I was pregnant – on the way to being what, in those days, was called an ‘unwed mother.’ The shame and embarrassment associated with that label had prompted me to accept Connie and Dick’s kind invitation to move from my parents’ home in Eugene to their Tigard home until the baby was born. My due date was set for early August and the delivery was scheduled to take place at Emanuel Hospital in Portland.
I remember traveling to and from doctor’s appointments and shopping trips with Connie in their little black VW Beetle. Barbur Blvd. (Highway 99), was our preferred route. My most vivid memory of that route was passing the older Fred Meyer store and thinking what a wonderful place it was. In a portion of the store, surrounded by big windows, was a full-size merry-go-round. It invited families and children to come and ride on the beautifully painted and restored horses as the wonderful music, replicating an old-time nickelodeon, played.
My memories are not too sharp from that time. It was a traumatic period in my life and although I loved spending the time with Connie and Dick in their pretty little red-barn bungalow, I was preparing myself for the goodbyes to come. I had decided that the only option I had at that point in my life was to give my baby up for adoption right after the birth. I had already made arrangements and all that was left for me to do was to come to terms with it.
When Jo-Brew said that she was short on stories for the Tigard area, I began considering telling my own story. It’s not one I have ever written down before, but ever since a beautiful, vibrant 30-year old woman named Stacey – the baby I gave up for adoption on August 7, 1963 – came back into our lives in 1993, we have gladly shared our story with family and friends.
A side-note to this story is that Connie and Dick’s house in Tigard was next door to a nice older lady who befriended all of us in 1963. She was also their landlady. Later, after Stacey came back into our lives, I was telling our story to my good friend, Marna Hing (who co-wrote Sawdust and Cider; A History of Lorane, Oregon and the Siuslaw Valley with Nancy O’Hearn and me). The three of us had lived in Lorane with our husbands and families for many years. I mentioned to Marna that I had lived in Tigard during that time. Even though I knew that Marna had grown up in Tigard and had even graduated from high school there, I didn’t think anything about it until she asked me where in Tigard I had lived. We were both astonished to find out that the nice woman neighbor whom Connie and Dick rented their bungalow from was Marna’s mother. We realized that Marna had most-likely visited there many times during the months I lived there. Neither of us remembered meeting, but it was so much of a coincidence that we were truly amazed. It is indeed a small world!
From OREGON’S MAIN STREET: U.S. Highway 99 “The Stories” (2013) by Jo-Brew