Category: Newspaper Columns

Newspaper columns that I have written for the Fern Ridge Review in Veneta, Oregon and the Creswell Chronicle in Creswell, Oregon. I began writing them for the Fern Ridge Review on August 4, 2010; on December 6, 2012, the Creswell Chronicle began printing them, as well. I am still the Lorane columnist for both papers.

Sweet Lorane Community News – April 1, 2021

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
April 1, 2021
By Pat Edwards

I’m going to cheat this week and share with you a couple of passages from our book, From Sawdust and Cider to Wine. While trying to remember what would fit with the season, I thought of lady’s slippers, an orchid-like wildflower that grew—and probably still grows—in the spring in the forests around Lorane that was mentioned in interviews we made in our research.

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FROM “The Gowing Family History”:

“Rena Rieck Gowing recalls some of the events of her childhood as she and her twin Reta grew up on the family farm in Lorane…

“Reta and I always liked the Spring and could hardly wait to find the first Wood Lilly or Blue Bell. Then came the Spring Beauties and the Lambs Tongues. Then in late March, the Lady Slippers would be out and our mother went with us upon the hill in the fir trees with a 2-pound cracker box and we filled it with Lady’s Slippers. We always had one that was pure white, and it was always exciting to see if it would bloom each year. It usually did.

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FROM “The Way of Life: Growing Up in Lorane” chapter…

“Being a child 50-or-more years ago in Lorane was somewhat different than it is today. There was usually more physical responsibility put on the youngsters in the way of work and chores that they were expected to do each day. But, in turn, it seems that the pressures put on them mentally, emotionally and socially were less than they are now.

“It is true—Grandad did have to walk long distances to school. Many times there was no other way to get there. Each child was expected to do daily chores and to contribute in any way they could for the good of the family.

“Various jobs that children in Lorane took on in order to earn some money of their own included trapping for fur, peeling chittem and working in the orchards.

“Chores for girls usually centered around housework with large amounts of ironing and helping to take care of the younger children of the family. Boys helped with the outside work, feeding livestock, chopping wood and mending fences. They did a lot of hunting and fishing to help feed the family, also.

“Lorayne Kotrc and her brother Rodney Dillon always enjoyed walking in the woods when they were kids. Lorayne told of the times. “I don’t know why we kids didn’t get lost, because we always roamed these hills around here when they were all virgin timber. Folks never said anything just as long as we didn’t get too close to where they were falling timber. We’d take a sandwich and take off to the brush. It was pretty clear under the trees – not too much undergrowth. It was old growth and the small stuff was all killed out. It was pretty. We used to pick Lady’s Slippers and take them to town and sell them for a nickel a bunch.”

“George Damewood remembers that he used to earn money for school clothes by peeling chittem bark. He and a friend would take saddle horses into the hills, peel the bark, put it in sacks and tie the sacks together and throw them over the horse’s back. They took it to town and earned four cents per pound for it.

“Willard Gowing remembers only getting 1½ cents per dry-pound for his. He was lugging his sack full of chittem bark home one evening when he came to a fence bordering the road. He threw the sack over the fence and prepared to climb over when he heard a car approach. Not wanting to be seen, for some reason, he hid in the bushes until the car passed. Instead, Eddie Farman drove up, spotted the sack, stopped, looked inside, threw it in the back of his car and drove off. Willard had a set-back in his first million that day.

“Cooking took a good deal of time for mothers and their helpers. Large meals were usually fixed three times a day for the huge appetites of the men who worked on the farm and in the woods, and much canning had to be done each summer to help get the family through the winter months…

“Childhood was not all work, however. There was much time for fun and recreation. Swimming holes were put to good use on hot summer days, and snowball fights and sledding were popular ways of working off excess energy in the winter. There were no televisions, stereos, VCRs, DVDs, movies, discos, or much money “back in the old days,” but neither were extreme pressures put on the youth of yesterday as they are today.”  – From Sawdust and Cider to Wine; A History of Lorane, Oregon and the Siuslaw Valley (2006) by Pat Edwards

Fortunately, most of us have sweet memories of our childhood. During these difficult days, sometimes it’s nice to remember them and try to pay them forward whenever possible.

Sweet Lorane Community News, March 25, 2021

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
March 25, 2021
By Pat Edwards

Jim and I no longer have grandkids at Crow schools these days, but our oldest great- granddaughter is in kindergarten this year in Roseburg. We’ve always made a habit of going to all of the programs, plays, concerts, games and other athletic events they participated in over the years. We’ve missed that so much, but we’ll have a few great-grands old enough to fill their shoes before long. This year, knowing that local kids, who are “attending school” are also missing out on so many of the same things, and it tears at my heart.

In the past month or so, though, I have been elated to see the school bus once again traveling up the road that borders our property to pick up and drop off students who live on the hill above us. Strangely, our dogs, BB and Toby, are even more thrilled that the school bus is back. They have virtual clocks in their heads that tell them when it’s time for the yellow school bus to turn onto our road and their very favorite thing is to race it along the inside of our fence until they reach our property’s boundary. It’s a game with them that they sorely missed.

Recently, I read that athletic teams were forming. On the district’s website is a photo of a Crow football team practicing for a game. Each member is properly distanced and each is wearing a mask. I’m not sure when the photo was taken, but it shows the determination our students have in making life this year as normal as possible.

Right now, it’s volleyball season though the school year is fractured. Teams are now playing games that are being live-streamed on Facebook whenever possible so that fans can watch.

Even better, the Crow administration announced that for their game against Mohawk played last week, each volleyball player was issued three spectator tickets. That way players could invite 3 family members to attend and the family groupings would spread out in the bleachers to keep distanced—everyone wearing masks, as well. Those players whose family was not able to use their allotment of 3 tickets would be allowed to share them with teammates. What a great way to let the team know that someone really is watching. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be playing in a quiet gymnasium.

Apparently, wrestling is in the works, as well. Last month, the Crow Grange #450 hosted the First Annual Steve Boehringer Memorial Breakfast for the Cougar Mat Club. Breakfasts were picked up in the parking lot to take home this year, but knowing the organizers, it will become a popular “sit-down” event in coming years. This year’s proceeds were presented to Crow wrestling coach, Troy Jenzsch, who trained many years ago under the late (and great) Crow wrestling coach, Steve Boehringer, who lost his life in an automobile accident. The proceeds will be used for items like equipment and scholarships to middle and high school students who need assistance.

While we are on the subject of Crow schools, the district has announced that it is needing two community members to volunteer to fill out the Budget Committee. The commitment covers 1-3 meetings per year in April and May for a term of 3 years. If interested, you are urged to contact Lee Ann Hartwig at 541-935-2100 or lhartwig@cal.k12.or.us to learn more.

And, from Jim and me… Go Cougars!

Sweet Lorane Community News, March 18, 2021

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
March 18, 2021
By Pat Edwards

As a weekly columnist for two local newspapers, I have found it difficult in the last year to come up with something to write about each week. Oh… there have been plenty of national and world-wide things to write about, but trying to write about what’s been happening locally in our community of Lorane has not been easy. The war on COVID-19 that has necessitated the shutdown of so much in our lives, has taken its toll on all of us, but with the arrival and beginning of the distribution of the vaccines, the skies seem a bit bluer as we look to the future.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, without much locally to write about, I have tried to use my columns as a way of journaling these truly historic, remarkable and tragic times we have been living through that have affected our lives in so many ways. Many of us have lost people who have personally touched our lives—family members, friends, acquaintances and even celebrities—to COVID-19. They are among the 538,000 deaths caused by this horrible disease in the U.S. to date.

The pandemic has been bad enough, but we have also had to endure a close-up and personal view of the tragedy Mother Nature can wreak upon our neighbors and friends living in the path of this past summer’s wildfires throughout Oregon, destroying homes and entire towns and leaving devastation in their wake.

Political tensions that began throughout the nation over the response to the coronovirus protocols calling for the wearing of masks and social distancing became more pronounced when the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd, an African-American who died at the knee of a Minnesota police officer, came to the forefront in June.
These same political tensions grew and accelerated through the summer and fall and by the time that the November 3rd Presidential election came around in the midst of a pandemic, we were a nation divided and our world exploded on January 6, 2021 when insurgents stormed our nation’s beautiful Capitol Building to try to nullify the outcome of the election.

I wrote about each of these events in my columns, but those weeks in between were a challenge. Because of COVID, local events, activities and in-person school throughout Oregon were cancelled, businesses closed, travel has become rare and dangerous and the economy has declined. Working, studying and staying at home has been the norm for almost everyone whose situation will allow it. Most meetings and family and social contacts have been done via Zoom, face-timing or other electronic means. We women have forgotten what we looked like with makeup—especially lipstick— and many men have grown beards.

Those blue skies that I mentioned at the beginning of this column are a sign that maybe—just maybe—there will soon be family gatherings, vacations, summer festivals, camping, barbeques and other social activities that I can write about once again.

Jim and I got our second Pfizer COVID vaccine last Sunday. I felt a little “unwell” for a couple of hours on Monday, and by Tuesday and Wednesday, with the sun shining, my energy level was back. Fortunately, Jim had no adverse reactions to the vaccine.

With the renewal of spring 2021, hope and happiness are on the horizon and, quite frankly, I’m ready to smile again.