Category: Writings

I have written all of my life and this collection will be diverse in content and genre.

Memories of Marna

Amanda & MarnaMarna Hing (March 19, 1941 to August 8, 2010)


Some Love Is Like a Flower
(a song lyric)

Some love is like a flower
Grows so beautiful and strong
But, flowers grow in seasons
And those don’t last too long

Some love is like a windmill
On a gusty-windy day
But, then sometimes the wind will stop
And the purpose goes away

Some love is like a sweet, sweet song
So mellow to the ear
But most of us are deaf or mute
So we lose what’s close and dear

Some love is like a long-lost friend
Kept inside your heart
So, if a newfound friend is there
You both will have a start

Some love is good; some love is bad
Some love was meant to be
And now, I’d like to share with you
The love inside of me

My love is like an ocean
So wide, so deep ‘n strong
Unlike the flowered seasons
My love goes on and on

~ Gary “Spyder” Lewis
Groundwaters, Summer 2009



By Pat Edwards

How is it possible to sum up over 35 years of friendship in a short eulogy? Don’t get me wrong… Marna’s and my friendship wasn’t the kind of “buddies-pals-and-partners” arrangement where we hung out together and had coffee every day. In fact, I’m wondering how good a friend I was, for in the end, I wasn’t there much for her… But, I think that she knew that all she had to do was ask and I would come running. That was the problem. Marna was not a complainer. She bore all of the infirmities that descended upon her over the past 15 years with a strength and resiliency that I can only marvel at. She was a fighter and was fiercely loyal to her friends and family.


Marna Lee Helser Hing

Actually, my husband Jim knew Marna and Bob before I did. Before moving to Lorane in 1971, they frequently shopped at the Mayfair Market in Santa Clara where Jim was manager for several years. They came to have a nodding acquaintance and immediately recognized each other when they met again at one of the Lorane events. Like many in our generation, Marna and Jim shared a mutual liking for Elvis Presley and his music. Marna, especially, was a huge Elvis fan. The four of us – Marna, Bob, Jim and I – also shared a love for card games, pinochle, especially, and in the early years of our friendship, we spent some fun evenings playing the game.

I officially got to know Marna back in the mid-1970s when I took on the role of the Lorane 4-H coordinator. It was my mission to find leaders and kids to form various types of 4-H clubs in the area. I had already found leaders for the livestock clubs – beef, sheep, swine, rabbit, etc. – and cooking and sewing clubs, but I was still seeking leaders for groups that would allow kids to explore other kinds of interests. Marna approached me about forming a dog obedience club, as she was active in dog obedience groups at the time. She had a special way with dogs… she loved them – all animals, really – and they loved her in return. At the time, she had a couple of wonderful Doberman Pinschers, Bonnie and Zorro, who despite their breed’s reputation, were sweethearts. Marna’s 4-H club proved popular and her kids learned a lot about the patience and quiet determination that it takes to train an animal… areas that they were able to carry forward with them and apply to other aspects of their lives, thanks to Marna’s leadership.

Marna eventually came to work for us at the Lorane Family Store which we bought from the Mitchell family in 1977. I was running the store in those days with the help of Nancy O’Hearn in the old original building. It was dusty, rather dark and the old wooden floors creaked and slanted downhill from the door, but we loved greeting the customers and ringing up sales of mainly milk, bread, pop, beer and cigarettes. Pumping gas and sweeping floors were less popular activities… especially since a thick layer of dust would settle onto the shelves each time we swept and we waged a constant battle with the dust.
The three of us formed a close bond at that time. Nancy descended from several generations of Lorane pioneers and when she talked about them, she piqued Marna’s and my interest in our own family histories. Those were the days following the very popular “Roots” series on TV that had everyone trying to trace their family trees. We began actively going to the genealogy libraries together, staring for hours at those horrible little microfiche films of white-on-black census records, trying to locate our ancestors. As we talked about them, Marna and I became more and more interested in Nancy’s family and its connection to Lorane’s past. Nancy brought out old pictures of Lorane and the people who populated the area. She told stories that her grandparents had told her. She discovered that it was her ancestor, Lily Crow, who named the town “Lorane” after a favorite niece. Lily, Nancy’s great great grandmother, was married to William Crow who was the town’s first postmaster. Another thing we discovered was that the town became officially “Lorane” in 1887. We realized that in three years, Lorane would be having its 100th birthday as a town. From that realization was born a plan… we would turn our energies to researching Lorane’s history and compile our findings into a book. Knowing that I loved to write, Marna and Nancy asked me if I would be willing to write the book if they helped research it. When I agreed, we became the “Three Musketeers of Lorane”… pouring over documents, pictures, letters, newspaper articles, microfiche census records and recording every story and little bit of information we were able to uncover. We set up interviews with the “old timers” of that time… listening to and recording the stories that their grandparents had told them about early life in Lorane. Marna usually sat at one end of the table with a tape recorder and I would sit at the other end with a second one so that we could catch as much of the conversation as we could. Nancy took handwritten notes. We all asked questions and let the conversation flow in whatever direction it took. We picked up a lot of wonderful stories that way.

Marna was especially good at knowing what questions to ask that would put our subjects at ease and start the memories flowing. Several times, she and Nancy went out to interviews by themselves when I was unable to go. I transcribed the tapes and Nancy’s notes and entered them into my computer. Soon chapters began to form and our book took shape.

Our project began to pique the interest of others in the community. Soon we were involved with the planning of a major Centennial celebration to recognize Lorane’s 100th birthday. Those three years were labor-intensive for all of us, but we seemed to be in our elements. Our pictures and story appeared in all of the local newspapers and magazines and we were invited to be interviewed on TV. We felt like real celebrities!

A few weeks before the Centennial, Marna, Nancy and I headed over the Cascades to Bend where we joyfully picked up our first 500 copies of our newly printed book, Sawdust and Cider; A History of Lorane, Oregon and the Siuslaw Valley from our publisher, Maverick Publications. We notified those who pre-ordered copies that they were ready and scheduled a booksigning at the Lorane Grange where people were invited to join us for a party at which they could pick up their books. The grange rapidly filled with people who were anxious to read about their own families and the rest of the history of Lorane. We sat at a long table, greeting people and signing their copies of the book. It was a heady experience for three “country girls!”

Book signing

Marna, Pat and Nancy signing autographs in their new book, Sawdust and Cider, at the Lorane Centennial celebration

In August, 1987, there was a large turnout for the three days of activities, games and displays that the Lorane Centennial committee planned. People came from all over the country to touch their roots. One of Marna’s biggest contributions to the event was the video of the old homes and sites of interest in the area that she and Bob made. It was a taped tour of the area and Marna served as the tour guide with her commentary and bits of history of the area. I don’t know how many people bought the tapes, but I still have mine.


Kelly Edwards wearing Lucy’s Portland Rose Festival Queen dress for the Cottage Grove fashion show

During that time, Cottage Grove was celebrating its history, too. They planned a fashion show featuring vintage styles of dress over the past century. Its organizers approached Marna, Nancy and I, as authors of Sawdust and Cider, to participate as a mean of publicizing our book. While trying to figure out what type of costume we could include, Marna was inspired to suggest that her mother, Lucy, had been the 1923 Portland Rose Festival Queen and she had an exquisite flapper dress that we could use. The problem that it presented, however, was that none of us were small enough to fit into the delicate measurements made for Marna’s obviously slender mother. Our youngest teenaged daughter, Kelly, however, was the perfect size and had been doing some modeling, so we asked her if she would model the dress in the Cottage Grove show. She had her hair done in fingerwaves with a tiara and strode up the aisle in the beautiful dress, carrying a copy of our book. We were so proud!

In June 1973, Marna and Bob were part of a group who became charter members of the newly-formed Lorane Volunteer Fire Department. (Bob remembers the other charter members as Bruce and Berneda McDonald, Mike and Linda Jenks, Gary and Lil Thompson, Joe and Barbara Brewer and Jim Kotrc.) There weren’t too many fires to deal with, but Marna made frequent runs with the other volunteers to traffic accidents in the area. There was a need for experienced emergency technicians to aid the victims until medical help arrived. Always ready to lend her help wherever it was needed, Marna began the extensive program to earn her license as an EMT-2 responder. Bob served on the board for many years and, combined, they amassed over 46 years of service to the community with the Lorane Volunteer Fire Department.

Marna and Bob were also long-time Grange members, serving the community, once again, through Grange events and activities.

For a few years of our friendship, Marna and I joined with Phyl Narzisi for weekly horseback rides during the good weather months. I packed my lunch and trailered my Arabian gelding, Gharahas, to Lorane to meet Marna and Phyl, usually at Marna and Bob’s house. Marna’s favorite mount was Bob’s jet black gelding, Satan, although Marna’s own horse, Ginger, was usually available, too. We frequently turned the horses’ heads towards the hill across from the Hing place, riding on the trails through forested land belonging to George Damewood – with his permission, of course. Halfway through our ride, we stopped for lunch under the big fir trees or at an old homestead site. In the fall, we’d pick and eat apples, pears and prunes from the old orchards vacated decades ago. Other times, we’d meet at Phyl’s place on Siuslaw River Road and ride on the trails near Fawn Creek. Those were fun times, indeed!

Eventually, I went to work at the University of Oregon and our friendship became one of occasional email greetings. Marna took on the role of unofficial “community news” person. By then, many of us had email and she maintained an email list to which she sent news updates of things happening in the community.

In 1995, Marna was moving some hay in the barn when the unstable hay rolled out from under her. As she began to fall, she reached for one of the support posts in the barn to try to keep herself from falling. Her arm hit the post hard, causing the bone of her arm to snap, just under the shoulder joint. She had multiple surgeries and procedures performed on the break, but it refused to heal. Despite the pain she must have been in, Marna continued living her life as normally as possible, but her health, over the next 15 years continued to deteriorate.

She and Bob continued to enjoy friends and family; they traveled every winter to Arizona and lived their lives to the fullest under the circumstances. Bob and Marna always maintained a close relationship with their long-time classmates and friends in Tigard and kept in close touch with them through the years and, of course, they had made many many friends in Lorane.

Marna was a caring person in every way. She cared about her community, taking a special interest in doing what she could to make it that unique place that many of us call “home.” She became actively involved with any project or event where she felt her energies were needed.

She loved her friends. She was outgoing and was always there whenever one of us needed her help and support in any way.

… And, then there was her family, children and grandchildren, who meant so much to her – and Bob. He was her life’s companion and soulmate who was by her side every step of the way throughout their marriage… for better and, unfortunately, for worse. For all of her infirmities in the last 15 years, Bob was always there for her… sharing, as best he could, whatever came her way. His devotion is testimony to what a very strong and great lady Marna Helser Hing was. She will truly be missed by all of us who were fortunate enough to have known her.

May you at last rest in peace, Marna.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


My Time at Linfield College

by Pat Edwards

While a senior at Lebanon Union High School in Lebanon, Oregon, I, with my two friends, Bev Williamson and Jan Parsons, became obsessed with the idea of attending Linfield College in “far-away” McMinnville, Oregon. We, at first, thought that Oregon State College would be our choice for higher education. We paid a weekend visit to OSC and found it BIG. There were lots of students, lots of campus and lots of just about everything and it was a bit daunting for three rather immature small town girls. One thing that we did learn, too, was that making college visitations also allowed us to skip classes at school. We had “senioritis” and any excuse to adventure out on our own was fun.

So, after looking through other possibilities, Linfield, appealed to us. It was much smaller than OSC; the pictures of the campus in the brochures were gorgeous and it was only a two-hour-or-so drive from home. We signed up for a campus visitation, staying the night in one of the dorms and going to a dance.

Dances usually… always… meant ‘BOYS,’ too. Just as we frequently did at our own high school dances, we tried huddling in the corner to watch, but miraculously, we were actually asked to dance! These many years later, I wonder if, even though we were new faces at the dance, the campus gentlemen had been encouraged to show the newbies a good time. Regardless, we loved it, and at the end of the evening, we each had the name of our most frequent dancing partners held close to our hearts. Mine was Chuck Mahaffy. I believe that he was from Coos Bay and was a freshman at Linfield that year.

We returned home and began working on our parents to allow us to attend Linfield. The three of us girls made one or two more treks up to McMinnville, going through Albany and making our way north to Salem and west to McMinnville on Highway 99W to visit Linfield and attend a couple more dances there. For the rest of the school year, it was all that we could talk about. It had become our dream.

My parents, although not prepared to cover the more expensive tuition at Linfield, told their spoiled child that if she was able to find a summer job and obtain work-study funds, that she – meaning me – could try it for one year. Unfortunately, Bev and Jan’s focus changed to thoughts of marriage to the local guys they had been seeing, so the dream became mine, alone.

In early September 1960, my parents and I loaded the family car with suitcases full of clothes, shampoo, toothpaste and other necessities including my assortment of the tortuous brush hair rollers and bobby pins. I had boxes of typing paper, notebooks, pens and pencils, and occupying a special place in the car was my graduation gift… a brand-new portable typewriter in its sturdy silver-colored case and a supply of typewriter ribbons and erasers. It was an exciting time as my parents drove me over that now-familiar route to McMinnville.

After registering – probably at Riley Hall, the campus student center – we were directed to my new lodging – Campbell Hall. It was a pretty, three-story brick building with white trim that faced – or was more like, catercorner to – the oldest building on campus, Pioneer Hall. Pioneer has the white spire on top of it, reaching for the sky. My roommate was a shy young girl from the Portland area named Karen Thune.

My parents left for their return trip home and I began to settle in to our second-floor room. Karen and I immediately met two girls across the hall from us. Connie Michael, whose family farm was nearby in Dayton, and Helen McManimie, who was also from Dayton. The four of us eventually became close friends and to this day, Connie (who is now Connie Ruhlman) and I are best friends despite the fact that she has lived in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana for the past several decades.

In 1960, Campbell Hall was an all-girls’ dorm and Pioneer Hall was an all-boys’ dorm. There were no coed dorms at that time… it would have been unheard of! We had a room-mother who locked the door at 10:00 p.m. sharp each night and if you weren’t in by that time, there were serious repercussions. There was a pay phone on each floor if we needed to make a phone call, so we had to have a bunch of dimes and other change on hand to use them.

After signing up for my classes, I went to Dillin Hall, the beautiful brand new ‘commons’ where meals were served, to interview for a work-study job. I was hired to do secretarial work for the manager, but there was never a set schedule or duties and my boss was seldom in her office, so I frequently just ‘hungout’ until someone gave me a job to do.

To earn a little extra cash, Connie and I put out the word that we would take in ironing. Chuck Mahaffy immediately assigned me his starched white shirts to iron at some atrociously low price per shirt. I probably charged 25 to 50 cents a shirt, but at this late-date, I don’t remember exactly how much it was.

In those days, we wore casual-but-nice clothes to classes and around the dorm, but on Sundays, we were to dress up in our Sunday best… thus the starched white shirts for the boys, and dresses and high heels for the girls.

Unfortunately, I was a good worker in the bean and strawberry fields at home, but I wasn’t domestic in any way. Ironing was not my forte, so my extra income from ironing soon dried up. I don’t think Connie lasted much longer than I did.

I didn’t see Chuck much after that and dated only occasionally. My attention had been redirected to a senior star football player that year by the name of Jim Clifton, but though very nice, his was just a friend. Dating anyone was secondary and all but non-existent. My friendships with Connie, Helen and Karen, however, were constants.

As I mentioned, we had to dress-up on Sunday mornings to attend chapel and at noon, to have a scrumptious sit-down fried chicken dinner at the commons. I vividly remember hurrying down the stairs at Campbell one Sunday morning in my 2″ spiked heels. One of my heels caught on the metal trim on a stair-step and I went crashing down the stairs head-first, putting a dent in my shin that kept me in the campus infirmary for several days with my leg elevated. I can still feel that dent when I run my hand over my right shin-bone.

In the strange workings of campus life – at least in 1960 – alliances seem to be formed between certain girls’ and boys’ dorms. Campbell Hall’s alliance was with Pioneer Hall. We seemed to have more activities and friendships with the guys in Pioneer than with any of the other boys’ dorms. One of those activities, however, caused a bit of ruckus on campus and, unfortunately, I was involved. I don’t know who the instigators were, but a challenge was issued. Secret plans were made between the two dorms to meet one night after dark for a water-fight. Preparations began in earnest. Some of the girls had a bunch of balloons which we began filling with water. Others armed themselves with squirt guns and pitchers and jugs of water. Anything that would hold water was filled and readied for the fight. The site was to be outside Pioneer Hall, I believe. Once in position, water balloons and streams of water were flying everywhere and we were all soon soaked. I then noticed that someone nearby had hooked up a water hose to an outside faucet and I ran over to help hold on to it. We were hosing everyone down and soon there were only a few people left and I found myself holding the streaming hose all by myself. When I looked around to see where everyone had gone, I looked right into the eyes of Dr. John Boling, the Dean of Men, as someone else turned off the faucet. Embarrassing? Oh yes!

We girls were all marched back to Campbell. We were dripping-wet and left wet footprints wherever we went. After a stern lecture about how something like this was to never happen again and threats of what would happen if it did, we marched up to our rooms to change into dry clothes and spent the rest of the evening mopping up the puddles that we had left on the floors and stairs.

Even though it may not sound like it, college was not all fun and games. I drowsed through World History lectures, and awakened and enjoyed my Appreciation of Music and Art classes. Even though I wasn’t particularly religious at the time, I absolutely loved the required “Life of Jesus” classes, comparing the gospels and taught by Dr. Paul Little. He brought the story of Christ to life for me. Even then, I loved to write, so I looked forward to the compositions that I was assigned to write on my trusty little portable typewriter. I went through quite a few typewriter erasers that year, if I remember correctly.

Oh, how I loved college life! But, towards the end of the year, when my friends were making plans for their sophomore year, my parents informed me that there was no money left for another year’s tuition. It was with a heavy heart that I said my good-byes and left Linfield for the last time. I only spent one year there, but I made lasting friendships and special memories that have continued throughout my 71 years of life.

Included in OREGON’S MAIN STREET: U.S. Highway 99 “The Stories” by Jo-Brew (2014)


In Memory of Estelle Counts

By Pat Edwards

Stell & Lloyd Counts

Stell and Lloyd Counts on their wedding day

It never occurred to me that Stell Counts would ever die. Knowing Stell – loving Stell – I just assumed that she would always be there. She emitted such feisty energy, such excitement for new things, and such love for her family and community, that I could not imagine her any other way. And, you know what? I believe that I was right! Stell may have left her body, but in her heaven, she is still with us.

I am currently reading a book called The Lovely Bones about a 14-year old girl who narrates the story as she looks down from heaven after her premature death. In the book, she describes her heaven as being anything she wants it to be… that heaven is different for each person. The girl chooses to spend her time in heaven observing her family and friends and the manner in which they deal with her death. For Stell, I know her heaven is similar, for I don’t think she would have wanted to live anywhere else in any other way than she actually did, and the people in her family and community will always remain the most important to her.

Jim and I feel an especially deep loss – the loss of not being able to see that wonderful lady coming into the store or attending a school function. She has had such a profound impact on our lives over the past 30 years that we will continue to look for her each day. Even though we made some drastic changes when we converted the Mitchell Store into the Lorane Family Store, she was always a vocal supporter. When Jim said that he was going to have to tear down the old store (which was gradually falling into the creek) and build a new store, her excitement and encouragement accompanied him every step of the way. When friends and acquaintances would reminisce about the old store and how differently it was “back then”, she would admonish them that “Jim has his own way of doing things and is doing a wonderful job!” When the family sold the family homes across from the store and the buyer defaulted, she would not hear of putting them back on the market. She wanted Jim to buy them and despite my hesitancy to take on rentals, she insisted that no one but Jim should have them. Between the two of them, I was railroaded into signing the contract even though I kicked and screamed all of the way.

When Nancy, Marna, and I conceived of writing the history of the Lorane area, it was Stell and Lloyd that we turned to. They knew all of the “old timers” and it was their shared confidence in us that allowed us to pre-sell enough of our books to pay for the first printing. Stell dug deep into her memory and her treasure trove of pictures and supplied us with information and leads to track down the early families of the area. When we found pictures in which people were not identified, Stell took on the project of finding out who they were. When we began planning the 1987 Lorane Centennial celebration, Stell and Lloyd were active participants and the excitement that she generated kept us all on track and helped to keep at bay any discouragement we felt in the huge task of planning.

In recent years, as her health began to fail and she was no longer able to drive, she spent more time at home, but that didn’t stop her from continuing to impact the lives of those around her. Kids, including our own grandkids, from the Lorane Elementary School, frequently stopped by her house to visit with Stell on their way home from school. She always had a cookie or a snack for them and they loved to sit with her and visit for awhile before continuing on home. She was ageless to them and helped to bridge the proverbial gap between youth and the elderly that many of us fail to even attempt.
If Lorane was a bigger community, we would be naming a building or a special project after her… “The Estelle Counts Community Center” or “The Estelle Counts Memorial.” But, we are a small community and since most of us here knew and loved her, our memorial to her should be to not let her energy or love of community die. If each one of us vows to get involved in preserving the links between the past, present, and the future of Lorane, it will evolve, as Stell would have wanted, but it will also remain a community where we can all feel we belong. And, for each positive involvement, you can be sure that Stell will be smiling from her heaven.

So, if you’re watching us now, Stell, God Bless You! You did it your way, and that’s the most any of us can ever hope for!

Estelle Mitchell Counts (1918-2002)