Category: Writings

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

Respecting the Past; Accepting the Present; Looking to the Future

by Pat Edwards, October 18, 2012

Community baseball game

Although no one has ever told me directly that I need to quit living in the past, I’m sure that the thought has occurred to some… especially with the recent issues that we, in Lorane, are facing regarding the closing of our school. Much of the emotional turmoil that has bubbled up around that reality comes from the fond memories that the school has evoked in those of us whose lives have intertwined with our small rural community, however briefly. The past has impacted our lives in ways that those from other, more urban, communities can’t fathom.

In the past, when life revolved around home and a single bread-winner, we knew our neighbors and shared our lives with them. Social activities were centered in the church, the Grange, the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs… but especially in the school. There were potlucks and dances and smelt feeds and 4th of July celebrations and baseball games. We had Christmas programs in our school where we watched our children perform and we would all join them in singing Christmas carols. Even as recently as a few years ago, large funerals have been held in the gymnasium because no other venue in the community would hold the hundreds who gathered to pay their respects. Our neighbors were many times our best friends and, we generally respected each others’ differing political views and could good-naturedly discuss them without fear of making them an enemy.

In the 1960s, we mothers usually went to town once a week to buy groceries and we frequently scheduled doctor’s appointments on the same day. Lunch at a hamburger stand with the kids on that one day was a big event. When we were lucky enough to lunch with another adult, we actually talked and listened to each other. Unlike today, conversation did not have to be woven around phone calls or while the other person was reading her text messages or playing a game on her phone.

Kids spent their summers building forts and taking hikes in the woods, bucking hay, gardening and playing outside in the sunshine and fresh air all day long. Usually, if they didn’t, they found themselves cleaning their rooms or practicing the piano, instead. During the school year, after school and on weekends, they raised livestock or learned to sew or cook in 4-H clubs. Some older boys helped their dads in the woods, learning not only to cut timber, but to build a strong work ethic, as well… and there were always daily chores in addition to homework.

No, it was not an idyllic life. Money was usually tight. Kids usually wore hand-sewn “hand-me-downs” from older siblings or cousins. There were no designer shoes or clothing that separated the “haves” from the “have-nots,” but respect was taught. Usually it was done with love, but, like today, for some, it was taught with a hard hand.

Yes, it is easy to live in the past, but even though I am now a septuagenarian, I am still able to look to the future as well as live and function in the present… and I do that every day. As far as the school closing is concerned, I am a realist. In light of our poor economy and the school funding situation, it’s apparent that the school board had few other choices in order to make the school district run as efficiently as possible. Lorane is about 25 miles from Eugene; Crow is about 15. Most parents now work in Eugene, so placing all of the district’s elementary-age children in Lorane was not feasible when you consider the burden that would be placed on parents who needed to pick them up mid-day for doctor’s appointments, etc. I know this with my mind, but my heart wishes it wasn’t so.

I am a realist. Life, as I described it above, no longer exists in Lorane and I realize that we will never get it back. Modern technology is here to stay. Most women have taken their rightful place in the work force… not only as a matter of financial necessity, but because that’s where most of them would rather be. Designer clothes, computers and X-boxes, cell phones and texting have taken over our lives so completely that there is no turning back.

I know this, but it still hurts, deeply. The closing of the school is threatening to put a final stamp on our past and move us into a future over which we have no control. Our rural way of life, not only in Lorane, but all over the state and nation, is at risk with the closing down of our local schools and post offices.

We look for solutions that no longer seem to be there. There is evidence that the numbers of those willing to work towards finding those solutions, however, are swelling. A group of dedicated community members in Lorane are working diligently to form a charter school. If that does not happen, many of us envision the school building turned into a community center, but the financial obstacles seem almost insurmountable… especially in this economy. If we could fiscally figure out how to obtain, upgrade and maintain the building, how much use would it really get? These things need to be explored. They are concerns and questions that may never find answers because our time is running out.

Regardless of the outcome, in the time that we have remaining to search for these answers, we want our past… our history, embodied within the Lorane Elementary School… to be treated with respect. Only by understanding and respecting the successes and failures of our past, can we move confidently into the future knowing that we have done everything possible to control our own destiny.

Lorane Elementary School 1280 pix

The Histories of the Lorane Service Station (aka The Mitchell Store) and the Lorane Family Store

In recognition of the

Lorane Family Store’s 40th anniversary

December 1977 – 2017

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The History of the Mitchell’s Store

(Lorane Service Station)

1934-1977

By William Olsen
April 12, 2008

Old Mitchell Store

Most of my family came from Ireland. But I have roots I can trace to people coming over on the Mayflower. But I can trace, and just have more roots, from Ireland. Most of my ancestors came over during the great potato famine! (Before that they where probably eating the some of the more common Irish foods, like limerick ham, apple jelly, and soda bread. But potato was what they usually sold for money, and ate with all their meals.)

They had two options: stay in Ireland and starve to death or try to go to America and risk death on the way over. The later option is the one that they choose, for obvious reasons. So they packed up their few belongings and set out for the docks. When they got there however, they probably had to sell their stuff, so they could get the money to buy passage on a ship. This was really expensive because the captains would charge them an excessive amount of money, due to how badly they wanted to get to America. These boats quickly gained the name of coffin ships.

Some of my ancestors must have made it, because my Great Grandpa Bill Mitchell was born. Bill and his wife Hattie, lived near Bill’s brothers in California. Unfortunately Hattie’s sister’s health was not so good, so as a family they decided to move. They packed up their model T-Fords and trailers. This undoubtedly was a long trip they made. Grandpa told me that they would sleep in the fords all the way on the trip because they did not have the spare money to sleep in a hotel, and who knows what might have crawled in back of those trucks.

After the long trip they arrived in a small logging town known as Lorane. There the four brothers all worked in a logging business. They worked there for a while, and then they decided to start their own logging business. Their mill was one of the first mills to get an electric saw put in. Grandpa worked there for a while until he got injured in an accident. He sold his share in the company and he decided to open up a store.

The store had two gas pumps right out front. As you enter through the front door, right in front of you would be the counter and there would be Grandpa sitting there, smiling his genuine smile at you. The store’s name, “The Lorane Service Station,” was quickly changed by the people who came in regularly to, “The Mitchell’s Store.” Grandpa’s store soon became a meeting place for the whole town. Everybody would come down for some reason or another. Some people would come down for gas, others for groceries, the kids came for the penny candy, but everyone would stop by.

Then disaster struck! The Great Depression came on. Grandpa, being a nice man started to give credit to people, and every single one paid him back. He would start trading things like flour for some eggs, or butcher a cow and let it hang up in his freezer to cure exchange for some of the beef. It was hard times indeed. But after awhile it cleared up.

One day my Great Grandpa, Bill Mitchell, was sitting in his store behind the counter drinking an ice cold Coke-Cola, which conveniently, he got from his store’s water-cooled Coke-Cola machine. While sitting there minding his own business, a person from the Oregon State Department of Transportation walked up to him.

The man said to him “Are you Bill Mitchell?”

Grondpa replied, “Yes I am.”

“Then sir,” said the man from the State Department of Transportation, “you need to move the gas pumps you have outside back a few feet.”

“Why do I have to move them back?” asked Grandpa “I am not paving the road. Also, they are certainly not in my way.”

The state man said, “Because, Sir, they are in the way of us paving the road.”

“So, I don’t care; pave the road if you want.” was Grandpa’s cool response.

The state man was getting flustered at Grandpa for not doing what he was asking. He responded to Grandpa in a strained voice, “5ir, those two gas pumps are in the way of us paving the road! Please move them back.”

Grandpa responded in his cool tones “If you want those two gas pumps moved back then you move them back.1I

The state man ground his teeth loudly, and in an unkind voice he said, “I will come back tomorrow to talk to you again.”

The next day, like he promised, the man from the state department came back. What happened in the conversation was pretty much like the day before, except this time the conversation ended with the man from the state department yelling, “Fine! Have it your way, We will just pave those two gas pumps as well!”

The man turned to leave and said “We will be starting in week. If they are not moved, they will be under asphalt!” and the man left.

The paving of the road went pretty smoothly, except for the paving around Grandpa’s two gas pumps, which were now two feet shorter, because they were in the road and the state man followed through on his threat.

One day in 1969, Grandpa was sitting in his store when robbers with guns came in to rob him. They had him put all his money he had at the store in a bag. Then while they were making their escape, they decided to bring him along to make sure he did not call the police. They had him strip his clothes off, and then they taped him up with duct tape which they found in the store. They then picked him up and roughly shoved him in the back of the car. Then when they got in the car, one of them decided that they should blindfold him. So one of them had to reach behind the seat and blind fold him, while he laid in a shape not unlike that of twisted pretzel. Then they drove off an old windy road so he could not remember the way they went. When they neared Cottage Grove, however, they let him out and drove off. Grandpa had to walk two miles to the nearest house to call his wife to bring him a new pair of trousers and give him a ride home.

Unfortunately this took a big toll on his body and he died six months later.

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Lorane Service Station; Mitchell Store: Lorane Family Store

by Pat Edwards

Old Lorane Family Store

Lorane Family Store 300 dpi

In 1932, Bill and Hattie Mitchell sold the property that sat across Territorial Road from their house to Hattie’s brother, Earl C. Herendeen. He built a small building there to house a barber shop and service station with living quarters attached.

In 1934, Herendeen sold the property and building back to Bill Mitchell who enlarged it and established a grocery store and service station. It was named the Lorane Service Station and was referred to as Mitchell’s Store.

Every time the county put another layer of asphalt on Territorial Road in the early years after it was paved, they approached Bill Mitchell and told him that he couldn’t have his gas pumps that close to the road. Bill would say, “I didn’t raise the road! If you want the gas pumps moved you buy them or move them for me.” They wouldn’t agree to that, but would invariably give him a variance. Next time that they put a new coat on the road, they would again approach Bill. They’d say “You can’t;” Bill would say “I didn’t do this,” and the county finally gave in and allowed the pumps to stay where they were ‒ about a foot below the surface of the road.

Bill Mitchell had the reputation of being a “nice man.” He was known as a man who “never knew a stranger,” and the store was a well-used meeting place for those who wanted to warm their hands at the wood stove and catch up on the gossip. It was a friendly store because Bill made it that way.

Bill and Hattie Mitchell operated the store until his death in 1969. The family continued operation until Hattie’s death in 1977, when the store was sold to Jim and Pat Edwards. The Edwards changed the name to the Lorane Family Store. Jim was a former grocery and meat manager for Mayfair Markets in the Eugene area. For the first few years, Jim continued to work as a meat cutter for Mayfair while Pat ran the Lorane Family Store. After Mayfair sold its local stores, Jim went to work for West Lane Thriftway in Veneta as a meat cutter for two days a week and has since run the store with the help of Nancy O’Hearn, and an assortment of others including Michelle Doughty, Marna Hing, Kandi Karsh, Sheila Mc Donald, Marilyn Wenger Cooper, Debbie Davis, Anna Davis, Chris Keeler, Melissa Keeler, Kathy Warden, Paula Warden May, Jeramie Warden, Jamie Cooper, Shaunna Doughty, Beverly Foster, Cynthia Nickel, Heidi O’Hearn, Kim Edwards, Rollin Hardie, Barbara Robinson, Tayla Raye Martin, Kayla Pinson, Stacy Larsen,  Deanne Ewoniuk, Tia Spath, Hannah Edwards, Tracie DeBoer and Kevin Stevens (our newest “family” members/staff) not to mention most of the other Edwards children and grandchildren and most likely a few others. When Jim took over the store full time, Pat went to work for the University of Oregon in the Institute of Neuroscience.

Over the years, it was obvious that the old building was slowly sinking into the Upper Siuslaw flowing behind it. It had no foundation and the customers used to tease that the Edwards located the Pepsi coolers in the back of the store so that they would sell more pop, since the slant of the old wooden plank floors seemingly propelled the customers in that direction. After careful consideration, Jim Edwards ordered a 36′ x 80′ prefabricated steel building and laid a heavy concrete pad to the south and behind the store to build it on. The construction of the new store began October, 1993. Jim did most of the work himself. The old store continued operation for 10 months until August, 1994, when a group of family and friends began moving the merchandise from the old store to the new one. Shortly afterwards, the old store was demolished. It was a bittersweet time for the Edwards.

Because the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ruled that all aged underground gasoline storage tanks had to be dug up, inspected for leaks and replaced by the end of 1996, Jim decided to do that at the time he was building the new store. Fortunately, there was little leakage from the old underground tanks on the site, unlike many others in other parts of Lane County. Many small businesses gave up their gas pumps because the high cost of replacing the tanks was prohibitive. Because the Lorane General Store was one of those that stopped selling gas, Jim and Pat felt that they had to figure out a way of retaining their pumps. If they didn’t, the people of Lorane would not have a source of gasoline within 12 miles. The cost of replacing and maintaining underground tanks, however, dictated that the Edwards use the above-ground tanks, instead. The old tanks were pulled out and a large 9,000 gallon partitioned above-ground tank was installed

Since they bought the store in 1977, the Edwards have greatly increased the merchandise inventory and the variety of merchandise they carry in order to provide as many conveniences as possible for the community. The Lorane Family Store has carried at one time or another a full line of groceries, gasoline, livestock feeds, hardware, fresh-ground coffee, hot lunchtime items, movie rentals, sundries, local wines, greeting cards, toys, automotive fluids and supplies, hunting licenses, UPS sending and pickup service, U-Haul rentals and fax and copy services.

From Sawdust and Cider to Wine (2006) by Pat Edwards

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And, now even a community book exchange

Lorane Family Store Library Oct 24 2013 - Pam Kersgaard

Buzzard Duck

by Pat Edwards

Buzzard Duck was a member of that large mute breed of black and white duck that looks like it has a hamburger patty wrapped around its face… the Muscovy Duck.  He came to live on our farm many years ago when someone gave him to us (that’s one of the “perks” of living on a farm… you get all of the animals that your friends and acquaintances no longer want!).  Buzzard Duck had the run of the barnyard along with an assortment of chickens and a pair of turkeys.  Because he didn’t have a mate, he had to use his imagination.  He took a shine to his own image that reflected from a piece of shiny aluminum that patched a large hole on the bottom of the barn door.  B.D. stood before his reflection for hours on end, whispering sweet nothings to it in duck-fashion, and caressing its smooth surface with his head and beak.  He was so enamored with his own image that we didn’t think that any of us existed in his mind.  But, apparently, he did feel he owed my husband, Jim, a debt of gratitude for feeding him each day.

One day, Buzzard Duck was in rapt discussion with his reflection, as usual, while my husband was hammering away on a piece of equipment in the barnyard.  Jim was completely oblivious to the fact that our huge Tom Turkey was nearby.  Tom, who had long before instilled terror in the hearts of our 4 children, especially our youngest daughter, Kelly, by chasing them across the barnyard whenever they ventured near, began to circle Jim, preparing for a full charge.  Then, with wings spread and neck extended, the turkey sped (as fast as a 50 lb. hunk of white meat can speed) straight towards Jim.  Jim was at first unaware that he was a target, but when he heard the rustle of feathers, he looked up to see a black and white duck streaking past him.  When he turned around to see where Buzzard Duck was going in such a hurry, he saw what looked like a potential game of “Chicken” between a turkey and a duck.  It was the turkey that put on his brakes and made a retreat for the far reaches of the barn lot with a very mad Buzzard Duck in fast pursuit.  When B.D. figured that Jim was once again out of harm’s way, he calmly returned to courting his aluminum mate.

It was not too long afterwards that we found someone who had a female Muscovy who was looking for a mate.  It was to be Buzzard’s reward for saving the dignity of his benefactor.  And a few months’ later, it was Thanksgiving.  (No, we didn’t eat Tom, but we did find him and his mate a new home.)  Kelly and her sisters and brother were able to cross the barnyard… unarmed… once again, and they all lived happily ever after.