Category: Writings

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

Lorane Spring Fling, 2011… Could It Be the Last?

Lorane Spring Fling, 2011
Could It Be the Last?
June 6, 2011
By Pat Edwards

Smiles and laughter were in evidence wherever you looked at Lorane Elementary School’s “Spring Fling” last Saturday night, but underlying the gaiety was a sense of sadness, too.  Due to budget cuts, the school will close for at least the 2011-2012 school year once the doors swing shut for summer break this month. It was apparent, however, that both young and old were willing to put the sadness aside and fully enjoy the tradition of Lorane’s annual spring event.

Troy Jentzsch

The evening began with a dinner served by the Lorane Rebekahs in the school cafeteria. There was plenty of spaghetti and lots of hot dogs, salad and ice-cold lemonade for the hungriest of appetites.

The dinner was followed by a children’s concert directed by Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District’s music director, Pat Dixon. A large turnout filled the bleachers and many lined the walls while enjoying the entertainment.

childrens concert in gymThe 12-member Lorane band played an assortment of tunes and several provided solos on their instruments. The group also turned choir, singing an intro to one of their pieces. The classes also provided skits and songs. Some of the younger students put on a very entertaining skit to the story, “Goodnight Owl” and the sixth graders made their entrance dressed in 80’s clothing and hairstyles. They soon had the large audience rockin’ to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” while using glow sticks in the darkened gym.

Face Painting 3Once the program ended, a long line quickly formed to purchase game tickets and all of the volunteers took their places at the booths in the gymnasium. With tickets in hand, kids rushed to their favorite games – the Fish Pond, Balloon Beanbag Toss, Ring Toss, Bean Bag Throw, Lollipop Tree, Face Painting, Golf and the Goldfish Toss where ping pong balls – not goldfish – were tossed into a bowl of water. If the ping pong ball remained in the bowl, the contestant won a goldfish.

Jail & JailorMore activities and games were to be found in other areas. For the price of a ticket, you could have your best friend or worst enemy put into the jail for a certain amount of time. To work off excess energy, the little ones had an air-filled bouncing structure. For those with a sweet tooth, there was a cake walk in one of the classrooms. The more literary could take advantage of the Book Fair in the library.

PythonOne of the biggest draws, however, was the petting zoo provided by Zany Zoo which featured a huge python, a boa, an alligator, a parrot, guinea pigs, a tortoise, a huge monitor lizard and a strange little animal called a Patagonia cavy.

Almost every area of the Lorane School was used for the enjoyment of those attending. Besides the gym and school building, people congregated on the front steps and the playground, enjoying one of the first warm spring days that we’ve had this year.

Enjoying the visitParents, grandparents, community members, students, former students, school administrators, teachers and former teachers were in attendance. Handshakes and hugs were shared in abundance. One of the highlights was the arrival of Lorane’s beloved former first grade teacher, Carroll Noel, who retired several years ago.

Dancin againThe covered basketball court was home to live music featuring the Creole and Cajun duo, Swamp Rock, led by fiddler, Kelly Thibodeaux, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Thibodeaux taught Lorane students to play fiddle this year.  Also known as Etouffe, the band combined “red hot fiddle, shufflin’ rhythm and blues and kickin’ Southern rock” to create an exciting new sound they call Swamp Rock. They entertained a large number of people for almost two full hours. To add further spice to their music, the band provided bright green crocodile hats to anyone who would get out and dance while they played, and they got a lot of response.

100_0274Local organizations were invited to provide information and goodies as part of the Spring Fling event. The tables were set up in the basketball shelter, as well. Information and concessions were available from the Lorane Grange, the Rural Arts Center, Groundwaters, the Lorane P.T.O., the Good News Club, Theta Rho, the Lorane Charter School Committee and the Bread Basket Giveaway Program of the Lorane Christian Church.
As the evening began to wind down, winners of the dozens of raffle prizes were announced. For the past several years, Troy Jentzsch has donated beautiful, handcrafted furniture items. This year he donated a desk and two bookcases. Jim Edwards and the Lorane Family Store donated two $50 gift certificates for gasoline. One of the favorite prizes was an enchanting doll house painstakingly made by Lorane 6th grader, Brandon Overton. Other local donors came through with garden plants and produce, local wines, flower baskets, a book on Lorane history and gift certificates galore. It was a veritable bounty for those who purchased tickets.

Prize table 2Towards the end of the evening, children began cashing in their game tickets at the prize tables and several dozen cakes won at the cake walk were carted out to the cars in the parking lot. Few people left early. It was obviously a time to linger and visit and get acquainted with neighbors. It was a time to appreciate community and living in rural America… a time to put aside differences and enjoy the traditions that we sometimes overlook in our otherwise busy lives. That’s the beauty of community and why we should never lose its essence. Lorane Elementary School, its teachers and its students have been a large part of it and once again, they brought us all together for at least one more time. Thank you!

Lorane Spring Fling, 2011 – Could It Be the Last? – June 6, 2011

(written for the Fern Ridge Review)

June 6, 2011
By Pat Edwards

Smiles and laughter were in evidence wherever you looked at Lorane Elementary School’s “Spring Fling” last Saturday night, but underlying the gaiety was a sense of sadness, too.  Due to budget cuts, the school will close for at least the 2011-2012 school year once the doors swing shut for summer break this month. It was apparent, however, that both young and old were willing to put the sadness aside and fully enjoy the tradition of Lorane’s annual spring event.

The evening began with a dinner served by the Lorane Rebekahs in the school cafeteria. There was plenty of spaghetti and lots of hot dogs, salad and ice-cold lemonade for the hungriest of appetites.

The dinner was followed by a children’s concert directed by Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District’s music director, Pat Dixon. A large turnout filled the bleachers and many lined the walls while enjoying the entertainment.

The 12-member Lorane band played an assortment of tunes and several provided solos on their instruments. The group also turned choir, singing an intro to one of their pieces. The classes also provided skits and songs. Some of the younger students put on a very entertaining skit to the story, “Goodnight Owl” and the sixth graders made their entrance dressed in 80’s clothing and hairstyles. They soon had the large audience rockin’ to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” while using glow sticks in the darkened gym.

Once the program ended, a long line quickly formed to purchase game tickets and all of the volunteers took their places at the booths in the gymnasium. With tickets in hand, kids rushed to their favorite games – the Fish Pond, Balloon Beanbag Toss, Ring Toss, Bean Bag Throw, Lollipop Tree, Face Painting, Golf and the Goldfish Toss where ping pong balls – not goldfish – were tossed into a bowl of water. If the ping pong ball remained in the bowl, the contestant won a goldfish.

More activities and games were to be found in other areas. For the price of a ticket, you could have your best friend or worst enemy put into the jail for a certain amount of time. To work off excess energy, the little ones had an air-filled bouncing structure. For those with a sweet tooth, there was a cake walk in one of the classrooms. The more literary could take advantage of the Book Fair in the library. One of the biggest draws, however, was the petting zoo provided by Zany Zoo which featured a huge python, a boa, an alligator, a parrot, guinea pigs, a tortoise, a huge monitor lizard and a strange little animal called a Patagonia cavy.

Almost every area of the Lorane School was used for the enjoyment of those attending. Besides the gym and school building, people congregated on the front steps and the playground, enjoying one of the first warm spring days that we’ve had this year.

Parents, grandparents, community members, students, former students, school administrators, teachers and former teachers were in attendance. Handshakes and hugs were shared in abundance. One of the highlights was the arrival of Lorane’s beloved former first grade teacher, Carroll Noel, who retired several years ago.

The covered basketball court was home to live music featuring the Creole and Cajun duo, Swamp Rock, led by fiddler, Kelly Thibodeaux, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Thibodeaux taught Lorane students to play fiddle this year.  Also known as Etouffe, the band combined “red hot fiddle, shufflin’ rhythm and blues and kickin’ Southern rock” to create an exciting new sound they call Swamp Rock. They entertained a large number of people for almost two full hours. To add further spice to their music, the band provided bright green crocodile hats to anyone who would get out and dance while they played, and they got a lot of response.

Local organizations were invited to provide information and goodies as part of the Spring Fling event. The tables were set up in the basketball shelter, as well. Information and concessions were available from the Lorane Grange, the Rural Arts Center, , the Lorane P.T.O., the Good News Club, Theta Rho, the Lorane Charter School Committee and the Bread Basket Giveaway Program of the Lorane Christian Church.

As the evening began to wind down, winners of the dozens of raffle prizes were announced. For the past several years, Troy Jentzsch has donated beautiful, handcrafted furniture items. This year he donated a desk and two bookcases. Jim Edwards and the Lorane Family Store donated two $50 gift certificates for gasoline. One of the favorite prizes was an enchanting doll house painstakingly made by Lorane 6th grader, Brandon Overton. Other local donors came through with garden plants and produce, local wines, flower baskets, a book on Lorane history and gift certificates galore. It was a veritable bounty for those who purchased tickets.

Towards the end of the evening, children began cashing in their game tickets at the prize tables and several dozen cakes won at the cake walk were carted out to the cars in the parking lot. Few people left early. It was obviously a time to linger and visit and get acquainted with neighbors. It was a time to appreciate community and living in rural America… a time to put aside differences and enjoy the traditions that we sometimes overlook in our otherwise busy lives. That’s the beauty of community and why we should never lose its essence. Lorane Elementary School, its teachers and its students have been a large part of it and once again, they brought us all together for at least one more time. Thank you

2011 06-08 FRR Spring Fling.jpg

Scarves of Many Colors: A Tribute to Tom Page

(Originally written on February 25, 2008)

Tom PageDuring the course of our lifetimes, most of us have encountered people who leave indelible marks upon our lives – marks that begin small but gradually deepen until we suddenly realize how important they have become to us. Tom Page has left such a mark on countless families in the West Lane area over the years. He filled the scrapbooks of hundreds of teenagers during the almost 21 years he covered high school athletics for the West Lane News and Tri-County News. He not only wrote about the “stars” of each game, but the supporting cast, as well, and he became an icon whose footprints can never be filled. As Mike Thoele, current owner/publisher of both newspapers, said “There will never be another Tom Page!” During those 21 years, Tom wrote much about others for the readers of our local newspapers, but little has been written about Tom himself or his contribution to the communities he served.

When asked to choose what came first – his love for sports or his love for writing, Tom didn’t hesitate. “Sports!” was his immediate answer. During his childhood, his family regularly attended University of Oregon football, basketball and baseball games. As a young boy, he and his friends became members of the Knothole Club where they rooted for the “Green and Yellow” from the end zones at Hayward Field. They shagged foul balls at baseball games and could usually be found at Mac Court watching UO basketball games and 4A tournaments.

Tom was an observer, never a player, during school. “I was one of those kids who was always the last one chosen for a team. If there were an odd number of us, I would be designated the referee.”

After graduating from South Eugene High School, Tom enrolled at his beloved University of Oregon and in 1969, earned a B.S. in Business Administration. With diploma in hand, he began to wonder what in the world he was going to do with it. He decided that advertising might be a good career to get into, but he would need to continue his education if he was to succeed. Unfortunately, about that time, the UO closed the enrollment in its School of Journalism, so he began work on a master’s degree at Portland State University.

While at Portland State, as part of his studies, Tom was required to take a reporting class that  immediately caught his interest. Soon he joined the school newspaper and began covering women’s sports. He later returned to the University of Oregon where he completed his master’s degree in journalism in 1971. Unfortunately, there were more diplomas in hand than jobs available locally, so Tom took a position at a newspaper in Lakewood, Washington.

His beginning assignment in Lakewood was to cover news and to help with sports. Soon, when an opening became available in the sports department, he was covering all of the athletics in eight suburban high schools in the Tacoma area, Pacific Lutheran University, Pierce County recreation programs, Fort Lewis Army and McChord Air Force bases, and the meetings for two city councils, multiple school boards and the county commission. It was a Herculean task that called for diplomacy and tact. The military families in the area were transient and were hard to connect with and the rivalries and jealousies between schools sometimes involved coaches measuring the number of inches he wrote about their program, comparing them to those he wrote about their rivals. The pressures finally took their toll. After seven years, Tom reached his burn-out point and headed home to Oregon.

Upon arriving back home, he took a job with Fred Meyer in Springfield where he worked in the paint department. Four years later, while reading the soap opera previews in the West Lane News, he noticed an opening for a sports writer. He sent in his resume and one day while he was at work at Fred Meyer, he looked up to see Joe Cannon, owner and publisher of the West Lane News, standing before him. Joe said that the editor was going on vacation and he wanted Tom to fill in for him so that Joe could see him in action. A few months later, he was offered a job as freelance sports writer at $40 per week –  his almost 21-year reign began in January 1983.

Tom Page in scarfTom’s assignments included coverage of athletics at Elmira, Crow and Triangle Lake high schools for the West Lane News and at Junction City, Harrisburg, Monroe and later Christ Center high schools for its sister-publication, the Tri-County News. He was the photographer, as well. He attended each game respectfully dressed in a sports jacket, tie and slacks. During the cold months, he wore, wrapped around his neck, a long scarf bearing the school colors of the team he was covering at the time. These scarves became his trademark and when asked about where he got them, he proudly declared, “My mother knitted them for me.” On the occasions when two of “his teams” were playing each other, he wore both scarves at once. When Crow played Harrisburg or Monroe, Tom carefully wrote two stories – one for the West Lane News, slanting it towards Crow and another similar story written from the Harrisburg/Monroe angle for the Tri-County News. The same occurred when Elmira and Junction City met in the 3A ranks. When Triangle Lake and Monroe, for instance, played other teams in different locations, the logistics became more difficult – but Tom proved up to the challenge. He simply went to the first game for the first half wearing the proper scarf and jumped in his car and headed to the other game for its 2nd half, changing scarves before he arrived. Each week, he spent a good deal of time figuring out the strategies that would get him to as many games as possible and he logged hundreds of miles in his faithful car.

When one of “his” basketball teams went to the state tournament in Pendleton, as they frequently did, he was sometimes unable to take the time off from his job at Fred Meyer to attend. Instead, he borrowed a videotape from the coach so he could write his articles. Tom always made sure that he was “there” for his teams whether it be in person or electronically.

Some of his teams struggled. Elmira was in the beginning stages of an eventual 36-game losing streak in football when Tom came on board. He covered the last 27 of those games until they had their first win. Junction City had a 22-game losing streak. “It was difficult to write positive stories during those times, but I knew that I needed to. It was a challenge to stay upbeat. As a writer, you have to do the best that you can and hope that it comes across to the readers.” At one point, a member of one struggling team exclaimed, “Hey! You made it sound as though we were good!”

Tom Page vs Betty Pellham Tom Page 1990Tom enjoyed challenging some of the tall post players from the girls’ basketball teams to one-on-one exhibition scrimmages. At Elmira, these events were referred to as the“Tom Page Challenges” and were held in conjunction with its winter sports “desserts.” Crow and Monroe girls participated at their respective schools, too. He won some and lost some and once went on a 10-game losing streak.

Tom had a very strict credo: “I tried to include a picture of every team in action every week and feature as many of the players as possible.” He not only wrote about the high scorers in each game, but about the key rebound or good pass that a non-starter made. Whether a team won or lost, he always strove to present it and its players in a positive light.

When asked what his favorite sport was, Tom was quick to respond, “Football.” He qualified it by saying that from a reporter’s standpoint, the once-a-week games and shorter seasons allowed him to be more creative in his coverage than the more frequent and longer basketball seasons. He also loves the excitement of the game and the color of bands and cheerleaders. Track runs a close second on his favorites list. He grew up with it and respects the fact that the participants are competing against their own abilities and constantly are trying to improve their own personal bests.

Tom Page at awards banquetTom’s personal life revolves around his mother. They travel to most of the University of Oregon bowl games and, being huge fans of the U.S. Navy football team, they have attended six of the last seven Army-Navy football games. “The pageantry and patriotism of the pre-game entrance of the West Point and Naval Academy cadets into the stadium is better than the actual game,” according to Tom. While traveling, Tom and his mother hunt out every college bookstore they can find where they search for pennants to add to Tom’s collection of college pennants. He has collected 180 of them so far.

Tom has never married. “Besides my mother, the athletes, their parents, the coaches and my readers in the West Lane community are my family.” Tom lives in a house in the University district that he inherited from his grandmother in 1979. “If my grandmother could visit me today, she would feel right at home. It hasn’t changed much over the years. I’m still using her rotary-dial phone and I’ve never owned a computer.”

Even though he is no longer writing for the West Lane News or Tri-County News, he still attends games whenever possible and the love and feeling for family still remains. But, towards the end, his job became “a monster that devoured me.” People were wanting more coverage of the Territorial Sports Program (TSP) and junior varsity games. He had to cut back his days at Fred Meyer and negotiate vacations in order to try and cover everything he felt he needed to do.

Following a game in 2001, Tom drove himself to the hospital where he was admitted with a heart condition that required immediate by-pass surgery. Since then, he works out four days a week at a fitness center and has brought his weight and his health back in line. He turned in his resignation to the newspapers in July 2003.

“I loved my job, but after almost 21 years, I was tired. I felt the quality of my work slipping a little and mentally, I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was time to get out.”

Tom’s dedication and the care he took to portray each athlete in a positive light did not go unnoticed. Although his by-line quietly slipped away from the pages of the West Lane News and the Tri-County News, he hasn’t slipped from the hearts of his readers. He sold a lot of newspapers in those 21 years. Parents and grandparents of every athlete eagerly awaited each issue where they knew there would be a memory waiting to be clipped and pasted into the pages of their scrapbooks. He deserves recognition for the very special service that he gave to his “community family” over the years.

As our interview wound its way to the end, I asked Tom one final question: “Do you plan to take on another sportswriting job?” His response was immediate, “No. I wouldn’t want to start all over in a new place with new schools. There is only one coverage area I’d consider writing for again. That’s where I already have family. It’s a special community with special people.”

ADDENDUM: Tom is once again the local sports reporter… this time with the Fern Ridge Review in Veneta. He’s still covering Crow High School sports as well as other teams in the area.