Estelle Mitchell… one of the main organizers and force behind the Lorane Centennial
CENTENNIAL ORGANIZATIONAL REPORT
By Pat Edwards
Activity Director and Co-Publicity Chairman
We actually began the work of organizing the Lorane Centennial in the summer of 1986. (See the committee minutes for the exact date.)
The first meeting that I remember was just a discussion group to try to decide what we all had in mind for the celebration. We tried to get representatives from each of the local organizations to sit on the committee. I agreed to sit on the committee, but since I was still very much involved with writing and getting our book published, I made it clear that I could not get very deeply involved in the organization until after the book had gone to the publisher in January.
At the August, 1986 meeting, I decided to make up some suggestions as to how we should set up the committee (Definitions of Committee Responsibilities) and the areas where we needed leadership roles. Everyone seemed to be in agreement of the outline. Committee heads were chosen or volunteered and business began in an orderly manner. I volunteered to be the activity chairman or director as that was a job I felt I could handle. I also agreed to help Lou Dell Hayes with the publicity.
First on my list of priorities was to decide on a number of activities and entertainments that we would like to incorporate into the celebration, and to find individuals who would head up each. Most on the committee agreed that we should have a country-western dance. It was a while before I found someone who would begin the work on organizing it, but finally, Sharon Malcolm agreed to if she had some help. Nancy O’Hearn said that she would help her. At one of the later meetings, however, the consensus of the meeting was that maybe we shouldn’t sponsor the dance because of the problems of security in case of disorderly conduct. Several on the committee felt that Mr. Beebe, superintendent of the school district, might object to the gym being used for a dance. So, I finally agreed to ask Sue Pruitt if the Pruitt’s Equestrian Centre would sponsor the dance to be held in their barn. She agreed that they would handle that on their own, apart from the Centennial committee’s sponsorship. I did suggest, though, that they hire a live band to be consistent with the quality we wished to maintain for the Centennial. Sharon and Nancy were then relieved of their commitments.
Another suggestion for an activity was a parade. That was another area where no one seemed eager to organize as chairman. After most of the other sub-committee heads were determined, Lou Dell and Walt Hayes agreed to take on the job of organizing a parade for fear that the idea would be dropped otherwise.
LouDell has always been the chief organizer of the Old Timers Picnic each year, so she also volunteered to once again be in charge of that activity. We later found out from our insurance agent that the picnic could not rightfully be covered under our policy because of the potluck (home-cooked food) that would be served. The picnic could be advertised in the Centennial brochure only if it was described as being held “in conjunction” with the Lorane Centennial.
The Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District’s music teacher, Sharon Boehringer, was the one who suggested that she write a pageant to be performed during the Centennial. Her idea was to use mainly Lorane school children with a few adults in the pageant. She asked us if we would give her permission to use material from Sawdust & Cider for the pageant. Since she needed the material before the book was published, we supplied her with printouts of various parts of the book.
It wasn’t too difficult to find someone to head up the horseshoe pitch contest which we wished to have. I was told that Stan Davis’ uncle, Lowell Davis, was an expert “pitcher”, so I asked Stan to find out if Lowell would be interested in organizing the contest. He agreed to do it for us.
I approached Mike Counts about organizing a softball game for the Centennial as he plays on a softball team each summer and was a natural for it. He said he would and also agreed to organize the tug-o-war. As it turned out, about a month before the Centennial, Mike discovered that he would have to be away at his own tournament during the Centennial, so wouldn’t be able to do the organizing.
Since Mike Chaplin, our Lorane postmaster, had just begun organizing a softball team in Lorane just for the fun of playing, I asked him to line up an opponent for a Centennial game. He was happy to do the organizing.
Jamie Annett eagerly took on the job of organizing the tug-o-war and arranged to have the Lorane Fire Dept. challenge the Crow Fire Dept. to a pull.
For the hog-calling contest, which we weren’t even sure we’d have contestants, Larry Wilson was happy to agree to be the organizer. Michelle Doughty and Kathy Warden agreed to dress as Miss Piggy and come running out of the woods when someone called, but Kathy got involved with the children’s games, and Michelle moved from the area. Larry also agreed to head up the greased pig contest for the children.
Mike Jenks was the one who suggested we have a beard-growing contest, and, in so doing, ended up being chosen to head it up. Mike put a lot of thought into the contest, but, as it turned out, very few people signed up before the deadline, and only one or two actually reported in as clean-shaven when they were supposed to. That meant a change in rules, and it was decided that there would be a category for beards that had already been started for those who didn’t want to shave off their established beards.
Suggested children’s games were sack races, hoop rolls, three-legged races, egg throwing, etc. Kathy Warden agreed to head that up and Michelle Doughty agreed to help her.
Randy Joseph thought he could round up enough draft horse teams for us to sponsor either a contest or a demonstration. The difference between the two was that a contest would require a pot of several hundred dollars. A demonstration would cost the committee about $150 per team–with only two or three teams. Randy said that he would not charge the committee for his team.
It was also thought that Randy could provide a horse-drawn shuttle service for people who wanted to ride between the parking area on Lorane Orchard Road and the Lodge and Church area. It was later determined to be an unfeasible plan because of the traffic that was expected to be using the roads and the bottleneck that would occur in Pruitt’s Equestrian Centre’s driveway where the team would have to turn around.
People were chosen to work on obtaining some of the planned entertainments for Saturday afternoon. Jean Thompson agreed to try and get a square dance group to entertain for us. As it turned out, she was not able to find a caller who was free to come that weekend.
Carroll Noel never was sure if he could get his folk dance group to the celebration. At first it was thought that the celebration would be the same weekend as the Junction City Scandinavian Festival where the folk dance group was committed. But it was determined that it was not the same weekend. He thought that his group would be able to come on Sunday to perform so a slot was allotted the group at 1:30 p.m. As it turned out, Mr. Carroll was in the process of making a career move which required that he move to California on our weekend, so we were not able to get folk dancers as we had hoped.
Debbie Davis offered to be the person in charge of getting her family, the Booher family, to perform as old-time fiddlers for whenever we needed them for the Centennial. They are a well-known group who have played for years in the area and around the country. They were first scheduled to play for the vaudeville show on Friday and on Saturday afternoon. As it turned out, they had to cancel their Friday evening performance, but spent several hours as our only Saturday afternoon entertainment.
Later into the activity planning, Kathy Smith suggested that we have a 10-K or a Fun Run as part of the activities. The committee gave her the go-ahead providing she organize it herself–which she did–admirably.
As activity chairman, I outlined a list of suggestions to be discussed at one of our earlier meetings. At that time, we thought that we would like to have some type of folk dancing as our kick-off on Friday night that the audience could take part in, since that was a popular form of entertainment throughout Lorane’s history. I later decided that a talent show or vaudeville night would be more feasible. I decided on the vaudeville show, as it would not involve competition, and we could combine professional and amateur talent to make a quality program.
One of my first steps in organizing the vaudeville show was to ask Helen Gleason if she would be willing to head up the decorating of the gymnasium. She had been recommended to me as a talented lady, and I found out that she was a very dedicated one, as well.
Mr. Beebe, the superintendent of schools, had assured us that the school district would cooperate in any way possible with our plans. They agreed to fill our need for a stage, all the chairs we needed, backdrops, lighting, any sound equipment we needed, tables, and the use of colored paper and decoration supplies from the school. (We kept a list of what we used and paid the school district back for it.) The school district maintenance crew even hauled most of it over for us from Crow. They painted the gymnasium, inside and out–even the basketball backboards, and had the school grounds immaculate for us.
When the stage was brought over from the high school, Helen Gleason, her son and daughter, Randy and Lil, and Lil’s boyfriend, Shawn Stanturf, all spent days decorating the stage, backdrops, and gymnasium. In the beginning, they covered the stage with colored paper which we asked them to remove because of the hazard it would present when the dancers, especially, were on stage. When they removed it, we could see why they had covered it. The stage was stained, unpainted wood and could only be described as “ugly”. It was later remedied, however, when Lloyd Counts saw it and offered to get permission from Mr. Beebe to paint it. When he got that permission, Lloyd did the painting, himself.
During some of the rehearsals that were taking place the last two weeks before the celebration, the decorations would occasionally get torn or scuffed, and Helen and crew would fix them back up without complaint. When pasting lettering on the large Centennial sign behind the stage, Randy accidentally pasted two “n’s” after the “Ce” instead of after the “te” in the word “Centennial”. The mistake wasn’t discovered until after the sign was completed. He spent one whole afternoon the next day cutting out the letters again and re-doing the whole sign rather than patch it.
Bob Adams relieved my first concern about the sound system, by offering to let us use his personal system which was an excellent one. We discovered later, we couldn’t have done without him. Each act needed a different type of microphone and set up which he took care of entirely for us not only for Friday’s show, but for Saturday and Sunday, as well.
Sharon Malcolm suggested that we use spotlights on Friday night, too, and it was she that arranged for the use of the school district’s light system and for Brad Hayes to do our lighting for us.
As for the entertainment, my original idea was to have a number of acts and end the show with an old fashioned sing-a-long, but as it turned out, there wasn’t enough time for more than one song at the end. Our concern was that we didn’t want the show to end much later than 9:30 p.m. as the P.T.C. had scheduled a pie social afterwards and we didn’t want to spoil their plans by making our show too late for people to want to stay and have pie and coffee.
My first hope was to hire the McKenzie Touring Company–a comical barbershop quartet to perform that night. Another hopeful was Rhys Thomas from Crow who is a professional juggler and comedian. The McKenzie Touring Co. wasn’t able to make it and neither were the only other two quartets in the county. So, that took care of our hopes for a barbershop quartet. Rhys Thomas, it was determined, wasn’t able to come, either because he was planning to move to Washington that weekend.
Knowing what a good voice Tracy Drullinger has, I asked her if she would be willing to sing for us. She accepted for a $25 fee.
Elda Lowman, a former teacher and principal at the Lorane Elementary School, also agreed to do a skit for the program, and Emma Belle Johnson said that she would do some readings for us.
At about that time, I decided that I needed some help with the vaudeville show–some ideas on who I could get to help make it a quality show. I asked Sharon Malcolm and Linda Hughes. Both were eager to help. After some discussion, we decided to ask a senior citizen’s group in Coos Bay if they would be willing to put on their “revue”–a show that we understood was exceptionally good. All of the acts were performed by senior citizens who did everything from song and dance to a fake striptease.
After three phone calls, I got in touch with a lady who said that she could probably get us enough acts to fill in an hour time slot–which would have been perfect. But, after a couple of weeks of waiting to hear for sure, she notified us that they wouldn’t be able to do it that particular weekend after all.
Our spirits were really beginning to droop by then. I then contacted a comedy-juggling-song and dance act which Rhys Thomas had recommended. They said that they would perform for us for $110, but they did not have a videotape of their act which we could view. For that amount of money, we were reluctant to hire them sight unseen, so we held off while we did some further looking.
In the meantime, I received a call from another lady in North Bend who was part of the Senior Revue that we lost out on. She said that she was also a member of a clogging club, and that she could get some members of her group to perform for us if we wanted them. They took donations of anywhere between $50 and $75. We decided that that was the way to go, so we hired them.
We felt we still needed one more act. I contacted a gentleman in Monroe who did whistling and bird calls, but he wasn’t available. He had a lady call me who was a puppeteer. She had just been on the Johnny Carson Show the week before and would perform for us for $100.
About the same time, I discovered that a Lorane resident, Ron Thomas, was a talent agent. After talking to him, he suggested that we contact Chick Whitten, a ragtime pianist, who would probably work for us for $50 for as long as we needed him.
After some discussion, Sharon, Linda, and I decided that this was the way to go, and we arranged for Mr. Whitten to join the show. That gave us a very full schedule, but one we felt would entertain the audience sufficiently that they wouldn’t mind if we went over the time allotment by ten or fifteen minutes.
The schedule allotted 15 minutes for the masters of ceremonies to open the show and to introduce the court. Then we gave Emma Belle and Elda 10 minutes each. They were to be followed by the Booher Family Band for 15 minutes, and Tracy Drullinger for 10 minutes. We would then take a 10 minute intermission and proceed to the Ocean Pacific Cloggers for 15 minutes, followed by Chick Whitten for another 15. We would then close out with the Gowings for 15 or 20 minutes, and the finale (which I thought of only a couple of weeks before the show) would be Vicki Adams singing “God Bless America” with the audience joining her in the last chorus. There would then be a few short announcements to make people aware of the early morning activities on Saturday.
About a week before the Centennial, the Booher Family Band found it necessary to cancel out of the vaudeville show on Friday night. They were very sorry, but it couldn’t be helped. They did agree, however to stay for several hours on Saturday afternoon when it was discovered that we were having trouble finding entertainment then. They had only been scheduled for one hour on Saturday. This turned out to be less of a disaster than I first imagined. It gave us a little more leeway on Friday night, as our schedule was not quite so packed, and, as it turned out, all my hopes for a variety of entertainments on Saturday were dashed.
My vision was to have square dancers, Indian dancers, old-time fiddlers, the school band, and possibly, the Elmira High School’s dance team doing their dances and music throughout Saturday afternoon in the gym. As it turned out, Jean Thompson was not able to come up with a caller for square dancing.
After what seemed like hundreds of phone calls to as many different people, trying to find a group of local Native Americans to demonstrate some of their dances for us, we were told that there was to be a large pow-wow that particular weekend, and all of the drums would be at the pow-wow. There could be no dancing without drums.
At the end of the school year, we had been assured by the band teacher, Terry Thompson, of Crow High School, that he could probably get enough school kids together to play for us on Saturday, although he didn’t want to try for marching in the parade as they had no experience or equipment for that. We were to contact him at least a couple of weeks before the Centennial. Many of the kids began coming to me a month before the celebration, asking if Mr. Thompson had contacted me, yet. They were really looking forward to participating. We all agreed that we would all try getting in touch with him, as none of us had had any luck. No one answered the phone at the number listed in the book. We figured that Mr. Thompson was on vacation. After a week or more of calling, each of us managed to find out that the number we had been calling was the wrong Terry Thompson, and by the time we had the right number, the right Terry Thompson was on vacation. When we finally did get in touch with him, it was only about a week before the Centennial, and he had already made other arrangements. (He was also a minister and had scheduled two weddings for that day–Saturday, August 8th) When we asked if he would be willing to work with the kids during the week before the celebration, he didn’t feel he would have the time. There were some very disappointed kids.–Me, too.
Earlier, I had contacted the Elmira dance team who did a cute can-can routine, but discovered that they would be unable to come for that weekend. Our own Crow High School dance team had not practiced for months, and would have been willing to work on it, but over half of their group had either moved away (two had been exchange students from Mexico) or were going to be away on vacation for the weekend. So, my list of entertainments quickly dwindled down to the Booher Family Band who did a fine job.
I also wished to have a variety of crafts being demonstrated in the gym on Saturday afternoon. I contacted Beth Booth who enthusiastically agreed to bring her spinning wheel. She also brought a friend who also spun wool.
Charlotte Mitchell agreed to come in for awhile to work on her china painting, too.
Karen Pidgeon had planned to demonstrate her artwork, too, but our weekend coincided with an art show displaying Karen’s work at the Eugene Hilton Hotel, so she was unable to attend. She did, however, agree to leave several of her wildlife paintings/pen & ink drawings with us to be displayed in the gym. Also displayed were three paintings by Alix Mosieur, a Lorane artist, who specializes in American Indian art. All three were portraits of regal Indian chiefs. One was a watercolor and the other two were oil paintings.
Also displayed were three paintings done by another Lorane lady, Carolyn Mathiesen. Her paintings were award-winning landscapes.
Doug Caudle had planned to come and demonstrate his whittling skills, but was not able to make it.
I had also talked to a man who did glass-blowing, but he never got back to me and evidently had prior commitments.
As it turned out, the spinning wheels and the china painting demonstrations were adequate and gave those who were interested a chance to watch and ask questions.
My weak point in the organization of the Centennial activities was in the communication with my contest and game chairmen. All were people I knew could handle everything without my help, but the one foul-up during the activities that I regret is the mix-up in communications between Larry Wilson and myself. I had scheduled the greased pig contest at 4:00 p.m. for Saturday, but apparently either did not get the information to Larry, or he forgot. (Things were so hectic for both of us by that time that it could have been either way.) So, the contest was held at 1:00 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m., and there were a lot of disappointed kids who had signed up to participate.
By the time I had an idea of the type of activities we were planning, it was time to make up a schedule. A temporary schedule was made up and inserted in all of the Sawdust & Cider books that were distributed in April. By the first part of May, I designed a brochure listing the times and places of all the events and the activities planned by the various participating organizations. Each organization paid a $10.00 “advertising” fee to be included in the brochure to help offset the printing. We had 1000 brochures printed first. They were distributed in stores and businesses in the area, and many were mailed out with Old-timers picnic mailings and reunion mailings by private parties. By the time those were gone, there was still a demand for them, and a second printing of 500 was ordered. We ran out of those before the Centennial, also, so revisions were made regarding a few of the times and we dropped the advertising of the horse-drawn shuttle service. Just before the celebration, another 500 were printed and carefully rationed for those who would want them during the Centennial.
My job as the co-publicity chairman with Lou Dell was helped by the fact that we were getting a lot of publicity on the book about the same time, and we were able to combine the two whenever anything was mentioned in the newspapers or elsewhere.
A large article, written by Mike Thoele, appeared in the Eugene Register-Guard in September of 1986, on the writing of Sawdust & Cider, and mention was made of the coming Centennial. The word was officially out.
In February, the Ruralite magazine published by the electric cooperatives in about five northwest states ran an article on the book, too. We even made the cover with that one. It, too, alerted several people who otherwise wouldn’t have heard about the upcoming Centennial. It was distributed to people in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon.
The West Lane News in Veneta ran a two-page feature story on the book and the Centennial in May and again in August just before the Centennial. They provided excellent coverage and pictures of the actual celebration as well.
Paul Ertelt of the Cottage Grove Sentinel wrote an article complete with pictures for the Nugget edition included in the Sentinel’s Bohemia Days paper in July, and wrote a shorter article before the Centennial in early August. He also covered the actual festivities.
Ed Kenyon of the Register-Guard contacted me a month or two before the Centennial and wanted to do another article on the Centennial and the book. At first he was going to write a book review, but decided, instead to write two separate articles–one on the book, and one on the celebration. He gave us excellent coverage with his articles, including a schedule, in July, and ran one or two updates just before the celebration.
All three newspapers and all three local television stations attended the school’s birthday party held on May 27, 1987. Carroll Noel asked Lou Dell and I to do the publicity on that, too, and we had a terrific turnout. All three television newscasts were videotaped by various members of the community “for posterity”.
We didn’t concentrate on alerting the television stations for the actual celebration. Our main goal was to get the word out to those who would be interested in coming, instead of reporting on it afterwards. We knew, too, that we were competing with two other local celebrations on that weekend–one in Cottage Grove and one in Creswell–and the Junction City Scandinavian Festival was to be held the following weekend followed by the Lane County Fair. So, the media was pretty well saturated by “events” and we didn’t expect as much actual coverage by the Register-Guard and the t.v. stations.
KUGN AM/FM Radio station gave us a lot of publicity, as they were actually involved. When I called Bill Barrett, their morning “on-air personality” on May 27, 1987 to tell him that it was Lorane’s birthday, he conned me into singing “Happy Birthday” to Lorane with him on the air after a short interview. As it turned out, the duet turned out to be my solo performance over the airwaves when he left the chore entirely to me, explaining later that his equipment wouldn’t allow for both of us to sing at the same time–it had to be either the phone or his microphone. I’ve known Bill for quite some time, so I told him that I’d get even some day. He was one of the people we had asked to be our vaudeville M.C., but he was unable to attend. He gave us a good deal of publicity, however, in the days just before the celebration.
So did Bob Bosche, who was our M.C. I have known him for several years, also. Tim Fox, who was scheduled to come with Bob, wanted to interview me on the radio the day of the vaudeville show, but luckily I couldn’t be found. It made it nice to have friends on the airwaves going to bat for us. We couldn’t have asked for better publicity from them.
I have said this before and I will continue saying it. I have been given a lot of credit for this celebration, but I guess maybe I was the most visible person involved. In truth, the success of the event cannot be attributed to any one person. Many, many people worked on every aspect imaginable to make this Centennial a memorable one. Not all were even connected with our community, but most were. Because so many people were willing to share the load, no one person had to carry more than he or she could bear. And because of this, we were all able to enjoy the “fruits of our labors”.
My hope is that the people of Lorane in 2087 will have the success and cooperative effort that we have had in 1987. And we hope that the pages contained herewith will help them to organize Lorane’s second Centennial celebration, and make it one of the best. We wish to have the tradition carried on.