Our Trip to Oregon


As soon as I was graduated from Missoula County High School Mother and Dad started planning our move to McMinnville, Oregon, where I was to attend Linfield College.

Most of our household furniture was auctioned but not Mother's piano which had been shipped from Connecticut to Ohio and finally to Missoula. It was an upright Ivers and Pond piano. Dad tried to keep as little as possible to ship and forbade me to take my popular songs. I simply couldn't part with "It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary", "Katie", "Over There", "Beautiful Ohio", and dozens of others I had played for my friends to sing when they gathered in my home in the evenings. So I inserted them in volumes of Beethoven and Mozart and other classical music. I still have them. This music was part of my life I was leaving behind and I couldn't discard it.

Before we left town there were a number of farewell parties for me, which helped some. These were given and attended by my friends with whom I had started first grade and finished high school, and my friends at the Methodist Church.

One day Dad went to town and returned driving a 1918, 490 Model Overland car. No driver's license was needed. All you had to do was buy a car and the salesman told you how to start and stop it and explained a little about the gears, etc. We packed as much as we could in the car and on the two running boards, including a tent and off we went. Buying an Overland was a good choice on Dad's part for as we puffed and chugged up mountain passes in Montana and in Idaho we passed car after car that was stalled. Ours kept going. Dad always added cold water to the radiator before starting up a hill.

For me leaving Missoula was traumatic. I was leaving all of my friends, my church, the choral society - everything. I knew just how Jeanne felt about leaving Anaheim and going to Zaire, but it was even worse for her. She was going to another country.

This was the era of tourist camps and every town had one. The most unusual one was in Cheney, Washington, where a number of horse stalls at the fairgrounds had been cleaned out for tourists. There were no doors. We went a little out of our way so I could see a friend from high school, Mildred Mayo, who was attending normal school. It was there I saw my first live turtle.

In Idaho we had our one and only accident. Of course there were no pavements, just two-way graveled roads with no white line down the middle. A car passing us took up more than its share of the road making Dad swerve to avoid being hit and down the car went into the ditch. It landed on its side but no one was even bruised. We went down very slowly and easily for in those days 30-35 miles an hour was practically speeding. It was for Dad, for Mother was always cautioning him to drive slower. The car had to be towed into Mullan, Idaho. It is hard to believe that cars had wooden spokes and ours were broken. While we were there we visited the library. The librarian could have just stepped out of the pages of an 1800 fashion book. She wore a long, full black skirt, a long-sleeved black waist, a black velvet ribbon around her neck, and of course, glasses with a long black ribbon. She was very stern and not at all helpful. I doubt if she ever smiled. We didn't stay there very long.

Our friends, the Wrights, had moved to Seattle from Missoula and had written Mother about the passes in the Cascades and made them sound practically impassable. This resulted in Mother's absolutely refusing to drive that way and instead we went into Oregon and drove on the Columbia River Highway. Before we got that far the spring working the oil gauge broke and we stopped in at a farmhouse. The farmer actually had a spring we could use, something that would probably be impossible today.

Somewhere along the Snake River we saw our first sand dunes. They appeared enormous to us and we persuaded Dad to stop so we could slide down them. I lost all my high school graduate dignity and slid down too. In July it was exceedingly hot so Dad relented after much begging and stopped for Green River drink. Never has anything since then tasted so good

The Columbia River Highway was fairly new then and a very beautiful drive. I loved the tunnels through the rocks with open arches where you could look across the river at Washington. And Multnomah Falls! I had never seen such falls before.

Then Portland! All the lights! And one-way streets! We went the wrong way only once. Looking back it seems incredible that Dad, a new driver, drove all that way and all over Portland with no accident except the one in Idaho.

One thing I haven't mentioned - detours! Highways were being built everywhere and there were detours that were really detours. You drove as best you could, at five miles an hour, through sand, over boulders, through mud, and tried to stay in the ruts made by earlier cars. We dreaded detours as much as flat tires. Tire blowouts were almost a daily occurrence. Removing the rim and the tire and patching the hole took so much time. And it seemed as if Dad was always patching a tire.

When we finally reached McMinnville we camped in the tourist park until we rented a house. The second day we were there I took Vernon and Myrtle to the upper park where they could play. I read a book. Pretty soon here they came with some newfound friends and what did they want? They wanted to see me take out my teeth! I had false teeth while I was still in high school and wasn't publicizing it. I could have choked my brother and sister.

I made friends with a young couple who were also staying in the park, the Doucettes. We remained friends for years, visiting them in San Francisco in the 1950s and Viola stayed with them when she flew to San Francisco to receive her American Baptist Scholarship in 1949.

One other episode of our trip I forgot to mention above. When we were driving over the bridge over Riverside Park in Spokane our rear axle broke. It was scary being stalled in all that traffic.

1988/89 for Life Story Class

OUR TRIP TO OREGON.txt 01/19/01 10:30 PM