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
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
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
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
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
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