Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Arrowheads keep Pendleton retiree busy

Harold Dobyns, a 70-year-old retired federal wildlife biologist, showed off his singular skill to East Oregonian reporter Virgil Rupp during a May 31, 1965 interview in Pendleton. Dobyns claimed to be one of five or six people in the country who still made arrowheads the ancient way.

Dobyns estimated that he had made more than 50,000 arrowheads over the previous 40 years. He was taught by James Billy of the Umatilla Indian tribe, who was the last of the tribe’s arrowhead makers. And Dobyns said there was one sure way to tell his arrowheads apart from those made by long-ago Native Americans:

“Mine are better.”

Dobyns plucked a palm-sized piece of obsidian from a group of stones collected at Glass Buttes near Burns and along the Paulina-East Lake Road in central Oregon. Cradling it in a leather pad in the palm of his left hand, Dobyns plied a sharpened 10-inch piece of deer antler with his right along the edge of the rock, chipping away pieces of the stone all along the outer edge. As his arrowhead began to take shape, he used smaller, finer antler pieces to make precision chips.

Harold Dobyns displays some of his hand-made arrowheads and the tools he uses to make them on May 31, 1965. (EO file photo)
 Any kind of material that can be chipped can be used to make arrowheads, Dobyns explained, even beer bottle glass, but the finest examples made by Columbia River tribes were made of flint, carnelia and agate.

And fakes are easy to spot, since they aren’t weathered, Dobyns said, but that’s not a sure-fire method of detecting phony arrowheads, since he could turn out a weathered-looking arrowhead using cold cream, certain chemicals and the oven in his kitchen.

It is a hazardous hobby, though. Dobyns related that he’d had two chips of rock lodged in his eyes, and his hands were covered with tiny scars caused by th razor-sharp flakes of stone. But he didn’t like to be idle, so the Pendleton man was pondering a return to the World’s Fair, where he would demonstrate the ancient art.

Author’s note: After publication of last week’s Vault column (“Gravestone confounds Pendleton gardener,” May 19, 2018), intrepid reader Caren Fowler did some investigation and found a Dee Freeman Horwitz, born April 25, 1886, who died Sept. 1, 1983, in Spokane, Wash., at the age of 96.

Further investigation into Ms. Horwitz on found she was born in Missouri and married at least four times: first to Mr. Horwitz, whose information was not found; second to Charles E. Lewis of Stanfield on June 20, 1928, at age 42; third to Peter Van Dyke of Pullman, Wash., on April 10, 1939 at age 52; and for the fourth time to Charles Summers of Tulare, Calif., on Dec. 5, 1952, at age 66.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Gravestone confounds Pendleton gardener

Of all the things to find in one’s yard while gardening, a gravestone might be the most eerie.

A Pendleton man puttering in his garden on May 25, 1993, discovered a headstone about four inches underground and just inches from his home on Southwest First Street while moving irises from the front yard to the side yard. When Oran Rodan’s shovel hit what sounded like a rock during his digging, what he uncovered instead was a headstone marked “Dee Freeman Horwitz.”

The iris relocation project was put on hold while Rodan pondered the obvious question: Is Dee Freeman Horwitz also in my yard?

The stone indicated that Horwitz was born in 1886, but there was no date of death inscribed, so Rodan doubted that a grave had been dug there. But just in case, he stopped digging and called the Pendleton Police Department to investigate. “I didn’t want to bother the guy,” Rodan said, ‘if he’s down there.”

Police officers contacted Olney Cemetery, but officials there couldn’t help since the discovery was made on private property. And the cemetery had no record of Dee Freeman Horwitz ever being in the cemetery.

Genealogist Garland Wilson of Milton-Freewater found no record of Horwitz being buried in any Umatilla County cemetery, and he speculated that the headstone had been brought to Pendleton from someplace else. Stolen grave markers from as far away as Portland have been found in Umatilla County, Wilson said.

Rick Wylie, owner of Wylie Monuments, said that grave markers with misspellings or other errors are sometimes cast off and turn up in unusual places, and are even sometimes used as garden stepping stones.

However the stone ended up in Oran Rodan’s yard, he wasn’t too concerned. He planned to leave it where it was, saying, “It don’t bother me. He ain’t gonna hurt you.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Police baffled in craps game robbery

The click of the dice at a home on Winesap Road near Freewater was interrupted when masked men broke in on a craps game in April 1947 and got away scot-free with a reported $10,000 in cash and jewelry.

A group of men was engaged in a bit of gambling on April 27, 1947, at a home about three miles from Freewater when four men wearing masks and G.I. coveralls entered the house at around 11 p.m., held up the gamblers, tied them up and took all the money and jewelry they could get from their victims. The robbers then stationed themselves just outside the house being used for the game and held up other gamblers as they arrived.

When Hodie Timmons and Dick Craver, operators of the Pastime tavern in Freewater, arrived on the scene they were held up as well. The holdup gang got quite a haul from the Pastime duo, including a diamond ring valued at $1,000. Timmons and Craver also were persuaded to give out the combination for the Pastime’s safe, and two of the gang stood guard over the prisoners while the other two went into town and emptied the safe of another $2,500 in cash.

Upon returning to their prisoners, which by now numbered between 20 and 40, the robbers let the air out of one tire on each of the assembled cars and then escaped into the night. The victims of the holdup took a few minutes to escape from their bonds, with the help of the women on the scene  — who were not tied up or harmed in any way — but were unable to even determine which way the masked men had gone.

None of the holdup victims were able to describe their attackers. When any of the gamblers had tried to get a good look at one of the robbers, he would get a good rap on the head with the butt of a revolver and warned to keep their eyes elsewhere, “or else.” No one was seriously injured during the holdup, though the gamblers were treated rather roughly and most ended up with bumps and bruises.

Local law enforcement could find no leads to the identity of the holdup gang, whose final take was between $5,000 and $7,000 in cash and around $3,000 in jewelry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Weston-McEwen students gear up for clock project

What started out as a fascination with one tooth of a gear and a snapshot in a magazine turned into a year-long project for two Weston-McEwen High School students intrigued by the idea of building a grandfather clock completely from wood.

Sean Calvert and James Albert began their odyssey into clockmaking in April 1993, just after finishing a unit on gear construction in Dave Lange’s Technology class at Weston-McEwen. The class allowed students to investigate everything from traditional carpentry to computer animation to architecture. Calvert and Albert, both juniors, happened upon a magazine article that featured an entirely wooden clock, complete with dozens of gears, pendulum and a boxed-in frame. Intrigued, they decided to build their own clock from scratch.

“You don’t realize how complex a clock is until you start building it,” said Calvert. “We though it would take three months.”

The magazine article had given them only the outside diameter of each gear and the number of teeth. They plugged those figures into 10 different formulas to figure out the mechanical dimensions of each gear — no sweat for two guys enrolled in the highest math class at the school, math analysis. Calvert and Albert used AutoCAD to design the gears, then translated the designs to MasterCam to make the final adjustments.

Then a computerized numerical control milling machine was used to cut out each gear — in halves, because the machine wasn’t wide enough to cut the gears in one piece. Through trial and error, and many botched attempts, the duo soldiered on using their most important tool of all — seamless teamwork.

“They had to be problem solvers every day,” Lange said.

The most difficult, and most critical, gear was the escape wheel, which controls the weights and pendulum and gives the tick-tock to the clock. Albert wrestled for days with a scale and protractor to hand-design the spiky teeth. And the pair found that plywood made for “fuzzy” gears, so a three-tiered, cross-grained cherry and walnut sandwich was created for the precise edges they needed.

More than a year after that original article piqued their interest, Calvert and Albert were scrambling to finish the last pieces of the clock in April of 1994 before their senior year ticked away. Calvert, the more analytical of the pair, studied the pieces to find and fix any problems. Albert, who planned a career in architecture, was carving a rounded gear frame to house the inner workings. Both vowed to continue working on the clock through the summer, hoping to finish the project before they went their separate ways to college.

But there would be no arguments over who got to keep the final product: the team made duplicates of each part, so each would go home with a clock.

Weston-McEwen high school seniors Sean Calvert (left) and James Albert (right) hold the gears that form the foundation for the wooden grandfather clock they spent a year crafting from wood after a technology class with teacher Dave Lange (center) in 1993. (EO file photo)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Running all in the family for Lexington athletes

Lee Padberg was proud of his son Bryan, whose high school running career took off his freshman year at Heppner High School with state Class A titles in the 1,500 and 3,000 meter runs in 1986. But Lee was prouder that Brian broke 20-year-old school records in the mile and 2-mile runs the same year — records Lee had set himself 20 years earlier.

Running titles were a family affair for the Padbergs, beginning with the family patriarch and continuing with daughter Jodi, a middle-distance standout during her high school career. Bryan’s freshman success, though, led to some attitude problems and he failed to repeat his win in the 1,500-meter race his sophomore year.

“I didn’t work as hard that year,” Bryan said during an April 26, 1989 interview with the East Oregonian.

But coach Dale Conklin agreed that Bryan learned his lesson and “worked his tail off” during his junior year, posting personal bests in the 1,500 with 4 minutes, 3 seconds, and the 3,000 meters at 8:54.7 at the Gladstone Meet of Champions. He capped his junior season by leading Heppner to the state Class A track championship, taking the titles for the 1,500 and 3,000 and anchoring the team’s fifth-place 1,600 meter relay team. He was named the Class A men’s athlete of the year in the 1989 issue of “Who’s Who in Oregon Track and Field.”

Along with the boys’ first-ever state track championship, Bryan’s junior year also included a spot on the roster of Heppner’s second-place football team during the fall state Class A championships. But it wasn’t all victories for Bryan and his teammates that year: the Mustangs failed to move past the district playoffs during basketball season, his favorite sport.

Bryan was considering nibbles from the University of Oregon and Pacific Lutheran University track coaches as his high school career was drawing to a close, his senior year focused on improving his GPA in hopes of scoring scholarship offers. “I’ve got to do well this year. I guess that’s one of my pressures,” Bryan said as his mother, Linda, watched him prepare for yet another race.

“Maybe he puts a little too much pressure on himself,” Linda said. “I think he’s nervous this year.”

Bryan promptly ran away from the field, breaking the tape in meet-record time for the 800 meter race.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lover’s triangle leads to tragic deaths

A Heppner man, insanely jealous when the woman of his dreams chose a different companion, went on a shooting spree that left his heart’s desire and himself dead in May 1908.

Henry P. Morrison, a brakeman for the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company in Heppner, had fixed his sights on the lovely Nora Wright. But Miss Wright spurned Morrison’s affections, instead choosing Barney Ahalt as her escort. On May 2, 1908, after several weeks of depression and working himself up into a jealous rage over Wright’s rejection, Morrison went looking for the pair with deadly intention.

Morrison borrowed a .41 caliber Colt revolver from Express Messenger Smith, telling him a dog down the track had been annoying him and he wanted to be prepared. Morrison took a “speeder,” a small two-man vehicle used for railroad track maintenance, and traveled along the tracks to Cecil, where Miss Wright lived with her parents. He stashed the speeder in a field and created a hiding spot under a warehouse that gave him a good view of the Wright house.

Morrison spent the night and half the next day waiting for Wright to emerge, finally spotting her and Ahalt climbing into a buggy around 2 p.m. on May 3 and heading south toward the tiny hamlet of Morgan. He caught up with the pair at a crossing two miles north of Morgan.

Morrison had waved to the pair cheerfully as he traveled along the track in the speeder, and was waiting for them on the bank next to the wagon road when they approached the crossing. Morrison stopped Ahalt’s team, brandished a revolver and said, “You had better say your prayers.” He then opened fire.

Miss Wright fell dead immediately with a bullet to the head. Ahalt was also shot, a flesh wound in the shoulder, but managed to whip the team into motion and fled, carrying Wright’s body with him.

Morrison followed the racing team to Morgan, where he was told Wright was dead. He turned the gun on himself, shooting himself in the forehead. He was carried to a warehouse, where he died about 9 p.m.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Robbery duo nabbed by local lawmen

Two men who disarmed a Seattle policeman and stole his car at gunpoint in April of 1950 were spotted in Pendleton and arrested by local police the next day.

William Archie Miller, 28, and John Boggs, 30, were wanted for armed robbery in Seattle after the holdup of a policeman early in the morning hours of April 13, 1950. The duo held the officer at gunpoint and relieved him of his vehicle, then fled the city. An all-points bulletin was sent out to law enforcement across the Pacific Northwest, and two hours later Pendleton night watchman Tom Fitzgerald recognized the fugitives’ license plate number on a car that entered town from the east.

Fitzgerald followed the car and notified local police officers just as they were changing shifts. Sgt. Arch Campbell and officers Irwin Hood, Cliff Smick and John Powell raced to the Fraternity Club entrance on Main Street. Boggs was still in the car, while Miller was walking a Samoyed dog on the sidewalk.

Rookie cop Smick grabbed Miller around the arms just as the man was reaching for a .45 automatic stuffed into his belt. The gun was loaded and cocked, with a bullet in the chamber and the safety off. Both men were arrested and taken to the city jail, while the dog was taken to a local veterinary clinic for safekeeping.

When their vehicle was searched, police found a veritable arsenal of weapons, ammunition and safecracking equipment — drill, punches, crowbar, sledge hammer, dynamite and caps, battery, wire and ... a banana. According to Police Chief Charles Lemons, bananas are used to seal dynamite powder in the cracks of a safe door before the charge is set off.

The men opposed their extradition to Seattle to face charges, and made a useless attempt at escaping from the jail hours after their arrest by breaking off part of a steam pipe to use as a weapon. During a search before their move to the county jail, a small amount of wire was found on one of the men and confiscated.

Miller’s wife called Pendleton police to claim her car, the expensive new vehicle the men were driving when arrested, and the dog.

Seattle law enforcement were required to take extradition papers to the Washington governor’s office for a signature, then to Salem for Oregon Gov. McKay’s signature, before traveling to Pendleton to claim the prisoners.