Thursday, December 26, 2013

A trio of Christmas shorts

It’s the holiday season, and for this week’s column I spelunked through the archives to find some light-hearted fare from Christmas past:

In the Dec. 24, 1932 edition of the East Oregonian, students of Hawthorne School in Pendleton were cheering a local man who had been playing Santa for three years to children in his neighborhood. Charles M. Wright left an order at West End Grocery that every child calling at the store that day was to be given a bag of candy on his dime. Mr. Wright’s Christmas spirit was a bright spot for EO readers of all ages.


In 1967, Bernice Riley was the EO’s women’s news reporter. Riley passed along this gem of a helpful hint for the ladies in a Dec. 22 column:

“You simply can’t make Christmas cookies and candy ahead of time,” said a young mother the other day. “How do you keep them until Christmas when you have a bunch of boys who know all your hiding places?”

One local homemaker has come up with a brilliant solution to the problem, my friend continued. “She bought a brand new garbage can and put it out in the garage. Knowing full well that nobody would go near the garbage can unless she told them to, she has been using it to store all her holiday goodies.”

[Considering I still can’t seem to get my son to volunteer to take out the garbage in 2013, maybe I’ll start hiding things that way. Of course, underneath the pile of dirty laundry in his room would be an equally effective hiding spot.]


Hal McCune reported on the EO’s annual Christmas survey in the Dec. 24, 1991 paper. In addition to the usual questions about what people liked most and least about the holiday, queries included best and worst gifts ever received (ranging from “My husband coming home from World War II in one piece” on the plus side to “Table and chair set when I was 6” on the minus side); favorite Christmas traditions; holiday tree-topper preference (one respondent’s family favored a Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shell); and whether they buy gifts for their pets (“If they ask for one” was one answer). But my favorite answer was a response to when people stopped believing in Santa Claus. The person in question was seven years old when he found out, and said, “I had to pummel a fifth grade boy on the bus for destroying my myth — justified assault!”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Oregon State wins first East Coast-West Coast football tilt

Thanksgiving Day, 1928, Oregon State College became the first Pacific Coast team to play a football game on the East Coast, vying with New York University in an intersectional game at Yankee Stadium. The Beavers beat the Violets 25-13, and Pendleton was the first daylight stop for the team on the long train trip home to Corvallis.

Governor Patterson was among the welcoming committee Dec. 5 when the special train arrived in Pendleton. “I’m simply too happy for words,” he declared. “I first heard the news of your victory by radio; and those who listened in with us were so enthusiastic that for a time I feared for the furniture in our house.”

Mayor L.J. McAtee welcomed the team on behalf of Pendleton and, following a salute by the Pendleton High School student body and the American Legion drum corps, the players joined a parade through the streets of town led by Mrs. Berkeley Davis, OSC graduate and former Round-Up queen.

Each member of the Beaver squad was presented with a Hamley kit, wrapped in college colors, as a souvenir from the Pendleton Commercial Association and the Umatilla County alumni of the college.

The Pendleton stay was short (the railroad agreed to hold the train for only 30 minutes), and the team continued on to Portland with the governor and his wife in tow for a banquet hosted by city fathers. The OSC team finally arrived home at 10 p.m., where they were greeted by “a bedlam of whistles, bells and cheers as the cars rolled to a stop in a mass of yelling students,” the largest rally ever staged by the student body and townspeople of Corvallis.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Famous crooner swings through Pendleton

Bing Crosby fans in Pendleton got a thrill Dec. 10, 1952, when the crooner stopped for lunch at the Hotel Pendleton with his son Lindsay and his ranch manager, on his way to Pullman, Wash. Crosby was registered to attend a Washington State college (now university) short course for stockmen. He joined his twin 18-year-old sons, Dennis and Philip, who were attending WSC earning degrees in animal husbandry.

Fellow diners and the restaurant’s waitresses were reluctant to approach Crosby, who pretended to ignore the stares and whispered comments until it was time to pay the bill. Crosby then joked with staff and signed autographs, and eventually posed for an East Oregonian photographer who was lurking nearby. Comments were to the effect that “if someone didn’t lead the photographer astray, perhaps he had a chance to grab himself some publicity.”

East Oregonian file photo
Crosby, who was heading to Spokane after his visit to Pullman to look into his television interests there, said he had been through Pendleton several times but had not yet had the chance to see the Round-Up, though he had heard it was a “great show” and was looking forward to attending some day.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter raft racers vie for bragging rights

It’s the dead of winter, and it gets boring being cooped up inside. What’s a high-schooler to do? About two dozen young men cheerfully embarked on a raft race down the Umatilla River on February 16, 1964, with nothing on the line but pride. They emerged from the river wet and cold, but still cheerful, after their exhilarating ride.

More than a hundred people followed the progress of the racers, who put in at Mission Bridge outside Pendleton and crossed the finish line at the Main Street Bridge an hour and a half later. The race, which was arranged by the young men themselves, had only one rule: No one could go ashore until the race ended.

Taking the checkered flag were Bob Cook and Doug Wachsmuth, who had led most of the race. Just a few minutes behind was the three-man team of Wes Luster, Bill Brown and Allen Gill, who were in the lead early on but lost ground due to their unorthodox paddles — brooms. The team of Jack Owens, Dick Jones and Roesch Kishpaugh came in third.

One raft that started out with two racers finished the race carrying four. Jack Hodgen and Maury McCormmach had to hitch a ride after their craft sank.

Others listed in the Feb. 17, 1964 edition of the East Oregonian as competing in the race included Steve Carey, Jay Vaughn and Chris Pope; Leroy Nash and Dan Wicklander; Darrell Eng and Bob Rada; and Vern Hamil, Jack Bascomb, Scott Lerfald and Lamar James. Other racers competed but were not named in the story.

(EO file photo/Virgil Rupp)