Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rally stick retired after successful fall sports season

In the fall of 1991, the Pendleton High Rally Club retired the school’s spirit stick after the Buckaroos beat the Hermiston Bulldogs 39-8 at the Homecoming football game. Winston Hill, a PHS senior and member of the rally squad, said the stick was such good luck that the club had decided to retire it and make another for the winter and spring sports seasons.

The stick, an ax handle painted green and gold, first made its appearance during the 1991 volleyball season. Winston recalled that “about 20 guys” from Hermiston said they wanted the stick. Winston told them if the Bulldogs beat the Bucks at football they could have it — but what could they give in exchange? The Hermiston boosters made a rally stick of their own, painted — of course — purple and gold.

Following the close of the Homecoming game, Hermiston High’s student activities coordinator, Darin Creason, met Winston on the field. They shook hands and Darin gave up the Hermiston rally stick. The Bucks’ bounty was enshrined in the Pendleton High School trophy case.

Creason said the Hermiston supporters had plans to win their rally stick back during basketball, swimming or wrestling season. At a good match, he said, they might even capture both sticks. Creason said the new tradition would help maintain “good ties” between the two schools.

Winston agreed. “It sort of made a friendly competition out of the whole deal ... gave you something to look forward to.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reformed parrot dies at 125

If you’ve ever considered getting a parrot as a pet, think about this: Parrots are a life-long commitment, sometimes outliving their owners, and keeping a parrot is a lot of work. They are also very social, and enjoy interacting with people. The combination can make for a long and interesting life.

Case in point: Polly, the resident parrot of the Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon Territory, Canada. The Associated Press ran a story about the famous bird, who died at the estimated age of 125 in November of 1972. His age was estimated because no one alive at the time had been around when Polly was born; it was said he was already “a bit grey around the beak” during the Gold Rush of 1898.

Originally owned by a barber from Vancouver, according to one story, Polly came with his owner to the Yukon during the gold rush years. He was next under the care of Captain James Alexander, who ran the Engineer Mine on the shore of Tagish Lake in British Columbia, in the early 1900s. But in 1918, the bird was orphaned when Alexander and his wife died in the shipwreck of the Princess Sophia while navigating the Lynn Canal. Polly was taken in at the Caribou Hotel and quickly became its most distinctive resident.

Polly was unfortunately influenced by the wrong crowd at his new home. He had a reputation for being the hardest-drinking, most profusely profane parrot north of the 60th parallel, though hotel owner Dorothy Hopcott said he always knew when to just glide off his perch and pass out in the bottom of his cage. More than 60 years of hanging around with bar patrons left him with other bad habits, including biting and spitting. And he never developed a taste for crackers, his favorite response to the question being “Go to Hell.”

Later in life, Hopcott said Polly chucked the bottle for religion, guided by a hotel patron who taught him several verses of “Onward Christian Soldiers.” His bluer streaks of profanity ceased and he also stopped singing salty sea chanties. He snubbed the adults who reminded him of his past but loved to talk to children, usually in an incomprehensible, but apparently well-mannered, mumbo jumbo.

Polly was buried on the outskirts of the Pioneer Carcross Cemetery, complete with bronze grave marker, and a wake held in the Caribou was attended by people from across the Yukon Territory. The hotel’s owners received condolences (and offers of replacement parrots) from around the world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rooftop puddle becomes fish pond

A prank to kick off Homecoming week and Halloween festivities at Pendleton High School in November 1981 was decidedly fishy. A puddle of water on a cover over the sidewalk stretching from the high school’s main building to the auditorium was turned into a fish pond by a group of PHS students, complete with a school of 50 goldfish. The walkway cover featured a flat roof with a turned-up edge that held a couple of inches of water after a good rain.

Four senior girls were rumored to be behind the escapade, though none of them would confess. A practical joke the year before, in which several students dismantled a sports car in the school’s library, netted the pranksters two weeks of floor-mopping duty, so the perpetrators were pleading the Fifth Amendment.

School publicist Michelle Frodenberg and friends Vita Merrick and Melissa Hoeft painted a “No Fishing” sign that was hung in the window overlooking the pond. The goldfish were surviving quite nicely on handouts of bread from passing students and dodging several red and white fishing bobbers floating near the edge of the pond. Senior Gary Green remarked, “They’ll be OK ‘til summer” as long as the pond didn’t dry up or freeze solid.

Principal Joe Canon said no calls to the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Department were planned.