Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sepia Saturday #162 for 2013 February 2: First Telephone in Klamath Falls, Oregon

Courtesy of the Klamath County Museums
The prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday  was Western Union Messengers, Danville, Virginia, or young lads with caps on their heads, or -- in my case, the first telephone in my home town of Klamath Falls,Oregon.  The telephone was installed in 1910 and it appeared to be in front of a boarding house on Klamath Avenue.   Klamath Avenue is just one street off of Main Street.  In 1910, Third Street was just far enough away from the river area to start accommodating boarding houses and stores.  As you can see from the picture, the streets were dirt and the most common transportation was by horse and wagon or buggy.  However, a few people owned cars and had to share the streets with cattle drives, horses and horse drawn conveyances.

The obvious pride these fellows take in either installing the telephone, or having their pictures taken on the momentous event, makes this one of my favorite pictures. 

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sharing Memories: The Tower Theater and the Dirt Roads

The Tower Theater Complex in 1985
Courtesy of www.americanclassicimages.com

Although theTower Theater in Klamath Falls was built in 1939, my earliest memories of going to this theater probably took place in the early 1940s. I seem to remember a stucco courtyard, to the right of the entrance, that intrigued me.  I so wanted to go into that courtyard  -- but now I question whether there was that wonderful mysterious courtyard.  However,  I do remember sitting in our car,  outside the theater, mother would  fidget and complain,  "Come on, Harold, we are going to miss the beginning of the movie."  My dad and I would be listening to the end of the "Lone Ranger" on the radio.  His focus was on the radio and the last of the episode's daring-do of the masked man and his stalwart companion, Tonto.  Off-handed he remarked, "Ruth, we can just sit through the intermission and then watch the beginning we missed."  And we would sit in the car and listen to the very end of the the "Lone Ranger" and his adventures.

This concept never seemed to satisfy mother, but was our standard mode of going to the movies.  However,  the hey-day of movies with lines of movie goers snaking around the block ended our days of sitting through the intermission to see the "missed" beginning.  Seats were a precious commodity and not to be wasted on the late-comers.

A few years later, mother or one of my aunts would drop my sister, cousins and me off at the movies for the Kiddee Matinee, and later, the regular matinee showing..  The Tower, the closest theater to our farm home --14 miles or so from home --  was the theater of choice for westerns,  musicals, and drama. However,  the following story is one of my  most vivid memories of the Tower Theater.


“Please, please, Daddy, can I go to the movie tonight. I'll be careful and drive real slow.”

“You're only fourteen, you know, so you have to be extra careful. No driving on the highway and come right home after the movie,” my dad replied gruffly. I knew that even though his voice sounded harsh, he was secretly pleased that I could drive to town – like he and his brothers did when they were my age. The house rule for my driving was that I could go anyplace I wanted as long as I had permission and I didn't drive on the highway, or blacktop, in those days).

“Thank you, Daddy.” I gave him a hug and planted a big kiss on his cheek.

I ran to the phone and called my cousin, Nancy.

“Nancy, I can take the car to the movies tonight, but I don't have enough money for you and Marilyn. Do you have any money?”

“No, but we have a lot of pop bottles. Marilyn and I can gather up enough to cover our tickets and maybe some popcorn,” replied Nancy. I heard her yell over her shoulder to her younger sister Marilyn to start gathering the bottles.

“I'll pick you two up about a quarter after six.”

Nancy hemmed and hawed and finally sputtered, “How will we get to the theater?”

I just laughed and said, “Pick you up at a quarter til.”

1950 was the year, summer before I turned 15, and the long sunny days meant that we would arrive at the theater way before the sunset. That summer I had been increasing the radius of my travels via the dirt roads. Dirt roads meant freedom to me. At first it was just to Mac's Store, which was just five miles away on the highway, but for my back road jaunt it was closer to a ten mile trip. Then from Mac's Store, I started venturing the twelve mile circuitous trek to Midland where my cousins lived. My cousins and I had talked about this day.

“Nancy, we could go to the Tower Theater. I can drive clear up to South Sixth Street on the dirt road.”

“Yeah, but the theater is on the other side – across South Sixth Street,” she grumbled.

We were quiet for a while. Then I had an idea.

“We could drive through the Shell station and park in the big space on the other side of it.”

“But, Joannie, how would we drive through the station?”

“We'll just drive up like we are going to fill the car up with gas, and then drive on through to the other side.” The conviction in my voice belied the butterflies in my stomach. I had just committed us to going to the Tower Theater. Now to get my dad's ok, which was actually easier than I expected. Now I was on my way to pick up Nancy and Marilyn.

“Ready?” I asked as I got out of my parents Olds 98. Nancy and Marilyn were waiting for me.  Marilyn had a big grocery sack of pop bottles by her side. In the back seat went Marilyn and the pop bottles, while Nancy took the front seat beside me. We were off for our maiden adventure to the movies.

“O, look, there is a line of cars at the gas station.” Nancy whined.  ":W-we can't just drive through the line without getting gas -- can we?

“That's not a line. Only three cars and for goodness sakes, there's two pumps,” I replied as I pulled into line for the next pump. A short wait. The car ahead of me pulled out and onto South Sixth Street. I waved to the guy at the pump and pulled on through to the parking area on the other side. Nancy had ducked down below the dashboard so the guy at the pump wouldn't see her. Marilyn giggled and waved too. When we stopped, Marilyn grabbed her bag of bottles and called to her older sister, “Come on, Nancy, help me take these bottles into the service station to sell.”

“O, I couldn't. He'll be mad or laugh at us for driving through the gas station.”

So Marilyn and I lugged the bottles to the little store. We came out with enough money for both cousins to get into the theater and a bag of popcorn to share.

Marilyn and I called to Nancy, “Come on, we're ready to go.” We stood at the edge of South Sixth Street waiting for her, before we crossed the “highway” on foot. After purchasing the tickets and popcorn, we went into the darkened theater, slunk down into the seats ready to enjoy our night at the movies. I smirked and tossed another piece of popcorn in my mouth. Even though the distance traveled was over three times the highway route - what with backtracking and crisscrossing the Basins backroads, it was possible to get to the Tower Theater without driving on the “highway.”  

Tower Theater
from the other side of South Sixth Street
Courtesy of www.americanclassicimages.com

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Synopsis; 2013 January 20

I always knew that the hand-drawn map that my Uncle Ralph made of the area around their homes near Crow Wing Lake was a treasure -- just how much of a treasure became clear yesterday.  My sis and I knew that before the map could become part of the book, it needed some clarification because the writing was hard to read and there was nothing on which to base distances and scale.  Sue suggested that we get the plat map records of land ownership.  A quick search of the internet brought to light the Atlas (plat book) of Crow Wing County, Minnesota, 1913.

In a few minutes all of the problems that had been associated with Google Maps disappeared. The four current "Crow Wing Lakes" and several other lakes morphed back to the land of  1913 --  through the 1920s and perhaps beyond.  The configuration of the 1913 Crow Wing Lake and Mud Lake (which my uncle called Dead Lake) were very similar to  Ralph's drawing of the two lakes in his map.

Once the lakes were aligned, the vexing problem of "which way was north?" was solved. The world of  Ralph as a boy had been charted by a short stretch of the Mississippi River and the Great Northern Railroad line and he oriented his map on these two features.  However, these two important landmarks of his youth were not due north as it appeared on his map, but due West from his home area around Crow Wing Lake.   When the lakes, the railroad track, and the Mississippi were in proper alignment, then  all of the farms, roads, and landmarks of his letters made sense to me.

As I studied the map, I realized that his map encompassed a world that was only 1 1/2 to 2 miles by nearly 4 miles, a total of not quite 8 square miles.  No wonder he could describe the details of his youth so well, for he often told of walking, hunting, fishing and working on every mile around his home.  Now, I can see that was true, and I now have a good idea of where my aunts and uncles were born, the location over the years of the homes of his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors.  I know how far he had to walk or ride a horse to school or to the train station as the map opened up a new window on his world.  Ralph's map is indeed a treasure.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sepia Saturday: 2013 January 19th, Uncles and Old Trucks

The prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday suggests 'waggons' and 'aunties.'  In my world, Uncle Clive and trucks - or cars - seems to be a close variation of this theme.  I am pleased to introduce my Uncle Clive and a few of his beloved "wheels."

1934, Clive McPherson
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives

The McPherson brothers, Harold (my dad), and my uncles Clive,Allen, and Ralph, came of age with that infernal internal combustion machine. If it had an engine and  wheels, they took it apart, put it together;  improvised, drove, raced and took daring-do chances with this new plaything of theirs.  In 1938,  my  uncles, Clive (age, 28) and Allen (age, 21), were involved in trucking accidents. The wrecked truck shown below was well photographed but with little information about it, other than a scribbled date. However,  from a description of the incidents in a letter written by my Uncle Ralph, it appears that the incident was on involving my Uncle.  

[From a letter written by my Uncle Ralph, which included the truck wrecks and some other driving experiences:]  Clive quit them (Zuckerman's) in 34 & worked in Klamath F as a mechanic at the Chrysler garages while there the garage entered a racing club out at the fair grounds in Altamont. Clive was in 8 races & won & of them & as the winner was supposed to get 100.00 a race, but I don’t think he got any or it. There was always some excuse, After that him, I & Harold were in the trucking business. Our only luck was a lot of Grief, got out of that business when I started to drive Gasoline transport for Red Cockerill & Clive was hired as mechanic. Just before that we hauled some timbers for Cockerill from Wildwood to Lewiston over in the Trinitys & that's when the universal drive shaft broke, Clive, truck & all went over the 400’ cliff into hayfork creek. The truck was a total wipe out but the Ins co fixed it back up & the 1st load after that Allen who altho just a kid was always rearing to drive started to drive the load to Lewiston. 

The 1st steep hill the universal broke & he bailed out right away, anyway it rolled back & crosswise to the highway & flipped over on its back. The chains didn’t break but there she was with all the wheels sticking straight in the air, so after getting a new joint & looking them over we found out that all the universals were factory spot welded & wouldn’t stand any strain. So that ended the timber hauling. Clive & I worked for Cockerill till the fall of 38 when we both went out & drove truck out at Shasta Dam. That was quite an experience. There were 24 contractors working on the dam at that time so trucks were like ants running all over those hills out there & traffic was so thick they had watchmen on every curve. The outfit we went to work for was to take the top off of a hill & fill a canyon across he river from the dam. They had the shovel on the top of the hill which was real steep. These trucks held 7 yds & you drove straight up to the shovel & backed down to the edge of the canyon close enough for the load to be dumped over the edge. Clive got along fine but he was a better driver than I, I got loaded & went to back down & you couldn’t see over the top or around the sides, The only thing you could lean way over and look underneath & the boss standing down there with his watch in his hands & he said you’ll have to do better than that , it took you 3 minutes to make the trip. The only thing about that job was the gas co came out & filled & serviced everything about an hour before quitting time including all the cars so we would just have a gallon or so in the tank every day & each drove a car out. I didn’t get fired but after a couple of weeks we both quit...

1938 Clive's Truck Wreck
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives

1938 Truck Wreck - Another View
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives

1938 Same Truck Wreck - Head-On View
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Clive's brothers and sisters always said of him, "if it had wheels, Clive would drive or race it."  A different kind of Clive's driving abilities is shown below in the 1936 picture of Clive racing in Klamath Falls. His brother Ralph wrote that Clive was in eight races and won all of them. Supposedly, the prize money was$100 a race, but according to Ralph, Clive never received any prize money. Knowing my Uncle Clive,  money was not the reason  he raced.

1936, Clive McPherson Racing No. 9
Klamath Falls, Oregon
JGH & Roots'n'Leaves Archives\

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Synopsis: 2013 Janurary 13

I did some editing and "catch-up" research for the book and will review with my sister before sending it off to L, the chief editor who keeps usn line.  I also posted a couple of things to my blog --- and am trying to catch up on my reading and responses.  All of that in between PT, OT and doc appointments  --- and the pure length of time it takes to do anything with a broken leg.  ugh. 

Nonetheless, things are progressing in the right direction  --- a good thing.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Septia Saturday: 2013 January 12, Bathing Suits and Beaches

I have followed  Sepia Saturday for quite awhile, but never quite got my act together to participate.  The 159 topic is about bathing suits and beaches, so I immediately thought of the following pictures from my archives.
Aggie McPherson Fiske,
my grandfather's sister, at
Crow Wing Lake, MN
From the Archives of JGH & Roots"n"Leaves

Aunt Aggie, as she was known in my family, was standing barefoot at the edge of Crow Wing Lake in northern Minnesota and fully clothed.   The occasion was a big family get-together in the summer of 1918, when she was about 30 years old.  I can't imagine Aunt Aggie in a bathing suit, but from the pictures of this family gathering, her dress was frilly and light in comparison to most of the heavy, full skirts and shirtwaists --  and if any of the ladies went swimming, it would have been fun loving Aggie.

My Uncle Ralph often told of swimming in the lake with his brothers, sisters and cousins.  I am pretty sure that my McPherson aunts and uncles did not have swimming suits when they were kids and  lived in Minnesota, but rather popped in the lake in their scivvies  -- or just bare "nekked", as my uncle would say.

Beach party with my Aunt Bertha (3rd from left) and
her daughter Cleona (in striped top and black trunks.

The picture to the right shows a beach party which included my Aunt Bertha (McPherson) Clouse, third lady from the left, and her daughter Cleona, in striped top and black trunis.  Bertha and her husband Cecil had a very active social life and were involved in a number of business, political and community affairs in their town of Calipatria, California.

I liked this picture as it showed a variety of bathing apparel for men, women and children.   There are several possibilities as to the location of the beach.  Although the site could be a number of southern California coastal towns,  I think the distance was too far from Calipatria.  The most likely site is the Salton Sea, a shallow, saline lake, just a couple of miles north and west of Calipatria.

Lake Hemet, in the Mt. Jacinto forest lands, was also a favorite summer time retreat.  When the temperatures soared in the desert, those who could afford to travel to the mountains did so.  Every summer, Bertha took her daughter Cleona to the mountains for a month or so.  Sometimes she also took her younger sisters, Helen, Verna, Betty and Olive Lorraine on their sojourn to the cooler mountain vacation spots.

1936, Gail, Harold and Ruth on the
banks of the Feather River near
Clio, California.
From the Archives of JGH & Roots"n"Leaves

The bathing attire in this 1936 picture to the left is very different from the southern California style in the above 1933 picture.  The picture  was taken  on the banks of the Feather River, near Clio, California, in northern California.  My father, Harold McPherson, was flanked by his young sister-in-law, Gail Sigford and my mother, Ruth Sigford McPherson.  My father and mother (and me)  had traveled from Stockton to Clio to visit my Sigford grandparents and Gail.

I am not sure if there was much swimming done on this visit.  The Feather River is cold; my mother couldn't swim and was afraid of the water; and I never knew my father to swim, but possibly he learned some rudimentary strokes in Minnesota. Gail, however, was a beautiful swimmer and moved effortlessly through the water- like an otter.

A sunny day for my mother Ruth and her first grandchild Lois
From the Archives of JGH & Roots"n"Leaves

Fast forward thirty years, and here is my mother, Ruth,with her first grandchild, our oldest daughter, Lois.  The two of them are sunning themselves on the dock at the Hill's family cabin at Lake of the Woods, located in the Cascade Mts. between Medford and Klamath Falls, Oregon.  Although mother did learn to swim, she was never very comfortable on the water - and certainly not in small boats, such as the canoe to the right.

NOTE:  What a fun project to do on a cold winter day.  Here in the hills of southern Oregon, the sun is shining on the snowy hillsides, the trees are tipped in white, but I only thought of warm beaches in Minnesota, California and Oregon.  What a nice way to spend the morning.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sharing Memories: Of Movie Theaters in Klamath Falls -- Poole's Pelican Theater

Poole's Pelican Theater in Klamath Falls, Oregon
opened January 29, 1929
Courtesy of Puget Sound Theater Society

As a teenager, I viewed Poole's Pelican Theater as the dowager empress of movie theaters in Klamath Falls. However in its early years, well-dressed patrons of the arts attended symphonies, ballets, and stage productions, while most everyone in town and surrounding area flocked to see silent movies and then the "talkies." The old theater was also the venue for the Saturday morning kiddie talent show, which was followed by a matinee of cartoons and westerns. On June 23, 1928, the Poole's installed a Whurlitzer theater organ, an opus 1897 style 202 special, for the silent movies that were still being shown at the time of its opening. However by the early 1930s the "talkies" were regular fare and there was no longer a need for the Whurlitzer theater organ. The manufacturer repossessed the Whurlitzer and rebuilt it in 1937 for Chicago's Aragon ballroom.

The theater doors opened in 1929, which was about the time my mother told of going to the Pelican theater for Saturday talent shows and matinees. By 1934, the Pelican Theater was the special date night spot for my parents. The opulent ivory interior with its gold leaf decorations, pillars, and deep wine-red carpet made a movie date seem more than special. The following picture of the inside of the theater brought back my mother's old memories of opulence and the feeling of a very special occasion when my father took her to a movie at the Pelican.

Main floor lobby of the Poole's Pelican Theater
Courtesy of Klamath County Museum

On August 15, 1932,my future father-in-law, silver Medalist Ralph Hill, was greeted by over a 1,000 people who lined the streets to greet his return from the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. My future-mother-in-law, Lois Irene Dixon, who was barely 17 years old, proudly rode at his side in the open car through the streets of Klamath Falls. Later, even more people showed up at the Pelican Theater for the town's official  welcome home for it's Olympic hero. The theater must have been a packed house as the Pelican seated 1,590. The throng of people waiting to get into the theater  for Hill's welcome home must have looked much like the street-lined picture shown below.

A 1940s  crowd of people waiting
entrance to Poole's Pelican Theater
Courtesy of Puget Sound Theater Society

As a young girl,  I remember being so very impressed with the wine-red carpets and chairs, the heavy red and gold drapery, and the gold-leaf decorations. However, one of the most vivid memories stemmed from a date night movie with Ric. We were still in high school at the time and had gone to many movies together, some even at the Pelican, but this night was special.   I remember taking great care in dressing.  First was brushed gabradine skirt, a pencil-straight skirt with an off-center slit clear to the knee (the slit must have been all of 4 inches long).  Then I topped it with a long-sleeved silky blouse and a plush tiger-print vest and matching tam. I thought the vest and tam my mother made for me were very cool -- and I still have them stuck away in some drawer.

I was full of anticipation as I watched Ric's green Chevy come over Mt.Laki Cemetery hill and across the flat, probably about five or six miles from our house. However, when he pulled off of the blacktop and up the hill to our house, I sauntered nonchalantly across the living room and kitchen to open the breezeway door for Ric. After a quick greeting and an obligatory nod and commitment to my mother that he would have me home by 11 o'clock, Ric handed me into his Chevy and we were off to the movies.

My memory bank tells me it was a special day, perhaps Valentine's Day, my birthday, or some other special teenage day of the 50s. Going to the movies at the Pelican was always a treat, but this night Ric surprised me by buying loge seat tickets which were more than double the price of regular seats. Ric was really pulling out all the stops in his effort to surprise and impress me. The usher, dressed in a wine-red uniform with gold trim, led us us the wide curved staircase, her red-muted flashlight carefully pointed towards the floor. She unhooked the velvet rope to the entrance to the loge seats and showed us to our seats. I sunk into a plush red velvet upholstered seat beside Ric and enjoyed the decadence of the loge seating -- at least it was decadent to this country girl. Not every movie date at the Pelican qualified for loge seating, but a girl knew she was special when her date splurged on loge seating -- at least in my circle of friends.
Main floor lobby of the Poole's Pelican Theater and
staircase to the balcony and loge seating
Courtesy of Klamath County Museum

All through the 1950s the Pelican theater, though now a bit shabby and showing her age, was still the venue for most of the symphonies, ballet troupes, and stage productions that came to Klamath Falls.  During these years,  I remember taking my young daughters to the holiday production of the Nutcracker, as well as attending ballets and international cultural productions with my family.   However, by 1960, the powers-that-be in Klamath Falls decided that a bank parking lot would be more beneficial to the "growing" city. The Klamath Falls Herald & News headline of February 20,1961, noted that the walls of the Pelican Theater came tumbling down. My grande dame of theaters lay victim to "progress"and a bank parking lot.
The bank parking lot where Poole's Pelican Theater
once reigned
Courtesy of  "Lost Memory" which was submitted to online Cinema Treasures
Klamath County Museum Fast Facts (online)
Puget Sound Theater Organ Society (online)
Cinema Treasures (online)   

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Synopsis: 2013 January 6

It's been more than six weeks since I fell and broke my leg, and each day I get more and more self-sufficient.  Even though I am still mostly confined to a wheelchair, I am starting to transition to a walker in preparation for being able to bear weight on the left leg.  'Nuff said about that sort of stuff.

This past week I posted a Sunday Synopsis and a short piece about old the Pine Tree Theater in Klamath Falls. I have another Sharing Memories piece nearly ready to go about the Pelican Theater, as well as the beginning of at least two more pieces on old Klamath Falls theaters.  Feels good to be  writing again.

Progress on the book of Uncle Ralph Letters is definitely making headway, thanks to my sis and L, as they are finishing up putting together the picture pages.  I have another edit on the Introduction/Preface to complete, then on to edits.  The problem is writing time between fitting in my twice daily exercise sessions and just the length of time daily living things take.  So little time to write-- but each day gets better.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sharing Memories: Of Movie Theaters in Klamath Falls - Pine Tree Theater

Postcard of Pine Tree Theater, Klamath Falls OR
circa 1940
Courtesey of Puget Sound Theater Organ Society Website

Opening night, October 31, 1922, at the Pine Tree Theater saw a nearly packed house, as Klamath Falls theater-goers showed up in their best bib and tuckers. The silent movie that played that night was accompanied by a small 2/5 Smith theater organ. My mother, who was born in 1919, probably attended movies as a child at the Pine Tree.
Opening Night of the Pine Tree Theater, Klamath Falls OR
October 31, 1922
Courtesey of Puget Sound Theater Organ Society Website
My earliest memories of the Pine Tree are a conglomeration of western movies, Tom Mix, The Cisco Kid, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers -- AND being wrapped in my dad's arms as he carried from the theater to the car --- and into our house once we got home. I also remember the huge outline of a pine tree with the brightly lighted words PINE TREE that rose above the lighted marqee.

By the time I was a teenager, this old theater had seen it's better days. The dingy lobby, worn and soiled seats told of nearly 30 years of hard use, barrels of popcorn slithery with butter,  gallons of soft drinks, and untold number of chocolate bars smeared into the seats. The old theater's days were drawing to a close. Perhaps fittingly, my last seared-into-the-brain memory of the Pine Tree was near the end of her reign. The occasion was one of my first real dates -- a group date of couples. My current heart-throbs were the twins, but their dates were girls who seemed more comfortable with dating and talking to boys than I. My "date" was hardly even a friend, but a friend of the twins. I was shy, barely able to make a coherent sentence, much less easy banter. He was equally shy, or most likely just the silent-type, which made for a very long silent and miserable night. Almost enough to make a girl swear off dating.

Nevertheless, memories of Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, and Gene Autry riding, shooting and sometimes singing their way across the silver screen --  and my dad carrying me safely home --  have lasted a lifetime

1940s Klamath Falls Street Scene with the Pine Tree
silhouetted against the sky
Courtesey of Puget Sound Theater Organ Society Website

~ ~ ~
 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications