Sunday, September 20, 2020


The Chatterbox 

September 10, 2020

Cottage Grove Sentinel

"Things can get tough but persevere.
You never know what opportunity is around the corner.”
Col. Kirsten M. Palmer

A United States Air Force retirement ceremony was held August 2, 2020, at McChord Field, Washington, in honor of Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer for her 25 years of service.

In attendance were her husband, retired Lt. Col. Roger Lang, her daughter Addyson (11), son  Archer (18 mo.), her parents Ron and Linda Palmer, brother Matt Palmer and multiple Air Force members who had recently served with her at McChord Field.

Kirsten’s career dreams began in an 8th grade science class at Lincoln Middle School. Studying the stars and planets of our solar system, installed in her a desire for space travel as an astronaut.

Her retired Air Force uncle recommended the following path to follow after graduating from CGHS in 1991: “First, become a pilot. Do that by joining the Air Force and attending the Air Force Academy.”  Kirsten set the plan in motion, applied and was accepted at the Academy.

At a summer program at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, Kirsten changed her mind about being a pilot. She spent three weeks shadowing young officers in different career fields that increased her horizons.

She says, “I spent a day with an aircraft maintenance officer and immediately knew that was the career path I wanted. Not only are you around aircraft all day but you get to lead the incredibly skilled aircraft maintainers and resolve issues that are impediments to making the mission happen.”

She earned her commission from the Academy in May 1995 but the learning never stopped. In layman’s terms, as an officer, her crew’s job was to keep the airplanes flying—to get the mission done and every Airmen home. So as she mentored, gave directions and coached others, she was always taking classes too.

During her 25 year career, Palmer served in a variety of assignments in various locations, including 11 years at the Pentagon. She finished at Lewis-McChord Field, Washington

One of her favorite assignments was at Spangdahlem Air Base and Ramstein Air Base in Germany where she met her husband Roger. They were in the same squadron. He flew the C-9 aircraft and her maintainers fixed and serviced the aircraft.

In Germany she not only met her future husband but became fast friends with several women who remain in contact today. There was also time to ski the Alps and see the sites all around Europe.

As an officer, she was always appreciative of those who worked with her. Her squadron commander at Charleston Air Force Base SC was deployed for 6 months. As second in command, she stepped in as acting commander of a 600 person unit.

She says, “It was a huge responsibility for a 32-year old but I was surrounded by a great group of officers and my Airmen flourished! We ended up winning an Air Force and Department of Defense level award for outstanding maintenance during that time period.

Later, at McChord Field, two of my Airmen had a great idea to create a tool that would maintain batteries for a C-17 easier, more cost effective and safer. They pitched the idea to Air Force leadership and 500 Airmen at a convention center. It was approved and now the base will receive a state of the art 3D printer to help Airmen do their jobs.”

The Air Force has been a rewarding profession for Col. Palmer in many ways. In addition to the satisfaction of serving her country at the different assignments, she has earned multiple education degrees (including the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy), many other major awards and decorations, as well as promotion to Colonel.  

Nevertheless, all good things must come to an end. I asked Kirsten why she was retiring now and she said:

“I figured a quarter of a century is a nice round number of years to serve my country. My priorities in life have changed. I want to spend more time with my family and be there more for my kids. They are only young once and I want to create amazing memories like I have of my Mom when I was a child.

“At some point I’ll probably get back into the job market with a part-time job. Until then, I’m going to enjoy being a Mom, catching my breath and reflect on the eventful last 25 years—the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve gotten to do that I never imagined when I left Cottage Grove in 1991 and headed to the Air Force Academy.”

Thank you, Kirsten, for a job well done serving your country and being an inspiration for all young people to follow their dreams. Enjoy the memories. A new life of opportunities and challenges await. You are an inspiration.
                Contact Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox at email




7/2/2020 The Chatterbox 

Cottage Grove Sentinel

Betty Kaiser

For many years I wrote a weekly “Neighborhood News” column.  It was always a high point in my day when readers would call, email or write me notes about good things that were happening in their lives and neighborhoods.

I have one of those good news columns today. I heard the following story somewhat belatedly and tucked it away in my memory bank only to lose it! I remembered it this week and asked the family to share it with you. This local heartwarming  story began in Creswell, in April 2018.

One Saturday morning, Kaila Ollivant (a then 16 year old sophomore at Cottage Grove High School) and two friends pulled into the Creswell Coffee Shop* for some breakfast before going shopping. As they parked, Kaila felt the car run over something. Getting out of the car she discovered the “something” was a smashed wallet.

She took pictures of the wallet that contained the usual stuff plus a family heirloom money clip and a significant amount of money. It also contained a school ID of a young teen, Keaton S., in the 7th grade in North Hollywood, California. The distance didn’t discourage Kaila. She was determined to find him and return the wallet and its contents.

She began at the Creswell Police Dept. but they are closed on weekends. She then left a note at the Coffee Shop and took the wallet home where she and her mom Tracy brainstormed. So many questions. North Hollywood is a long ways away and it was Spring Break. How did the wallet end up in a Creswell parking lot? Perhaps, he and his family were passing through the area on vacation? They called the Creswell hotels with no success.

The following Monday Tracy called the student’s school  and inquired if he still attended there. Eventually, someone said yes and they would contact his family. Within minutes, she received a call from Keaton’s dad. He couldn’t believe that the wallet had been found and that everything was intact. He called Kaila their “Angel” and filled in the blanks on how the wallet got there.

Keaton’s grandparents live in Creswell and he came up  to visit during Spring Break. He had been staying there and doing chores to earn money to open his first bank account. Ironically, he had gone on a bike ride with his now missing wallet and lost all his hard earned money.

When he discovered it was gone and told his grandmother, she said (as all good grandmothers do), “That is why I told you to put your money in your suitcase until you get home so you won’t lose it!” A lesson learned like most of us do—the hard way.

After Keaton’s dad told him that his wallet had been found, his parents said he was on Cloud 9! “He spent the night singing the praises of Kaila and the entire state of Oregon. He even talked of attending the University of Oregon!” Now that’s joy and gratitude!

The wallet was soon sent from Oregon to a grateful Keaton in Calif.  In the meantime, both families had discussions about the wallet’s journey and life’s learning experiences of character building, including responsibility, ethics and treating people as you want to be treated.

But the story continues. A sum of money had been offered to Kaila as a finder’s fee but she declined. Keaton wrote Kaila thanking her for being so kind and awesome. He was so grateful to have the money and items returned. He wanted to repay her in some way so he purchased a gift card at the coffee shop for her and her friends to go for breakfast! He specifically recommended his favorite, the Florentine Crepe. Kaila thought that was very cool but her real reward was his joy in the returned wallet.

After many exchanges of emails, pictures and notes, the families had become friends. They made a date to meet. Keaton’s family came to Oregon over July Fourth where they met for lunch. They seem to have bonded over more than a lost wallet and a good Samaritan named Kaila. The knowledge that good people still exist in this crazy world warmed all of their hearts.

In closing, I’m quoting a note from Keaton’s aunt that speaks from her heart for most of us:

“My heart filled with joy when I got this news. I’m relieved my nephew will be reunited with his belongings. But I’m more relieved to know that in a society full of hostility and self-entitlement there are still people (a teenager no less) who will do the right thing and prioritize kindness above personal gain. She restored some of my ever decreasing faith in humanity and taught my nephew a valuable lesson.”

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Monday, June 15, 2020

Our Dogs Miss A Social Life!

6/4/2020 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser
Sammy as a puppy

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in our house—even the dogs. No, they’re not wearing masks or washing their paws as they go in or out of the back door. But they have a social problem. Our feisty little Dachshunds are great watch dog companions that are always on alert for people and predators. They take their jobs seriously.

They are the welcoming party to the Kaiser household and nothing comes onto the property without being greeted. During wet weather, they stay inside and guard their domain through the French doors. In warm weather they go outside in the sunshine and wait for company to come calling so they can announce their arrival.

But thanks to Covid-19, traffic has slowed down and welcoming barks are strangely quiet. You might say they are not happy campers. So, Sammy has taken up whining as a new hobby.

Last week, he literally nearly drove me crazy—in the house. The weather was nice but he didn’t want to stay outside. Wherever I went. He went. If I was in the laundry room. He was there. If I went upstairs, so did he.  He even came into the bathroom with me. And the whining never stopped. Step after step, room after room, I worked and he whined.

In desperation, I sat down, gave him my undivided attention, petted, murmured sweet words, massaged and hugged him. More whining. I tried coaxing him with his favorite chew treat—a bacon flavored Nyla Bone.  He would have none of it.  Instead, he looked at the door and…whined!

During that time, his little housemate Sweetie ignored us! It was the perfect opportunity for her to sleep in Sammy’s bed and play with his toys. But she was also getting anxious. She wanted to go in and out the back door every few minutes. If only she knew how to turn the doorknob!

This went on all week. I was really annoyed until I figured out the problem.

I already knew that our dogs could sense tension in the air. As a puppy, during any household disagreement (even on the television!) Sammy would go into my office, climb into Sweetie’s bed and go to sleep. He only comes out when the noise calms down!

Then I read that other pets across the country have become unhappy during this pandemic situation. Two reasons:  1. Their daily life routines have been turned upside down. 2. If their human is anxious, they are too.

Huh. What a concept. Anxious? Tense? Me? During Covid-19? Yep. That's me!

For weeks, I would get uptight just thinking about going to the store. First, I would read the latest  socializing restrictions. I’d make my list and check it twice.  Then I’d check the car for hand sanitizer, put on my mask and gloves and go back into the house to check one more thing and leave.

All the while, the dogs would be watching, dogging me and trying to get in the car and go with me. They’re spoiled. When they go with dad, his “people” give them treats. Not me.

Sammy and Sweetie live for company. But for months (per CDC guidelines), human visitors have been few and far between. Thank goodness for neighborly conversations across the fence, USPS and UPS.

Some days, I also feel like whining. A worldwide pandemic that’s killing thousands of people calls for fear, heartache and extreme changes in lifestyle.

Physical distancing, no church, haircuts or dining out and staying home are a small price to pay to save lives. But it took awhile to realize how important seeing our friends and hugging them on a regular basis is important emotionally. Sometimes I feel like I am in prison!

Like us, our dogs have been missing their people, running around the property and having fun. Playing catch or tag with a squeaky toy in the house just doesn’t cut it. They quickly tire of ordinary games and get bored.

So, we have a new routine. Daily, I snap on Sammy’s leash to go out to the mailbox (about a ¼ mile walk) and pick up the mail. Then I unleash him and we walk around our wooded acreage and wave at the neighbors driving by.

Sometimes Sweetie joins us. Then both of them get a chance to investigate new squirrel holes, chase birds, bark at any motorcycles that zoom past their territory and greet Bella (the dog next door).

At home, we get a drink of water, sit down and kibbutz while Sammy gets a massage and Sweetie takes a nap. It’s a new normal but it works for the time-being. No whining allowed. Yea!

Thankfully, hope is on the horizon. Virus numbers are down. Community doors are opening again and yesterday, a car drove down our driveway.


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Thursday, May 14, 2020


Betty needs a haircut!
5/7/2020 Chatterbox
CG Sentinel
Betty Kaiser

That crazy lady photo in today’s column is me—needing a haircut! And today’s column is a rambling description of the new Shelter in Place lifestyle that we’re all living. 

I agree with Tom Hanks who said, “There’s no such thing as a Saturday anymore. Every day is just today.”

In this pandemic era, every day seems like the one before. Time is running them all together. News flashes are constant and contradictory. The government rules to protect us from the coronavirus often change from day to day. The truth is that sometimes, I am overwhelmed knowing what to do and when to do it.

Do I agree with the need for restrictions? 

You bet I do! Anything that keeps people from catching COVID-19 and saves thousands of lives is a good thing. I support the rules wholeheartedly.

But do I like the rules on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day, week-by-week basis? 

Nope. Not at all. Especially when it means staying home 24/7.

At first, staying home and sheltering, didn’t bother me. I could find plenty to do around the house (organize photos, clean closets, sweep the garage) and a weekly search for groceries kept me busy (and uptight) at the stores.

I learned how to wear a mask and gloves while shopping and to stay six feet away from other shoppers and neighbors. I made hand sanitizer and use lots of hand soap while washing my hands and singing “Happy Birthday.” Until now, I never knew how often I touched my face. Now I know not to do that!

But…once the food cupboards were full, new recipes tried, and phone calls made, I tired of cleaning house and I missed driving into town, entertaining my friends, going to church and visiting my favorite Eugene haunts.

Boredom started setting in. And let me tell you, it’s not easy to get bored around my house. There’s always something to do. Six manicured acres of rose bushes, vegetable gardens, trees and meadow grass will keep you busier than a bee. Just trying to keep the weeds from taking over the property is exhausting. It’s also not fun and I need fun!

Between the cold, blustery, rainy days and our advanced ages we limit the time we spend working outside. A couple of hours and it’s back into the house to catch up with emails, phone calls, texts from the kids, laundry, bills, naps, reading or TV. That’s it! Day after day after day.

Fortunately, Chuck and I are used to working together and that’s a good thing! He likes to help—on his terms. And my idea of household chores is way different from his. An example: He’s still surprised that doing the dishes includes cleaning off the stove and counter tops every day! 

So sometimes a little togetherness feels like too much and I’m sure he feels the same way!

Shelter in Place at our house includes us and two Dachshunds. And right now we’re all feeling stressed and a little claustrophobic . The dogs sense our agitation and can’t settle down. They walk around whining for attention or sit at the back door barking to go out and chase a squirrel. They quickly come back inside and start all over again. It’s a merry-go-round.

But last week, I had a revelation. Everyone was in the kitchen. The dogs were sitting on their cushions in front of the French doors, guarding the property. I was gathering ingredients and putting together a spaghetti sauce for dinner and Chuck was making doggie meatballs.

As I looked around, I realized that while the house was eerily quiet, everyone was at peace. We were safe, happy and healthy. “Aha!” I thought, “This new normal is working.” But it was almost too quiet. So I went over and turned on the TV so we could all watch the depressing morning news while doing our part to shelter in place.

So, yes! We can do this!  But…I'm sure looking forward to a haircut!

One final thought: As we mourn all of those who have lost their lives in this pandemic, we do not know what the future holds for us. Our future is limited by the guidelines we’ve been given. Cooperation is a good thing. Our job is  to trust those making decisions. 

They are literally a matter of life or death.

Please join me in praying regularly for those who have COVID-19 and those who care for them: healing, endurance and peace for the patients; wisdom, compassion, energy, rest and protection for first responders and medical personnel.  Also, for the virus to stop spreading and the researchers to create vaccines to prevent it.

And one more thing—let’s all be grateful for our blessings. Looking at some parts of the world we know that it could be worse. 

Can I get an Amen?

Contact Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox by email


Monday, April 6, 2020

SURVIVING THE UNEXPECTED (with prayer and toilet paper)

4/2/2020 The Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Hello, Grovers! The Chatterbox is back! After 22 years of conversing with my CG Sentinel readers, I had to stop writing for awhile and I missed you. Today’s column is a short update of my unbelievably crazy life these past months.

It all began with a dog attack. One year ago, on March 30, a large dog tried to take off my right arm. I was taken by ambulance to RiverBend, met by a trauma surgeon and informed that my wound could not be closed with simple stitching. I couldn’t see that there was no skin covering the raw flesh because I was wearing two sweatshirts. I quietly heard the surgeon say, “It’s serious and requires an immediate debridement surgery, another surgery and eventually a skin graft.”

In other words, It was a gory mess.

My healthy, happy self was changed in an instant. I was in shock. There are pictures of me just looking bewildered as I jumped through all the necessary hoops to restore my arm function. I truly feared that healing and restoration wasn’t possible.

Family, friends and strangers prayed.

I was in shock for weeks. My condition was described as “fragile.” The first two surgeries I barely knew what was happening. The skin graft was a real eye opener. I always wondered how they transferred skin from one place to another. In layman’s terms, they shaved a large area of skin off my thigh and stitched it over the skinless wound. Both the leg and arm were bandaged and the healing began.

I wore a wound vacuum attached to my arm and around my neck 24 hours a day for weeks. Eventually, it and the stitches were removed from the arm.  I wore a compression sleeve for months to continue the healing. The thigh skin removal was like a severe sunburn as it slowly healed. The ugly, crater-like hole of the arm wound area looks and feels like shoe leather.

Many thanks to modern medicine and an army of medical personnel who did everything they could to restore my arm. Along the way, I learned how to be brave and calm; to follow directions, endure multiple procedures, operate a wound vac machine and trust my husband to change bandages. One of the frustrating parts? It was two months before I could take a shower. Chuck washed my hair in the sink and I took sponge baths. Oy!

So much tissue was lost that I remained under the surgeon’s care until this year. The wound area is still tender and ugly as sin and there is residual nerve damage. Everyday life is hard on the arm and wrist: lifting, typing, stirring, opening jars, digging in the garden are all painful. But thanks to great care and hundreds of prayers, I survived and I am a grateful woman.

Now, you would think that would be enough medical trauma and drama for a little old lady in one year. But there’s more. In August, a routine exam showed that I had a non-malignant tumor of the parotid gland. The tumor was sitting on the facial nerve making it difficult surgery to remove.  More prayers were sent up and thanks to God and a great surgeon, I again survived the unexpected.

Finally, just before Christmas, when life was starting to get normal, more trouble was brewing. My husband has a long history of heart disease dating back to a 5-way bypass in 2003. In Dec. he began having difficulty breathing outside in cold air. No one thought that was a problem. “They” were wrong. He ended up at RiverBend, after a heart attack and stroke that resulted in more surgeries and weeks of Home Health Care. Many tears were shed and prayers were offered. Chuck survived the unexpected.

This year, for one brief month in January, life was looking up. Then came another surprise. A coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) arrived in America.

Unexpected? You bet.

Now, to everyone out there who is wondering what the world is coming to…I don’t know either. Only God knows. And so we pray. Please know that I’m following the rules and worrying right along with you and we will get though this. 

However, we are just about out of toilet paper. Kleenex, anyone?

Many thanks to all of you for your encouragement and friendship though-out my journalism years. May God bless you with hope, joy and good health as we plow through the year 2020! Keep looking up, praying and believing that we will survive.

Remember: This, too, shall pass!

P.S. After this went to press, a large box of toilet paper arrived in the mail from my sweet, thoughtful daughter who lives in Calif. Thank you, Kathryn!

Contact Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox by email

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Athletics Coach Janice Jean Neely was a pistol!

7/17/19 The Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Today’s column is one of fond remembrances of Jan Neely, a beloved girls Athletic Coach and teacher who taught at Cottage Grove High School from 1952-1987. A Christian, she passed from this world into heaven on June 16, at the age of 92. Her former students and co-workers will tell you that she is gone but not forgotten. Their memories inspired this column. 

She still means a lot to her students and coworkers. For-instance, if you walk around the Cottage Grove High School campus, you will find yourself on the Coach Neely Fitness Trail. A plaque was placed there in 2012 in honor of this very respected teacher by a group of her former students. At the dedication, she had a personal tour of the trail in a golf cart.

Janice Jean and her twin sister Jean Janice were born on June 16, 1927 in Grant’s Pass, Oregon. They both graduated from the University of Oregon and later earned master’s degrees from the University of Washington. They both taught women’s physical education. Jean lived in La Grande for 30 years where she was a teacher at Eastern Oregon College until she retired and moved to Cottage Grove with Jan. She passed away in 2009.

Former Athletics Director Jerry Braunberger was fresh out of college when he came to CGHS in 1961. He and his wife Sherrie fondly remember Jan’s warm greeting and acceptance of them. Soon Jan was organizing activities for the faculty wives—most memorably, a weekly badminton group that continued for years. Sherrie remembers that “Jan set up the group and taught us how to play but she was heard to beat!”

Jerry said he really got to know her when they coached track together (along with softball, soccer, Lacrosse, etc.) He stressed that she was well-liked and developed strong relationships with her students. Whatever she did, her emphasis was always on the importance of physical activity for all ages. She would encourage all ages to exercise by saying, “You need to be active for a busy life,”

Jerry said that Miss Neely was an equal opportunist for women in sports—even in an era when girls’ sports in school were far less important than the boys, He added that “She was an excellent teacher and extremely dedicated. She was a dynamo!”

After hearing from graduates of several CGHS eras, it’s evident she coached, taught, mentored, encouraged, supported and motivated her students all while teaching them new skills. I think it’s fair to say that she was a super star teacher to her students. One with a sense of humor. 

As you will learn from the following comments about their “Miss Neely,” you might also say that she taught with love.

Cheryl R. from the class of 1966 says:Growing up there were three women who deeply influenced me: my mother, my paternal grandmother and Miss Neely. She was not only a wonderful teacher, coach and advisor, but also a wonderful role model to me and to hundreds of young women. She always inspired us to do our best and be our best version of ourselves. I know I am a better person for having her in my life."

Janece N., also from the Class of 1966, said..."I have wonderful memories of Miss Neely...definitely a woman before her time!"

Jan S., also from the Class of 1966 says: “My memories include powerful words to describe the role model she was for me...dedicated, motivational, positive influence, genuine, caring, and she paved the way for girls’ athletics by the way she positively interacted with people. She provided an unbelievable experience in physical education with curriculum involving basketball, volleyball, tennis, softball, gymnastics, fencing, archery, etc. I chose elementary teaching for my life long career and Miss Neely was a definite inspiration and role model in my life!”

One member of the class of 1959 recalls how kind and caring Miss Neely was while her PE teacher. It was this teenager’s senior year. She fell in love, got married and became pregnant. Morning sickness made it impossible for her to keep up in soccer. Miss Neely noticed, didn’t ask questions but suggested that her student “Go sit on the sidelines and learn by watching.” Now that’s teaching with compassion.

Finally, Marie L. (class of 1957), has some hilarious stories of trips that the various teams took to out of town sporting events. There were no buses for girl athletes so parents and Miss Neely did the driving. 

To pass the time, the girls would come prepared with prankster signs to flash out the back window. A couple of their favorites read, “Help! We’re being Kidnapped!” or “Single Driver.” They were afraid to put up the one that said, “Drunk Driver.”

As they giggled, Miss Neely would just say, “What are you girls doing now?” and keep on driving to the next GAA meet.

Today, all agree that they are grateful for having known her. She was an excellent teacher, mentor, role model and friend who greatly influenced their lives forever. There were many formal accolades and awards for her but as one former student said, “She was a pistol and got things done! 

Now you have to wonder what kind of athletics she is organizing in heaven!

There will be a Celebration of Life service for Miss Janice Jean Neely at Riverside Community Church of God, Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 2 pm.

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Cottage Grove historian shares 4th of July celebration memories

7/3/19 The Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser 
Note: This column is being published a little late. Sorry

Tomorrow is the 4th of July. Are you ready to celebrate? Well, the Colonists certainly were after signing the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. But first, they had to get hostility out of the way. King George III bore the brunt of their actions.

Newspapers of the time describe how the military tore down a statue of the King in the Bowling Green section of Manhattan and later melted it into bullets. In Philadelphia, the King’s coat of arms was used as bonfire kindling. The citizens of Savannah, Georgia, burned the King in effigy and held a mock funeral to put him away forever.

The following year, the Virginia Gazette, dated July 5, described a more civilized celebration: “Armed ships and gallies were drawn up before the city, dressed with the colours of the U.S and began the celebration by a discharge of 13 cannon from each of them. The day was closed with the ringing of bells and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and ended with 13 rockets on the commons, illuminating the city.”

This year we will celebrate 243 years of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In many ways, our celebration hasn’t changed very much. For most of us, it will be a day off work, family reunions, parades, backyard barbecues and lots of fireworks.

In 2007, I wrote a column in which I asked readers to share their childhood memories of July 4th celebrations. The response was not overwhelming. In fact, I only received two emails. One was from Marcia Allen, now 96 years old, whom I consider to be the queen of Cottage Grove history.
Marcia has been my go-to-person for 20 years as a reporter and columnist. She has also been a driving force, along with many others, to preserve and celebrate the history and heritage of Cottage Grove’s people and buildings and culture. The Marcia E. Allen Historical Research Library is named in her honor. Got questions? Stop and see them @ 308 So. 10th St.

Here are Marcia’s childhood recollections of celebrating the 4th of July in the mid-1930s:
“I have several memories of my childhood and how I celebrated the 4th of July.  My folks were always very patriotic, and displayed a very large flag hung on the clothesline in the big front porch, where clothes dried in the wind in winter time. Every store downtown had bunting draped under roofs and windows, businesses were closed for the day.

We began at the Cottage Grove Armory, with a speaker and a HS student reciting the Gettysburg address.  The Civil War Vets were always proudly in uniform and honored as the oldest group. Seems like there were still about 8-10 who were able to come. Kelly Field is named for a hometown boy lost in WWI, and the Calvin Funk Post of the American Legion is also named for a CG boy lost in action.       

The Armory was built early in the 1930's because Cottage Grove was noted for its group of National Guardsmen who were crack shots with their rifles. They needed a place to practice inside so as to be ready for competition when they reported annually to "Camp Lewis" in Washington to camp and compete with all others in the Northwest. (see the story of the Armory in the Golden Was the Past II - page 65). 

There was usually a parade because veterans from the Civil War were still alive and the first World War had been over about ten years, and patriotic fever was high.

The way I remember CG parades used to be with the High School Band always involved as well as the CG Band of men - most of whom were WWI vets and businessmen. The parade led to the bridge, and on to the Fir Grove cemetery - to honor the dead after the service.

 Sometimes our family went by car over to Siuslaw Falls, down past Lorane to the west and had a picnic with friends from the Masonic lodge or others from the business community. A special treat of the day was the food - always watermelon and fried chicken- not usually enjoyed at other times. 

Sometimes Dad drove Mother and I to Florence where his uncle and aunt and some of their grown children lived. We drove down the twisty 2 lane highway along the Umpqua river to Glenada and boarded a ferry to cross over to Florence. The big bridge over the bay was not built until 1936, so travel over any river near the ocean was all done by ferries.  The first rhododendron parade was done on boats along where Old Town Florence is today. 

There were never any children my age to play with, but I usually had a package or two of firecrackers and a punk to light them and had a good time in the sand dune behind the house.

One time I lit a firecracker that burned its fuse and didn't go off. When I picked it up, it did go off and burned my fingers very painfully.  I was about 9 years old and had started taking piano lessons that constituted an hour's practice every day.  Needless to say, the practice sessions were on hold for about a week! 

May we never forget the “good ole days” and what our country stands for!”

Thank you, Marcia and God bless the U.S.A.!

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