After my invigorating stay at the Bonneville Spa, my senses were refreshed and alert. I was amazed at all the wildflowers although I should not have been amazed as I had been told Oregon is a haven for flower lovers. My adrenaline was pumping as fast as my legs were pumping for it was my intent to get to Troutdale Oregon today.
I had heard this town is rich in history as so many places have been on this journey of mine. A destructive fire leveled most of the town in 1907 and then another fire in 1925 destroyed the business district. What dedication these people must have had to rebuild parts of their town twice. I can’t imagine ever having that much dedication.
Tonight I’ll be staying at Tom Bodett’s place – Motel 6. He said he’d leave the light on for me so that will give me plenty of time to do a little window shopping. As much as I like supporting those Mom and Pop stores, I knew that I had to be careful with my finances so as not to end up like I did back in Umatilla Oregon. Working in those fields was back breaking work and I really didn’t want to end up like that again. So Troutdale will get my hotel fee and a meal fee and that’s about it.
I checked into my hotel in the early afternoon so I knew I had plenty of time to do my window shopping. I was so disheartened to learn that Mr. Bodett was not in that day, but he always recommends to his customers great places to go see. Today was no different as the recommended restaurant for the day was Tad’s Chicken and Dumplings. I love chicken and dumplings so I figured that would be a great place to eat.
I wandered through the various shops in town and met several nice people. All seemed to agree with Mr. Bodett that Tad’s was the place to eat. All my walking around had given me quite the appetite so I decided to head to Tad’s early. I knew I’d be eating with all the older people from this town, but I also knew that I’d probably get better stories from any of them then I would those young families whose focus would be on their children and life in general.
As I waited to be seated – I guess I wasn’t the only one who came early for dinner – I noticed pictures of gladiola fields on the wall. I asked the hostess where these photos were taken as I wanted to go see this spectacular place. Her words were so disheartening to me I simply felt like crying. She had told me that those were pictures taken years ago before the aluminum plant was built. She said the plant was a boon to the economic survival of this town, but its emissions killed off the flowers and damaged other crops. How sad that a business that was meant to be a good thing became the destroyer of such beauty. And was this plant as great to this town as the people had hoped? Maybe, but I just can’t believe that aluminum is better than gladiolas. And when the hostess told me that the ground around the plant had been poisoned and the 50 acres were fenced off for years because of the toxic waste left behind I knew that those gladiolas would have been a much better money maker than aluminum.
Now don’t go all ballistic on me telling me that the plant had provided a good job for 1000’s; I already know that. But I keep thinking that if these fumes and the waste product had polluted the ground so severely that it had to be fenced off for years until it was finally dealt with, then I think there was a good chance that these workers were also affected by the fumes and toxic waste. Progress, in this case, was not a good thing.
But progress, when it came to how Tad’s had grown from Tad Johnson’s original 1920’s roadhouse to what it is now, was good progress. The chicken and dumplings was superb, such a hearty meal on a cool fall day. I knew that tonight I’d be sleeping soundly having a belly full of good food. I’d be ready for my trip into Portland getting me just that much closer to the west coast.
And progress in the real world brings back memories of my mom’s parent’s farm. Their home was right outside the little town they were from. It faced the road and had a wrap-around porch the length of the house. There was a balcony off the hall on the second floor although we were never allowed to go out there as Grandma just knew we’d fall to our death. The inside of this home was just as neat with rich mahogany trims and stair banisters, solid folding mahogany doors separating the living room from what Grandma called her parlor. There were French doors with leaded glass panes separating the living room from the expansive dining room. The huge yard was surrounded by a wrought iron fence and along the road side of that fence Grandma had planted peony bushes. In May, when peonies bloom in Nebraska, the yard was breathtaking much as those Oregon gladiolas probably were. On the back side of the house were these huge lilac bushes that when in bloom would fill Grandma’s parlor with their fragrant smell.
My family spent many holidays and weekends at this home and thankfully I have a bevy of photos and memories that will forever be with me. But once Grandma and Grandpa decided this home and the surrounding outbuildings that had been in their family for years was getting to be too much for them to handle, they decided to sell and move into a smaller home in town.
The new homeowners had said they had planned on making some much needed improvement to the home such as inside access to the basement. While my grandparents lived there one had to exit the kitchen to get to the basement stairs which were below a floor door on the front porch. We all thought this would be great and much needed progress to bring the house up to the standards of the time. They also wanted to put a bathroom in upstairs and again, we thought that was a great idea. We were pleased that people who had the money and time to make these improvements were helping this previous century home become a part of the current century.
Thirty years later my family had the opportunity to see just what progress had been done to the house. The house had exchanged hands twice after my grandparents had sold it. Both families who lived in the home were well respected citizens of this town and the current owners had sunk a ton of money into fixing up the old barn, so we were all hopeful that they had made many improvements to the house. We were sourly disappointed as the lilac bushes had been removed and some stupid porch that we were told leaked like a sieve was built blocking off the view from all the windows on that side. Then they had removed the ornate fireplace in the dining room plus walled in 3 of the 4 huge windows to build a different more modern fireplace instead. They had made this dining room that had served as our family’s hub where so many delicious meals had been served, games had been played, and conversations had been had, into a living room. Little had been done to the original living room although it was now a dining room, and Grandma’s parlor was now a family room. The upstairs was basically the same as when we stayed there other than the addition of that second bathroom.
My family, up to this point, had decided that progress hadn’t been that bad to the home although we would not have taken out those lilac bushes nor would we have walled in those huge windows that made that room such a bright cheerful room. And then we went out onto the front porch. Again I have such fond memories of sitting there on the porch swing on a hot July evening hearing the corn rustle across the road and listening to tales my Grandmother was telling. But that day, when we exited this home, we all felt the floorboards sink. The railing that had once highlighted the wraparound porch was mostly gone and my only thought was to get off that porch before we fell through. It was then that I noticed that the wrought iron fence was gone, all the peonies had been dug up and all the shade trees had been replaced with evergreen trees.
It was quite apparent that the 2 families that had wanted to be so progressive with this homestead had only managed to destroy it. We left that day feeling depressed, but figured the home had not been in our family for years so why dwell on it. Well, last year we found out that the home had once again been sold and that owner had basically done nothing to maintain its aging roof and structural integrity. He decided that he wanted to raze the house and build a spanking new home in its place and the quickest and cheapest way to raze the home was to get the volunteer fire department to come and burn it down. My uncle, who still lives in this town, went to watch the final remains of the home he grew up in go up in smoke. I was glad I wasn’t there to see such a sight as that would have simply broken my heart.
I think we all too many times disregard aging things that may need a little extra TLC for the convenience of something new and all in the name of PROGRESS. And what’s worse is I know there are many people who disregard aging relatives because those seniors require too much time and time is a hot commodity in this fast paced progressive world we live in. What these younger people fail to think about in their busy lives is they, too, will be old someday and they may find themselves pushed aside for not being able to keep up with progress.
I’m grateful that I’ve been given the task of caring for my elderly mother. I’ve been able to garner such great stories from her that I’ll put into scrapbook pages for future generations to see. Her knowledge of life is abounding and although she has moments when her thoughts don’t come together as quickly as they had in the past, the words she speaks are priceless. I feel for those families who are so busy being soccer moms and CEO’s and whatever other things have taken you away from cherishing the time you could have with your older family members because it’s not just you who are missing out on the wealth of knowledge these seniors can give to you, but your kids are missing out too. Take the time to listen to our seniors of today, you might learn that they too went through a lot of progress to get to where they are and maybe some of the knowledge they attained over the years can help you progress even farther in life.
And as I progress my way, virtual though it is, towards the west coast of this fine country, I will keep you faithful readers in my prayers. May God bless you always and as usual let’s keep going the distance.