Tag Archives: Eugene

Hit the Road and Head North
May 20, 2015
Eugene, OR, Armitage Park, #11
Eight years in our bus.
SUNDAY, MAY 17. WE CELEBRATE EIGHT YEARS AS FULLTIMERS IN REDDING, CA.

A few months ago when I devised some sample itineraries, it was my plan to leave in mid-April and drive northeast into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We would take US-50 to Placerville and stop overnight to visit Jan and Scott Walton and the grandkids if they happened to be visiting their dad that weekend. I planned to continue east into Nevada and make a second overnight in Fallon to visit Dennis’s oldest adopted son, David Soden. From there we would turn north stopping in West Yellowstone for a few days and then move up to Glacier National Park. However, we didn’t leave early and perhaps that was a good thing because the weather in the California mountains and in Idaho has been bad.

On the morning of the 17th we still were not positive about what route to take. There was a possibility of snow around Tahoe and there was rain and thunderstorms in Idaho. We were leaning towards driving due north up to Washington before turning east into Idaho. Vacouver predicted rain in the early part of the week but sunshine towards the end of the week. We didn’t want to be on the road during the holiday so we thought we’d visit Dennis’s sister, Joe and Marian Schwary in Vacouver.

Meanwhile I was exchanging messages with Marian’s son and Dennis’s nephew, Kevin Christenson. Last year we all met in Monument Valley for Memorial weekend. He and Jose wanted to spend this Memorial weekend with us and we’d discussed various destinations. On Sunday morning at 7:08 AM I texted Kevin. “Portland has sun next week & Idaho is thunderstorms. Prepared to change plans & go to Portland if you SWEAR that is where you & Jose are going. Getting ready to leave. Let me know ASAP.”

Kevin is nothing if not flexible. He checked to see if he could stay with friends and within the hour he was texting back. “Okay, you have a deal! We SWEAR we’ll go to Portland! Yay! Good times!”

I texted back. “Hoorah! OK. We will make a left turn and go north.”

Kevin replied, “Mom sounded incredibly happy!”

We wanted Marian’s granddaughter, Jewel and her husband, Daniel Riley, to meet us in Vancouver also. However, they live in Phoenix and last minute airfare seemed too expensive. Nevertheless, it would be a good reunion as Marian’s married daughter, Jana and Bob Thorn, also live in Vancouver as well as many of Joe Schwary’s relatives.

So just that fast, we made our decision. It was 62° and overcast when we pulled out at 9:45 AM heading north on US-101 to San Jose and taking I-680 north through the East Bay. We crossed the Benetia-Martinez Bridge, a deck truss bridge that spans the Carquinez Strait just west of Suisun Bay with a toll that cost us $5 per axle or a total of $25. This a marking point where we leave the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and move into the northern part of the Central Valley: the Sacramento Valley.

GJW Park_sm

The Sacramento River in Redding, CA

The Sacramento River is the largest river in California. It rises in the volcanic plateaus and ranges of the southern Siskiyou Mountains with two major streams. The Sacramento flows past Mounta Shasta through the Klamath Mountains. The much larger headwaters rise in the Modoc Plateau near Goose Lake and forms the Pit River. The two merge at Shasta Lake, the giant reservoir made by the Shasta Dam. The Sacramento flows south through foothills and leaves the mountains at Redding. All in all, it flows south for 445 miles to the Delta and San Francisco Bay. The river has many tributaries. Among them, the Clear, Cottonwood, and Thomes descend from the Coast Range through Mendocino and Shasta Trinity National Forests in the west. The Pit River, Cow, Ash, Battle and Butte Creeks, Feather and American Rivers descend from the Sierra Nevada through Tahoe, Plumas and Lassen National Forests in the east.

With a wide natural floodplain the Sacramento was once abundant in fish and had one of the largest runs of chinook salmon in North America. Native people used it’s natural resources and the rivers was a major trade and travel route. Today the watershed is intensely developed for water supply and the generation of hydroelectric power. Large dams impound the river and almost all of its major tributaries. The Sacramento is used heavily for irrigation and serves much of Central and Southern California through giant canals. It provides water to over half of California’s population and supports one of the most productive agricultural areas in the nation.

We merged onto I-80 N at Cordelia passing Fairfield and Vacaville where we merged onto I-505 N with Lake Berryessa and Santa Rosa beyond to the west of us and Yuba City (home of the California Prune Festival) east of us. At 12:20 PM we merged onto I-5 N at Dunnigan. This area is an easy drive on level roads that are in decent shape. I was surprised to see many rice fields and of course, we saw almond and walnut groves. At 1:40 PM, we stopped for fuel in Corning (known as the Olive City). Then we continued north through Red Bluff to arrive in Redding at 2:50 PM.

ElDen Cattlemen's_sm

At Cattlemen’s in Redding, CA we celebrate eight years as “Fulltimers” living in our Allegro Bus.

We stayed at JGW RV Park before and we really like it. It is right off I-5 at exit 673, on Riverland Dr., a frontage road that parallels the freeway and the Sacramento River. JGW is a a beautiful park with large, level sites and plenty of grassy space inbetween. We stayed in R-6 on a bluff that overlooks the river. In front is a gravel picnic area with table, BBQ and bonfire barrel. From there a lawn slopes down to the river amid beautiful tall trees. We like to walk the dogs by the river where we pass a few people fishing and sometimes see a few small boats with fisherman.

We wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate our eighth anniversary as “fulltimers” and decided on Cattlemen’s, a well known California steakhouse. With local antiques and ranching artifacts the atmosphere is welcoming and lots of fun. They serve Harris Ranch beef and there is plenty of food for an excellent price. We ate in a western themed wooden booth and treated ourselves to Bacon Wrapped Shrimp appetizers as well as the classic Prime Rib dinner served with salad, sourdough, ranch beans and potatoes. Our waiter was great and we had a wonderful evening.

Site 11 Armitage Park_sm

View of our Bus parked in site #11 at Armitage County, Eugene, OR.

MONDAY, MAY 18. WE DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL ARMITAGE PARK IN EUGENE.

We left Redding at 9:30 AM with overcast skies at 67°. Probably due to the gray skies I confess I didn’t pay much attention to the scenery as Dennis drove past Shasta Lake and began the climb towards Mt. Shasta. I recently bought my first laptop computer, the beautiful lightweight MacBook. It is basically designed for simple functions such as writing documents. It has a fabulous keyboard and I find I can type quickly with it. I am just learning how to manage it. For example I use an Apple Pages document but save it as a Word document and then put it into DropBox or attach it to an email to myself so that I can edit it later on my iMac at a later time and use my notes for this blog. Since I don’t want to use our Verizon jetpack while we’re traveling, I was also using our iPad to post our status on FaceBook and make comments in NewsFeed.

At 11:30 AM we pulled off of I-5 into the Klamath River Reststop near Yreka, CA. We mixed up a bowl of tuna and hardboiled eggs, made sandwiches and then walked the dogs so this was a half hour break.

Generally we stay at Deerwood RV Park in Eugene but this time I chose a park new to us but with great reviews. Just before 4:00 PM, we pulled into Armitage Park on Coburg Rd. Despite the overcast gray day we were immediately bowled over by the beauty of this park. We stayed in Site 11 but any site would have been fine. They are all wide with grass and trees that provide privacy. It is a gorgeous RV park.

Picnic table_sm

We’re ready to BBQ at our site in Armitage Park, Eugene, OR.

TUESDAY, MAY 19. WE EXTEND OUT STAY IN EUGENE.

Armitage Park is one of the most beautiful R parks we’ve been in. We are both amazed. There are huge green lawns, towering trees but all spaced out so that they don’t disturb satellite reception. It is totally quiet and they keep on a few small lights at night so that one can sleep with shades up and not be disturbed by lights. And, they charge only $30 a day!

Our plan was to just hang out and take it easy. Yesterday was a long drive. It was cloudy and overcast but not raining with temperatures from low fifties to high sixties. To celebrate our beautiful surroundings I made cinnamon buns to serve with coffee. About mid-morning we set out to explore the park with the dogs. I am such a California girl. Lush overgrown greenness amaze me. Here the lawns and trees and bushes are so profuse in growth and so GREEN. They are splendid.

My first cousin, Janet, and her husband, Gary Hale live near Eugene and I’d sent them an email saying we would be in town. They replied asking if we’d like to visit them in Blachly. We made plans to do so if I could extend our stay by one day. I worked it out and we planned to visit them on Wednesday afternoon. I was delighted to have an excuse to stay one more day in this beautiful park.

Usually when we pass through Eugene I go over to visit my alma mater, the University of Oregon campus. This time I decided to just relax and enjoy our surroundings. Also every other Tuesday Dennis has a staff meeting at 2:00 PM and we’ve arranged for him to continue to do this using a phone set on speaker placed on the conference table. This was his first conference call so it was kind of an experiment. Everyone felt that it worked out very well.

In late afternoon we took a longer walk towards another area of the park used by day campers. I am beginning to remember how beautiful this area is, especially in the spring with the azaleas and rhododendrons. We found a path by the Willamette River where Dennis spotted a giant rhubarb plan growing wild. The entire area is like stumbling into a fairyland with these miniature white flower vines climbing over large leafy bushes. The gorgeous lawns are about 60% clover and everywhere it is dotted with mini daisy-like flowers and tiny purple flowers. There are gigantic deciduous trees with huge leaes: maples, liquidambar and elm? Even though it is a gray day and the skies are overcast, the scenery is spectacular.

After our walk we decided to buy wood and have a campfire. Most places do not allow a fire pit so we wanted to take advantage when we could. We took the car to the camp host and Dennis bought three bundles of firewood at $5 each. We are out of groceries like milk and bread so we decided to drive a few miles towards Eugene on Coburg Rd to a Safeway where we stocked up with four bags of groceries. Since it was getting late we just did corn on the cob and hotdogs with chili beans. I set the table with my picnic tablecloth and used by new collapsible carry basket to tote out plates, condiments, etc. We built a fire and we found out the wood was very green. We never got a big bonfire going but we were able to cook the hotdogs and toast the buns.

We both felt very surprised that we could sit outside for dinner. Our new camp chairs are very comfortable. It wasn’t a clear starry night but it wasn’t cold and there were no bothersome bugs: no flies or mosquitoes! It was pleasant and a good way to start our camping summer.

Janet HS Sr. b&w_sm

Senior high school portrait of my cousin, Janet Wroncy, in La Jolla CA 1962.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 20. WE VISIT JAN AND GARY HALE IN BLACHLY, OR.

This place is so QUIET. We can’t believe it. If we are outside and listen carefully we can hear traffic on a highway. But mostly we hear absolutely nothing. The park is mostly empty so there are no cars or trucks or RVs passing by or people walking dogs or kids playing, etc. It is eerie but I love it.

Dennis announced that this was a good day for pancakes and began to mix up a batch. Betty and Jay Crane introduced us to Kodiak Cakes Frontier Flapjack and Waffle Mix. They are little pancakes and really delicious. We put together eggs and bacon, started our fire and ate at our picnic table. What fun!

Today we drove thirty miles east into the coastal foothills to visit Jan and Gary who live in Blachly. It is a remote rural area and I was curious to see her home. I was also anxious to see how Janet is doing. I spoke to she and Gary on the phone and I was able to understand some of what she was saying.

I have not seen Janet since 2007 when we passed through Eugene on the way home from our maiden RV trip. Since May 31, 2011 she has been recovering from an ischemic stroke on the left side of her brain. She has Broca’s aphasia, which affects speaking and expression. She was recovering well and was able to walk until she suffered a second stroke. Now she is confined to her bed.

Janet is the daughter of my mother’s brother, my Uncle Don Wroncy. Our family lived in Redondo Beach and the Wroncy family lived in La Jolla so I’ve known Janet, Joan and “little Don” since we were small kids. We were all beach kids and spent our days playing in tidal pools or catching waves on our air mattresses. Sally and I leaned towards writing, music and art but the Wroncy kids were biology and botany buffs. They always kept snakes and aquariums and creatures that made my sister and I go, “Euuu!”

My Uncle Don was a pilot who flew for Transocean. When I moved to Oahu to attend the University of Hawaii he used to call me and take me out to dinner when he had layovers. He was drop dead gorgeous and his wife was a Lauren Bacall beauty who always looked like a fashion model. She worked for Saks Fifth Ave in La Jolla for more than twenty years. The three kids were classic California youth: blonde and tanned with pointy chins and big blue eyes. Janet is four years younger then me and also graduated from the University of Oregon with a major in biology. During her college years she rented a nearby field, farmed it by herself and sold her organic produce to the university co-op and to other groceries in Eugene. Her hair was her glory: thick, blonde and curly. She always wore it down and it was well below her shoulders.

Gary met her in the co-op and he says that after that, “it was all over.” Thirteen years her junior, he used to design, manufacture and sell bikes. Now he works from home as a CAD programmer for a variety of clients. When they met Janet told him that she wanted to live in the country, have a small farm and a baby. Gary obliged her. They have a son, Forest Wroncy-Hale, who works for Google and lives near Seattle. Janet was a hard worker, an active, outdoor, nature-woman who loved to garden. She was also a marvelous cook. It seems hard that she can no longer step outdoors at will.

We parked by a big two-story shingled house. I learned that it was built by a lumberman in 1900 and then two more additions were built in the 20s and 30s.

Their big lab, Mango, announced our arrival and Gary greeted us. He led us to a large room which serves as his office and Janet’s bedroom. He has a desk with four monitors for his complicated graphic programs. Janet is in a hospital bed in the middle of the room. Gary has set up a huge monitor in front of her bed that serves as both TV and computer. I think it provides Janet’s main form of entertainment. However, since her second stroke it seems difficult for her to manage a remote or the keyboard. Our email exchanges are always written by Gary for Jan.

Jan & Gary Hale_sm

Gary and Jan Hale.

We greeted Janet and I was relieved that she was able to speak fairly clearly. I could understand about 80% of her words. Often she is frustrated when she can’t recall a word and then she writes synonyms or spells it on a pad of paper. Gary is an expert at translation. He is very handsome, smart, kind and strong. He loves Janet absolutely and there is no doubt that he is a patient and dedicated caretaker.

Janet wanted us to see the “farm” so Gary walked us around the property. They have seven acres and much of it was under cultivation when Janet was able to take care of it. There is a big greenhouse, a large vegetable garden and a big field where I think they once kept sheep. The property slopes down to a creek and ends at a small beach where there is a “swimming hole”. Beyond the creek the land slopes up into the hills. It is the ideal, bucolic environment that Janet must have envisioned when she was younger.

After our walk we gathered around Janet while Gary showed family album photos of the Wroncy family. I saw many I had not seen before so Gary forwarded them to me. We had a lovely visit and I’m so glad we had an opportunity to connect after all these years.

Tomorrow we will drive to Vancouver, WA where we will spend the Memorial weekend with Marian and Joe Schwary (Dennis’s sister), Jana and Bob Thorn (Marian’s daughter), Kevin Christensen and Jose Castillo (Kevin is Marian’s son) and probably several other extended family and friends. Jana is doing a BBQ on Monday afternoon.

We will stay a week and then push east towards Idaho and Montana to Glacier Natonnal Park or perhaps northeast to Vancouver, Canada and then up to Banff Nattional Park. I’m keeping an eye on weather reports….

My Alma Mater in Eugene, OR
August 29, 2007

Eugene, OR, Day Two at Deerwood RV Park

Seven weeks in our bus.

UofO '62 Grad_smMonday, August 27. We say goodbye to relatives in Portland, OR.

After three days of running around sightseeing with Joe and Marian in Portland, we were tired.  Dennis wanted to do some work around the Bus and I wanted to work on my website.  So Monday, August 27th was a restful stay-at-home day.  We did go out to take the dogs for a walk on the levee by the river.

Jana and Rich hadn’t seen our Bus so they dropped by in the late afternoon together with Joe and Marian.  Then we went with Joe and Marian back to Jantzen Beach Center to Stanford’s Restaurant & Bar for our farewell meal, a light dinner in the bar during happy hour.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 28. REVISITING EUGENE AND THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON.

Our drive from Portland to Eugene was just the right length and time — two and a half hours, counting a stop for fuel, and less than 100 miles.  We had a reservation lined up at an RV park so it was an easy drive and no hassle.  We pulled into Deerwood RV Park at noon and it turned out to be delightful.  Our site was a pre-assigned pull-thru and everything was easy.

Deerwood is located in south Eugene on Seavey Loop Rd. on the east side of I-5 just opposite 30th Ave.  All we had to do was drive a few exits up the freeway to get to the campus and the downtown.  Not only is Deerwood convenient but also the owners show great care and pride in their new RV Park.  The RVs are situated in a circle around a large central lawn. Each site has a patch of lawn and a flowerbed.  The place is absolutely beautiful.  We were told the central lawn is for the dogs but please don’t let them go in the flowerbeds.  As it is pristine clean, I was happy to do my part to keep it looking so nice.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29. REMEMBERING MY STUDENT DAYS FROM 1959 TO 1962.

Our visit to Eugene was nostalgic for me.  I graduated from the University of Oregon so I spent about three years living in Eugene.  But that was from ’59 to ’63 — more than forty years ago.  I know Eugene very well, but yet I don’t know it at all.  I’ve been back once, for maybe an hour, in the eighties sometime.  So I’d seen some changes but I hadn’t had a chance to really look around.  This was an opportunity to really re-explore my old haunts.  Of course it brought back a flood of old memories — sorority sisters, boyfriends, dances, classrooms in some of the beautiful old buildings, big character professors, hours and hours spent in the library, and more hours spent talking and studying over countless cups of coffee or glasses of coke at the College Side Inn.

I was happy at UO but not at the beginning.  My parents pulled me out of the University of Hawaii and made me come back to the mainland.  Hawaii and Oregon had a student exchange program so I heard about it and chose UO. After I got home I found out my dad had signed me up with Panhellenic and scheduled me to go through “rush.”  He wanted me to live in a sorority house.  I’d been living at a YWCA residence hall in Honolulu and I didn’t approve of fraternities.  I was starting my junior year and I felt too mature for such activities.  Very indignantly, I did as I was told and by the end of the week I was pledged to Zeta Tau Alpha.  The freshman in my pledge class had to spend a year in the dorms and moved into the house as sophomores.  But as a junior, I moved in immediately, together with my fellow junior pledge, Maureen Sims.

Looking back, I must thank my dad.  The 3-story ZTA house was beautiful and the girls were terrific.  We all had assigned rooms on the second floor, some with roommate, some not, but we all slept in bunk beds on the third floor in one of two dormer rooms.  We chose according to our preferences for all open windows (very cold) or a few open windows (somewhat warmer). We had a pretty dining room, good food and a lovely living room.  There were lots of social activities to keep our interest and study hall to ensure that we made good grades.  I didn’t like all the rules and regulations.  After my freedom in Honolulu, I hated having to be in at a certain hour in the evening.  It was all a new experience but it was good for me.

Top: Barbara, Sue, Ellie, Bev. Bottom: Pat, Maureen, Elsa, Deanna, Bev S.

Left of me is my junior class pledge sister and big buddy, Maureen Sims, from Tacoma, WA. I am 5’9″ and to my great delight Maureen was 5’11”. She was beautiful, flamboyent, and funny. We hung out together quite a lot. Maureen was a brilliant girl who majored in biology and worked in the lab on a drisophila genetics (fruit fly) experiment. She went on to get a PhD at the U of Chicago and then went to work for Stanford Bing Professor of Population Studies, Paul Ehrlich, a leading authority on population biology and a pioneer in population control. Sadly, I’ve lost track of her since then.

Sitting far right is Bev Salts, also a junior. Bev is wearing what I typically wore on a school day: pleated wool skirt, blouse & cardigan sweater. From Atherton, CA, we had similar taste in clothes. Bev and I were both English Lit majors and we took most of our classes together. She became our ZTA President, as was Pat Vandel, sitting far left. Eugene, OR May or June of 1960

ZTA is no longer on campus.  I went by our house at 818 E. 15th Ave. by Alder St. At the east end of the block is Kincaid St., which marks the beginning of the campus on the west side. The old ZTA house is under renovation.  The windows are boarded up. I noticed that many of the fraternity and sorority houses are gone.  I expect their time is past. http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~greek/index.shtml  (Only eight sorority houses remain.)

As a student I was required to wear a skirt and stockings on campus.  There was a dress code.  We were to look like ladies.  I uttered many bitter words about “Big Daddy” running my life.  Now I see girls loping across campus not only in pants or shorts but also in black stockings and mini-skirts and sporting multi-color hair, tattoos and various pierced body parts.  I laugh out loud when I see them; so much for the dress code of the sixties….

The Willamette River runs through Eugene and is joined by the McKenzie River just north of Eugene.  The campus is bordered on the north by Franklin Blvd (OR-99 and OR-126). North of the highway is a little stream called the Millrace and beyond that is the Willamette River. The location is very scenic.

Kincaid borders the campus on the west.  Probably once or twice a day I walked down Kincaid to 13th Ave where a big, old two-story, imitation Tudor sort of building, stood on the corner.  This was the College Side Inn, which featured narrow balconies with tiny dark wooden booths overlooking the main floor below.  I was an English Lit major so it was easy to spend hours in one of these booths, because much of my homework was reading novels or prose of some era.  From above I could keep an eye on the comings and goings of friends and take a break to visit with whoever might drop by my booth.  I can tell you that I heard Andy Williams version of “Moon River” hundreds of times while I sat “studying” in the Side.

In the Side I hung out with my sometime boyfriend, Walter Mackin, and his buddies, Chuck Perry and Len Bailey. They were history majors and this was the first time I was exposed to “intellectual” discussions such as: Better Red than Dead” or “Better Dead than Red.” (I was pragmatic. I leaned towards the former course of action.) These guys turned me into a political liberal. My rightwing parents were horrified.

The College Side Inn was torn down long ago and I miss seeing it on that corner. It was replaced by the UO Bookstore, known as The Duck Store.

None of us owned cars. We generally walked westward on E 11th or E 13th and then cut northward on Oak or Willamette St towards downtown Eugene. The first item I bought in Eugene was a warm raincoat!

I came to love Eugene and the university campus with the beautiful old buildings. At that time there were vast expanses of green lawns dotted with gigantic trees. As a southern California girl, I’d never seen anything like them. Near our ZTA house within easy walking distance was the beautiful Art Deco building now called Knight Library. Built in 1937 and designed by Ellis F. Lawrence with “modernized Lombardy and Greco-Roman” elements, I absolutely loved spending study and research time in this wonderful and inspiring space. Behind the library was a narrow curved path lined with cherry trees that bloomed with double blossoms. They were stunning and I fell in love with them. Then Walt gave me a pot of blooming azaleas and I wept because they were so beautiful. Cherry blossoms and azaleas were my great northwest discoveries. I’d never seen them before.

Dennis and I walked to the the Student Union. Looking at the food court reminded me of an occasion when my mother came to visit me — possibly in the spring of 1960. I showed Mom around campus and we sat at a table in the SU. A man came up to us and asked if we’d like to go upstairs to hear his brother speak. I think this would have been during the primary campaign. It was Robert Kennedy. My mother pulled herself up stiffly and froze him out. She treated him to her best, haughty, upstate New York style. “No thank you!” she said vehemently. I knew John Kennedy was on campus and I was dying to go see him. But I couldn’t. Where could I stash my mother? It would be impolite to desert her and she was a staunch Republican. I greatly regret that I didn’t get to see JFK in person.

As a graduate I returned to UO and did a fifth year to obtain a “Life Diploma” or secondary teaching certificate.  I student taught sophomore English at South Eugene High School.  I lived off-campus opposite the high school on 19th Ave near High St.  I had a roommate and we had a second floor apartment.  That was the year of the ColumBus Day Storm of 1962, “a contender for the title of most powerful extratropical cyclone recorded in the U.S. in the 20th century.”  Winds in Eugene reached gusts of 85 mph.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ColumBus_Day_Storm

My roommate and I were told to evacuate.  The corner of our roof was lifting up.  You could see sky in the living room corner when it banged up and down.  I was dating Stan Parry, my future husband.  We didn’t have a car.  We both rode Schwinn bikes.  I had a Siamese cat.  Stan rented a room with a family some dozen blocks away.  Gallantly, he came to my rescue on his bike.  From my second floor window, I saw him riding south on High about a block away from my building.  I remember he was standing up peddling but he wasn’t moving as he tried to bike against the wind.  Huge sheets from the gravel and tar roof of the high school were blowing down the road towards him.  He took shelter behind our building and came to get me.  We loaded my cat in a basket and walked some ten blocks to the campus where we took shelter in the Student Union. On the way we tried to walk on the windward side of every tall tree we passed.

Our apartment survived the storm and we were able to return later that night.  The next day Stan and I biked around the campus.  It was a dreadful sight.  In those days, the University of Oregon had many open spaces, quads of lawns and huge, tall trees.  That day they came down like pick-up sticks.  Trees were down or leaning against each other in dreadful, awesome piles.  The campus lost many, many beautiful trees.  It never seemed the same to me after that.  Later when I returned in the eighties, I saw that many of the open spaces had been filled in with new buildings.

When Dennis and I began our walk around campus I was afraid that I would feel sad and disappointed at the ugliness of many changes.  I was so glad to find that my fears were misplaced.  The campus is still very, very beautiful.  There are new buildings but they are beautifully done and many of the old ones remain.  There are still many open quads and now, 45 years later, the tall trees seem as plentiful and magnificent as they were when I arrived in the fall of 1959.  I really enjoyed our walk and I was proud to rediscover the beauty of my alma mater. You can see the campus as it is today through the UO website tour. http://tour.uoregon.edu/

Dennis and I also had fun exploring the downtown.  I remembered a main street that I think that would have been Jefferson.  There was Hamburger Heaven.  There was a May Co. sort of department store where I found my typical de rigueur campus raincoat.  Today Eugene is a very attractive little city.  It is loaded with little cafes and coffee shops and some excellent restaurants.  It is Bustling and fun.  I loved it and I would have been happy to have more time for exploration.

SEARCHING FOR MY PLEDGE SISTER, PENNY GENTRY.

Our method of exploring took the form of tracking down one of my former sorority sisters.  I wanted to find Penny Gentry, a pledge sister who was a freshman when I was a junior.  She was sharp and funny and pretty.  I remembered her with awe because I took a philosophy class with her.  When we studied for an exam together I discovered that she had a perfect grasp of every concept — concepts that only floated loosely in and out of my head.  Penny was very smart.  She came from Los Altos, CA where I eventually settled.  She remained in Eugene and I knew that she was the proprietor of Copper Penny Antiques on 5th Ave.  We set out to find her.

The address turned up a different business entirely.  Copper Penny Antiques was gone.  I went into Ronny’s Audio Vision to ask if they knew where it was.  I talked to the proprietor, Ronny Goldfarb, and his son and they were delightful.  Originally from New Orleans, they had just staged a fundraiser “because people are still in need down there.”  You give money and get an item back donated by an area Business.  Ronny made some calls and found Penny for me.  We donated $25 cash and got a gift receipt for dinner at the Oregon Electric Co.

If I hadn’t found Penny, I would still have felt that our outing was a success after talking to these two guys.  But we did find Penny.  We drove to the very large Oregon Antique Mall located at 1215 Willamette St. and there she was.  She is still slim and she still has those bright blue eyes and she still has that very sharp mind.  I was so pleased to find her.  We visited in between her duties with customers and vendors.  I discovered that she student taught at Eugene High the year after I did.  They hired her and she stayed in Eugene to teach History.  I wasn’t surprised to hear that she had pursued a PhD in Anthropology.  She got bogged down in statistics and they didn’t let her pursue her area of interest so eventually she dropped out.  Typical academia. She wanted to learn in the field and they wanted bookwork. Too bad.  What an asset she would have been to some university.  She remarried and went into the antique Business with her husband.

DINNER WITH MY FIRST COUSIN, JANET WRONCY HALE.

In Eugene we also got to visit with my first cousin, Janet Wroncy Hale.  Janet is the daughter of my mother’s brother, Don Wroncy.  We were the western branch of the Wroncy families.  My mother’s sister and another brother remained with their families in New Jersey on the east coast.  Janet and her sister, Joan, and brother, Don, grew up on the beach in La Jolla (near San Diego).  My sister and I grew up on the beach in Redondo Beach (near LA).  We were about a three hour drive apart so we got to see each other regularly and knew each other fairly well as kids.

Janet is four years younger than me and she also attended the University of Oregon, but after I had already graduated and left to teach in California.  She graduated with a major in biology, met and married her husband, Gary, and settled permanently in Oregon.  They have a son, Forest, and live on an eight-acre farm in the coastal wilds of Oregon near the small town of Horton.  In fact they own the original Horton homestead.

Janet is a woman of action.  She loves to garden.  She grew crops and sold organic produce to a co-op to help put her self through school.  She’s a hard worker.  Today she is still farming although she keeps the produce for her family.  They don’t run a commercial farm.  The boys couldn’t get away but Janet came into town to meet us at our Bus.  It was wonderful to see her after so many years.  We keep up by email but she hasn’t come through the bay area and we haven’t come through Oregon in many years.

As we had our gift certificate we all went downtown for dinner at the Oregon Electric Co.  This turned out to be a delightful restaurant constructed from old train cars.  It is situated at the train depot.  Dinner was delicious.