Eugene, OR, Day Two at Deerwood RV Park
Seven weeks in our bus.
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.
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.