Tag Archive | Yakima

High School Graduation

Endings and Beginnings

June 7, 2022

For any individual over the age of 18 this event is, perhaps, one of the most seminal and memorable of their life.

Photo from the author’s Senior year annual, the Reveille

The High School Graduation represents so very much. For most it marks the official change from child to adult. It is also a sobering reminder that it is time to either get a job or go on to college. Whichever is the case, it truly represents the end of a phase of life.

The ceremony, known as Commencement, can trace its origins back some 800 years to Europe. At that time, of course, it was a rarefied event and confined to those few scholars who studied at universities AND only in Latin. The awarding of a degree was for the purpose of conferring recognition upon those few who were to be the teachers.

The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

“Ceremonies for graduating students date from the first universities in Europe in the twelfth century. At that time Latin was the language of scholars. A universitas was a guild of masters (such as MAs) with license to teach. ‘Degree’ and ‘graduate’ come from gradus, meaning ‘step’. The first step was admission to a bachelor’s degree. The second step was the masters step, giving the graduate admission to the universitas and license to teach. Typical dress for graduation is gown and hood, or hats adapted from the daily dress of university staff in the Middle Ages, which was in turn based on the attire worn by medieval clergy.

Graduation Announcement

The tradition of wearing graduation hats in Sweden has been in place since the mid-eighteenth century. The cap is typically a white sailor hat with a black or dark blue band around it, a crown motif, and a black peak at the front. The graduation hat tradition was initially adopted by students at Uppsala University. The headgear then became popular across several other European nations as well.”

In the United States, graduation ceremonies became popular for high schools but, alas, the Infallible Wikipedia tells us nothing as to when that tradition began. In recent years ‘graduations’ have been adopted by Junior High, Middle, and elementary schools. When my children were little, even their ‘pre-schools’ held ‘graduation’ with the tots donning mortar board hats and sharing what they liked best about pre-school.

The months of May and June are prime commencement season. My own high school graduation, from Dwight D. Eisenhower HS, took place on June 6.

What is interesting is how much of that night I remember. My high school had a tradition of the Seniors having an ‘all night’ party following the ceremony. At the time I didn’t recognize the purpose of the party. It was not so the young adults could go crazy… it was to keep them from going crazy and, it was hoped, to keep them safe.

In many ways, my High School graduation encapsulated all of the joys and sorrows of life in a single moment.

It was a typical June day in Yakima. The high was 77 degrees but by graduation time it was in the mid 60’s. There was a steady 16 mph wind blowing with some higher gusts.

The author the afternoon before her graduation

My class of 365 graduates assembled just outside the doors at the north end of the gymnasium and awaited the moment we were to walk in. Our parents and families occupied the bleachers, no doubt fanning themselves with the programs, constantly rearranging themselves on the hard wooden benches.

In our line, there was whispering as thoughts and gossip were exchanged. Someone mentioned that a pair of our classmates had recently gotten married due to her getting pregnant. The young woman of the couple had been a good friend in junior high and, although we had drifted apart, the news rattled me.

But it was the information I heard next which, just as the line started to move, literally shook me to my core.

To this day, I cannot recall who told me. Yet the moment is firmly etched in my mind. The older brother of a good friend had been killed in an automobile accident in the early hours of June 6. Although he had been living with his father (their parents were divorced) in Western Washington, he had a good relationship with his siblings and his mother who did live in Yakima. He was only 20 years old.

That sobering moment likely affected the perception of my graduation. Yes, we still cheered and threw our mortar boards in the air; Yes, we had our all night –and alcohol free – party; yes, all our graduates survived the night – even those who skipped the school approved event.

And sometime in the next few days I went to see my friend and her mother, both of them deep in the grief of losing a brother and a son.

That summer I turned 18 and began to prepare for the next phase of my life: college. The month of June, it turned out, was a time of endings but also beginnings, of learning in classes and out of classes, of sorrow but also joy.

All the years of school leading up to graduation had not quite prepared me for the most important lesson I’ve ever learned: embrace each moment and never, ever take for granted a single day.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduation

Queen Victoria

“Isn’t this the Queen’s court?”

May 24, 2022

Alexandrina Victoria was born on May 24, 1819, and – until 2015 – had the distinction of being the longest reigning world monarch ever.

Victoria, age 18, when she became Queen of England

We know her as Queen Victoria. She ascended to the British throne, at age 18, through a series of serendipitous occurrences. Despite having three uncles in line for the monarchy before her, their deaths – and the death of her own father when she was less than a year old – put in place the exact circumstances necessary for her to become Queen.

When she was barely 18 years old, King George III – her grandfather – died and she became the heir. She went on to reign for 63 years.

Victoria – along with her husband Prince Albert – seemed to understand the future of the monarchy would be one of ceremonial influence. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Through Victoria’s reign, the gradual establishment of a modern constitutional monarchy in Britain continued. Reforms of the voting system increased the power of the House of Commons at the expense of the House of Lords and the monarch. In 1867, Walter Bagehot wrote that the monarch only retained ‘the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn’. As Victoria’s monarchy became more symbolic than political, it placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values, in contrast to the sexual, financial and personal scandals that had been associated with previous members of the House of Hanover and which had discredited the monarchy. The concept of the ‘family monarchy’, with which the burgeoning middle classes could identify, was solidified.”

During her six decades reign, her popularity waxed and waned. After an assassination attempt in 1882, sympathy and approval of the Queen soared. Victoria said – when the-would -be assassin was found not guilty by reason of insanity – it was “worth being shot at—to see how much one is loved.”

Victoria and Albert on their wedding day

Perhaps her greatest influence was on the culture of the day. As the mother of nine children and 42 grandchildren, she came to represent home and hearth.

The Infallible Wikipedia offers this:

“The rise of the middle class during the era had a formative effect on its character; the historian Walter E. Houghton reflects that ‘once the middle class attained political as well as financial eminence, their social influence became decisive. The Victorian frame of mind is largely composed of their characteristic modes of thought and feeling’.

Industrialisation brought with it a rapidly growing middle class whose increase in numbers had a significant effect on the social strata itself: cultural norms, lifestyle, values and morality. Identifiable characteristics came to define the middle-class home and lifestyle. Previously, in town and city, residential space was adjacent to or incorporated into the work site, virtually occupying the same geographical space. The difference between private life and commerce was a fluid one distinguished by an informal demarcation of function. In the Victorian era, English family life increasingly became compartmentalized, the home a self-contained structure housing a nuclear family extended according to need and circumstance to include blood relations. The concept of ‘privacy’ became a hallmark of the middle-class life.”

Victoria has been called the ‘grandmother of Europe’ as her nine children produced 42 grandchildren

For those of us who observe the British Monarchy from a distance, it’s impossible to fathom a system built on a tradition of grandeur and pomp. Yet out of the monarch system – especially true of the Regency and Victorian eras – mountains of fiction have been written.

During the era, novels erupted in popularity, chronicling the time. Even today, the Victorian novel remains popular. A quick search reveals 214 current “Victorian” novels for sale on GoodReads.

Besides the books written by the Bronte sisters, I’d never read many Regency or Victorian novels. But my mother did. She loved the eras and the stories, especially Regency author, Georgette Heyer.

When, in late November 2010, my mother fell ill, she ended up spending 9 days in the hospital as she had contracted the H1N1 flu. It was touch and go, but eventually she no longer required hospitalization and was to be moved to Good Samaritan in Yakima for rehab. Transfer day was scheduled for December 7 and I had driven over the mountains the previous afternoon to be there to facilitate her relocation.

There were patches of snow and ice on the ground. It was cold, gray, and raw. I spent the night at my sister’s house and the next morning made my way to the hospital. Soon Mom was in the aid car and then arrived at her new room at Good Sam.

I spent the afternoon with her as a parade of nurses and caregivers came and went as they got her settled in.

Now, my mother had been suffering with dementia/Alzheimers for at least a few years by then. Nearly two weeks of severe illness had exacerbated the situation.

But the folks at Good Sam didn’t know her and did not realize how extensive the memory issues were.

About 3 p.m., a young woman enters the room and introduces herself as the Occupational Therapist (OT) and wants to talk with Mom. Mom’s bed is parallel to a window which looks out onto an interior courtyard. I’m sitting on a chair right next to Mom, between the bed and the window; the OT is on the other side, closer to the door.

Mom and me snapping green beans at her and my Dad’s home, Thanksgiving Day 2010. Dad was in the hospital THAT day but came home the next afternoon; four days later Mom ended up in the hospital with the H1N1 flu… and was never able to live at home again.

So Mom keeps swiveling her head between us as the OT asks the questions; it’s as if Mom is looking to me for confirmation that she is answering correctly. For my part I am, of course, letting her answer the questions even if the answer is “I don’t know.”

Mom does know her name, her birthday, and the name of the town where she lives. Then the OT asks the following:

“Do you know where you are?”

Silence. Mom looks over at me and clearly does not know for SURE where she is, then turns back to the OT and says “Isn’t this the Queen’s court?”

The OT’s eyes lock on to mine and get very wide. I nod and smile because in that one answer the OT understood quite clearly that rehab for Mom wasn’t going to mean sending her home to resume life as most of us know it.

After the OT left, I stayed with Mom through her dinner and then made my way back to my sister’s for the night.

The next morning, before heading home, I stop in to see how Mom is doing. The first thing I notice is how pretty the snow looks as it gently falls outside the window, the ground now a blanket of white. Mom is awake, propped up in the bed and finishing breakfast. The room is warm and Mom looks comfortable.

With a big smile – she’s obviously glad to see me – exclaims “Oh, you’re back from England!”

Indeed. We had been to the Queen’s Court and back. The nearest to a monarchy I’m ever likely to get.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Victoria

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_era

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgette_Heyer

Roller Skates

‘Rinkmania’ was all the craze in Victorian England

January 4, 2022

There are days in history on which an invention so novel arrives, that it becomes all the rage – at least for a time.

An early ‘concept’ of a roller skate as well as a quite humorous interpretation.

One such invention was the four wheeled roller-skate, patented on January 4, 1863 by American James Plimpton.

Unlike an ice skate, the wheeled variety did not require a flat frozen surface and could be enjoyed in a variety of settings.

During the late 1800’s, it also was the catalyst for a ‘sexual revolution’ of sorts.

The roller skates story begins in 1743 when a pair was used in the theatre in Great Britain. John Joseph Merlin patented his version of the skate in 1760. But they were difficult to steer and, because there was no braking system, stopping at will was problematic.

It was Plimpton’s 1863 design which proved to be commercially successful. The Infallible Wikipedia informs us that Plimpton invented what was known as a rocking skate:

“… (He) used a four-wheel configuration for stability, and independent axles that turned by pressing to one side of the skate or the other when the skater wants to create an edge. This was a vast improvement on the Merlin design, one that was easier to use and drove the huge popularity of roller skating, dubbed ‘rinkomania’ in the 1860s and 1870s, which spread to Europe and around the world, and continued through the 1930s. The Plimpton skate is still used today.

1950’s era roller skaters

Eventually, roller skating evolved from just a pastime to a competitive sport; speed skating, racing on skates, and inline figure skating, very similar to what can be seen in the Olympics on ice. In the mid 1990s roller hockey, played with a ball rather than a puck, became so popular that it even made an appearance in the Olympics in 1992. The National Sporting Goods Association statistics showed, from a 1999 study, that 2.5 million people played roller hockey. Roller skating was considered for the 2012 Summer Olympics but has never become an Olympic event. Other roller skating sports include jam skating and roller derby.

Roller skating popularity exploded during the disco era but tapered off in the 1980s and 1990s. Sales of roller skates increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as people sought safe outdoor activities.

Roller skating saw a revival in the late 2010s and early 2020s, spurred on by a number of viral videos on the popular video sharing app TikTok. Many popular brands sold out to the point of back-order, with many people taking up the hobby during COVID-19 quarantines across the globe.”

One aspect of the roller skates history which intrigued was the claim that it inspired a sexual revolution back in the 1860’s.  This is attributable to the stodgy Victorian moral codes of the day in Great Britain.

I’m not quite sure what the heck was going on here… but everything about this photo is intriguing!

According to one article, the skating rink proved to be the one place where romantically inclined young Brit’s could meet other young people.

“By the mid-1870s, a craze for indoor rollerskating had come to Britain, with 50 rinks in place in London at one point. The press dubbed the phenomenon ‘rinkomania’, but the healthy exercise that Plimpton had boasted of was not all that attracted the young ‘rinkers’.

‘The skating rink is the neutral ground on which the sexes may meet,’ reported Australia’s Port Macquarie News of goings-on in London and elsewhere, ‘without all the pomp and circumstances of society. The rink knows no Mother Grundy, with her eagle eye and sharp tongue, for Mother Grundy dare not trust herself on skates, and so the rinker is happier than the horseman of whom Horace sang.’

Holding hands and whispering sweet nothings became easier without Mother Grundy – a contemporary term for a stern matriarch – and her ilk tagging along. Prolonged eye contact with one’s intended replaced stolen glances.”

Skating rinks were also built all across the United States and remained wildly popular for one hundred years. In the late 1990’s and into the early part of the 21st Century, many were shuttered.

1960’s era metal roller skates. Very adjustable, you could make them fit your tennis shoes exactly.

But thanks to the global pandemic of 2020, roller skating has emerged as a great way to get exercise. Roller rinks are seeing a revival in popularity.

I must admit that when I came across this topic, it produced nostalgia. It’s been about 15 years since I’ve been out roller skating. A fear of falling and breaking something keeps me from pursuing this particular activity.

But as a child, I was fearless. In fact, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t roller skate. It was in 1966 when my parents did a home remodel and our carport was converted to a family room. The driveway was relocated and became a large, flat expanse of concrete. It was perfect for a child with a pair of all metal roller skates which attached to her shoes. I spent many hours in the driveway skating around. No doubt I skinned my knees dozens, if not hundreds, of times. But I was undaunted.

When the weather turned inclement I’d sometimes get to go to my Aunt’s house a couple blocks away and skate in circles around their basement.

The current exterior of Yakima’s Skateland

But the holy grail of experiences was on the days when I got to go to Skateland, Yakima’s very own roller rink. I loved everything about Skateland. How it smelled. The wood cubbies where one stored their shoes and coat. The flashing lights suspended over the rink. The planked floor with numbers painted on it for when they had a contest. The sound of hundreds of wheels rolling across it. The impossibly loud music. Dancing the hokey pokey.

September 2001 was the last time I went skating at Skateland in Yakima. The occasion was my niece’s ninth birthday. We are pictured skating together at the left side of the photo.

I feel quite confident that roller skating is in my rear view mirror but I wonder if there is some inventor out there who could create a contraption that would allow all us Baby Boomers to skate once again. Places like Skateland in Yakima, or Skagit Skate not too far from where I currently live, could make it a real thing.

What we BB’s need would be akin to training wheels or even a walker like device. Something that would allow all the old fogies to stay upright and be able to recapture a few fleeting moments of our youth. Ah yes, those were the good old days.

A few links:

First up is Jim Croce’s classic ‘Roller Derby Queen’ – his explanation at the beginning is great!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roller_skates

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31831110

Washington Wineries

The State takes it’s place in viticulture

September 21, 2021

View of Mount Adams from the Red Willow Vineyard. The vineyard has, historically, produced grapes for Columbia Winery but now grows for a variety of other wineries.

With over 940 wineries and 14 distinct American Viticultural Areas, Washington State is one of the most diverse grape growing regions in the world. The majority of grapes are grown in the rich valley’s East of the Cascade Mountains in a climate which is just about perfect for the crop.

Although Washington’s earliest settlers planted grapes at Fort Vancouver in 1825, it is unknown if they used them for wine production. By the 1860’s and 70’s both Italian and German immigrants were planting grapes and producing wine.

With the advent of prohibition – Washington State was an early adopter in 1917 – every commercial winery went out of business.

It wasn’t until the late 1960’s when the fine wines which have made the state a leading producer finally emerged.

The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

This map shows the various AVA’s

 “The roots of the modern Washington wine industry can be traced to the middle of the 20th century when a group of professors from the University of Washington turned their home winemaking operation into a commercial endeavor and founded Associated Vintners (later renamed Columbia Winery) and focused on producing premium wines. The Nawico and Pommerelle wineries were merged into a new winery that would eventually become Chateau Ste Michelle. Both Chateau Ste Michelle and Associated Vintners became the driving force in premium wine production for the early modern Washington wine industry.”

During the 1970’s new vineyards proliferated from Yakima to Walla Walla, Goldendale to Grand Coulee. Today there are over 80 different grape varieties grown in the state.

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Washington produces a full spectrum of wines ranging from mass-produced to premium boutique wines. It also produces nearly every style of wine including rosé, sparkling, fruit, fortified, still and late harvest dessert wines. Some years can even produce favorable conditions for ice wine production. In 2006, The Wine Advocate gave two perfect scores of 100 points for Cabernet Sauvignon wines made by Quilceda Creek Vintners using grapes from several Washington AVAs. Only 15 other American wines have ever been scored so highly by The Wine Advocate, all from California. Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is the largest producer in the state, owning more than a third of all vineyard land in Washington.”

Chateau Ste Michelle Rieslings have been a staple in the household for decades

For the complete experience, one should do a tour of some of the Eastern Washington vineyards. The hubby and I did such an event waaaaay back in the early 1980’s when there were only a handful of wineries to visit. Along with my parents – with my teetotaler mother behind the wheel – we started the day by driving down to Patterson from Yakima and going to Chateau Ste. Michelle.

In those days the people running the tasting rooms had not yet been overwhelmed with wine enthusiasts and were eager to share a variety of wines – all for free.

At that first stop the guy behind the bar must have decided I was cute because it seemed that my tasting glass was filled fuller than either my Dad’s or hubby’s glasses. Not wanting to be rude or waste perfectly good wine, I drank all the wine he gave me, which was at least three different varieties.

What a fun day that turned out to be. I was buzzed before we left Ste. Michelle to work our way back north. I know there were other stops, but I couldn’t tell you where.

There was another memorable trip with a group of friends who – during the past 30 years – formed a monthly luncheon group. One year we decided it would be fun to do a girls’ only weekend wine tour. We rented several hotel rooms, arranged for a limousine, and away we went.

All over the lower Yakima valley the limo carried us to a variety of wineries. Some were fancy and others were converted barns. We sampled reds and whites, sweet and ice wines. Everything was going great until  the driver of the limousine we had rented informed us that she was lost!

For those who have ever traveled around the dirt roads of Eastern Washington, you will know that most of the roads follow the contour of the land OR they go in straight lines and then go at 90 degree angles tracing the edges of farms. It’s easy to get turned around.

The Benches Vineyard near Pasco on the Washington side of the Columbia River.

We were someplace east of Benton City and the one person who had grown up in the region was pressed into service as the navigator. Yes, that would be yours truly. A half hour later, I directed the driver well enough that we emerged from our wilderness wanderings, finally back on track.

The driver felt so bad about getting lost that she agreed to pick us up at our hotel later and transport us to dinner. It was a bonus!

Last year, I had an idea to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary with an Eastern Washington wine tour… sadly, the hubby and I had to postpone due to the Covid shut downs.

I have a hunch that when we do get to do the tour, there will be more wineries to visit than we could go to in a weekend, a week, a month, or even a year. Cheers!

A few links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_wine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chateau_Ste._Michelle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_Winery

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Willow_Vineyard#:~:text=Red%20Willow%20Vineyard%20is%20a%20grape%20-growing%20estate,Yakima%20Valley%20AVA%2C%20within%20the%20Yakama%20Indian%20Reservation.

https://longshadows.com/vineyards/the-benches-at-wallula

Mt. St. Helen’s

Vancouver, Vancouver! This is it!

May 18, 2021

There are only a very few days in our lives which we recall with complete clarity. One’s wedding day, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one. There are also days which are touchstones because they affect so very many people. December 7, 1941. September 11, 2001. May 18, 1980.

The last date was, particularly for those of us living in Washington and Oregon, the day when we understood the terrible, yet awesome, power of nature. In less than two minutes, the top 1,314 feet of Mount St. Helen’s was blasted away and swept down the north face of the mountain, leveling everything in its path.

Photographer Keith Ronnholm was in the right spot at 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980 when he captured the eruption in a series of still shots.

From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The landslide exposed the dacite magma in St. Helens’ neck to much lower pressure, causing the gas-charged, partially molten rock and high-pressure steam above it to explode a few seconds after the landslide started. Explosions burst through the trailing part of the landslide, blasting rock debris northward. The resulting blast directed the pyroclastic flow laterally. It consisted of very hot volcanic gases, ash and pumice formed from new lava, as well as pulverized old rock, which hugged the ground. Initially moving at approximately 220 miles per hour (350 km/h), the blast quickly accelerated to around 670 mph (1,080 km/h), and it may have briefly passed the speed of sound.

Pyroclastic flow material passed over the moving avalanche and spread outward, devastating a fan-shaped area 23 miles across by 19 miles long (37 km × 31 km). In total about 230 square miles (600 km2) of forest was knocked down, and extreme heat killed trees miles beyond the blow-down zone. At its vent the lateral blast probably did not last longer than about 30 seconds, but the northward-radiating and expanding blast cloud continued for about another minute.

Superheated flow material flashed water in Spirit Lake and North Fork Toutle River to steam, creating a larger, secondary explosion that was heard as far away as British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, and Northern California.”

This is the scientific description of what happened. The only way to describe that day on a personal level was ‘surreal.’

At 8:32 a.m. the hubby (he was the fiancé on that day) and I had just awoken. We were up in Blaine, Washington, the last town (population 2,683 in 1980) before crossing the border to British Columbia.

We had been there since Friday night when we arrived and sat in the family kitchen and announced our engagement. The weekend had been spent visiting, playing cards, and hanging out. The hubby and I were to leave in the early afternoon and head to Seattle where he lived. I would have to head further south to Eatonville.

But I digress. 8:32 a.m. and there are two loud ‘claps’ and the walls of the house shudder. I’m thinking earthquake or, possibly, that the bull my future father in law kept out in the field, had escaped and was ramming the house. This was not an impossibility since it had happened once before.

I say to my hubby, “Maybe the bull got loose.” But his reply is prescient when he says “It’s Mount St. Helen’s.”

It was nearly two hours before his words were proven true and the TV news stations began showing video of the nearly 80,000 foot ash plume soaring above the now sheared mountain. Planes flew over the Toutle and Cowlitz rivers with photographers filming entire houses and forests being swept down the rivers, taking out bridges and all vegetation in its path. We were glued to the TV.

I had but one thought, I needed to get back to Eatonville as I was the sole reporter for the weekly paper and – although the community was not in the path of the ash cloud – being less than 60 miles from the mountain, it WAS the news story of the week, perhaps the year or even the decade.

That evening, after checking in with the publisher and working on a story for the paper to be included in the layout the next day, I was at my apartment fixing myself some dinner. I turned on the TV – KOMO 4 – and at first I thought something was wrong with the TV. It was a hand-me-down, early 1960’s, black and white which had been my grandmother’s TV when she was still alive.

All I could see on the TV was a black screen with a smudge of white appearing every so often. But it wasn’t the fact that there wasn’t much picture so much as what I was hearing. It became evident quickly that I was watching a film from someone who had been caught in the eruption. Someone who wasn’t sure if they were going to live or die. It was riveting. I later learned that the person was Dave Crockett and he did survive. But 57 others did not that day.

In the summer of 1985, the (now) hubby, me, my Mom and Dad, drove to Mt. St. Helen’s and along the forest service roads on the east side of the mountain. Nothing had yet been developed. There wasn’t a visitor centers or restroom. Just a few Honey Buckets set up where the crowds had organically gathered. We stopped at a pond where every tree surrounding it had been blown down or broken. Yet, new sprouts had started to grow, and tadpoles skittered through the shallows.

The pyroclastic flow tossed the trees around like toothpicks, laying them out in swirl patterns
I’ve always wondered about the occupants of this car and their last terrifying moments.

We saw a destroyed car, a sad monument to whoever was caught behind the wheel. We stood below the mountain and looked up in amazement at miles of the once 70 to 80 foot tall trees now scattered across the landscape like some giants’ game of pick-up sticks.

We stopped on a ridge to the northeast of the mountain and gazed down at a log clogged Spirit Lake and into the steaming crater of the mountain.

At the time – as is so often the case – we didn’t fully appreciate that the sites we saw that day would soon be gone, changed by snow and sun, rain and wind, and the regeneration of life.

A pond regenerates after the blast
My parents during the 1985 tour of Mt. St. Helens. They had been plunged into volcanic darkness in Yakima five years earlier the morning the mountain erupted.

Every year on May 18 I pause and reflect on the events of that day, still as clear in my mind as if it was last week. Mt. St. Helen’s eruption changed me; in so many imperceptible ways it marked the moment when I began to view the world from an adult perspective, recognizing there are forces in the universe over which neither I nor anyone else has control.

Mt. St. Helen’s made me more cautious and more aware of the transitory nature of life. But it also brings to mind the phrase from the Roman poet, Horace, ‘Carpe Diem.’ Every day is the right day to do just that. Go seize yours.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_eruption_of_Mount_St._Helens

https://petapixel.com/2013/02/26/photographing-the-eruption-of-mount-st-helens-from-10-miles-away/

The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls

April 6, 2021

99 years young

The official emblem of the Order

My mother in law has often said that the toughest job in the world is being a kid. Her argument being that kids have so much to learn and are faced with ever changing rules and expectations, that figuring it all out is a difficult job.

I would add, however, that it is the teenage years which are the most challenging for any young person. You take hundreds of puberty driven boys and girls and put them in giant Petri dish called school and, well, it’s a tough few years.

For many teenagers – if they are lucky – find their salvation through sports, music, other arts, or outdoor programs like Scouts. My saving activity was The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. It was founded on April 6, 1922, now just one year short of its 100th anniversary.

Its beginnings were humble enough. A group of adults who belonged to the Mason and Eastern Star organizations in McAlester, Oklahoma, had learned of a group for teenage boys, The Order of DeMolay, and decided that they would start their own similar program but for girls.

At the time, it was vogue for such groups to have ceremonies of initiation as well as those which were followed to open and close their meetings. Thus it was a Methodist minister, the Reverend W. Mark Sexson, who wrote the ceremonies for the organization, basing them on the Biblical story of Noah, the great flood, and the rainbow of promise.

Each Assembly consists of 20 officers who include the president, known as the Worthy Advisor, and a set of four additional elected officers who, in succession, become Worthy Advisor. Additionally, there are a Secretary, Treasurer, Chaplain, Drill Leader, Musician and Choir Director. There are also seven officers who represent the seven colors of the rainbow and, finally, two officers who let people in and out during the meetings.

Fun activities such as a weekend at Potts of Gold – a Rainbow Camp on Hood Canal – make up the varied program.

For the record, I do consider myself an expert on the organization and was able to write all of the above without research. Even so, I was curious what the Infallible Wikipedia had to say on the subject. I discovered the following:

“The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls has Assemblies in 46 states in the United States as well as in several other countries. The states that do not currently have Assemblies are Delaware, Minnesota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The countries outside the United States that have assemblies are are Aruba, Australia (in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia), Bolivia, Brazil (in Parana, São Paulo, Distrito Federal, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, Tocantins, Para, Espírito Santo and Santa Catarina, Canada (in Ontario and New Brunswick), the Philippines, Italy, Mexico, and Romania. Rainbow has had assemblies in the following countries, mostly due to American military presence: Cuba, Germany, France, Panama and Vietnam.

Its headquarters are at the International Temple in McAlester, Oklahoma built in 1950-1951 for the Order’s use.”

Over the years, the focus of the organization has changed. The early years were ones of expansion with the opening of more and more assemblies being the primary mission.

Community Service is a huge part of the organization’s focus. Here the girls’ are collecting donations for MEOW cat rescue.

By the 1940’s and WWII, the first indicators of a change of mission were seen with the members stepping up to aid in the war effort. After the war, the social aspects took precedence. The organization grew to its largest in the 1950’s boasting an international membership of over 250,000 girls. Today the group primarily emphasizes community service, public speaking, and personal development of the young women who are its members.

I became aware of the Rainbow Girls through my older sister who was invited to join by a friend. Off my sister would go to this mysterious place every two weeks and was often gone for activities on the weekend. So, like any self-respecting younger sister, I bugged her until she relented and brought home a membership application one day in March 1971.

It is a very distinct memory I have of sitting on the floor of my room, the sun streaming in the western window, as I filled out the paperwork. I was stumped when I got to the first blank.

“What’s the name and number of the Assembly?” I yelled to my sister in the next room.

“Yakima number one,” the shouted reply proclaimed.

Well, that’s cool, I thought. Who wouldn’t want to be in the number ONE assembly?*

I finished the application and it was turned in and then, one month later on April 19 I became a member. It was love at first sight. Everything about the Rainbow Girls appealed to me and played to my strengths (which were not sports, band, or wilderness survival!). It was Rainbow where I learned to plan and organize things; I loved being with just girls at a time in my life when boys were icky and awful. I got to hang out with older girls and adults who were patient in teaching me how to be a valuable member of a team. I had activities that were wholesome. Mostly, I seized every opportunity to improve myself, take on responsibility, and learn to be a leader.

In January of 1974 I was my Assembly’s Worthy Advisor and then repeated that job when one of the members had to step down in May 1975. I supported my sister when she became the president – the Grand Worthy Advisor – of the state level program for Washington and Idaho the next month. A year later I was selected to serve as the Editor of the jurisdiction newspaper and then subsequently elected to one of the top five jobs at the state level the next year, completing my time in the order.

My sister presents me to be installed as Worthy Advisor of Yakima Assembly #1, January 1974

Or so I thought. Over the next decades I found a multitude of ways to give back to the organization which gave me so much. I served as an adult advisor in a variety of capacities, motivated to insure Rainbow would be there for my own daughter when she arrived in those perilous teenage years. My stated mission was to successfully get her from childhood to adulthood in a safe place without falling prey to the many temptations modern society presents. In that mission I succeeded.

There’s a song which was written for the order and it has a line in it which is “Rainbow, you’ll always be mine.” For so many of the women I know who have belonged, this thought – more than any other – encapsulates just exactly how we feel about The International Order of the Rainbow For Girls.

My final meeting as Mother Advisor for Bellevue Assembly #120, January 2010

*Yakima was the first Assembly in the state of Washington, not the world. I plan to tell that story on August 3, 2021… so stay tuned.

A couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Order_of_the_Rainbow_for_Girls

https://www.gorainbow.org/

www.nwrainbow.org

EEE 161 Rides Again

The Ford Mustang, redux

March 9, 2021

It was on March 9, 1964 when the first Mustang automobile rolled off the assembly line at Ford Motor company’s Dearborn, Michigan plant. Today, the Mustang continues as one of the best selling and most popular cars ever produced by Ford.

For those who have been reading my blog for several years, you may recall that three years ago I posted about the 1965 Mustang here: https://barbaradevore.com/2018/04/17/1965-ford-mustang/

Today’s Tuesday Newsday is going to be a bit of a departure, as I have nothing particularly new from the Infallible Wikipedia to share on this topic. You can, of course, go there and read up on everything you might hope to learn about the Mustang.

1965 White Mustang convertible

What I do know is that the Mustang was a huge hit from the day it launched and has spawned clubs for owners, like the Mustang Club of America, matchbox cars, models, and an almost cult like following for the distinctively designed vehicle.

As with the Volkswagen beetle, or the Porsche, or the Corvette, the Mustang’s of the 1960’s are instantly recognizable and highly collectible.

While the majority of the early Mustangs have ended up in junk yards and recycled, some have been lucky enough to survive down through the years. This is the story of one such Mustang.

We pick up the story of the Mustang my Dad purchased slightly used circa 1966. It is now July 11, 2020 and my father has been gone just over 10 months. Despite being in the middle of the Covid Pandemic, I have estate business to tend to and have traveled to Yakima and am staying with my sister. Her home is situated in the middle of apple, cherry, and pear orchards just west of Selah – a smaller city four miles north of Yakima. Yakima County boasts a population of just under 250,000 people so it is not huge, but is certainly not small either.

On this particular Saturday it’s sunny and warm with a high in the low 90’s. In the mid-afternoon the two of us drive down into Selah in my sisters Honda with a load of items to be donated to Goodwill. From there we head south to a Safeway store in Yakima for a few dinner items. Our intended route is actually a big circle as we head to her place via the ‘back’ way which is to travel west on highway 12, then north on Old Naches Highway, and finally head east up Mapleway Road.

My sister is driving and we are, as is our nature, chatting away. Just as we reach the crest the hill I notice a white convertible about 500 yards ahead of us. It’s distinctive Mustang back end causes me to blurt out, “Look, it’s Dad’s car.”

A wave of nostalgia washes over me. Oh those summers when we drove around with that black rag top down, flirting with boys during forbidden runs up and down Yakima Avenue, not a care in the world with real life still a few years away.

A moment in time captured…. it was May 28, 1973. My sister (in the purple), my best friend Pam, and me were headed out early that morning to take the Mustang to the Yakima Memorial Day parade. We belonged to the Rainbow Girls and were riding in the parade. Also in the photo are my Mom supervising and my Dad working to put the cover over the stored top.

Of course, I didn’t really think it WAS my dad’s car. After all, he had sold the car in the 1980’s and the family lost track of it over the years. Realistically, what were the chances the car still existed? Even so, I urged my sister to get a little closer so we could at least see the license plate. She obliged and I strained my eyes to make out the letters and numbers.

EEE 161.*

“It IS dad’s car!” I exclaim. “Follow him!”

The Mustang, now at a stop sign where the main road goes right, turns. A minute later we are at the same spot and also turn right. A minute after that, we sail past the road which leads to my sister’s house and are headed back down into Selah, retracing our route from earlier.

On we go, now in hot pursuit of Dad’s car.

“I want to talk to him,” I tell her. From behind we can tell it’s a middle aged man sporting a baseball cap driving the car.

We travel past the school, city hall, the bank, the telephone company, and turn north on Wenas Road. My eyes are fixed on the Mustang wondering just how far he’s going to drive. From my perspective, it didn’t matter. Catching up with him was my goal; being with the car once again important somehow.

My sister pulls into the left lane to try and get up next to the car but then the driver signals a right turn into the parking lot of the True Value hardware store. We sail past.

It takes us several minutes to get turned around but at last we pull up next to the parked – and now empty – car and wait for the driver to return.

Not wanting to be creepy or draw suspicion, I force myself to sit and wait. And wait. And, after five interminable minutes our quarry emerges from the store headed to his car which was once my Dad’s car.

I climb out of the passenger seat of my sister’s vehicle and step forward, catching his attention.

“This will be the weirdest conversation you’ve had all week,” I say and then continue, “But this was my Dad’s car.”

“Really? He must have sold it to my Mom back in the early 1980’s. What was his name?”

“Vincent DeVore. I’ve never forgiven him for selling it.”

This elicits a chuckle. I forge on. “Unfortunately my dad passed at the end of October. But I think it would please him to see what great shape the Mustang is in.”

“I’m sorry about your Dad. My mom died in December. The car was stored in her garage until January when it came to me.  She had the leather seats recovered and the whole thing has been repainted. She used to take it to the classic car shows. She loved this car.”

“It looks amazing,” I say and mean it.

“Yeah. I learned to drive in this car,” he says and to which I reply, “So did I! It was the best.”

What then followed was the snapping of a couple of photos of both my sister and I with the car. We also learned that he lives less than a mile from my sister and is the neighbor of my brother-in-law’s best friend. And that day was the first day he’d had the car out and driving around with the top down, reliving just for a short time, his sweet teenage memories in the car of his – and my youth.

My sister enjoying being reunited with EEE 161.
Maybe next time I’ll get to sit in the car once again

As for me, it was only one of several surreal events following my Dad’s death. In a way I found it comforting and, every once in a while, am reminded that even though Dad is gone, his spirit lives on.

*In 1958, license plates in Washington were assigned by county. All plates in Yakima County started with the letter “E.” The Mustang’s plate was likely issued new with the car in 1965. Visit this website for how this all worked. http://staff.washington.edu/islade/counties/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Mustang

Mount Rainier

The Mountain Is Out

March 2, 2021

The Mountain Is Out.

These four words, for anyone who grew up or has lived in the Greater Puget Sound region, mean but one thing: it’s a clear day and from all vantage points, one can see Mount Rainier.

Photo taken by the author one cold January 1980 morning near Graham, Washington

Of all the natural features which define Washington State it is, arguably, Mount Rainier which is most associated with the state. And is it any wonder? At 14,411 feet it is one of the highest peaks in the United States. What gives Mt. Rainier its prominence, literally, is the fact that you can see an uninterrupted 13,210 feet of the volcano, making it the largest mountain in the contiguous 48 United States and the fourth largest mountain on the North American continent.

It was on March 2, 1899, when Mount Rainier National Park was established as the nation’s fourth national park (after Yellowstone, Sequoia, and Yosemite).

My parents on the White Pass ski lift headed up for a hike.

The Infallible Wikipedia provides us with some fascinating geologic facts:

“Mount Rainier is a stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc that consists of lava flows, debris flows, and pyroclastic ejecta and flows. Its early volcanic deposits are estimated at more than 840,000 years old and are part of the Lily Formation (about 2.9 million to 840,000 years ago). The early deposits formed a ‘proto-Rainier’ or an ancestral cone prior to the present-day cone. The present cone is more than 500,000 years old.

The volcano is highly eroded, with glaciers on its slopes, and appears to be made mostly of andesite. Rainier likely once stood even higher than today at about 16,000 ft (4,900 m) before a major debris avalanche and the resulting Osceola Mudflow approximately 5,000 years ago. In the past, Rainier has had large debris avalanches, and has also produced enormous lahars (volcanic mudflows), due to the large amount of glacial ice present. Its lahars have reached all the way to Puget Sound, a distance of more than 30 mi (48 km).

The hole in the middle is the entry to the Paradise Ice Caves

Around 5,000 years ago, a large chunk of the volcano slid away and that debris avalanche helped to produce the massive Osceola Mudflow, which went all the way to the site of present-day Tacoma and south Seattle. This massive avalanche of rock and ice removed the top 1,600 ft (500 m) of Rainier, bringing its height down to around 14,100 ft (4,300 m). About 530 to 550 years ago, the Electron Mudflow occurred, although this was not as large-scale as the Osceola Mudflow.

After the major collapse approximately 5,000 years ago, subsequent eruptions of lava and tephra built up the modern summit cone until about as recently as 1,000 years ago. As many as 11 Holocene tephra layers have been found.

In the world of geology, a thousand years is like a blink of the eye. Which is one reason why Mount Rainier is one of 16 mountains worldwide known as ‘Decade Volcanoes.’ To put it succinctly, it means that these volcanoes have given indications that they are likely to erupt AND they are located in areas where an eruption would no doubt result in catastrophic property destruction and/or a large loss of life. 

With my parents at the Paradise Ice Caves early 1980’s

That could mean that we will witness such an eruption of Mt. Rainier in our lifetime or, perhaps, it will be hundreds of years from now.

It’s hard to imagine Mt. Rainier as being any different than how it’s been during my lifetime. I simply cannot recall a time when I did not know of it. Perhaps my earliest memory would be on a trip from Yakima to Long Beach, Washington with my family including my grandmother – my Dad’s mother – in the 1960’s.

The most direct route to the coast was via White Pass which, coincidentally, follows a route just south of the southeast park entrance. And there is this spot on the other side of the summit where you come around the corner and, on a clear day, feel as if you can touch it. Over the years that moment has always been the one which says ‘welcome to Western Washington.’ My grandmother snapped a photo from the back seat of the car. It was only the first of many photos I have of the mountain.

I would venture that I’ve driven through the National Park well over 100 times and have visited both Sunrise and Paradise multiple times. Back in the early 1980’s, the hubby and I – along with my parents – hiked up to the Paradise ice caves. It was a truly ethereal experience to be standing in a blue translucent cave made of ice. Today, they are gone.

The hubby in 1980 something on one of many trips to the mountain.

As a newspaper reporter in Eatonville in 1979-80, I learned that the folks in Pierce County think of Mount Rainier as ‘theirs.’ Afterall, it was originally named Tahoma or Tacoma by the natives of the area. And it dominates the region. 

One summer evening shortly after I moved to Eatonville, I was on the phone with one of the town council members to ask him a few questions about a story I was working on. It was around 8:30 p.m. and getting on towards sunset. We were talking when all of the sudden he says, “Strawberry Ice Cream.”

“Excuse me,” I replied, “What’s this about strawberry ice cream?”

“The mountain,” he replied, “Looks just like strawberry ice cream… and then it will be blueberry.”

And so it did. Although I didn’t have a view from my place of the mountain like he did, it only took a few steps outside my apartment and to the north for me to have a nice view of Pierce county’s ice cream ‘Sundae.’

White Pass viewpoint with the hubby in 2016. On this particular day we were treated to a phenomenon known as lenticular clouds.

But it was on a trip from Nashville to Seattle a few years ago which reminded me that not everyone understands what an impact Mount Rainier has on those who see and enjoy it regularly. I was seated on the aisle and as we approached Seattle, I knew we would be passing the mountain to the north. As its massive white flanks came into view through one of the windows a row down and across the aisle, I craned my neck for a look. My frustration grew as the couple directly across from me kept their window covering closed. No longer able to hold back I said to them, “You really should open your window. Mount Rainier is right next to us.”

The man slid the opening up and both he and his wife exclaimed over how close and how immense it was.

Then he proceeded to say to me “Are you sure that’s Mount Rainier?”

I suppressed a laugh at the absurdity of the question. It’s easily one of the most recognizable peaks in the world, especially when you are right next to it and its larger than life.

“Trust me,” I replied, “I grew up here and that most definitely is Mount Rainier. Isn’t it nice for the mountain to be out today?”

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Rainier_National_Park

https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

Bobsledding Along

The Debut of Sledding in the Olympics

February 9, 2021

Over the years, a variety of competitions have been added to the Winter Olympics. On February 9, 1932, the two-man Bobsled made its debut and has been a fan favorite ever since.

Photo of a USA 2 man Bobsled team at the 1932 Olympics

For anyone unfamiliar with the event, think sledding but much, much faster. The first competitions, predating the Olympic Games, occurred in St. Moritz, Switzerland in the 1800’s.

The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

“Its foundation began when hotelier Caspar Badrutt (1848–1904) convinced some wealthy English regulars to remain through the entire winter at his hotel in the mineral spa town of St. Moritz, Switzerland. He had been frustrated that his hotel was only busy during the summer months. By keeping his guests entertained with food, alcohol, and activities, he quickly established the concept of ‘winter resorting’. Within a few years, wintering at Badrutt’s St Moritz hotel became very fashionable in Victorian Britain. However, with increased numbers this led some guests to search for new diversions. In the early 1870s some adventurous Englishmen began adapting boys’ delivery sleds for recreational purposes.”

The hotel guests loved the sleds and soon they competed in races down the streets and alleys of St. Moritz. The ‘runs’ became longer and the speeds faster which led to crashes and injuries. Complaints from the townspeople increased.

Sledding the streets of St. Moritz circa 1903

(Badrutt’s) “solution was to build a basic natural ice run for his guests outside the town near the small hamlet named Cresta in the late 1870s. Badrutt took action because he did not want to make enemies in the town and he had worked hard and investing a lot of time and money in popularizing wintering in St. Moritz so he was not going to let customers stop coming due to boredom.”

The Bobsled – either the two-man or four-man – is controlled by a steering mechanism in the nose of a bullet shaped ‘car.’ The participants sit in a crouched position facing forward inside the car which is guided by the pilot. The additional participants serve as pushers to gain initial speed and then as ballast which helps the Bobsled go faster down the icy track.

Besides Bobsled another winter event, the Luge, also involves excessive speeds. The Luge, however, is sport where the participant lays face up on an open, lightweight sled and uses his or her feet to guide it.

You can ride an actual bobsled on the Olympic Track from the Whistler games… just a six hour drive from Seattle!

Both sports are rather heart stopping at times. The world record for Bobsled speed is 125 mph! Lugers generally race between 75 and 90 mph.

Given a choice between watching the summer or winter games, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the snow sports whether it’s skating, skiing, or sledding.

I think this may stem from my childhood days growing up in Yakima. While most of winter in Yakima tends to be marked by sunny, cold, and dry, there are usually a few big enough snow events which made sledding – which is an inexpensive pastime – possible. The street I grew up on was perfect for a beginner sledding experience. It had a slope, but was gentle enough that a five year old could manage it.

As the years went on, I graduated to bigger hills. A walk south to where 31st Avenue crossed Tieton drive brought we adventurous sliders to the top of a rather daunting slope. At the bottom of that slope lived my cousins. When we got bored with our pedestrian hill we ventured to theirs.

Then, the year I was twelve I was allowed one day to head to the holy grail of all sledding hills in Yakima: Franklin Park.

From top to bottom, the hill is probably about 60 feet. The center of the 45 degree slope is flat like a cookie sheet. But on either side are terraces, each of the half dozen around 10 feet high. After a big snow, of course, the hill comes alive with hundreds of kids and every one of them wants to slide down the sloped ‘cookie sheet’ in the middle. It doesn’t take long for the snow to reveal the un-slidable grass from the activity of all those kids.

Franklin Park in Yakima is a magnet for kids after a big snowfall. The center section was always the most popular spot but when the snow was gone even the terraces (the lumpy looking sides) beckoned the brave.

On the particular day I was allowed to go I ended up relegated to trying to figure out how to sled the terraces. I lay down on my sled, hands on the cross bar and inched my way to the top of the highest terrace; the sled dropped down over the edge and I flew. For exactly 10 feet before the sled lurched to a stop in the deep snow.

This was not, you might imagine, a particularly successful method of sledding. But I persevered and dragged the sled to the next terrace ledge, lay down and once again pushed the sled over the ledge, pretty much bouncing down the next terrace with a similar result.

Now I cannot recall for sure on which terrace disaster struck, but strike it did during this, my first and only time sledding at Franklin Park.

Down the slope I went and when I got to the bottom of the third level, the front of the sled reared up and smacked me in the face. I rolled off the sled, the stinging pain letting me know my decision making abilities were not very good. But the worst part of all was that my glasses, which I needed for distance vision, lay broken in two in the snow.

Despite that experience, I have persisted. There’s nothing quite so exhilarating as when you gain momentum and go hurtling down a slippery slope, knowing that you are likely out of control, but loving the speed and the flying sensation.

Kids having fun sledding at the family cabin near White Pass

Our family cabin was, for years, a destination for New Year’s or President’s Day weekends. When the kids arrived, we introduced them to the joys of sledding and everyone looked forward to those trips.

On one particular afternoon, we were all outside playing in the snow and my dad had driven up from Yakima. He had to have been in his late 70’s at the time, but there he was sliding down the hill with the kids and having a great time. Or he was right up until the boat sled in which he was riding sailed over a berm and he landed hard, bruising his tailbone. It was at that moment he declared his sledding days over. About five years ago I did the exact same thing in the exact same spot and, like my dad, ended up bruised and battered.

We all frequently ended up sprawled out on the snow at the end of the sled run

I have my doubts that I’ll ever get back on a sled but I haven’t counted it out quite yet. After we sold the cabin this past summer, two of the metal boat sleds came to live in my garage. Now all I need is a snowy day. Not too far from where I live is an epic hill which would be perfect for a run.

But, with no big snow storms on the horizon, I’ll do the next best thing. I typed in ‘virtual luge’ on my computer and got hundreds of hits. For best results, view it on a full size TV. And for a couple of minutes you can see what it would be like to ride a two man bobsled. And you won’t even need to wear a helmet or your mittens. But a cup of hot chocolate with a dollop of whip cream would be heavenly.

And a couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobsleigh

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luge

Like A Song on the Radio

Thank you, Mr. Marconi

June 2, 2020

Marconi RadioThere is a saying that he who gets to the patent office first matters more than who invented it. This is likely true for the invention of radio. Guglielmo Marconi – first to the patent office – filed on June 2, 1896, eclipsing others also working on the budding technology.

The story begins decades earlier and, as is often the case, the Infallible Wikipedia sums it up:

“The idea of wireless communication predates the discovery of ‘radio’ with experiments in ‘wireless telegraphy’ via inductive and capacitive induction and transmission through the ground, water, and even train tracks from the 1830s on. James Clerk Maxwell showed in theoretical and mathematical form in 1864 that electromagnetic waves could propagate through free space. It is likely that the first intentional transmission of a signal by means of electromagnetic waves was performed in an experiment by David Edward Hughes around 1880, although this was considered to be induction at the time. In 1888 Heinrich Rudolf Hertz was able to conclusively prove transmitted airborne electromagnetic waves in an experiment confirming Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism.”

Fascinated by the possibility of transmitting sounds via Hertzian (as radio waves were called at the time) waves, Marconi began experiments building the equipment needed in the attic of his home. He was only 20 years old.

“A breakthrough came in the summer of 1895, when Marconi found that much greater range could be achieved after he raised the height of his antenna and, borrowing from a technique used in wired telegraphy, grounded his transmitter and receiver. With these improvements, the system was capable of transmitting signals up to 2 miles (3.2 km) and over hills. The monopole antenna reduced the frequency of the waves compared to the dipole antennas used by Hertz, and radiated vertically polarized radio waves which could travel longer distances. By this point, he concluded that a device could become capable of spanning greater distances, with additional funding and research, and would prove valuable both commercially and militarily. Marconi’s experimental apparatus proved to be the first engineering-complete, commercially successful radio transmission system.”

Encouraged by his parents, he left Italy for England – his mother accompanied him – and was able to gain the interest of the British Government and, eventually, financial backing. While Marconi’s system was used primarily for short distance maritime communications at first, his company continued to experiment and expand the distance the radio waves traveled. It was Marconi’s system which made it possible for 700 passengers aboard the Titanic to be rescued.

GE F-96

My brother had a radio like this one given to him by our grandparents. His is currently in a storage locker… this beauty belongs to someone who graciously posted it on the internet.

Innovation in radio proceeded at an amazing pace with the commercial side of it soon eclipsing the more mundane maritime uses. By 1938 four of every five homes had a radio. Families gathered around for favorite programs, whether they were music, ‘theater,’ or the news of the day. The radio became an essential part of society.

All of today’s wireless digital communications via phones, pads, and portable computers, began with the invention of the radio.

Marconi – along with Karl Braun – shared the 1909 Nobel Prize “for their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy.”

transistor radio

My sister was the queen of the transistor radio with one nearly glued to her ear for several years.

By the 1960’s, despite the fairly recent addition of commercial television, radio was still king. Especially for teenagers. It was radio which helped foment the rock and roll revolution; it was radio which unified the baby boom generation. Every town seemed to have at least one radio station and the wise ones were spinning the popular teen records of the day.

In Yakima – where I grew up – there were three stations of note in the later 1960’s and early 1970’s. I remember my dad always wanting to listen to KIT. At 1280 on the dial it featured news and WWII era music. As a card-carrying teen that was not on my list of cool radio stations. There were, however, two stations I listened to: KMWX and KQOT.

Being that I kept a diary (note to my younger self – what you wrote about was mostly ridiculous) and that listening to the radio was so important, I recorded this gem from April 25, 1971:

“Today was Pete’s Birthday. He liked the Grippu Sue and I gave him.* We went on Daylight Savings, so it stays light till almost 8:30. That means KQOT stays on the air until 7:45 and on May 1st, they will stay on until 8:30. That means I get to hear Neal Gray all through the ‘Sommer.’ (Sommer? Get it? Bob Sommers D.J.) YEA!”

Three days later, I posted this entry:

“Today was an interesting day, you see, today was Patty Hooper’s dog’s birthday, so I told her I would dedicate “Me and You and a Dog named Boo” to her dog, Sairy, if I could get through… well I got through and dedicated it but it is really weird to hear Bob Sommer’s voice on the radio and telephone, then your own. Patty was listening and called right after the song was over. Command Performance is kind of fun.”

It was, apparently, about this time that I became radio obsessed, even going so far (Two days after that!) to try to figure out the trick for getting through to the D.J.’s. For one of my dialing adventures, it took me… 292 times to get through.

Scan_20200602

The author at age 14. Cassette recorder, radio (it was an older one my parents had). I’m not sure where the clock radio is… and you can see my blue 1972 diary off to the side. I was kinda messy.

The rest of the 1971 diary has occasional references to the two radio stations. What I do recall during those years is sitting on the bed in my room, listening to the radio and waiting for my favorite songs. I cannot recall what sort of radio it was, but it was my daily companion. I was given a cassette tape recorder for my 13th birthday, and a new clock radio for my 14th. Together they afforded me the opportunity to ‘record’ songs when they came on the air. Many a tape was filled with badly recorded favorite songs AND, often, the D.J.’s playing the live requests. Those tapes were played over and over.

In today’s world, the importance of radio for young people has faded. Kids pop in their earbuds and open their Spotify or Pandora** apps on their phones; in an instant their favorite songs begin to play. Somehow I think they are missing out on the experience of calling the radio station, requesting ‘the’ song, and then listening for hours to hear it.

I’ve included a video of Al Stewart’s ‘Song on the Radio’ as it seems to capture the spirit of the 1970’s

For those of us who grew up during AM radio’s golden age of rock and roll we did not realize at the time that it wouldn’t always be that way. No doubt there will be more amazing innovations for wireless digital communications and, one day, I imagine the teens of today will pine for the good ole days. It’s the way of the world.

*I have no idea what this thing was… in another entry I write that the gripper is ‘a big blow up plastic hand.’ Who knew?

**It’s highly likely that Spotify and Pandora are ‘last year’s’ hot apps. I await correction from those in the know.

A couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_radio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guglielmo_Marconi

KQOT operated as a ‘rock’ station from 1962 until 1979 and is now Christian station KYAK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KYAK