Monday, June 30, 2008

The Argus Observes: What to do with a litter of kittens?

(Editor’s note: I doubt my father would have carried through with the plan he lays out in this column. But there may not have been a lot of options in 1954.)

From the July 5, 1954 issue of The Argus-Observer

One of life’s unhappy assignments that I dread is having to get rid of unwanted kittens or puppies.

And it happened last week --- an unexpected litter of kittens that gave me nightmares of a visit to the river with a mewing little bundle.

Kittens never made much difference to me until we had old Tom a few years ago. He came to our house as a kitten and wouldn’t have found a home except for the unkindness of a neighbor.

The stray kitten was hanging around our yard and this neighbor set his dog after the kitty. We came to the kitten’s defense and thus acquired a new pet.

Tom grew up to be a real gentleman, a pleasure to have around. I liked to have him rub around my ankles purring with great contentment. He died unexpectedly leaving us as abruptly as he had come to us, but he left a new respect for cats around our house.

I parked the car in the garage one day a week or so ago and when I went to the house, Agnes (Mrs. Lynch) said, “Did you see the kittens?”

My heart sank. I guessed at once what had happened.

She told me that she had gone out to get the car earlier in the day and had found a forlorn cat in the garage. She peeked into the wood bin, and there nestled under the sticks of kindling and old wood scraps was a littler of five tiny kittens.

Nothing more was said. We avoided telling the boys about it because we both knew we didn’t want the task of raising the kittens. And we didn’t talk about how to solve the problems, because neither of us cared to face up to the solution.

Nevertheless it was on my conscience. I tried to visualize the best place to throw them into the river – a place where no one would see me and guess what a dastardly deed was being committed. I gave consideration to the best way to weight the sack and felt cruel and miserable. I considered chloroform but having had no experience using it wondered what kind of a botch I would make of the job.

I tried to put it out of my mind with little effect.

Then a couple of days later I came home and Agnes was all smiles.

“Guess what happened to the kittens,” she said.

And this was the story:

Tabby had given birth to her little ones in the grass by the garage where she lived. Her caretaker forgot to leave the garage open for her to move them under cover and that night it rained.

I had forgotten to lock our garage, so it served the purpose. She moved her new family over a solid four foot wall into our woodbin – quite a task but she got it done with capable mother car.

Her masters knew she had taken the babies somewhere because they saw her leave with the last kitten, and they had systematically searched until they were found in our garage.

They were carefully picked up by a cloth covered hand, placed in a soft new bed in a box, and their mother followed full of satisfaction as they were returned to the proper garage.

She was hardly more pleased that I was with the happy ending to her family crisis.
– By Don Lynch

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Prostitution run by a syndicate based in Sacramento, attorney general says

(Editor’s note: Raids by law enforcement officers in the fall of 1952 shut down several houses of prostitution in Malheur County cities. But these raids were nothing new, and the houses were often back in business within a year or so. In summer of 1953 County District Attorney Charles Swan was making it clear he was prepared to keep the places shut down, but only if he had the support of local civic and business leaders. To that end, he brought the state attorney general to Nyssa to talk to members of local service organizations and women’s clubs.)

Condensed from the Argus-Observer, June 1953

Prostitution is run by syndicates, State Attorney General Robert Y. Thornton told a public meeting in Nyssa Friday night.

He said his investigation had shown there is a operation based in Sacramento that had a listing of exchange towns. (Though this “list” was not explained further in the story, it was understood to be a reference to listings of the women who moved from city to another on a regular basis.)

A number of towns in Oregon, including Nyssa, were on this exchange list, Thornton added.
The state attorney general suggested that the houses were centers of dope dealing and often harbored criminals.

“People will get law enforcement only to the extent they demand it,” he concluded.

Malheur County District Attorney Charles Swan, who introduced Thornton at the meeting, picked up on that refrain. He noted that he had disposed of several prostitution cases in recent months and that further enforcement would depend on “the people.”

Swan added that he was about to turn his attention to widespread gambling in the county.

“Everybody knows it is going on,” Swan said.

But he noted that before he took action on gambling he was going to consult the “governing bodies” of the county’s several towns.

Weiser fiddle festival produces many winners

There were eight divisions and forty five winners not counting Darin Meeks who accompanied the most performances – that was 188 – at the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest and Festival last week in Weiser, Idaho.

Tobi Magruder, 37, of Great Falls, Montana, won the adult division. Rachel Mansfield, 7, or Boise, won the small fry division. Gayle Clarity, 72, or Woodburn, Oregon, won the senior-senior division. And Tristan Clarridge, no age given but he’s a young adult, came all the way from Roslindale, Maine to win the grand champion division. His sister Tashina, 21, took second place in the grand champion division. To go to their My Space page and listen to a video of them performing, double click the headline.

For a list of the other winners, follow this link:

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Argus Observes: How DDT made summer “comfortable” in 1953

(Editor’s note: When I was a kid, maybe ten or eleven, we’d stand out in the yard when the small prop plane flew over town dropping DDT spray to kill the mosquitoes and other bugs of summer. We’d look up, let the spray sprinkle our faces and taste it with our tongues, not knowing of course the side effects. It’s possible our mothers urged us inside with some warning that the stuff might not be good for us. But there was no real concern, as this column by my father makes clear.)

From the July 21, 1953 issue of the Argus-Observer

Few things have made me as instantly angered and frustrated as getting switched across the eyes by a cow’s tail.

It was a common experience of this season during my boyhood.

I hated to get up in the morning before breakfast time so my father took the morning shift and I got the evening chore with the family cow.

Then fly spray we had in those days never seemed quite effective. You would tie the cow’s tail to her leg. Then start concentrating on being ready to jerk the pail and jab her leg when she kicked at the flies.

Presently her tail would work loose and slap a stinging blow across your eyes.
Then before you recovered your poise, she would really kick, taking the milk stool, you and the pail all in one good blow.

Times must be different now. With DDT for spray and milking machines I almost every barn, I suppose the tricks in milking in fly season are becoming a lost art.

If modern spraying has done as much for the insect problem in the barn and the milk house as it has in the city areas, summer chores on the farm are much pleasanter than they used to be.

Last week the city of Ontario was sprayed and the mosquitoes and gnats disappeared overnight. The flies never get a start anymore.

City spraying is a service we have come to take for granted during the past five years. It seems only yesterday that there was considerable debate over the inclusion of spraying cost in thecity budget.

One year it was left out of an economy budget and the service clubs went out on a door-to-door campaign and quickly raised $1,000 to finance spraying. It was one of the best supported fundraising ventures of recent years.

The absence of insects is probably the greatest contributing factor to the crowing habit of outdoor living on lawns and patios that are now being furnished like a room in the home.

Today’s summer comfort is a far cry from the hot months of yesteryear when we put fly traps on the porches, strung fly paper from the ceilings, waited until the family was seated before food was put on the table and then shooed flies while we ate. -- By Don Lynch

Friday, June 20, 2008

Awaiting TV from Boise, Ontario viewers pick it up from Omaha; then the rain hit

From a June 1953 issue of the Argus Observer

Families in Ontario, Oregon who had purchased TV sets in anticipation of beginning to receive programs from the first Boise station later in the summer found themselves watching shows out of Omaha, Kansas City and Oklahoma.

Mrs. Raymond Westcott and her family picked up a broadcast of “Strike it Rich” and, after a weekend of occasional viewing, she was hoping the phenomenon would continue long enough for her to watch “I Love Lucy” Monday evening and later the coronation of Queen Elizabeth later in the week.

The newspaper reported that “an unusual condition of high storms over the intermountain region was credited with bringing the telecasting waves into the range of Ontario antenna.

The Westcotts told the paper they “received TV Friday at 6:25 p.m., Saturday at 10:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m., Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. and this morning (Monday) at 8:35 a.m.”

But for others the weather struck home.

Sunday evening ten minutes of torrential rain and hail created havoc for families and businesses on the east side of town other residents. A downpour caused an overload that plugged a main sewer line under the railroad tracks and many residents on the east side of the city spent the night lugging out buckets of sewer water that collected in their basements.

(To take a look at the old underpass that still takes Ontrio's Idaho Avenue under the railroad tracks, double click the headline here, click on the street view picture, and hold clicker on it to spin the view down the road to the east.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Take a virtual trip around town but you won’t find the old one-room jail

Google Maps now makes it easy to tour Ontario by computer, and when you want to write about what’s stood up over 55 years and what has not, this comes in handy.

I realize that over 55 years things change. But it was a little disconcerting on my more recent visits to find that the folks who remade downtown Ontario have paved over much of the block that was most important to me as a youth. Last week I wrote at Farewell Bend the Novel about how they made the old Argus-Observer building into a parking lot. I also knew they’d made a parking lot of the old one-room city jail behind the former city hall, just across the alley from the old Argus also into a parking lot.

Now, given Google’s new “street views” for some cities, including Ontario, I enjoy letting readers actually see the sites they are told about from the files of 1950s issues of the Argus-Observer.

So if you want to see the parking lot that’s gone up in the place of the city jail that county Grand Jurors said was “filthy” in 1953, just go to Google maps and plug in the address 235 S.W.1st Street in Ontario, OR 97914. (Put in the ST for sure to get to the right place. And you may have to spin the view a bit to the left to see the parking lot.)

Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the old jail, where I passed inmates a pack of cigarettes on occasion after making a run to the Moore Bus Depot a block south. What I could see of the inside through the bars didn’t exactly look comfortable or appealing, as I remember.

(For some of this blog’s readers, I expect what will be even more exciting is the ability to use the street view option to move around town on many streets and look at a lot of the city. To help with that all you need to do is double click the headline on this post and it will take you to the high school football field at W Idaho Avenue and 10th Street. Follow the arrow up hill a bit and you'll see the high school which opened in the fall of 1953, when I was a freshmen there. If you want to expand you horizons, you can use Google Maps street views to tour almost any town in the Ontario and Boise areas. The easiest way to do that, I've found, is to pick an address, say a local motel or hotel or the Chamber of Commerce --all the small cities have one and the addresses are easy to locate through Google. Then begin to move around.)

For now, here’s what the Ontario City Council had to say about the county Grand Jury’s report that the city jail was filthy. The headline in the Argus-Observer pretty much summed it up:

“City Council visits jail and calls it good enough for its purpose.”

The July 2, 1953 issue reported that the Ontario City Council adjourned a council meeting to make a quick visit to the jail.

Denying that it ever received the report from the county Grand Jury – carried in the Argus-Observer on May 28, 1953 -- the Ontario City Council visited the city jail and pronounced it fit enough.

“This jail looks perfectly satisfactory to me,” Councilman Horace Beal said. “Any man in jail should feel damn fortunate to have a jail this good to be in.”

The council members did note that that walls had been recently white washed.

The Grand Jury had called the jail “filthy and unsanitary” because it had no shower or bathing facilities and no mattresses on the beds.

In recounting the council’s response, the reporter for the Argus that year took it on himself to repeat a suggestion that “wet backs” --- the term of the day for illegal immigrants from Mexico who came to the area to work on the farms --- had been incarcerated there just before the Grand Jury visit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weiser is jumping this week

This week we wish we were in Weiser, Idaho, for the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival. I thought about going. It didn’t work out, so I tried to find a way to listen to some of the music by streaming a local radio station. Maybe KSRV in Ontario. I don’t think so.

And newspapers? Well the Idaho Statesman in Boise and the Argus Observer in Ontario have told their readers a bit about what’s to be expected. I’ll be watching to see if they spend any time there during the festival.

The Weiser Signal American will probably do the story up right, but the web site where that local weekly newspaper is posted runs some weeks behind events.

The Ontario Argus reporter Johna Strickland sounded less than totally impressed in her advance story about what would be going down say 18 miles to the north. Her first graf said, “Three hundred people are having a party next week.” The 300 were the contestants. I think there will be a few family members, friends, and simply fiddle music lovers who’ll be joining the three hundred for the parties. Before she’s done, however, Strickland takes a nice bow to the widespread interest in this event. She quotes festival director Sandra Cooper saying: “Seems like it doesn’t matter where you go, but if you mention Weiser, Idaho, people say, ‘Oh yeah, National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest.”

No kidding. This thing is world famous. I know lots of people who have never been to Weiser who know about the festival, and like me wish they could be there.

This year I’ll have to settle with knowing that my father and mother were there in 1953 for the first one, to square dance. So was Life Magazine, according to my father’s column about it published here in April. That’s repeated at the end of this post.

I don’t know when square dancing went away but the celebration goes on. Chad Dryden of the Idaho Statesman noted that the events include more than the contest, including wacky events like a pie-throwing contest open to all ages.

But the party really takes off after house in Fiddle Town, the festival’s overnight parking and camping area.

If you are close enough to take it in and want to know more about the event, which began Monday and runs through Saturday, June 21, stop by the official website:

Note: Click on the title to this post and it will take you to a map and/or satellite view where you can find City Park at Liberty Street and East 4th Street. That’s where many of the events take place and the parade starts on Saturday. To get a list of those things we’re missing, go to the festival web site,


The Argus Observes: Weiser lights up for the square dance and fiddlers’ contest

From the April 20, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer

By Don Lynch

Weiser had the crowd literally “hanging from the rafters” for its annual square dance festival Saturday night. The Weiser high school gym was packed so tightly you couldn’t have wedged in another person. There must have been more than 2,500 spectators and dancers.

The big attraction was the Northwest Mountain Fiddlers Contest. It was added to the dance festival as a crowd attraction and the winner was a sufficiently colorful character to warm the heart of the most hardened chamber of commerce promoter. He was 84-year-old Millard “Dad” Roberts of Grangeville. He had a full, flowing beard that made him look like Noah just coming out of the ark. He got up, tucked his fiddle under his beard, drew three or four precarious screeches out of his violin and then lit into “Redwing” as pretty as you please. He followed with “Golden Stairs” and the crowd loved it.

But that wasn’t all the show. There were many other entertaining fiddlers, good specialty acts, and the dancing pleased both dancers and spectators. The dance floor was just as crowded as the galleries. You had to dance closely within your square or the first thing you knew you’d be swinging a “gal” from another square.

A Life magazine photographer provided the most interest for me of anything in the evening. He used film like it was paper. The reports said he took 700 pictures and he certainly looked it.

Sometimes I think we look silly getting into awkward positions to shoot news pictures, but we aren’t in a league with that guy. He stood on the piano and twisted into strange contortions. H shot from the balcony and from the floor. He must have taken some excellent pictures in so many exposures.

Of course the magazine may not use the pictures. It can use only a relatively small portion of the stories it covers.If the pictures do run they will doubtless appear in the “Life Goes to A Party” section in the back of each issue. It’s something for readers in this region to watch for and enjoy if it does run.

Ontario has its annual square dance festival sponsored by the Kiwanis club schedule for a May date about a month away. We can hardly hope to compete with the Weiser dance which has come to be the top event of its kind in the valley. And we’d have a time handling such a large crowd if we did. But we’ll have a good dance. With the acceptance given the Weiser dance, we may have a larger crowd this year than in either of the two previous years. It will be an entertaining show. Better plan now to attend either as a dancer or a spectator.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Argus Observes: Harmon Killebrew’s first contract

(Editor’s note: Harmon Killebrew was two years ahead of me in high school when he played football for Payette, Idaho, a team our high school usually beat. My sophomore year I was still relegated to JV and never took the field against him. Nonetheless, I remember Ontario's last game against his team. Despite his ability to carry most of our team downfield with him for up to ten yards, we somehow kept him away from the goal line and won 40-0. The next June we all gathered in Payette to watch him hit home runs for a semi-pro team that seemed to be assembled to show him off. The fun didn’t last for long. Before the end of that month he had signed with the Washington Senators and was off to the Major Leagues. Here’s how my father recorded those events.)

From the June 21, 1954 edition of The Argus-Observer

A news story on Father’s Day, yesterday, reported the realization of the dream of a talented and devoted father who died before the dream came true.

It was the dream of Harmon Clayton Killebrew, nationally famous athlete of 30 to 40 years ago, who saw in his own son Harmon the prospect of future athletic greatness and who nurtured that prospect as only a loving father could.

An Associated Press story Sunday said that 17-year-old Harmon Killebrew of Payette had been signed by the Washington Senators for a reported $50,000.

This action overnight boosted the boy into the position that his father had hoped and expected he would some day attain, but it came much sooner than either of them had dreamed it might.
H. C. Killebrew, Harmon’s father, died a little over a year ago of complications resulting from high blood pressure and influenza. That death ended a unique father and son relationship; and although he may not have realized it, the father’s work was done by the time of his death and done superbly well.

Although I do not personally know Harmon and did not know his father, I am well acquainted with an older brother, Eugene Killebrew, editor of the Payette Valley Sentinel at New Plymouth who has told me about the interesting family relationship of father and son.

Big Harmon and little Harmon talked almost exclusively about great athletes and the big leagues from the time the boy was a toddler. By the time he was seven years old little Harmon knewmore about Red Grange and Jim Thorpe than most sports writers know.

The father was a well qualified coach. A great football player at West Virginia, he was given honorable mention on Walter Camp’s All American team in 1916. Later he played professional football for a number ofyears and became a professional wrestler. Eugene can remember watching his father wrestle for the Pacific Coast middleweight title at Portland in 1924.

When Harmon was just a kid in grade school his father taught him how to run with a football, timing his steps to cross his legs at just the instant that would make it almost impossible for a tackler to nail him, and how to drop his shoulder and roll into a sure tackler to avoid injury.

During this past year young Killebrew was widely regarded as the most powerful and effective backfield player ever produced by the Snake River Valley conference.

Young Harmon had chores to do at home as a boy and sometimes when he was playing sandlot baseball his mother would send the father to fetch the son home for family duty. If Harmon was playing ball his father just couldn’t bear to interrupt. He would come home quietly and do the chores himself so his prospective “big leaguer” could get a few minutes more of precious practice.

It sure paid off.

Oscar Bluege, the Senator’s farm director and the scout who hired Harmon, had lavish praise for Harmon’s batting skill.

He said, “Killebrew swings a bat better than any youngster I have ever seen. He has the best wrist action I have ever seen and looks the most powerful to me of any newcomer since Lou Gehrig. And he seems to have no weak spots. He hits fast balls, curve balls and all kinds of pitches with apparently equal skill.”

No one knows yet how well Killebrew can field, but Bluege who is one of baseball's all time great infielders is scheduled to spend most of his time teaching Killebrew to field in the months just ahead.

Brother Eugene has been Harmon’s business manager during recent weeks when 12 of the nation’s 16 Major League teams were trying to sign him for professional baseball. The Boston Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians were the other clubs who took the greatest interest. The Yankees phoned from New York to make an offer too.

Harmon had about decided to go to the University of Oregon, play football there and later move into baseball. But when the bonus offer got so big, he couldn’t afford to turn it down. He will do his college work in off-season months until he does get his degree.

When Gene told Harmon the amount the Senators had offered, the young ballplayer staggered back a step and almost fell over. At first he couldn’t believe it --- thought Gene was kidding.

Then he said in amazement, “That must mean they expect me to hit Allie Reynolds, Bob Feller and Eddie Lopat.”

He didn’t think he could do it but Bluege said, “Don’t worry about those guys. They just put their pants on in a dressing room the same as you do.”

Harmon, the father, would have been immensely proud of his “big leaguer” for reasons other than athletic talent, if he could have been here this Father’s Day.

The money didn’t mean anything to the youngster for himself.

His first comment in terms of what the offer meant was, “Do you realize that next October I’ll be sitting right there in a box with the ball players and watching the World Series. I never expected to get to see the series so soon.”

And then about the money, “That means I can take good care of mom, and help Bob go to college and maybe even help Gene get ahead faster in the newspaper business.”

That sentiment was in line with an old piece of family fun.

Father Harmon used to say to the family, “We’ll all have a gig time when Harmon gets in the big leagues.”

And now, if personalities in the hereafter utilize the power of prayer, H.C. Killebrew, former famous athlete and now famous father, must be saying a little prayer that his son can remain humble and sensible in the face of fame at such a youthful age.

(Addendum: A web search for Harmon Killebrew shows that he is active in charity work through the Harmon Killebrew Foundation based in Scottsdale, Arizona: )

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Debating sales taxes but treating the flag with respect

People can get excited about how the flag is treated. I was surprised to read that anyone in Malheur County, Oregon, is lapsing in that regard. Still, for some I’d guess it’s not so easy to find money for a new one.

But that's not what's really bothering people in Ontario. It’s any plan to raise taxes that can really get people going. Currently, letter writers and bloggers at The Argus Observer site are getting very irritated with each other over a proposal to raise the sales tax one percent. I wouldn’t use some of the names they call each other, but you can read them at the link below.

Tax debates are as old as this country, as we all well know. I recently uncovered a clipping that shows how, at the end of 1946, the Ontario Argus reacted to a state plan to raise revenue. The problem then, statewide, was much the same as the problem in Ontario today. The state and its counties, cities and school systems were looking for an additional $8 million to $12 million. The Argus editorialist at the time liked some of the ideas for adjusting the tax structure in hopes of raising the money. And others not so much.

Here’s how the newspaper then responded to five of the revenue raising ideas:

1. Abandon the property tax as a source of state revenue. The Argus then said: “Since counties, cities and school districts have no other direct source of revenue, this suggestion has merit.”

2. Lower exemptions under the state personal income tax producing an estimated $4 million in additional revenue. The Argus then said: “Hardly in tune with the times. Low income people are having tough sledding.”

3. Levy a business excise tax of one and one half percent for an estimated $7.5 million in additional revenue. The Argus then said, “Don’t be kidded. It will be passed on to the consumer, but what tax isn’t? If the revenue is needed, this is better than a sales tax.”

4. Eliminate the tax on tangible personal property. The Argus then said, “That would suit us fine personally, but it reduces total revenue instead of adding to it.”

5. Tax cigarettes and tobacco, amusements and soft drinks, and increase the motor vehicle tax. The Argus then said: “Amen, except for the last item if it is proposed to divert any motor vehicle tax from road and street purposes.”

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Argus Observes: Those were the “jalopy days” when some families even had two cars

(Editor’s note: In the 1950s my father insisted that he always had to buy a used car for the family because if he bought a new one people would think our newspaper was beginning to make too much money. That would make it harder to sell ads, he told us. He doesn’t disclose that reasoning in the column that follows, but I believe he had jalopies on the mind because this was the summer I turned 16 and he acquired my first jalopy. He didn’t have to pay for my car. I recall that he took the car – a 1938 Plymouth with torn seat covers – to cover a bad debt owed by a Studebaker dealer who was going out of business.)

From The Argus-Observer issue of June 14, 1954

These are jalopy days.

People used to think that a car was good for only seventy or eighty thousand miles. During the War (WWII) they found out how far a car would run with a little care. Now some old cars just run on and on and never die.

Everywhere you go on the streets and highways, and especially along the byways in fishing country, you see the pre-war models that are from 12 to 20 years old.

Using the old cars hasn’t kept people from buying the new ones. An American has to have a good car.

The old cars have just been kept around for secondary use like old clothes.

When an old pair of slacks wears through you darn the hole and save them for gardening, or golf or painting. When the old car becomes a rattletrap just park it outside the garage and save it for junior to drive to school or father to take fishing or for driving to work so that mother can have the new car at home.

Of course, if you indulge in fully modern living, you have a two-car garage. All of the new housing projects for middle income groups now feature two car garages along with two bathroom interiors.

This is part of America’s move to Suburbia which so interest today’s student of our society and economy.

It simply makes sense. The family has to live while father’s away slaving. If you park mother and the kids someplace in the country without transportation you’re apt to get called up before the society for the prevention of cruelty to families. A two-car garage is a good defense because it is an indication of good intent.

We had jalopies too, in lesser numbers, a generation ago when I was in high school. The chief difference is that they cost $10 or $20 instead of $100 or $200. But the $10 or $20 was nearly as hard to get then as the larger amount is today.

I owned two such jalopies. One was a Star. It had been the family auto of several years before, but had been abandoned and left idle in the garage. I revived it and it lasted for just one summer.

The next year I bought a dandy Model T for only $15. It had good tires and an excellent battery with a self starter --- quite a luxury for a Model T not to have to crank it.

That car covered a lot of ground that summer. It kept all my buddies broke buying gas for our travel. When I went away on a vacation my friends drove it and it had a new wheel upon my return.

Rumor had it that the old wheel had broken under some strenuous driving and that the replacement was copped out of a wrecking yard. I never did find out but always feared someone would stop me and reclaim his wheel.

The old Model T had one safety advantage. It wouldn’t go more than 40 or 45.

A lot of adolescents drove old cars then and we thought they were jalopy days. But they didn’t amount to much compared to today.

There are many times more old cars in circulation now so that in some localities the registration of motor vehicles exceeds the census of families making an average of more than one vehicle per family for a whole region.

These really are jalopy times. --- By Don Lynch

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Grand jury says local jail is filthy, must be cleaned up shut

From the May 28, 1953 Argus-Observer

The Malheur County grand jury reported that its members visited a local city jail and found it so filthy it needed to be cleaned up or shut down.

There were “no shower or bathing facilities … and no mattresses on the beds,” the jury noted after looking in on the Ontario, Oregon city jail.

After concluding that the conditions were “filthy and unsanitary,” the grand jury --- which had civil investigative powers – forwarded its report to the mayor, city council and state health authority.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Argus Observes: Dick Neuberger’s gift with language

From The Argus-Observer for June 3 1954

(Editor’s note: My father, who was what today we would call a political junkie, is a model for one of the characters in my novel, Farewell Bend. Here are portions of a column he wrote about a politician he rarely agreed with but clearly admired. That was Dick Neuberger, who in June 1954 was about to be elected U.S. Senator from Oregon.)

I heard Idaho’s Sen. William E. Borah when he stood on the steps of the capitol building in Boise in 1936 and made an oft-quoted introduction of President Roosevelt.

Borah said he was always a little uncomfortable when Roosevelt addressed Congress because the president could “make an algebraic equation sound simple.”

Listening to Dick Neuberger address an enthusiastic crowd of Democrats at the Boulevard Grange Hall last night reminded me of Borah’s classic compliment to an opponent.

Neuberger has some of the extreme public speaking talent that was the most important single factor in making Roosevelt the best practical politician in American history.

Johnny Caldwell and I went out to case the opposition last night and, just for fun, to see if Neuberger was as fast on his feet as Sen. Wayne Morse. Our opinion: he is even more effective before an audience.

And Morse is considered one of the best extemporaneous speakers in the nation’s capitol today. Although he uses rather complicated sentences, his command of English is remarkable. He can make a long speech without an obvious grammatical error.

To my mind, Neuberger’s use of the language is considerably more effective than Morse’s. Neuberger’s phrasing is much clearer, easier for the listener to follow, and his points are more simply and forcefully made. He is able to put more color, more graphic description, more humor into his presentation than Morse does.…

I had only a minute to speak to Neuberger last night. In that minute, I asked him if what I had heard about his writing was true.

This is what I had heard from Margaret Sinclair, former newswoman now an English professor at the College of Idaho. She had watched Neuberger working from rough notes type rapidly for several sheets of copy, quickly scan his notes and then without putting a pencil on the copy drop it into an envelope and mail it to a magazine publisher. All this in the last hour before he got up to make a major speech on a different subject and to a large audience.

Neuberger told me that was an exaggeration, but he didn’t outright deny it and I’m sure it’s approximately correct.

That takes some brain power.