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Chapter Eighteen

WAPATO MEMORIES


First Whitaker Home in Wapato - 2 1/2 acre farm - about 1937

We arrived at our new home about 7:30 pm on 24 September, 1937. The house was a two story with two large rooms down and two upstairs. Also two screen porches (which we used as bedrooms). We just threw the mattresses on the floors and went to bed that first night - no water inside, and no electricity turned on as yet.


John Orson Whitaker - History - Commemorative


The time and place that impressed me the most was when we moved into the old 2 ½ acre house in Wapato, Washington. We had been traveling and working the fruit orchards the past month and dirty, tired and hungry. When Dad and Ballard said we were going to move to our own home and have 2 ½ acres for all our own, it seemed to be a miracle after all this time moving around the country. When we got into Wapato it was past 9:30 in the evening, we came upon this old beat-up two story house sitting out in the middle of the worst patch of weeds I had ever seen, piles of trash and debris were everywhere, it looked just like out of Hill-billy shanties. But as little kids there was also an excitement and thrill of exploring old haunted houses, trying to find the gold under the floors, etc. We were really dejected, thinking, was this going to be our new home? My father was a very forceful man and he knew what he wanted, we best shape up fast!


We went into the living room and we pushed the dirt and boxes aside. He asked us to kneel down as a family for family prayer. Both Mother and Dad offered up a prayer. Thanked our Heavenly Father for bringing us together as a family, safely to this area, they were both beautiful prayers. How Dad said that we would make this house our home, if we would just work together. If we would just work in love, peace, and tranquility. How this place would bloom like a rose if we would put forth a little effort, love and work into the place. We hauled in our blankets, what beds we could pull down and whatever else we needed. We slept there that night, and woke up in the morning feeling that a whole new world was out there waiting for us. The house took a lot of effort to clean, it had a lot of nooks and crannies that small boys loved to explore and out in the barns. We got busy and chopped down the weeds and mended fences and fixed the barns and outhouses. Mother and Marné planted flowers around the house, cleaned up the walks, we hauled gravel down the lane, incidentally going across this big irrigation ditch in front of the house over the rickety old wooden tie bridge was always a thrill. After about a month, we had the place looking like someone lived there, and it was really a joy to behold. I remember Dad wanted to build a big corral around the place, and so we went out hunting railroad ties. These ties were had for the asking up along the main line, and we would go out and pick up as many as the old truck would haul, as far as Ellensburg and Cle Elum, following the railroad track, hunting ties.


Wilford Jr. remembers the corral that was built with railroad ties. It seemed so large and took a lot of work, but was strong enough to hold a herd of buffalo. It was taken down sometime before 1990's when he visited the place and couldn't find a trace of it. It was there that the team of horses and a milk cow or two and their calves were kept. We used to play "rodeo" in that corral and would ride the "wild bulls" as we called the small calves and practiced "roping" and "hog-tying" them. They weren't very co-operative, he remembers.


Sept. 11, 1938, Sunday, Wapato 1:30 p.m.

Wapato School Bus - Marne' Whitaker and Dorothy Willis - 1938

Wilford, yes I sure do remember the old wooden school buses that we first rode in back in the 1st & 2nd grades. They were 1934 Fords, the first V8s that Ford put out. They did in fact have long benches on each side and a double bench down the middle. In about the 3rd grade, we had those Big Mack buses and later the school district acquired Rios that were so under powered that we almost had to get out and push! I don't really remember the bus routes as from our "head of the lane", the bus went right into town or we were one of the first stops in the PM. I just can remember you on the old bus, on occasion sitting behind the driver and operating the turn and STOP signals. Boy, that is really taxing my memory! [Eldred Heikell]




GERMAN PRISONERS of WAR in WAPATO, WASHINGTON

Entrance to Fort Lewis, Military Police, Fort Lewis, about 1944

German Prisoners of war picking beans, about 1945.

Dress parade at Fort Lawton, Seattle, 1900s

German prisoners of war, preparing for a day of harvesting


During World War II, there was a group of “unlikely harvestors” working on the Whitaker 40 - acre Indian Farm in Wapato. These were German Prisoners of War who had been sent to the United States from various places in Europe. What to do with them was a continual problem throughout the war. The nation was unprepared for the many tasks involved in caring and guarding large numbers of prisoners, which included registration, food, clothing, housing, entertainment and even re-education of prisoners. But prepared or not, the nation found itself on the receiving end of massive waves of German and Italian prisoners of War.


The first shipload of captives arrived in the United States in November 1942. More than 150,000 men arrived after the surrender of Gen. Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps in April 1943, followed by an average of 20,000 new POWs a month. From the Normandy invasion of June 1944 through December, 30,000 prisoners a month arrived; for the last few months of the war 60,000 were arriving each month. When the war was over, there were 425,000 enemy prisoners in 511 main and branch camps throughout the United States. [Some figures were as high as 500,000 to 600,000 POWs.]


Since the war had drawn most of the nation’s young men overseas, the War Department authorized a major program to allow labor-starved farmers to utilize the POWs. Grateful farmers paid the government the prevailing wage of $1.50 per day and the prisoner was paid eighty cents in canteen coupons. The difference went to the Federal Treasury to pay for the POW program. In Washington, the prisoners picked cherries, peas, beans, apples, peaches, apricots, pears, tomatoes, cantaloups, watermelons, etc.


Any farmer, fruit grower, or packing plant company in need of help made application to the local employment service (in Wapato? Or Yakima?]. Prisoners were transported and guarded by military police. Escape was a concern of the military but never a very big problem. Less than 1% of the prisoners even tried to escape, and there are no known successful escapes. This was so for at least three reasons: the prisoners were still harnessed to their army, with officers, ranking and military discipline; there were good educational and language programs available to the prisoners; and most importantly, the prisoners became aware of the vast distances within the United States and there was really no place to go, also language difficulties and money were all deterring forces. And perhaps the most compelling reason not to escape, the rank and file soldiers had it much better in United States’ concentration camps than many of their lives in the German military.


During the war, Fort Lewis in Pierce County, Washington, [and Fort Lawton, in Seattle, with about 1,500], held about 4,000 German POWs, who were confined there between 1942 and 1946. A few died from illness or from their war wounds, but most enjoyed food and living conditions far better than they had in the deserts of North Africa or in the battlefields of Europe. International Red Cross inspectors judged their prison conditions strict but fair. Only a handful of records mention Fort Lewis as a POW facility that held as many of 4,500 Germans in five camps dotted around the base. The museum has a roster of all the Germans held at the camps, thanks to a 1945 report listing the names and units of the German soldiers being held. No photos are archived in the Fort Lewis Museum because photographing POWs was against the Geneva Convention pertaining to the treatment of prisoners, according to Fort Lewis Military Museum curator Alan Archambault.


Without further research, it is assumed that the POWs who were in the Yakima Valley were processed through Fort Lewis (or Fort Lawton in Seattle). It is my understanding that they may have been kept at the Yakima Firing Center, which is north of Yakima, and is part of the Fort Lewis Gunnery Range. There was a group of POWs who were brought to work in the beet fields and were kept in a camp just east of Harrah, a small town between Toppenish and White Swan. There was a large Utah and Idaho Sugar Company mill in Toppenish and thousands of acres of sugar beets were raised in that area. So the small contingent of German POWs who came to work on the Whitaker farm could have come from any of the above places.


One year during the war, I remember, dad had some German prisoners of war help out during the harvest. They must have been stationed on the Yakima firing range, or some place like that, probably connected with Fort Lewis in some way. They would bring the men in a truck with only 1 driver, and 1 guard, and about 8 or 10 Germans, as I remember. We were all standing around, awaiting their arrival, with some fear and trepidation. I was expecting to see these huge, awful ogres, like the Lord of the Rings Orcs, and was somewhat disappointed to find that they were like common young men anywhere.


My job was to carry water to them out in the field, as they picked tomatoes, and I was nervous as I carried the wet waterbag out to them. Few of them spoke English, but they all seemed appreciative of the cold water I brought. I became especially acquainted with a young, blonde, tall, good-looking soldier who could speak English quite well, who showed me a picture of his young wife and small baby boy, and he wanted to get back to them so badly.


It was here, I believe, I learned tolerance for my enemy, and learned that they weren't all the bad and horrible creatures that the movies and posters painted them out to be. Sometimes I think of that young German prisoner-of-war and hope that he was able to return to his family and found them all safe and sound.


The workers in the field would pick the tomatoes, picking everything that had a little "pink" in it, on up to the fully ripe tomatoes. They would be put into tomato "lugs", a little longer and not as tall, as an apple box, which we would get from the "packers". These lugs would be picked up and put onto a sled pulled by a horse and taken to the packing shed and then dumped onto the sloping table, where the packers would sort them by color and pack all the same color into a "flat". The flats would be loaded onto the truck by color and then at the "packers" they would be put into cold storage or the ripe, red ones might be shipped out that same night, and be in Seattle or Spokane or Montana the next morning.


My sister Marne' would come from her home in Utah, and my sister Opal Jean, perhaps others, and May Munson would pack the tomatoes. I thought all the girls were fast, but May Munson could pack three or four boxes while the others were packing one. She was super fast! Her hands just flew. The packers would stand at a sloping table, with a place to set a box and the tomatoes would be carefully dumped onto the table and roll down in front of the packers. They would pick up a tomato with one hand, and a paper wrapper in the other, slap them together, and put it into the flat and then onto the next. May could do that faster that it takes to tell about it. She'd place the full box onto a flat table and then someone would put a top onto the box and nail it in place, and then stack the boxes into neat piles, to be loaded onto the truck. Near the end of the day, we would have a full truck-load, about 16 boxes high, that we would haul into Pacific Growers or one of the packing sheds in Wapato, north of the main part of town, near the rail road tracks.


Now, I'm wondering how I can remember all those details and have difficulty remembering what I had for supper last night?


When Victory in Europe (V-E day) was announced, the girls packed the boxes with a border of red, ripe tomatoes, and a big "V - E" in the middle in pink tomatoes, or a border of pink tomatoes and the big "V - E" spelled out in red, ripe delicious tomatoes. That was some day!


Dave Tuttle & Mormon Derrick; Marne' & Twins; & Wilford, Jr., all at the old 40 acre Indian farm - drawings by Marne'

Bob and Dick Whitaker and Willy and the twins, at the old farm in Wapato, about 1942

First Whitaker home in Wapato, rennovated, about 1970's>

Abt 1939-1942 - Yvonne, Marne', Twins & outhouse; Twins, Carol Lee & bike; Jean & Marne' & Twins; Folks, Jean & John, Carol Lee & Twins

Wilford's Presbyterian Bible Class in Wapato, about1941

A photo about 1943 of the Wapato Presbyterian Bible School and Class. Recognized are Bob and Eldred Heikel, Jerry Tilton, and Willy Whitaker. Herbert and Carl Munson are now (2004) both dead, as well as Jerry Tilton and Bill Abella, who was shot in White Swan.

FRONT ROW: Carol Horshal, XX, XX, XX, Roland Shonenbach, Dick Volkman, XX, XX, Sandra Knight - SECOND ROW: XX, Herb Shonenbauch, Ted Meyers, ____ Horshal, LaDonna Wick, Wilford Whitaker, Margaret Wilson, Sherman Knight, Bruce Amsbaugh, XX - THIRD ROW: Bob Heikell, XX, Ted Cummings, Jerry Tilton, XX, XX, XX, XX, Eldred Heikell, XX - BACK ROW: XX, ____ Dolf, Rev. Dolf, Mrs. Wick, XX, XX, XX. [by Eldred Heikell]

One of the other boys is maybe John Volkman, but ?? Their father owned the two movie houses in Wapato. "Liberty" was one and the other was named "The Dickon", for Dick and John. These are still there in Wapato and still operating.

At Eldred Heikell's 9th birthday party, on the side of Heikell's home, 1943, contributed by Eldred Heikell, Dec 2004, are the following:

FRONT ROW: Dick Whitaker, Bob Whitaker, Gene Stump, Jim Stump, Carl "Andy" Munson

SECOND ROW: John Munson, Barbara Wringer, Ellena Heikell, Jerry Stump, Ted Heikell

THIRD ROW: Jenny Lee Tory, Wilford Whitaker, Larry Wringer, Marty Taylor

Now that you mention it, I do remember a set of steps on the East side of our old place. We tore them out due to dry-rot. That is exactly where the picture was taken, facing east toward the driveway.

Yes, Carl "Andy" was the youngest of the Munson family. I can remember Carl "Andy" at about age 3, walking around the house during Christmas time, with a tin cup, half full of beer, drinking with his older brothers.

The Stump kids lived about two houses south of the Munson's. Their Dad Al Stump was a friendly man, about 6'4'' and was the head of the bus garage at the school. He sometimes drove our bus.

Larry and Barabra Wringer lived another couple houses south of the Stumps, down a lane that went through the apple orchard. They were Ellena and Ted's age.

Jenny Lee lived across the lane from our place, but down further about 200 yards. Her folks were Al and Lilla Torry.

Neighbor Kids at a party at Munsons, 1945

FRONT ROW (sitting): (one of the Taylor girls), Ted Heikell, Bob Whitaker, Dick Whitaker, unidentified, Ellena Heikell

SECOND ROW (kneeling): Eldred Heikell, Wilford Whitaker, Carl "Andy" Munson, Marty Taylor

THIRD ROW (standing): Herbert Munson, Bob Heikell

Whitaker's Second Home in Wapato - the old Indian 40 acre farm

Jones Road, looking west, with the large Cottonwood trees of the Indian Farm in the distance

The 40 acre Indian Farm, about 1990

The Irrigation Ditch, just before it makes a 90 degree turn to the south, past the yard of the Indian 40 acre farm


WAPATO REMINISENCES


19 Nov 2004 - Greetings Wilford; What a great surprise this morning when you called! I was out in the shop puttering around on things with the '46 Ford. It was so good to hear from you. I figure it was about 11 years sense Joanie and I visited you and your family there. We both remember the Sunday dinner and the good time visiting at your home.

I always remember when you rode over to our place with your new horse and saddle. Wow, I thought you were so very "lucky" to own your own horse! My Dad grew up on a large ranch here just outside of Goldendale and handled large teams of horses. Because of this, he didn't want a horse on our place.I remember when you rode off, down the lane and oh how I envied you![This was my young horse Star. www]

My Dad's name was Lorence Heikell, and my Mother was Iris. They BOTH lived with the dreadful alzimears(sp?), so we watched them go slowly downhill. It was very good of you to say those good things about my Mother. Thank you.

There are 5 of us, the oldest being Bob, age 72, retired school principal. Myself, age 70, retired with 35 years US Forest Service, Ellena (Knoble)66, lives in Yakima who's husband Roger, retired Math Prof. from Yakima J.C., Ted 65, retired from Boeing, Air. engineer and my baby sister, ZiNita who is a teacher over in the Olympia area.

I couldn't get over how much your brother Bob looks like your Dad. I remember calling your dad on the phone and he would come over in the spring when the honey bees were swarming. I thought he was really a super man because he would gather up a swarm, with his shirt sleeves rolled up and dump them into the hive on the back of the old flatbed truck and drive off down the lane. He always had time to explain how he did it and said," don't get excited and start swatting at them, just play it cool!"

I'm just rambling on here. Wilford, I still do a lot of motorcycle riding. A friend, who grew up in Parker by the name of Lee Heaton but now lives in Gig Harbor, is my riding pardoner. He rides a Harley Road King and I ride a Honda 1800 VTX. These are both big road bikes and every summer we go for several trips ranging from 1000 miles to 3500 miles. This last summer we worked our way over to Western Colorado and just "Honeycombed" that part of the state, going over10-12000 foot passes. Was great country for riding. Three years ago one trip included the North eastern part of Utah, which also was a great ride.

During the late fall and winter months I have made many things in the woodshop here. Also, now I'm finishing up my '46 Ford so Joanie and I can take an occasional Sunday afternoon drive around the area.

Well my friend, this is enough gabbing for one E-mail. Again Wilford, Thank you for the phone call this morning and the E-mail. Lets keep in touch. Regards, El


The above was received in response to this: Dear Eldred: It was so good to hear your voice again and to be so warmly received, after such a long time. I still remember when you visited us in Salt Lake City, several years ago.

With the help of my thirteen-year-old daughter, I recently put up a website for my mother and other family members. She kept diaries from the time she was nine years old, until 1969, almost 60 years of diaries, and I collated them and typed them out, and put them on a website for the rest of the family to enjoy.

It was while going through the "Wapato years" that many memories came back of the good times we had together as boys growing up in that old neighborhood.

I remember going to your home and was always impressed with the fine furniture, pictures, and your "genteel" lifestyle. I thought your mother was a very "classy" lady. She seemed so educated, yet down-to-earth. She was a great example to this uneducated, tattered boy. I still remember gathering around your kitchen table and enjoying some very special treats, from time to time, served by your mother with special graciousness, and she never made me feel inferior, even though my hands and face might be dirty. I never could find the courage to tell her that, but she was a special lady to me.

I think I was just plain scared of your dad, being a school principal and all that. I remember once, I think it was he, when I was caught, with a few other boys, of sliding down the emergency exit tube of the grade school. I was scared to death!

What is your dad and mother's names? Where is Bob? and Elena? Were there other children in your family? Did your folks remain on that orchard, with the barn? Sincerely, Wilford.


Good morning, Wilford; I sat down last night to answer your latest e-mail and after about 3 mins.I shut down the comp. and said to myself, "El, why don't you do it in the morning?" So, here I 'am. You should receive this after you and Shorty get back from your walk.

I spent a couple hours yesterday afternoon raking and burning leaves. The oak here on these 20 acres are so very beautiful this time of year but when the leaves start to fall, everything around the yard is so covered that I have to get it cleaned up before the snow flys.

Your daughter Rachel sounds like a super neat young lady. Joanie and I remember her during our last visit, when she was about 2 years old. Now she is 13, Wow time does pass us by,right? You say that Marcia is working and you are busy at Family history research. Is this the Whitaker family you are talking about? That is just great and you have access to the worlds largest files right there by you! That must be fun to do.

Now my friend, I will fill you in on the neighbors across Lateral A. Yes, they were very good friends of ours,too. There last name wasTakayama, and the whole family were real good people. They had two boys ; Kuni and Sadao. We as kids use to build model airplanes together and on occasion fly them on a Sunday afternoon over at their place, as they had more open land due to our orchard. These were large ,rubber powered planes where we would buy the rubber band material in large rolls. With about 10-12 strands, longer than the fuselage, we would stretch it out about 10feet and begin winding it up with a small hand cranked drill until the rubber was all knotted up, shortened, and about 11/2" in diameter. The large balsa wood prop hinged so when it ran out of power, the prop folded back for less wind resistance.

When they had to go "To camp where we went" (as they always called it), they did go by train but they were old outdated Pullman cars with just seats, cold with no heat, eating or sleeping quarters. I visited with Kuni about 7 years ago at a class reunion. He was fine and we talked about old times. Sadao was about one year younger and passed from a rare blood sickness a number of years ago. They were both good kids and we had a great time growing up.

Another good friend who I think you may remember is a Japanese girl by the name of Sara Wada. She was always so nice and now lives in Colorado Springs. I have not seen her since graduation, but she always sends a note to our reunions.

Wilford, maybe I asked you once, but do you remember Warren Perry? His dad was the dentist in Wapato but they moved when we were about in the 6th grade, to Naches. He and Barbra live in Ocean Shores (WA) during the summer and Tucson during the winter. He retired after 35 years with Alaska Airlines; the last 8 years as Chief Pilot out of 600. He is a great person, you folks would like Warren and Barb Perry.

Wilford, I must call it quits for now. Nice talking to you! ~El~


Greetings Wilford, I picked up the copies at the photo store today. I hope they are larger than what you have.(5X7) Thanks for Bob and Dick's address.

I saw this sweet little '46 Ford on the Gorge Net here in this area, called the guy up, drove over to Odell,OR. up in the hills south of Hood River OR, talked him down $2500, and drove it home. All the truckers along the #84 route coming home would honk and give me the high-sign! These little Fords are so hard to find in good shape! This one has 48,652 documented miles and has been stored for 35 years.

My cousin Marion Campbell played football for Goldendale about the time you mentioned. Who knows, maybe you were looking him straight in the eye-balls?

Your garden sounds like it is really paying off. I tried to grow a garden here but gave up, as the deer and one time the neighbor's bull, Bubba beat me to it! Now I just set back and when the neighbor friends ask if I would like some corn, lattice, beets etc., I thank them dearly and accept the offer.

The Heikells are Finlanders, as my Grandfather came over from Finland. This area here is heavy to Finish farmers and is where Dad grew up. He was born in Michigan, and when his father passed, his Mother put him on the train at age 6 and shipped him to Centerville, just South of here 6 miles. He couldn't speak English and he was raised by his great grandmother who also spoke only Finish. His cousins would translate what the teacher was saying so he could understand the subjects. His first teaching job after graduating from Western Collage in Bellingham was at a small country school, 6 miles west of Centerville alled "Happy Home". The area was just covered with small one room schools at that time.

Catherine Wheeler has passed on about 7 years ago. Her husband, Larry Hastings lives here just out side of town. He also attended Wapato until about the 8th grade, then moved here. Angie Wheeler married Jim Thomas and she is very far along with Alzimers(sp?) and bless her heart, doesn't know much that is going on.

Wilford, our mailing address is: El & Joan Heikell 15 Pumphouse Rd. Goldendale, WA 98620 Take care my friend, ~El~ You should rec. the picture(s) in 3-4 days.


Dear Wilford, Sorry that my e-mails have not been coming through. I answered yours the same day I received them. We have been having problems with our server and everything has been a mixed up affair! I have received all of yours and your picture forwards. The following are re-types of my answers to you, my friend.

NOV.29

Glad you enjoyed the pictures. I made 10 copies, sent one to each one of the Stumps, the Whitakers,Heikells etc. Now on to the other questions;

- No Ted, only Bill Schroeder. Bill was a year older then us, in my brother Bob's class. Bill was sick in bed for about 4-5 years with ruematic(sp?) fever.
- Yes, I figure this picture was maybe in 1943. Also, it was taken and developed by my Mother. It is all slowly coming back to me. (Only 60 years ago) This was my 9th birthday party.

The pictures you attached came in just great! The kids are just as you say they are. The other picture of the summer Sunday School class is the same as I have. I will spend some time under a bright light and see if I can identify some for you. I do see myself, Bob, Wilford, Jerry Tilton, Margaret Wilson and several others you might remember. ~El~ End of this E-mail


DEC.3rd E-mail

Hi Wilford, sorry I missed your telephone call about 11/2 hours ago. I'm happy that Bob and Dick enjoyed the picture.

I got a call from Gene Stump and during our conversation he said I GOOFED! I now realize that in fact I did. Andy and Carl Munson are one of the same. Andy was Carl's nickname. The Munson on the left, showing the victory sign is in fact John. I knew that as soon as Gene told me. Will just have to chalk it up to age, right? All three of the Stump kids (64-68 years old) plan on stopping in for a visit right after the new year. Won't that be just great!!

Wilford, I'm sure sorry that I didn't get through to you with the last e-mails. That sort of thing happens, I guess. Hope not too often though!

Got the high-sign that supper is ready. Warmest Regards, ~El~


Dear Wilford; Wow, you do have a memory of long ago! I will speak to each one of your e-mails, one at a time, OK?

The good looking gal in the picture with the fish is Diane, who is Ted's daughter in law. She is Curtis's wife; He is Ted and Joyce's oldest son. They have two boys.

Wilford, don't let it bother you that you have all these question, as I also enjoy talking to you by e-mail. Thank the lord that there is such a thing as this, although this guy is far from an expert when it comes to operating this comp. but I try!

The road you are talking about is the ASHUE ROAD, that runs north and south; north where the Jones road intersects, running east and west. Now Wilford, I had forgotten that the Whitakers used to live just South of the Munsons. Maybe that was because I spent so much time when young, over at the Jones Road place.

Yes, across from the Munsons directly was Leonard Taylor, who was Marty Taylor's step dad. In the large house next to it lived the old folks, Everett Taylor.

Down the road to the north lived Blaine Taylor. This house was directly across from our lane and the old bus stop.Between Blaine Taylor's and Everett Taylor's was an old dirt farm road (lane) that ran to the west and with some jogging here and there to the right, you could end up in the back of your old place. I don't remember "The old Widow's place" but you would because you traveled that route much more often than I.

Yes, Al Stump was a great guy and very kind to us kids. He was slender and about 6'2" in height. I don't remember a woman bus driver, althoughyou are probably correct.

I remember the Jap place across the road but that is about it. As a teenager, Mom would send me over there to buy an apple box full of ripe tomatoes for $.50

Bill Schroeder lived about 400 yards North of our lane, next to the Hakes, who were elderly folks. They use to let us go out and pick apples from the ground and we would cut them in half, through them in the cider press and make apple cider for Halloween.

Yes, I sure do remember walking down our lane to the drain ditch, crossing it and walking down the ditch-bank road to the west Wapato road and on into town. Only we did this on Sunday afternoons to see the Sunday afternoon matinee with Tom Mix , Gene Autry, etc. This route saved us about 11/2 miles, right?

I believe Mom drove us into the Presbyterian Bible class and maybe she drove around to pick you up. ?? Maybe.

The people on the right, after crossing Lat. A, I did not know. Yes. the Tacken-hammers, as we use to joke about lived farther down the Jones road on the left. Again, they were very good people!

The people directly across from your old place and the house to the west, I did not know.

The orchard people across the road and further west, there were two family's with boys our age. One was the Wards, Bill Ward was the boys name. The other was the Foster Douglas orchard and there were three boys, Don Douglas, John and Bill. My brother Bob and I as teenagers went into the apple box making business with our own nail strippers and hatchets. We made all the apple boxes for the Douglas's, Hansons, Wards and Schrader's. I remember starting each morning at 6:00 and finishing in the mid afternoon with 500 boxes each! At 3 cents per box, that was $15 per day each. We were really "Rolling in the $$$!"

One summer, just before the apple box making started, I worked for your brother Ballard for about 10 days. The way it was set-up I made about $1 per day as a teenager, working along side of Leonard Taylor(Marty's Dad) You are correct, I remember Ballard as being a hard worker and not making a lot of $$.

Wilford, this has taken some brain work and is very good for me. I hope this has answered most of your questions. Like I said earlier, this e-mail is a whole lot better than mail-mail.
With Warmest Regards, ~El~ PS, I'll answer your next e-mail after supper.


Dear Eldred:

What a beautiful mount of the sail fish. That's a great picture! I'm assuming that is Ted's wife Joyce?

Well, Eldred, speaking of memory - I think my long-term memory is better than my short-term memory. I am having a lot of fun with this, so I hope I don't wear you out. Thank you for being patient. I have some more questions.

What is the name of the road that the Munsons and Whitakers used to live on? I don't remember any houses between the Munsons and us, but one was built later. Is that correct?

There were a lot more houses among the orchards than I remember. The Taylors had, I think, two houses across the road from us and the Munsons. I remember walking along this old dirt lane through the Taylor's orchard after we had moved over to the Indian farm on Jones' Road.

I also remember getting off the bus with you at your lane and then walking home down another dirt lane, past the widow's house, through the fences, across a large drainage ditch to get to our place on the Indian farm. I loved to go past the Widow's place because she always invited me (us?) in and we had cookies and milk. She seemed glad for our company, also. The twins must have been with me?

Al Stump, I remembered after you mentioned him. He was a giant of a man, and may have been our bus driver some times, but I also remember a woman driver??

When we moved next door to the Munsons, my dad worked for a Jap farmer across the road from us, for $1.00 a day, .10 cents an hour or ten hour days. How my folks ever raised a family of nine hungry kids, I still don't know.

Also, Bill Schroeder lived, at least according to my memory, on the corner of your lane. I remember going down your lane many times, but I don't remember the Torrys.

It seems like we would go on east from your place to a little dirt road that would lead us south to the highway to Wapato and White Swan. Do you remember walking to town with me on Saturdays to see the .10 cent matinees? With the news, cartoons, and serial movies of Tom Mix, Gene Autry and others?

Do you remember how we got to the Presbyterian Bible Class?

When we crossed Lateral A on the Jones Road, there was a Japanese family right on the corner on the north side of the road, where later there was a large vegetable and fruit stand. I don't think that was the Takayamas, was it? It seems like they lived a little further west on Jones Road, on the left side of the road, or south side of the road. I had remembered twisting rubber bands up until they were quite tight, but had forgotten the model airplanes.

Right across from us, after we had moved to the Indian farm on Jones Road, was the Daniels family. I think they were Jewish, and had a boy our age and a girl. Do you remember them?

Then further west of us on the Jones Road on the same side of the road (which was dirt at that time) was an Indian family with a girl a little older than us.

Across from them were orchards and in one of the orchards lived a boy about our age, with whom I played sometimes, but I don't remember him. I used to think all you orchardists were quite wealthy. But anyone would be wealthy when compared to us.

I sometimes would walk east on Jones Road until it came to the rail road tracks outside of Wapato. I think the bums who 'rode the rails' at that time must have had a sign put up somewhere that directed them to my mother's dinner table, as we always seemed to have one or two drop in at convenient times, close to supper time. They would chop some wood or other chores and mother would feed them.

My oldest brother Ballard married Lydia Berg and I think the Bergs had an orchard someplace between the Stumps and the Wringers. Ballard's oldest girl Carol Lee came to live with my dad and mom when they lived in American Fork, Utah, and Carol Lee still lives in American Fork. Her brother Jim Whitaker, I think, bought Tiny's Tavern, and is still there, or at least was several years ago. I've lost track of those boys, but my brother Bob has kept in touch with them. Ballard lived on the west side of Lateral A on a truck farm and they were in a more desperate condition than we were. I remember one of his horses got out and got hit by a truck on Lateral A. My dad came over and sent Ballard to Kyle's Korner to buy a whole bunch of chewing tobacco, which dad then stuffed into this gaping, bleeding wound on the horse's forefront, near his chest. That horse got better!

Now, Eldred, if we were sitting across the table from each other, we could probably resolve all these things in a few minutes time, but I guess this is the next best thing.

Best wishes to you and yours.

Sincerely, Wilford W. Whitaker


Hi Folks, Just wanted to forward this to you, caught by my brother Ted! ~El~

Just thought I'd share a picture of a new wall decoration that I hung in the rec room recently. This is a skin mount of a 9 1/2-ft sailfish that I caught in Mexico last winter. They really are as brilliant as this mount suggests. The picture was made as I may peddle it on Ebay if there is enough interest. Typically these do not sell for much but this as a particularly impressive mount done by some special artists in Mexico City. If the price is right, I may be tempted.

Ted


Dear Wilford; Sorry, I didn't get back to you after supper last night. Got to watching Monday Night Football and before I knew it, I was so tired I had to cash in for the evening. I figured you would understand.

Our old farm house is still as it was back in the 40's. I stopped in there about 3 years ago and introduced myself to the owners. They were in the process of re-doing the place back to original and asked if I would come in and answer their many questions, which I did. It sure brought back many memories! I could remember our up-stairs gun room and the bedroom where Bob and I spent many hours and days making model airplanes.

The house was a large,two story house with a full basement. It had 11 rooms that included 4 bedrooms. The house was built in 1912 and it was the home place where the Wertenberger kids grew up before Dad bought it in 1941 for $2000. That included the 14 acres of apples that dad agreed to pull out as directed by the State of Washington. He bought it on back taxes. The Wertenberger "kids" are all gone now, as they were a different generation

Surprised that the Munson's were English. I know that Herbert had been working on the Munson Family Tree for about 7-8 years prior to his passing. He did indicate to me that German was in his past, back several generations.

Yes, I can remember you and I stopping in to visit Bill Schroeder at least once. We didn't stay long.

I bought a Dodge pick-up about a week ago, after doing much shopping. For many years it was nothing but Ford products and if anyone even suggested a Dodge, I thought they were slipping a few gears. Well, I think it is a very nice truck, but time will tell?
Take care my friend, ~El~


Dear Eldred:

After sending the previous e-mail, I realized that I had not addressed some of the items in this e-mail from you. So here goes:

One has to wonder sometimes where things go when they are lost in cyber space. Maybe they just keep going.

You know, I don't remember your home hardly at all. I had thought that it was a brick home!! So much for memory.

I enjoyed that little bit of homey info about Andy and the cup of beer. It seems that I remember that the Munsons were a hard-drinking family, which is why I always thought the old man was a German, but Herbert told me years later that they were English.

Also, I don't remember Carl ever being called 'Andy'. In fact, I don't remember a John Munson. The one you called John Munson (flashing a V for victory) I thought was Carl Munson.

Bill Schroeder, I do remember him and the fact that he was sick for long periods. Several times, we stopped in at his home and his mother would take us back to his room and we would visit a short time. It seems like we quit visiting after a while, I don't know if he was getting sicker or what? Did you make those visits with me?

Well, I think this has been a lot of fun. Thank you for putting up with me.

Wilford


Wilford; Sure, we always remember the good things in life, but I know you and I never had a scrap or a fight. My memory is that we always got along and were good friends. I do remember looking you up in Ellensburg and going to Sunday school and Church one Sunday. It was somewhat different than what I was use to, as I remember it lasted 3-4 hours? Then another Saturday, you and your wife(then) invited a girl and me to go for a Saturday drive. We went to Vantage, around to Wenatchee, over Bluite Pass and back to Ellensburg. As I remember, this was in 1953 and you had a 1951 Ford. Now Wilford, how much of this is correct?

The picture of the old school bus is great! The one that came on our route wasn't as large as this one, I believe.

I do remember Opal, and remember her as a very nice and friendly girl. She worked so very hard there on your old home place, packing tomatoes and "callilopes" as Bob & Dick would say. Remember that? Must call it quits for tonight.

Sincerely, "OL EL"


Dear Eldred:

Well, here we are, 70 years old, and I've been doing some reflecting on my life. Those years at Wapato were instrumental in forming many of my life's patterns and I've been looking at several things which helped to form me.

Parents, siblings, friends, school, church, these have all played important roles in my formative years. So I guess I have been remembering some of those influences. I find that I tend to remember the good things, and have most of the bad influences and miserable times out of my mind.

The times I remember with you are all good. Did we ever fight? I don't remember it if we did. You were a good friend and I'm sorry that we didn't keep in closer contact over the years. But I am sure enjoying catching up on all these "memories"!!

Yes, I truly appreciate the computer and the internet, even with all the problems it has, it is a wonderful way to communicate.

I spent some time this morning with my oldest sister Marne' Whitaker and she gave me this picture of herself and her friend Dorothy Willis alongside one of the old buses in 1938, the year she graduated from Wapato High School. She said she thought the buses were fairly new, because they were so excited to have new buses!

I was talking to my sister Opal Jean (she doesn't like the name Opal, so we have called her Jean for years), the other day and she said she remembered the Douglas family, as there was a girl her age.

Now, I'd better stop before I get carried away. Isn't this fun?

Sincerely, Wilford W. Whitaker


I didn't know you and Bob were in the apple box-making business. That sounds like a terrific job. Did you ride your bikes over there?

Do you remember the huge pile of tomato boxes (flats) that we used to make to pack our tomatoes in? I remember making them, but I don't think I ever made 500 in one day. And I certainly never got paid for them. My dad never paid us and I guess he thought he had some pretty good, cheap labor. But I do remember making the tomato flats and cantaloup crates, also.

We had three places to make boxes and each place had a form to put the ends of the box in. And each place had a nail stripper to line up the nails, and one place had a form to make the cantaloup crates, which used big ends and slats all around.

We got pretty good at judging the right amount of nails to take at one time, to finish either the bottom or the sides. The sides (about 4" wide) were kept in a tub of water, one end down in the water about three or four inches, and we would turn the sides in the tub every so often to soak the other end in the water. That would make it easier to nail and we could pound in the nails with one blow. So we would place the ends in the form, put on the bottom piece and nail it into place, I think with four nails on each end, or if we were in a hurry, with three nails on each end. We'd then flip the flat onto one side, put on the side, nail it with two nails on each end, then flip the box again and put on the second side. I think the thing that slowed us down was that the sides would stick together in the water and we'd have to separate them individually. We'd toss the flat onto the pile, and then repeat the process.

Some of the bigger growers would have labels that they would place on each end of their flats, but we never did that. My sister Marne' would come from her home in Utah, and my sister Opal Jean, perhaps others, and May Munson would pack the tomatoes. I thought all the girls were fast, but May Munson could pack three or four boxes while the others were packing one. She was super fast! Her hands just flew. The packers would stand at a sloping table, with a place to set a box and the tomatoes would be carefully dumped onto the table and roll down in front of the packers. They would pick up a tomato with one hand, and a paper wrapper in the other, slap them together, and put it into the flat and then onto the next. May could do that faster that it takes to tell about it. She'd place the full box onto a flat table and then someone would put a top onto the box and nail it in place, and then stack the boxes into neat piles, to be loaded onto the truck. Near the end of the day, we would have a full truck-load, about 16 boxes high, that we would haul into Pacific Growers or one of the packing sheds in Wapato, north of the main part of town, near the rail road tracks.

Now, I'm wondering how I can remember all those details and have difficulty remembering what I had for supper last night?

One year during the war, I remember, dad had some German prisoners of war help out during the harvest. They must have been stationed on the Yakima firing range, or some place like that, probably connected with Fort Lewis in some way. They would bring the men in a truck with only 1 driver, and 1 guard, and about 8 or 10 Germans, as I remember. We were all standing around, awaiting their arrival, with some fear and trepidation. I was expecting to see these huge, awful ogres, like the Lord of the Rings Orcs, and was somewhat disappointed to find that they were like common young men anywhere.

My job was to carry water to them out in the field, as they picked tomatoes, and I was nervous as I carried the wet waterbag out to them. Few of them spoke English, but they all seemed appreciative of the cold water I brought. I became especially acquainted with a young, blonde, tall, good-looking soldier who could speak English quite well, who showed me a picture of his young wife and small baby boy, and he wanted to get back to them so badly.

It was here, I believe, I learned a little tolerance for my enemy, and learned that they weren't all the bad and horrible creatures that the movies and posters painted them out to be. Sometimes I think of that young German prisoner-of-war and hope that he was able to return to his family and found them all safe and sound.

The workers in the field would pick the tomatoes, picking everything that had a little "pink" in it, on up to the fully ripe tomatoes. They would be put into tomato "lugs", a little longer and not as tall, as an apple box, which we would get from the "packers". These lugs would be picked up and put onto a sled pulled by a horse and taken to the packing shed and then dumped onto the sloping table, where the packers would sort them by color and pack all the same color into a "flat". The flats would be loaded onto the truck by color and then at the "packers" they would be put into cold storage or the ripe, red ones might be shipped out that same night, and be in Seattle or Spokane or Montana the next morning.

When Victory in Europe (V-E day) was announced, the girls packed the boxes with a border of red, ripe tomatoes, and a big "V - E" in the middle in pink tomatoes, or a border of pink tomatoes and the big "V - E" spelled out in red, ripe delicious tomatoes. That was some day!

Speaking of the war, I remember playing 'war" with you and the neighborhood boys and often with the Japanese boys. Often the Japanese boys would say "we're tired of always being the Japs. We want to be the 'mericans now." So we would trade, and become the "Japs" and they would be John Wayne, and Audie Murphy and the 'Mericans' for a while. It seems like the Americans always won in our neighborhood wars.








MARNE'S PAINTINGS

Since she was a little girl, Marne' has drawn and painted pictures on many subjects, persons and children. Here are a few:




FREEDOM ISN'T FREE - Dec 2004

Last Sunday, as my little Dog Shorty and I stepped onto our front porch to start our daily walk, I was greeted by the most beautiful, yet subtle sunrise that I have enjoyed for many a day.

The tall, majestic mountains to the east of us were still in shadow and were actually purple in the early morning light. Behind them, the sky was the most soft, beautiful light blue, almost luminescent in its splendor. The few clouds that had bumped up against the towering mountains were tinged with pinks, and yellows, and reds. Truly, these clouds had a 'silver lining', with the promise of a good day.

I gave silent thanks for this lovely promise of a new day and that I had had the priviledge of sharing this moment with Shorty.

Shorty gave two or three exuberant barks as she also greeted the new morning. This set in motion what Disney called the 'twilight bark' as she was answered by other dogs up and down the street, as the 'bark' was passed from yard to yard as we walked up the street.

I felt so blessed to be able to live in this country and to enjoy its bounteous harvests, its safe homes, and to have my family, good neighbors and friends, both here and abroad.

From time to time, people tell me that they are interested for many reasons in Family History and Genealogy, but the common thread that runs through them all, is that they want to leave a record for their children and grandchildren about who they are, where they came from, who their ancestors were and to record the legacy that had come down to them.

Over and over they state that it is important to them to write down what they can find out about their ancestors while they can still remember what they know of their family history, stories and traditions.

As we walked around the block that lovely Sunday morning, I was reminded about the framers of our country. I thought of those men and women and families who risked everything they had because they believed in the principles of life, liberty and freedom of conscience.

When they signed the Declaration of Independence, they knew that they were putting everything on the line, their lives, their sacred honor, their reputations. In spite of all the criticism, the nay-sayers, the dooms-day predictors, they went ahead and signed, literally signed their lives and their fortunes away.

They believed in the words they wrote:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

America has always been a land of promise, a land of hope, a land of opportunity. Its beacon of freedom has shown brightly throughout the world, inviting people to come and share in its blessings.

And people have come, our ancestors among them. It is this legacy that we leave to the coming generations.

As Shorty and I continued our walk we came to our local church. I was reminded of the sacrifices that were made by the pioneers who came into this valley and "made the desert blossom as a rose".

I was reminded that the new Tibetan Buddhist Temple was just recently dedicated in our city and that they now had a special place to worship as they saw fit, and they had the freedom to do so. The inside of the Temple is colored blue, yellow and red and I thought of that as I gazed at the softening colors of the sunrise.

Then I was reminded that the Catholics had just completed an extensive remodeling and rennovation of their Cathedral of the Madelein, a majestic and lovely church in which they could worship according to the dictates of their conscience, with the freedom to do so.

I then thought of those pesky street preachers who congregate on the downtown streets and loudly espouse their different ideas and warnings, all with the freedom to do it.

As I stood before the church, two gentlemen came outside, carrying a carefully folded flag and proceeded to unfurl it and raise it to the top of the flag pole. I removed my cap and stood at attention during this simple ceremony. I thought "How I love this flag and all that it represents.

I thought of the flag with the snake emblem and the motto "Don't Tread On Me". I saw Old Glory flying defiantly over Fort McHenry and sang those words " . . . Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, O'er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? "

I remembered the raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima and the supreme sacrifices that had been made, and are still being made, by brave, dedicated young men and women, who believed in doing their best. Who believed in duty and responsibility, and were doing their best to just do it.

I thought of those who would wrap themselves in the flag, burn it, spit upon it, and desecrate this venerable symbol. Though I think this is a despicable act, I was thankful that they have freedom to do that.

Shorty and I went out again this morning for our morning walk and after a few days of heavy rain in the valley and lots of snow in the mountains, the day dawned bright and cheerful. Again the sky was blue, the clouds tinged with colors of the rainbow, the wind was soft, from the south, and I thought "There's a lot wrong with this world we live in, but there is a lot of right also."

We must be strong and resolute. America must continue to be a beacon of liberty and freedom to the world. People must be able to look to America for hope and help. Wilford W. Whitaker


From: "Richard Whitaker" Subject:Adversity & Dick's friend Date:Thu, 1 Nov 2007 14:59:34 -0600 Letter to Family: October 29, 2007

Dear Loved Ones:

At a recent breakfast and training meeting held at his home for full-time missionaries within his Stake, President Dalton, our Stake President, led a masterful discussion on the topic: “Why Do We Have Trials and Adversity?” First he had us read Alma 36:3 in which Alma tells his son Helaman: “For I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.” He went on to say that we will all have trials and though the Lord does not always remove them, He will always support us in them.

He then had us read Alma 17:5,9-11, counsel specifically for missionaries, but which applies to everyone: “And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with His Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted. …” (verse 10). The Lord will comfort and strengthen us in our trials. Further: “… Go forth and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me… (verse 11).” We are to be an example of patience and endurance in our trials.

We then moved to D&C 122 wherein the Lord tells the Prophet Joseph Smith that his sufferings while incarcerated in the Liberty Jail, “…shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.” Thus, another reason for trials and adversity is to gain experience and as exemplified in the sufferings of the Savior, so that we will be able to succor (aid) others in their afflictions.

President Dalton had us next turn to D&C 121:1-6 wherein the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, during his extremity, is petitioning the Lord, not just for himself and those in jail with him, but for the suffering saints fleeing the mobs in Missouri . The Lord said in verses 7-8: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” Enduring to the end will bring great blessings!

Finally from D&C 24:8 we learn that Joseph was told to: “Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.” The Lord will always be there, he will never forsake us even though we may turn away from Him. May we be faithful and steadfast, especially during our trials and afflictions. This is my prayer for each of you …

When we were at the Library doing our e-mail on 10/16 we had an interesting encounter with a former member of the Church. His name is David and the contact was made by an OYM. He was sitting next to me and I looked over at him and he looked at my name tag and said, I didn’t know the Church was sending out old people on missions! That started a most interesting discussion about his estrangement from the Church (he had asked to have his name removed some years ago, emphasizing that it was not due to his having done anything wrong?!). Anyway, to make a long story short, we arranged to meet with him again on Thursday to answer his questions about the Church. We did meet with him on 10/18 and lo and behold, he had a friend with him, the Director of Evangelism, Mitch, from the Southern Hills Baptist Church in Beaverton. He was friendly and listened quietly as we answered some of David’s questions. He finally did say a few things and as the discussion got around to the Book of Mormon, we asked him if he or David had really read it. David said he had years ago (when he took the lessons from the missionaries) and Mitchell said he was familiar with it, but had never read it. We asked if they had copies and they both said no. We then asked, “If we give you copies , will you read them?” They looked at each other and then agreed that if we would attend their Church where we could present them with copies, they would read it.

We felt like that was a fair enough deal, so we agreed to attend their Church from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.(we have a Ward Missionary Correlation meeting at 11 a.m.) on Sunday, Oct. 28th .

* * * *

Well, it is now Sunday, Oct. 28th- p.m. We are home after a full day. It started out with our attending the Baptist Church. It was a very positive experience. The chapel was filled with old and young people and we were given a warm welcome. The worship service reminded me of our Ward Sacrament Meeting in South Jordan- very quiet and reverent. We found out later that all the younger children (Primary age) were meeting separately in a type of Jr. Sunday School. I guess all the babies were also off in some other part of the building. The music was impressive: they had a small orchestra that played all of the accompaniment for the songs that were sung by the congregation. It consisted of about five violins, an organ (electric key-board), a piano, a flute, and several other instruments, including drums. They were not too loud and the music was beautiful. Words were displayed (ala power point) on a large screen up front so everyone could see and follow along. We didn’t know any of the songs but they were lovely hymns with great messages about God and Jesus’ love for us, their beautiful creations, and our dependence on Him for our salvation.

The sermon was given by the friend of David’s and it was well prepared and delivered masterfully. The text was Luke 15- three parables: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Prodigal Son. His teaching would have been well received in any of our Church services. In fact, there was nothing in the entire worship service that I could find fault with. The principles of faith in Jesus Christ and repentance were emphasized and well developed. Towards the end of the service, however, I finally realized what the main difference was. There was no mention made of the ordinances of baptism and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. In other words, their idea of salvation consisted of accepting Jesus as our Savior and con-fessing and repenting of our sins. Reference was made several times to the need for living Christ-like lives and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us. Perhaps baptism and the Holy Ghost would have been topics for subsequent sermons. But the impression I left with was that all I needed to do for salvation was to acknowledge Jesus’ love and saving grace, confess my sins and ask for forgiveness, and then I was saved.

I came away from that experience with a greater appreciation for and testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially for the restored Priesthood ordinances, power and blessings available only through His authorized servants. We have the true Priesthood authority to administer these ordinances, and that is what makes all the difference. I had thought before, but had it confirmed today, that there are many Christians who have strong faith and conviction that Jesus is the Christ and also believe in repentance just as we do. If I were given the opportunity to talk to any of them I would tell them, just as President Hinckley said several conferences ago, “We are not asking you to give up any of your cherished beliefs about Jesus Christ and His Gospel, we just want to add to that which is good and true that you already believe.” In other words, we want to give them more revealed truth, the fullness of the Gospel!” By the way they did accept our Books of Mormon and agreed to read and pray about them. We will see!

Our investigator, Josh, attended Church with us today and it was another serendipity experience. He is progressing well and we anticipate a baptism sometime in November. He received the lesson on Tithing today in Gospel Essentials and we will teach him Lesson #3 (The Gospel of Jesus Christ) tomorrow. What an answer to prayer and fasting this day has been. The Lord is with us, we feel His love and influence so much. Missionary work is great!

Following is an excerpt from my journal entries for October 27th:

After at least 55 years I was able to make contact with a former elementary school classmate- Dennis McNish. He lived with his mother and her brothers, Eddie and Billy Wright, across from our farm in the Kittitas Valley and attended Kittitas Elementary School with us in the 6th, 7th, and 8th Grades. I remembered him as a fun-loving guy with a shock of very red hair and freckles. We had some good times with our friends at school trying to give some of the teachers (like Mrs. Schnebley, Mrs. Carlson [Highfill]) a bad time, but never got away with anything from Mrs. Watson, Mr. Handy or Mr. Patrick. During the summers we played and worked together on our neighboring farms. Whenever we could get away from chores we would take off across the big fields and meet where we could play in or along the canal that wound around the farms, or play among the cattails and reeds in the low-lying marshy areas.

The last time I had seen Dennis was at 8th Grade graduation in 1952. It was some 51 years later when circumstances led to my thinking about Dennis again. During the late summer of 2003, my twin brother Bob and I decided to take a trip to Washington and visit our old stomping grounds in Kittitas and Ellensburg. After attending the famous Ellensburg Rodeo and Kittitas County Fair we stopped by to visit the Wright brothers, Eddie and Billy, who still lived out in Badger Pocket. We had a delightful visit and it was hard to believe they were still around (Billy is 92 and Eddie 89). We heard from them that their nephew Dennis McNish was living in Lake Oswego, Oregon (a suburb of Portland). They gave us his telephone number and I put it away for future reference, never thinking I would have the opportunity to use it.

When LeeAnne and I received a mission call to the Oregon Portland Mission in June of 2007, I started to think about the possibility of getting in touch with Dennis. We arrived in Portland in July and were assigned to Aloha 2nd Ward in the Beaverton West Stake. Sometime in late August I tried the telephone number I had kept for the last four years, thinking it probably would not be a working number or had been disconnected. I did get an answering machine and left a message. Not hearing anything I tried again the first week of September and again got the answering machine. I left another message with our telephone number and then forgot about it. Around the end of September I got a telephone call and the voice on the other end said, “This is Dennis McNish!” What a pleasant surprise! He told me he had gotten the messages and had been trying for several weeks to get back to me, but was never able to reach us (we have an 801 area code on our cell phone?). It was great to talk to Dennis after so many years and we made arrangements to get together and talk about old times together. So we decided to meet on October 26th at his home in Lake Oswego and go to lunch together with our wives.

Yesterday, Sister Whitaker and I drove to his house and met him. His wife, Elaine, was not there (she was taking care of some grandchildren), so we followed him to a Chinese Restaurant in Sellwood, a distance of about ten miles, going through some of the most scenic and beautiful areas of Southeast Portland (the fall colors of the trees are fantastic) where we enjoyed a great lunch and visit together. Dennis said that after graduation from Kittitas Elementary he lived in Astoria with his mother and brother, and graduated from high school there. He attended Oregon State University in Corvalis for a year or so, then dropped out to go to work. He finally did get his degree and joined the Coast Guard and entered Officer Candidate School. He spent five years in the Coast Guard and then started driving truck, which he did for the next 30 years or so. He is semi-retired now and has lived in the same house in Lake Oswego for 37 years. He and his wife, have two grown sons and two grandchildren. His hair is no longer red, mostly white and very close-cropped. He is in good health and is about the same size as me. He asked questions about Bob and others of our classmates and we reminisced about our adventures in the Kittitas Valley. After so many years, it was good to see him again and talk about the good old days. We plan to get together again when we can meet his wife and hopefully, tell him about our mission and the Church.

Love to all the family: Elder and Sister Whitaker




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