Monthly Archives: November 2007

Bazaars Kick Off Holiday Season in Woodland

bazaars 2007By Pat Nelson / South County News

@South County News/The Daily News, reprinted with permission

The parking lot was full Saturday, Nov. 17, when I drove up to the Woodland Care Center for its annual holiday bazaar. Inside, tables stretched across a hallway and filled a side room, and signs directed shoppers to more tables upstairs.

Danna Barbo of Ridgefield, chairwoman for the event, sold cuddly bears from a Christmas tree for $5 each, and goodies, ornaments and jewelry from the Woodland Care Center’s tables. “Residents,” said Barbo, “put the ornaments together and baked the cookies.”

“Do they have use of a kitchen?” I asked.

“They use an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie oven,” she replied, referring to the commercial cookie ovens often used by convenience stores and hotels to offer fresh-baked cookies made from Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough. “The fudge,” she said, “is made by the staff in the kitchen.”

Two-year-old Kylie Robertson, daughter of Jennifer and Eric Robertson of Woodland, knew exactly what she wanted. She walked up to the Christmas tree and chose a fuzzy bear the color of cotton candy. Then she also wrapped her arms around a sky-blue bear.

Kylie’s mom took the bears from her daughter and held them out. “Which one do you want?” she asked. Kylie quickly chose the pink one, and then reached for the blue bear. Barbo, unable to resist the toddler’s cute smile, let her have both bears for $5.

“We buy the bears,” said Barbo, “and the residents put the ribbons on them. A lot of them have never had a teddy bear. If there are leftovers, we use them as Christmas gifts for the residents.”

In another room, I visited with Pat Madsen at her booth, where she told me the Woodland Care Center opened in 1973. The bazaar gives her a chance to visit with friends where she previously worked as director of nurses and then administrator. “We started the bazaar as a patient activity making manger scenes,” she said.

What started as a care-center activity became a community event, and the bazaar gives Woodland Care Center residents an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts for their family members.

Evie Leonard of Vancouver sold items from the next table. Leonard told me she had been an RN at the center for eight years. Next to her, Pat Pearson, formerly of Amboy but now living in Salmon Creek, displayed her crewel work.

Asked what crewel is, she replied, “It’s embroidery in wool.” Before her retirement, Pearson was charge nurse at the center, then director of nurses, and then charge nurse again, working every shift. She worked at the center from 1980 to 1986.

“There are two other bazaars in Woodland this weekend,” Barbo said. “We share flyers.”

Hearing that, I next visited the Holiday Boutique at St. Philip’s Parish, where a column of red and white balloons on the walkway hinted at the festivities inside. I said hello to Pat Kenny, who was enjoying a bowl of “white chicken chili.” It was time for lunch, and the chili smelled great. I bought a steaming bowlful and joined Kenny and others at a table. The chili was as good as it smelled, and before I left, I bought a cookbook to get the recipe. The cookbook, called “Feeding the Flock,” is a collection of favorite recipes by the St. Philip Altar Society of Woodland and the St. Joseph Parish of Kalama.

My next stop was the largest bazaar of the three, the Sno Flake Bazaar, held at the elementary school gym. The parking lot was full, and most people leaving the building carried plastic sacks of handcrafted treasures. As I entered the building , I saw the Behrendsen Farms booth operated by Ruth Wendt and Ann Bradshaw. Their booth offered local-area products including honey and aprons, plus beautiful baskets made in Ghana, West Africa.

In the main room of the bazaar, the first table was occupied by Nancy’s Potholders, owned by Nancy Johnson of Woodland. “I’ve had the same space every year but one since 1994,” Johnson said. “I have a lot of fun and love doing it.” Husband Noel buys a lot of raffle tickets, she said. When I talked with him, he had already won three nice prizes.

One vendor, Meredith DeBuse, was there selling handmade doll clothes. Asked how she got started selling doll clothes, she said, “I got into the doll thing 10 years ago. Mother made doll clothes for me.” DeBuse didn’t have daughters herself, but now has seven granddaughters to sew for.

Charlene Brooks and Kathy Huffman, both of Ariel, were working at the bazaar to earn funds to help the Pleasant View Community Church build a home for a needy family in San Vicente, Baja California, Mexico. Along with handmade items for sale, a quilt was raffled. About 15 women contributed their time and materials to supply the handcrafted merchandise and the raffle prize.

After attending all three bazaars in town, I had been well fed, had purchased some gifts and had the recipe for the famous white chicken chili. I had visited with old friends and made new acquaintances and could see why so many area residents look forward to these three bazaars each year.

Visit Pat Nelson’s Web site at

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Filed under Christmas, Holidays, seniors, South County News, Woodland

Crafting Your Own Life Story is ‘Like Therapy’

Life StoryNovember 14, 2007
by Pat Nelson for

©South County News/The Daily News, reprinted with permission

Write Your Life Story students learn from each other, and I was on hand November 7 in Woodland when Lower Columbia College English students learned from them as well. Carmen Webb leads the group of 19 writing students, who meet from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays in the basement of the Presbyterian Church. Webb, a part of the group since 1998, has been its leader four years.

I was a member of this enjoyable writing class a couple years ago, and I recognized many familiar faces. Before the college students arrived, the class progressed as usual, starting promptly at 1:00. After deciding who would bring snacks to the next two gatherings, Carmen Webb asked classmates to read their work. Students had been prompted to write memories of stores and shopping, or a subject of their choice. Each, in turn, read one or two poems or essays. Margaret Hepola, age 90, read about learning to face the public by working in a store. “I was bashful when I was young,” she said. Living eight miles from Woodland in the country, she said she was too far from school to participate in extracurricular activities. When she started working, she worked at the bulb farm. “At age 19,” she said, “I worked at a Finnish store located where Classy Hair is today.”

She described how her shyness made it difficult to communicate with Finnish customers who spoke little English. Her workday was from 7:30 AM to 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. most days, but she worked from 7:30 a.m. to 11 PM on Saturdays. When she started work, she made $30 a month, and when she left, she made $120. Hepola told of not having much money, and living on potato soup, which she still likes today. Customer service was important in those days, and she told of sometimes working with a customer one or two hours.

When Margaret Hepola married a Finnish man who owned a thriving country store, he joked that he married her because she knew how to run a store.

Sherri Schievelbein told the class she keeps paper and a light-up pen by her bed to record writing ideas that come to her during the night. “I hate the computer,” said Schievelbein.

Jewell Ellila, a long-time class member, commented that a story runs around in her head five or six days and then it just flows out.

Maxine Rodman, another longtime member of the group, read an earlier writing about the mercantile where  she shopped as a child, and the ice man who would leave ice at her house and who would give the children slivers of ice on hot days.

Maxine Lester read a humorous piece about family sayings. She remembers that when someone would ask her dad, “How do you feel?” he would reply, “With my fingers.” Several people nodded and grinned, recognizing the familiar sayings.

One man read about his memories of the old Red & White Store in Battle Ground, Wash.

 “I always wondered how they got the big stalk of bananas to hang from the ceiling,” he read. He remarked in his story that during the Depression, clothing was purchased for durability, not style.

Dolly Bottemiller’s story was about remembrances of shopping in the 1940s for loafers, saddle shoes, anklets, pleated skirts, and dark red lipstick and nail polish. “Later”, she said, “I worked at Meier and Frank, where elevators were run by women who called out the floor numbers and told what was located on each floor.”

Asked what they get out of the Write Your Life story class, Molly Cowlisajaw replied “friendship and inspiration,” and  Sherry Schievelbein said it keeps her writing; Jewel Ellila jokingly said she’s there for the snacks.

 Maxine Rodman likes hearing about the varied life experiences from different age groups. For Margaret Hepola, “it’s like therapy. You can put your thoughts and problems on paper.”

When Maxine Lester lost her husband, she said it gave her a way to write away her grief. Sherri Schievelbein, who moved here from Wisconsin, said the class helps her learn the area’s history, to which Margaret Hepola replied, “today is history.”

At about 2:45, the Lower Columbia College students arrived. Aralie Niemi and Elias Warndahl interviewed Maxine Rodman about the flood of 1996. Rodman remembered President Clinton’s visit to the area, and remembered how sad she felt for people whose homes were affected.

Kahli Gillis interviewed Jewel Ellila about the possibility of a Wal-Mart in Woodland, and another college student asked about Harry Truman, remembered for refusing to leave his Spirit Lake Lodge when Mt. St. Helens erupted.

Tia Simpson asked Maxine Lester about forms of entertainment in the area from 1930 to 1970. Lester said most of the entertainment was dancing, and that some of the popular dances were the polka, schottische, waltz, and square dances.

Senior Danielle Rusk interviewed Carmen Webb and Dolly Bottemiller regarding the FFA Nursery Landscape program through the high school. The women were unfamiliar with the program, but learned that it is a contest between schools. Students identify plants, draw a landscape, answer questions, do a team activity, and brainstorm as part of the competition. The program runs November to May. Rusk was proud to say Woodland went to nationals in October, 2006.

Write Your Life Story students and young college students learned from each other during the interviews, just as the writing students learn from each other each week. For more information on the Write Your Life Story Class, phone Lower Columbia College/Woodland Center at (360) 225-4768.


Filed under education, Family History, Family Memories, South County News, Woodland, writing

Area Serves Up Autumn Treats

Fred Smith grinds corn

©South County News/The Daily News, reprinted with permission

Have you ever shown up for an event on the wrong date? That’s what I did last weekend, a full two weeks early! My husband and I drove to the Cedar Creek Grist Mill for the annual apple cider event. The website says it’s the last Saturday in October, and I even penciled it in on the correct date on my calendar, so I have no excuse except that I craved apple cider.

When I as a teenager, my brother and his wife used to invite me to pick apples with them in old, forgotten orchards. Sometimes we would stay until dusk, hoping to see a bear…from the safety of the car, of course. We never did see one, but it was exciting to think we might.Some people couldn’t believe my brother would toss the apples into the press without checking for worms. He’d just reply, “A little protein never hurt anybody.”I could hardly wait until those apples had been pressed and the cider had been bottled to take my first taste of cider. It was sweet and tangy at the same time, and if it lasted long enough to start fermenting, it was full of effervescence.Cider is an autumn treat. It isn’t often that I hear of a place that produces fresh-pressed cider, so the event at the Cedar Creek Grist Mill was particularly appealing to me.The drive was highlighted by yellow and orange leaves against dark fir trees, and the deep red leaves of blueberry bushes. Light green fir seedlings sprouted up in fields beside the road. At one point, we could see Mt. St. Helens in the distance, bright white below a cottony white blanket of clouds.We turned onto Cedar Creek Road and descended into a thick forest of trees with trunks lit up by shafts of sunlight, trees with golden leaves at their feet. Once at the mill, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the back steps, listening to the soothing sounds of the swift creek. Autumn leaves lazily drifted along the slow-moving water in a nearby flume, where they gathered in a bunch, plugging the intake. A small waterfall thundered nearby under a canopy of golden maples.After lunch, we stood on the covered bridge where we could see spawning salmon in the creek below. The Cedar Creek Grist Mill is a National Historic Site, Washington’s only grain-grinding mill that still has its original structural integrity, is water-powered, and grinds with stones. The mill was built in 1876 by George Woodham and his two sons to grind the farmers’ grain into flour or livestock feed. Woodham only stayed until 1879, when he moved and took all of the equipment with him. Mike Lynch was the next owner, but it was seven years before the mill was put back into operation when Lynch leased it to Gustave Utter. Utter built a log dam upstream and constructed a flume. He also installed the same Leffel turbine that is in use today.Gustave Utter was often paid in shares of grain, so he used it to feed to the hogs he raised to sell. Utter stayed longer than the others, lasting until 1901 before moving on. Four years later, Gorund Roslund purchased the mill, but it was another four years until it was operational. He expanded the mill by adding a shingle mill, a machine shop, and a blacksmith shop. When Roslund’s son Victor died in the 1950’s, the State Fisheries Department bought the property. They removed the old dam and built a fish ladder. In 1961, the Fort Vancouver Historical Society leased the mill and registered it as an historic place. Then, in 1980, a group of volunteers organized The Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill to save the operation. The flume, which extends 650’ up Cedar Creek, was completed in 1989. By November 11, 1989, the group was ready to grind wheat to celebrate the Washington Centennial.The mill is a working museum, with demonstrations taking place Saturdays from 1:00-4:00 and Sundays from 2:00-4:00. When we were there, volunteer Tom Henrich gathered visitors on the back porch to explain the history of the mill. Next, guests moved inside for a demonstration by volunteer Fred Shulz. Shulz, in overalls, boots, and a hat perched on his head of white hair, looked right at home in the mill, sitting casually on a galvanized grain-storage can with his arms folded across his chest, and his legs straight out in front of him, toes up,  resting his boots on their heels. After his explanation, he and Tom started the mill, ground grains, and bagged samples for their guests.

A covered bridge over Cedar Creek was completed in 1994. People from around the world visit the covered bridge and grist mill, two scenic spots that are often photographed. Admission is free, and tours and field trips can be arranged by calling 360 225-5832. See  or call for directions to the mill, which is about 9 scenic miles from Woodland. If you go on October 27th, you can probably sample the apple cider, and you might even get to see some spawning salmon.

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Helping Out Underwater

Dive Rescue By Pat Nelson
Reprinted with permission, South County News/The Daily News 10/31/07

Photo courtesy of Pat Nelson. Brett Duling trains diver in Horseshoe Lake

“What’s going on in Horseshoe Lake?” I asked my husband recently on a beautiful 68° Sunday. I didn’t expect to see anyone in the water, but three bare-chested boys in shorts were swimming and splashing as though they thought it was the middle of summer rather than the middle of October.I saw other action nearby and grabbed my binoculars for a closer look. There was a diver in the lake in black gear, and ripples nearby that indicated another diver underwater. A few people, most in orange vests, stood on shore watching the divers; a pickup loaded with gear sat in the parking area behind them. I noticed a rope stretched from one of the men onshore to the underwater diver. The three boys kept right on swimming and playing nearby, and there were no emergency vehicles in sight, so I decided everything was OK. I was curious, though, so I drove over to Horseshoe Lake Park and approached the group. A lady named Angela Duling greeted me and introduced herself. “Is this a rescue group?” I asked.“Yes,” she replied. “We’re part of the Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team, and we’re training Shawna Hood to do underwater searches.”She motioned to the other people on shore. “We’re line tenders,” she said. “See that rope that he’s holding?” she asked, pointing to a man on shore. “It’s attached to the diver. We’re mimicking a search in zero visibility for a stolen gun and we’re using an underwater communications system so the line tender can talk to her.” Most of the time, Angela told me, divers must search with their hands because they can’t see. She explained that the line tender uses the rope to control the search pattern. “Right now, she said, “they’re using an arc- sweep pattern to cover more area. The line tender is responsible for the diver’s safety while she’s under the water.”Before getting the underwater communications system, the line tender and diver could only communicate through tugs on the line: three tugs meant the diver had found something. Thanks to a generous donation, the Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team has now purchased new communication equipment that allows the line tenders to talk to the divers underwater. Special facemasks are required, and the team is trying to save enough money to buy masks for the whole team of divers, replacing the old-style mouthpieces that don’t allow the diver to talk.All members of the team are volunteers; they provide their services free of charge. They purchase most of their own equipment, including scuba outfits that usually range from $3000 to $5000. There are dry suits and wet suits; dry suits, which insulate the diver from the water, are necessary during dives in water contaminated with chemicals or disease-causing agents. The team sometimes helps the Sheriff’s office remove abandoned cars dumped into rivers and lakes so that they do not contaminate the water with petroleum products. Each time a vehicle is located in a body of water, the team must treat it as a crime scene until proven otherwise.Sometimes, divers must use extra weights to sink to the bottom, or to keep swift water from carrying them out of the search area. Angela told me, “Soon it will be winter and we will train at night. Usually, we do searches in the dark, looking for stolen vehicles or vehicles in the water.”“What do you do for lighting?” I asked.“Search and Rescue has a huge spotlight on a generator. They dispatch it to us,” she said.Angela has been a part of the group for five years, and is secretary. Husband Brett Duling has been president since 2001, but has been part of the team since 1999.There are eleven divers and seven surface-support members. The team trains with the Cowlitz County Search and Rescue Team, local fire departments, and law enforcement agencies so that all will be able to work well together during emergencies. For information on volunteering, donating, or sponsoring, visit their website at or contact:
Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team
c/o Department of Emergency Management
312 SW 1st St.
Kelso, WA 98626

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Training at the Park

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Kids Find Magical World at Library

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One Gardener’s Humble Roots

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