Category Archives: Family Memories

Planters’ Days Woodland, WA 6/2013

Fun for all once the rides have been set up!

Fun for all once the rides have been set up!

Worker setting up ride for Planters' Days

Worker setting up ride for Planters’ Days

Window on Woodland
Planters’ Days 2013
by Pat Nelson
Woodland will burst with excitement when it kicks off its 91st Planters’ Days celebration June 13. The carnival on Horseshoe Lake opens Thursday, June 13 at 3P.M., and soon after, kids with chalk in hand will decorate downtown sidewalks while they wait for the beginning of the 5P.M.children’s parade. Many years ago, I proudly marched in the parade alongside my grandchildren Max and Chelsea. Max, in a green-feathered bird suit, pulled his little sister through town in a wagon. Now, they are both teenagers, and more interested in the 10P.M. fireworks that shoot high in the sky and reflect beautifully off Horseshoe Lake.
Most who look forward to Planters’ Days weekend each year have probably forgotten . . . or never knew . . . the meaning of the celebration. Over 90 years ago, Woodland’s farmers worried about their crops every year because of the threat of flooding from the nearby Lewis and Columbia rivers. Once dikes were constructed, the farmers and the community celebrated, and 91 years later, the party continues.
This year Planters’ Days will host a new carnival, Davis Amusement Cascadia, with some different rides and an advance-sale wristband that will be available for purchase at Woodland’s Burgerville. The wristband, on sale for $23 prior to the beginning of Planters’ Days, appears to be a better value than wristbands in previous years because it will be good for a full day, both daytime and evening hours.
For me, watching the carnival set up can be as thrilling as riding the rides. One year, I took photos of a carnival worker as he assembled a large circular ride. Watching him climb the high structure to complete the assembly took my breath away.
Back in the 1930’s, the fire department started serving food on Planters’ Days weekend. Now, with the generous support of Walt’s Meats supplying the beef and Burgerville supplying the buns, the fire department continues the tradition by serving barbecued-beef sandwiches on the Saturday of Planters’ Days weekend. Long lines will stretch through Horseshoe Lake Park Saturday, June 15 as people await the annual treat.
On March 1, 2013, Woodland’s firefighters joined with Clark County Fire and Rescue, and this year Captain Mike Jackson is happy to say about the Firefighters’ Barbecue, “there will be a few more hands to make it happen.” According to Jackson, the firemen start getting ready for the event months in advance by gathering firewood. On Thursday of Planters’ Days weekend, they will get the pit ready, with the help of the Public Works department. Early Friday morning, they will start the fire that will cook the beef to perfection. By the time Saturday’s parade draws to a close, there will already be a long line in Horseshoe Lake Park at the Firefighters’ Barbecue. I admitted to Captain Jackson that one year when I saw flames shooting above the roofline of Horseshoe Lake’s outdoor kitchen, I called the fire department . . . and learned that it was their fire I had called to report!
The Saturday parade starts at 11A.M. but I always try to get there early to set out some chairs and to enjoy the excitement of the little kids waiting to see the horses, fire trucks and clowns. If you don’t take in the breakfast buffet at the Moose Lodge or the pancake breakfast at the VFW hall, there’s still plenty to eat along the parade route, from Woodland’s local family-owned restaurants to fundraiser stands offering baked potatoes, kielbasa and corn on the cob to many weekend-market food stands and, of course, the carnival food wagons.
With activities in downtown Woodland and on Horseshoe Lake all day Saturday, there’s no reason to head home after the parade. The hard decision will be deciding which events to see: the antique farm equipment display, the weekend market, the carnival, the firemen’s barbecue, the military vehicle show, the frog jump, the penny scramble, the firemen’s muster, the bed races, the RC boat show, the duck-boat rides, or the cruise-in. If it’s a hot day, you’ll find me playing in the lake, where I’ll have a good view of the carnival and many of the activities.
June 16, Father’s Day, is sure to be lots of fun, starting with a breakfast buffet at the Moose Lodge or a biscuits and gravy breakfast at the VFW Hall, the 4×4 Show and Shine, and a car show featuring hundreds of shiny classic cars lining downtown streets, plus a talent show.
Planters’ Days weekend has helped my family create memories for the past 15 years. Take in the events and let Planters’ Days weekend create memories for your family!
Copyright 2013 Pat Nelson. Reprinted with permission: The Valley Bugler, Longview, WA and Pat Nelson, Woodland, WA

What: Planters’ Days Weekend Celebration
When: Thursday – Sunday June 13– 16
Where: Horseshoe Lake Park and Davidson Street, Downtown Woodland
Event Schedule:

Bio:Pat Nelson, writer and editor, is co-creator of three humorous and sometimes edgy anthologies: Not Your Mother’s Books: On Parenting (publication date September 10, 2013), On Grandparenting and On Working for a Living (both still accepting stories at Nelson blogs at and her stories appear at

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Filed under Burgerville, carnival, celebrations, children, Family Memories, firefighters, firefighters BBQ, fireworks, grandchildren, kids, parade, Planters' Days, s, Valley Bugler, Walt', Woodland,

Parenting Book Story Deadline

Parenting Book Story Deadline

The deadline to submit stories for the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Parenting” is December 3, 2012, so hurry! And if you don’t get your story in on time, don’t worry because we have more than 30 books in the works that need your true stories! Too late for the Parenting book? Try “Moms” or “Family.” The funnier the better! And if they are a little edgy, great! Give us a good laugh. If it’s no racier than PG-13, it’s not too edgy for us. Story length: 500-2500 words. See for story guidelines and a list of books seeking stories. I have two more books in the works: Not Your Mother’s Book on Grandparenting and a new title: Not Your Mothers Book . . . on Working for a Living. I’m waiting for your stories!

Two of our books are already published, and a third will make its debut in December. Already available in bookstores and as eBooks: Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Being a Woman and the hilarious Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Being a Stupid Kid. Can you believe I’ve read each one THREE times? Seriously, I have! And I’m still laughing. I can’t wait for Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Dogs in December, NYMB . . . on Travel in January, and then MY first book in the series, on Parenting in March!

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November 28, 2012 · 1:29

Writing with My Daughter and Granddaughter

I love to write, but what’s even more fun is to write with my daughter and my 12-year-old granddaughter. Writing with your children pays off. My daughter and I wrote together when she was a child. She won an essay contest when she was around the age her daughter is now. I run into her essay from time to time when I clean out the file drawers, and it always brings a smile to my face.

My daughter surprised me last year by writing a book. I didn’t even know she had ever considered writing a book, and suddenly there it was . . . all 300 pages of a young adult fantasy. Wow! I didn’t think I cared much for fantasy, but this one grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. It wasn’t just that my daughter wrote it. I forgot all about that as I got lost in the story. After I read it, the characters and their lives stayed with me for days. I thought about them and wanted more. I’m helping my daughter edit, and then it’s on to the publisher!

Speaking of publishers, Publishing Syndicate has a really unique publishing offer. They have designed a program to help you get published, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, either! We will definitely see what they can do for my daughter after we polish her book. This company is worth checking out:

My granddaughter and I have written stories together for several years. When I edit our creations, she watches and sees how I think about a writing project . . . how I move things around, delete unneeded words and even whole sentences, and look up a word when I’m unsure of the spelling. We talk about the changes I make. She’s becoming a good writer, and is developing the skills that she needs to become a great writer.

This summer, my granddaughter will try writing for publication. Publishing Syndicate ( has three new anthologies: One for kids, one for pre-teens, and one for teens. It’s called OMG. My Reality. This will be a test of the skills she has learned, because she will be on her own; parents and grandparents cant help.  Whether or not her stories are published, writing with the hope of publication will strengthen her skills even more. And if she is published, it will look great on scholarship and college applications, along with her other activities and her good grades.

Write with your kids and grandkids. I do, and it’s great!

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Filed under Anthology, books, Family Memories, grandchildren, kids writing, OMG My Reality, Parent, pre-teens writing, Publishing Syndicate, submitting stories, teens writing, writing, writing for publication,, young adult fantasy, young adult writing

Publishing Syndicate is actively accepting non-fiction submissions, written by individuals 18 years and older, for these two books that I (Pat Nelson) am co-creating: Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Parenting and Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Grandparenting. This new anthology series, featuring more than 35 different titles, will be targeted at a mature audience and, as such, many, but not all, of the stories will contain language and situations with a rating of PG-13 or TV-14. Stories must be entertaining, humorous, or inspiring, not sad, sappy or preachy. And please, no death or dying stories. Royalties will be paid. For more information, go to

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April 18, 2012 · 1:29

Writers, get the most out of your stories

box of lettersbox of lettersIn February, I wrote “Century old love letters go home for Valentine’s Day” for The Daily News, Longview, WA. (See the story on this blogsite.) My writing teacher said it was a great story. I didn’t know how great until, the morning it came out in the paper, Channel 2 News from Portland, OR called and wanted to use the story as its Valentine feature.

My friends and I had purchased these old love letters at an antique shop on the Oregon Coast. How, we wondered, did they get there from Texas? We were intrigued, and set out to find their family. Thank goodness for the Internet, because without it, we wouldn’t have found the family genealogist who had researched that very family for thirty years. After a few emails back and forth, I sent the letters home to Texas, where their new owner reads them to her grown children.

Any of us who write for publication know that when you have a good story, you should write it for more than one magazine or newspaper. Each version should be specifically tailored to the publication receiving it. Today, I called the editor of the newspaper in that small Texas town and told him my idea. He was interested, and asked me to email the story. I got the correct spelling of his name, and found out how he would like me to send the story. He prefers email, but some editors prefer snail mail. You must know what the editor wants and follow his guidelines, and you must know the editor’s name when you send the query. “Dear Sir” doesn’t sell stories.

Once I had sent the email, I packed the copies of the letters back into their brown leather bag and put them away. As soon as I did, I realized I wasn’t done. What about the towns those long-ago lovers lived in, I wondered? Would their newspapers be interested in the stories too?

I looked up the two towns and found that they shared the same newspaper. There, in the center of the newspaper’s web page, was a notice requesting story ideas for the 150th anniversary edition. It seemed a perfect fit…and I almost forgot to try it!

So often, we don’t carry our ideas far enough. It can be hard enough to find a great idea. When you do, don’t waste it. Write it for all it’s worth.

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Filed under Family Memories, love letters, submitting stories, Texas, The Daily News, Valentine's Day, writing, writing for publication

Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium

This is the place to share your memories or knowledge of the former patients and employees…and especially the dedicated Dr. Mary Chapman Ghostley… of the Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium in northern Minnesota.

As a young child, I lived on the San Dairy, the farm that supplied the sanatorium with milk for the patients. My dad ran the farm, located right on the sanatorium grounds, with my mother’s help.

The doctor’s son, Jim Ghostley, remembered how clean my dad kept the barn. Dad knew the importance of providing safe, nutritious food for the patients. He had been the San janitor, a part of this community made up of  tuberculosis patients and employees. My parents met at the San when Dad was a janitor and Mom worked in the kitchen. Many couples met there and were married, including my Uncle Louis who did some haying for the San. He married a lady named Inga, a nurse who had formerly been a patient. Inga’s sister Tressa, now nearly 100, worked at both the Lake Julia and Nopeming sanatoriums as a nurse after she had TB, and one of Inga and Tressa’s sisters died while a patient at the San. My uncle Norman, who also occasionally worked for the San, met his wife there when she worked in the laundry. My uncle Reuben was the gardener.

Work on my two books about the amazing patients and employees of the Lake Julia Tuberculosis Sanatorium has taken me from my home in Washington State back to my first home of Minnesota where I’ve interviewed patients and employees and their family members. I hope to make another research trip this year to tie up some loose ends in my rough drafts.

This website is a place to share your stories. I know there are many wonderful stories about Dr. Mary and others. Please share your stories here, and please check back often to read what others have added. All I ask is that you state your connection to the San (example: daughter of nurse; grandson of Dr. Mary; former patient; nurse at another nearby San) and that you include your name. By posting on this site, you give me permission to use your postings in published material. If you do not wish to post your name or information online, please email.

You may email me at Photos are encouraged.

Please post often.

See my other website:

                                              Pat Nelson


Filed under Family History, Family Memories, Minnesota, TB sanatorium, Tuberculosis

A return to sweet and simple things

pie and chocolateBy Pat Nelson, January 2, 2008
Reprinted with permission, South County News/The Daily News, Longview, WA

I see a diet in my future, but today, I still have a few pieces of rich, dark chocolate in a box, a Christmas gift from our nephew, Paul, who lives in Amsterdam. When Paul said he was coming for a visit, I e-mailed and asked if he could bring me just a couple pieces of the fantastic chocolate from Puccini Bomboni, a shop we visited in Amsterdam last June.We met up with Paul at his mother’s house in Dundee, Ore., on Christmas Eve, and he hadn’t forgotten the chocolates. Unfortunately, the deep blue Puccini Bomboni box he gave me contained more than just two pieces.Today, the waistband of my pants feels too tight. Either the jeans shrunk again or I ate too much throughout the past year, and especially over the recent holidays. I can’t begin a diet with those incredible chocolates in my house, so I’ll have to eat them today. Then there’s that leftover apple pie I made for Christmas. If my husband and I each eat two pieces, the pie will be gone and I’ll be ready to diet … unless I postpone it until after our New Year’s Eve party. Crumpled wrapping paper still covers the floor and the cat has shredded the tissue. I haven’t turned on the Christmas tree lights today or opened the latest batch of cards. I’m tired and a cold sore has sprouted on my lip from eating too much chocolate. The holiday is over and the phone has sprung back to life with urgent business calls. I’d like to crawl into bed with a good book, a cup of tea, a slice of pie with ice cream, and a few pieces of Puccini Bomboni chocolate, but responsibilities are calling.Ah, if only times were simpler so that we wouldn’t feel so drained — and broke — by the time the holidays are over.

We long for more and more, but sometimes lean holidays create the most special memories, standing out because of their simplicity rather than being lost in the over-abundance of food and commercialism.

When my older brothers were children in the 1930s, they didn’t have expectations of grand gifts under the tree. I remember my mother telling me, “One year, we didn’t have money to buy any Christmas gifts at all, so I took a jelly glass out of the cupboard and wrapped it for your brothers to share.”

A few days ago as neighbors gathered around a piano singing carols at a Christmas party, I remembered a Christmas when I was a child, standing the doorway of our house in Kelso on a crisp, dark December evening listening to carolers. The gift of music coming from the sidewalk was not expensive or hi-tech, but it created a lasting memory.

When I was a child, Mom often made gifts, and we made Christmas cards together from used greeting cards, construction paper trimmed with pinking shears, and little scraps of ribbon. We didn’t buy new tree ornaments every year to create a different theme, and re-visiting the familiar ornaments each December was like seeing old friends.

As 2007 ends, I finish my rich Puccini Bomboni chocolates and sugar-glazed apple pie. I toss the crushed wrapping paper from gifts into the trash can and pack away this year’s fish-themed Christmas decorations. I wonder — is a diet just about food, or can I use the same principles to celebrate next Christmas with more simplicity, not obscuring the joy of the season with an overabundance of material things — or rich, dark chocolate? 

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Filed under chocolate, Family Memories, Holidays, South County News