‘Amazing." In one word, that's Kayla Crain's experience with her People to People Ambassador Student Ambassador trip to Japan in July.
"With the help of the community, family, church and friends, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime," she said via e-mail. "(It) has enhanced my respect and appreciation for my country and the world around me.
At the end of her first international flight, an 11-hour airplane ride, she was greeted by smiling hosts and sweltering humidity accompanied by 80- to 100-degree temperatures.
During the student group's 12-day trip, they traveled by bus, subway and train to take in the iconic Mount Fuji, a variety of castles, temples and shrines, an Anime museum and classes. They also stopped by "playgrounds, to let out some energy, and many beautiful places such as Hiroshima, Kyoto, Tokyo and small farm towns in between.
She enjoyed learning about Japanese calligraphy, Tanabata - Japan's star festival that occurs annually on the 7th day of the 7th month when stars Altair and Vega meet in the heavens - arts and dances at festivals and the sculptured architecture of urban buildings that are tightly pushed together. She noted that bathrooms were memorable. Online images of these low-profile porcelain arrangements in public restrooms require users to squat or hover over them.
"The glorious scenery, due to the high humidity, was always green and colorful," Kayla said. She saw rice fields, many kinds of animals quite different from ones she's used to here and "dogs that were fat and poofy."
She said mini-marts are connected to department stores that are connected to restaurants. And she found drink machines in abundance that dispensed sports drinks, soda, milk and coffee.
However, "money was hard for me to get used to because of the different coins and textures of bills. With so much to take in and so little time, the points of interest that stood out to me the most were the food, the driving on the right side of the car and the town of Hiroshima."
Reluctant to eat the food at first, she "got used to trying multiple items and filling myself up with white rice if I didn't care for what I was served. Never disrespecting their culture, we gave everything a try because we knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime."
In Hiroshima, they met and listened to a survivor from the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing, when the U.S. dropped "Little Boy," a uranium weapon.
Out of respect for the survivors, Kayla's group fashioned origami paper cranes and placed them at the memorial to represent their blessings and prayers. They also created cardboard lanterns and wrote wishes on them to float down Hiroshima's Motoyasu River. "These wishes, then are supposed to come true because of the blessings and prayers of the people of Hiroshima," Kayla said.
"The educational experience, along with the friendships with my companions, of People to People and with the people of Japan, will always remain in my heart forever. My gratitude from all my hard work and love and support from my community is so great that it cannot be explained in words," she said.
"Belonging to a community that shows compassion and respect to one student to further and build her education and her future to make the world a better place is the reason I made this trip. I will take the knowledge and love that I now have for all people and use it to spread unity and peace wherever I may travel."
She is the daughter of Keith and Tara Crain of Walla Walla.
Walla Walla native Edgar Eaton was highlighted in a History Channel airing of "Sniper: Deadliest Missions" on Sept. 14.
He is a member of the Walla Walla Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 992 who now lives in Oregon.
The program outlined a mission Edgar was involved in while a platoon sergeant/sniper with the 9th Infantry Division River Raiders in Vietnam, when stationed in the Mekong Delta in early 1969.
A written version of his story is a chapter in Michael Takiff's book "Brave Men, Gentle Heroes," titled "He Came to Die With Me."
Edgar told Samantha Swindler with the Tillamook Headlight Herald that most of the soldiers he was serving with on a night mission were shot down around midnight "and most everybody was wounded pretty severely."
His friend Mike Perkins "was probably the worst of the bunch ... He was trying to cut his arm off."
Mike Perkins was pinned under part of the helicopter but about a dozen of the other wounded men got it off of him.
Edgar, who felt he was the least injured, climbed atop the helicopter to defend their position. He began picking off enemy fighters approaching in two groups, he told the Herald, and kept them away until help arrived.
He then spent a couple of weeks in hospital before he could walk and out of a sense of duty returned to the field after 30 days. "It was one of the stupidest things I did because I didn't have to."
Edgar owned Spout Springs Ski Area in the mid-1980s to early 1990s. He also owned a radio station in Walla Walla. He attended Walla Walla and Milton-Freewater schools, and graduated from high school in 1966.
He moved to Tillamook, Ore., in 2003 and was Coast 105.5 FM's original manager. Now retired, he and wife Donita reside in Bay City.
The History Channel just tracked him down three months ago. He was flown to Hollywood in August and interviewed for the camera. "What was wonderful about it was being able to see my old friend," he told the newspaper.
Once again, the local United Way campaign will kick off with games, activities and an afternoon of fun during the annual Family Fun Day from 1-4 p.m. Sept. 26 at the YMCA, 340 S. Park St.
Free family-oriented activities are hosted by United Way and its partner agencies, including an open swim inside at the Y.
"It's a fun way for us to start our campaign and thank the community for its continuing support," said Liz McDevitt, United Way executive director.
Families can also enjoy the Frisbee toss, softball throw, sack and three-legged races, balloon toss, arts and crafts projects and preschooler activities.
For further details, call the United Way office at 509-529-1183.
Rancher Carl Penner and others imagined 40 years ago that to be more realistic, the new Fort Walla Walla Museum should have life-sized fiberglass mules in its exhibit.
They wanted to display a chandoney hitch and wooden Harris combine, replete with beasts of burden.
This display can still be seen in the Museum's Exhibit Hall 3, juxtaposed by muralists Carol Poppenga's painted scene of a 1920s wheat harvest.
Through the years, the museum also acquired work horses, a Holstein cow and calf and quarter horses, which help visitors envision agriculture during the horse-powered era that ended in this area in the 1930s.
The Quarter Horses are in popular demand, said Paul Franzmann, communications manager. They've been loaned in Mission, Ore., and Richland as inter-museum prop loans.
"Old Paint" was featured in the "120 years of Denim & Dust" display that Jackie Penner organized. The 20-foot wide V-shape exhibit was built largely of old barn wood. Its sign hung from a single tree and Paint was harnessed to a plow.
"History has its own circular logic at times," Paul said in a release. Jackie is married to Jay Penner, Carl Penner's grandson, and was along on a trip to Montana that returned with the 33 mules.
Fort Walla Walla Museum at 755 Myra Road in Fort Walla Walla Park. Get more information at 509-525-7703, email@example.com or fortwallawallamuseum.org.
At 56 Ernestine Jimenez is enjoying life. But after 15 years with long hair, she decided it is time for change.
"It is fun having long hair. I have had it braided, in a ponytail, curled and so many other styles that I can't remember," she e-mailed.
But when her nephew announced his engagement, Ernestine wanted a new, younger image. She took the plunge a week prior to the wedding by having her hair at the The Beehive salon.
The shorn tresses will go to Locks of Love, an organization that provides wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair while fighting cancer.
"I would suggest that people who want to cut their hair and would like to make a difference in someone's life not to forget to give their hair to Locks of Love."
A prior item about former Walla Walla High School student Sabine Funke Simon needs clarification. Sabine plans to be in town for her 50th class reunion.
Sabine was a year-long exchange student from Germany in 1959-1960. She and classmates will gather Sept. 24-26, including a Sept. 25 dinner at the Walla Walla Country Club.
Sabine was an English teacher at a German gymnasium.
The Wa-Hi reunion is being coordinated by Linda Huber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The previous Etcetera item mentioned that Sabine's husband, Udo, would be coming with her for the reunion, but he's not.
Jeannette Studer reported recently that her friend Gene Spencer, 84, met up with six other 80-something-year-old friends in Tracey, Calif., in June.
All of them were active as 12-year-olds in the Red Fox Patrol. They connected with the Boy Scout group's former leader, Don Macrae, 97, of Lincoln, Calif. Don was a B-24 pilot over Africa during World War II who wrote a book about his adventures, Jeannette said.
In addition to Gene, the Scout crew includes Dick Arthur of Capitola, Calif., Jack Bolton of Gilroy, Calif., Bill Campbell of San Jose, Calif., Al Sheppard of Saratoga, Calif., and Richard Welde of Pine Grove, Calif.
"They met, had lunch together and spent the afternoon reminiscing. The kicker is, they plan to do it again next year."
Gene is a longtime Walla Walla resident, having settled here with his family around 45 years ago, Jeannette said. He had served as a financial officer for several Walla Walla food processing plants and his wife taught at Sharpstein School.
"I hope you find this as incredible as I do," Jeannette said.
Editor Rick Doyle shared some interesting details with our staff about August.
This year the 31-day month contained five Sundays, five Mondays and five Tuesdays.
"It happens once in 823 years. I'll probably miss the next one," he deadpanned.
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at email@example.com or afternoons at 526-8313.