Eureka find under historic home's porch delights ex-U-B carrier


For his first real job, Walla Walla native Jim Crislip delivered Union-Bulletin newspapers to 100 subscribers along a route from Second Avenue to Ninth Avenue and Willow to Rose Streets while he was a 12- and 13-year-old.

Fast-forward to the present as Jim and wife Michele Crislip unearthed old U-B newspapers while working on The Butler House, their 1882 Victorian-era home on Cherry Street.

When they removed their old front porch on Memorial Day, it revealed three newspapers, two still square-folded for delivery.

Among the discoveries is the comics section of a 1928 Walla Walla Union, a Union-Bulletin dated March 29, 1942, and another U-B from February 1949.

“Unfolding the paper from 1942, with all its wartime news, was particularly poignant on Memorial Day,” Jim said.

The Crislips plan to feature the newspapers in a large shadowbox of items they’ve found, including a 1914 Barber dime, a collection of 1950s Christmas cards and American Lung Association seals, lots of cut builder’s nails, a couple of old marbles and samples of the earliest wallpapers.

While they’re doing much of the work on their home, Ricky Reyes of Inspired Enterprises is serving as general contractor and handling the larger structural jobs, Jim said.

They also turn to local trades as needed. The new porch employs heavier beams, but retains the same details and look of the original.

Norman Francis Butler (1829-1913) and wife Rebecca Westfall Butler (1839-1886) built the home, and descendants of theirs remain in the area, Jim said. Norman had several businesses and was an early figure in the development of Whitman College.

While their home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Jim said there are no official guidelines for the renovation, “but it is important to us to retain as much of the original character of the home as possible.”

Jim worked through high school and college seasonally at Harold Electric, earned the Eagle Scout rank here “and had a variety of wonderful leaders and teachers along the way.”

Michele moved to town when her father was a technician for the FAA at the airport. She and Jim are Walla Walla High School alumni and did their undergraduate work at Eastern Washington University.

Jim earned a master’s and doctorate through University of California-Berkeley.

They retired from teaching, most recently in Kelso, Wash., where Michele taught elementary grades and Jim directed the school district’s gifted program. He also spent a dozen years in Presbyterian ministry, he said.

Not yet ready for the porch swing, Jim will serve as newly elected board of directors president of the Walla Walla Choral Society, in which they both sing. The musical pair performed with the Walla Walla Symphony 40-plus years ago, were active in Wa-Hi music programs and have continued to perform in various groups, Jim said.

He tutors through Blue Mountain Action Council and cooks on Tuesdays for Loaves and Fishes. “I hope that by volunteering, I can pay forward even a fraction of all that this community gave to me,” he said.

About those newspapers under his porch? “Having been a U-B carrier 45 years ago, if the carriers only missed the porch three times in the 20th century, that’s a pretty wonderful record!” he said.

Sharpstein Elementary kindergartners from Danae Darby’s class experienced Pioneer Park’s bounty this spring.

Twenty-five students walked to the park three times in May and June, she said. While on these outings, they learned about birds at the aviary, met new friends from neighboring Pioneer House across Whitman Street and explored the park to see the “Elliot’s Park” book series by Walla Walla author Patrick Carman come to life.

The birds of the aviary enchanted the students, Danae said. “They each had their favorite birds, but the peacocks often stole the show.”

They petted a silkie chicken — as soft as its name implies — found eggs, held still and observed their surroundings. “Science and writing had new meaning,” Danae said.

They began friendships with Joanna Lanning, the park’s primary aviary caretaker, and with Pioneer House residents, with whom they shared the adventure and held hands.

Patrick’s books have characters and settings based on Pioneer Park. “Squirrel characters greeted us each time we toured the park. The students wanted to explore all the places from the books and be part of the stories themselves. Literature came alive for these children.”

“Using the story map, we explored places such as Elliot’s Tree, Rolly Hill, and Chip’s Playground. We even saw Wilma, one of the cranky white geese at South Pond where we had lunch.”

“We are truly fortunate to have such local treasures in our community,” Danae said. “These kindergartners have new friends and experiences because of the aviary, the park and people such as Joanna, Mr. Carman and the residents from Pioneer House. I hope we recognize the value of these gems.”

Danae grew up in Texas and graduated from UCLA, She moved to Walla Walla in 2006 from the Seattle area and has taught kindergarten through fifth-graders during her 20-year career.

She assembled a small book filled with impressions of the park and large photos of her students during these outings in an effort to help the aviary stay a viable feature there.

Four- and 5-year-olds tested their tying skills while making fleece blankets for Project Linus.

The youngsters in Lisa Fann’s afternoon class in the Walla Walla Community College Parent Co-op Preschool program took great delight in accomplishing the project, clearly understanding the significance of their contributions for others in need.

The fruits of their labor will benefit Project Linus, said Susan Butherus, who with Glo James visited the WWCC preschoolers to receive the blankets.

“Lisa asked us to come out and explain Project Linus to the kids and to tell them where the blankets they made are going,” said Susan.

“They were so proud of themselves and being able to make a difference was not lost on them. They even made us a banner with their handprints on it.”

“Those kids were just a kick to be around. We really felt privileged to have them make these blankets specifically for Linus and to share their stories of their own blankets and how important they are to them,” Susan said.

Volunteers with nonprofit Project Linus make comforting, kid-friendly quilts and blankets for local traumatized youths at the request of organizations such as Helpline, the YWCA of Walla Walla Women’s Shelter, American Red Cross Blue Mountain Chapter, Department of Children and Families, Children’s Home Society and local schools, among others.

Susan and Glo’s Project Linus Walla Walla Chapter meets once per month at Walla Walla Sew & Vac & Spas, 102 E. Main St.

For more details, contact Susan at 509-525-9454 or

Fifty motorcycles and four vehicles carrying 90 people participated in the third annual Troy Kinnaman Memorial Ride on June 8.

They left from the Cenex Convenience Store, 706 W. Rose St., led by Steve and Glenda Thompson and Dale Kelly, who carried Troy’s widow, Nikita Kinnaman, on board his motorcycle.

Nikita’s parents, Terence “Bulldog” and Cathy O’Brien, were chauffeured in a car by Darla Kelly since they were unable to ride due to medical issues, Cathy said in a release.

Cyclists from seven motorcycle riding clubs and the Brian Fisher Memorial Foundation from Seattle rode to Dodge Junction between Pomeroy and Starbuck, the site of Troy’s fatal accident on June 17, 2010.

They held a moment of silence, said a prayer and had a wreath-bearing ceremony.

Riders traveled to Clarkston, following the route that brought Troy’s ashes home from the Clarkston funeral home in 2010.

After lunch there at Sharp’s Burger Ranch, some riders left for Rattlesnake Mountain in Benton County and others returned to Walla Walla.

The driver of the truck and trailer who pulled in front of Troy as he was headed south on the hill from Pullman en route to Walla Walla never saw Troy coming, Cathy said.

Troy, 23, graduated in 2005 from Walla Walla High School and in 2009 from Washington State University, six months before he was killed.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or 526-8313.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment

Click here to sign in