Vintage art spurs rumination over safety rules in creek - Etcetera - 10/8/13


Almost extinct are the days when a kid could freewheel it around on a skateboard, skis, bicycle, roller blades, four-wheeler, wagon, pedal car, scooter or some other life-endangering conveyance without a slew of accoutrements to protect head, limbs and digits from injury.

Personally, I don’t know how those of us of a certain age survived childhood before helmets, shoulder, elbow and knee pads and other body armor became the rule du jour.

But let me be clear. I wholeheartedly endorse such safety precautions, because of the risk of irreversible brain injuries and battered bodies.

I strayed onto this tangent after my favorite retired librarian forwarded images he tripped across from an October 1956 issue of Ford Times magazine. Every new Ford owner evidently received a copy of said magazine back in the day.

Wikipedia reports the monthly publication from Ford Motor Company was Readers Digest-esque in nature. It was issued from April 15, 1908, until 1996.

The striking watercolor artwork you see at right is courtesy of Alfred Dunn.

“What gets my attention here are the pictures of the U-B (paper carrier) with bag on bike, but more than that, the two kids happily riding their bikes down the Mill Creek channel,” Joe Drazan exclaimed in his email.

“Was that an OK thing to do then?”

I don’t know about the 1950s, but my safety alarm claxon blasted, spurring me to check with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Walla Walla County’s Randy Glaeser, and clear up a few details about who’s in charge of which part of the creek channel and if one can just venture willy-nilly onto the paved section that runs through town.

The Corps manages the channel as far as five weirs downstream/westward from the division works office, adjacent to Walla Walla Community College.

The city and the county comanage its course through town.

Randy said a city ordinance prohibits access to the channel but permits can be obtained to enter into the creek’s paved section — say, for needed work on it.

Water flow is coordinated with the Corps, for what I hope are obvious reasons, since no one needs to be washed downstream when they’re in there with official permission.

But kids riding their bikes in the channel as the painting shows? No. Perhaps it was artistic license on the part of the painter.

There’s no sure way to know if it was acceptable to tool along the channel on a bike in the 1950s unless we hear from some of our readers who were kids then and who took it upon themselves to ride pell mell along the concrete at low-water-flowing times of the year.

Native Walla Wallan Nard Jones, a Whitman grad, former U-B correspondent and professional writer and essayist, wrote the copy that touts the fine points of our town for Ford Times magazine.

I imagine Joe relishes rooting around and unearthing such interesting finds.

He discovered the magazine in the depths of the Whitman College archives, where he worked for a lot of years.

Joe maintains a wonderful website on which he’s posted numerous images of news clippings, photos and advertisements.

He recently added a slideshow feature to his blog. Click on the slideshow image at to get the full-screen run of the show, he said.

“Four are there now. I’ll probably add some more, or rotate some in and out. I’ve got so many old photos — need more venues!”

The homeless and hungry are receiving warm midday meals as the result of the unassuming, behind-the-scenes efforts of Walla Wallan Robertta Hunt.

She is the instigator for the free lunches local churches provided to this segment of the Walla Walla population, according to Winnie Graham.

For example, on a recent Monday, 90 people received a soup and bread lunch at Pioneer United Methodist Church.

“One woman can make a big difference for the homeless in Walla Walla,” Winnie said.

Robertta was influenced by the memoir “Breakfast at Sally’s,” written by Richard LeMieux.

The onetime successful businessman suddenly became homeless. In the book, LeMieux told about his daily struggles to find food.

“This stirred Robertta, a longtime volunteer at the local Pantry Shelf and member of Pioneer United Methodist Church, to action,” Winnie said.

Urged on by friend and fellow church member Rose Ringhoffer, Robertta bounced her idea off her pastor, the Rev. Tom Telfer.

The church has a space with a large kitchen and seating area and she suggested offering a soup and bread luncheon for the homeless and hungry there once per week.

“Robertta knew that the Christian Aid Center served breakfast and dinner each day, but there was no provision for free lunch available anywhere in the community.”

They held a meeting to which 26 people showed up, indicating interest in such a community service project was healthy.

Robertta explained her idea, but indicated she needed help as she is in her 80s.

At her urging, six teams of four people formed to take turns preparing the soup.

Bill and Peggy McClung stepped up to lead the group and provided 10 basic soup recipes. They also ensured that each team had someone with a food worker card to meet Walla Walla County Health Department requirements.

The Soup and Bread Luncheon was launched in December 2012.

They needed proceeds to cover expenses, so Rose hosted lunch and dinner events at her home for up to six people to support the soup kitchen. Guests are asked to donate what they can.

“However, most of the teams cover the costs of the soup themselves,” Winnie said.

Lisa Sweeny, a local chef, also wished to give something back to the community. She volunteers her services on one of the teams.

And when a team dropped out, Grace United Methodist Church members stepped in, and serve the meal once every six weeks.

Not long after Pioneer started its Monday soup kitchen, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church member Pat Jones got her church involved. They serve lunch there weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Encouraged by the Rev. Cecilia McKean, First Congregational Church soon joined in and serves lunch on Wednesdays.

New Beginnings Church on Main Street and Blue Mountain Community Church combined their efforts and serve lunch on Fridays and the City Seventh-day Adventist Church covers lunch on Saturdays.

“To the approximately 580 homeless in our community representing 323 households and 50-plus teens, this is a gift. One person’s idea and action have made a big difference to the homeless and hungry in our community,” Winnie said.

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


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