Happy Valley on the Web
Photo/Logo Copyright © 1996 Erik Gustafsson

Happy Valley on the Web

Letters


Here is a collection of letters that we have
received at Happy Valley on the Web (used by permission)


July 2004

I remember my reaction when my fiance in Oakland, California told me he was gay; the same day I received a phone call from my mother insisting I fly home immediately to Happy Valley because my brother Gary and his friends had gotten in trouble with the law for throwing something (thought she said rotten eggs) at passing cars. My father, an Air National Guard pilot who eventually reached the rank of Colonel, was out of town and Mom said she needed my support. I hopped on a United and hurried home to Happy Valley.

When I began first grade at Happy Valley Grade School, home of the "Cougars," in 1952, the building had three rooms, a wooden play shed for rainy days, swings, merry-go-rounds, teetor-totter (big kids would jump off the other end and dump me). I remember the spring scent and vivid beauty of the lilac bushes and daffodils near the playground. I sometimes walked the one mile to school from 9460 SE Ridgecrest Court. My nearest friends were the Waddell and the Shank kids. Shanks had a circular horse "racetrack" and several horses. I participated in 4-H Club, enjoyed sewing lessons on old treddle sewing machines and girlish chatter and popcorn and Kool Aid, at the Waddells on Wedneday afternoons after school. The Columbus Day Storm stripped the Douglas fir trees behind Waddells.

I remember taking photos of the local destruction of the Columbus Day Storm: houses under construction which ended up as just matchsticks; houses whose roofs had been lifted off and furnishings soaked by the rain; trees limbless; and the numb shock of local Happy Valley Residents. I returned home overcome by compassion and wept!  I first became aware of the approach of the Storm after Clackamas High School one afternoon: as I downed a piece of chocolate cake with milk, I was shocked to see our huge doghouse "fly" through the air diagonally across our orchard. I had the presence of mind to gather  sleeping bags, first aid kit, water, bread, peanut butter, plates, utensils, a transistor radio and flashlights---along with my mother and brother Gary---to Dad's work bench room in a corner of the basement which had no windows. Dad was several hours late arriving home from work at the Portland Air Base. He said he'd had to take a few  detours (including driving across the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery) to avoid downed trees and powerlines.

I also remember the spring of The Flood, when fast melting snow raised the Columbia River above flood stage. My father had my mother, brother Gary, and me help him gather classified Air National Guard/Air Force personnel records from his work building along the River and bring them home (we lived on the side of Mt Scott overlooking Happy Valley) for safe keeping. I recall looking at personnel photos, picking out the "cute guys".

Our family was blessed with fantastic sunsets and sunrises over the Cascade Mountain Range from the large picture window of our home on the side of Mt Scott. When my daughter and I visited this home of my childhood one day during the summer of 2003, the then owner, an elderly widower, took us on a tour of the house. He'd made some improvements upstairs and downstairs. He'd even spruced up the old "bomb shelter". I'd always thought of that house as being good-sized. But, in 2003, the house seemed dwarfed by the newer hotel-size houses. I remember the sadness I felt during my high school years when Mr. Zenger sold the forest to the north of our property, where my brother Gary and I, Carmen, had spent so many hours of our childhood happily building stick forts and collecting wildflowers and climbing Douglas fir trees. The forest was razed and only ugly stumps remained. At sunset, family members would take turns looking through the binoculars at a fox with its kits playing around the tree stumps. Years later large houses were constructed there. Change is inevitable.

Happy Valley Grade School evolved from a three-room schoolhouse to a five-room schoolhouse during the years of my attendance there, with eight grades. Ms. Armspiker (who cracked students' knuckles when they made mistakes at the keyboard) was my first piano teacher at the school. I went through three piano teachers in three years. Seems like they died off, moved, got married. I had my first and only piano recital at the Rambergs house atop Mt Scott. The cotton eyelet dress I was wearing caught on a protrusion of a lawnchair in the Rambergs livingroom. The dress bottom shredded as I stumbled to the piano to play Lonesome Town by Ricky Nelson, my face beet-red with embarrassment.

I recall some of the mild-mannered parties I gave in the 60s in the basement of the house on Mt Scott: guy and gal friends arrived in their finest clothing. We danced to records, ate pizza or spaghetti I'd made ahead of time, and played games and laughed alot. I also remember hosting a pajama party there when my friends and I were eight years old. The home canned grape juice had gotten "bubbly". We tanked up on this awesome juice till we got off balance and giggly. My mother said she'd never seen us have that much "fun" before! I could never stay awake past midnight like my friends at these slumber parties. I hazily remember Phyllis Gertz, Bobbie Powers, and the twins Linda and Loren Smith talking and giggling till early morning.

My impatient father gave up trying to teach me how to drive at age 19. The more he raised his voice, the worse I got behind the steering wheel. My quiet mother decided to ride beside me so I could get the practice to take the driving test to get my license. I practiced driving up and down narow Ridgecrest Road and Deardorff Road. Dennis Deardorff was my first young "boyfriend". I picked strawberries then raspberries for his folks. Dennis carved our initials on their weeping willow tree. His parents wanted Dennis to become a minister. I think he, instead, went into animal husbandry or farming.

I remember being somewhat nervous being around a few "greasers" who rode the grade school bus. They wore leather jackets and greased their longish hair into ducktails and stared menacingly at the younger kids.

It was a cultural shock to be "bussed" to huge Dale Ickes Junior High during my eighth grade, after being familiar with nearly every kid who attended little Happy Valley Grade School. I had asthma much of the time and really struggled to attend classes regularly during junior and senior high. I was proud to graduate from Clackamas Union High in the top ten percent of my class in spring of 1964.

I recall Mr. Zenger (sic Zinser) shooting over my brother Gary and me as we were walking away from the pond on his property. We ran all the way up the hill and gasped to our parents that we'd been "shot at". My father called Mr. Zenger who falsely accused Gary and me of breaking the windows in his old dusty chicken coop near the pond. We said we'd just been catching frogs (a favorite summer passtime). My father beat our butts for being on Mr. Zenger's "private property". Heck! We'd played there for many years and had never heard any complaints! We'd shoe-skate across the frozen pond during the winter and catch frogs and lay back to watch cloud formations during the spring/summer.

Our family property on Mt. Scott had a Concord grape vineyard and apple, pear, pie cherry, and peach trees. Mom and I spent hours sweating in the kitchen, canning fruit and juice. Mom had two major surgeries when I was around 16  (1962) so I took over much of the cooking and cleaning chores. I purchased a 700-page American Cooks Book which I still use. I married Bob in 1969 and gave birth to four children in the first five years of my marriage and put my gardening, canning, and sewing skills to good use.

My claim to fame is that I raised four children (alone part of the time); graduated from a two-year LCC secretarial course condense to six months at age 38; worked at a vocational rehabilitation facility as a word processor for two years; and became the head secretary of the University of Oregon's Transcript Department for nearly eight years. In the spring of 1995, I was invited to Great Britain by Professor R Leo Sprinkle (Laramie, Wyoming) to be on a panel which would explore and discuss with the public  various metaphysical sites in Great Britain (crop circles, UFO landing sites, Stonehenge, ley lines connectiing  ancient energy sites, etc)---which invitation I reluctantly declined due to lack of funds. I'd been involved in UFO research with other earnest researchers from various parts of the world.

I initiated an email support group in 2002 and respond to around 20 emails friends several times a week. I've counseled friends who are dying (or whose spouses or parents are dying); prevented suicides; exchanged recipes and research notes on various topics; offered humor and goodwill and hope. I've also been on the receiving end. I count my friends and relatives as choicest blessings!

I discovered my soulmate (after a few wrong turns in life) in 1997. He was a brilliant man with psychic abilities, seventeen years my senior. Shortly after we married, he suffered a massive stroke and died in December 1998. Devastated, I mourned for three years.

I became 58 years of age in April 2004. After being widowed, living alone with my chihuahua Babe for five years, I met and married a good-humored, industrious Canadian in January 2004. I'm regarded by Immigration as a "visitor" in Kelowna, BC (population 100,000+), till my Canadian Residency is established (which could take from 3 months to several years). I assist my husband's business by taking phone messages. I cook and clean house. I belong to two support groups. We live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley amidst fruit trees and gardens which flourish in the rich soil. I am blessed.

I have precious memories of my 13 years in Happy Valley.

My email site is blindmedic@shaw.ca .

Carmen Pahlka Haning-Chase

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Last upate August 8, 2004
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