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Next CBH historical picture book due out before Christmas

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Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2012 9:00 am

Tera Redwine needs your help. She is working to gather photos for another historical picture book. Remember the Herald published one in... Well has it been 14 years ago already? Contact Tera Redwine at the Herald at 765-4561 to have your photos included.

Conservation District also seeking photos

In addition to the CBH book, the Moses Lake Conservation is seeking photos for an in-house project. Read on.

The Moses Lake Conservation District is looking for any pictures of conservation activities between 1945 and present day to be used in a presentation book. Especially pictures of the conservation nursery. Contact the person in charge at 509-750-9624.

Lord Blyth first Ephrata Postmaster

The Grant County Historical Society has compiled several volumes of Grant County history. The books are available for purchase at the Historical Society Museum gift shop in Ephrata.

I bought the series in 2009 and secured permission to relay some of the history through this column.

Memories of Grant County, compiled from taped interviews by the Grant County Historical Society.

Today we backtrack a bit and then continue the story of Ephrata by Thelma Billngsley Nicks:

When there was a fire the first person to reach the fire hall would ring the fire bell, which was built into a small belfry. A rope was used to ring it. The men would go running when they heard the fire bell. The first ones there would grab the handles of the carts and run with them to the fire.

While they were hoping to be able to put it out, I am afraid they never had much success. My father was on the volunteer fire department here too.

In 1914 my father was appointed postmaster in Ephrata. He was the third postmaster. The first was Lord Blyth, the second I.N. McGrath had his post office in his general store on the corner of Division and A N.W. At that time the post master had to furnish his own building. My father had a metal covered building built where Ephrata House is now, between the bank and Hills Brothers store then.

In those days hand pulled carts were used for carrying the mail. My father would use one to go to meet the trains. At night he would use a railroad lantern to flag the trainman to where he wanted the mail to be dropped off. We still have the lanterns he used. In 1914 he had his sister Cate come back out from Texas to work for him in the post office.

During the First World War the post masters had to be in charge of war bond drives. I remember the posters of Uncle Sam with his finger pointing at you. They also had a war bond flag. We used to buy saving stamps in small denominations and paste them in folders. When we had saved enough stamps for a bond we would turn them in for a bond.

In 1915 the government sent the real liberty bell around the U. S. on a flat car. There were soldiers guarding it. That was really a thrill to see. The purpose was to promote the sale of War Bonds.

All aliens had to report to the post masters then too. There was a little fellow named Joe Weader who lived in Sage Brush flat who was so grateful for the consideration my father showed him, he had captured an Alaskan Snow owl and had it mounted. It was a large bird with wings outstretched. It used to sit on the mantel over the fireplace until the moths got into it and it started shedding. We finally had to get rid of it.

Once when I was about seven my mother sent me downtown to order a wash board. I was to have my dad get it. When I got downtown several men were standing out front of Cook and Kelley's store, located where the Western Auto is now. They were all looking up on the hill back of town.

There had been a jail break and all the prisoners were climbing the big hill as fast as they could go. Close behind was the sheriff and his deputies. The chase was soon over and the prisoners back in jail, and the hole they had dug to get out was repaired.

The school was a large two story white building. It was built close to the creek where June's Court is now. There were four large school rooms; two up and two down. There were two grades to a room and most of the time only one teacher was assigned to each room.

There was a large hall with a wide stairway going up from the center. It split half way up and then a stairway turned to go to each side. They built a balcony on one side upstairs for use in case of fire. They had a long metal slide at one end of it. We used to love to have fire drills, so we could slide down this fire escape slide. Two buildings as large as garages were the out houses. Girls on one side and boys near the creek.

The first school in Ephrata was a small building across from the fire hall. The next school was a long building across the street where the funeral parlor is now. My first memory of going to Sunday School was in this building as well as the first Christmas program. This building was used as a church by the Methodists until they moved into the building that had been the courthouse and is the site of the Methodist Church.

At first they held services in the court room upstairs. Rooms down stairs were for classes as well as the minister's study. In 1918, during the bad flu epidemic, this building was used as a hospital.

I went through school here as well as our sons and grandchildren. Ours was the first family to do that. Gordon also graduated from High School here to make it the first family to have three generations graduate from Ephrata.

The school yard must have covered several acres. We had a large lawn in front with a wide graveled walk going up to the wide concrete stairs. They used a triangle gong to call classes together and for fire drills. One time an older German janitor couple named Lorentz decided to play an April Fool's trick. They built a terrible smudge in the furnace under the steps. They never told the teachers.

When they rang the fire gong you can imagine how everyone rushed out of the building. The proverbial two fingers raised were for permission to get a drink and three to go to the restrooms. I never will forget the time I was on the end or a crack-the-whip wearing a brand new dress and getting thrown in a mud puddle. Or the time the ceiling dropped off and hit one of the boys on the head.

When my folks lived at Quincy my father bought a lovely big bath tub from a barber shop and had it put in the house in Quincy. I am sure it only had cold water piped to it. Then when we moved to Ephrata, he thought so much of this bath tub he moved it into the house. We dubbed it the traveling bathtub.

Then if that was not enough when the home we are living in now was built in 1917 the bath tub was moved again. It sat resplendent in a brand new bathroom. My father's ambition then was to have both hot and cold running water instead of having to heat it on the old cook stoves.

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