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Advancing technology wiped out blacksmith shop, ice shed

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Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2012 9:00 am

Oh technology...It is great, yes, but takes away items familiar with us, such as the Wilson Creek blacksmith shop and ice shed. Some of us remember rotary phones, some don't. Try to explain a rotary telephone to your grandkids. Read on.

Wilson Creek area history

The Rev. David H. Crawford compiled and published a history of families in and surrounding Wilson Creek titled, "Family Memories of Wilson Creek Area." The book was printed in 1978, which was the 75th anniversary of the town. David's son, John Crawford, has given permission for those memories to be a part of this column.

Today we continue the story of the Lane family by Ben Lane:

In the early days, there was a beanery near the depot and horse-drawn drays would meet each train. Mr. Pope was the drayman and later built a fairly nice dance hall, which burned down around 1933.

Advancing technology wiped out the old blacksmith shop, the car repair shop, the old coal shute, and ice shed. While no one would seriously like to go back to the good old days, there are a few tears of nostalgia shed for those times of memory. Everything seemed so good, so right The trains ran on time; a dollar was a dollar and so hard to come by, the solid Republican presidents promised "normalcy," "keeping cool" and "a chicken in every pot."

"Flying Fool Wins" was the head-line in the Spokane Press, on its pink front page, in May, 1927, when Charles Lindbergh made his famous flight. Every boy in Wilson Creek suddenly carved out a model plane, each labeled "The Spirit of St. Louis." At the Lane home, it was fastened atop the railroad tie that served as a front gate post, where it stayed for years.

Radio came to Wilson Creek in the early '20s, in the form of the Atwater-Kent and Crossley consoles; it was a source of endless fascination for the kids. At the inauguration of Herbert Hoover, a radio was set up in the assembly. His "I DO" was almost drowned out in static, but it marked a first for the town.

Ben Jr. later set up the first amateur station in Wilson Creek, with the call letters W7FNE, which he maintains to this day. He has carried his station on ships all over the world and worked thousands of foreign stations. Fred Norcross installed a loudspeaker in his yard and you could hear KHQ all over town, every day, whether you wanted to or not.

The old school, a thing of beauty, was built in 1913, and served the town well. The clanging of the fire bell on the morning of January 16, 1932, awakened us all. The beloved building was reduced to a gaunt brick skeleton by morning. After things cooled, the kids went thru the ruins, and found many recognizable things; the sides of their desks, old radiators, etc.

The walls soon collapsed, but, fortunately, no one was injured. Bricks were used all over town in sidewalks and home chimneys, and in the new schoolhouse, which arose that summer. It was the only construction work in the whole area.

This was right in the bottom of the great depression. Wilbur West, Frank Mordhorst, and many more put in long hours on the construction. The kids of the town had a field day. Details of the building came in handy later in school.

One day an unfortunate cat came into the assembly. Somehow he found his way up the ventilator shaft and came down in the English room like the proverbial bat out of Hell. Miss McMartin was teaching Chaucer, and I think the kids welcomed the interruption.

After the fire, the school was located around town in several places; in the old gym, the church, and in the old Wilson Creek World building, a ramshackle barn on the main street. The kids would often slip over to Andy's pool hall across the street during the study period, to learn the laws of probability no doubt, on the slot machines.

The town has had some very talented and experienced teachers: Mr. Perigo, Mr. Smith, T. E. Terrell, who was killed west of Stratford in an auto accident, Lester Abbey, Frank N. Best, a scientist before his time. But none ever secured the affections of the town so much as Floyd Burnham, who came fresh out of college and stayed many years.

On the distaff side were such wonderful women as Mrs. Nahr, Mrs. Anderson, both in the primary grades, and Miss Osburn, of whom I believe every intermediate boy was in love, and Mrs. Belcher, who used to read Zane Grey to the 7th and 8th graders.

There were many, many more: Miss McMartin, Miss McCoy, Jean Waite and too many others to list here.

Your photos needed: Next CBH historical picture book due out before Christmas

This is your chance, don't miss out. The first CBH picture book was a great success and has become a treasured keepsake for those who own the book. The CBH is now in the process of assembling the second edition, known as Volume Two, which will make the perfect companion for the first book.

The contact is Tera Redwine. She is working to gather the photos and the two of us will place them in the proper order.

This book is expected to be titled "The Columbia Basin; A photographic Perspective; Volume Two." If you missed the chance to get your family photos in the first one, here is your chance. Don't miss the opportunity this time.

We are looking for photos of, everything, such as Girl Scouts, school sports, church groups, construction, towns, etc., etc., etc. If you are not sure if your photo or photos are what we are looking for, let Tera have a look at them.

Contact Tera at the Herald at 765-4561 to have your photos included.

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:

We would also take the train and go to Peck, Idaho to visit my grandfather Tweedy. He ran a little two story hotel.

There was a small irrigation ditch which ran behind the building and the hotel. Water from the ditch was carried into the cream station to keep the cream cool until it was taken to the creamery. On a summer evening one could hear the many frogs croaking. The area was near the mountains and so much different than the dry country we lived in.

My grandfather Tweedy had several brothers and sisters. His sister Arnie lived in Wenatchee. She was married to Will Kennedy; both wonderful people. They had a lovely colonial type home and orchard on Washington St. She had many lovely things in her home. They had a front and back stairway, the only house I had ever seen with two; also a sitting room and front room.

They would meet us at the train with their surrey with the fringe on top and their beautiful horse. I can still hear the echoing of the clop, clopping of the hoofs on the wooden block and brick streets. They had a son who had a girl my age who lived near that I would play with and I remember visiting Olive and Eunice Ryan.

My father took me to a convention in Spokane when I was about 13. He had an Overland car and when we were up by the Town of Davenport the roads became so wash-boardy and the car started to shimmying so bad it turned itself round and we were going back the way we had come.

He took me to the banquet at the Davenport Hotel. I had never before been in a dining room like that. We sat at one of the big round tables they have there. I never will forget the sight of the petit fours the waitress' carried around on a big silver tray. I had such a hard time choosing only one. I wanted several so bad, but was to take only one.

Then the prime rib they had was the most wonderful meat I have ever had. In those days they hung choice beef in cold rooms until they aged, there would be a rime crust form on the meat and preserve it.

My father did not think I had a suitable dress to wear so he gave me some money and told me to get a new dress. Kid like, I found a pretty red lace silk dress that I thought was beautiful. I think I spent most of my money on a bright blue felt hat the sales lady talked me into.

Well, I had to wear the dress for I did not have anything else. But a very nice lady who was on the Spokane school board was so kind she made me at ease and told me I looked nice. But I learned a lesson about buying clothes.

The kids seemed to find a lot of fun things to do. In the winter they would find a hill to coast on. My first sled was a sturdy one my father had made. He forgot the steel for the runners and then built a wooden top, but when the Western Flyers came in we all had to have one of them.

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