Vernonia Friendship Jamboree – the First Three Years
When Vernonia’s lumber mill closed in 1957, city leaders decided to change the identity of Vernonia from a mill town to a “Friendship Town.” The three day Fourth of July celebration was newly named the Vernonia Friendship Jamboree. In May, committee members distributed 10,300 wooden nickels to advertise the event that included speeches, a horse show by the Ridge Riders, fireworks provided by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and concessions.
In 1958 the Vernonia Friendship Jamboree name was formerly adopted for the July 4th and 5th celebration. During the planning stages that winter, differences of opinion among committee members led to an editorial by Vernonia Eagle publisher, Walter Kamholz, to ask everyone to pull together to make the event a success. The wooden nickel tradition continued; the 1958 nickel bore an image of the Shay locomotive and citizens were asked to distribute the coins wherever they went. New events were added and the resulting celebration was a success. In addition to the fireworks, parade and Ridge Riders horse show, the Second Annual Jamboree had a golf tournament, an art show, a rock and gem display, a country store that sold local products and crafts, window displays in downtown businesses, and a Jamboree court of six princesses from whom a queen was selected. Read More
I couldn’t agree more with the intent of Doug Tesdal’s recent editorial on the need to support the arts in our schools. All of us in the community who support the arts share his frustration with the cuts we’ve had to make over the past ten years. I’ve been on the Vernonia School District Budget Committee during this same period of time. It has been extremely painful to have to cut classes in elective subjects such as drama, arts and music in order to retain sufficient funds to offer our required core curriculum, some sports and a few electives. The loss of our shop facility has also been felt deeply. In order to save foreign language and shop classes this year, we had to cut the number of school days. Neither choice presented was attractive or easy to make. We have over one million dollars less per year to work with as a result of the decline in student enrollment that began after the 2007 flood.
I was also involved with the project to rebuild our schools and participated directly in a fund raising effort to retain the building planned for our shop, arts and science classes. Working with our professional grant writers, Vernonia Hands-on Art dedicated over a hundred hours of volunteer time to seek specific grant funding for that building. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to secure sufficient capital to erect that center. We know that the facilities now used for our art and shop classes are inadequate. Work continues to find solutions to the funding gap. Read More
The museum’s summer hours began the first Friday of June and will continue through Quilt Fair weekend in mid-September In addition to Saturdays and Sundays, the museum will be open Fridays from 1 – 4 pm. Museum volunteers welcome the additional visitors during the beautiful summer months that bring bicyclists, motorcyclists, campers, and vacationers to Vernonia.
We are pleased to have an intern this summer. Rachel Brown is studying history in college and agreed to spend some of her vacation time helping us update and digitize our artifact tags. The informational labels for our older artifacts were typewritten back in the 1960s and have faded with age. The new tags are being prepared by computer and printed in a larger font for improved readability. Rachel’s help is greatly appreciated.
Ms. Rogers sixth grade class for the Vernonia Middle School visited the museum in early June as part of their local history curriculum. The students enjoyed seeing the artifacts and pictures of early Vernonia and learned a little more about life in Vernonia several generations ago.
Independence Days of Yore
Although the summer months were busy ones for the early day Vernonians, there was also time for some fun and relaxation. Just as we do today, the Fourth of July was celebrated with community events. A July 1925 article in the Vernonia Eagle described the 1882 Fourth of July gathering in Mist: “At that time there were merely trails through the woods and people lived several miles apart. The chief means of transportation was horseback due to the lack of roads. About fifty people participated in the festivities, the children amusing themselves at games and swings. A community outdoor picnic was one of the features of the occasion. Nelson Cole of Mist made a speech on the caption of Independence Day.” Read More
With the slightly warmer and occasionally sunnier weather, we have welcomed the return of visitors who are bicycling in the area. It’s always fun to show the museum to those who are exploring the area for the first time. That is not to say that local visitors aren’t equally welcome. We have many visitors who tell us they have lived here for years and have never been inside. One day, a young man about twelve years old came into the museum. “I’ve lived here all my life and never been in to see this,” he said. It happened that he was a descendant of Clark and Melissa Parker who were the first to settle here in 1874, so it was especially rewarding to show him all the Parker family pictures we have on display.
We were saddened to learn of Norbert Pelster’s passing at 100 years of age. Norbert used to visit the museum regularly and enjoyed telling tales of his days working at Oregon-American Lumber. During the Great Depression the mill suspended operations from 1933 to 1936.
Norbert was one of the few people kept on the payroll as a security guard. He regaled us with many stories of his duties as a night watchman during those years. How we wish we had recorded those stories! We miss him and extend our condolences to the entire Pelster family.
The Museum board welcomes a new and enthusiastic new volunteer, Angela Bettencourt. She recently received her training and will be holding the museum open at least one Sunday per month. As always, we appreciate our volunteers and invite you to become one, too! Read More
The Board of the Vernonia Pioneer Museum Association (VPMA) elected officers for 2013 at its January meeting: President, Jay Anderson; Vice President, Ralph Keasey; Secretary, Barbara Larsen; Treasurer, Tobie Finzel. The board bid a fond farewell to Carol Davis who has ably led VPMA for the last seven years but resigned to pursue other interests. Jay Anderson has volunteered in a number of ways during this past year, and he was warmly welcomed to the board.
There is a new structure on the museum grounds. After the collapse of the former outdoor display shed during a heavy snow in 2010, the museum board applied to the Columbia County Cultural Coalition for a grant to help replace that structure. This spring the area under the roof will be graveled and several of items will be moved there with explanatory placards added to describe how they were used. Read More