The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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A Century of Extension in the Klamath Basin

July 2015 - March 2016 – 10:00a.m.

Video: Remembering Charlie Henderson . July 15, 2015

Location: Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Interviewer:  Chris Petersen

1:05:25 - Abstract | Biography | Download Transcript (PDF)


Chris Petersen: Alright, today is July 15th, 2015 and we are in Klamath Falls, Oregon at the Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center. And it is my pleasure to be sitting down with Jean Pinniger, who's the daughter of a very important person to the history of this region: C. A. Henderson, Charlie Henderson, an agriculturalist and Extension agent with Oregon State, an Oregon State alum, and somebody who made a significant impact on the Klamath Basin. So we'll be talking a lot about his life and about Jean's many years of living in Klamath Falls and some of her perspective on the history of this area. So beginning with your father, he was born in 1892 in Gardner, Oregon.

Jean Pinniger: That's correct.

CP: And he was raised on a family farm in Reedsport. Do you have stories from his upbringing?

JP: Well it wasn't really Reedsport. He was born in Gardner and they lived there for a while, but then they bought farm land. Well, go back in early, early history; my grandfather, his father, lived in Finland when it was under the Russian Czar, and for some reason they put my grandfather—well things were not that good in Finland at that time—they put my grandfather on a fishing boat when he was age thirteen with a marble top table, which my sister has, and sent him on his way, and for three years he was on this fishing boat, and then it eventually docked in Reedsport. And he was sixteen then, but somewhere along the line—and he still had the marble table—and somewhere along the line he met my grandmother, Lena, and they were married and had five children, and as I said, lived in Gardner, but then they bought farmland that I'm not sure was all that productive. But he was up Smith River.

So Daddy lived about thirty miles up Smith River and there were five children in that valley; two boys and three girls. And my grandmother decided my dad needed to go to college, and I sort of think it must have been because there was nothing mechanical about my father at all, and she wasn't sure he could survive. His brother became a logger. And so then they would come down the river to go to school and all the children—but sometimes there were bad storms and they couldn't go to school, so by the time Daddy got finished—well he didn't ever get his degree in high school, and then she wanted him to go to Oregon State, and they saved money in a big pickle jar, really had very little. And then Daddy had to peel [unintelligible] bark and fish for salmon, and so he would go late to school. So then he went to Oregon State. He finished, he got his degree in high school, and then he graduated in—got a BS in Agriculture, and also in banking.

CP: So going back just a second, your brother and his—or your father and his siblings would actually take the boat back and forth to school every day?

JP: They would row, yes.

CP: Wow.

JP: They would row the boat back in forth, and you can imagine the fights and the water that got splashed and all the things. It's just amazing somebody didn't drown in the process of all of this.

CP: How far was it, do you know?

JP: Thirty miles.

CP: They would row thirty—

JP: Well I'm not sure the school—I'm not sure where the school—it was thirty miles from Gardner but it was probably, I would imagine, ten or fifteen miles or something to the school.

CP: Wow, that's amazing.

JP: Well it makes you grow up to be tough. But then Daddy went to Oregon State and absolutely loved every bit of Oregon State. One of the things he was proud of; he gave a hundred dollars when they built the student union. And at that time, and for him, that was a tremendous amount of money. He belonged to a fraternity, probably the agricultural fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi, something like that, but he was very devoted. And then after he graduated from college—well one of the fun stories, though; he came down with a bunch of people to the University of Oregon, and they brought fertilizer with them and they burned an OSU in the Oregon field. Which came, you know, it stayed there for a long time, and every time it rained OSU, or OSC at that time, appeared again.

CP: Yeah, things like that seemed to happen almost annually back then.

JP: So he was full of fun and did a lot of things. And somehow he met Ed Geary at that point, and Ed Geary was at the University of Oregon and he's the one that owned the Geary Ranch, which is now the Running Y. So they became very, very best friends, and in fact Ed Geary asked my mother to marry him before Daddy did, and so then she married Daddy, said yes to him, and then years later Daddy was gone and so was Edward's wife, gone. And so Edward asked Mother to marry him again, and she said "Edward"—mother was all Irish—she said "Edward, I didn't marry you when you could walk; now you can't walk, why in the world would I marry you now?"

So anyway, but then from Oregon State he went into the Navy and he was an ensign in the Navy, and he was stationed in San Diego, and I think his job was to ferry the commander back and forth across the Bay. And from there he went to Long Beach, California, he met someone and they started a creamery. My dad wasn't what you'd call a real business man, and so the creamery did not work out too well. I think all he had was ice cream to eat. He became very thin. Well anyway, then he went back to Oregon State and he was an instructor, and I think it was in Animal Husbandry at Oregon State, and then this position opened up in Klamath Falls for the county agent.


There had been three county agents prior to him. The farmers here really didn't care to have anybody who had gone to college come and tell them how to farm, and so they'd gotten rid of all three of them, but all of the sudden here was another one coming. But Daddy, a couple of things happened. One of them—Tom Watters was major and Daddy, he had six sheep, he had a small farm outside of the city, and he cured the sheep. But the really neat story was that they had this horrible grasshopper infestation, and so Daddy imported all these turkeys and the turkeys ate up all the grasshoppers. And so Daddy became—well Daddy was, he was sort of the kind of person, I loved to hear him talk, because he would have one opinion and another person could have completely the opposite opinion, and by the time that conversation finished, that person was back thinking that they had thought up whatever it was Daddy was thinking.

He really was, he was very humble, he was very creative, he was very—he loved Klamath County and he loved building the agricultural industry. I mean, he took it from one million to forty-forty million in his thirty-eight years of being county agent. When he got here, really all there was, was hay and cattle and sheep, and so he was then—they reclaimed a lot of land. So the Geary Ranch, for one example, it was all marsh, and so they were, Daddy said he would drive out there, here would be these factories and all you could see would be the smoke stacks sticking up. But they reclaimed all of that and turned it into one of the top bluegrass seed companies in the whole world. But Daddy was for diversified farming and so he introduced the Hannchen Barley, and the Hannchen barley I think had to be planted on land that potatoes had grown on or alfalfa, probably, and then you know, it was for brewing barley. And then there could be no fertilizer on it because it had to have a certain protein.

And I don't think we grow Hannchen barley here anymore, but he introduced that, he introduced the whole potato industry, started out with one carload of potatoes and yeah, forty-four different farmers to plant them. And these farmers were people that they didn't think Daddy knew what he was talking about, or they weren't about to do—so he had to convince them, which he did, but he really and truly was beloved by everyone. He had a big smile and he was—I don't know, he's my dad and so I'm partial—but this book that I brought in shows what other people thought of him, and they would rave about him even more than I would. But he didn't care to travel, his whole life was here, he loved fishing and hunting, he was involved—started the Rat Club, and that was a hunting club, and he and a good friend, Nelson Reed, hunted all over this county. Fishing, he loved fishing even more than that. Played cribbage and had a great relationship with Oregon State, because I can remember all of these different—Frank Ballard, I think, was head of the Extension way back then, for the whole state.

And I can remember all of these people coming to our house for dinner or whatever. He brought many people from Oregon State to speak at Rotary Club, he was very involved in Rotary Club, he was on banking boards, he was chairman of the board at First Federal, and then also the Bank of Klamath, which eventually turned into Washington Mutual. His life was very, very full and very, very successful. I mean he really, of all—and then he was honored as one of the top ten agents in the entire country. And then he received this Distinguished County Agent award in Portland at the Benson Hotel, and Mark Hatfield, who was then governor, presented him with being most outstanding. I mean there were two-hundred people at that function honoring him. It was like a two or three day affair, whatever.

And they wanted him to run for the state legislature, which he told not to do because that would mean leaving Klamath County. But he just built a remarkable industry. I mean the timber and the agriculture were the two strong legs on our—and it made Klamath Falls an extremely strong community. As I told you earlier, the fourth largest town in the state of Oregon. But I don't think we ever want our town to be a Bend or be a Medford. I think we want—because part of the charm is not to have it quite that large. What we need to be here is progressive, whether it's in agriculture, whether it's in timber or whether—economic development of any kind.


CP: So a couple of questions. First, one of the real themes here is that your father helped to diversify agricultural pursuits in the Klamath Basin. Do you know what was going on before he arrived? Was there basically one or two staples that were—

JP: Not much. It was hay. 1922 he arrived and it was hay and sheep and cattle. There were lots of sheep here and a lot of cattle, and they grew hay and that was it. And so really he did a lot, that 1922 and 1923. I mean he brought in the Hannchen barley, he brought in the seed potatoes, developed a tremendous seed, well the grass seed with the Geary Ranch. And there were big ranches here; the Dalton Ranch, the—oh another thing that was, it was the whole development in the Tulelake area with the homesteading. Daddy was very involved in that. But we had the Kitteridge Ranch. I don't know if these names have been mentioned to you, but they were all big cattle ranches, is what they were. And it was about a million dollar industry that he eventually grew into a forty-four million dollar industry. So no, they had, the only thing they had ever grown was hay. And so I can even remember out here at the Experiment Station that he was experimenting with peanuts. I don't think that ever worked out. I don't think we got beyond the experiment stage in that. But the big things were the Hannchen barley and the potato industry.

CP: Was he the first Extension agent in Klamath County, or was there somebody that came before him?

JP: No, there were three before him that they ran out of town on the rail. They didn't like them. They didn't want them.

CP: Not very effective?

JP: Well I don't know, they didn't want anybody. I mean, they didn't want Daddy either. I mean, they didn't want anyone who'd gone to college telling them how to farm. They had done this, they knew what they were doing. And so he had to work fast, I guess.

CP: Did he ever talk about that sort of—

JP: Sort of make a name for himself. Yeah, and he did, but he was just, as I told you, when he talked to someone he just had a way about him, and I don't know anyone that probably was better liked in this county than my father, because he just had that wonderful way. But you know, he grew up in the school of hard knocks. Everybody did at that generation, and all of the people that were helping Klamath County and all of the counties in the state of Oregon where life had not been easy. It was, you know, the Depression. I was born right after the Depression.

But then he married my mother and of course my mother was a fascinating story in herself. She lived in Caldwell, Idaho and then she went to the University of Oregon and graduated. And she was working on her masters and Fred Peterson, who was the superintendent, wanted to—they had fifty schools in the county school system; this isn't the city, this is just the county. And they were consolidating them and everybody was mad, so he figured if he could go to the University of Oregon and find someone to teach music, everybody'd be happy again. So he found my mother, who had never been in a place like Klamath Falls, and she signed the contract and came to Klamath Falls, said she knew how to drive a car but she didn't, and then she had to drive in a little Model T Ford all over this county.

And the very first day that she decided she would, there was the Klamath River, River Canyon, which you're not familiar. But the road is extremely steep that you go down, and there was a school down at the bottom of that hill, so she thought she better go there before the snow flew. So she got there and she looked at the road and Mother, who would try anything—I mean you think about this; this is 1924 where women weren't working, they weren't doing these kind of things, so she went, had passed a logger men's camp and so she went back, found a logger man, he drove, he went down, drove her down and sat on the steps all day while she taught these people how to teach music, the teachers.

But she built a whole program in the county schools, of teaching the teachers how to teach music. Just fifteen years ago, the county schools took all the music out of the elementary schools, which my mother would just die at the thought of that. So I'm very involved with the Ross Ragland Theater, so I thought there has to be a way to correct this. So we have. We went to Greg Thede, who was the superintendent of county, we went to him and asked—I told him what we wanted, and we'd already visited with principals and were at the principals' meetings and et cetera; he gave us twenty thousand dollars and told us to match it, which we did, and – this is the theater. And we hired this Amanda Squibb who had been with the Missoula Theater and just living here and so, she's so fabulous, anyway, to put this program into effect. Plus running our youth program that we have going at the theater. And so then the next year he gave us another fifteen, thirty-five thousand. And what he was doing was really buying a ninety-thousand dollar program for thirty-five thousand and we were bringing people in that are very qualified, on not a volunteer basis; they're paid something but nothing like what a teacher is paid. And they go in two days a week and we cover every single first through fifth grade class in the county school system.


And my idea is to have also the city school—and this week we're presenting a package to the city schools—and have the city schools, the county schools. My mother then had this gigantic music festival at OIT for the whole county school, and I want to see a big music festival at OIT, the new OIT—this was at old OIT—for the public to come and see what's going on in the schools. And so it would be a partnership between the theater and—which I think is going to happen. I mean it's turned out to be the most exciting thing. And then what is making it even more remarkable is that through this—this program is unique to the whole country and people are fascinated by it, and so our chances of getting grants through the theater are far—and some very exciting things are happening. So there's my mother's program reincarnated, and we hope to be able to teach the teachers so it will be ongoing, sustaining, to have like Mother did, where there were outlines. So anyway, that's some knowledge about my mother. But she was a very remarkable person. So you can see why my roots are deep here, because both of my parents built amazing programs in this community.

CP: And she was a pianist, correct?

JP: She was what?

CP: A pianist?

JP: She was a pianist, she had a beautiful singing voice. And when she was in Caldwell, Idaho she was the lead in every operetta they ever had, very beautiful, loved the men, really didn't like women too well. Fortunately she liked my sister and I. But she was the pianist for the Rotary Club, and the week before she died—or the week after she died, she was going to take her in the Rotary as a First Lady Rotarian.

CP: She played at silent movies too, correct?

JP: When she was in Caldwell, yes, she did. She played in—because she had to make money to go to school and so she played in, yeah. And she was a very—she was a Catholic but she played for the Lutheran church and played their organ. And no, she was—so they were an amazing, really an amazing two people, and did make a big difference in this county.

CP: Do you know the story of their courtship and marriage? I mean you mentioned this other fellow that got rejected, but—

JP: Well Daddy, because see Daddy came in 1922 and Mother came in 1924 and they—Mother lived with two ladies in the Alpha Apartments, which were on Pine Street, and Daddy lived with two gentlemen that were there, Tom Malarkey and I can't remember who the other person was, and so I don't know exactly where she met Daddy. She must have met Ed Geary first and then through Ed she must have met Daddy. Ed Geary was the best man at the wedding. I mean, after Mother kept turning him down. And they were married at the University of Oregon, and my mother and my sister and I were all Gamma Phis at the University of Oregon and Mother was married in the Gamma Phi house at the University of Oregon.

CP: Why did they decide to do that? Was it just because you were there, or?

JP: Well I wasn't there, I mean Mother was a Gamma Phi at Oregon.

CP: Oh, okay.

JP: She had come from Caldwell, Idaho and then she pledged, and Gamma Phi was the first house on the University of Oregon campus. But yeah, she—but one of the funny stories was that she—there was an article about Mother about getting her masters at the University of Oregon and then there was an article about this other man who was to coach the baseball nine, and they got the headlines mixed up, and so this Tom Malarkey who worked at the—who was living with my dad, who worked at the newspaper, Mother—because Mother was Irish and so Mother was ready to storm into the newspaper office and she opened the door and here was Tom, or this fellow on his knees begging forgiveness.

So, but you visualize a woman going to Gilchrist, and she had wild stories to tell. She learned how to make wild plum jam one time when she couldn't come home overnight. That was at Chiloquin. And one time she went off the road but there was a farmer—when it was snowy and slippery—and there was a farmer there and he pulled her out. And another time she picked up someone that was hitchhiking who it turned out had murdered somebody and had the body in the trunk of his car that had broken down. I mean, she went one time when she was at Chiloquin to buy an Indian basket and it was through an Indian lady who didn't speak any English at all and had a whole yard full of dogs that were nipping, and so when Mother finally got one basket for one dollar, I have that basket today. So she had fascinating stories. And then she gave piano lessons all the rest of the time.

CP: A fearless woman.

JP: She was, it was—they were truly amazing. But for a woman, as I say, to be—but Mother was not a person who loved coffee klatches or playing bridge or doing anything like that. I mean, she was determined to make a mark of her own, and she did.


CP: I'm fascinated by the turkey story.

JP: The what?

CP: The turkey story with the grasshoppers.

JP: Had you heard that before?

CP: Well I knew about it, yeah, but it's such a novel idea.

JP: Well, but the turkey industry then didn't last very long. For a while it did but nothing that panned out too well.

CP: Were these just turkeys that were left wild and lived around here afterwards? The ones that were eating grasshoppers?

JP: I don't know what happened to them all—I think they probably got eaten up for Thanksgiving. I don't know what happened to them, but yeah that was...

CP: The potato story is important too. I'm wondering if you have any more memories of how that came about and how it was implemented.

JP: Well, Daddy started out with one carload of potatoes that he talked these forty-four farmers into planting, and it was obviously a success. And then they went from, I don't know, one carload to, in so many years, twenty-three carloads, and they kept, their market kept expanding and they kept—but it was a brand-new experience for all the farmers to be—but Daddy, he was a teacher. He really could teach them. And he made one remark one time about, you know, they really didn't want to know all of these things, but they did them. And that was because of Daddy's type of leadership. They couldn't have found probably a better—but he had wonderful people working for him. Walt Jendrzejewski was the assistant accounting agent, and then he became the accounting agent. And his daughter, he has two daughters that still live here in Klamath Falls: Anne Nomak and Mary Roth. And then Frances Skinner and they're—you know, it was just a great working unit. Their office was in the post office downtown.

But Daddy spent a great deal of his time out in the fields and educating people on how to do this. And I don't know, the Bureau of Reclamation with the water, that came—Daddy, I don't think, had anything to do with that, but he must have worked on getting the federal government to put in all of the water that they had to have to do the farming. Because we are, like Pendleton, we're a very dry climate and we're a very short period of time climate. But the potatoes, we ate lots of potatoes. Daddy would not eat dinner without potatoes. If Mother cooked anything without potato he left the table [laughs]. He liked meat and potatoes. But we also ate lots of ducks, lots of fish, and lots of sage hens and all of that type of thing. But I can't think of any funny stories about—but it was something that just grew and grew and grew and grew.

CP: Yeah, it sounds like he was involved with the marketing piece of it as well.

JP: He was, he was. I can remember trips that they would go to San Francisco, he and a group of people, and marketing the potatoes. It's always frustrating though, because you even read in recipes "the Idaho potato," and actually I think our potato is better than the Idaho potato. I think Klamath should have marketed better; they should have recipes, "Klamath potatoes."

CP: I have a note here too that he was—I don't know if it actually came to fruition or not—but he worked on a potato processing plant in Klamath County, do you know anything about that?

JP: Hmm-mm, he didn't ever do that.

CP: Okay.

JP: He may have started one or something, but I don't—I think there wasn't one; they were trying to get a potato processing plant, but I'm not sure that ever came. I don't know about that.

CP: Yeah. You mentioned too the land reclamation from the marshy areas into agricultural space.

JP: Well, there was a lot of land that needed to be reclaimed, and the Geary Ranch is one, because the Gearys were very good friends of ours, so we spent a lot of time out there. But all of that land needed to be reclaimed. And that land, that's a fascinating story with the Geary Ranch in itself because—and I can't think of their name—but if you encircled land, whether by boat or by horse or whatever, it could be your land. And so, oh, I don't know what his name is. Anyway, you'd circle it, but the Geary brothers were relatives, the Stevensons were relatives, the Colliers were relatives, and so then he divided all of this up and you either were given ten thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars in land.

Well the Geary brothers, there were four Geary brothers and one was an accountant, one was an attorney, and I'm not sure what the other one was, and Edward was—they grew up in Medford and their dad was a doctor and then went to the University of Oregon. But then Edward was the manager of the ranch, and it was a struggle. I mean, they turned it into a remarkable ranch but they had to reclaim all of that land. And a lot of land, I mean we're very rocky and so there was a lot of—you know, it was cattle, there was hay, and so to plant—if you go north of here or going out toward east toward Lakeview, it's amazing what's happened in the last so many years out there. There are tons of strawberry plants. Are you familiar at all with our strawberry industry here?

CP: Hmm-mm.

JP: They grow the plants, but not the strawberries, and then they ship, they go into cold storage, and then they ship them to California. And then they come out in that hot weather and they're planted and they're shocked, and it is summertime down there, and then it grows strawberries. But you can't imagine; this has turned out to be a huge— Macdoel, that area and that area—[lights turn off]. We have wonderful lights here.

CP: They're on a motion detector.


JP: The Macdoel area, you have to have a certain soil and a certain whatever, and we seem to have that. But this is—you go east and you find all of these, which used to be just sagebrush when my dad was alive. But they're all developed into these beautiful, beautiful strawberry fields. I mean, it's a tremendous industry here. But it is interesting. We went through and had one day, and spent a whole day in Macdoel learning about the strawberry, the mother plant, and all of these things. But that is something that has come since mydad's time. Daddy's was mainly the Hannchen barley and the potato industry.

CP: Where do you think that he got these ideas?

JP: Well he grew up on a farm, but I'm not sure. But I think the farm was, you know, I think all it was, was cattle, dairy cattle probably. And maybe Oregon State.

CP: Yeah, well it's just interesting that there'd been these three Extension agents before him and it was such a not diversified agricultural economy here, but he came in and he had a clear vision for what could be.

JP: But I'm sure Oregon State, obviously, that's probably why he loved Oregon State, because it gave him the vision of what he wanted to do. And it was absolutely the perfect job for my father, because he was a builder of things. And not in a business sense; it was not—he would give his shirt away, really. But when it came to building something in an area, that was extremely important to him. And he—well that one person one time said about him that they had never seen anyone work so hard and have such fun doing it. And that really did describe my father. He loved every single minute of building this industry and building this community. And it wasn't just the agricultural industry; it was the—I mean he served on banking boards, it was building this community. But there were remarkable people like the Colliers and Hank Seaman and Ed Geary and Nelson Reed, and I mean just some remarkable people that lived here. And all of them cared and all of them worked together.

And Rotary Club then was formed and Rotary played a vital role in developing all of this. The Rotary barbeque, well Daddy was instrumental in developing the whole 4-H program, and then they had this huge Rotary barbeque and it was at the fairgrounds and we all got to go and eat whatever, barbeque beef. And now they don't do that. They still do it, but it's done in a different—because the health department had all these stipulations they closed them down, which, don't print that [laughs]. But so Daddy worked dairy and he started the Dairymen's Association. I mean, they had dairy cattle but they didn't have any—and fighting weeds and control of insects was a huge part of what Daddy was doing, because this was just full of all of those kind of problems. But he obviously had to learn that stuff at Oregon State.

CP: Did he make trips back to Corvallis from time to time?

JP: A lot. And there was always a big meeting at Christmastime before Christmas, and Daddy would come and pick me up at the University of Oregon and give me a bad time. His office was at the post office and I would write and tell him to send me some stamps, so he would take old stamps that he saved and then good stamps and tear them apart, "because don't they have these kind of things in Eugene? Can't you go to the post office there?" He gave me a terrible time about the University of Oregon.

CP: His office here in Klamath Falls was at the post office?

JP: It was at the post office, yeah. Up on the third floor of the post office. One time with Daddy, though, somebody who had—Daddy had pneumonia and nearly almost died and so he was really, Daddy was a big strong person but he was very weak. And this is around the very first couple of days he'd been back at work, and somebody came into the office that was obviously mad at him or the Extension Service or something and pulled a knife on my dad and tried—and had him down and Daddy screamed and the secretary came in, and anyway nothing ended up happening. So he obviously had one enemy [laughs]. Everybody else liked him. But Walt Jendrzejewski was a very, very important part, and he was with Daddy a good many of those years.

CP: He was his right-hand man?

JP: Yeah. Well he was assistant, and then he's the one that took over afterwards, and he—but the thing is, when Daddy and Walt were there, particularly with my dad, it was not all of the federal regulations and all, I mean it was a hands-on being out with the farmers. I can remember Daddy always—Yamsi Ranch, which is out in the Chiloquin area, Buck Williams owned that ranch. And Daddy would, every time he would go up there, he would take me with him, and I can still remember it, they have this beautiful stone house that was just, I don't know what it was, and now a very good friend owns that. So we still get to go and see this, but every time I go there I think about those trips with Daddy.


So he would take me out occasionally to these different ranches. And the Daltons, the Dalton Ranch in the Malin area was huge, absolutely huge, a tremendous cattle ranch. And they had this gorgeous big house, three stories high with butler's quarters and everything under the world. We went there and I always loved to go there to. So there—but Daddy had very fascinating friends that he met from all over the country, in particular though from Oregon State. Yes, his contacts remained very strong with Oregon State. Some of his very best friends were from Oregon State. I mean, they were still up there in Oregon State.

CP: You mention weeds; he established a county-wide weed control district?

JP: Yep.

CP: What does that mean?

JP: Well it was how the county—I would assume it was spraying and trying to figure out how to control the weeds. You don't live here, but we do have, we have a vegetable garden that grows the most marvelous weeds that you could—better than the vegetables that it grows. So it was just a weed control where they would do spraying and that type of thing.

CP: And you mentioned the barley as well, now I presume that this is mostly exported elsewhere?

JP: Well, it was all for beer brewing, yeah. And we didn't have any of that here, so that was what all—but you had to have exactly the right protein count, I can remember that. So the weather, the soil, everything seemed to make a difference on whether—but Hannchen barley, there were a lot of places that grew Hannchen barley.

CP: The Dairymen's Association too, what role did that play?

JP: That I don't know. I mean, they didn't have any association. I mean, I'm assuming he, you know, they had officers and meetings and discussed—because cows at that time, I think, had problems with tuberculosis and various things, and Daddy was doing the teaching of how to prevent this from happening and how to cure it, that kind of thing. So the Dairymen's Association—because Daddy believed in developing. You know, he wasn't out there just doing it himself; he was developing groups, and that's probably why he was so successful. But he was, as I say, a great teacher and a great leader. But people just liked Daddy and he was the kind of person you just believed, and totally honest.

I don't think he even ever took a pencil away from the post office, from his office. And I went to Klamath Union High School, my sister and I, and Daddy drove right by Klamath Union High School going to work, but it did not matter if it was the heaviest snow storm in the world, we still walked. He never took us at work, because no one rode in his car. That was a state car and only he on business. I mean, that's how honest my dad was, so we grew up in a very honest—he was very thorough and very—and extremely kind and extremely fun. He had it all, he really did.

CP: Plus, it's not like you were rowing a boat to school, after all.

JP: The what?

CP: It's not like you were rowing a boat to school, after all.

JP: Well that was—but it's amazing, seriously that, because my aunt, his sisters have told stories about how wild it got if they were having a fight or whatever. And then one time, I think of the story, because they lived—I didn't ever see the house that they lived in, but Daddy, somehow he had a dream, or I don't know what he did, but they had a whole rug rolled up in the attic and in the middle of the night he had gone upstairs, unrolled it, and there he was asleep with this huge big bat in his arms in the middle of the night. Why he was doing that I don't know, but that was one of the—oh and that one time my aunt was swinging and when the swing got up to the furthest part he cut the rope, so she flew through the air. I don't know what she broke, but so you can imagine.

You know, three people, and three girls and two boys, I'm sure it was really quite lively. But my grandfather I didn't ever meet. He died before I was born. And my grandmother I did meet, but she was very, very old. But she had to be, she was a very special, remarkable woman to raise him. But then for her to have the foresight to send my dad to college. But I do think, because as they say Daddy, he put in a sprinkler system one time in our yard; it took him months to put that sprinkler system in and we just held our breath whether it was going to work or not. It did [laughs].


CP: Well, a very important moment came about in 1937 with the creation of the Klamath Experiment Area, which is the predecessor to where we're at right now, I think; the Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center. You were a little girl when it was created, but you obviously grew up with the Experiment Area.

JP: Well, that's where I remember the peanuts were growing out here, but that was where they experimented with the barley, I'm assuming, and I know the potatoes that they experimented with. And I'm sure there were other things too that didn't work out, probably, in Klamath Falls.

CP: Do you know much about, was your father, I'm assuming he was important to the creation of this Experiment Area?

JP: I think he created it, yeah. He and his staff. I mean, because he had great people working for him, he had great ideas. And my father certainly didn't take credit for anything; he gave it away. But it was just a great group of men that were all dedicated to making this, and the Experiment Station was a part of that. But you know, when you're little you don't, you know, there are a lot of questions I wished I had asked my parents about that you don't even think about.

CP: What do you remember about the place itself from those earlier years?

JP: Klamath Falls?

CP: No, the Experiment Area.

JP: I just remember being out with Daddy and things growing and Daddy checking things in the ground. And we have pictures of Daddy checking potatoes or whatever he was checking, is about all.

CP: So it was just a piece of land basically, there was no facility other than that?

JP: I don't remember a facility, I just remember land. But I can't, I honestly don't remember that much. I remember coming out here; no I don't remember. But this is all started since, because they were on Vandenberg Road with a building that was built for the Extension Service, which was really very nice, and the county brought them out here in these prefab things.

CP: So that, the other building, when was that built? Do you know, roughly?

JP: Well it was probably built way after Daddy. It was probably built in the sixties, mid-sixties, somewhere around there.

CP: Okay.

JP: I wish I could tell you more about the agriculture, but that was the thing, that was very, you know, when you're little you don't remember a whole lot. But Daddy retired. See, we were—I was gone four years at college and then for a year and a half we were in the service and then came back to Klamath Falls, and not too long after that, Daddy retired.

CP: It sounds like after World War II the Experiment Area expanded quite a bit. Do you remember anything along those lines?

JP: [Shakes head no].

CP: Your father was a member of the Klamath County Post-War Agricultural Planning Committee, does that mean anything to you? It was aimed at—my notes say "aimed to keep agriculture prosperous for returning servicemen in local residence."

JP: Oh really?

CP: Yeah.

JP: [laughs] I don't know anything about that.

CP: Do you remember what, just sort of general memories of the war period in this area?

JP: I remember we had a Japanese camp in Tulelake. We also had a German camp in Tulelake. German camp was for prisoners; the Japanese camp was for—well, we had, my mother being in the Music department, so we had full-time help in our house and one of them was a Japanese girl, darling person. Her family owned, were very successful, owned a restaurant in San Francisco. They were all put into the intern—there were two different internment camps; the one I was in, Daddy would go down for lunch occasionally, or whatever he went for, and he often took me with him. But that was—

CP: So you visited the internment camp?

JP: Live?

CP: You visited it?

JP: Mhmm, I had lunch, I've had lunches, yeah. He would take me with him sometimes when he went, but this is when I was really pretty young, but I do remember going to the internment camp. Then the prisoner of war camp was—it was right near. The Smiths had a ranch, good friends of ours in Tulelake, and it was right near there. But the Japanese camp, because we had had a person that we loved taken away from us, that was awful.

CP: Yeah.

JP: And to this day it does not make sense to me. I mean, I understand why it happened but it was a very sad thing, disrupted a lot of lives.

CP: What do you remember about the camp itself?

JP: All I remember is going there for lunch. There was a man by the name of Best that ran that camp and he had a son, Ray, who was in high school, and in fact a very good friend of my husband's. So I remember that, but all I do remember is going down there for lunch, and I don't think we were eating with the Japanese, I don't remember that. And what Daddy had to do with it I don't know, but he, Daddy had his finger in a lot of things that were going on all over in the county.

CP: After the war it sounds like he helped to develop a 4-H program, or 4-H programs?


JP: Well, the 4-H program is huge in Klamath County, and you know we almost lost the Extension, you probably know that. Fortunately the voters did vote for it, which to me would have been a tragedy, but the 4-H program is all through the county. And I do—and that was another place I went with Daddy when we, during the 4-H fair time, and Daddy'd go down and check with animals and leaders and I don't know what and I would go with him. I fell in love with a couple of different 4-H, you know, I never met them but I thought those boys were awfully cute [laughs]. So, I was probably a seventh or eighth grader.

But then of course it culminated in where they had this huge 4-H sale that the Rotary Club put together, and he was involved in making all of that happen. And I mean that was huge, and it still is. I mean, they still bring their animals in but now it's a very select group; it's the buyers, period, that come. Before it was, well it was through invitation, but a lot of people went. But yes, the 4-H program is extremely important in the county schools. You know, it's really sad, I look at schools, and I'm sure it's the same other places, like voc ed has been taken out of the schools. When all the sudden budgets are tight, then vocational ed, your woodworking, your machine shop, this kind of thing; your art, your music kind of things that they take out. And that was why it was so important for me to figure out some way to put music back into the schools again, because I believe very much in the arts and I think it does make people—well it relates to your brain too, particularly with math, but it also makes positive minds and bodies, which I think are really sort of great.

But the 4-H program is—Master Gardeners, and I don't know what would have happened to Master Gardeners and the 4-H program if this Extension had not been able to continue. But things like a 4-H program, things like Scouts, things like voc ed, this is what keeps kids in school. We all, in our communities now, have a lot of problems with kids that have no jobs. It's the economy is a lot of it. See, before we had Weyerhaeuser and people graduated from high school, and lots went on to college, but those that didn't, a lot of them went to Weyerhaeuser and had a very livable income and a very wonderful life. We have Jeld-Wen but it's not the same as what—and Jeld-Wen has gone through its problems. Jeld-Wen is a very important part of this community, and I'm sure Linda Weider probably addressed that.

CP: Were you involved in 4-H as a girl?

JP: No, because I lived in town. We grew up as city girls. My mother would not have—she taught in the county and Daddy's job was the county, but we were to be raised as very proper young ladies [laughs]. So, we lived in the city.

CP: That's interesting.

JP: I would go to her, you know, I told you about her music festivals that I would always go there and I would go to the music - I went out to I don't know how many Christmas music programs through all of the years. But no, we lived in the proper part of town and did all the proper things that you did at that age.

CP: Your dad was okay with that?

JP: Oh yes. He adored my mother and whatever, oh no, he was fine with that. But he did buy a ranch and we, my sister and I still have this. We call it the ranch; it's not that big. It was probably about three hundred acres; now it's really about seventy-five acres. But Ann and I still have that.

CP: When did he buy this?

JP: He bought that probably in the 1950s, I would say, late forties. Probably the late forties, something like that. Mother did not have much to do with the ranch, and so it was always Ann and I that went with Daddy when he went out to tour the ranch. But that was important, he needed to do that, and so he grew potatoes. We still grow potatoes and alfalfa and we have it leased out, we don't run it. But we do have it. The city took part of it for - in case we ever have a flood - for a drainage pond. So that sort of shrunk the ranch. So yeah, that was his. I think probably Daddy would have chosen to live on a ranch, but my mother wouldn't have.

CP: Well in 1955 the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce organized a banquet in honor of Charlie Henderson Day, and at the time it said "no county agent in the forty year history of Extension has influenced more cash farm income development than has C. A. Henderson." Do you remember this particular—

JP: Well Ann and I weren't there. I don't know why. We weren't at the place, the one in Portland. No, it was a tremendous thing. And that's where that book, that was Charlie Henderson Day, and it was J. W. Kerns that sponsored that. And yeah, it was—and then all of these people came from all over the everywhere and honored my father, yeah.


CP: He must have been tremendously proud.

JP: That Charlie Henderson day was a very, very special day for my dad. And for my mother.

CP: So you, and you weren't at the Portland event either, in 1960?

JP: No, and Ann, Mother, they didn't even tell us about it.

CP: Oh really?

JP: Which I still resent to this day, as it would have been wonderful to be there. But Mark Hatfield was governor and he's the one that presented. There's a picture in here of my dad being presented with a Distinguished Service Award. Daddy received all kinds of honors, I don't know if you have those listed, but he got about all the honors you could possibly get. But two hundred people attended that one in Portland.

CP: I'm interested in his work with the banking groups, because that was pretty significant, it seems.

JP: He was on the board for First Federal and then he was chairman of the board, and guess what; I worked at First Federal in the summertime, which was great fun. Yes, he was very, very involved in that and very, made a big difference. But they had, there was Alfred Cotter, there was my dad, there was some really outstanding people that were on that board. And then they started the Bank of Klamath Falls and they were on that board. And so that, as I told you, became Washington Mutual. And so that stock was absolutely fabulous, which my sister and I inherited. But if you remember Washington Mutual, we received wonderful dividends for lots of years, and Daddy was so proud that that would go to us, and my goodness.

CP: Yeah.

JP: It went away. That happens. So anyway, but yes, he was very—because he was, his BS was, I think, in agriculture but banking was obviously something that he was interested in, finances.

CP: He also was involved with different community groups it sounds like; the American Legion and the Masons, as well?

JP: He was. I don't even remember, but I read that, that he was involved. But I think that was more probably younger years. It was more, you know, the later years were Rotary and—well in fact he was, for years he was in Rotary Club, but that was very important to him. But he never served as president, which I found interesting. I've served as president of everything, so I didn't inherit that from him [laughs]. But no, the Rotary and—but his work, I mean his work just completely involved him. But he was very community-minded.

CP: And he liked to hunt and fish, did he have any other hobbies or things he did for fun?

JP: No, he hunted and fished a lot. That was it. He was, he played baseball when he was young. When I was really little I can remember going at those semi-pro or whatever kind of teams there were. He played on something like that. So he was a good baseball player.

CP: What was it like for you as a girl to grow up with a father who's sort of a celebrity in this area?

JP: Well, but I didn't know that. You know, Daddy was Daddy, I mean I had—it's since then, when I read all of this stuff, that I realize how absolutely remarkable he was. He was just very down to earth and a wonderful father, and we went back every summer. Our vacations were at Reedsport. My uncle had a cabin where Daddy grew up and we went there for two weeks every single summer, which he absolutely loved, picked blackberries; I hated it. I just, I read magazines, love stories, to make my mother mad and I—no, to make my dad mad, and I sunbathed to make my mother mad.

Well, my sister was four years younger so I didn't find her, you know, and I lost a boyfriend over being gone and I didn't get—I was a Campfire girl and at this point we were going to be counselors, junior counselors, and we had to go to this day camp to learn how to do this, and I was at Reedsport. And so then I was just a camper and all our friends except two of us were just the campers, our two good friends. The rest were all junior counselors. And so, then they had a dance that only junior counselors could go to, and so they put Rosemary and I to bed early. Well guess what? The Boy Scouts came from their camp and they came—by the time they, they never got up to the lodge. They put us in our pajamas and there we were talking to all these boys. We were inside our tent but we had captivated all the boys, that made them so mad.


So going to Reedsport was—but we had a wonderful, that's where my dad's family all—his brother was a logger man and he had three boys and one of those boys ended up, then, was quite an amazing young man and probably had someone a lot like my dad, and he ended up, you know these trains that fall into the water? He developed a—or anything that falls into the ocean that you have to retrieve, he developed this unbelievable business, because he'd been a logger man too, and he became world famous, really. But Daddy wanted him to go to West Point so badly, and he was accepted. Daddy got him accepted. But he wanted to stay in Reedsport. So Daddy, it was very important for Daddy to go back to Reedsport, but we picked millions of blackberries, and it was fine.

But Daddy was just very down to earth. We did have lots of company, people loved to come by and have a drink with my mom and dad, or dinner. And Mother was not that much of an entertainer because she was really so busy, outside of doing something like that. We had music recitals at our house, we had a very normal—I had one of my best friends, Rosemary that I just mentioned, her husband is John Young, and he was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. So he had great friends that have done some great things. And the Wendts, that own Jeld-Wen, they're some of our very best friends. And so we've had—living in Klamath Falls has been a great experience.

I've been involved in—I'm very much of a volunteer and I've been involved forever doing the Ross Ragland Theater, that and the OIT Foundation. Well, I've been in lots of things but those are the things that—and I guess it's that same thing that comes with my father of, because I've been involved with the Ross Ragland since its inception, where it took six years to raise the money to build the place, and then all these; now it's twenty-six years, and nobody thought we could, even my mother didn't think we could ever raise the money, and if we did we'd never keep it sustained, but we have. So that's where I had probably some of my father in me that I wanted to do something that was really important to Klamath Falls.

CP: Did he ever really retire? He died at seventy-seven, I assume he retired at some point officially, but—

JP: He did, he retired. And then Daddy, and it was very sad because he went through a series of small strokes, and nothing took physically but it took, and I can still remember one time he was made director emeritus, I think it was the Bank of Klamath Falls, and he said "that means you're all"—I can still hear him saying that—"that means you're all washed up." And Daddy was a very proud person and that was hard. And then he died of a very major stroke. But he would—Nelson Reed, who was—the Reeds came from Philadelphia and came from huge money in Philadelphia, and Nelson loved the out of doors, and he owned what is now a café. But he, his wife Margaret disliked everything about Caldwell, and she was one of those city kind of people. But anyway, Daddy and Nelson were such good friends, and they were the ones that hunted and fished.

So all through my life I've been very fortunate to have met some very remarkable people that have been...and that's the wonderful thing about Klamath Falls; we have a real, you know, there's some remarkable—you think of Dick Wendt coming here, Dick and Nancy from Dubuque, Iowa, and then his dad was the president of Jeld-Wen—well it wasn't Jeld-Wen—of the forerunner of whatever Jeld-Wen was. Then they closed the plant here and Dick bought the plant at auction and built a world empire, which has been very tragic because then all of these—Dick died four years ago and through all of this, because that was when the recession hit and it hit the timber industry and the lumber industry so hard, and all the empire that he built, a lot of it has been sold off. And Onex does own fifty-two percent of —now. But this was an amazing thing, what this man did. Absolutely amazing. A world-wide company.

CP: Well, you've spent basically your whole life in Klamath Falls and you've seen a lot of change, I'm sure. Give us a sense of where the region is at right now, what you're seeing in your home town.

JP: Well, the changes, I go back to like when I was growing up here. We had, our main street, we had seven women's stores and we had Dick Reeder's. We had the most amazing shopping you could ever imagine, and guess what? Medford came to Klamath Falls to do all of their shopping. All of that's disappeared. We're going through a—but it was really the transition started when the timber industry, with the spotted owl, and when all of that, because this was, you know, the two strong legs were, as I said, the agriculture and the timber.


CP: So things really started to change in the eighties, thereabouts?

JP: Yeah, when all of that. And then as I-5 went to Medford rather than here, and box stores and all of these kind of business go; they want to be close to I-5. Our—

CP: Do you remember when that was, when I-5 was constructed? I don't know.

JP: Well that had to be in the sixties, I would guess.

CP: Yeah. I'm sure that was a topic of significant conversation around here.

JP: Oh, it was. But we still have a lot of truckers come through our direction. And we have now a very substantial population that aren't working. You know, kids that aren't. As I say, there isn't Weyerhaeuser. Jeld-Wen is now working at full capacity however, which this makes a huge difference. We need new businesses with living wage jobs, is what we need. One of the sad things is that we don't have a Costco, and Costco thought about coming here. We have a lot of people that are the good old boys that run our town, but this is what I was talking about earlier, and I'm sure Linda talked about it, that now we have a group taking over that really is looking hard at where our problems are and trying to correct them. And they're doing an amazing job, and they're amazing.

Heidi Neel Biggs, she grew up just down the street from me, she was Miss Junior Miss where she graduated from Northwestern and then Willamette Law School; such a sharp gal. And then she married this Andrew Biggs, who was in the Cabinet, in the Bush Cabinet. And did Linda talk at all about that?

CP: Hmm-mm.

JP: And he is, he's a Rhodes Scholar, he's a brilliant man. Anyway, they decided he can still do his work, and it's in the unemployment area, so he can still do his work from here, flying back and forth to Washington D.C. Well they moved and she came back. Well she's one of the driving forces, and Linda and Anne Cavanaugh and Mark Wendt, which is really exciting that there's a Wendt now that's, you know, and they are really taking hard looks at—we have a situation right now with the community lounge, and the community lounge is in the same building as the theater; when the community lounge is no longer functioning we are to be able to get it for a dollar. Well, in our eyes the community lounge is not functioning; it's only for women and—the contract says women and children. We now have all of these young men that are lounging, drinking the coffee, climbing up on our roof, shooting up, needles coming down in the gutters.

So anyway, this is one of the latest projects. We want that community lounge. We're not putting up with this any longer. So Heidi is just championing. She's not on our board but she, you know, they just are a group of people that are going after things that need to be changed. It's exciting, it really is, because my age, you know we can't go—one of the things I worry about everywhere, though, is where the volunteers are going to come from for non-profits, because that's been my world.

I did work though. When Mark was in, he was a sophomore in college and Greg was graduated from high school and I decided I can't do just this, and so I went to work for the city school, and I got to build a whole public relations program. Didn't have a teaching certificate, so they hardly paid me anything, but I had a wonderful time doing that. So yeah, and it's a great town to live in, it's a great—but anyway, going back to non-profits, it's people, young people don't—you're amongst them; you're very busy with all of your work, and I guess it's if the non-profits are important enough somehow they'll go on.

CP: Yeah. You've been involved with the Oregon Cultural Trust too, is that correct?

JP: Uh-huh.

CP: Can you tell me a bit about that?

JP: When the Oregon Cultural Trust was set up I was on the Oregon Arts Commission and helped make that decision of that, which is really a great thing. But those are fascinating things too; I was on that and then I was on the Women's—that the governor appointed, the Women's what, I don't know. It was a powerful committee to be on. But coming from Klamath Falls, and then I ran in to all these politically correct people who I don't have much sympathy for. It was fast, and it was one woman on that committee that I just loved and she would— Ardes Hitchcock – and she was very outstanding in Portland. And she committed suicide. I don't know why, but I mean it was so—so then I got off that committee. I decided then where my place was, was right here in Klamath Falls, to make things happen. If you're going to do state committees you have to have some kind of power, state power. What I was able to accomplish was here in Klamath Falls.

CP: The more people I talk to from rural areas, it's clear to me there's a real divide between where the larger population is in Oregon and the areas like Klamath Falls and Pendleton; people feel a little isolated.

JP: Well we are. You know that.

CP: Mhmm.

JP: I mean, we think differently. If you're in the city you need government, you need infrastructure, you need all of this stuff, and you also are very busy commuting back and forth and whatever you're doing working. Pendleton would be the same; very conservative area. So you don't think alike at all. I feel we have much more common sense here [laughs], what is going on in cities. But you know, they've tried to close, you know, they've tried to close agriculture down. When we had—they shut off our water, did you hear all about that?


CP: The 2001 crisis? Yeah.

JP: Yeah. That was terrible. That was just awful. You know, we had federal officers with guns out there where the gates are, and all these farmers were in tents and all this music was going all the time. They were amazing, they were amazing how they fought it. But we were really, I believe, a test area to see if they could close. Because they, well look what we're going through now with the situation with the Indians are controlling the water situation. And it isn't just Indians; they're involved with more than—they're being controlled. So you know, it's hard, because agriculture, I couldn't even imagine this without agriculture.

CP: You've mentioned the seven women's stores on Main Street; what other memories do you have of Klamath Falls in that more bustling era? What was it like here?

JP: Well we had lots of people, we had, on one side of the street, we had a place called the Waldorf. This is where lots of Indians drank and fought, and we were never allowed to walk down that side of the street. And the women's stores were mostly on the other side of the street. It was very busy. Our high school, the number of kids is dwindling as far as kids going to high school. We are, though—two exciting things have happened, and Linda might have talked about that; a bond issue passed to build a new elementary school, a bond issue passed to do Klamath Union High School over—did she talk at all about that?

CP: No.

JP: These are big things for Klamath Falls, because Klamath Union High School goes back to what? 1928 I think when it was built, and it's been remodeled and too many things. I mean it was wonderful when I was there, because it was a fairly new building. But we tried to do, put the KU in another spot, and then put the junior high where KU is. I'll tell you that particularly people who came back for reunions were really upset that we wouldn't have KU stay there for absolutely ever. So anyway, they're remodeling KU. Henley School is almost finished, it will open in September.

These are very positive big things, and these were community committees. You cannot imagine the effort that, when people in this community believe it, the effort that they do. Those two campaigns, and the KU one got even better. They even had flashing signs at Washburn Way about voting. But it is that way. If somebody believes in something, it was like the theater, you know; we had enough people that believed enough that we made it happen, and this community is—we have on the Ragland board, we have about thirty people. We raise somewhere around three—that board raises every year around three hundred and fifty thousand, on just our campaign, and then we have an auction and we have the Taste of Klamath and we have—it's a hard-working board.

But the problem is that younger people—this is why we brought on several younger people last year and it was just overwhelming to them. And so that's what worries me, what is going to happen. But this community comes together when it needs to and when it has a real issue to fight for. And so with Klamath Union High School the city school district has always been the stronger of the two between the county, but not anymore. It's the county schools. And Henley is the school of choice, which is in the county, rather than Klamath Union High School. I do think things will balance out, but the trouble is, with Klamath Union High School, you've got your high hot springs area, Running Y, and then you've got your very low, which is the downtown area with—well, it's closed now—Mills School. So you really have a ghetto school situation, where it was all you have across the board. And Henley has a lot of very solid people that live out there. But public school, you hear so many—it's changing. Our whole culture has changed; not just for schools, for everything.

CP: Was there anything about your parents or about Extension that we didn't cover?

JP: That we've missed?

CP: Yeah. We talked about a lot.

JP: I don't know, I've sort of taken you off the subject there. No, I think we've covered most everything that I can think of.

CP: Yeah. Well, remarkable people, your parents, for sure, and I really appreciate you taking your time to tell us about them and tell us about this little corner of Oregon.

JP: Well I'm sure you think I'm bragging, but I am [laughs].

CP: That's fine. Thank you.



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