The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Andy Landforce Oral History Interviews

May 2013 - October 2015 – 3:00p.m.

Video: “Fishing, Family and Philosophy” . October 6, 2015

Location: Winkle Lake, near Corvallis, Oregon.
Interviewers:  Mike Dicianna, Debora Landforce

1:30:04 - Abstract | Biography | Download Transcript (PDF)


Mike Dicianna: OK, today is Tuesday, October 6th, 2015, and we're finally completing the life story of an OSU icon, Andrew S. "Andy" Landforce. We're at one of his favorite fishing lakes here south of Corvallis, Oregon. Also present today is Andy's daughter, Debora Landforce. My name is Mike Dicianna, I'm an oral historian for the OSU Sesquicentennial Oral History Project.

Taking up where we left off a little bit, from all of our talks we've had, today I'd like to get into your life after OSU Extension – your active retirement years and information about family. You left us, the last interview, with one of the most wonderful, what I can an Andy-ism, at the conclusion of our last interview. You said, "As I get farther down Twilight Lane, I'm going to carry a lot of these things with me to the grave. They don't weigh anything or take up any space, but they've been a value of life." Well Andy, through this oral history project, you're going to live on in OSU history in the archives and in the annals of Beaver history. Your story is not going to end.

Let's first talk about your retirement. What year did you finally become emeritus for OSU Extension, when you retired?

Andy Landforce: 1971.

MD: And did you continue to be involved with Extension even after your retirement?

AL: Yes, I had made enough waves where there were people – county Extension agents, particularly the home economists – that wanted to process wild game. And we started out with deer, because there was a prevalent attitude in the minds of a lot people that deer was not good venison, not good eating. And so, one of the things I had done on the job, when these questions came up, I prepared some slides to illustrate the Boning out the Deer. But when you come to boning out the deer, my home background was to halve the deer, quarter the deer, and make it into roasts. So I got ahold of the – in my audience, every once in a while, I would ask people, "who really enjoys venison?" And time after time, they said, "you have to bone it in order to get it out into desirable cuts that you cook properly, because it's a delicious meat with no fat." And so when I retired, I had commitments in various parts of the county and with that, I took members of the family. But we would go, even to Eugene, Oregon, where we set up in the movie theatre, a free program.

Mike, I've got to tell you, one of the really interesting things on boning out your deer: the home economist in Fossil, Oregon, back there in 1960, '65 someplace, arranged for a meeting with this guy from the college on boning out a deer. We went to the grange hall, I come with my slides and my projector and set everything up, and when my turn came, the big door that usually opens up in the grange opened up and here come two fellows carrying a carcass, all skinned and everything. They put it up there and got out a tripod and said, "alright, let's see this guy from the college bone it out." I didn't have a meat saw, but they did. We had one of the best sessions we've ever had, when we got down to saving the tenderloin on the back. And so I'll never forget it; I don't know who learned the most. [laughs]

MD: So as you finish your years of Extension, what would you really consider to be your legacy as far as being an Extension Service agent?

AL: I hope that I had a good impact on lots of young people. The reason I say that: in my retirement years, I've had the absolutely humiliating [sic] experience of having someone knock on the front door, open it up, and here's a 65-year old man that just retired – Dale Potter from Sheep Creek in Wallowa County – sit there with him in my front room and tell me about the impact I had on his life.


Go to the retirement of an Extension agent and have a home economist come up and say, "I'm an Extension home economist because of you." And that goes for entomologists in my nature studies, where I took people by stream and catched the aquatic life in streams, and talked about the order of life and how we're related. And that makes me feel so good to think back, that I extended the quality of my three children – I never did have kids, we had three children, two daughters and a son – and they taught me so much because we communicated on many things that I passed along to other young people, when young people asked my opinion on... One of the unfortunate things about a daughter is that they frequently can't get along with their mom. And I saw my two daughters in good harmony with my wife, all the time. I used those principles. So that's what I would, in my legacy. But I did have the experience that was thrilling, to be in a Safeway store and, standing ahead in line, a fellow tapped me on the shoulder and said, "are you Andy Landforce?" And I says, "yes."

"Well, my wife wants to thank you for the bulletin that you wrote on boning out a deer." [laughs] And so when you get old and on the edge of a sense of depression, think on some of those good things and get off on a positive attitude.

MD: Well, in 2004 you were recognized as one of the OSU Extension Service's members of the 4-H Hall of Fame, for your service. What did that award mean to you? Was it a culmination of your years and years of service with 4-H and Extension?

AL: That was a real heart-warming experience, to be included with a group of people who give of their life for others, particularly young children. And I got other people and thought about it and including me in it, what a humiliating [sic] experience. I mean, what a boon for keeping that positive attitude that's nurtured along by my family.

MD: When you retired, you ended up taking your passion for the outdoors and fishing to a professional level. You've had this life-long passion for fishing, can you tell me when that started and the role that it's played in your life? What does it mean to you?

AL: You said, when did it start?

MD: Yeah.

AL: Who would ever think that when I was twelve years old, in the Depression, that I would feel a partnership and a sense of admiration for Mother Landforce. I am an adopted – Mrs. Landforce is my birth mother's sister – and they raised me from three-and-a-half years on. At twelve years old, I was going fishing and others were catching more fish than I was. But every time I brought the fish home and clean him, I got a feeling of an ego trip that was great, because I'm part of the family. So I asked you, well, a fellow – there was an outdoor writer, I met him on the Snoqualmie River, on the north fork of the Snoqualmie River, fishing. And when I saw him - I am trained to respect adults, you call them by their Mr. name, but his name was Lawrence Tuttle. [laughs]

Anyway, I asked him – I came up to him and confessed, "you're catching more trout than I am, I wonder what I am doing wrong? What do you think? Let me see you fish." Right there, he taught me where the trout are on the water. Some parts didn't have any. The bottom line of all that is, when I got to thinking about, "hey wait, every person can be your teacher if you're willing to learn." And right there, it helped me a great deal because you watched some of your friends, even in 1935 and '36 we had drinking going on, and you get into trouble. What did they do to get into trouble? They were drinking. So don't drink. All you've got to do is stay away from that trouble, and then if you look at the behavior of other people that get into trouble, it's easy to evaluate what they did. The challenge is not to do it, even though you have some strong impulses.


MD: You retired pretty early actually from OSU, about age fifty-seven, and decided to become a professional fishing guide. Can you tell me about that transition and how being a guide turned out? How about putting together a successful guide business in your retirement years? How did that work?

AL: How'd it work? Absolutely fantastic. It became an obsession; it became something you were thinking about. The quality of people has always been something you look for, so that you would emulate them as best as you can. And when you take fishing as a common denominator, you have a select group of individuals that are usually very, very fair-minded, decent people that you just like to be around. And so what happened? One September, our family has friends and people over on the patio, and I had an interruption and Evelyn came out and says, "you're wanted on the phone." And one of the finest people I ever met, Dr. Ross from Chico, California – no, Bridgewood, California – was on the phone. Tickled to death to guide him and chat with him and the rest of his friends from that area. Set up my guide dates. Here I'm talking, "yeah I can do this, I can do that, I can do that," and when the family was all gone, this was one of the other moments of communication between man and woman: Evelyn says, "you know, anybody can call you on the phone and you make arrangements, but we don't do that. I think we need to sit down and do some things we want to do and prioritize them."

And then, later it came out, the logical thing is you're from out of town, well you come home there, you're going to go off to eat some place. My wife, being very generous, have them for dinner, ok? Somewhere along the line, I got to thinking, "hey wait, she is not only taking them in for dinner but taking our time. I'm just going to have to give this some thought." Then, other Extension Wildlife Specialists from around the state would come and they would sometimes even stay with us. And I thought, "wait, wait, all I need to do now," and this was before I went guiding, this was how I started guiding, "I need to charge a fee to take you out." Then I discovered something - there's a way lot of difference in the pleasure and the therapy of going fishing to see if you can catch something, over guiding. The responsibility of me teaching, showing, bringing you as you're catching some fish, weighed on me something fierce. But the quality of the people dominated.

I enjoyed it, but it got to be to where it was dominating my life. So finally I said, "hey." By then I had children that were growing up. I have a daughter, Debbie and Diane, that caught fish when they were teenage youngsters – caught steelhead. Caught steelhead, which is a very difficult fish to catch under most circumstances. And then a son who is a couple years younger. So we all fished and I was enjoying the act of fishing. And now, when you get to be this old and you're out here on the edge of fishing again, you say to yourself, "I hope tonight we can be successful in fishing. But if we just go fishing and wishing, thank God for one more chance to go fishing." [laughs]


MD: Fishing and wishing.

AL: Because it's an outing that was more dominant than actual meat to bring home.

MD: Yeah. So how many years did you actually do the official guide business?

AL: I think it was seventeen, wasn't it, Debbie?

Debora Landforce: Yeah, that's right.

MD: Oh wow. So hundreds of people that you took out fishing.

AL: Oh yes.

MD: Was that all on the Alsea River?

AL: Oh no, no. I guided on the Alsea, the Siletz, the Nestucca, and the Rogue and the Deschutes. And I'm just so proud right now when I think that my whole family has been with me on the Deschutes for two nights out, and one of the places on the Deschutes is the Landforce Bank to us. [laughs] And I've got a daughter sitting right here that we had an excellent day of summer steelhead; I mean, outstanding. We caught quite a few of them – I want to say that she had the eleventh one on, and this is on the railroad hole. But anyway, we had it on and I went down and grabbed the leader and was going to pull it up on the bank a little bit, and it shook its head and broke the leader and swam off. And that's when you have an understanding daughter, because you feel like crying. [laughs]

MD: Well, so what would be a typical guided fishing trip when you took people out? What services did you provide for your clients?

AL: What service? Ok. We'd meet of course. Frequently, I live in Corvallis and Alsea is just over the hill, and so I would meet, frequently, my customers at the little café in Alsea, where we'd plot out the day. Then I'd go down and get my car and use your car to take my car and trailer down to the takeout. Now, when we got in water, we got in the boat – which I provided the gear and the bait – one of the things is to be tactful. And you want them, Mike, the feeling of wanting them to catch a fish is so strong, but it's a great thrill to see them catch their first steelhead. I mean, my children and my wife, which were all good at fishing, but frequently then, you are casting six feet too short. And I think, "well, you're a little short." But habits, if you're a fisherman who's been fishing for twenty years, it takes real brain muscle to change a habit. Habits make us – well, we make habits and then habits make us. [laughs] And so, I couldn't get you to cast over, so sometimes I could row back upstream and move the boat over six feet and watch your casting. Time after time, one of the great senses of satisfaction was to see that I could work with your habit to get you into a steelhead. That was one of the great pleasures. A direct result of my own knowledge of the lay and where the fish was at.

MD: That experience is what people were getting you for.

AL: And that's pretty astute, but that's right. If you hired a guide, you hire a guide to get that experience.

MD: How about some quick lessons in fishing tackle, strategy, and what you call "reading the water." I understand that that's kind of a thing that you do – you read the water and see where the fish are at.

AL: Yes, because reading the water is extremely important in catching trout fish or bass here, even in a lake. But reading the water for salmonid, the trout/salmon family, they have bodies that are so streamlined that there's no wake. Therefore, they can stay comfortably in a fairly good flow which, in my judgement, is about one to two miles an hour. And they can sit there without moving and so on. Now, the surface water frequently would go pretty fast, but if the bottom has gravel on it, there's enough turbulence behind them so you'll have a little layer where that fish is about six, eight inches to a foot higher than the gravel.


And now, the trick is to get a bait down there coming right at the steelhead, because what you want the steelhead to do is open his mouth and suck the bait in. And frequently, they will do that and hold it, and that's why you don't know yet whether you've got a bite or not. But sometimes they don't – I've seen steelhead move eighteen to twenty inches over to take a bait too, but you don't bank on that. Bank on putting your bait right through two inches wide and two inches high, about. Maybe four to six square inches; that's your target. And so, you have to give up being a fisherman, you've got to be an angler. You have to concentrate. So if you don't go down, your bait doesn't come along the bottom slow enough and appealing, if it's too much sinker, it jots along and you get hung up. Too light a sinker and it goes by too fast. So knowing the weight of the sinker on that flow of water was a real help. I could say, "hey Mike, here, put this sinker on." That was helpful time after time.

MD: So your presenting the bait at the right rate.

AL: To where the fish live in the water. Mike, I've got to tell you one more; you've triggered this. I'm over on the John Day in the summertime, and I'm fishing with grasshoppers for summer steelhead. And I catch a fish in a flow that's pretty swift – or, not swift, I'd say four or five miles an hour. After I got this fish in the cooler and everything, I thought, "hey, where was that fish on the bottom?" I can visualize, "ok, my bait was coming right through there." So I took my bathing suit off in the summertime – August, I think – and I got in there and I found out. I got in and I was going to go on the bottom. I can't get in the bottom unless I let all my air out, so I let all my air out and I tried to find where the steelhead was. And if you look on the surface, the surface water's going pretty fast, but down in the bottom it's one or one-and-a-half miles an hour. And I was able to let all my air out and I say, "oh, I'm fishing too slow of water."

MD: That's from experience, I tell ya. So when you're guiding, did you have to give up any of your favorite secret spots and best fishing holes? Or did you keep them to yourself.

AL: So far as I know, I have avoided that kind of a feeling. I have had more pleasure in sharing the thrill, the success, the theory, the thinking of good holes, or the anticipation of fishing a good hole and a good spot. And that's one of the – the healthy good feeling of relationships with another person is to share something special with them.

MD: Yeah. So one of the things that I understand is that all of your fishing expeditions needed to start with a kiss for luck from your wife, Evelyn. Was this a special tradition? And how did she support you as far as your guide business? Did she help you run it?

AL: Absolutely, all the way through. Fortunately, I married a woman that wanted to be a wife, wanted to be a partner. So she enjoyed my thinking and my feeling. And so when you take your wife in your arms and have a warm, friendly kiss goodbye, you've got support. You're not alone; you have understanding, you've got support, and you have a positive feeling that carries through when the fellows repeatedly tell to get in the bank and so on. It helps you in your guiding with a good attitude, to cope with different obstacles. And then, frequently she would come along with little extras because she would make me run ahead Thermoses. So she would make me a real nice hot meal and then come along with little specialty things. If it was your birthday – I would have found out and we knew that it was your birthday – a little cake with one candle. [laughs]


MD: Well, everybody has that special fish story – you probably have many, many, many of them. What's your most special memory of fishing here in western Oregon?

AL: My most memorable? I mean, you can go through the book and just go through the pages looking for that special one. But I would think that one of the ones that was real emotional to me, real significant to me, real inspirational to shape up, was when my wife and I were fishing from the Maples down to the Blackberry Ramp on the Alsea. And she had on an okie drifter and we were going down below the blindman holes through water that is a flow from bank to bank, and has some spots where fish would lay. And she demonstrated what her life is: as she's coming down through there, a steelhead picks that up and she sets the hook and out of the water goes eight pounds of beautiful steelhead.

And my feeling was, "hot dog, this is great." And so we went over to it in slacker water to play the fish, I got out the net and readied to net it, and frequently a steelhead – who as it comes in closer will make one more dash out in the water... The drag is set and everything, and she's reeling it back in, and I got the net ready to dip it out, because she wants to get the fish tired enough so that she can bring it in. And it's right out there, six or eight feet beyond the net, and a steelhead will frequently shake its head violently. And out goes the okie, and it sinks off and swims off. And she says, "oops, it came off." And that's the way she has approached everything from broken legs on my son when he was six years old – "oops, it came off," you get ready to do some more fishing. "Wasn't that fun, bringing that up there?" [laughs]

Can I tell you one more?

MD: Oh, you sure can!

AL: I can't resist it because I've got to tell you about my daughters. I've had some of the most humiliating, [sic] most heartwarming – when you get to be an adult man and you don't know how to express yourself, you feel like crying but you don't. So here we are on the Alsea, it's cold, cold weather. We put in at Blackberry again with Debbie and Donna – no, Debbie and my oldest daughter, Diane. And Diane and Debbie are different as night and day, but two wonderful people in their dad's judgement. And we got down there and Bob Paulsen and Mary had put in ahead of us, and they go ahead, and we get down to one of the timber places where Evelyn hooked a fish, and Diane hooks a fish on an okie drifter. And she plays it around and plays it around, we move over, and again, I've got the net ready to net it and then it goes and the okie goes out. And my daughter Diane, steps over that seat and she takes Debbie in her arms and sobs her eyes out. And there was Debbie, getting with her on the deck, and pretty soon I heard Debbie say, "Di, I don't see how you can feel so badly about losing something you never had." [laughs]


MD: Now, you've fished all over Oregon, but also you took quite a few fishing trips to the Bella Coola River up in British Columbia. Describe this area of British Columbia.

AL: One-thousand and three miles from my hometown, from where I lived, to Trees River Lodge on the Bella Coola. I was invited by Waldo Bauer to go west. This is in April, after the fishing season is over here. And it's been a wonderful experience because I've gone with the chancellor of the system of higher education, the vice president of the University of Oregon have gone in our group. And that is a pristine river where it was hook and release; not at first, not at first. But I went there for years and years, thanks to my wife letting me go. And so there again, I experimented with different lures and so on, because I wasn't going to be home for a week and we only gambled on if we could catch fish the last day so they would stay fresh. But it's thrilling to go to the bank for a restroom and here's a big grizzly bear track. [laughs] It was a pristine river and when we first started in about – let's see, I had to take vacation time – I think the first time was probably 1965, about seven years. It was a long arduous trip from Williams Lake across British Columbia, but we were the only boat on forty miles of river. But boy, it taught us a lot of things about steelhead. They don't like to chase a bait, you've got to be humble, because I would watch steelhead in the water and the bait would go right by; the line would tickle them and they would shift over and shift back.

Anyway, the memorable years of that trip come up every once in a while in the wilderness area of it, the wildness of it. The memories of the people that were there. Because there were still native Indians that lived on the river in their own fashions, and it was educational.

MD: You were quoted in a 2007 article in the Gazette-Times here in Corvallis with a philosophy. You said, and this really stuck with me, it says, "when I pull away from the bank and enter the current, I am in Mother Nature's world. She makes the rules. I know what she requires and that makes me free." Is that your philosophy?

AL: Mike, that is one of the humbling emotions that a person experiences because when I have pushed away... Let me – my wife was dying of cancer and I asked if I could get away from six hours, because I hadn't been away fishing for two or three years. I take the boat right over to the side of Foster, put in at Foster Dam, and it was in the middle of the day. Or it was ten or eleven o' clock in the morning; there were nine trailers and boats ahead of me. The water was low and clear, but I had stopped at the store there and bought two dozen night crawlers, because I didn't have any fresh bait; I hadn't been fishing for a number of years. And I got up there and I thought, "oh no, the water's clear, clear sky, these boats are going to scare the fish – catch them or scare them. There's no use in going down the river." But I was going fishing. And there again, the feeling, "at last, I'm going fishing," I wish all of you could have a feeling of a thing you're looking forward to doing – the mechanics of it, the space of it, the unknown of it – because it's nourishing.


And so, when I pushed off – I parked the car and trailer and came down, and I pushed off and got on the oars and felt the power of the river, I had an emotion so deep, so strong, so unknown to me, that I wanted to cry. I was free; absolutely free. I plugged into Mother Nature and you do what nature tells you, or else. You do what nature tells you. I've been on the river enough; I was cocky enough to think I could do it. I'm free, there's no decisions, no options and no debates. You are on your own, you are on your own. And it was absolutely, totally enervating. Totally to where you just felt empty. Well, then, I was over ninety years old, so again, gratefulness to be alive and to be able to do this is so humbling that I put out the anchor and just sat there a little while to get ahold of myself. Then I said, "huh, so this is why you like to go fishing?"

And then when I started the mechanics of fishing, I enjoy the act of fishing, because I'm not fishing and wishing, I'm going through a certain spot at a certain current, and you're absolutely unaware that time... I can remember thinking, "holy Moses you're stupid: you don't know your hands are cold until they don't move." [laughs]

MD: Well, Deb says that all of your children are good fishermen, and they love going fishing with you. What do you like about taking your kids fishing? Is that special?

AL: Communication. Body language can communicate without saying a word. When you're with your children, every once in a while you see what you think is one of your personality traits show up. And when it shows up, oh my gosh, what a transfer in the genes, what an impact that you have on another person's life. And you can see these different personality traits show up. Plus, you see some of the behavior changes or adaptations that come from your wife, or come from the two of you. Body language is making it so we can communicate. I mean, we can communicate.

When you have a son that's fourteen years old or fifteen, that says, "Dad, I know you don't want me to have long hair, but I'm going to have long hair sooner or later. But right now, I can get a job and right now is a time in my life I'd like to have long hair." That's after I took him in the basement to talk to him very seriously about his long hair when I left for three days, I talked to your mother. She was going to cut it off. And you have a son with that clear thinking and that freedom to talk to his dad. That is what you get when you're fishing, hunting or doing things with your children. The thing then, as a 4-H Club agent, I wish every parent could develop that relationship so that children could ask directions on what they should do from everything from sending thank you letters to the personal emotions in our life.

MD: Let's talk a little bit about the Association of Northwest Steelheaders. The organization was founded clear back in 1960 and I know that you've been heavily involved. How long have you been involved with the local Steelheaders?

AL: I have the impression that I was right there at the beginning, but I don't have any clear-cut memories of that. But I know that I belong to the Mid-Willamette Valley Steelheaders now, and that changed from the Albany Steelheaders. And I still pay my dues, so I'm still a member. And every once in a while, they ask me if I'll do a little part of the program. But I think I joined at the beginning, because the steelhead needed representation as a recreational fish as well as a food fish here, and that it was something that was precious; don't let it be lost, don't let the gene pool get dissolved.


MD: Yeah, because I know that the association has a long history with activism as far as advocating for steelhead and habitat and things like that. So you as a fisheries and wildlife specialist, you probably lent some of your expertise to the organization.

AL: Well, I would like to think so. Probably in some of the planning meetings that – on the Alsea River for instance, right now, this last summer, the Steelheaders have had a great contribution in improving the access ramps on Blackberry and several others in that area, and that's only one part of the state. So it continues to work in the best interest of habitat improvement and sportsmanship in fishing.

MD: I'm pretty sure you've made some life-long friends in the steelhead community, any special memories of any of your fellow fishermen?

AL: Well Mike, special memories with special fishermen, but they weren't in the Steelheaders. Well, some of them were in the Steelheaders that I went back with, years and years ago. But you know what's happened? I outlived them. [laughs] I mean, they leave a vacancy in your life that, every once in a while, something comes up that you remember them. And fortunately, we can remember the good things about them, and the good things that we did. Like today, as we sit here, I'm grateful to a guy named Ermy Walter that lived in Alsea. In 1953 or '4, I came over on the north fork, and here was a car parked where I wanted to fish. And I thought, "no, I'm not going to fish here, it's already fished," because, think of today, there's six or seven cars there. And about that time, here this man came, and this was Ermy Walter. From then on, we made life-long friends, and he has gone with me to the Bella Coola. [laughs] But there again, when you think every person can be your teacher if you're willing to learn; and here was an expert fisherman that fished with eggs and yarn, almost exclusively. Where I carry a bundle of tackle with me, he comes with one can of bait and one card of hooks to go fishing. But listen to him and then, best of all, like I did, the choice was that I went fishing with him. And then, here was a man with ethics. If he would catch a fish first, then he would insist the rest of the day that I fished until I caught one. I like that feeling. I shared it. I took it from Ermy and got a lot of pleasure out of it in my life.

MD: Yeah, it's a camaraderie amongst, especially, crazy steelheaders that are standing in the freezing cold, meet in the water, in the worst conditions you possibly can here in the Northwest.

AL: Right. You go fishing with Professor Kuehne, who had just bought a new level line reel and a rod. We go to Buck Creek up on the Siletz River, and its ice in the puddles, so we have to drive very slowly up the Siletz to the Buck Creek bridge. And we go down to Disaster Hole [laughs] and it's cold, it's cold, but we are fishing down at Disaster Hole. So he wants to cast a little farther and Mike, he threw the hole fishing rod, and everything left his hand out in the water, and its going by. [laughs] And there it was. I'm in there – they don't sink right away – I go down, and you know, we should never find that rod and reel. So your description of being cold on the river fits.


DL: Can I trigger? Hey dad, tell Mike the story of Ermy and Wally and you going out fishing on New Year's Day and getting back for the Rose Bowl, year after year.

AL: Oh, that's true of most, you know? [laughs] OK. For years and years, the faculty would have a dance on New Year's Eve. But we would go steelhead fishing the next morning, with Waldo Barr, who is now unfortunately gone; he passed away. And Ermy Walters was ready to go. So I joined – no, we visited with him. But I went with Wally and I'm saying, "Wally, I need to get back for New Year's dinner; our family has a New Year's dinner every day. So things have changed. My family has grown up; I need to get back."

And Waldo Barr has been a great help to me, because he is an independent man who is very comfortable to do what he feels like and what he is comfortable with, and I'm jealous of him in that regard. And we get down in that river and we catch the fish. It was cold enough where the lines were freezing and you would get a little ice in the spool on your reel. But anyway, I couldn't get Wally to go down the river. We had caught our fish; I can get home in time...we kept on fishing. I don't remember now; I can remember the anguish I had. I had a wonderful wife and family at home, and I'm not there. Bottom line of all this, that's the last time I went fishing on New Year's Day with Wally. [laughs]

DL: But before that, didn't you sometimes go with Ermy and Wally and catch your six steelhead and still be back by 1:30 for the Rose Bowl?

AL: Oh we did, yeah.

MD: Before that. That trip was the last time but before that, I remember sometimes when the three of you limited out, which you frequently did as a threesome.

AL: Yes. Golly, I remember making it back for the Rose Bowl.

DL: With six steelhead in the boat. Those were the days.

MD: Yep. Well, you've had an active retirement; I've always wondered what keeps you so young. Other than fishing and all the experiences and people associated with fishing, what are some of your other activities or memories that you have over these last thirty years of retirement? I understand you took a trip to Scandinavia with your wife, Evelyn, and had some fun at a fish market there?

AL: Oh for heaven's sakes Mike, yes. Fortunately, Evelyn like to travel and arranged traveling, so I went along. We teamed up on it. And my ancestry comes from Sweden all the way through, so we went to Stockholm, we went to places where you can trace your family history. Scandinavians are very difficult to trace your family history because of the changes in names. I mean, if your name was Gus, then when you got married or changed it, it would be Gustafson and so on. We didn't travel on bicycles but we saw thousands of bicycles as we got on tour buses and stuff. We went to the homeland of my ancestors, yeah. It was a wonderful trip because we made good friends and traveling in a nice suite on the boat. Because of my war experiences, I didn't care if I ever saw anything else in the world; I was pretty happy with our mountains and streams in Oregon and Washington.


MD: I know that you have many, many interests, but OSU sports, Oregon State University has been very important to you. What are some of your memories of some of the sporting events and OSU sports that you have over the years?

AL: That I participated in?

MD: Well, just memories of OSU sports.

AL: Most of the memories that I have are with the coaches of the sports. One of the outstanding ones was Slats Gill. Paul Valenti was on the team and Paul Valenti and I were friends, and he was struggling like everything to make the team. I was struggling like everything to make the grades, because I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, and I did not study hard in high school. And Paul and I, we'd get together and dream up ways to have courage. One of them is to do the best you can and not feel so defeated when you are defeated, I think, overall. Slats Gill – I would go to the practices because I happened to love to play basketball. And I would watch the practices and watch the coach in action, on leadership, on communications. You can never be perfect in basketball but communications – how do you actually get a player that has been playing ball for a high school to change some of his ways? Little things.

And Slats Gill kept track of me and in communication, and when I became active in the student body, he talked to me about communications, about the challenge of the message you're sending, did the receiver get the same information? And that was fundamental in speeches, in thinking your own problems over, communication. And one of the hardest things is to break habits, but is to listen. When you listen to a person like Slats Gill or Tom Prothro, or my coach Lon Stiner, and how you could communicate with words that were meaningful every way along the line. And then, again, on body language. Leadership, it kind of oozes out of some people; it isn't all in the head. But the associations have been very, actually, motivating to me.

MD: I know that you're quite involved with the excellent season that the women's basketball team at OSU had last year. Were you a big fan?

AL: I am a big fan because they play real basketball. I mean, I just love the passing and the cutting and a good lay-up, without all that physical – when I played basketball, you couldn't have that physical contact, because I was a pretty well-fed farm boy that got called lots of times for being too rough. [laughs]


MD: When I talk about active retirement, your walks on Bald Hill in Corvallis are kind of legendary to everybody that sees you up there. Tell me about your love of walking in the woods and the importance of exercise in your life at this point.

AL: The importance of exercise in my life right now is fundamental to the three things I need. I need health in order to keep going; I need health, that's one of them. Walking is one of the more easy ways to get functions of the total circulation of the body and the mind. Plus, I'm amazed, my eyesight gets hazy once in a while, if I go for a walk and get my heart up to 80 – I go up Bald Hill, get it up to 80 – my eyesight will then clear up. In other words, when I look out over the terrain, individual trees will show up and the neighbors' horses will be outlined, instead of a block spot. And I think, "hey wait, this exercise is important to keep the whole body going," because we need to keep the whole body functioning as good as we can. The walking gives me the exercise that I need to stay healthy. Digestion and the functioning of the alimentary tract in our body is very important.

Then the second thing that's important when you get to my age is security. My children are a lot of security. And then the third thing is children too, to have somebody that cares. But walking up Bald Hill, well, Mike, walking up Bald Hill awakens a lot of old memories, because three couples of us would leave that campus and walk on a Sunday in April and May, if the weather was good, in 1942. And we would walk with a brown sack lunch and go up Bald Hill on the top and have our lunch on a Sunday, in 1942. Now I'm the only one left of that six and I keep thinking, well, I keep thinking about my wife. She didn't know very much about me when we weren't married, because I had shined shoes and pressed pants – and I pressed my own pants when I went to college – and then those walks. I mean, she didn't know me from my farm background. But anyhow, going for walks allows me to think and feel and get healthy.

MD: And you've been doing it for years.

AL: I've been doing it for years and I'd sure like to be coming on that boat when I'm 100.

MD: I have no doubt that you will. [laughs]

Well, we've got some things we wanted to touch on as this interview catches the rest of your life, your retirement years. One of the things, in some of the other interviews you've talked about learning to be a parent. I know that Deb here thinks that you were an excellent dad and your other kids do, what guiding principles do you follow in your parenting?

AL: What guiding principles do I follow?

MD: As a parent.

AL: As a parent. I'm on the edge of telling you, going back to that wife that I married again. I'll try to do it briefly – I said I'd try to do it; I won't promise you.


OK, so the war's over, I get a job in Wallowa County, and I only have a bachelor's degree in an institution that wants a Ph.D. degree. Can I prove myself to stay on this staff? I went into 4-H Club work and I found, "hey, this is a love that's made visible. I like working with these good people and children." And so I bought an old house, I bought the car, I decided we'd live in Joseph and everything. And then, nature being what it is, I have a little girl that's about fifteen-months old. My wife calls me in and she sits me down with a cup of coffee and she says, "I need to talk to you about something very serious," which she did very, very friendly like, and with a lot of poise. She said, "I'm tired of having to ask you for grocery money. And Andy, you don't know how to be a father. You act like your daughter is in the way, as if it's trouble and you can't do what you want to do. And I would like to have a husband that is a father; that's very serious to me. If you can't learn to be a father then we may consider divorce, because I don't want to raise a daughter that doesn't have a loving dad." And that started it right there. And then she says, "you never take me anyplace." And I says, "well, wait a minute, I always ask if you want to go." And this is what she said, it changed my life, she says, "I want to be invited." Think about that. That was a How to be a Husband 101 course right there.

And so that was my coaching. And I learned to get in communications with my children. I learned by being with them. I learned by watching them. I learned by trying to know what they needed, what they wanted. And then out of that came an experience where I said, "oh my gosh, my daughter needs me. I am security to this daughter. Holy cow, I am important to this child." And I keep that in mind. A father is important to a new offspring, a new child. And so I learned right from the very beginning – Evelyn and Diane and Debbie brought me up all the way through. It has carried all the way through life to where, when your son is seventeen and you go on a horseback hunting trip in the mountains, you enjoy being a father.

MD: Yep. [laughs]

Now, I know that Deb has some things that she wants, some family-type questions, and we're going to get around to some of this. You did a lot of outdoor recreation as a family in all the different stages of your kids' lives, what kinds of things did you guys do? What did you do as a family for recreation?

AL: What kind of things we did?

MD: Yeah, as a family.

AL: Oh, as a family. When you said that, my mind went on to one of the real precious things was backpacking with your individual child in the mountains and staying overnight and so on. But as a family, this is very important, the teamwork for you and Evelyn, the communications. But the common objective in loading the car and unloading the car, picking a picnic spot or wherever we're going to go, is all an opportunity for communications. An opportunity for you to express different points of view and come up with a common goal. So the children's interests was a guiding light in what we did. We'd go to Beverly Beach over on the coast to play on the surf. We'd go up to Waldo Lake up in the mountains to go in the mountains. And one of the benefits is that the family learns to work together.


Even today, when you're going out to do something, you learn how to be helpful. You learn what needs to come along or what might be of interest to you when you get there, and that kind of thoughtfulness, to be helpful, comes into play in many facets of life. Looking for ways to helpful, just on a daily basis. And so we did that especially, my goodness, when we got older and went to the Rogue River in September, or right before school starts, there's all that gear to pack, sleeping bags to blow up and tents to put up and wood to get and the fire sites and wood to pack. So I had the children that, when the fire was running low and you gathered the wood, the children put the wood on the fire. Alright, this is important for family unity. [laughs]

MD: Well, a little birdy told me some memories and let's see what this brings up for you: sleeping overnight on top of Bald Hill; sleeping under picnic tables while it's raining; fishing the Alsea River from the bank while Evelyn and the kids played nearby. What do these memories evoke?

AL: Oh Mike, when you bring up those things. But the one that I guess made a tremendous impression on me, we went to the Siletz River in the wintertime – cold, cold. Evelyn dresses the children up real well. There's no particular landmark. I parked the car on a bend and we climb on down the bank, because there's a nice hole. There's a lay out there where there's a good chance a steelhead will be out there that's willing to bite. And when I left Evelyn and the children playing on the side of the river, I came back, and it was cold and they were fooling around in the water – and the water's forty-two or forty-three degrees – with their fingers and hands, and we go back up to the car. But there, the family was with me on my trip because of me. They went because I wanted to go to the Siletz and we went together.

And then, well, anyway, that was one illustration of it. But we did quite a few – [laughs] we went to a little lake up on the top...I probably shouldn't tell this. Well, two things hit me. First, I've got to tell you that we went fishing for warm water game fish on Lake Tahkenitch down there, and I think it was, I don't remember, May or June. Anyway, there was a lot of daylight. So we went down with the boat, we took the boat and went out there, and I can remember Diane and Debbie going swimming down in this, and I thought, "that water's too cold," you know, for going swimming. And when we went down another time, John was with grandma and grandpa, Evelyn's parents. Debbie and Diane and I went up to a little lake, I don't even know the name of it, but it was on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. But it's high in the mountains because Mount Jefferson is off to your right as you're looking at this little lake. But it's warm. The water is warm and there's nobody around, we want to go swimming. And so my daughters peeled off and went into that lake, swimming with nothing on. The mermaids were out there. [laughs] And I don't remember now, but Evelyn and I were just thrilled that we had children that were willing to be that natural and comfortable to do it, and mature enough. They're real people. [laughs]


MD: I also understand that you had a boat out on Yaquina Bay for a number of years.

AL: Oh my gosh.

MD: How about that?

AL: Yeah, a group of us in the Oregon State Game Commission, and two of us in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, went together and bought an eighteen-foot retired Navy boat. And we put an eighteen-horsepower engine on it, and we would go salmon fishing out above Newport Bay, because this is a pretty good sized boat, it would handle the waves. Then we docked this boat up – go by Newport and go up, I forgot the name of the place right now – and then we'd get in that and take off and go out there fishing. But then we also fished out of it in the bay for flounder. Oh, I can remember catching a perch; it's a novo viviparous perch, which means it gives birth to its young alive. And I think Diane caught one, and when we were taking it in hand, here was a little perch coming out of it. I mean, that was quite a moment in our life to watch how this life could be born alive into the water, a cold-blooded animal. Yes, I was one of the last ones to own the boat, and I don't remember how we ever sold it. But there again, we had some real good times in that. That son of mine is a good thinker all the way through: we were fishing for flounder in Kings Inlet there, and he catches a flounder that is a real big one, like that [holds hands three feet apart]. We put it in a box and it just filled the bottom of it. And when we looked around fishing and John isn't fishing. And I say, "hey John, here I got bait and everything, you want to fish?"

"No," he said, "dad, I just want to rest a little bit." [laughs] And again, I can remember having a blush of appreciation for closeness enough with my son that he's free to tell me, "I want to rest." I mean, family togetherness and doing things as a family offers many opportunities for cultivating good relationships and cultivating young people into adults.

MD: One of the things is, your children are appreciative of your ability to accept their differences. You welcome all kinds of different people into your life. What's your secret to getting along with everybody so well?

AL: Well, I like them! I like people. I like the good qualities of people. I look for them. I look for good things that you have done. And selfishly, I talk about it because I enjoy talking about good things. Then, the wild animals teach you a lot. Animals can teach you many things about coping with the environment, coping with situations and adjusting and being alert. Being alert is very important to little things that go on.

And then one of the things that is a real pleasure for me is to identify some things you have done that are special, either to you or to others, and then talk to you about them. For instance, Peg Elliott, who wrote all the articles in the paper, when I read one of her articles the other day, I just traced her out and found out where she lives over on the Logsden Road to Siletz, and wrote her an article about how she had impacted my life. She had a real and very – Evelyn and I read the articles and we would talk about them and we'd squeeze the juice out of them. [laughs] And I think there was a friend, I made a friend that sent me a lot articles and her telephone number and address. So we got communications again.


I like to think about people, so I think body language extends the message that I like you. I like people, I get a lot out of people. Today I went over to buy worms for the fishing trip, and the lady clerk there, she squeezed my hand when she handed me the change. She said something to the, "I hope these worms are a source of pleasure." I said, "my daughter and I are going to go fishing this afternoon."

"Oh, would you call me and tell me about what luck you have?" There again, right there, here is a friendship.

MD: Just a person in the grocery store. You have a way with people, that's the thing.

One of the things is that you've often talked about this whole idea, the river of life philosophy for living, how has it guided you in your character and your actions throughout your life?

AL: Rivers have been extremely important to me all my life, and then I married a woman who had the goals in life that were like a river. A river knows its destination and it knows how to get there, and running water never gets tired. And it knows when it reaches her destination. Evelyn knew, when she passed away, that she had a family of harmony – three different children that all are different but in harmony. She knew she was a loved woman. She knew that she had had the security she had in her life and that we, Evelyn and I, got along real well. I am so proud to say that I can never remember us shouting at each other. We coped with differences with poise and come away with an admiration for each other. So her guiding our life was like a river, all the way through.

MD: As a dad, I would think that a person of your experience, if you have any advice for other fathers, what would it be?

AL: Communicate with your children. It's not easy, it takes patience, it takes a lot of grace. And nurture a feeling of affection for your wife. Keep a sense of affection alive because a sense of affection to the human body helps healing, helps our immune system, helps our attitude. A feeling of affection gives us that foundation that we could enjoy daily happiness without a special reason, and cope with differences of opinion. And so, for a dad, allow yourself to love your children, because love has no boundaries and is one of the most profound emotions that we can have. Love has no verbal description that I know of.


Children are a dawning of life, so I think that from a dad's standpoint – from my standpoint, where I came into a marriage and going through college, going through the war, living through the war, knowing what it is to have the wind from a bullet that went by so close that you think, "Ah, it missed me," then the real love in life is, I think, comes from following nature to be a dad. And with it comes all kinds of opportunities and responsibilities.

MD: One of the things that we always do with these life stories is kind of catch up. We know about the two girls and your son, how about the grandkids? And I understand that you have some great-grandchildren. What's your relationship with the grandkids?

AL: I hope my relationship stays on a friendly basis. Friendly to the point where I hope that they would be free to ask me questions, be free to be themselves. And then I'm hoping that with their parental background, they will approach differences of opinion with grace and patience and success. [laughs] Yeah.

MD: So you're proud of your family, proud of your grandkids, proud of your great-grandkids.

AL: Yes. And there again, when you let yourself think about being a grandparent and then read some of the sociological studies of human behavior, you find out that grandchildren can frequently be the most obvious of your traits. Grandchildren can have those genes passed down, it emerges in them, and I can see it in some ways. And there again, there's something about recognizing traits – personality traits and so on – in your offspring, that is real humbling. You think, "oh my golly, I was that important. Oh, that's me." Grandchildren are another source of opportunity for pleasure. [laughs]

MD: Are there any other things that we think we need to finish up?

DL: This has been great. This has really been great. Dad, are there any stories that you were thinking of that you wanted to be sure and talk to Mike about? Because I know you've been thinking here for a couple of days about our interview. Anything that came to your mind that we didn't get in today?

AL: OK, as we were talking here today, you have brought me to the threshold of thinking of how lucky I am to be here. And that brings me right back to how absolutely lucky I was to be handed to the Landforces by my mother who, during the Depression, I had an older brother who was five years older, they couldn't take care of us because my birth dad couldn't get a job. And so I got the Landforces who then came into a family that raised me like the calf: concerned about my welfare, my health, my training and my getting along in society. And then being without money and in poverty, we all worked for food because we had the garden, we had the pigs, we had the chickens and the rabbits, and then the cows, because we had milk and butter. So really, I lived in a home that all we needed to buy was flour and salt and pepper and some of these things. So when you think back, my background – we even had yogurt in the milk house – my background comes from good nutrition right up.


Mentally, excellent relationship with parents because I teamed with them. I teamed with them. There again, I can say, I had a father and Mrs. Landforce that never yelled at me. They spanked me a few times – well, Father Landforce didn't but Mother Landforce did – but fortunately I was never spanked because I was a bad boy, I was spanked because I left the gate open a third time. [laughs] Or something like that. So I go back to that training, to when you think of the training with boy-girl relationships, how fortunate to have Father Landforce who I could talk to. I could talk to him about everything. I'm a senior in high school delivering milk and I really like a girl – Shirley Brendon, my gosh – anyway, I take her on the milk route with me and we get friendly, and so finally I got enough... Well, let's see, I was trapping, so I caught enough furs that I got enough money of my own to buy some clothes, and I wanted to take Shirley to the show. But we milked the cows in the morning and at night. Communications, one of the best settings was when we were milking cows. Father would get a cow and I would, and we would sit there and talk about things. And having a father that says, "you took Shirley to the show last night, did you enjoy it?" I said, "I was in heaven. I held her hand and I felt like it was just wonderful." I get a speech on keeping that relationship with a woman, because a woman is a fabulous creature on this Earth, giving birth to their own kind, it can perpetuate mankind. Then treat them with respect and admiration. And I have thoroughly enjoyed. Mother Landforce required you to stand up when a woman walked into the room, I still like it to this day.

So that is the foundation that I come into a wonderful life. I've just thoroughly enjoyed my whole life. The fact is, Mother Landforce, when I'm a junior in high school, takes out a life insurance policy with Kansas City Life Insurance, because I'm just sure they couldn't afford to bury me, and so having a life insurance policy was one way to get by it. Because my behavior wasn't what you would consider very safe, because in the wintertime, I'd run bobcats and I trapped and so on. So thanks to the Landforce bringing up that I have the love of my children. But I lucked out; I married a woman that wanted to be a mother, wanted to be a wife, and then has guided my life all the way through. Well, thanks to communication with Father Landforce, we could talk about anything.

DL: It's been a good ninety-eight years, hasn't it Dad?

AL: It's been absolutely fabulous. Still going.

DL: Still going! Still going strong; we're looking for more.

MD: Still going. Well, you are a treasure to Oregon State University and it is my honor to be able to chronicle these ninety-eight years, and we'll look at it again in another couple, three years after you go over 100, and we'll catch up. Thank you.



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