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E.B. Lemon Oral History Interview, March 15, 1979

Oregon State University
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JL: Dean Lemon, why don't we start with what you remember about your grandparents .

EL: All of my people, the ones that I remember, are around this neighborhood, you might say. My grandparents on my mother's side, the Hawleys, crossed the plains and settled up at Alpine, near Bell-fountain up here south of town. I don't know just when they came here.

JL: Were they farmers?

EL: Yes, I come from a farming background. The Lemons have about the same 00:01:00history [as the Hawleys"]. They came across the plains, as we say, in an earlier day and in a different group. They located in Monroe up here. And my father and mother, of course, met as young people because they were in the same general neighborhood; I don't know whether you know it or not but Alpine and Monroe are about five or six miles apart.

JL: Do you know how they met?

EL: No, I don't. I don't think they could help it in those days because there weren't many people around. (chuckles) My mother and father married in 1886.

JL: What was your mother's name?

EL: Her name was Irena Hawley.


JL: Do you remember your grandparents at all?

EL: Oh, yes, yes. People didn't live as long in those days-it's been my privilege to live in these times--but I remember them. I was quite a small boy when my grandfather Lemon died; he died in his early sixties, and my grandfather Hawley two or three years later. My grandmothers lived until I was in high school.

JL: They continued living in Alpine and Monroe?

EL: Well, they moved around some [depending upon] where they had relatives. My grandmother Hawley lived in Eugene for some time. Grandmother Lemon lived in 00:03:00Monroe all the rest of her life. I was grown, I think I was married, when she passed away.

JL: Do you know which route they took when they came across the plains?

EL: No, I don't, and I wish I did. That question has come up in the last ten years a good many times and I could just as well as not have found out, but I never did. (chuckles) My interest just didn't happen to be in that direction--in earlier days. I've heard them talk about their trips across; but I don't know what groups they were [with], I don't know just when they came, and I'm not sure where they came from.

JL: What do you remember them talking about?

EL: Just their experience crossing the plains and, as people do, they talked 00:04:00about when they were a boy this happened, and as a girl this happened. As I remember, the Lemons mostly came from Missouri and the Hawleys probably from Ohio.

JL: Do any of the experiences your grandparents told you about stand out in your mind?

EL: No. I wasn't with them very much except my grandmother Hawley. My grandmother Hawley lived with my parents in her latter days--she moved out to eastern Oregon with my parents so she was in our home, but she was quite elderly then. I don't remember too much about that. My parents, as I started to say a 00:05:00moment ago, married in 1886, and they went over to Central Oregon and took up a homestead in the early days at Grass Valley.

JL: Why did they move to Grass Valley?

EL: Oh, I don't know. Just like young people they wanted to go someplace and all, and my father went over before they were married and took up the homestead and built a cabin, just a little two-room cabin. It was very pioneer country in those days; there were very few people there. Grass Valley in those days was about 35 miles from The Dalles, which was the only town of any size at all in that area. I've heard my father say that he could get on his horse--and that's 00:06:00the only way he had of going any place in those days-and go straight to The Dalles except for the Deschutes River which he had to cross. There were practically no fences, practically an open country entirely.

He went up there because he wanted to be in the stock business. It was stock country, great grass country then, and a very good one; it's all grain now. My father dealt in stock but he switched to grain pretty much in the latter years because everybody else had done that in that country. The land around where he located was homesteaded, you know, after a few years.


JL: So he had 160 acres?

EL: No, he had 320. I don't remember just how he got those 320--I should, because I inherited them--but it was possible to get 320 acres in those days under certain circumstances. Grass Valley was just a post office, I think, in those days.

JL: Who was their first child and when was he, or she born?

EL: He was born in 1889. (chuckles)

JL: That's you. (laughter)

EL: Well, I don't know how I was fortunate enough to grow up. I had two 00:08:00brothers, but they lost them both. One of my brothers died when he was small, about two, and the other one was quite a bit younger [than me]. He died here in Corvallis about 1924, I think.

JL: When were your brothers born?

EL: My first brother was only six years younger than I, so he was born in about 1895, wasn't he? Yes. He died in 1898. And my other brother wasn't born until 00:09:001904. I was in high school when he was born.

JL: What do you remember about Grass Valley from your boyhood days there?

EL: Oh, Grass Valley was quite a place in those early days. There's been a big change, as you know, in all small towns. Before the days of automobiles and highways the neighborhood town was the center of things; but as transportation improved, and roads improved particularly, people went farther away to do most of their trading and so on; and little towns began to fade out or didn't grow 00:10:00because the business went to larger places. Grass Valley, as I knew it, was about 500 people. Now it wasn't that many when I was a little fellow, I know, but when I went to high school there were about 500 people, and it was a very live town. Now it's still Grass Valley, it's still there, but it's, oh, I suppose, maybe there are 200 people there. It's changed very materially.

JL: Most of the people around there were ranchers then?

EL: They were all ranchers in the early days except the few that lived in town. Of course, at one time Grass Valley had several pretty good stores, as I remember them, and other places of business that people need a lot of times. 00:11:00Now there's very little there.

JL: Did your mother work on the farm with your father?

EL: Yes, she worked very hard-worked on the farm. That's where all the women worked in those days. There wasn't any place else for them to work, and it was a hard life, a very hard life.

JL: What made it hard?

EL: Well, let me give you some examples. I told you we located on a homestead. There was nothing on that homestead for anybody to work with except the raw land and the little cabin that they started out with and it was lonely. As I remember 00:12:00it, we had five or six neighbors within three or four miles of us and the nearest neighbor was about a mile away; but in those early days [when they first came there] it was farther than that, you know, because there was just very few people there.

People worked hard for everything they got and it was a hard life. Modern conveniences, as we know them now, just didn't exist; we had an old wood stove in a little kitchen, and the water, for all domestic use, was heated on top of that little lid stove; you washed with an old wood tub and a washboard 00:13:00(chuckles) and like everybody else we had our baths in a wood tub on Saturday night--water heated on the stove and poured into the tub, you know. That's the way it was. And there was lots of work to be done.

JL: What kind of work did you do as a young boy?

EL: I remember helping my mother a good deal around the house. In that country there was no wood-no timber close. My father cut the timber, oh, 20 to 25 miles 00:14:00from where we lived, and hauled it in with a wagon and chopped it up with an axe or an old saw. I remember I used to split wood and carry it in, keep the woodbox full for my mother, (chuckles) Soon as I was old enough I helped milk the cows.

You didn't have anything except a few staple groceries, you know. Grass Valley is dry country, and you didn't grow things like they grow down here. We fared better than some people did. That is, our folks had different ideas. We always had lots of fruit to eat--I mean not lots, but fruit. Every fall my father would 00:15:00take a team and light wagon and go down to the Columbia River which is, well, 30 to 35 miles, I guess, from where I lived, and get all the fruit he could haul home, and my mother would can for the next week or ten days.

JL: What kind of fruit?

EL: Oh, we got peaches and pears and grapes and other things. The Columbia River area was fairly productive. In those days it was cultivated probably more than it is now; there was a big demand for that type of thing because people couldn't grow it at home. I liked the outdoors much better; I liked the stock and so I 00:16:00helped my father.

JL: Did you have a closer relationship with your father than you had with your mother?

EL: No, no, not at all. I just liked the kind of work he was doing better, (laughter)

JL: Did your parents discuss politics when you were with them?

EL: Oh, yes. Yes, we always took a, well...I think the only paper available up there in my early days was The Weekly Oregonian-The Oregonian that is here now; but [the papers] were much smaller, and they put out a weekly that we subscribed for and could get through the mail up there. That's all we had except a few books of course, but they were not very numerous. In the first place folks 00:17:00couldn't afford to buy them; money came hard in those days. I remember one of the first wheat crops my father grew; that was the main money crop. I remember this season particularly because of the rain. They had very few rainy seasons up there in the summertime but this time we had a very difficult, very hard rain sometime in about 1896, 1897, 1898, sometime in there. It was a very wet season and you had no barn or sheds that you could store anything in to speak of; you couldn't afford them. We had a barn for workstock and the hay stood outside. So 00:18:00after the wheat was thrashed and put in sacks-all the grain was sacked then--there was no place to keep it; to market it, we had to haul it down to the Columbia River.

JL: To what place on the Columbia did you haul it?

EL: Biggs. Biggs Station. My father used a six-horse team and two wagons and he could make two trips a week. For instance, he'd get his wagons loaded on 00:19:00Sunday night because he was always home on Sunday, and he'd get the wagons loaded and start out about daylight on Monday morning, and he'd get back sometime Wednesday afternoon from the first trip, and get his wagon loaded to go back the next morning at daylight, and get back on Saturday afternoon, until he got his crop hauled down there. See? (chuckles)

JL: How long did it take him to haul the crop?

EL: Oh, he'd be five or six weeks hauling his wheat, hauling it down there and back.

JL: Would you help him?

EL: Oh, no, I was too small then--only [big enough] to do chores around the place. And then we had to get our wood. I mentioned awhile ago we hauled our wood 20 to 30 miles. The first wood was juniper, which is pretty good wood by 00:20:00the way, and the canyons up along the John Day and the Deschutes have a good deal of juniper on them--particularly along the John Day country--and he would go over there and cut wood, and then take wagons and teams and go get it.

JL: He was a hard worker.

EL: Oh, people worked hard in those days. My folks just did what everybody else did.

JL: Who did you play with as a young boy growing up in Grass Valley?

EL: I played mostly with my saddle horse and my dog. (chuckles) There were few kids around the community. I didn't get to school until I was nine years old; I was nine years old in July, and I started to school the following September. 00:21:00That was because four or five neighbors, all [of whom] had more kids than my folks, got together. They just knew they had to do something for us kids, so three or four of them took their wagons and went across the Deschutes River over in the Tygh Valley where there was some lumber and a little sawmill, and they got the lumber and hauled it over and built the schoolhouse, a little one-room schoolhouse.

JL: The school was in Grass Valley?

EL: No. We were seven miles from Grass Valley; we were out in the country. Our first term of school was three months. We had a three-months term of school, and then that ended in December, I guess, and about March or April another three-months term come along, because the weather was too bad for kids to walk 00:22:00and get places and all [during the winter months].

JL: Who was the teacher?

EL: Well, my first teacher was a lady by the name of Smith. She boarded with a family, not with us but one of our neighbor's families. Teachers always had to do that; for years the teachers had to board around with some of the parents. I had that kind of school until I was about 15, I guess. My folks had gotten on their feet pretty well by that time and they built a house in Grass Valley just because the school was there.

JL: They encouraged you to get an education then?

EL: Oh, yes, they were always interested. I had a very fine home. I can 00:23:00remember-remark sounds funny now but there was a lot of truth in it-I can remember my mother saying to me that they wanted me to go to school and get all the training I could so I wouldn't have to work as hard as they worked, and there is a good deal of truth in that. I prided myself on keeping busy and working hard all my life, but I never worked like they did. I never went through the hardships that they had to.

When my mother said that to me she was sitting on the corner of the kitchen table churning with the old dasher churn to get butter, (chuckles) I can see her now sitting there carrying on a conversation with me. I don't know how this 00:24:00question came up but something about school and training, and I remember her saying to me, "Papa," she said, "Papa and I want you to get all the schooling you can, so you won't have to work as hard as we worked." (chuckles)

JL: What was your mother like? Was she a very serious woman or did she have a sense of humor?

EL: Oh, yes. My father had more of a sense of humor than she did, but they [both] had a good outlook, and they were progressive people and leaders in the community.

JL: In what ways?

EL: Well, they wanted the community to grow, and they wanted to see things that people need in the community. So a little after we got the school house we got a little Sunday School started there. My mother was active in that more than my 00:25:00father; both were, but my mother took a very active part in that.

JL: What church was it?

EL: Oh, it was just a community church, was all. They'd have Sunday School. I don't think they ever tried to have a denomination attached to it. It was Protestant but that's all that I know.

JL: What did the three of you do for entertainment?

EL: We didn't have any (laughter) for a long time except what we made ourselves.

JL: Like what?

EL: Oh, we always had a little Christmas tree, for instance. And as that type of thing came in people did as people do now very much. But the entertainment was very limited. There were, I imagine, about 25 youngsters in the little 00:26:00community school after it got started.

JL: How many teachers taught in the school?

EL: One.

JL: One teacher taught 25 students in different grades?

EL: Yes, and she taught everything to every grade from first grade up. Of course, the grades were pretty small to start with. They got up to the eighth grade. I took my last term in the eighth grade at that same little school with one teacher.

JL: Where did you go for your ninth grade work?

EL: I went to Grass Valley.

JL: Do you know anything about DeMoss Springs or the DeMoss family? I think 00:27:00DeMoss Springs is in the Grass Valley area.

EL: Oh, yes. DeMoss Springs was about 15 miles from our place. The DeMoss family, you know, were musicians, and quite talented musicians, too; they gave concerts around, and they took trips; they went to Europe.

JL: Did you know any of the family members?

EL: I was small; but, yes, I used to know them when I'd see them. I'd know them very well. At one time one of my teachers in this little one-room school was a DeMoss girl. She was probably a granddaughter of the real old DeMoss family.


JL: Do you remember her first name?

EL: I believe it was Myrtle but I'm not sure right now. There was a Myrtle DeMoss, but I'm not sure whether this was Myrtle or not.

JL: Did you ever hear them perform?

EL: Oh, yes! Many times.

JL: Tell me about that?

EL: (laughter) Oh, I can't tell you much about it. They had quite a troupe. They were vocalists and they played several instruments. I don't remember now what they were; to me they were just horns, you know. But they attracted quite a little attention; they were well-known.

JL: What do you remember about their performance?

EL: People always came to see them whenever they gave a performance anyways 00:29:00near. They'd come to Grass Valley probably once a year and put on a concert, pretty near always in the daytime. It was hard for people to get around at night, you see--no electric lights, everything was with the old coal oil lamp. But they drew a crowd; they were very good people.

JL: Does anything stand out in your memory of your boyhood about them as entertainers?

EL: Oh, I'll never forget them. I always can see them up on the stage with those instruments and so on. But I didn't understand much music; neither my father or mother were musically trained and so I didn't get any training in music, but I 00:30:00remember we used to always go and enjoy the DeMosses.

JL: Do you remember any of the individuals in particular?

EL: There was Henry DeMoss; I remember him. He was an average-sized man and bald-headed and had a mustache. He played one of the instruments. It was a horn of some kind.

JL: What did you like best about the performance?

EL: I think what I liked about it most was that it was something different. There were people there, (chuckles) That's what attracted me mostly. (laughter)

JL: Did you ever visit DeMoss Springs?

EL: Oh, yes, many times. Many times.

JL: What was the community of DeMoss Springs like?


EL: Well, I was going to use the word "typical," but it wasn't typical. It's located in a pretty little valley, just a little place. It was green in the summertime; that's when people went places. They didn't do much outdoors any other time, you know, because it's too cold and no facilities. But DeMoss Springs was a picnic area mostly. Everything was in the open, and there would be a Fourth of July celebration there. If there were any kind of a big community gathering that covered quite an area, it would generally be at DeMoss Springs.

JL: You mean people from all over the area would congregate at the DeMoss 00:32:00Springs picnic area?

EL: Yes.

JL: Did you go?

EL: Oh, yes, we went there many times. The Fourth of July was a big day up there. That was one of the holidays when people all did something, you know. I think I've been to the old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration at DeMoss Springs more than any other place. In fact, I went back up there to one after I came to college. I was up home at the ranch for the summer, and Fourth of July came, and we all went to DeMoss Springs. (chuckles)

JL: What do you remember? Were the DeMosses there?

EL: Yes. Their heyday as a company had passed by that time, but they were still there. They still operated the place and it's still a wide spot in the road up there now.

JL: By what year would you say that the heyday of the music group was over?


EL: Oh, I would say from 1910 on probably. The older DeMosses were past their performance years and the younger people had moved out. They weren't doing anything in those days as a group, as a family. You see in a country like that there's limited opportunity for young people. They've got to get out or else they just stay farmers, and the country at that time was undeveloped and not attractive to them at all. I've always had a leaning toward the farm and 00:34:00agriculture and one thing and another, and I've said many times, and I would say it again, that I think if there had been a modern home with a good bathtub on our place, I'd never have left. (laughter)

JL: That's the reason you left? (chuckles)

EL: No, (laughter) but that's one of the things that's different. That's just typical of the things we didn't have, you see.

JL: Do you remember the DeMoss family ever farming their land?

EL: Oh, I think they did; I think they farmed their land. I can't answer that question accurately, but I assume they did. There would be no other way for them to live there; they made a little money out of their music but not big money.

JL: What kind of songs did they entertain the community with?


EL: They played some pretty good stuff, I think. They wrote some music. Didn't they write "Sweet Oregon"?

JL: Do you remember that song?

EL: Oh, they always sang that; that was a kind of a theme song.

JL: Do you like the song?

EL: Oh, yes. I liked that song. Yes.

JL: That's interesting. Can you think of anything else you'd like to say about the DeMosses?

EL: No, except they meant a great deal to that community because they provided entertainment that wasn't available from any other source. That's one reason they were so popular, I think. Where did you get interested? From the Museum? (chuckles)

JL: Right, I'm very familiar with their family history.

EL: You've got more information than I've got.


JL: But I don't know people who saw them perform, especially in the early times. That's why I was interested.

EL: You asked me if I had been back to DeMoss Springs many times. I went back up there and gave a Fourth of July address after I was on the staff here at the University.

JL: Who asked you to do that?

EL: Oh, I don't know now, whoever was in charge of the Fourth of July up there.

JL: What year was this?

EL: It was probably in the thirties.

JL: What year did you graduate from Grass Valley High School?

EL: 1906.


JL: And then what happened?

EL: Well, then a very interesting thing, interesting to me, happened to me. As I told you my folks were interested in my going to college, had always planned that I would go on to school. So I was ready to come to college in 1906. I had no idea where or what I wanted to do, and I was groping to get a hold of something that I would be interested in.

EL: On Sunday during the summer harvest season--we had five or six hired hands during harvest season at that time and they all wanted to go to town, to Grass 00:38:00Valley, on Sunday just to do something, you know. And I remember one of the hired men that I thought very well of--he was a fine man~-and he and I took our buggy and team and went to town, and on the way back we got to talking about my going to college and what I was going to do and so on. He knew that I didn't have any idea of what I wanted to do, but he said: "If I were your age I'd think about taking pharmacy. That fellow that's got that little drugstore is making more money than anybody else in Grass Valley." And that just stuck with me. I'd gotten a few catalogs, and I went home and got my catalogs and I thought to myself, "I'm going to take pharmacy."


EL: I think my dad was a little skeptical about that. It hadn't been [a] very good year on the farm. The crop wasn't very good, and I'd worked in the harvest-worked hard in the harvest all summer long. Along about, oh, maybe the latter part of August, my father had been to Grass Valley. We went there for all of our shopping, you know, and he made frequent trips, not every day by any means, but maybe a couple of times a week he'd have to take a team and a hack, as we called it, and go to town and get our groceries. When he came home this day he said to me, "I had a nice talk with Dr. Taylor." Dr. Taylor was the town physician, and he owned the drugstore then, and by that time the drug business 00:40:00had begun to go down a little bit from what it was.

EL: He said: "I had a nice talk with Dr. Taylor and he said he'd like to have you work in the store for a year. I think it might be a good thing for you to do that. You know, we haven't had a very good year." He was manufacturing this. We hadn't had a good year but....He said, "Our money is a little tight and if you wanted to go over there and work you could make a little money, and have the experience, and you might find out a little more about pharmacy."

EL: Well, I did that. I got $25.00 a month, (chuckles) I went to work at eight o'clock in the morning and worked till nine o'clock at night except that I went home for my meals. My folks had the house in town then. But otherwise, I was in 00:41:00that little store from eight o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock at night except on Sunday when we locked up at six o'clock at night. That's the way the business was run.

JL: Seven days a week?

EL: Yes, that's the way the business was run in those days. You young people don't know how to work, (laughter) Well, I did that; and I enjoyed it, and I've never regretted it; and I got all the pharmacy I wanted. (laughter)

JL: What did your father want you to study?

EL: He didn't care. He wasn't trying to tell me what to do. He just wanted to be sure, before I got off on a tangent like pharmacy, that I knew what I was doing, (chuckles) Smart man.

Yes, it was one of the finest things he ever did for me. I don't think he ever thought about it being important; but to me, as I look back on it, it was one of 00:42:00the finest things, because pharmacy is the last thing I'd want to be in now.

JL: So what happened after that year in the drugstore?

EL: Well, after that year I began to think about what I was going to do, and I decided I was going to take business. I'd gotten a little taste of business, and I'd watch things that appealed to me. We had a very progressive farmer that lived quite a ways from us, but he was [a] very prominent man, one of my father's best friends, and he was an extensive sheep grower.

JL: What was his name?

EL: His name was Buckley, and he was way out in front of most of the sheepmen in there, and there were quite a lot of them by this time. But he shipped his sheep out to where there was more range than there was [in the vicinity of Grass 00:43:00Valley] after it turned into a grain country; every summer he'd ship a big bunch of the sheep that he would have for sale. He'd take them to Colorado or someplace like that and keep them until the market was right along in the fall, then he'd ship them into Chicago or New York or someplace like that and sell them; and he made more money than any other sheepman that I know of.

I used to watch him bring those sheep in and get them loaded on the train. I saw the railroad built into the Grass Valley. But it appealed to me what he was doing and I thought: "My goodness, that's the thing for a fellow to do. Don't settle down here up on some little ranch or something, but get out where 00:44:00something is going on and get ready for it". Well, I thought I'd better take business of some kind, and so I decided I'd take business.

My father was quite satisfied with that. He had no objection at all, and about two weeks before it was time for me to come to school, I'd made up my mind that I was coming to OAC and take commerce. That's what they called it then, School of Commerce.

JL: Why OAC over U of O?

EL: Oh, I don't know. I just talked to some people that talked me into it. This was a good place. I had a good friend who was a business man in Grass Valley who [was a] graduate of Oregon State, OAC as it was then, and he talked to me. He didn't try to influence me where to go. He said, "If I were going to college again, I'd go there and take agriculture." He was a merchant then. "I liked what 00:45:00I got. The training, it helped me. It's kept me close to people and so on. That's what I'd do." Well, I had no intention of taking agriculture, but when I saw the business program here I thought that appealed to me pretty much, so that's what I settled on.

JL: Why didn't you want to go into agriculture like your father?

EL: There wasn't any bathtub on the ranch. (laughter) I was still missing those things. People just didn't have them. My folks had them about as fast as anybody else, but they just didn't have them, (laughter)

JL: You knew it was possible to have those luxuries?

EL: Well, of course, I'm just picking on the bathtub, you know. I could name 40 things like that, you see, that made life [unappealing] as I saw it. Now, let's see, you asked me to come back to something.

JL: The building of the railroad into Grass Valley.


EL: Oh, the building of the railroad. Well, that caused lots of excitement up there. There was some people that got interested--I'm digressing a moment: in a new country like that, as soon as it gets on its feet, there is a lot of high-powered young or middle-aged people, or companies, who will come in and look for the opportunities; they're always there, you know. Well, two or three men came in and they interested some progressive people in the country in promoting a railroad.

JL: Do you remember the people that came in?

EL: Oh, yes. They were at our house two or three times.

JL: What were their names?

EL: Oh, let me think now. One of them was named [Elmer E.] Lytle, and the man who ultimately became one of the head men was a local man who had been there a 00:47:00little earlier and started a bank; his name was [W. H.] Moore. Lytle and Moore got to be the promoters and they're the people that I got acquainted with most. They interested people in building a railroad up through that country. They expected to go south with it clear through Central Oregon, which it ultimately did, but it was [a] long time before that happened.

JL: But they took these little towns... There were three towns in Sherman County then: Wasco was the first one; Moro was the middle one; and Grass Valley was the third one. Grass Valley was the furthest south. Those three towns were all about 500 population in these times and there was some good progressive people there. So they raised the capital and made a go of the railroad, the Columbia Southern.


They took off at Biggs, Biggs Junction. That was a big project for those days. They were a couple of years, naturally, of getting that railroad located, [deciding] just where it would go. We were about seven miles southeast of Grass Valley and they gave serious consideration on their own--they initiated it--to bringing the railroad through my father's place and having a town [there]. [It would have] just practically moved Grass Valley over there if it came that way.

JL: Did your father think of that?

EL: Oh, he was all for it; suited him all right. They studied that route and finally decided on the route that went through Grass Valley which was a wise 00:49:00decision. The reason they did it was my father's place was at the head of a small kind of, oh, we called it a canyon up there--it was rather wide at places and then narrow down below. When they had the snows in the wintertime and on the melting of the rains, it got considerable water running through there and it washed a good deal. There would be ditches, you know, and the railroad company gave up going there, because they saw too much danger of washouts; and it's true if they'd have come up that way they would have had several big washouts.

They finally went through Grass Valley. Of course, I was still out in the country school then. They went through Grass Valley and went on south; it went 00:50:00within three miles of our place. It's out of business now; it's been torn up.

JL: What year was this again?

EL: Oh, (pause) this must have been about the early 1900's; I'd say between 1898 and 1904, something like that. In the railroad camps--you know the workers--there would always be some children, so the year the railroad was going through that section we had a bunch of railroad kids, three or four of them. Every month or so we'd get a new crop of them that would come in; the others moved on, you see.

JL: What type of people were these railroad workers?

EL: They were laboring families that followed railroads along when they were built.


JL: Were they a particular ethnic group?

EL: No, I don't think so. Later on we had some ethnic groups-Europeans, Italians and I don't know what all.

JL: Any Orientals?

EL: No, not many Orientals. I don't know why the Orientals didn't get up there, but they didn't.

JL: What were these migrant people like? Did the community accept them?

EL: Oh, yes, they were all right. They had their camps. They didn't stay long enough to become part of the community. They had their camps right next to where the railroad head camp was and the kids would walk down to school two or three 00:52:00miles; but it wouldn't be very long till they would go on. There was three or four different levels of employment. The first was just grading, you know; that brought one group of people who did that; they were always way ahead of the rest. Then along come the people that did more of the professional work, surveying out the road level and actually making the roadbed for the railroad and that type of thing. They were people of an engineering trend a little bit, you see.

JL: Did any of the community members work on the railroad with them?

EL: No. No. No. Not much of that.

JL: What happened to the railroad?


EL: Just the typical thing happened. Progress. That railroad was very valuable when it was first put there, a great help to everybody. But soon as you got automobiles people travel faster, and then we got roads; you can't get anybody to ride on a little old country train when they could go by car, and that's what happened to it.

The same way with the people who marketed over it. Over the last few years that I was on the ranch we marketed all of our wheat, and instead of hauling it to Biggs, we hauled it to Grass Valley. Fact, we had a warehouse closer to us than that; there was a warehouse built along the railroad right-of-way within three miles of our farm. And so that just changed everything, you see. It was several 00:54:00years before that hurt the railroad any; in fact, helped it. I mean people patronized the railroad, but as soon as we got used to....The cars came, of course, before the good roads did. When a community starts, why the cars run in the dust for awhile, but as soon as they got to where they could get paving, people wanted to ride the paving, and that's what they do.

JL: Dean Lemon, do you remember the first time the train came to Grass Valley?

EL: I don't know why I don't, but I don't. I must have been there. I can remember before the trains begin to come when the engines would come and follow 00:55:00up. They built two miles of road, then the railroad came up behind, you see, to deliver the material that they used on ahead. So I got used to seeing the flatcars and boxcars and engines.

JL: Did you ever ride on it yourself?

EL: Oh, not then, not when they were building it. I rode on it a lot of times afterwards.

JL: What was it like?

EL: Just like it is now only it wasn't a very fancy train. Oh, yes, I rode that train. Gee whiz, I rode that train after Mrs. Lemon and I were married to go up into Central Oregon; my folks still lived up there. I remember that train.

JL: You arrived here in Corvallis in September, 1907?


EL: Yes.

JL: Why don't you tell me about your first impressions of Corvallis.

EL: Oh, I knew Corvallis pretty well.

JL: How was that?

EL: I've had relatives around here, and I visited here. I was in Corvallis at least half a dozen times before I came here to school, not to stay but to see the place. My grandmother Lemon and her family were still in Monroe when I 00:57:00started college. They had quit farming, but they were still in their home in the village of Monroe.

JL: Did Corvallis seem to be a large city to you at that time?

EL: It looked pretty large to me. I'd never lived in anything bigger than Grass Valley, you know. Oh, my folks got around quite a little in later years. At home they got on their feet somewhat, and we were frequently going places. I told you my father was a stockman. He loved horses and he went to a good many fairs. I'd 00:58:00come to the State Fair with him two or three times before I came to college, Portland every once in awhile and places like that, so I wasn't exactly a greenhorn when I came to college.

JL: He would travel to these fairs when he wasn't harvesting the wheat?

EL: Yes, there would be times. Farmers have lots of time off, really they do. The wheat farmers do. It isn't like it used to be. Farmers up in Sherman County now buy their bread. My mother baked every piece of bread that we ever had until I was 15 years old; but those people up there now, they buy all their bread. 00:59:00They buy everything like that, most of them. We had to milk our cows to get butter; and churn, too, dasher churn, that type of thing. They don't do that anymore. They go to town and buy their butter and milk like other people do; don't bother with the milk in the cow. (chuckles)

JL: How did you travel to Corvallis?

EL: I came on the train.

JL: Were your parents with you?

EL: No, I'd made the trip alone before. But, gee whiz, the difference now. I've got five grandchildren and everyone of them have been abroad. (chuckles) Compare that.

JL: Who met you at the railroad station?

EL: Oh, I guess, let me see, a couple of my cousins. I had a great-uncle here in 01:00:00town. He was retired and lived here in town, and a couple of his kids who were college kids then, they met me. I would of been all right without them.

JL: What were your feelings on coming here?

EL: I had a nervous feeling like all kids do, I think, when they are kind of starting out on their own. (chuckles)

JL: What classes do you remember taking?

EL: My first year I took advanced algebra and I had an English course, English composition, I guess. I had a modern history course. Public speaking. I was 01:01:00interested in debate, and I. got into a public speaking class; that was an elective course. I don't know. I took the basic ones. I took accounting, bookkeeping, I guess.

JL: What professor stands out in your mind at that time?

EL: Well, that depends on what kind of professor, (chuckles) There was my dean right up there. (pointing to a large picture on the wall)

JL: Who is that?

EL: That's Dean [John Andrew] Bexell. Bexell Hall is named after him. He didn't come till a year after [I did]; a year after that I got acquainted with him. He 01:02:00was dean of the School of Commerce.

If you asked me what professor stood out in my life in my freshman year, I don't think there was any really. There was some good ones, but I wouldn't say they were outstanding men necessarily. There was an English teacher by the name of [Loren B.] Baldwin who was a fine English teacher. A math teacher was old Professor [Nicholas] Tartar. He was a great math teacher. I had Professor Horner. (chuckles)

JL: Tell me about J. B. Horner?

EL: I think I knew J. B. Horner pretty well. The fact of it is, J. B. Horner came to Grass Valley recruiting when I was about, well, I expect it was my 01:03:00junior year in high school and one afternoon he had a meeting at the hotel of people who were interested in college; there were about six to eight kids that came down to visit with him, and I was one of them. My father had been downtown that day--this was before I'd talked about coming here at all--he came back and said: "There's a man from OAC downtown, and he's going to meet some kids at the hotel at two o'clock this afternoon. You'd better go down there." So I dressed up and went down, and I had a good hour and a half, probably, listening to J. B. 01:04:00Horner. I don't know whether you want this on tape or not.

JL: Yes, I do.

EL: I liked J. B. Horner. He was a good friend of mine until he died. I took a history class with him the first year. He pretty near scared me to death. (chuckles) He was a great bluffer.

JL: Why do you consider him to be a great bluffer?

EL: Oh, I don't know. He was just kind of impressive, and you just sort of weren't at ease. But soon I got to know him pretty well. He was a pretty good teacher. He's known now pretty much for stories about him. Have you heard some of these stories? Well, there's some truth in some of them, but he was a man 01:05:00that it was easy to make a story about out of not much of anything. Some good stories started about things that he did....Well, you talk to the generation of college kids that I knew best, those I was with for three or four years, and hear them talk now and they got stories that I know never happened, (laughter) They just build you see.

JL: About what Horner did?

EL: Well, Horner didn't intentionally do [what the stories say he did], but he was just so different from other people that if there was any little fool thing that he did, somebody made a good story out of it. (laughter)

JL: How was he different?


EL: That's kind of hard for me to say. He just was. (laughter) That's all.

JL: Could you describe his physical appearance?

EL: He was a heavy-set man, not fleshy but on the short, chubby side. He was probably as tall as I but a good deal heavier--broad shoulders and so on. And he did some funny things. My wife won't remember it now because she's forgotten everything she knew--she's had some hard luck--but she had a story about him. She was pretty near a straight "A" student. She was almost all through college, and he gave her a "B" in history. Professor Horner met her father on the street 01:07:00one day--this was some months later--and he said "I don't know why I gave your daughter a 'B'. She was an excellent student. But," he said, "I did." (laughter) He was pretty persuasive in some ways. Well, now, that isn't the right word either. He always tried to cover up pretty well, like in instances like that. Now they just make good stories.

JL: Was he a popular man?

EL: Yes. People made fun of him, and yet they all admired him, liked him.

JL: You had a history class from him?

EL: Yes, I had a history class from him, and I took a penmanship class from him. He was one of these very flourishing writers-those old Spencerian writers write 01:08:00a beautiful hand, you know. Nobody does it now unless it's an art set-up of some kind. You didn't have typewriters much in those days, so there was some stress put on penmanship. I enjoyed my class in penmanship. I never became a good writer, but in a little while he got me to quit doing this way, and doing this way, you see. (demonstrates writing styles)

JL: He changed the direction of your hand, you mean?

EL: Yes, well, when you write you mostly put your hand just there, and you write here. Most kids will sit here, you know. I've seen kids do this, see. (demonstrating hand positions) And so I learned quite a lot from the old guy in a good many ways.

JL: I understand he would take his students out on field trips.


EL: Oh yes. He had a great many hobbies. Many of them he didn't know much about, but as a history teacher he got interested in Indian mounds, and there were some of them around here, you know.

JL: Where were they?

EL: Oh, I don't know. They were scattered all over the country here. There used to be a pretty good-sized one over in Linn County, and he'd take the kids out and dig up something, you know. He'd find a bone once in a while, (chuckles) A few things like that. And I can tell you how Horner Museum got started.

JL: Why don't you do that?

EL: Bexell had more to do with it than Horner did, to tell you the truth of it. Horner was reaching his, well, what would now be necessary retirement, but we didn't have retirement age in those days; and he was getting to the point where he wasn't in his top best anymore. He knew it, and through this interest he had 01:10:00in digging mounds and one thing and another, he built up a little museum in his classroom.

JL: From the artifacts that he collected from the mounds?

EL: Yes, and around [the area], and he attracted a little attention talking about those different things. He was talking to Dean Bexell about what he was going to do. He didn't want to just retire and have nothing to do but sit around. There wasn't much to sit around for in those days, you know.

JL: What year was this?

EL: Oh, this would of been about 1908 or 1909 [Horner retired in 1933] or something like that, and Bex said to him: "Professor Horner, why don't you make a real hobby out of this little museum you've started here. We need a museum on this campus, and you've got something there that's interesting. You can build on 01:11:00that, and you can pick up some other things and it'll be something useful. Might develop into something someday." And old J. B., he grabbed it, and before he died he had Horner Museum [the Museum formally opened February 20, 1925], He had quite a lot of stuff. He got in touch with some collections of one thing and another that people had and talked them out of them.

There was a man by the name of [Edward] Boord--he didn't live here, he was in the Willamette Valley someplace--and he had a good collection of animals. Horner got most of those animals from this man Boord; he got his collection, moved it over, and brought it into his museum. See? Some of these animals may be in 01:12:00the museum yet.

JL: How did he get this collection?

EL: Well, how does anybody get those things? (chuckles) I suspect Boord was getting old, too, and wondering what was going to happen to his animals. That's the only way lots of those things get into museums and places like that. All you have to do is to find out where these things are and begin to work on somebody and sometime you'll interest somebody.

JL: And he was pretty good at that?

EL: He was pretty good at that.

JL: So it was Dean Bexell's suggestion that J. B. Horner start the museum?

EL: That's right.

JL: What building was Horner's first collection in?

EL: He started out in the classroom over in the Commerce Building.

JL: And then he outgrew it with all the animals?

EL: Yes, and various other places, too.

JL: I understand you had something to do with the start of the museum?

EL: No, where I come into the museum... This is a different story entirely; this happened after Horner was buried a long time. After I was dean of administration, and after the war, we were very crowded for space; things were growing so fast and all. There were three things [that needed space]--there was 01:13:00the Speech-Dramatics Department, the museum, and the band--all had to find a home.

For quite some years we'd been pretty good in dramatics because we'd gotten a few men here who were exceptionally good and they built up [the department]; but to put on plays the kids had to go downtown and rent a theater. There was no place on campus with staging equipment for staging plays, you see. Well, they had used what was then the Majestic Theater. It's something else now, still over by the old Julian Hotel--the Varsity. Is it the Varsity? Well, that was the 01:14:00Majestic Theater, and the kids had used that for several years.

When the movies began to come in and be in quite a demand--come just like the automobile did and drive out the railroads, that type of thing--the management of the Majestic decided that he couldn't afford any longer to give up the theater for a couple or three nights a term, or whatever time the dramatics students used it, for what they could afford to pay him. So he said, "After this year I can't let you have it." Well, they were frantic as to what they were going to do for a theater.


The museum was in the basement of what is now Mitchell Playhouse; it was kind of a hole down in the basement that Horner was in with quite a lot of stuff that he had. We were just finishing the Coliseum and there was no particular plan for its basement at that time. It was unfinished, but there was a lot of space. And I got to thinking: "Now there is a place down there. If we could get the money to get the basement fixed up, the museum could go over there. And if we could get the museum out of the old building down there, we could make that over into a theater." The upstairs was just a second-rate auditorium--a big, flat building that was the Armory at one time. There was that.

Then there was the University band, College band we called it then. They'd had a little bandstand-it's torn down now--sat about where the library does now, and they'd outgrown that, and it wasn't serving the purpose, so what was the band going to do? They didn't have a good place to practice. There was a room in the Benton Hall up on the second floor--you may or may not have been in it, I think the band still uses it--they were using it then, and when they did, they blew everything else out of the building, (chuckles) Benton Hall at that time was 01:16:00administration--I spent 20 years there as registrar, and had all the work that's now over in the first floor of Administrative Services Building. Of course, it wasn't near as big as it is now. And so we had that problem.

I'd had an architect working a little bit on this room over in Benton Hall because we couldn't see any place for the band except to stay there, and we wondered what we were going to do. Well, to make the story short, I found out that we could cure the sound in that room in Benton, so the band could practice there and other things go on at the same time. I don't know what acoustical engineers do, but they built a room inside there in Benton Hall and it just works fine. The auditorium is a completely separate room sitting inside of Benton Hall; it's divorced from everything else. There's space, about that deep, clear around it and on the floor, too. Of course, there's some underpinnings there to hold it, but that's the only place it touches anything.

JL: You made these changes because of all the noise back there?

EL: Oh, yes, that was the only trouble. The room was all right, but because of the noise you couldn't use the building for anything else when the band was in there, you see.

That was one thing. I was convinced that we could make a good museum in the basement of the Coliseum. That took care of the museum, took care of the 01:17:00dramatics, and took care of the band. See?

So I got a kind of rough sketch in my mind about it and went and talked to Dr. [A. L.] Strand [president of OSU, 1942-1960], and he said, "If you can find the money, go ahead with it. It's a good plan, if you can find the money." Well, to make the story short, Dr. Strand was a help to me, and I worked up a rough sketch, and got some help from other people, and got the State Board, and got the money. So we finished up the basement of the Coliseum for the museum. I've got a story there to tell you. I don't want to get to it now.

We worked over this room in Benton Hall for the band and, oh, yes, we built the 01:18:00old building [Mitchell Playhouse] over for a theater; we located the little theater where it is now, and the band where it is now. Now that's where I come into the museum. I did that, not just because it was a museum, but because those were things that should be part of the institution, an important part of it, and they have to be taken care of. That was my job to get them taken care of, see?

JL: What was the story you were going to tell about the museum moving to the Coliseum?

EL: Oh, the space was there [in the basement of the Coliseum]. There wasn't even a floor in it yet, and it was about this time of the year and there was water about this deep (gesturing, showing the amount of water with his hands) all over the.... About six inches deep?...all over the floor where the museum is now and so on. So I felt that I'd better talk with the lady that had charge of 01:19:00the museum, Miss [Lulu M.] Stephenson, before I went too far on it. Anyway I always believe in telling people what's going to happen to them (chuckles) as soon as you can, whether they have much to say about it or not. I took her over there to show her, and I thought I made a pretty good presentation to her; she was very happy with it [the new location] after she got it.

I met her over there and talked with her and then we parted, and I told her to think about it. I saw her a day or two later and she said, "Well, I went home. I went back over to the museum and sat down and had a good cry. I just can't see myself sitting over there in that." (chuckles) Well, three months later she had her museum and was very happy and proud of it, you see.


JL: Do you remember the move from the Mitchell Playhouse basement to the 01:21:00Coliseum basement?

EL: Oh, yes. I remember when they were doing it. I don't know how much of it I watched, not very much, but I had to approve when it was being done [the museum was relocated September, 1950].

JL: Alright Dean Lemon, you were telling me a story that you remembered as a boy?

EL: You were asking me about the kind of music that the DeMoss family used in concerts, and there popped into my mind a story that I heard a preacher friend of mine tell in a sermon. He had climbed Mt. Hood one time and, when he got to 01:22:00the top of it, among the interesting things he found up there was--I don't know what the container was, or whether it was in a crevice, or what-but, anyway, what he was referring to was a copy of the song "Sweet Oregon."

JL: Was he telling that in a sermon in Grass Valley?

EL: No. No. I don't know where I heard him. He was a man that I knew in Grass Valley, but I think that it was in Corvallis that he told that story. I don't know. But I remember the story.