Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Bing Francis Oral History Interview, November 5, 1991

Oregon State University
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Jennifer Lee: Bing, well, I had a few questions before we get onto your time here at OAC about the Siletz, your Siletz experience, and I was talking to Loretta about this. She was wondering, now you knew John Ponsee because you camped on his land. And then your grandfather also did a lot of trading with him.

Bing Francis: Yes.

JL: And how did you acquire the clothes, then?

BF: Grandfather bought them from him. The feather and buckskin, all that garb.

JL: The headdress and the moccasins and feather? Oh.

BF: Headdress and all. Mm-hmm.

JL: Did he pay money or did he trade?

BF: No, he just bought them outright.

JL: What was your grandfather going to use them for?

BF: Oh principally to give to me.

JL: To give to you? Oh.

BF: Yes. But he took them back to Chicago with them where he lived and showed 00:01:00them to the people back there. It's kind of interesting how the people in Chicago and amongst his friends and family felt about coming out here as he did and going out to the Siletz reservation and trading with the Indians. And he wanted to bring my cousin, who was 4 years younger than I. wanted to bring him with him one summer. And my aunt wouldn't let him go. She said it wasn't safe. She just couldn't, she just couldn't imagine how we could take those kind of chances going over there amongst the Indians and trading.

JL: What did she think would happen?

BF: I don't know, but I guess she just didn't realize that there was 00:02:00civilization out here too. And later, oh it was only about a year or so after he bought those, that he died. The whole family went back to Chicago for his service and while we were back there, I met various friends of the family that were present at the service and one of the ladies who... by this time I was in college. And see I believe I was a freshman; that's immaterial. One of these ladies commented to my aunt that it was surprising how, what a fine young 00:03:00gentleman I was considering where I lived [laughs].

JL: [Laughs] Oh no. She thought you'd all be savages and uncivilized, huh?

BF: [Laughs] Yes. I guess she expected to show up with wearing 6-shooters, spurs, and a 10-gallon hat or something. I don't know but my aunt was quite amused by it, my uncles.

JL: Well so he bought these clothes for you but then took them back to Chicago?

BF: He took them back to Chicago and then he died before he ever got back here again. Died before the next year. But he had left some instructions to the effect that all of that Indian paraphernalia that he had was mine. So I brought 00:04:00them home with me.

JL: At that time, huh?

BF: Yes. That's how I happened to have them. Then shortly thereafter I started working in the museum, and I brought them down to the museum and put them on display because there was a good place to keep them and it was keeping them in good shape. And I would take them out periodically to use for one purpose or another for ceremonial...

JL: Oh you put them on and...?

BF: Well, I wouldn't put them on because I was quite a bit taller than John, Old John Ponsee, but friends of mine, particularly girls that my sister, for one, 00:05:00that could wear them. And did. And that's why the pictures that you see that you have always show some girl wearing them, either my sister or Dean Bexell's niece who was going to school here. And one time she dressed up in them for some affair or other and I took pictures of her. That's the story of his things.

JL: Well, now, were they everyday wear or ceremonial wear?

BF: Oh they were strictly ceremonial.

JL: Why was he selling them? I mean, it seems like they would be important to him.

BF: Yes. He was getting very old. See he was in his 80s then by that time. I forget now just how old he was when he died, but he was in his 80s and he, I 00:06:00really don't know why it was that he was willing to sell them, but I remember that my grandfather asked him one day, he said, John, I'd like to buy your buckskin outfit and feathers. Well, I'll think about it. So the next day we were there for 2 or 3 days camping in his place. Next day, or the day following, he came up and he said he had talked to his wife and I believe it was his stepmother that was living with them and he said we decided to sell them. And so 00:07:00I don't even recall what was paid, but they discussed it, and he told him what he'd like to have for it and grandad bought them. Just like that.

JL: Gee. He didn't have any heirs that would want to wear those?

BF: No.

JL: He didn't have any children at all, huh?

BF: No I don't believe so. No. as far as I know he didn't have any children of his own. So he just really didn't have anybody to leave them to, to speak of.

JL: Did the clothing belong to him or his wife?

BF: They were his, yes.

JL: Oh, they were his?

BF: Yes. He made them.

JL: Oh and he made them?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: When did he make them? Do you know? How old were they when your grandfather 00:08:00bought them?

BF: Well, these were things that he wore. He was the chief of the Siletz tribe at one time. John Ponsee himself was the son of the last chief of the tribe of Indians that came from the Illinois River in southern Oregon, which is a tributary of the Rogue River, and they were in that big march coming up. They then... sometimes subsequent to that John himself became chief of the Siletz tribe in the reservation, and he remained the chief for just how many years I don't know but he, that's when he made these ceremonial garbs, and I was under the impression at the time that my grandfather bought them, I was under the 00:09:00impression that they were probably 20 or 30 years old then, so they're really pretty old.

JL: So he didn't want to pass it on to the next chief, then, obviously.

BF: No. No. Those garbs apparently are very individual. They make their own. They have their own pattern and design and their own creation. A lot like the Indian baskets that were made. They don't follow any set pattern at all they just make them themselves, and this was the way he did. These eagle feathers and the buckskin.

JL: Did you ever talk to this John Ponsee about other things other than buying and selling? Did he talk about the Indians' condition and the relations, white 00:10:00and Indian' relations?

BF: Oh my, yes. I used to just love to sit around the campfire at the campground as a kid when I first got to know him when I was 12, 13 years old and on up. As long as I was going over there would sit and listen to him tell about his life on the Rogue River as a boy growing up and their experiences in coming up on that dreadful march. He himself came up by boat. There were some of the Indians that were brought up by boat, and he was one of those that came up by boat but his wife was one of those who came up on foot. And she tells a devastating 00:11:00story. I may have told you this before, but in case I didn't I'll tell you again. She was telling about coming up, and it was getting long towards the wintertime. The weather was bad. They were undernourished. They were marched the whole way from the Rogue River up to Grand Ronde where they spent the first winter, and her grandmother became ill. Then there was quite a death toll amongst the tribe that marched up through there. The grandmother became ill and finally could not go on.

So her mother, Mrs. Ponsee's mother, told her to go and stay with grandmother as 00:12:00long as she was living and then when she died to catch up with the group. So she went over and sat down beside the grandmother, and pretty soon some of the soldiers that were marching them up came along and motioned for her to get into the line and she tried to explain to them that she was staying there with her grandmother and that she would catch up. They prodded her with the bayonets and their rifles and made her get up and go over into the line and leave the grandmother.

JL: Oh.

BF: She said as soon as they got up to Grand Ronde, or very shortly after they got up to Grand Ronde, the missionaries began to talk to them about being Christians, and she said this was something after the experience I had with the 00:13:00white people that I found it extremely difficult to accept, and I still do. This was what she was telling me.

JL: Oh my gosh.

BF: She felt pretty keen and pretty bitter about it, and I can understand why she did. These are the kind of things that I learned from John.

JL: Do you remember other stories? Do you remember any...?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: Can you tell me those?

BF: Yeah. One of the interesting ones was the first time he ever saw a white man.

JL: Oh.

BF: He and one of his friend's kids, they were just little guys, had gone down towards the Rogue River from their campground. And they were up on some rocky, 00:14:00on a rocky bluff looking down on the river and they saw this boat coming up with white men on it. And it's the first time they'd ever seen a white man or even knew that there was anybody other than the color of an Indian.

JL: And this was when he was a boy?

BF: This was when he was just a little tike. I guess maybe he might have been something like 7, 8, 9, 10 years old. Because he was only about, I believe he told me I think he was 10, 12 years old when they went up to the Grand Ronde. Well, they hardly knew what to figure that was, or those people were. Didn't know whether they were gods or devils or what they were. And so they sneaked off of that rock and they rushed back to their campground where they were camped and 00:15:00went to their father and told him about it, and he immediately sent out some scouts.

And this was prefacing the Rogue River Indian War when these white people were beginning to move in and take positions and wasn't too long after that that the Rogue River War got underway. This was the first time he ever saw a white person.

JL: Gee. Well, did the Ponsees....how, why did they form a relationship with you people? I mean, they didn't necessarily have to have a...

BF: No. of course John himself was a very peace-loving person. He, there wasn't 00:16:00anything antagonistic about him. He was always advocating to his people that they should try and get along, and they should make adjustments and they should not be rebellious and antagonistic, and he didn't get into many discussions with Mrs. Ponsee. I remember when she was telling me this story, and he was sitting there and shaking his head and shaking his head and then...

JL: You mean the story of the march?

BF: Yes.

JL: Uh-huh.

BF: Then later he told me that Mrs. Ponsee never could forgive the white people 00:17:00for what they did. And he said maybe she's right. I don't know. But he said it seems to me that after a while those people were doing something back then, and that's not the people of today and we should all learn to get along together. So he was very, very peace-loving. Had a very, very keen appreciation of nature.

JL: How could you tell? In what ways did he show this?

BF: He soon became aware, particularly in later years after I got into college, he was very much aware of my interest in wildlife and particularly birds. He, 00:18:00here's another story I may have already told you. Did I tell you about the time that we went up above the head of the gorge to observe the bears feeding on an island?

JL: Mm-mm. Who's we?

BF: John Ponsee and me.

JL: Oh, alright.

BF: I was going up there regularly and making field observations and also was doing some fish collecting for the fish and game department here in the college because, and I had a collector's permit which I had through the museum so that I could fish out of season, and I would pick up usually one, maybe two, fish and 00:19:00each month of the year to bring them in to the department. Well, one of the times when I was up there, John asked me if I had ever seen the bears feeding on this island that was in the river up above the gorge. And I said no. Oh, he said, you ought to come out and see them.

JL: The gorge, you mean, the...?

BF: The Siletz River Gorge.

JL: Oh, okay. And you were camping on his land once again?

BF: Yes.

JL: And he comes? Okay.

BF: So, in fact every time I went over to the Siletz that's where I stayed no matter where else I may have gone around the reservation or up or down the river. That was always where we camped with Old John.


So I came out. We left, I came out the day before and stayed overnight, and we left that next morning before daylight and he cautioned me. He said, now you must wear foot gear that will make a minimum of noise and avoid brushing against any brush or making any sound and we won't say a word, and we'll be just as quiet as we can because if we do the bears just won't come in. So we went up and he was wearing moccasins and I was wearing tennis shoes and we got up on this high point where we could look down on the river and the island, and it was still dark when we got there. So we sat down and just waited. The dawn began to 00:21:00break. The gorge at that time, the birch and timber, the Douglas fir timber, came right down to the edge of the river and you were just in a huge big 100, to 200 foot wall of trees just like being in a deep canyon. The river was beginning to cut deeply into the rocks of the gorge and so the dawn, you were looking at it through this narrow alleyway you might say.

JL: Yeah.

BF: And it began to break. The dawn began to break. Then there would be a bird sound, or a flutter or something, and other little noises of nature as the dawn 00:22:00continued to break and the sun began to rise, and the bear about that time, the bears moved into this island.

JL: Oh.

BF: And they were catching the steelheads that were coming up the river. We watched them. We listened to these sounds. We saw the sun finally came up, and daybreak just burst in upon the gorge.

JL: Oh, golly.

BF: The bears left the island very shortly after that, whether because they saw us or other reasons I don't know, but they soon left. Then John turned to me, and he made a comment that I have often quoted in my work with my church, my 00:23:00Methodist church, as a lay speaker and lay leader. I've had occasion to conduct many church services, and I had used this story a number of times in a sermon. He turned to me and he said, you never, you can't see or experience a thing like this at sunrise and that burst of day without realizing that there is a power far greater than any that we have that does all these things. There was a very profound, fundamental religious philosophy.

JL: I see, yes.

BF: And this was John Ponsee. And it was one of my priceless experiences...


JL: Maybe he wasn't Christian, but he had a spirituality, then?

BF: Yes he did. I just had some treasurable experiences with him.

JL: What are some others that you had that you think back on?

BF: Well...

JL: Did he speak? What languages did he speak?

BF: Oh, just English.

JL: English. He didn't, what was his native tongue? What language did he speak as a child?

BF: Oh, he could speak his native tongue. He could speak in the Indian language and did a number of times. I've often wished we'd had tape recorders in those days. I would love to have been able to record some of the things that he...

JL: And his wife was from the same tribe?

BF: Yes.

JL: Uh-huh.

BF: Yes. She was. They...


JL: Did you go out with him at other times and...

BF: No. That's the only time that I ever went out on any extensive hike or jaunt with him. Most of the time he would, you have to realize he was a pretty elderly man at the time that most of this was going on, so he wasn't gallivanting around a great deal. He rode horseback quite a bit. He had a horse.

JL: Did he drive?

BF: No. No. He didn't drive at all but he, when he would go down to the headquarters, the reservation, or go into the center, the store or something, always went on horseback. Or he might go with someone of the neighbors that were up there and their little places who would drive. But...


JL: Do you know what year he died?

BF: Yes. But I don't happen to know right offhand.

JL: Oh, it's in the records. Okay. I didn't know. Alright. I can look that up.

BF: But you have the information here. I'm quite sure.

JL: That's okay. If it's in the records. I just thought that maybe it wasn't.

BF: Yep.

JL: Well, so, did he make friends with other white people like he did with you and your...?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: He had a lot of good friends that were white, huh?

BF: Yes. Yes. This campground spot that he was in was well-known.

JL: And it was just, were there other white people there ever when you went camping?

BF: No. Never. I never encountered any other people there at the time, although I was aware that other people did come in there from time to time, fisherman, hunters.

JL: Have you gone back to it in recent years?


BF: No. He sold it. Not too long before he died. He was killed in an accident. He was going to town, and he was riding in the back of a pickup truck, and something happened. I never did hear exactly what happened, but he fell out of the truck and hit his head, and I never knew for sure whether he, I never heard whether he was killed instantly or died subsequently, but they always spoke of it as having been killed in an accident. But he was 80 some odd years old then. But well, some of the Indian yarns that he'd tell, I wish I could think of some 00:28:00right offhand. They may come to me as we talk about some of these other things.

JL: Did his wife die before him, or was she...?

BF: Yes, his wife did. His stepmother was living at the, she as the only survivor that he had at the time of his accident. Mrs. Ponsee had died, oh, I think a couple of years before this happened.

JL: Oh. I wonder why they didn't have children?

BF: I don't know.

JL: It sounds like he would've been a good father.

BF: Yes. I think he would've been and he had a reputation of being a peace-maker and counseling the younger Indians. There was a tendency for them to get kind of wayward. They didn't care too much about going to school. They'd rather go up 00:29:00the river and play Indian, I guess. And he was always counseling these young people that they should go to school, they should go to school and make a place for themselves. Later on when I got into college and I'd go up there once in a while he would take me to one of these neighbor places for information that I was trying to assemble, and particularly if they had young people. And I didn't realize at the time but one of the men was telling me later that Old John was 00:30:00always mentioning now there was a young fella that was making something of himself, and this is what you should do. You could do it just as well as he has if you'll just apply yourself to it.

JL: So he knew the benefits of education?

BF: Yes. Very indefinitely.

JL: Did he know how to read and write?

BF: I really don't know. I never, never saw anything that he ever wrote. I've never been aware of anything that he ever read. I just don't know. I would be surprised, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he couldn't because, but on the other hand by the time he got up to Grand Ronde I'll back off of that, because when he got up Grand Ronde he was just a young teenager, 12, 13 years old or so and those youngsters all went to school. So he must have gotten some schooling.


JL: So he must have. So he doesn't talk about those years at the Grand Ronde with bitterness? He doesn't have a lot of bitterness towards...?

BF: No. He never had much to say about Grand Ronde. Of course they weren't there very long. They were just there over the winter and then the next year they were moved up to the Siletz and his, and they were given their allotted pieces of land, and this one that he was on was the one that was given to his family, and they built their cabin there.

JL: Did you know any other Siletz Indians as well as you did John Ponsee?

BF: No. No. Never. Never. There was a family by the name of Baker that I got 00:32:00somewhat acquainted with but not too much so. Baker himself was either a white man or only part Indian, if he was any Indian at all. His wife was full-blood Indian. They had one son and two daughters that I know of that were somewhat approaching my age. They all looked like just full-blood Indians. They didn't show any of the white traits at all. He looked more like a white man than he did like an Indian, even had hair that was colored more like white people. He worked 00:33:00primarily in the woods, logging and that type of thing. I just got to know them rather casually but...

JL: How did John Ponsee make his money? I mean how did?

BF: I don't really know. I think that he just, well, he had a little revenue from his camp ground and his wife and stepmother made baskets and they sold baskets.

JL: So did you see them making baskets, then?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: Oh. And where would they do that?

BF: Right there at their house.

JL: Oh. And did you visit their house quite often, then?

BF: Oh yes. You have pictures of it.

JL: Oh, that's right. And in the yard too. Isn't there a picture of your father in, or grandfather?

BF: Grandfather.

JL: Okay. Well, can you describe the inside of the house to me, how it was...?


BF: Never was inside the house.

JL: You never were inside?

BF: Never went inside the house.

JL: Why is that? BF: Well, I don't know. They just seemed to live outside. I don't know what they did inside. I suppose they lived inside when it was winter, and I was rarely over there in the wintertime. I'd go over maybe once a month in November, December, or January, February when I was doing that collecting and making those observations, but they, well, I was never inside the house.

JL: Huh. That didn't seem odd at the time. It seemed very natural?

BF: No. I just never ever gave it any thought until you just now asked me.


JL: [Laughs].

BF: It just, I never stopped to think and realized that I had never gone inside the house.

JL: So they'd spend a lot of time with you at your campfire on the river, then?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: Oh I see. So she would make her baskets then there, she'd make them outside on her land.

BF: When they were making baskets they were usually sitting on the doorstep right out of the front door, sitting on the doorstep and they worked their baskets or else they'd be sitting on the ground out in front. Sat on the ground a great deal of the time, and again, I think back over all this I don't think I've ever seen, I don't think I ever seen a chair around that place. They just, they sat on the ground cross-legged.

JL: And would they wear white clothes, white people's clothes?

BF: Oh yes. Yep.

JL: Same with Mrs. Ponsee?

BF: Yes.

JL: What was her first name?

BF: I don't know. Never knew her as anything but Mrs. Ponsee.


JL: Okay. And so he never visited you in Corvallis?

BF: No.

JL: He was always on the reservation?

BF: Always there. I don't know whether he ever went off the reservation for anything or not. I never heard. My contacts with him were always right there.

JL: Would he talk to you about how he fished or some of the stories about when he was a child fishing or hunting, hunting stories?

BF: Yeah. Only sort of incidental like. He was quite intrigued with the fishing equipment that we people would bring in with us and compare that with what he used, and he just had a stick and a string and a hook and fished. Or else he would spear them.

JL: He could spear them?


BF: Yes. And they were allowed to fish, of course, at times when the season would be closed to the white people. They could fish year-round, and he'd go down, and he had a favorite spot down below his house in between the house and up where the campground was, the little campsite where we'd camp, and he would go down there with a sharp pointed stick that he would have cut out with a barb sort of a tip on the end.

JL: Three barbs, huh?

BF: He'd spear fish with it.

JL: You saw him do that?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: Could you have done it?

BF: Well, I never tried it. It was illegal. We, you know, we white people were 00:38:00restricted with regard to how we could catch fish. You can't, it's like the Indians up on the Columbia River. They can fish with nets and all kinds of things that the white people couldn't do legally, but they could do it. But he'd catch fish and deer, venison, and there was another thing, now that you mention it, I remember talking to someone who asked me if he was a good shot. And I never saw him, I never ever even saw a gun around him or his place. I don't know 00:39:00whether he even had one. And they often had venison, but again, we have to realize that at the time I knew him he was really in our sense an old man. And his friends were bringing him a lot of the things that they ate, their venison and...

JL: Did he have a garden too?

BF: Never saw a garden on his place. Whether he ever did have one or not, I don't know, but he didn't have one. He had a little acreage of cleared ground that could be farmed, and someone of his neighbors rented it from him. I guess this would have been one of his sources of income, and they farmed it. I never 00:40:00saw him farm. Never saw him garden. I saw him catch fish, but he was...

JL: He was a very social man, then?

BF: Oh yes. He was. He used to love to come up to the campground and have a cup of coffee, eat with us. Mrs. Ponsee never came up to the campground.

JL: Oh she didn't?

BF: No she didn't come up, but you could go down there and visit her. She was not quite as sociable as John. She was much more reserved than John. John was kind of a showman. You can tell that by some of the pictures that he had. Stand 00:41:00there with his bow and arrow and with his regalia and all. He was quite a showman.

JL: Alcoholism wasn't a problem, then?

BF: Oh no. And it was, oh he was bitter about this and very outspoken to the young people. I remember one time when we went over to the Bakers' for something, this family that I spoke of before. Kind of seems to me that they were related some way or the other. It would have been through Mrs. Ponsee, I imagine. But I don't recall particularly. But anyway, talking to the Bakers, and he embarrassed me this time, and he was telling them that they should go to 00:42:00school and try and do like I was doing. Believe I was in high school at that time, and he said, and you'll notice he doesn't smoke and he, and I know that he doesn't drink because I know his father and I know his grandfather. And he said and they don't.

JL: Oh.

BF: So he made quite a point of this. He was not a smoker. He wasn't a drinker. The alcohol was no problem with him, but oh, he wasn't bitter as much as he was kind of heartbroken about what, about the way the liquor was beginning to make an inroad into the reservation. It hadn't gotten quite as devastating as it did 00:43:00in later years in some of the reservations that I visited around in the west. But, well, they, I guess, eventually it got pretty bad.

JL: That's what I understand. Well, Loretta was saying that you had mentioned that he wanted to make you or your father or grandfather a member of the tribe. What was that about?

BF: Well, one day when we were, the family was over there.

JL: Now did your mother go also?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: Oh she always went camping with you too?

BF: The family went camping, and this very dear friend of my mother's, a lifelong friend, whom I always called Aunt Lottie, Lottie Wells. When she would 00:44:00come out, oh, every couple of years or so and we would go over to the Siletz to camp and she would go too and some there, in some of the pictures that I have that show Aunt Lottie also but now, what was it what I was going to tell you about?

JL: You went camping over there and you were going to become a member of the tribe?

BF: Yes. One of these times when Aunt Lottie was along and my grandfather and we, John was over at the campground and we were all just visiting and they had been, we'd been taking pictures and just having an interesting time and we had known him by that time several years.


I imagine maybe 4 or 5 years by that time. And he asked my dad if, he said... how did he put it? Something about, oh, he would like to adopt me. He said, if you ever wanted to have your son adopted, he said I'd like to adopt him.

JL: Oh, my.

BF: And I guess this was earlier than I'm thinking about because I was pretty young, and it startled me a little bit. And so later after he was gone I said 00:46:00something to my dad about whether I was going to be adopted by Old John, and my father was a very stern disciplinarian, but a few times in my lifetime knowing him that he, a few times that he just sat down and talked to me just like one person to another, you know, and this was one of the times. He said, come over here son and sit down. So we went over by the bonfire and we sat down and he said, I don't know just what John Ponsee had in mind when he mentioned adopting 00:47:00you. He said I think this was probably just some sort of a ceremonial proposition, but he said, I don't want you to ever get the idea that your mother or I, either one, would ever consider for a minute having somebody adopt you.

JL: Aw.

BF: And he put my mind completely at ease about that question. But I really, I really don't think that John Ponsee had in mind that I would be adopted and would move in and live with them or anything of that sort. I don't really know what he had in mind. He just mentioned if they ever wanted to let me be adopted, he'd like to adopt me.

JL: Oh, what a nice memory. Oh.


BF: We were very good friends.

JL: And now, oh, you don't remember when he fell off the truck then? It was when you were in college here?

BF: Yes. It was when I was in college. I think you have a copy of the article.

JL: Oh that's right. Okay. That's right.

BF: In the files. That tells about that accident.

JL: That's what I... okay. Is there anything else about the Siletz Indians that you want to say that... any stories that you remember him talking about or anything that you did with him?

BF: No, not in particular. They, he was, he always regretted that they didn't have more opportunities than they did. He sort of regretted the fact, and I say regret, rather than I resent, because it wasn't in John's nature to be resentful 00:49:00about anything. He just regretted that they didn't have more access to the outside world so that their young people would have the opportunities to do the things and become what those of us on the outside could do and could become.

JL: So he talked to you about this fact?

BF: Yes. Especially after I was in college and a little older.

JL: Would you ever go to meetings with him? With the tribe?

BF: No. Never went to any meetings. The only times I ever went any place with him was a few times when we went over to this Baker family and then a couple or three other times when we went to call on somebody out amongst his neighbors out 00:50:00there on the reservation. Most of the time that I was with him was right there on the campfire in the campground.

JL: Well, that's a nice memory. How many times would you camp during a year at that campsite?

BF: Oh. The whole family would probably go over there a couple of times every summer.

JL: And then when you were in college then you went...?

BF: When I was in college I went more frequently than that. Particularly the last year. I was, well, I was over there every month.

JL: Collecting data for the fish and wildlife department?

BF: Yes. And Kenneth Gordon. Zoology, birds.

JL: Oh, now... right and you were, did you go with John Ponsee, then, out to go birding?

BF: He didn't go with me. I'd go over there and would usually go over on a Friday afternoon or late afternoon after school and after classes and stay 00:51:00Friday night and be there Saturday, Saturday night and come home on Sunday morning.

JL: You and Dr. Gordon went to...?

BF: No. Just me.

JL: Oh, just you.

BF: Then I was gathering information in connection with my college courses in Zoology.

JL: and particularly birds.

BF: Yes. Although some mammal information also. And then the, well name of the man slipped my mind right now who was fish and wildlife, oh my good land...his widow has been active in Horner Museum and that... Dimick.


JL: Oh, Mary!

BF: Roland Dimick.

JL: Oh right!

BF: He was becoming active in this fish and wildlife activity, and when he learned that I was going over there from time to time he asked me if I would pick up these fish specimens for him.

JL: Roland asked you to do this?

BF: Yes.

JL: And what did you have to do then? You mean you were catching fish and....?

BF: Yeah. Just catch one or two maybe.

JL: Oh.

BF: And bring them in, and they were studying them. They'd see what they were eating.

JL: Oh I see.

BF: It was part of their feeding studies that they were... And I had a collector's permit so I could catch fish.

JL: And how did... you got that through Dr. Gordon. The collector's permit?

BF: No. We got that through the museum.


JL: Oh, so what were you doing for the museum there then?

BF: Nothing for the museum except maybe picking up a few specimens around the reservation or something. But I wasn't going over there in connection with my museum work at all.

JL: That's just how you got the license. What kind of animals would you see over there, then, besides deer and bear?

BF: The deer and the bear and squirrels, ground squirrels and tree squirrels. Let's see, what else. Raccoons occasionally. Coyotes. Those were the things principally.

JL: Did you see any cougars?

BF: No. Heard them. Heard them one night. Here's another interesting thing. We were all sitting around the campfire, and John Ponsee was there and he was, we 00:54:00were just visiting and there was this weird noise up in the high part somewhere in the distant, and Old John just stopped and we heard this again and he said, Cougar.

JL: Oh.

BF: And I assume he knew what he was talking about. That's the first time I ever heard a cougar. Then one other time I did. But we never, I never saw one during that time. Bobcat. Saw a bobcat over there.

JL: Oh you did. Well, would you shoot some of the, would you kill some of these animals to take back to Dr. Gordon then?


BF: No. This was just recording their presence and what they were doing. That's an interesting sideline, kind of off the subject, but on Kenneth Gordon, Dr. Gordon. When I was working in the museum and I had this collector's permit and I could go out and collect specimens, we needed a flicker. We didn't have any flicker on exhibit. And I could do taxidermy work. I had learned this when I went down to California with Dr. Horner.

JL: Oh.

BF: After the first part of the visit down there, then he left and came home and I stayed on down, or I stayed down in Los Angeles for about a week.


JL: Oh.

BF: And studied taxidermy with those taxidermists.

JL: Dr. Horner wanted you to do that?

BF: Yes, yes.

JL: Okay, as a benefit to the museum here?

BF: Yes. And so then I could mount these specimens that came in. Well, I went out and I collected a flicker, shot a flicker. And brought it in. And that kind of perturbed me. Then one day they brought in an eagle. Excuse me, not an eagle. A hawk. A big hawk. And it had a broken wing, badly mangled wing. It was live. So I could make a study skin out of this hawk. And I, we had it in a box there, 00:57:00kind of a box cage thing. And I fed it and procrastinated about going and killing it and making a study skin out of it. The next morning when I came in early I realized that I just couldn't leave that hawk suffering like it was. And I was going to have to kill it, which I did. I prepared the skin for a study skin because it had, it couldn't be mounted as a specimen, as mangled as it was. I was just pretty shaken up about having to kill that bird [voice breaks]. I 00:58:00closed up the museum, and I went over to Dr. Gordon's office. And I went in and he looked up at me, and he said what's bothering you? Just like that.

JL: He knew you very well?

BF: Yeah. So I told him what happened and I had to kill the bird. And I said, I'm just not going to do any more collecting. That's all there is to it. I said I just can't go out and shoot things and trap things, and he didn't make a single comment about it. He didn't say, well, I think you're right or I think you're wrong or anything else. But he started talking to me about all of the work that needed to be done in the area of the observation of wildlife.


JL: Oh.

BF: I could pretty near quote him with... I was probably in his office for the better part of an hour, and he talked to me entirely about this, how you go about it, how important it was, how significant it was, the type of information that you need to collect, how you record all of this. Just gave me a whole new field of activity. I didn't really realize what he was doing until quite some time later when it suddenly dawned on me that he just recognized that here was a person with a certain trait and tendency, and if we're going to salvage him for 01:00:00a student we're going to have to make a different approach, or something.

When Beth and I moved back to Corvallis, or back to Salem I mean, in '79, I hadn't been back here very long. We hadn't been back here very long until I came down to Corvallis to visit Dr. Gordon. And I remember the Cornell Laboratory Ornithology which I joined and am a life member. I joined that at Kenneth Gordon's suggestion many years ago. I was doing a field study project and channeling that information to them. So I was telling Kenneth about it, and when 01:01:00I finished telling him what I was going to do, he looked at me in that stoic manner of his and he said, and I imagine that you'll have a lot of collecting to do too won't you in connection with that study? And... did you ever meet Kenneth Gordon?

JL: I didn't. I was, Rick Reed would tell me what he was doing but I never met him personally.

BF: He could do this sort of thing and be absolutely stoic about it. Said I imagine you'll have a lot of collecting to do, won't you? And I looked at him and I said, Kenneth, you know darn good and well that I won't have a bit of collecting to do. He grinned all over. And here this would be, what, 40 years later.

JL: Oh.

BF: And he still remembered.

JL: Well, he obviously thought very highly of you.

BF: Well, we were very, very close friends. I've, many times I regretted that 01:02:00circumstances arose that prevented me from continuing to get a degree in zoology and Beth will kid me about this, she'll say well now honey you want to remember that if you had gotten a degree in Zoology we might not have met.

JL: Oh. Was she in horticulture?

BF: No. But by being in agriculture...

JL: Just a minute [break in recording]. Alright go ahead.

BF: By having a major in agriculture, this is what put me in through the agricultural extension service, and it was when I was stationed at Hillsboro, Washington County, that I met Beth. So if I had pursued a major in Zoology and 01:03:00had gone on in that field I might never have gone to Hillsboro and would never have met her.

JL: That's right. So there you have it.

BF: There you have it.

JL: Things are meant to be the way they are.

BF: Yep.

JL: Well, let's get back to the... and we'll get back to Dr. Gordon too, but you decided not to be, go and be a doctor?

BF: Yes.

JL: And you told me that. And then so instead you chose Horticulture and Zoology. Is that right?

BF: Animal Husbandry.

JL: Animal Husbandry. Oh okay. And Zoology.

BF: And Zoology.

JL: And why did you choose those subjects? Away from the humans to the animal?

BF: Well, the Zoology part I chose because when I took a course in Zoology 1 in 01:04:00which Dr. Gordon was the teacher why I became interested in Zoology, and I had always as a kid way back before I ever got into college, I'd always been interested in the outdoors, nature, camping, hiking, the Boy Scout work and birds and animals were always an interest of mine, particularly the birds, so that when I took Zoology and I just drank it up. I was just most interested in it. Then in addition to that probably goes back to when we were still living in 01:05:00Illinois, my father's oldest brother, my Uncle Fred, was a farmer.

Had a farm over in Michigan. And I used to just, oh I used to just love to go and visit Uncle Fred and Aunt Gwendolyn. They didn't have any children, and so I was a sort of a boy of theirs too. And I would go over there every summer for a while and occasionally I would go in the wintertime, and they had an adopted boy. He was a nephew on my Aunt Gwendolyn's side of the family. And he had, was living with them. And I would get to go and visit his country school. And I used 01:06:00to just love to do this for several reasons, one was that I could wear overalls.

JL: [Laughs].

BF: And that was a different experience for me. And Gwendolyn would put up our lunches in those round, large pails that the kids used to use for lunch pails in those days. Well, I'll tell you to get to carry my lunch to school in a large pail and wear overalls and all this was priceless.

JL: [Laughs].

BF: Well, then I would, Uncle Fred had his cows that he milked and did all his farming with horses, and I became really interested in that farm and farming. So when we got to Corvallis as soon as I was old enough to work, and I think this 01:07:00was, I think the first year which when I was about probably about 13 or 14, that I went out to the Corvallis orchard. The Corvallis orchard out west of Corvallis was at that time owned by a group of college people, and Dean Covell of engineering was one. Dean Bexell in commerce had an interest in it. My uncle, Mr. Jensen, was a part owner and a few others. So I went out there and worked one fall picking prunes.


JL: Oh, and this was north of town.

BF: West of Corvallis.

JL: West of Corvallis, oh.

BF: It's in the county fairgrounds out in that general direction now.

JL: Oh.

BF: They had at that time the superintendent, their superintendent of the orchard was a man by the name of Cleave Kern, and he was a graduate of Oregon State, Oregon Agricultural College, in horticulture. He was the man that I worked for when I went out to pick prunes. And the following year I went out again, and when the fruit harvest started they had apples and pears and prunes, 01:09:00and I went out when they were starting to pick pears, the earliest pears. And from that time on I worked at that orchard every year through high school and college, and Cleave Kern himself was an excellent horseman. He had a neighbor by the name of Adam Schessler. I may have told you some of this before. But Adam Schessler was a Dutchman. And he needed somebody to do some work for him, and Cleave Kern said, well, I was working for him, but it was at a slack time and 01:10:00I'd be free to help him.

So I went over to work for Adam Schessler for a few days, and then I became very close friends of Adam Schessler. And Adam Schessler was part owner of a threshing machine, and he was the one who operated the threshing machine most of the time. So then I got working with him at threshing time. So between the orchard and Adam Schessler I was just spending my time out on the farms out there.

JL: Would you ride your bike out there. Is that what you'd do?

BF: Ride my bike or hike. And Adam Schessler was quite a horseman. Well, through 01:11:00those connections I then became acquainted with the Wyatts, and they were out towards Philomath and Frank Wyatt in particular, who we always spoke of as Dad Wyatt, would also operate this threshing machine. And at times when Adam Schessler would take it around through parts of the neighborhood and then they'd get on out towards Philomath, and Frank Wyatt would take over and he was a superb horseman. He was one of the finest, and he was a horse breeder. I really learned horsemanship from Frank Wyatt: how to handle teams. How to handle horses. How to ride horses. How to break horses.


JL: Ooh.

BF: And I spent a lot of time out on the Wyatt Ranch.

JL: Did you own a horse?

BF: Yes. I had one, an Arabian horse that I bought, he, not through him, but he helped me in the purchase of this Arabian horse, and he was a beauty. And I kept him out there at the Wyatt Ranch. Every spring I would help him drive cattle up to the big meadows on Mary's Peak where they ran their cattle in the summertime.

JL: You'd run them through Philomath?

BF: They'd take them from the ranch and through Philomath, and then we'd corralled them at the foot of a trail. There was no road up to Marys Peak, not 01:13:00then, just a trail. And then we'd start up the trail and they had to have several riders because they had to go up this trail single file almost, and the cows and their calves would start getting tired and they'd want to break off and so we'd have 3 or 4 cows ahead of us and 3 or 4 behind us that we could reach.

JL: How bit was the herd?

BF: Oh he probably had, we probably took 200 head up there, so.

JL: Oh my.

BF: We had, we learned to use big bull whips. These long bull whips.

JL: Oh.

BF: And a cow would show a tendency to want to take off into the timber, and you'd whack out with that bull whip and that's what put this scar up here on the top of my ear.

JL: Oh, how... oh, did you hit yourself?


BF: Yeah. I swung that bull whip around and it came around and just laid this top of my ear open up above my ear.

JL: Ouch!

BF: But we learned, I learned the horsemanship really from him. And later on I drove in... won a first place in a 6-horse driving contest.

JL: Where was this? In Corvallis, huh?

BF: Yeah.

JL: Oh.

BF: At a weekend horse show up in the armory.

JL: Oh.

BF: So this was how I got involved in Animal Husbandry, and my major in Animal Husbandry was horses.

JL: Oh I didn't realize that. So the combination of Zoology and Animal 01:15:00Husbandry. And what was your career aspirations then when you first started?

BF: Well, the, I didn't have any specific aspirations. I had, I really had intended to go onto school and get... and advance to master and a doctorate and I had gone down to University of California and talked to them about a master's degree, but then World War II came along and everything got changed around, and I never did go back to it. But then I got involved in public relations and into 01:16:00the bank and...

JL: So you started taking courses then in Animal Husbandry and Zoology. Tell me how you met J.B. Horner and got involved in the museum then?

BF: Well, growing up in Corvallis and knowing all these people that I did that were connected with the college, I... among them were the Horners. I didn't know them, the Horners, especially well as I did the Ziefles, and the Bexells, and the Cordleys and the Covells. But I knew them.

JL: You took a class then from Vera Horner, I understand, too.

BF: And when I was in high school Vera Horner was one of our teachers. She was 01:17:00an English teacher. And I believe it was about my junior year that she asked me one day if I would be interested in putting in her father's wood. We were all burning woods in our furnaces in those days. They lived just across the street from the high school in a big home there. So I said, why I thought so, sure. And she said, I should tell you in advance that my father is very fussy about his wood pile. And she said he just is really finicky about it and was wondering if 01:18:00I knew of anybody that she thought would be able to put wood in the way that he liked to have it put in. So she said, well, she thought maybe she did. So she said you might go over and talk to him and find out. So I went over and...

JL: Was this the first time you'd met him then, was this time?

BF: Oh no. I had met him, but I didn't know him well at all. I just knew who he was, and he knew that I was William Arthur Jensen's nephew and that's about the extent of it. But he took me down in the basement, and he showed me. He said, now when I buy my wood, he said, I buy it measured, stacked in my basement. He 01:19:00said I don't buy it by the cord measured out and piled outside. They used to bring it, you know, in some about 4' lengths and the wood saw would come in and saw it up in the three parts. He said, I want to buy it in the basement and he said I want it stacked tightly and neatly. And he said, and they know this, and they know that that that's the basis and they set their price accordingly. They tell me what it'll be measured in my basement. So, okay. So I took on the job. Well, I really fitted that wood in that wood pile for him so much so that he often laughed about it afterwards as we worked in the museum.

He said that when that fella came down and measured the wood, and he said and I 01:20:00paid him and he said now, Dr. Horner, he said I want you to know that this is the last time that you're going to buy any wood from me. He said, you can buy your wood anywhere you want, but you're not going to buy anymore from me. And I was just, I just had that piled so tightly so he just... I guess he figured he lost money. Anyway, I put the wood in that year and the next year for Dr. Horner and then I was out of high school and in college and when I was in college.

JL: Before you, you need to... on your notes here you said you put the wood in for a dollar a cord?

BF: Yes.

JL: That's all he paid you?

BF: Yeah. A dollar.

JL: He only paid you a dollar for all that work?


BF: Yes. $1, no a dollar a cord. I forget. I think he had about 10, 12 cords. But of course piling it as tightly as it was piled and measured, why I was cutting myself short too, but be that as it may that was...

JL: You were doing a good job [giggles]. Okay, go ahead.

BF: Then in the spring of my freshman year, I believe that it was in the spring third term, that I took a course in Oregon history and I, it might have been the winter time. It doesn't matter. Dr. Horner one day called me and told me, or rather, had class. We were leaving class he said would you come over to my 01:22:00office. He said I'd like to talk to you. Scared me to death. I thought I was doing something wrong or not accomplishing something. I just couldn't imagine what in the world he wanted to talk to me about. I stewed and worried about that all the rest of that day until I went over to his office late that afternoon. He told me then about the museum. In fact, took me over to the museum that was then in the basement of the library building. Not the present library but what used to be the library. It has another function now. And he said that they'd reach 01:23:00the point where they needed more time of another person to do the cataloguing and the arranging and the book work in the museum and offered me the job. So I took it.

JL: To do cataloguing?

BF: Yes.

JL: And how much did he offer to pay you?

BF: I don't recall for sure, but I think that it was 30 or 35 cents an hour. Something like that. Which was pretty good wages then in those days.

JL: Was it?

BF: Well, I worked for him then that year. The balance of that term.

JL: How many hours a week did you work then?

BF: Oh I'd usually get in about 4-6 hours in the weekday part and then all day Saturday.


JL: And was he there too on Saturdays?

BF: Hmm?

JL: Was he there also on Saturdays?

BF: Very rarely. Very rarely. He didn't spend very much time in there. He'd come over regularly. There'd not hardly be a day go by but what he wouldn't be in there on Saturdays he would unless he was traveling somewhere he would come in.

JL: So you were there more than he was actually?

BF: Oh, yes. Much, much, much more. And I'd be there with the museum open. I would go down and open the museum and do my studying in the office at the desk and the museum would be open, and I would study there more than I'd studied at 01:25:00home. And then I worked for him the next school year, and the following summer was when he and I went to California together.

JL: That's right.

BF: To study in the museums down there. And we'd studied in San Francisco and Los Angeles and San Diego.

JL: That's what you say here. And how long was your trip down there?

BF: I was down there for about 3 weeks total. He was there with me, I guess maybe about a week. We spent a couple days in San Francisco and then a couple days at Los Angeles and a couple of days in San Diego.

JL: You weren't driving were you?


BF: No.

JL: You were flying?

BF: We went by bus.

JL: Oh, bus!

BF: Oh, no flying, my... then.

JL: I guess that's too early [laughs].

BF: Wow, that [laughs].

JL: But by bus, then. And you, gosh it seems like that would take a long time, though. But it's just the transportation, of course I'm in the wrong decade for flying.

BF: But then he came home and I came back to Los Angeles.

JL: Oh from San Diego?

BF: Yeah.

JL: And his purpose was to just see how the other museums were, how they were doing?

BF: Yeah, to get instruction from them in everything. When I went back to Los Angeles I particularly worked for the taxidermist and learned taxidermy.

JL: In a museum setting?

BF: Yes.

JL: Oh, okay.

BF: And they were the official taxidermists for the Los Angeles museum.


JL: Oh.

BF: Then we learned about the care of specimens in the museum. The care of the animals and the birds and the materials and storage and all aspects of museum activity.

JL: Did you, are any of our specimens that are on display now are ones that you stuffed?

BF: No. No. I've looked. There's only one bird that I ever really mounted as a specimen, and that was the flicker.

JL: Oh.

BF: The first bird I'd shot. And the others, any others that came in we made study skins.

JL: Okay. And they're not in our collection, then, either. Or they're...


BF: I don't think so.

JL: Okay.

BF: I looked and looked and looked and looked to see if the flicker was here, but it was apparently gone.

JL: Did you ask Rick Reed?

BF: I think I, oh yes, yes I did. I was interested in the flicker and I was also interested in the Saw-whet Owl, which is in connection with the owl story that I told you.

JL: I do. I remember that owl story.

BF: And Rick and I looked and looked and looked and looked, but they were gone. They lost quite a few specimens in there for a period of time.

JL: Who lost? You mean in the moves? From place to place?

BF: They apparently loaned them out.

JL: And never got them back?

BF: And never got them back.


JL: Oh.

BF: And I never really knew just what happened because there was such a long period of time in there when we were in California and I was clear out of touch with Horner museum. But I know Kenneth Gordon was very upset about it at one time when I talked to him when he came down through California and I was asking him how the museum was coming along, and he was shaking his head about it. He wasn't very happy with what was happening and I never pursued it very much.

JL: Oh dear. Well, tell me about what the museum was like then when you were a student. You started to talk to me before we even started taping about how the storage areas were different from what they are today. Why don't you talk now about that? Because I interrupted you and wanted you to say it when we were taping.


BF: Well, we didn't have any storage. Things come in, they went into the exhibit cases because the collections were smaller. We didn't begin to have what you have now, you know. And so as things came in they went on display, even study skins would be laid out in the cases.

JL: Most of the things in the museum were natural history, then?

BF: Yes.

JL: Okay.

BF: Well, we had natural history. We had a lot of early Indian stone age things that came from the Calapooya Mounds and places like that. We had a lot of things that came from the fossil beds over in central Oregon.


JL: Well now tell me about that. You have a note here about that I think here. How did you acquire the John Day fossil and the Calapooya artifacts?

BF: Just went out and dug them.

JL: Oh, you did?

BF: Yeah, oh yes. They weren't under restrictions like they are now, and plus things that would be given to the museum by other people who were collecting things.

JL: So anything that came in you had a display case available and you would lay it in and then...?

BF: They'd go right into a display case.

JL: Okay.

BF: We just didn't have all that many things. We had this big Hill exhibit and we had Boord's exhibit. We had quite a sizeable gun collection at that time. The 01:32:00gun collection later got shifted around, and I don't know just exactly whatever happened, but it was the Anthony collection and it was finally taken away from the college. It was up in the, well, I think the memorial building if I remember.

JL: Memorial Union?

BF: Yeah.

JL: Oh.

BF: They had a room up there with the gun collection and then the next thing I knew the gun collection had been taken from the museum entirely. I don't know what happened or why, but it was gone.

JL: Well, going back to you said that you did some digging in the Calapooya Mounds. Tell me about that.

BF: Well, there wasn't much to tell. They found these Calapooya Mounds, and you 01:33:00could go out there and dig around and come up with mortars and pestles and fragments, mostly by that time.

JL: Well, would Dr. Horner tell you, ask you to go out there or would he go out there with you?

BF: I'd go with him.

JL: Oh.

BF: I'd take him and drive. And I think we only went, let's see, twice, maybe three times.

JL: So you went only two or three times?

BF: Yes. We went over to the fossil beds once. Most of the reason for going was to get kind of oriented as to the area more than to collect specimens. We didn't 01:34:00do a great deal of specimen collecting except incidental but to get familiar with the area and what it was like and what, try to visualize what, how the people lived and what they did. With the thought in mind that eventually when the museum could grow to that point we could have habitat exhibits, and Dr. Horner wanted to get as much information as we could before people had disturbed it too much.

JL: Oh, so how would he collect this data then? He would take notes and pictures?

BF: Notes and pictures. He was quite a photographer.

JL: Oh was he? Okay.

BF: And we'd take notes and pictures and then use those as a basis for 01:35:00developing the exhibits. But of course we didn't have any true habitat exhibits. We just didn't have room for that sort of thing. We had those cases made which you still have here and we would group the things: the Calapooya things would be together, the fossil bed things would be together, and the birds would be in one place. We had... one of the big jobs that I had, and this related very closely to my major in Zoology, was to get the birds properly labeled. Here'd be a bird 01:36:00that'd just be labeled robin or sparrow. You had to go further than that for it to be significant in a museum.

So this necessitated a lot of digging into the records, try to find out now where did this robin come from? Was it from the Willamette Valley? Or was it from Illinois? Where? Some of them we could find out, some we couldn't. And then get the correct name and the scientific name and get this all labeled. Dr. Horner was just a fanatic about fastening the information to the exhibit if it was at all possible, and so we had a machine that punched and put a metal rivet 01:37:00in, and then we'd put the wire in there, wire this right to the exhibit, and I still see some of those labels out there once in a while.

JL: I know. I've seen them too.

BF: This was one of the big jobs that I had, to get these things labeled, get them grouped together where they belonged, to get them properly identified as to what they were and where they came from and who they came from. And then make up the card records. This was one of the times when as I've often quoted, he would say, now 50 years from now, it may not seem important to you know but 50 years 01:38:00from now he says this could mean a lot to somebody to know where this came from. So none of this had been done. So I just spent hours. I had a typewriter on a high typewriter stand, and I'd go out beside a case and I would start in piece by piece by piece and type up those 4x6 cards. I think you still have them on the record in there. Wrote all of the information that I could get and then pursue some of these if it was possible to pursue them to get further information and this I was able to do for instance with the Boord collection. Boord things were coming in and they weren't carrying any particular identity at 01:39:00all. But I could get together with him and where did this moose head come from? What part of Canada? Where up there in eastern Canada? The little black bear and these other things that he had on exhibit. And I could find people who had knowledge about some of the other things that were in there. Just run this whole thing. At times it was just most frustrating because you'd just go from one lead to another to another to another, but finally it would begin to fit together and you'd have enough information to type it onto one of those cards and have it 01:40:00fully identified.

JL: So Boord would help you out in telling you where his, these things he...

BF: Yes. We could get his things buttoned down completely.

JL: But it was other people's things that were donated before you had entered the museum that you couldn't figure out.

BF: That's right. That was just what took the digging and digging and digging for information.

JL: What about the Indian artifacts? Was that difficult to identify, or?

BF: Yes. Some of it was unless you could somehow or the other find out. Oh, for instance I remember one case of a mortar and pestle that we had. Well, it had the name of a donor. So I started to pursue this donor and found out the donor was dead. Well, but I did learn something about the family, and one lead led to 01:41:00another to another until I finally was able to pin this thing down to a daughter who said, oh yes, she said I can remember when the folks got that. So she told us where it was, and we could get that information and put it on the card and then we had something tangible. Up till then this was just a mortar and pestle that had been donated by Joe Doakes.

JL: And Dr. Horner was real particular about where these things came from then?

BF: Oh yes.

JL: Well, that's interesting. I remember a story that somebody told me. I think it was T.J. Starker that said that Dr. Horner would go out in McDonald forest and bury archeological pieces and then have his history class go out there and pretend like they're having a dig and find these pieces.


BF: I was never aware of that.

JL: Well, this is a story he told and I wondered. You didn't know anything about that?

BF: No. I never got involved in any of that.

JL: You said you graded his papers?

BF: Yes. That came along while I was in the museum, and he had me grading his examination papers, some of them. And the notebooks that they'd turn in at the end of the course on Oregon history. The only ones that I ever worked with were the Oregon history ones.

JL: And he had given you the answers and then you corrected them from his answers?

BF: I knew what the questions were, and I knew the answers and I could grade the papers accordingly, and then the notebooks were the notes that they took from his lectures. Did I ever tell you this story about the lady I encountered one time?


JL: No.

BF: Well, I was attending a 4-H leaders' function up in St. Helens. Somehow or other the subject of Dr. Horner came up. I don't recall what it was now that brought it up. But I mentioned the fact that I, or I acknowledged the fact that I had worked for him and I had graded his notebooks. And this lady sitting across the table from me said, you're the stinker!

JL: Oh no!

BF: And I said what? And then she said, she told me the incident, and I well-remembered it. Some people got the idea in their head that if they had a 01:44:00big, thick notebook that they'd get an A.

JL: Oh.

BF: And where they got that I have no idea. But they had this idea. So when I was going through these notebooks I came to this one that was just a thick volume. And I started through it, and here was a lot of stuff in there that didn't have anything to do with Oregon history at all. It was just a bunch of stuff that was stuck in there. So I just wrote a note that I said, you apparently got this mixed up with your Oregon history class, and I said please submit another notebook, or the correct notebook, and I said we'll grade it. So I never did see the other one. I didn't know whether she ever did this or not. 01:45:00She was, this was the first time that I ever encountered her.

JL: Oh no!

BF: And she said I just nearly went crazy putting stuff together then to have a notebook to turn in. She said I just burnt the midnight oil and finally got it all put together and turned it in, but I never saw it so I...

JL: Oh no! She had tried to trick Dr. Horner, huh?

BF: Yeah. She got the idea that he just picked up a notebook and kind of made a cursory glance, and if it was a good, big thick notebook you got an A.

JL: Oh.

BF: I don't know where she ever got that idea.

JL: I don't know how times have changed, but [laughs]. Oh, that's funny. And 01:46:00then you have here, would you take Dr. Horner around to speaking engagements?

BF: Yes. This was one of the sources of interesting times. He would have a speaking engagement and I would drive him. And sometimes I'd...

JL: Would you use his car or your car?

BF: His car. Sometimes I would have charts and things that I would be making up for the speeches. It was always an experience. He was a good speaker and he was an exuberant kind of speaker. He just bouncy almost. He just lived his subject, and one of the great lessons that I learned going from him was when we went up 01:47:00to Portland one time, he was a speaker at a men's group in a Presbyterian church, the First Presbyterian Church in Portland. And he had me prepare some charts for him for this talk. Well, we got up there. It was a dinner meeting in the evening. We had dinner, and then they got ready for the program and the president introducing Dr. Horner, who he was and what his connection was with the college and what he meant to Oregon history, and that they were all looking forward to hearing his discussion on such-and-such a subject, which wasn't the 01:48:00subject that I'd been preparing material for at all.

JL: Oh no.

BF: So I fully expected Dr. Horner to get up and say evidently there's been a misunderstanding or something because what I'm prepared to talk to you about is this. But instead of that, and he had a bouncy way about him. And he said he was just delighted when he got the invitation to come up here and speak to the group on this subject.

JL: The new subject?

BF: Yeah, the one that the president had announced. He never did use these charts.

JL: [Laughs].

BF: And he went on and told all about the subject at hand and had a splendid ovation from the group, some questions and answers. And then we left and started 01:49:00home. And I said, my land alive, I had said I was just amazed. I said at what happened tonight. Oh, he said, young man, and this was another expression of his: young man. He said, young man this is something you want to remember. He said I could have gotten up there and said, well, there's been a mistake I was asked to speak on such-and-such a subject, and he said that would've embarrassed the president, and it would have made everybody kind of feel a little apologetic or ill at ease or something. And he said I knew the other subject just as well as the one we'd prepared, he said, so why, he said, keep people comfortable. 01:50:00Keep them happy.

JL: Oh.

BF: And he said, and they'll appreciate your having been there a great deal more than if you stand on a rigid formality. Well, I never forgot that. I never forgot that. And a time or two I have had to fall back on it, particularly one time when I was conducting a church service as a lay leader down in California, and I got called on to preach on a subject that wasn't the one that I'd prepared at all. And the first thing that came to my mind was that night in Portland with Dr. Horner, and so I followed his lead and proceeded accordingly.

JL: Did you know about the subject, though?

BF: Yeah, oh yes, fortunately I was familiar enough with it that I could adapt 01:51:00to it.

JL: Oh [laughs].

BF: That was my sermon.

JL: He was quite a... both sound... it sounds like he had a great influence on you?

BF: Oh he did. He did. In so many ways: accuracy, pinpoint accuracy and complete information and write it down. Just write it down. Everything. Everything that you could find get it down on that label or on the card that goes with the exhibit. And neatness and thoroughness and accuracy, just never stop pursuing 01:52:00all the information that you can possibly pursue on something, and it just was a total influence to me. Later on strange as it... well, I guess you can say strange as it may be, logical when I was working with the bank. Then this thoroughness and exactness and accuracy began to reflect very definitely.

JL: I bet.

BF: My initial work with the bank was appraisal, agricultural appraisals, and you needed to be thorough, you needed to be accurate. You didn't guess. I remember one time when I went out to count cattle, the livestock inspection for 01:53:00a loan down in northern California. I went out with the owner, who was a business man and then had this ranch. And he had 200 head of, no 100 head of heifers out in this big pasture. So we were off at a certain point, and I had learned somewhere out there, I forget where it was now, a way of counting cattle in a mass like that. And I said, Reed, you only have 99 heifers in there. Oh, he said, there's 100. He said, we know because we counted them in. And I said, well, maybe I missed it somewhere or there's one lying down in the irrigation 01:54:00ditch or something out of site, but I can only count 99. But that was a minor thing and so we went on. Not too long after that, by too long I mean in the course of the next 30 minutes or so, his ranch foreman caught up with us and he said, Reed, one of the heifers that we turned into that lower field got out. And he said, she's over in such-and-such a place and he said, do you want me to leave her there or do you want to run her back in the field?

JL: Oh.

BF: Reed looked at me [laughs]. He shook his head, and I don't remember what he decided to do about the heifer but there were only 99. Well, later on at the rotary some, I don't know just how much later, but sometime later at rotary, 01:55:00Reed had occasion to introduce me for something, and he said, and incidentally just let me tell you if he ever tells you that there are only 99 heads of heifers in a pasture, he said, you better believe it.

JL: [Laughs].

BF: And he told this story, and I never would've told it.

JL: [Laughs].

BF: But he told it [laughs].

JL: Oh that's a great one.

BF: And I thought back to Dr. Horner, and a lot of that exactness came from the training I got from him.

JL: And you were with him 5 years?

BF: Yes.

JL: So you had that training for those 5 years?


BF: Yes. The four years while I was in college and then one year or a part of one year full-time after I graduated when we moved from the basement of the library to the basement of what's now Mitchell Playhouse.

JL: Right.

BF: We set up the whole... organized and set up the whole museum in the basement.

JL: So most of that time, oh, sorry, go ahead.

BF: And that was when he died.

JL: Oh.

BF: That move. Oh I...what, about six, 8 months after we made that move that he died, and then I lost interest and had an opportunity to go out and work for 01:57:00Jess Hansen, a big poultry breeder. And...

JL: But you didn't want to work in the museum anymore because he was gone?

BF: That's right. Well, there wasn't a full time job anyway at that particular time anymore, and I was interested in pursuing my agriculture activity, and Jess Hansen was a big poultry breeder out here, was famous as a poultry breeder.

JL: Yes. We have a lot of his photographs.

BF: Yes. You'd be interested in to know, or I say, it's interesting to know that the reason that I went to work for Jess Hansen was not because of poultry, for I 01:58:00hadn't had but one poultry course in college, but it was because I had won the 6-horse driving contest at the horse show.

JL: What did that have to do with it?

BF: He had to get in a grain crop, he had to get a grain crop planted.

JL: Oh.

BF: And his own team of horses was tied up with work that was having to be done up on the, at the main place. This was over on the back acreages. So he was going to have to borrow or rent a team in order to do that. So he went around and went to one of the neighbors, the name of Bradshaw. And he asked to find out 01:59:00if he could borrow a team from him. Adam Schessler. He talked with Adam Schessler, and Adam Schessler, the team was a runaway team. He talked to Bradshaw and Bradshaw said, well, he said I have a team of horses, but he said I've watched your men working over there, and he said I just wouldn't turn my team over to one of those fellas.

JL: Oh.

BF: His hired men. So he was at dinner with his wife, Laura Hansen, and he said, wondered what in the world he was going to do because he had to get that oat and batch of hay planted, seeded, drilled in. And she said, Jess, you remember a little while back at the horse show at the college that Bing Francis, and we 02:00:00knew the family very well, and she said, you remember Bing Francis won that 6-horse driving contest?

She said do you suppose that Bradshaw would let him drive his team? Well, he said, I can find out. So he went to the phone and he called Bradshaw, and I knew Bradshaw real well. In fact, the threshing crew threshed on Bradshaw's place, and a time or two I drove Bradshaw's team while we were threshing there. So he called him, and he said if I can get Bing Francis to drive and put in that crop, he said, could we use your horses? And he said, if you can get Bing Francis to 02:01:00do it, why, he said, you can have the team.

JL: Oh my gosh!

BF: So he came into town to our house, and I was home and asked me if I would come out and plant that crop for him the next day. So I said, sure. So I went out. And as it turned out it was a 2-day job, I think, or maybe 3. It was a pretty big planting. And the last day, I guess it was 2 days, and the last day it began to cloud up, and it looked like it was going to rain, and so I pushed and I pushed and I pushed pretty hard with that team, and we got it all in. And 02:02:00I worked late to do it. Finally finished. And took the team back to Bradshaw's which was just about a ¼ of a mile from where we were doing the work. And then went out over to the Hansen place. It was pretty near dark by the time I got there, and I hadn't had anything to eat yet. So Laura Hansen sat me down in the kitchen and put some food on the table for me, and we sat there and visited a bit and Jess Hansen had quite a stammer. If he was upset about something, why, he would stammer even worse but just normally he wouldn't do too badly. He said, 02:03:00Bing would you be interested in working for me full-time?

JL: Oh.

BF: Well, I'd just never given it any thought. And the museum thing had just, oh it'd only been a matter of short while before that Dr. Horner had died. And I was considering going back to school. And because there just wasn't any work much at that time, it was right in the beginning of the depression, and well I said, well I think I would. I said I've never, I don't know anything about poultry, be frank to say. But I said I can certainly learn. And he said, well 02:04:00I'd rather have you if you haven't had whole lot of courses then I can have you do it my way. And I went out and worked for Jess Hansen for a year.

JL: How about that.

BF: And that turned out.

JL: That's because you did such a good job planting, huh?

BF: Yeah, driving a team of horses.

JL: Golly.

BF: And the experience that I got from him proved a great boon to me because later on when I was in county agent work up in Washington County and again down in Jackson County I did all the poultry work.

JL: Because of working for him?

BF: Because of the training I got from him.

JL: That's marve-gosh.

BF: These are some of the sidelines of Horner museum.

JL: I can see that, and I-[recording cuts off].