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Carl Merryman Oral History Interview, April 19, 1979

Oregon State University
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Carl Merryman: Okay.

Jennifer Lee: Carl why don't we start with what you remember about your grandparents? Do you remember their names?

CM: I never knew my paternal grandparents. And I knew my maternal grandmother. Her husband didn't come west and was killed in Illinois, and she came west in 1887.

JL: How did she happen to come west?

CM: I don't know. She had 8 children and why she came west eventually... They'd lived on a farm in Illinois, the northwest corner of Illinois and I never did 00:01:00know why they came west. But she's the only one of my grandparents that I knew personally.

JL: What was her name?

CM: Her name was Eva Barbara Becker. And she had married a second time after her first husband passed away. And that was the name as I knew her: Becker. And she had one more child after her second marriage.

JL: So she had 9 children.

CM: She had 9 children.

JL: Where did your mother fit in to the nine children?


CM: My mother was fifth of the eight, I believe. And let me think. No she was fourth. She was the third daughter.

JL: So when was she born, do you know?

CM: In 1875.

JL: And her name was what, then?

CM: Metora, M-e-t-o-r-a, that's a new name for you I expect. Caroline Dittmar, D-i-t-t-m-a-r.

JL: So your grandmother changed the names of all the children when she got married?

CM: She was... no, no. they all stayed as Dittmars.


JL: Oh and her name changed to Becker.

CM: Her name changed to Becker.

JL: I see. What do you remember about your grandmother?

CM: Not very much. She passed away when I was 7 I would judge. So I didn't know her to any good extent. We used to go to Philomath on a few occasions and saw her there, but she seemed to me to be a very old lady the time I first remember her.

JL: Where did she go when she came out west?

CM: Well, the family settled out south of that butte to the south of Philomath. 00:04:00It has several different names: Heartless Hill, Dennett's Butte. It doesn't show on the map so I don't know what the technical name of it is in the Evergreen District.

JL: Was she married at the time when she came out?

CM: She was married at the time she came out.

JL: I see. So what did the family do when they moved out here?

CM: Well, the man that she married was a piano tuner. Whether he tuned very many pianos in those years I have no idea.

JL: And his name was?

CM: John Becker.

JL: John Becker. Do you remember him?

CM: I remember him, but I don't remember very much about him.


JL: So they came out to the Philomath, the Evergreen District, and he was a piano tuner?

CM: Yes.

JL: And he supported a family of 9 children?

CM: Well, some of them were adults by that time, and the older sister was soon married after they came out here. In fact her eventual husband came out at the same time, came out west in 1887.

JL: Do you know how they traveled out west?

CM: They came out by train shortly after the line was established. This was after the trips by wagon across the plains.

JL: Mm-hmm. Where did your father's parents come from?


CM: I would assume from Missouri. That's where he was born. But I know practically nothing about them.

JL: You don't know how they came out west?

CM: I have no idea.

JL: What was your father's name?

CM: Jesse, j-e-s-s-e. Jesse Howard Raymond.

JL: Where did he live? Where did his family live?

CM: I don't know.

JL: You don't know how your mother and father met each other?


CM: No I don't.

JL: Do you know where they met? Did they meet in Oregon?

CM: I don't know. But I presume. I can't give you very much information about him at all.

JL: Did you know your father very well, or?

CM: Well that's a [chuckles] a difficult question to answer. I knew him 'til I was twelve.

JL: Did your father ever talk to you about his childhood at all?


CM: Never. No.

JL: What did he do? Was he employed?

CM: Well, sometimes he was. He was a day laborer. He was a carpenter and a painter and a plasterer and paper hanger. That sort of thing. He worked farms with Erickson, who was the contractor who built the McAlexander Fieldhouse.

JL: Oh.

CM: My father also helped to build the old bandstand there on the campus.


JL: Is that right?

CM: He was a custodian, the first custodian that was called the South School. When the building was built there they called it the Roosevelt School. But the old South School was a different building from Roosevelt. He was a custodian at Benton County State Bank on 2nd and Madison. I can remember going down the steep steps in the alley there and watching him feed the slide bin in the furnace that 00:10:00heated the building.

JL: Oh my gosh.

CM: That was when I was really young.

JL: Did he teach you carpentry skills and ....?

CM: No. Those skills I picked up in high school.

JL: Had he gone to school?

CM: I think in his years he went through grade school, and that was about all there was for people at that time.

JL: Hmm.

CM: Except for a very few.

JL: Did your mother go to school?


CM: Yes. She finished grade school. She used to teach out in the Evergreen District. She taught grade school out there.

JL: Was she employed after her children were born?

CM: Never.

JL: So how many...?

CM: Fully active. But wasn't employed outside the home.

JL: How many children did she have?

CM: Seven.

JL: My gosh. So she worked hard, I bet, with 7 children.

CM: Yes. I think she baked bread every other day through all the years.

JL: So Carl, when were you born?


CM: In 1909.

JL: And did you have any brothers or sisters before that? I mean, ahead of you.

CM: I'm in the middle. I have two older brothers, an older sister, a younger sister, and two younger brothers.

JL: What are their names?

CM: Well, Howard is the oldest. Do you need any more than the first name?

JL: Sure. Oh, no. That's... Howard's fine. First name's fine.

CM: Howard and Frank. Eva is the older sister. Margaret is the younger sister. Harold and Arthur.

JL: What did you like to do with your mother when you were small?


CM: Well, I think the things that we enjoyed the most was when she would take us on Sunday picnics, I guess. We used to go out to what was called in those days was called Town Harbor's Grove. It's now called Avery Park. There were no roads over there, so we walked across the railroad trestle and went into Town Harbor's Grove to hunt for mushrooms, Indian pipe, hazelnuts, and that sort of thing. Also some Sundays we would take a picnic lunch and walk from where we lived on 00:14:00south 11th over to Beaches Woods, it was called. It's over beyond the crew house now, and that was a trek of about 2 ½ miles each way. And she made use of our energies there and gathered hazelnuts which we hauled back in sacks and dried for the winter. Those were the, I suppose, one of the larks, a chance to get away from the house and go out and see something that was different. JL: Now where did you live? Where was your house located?

CM: We lived on South 11th, the 800th block, about one block east of where the 00:15:00Roosevelt school used to stand, and my father was building that house when I was born, and we moved into it before I was a year old. And at that time it was a house that was farthest out from town in the southwestern direction.

JL: Is that right? So your mother was quite an energetic woman if she could walk 2 ½ miles to collect hazelnuts.

CM: Well, she was active all the hours of the day, certainly. Because she had to maintain that house for all of us.


JL: Was your father included on these picnics?

CM: No. I remember he maybe'd gone on some of the earliest ones, but I don't remember him as going on very many of those trips.

JL: Well, what kind of things did you do with your brothers and sisters and other playmates in Corvallis?

CM: Well, we lived a half a block from the school grounds, so.

JL: And what school was this?

CM: It was called the South School.

JL: That's right.

CM: I think that it was the third school building in Corvallis. The old central 00:17:00school was a grade school and later on the high school was built down in what is now the Central Park area. And then what was called the North School was built and now Franklin School stands a block to the north of that. And the South School was built out on what was called B Street. It's now called Western Avenue. But we were a half a block from the school grounds, and we always had access to that area for playing. My mother wouldn't let us disturb the neighbors 00:18:00so she had a rule that we would go up to the school grounds and we weren't to go the neighbors, and as a consequences all the neighbors came to our place, the kids. We had a tall swing in the backyard and a sand box and as long as things didn't get too rough, we could all play there and the neighbors were generally welcome. But other than our backyard she allowed us to play in the school grounds as I recall after school we were always over in the school grounds to play.

JL: What kind of things did you play? What kind of games?

CM: Well there was, at that time there was no equipment there. I think there 00:19:00might have been a back stop, and we played winnow cat.

JL: Played what?

CM: Winnow cat. It's a form of baseball, and we played work up.

JL: Now how do you play winnow cat and work up?

CM: I can't remember much about winnow cat. I think we would choose up sides, with what few we could muster, and pitched a ball and batted. Work up you didn't have a team. You took turns batting by working up through the various places in the field, from the field, you know the infield and then to first base and then 00:20:00to pitcher and catcher and when the fellows who were batting were fly-ed out or were put out on the bases, then the catcher would move up to be the batter. That's why it was called work up.

And there was always, if you were out in the field and caught a fly and automatically worked up to jumping over everybody else. It was a long way around to go through all the various positions to get to pitcher, catcher, and then batter, but if you could catch a fly you could change places with the fellow who was batting.

JL: How did you spend most of your time when you were a child?

CM: I spent a lot of my time reading.

JL: That was encouraged?

CM: Yes. We didn't have any extensive library at home, but we had access to the 00:21:00books at school and we could borrow books there and at the city library. We had a very good friend, Mrs. Malloy, in the city library.

JL: Where was the city library?

CM: For a while, as I recall, it was in her home over there, and then it moved to Jefferson and then down near what is now Central Park. But long before the present building was built.

JL: Did most of the children that you associated with, did they also love reading like you did?

CM: I wouldn't know.


JL: Was your family religious at all?

CM: Well, we used to go to Sunday School at the Baptist Church. And then my two older brothers joined a scout troop which was sponsored by a Congregational Church and...

JL: Boy Scouts?

CM: Yes, and so we moved over into the Congregational Church and went to Sunday school there.

JL: How did you get around the community? Did you have a bicycle or a car?


CM: Well, this was before the age of cars in my youth. We used to walk.

JL: There weren't many cars in Corvallis at that time, huh?

CM: No I can remember the first car, a Model-T Ford, I suppose that was in the 2nd grade or something like that. Will Harding owned it. But we used, as they said, and later on the boys had bicycles but for the most part we walked.


JL: Tell me about your impression of the first car, the Model-T.

CM: Well, I remember it being parked in front of South School and you had to crank it. It had stopped there, and it was dead and I remember standing there and watching him try to crank this slowly. That's my first memory of it. It took him quite a while to get it started. Which was normal, I gather. I used to drive a Model-T later on and I remember cranking them, cranking them, cranking them and them stalling.

JL: You remember being amazed or awed? You'd heard about them, I'm sure.


CM: No I don't think particular amazement.

JL: What kind of roads did they have in Corvallis?

CM: Well, B Street, now Western Avenue, was a dirt road, rutted. Some of the wagons got stuck there.

JL: Can you remember any incident that you can tell me about?

CM: I knew of runaways. I never did see a runaway. I remember, I suppose I must have been four, five, it is one of my earlier memories, a fella by the name of 00:26:00Ed Fader, who delivered meat for Halt's meat market, had a two-wheeled cart with a box on it with a lift up lid and one horse drawing his cart and he delivered meat all over town from Hal's Meat Market. As I recall it, the intersecting street near Madison was paved at the time. I had to go to see Dr. Ballsworth, my brother took me down there, I don't know, I was four or five. I had something wrong with the side of my head. They called it a gathering in the ear in those times, and my brother took me down on a sled, because there was snow on the 00:27:00ground and on the way back home Ed Fader took us and towed us behind the meat cart, not all the way home but partway home. That was in the days before automobiles.

JL: [Giggles].

CM: But sidewalks were wood, usually a couple of planks about 12" wide. Sometimes they were 6' boards or 4' boards crosswise the length of the sidewalk. I can recall the noise that a bicycle would make riding across one of those. 00:28:00Some of the boards would be loose and then there'd be this repetitive chatter riding the bike across the sidewalks. We preferred the longitudinal sidewalks. They were much easier to ride, except for that crack between the two boards. You get a tire in there and you flung. But that was about all it was for...

JL: What stores stand out in your mind in downtown Corvallis?

CM: I remember Kline's 1864. That was on 2nd Street.

JL: What was that like?

CM: It was a department store and they had some groceries in there and clothing.


JL: Was that the most popular store?

CM: That and Noland's, Jim Noland & Son. Noland's was on 3rd and Madison and of course J.H. Harris', a big L store. That was their advertising. It was in the shape of an L, at 2nd and Jefferson, and they called it the "big L store."

JL: Why was it in the shape of an L?

CM: It was just, the building was built in the shape of an L, so they called it the big L store. It was a department store, too, I think. I don't remember being in it.

JL: Did you... go ahead I'm sorry.


CM: I was in Noland's store and Kline's store, but I don't remember being inside of Harris' in my earlier days. And then Long had a sporting goods store just south of Kline's.

[Break in recording].

Bill and I, I got to know and him differently. He was assistant scout master of the scout troop and he had a son, Lynn, a little bit older than I was, and another son Merle, a little bit younger. And they had a sister, Mary, who was several years younger than there were. Lynn was my first real good friend and 00:31:00the Longs lived out at the foot of what is now known as Long Field where Country Club Way, and I spent many happy afternoons out there at their place playing with Lynn and Merle.

JL: Playing what?

CM: Well, we played in the trees and we roamed the hill, we did all sorts of things. And they initiated me into milking the cow, but they knew the ropes and they had me trying to milk a heifer which turned out rather disastrously. But it was a part of their fun, and that was an avenue of learning for me.

JL: [Laughs]. I wanted to ask did you buy clothes at Noland's and Kline's and the department stores or did your mother make the clothes for you?


CM: My mother made a good bit of our clothing, dresses for the girls and shirts for the boys and on occasions trousers, but I think we bought shoes and stockings and those were the days of the long black stockings that everybody wore. Trousers, knickers, at the stores downtown. But I don't remember. I can remember my father taking me in to buy a pair of shoes once. And I was hard to fit when I was young. I used to have to slip the tongues longitudinally in order for me to get the shoes on. Whether I had a high arch or what it was, I don't 00:33:00know. But I had a very difficult time, so I can remember the ordeal of buying a pair of shoes or my father buying a pair for me. It was ordeal for me in getting them to fit.

JL: Were you allowed to go downtown any time you really wanted to, or were you told to stay close to home?

CM: No, we were... we stayed home. I can remember being picked up by one of the fellows who was a student at the South School at the same time. He was a year or so ahead of me, and he picked me up on his bike was giving me a ride and he was getting me farther from home than I was used to being. And that was in the middle of the lower campus. I remember we had a boundary line that we were 00:34:00supposed to... when we got to the middle of the campus, I told him I'd have to get off. I wasn't going to go any further. So I went back home from there. So our boundaries when we were younger, that is when we were walking and so on, were to stay on the south side of town. We used to go into town either down B Street or we crossed over on 10th across the sandy path that led through the grounds of the old depot. That's when the trains came in on 9th Street and went right on out on the rail to the coast. And the platform around the depot was 00:35:00concrete but all the rest of the walkways around that were a light colored sand.

These paths would have posts in them to keep vehicles from using them, so they were pedestrian paths and that was our general path to go into the central part of town, was to go through the grounds of the old SB Depot. I would judge it to be about the 5th or 6th grade. I don't know just when it was, but there used to be a grade school orchestra in Corvallis. Catherine Gentle was the conductor. 00:36:00She was a music instructor in the grade schools and students came from various, a few different grade schools in town to play, and we played in the basement of what is now the Presbyterian Church at 8th and Madison. They have a much larger room there in the basement. There have been some partitions erected since those days. But my sisters played violins, and I was supposed to play the bells, they were called. Metal bars, keyboard. But I was very small for my age and grade and 00:37:00it was a real joy to ring those bells going from my home to the basement of the Presbyterian Church.

JL: You had no help, huh?

CM: Well, my sisters had violins that they were carrying, but I had to carry those bells and it was a good load for me. Enough of a load to discourage me, and I didn't stay too long in the orchestra.

JL: [Laughs] Oh no! Did your family leave Corvallis very much, like take the train to the coast? You mentioned that you had also gone to Philomath. How'd you get to Philomath?

CM: Well, when we went to Philomath we went in a horse and buggy. My father 00:38:00would rent a rig and drive us to Philomath. I can remember coming back through Philomath one time on a horse and buggy and we didn't go out through Philomath, and for years that used to puzzle me as a little squirt because the only way to get to Philomath was to go out west from Corvallis. But I finally figured it out later on that we'd gone out to Oak Creek and taken the Cardhill road, which some of it was corduroy at the time, and we went out through Grand and came back through Philomath. But when we made the trip I was never, in those early years, 00:39:00I wasn't able to understand how we came back from Philomath without going out the old road. The trains went to Newport at the time, and I can remember we went to Newport for, there was a big Moose convention, and my father was a member of the Moose Lodge and people from all over Oregon, I gather now, I didn't think anything about it at the time, but there were all kinds of people on this excursion and we rode the train to Yaquina and then took the ferry on into Newport and we'd stay overnight in a place they call tent city.


Then the only things, the activities that I recall, I don't recall us going down to the beach at all, but they had some entertainment for the officers, they had a lot of races. And my mother let my older sister run in the foot race. She wouldn't let us and my younger sister run because she knew that she couldn't beat my older sister. Eva won the race but I think Margaret always was chagrined because she felt she could've taken second.

JL: Why did they call it tent city?

CM: It was, I suppose, comparable to what you'd call a mobile home court now. 00:41:00They just had a lot of tents pitched there for people to stay in. It was a state-wide Moose convention I gather, and in order to accommodate all those people they erected these tents in the city, and it was all roped off as I recall. I can remember what looked to be like barriers, just poles and horizontal poles tied down with them, I guess, to be kind of a delimitation or a mile marcation for that so-called tent city. JL: So you know what year this was?

CM: It was before I was in school. I would guess about 1907 or '08.


JL: Didn't you say you were born in 1909?

CM: That's what I said. I'm wrong. It must have been in 1914 or something like that. Pardon me. You're right. One of the things that really struck me on that train ride, the train just a little ways west of Corvallis bordered on an orchard, the train tracks. I was very much intrigued by the patterns of the lines in the orchard as we went by because if you look in almost any direction the trees would be lined up in a line, and I thought that was quite remarkable. 00:43:00The only other thing that I can really recall about that trip was that I walked into another car from where the family was seated, and we went through a tunnel and everything was black. I was really alarmed because I was separated from the family. Well, when we came out of the tunnel and I got back on, because I remember distinctly being very concerned about being separated from the family when you went through that tunnel.

JL: Was that the only time that you had ever gone to the coast?

CM: That was the only time that we ever went on the train.

JL: On the train, I mean.

CM: But later on when the highway was put through we used to hitchhike over 00:44:00there, catch rides to go to the coast on the road.

JL: Tell me about the ferry ride from Yaquina to...

CM: Well, I don't know anything about that. I know it was [recording cuts out].

JL: You were saying you didn't remember anything about the ferry ride.

CM: No I don't remember that part of...

JL: Carl, what do you remember about the campus? Did that play any part in your life when you were a young child?

CM: Well, we didn't come over on the campus very much except for a recreational program that was held in that green area between what is now the education 00:45:00building and the drama building.

At that time that was for women's athletics, and some of the students apparently who were taking activities in women's athletic program were in charge of putting on a program, and my mother did let us walk to that playground program up there. I guess we went up there when I was about 6 or 7. It had some equipment there, and I think it was the first kind of recreational program that the community had.


JL: What kind of things did they do?

CM: They played games. They had these group games. And they had these horizontal ladders where you could swing from... they had a set of rings there that you could practice on. I had to be lifted up so I could get a hold of those rungs of that horizontal ladder. Of course, my mission was to be able to skip one or two of those rungs, but I was able to manage to get from one to the next and that was about it in that stage of the game. I remember going to watch ball games, 00:47:00baseball games, and they were held in just about the same place that they are now, Bell Field. It was in a little bit different location, but it was the same place. When my oldest brother was in the 7th and 8th grades, they used to have a baseball team there in grade school, and the fella who coached it was a student at Oregon State and his name was Ralph Coleman. Of course, Coleman Field is named for him. But I can still remember seeing the cup that the team won, it was 00:48:00in the trophy case there at South School, and Ralph Coleman was the reason for that. That would be about 1918.

JL: What were some of the things that you liked best about where you lived?

CM: I don't recall anything in particular about the area that we lived in that 00:49:00was outstanding. We were very fortunate we could play so close to home. We used to stay over there in the school grounds until my mother would call us in. She would whistle for us.

JL: She'd whistle?

CM: We would traipse through the backyards of the people who lived across the street from us and head on home. Other things that we were really fortunate we had a neighbor by the name of Park Echtman. He was at the time I believe a 00:50:00teller in the First National Bank downtown. But he loved sports. He loved to help kids learn how to play these sports. And he used to come into the school grounds when he'd get home from work and teach us some of the finer points of playing baseball and so on, primarily baseball, and that's when the good weather was available outside. But I've always cherished these memories of Park Echtman because of the time that he spent with us. I take it it was enjoyable for him because he gave us no other clue. But he certainly spent a lot of time with us 00:51:00there on the school grounds. His son, Don, was a little bit younger than I was, about the same age as my brother Harold. When he became about that age, he of course was involved in it too. But that made it particularly attractive to us to have somebody helping us out over there.

JL: You mentioned that you took some picnics to Tarwater Gorge.

CM: Grove.

JL: Grove, I'm sorry.

CM: Yes.

JL: Tell me more about that.

CM: Ed Tarwater, among other things, was what they call nowadays the powder monkey. He did a bit of blasting that needed to be done in this area, and he had 00:52:00a building over there in the grove where dynamite and so on was stored.

JL: Who's this?

CM: Ed Tarwater.

JL: Oh.

CM: And it was an auto bonds place. And we avoided that area in particular because we felt sure it was dangerous to be anywhere near it, near Ed Tarwater's private house. But at that time it was a real, the woods were much more extensive than they are now. They have dropped some of the trees, and of course the storm took a number of those trees out. But in our days it was almost solid 00:53:00fir trees in that whole bend of the river. There were a couple of small clearings, nowhere near large enough as a softball field. A couple of small clearings in that whole woods. My mother was particularly engrossed with the flowers that were there. It's the only place around Corvallis that I had ever seen Indian pipe for years until I found a few out near the reservoir the north of town recently.

JL: That's a flower, isn't it?


CM: Yes. Well, it's a saprophyte. It grows out of dead materials in the ground and has no leaves. It's all white.

JL: I understand that you know something about where McDonald forest is today. Did you take excursions out there as a child?

CM: When I became a scout in 1922 it opened up a whole new world for me. In fact, it became my world for a number of years. And about 1922 we started having hikes up near what is now the McDonald Forest. Our Scout Master Delmer Goode had 00:55:00arranged with the man who owned a mill up there. His name was Rosecranz. I don't know his first name. He had a son Richard Rosecranz who was perhaps 2 years older than I. But the mill was not operating at this time in 1922. It had been earlier. But Mr. Rosecranz gave Delmrr Goode permission to go up into that area for a camping area. And we took one of the old cabins up there. It was a troop cabin and made a number of hikes up there. It was perhaps 5 miles up there.


JL: Where did the cabin come from?

CM: Well, they had cabins there for the men who were working in the mill to live in.

JL: Oh.

CM: And there was one that was more preserved, better preserved, than the others. So we sort of took it over.

JL: Can you describe the mill? What was left in 1922?

CM: Some of the roof had fallen in by then. Some of the machinery was still there, and at that time my first trips up in there it wasn't much overgrown. In fact, the flume was still standing at the mill and for, I suppose, ¾ of the 00:57:00mile down from the mill. When the mill was operating that flume used to run down to the main stream of Oak Creek and down Oak Creek across the road there were the Hubbard's had their farm and over to what was then known as Conroy. Conroy is in a little bit different location now than it was then. But there was a rubber mill right at the base of Baldie, south east side of Baldie, and this flume carried the rough cut lumber from up there in what is now the McDonald 00:58:00Forest down to this other mill where it was reprocessed.

JL: Describe the flume for me. I don't think I've ever seen one.

CM: I think, I first saw it when I was much younger at the Lower Inn. I have a cousin who worked at the mill by the railroad tracks at the foot of Baldie. We saw the end of the flume where it emptied into the pond there and the lumber, or the rough cut. And I suppose they were timbers were floating in the pond. But I never saw, I can't remember seeing, any of them ever coming down the flume. But at the time we were hiking up in the Rosecranz mill the flume was still standing 00:59:00for about ¾ of a mile. And so the water was running down through this portion of the flume, and this used to be a place where we would play and take rides. We'd find something that we could put into the flume and ride it down to where it dumped us out at the barn.

JL: Wasn't it a far fall?

CM: No. Where the end was was not high, so, there was no problem with that. We used get wet, of course. I remember hiking out there in hip rubber boots that I'd got from my older brother and I was going to try to keep from getting too wet that time and I accidentally fell down right in front of the end of that 01:00:00flume and I filled the boots full.

JL: [Laughs] Oh no.

CM: Rubber boots didn't keep me from getting wet on that trip.

JL: Well, tell me about what the flume, what it was like. What materials was it made out of?

CM: Well, it was the size of about 2' wide, that was set at an angle of 90 degrees to one another. The planks, as I remember it, it was made up of two planks and how they kept the water from going through the planks I really don't know. I wasn't that concerned, certainly, at the time. But it may be too that 01:01:00the water wasn't up to the top of the first plank. Because any water up to that, but it wouldn't take a full flume to float any of the lumber down, but I expect a much smaller volume of water was probably enough to float whatever lumber they put in down to the lower mill. There were some places where you know that they could make sure that they had a steady weight on the flume that they would have to put the flume on stilts. But these weren't very high at any particular spot along the part that was still standing. I don't suppose there was any trestle that was more than 15' from the ground.


[Break in recording]

JL: Go ahead, you were telling me about the flume.

CM: Actually we didn't spend a great deal of time playing in the flume. We had other activities that we were involved in.

JL: Tell me about them.

CM: We did a lot of hiking around there. Later on we used to climb to Star Mountain, which had a clear area on the south side. That used to be a particular kind of an experience for the boys because we would climb it in the dark.

JL: Oh.

CM: And we would find these what we called lightning bugs, bugs on the ground 01:03:00that had little glow in them, glow worms. Then too when we got up to the summit, to that cleared area, we would look out over the whole valley covering the area south of Corvallis. And that was at a time when the air mail having just started flew with the help of the airmail beacons that had been erected in the valley. From up there on the top of Star Mountain we could watch several of these airmail beacons rotating.

JL: This was in Mac [McDonald] Forest?

CM: Yes. The beacons were not in Mac [McDonald] Forest. They were out in the 01:04:00valley because the airplane route was from southern Oregon, I suppose around Medford, up to Portland. But these beacons were to enable these men who were flying the airmail to fly it back and being able to follow a prescribed route by the aid of these beacons. But it was quite a lark for these boys to go up there and sit on the hilltop there and look out over the valley and see the lights of Corvallis and Eugene and some lighted areas in between. It became quite a standard procedure to make that trip in the dark up to the top of Star Mountain and then back down again.

JL: Was this common for groups of kids to go out to the cabins and stay in them? 01:05:00Or was this just because his son was in boy scouts?

CM: Well, his son wasn't in the troop.

JL: Rosecranz?

CM: But he was willing to have us use that cabin. We don't know, I don't know of any other group that went up in that area but I think other groups probably went into other areas around here. We found other cabins out in those woods where we can stay overnight and in those days we didn't camp in tents or carry any other kind of gear with us. The only kind of a pack one could get was the World War I packs you could find in a surplus store, and they served us for, either that or 01:06:00a horseshoe pack for carrying our blankets and cooking gear with us and the food that we carried on these trips.

JL: Do you remember any other specific cabins or houses in Mac [McDonald] Forest?

CM: I remember one other one that we happened to discover one time when we were on a trip. We had no shelter at all and we had planned to sleep out, and it turned out to be one of these wet weekends, and I was the leader of the trip on this occasion. It was some years later. We found this old cabin that was intact enough for us to take shelter in it that night and we did.


JL: Do you know where that was located?

CM: Yes, it was to the southwest of where we had previously camped. There was a road part way in there. I remember it used an old corduroy road into that area for a ways. We'd gone in further than that along the trail. The thing that intrigued the boys primarily was the fact that there were bullet holes in this cabin. So that became a very exciting topic of conversation, and they were trying to figure out why these bullet holes were in this cabin. They finally named that the Bootleggers Cabin. So that's what it was called henceforth by this gang, the Bootlegger's Cabin.

JL: Do you know anything about it?

CM: I know nothing about it.


JL: What was in the forest then? Was anybody running cattle? Do you remember any orchards?

CM: There is a knoll to the south of that old mill. Quite a clearing. At one time there had been a house there. You can see the rudiments of the fireplace still standing and presumed that the house had burned. The barn was still standing and that hay barn had a lot of hay in it and there were occasions when we were on trips up there and the weather was bad, you couldn't have any outdoor activities we would hike up in the rain to this barn, and we would spend the afternoon playing in the hay barn. We understood that the fella that used to 01:09:00live there was a man by the name of Mike Lebland. We used to make use of that barn where it was necessary to find something where we could play out of the rain. And we were grateful for it, I'm sure.

JL: He wasn't there anymore.

CM: We never saw him. We never knew of him being there. Assumedly there had been a family there. Daffodils were still growing around the area where the house had been. So assumedly there was a woman living in that home too. I don't think the men would have taken the trouble to put out daffodil buds.


JL: [Laughs] I want to ask more about McDonald Forest. but I don't want to get ahead of your life. The World War I, when World War I hit how did that affect you and your family? Do you remember anything about it at all?

CM: Well, I don't remember very much about when war was declared, certainly, but when our troops went in, and the local National Guard members went away, and that included some of the fellas we had heard of that played on athletic teams of course, and we were of some concern, certainly. But I was only 8 or 9 at that 01:11:00time and barely in school, so I wasn't very much involved. But the only one I can remember when it came to a close. I can also remember being infatuated with some of the new weapons that were built for that, including tanks. First time they were ever used and I remember building a model of the tank, and I suppose that's the sort of the thing that goes now when young people want to build rocket launchers and so on. The same sort of thing.

JL: They sold kits in the stores in Corvallis?

CM: No, no, no. You had to build these yourself. You had to build them from scratch.

JL: And you had seen pictures of them.

CM: Seen pictures of them and used to kind of make something like that. And also 01:12:00machine guns. I had... one of the books that I owned, probably the most important book I owned as a kid, was a boy mechanics book. And it had sketches of all kinds of things that you could build: boat models. I built a tank, that would run with rubber bands, and it would shoot bullets out of it and I used dowels cut up into little short length about 3/4" long and an apparatus that would trip from a gear that I'd made that'd pull back a trigger and had rubber 01:13:00bands around it that this gear would trip that trigger it would knock these bullets out of this tank. But that book had all kinds of things that a kid could build.

JL: Do you remember your parents or the adults around you talking about the war or the politics of it?

CM: No I don't remember very much. I don't remember anything really about any discussions. I remember this there was a rather large minority of German 01:14:00extraction people in Corvallis. And most of them lived on the south side of town where I lived, the kids went to the school where I did. My mother also being of German extraction could be included with these people who were, they were not in danger of course, but they were sort of outcasts because of the German extraction. Anything that had to do with German or Germany or of course, them being the enemy, you were sort of out in the cold. This was a minority group.


JL: What kind of things indicated to you that they were prejudiced against?

CM: I felt it at school. I think the folks who had German names and were all, that is both father and mother, of German extraction probably felt it very keenly. My father was of English extraction and the name Merryman was English, so we weren't singled out particularly, but we felt it. We had neighbors next to 01:16:00us and across the street from us who were German. It was apparent to us that they were not accepted in some areas. People were prejudiced against them because of the fact that they were German.

JL: You mean they were just excluded from social?

CM: They weren't accepted, yeah, as readily as they had been prior to that. I don't recall any overt actions that were taken by any group or individual.

JL: Do you remember any differences in the city? The downtown area, the posters, 01:17:00or other things? You remember anything about that? Any difference?

CM: No at that time I didn't get downtown very much. There were no reason for me to be downtown.

JL: Do you remember soldiers? Any soldiers in town? Or up at the university?

CM: No... we had the SATC here on the campus. I can recall the old YMCA built in 01:18:00the Y-Hut.

JL: Tell me about the SATC and the Y-Hut.

CM: I don't remember very much about that program, but it was a student army training corps and the men worked to train them for military service. But I wasn't up on the campus then except for Saturday afternoons. The only reason that we came up on the campus was that they used to have motion pictures shown in the Y-Hut. D. V. Poling was in charge of the Y-Hut and that was then W. Poling's father. And had Saturday afternoon movies for 10 cents.

JL: What were some of the...?

CM: I can recall but one movie that I had been to in what was the only theater 01:19:00in Corvallis, the Majestic, it is now the Varsity. That's the only theater in Corvallis for a long time until the Whiteside brothers built the Whiteside Theater. I'd gone to one movie. I think the schools took us all, as we all went as school groups to see some particular movie. I don't know what it was. But that was the only motion picture I'd been to, but then when I was about 9 I used to come up to the Y-Hut on Saturday afternoon. That was when mother was assured that we had everything to get ready for Sunday-our clothes were clean and our shoes were shined and we had our baths and so on. Then if we were all ready for 01:20:00Sunday we could have a dime to go up to the movie up at the Y-Hut.

To this day I can't recall any particular movie from that time but it was a special lark for us, certainly. I would say that's about the only time I ever came up to the campus. Except for these other excursions in the spring when they had the recreational program, and they were at what's now Mitchell Playhouse. I don't recall any of the SATC activities. I don't remember seeing any of those at all. Beg your pardon, yeah, they used to have... this may have been a little bit 01:21:00later. They used to have what was called sham battles, that was the laboratory exercise for the military. They had sham battles down in the area below the, between the CH2M and the river. That used to be a large field, and in the spring they would have at night a sham battle down in that area. Of course the tracer bullets from that sham battle would have been a thrill for us as kids was to go 01:22:00out there and watch them chaser bullets at night. But there was a good bit of smoke and a lot of noise and the lighting effects. But we were neighbors to the area. We could get down there very... while I was talking about that area it might be interesting to cite some other things that I remember about that area when my neighborhood got to be a little bit larger than the school grounds.

Well, to treat again... One of the things that we loved to do as kids was build kites and fly them and we had a wonderful opportunity there from the school grounds. There was a manhole on a sort of access out behind the school, but we 01:23:00used to make our own kites from scratch, and my older brother was really adept with his hands. He built a, what we called a do-hickey, that would ride up the kite line he would tie a stick to the kite string maybe 50' from the kite and this would serve as a point to trip his do-hickey but he would right this sort of block on screw hooks, screw eyes so it would ride on the tight line, and it would be taken up by a parachute. The wind would blow this parachute. It was fastened to this do-hickey with a trip mechanism in it, so when the do-hickey got up to the stick in the kite line it would trip and release the parachute and 01:24:00then it would sail in the wind. Being younger we would take a run and we would chase the parachutes and we'd have to go peer on down past the railroad tracks on 6th Street sometimes to recover these parachutes. So it was a quite lark flying kites from that area. We were in no danger from, well, I suppose there might have been a little danger from electric lines and muddy streets but our kites used to up fly pretty high and we didn't feel any big concern at that time, certainly, about getting our kite caught in the electric wires. That used to be the circus grounds too in that area. Below the school grounds between the B Street and the river.


JL: The circus grounds?

CM: Whenever the circus would come to town they would unload the vehicles and the animals down near the freight yards on Washington, and the animals would be paraded up Western Avenue. It was then called B Street. And they were taken to the big tents in the large field. I also recall as a youngster that before I was even in grade school that somebody was trying to get an airplane off the ground down there. Somebody had built an airplane.

JL: A model airplane, or?

CM: No, a real airplane and they were trying to get it off the ground down there along the river.

JL: Tell me about that.

CM: Well, I was quite excited about that. I know nothing about who was involved, 01:26:00vaguely in my mind it seems like it was somebody from Philomath. But why they would come clear into Corvallis to try to find a level spot to fly an airplane I don't know. But I was too young to really comprehend that, and it was I suppose around 1913 or '14, something like that. So my mind is pretty vague about the details. But I can remember seeing that down there.

JL: Did he ever get it off the ground?

CM: Yeah. I can't remember him getting it off the ground.

JL: I want to hear more about the circus. How often did the circus come to Corvallis?

CM: Well, it might have been every year, although I don't remember that it was. I think the circus was big, a big circus each year. And it was quite an event. I 01:27:00wasn't aware in those days of whether they stopped in Albany or Salem, but I presume they must have. Or they would draw people from all over Benton County for the big day when they had the circus.

JL: How many tents did they have?

CM: Well, there was the one big one and there were the sideshow tents.

JL: How much did it cost?

CM: I can't tell you. I never paid.

JL: [Laughs].

CM: We would try to get a job with the circus so we could get in, and you would help drive the stakes or get a hold of the ropes to pull the tents up, and then 01:28:00they'd always make you give them your cap. So you wouldn't get your cap back until after the tents were done and you'd have to stay after the performance and help to take the tents down. Then when that was done, then you'd your cap back. And that way we could get into the circus for nothing.

JL: Oh my gosh.

CM: The thing that really thrilled me was to watch this row of fellas with the huge knots stand around. There were maybe four of these fellas standing around. After they started it, they would just drive this stake into the ground in rotation going right around the four taking turns. That it seemed like that stick just didn't never quit moving because there was one of these hammers, 01:29:00huge, after another hitting that tent stick and it just moved right into the ground. The other part of the fun was when they'd pull them out. They'd bring the elephants around and they'd wrap their trunks around these stakes and just pull them right out of the ground.

JL: Oh no. What other things happened there at the circus?

CM: I don't remember going into any of the side shows because we worked our way into the main tent but we were always enthralled with the live animal acts. And it was the usual common circus. I don't think that circuses has changed its pattern a great deal. Maybe have a few more acrobatics and so on, other than...

JL: Was there a feeling of anticipation in the town when the circus was coming?


CM: There was always these very colorful posters pasted up around town announcing it, and it was quite a show just watching them unload the flat cars. They used the elephants a great deal. They would push these wide vehicles right off the flat cars, and they would really be severe and they did a whole lot of the heavy work getting the circus off the train and getting it back on again.

JL: They came by train then, huh?

CM: They would come into town by train and then unload them with the help of these big elephants.


JL: Do you remember any of the characters that were with the circus?

CM: No, no. I don't recall there was individuals that I know there were clowns there, but the person wasn't great enough to make me remember anyone individually.

JL: When did they usually happen? When did the circus come?

CM: I think in the spring. They probably sometime in...it wouldn't certainly be while school was out, as far as the university was concerned, because there'd be quite a change in the population in the community here after school was out, so I'm sure they waited to be in Corvallis before school was out.