Ohio Street + Garden of the Month for June 2019

I walked two-blocks-long Ohio Street in order to visit Ashland’s beautiful Garden of the Month for June 2019 (chosen by the Ashland Garden Club).

The Garden of the Month address is 265 Ohio Street. If you visit the garden, please respect the privacy of the homeowner. Please view the garden through the artistic fence from either Ohio Street or the alley along the side of the house.

For this walk, my wife and I started at the Helman Street end of Ohio Street, and finished the walk at Gene’s lovely Garden of the Month.

108 Ohio Street

The yellow house at the corner of Helman and Ohio was built about 1905. The Oregon Historic Sites Database lists it as Frank Jordan house. On the Ashland City Band website, I found the photo below of Ashland’s “Woodmen of the World” band taken April 30, 1905. It lists Frank Jordan (back row, third from left) as a clarinet player. Could that be the same Frank Jordan?

Woodmen of the World band in Ashland, Oregon 1905 (photo from ashlandband..org, courtesy of Southern Oregon Historical Society)

Gates of Ohio Street

I found many quirky and artistic gates on Ohio Street.  Here are photos of the gates, in order from lower house numbers to higher house numbers.

110 Ohio Street…Yes, there is the gate, but where is the fence so that you would need to enter through the gate? I like the sense of humor.
132 Ohio Street. I like the simple lines of this gate, as well as the welcoming sign on the gate. 132 Ohio Street was built about 1910, and was called the E.O. Rease house.  
140 Ohio Street. The yard art and details make this a whimsical gate. Built around 1950, 140 Ohio Street has a World War II cottage style of architecture.
265 Ohio Street, gate at the Garden of the Month yard. The gate and fence were built by woodworker Nathan Sharples (photo by Larry Rosengren or Ruth Sloan)
275 Ohio Street has beautiful artwork on the gate. See the butterfly detail below.
275 Ohio St gate

Mrs. Anna McCarthy in 1914

Now let’s turn from gate photos to the rest of our walk along Ohio Street, starting with a quick historical detour. Built in 1905, 147 Ohio Street is another historic house, called the Anna G. McCarthy house.  This is a vernacular style hipped cottage with a wrapped hipped porch.   

147 Ohio Street, the Anna G. McCarthy house

I found a photo of Anna G. McCarthy in the Ashland Tidings of December 31, 1914. As President of the Chautauqua Park Club, she was one of the female “movers and shakers” of early Ashland. In 1893, the City of Ashland had purchased eight acres for the Chautauqua dome (where meetings were held) and nearby park land for people to gather. By 1916, Chautauqua Park had grown into the much larger and more elaborate Lithia Park. Now in 2019, the original eight acres is the site of the Shakespeare Festival’s Elizabethan Theater and the current entrance to Lithia Park.

Anna G. McCarthy, President of the Chautauqua Park Club in 1914

Thanks to the Ashland Tidings of December 28, 1914, I can provide you with a list of Mrs. McCarthy’s 1914 Christmas guests: “…Miss Carrie Foster of Klamath Falls, Mr. and Mrs. Frank M. Moore of Eugene, Mrs. Agnes Jury of Seattle and Mrs. McCarthy’s son H.G. McCarthy. As dinner guests on Christmas day Mr. and Mrs. S.J. Evans and son and daughter were present.”

Back to Ohio Street in 2019

167 Ohio Street

This tree at 167 Ohio Street seems unusually large and lush for a flowering plum tree. I would love to see it when it’s covered with blossoms! The house was built about 1914 and still retains its original bungalow style.

211 Ohio Street

A friend I play tennis with was out in front at 211 Ohio Street when I walked by, so now I know where he lives. He built this lovely raised walkway that accommodates the roots of his huge maple tree.His house dates back to 1930 and was moved to this location.

Garden of the Month for June 2019

265 Ohio Street, interior view of the Garden of the Month (photo by Larry Rosengren or Ruth Sloan)

Ruth Sloan of the Ashland Garden Club wrote: “This garden, designed and maintained by Gene Leyden, is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Monthfor June 2019.  This is a naturally wet parcel (note the giant pond next door) where dampness- and shade-loving plants thrive and carefully placed sun-loving plants also flourish.  Gene planted the willow tree, now enormous (14 feet in circumference!), when she moved in with her family in 1987, transporting it to the site from the nursery in the back of the Volkswagon bus.  Garden observers can walk or drive down the alley to the right of the house to get more views.”

I was fortunate that my wife Kathy was with me as I walked Ohio Street and visited the Garden of the Month, because she had known Gene about 25 years ago. When Gene saw us outside the gate, she recognized Kathy and invited us in. What a treat!

Gene showed us the Curly Willow tree she “stuck in the ground as a stick” back in 1987. It now rises high, with both curly leaves and branches.

265 Ohio Street, Curly Willow tree in 2019.

“In addition to the prospering plant life, there are remarkably beautiful constructions by Gene’s friend, the artist and carpenter Nathan Sharples. Look carefully at the gorgeous fence, installed only three years ago. Note the unusual wooden screen door. Also salted throughout the garden are sculptures by Gene’s friend Cheryl Garcia, as well as other items of interest.”

265 Ohio Street. Here is detail of the beautiful fence, as well as a small part of the lush garden. (photo by Larry Rosengren or Ruth Sloan)

“Gene says she has a special fondness for fragrance in the garden and chooses many plants on that basis, including roses, jasmine and nicotiana. Among the many highlights in the garden are a selection of huge hostas loving their location under the willow, Lady Banks and Cecile Brunner roses climbing through the vegetation, and a smoke tree and smoke bush lending their rich dark foliage as contrast to the riot of greens plus colorful blossoms. There’s a little bit of everything here. This is clearly the work of people of great imagination, especially the primary gardener.”

265 Ohio Street. These are gorgeous and fragrant Abraham Darby roses.

The garden is the star of the show, but the house has an interesting history. Built around 1890, perhaps as a parsonage for the historic Methodist Church, its original location was on South Laurel Street. The house was moved here to Ohio Street in 1987.

265 Ohio Street, climbing rose and rhododendron (photo by Larry Rosengren or Ruth Sloan)

If you love gardens #1: Since this article features a beautiful garden, I will end it with a photo of wise words from a poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney.

“The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.”

If you love gardens #2I would encourage you to join me as a member of the Ashland Garden Club. You can find the link to their membership form here at the club home page.     

Notes: All descriptions of the Garden of the Month in quotation marks are from the Ashland Garden Club article by Ruth Sloan. Photos are by Peter Finkle, except when marked otherwise.  

Hundreds Stranded in Ashland during the Flood of 1927

Here is the front page of Ashland American newspaper from February 25, 1927 that described the flood (“Rain Deluge Works Havoc”) and the people stranded in Ashland for three days.

A version of this article was published in the Ashland Tidings newspaper on June 4, 2019. This WalkAshland post contains additional text and historical photos.

Were you in Ashland during the flood on January 1, 1997? Heavy snow followed by warm rain flooded the Plaza and knocked out our water treatment plant. Life was inconvenient because Ashlanders had to use Porta Potties for two weeks. But Ashland wasn’t cut off from the outside world as in 1927.

Ashland was thriving in 1927. The Lithia Springs Hotel, then the tallest building between San Francisco and Portland, had just opened on Main Street in 1925 (it’s now the Ashland Springs Hotel). The downtown Enders Department Store, where you could walk indoors from one store to the next for an entire city block, was considered a wonder. Lithia Park was eleven years old and already a tourist draw, though stormy February weather would not have been ideal for taking a stroll in the park.

The Lithia Springs Hotel on East Main Street as it looked in the late 1920s. (photo courtesy of Terry Skibby collection)

Then in February 1927, heavy snow followed by hours of warm rain led to “havoc.” In Ashland, though one bridge was destroyed and several damaged, there was less damage from the flood overall than in 1997. But the word “havoc” described what happened around Ashland.  

The road to Medford was impassable in 15 to 20 places. Highways over the Siskiyou Mountains and the Greensprings were covered with snow. At Jackson Hot Springs, water covered Highway 99 three feet deep when Bear Creek overflowed.  O. M. Franklin and his boat rescued people who were staying in cabins at the Hot Springs.  

Some of the worst damage was to the train tracks both north and south of Ashland.  Southern Pacific railway workers who had been with the company as long as 25 years told the Ashland American newspaper that “the storm has rendered unprecedented damage to their line” that was “the worst in history.”

With the tracks blocked both north and south, hundreds of passengers on two (or possibly four) long passenger trains at the Ashland depot were stranded in Ashland. 

Southern Pacific hired 40 to 50 men to clear and repair the tracks, but it was no easy task. In some places, huge rocks weighing hundreds of tons blocked the tracks. In others, the rushing waters had washed out the grade underneath the tracks. Dynamite was used to blast rocks free. A crane attached to a railway car lifted boulders off the tracks.  

Meanwhile, what to do with all the stranded passengers? The people of Ashland rose to the occasion and entertained the visitors. Ashland did have a lot to offer. There were hotels large and small, plus restaurants in both the Railroad District and downtown. Those of a scholarly bent could visit a public library and a brand new college (Churchill Hall, home of Southern Oregon Normal School, had just been completed the year before).

Scholarly visitors could have spent their days in the Ashland Public Library. This photo is from 1927! (This image is part of the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection in the Southern Oregon University Hannon Library digital archives and made available by Southern Oregon University Hannon Library.)

Several stranded passengers were home-seekers, so they had lots of time to view local real estate. One passenger was a fruit cannery man, so he could visit local orchards and canneries. Ashland growers packed and shipped apples, peaches, pears and more all over the United States. The large fruit packing plant building on A Street next to the railroad tracks is still there (currently home of Plexis Healthcare Systems software company).

Visitors wanting to get out of the Railroad District could have headed downtown to the Hotel Austin, at the corner of East Main Street and Oak Street. This large hotel had previously been called Hotel Oregon, and in the 1930s was renamed Hotel Ashland. (Photo from Terry Skibby Collection at SODA. This image is part of the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection in the Southern Oregon University Hannon Library digital archives and made available by Southern Oregon University Hannon Library.)

I’m not sure what the Standard Oil executive or the buyer for Skaggs-Safeway stores would have found entertaining, but the railroad company tried its best for them and all the passengers.

According to Maurice Bailey, a railroad employee for many years: “Southern Pacific installed radios in each train to provide entertainment for the stranded guests. At this time, Ashland’s depot was 3 stories high with a dining room, hotel, and offices, so Southern Pacific bedded down all the passengers free, and then hired an orchestra and put on a dance each of the 3 evenings for the benefit of the passengers.” 

Food, music and dancing…what more do you need? How about toilets that don’t stink? So on a practical level, Southern Pacific bought almost all the chloride of lime in Ashland hardware stores to keep the odors down in their railway car toilets.  

After three days, the tracks were finally repaired and passengers could go on their way. I wonder how many of them decided during those three days that they would come back to live in Ashland? If they were anything like current Ashland residents who have told me stories why they decided to move here, I bet a few of them did. 

This aerial view of Ashland was taken in the late 1920s. You can see the Public library lower right; Chautauqua dome top left; Main Street and the Ashland Springs Hotel in the center (then called Lithia Springs Hotel); old Baptist Church (now Oregon Cabaret Theatre) with rounded back up 1st at Hargadine; Twin Plunges and Natatorium towards top center; railroad yard along top. (Brubaker 6378. From the collection of the Ashland Public Library. This image is part of the Stories of Southern Oregon Collection in the Southern Oregon University Hannon Library digital archives and made available by Southern Oregon University Hannon Library.)

References:

Anon. Ashland American newspaper articles, Feb 25, 1927
Anon. Ashland Daily Tidings newspaper articles, Feb 21 & 24, 1927
Mr. & Mrs. Maurice Bailey interviewed by student Denise Atkinson in the book History of Ashland Oregon, written by 8thgrade students at Ashland Junior High School, published 1977. Teacher: Marjorie Lininger

Where is this window? Why is it here?


A Creative Hobo

This story describes a creative hobo begging for dinner at an Ashland home in 1898: “An Ashland lady asked a tramp who applied for assistance why he did not work at some trade, and was indignantly informed that he was a professional man. Further questioning developed that he was an after-dinner speaker, and would like to have an opportunity to practice his profession.”

(Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 21, 1898)

I published an article in the Ashland Tidings newspaper of April 12, 2019 telling stories of the hobos in Ashland from the late 1800s through the 1920s. For those who don’t read the Ashland Tidings, I would like to share the stories here, and include some additional photos that were not in the newspaper.

In the past ten years or so, there seems to have been an increase in the number of young people begging, or just hanging out with their dogs, in downtown Ashland. Those who curse or snarl rude comments at people walking by can make both tourists and local residents uncomfortable. If we feel overwhelmed by the young “home-free travelers” passing through town now, we would definitely not want to go back in time to the 1890s or early 1900s in Ashland. 

Let’s start with some history first, and then I will explain the “where” and “why” of the window in the photo above.

175 Hobos in One Day!

Here is a quote from the Jacksonville newspaper in 1893: ” Ashland, Or., Dec. 17.–One hundred and seventy-five hobo tourists came in from the north this evening on a freight train on top of box cars. The town has refused to feed them, and there is some fear they will resort to violence, though appearing to be a peaceable set of men.  All are bound for the warmer climate of California.”  (Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 22, 1893)

175 hobos in one day!  In addition to bringing prosperity and “welcome guests” to Ashland, the completion of the West Coast railroad line in 1887 also brought with it “unwelcome guests.”  Some of the train-hopping hobos were migrant agricultural workers who followed the harvests from Southern California to Washington and back again.  Others were panhandlers and petty thieves — or for the more creative ones, “after-dinner speakers” like the man quoted in the introduction to this article. 

Hobos “riding the rods” underneath a train car…very dangerous! (1894 photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Ashland and Medford tried many strategies to deal with the ongoing hobo problem.  Hobos were run out of town.  They were jailed.  They were paid to work.  They were forced to work.  They were even fed and given a place a sleep overnight.  

Were the Hobos Allergic to Work?

In 1914, the Medford police chief made these complaints about hobos who refused to work: “Every hobo in the county wants to congregate in Medford,” said Chief Hittson this morning. “They all wanted to stay in Ashland last winter when they were giving them free soup there. Now there is work on the Pacific Highway, close to that city, and what do they do but come up here.”  (Medford Mail Tribune, April 8, 1914)

The Mystery of the Window

Now I am ready to clear up the “mystery of the window” in the photo for those who can’t place it.  

The coming of the railroad to Ashland in the 1880s caused a boom in the local economy and population. Many people built homes and began businesses near the railroad depot on A Street. Thus the Railroad District became a second thriving neighborhood in Ashland, in addition to the Plaza/downtown area where the town began.

Several devastating fires in the Railroad District caused the City Council to authorize construction of a second fire station on 4th Street just to serve this part of town. With horse drawn fire wagons, it served the area until gasoline powered fire trucks made a second fire station unnecessary.

Firemen and their fire wagon outside the 4th Street fire station, circa 1910 (photo courtesy of Terry Skibby)

Ashland’s second fire station at 264 4th Street was constructed in 1908 of hollow concrete block.  With many single men in the Railroad District — who tended to get into trouble – and with the constant influx of hobos hopping off trains at the Ashland depot, a jail cell was added in the back of the new fire station.  

The “mystery photo” shows the jail cell window.  You can see it on the alley side of the building, which now houses Revive, an eclectic collection of “revived” furniture and home decor. 

264 4th Street, 1908 fire station, now Revive furniture and home goods, photo 2019

According to newspapers of the early 1900s, hobos grabbed clothes drying outside on clotheslines, snatched chickens from chicken coops, and generally caused a nuisance begging for food door to door.   This is where the 4th Street fire station/jail came into play, but not how you might think.  

This 1914 newspaper article, which calls the hobos “transient unemployed,” explains it well.  “The city police department have cared for 480 transient unemployed from December thirteenth to January first and 349 from January first to the twentieth.  The Fourth street fire station is used for the place of shelter and most of them come in during the night, showing up after the arrival in the yards of freight trains.  They are fed on soup and bread about midnight and are started out of town in the morning in squads.  Sometimes a breakfast on coffee and sandwiches is needed for those that get in after the main meal.  The food is secured from the restaurant nearby and the price paid for it in bulk is very reasonable.  The program is satisfactory to the unemployed and kept them from soliciting about town, which would be a large sized nuisance considering the large number passing through at this season of the year when employment is impossible.”

Ashland Tidings, January 22, 1914

Two factors in the late 1920s led to a decline in Ashland’s transient hobo problem. One was Southern Pacific’s decision to re-route most of its trains through Klamath Falls in 1927.  The other was the convenience of auto travel.   In 1929, the Ashland Daily Tidings quoted Phil Eiker, a director of the Oregon State Motor Association: “‘Weary Willie,’ the wanderlust citizen who formerly traveled in discomfort on the rods of a freight train, now stands by the roadside and begs a ride from passing motorists….”  (Ashland Daily Tidings, September 17, 1929)

As the number of hobos declined, Ashlanders were happy to have fewer incidents like this one: “Some of [the tramps] thought to demolish Tom Roberts’ saloon at Ashland one night last week, because he refused them drink, but he made it very lively for them, wounding two or three of them with his pistol.”  (Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 8, 1893)

1922 cartoon – romanticized depiction of hobo eating on a flat car (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Wah Chung and the Chinese Community in Ashland: Late 1800’s and Early 1900’s (A Street: Part 2)

Highlights:

When Ashland had a Chinatown (90 to 130 years ago)

The Chinese family that mixed with Ashland’s elite

The village cluster in China where Ashland’s Chinese residents were born

Chinese New Year in Ashland highlights

What was different about Chinese New Year in 1916?

“The well known local capitalist”

He was described in 1913 as “the well known local capitalist” by the Ashland Tidings newspaper.  Was he the owner of a local bank?  No.  Was he one of the big local landowners from a pioneer family?  No again. 

Here is a hint from a 1915 Ashland Tidings article: “Mr. and Mrs. Hum Pracht and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Provost were entertained at dinner Sunday evening by Mr. and Mrs. Wah Chung at their home on A street.”  

This wasn’t just any dinner and these weren’t just any guests. This was a Chinese New Year dinner. As for the guests, Hum Pracht had managed the bustling Ashland Depot Hotel, and his father Max Pracht had shipped peaches all over the country from his huge Ashland orchard. [Max Pracht article] Henry Provost was a former Mayor of Ashland and part of a prominent Ashland family.

His Real Name

These Tidings articles described a Chinese man who, along with his family, became part of the fabric of early 20thcentury Ashland.  He was known in Ashland as Wah Chung, which was the name of his business: Wah Chung and Company.  

For some reason, people found it easier to call him by his business name rather than learning his Chinese name.  That’s why in all the quotes from the Tidings his name is Wah Chung.  However, his birth name was Wong Quon Sue.  Out of respect for him and his culture, I will refer to Wah Chung primarily by his family name, Mr. Wong.

Wah Chung family, Ashland Chinese, Ashland
Mr. and Mrs. Wong and their daughter Jennie on the front porch of their home, date unknown (photo number 1147 courtesy of the Southern Oregon Historical Society)

Social Standing in Ashland

Here’s another glimpse of Mr. Wong’s social standing from an Ashland Tidings article about the 1916 Chinese New Year.  “The local celebration lacked some of the features of those of bygone years when the entire population of Ashland made a pilgrimage to Wah Chung’s on China New Year and partook of Chinese nuts and candies and watched the fireworks.” 

If you bear with me until the end of the article, I will explain why the people of Ashland could not enjoy the 1916 Chinese New Year with “rice wine, plum wine and other ancient drinks which go down like water but biteth like the serpent and kicketh like the mule….”

Mr. Wong, the Businessman

Mr. Wong made his money and his place in the community as the Chinese Labor Contractor for Southern Pacific (SP) railroad, a position he held more than 42 years.  Most of the workers who built the railroad line across the Siskiyou Mountains in the mid-1880s were Chinese laborers.  Some stayed on to maintain the tracks.

Mr. Wong was responsible for hiring, feeding and taking care of Chinese workers to maintain a section of the SP tracks in Oregon and Northern California.  That would be a big responsibility in itself.  But he also was responsible for finding, feeding and taking care of Chinese workers to maintain a section of SP tracks in the Salt Lake region! How did he find time for all of this plus a family, a grocery store, a restaurant, a mine in the Applegate, community activities and more?

Chinese Community in Ashland

Originally, Ashland’s Chinese community consisted mostly of railroad workers.  This was quite different than in Jacksonville, where most Chinese residents were active in gold mining, and where there were more conflicts between the Chinese and American residents.  

1887, Southern Pacific railroad, Chinese workers
Chinese workers building the Southern Pacific railroad through the Siskiyou Mountains, 1887 (photo courtesy of Terry Skibby)

After the railroad’s completion in 1887, dozens of Chinese stayed on as railroad maintenance workers and used Ashland as a home base.  In addition to railroad work, “During the period from 1890 to 1940, many of the Chinese left were running laundries and cooking for hotels and families.”  [Atwood-2, page 9]  According to Henry Enders, the cooks and waiters at the Ashland Depot Hotel were Chinese men.  [Atwood-1, page 83]

Mr. Wong’s Roots in China

I am indebted to staff archeologist Chelsea Rose of SOULA (Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology) for telling me that Wah Chung’s birth name was Wong Quon Sue, and that he was born in Chun Lock Village in China’s coastal Taishan county, Guangdong province.  

I read dozens of early 1900s newspaper articles and many other references about the early Ashland Chinese community, but never saw his birth name.  Ms. Rose pointed out to me that Mr. Wong may have named his store and business Wah Chung (which was a common Chinese-American store or business name) because it roughly translates as “Flower of Opportunity.”

In 2017, Chelsea Rose traveled to Chun Lock Village in China as part of her research for the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project.  She has learned that not only Wah Chung, but also most of Ashland’s Chinese residents in the late 1800s and early 1900s, were from this same village cluster in China. 

Wah Chung, Ashland Chinese, Chelsea Rose, Chun Lock village
Chelsea Rose (third from left) with residents of Chun Lock Village in 2017.  Many of the Chun Lock Village residents in this photo are related to Ashland’s early 20th century Chinese residents. The man in the center, holding the American ginseng package Chelsea brought as a gift, is the Village Chief, a position similar to our town Mayor.   (Photo by Chelsea Rose, Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology)

Marriage, New Home and Ashland’s Chinatown

Mr. Wong started working for Southern Pacific as their Chinese Labor Agent in 1883.  He likely moved to Ashland in 1883 or 1884.  On September 13, 1901, he married “a San Francisco belle of China town” in a wedding that was attended by “many of the aristocratic circle” of San Francisco, as well as leading Chinese residents of Yreka.  His wife, Wong Soo Lue, was known in Ashland as Mrs. Wah Chung. 

Mr. Wong owned four lots in the railroad district.  At least three of them were at the corner of A Street and 2nd Street, the historic center of Ashland’s Chinatown.  Most Chinese in Ashland lived near A and 2nd Streets, or in houses or tents across the railroad tracks from there.

He built a new two-story house there.  Carpenters were putting the finishing touches on the house just in time for his 1901 wedding. A newspaper article described his house as having electric lights, a small but beautiful bedroom, and all modern conveniences. 

The Wongs’ Garden

The Wah Chung family raised vegetables and fish in their yard.  They grew “both vegetables of native variety and vegetables of Oriental variety,” according to the Ashland Tidings of September 6, 1915.  “The other day one of the employees of the Tidings office was shown over the patch.”  Mrs. Wah Chung gave the Tidings writer several Chinese cucumbers to try.  The writer was impressed with their “superior flavor” compared to American cucumbers.  He was most impressed by the Chinese string beans – 1 to 2 ½ feet long!   

As for fish, “Three large deep pools in the back yard supplied eels and a kind of shrimp which were often used in meal preparation…..”  [Dunlap 1964]

Why Ashlanders went to his Chinese Grocery

Mr. Wong owned a two-story Chinese grocery store on A Street next to his house, with a Chinese laundry in the building he owned next to that.  In addition to serving the local Chinese community, his store was a magnet for children in the railroad district.  Elizabeth Carter remembers going to Wah Chung’s store with her father and brother to buy firecrackers.  And Almeda Helman Coder said that “He [Wah Chung] used to give us Chinese nuts, funny little round Chinese nuts, more like a little dried up fruit.”  Archeologist Chelsea Rose told me these were lychee nuts.  It is interesting to note that she and colleagues found lychee nuts during a 2013 archeological excavation in the Jacksonville Chinatown.

In addition to buying firecrackers, adults in town had another reason to visit his store – the Chinese medicines available there.  On Jan. 9, 1910, the Medford Mail Tribune ran this ad: “Chow Young’s Chinese Medicines will cure rheumatism, asthma, paralysis, sores and private diseases.  These remedies may be procured at the store of Wah Chung on A street, Ashland, Oregon.”

Wah Chung & Co. included at least two other businesses.  At one point he owned a Chinese restaurant at 82 North Main Street (current site of Bluebird Park next to the Thai Pepper restaurant).  A 1913 newspaper article said it had been closed for some time and was being reopened by “a gentleman of Chinese lineage” named Charlie.  Beyond Ashland, Wah Chung & Co. bought a gold mine in 1896 for $600 from John O’Brien of Applegate.  

Mr. Wong was active in the larger community of Ashland.  He was a member of the Ashland Commercial Club, precursor to today’s Ashland Chamber of Commerce.  He and his wife were listed in the newspaper among the givers to the Ashland Red Cross Offering of 1917. 

Mrs. Wah Chung (Mrs. Wong) and the Children

Despite extensive research, I haven’t been able to learn much about the children.  Mr. and Mrs. Wong adopted a girl, Jennie, and several years later their son Sammy was born.

Mrs. Wah Chung with baby, Ashland Chinese, Ashland
Mrs. Wong with baby, probably Sammy, date unknown (photo number 1149 courtesy of the Southern Oregon Historical Society)

They also had a daughter Gin Tie, who sadly died of cholera at nine months of age. Victoria Kindell (who ran the Ashland Historic Railroad Museum for seven years) located Gin Tie Wah Chung’s unmarked grave at the Ashland Cemetery and paid for a grave marker to be placed there.

Gin Tie Wah Chung, Ashland Chinese
Grave marker at Ashland Cemetery for Mr. and Mrs. Wong’s daughter who died of cholera at nine months of age.  The Ashland Cemetery is at the corner of East Main Street and Morton Street.

Jennie and Sammy both attended public schools in Ashland.  According to the Mail Tribune, Sammy “was a bright boy and was well liked by both teachers and pupils.”  Elizabeth Carter, who grew up on Mountain Avenue next to the railroad tracks, remembers Sammy coming to her house many times to play. 

We also know that on Christmas 1921, Sammy was a guest at a “very merry Christmas party” at the home of Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Peebles on upper Liberty Street.  First Santa Claus arrived (by car, not sleigh) and then they had a feast.

Mabel Dunlap remembered that when Jennie was in elementary school, “Many of the children made fun of her and called her names.  Probably because of my defense of the bewildered Chinese girl, and because of our friendship, I became a special friend of her family.”  

“I often went to Jennie’s home with her and at times was asked to write letters for Mrs. Wah Chung, who could speak English but could not write it.”  “Sometimes I helped with her sewing and was always received with dignity and warmth.”  

Mabel Dunlap 1964

Marie Prescott remembers attending Jennie’s birthday party at the family home one year.  She was in Jennie’s class at school, and said the parents invited everyone in the class to the party and served them a full meal.

Jennie Wah Chung, Ashland Chinese, Ashland
Jennie Wah Chung with a doll (not her Chinese doll), date unknown (photo number 1151 courtesy of the Southern Oregon Historical Society)

Bridging Two Cultures

The Tidings in 1913 wrote warmly of the doll Jennie brought to her elementary school fair.  “A Chinese doll dressed and entered in a doll cab handsomely decorated with the Stars and Stripes and with the Chinese national colors, by Jennie Wah Chung, attracted much attention.”  

I think this doll perfectly encapsulates the way Mr. Wong and his family were able to successfully bridge two cultures.  On the one hand, Jennie had a Chinese doll. On the other hand, she entered it decorated with the Stars and Stripes.  That made it hard to judge her as a “foreigner.”  Yet she didn’t abandon her culture.  Along with the Stars and Stripes, she included the Chinese national colors in the doll cab.

Mr. Wong seems to have been able to adeptly live this balancing act.  

“Wah Chung was a perfect gentleman…everybody trusted him.”  

Ashland business owner Henry Enders

He was able to befriend and gain the trust of the powerful families and institutions of Ashland.  He and his wife mixed socially with “the cream of the crop” in town, and he did things like drive his patriotically decorated car in Ashland 4th of July parades.

Ashland Oregon, 4th of July parade, 1911
Here are decorated cars in Ashland’s 1911 4thof July parade. 
Sorry, this is not a photo of Mr. Wong’s car decorated for the parade! (photo from the Ashland library)

Mr. Wong’s stellar reputation allowed him to represent and help Ashland’s Chinese citizens, both locally and around the West Coast.

Anti-Chinese Discrimination

In this introduction to the Chinese community in Ashland, it is important to acknowledge the legal and social discrimination they lived with.

The Chinese faced tremendous discrimination and racism both in Oregon and throughout the United States for many decades.  Nationally, “The Chinese Exclusion Act [of 1882] prohibited further immigration of Chinese laborers, and barred those already living in the United States from bringing their wives and families over to join them. The law became increasingly more restrictive, and by 1892 Chinese individuals needed to carry proof of legal residence with them at all times or risk deportation (Voss and Allen 2008:12).” [Rose & Ruiz, page 194]

Wah Chung sometimes had to travel to San Francisco, Portland or Seattle to assist someone who needed help reentering the United States after making a trip home to visit family in China. Here is an example, from an actual document in the year 1900.

Ashland Oregon Chinese, Wah Chung
Wong Youe, in his 1900 re-entry to the United States file, is listed as an investor in Wah Chung Co store in Ashland.  He may have been an actual investor, or he may have been a “paper son,” a relative or friend whom Mr. Wong (Wah Chung) helped enter the country by saying he was part of the business.
Ashland Oregon Chinese, Wah Chung
This is the form that went with Wong Youe’s photo.

The City of Ashland had local discriminatory laws.  For example, in 1883, the Ashland city council passed an ordinance designed to keep out Chinese who might want to open a laundry business: “December 7, 1883: ‘China Washouse [sic] or laundry to pay a license of forty dollars per year or at the same rate for a shorter period.'”

The atmosphere in Ashland for Chinese seemed to improve in the last decade of the 1800s and the first few decades of the 1900s.  Despite this, Wah Chung’s acceptance in the community was an exception.  The majority of the Chinese in Ashland either spent almost all their time out of town maintaining the railroad, or they seem to have been nameless and little known to the larger community.

Mabel Dunlap described “…Chinese families who lived in the houses clustered about the Wah Chungs. In these buildings the shades were always drawn and this appealed to my youthful curiosity.  Jennie once took me through some of the houses and although the rooms were in semi-darkness, I noted everything was spotless.  The women were sewing and doing their household chores and the children were well-behaved.” [Dunlap 1964]

Later Life and Death

Mr. Wong had an outstanding and astounding career with the Southern Pacific.  In 1925, the Southern Pacific Bulletin wrote:

“Wah Chung is now 82 years old, yet judging from his hale and hearty appearance he will probably continue for many more years to be of helpful service to the Company’s Maintenance of Way Department.”  

SP Bulletin

The article went on: “Wah Chung keeps these gangs [the Chinese track workers] up to maximum requirement, looks after the welfare of the men, takes care of their commissary, and has been a very valuable asset to this Company.  He enjoys a wide acquaintance and is always a welcome visitor, either in the office or on the line.  Although well along in years, he is still quite an active man and personally handles all the details of his work.”

Wah Chung and son Sammy, Ashland Chinese
Elderly Mr. Wong (Wah Chung) with his son Sammy (Photo from the Southern Pacific Bulletin, January 1925)

Mr. Wong died in a Portland hospital in 1927, two years after this glowing article was written. Tragically for Mrs. Wong (Mrs. Wah Chung), their son Sammy died only three months after his father, due to a drowning accident in the Willamette River.  

In her 1964 interview, Mabel Dunlap said: “The last time I saw Mrs. Wah Chung was on a summer day on a street corner in Ashland.  She had come to collect the last of the money due her late husband by the railroad.  She planned to return to China.  She wept as she told me of Sammy’s death.” 

Their daughter Jennie married, perhaps to a San Francisco Chinese businessman.  The 1925 Southern Pacific article states that Wah Chung “has a married daughter living in Boston.”  I have not been able to track her life after that point.

Back to Chinese New Year 1916

Rather than end this article with death, I’d like to add a bit of humor about Ashland life in 1916. Let’s circle back to my description of Ashland’s Chinese New Year 1916.  Why was it different than previous years “when the entire population of Ashland made a pilgrimage to Wah Chung’s on China New Year and partook of Chinese nuts and candies and watched the fireworks.”?  

The Tidings article goes on to say: “The great difference was in the banquet, which is the central feature of the New Year celebration, and at which every manner of dish from the Flowery Kingdom is served.”  

Now we get to the crux of the matter: “What’s the use of banqueting on bird’s nest soup, shark’s fin and other delicacies if the edibles can not be washed down with good old wine imported from Canton.” 

“Alas, rice wine, plum wine and other ancient drinks which go down like water but biteth like the serpent and kicketh like the mule, can not be served at the spreads. ‘Gum sing,’ which means ‘bottom’s up,’ is a toast that can not be drunk.  The white man’s prohibition law put a crimp in the celebration.” 

Ashland Tidings February 3, 1916

Many residents of Ashland were probably cheering when they read this article, due to the cultural clashes at the time around the subject of alcohol.  If you remember from your school days that Prohibition in the United States became law in 1920, you remember correctly.  So how did that affect Chinese New Year 1916 in Ashland, Oregon? Simply because voters in the State of Oregon “jumped the gun” on the national trend and voted 136,842 to 100,362 “to prohibit after January first, 1916 the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors within the State of Oregon….”

Sadly, this is why the people of Ashland could no longer enjoy Chinese New Year in 1916 with “rice wine, plum wine and other ancient drinks which go down like water but biteth like the serpent and kicketh like the mule….”  Thank you, Tidings columnist, for the colorful language.

Conclusion

In conclusion, here is an upbeat entry from the Ashland Tidings that says a lot about the man Mr. Wong and his relationship with the Ashland community.  

“Wah Chung, popular Chinese merchant, made his yearly round last week, distributing Chinese lily bulbs to his merchant friends.  The bulbs are supposed to have the peculiar property of bringing happiness and prosperity to those under whose care they bloom.”

Ashland Tidings December 14, 1916

References for this article:

Ashland Tidings 3/31/1913
Ashland Tidings 6/5/1913
Ashland Tidings 9/29/1913
Ashland Tidings 2/18/1915
Ashland Tidings 2/3/1916 
Ashland Tidings 12/14/1916
Ashland Tidings 6/28/1917
Ashland Tidings 6/3/1919
Ashland Tidings 1/4/1922
Atwood-1: Atwood, Kay.  Jackson County Conversations, Jackson County Intermediate Education District, 1975.
Atwood-2: Atwood, Kay. Minorities of Early Jackson County, Jackson County Intermediate Education District, 1976.
Dunlap, Mabel Roach, as told to Bernice Gillespie, "Local Woman Recalls Days of the Chinese in Ashland," Ashland Daily Tidings October 7, 1964.
Kindell, Victoria. Personal interview 2/16/2019.
Medford Mail 5/22/1896
Medford Mail Tribune 1/9/1910
Medford Mail Tribune 5/25/1927
Medford Mail Tribune 8/8/1927
Oregon Secretary of State website.   https://sos.oregon.gov/archives/exhibits/highlights/Documents/proclamation-oswald-west-prohibition.pdf
Rose, Chelsea, M.A.  Personal interview 2/13/2019.  Chelsea is Staff Archeologist at SOULA (Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology).  Her research locally and around the state is part of the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project.
Rose, Chelsea and Ruiz, Chris. "Strangers in a Strange Land: Nation Building, Ethnicity, and Identity in the Oregon Territory," in ALIS VOLAT PROPRIIS: Tales from the Oregon Territory, 1848-1859, Association of Oregon Archaeologists, Occasional Papers No. 9, 2014.
Waldron, Sue. "Growing Up In Ashland's Railroad District," Table Rock Sentinel, SOHS, March 1988.

COLLABORATORS AND FRIENDS

The Southern Oregon Historical Society is a great resource.  (1) If you like history, SOHS can always use volunteers to help with research, digitizing and transcribing. Learn about SOHS here.  (2) Second, I encourage you to join SOHS as a member to support their work.  The JOIN link is here.

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Poem: Gil’s Restaurant

Walking in Friday evening 6pm,
The patio seating is packed,
The inside seating is packed,
Beer and conversations are flowing.

It’s a tap beer kind of place.
I’m not a tap beer kind of guy — but I don’t give up.
It’s a pulled pork kind of place.
I’m not a pulled pork kind of guy — but I don’t give up.
They have nachos — small and large,
and I am a nachos kind of guy.

I am sitting here eating
the messiest, tastiest, most-fun-to-eat nachos
I have ever had.

Even the small basket
is overflowing with a messy, tasty,
Yes — even nutritious — combination
of chips smothered with
cheese and beans and tomatoes and guacamole
and cabbage and jalapeños and secret sauce;

And the line of people all (well, almost all)
half my age
ordering their Friday evening beer on tap
never ceases
as I eat and read and write this poem.

(written May 16, 2016 while eating at Gil’s)

A Street (Part 1): The History of OAK STREET TANK & STEEL

Painting of Oak Street Tank & Steel by Dorothy Nugent

In The Beginning…

To understand Oak Street Tank & Steel, you have to go back to the beginning of time
(well, Ashland time, anyway).  

In the year 1852, Abel Helman and Eber Emery were the first settlers to claim land along Ashland Creek. The two friends from Ohio had tried, and failed, to find gold together in California.  As a fallback, they used their carpentry skills to start a business, as they built the first sawmill in Southern Oregon on the creek.

Helman is remembered today by the names of Helman Street and Helman School.  I will tell you much more about Abel Helman when I write about the Ashland Plaza.  Emery hosted Ashland’s first school classes in his home.  Keep an eye out for his name later in this article in connection with Oak Street Tank & Steel.

Two years later, in 1854, Helman and Emery built a flourmill.  These two mills formed the nucleus of the brand new town of 23 people then called Ashland Mills.  

Founding of the Business

Ashland, Park Garage (original business name for Oak Street Tank)
Park Garage 1915 (photo courtesy of Terry Skibby)

Fast-forward 60 years from the beginning of Ashland.  In 1912, the business now called Oak Street Tank & Steel began life as the Park Garage, founded by Sim Morris.   In the 1915 photo above, Sim Morris is the man on the right wearing a tall hat.  

If you had wanted to find Sim at the Park Garage in 1915, you would have walked across the street from the newly developed Lithia Park, which had its “Grand Opening” in 1916.  This address (now 51 Winburn Way) housed the Ashland Hillah Temple for decades, and is now home of Ashland’s Community Development department.  

In 1925, Sim Morris and his son Harry moved the business to a brand new building at 101 Oak Street. First called Oak Street Garage, it later became Oak Street Tank & Steel (AKA Oak Street Tank), a name they have kept through two additional moves.  

At 101 Oak Street, Sim and Harry expanded the business beyond auto repair to include a blacksmith and machine shop.  They finally found their niche in 1938 when they started making steel tanks, which they have now been doing for 80 years through many generations of the Morris family. 

Ashland, Oak Street Tank
(photo courtesy of Oak Street Tank & Steel)

The building at 101 Oak Street is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Long-time Ashlanders may remember it as the site of Pioneer Glass & Cabinet from 1953 to 1996.  It is now the site of popular brewpub Standing Stone Brewing Company.  

In 1945 they needed more room for their growing tank business, so Harry moved Oak Street Tank a short distance to a block-long building at the corner of A Street and Oak Street.  This building is still often called the Oak Street Tank building, even though the business moved out 18 years ago.  Next to the railroad tracks, the location was perfect for the expanding business that sent and received products by rail as well as by truck.

Harry Morris married the great-granddaughter of Ashland founder Eber Emery.  Harry’s son Gene Morris ran the company for decades.  It is now managed by Gene’s son Jim Morris and his daughter Chris Decker.  That makes Chris’ son Nick, who works in the business, the 5thgeneration family member (and a 6thgeneration Ashlander) to work at Oak Street Tank & Steel! 

Fascinating fact: Oak Street Tank is the third oldest business in Ashland, after the Ashland Daily Tidings (since 1876) and the Ashland Greenhouse (since 1906)  

The A Street location had been a successful fruit packing plant for Ashland’s orchards for many years. In the early 1900’s, each year hundreds of train cars full of peaches, apples, pears and other fruit would leave Ashland from that building for sale around the country.

Oak Street Tank Products

Ashland, Oak Street Tank
(photo of aluminum boat courtesy of Oak Street Tank & Steel)

Oak Street Tank stayed in business by adapting to the times.  They made many products through the years in addition to tanks: aluminum hulled boats (photo above), “wigwam” burners for local lumber mills, steam cleaners, steel boxes, bomb shelters, and more.  

Yes…even bomb shelters!

During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Cave Junction resident Art Robinson exhibited at State and County fairs, where he found a market of “preppers” who wanted to purchase bomb shelters.  He contracted with Oak Street Tank to make the shelters for him.  Gene Morris’ daughter Sharon told me she estimated about 50 of them were made for Art, both a basic 8′ by 15′ size and a larger 9′ by 24′ size.  

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of an Oak Street Tank bomb shelter, but here are photos of some of their other unusual products.

Ashland, Oak Street Tank
(brochure courtesy of Oak Street Tank & Steel)

As company office manager Chris (Morris) Decker was showing me some company historical documents, this brochure (date unknown) jumped out at me.  Look at the “Sunmate,” described in the brochure as “The First Aluminum Surf-Paddleboard in America.”  Do you see in the description: “For added sport – use a sail.”?   Yes, the Oak Street Tank surf-paddleboard could even be used for windsurfing! 

Modern windsurfing was invented in the 1960’s and took off in the 1980’s, when it became an Olympic sport for the first time in 1984.  The brochure states that Oak Street Tank has been building aluminum watercraft since 1937. Could this old-fashioned steel tank company in Ashland have been a pioneer in both windsurfing and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard)?  

Ashland, Oak Street Tank
(photo courtesy of Oak Street Tank & Steel)

Chris (Morris) Decker told me this photo (date unknown) was taken in Ashland.  Based on the clothing people in the photo are wearing, my guess is the early 1950’s.  

Do you recognize the purpose of the white machine on wheels?  Chris said it’s a coin collection box for the City of Ashland parking department.  Oak Street Tank made the steel box that holds the coins.

Ashland, Oak Street Tank, Wigwam burner
(photo courtesy of Oak Street Tank & Steel)

This is one of the “wigwam burners” built of steel by Oak Street Tank.  It looks like it must be 50 feet tall.  They were used at lumber mills to dispose of wood scrap by burning.  The heavy (unfiltered) smoke that came out of the top was gradually recognized as a health hazard.  The last wigwam burners (also called beehive burners or teepee burners) were shut down in Oregon in the 1980’s for health and environmental reasons.  

Some Family Stories

When I interviewed Sharon (Morris) Laskos and her husband Ed for this article, she shared with me some family stories and old newspaper articles the family has kept.

Gene Morris (Sharon’s father) started welding at the company when he was 13 years old and later ran the company for decades.

Gayle Morris (Sharon’s aunt) started working at the old Oak Street Garage when she was 15 years old. She said: “I did anything they needed done.  I would meet with customers or run to the post office.”  After her high school graduation in 1946, she ran the office for the next 50 years!  That is dedication to a family business.

Sharon told me that as children, she and her four siblings would separate scrap metal at the company or help out in the office to make some spending money.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

How many more years, and how many more generations, can Oak Street Tank stay in business?  Based on their history, I think we would have to live a long, long time to find out!

Ashland, Oak Street Tank
This is the current home of Oak Street Tank & Steel on Jefferson Avenue,
part of a small industrial area in southern Ashland.

References:

Interview with Sharon (Morris) Laskos and Ed Laskos, September 24, 2018.

Interview with Sharon (Morris) Laskos and Ed Laskos, September 24, 2018.

Interview with Chris (Morris) Decker, December 10, 2018.

Kaltenbach, Jacob. “Oak Street Tank & Steel,” Lithiagraph, October 1993.

Nishball, Shirley Bender. “Firm has long history in Ashland,” Ashland Daily Tidings, June 15, 1989.

Panebaker, Alan. “Change keeps businesses constant,” Ashland Daily Tidings, June 14, 2006.

Watson, Louise. “Morris marks 50 years at Ashland firm,” Ashland Daily Tidings, January 21, 1995.

Walking for Longevity

Surprising research: How many minutes per day should we walk to increase longevity and health?

Since this blog and website is about “Walking Ashland,” I think you might enjoy learning how walking has been shown – in many scientific studies – to improve longevity.  Walking at any age can boost your brain, put pep in your step and extend your life.

What are we “supposed to do?”
(according to scientific experts)

Here’s what.  The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans says we should get moving at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days each week. That works out to at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise for the health benefits of exercise.

The guidelines further say that we should exercise for at least 10 minutes at a time to achieve exercise health benefits.

That all makes sense. The Guidelines were written by top experts.  They were based on research.  They must be true.

As with many subjects in life, I have good news and bad news for you.

First, the bad news.

How many of us meet the guidelines?  Most of us say we do…that’s not surprising.  But do we actually?

Ay, there’s the rub (to quote William Shakespeare).  How many of us actually get moving with moderate exercise at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days each week (for at least 150 minutes per week total)?

Jared Tucker and two colleagues at North Dakota State University decided to find out.  Here’s what they published in 2011.  They compared self-reporting (what people said about their weekly physical activity) with an objective measurement of their physical activity (people wore an accelerometer for 7 days that measured steps and movement). Drum roll, please…

By self-reporting (on a questionnaire), 62% of U.S. adults in the study said they met the Physical Activity Guidelines of at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity.

By objective data (wearing an accelerometer), only 9.6% of U.S. adults in the study met the Physical Activity Guidelines of at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity.  (Tucker 2011)

So more than half of the adults who filled out the questionnaire exaggerated, deceived themselves or lied about the amount of physical activity in their daily lives.

Based on the objective data, more than 90% of us are “couch potatoes.”  Ouch.

by Alex Fotos on pixabay

Is there any hope?  

Yes.

Practical Tip: “After every 30 consecutive minutes spent sitting, stand up and move, ideally walking briskly for about five minutes.” (O’Keefe 2018)

A 2018 study showed that people still get the longevity benefit if they walk less than the recommended 150 minutes a week.  Even walking less, they had lower mortality over 13 years than people who were sedentary.  It was a huge study that followed 139,255 people in all.

The researchers concluded:

“In older adults, walking below minimum recommended levels is associated with lower all-cause mortality compared with inactivity. Walking at or above physical activity recommendations is associated with even greater decreased risk.  Walking is simple, free, and does not require any training, and thus is an ideal activity for most Americans, especially as they age.”  (Patel 2018)

If we take walking time per week down a notch, do we still get benefits? 

The answer, according to this 2013 Italian study, is yes.

The study demonstrated longevity benefits from walking only 60 minutes per week…even if you are already 80 years old.  152 elders in Italy who walked at least 15 minutes 4 times a week had a 40% reduced risk of mortality.  Dr. Fortes and colleagues concluded that their study results “suggest an independent and protective effect of walking on mortality and supports the encouragement of physical activity in advanced age for increasing longevity.” (Fortes 2013)

How about if you are really a couch potato and can’t even get out walking for 15 minutes at a time? 

Is there still hope? 

Yes.

2015 research studied 3,626 mostly sedentary Americans who wore an accelerometer to track walking and movement.  The key finding was that just 2 minutes per hour more of light activity, such as walking or light gardening, was associated with a 33% lower risk of dying during the next three years.  (Beddhu 2015)

The Takeaway

If you can’t walk or exercise for 150 minutes each week, walk for as many minutes as you can.

If you can’t walk or exercise for 10 minutes at a time, walk or move for 5 minutes at a time.

If you can’t walk or move for 5 minutes at a time, walk or move for 2 minutes at a time.

You can call them “Baby Steps” or you can call them “Tiny Habits.”

The concept is to set yourself a goal that is so simple your mind can’t find a single excuse to fight it, something like: “I will walk for 2 minutes once a day.”  Almost anyone would think to himself or herself: “Sure, I can do that.  No problem.”

Then, 2 minutes once a day might become 5, then 10, then 15 minutes (or more).  Or it might become 2 minutes (or more) once an hour.  Either way, the key is consistency.

The takeaway is that baby steps or tiny habits, done consistently, can make a huge difference in your life and your health.

So get up walking or moving a few minutes more every hour, a few minutes more every day, and you are likely to live longer and healthier. 

Note: I am not advocating to walk for only 2 minutes at a time!  When it comes to walking, “the more the merrier” applies.  I am advocating to start with what is comfortable for you, and then to build from there…to the guidelines (150 minutes per week) and beyond!

References for the article:

Beddhu, S et al. Light Intensity Physical Activities and Mortality in the United States General Population and CKD Subpopulation, Clin J Am Soc Nephrol, 10: 1145–1153 2015.

Fortes C et al.  Walking four times weekly for at least 15 min is associated with longevity in a cohort of very elderly people, Maturitas, 2013 Mar; 74(3):246-51.

O’Keefe et al. The Goldilocks Zone for Exercise: Not Too Little, Not Too Much, Missouri Medicine, 2018 Mar-Apr;115(2):98-105.

Patel AV et al.  Walking in Relation to Mortality in a Large Prospective Cohort of Older U.S. Adults, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2018 Jan; 54(1):10-19.

Tucker, JM et al. Physical activity in U.S.: adults compliance with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2011 Apr;40(4):454-61.

Holly Street Part 2: Ashland’s Faith Healer and Daffodil Paradise

Article Highlights:
(1) Ashland’s Famous Faith Healer
(2) Daffodil Paradise

541 Holly Street: Former home of Ashland’s Famous Faith Healer

Mrs. Susie Jessel (photo from Jessel, no date, title page)

541 Holly Street was the home of nationally renowned faith healer Susie Jessel.  She and her family moved to Ashland in 1932, and she lived here until her death in 1966.  Her daughter wrote that Susie Jessel treated as many as 300 people a day at times, people who came from all over the country, as well as Canada and Mexico.  She treated babies, the elderly, those with tumors, people who were crippled and many more.

Cars parked on Holly Street in the 1940’s, of people going for treatment from Susie Jessel (photo from Jessel, no date, page 62)

The photo above stimulated a memory for my friend Terry Skibby.  He told me: “My folks would tour Ashland by car and see the sights when company came.  One location was the Susie Jessel place with the large crowds of people.  They were in the trailer park and street at the corner of Holly and Idaho Streets.  This was in the 1950’s.”

How did she become a healer?  Here are Susie Jessel’s own words.

“On April 2, 1891, I arrived. I was born with what they then called a veil or caul over my face.  This was to indicate a special gift in a child.  I believe now it is just termed a membrane.  Mother noticed my gift immediately.  She had trouble with her breasts, and she noticed that when my hands would touch them, the pain would leave and before long all pain and fever was gone.

“During the war Daddy’s eye had been injured and had a whitish scum over it.  Before I was two years old I started noticing that eye and I would reach up and touch it.  Soon the scum started disappearing and the sight returned to that eye.  From that time on Daddy called me his ‘little bundle of magic.’

“I can’t remember when I wasn’t carried at all hours of the night to the ailing.  Mother would place my hands on the person, and before long they would get relief from pain.  And so my healing career started before I was out of the cradle.”   (Jessel, no date, page 8)

“After all my research, I’m convinced she was the real thing, a true spiritual healer….”  That quote is from author, lawyer and retired SOU business professor Dennis Powers, who researched Jessel and was quoted in John Darling’s 2014 Mail Tribune article.   Powers said that she healed by laying on of hands and prayer.  She did not ask for payment, but some people would leave money in her apron pocket. She insisted that she did not “do” the healing, that it was entirely God working through her.

People waiting to receive treatment from Susie Jessel (photo from Jessel 1950, page 7)

Time Magazine 1953

Time Magazine even featured Susie Jessel in a 1953 article. It said: “‘Susie,’ as her patients called her, moved to Ashland 23 years ago, and she has brought a boom to the town.  Thousands of hopeful patients keep the cash registers ringing in motels, hotels, restaurants, drug stores and movie houses.”

Unlike Dennis Powers, the author of the Time article was very cynical when it came Susie’s healing powers, as shown by this line from the article.  “Says Clarence Litwiller, a local undertaker who claims that last year he buried 18 of Susie’s patients: ‘She’s the biggest business in town for everybody.”

Here is another way to look at Litwiller’s statement.  If Susie Jessel treated thousands of people in a year, many of whom their doctors said were near death, and only 18 of them died in Ashland, that could be seen as quite amazing.

Mrs. Jessel did not say that she could heal everyone who came to her.  She made no promises.  However, she stated that there was “a big improvement in at least 80% of them.” (Jessel, no date, page 49)

Was the healing only psychological?

Skeptics said that healings, if anything happened at all, were only psychological.  Mrs. Jessel addressed this attitude:

“Some may feel that the healing is merely in the minds of the patients; however, when one thinks of the skeptical and the tiny babies and animals who with no knowledge of psychology receive so much and in some cases more help faster than adults, I don’t believe this theory applies.” (Jessel, no date, page 66)

Susie Jessel had a fascinating life story, but I can’t tell all of it here.  If you want to read more, you can find many of my references for this article in the Ashland Library.

Ashland, Susie Jessel
Susie Jessel treating someone by laying on hands (Jessel, no date, page 55)

The Gardener

I will end this part of my Holly Street article with the emotional closing lines from H.K. Ellis’ 1943 magazine article about Susie Jessel.

I was packing things away in the car, getting ready to leave Ashland, when I was told that a patient wished to speak to me.  He was pointed out, a short, stocky figure laboring in the nearby truck garden.

I went over, walking across soft red loam.  The young fellow wore grimy dungarees, a faded blue shirt and a ragged straw hat pulled low over his eyes.  I did not offer to shake hands with him for he seemed desirous of overlooking any sympathy.

‘How’s the de luxe gardener?’ I asked.

‘Just swell!’ he exclaimed. ‘Look!’

He raised his face to mine. His eyes were two circles of blotchy white.  ‘Look!’ he repeated.  ‘These cataracts are thinning.  For five years I’ve seen nothing farther than a yard away.  But now, for instance, look at that robin over on the cowshed fence. It’s about 50 feet, I’d say.’

‘You’re right,’ I agreed, following his gaze.  ‘But somehow, it’s hard to believe.’

‘Not when you’re behind the eight ball,’ he said grinning.  ‘Things Mrs. Jessel once told me are beginning to come true.  I know.  Why, only last night I caught a glimpse of the moon!’

541 Holly Street is still called the Jessel House, though it is now a vacation rental.

541 Holly St, former home of faith healer Susie Jessel

Do any of the readers of this article know someone who was treated by Susie Jessel?

Now let’s walk the rest of Holly Street until it ends at Liberty Street.

500 Holly Street: Artistic Fieldstone

Ashland, stone wall
500 Holly Street has a natural fieldstone wall anchored by two huge boulders.

I always appreciate creative stone wall building, especially natural fieldstone walls like this one.  I look at a stone wall like this and I think of words like patience, right-brain, strong visual sense, trust and nature.

558 Holly Street: Lush Wisteria vine

558 Holly, trunk of the huge Wisteria vine

This is not the longest stretching Wisteria vine I have ever seen, but it is close.  I think this is the largest Wisteria trunk I have ever seen.  As shown in the photo above, from the trunk at the corner of the front porch the vine has been trained to grow towards the street.

There it takes off along the front fence line, all the way to the property line in both directions (as shown in the photo below).  I look forward to coming back in the spring to enjoy this Wisteria’s magnificent blooms.

Mrs. Susie Jessel lived here at 558 Holly Street for about two years before settling at 541 Holly Street.

558 Holly, huge wisteria

645 Holly Street: Artistic Facade

Ashland, architecture
645 Holly Street has a beautiful stone facade

My artistic eye likes this stone-facade garage with upstairs studio.  The beautiful wood garage door adds to the charm and a little design help from afternoon sun and tree shadows completes the artistic package.

750 Holly Street: Magical Japanese Maple

Ashland, tree

750 Holly Street: This was my attempt to capture the magical afternoon light through Autumn-color Japanese Maple leaves.This house has a lovely front yard, but the afternoon sunlight shining through these Japanese Maple leaves really got my attention.  This little tree was absolutely stunning.  I captured a bit of the magic, but no matter how many photos I took, I couldn’t capture all of it.

826 Holly Street: Daffodil Paradise

Ashland, flowers
826 Holly Street, daffodil paradise, planted by Carol

Here at the Liberty Street end of Holly Street is one of the most spectacular Spring gardens in Ashland.  If you love daffodils, you must walk or drive to 826 Holly Street in March or April.  I had the pleasure of walking by in March of 2018, so here are two photos I took then of the daffodils (and lavender) in all their glory.

Ashland, flowers
The colors and shapes of daffodil and lavender complement each other during the month of March 2018 at 826 Holly Street.

I met Carol, the owner of 826 Holly Street, as I was walking in the springtime.  She explained to me that she started planting daffodil bulbs 24 years ago.  She liked them so much that she has continued to plant more every year since then, as well as separating the clumps of bulbs.

Carol told me her secret was to dead-head the flowers as soon as they stop blooming.  She told me: “I want all the goodness to go back into the bulb.”  I think you’ll agree that she has plenty of “goodness” to show for her 24 years of hard work and loving care.

Two Dramatic Trees on Holly Street

I will close the Holly Street walk and article with a look at two trees that stand out.

Trail Marker Tree?

Ashland, tree
Is this Ponderosa pine at 558 Holly Street a “trail marker tree?”

When I spoke with Gary Pool, who lives on Holly Street, he pointed out this dramatic Ponderosa pine on Holly Street as a possible Native American trail marker tree.  I had never heard of the term “trail marker tree” and I did some research.  I found this interesting insight and explanation online.

“Trees have been used as signs for centuries. Between 2002 and 2005 I had the privilege of being involved with the Smithsonian  Museum of the American Indian.  During that time period, I worked with several native Americans, including a Native American ethnobotanist who taught me many interesting things about Native American Culture including the practice of using Marker Trees to show the way.  Native Americans used to use trees to tell in which direction they should travel. These were called Marker Trees.

“Favorite tree selection for these trees were oaks, maples and elms. These species were selected for their flexibility in youth, but hardwood in maturity. Marker trees were bent in the direction of a frequently visited destination such as a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing.” (Ronda Roemmelt 2015)

The photo below shows a tree identified by experts as a Native American trail marker tree.

Ashland, tree
Trail Marker Tree in North Central Illinois, with Dennis Downes, researcher

(Photo on Great Lakes Trail Tree Society website)

After my research, I have concluded that the Ponderosa Pine on Holly Street is not a trail marker tree, though it would be romantic to call it one.  Here is my reasoning.  Nearly every trail marker tree photo I saw online shows the bent branch that “points the way” only 3′ to 6′ above the ground (like the photo above).  The lowest bent branch on the Holly Street pine is more than 10′ above the ground.  I think it is a case of unusual artwork by Mother Nature.

Massive Oak Tree

Ashland, oak tree
541 Holly Street is home to an historic oak tree, in addition to having been the home to an historic faith healer.

This oak tree is not quite as dramatic as the Ponderosa pine, but it has a massive and beautiful presence on Holly Street.

If you have thoughts about this article, or if you have a Holly Street story to add, feel free to leave a comment below.

References I consulted while writing about Holly Street:

Anon. “Medicine: Straw for the Drowning,” Time Magazine, September 7, 1953.

Darling, John. “A History of Healing,” Medford Mail Tribune, July 1, 2014. (link here)

Ellis, H.K.  “The Story of Mrs. Susie Jessel,” TRUE magazine,  Country Press Inc., 1943

Jessel, Mary Jane.  The Story of Mrs. Susie Jessel, 1950.

O’Harra, Marjorie.  Ashland: the first 130 years, 1986

Roemmelt, Ronda. “The History of Marker Trees,”  Deeproot.com, October 5, 2015

Sanderson, Mary Jessel.  Healing Hands: The Story of Susie Jessel, as told to her daughter Mary Jessel Sanderson, no date.

Holly Street Part 1: 101-Year-Old Mrs. Fader and the Pool’s Pool

Article highlights:
101-year-old Mrs. Fader tells me stories, plus…
The Pool’s bought a pool with help from Poole

Holly Street starts at Terrace Street just a few blocks from downtown, and goes downhill about nine blocks to end at Liberty Street.  When I start walking a street, taking photos and talking with people, I never know what I will find.  I found so many fascinating stories (including history) as I walked Holly Street, that I decided to divide my article into two parts.  This is Part 1.

101-year-old, 75-year Holly Street resident Mrs. Fader tells me stories

I met 101-year-old Mrs. Clara Fader at 338 Holly Street.  She told me that she and her husband Joseph bought the house (photo below) in 1943 or 1944.  Though her husband passed away in 1980, she and her daughters Louise and Mary still live there.

Ashland, history

Mrs. Fader impressed on me that she and Joseph were in education for 84 years between the two of them! She taught school for 40 years and he was a teacher and principal for 44 years.

She attended Southern Oregon Normal School (now SOU), where one of her teachers was Angus Bowmer, who founded the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1935.  I couldn’t coax any Angus Bowmer stories out of her, just the statement: “He was really a character.”

Angus Bower, founder of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in 1948. (photo from Julie Cortez of OSF)

Lincoln Elementary School was purposely built next to Southern Oregon Normal School to make it easy for student teachers to walk back and forth.  Mrs. Fader taught for a while at Lincoln School, and then for many years she was a First Grade teacher at Walker Elementary School.  This led to a good story.

The boy with the “big worm”

She described one of her students as a “bashful young boy” who came to her toward the end of lunch recess one day.  He told her: “I hope it’s okay that I went in the classroom and found an empty jar, because I caught a big worm and need something to put it in.”

Mrs. Fader had her teacher-intuition working, so she asked the boy to bring her the jar with the “big worm.”  When he did, she looked in the jar and saw a baby rattlesnake!

Baby Pacific rattlesnake (photo by Kristen Lalumiere)

Mrs. Fader told the boy: “Recess is almost over so go out and play for a few minutes, and I will keep the big worm.”  She found another teacher in the hallway, who offered to take the rattlesnake to the College science department a few blocks away.  After the science department did some investigation of the rattler, they reported back to Mrs. Fader that it had enough venom in its glands to potentially kill a child.

Another under-the-radar super-hero teacher at work!

Mrs. Fader remembers that day as one of three times that the children found rattlesnakes on the Walker School playground during her time teaching there.

The Fader house

The house was built in the 1880’s, according to Mrs. Fader.  She and her family have made very few changes to the house, so it retains its historic character.

She recalls that after she and her husband bought the house, they started paying the City for utilities: water, electrical, sewer and more.  Well, it took about seven years before they realized that the house had its own septic system and they weren’t even connected with the city sewer system.  At that time, their house was still a bit “in the country” and the City had to install sewer pipes ¼ mile or more to connect with the City lines.  This was quite expensive.

It seemed logical to Mr. and Mrs. Fader (and to me as I was listening to her story) that they would get credit from the city for seven or so years of sewer payments for service they didn’t even use…makes sense, right?  Then that credit would be applied to the cost of linking their house with the city system.  Who knows the bureaucratic reasons, but according to Mrs. Fader the credit was not given, and it’s a sore spot with her to this day.

Mrs. Fader’s barn at 338 Holly Street (with a visitor in the photo that is not a family pet)

The Fader family pets

When the children were young, the Fader’s had a number of pets, including rabbits, goats and dogs. Here are two pet stories Mrs. Fader told me.

Goats: The baby goats grew up with her children and would follow them around the acres of orchards and gardens around the house. During the school year, the goats knew what time the kids were due to walk home up Holly Street.  They would wait in the street keeping an eye out for the Fader children walking home from Lincoln School.  When they spotted the children several blocks away, they flew down the street to meet them.  Then they would accompany the children for the rest of their uphill walk home.  Mrs. Fader told me her neighbor down the street loved to go out in her front yard after school let out just to see this sight.

The Black Lab: Among the dogs they had as pets, the college-educated black lab whom she adopted later in his life was the most memorable to Mrs. Fader.  Yes, I do mean college-educated.

The black lab, named Christopher, made a home for himself at Southern Oregon College (now SOU).  Students would take care of the dog, and so he thrived from year to year.  Christopher had a habit of trying to visit classrooms during the day.  Most of the teachers closed their classroom doors or kicked him out, but one professor had an “open door policy” when it came to Christopher.

This was Professor Arthur Taylor, one of the most distinguished professors on campus.  He taught Social Science at Southern Oregon College from 1926 until 1963, and was Chair of the Department for many years.  He was so respected that the social science building Taylor Hall is named after him.

Taylor Hall at Southern Oregon University

Now…back to the dog named Christopher.  According to Mrs. Fader, Professor Taylor left his classroom door open so that Christopher could sit with the students, as he often did.  When Christopher was forced to leave his “home” at the college, and Mrs. Fader adopted him, Professor Taylor had words of high praise for the dog.  He told Mrs. Fader (with tongue firmly in cheek): You won’t find a better educated dog than this.  Christopher has attended college for six to eight years, sitting in class with my students.

Mrs. Fader confirmed to me that he was the smartest dog she ever had!

* * * * *

Let’s mosey on down Holly Street for more photos and stories.

Ashland, garden

357 Holly Street 

I call this photo: “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, and it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky.”  Do you recognize the song these lyrics are from?  Hint: It was an Oregon Shakespeare Festival musical in the 2018 season.  Yes, the song is from one of my favorite musicals of all time…Oklahoma.

Ashland, yard art

384 Holly Street 

I enjoy finding beautiful and unusual yard art, and this house number sign qualifies as both beautiful and unusual.

Ashland, door, art
Royalty or Prince? 397 Holly Street welcomes with a purple door and colorful art.

Purple door and colorful art makes a welcoming entrance, in my book.

* * * * *

Ashland, architecture

The Pool’s bought a pool with help from  Poole

Got it?  No?  Let me translate.

Life brought Gary and Debbie Pool a surprise, as Debbie explained to me: “When Gary and I got engaged, we thought we would sell my house and live in his, but we saw a flyer for the pool house [at 414 Holly Street] with a huge photo of the pool area with all the light and we had to see it!”

Realtor Eric Poole was Debbie’s neighbor, so they asked him to arrange a tour of the house for them.  They went, toured the house, made an offer the same day…and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.”

So in summary, the Pool’s bought a pool with help from Poole. Crazy, fun and true.

Ashland414 Holly Street, Gary and Debbie Pool’s entry recently rebuilt by Gary

Gary is just putting the finishing touches on an attractive new front entrance (above) and a front yard deck (where I took the photo below of Gary and Debbie).

Ashland
Debbie and Gary Pool on their almost-finished new front entry deck Gary is building at 414 Holly Street

Gary received his Bachelor’s degree at Utah State University in Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning.  That skill set took his career in a variety of directions, including doing city planning in the 1980’s.

Today he has a small landscape design and architecture business (GWPool & Assoc).  He told me that he finds his work creative and fulfilling when he is able to design and build “personal parks.” These are designs that turn a client’s yard into a delightful, relaxing oasis.

I have known Gary and Debbie for many years, and they graciously allowed me to share some photos (and a video) showing the inside of their dramatic home.

The afternoon brings garden reflections to the water and water reflections to the interior walls of the two-story house.

414 Holly St, water reflections on the walls at Gary and Debbie Pool’s home

Enjoy the 13 second video of water reflecting on the walls at the Pool’s pool house

This is only Part 1 of the Holly Street story.

In Part 2, I will introduce you to Ashland’s famous faith healer, who in her day brought as many people to Ashland as did the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Then we will meet Carol, who has created what I call “daffodil heaven,” one of the most spectacular springtime gardens in Ashland.  Finally, we will learn about two dramatic Holly Street trees.

Poem: Noble Coffee Roasting

This week I stopped by Noble Coffee Roasting on 4th Street in the Railroad District for the first time in a couple of years.  I am not a coffee drinker, so I don’t “haunt” the many excellent coffee shops and roasters in town.

I used to play tennis with Jared, the founder of Noble Coffee, back in the day when he had time to play tennis (back before teenage children and a growing business).  Serendipity: I entered when Jared and his wife/co-owner Carolyn were both at work in the shop and had a moment to speak with me.  I was inspired to write this poem as I sipped and savored.

Note: I am working on articles about Holly Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and A Street, so look for more street scenes soon.

Noble Coffee Roasting

Youngers with laptops are tapping.
Elders with journals are writing.

Coffee is brewing…hiss…pour…smile.
Accompanying the savory sips,
I see a room filled with lively conversing,
Hard work and quiet contemplation.

Now, one step back:
The Probat roaster looks regal
In its place of honor behind glass;
Without it, the “Joe” wouldn’t have its “Mo”
And the awards for Noble wouldn’t Flow.

Now, two steps back:
I see walls filled with coffee bean photos,
Coffee processing photos,
Colombia, Bolivia, Honduras, Costa Rica.

Now, three steps back:
The people behind the beans look out at me
From their own places of honor.
These are the farmers owner Jared knows,
Cares about, and supports
With his dollars and his recognition.

I look back at a Tolima, Colombia coffee grower,
Almost life-size on the wall beside me,
Holding a big blue bucket
Of ripe red cherries.

Bing cherries?   No.
Sour cherry-pie cherries?   No.
Ripe red coffee cherries?   Yes.

Coffee cherries?  Really?
Coffee cherries bring a new twist to Noble:
The coffee caffeine buzz is LOW.
The antioxidant health boost is HIGH.

So Jared’s creativity, his entrepreneurial spirit,
And his caring for coffee growers
All kick into gear, mingle, merge and make
A refreshing, healthy, brand new, carbonated
Coffee cherry beverage: Noble Tonic.

This morning I am also in the Flow, so
Even before I sit down by the big blue bucket photo,
Even before I get educated about coffee cherries,
Owner-wife Carolyn offers me a taste of “Noble Tonic,”
And its light refreshing goodness gives me a smile.

Despite having entered Coffee Heaven,
Despite being surrounded by odors of Coffee Beans
And photos of Coffee Beans
And tables filled with Coffee Lovers,
I order a Masala Chai.

My Masala Chai at Noble Coffee Roasting

To my surprise,
Carolyn treats me to my very own
Latte art heart
In my cup of Chai.

Enough writing.
It’s time for me to slow down, sip and savor.

Tolima, Colombia coffee grower with a bucket of coffee cherries (Photo at Noble Coffee Roasting)