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Parkdale Grange stays vibrant after 100 years

JERRY ROUTSON and his mother, Alyuna, prepare a meal in the kitchen in 1964.

Submitted photo
JERRY ROUTSON and his mother, Alyuna, prepare a meal in the kitchen in 1964.

The Parkdale Grange was organized on Nov.18, 1913, and meetings began in McIsaac’s Hall, above McIsaac’s Store on Baseline Road in Parkdale. Not the current store site, but the one that until a few years ago housed Jalisco Market, next to the Hutson Museum.

Grange membership is listed as being “open to anyone of good character, who is interested in agriculture and their community.” It is considered a family organization where all family members, from Junior Grangers to older members, are welcome in the Grange hall.

Considered a fraternal family, Granges are traditionally agriculturally based organizations that are non-sectarian, non-partisan, and believe in the Supreme Being and the “Golden Rule,” otherwise known as reciprocity, or the rule of giving back.

DRAWING HELPS GRANGE

A fundraiser drawing is being held as part of the 100th anniversary celebration. Items include handmade quilts, cookware and gift certificates from local businesses. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5 and can be purchased at the open house at the Grange Hall on Clear Creek Road, or in advance from any Parkdale Grange member or by calling Jean Hardman at 541-352-6691.

Though many fun times were enjoyed at the Parkdale Grange, after getting started in 1913 there were tough times ahead in the Upper Valley that would threaten the Grange’s existence.

In January of 1930 the building burned to the ground and everything was lost. While meetings were held temporarily in the Mt. Hood Schoolhouse, now the Mt. Hood Town Hall, plans were quickly made to re-build on the same site.

By July 1930 meetings were again held in the Grange’s own building with other Granges in the district and Franz Hardware of Hood River supplying working tools, a Bible, dishes and silverware.

Unfortunately, the huge expense of the new building came just when The Great Depression was being felt quite severely in the valley and many Grangers found themselves unable to keep up their memberships. By July of 1939, unable to pay their debts, Grangers were forced to turn their building over to the mortgage company.

Then two of the Grange’s most faithful members, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Renfro, gave the Grangers the use of an abandoned building on their land to meet in exchange for members fixing the building up. Windows needed to be replaced, the roof needed repair, and there was no electricity, but once again with neighbors helping neighbors, the repairs were made and soon meetings were held again.

Membership to the Grange started growing and once again penny-a-dip suppers and many good times were had by all.

It wasn’t until 1942 that the Grange finally moved to its current building on Clear Creek Road that had started as a packing and storage facility, then later became a Japanese-American School before the Grange bought it.

The longest and oldest living member of the Parkdale Grange is Upper Valley resident Tommy Elliott.

“I’ve been a member for 63 years, from the time my oldest son Larry was 6 months old,” said Elliott. “In January of 1951 my dad said if (husband) Fred and I would join he’d take a life insurance out policy for Larry through the Grange and pay our Grange fees, so we joined.”

Elliott says effects of The Great Depression were still going on at that time and Grangers helped families who needed help to have food to eat and their children have clothes to wear.

“We had a real good group back then and we still do!” said Elliott. “We are getting new younger members in and I’m glad because many of us are getting older!”

Many of the established Upper Valley families have been Grangers over the years. The Elliotts are just one among many such as the Routsons, Abbotts, Lynches, Andrewses and Wests.

The Grangers also live by their Golden Rule and have supported many community projects over the years. Currently the Grange raises donations or funds for Helping Hands Against Violence, FISH Food Bank, Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) and 4-H Camp, and provides a place for groups such as the Parkdale Garden Club and the OSU Upper Valley Home Extension group a place to meet free of charge.

“We would love for people in the community to come out and see what the Grange is all about and consider joining because it’s really a great place for entire families to get involved,” said Jean Hardman.

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