The Early Years
TUALATIN GETS ORGANIZED--BOOMTOWN-1890s
With newcomers arriving from various parts of the country, with a trip into Portland now just a comfortable hour's ride on the train, with all the state and national news in The Oregonian available daily, Tualatin was no longer just an isolated rural town. It was now ready and eager to expand its social life.
It was in these years that the United Artisans, a fraternal insurance organization, gathered Tualatin members, and the Woodsmen of the World and the Ancient Order of United Workmen set up local branches. These were social and/or fraternal organizations and burial societies that grew out of labor or craft guilds. Some of the new fraternities were conducted with formal drill work, ceremonies and secret signs and passwords, to the delight of the socially hungry residents.
START OF WINONA GRANGE
By far the largest and longest-lasting of these was the Grange, organized in Tualatin in 1895. It was primarily an agricultural society and appealed to the farmers. They chose the name “Winona” for their new organization in honor of J.R.C. Thompson's little daughter Winona who had died earlier.
| First Officers:
| B.R. Henry, Master
|| J.R.C Thompson, Overseer
|| Dr. W.J. Taylor, Lecturer|
| Laura Thompson, Secretary
|| W. R. Day, Steward
|| William Sedlak, Assistant Steward|
| Edward Byrom, Chaplain
|| William Jurgens, Treasurer
|| R. Potts, Gatekeeper|
| Anna Thompson, Pomona
|| Ida Francis, Ceres
|| Bertha Galbreath, Flora|
Byrom and Jurgens were to retain their offices for the rest of their lives. Other Charter Members were Martha and Orrin Thompson, John L. Smith, Nellie Cummins, Elizabeth Byrom, Mrs. W. J. Taylor, and Rosa, Louis and Amelia Jurgens.
The Grangers conducted their business in Thompson's Hall—the floor above his grocery store—for an annual rental fee of $5. They met on Saturdays and began their meetings with a noon pot-luck dinner.
In 1898 the Grange purchased a reed organ for $48.25, borrowed from Lew Francis and raising money to pay it off by renting it out to other organizations for $1 per night. An old Grange record book states that “Brothers Jurgens and Sedlak rendered good music.”
The Grange later had an orchestra led by William Jurgens. The band rules required players to take good care of their instruments and be personally liable for repairs, to attend rehearsals regularly, and to engage in no vulgar talk, vulgar stories or obscene language of any kind in the band room. Thompson's hall was also the popular location for parties and weddings.
Winona Grange Band photo, ca. 1910, courtesy of Tualatin Historical Society
As Grange membership grew, meetings were held in the High School gym, and in 1939, members began raising funds to erect their own building. With land donated by Peter Johnson, the current hall was built and dedicated in 1940, with Ethel Pennington as Master.
Text excerpted from the book, Tualatin...From the Beginning,
by Loyce Martinazzi and Karen Lasky Nygaard,
publ. by the Tualatin Historical Society, 1994.
GRANGE YOUTH ACTIVITIES
In an effort to interest young people in their organization, the Winona Grange started youth activities that proved phenomenally popular in the little community. Starting in 1946, youngsters 12 and older were encouraged to join the Grange. Social events included square dances, held each Saturday night with Selwyn Clark as teacher and Skip Bacon as head caller. Round and ballroom dance were also taught. There was no age distinction as middle-aged folks mingled freely with the teenagers.
Plays and parties were frequent, and before long some 150 youth were coming to the Saturday night dances and staying for refreshments of jello and cake. There were few rules of conduct but the youngsters knew they were not to smoke or drink and to go home only with the persons they came with. Music was always important to the Grangers, and soon a boy’s quartet, a girl’s quartet and an orchestra were performing regularly. With the leadership of Henry Henrickson, Helen Hansen and Gladys Bacon Peasely, the youngsters performed a minstrel show in 1950 and a play, “Kentucky Sue” in 1951. Community interest was so high, the Grange performed the plays on the big stage in the grade school gym to a full crowd. Others who helped with the youth activities were Vic and Pearl Christensen, Carsten and Kitty Hansen, George Hansen and Helen Henrickson.
It wasn't just fun-time for the teenagers, however. A youth degree team worked with the youngsters on the formalities of Grange membership and the memorizing of ritual work.
WINONA GRANGE YOUTH GROUP
After WII, life in Tualatin offered very little in the way of social activities for young people. John and Mary Schirman appealed to the Grange for healthy family oriented activities.
Grange leaders addressed the problem by contacting Oregon State College for a dance instructor who was to come to Tualatin to teach teenagers to dance and then would receive credits toward her college degree. The community was canvassed for kids 12 years and older and dozens of them joined the Grange, taking the degrees along with adults.
Skip Bacon called the square dances and Henry Henrickson played music on a portable record player, with the college student teaching. Word got around town what fun it was and soon 50 or 50 teenagers were trouping into the Grange Hall every Saturday evening, dancing on the fine maple floor and afterwards enjoying sandwiches, jello, cake and coffee in the downstairs social hall. The adults in the Grange danced along with the adults as Skip called out “Allemande left with your left hand, right to your partner, right and left grand.”
The fine points of dancing etiquette were carefully observed and there were no wallflowers. Besides square dancing, round and ballroom dancing were also taught. Some of the dances were “The Mexican Hat Dance”, “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” the “Black Hawk Waltz,” and “The Varsuvienne.” Tualatin's youth took to the dance floor like ducks to water.
Soon youth degree teams were organized where the young people memorized the ritual work of the Grange.
Helen Hansen and Gladyce Bacon organized an orchestra and a boys' and a girls' barbershop quartets.
In 1950 the youth group put on a Minstrel Show with Henry Henrickson as Mr. Interlocutor. There was slapstick humor, and lots of music. The entire cast joined in singing “Down Yonder” and "Floatin' Down to Cotton Town.” Homer Zuver got down on one knee and crooned “Mammy” in blackface. The show was staged at Tualatin Elementary School because the Grange Hall could not accommodate the large enthusiastic crowds.
The next year a play called “Kentucky Sue” was put on, also under the direction of Helen Hansen and Gladyce Bacon. Preceding the play, a group of girls in crepe paper hoop-skirted ante-bellum dresses sang and acted out a scene about Harriet Beecher Stowe. The Grange ladies had made the dresses.
Winona Grange's entry in the 1951 Crawfish Festival Parade
Talent in any degree was ferreted out. Who can ever forget Ritchie Bacon as Yorgi Yorgeson, Helen Ruth Hansen dancing the first ballet most Tualatinites had ever seen, or Jondel Weber belting out “By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea.” The skills acquired by many of the youth carried over into other areas if their lives. Shirley Herbst was so good at public speaking, she won declamatory contests all over the state with the high school team.
The youth group, accompanied by the adults, hosted other Grange youth groups at dances and exchanged degree teams as well. A girl's drill team did so well they were invited to participate in the National Grange Convention as part of the Rosebud Drill Team.
In his efforts to help youngsters improve their speaking skills, Henry and Helen Henrickson invited the kids up to their home to practice speaking into a tape recorder. When the tape was played back, most kids were astonished at how they sounded. Henry said, “ I told you that you talked too fast.”
The youth were encouraged to participate in box socials and other social events. Once the youth planned and served a Swiss Steak Dinner all by themselves.
Social and personal responsibility was part of the teaching of the Grange. Once a kid wanted to join the Grange, but he had been in some trouble. Henry heard a few if the youth talk about blackballing him and Henry said, “Wait a minute kids, this Grange is where that youngster ought to be. We can help him.” Sure enough, the boy joined and soon cleaned up his act, seeing how the other kids behaved. There were few written rules of conduct in the Grange, but everyone knew and adhered to a certain code. You were not to drink or smoke, no hanky panky, no vulgar talk and you were to go home with whomever you came with. As cars were in short supply in the little community, those with vehicles stopped at various houses along the way, often piling kids up two and three deep.
The youth group lasted only a little over five years but it was to change the lives of the youth who participated. As the kids grew up, married, moved away or joined the service, went to college or got a job, they took with them the skills they had picked up in the Grange.
Several romances and subsequent marriages came out of the youth group including Myrna Andrews and Bob Summers, June Stone and Larry Heisler, Jeanne Hogan and Homer Zuver, Karen Graham and Don Larsen, Dona Andrews and Clyde Adams, and Loyce Martinazzi and Larry Lee. Toni Martinazzi met her first husband, Bob Leber, when she marched with the Rosebud Drill Team.
The lucky teenagers who joined Winona Grange say that the skills they acquired and the confidence they gained from their years in the youth group still serve them well. The youth group was such a brilliant success because the kids knew the adults believed in them and they wanted to honor that faith.
The above is excerpted from transcripts of a presentation made by Loyce Martinazzi