Dad (Part 1)

Dear Liza,

Your great grandpa, my dad, Lowell Evans, died in 1998, fifteen years before you were born. He was a very good man, and you should know a little about him.

Great grandpa Lowell with most of his siblings….

Lowell was born on a farm in Ellensburg, Washington in 1921. He was the oldest son in a family of ten kids, and was raised to be responsible for himself and to care for other people. He held onto those habits his whole life.

When World War II started, he headed to California to work in the aircraft industry. After a hasty marriage, he was drafted and served in the Pacific, returning home to realize his wife had set up housekeeping with his paycheck and another fellow. Heartbroken, he went to find the only other address he had in California, his former co-worker at the plant, a lady named Billie. After several years’ courtship, he and Billie bought a house in Manhattan Beach, got married and started having kids. That was the beginning of our family.

Dad was always looking for a way to have fun. He’d start singing a made-up song, run out of lyrics, and finish with “…And that’s all I know of that one.” He’d call us all out of the house for a walk and end up at the ice cream shop. His evenings were spent planning camping trips or making furniture for the house. He made desk/dresser/ nightstand sets for all the bedrooms, a desk and coffee table for the living room, and even a playhouse for me.

Old man 1958 and young 1959…

He helped run the Pop Warner Junior football league, a Little League team, and was a Boy Scout leader. He attended every game, every show and every parade my brothers and I were part of.

He cared for his friends, too. He had become friends with an old bachelor man at work, Phil Conway. One day, Phil got hit by a piece of equipment and cracked some ribs, and the boss sent him home for the weekend. Dad knew that Phil would go home, lay down, and not be able to get up. Since my parents didn’t have a car, Dad took a cab and fetched Phil to our house and had him sleep in the big chair until he healed up.

Phil Conway and Dad

There were lots of other folks he cared for, too. He walked three brides down the aisle before me, young women from work whose own dads were unwilling or unable to stand up for them.

Camping was how we spent all our vacations. Dad and my brothers loved it, and I did, too. It was a time of not too many rules… we weren’t expected to be quiet, go to bed early, stay clean, or eat our vegetables. We could spend hours walking in the woods or building dams in the river. Even Momma came to enjoy it, as Dad took over the cooking duties and she could read and relax more.

Volleyball in the Wilderness…

When Dad was fifty five, he developed rheumatoid arthritis. He hurt all the time and had trouble breathing. He got treatment and got better, but his doctor advised taking early retirement because “you don’t know how many good years you have left.” Dad spent two years remodeling the kitchen, learning to bake bread, and generally driving Momma crazy. He finally convinced her to retire, too. They sold the house and moved to tiny Lompoc, California.

And, believe it or not, that was just the beginning of a whole ‘nother set of adventures! More tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Dad (Part 2)

Dear Liza,

When Momma and Dad bought the house in Lompoc, the first thing to do was make it ready to live in. The back yard was all weeds and the house had been badly used. Everything needed fixing. But for them, this was part of the fun.

Dad, getting the backyard in shape

While they worked, they got to know their neighbors and the town. Momma joined the Alpha Club and Dad joined Elks. This was a lucky thing for the Elks, because they were just beginning to build a new lodge, and Dad helped with electrical work and general hauling. He designed and helped build the floats for parades. He even barbecued dinner for everyone!

One of the many Elks’ floats he designed and built

My folks were natural joiners. They loved playing cards or going dancing with friends, and if those new folks liked camping, so much the better.

After they had lived in Lompoc for about ten years, they bought a fine fifth wheel trailer. Dad got an idea. “How about we go in the road long term?” Momma was against it. She couldn’t imagine leaving her garden or her friends. “Let’s try it for six months,”. Dad promised. “If you hate it, I won’t mention it again.”

Yet another adventure!

So they rented the house to a friend, packed up, and headed off. By the end of the six months, momma was sold on the idea, and they traveled to every state they could drive to over the next eight years. Dad loved history and would visit every tiny museum and library. They went to church every Sunday at whatever church was closest. They made new friends all over the country.

Every now and then, they would swing by our house in Salinas, say hello, and help the kids with their bar mitzvah projects, then head off again. They had so much fun!

Stopping by for a visit

In September of 1988 they came by Salinas on their way home, and I took the day off to go with them to Point Lobos. It was the last day we got to spend together.

My last picture of Momma and Dad together

They were heading home when dad had a stroke and died in his sleep. We were all shocked, as he had seemed in very good health. The family got the trailer moved back to Lompoc, and Momma lived in it for a year, right in the back yard. Even after taking care of the many details required of new widows, she wasn’t quite ready to take up regular life yet, having lost “the most fun part” of her life after 51 years.

Dad’s funeral at the Elks’ lodge

But one day when we were visiting, she wiped her eyes after yet another cry, and said, “If Lowell saw me sitting here, crying like a baby, he’d come down and kick my butt.” Sometimes, when I am sad, I say the same thing. Thanks, Dad.


Grandma Judy

Hermina Zipple (Part 2)

Dear Liza,

Hamilton Hall, Montana State College (now University)

After a successful stint in Kansas, as an associate professor and patron of the local concert series, Hermina moved west to Bozeman, Montana. She took a position in charge of housing and nutrition at Montana State College. As World War II ended, she oversaw the growing budgets of the post-war school housing boom, finding places for all the veterans taking advantage of the GI bill. She lived on campus, too. I hope she kept a nice place for herself.

In 1955 she was hired as director of Portland Schools Lunchrooms, and she moved back in with her Mom and sister Rosina here in Portland. Just four years later, their mother died at the age of 91, and then it was just the two sisters together.

School kids in Portland

Since director of public school lunchrooms is a public position, there are several articles in the Oregonian where Hermina is mentioned, giving budgets and figures from her office. In 1960 she was the center of a public shouting match when her office and its panel of ‘tasters’ rejected ice cream from Sunnybrook Foremost Dairy for the school lunchrooms, in spite of their low bid. She explained that Mr. Sinner’s ice cream just didn’t taste as good as the next lowest bidder. Mr. Sinner said he “had never heard of such a thing.”

Ice cream ad from the 1960s

But we really see the now-65 -year-old Miss Zipple shine in 1966, when a series of articles highlights National School Lunch week. She rattled off the figures that her office dealt with, from the 620,000 pounds of meat and poultry annually served, to the seven million half pints of milk, to the 840,000 eggs.

Miss Zipple said her Office got calls from mothers asking for recipes, after their children told them that “the school makes this better.” The article in The Oregonian even included the recipes for the most requested items, cut down to family-sized portions. These included snickerdoodle cookies, porcupine meatballs, tomato sauce, and Halloween pumpkin cookies.

The very next year, Miss Hermina Zipple retired from her position at the age of 66, ending a 31 year career. She lived in Portland with her sister, in the same house where she was born, until she died at the age of 89. Younger sister Rosina had also been a teacher, staying in town for her 42 year career in the elementary schools. Rosina outlived Hermina by a few years. Neither sister ever married. They supported themselves and their mother by their education and ambition, and educated and fed hundreds of kids.

I sure love making new friends do at the Lone Fir Cemetery!


Grandma Judy

Hermina Zipple, Educator and Career Woman

Dear Liza,

Walking in Lone Fir Cemetery the other day, I came across a name I had never seen before. Zipple. Carl and Emma Zipple, Mother and Father. I wanted to know more.

Since the Oregon Historical Society closed for renovation months even before the corona virus hit, my research is all online. I looked at newspapers around the state and Grandpa Nelson got out his account. Zipple, it turns out, isn’t a very common name. In fact, for many, many years, these folks were the only ones here in Portland.

Carl was a machinist from Saxony, Germany, and worked at the steel mill here. Emma was from Switzerland. I don’t know when they came to America, how they met, or when they were married.

I looked for their daughters, Hermina and Rosina. The oldest, Hermina, was born when her father and mother were 42 and 31. Even today, this is a bit old to be new parents. Hermina graduated from Portland’s Jefferson High School in 1919, when her father was 60 years old.

The Normal School, Monmouth, early 1900s

As was the practice of the time, she got her first teaching job right out of high school, in Garfield, Oregon. She went on to graduate from the Normal School (teaching college) at Monmouth and then got a job there as the assistant librarian, where she probably stayed for six years. Venturing further from home to advance her education, she moved to Seattle, Washington, and graduated from the University Of Washington in 1935.

University of Kansas, 1940s

And this is where the story gets interesting. I assumed that she would move take a job in Portland and live with her mom, since her dad had just passed away. But instead, she took a job as Director of Food Services for the University in Lawrence, Kansas, halfway across the country! She lived with some other ladies in a house with a maid and houseman.

In 1940 she wrote a paper for the Journal of Nutritian and Dietetics Entitled “Nutrition and War: Feeding the Army and Navy at the University of Kansas.”

I will tell you more about my interesting new friend tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

….And, We’re Back to Rain

Dear Liza,

I like to think of myself as a good sport. You know, going along, making accommodations, not letting things bug me. But darn it, it’s mid-June and it’s still raining. Every day!

My brain wants some sunshine, real, warm sunshine, not the damp glow we’ve been getting. I did get out for a walk yesterday, however, to take pictures and get my miles in, and found some things.

Cloudy artichoke silhouette

The grey skies gave me interesting silhouettes of a giant artichoke plant.

A hired flock of plastic pink flamingoes wished someone a Happy Birthday.

Someone got flocked!

And, always looking for perspective, I met Mr. Carl Zipple and his wife, Emma, at Lone Fir Cemetery. I’m sure they were nice folks and I hope people didn’t give them too much grief about their name.

The Late, great, Zipples

And that’s all for now.


Grandma Judy

My Father’s Wisdom

Dear Liza,

I will write properly about my dad, your great-grandpa Lowell, later this week. For now I will just tell how he helped me through a bad time this weekend.

Summer is coming!

After our wonderful trip to the Coast, staying home all day seemed to get even more tedious and confining. I lost interest in my story, felt stupid when I tried to paint, and was just sad and cranky. The petty inconveniences of the shut down, combined with the very real trouble our country is in right now, were really getting to me.

Saturday, I asked Granda Nelson and Auntie Bridgett to do the weekly shopping so I could stay home and give the house a much needed cleaning. It felt GOOD to be doing something useful and hard, and both the house and I were better for it.

One of my flower cards

Sunday, the blues crept up again. For most of the day I sat in different places in the house, feeling useless and sad. In the afternoon, I thought of my Dad and some of his advice. He said that when you felt sad, you should find someone worse off, and help them. These past weeks, this advice has led to me making cards for elderly folks and cookies for marchers.

But when you feel really useless, you don’t feel like you CAN help anyone. You are sure your cookies will be awful and your cards will be laughable. What then?

Ice cream, dad’s voice said. Get out of the house and go get some ice cream. So I did what we do now, in Portland, when we want to “go out” for ice cream. I got on the Fifty Licks website.

Ice cream therapy

I rounded up my people and we walked the half mile through our own dear neighborhood, admiring the flowers and fruits as they burst out in yards, driveways and parking spaces.

We got to Fifty Licks, up on Burnside, and realized there were a lot of people doing ice cream therapy. Our online order was ready right on time, but where to eat it?

Glamorous al fresco dining

Indoor dining is NOT an option in Portland yet, so we walked up the block to the Catholic Pastoral Center and borrowed the curb of their parking lot, with a view of tall trees and the Burnside traffic. Informal, al fresco, and yummy. Dad would have approved.

By the time we got home, full of beauty and yummy cream, I felt better. We had also walked a mile, which always helps. We can get through difficult times, with good people and good ice cream.

Even the raspberries are happy!

Thanks, Dad!


Grandma Judy

Cannon Beach Welcomes You

Dear Liza,

When we needed inside space and lunch after an hour in the wind and sand, we fetched the car and drove to the main part of town. Many shops and restaurants were open, but with restrictions like here in Portland: Shorter hours and take out only. Our first choice, Bill’s Tavern Brewhouse, was one such place and would have to wait for another time.

The Driftwood

But just across the street, The Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge, was open, welcoming, and had expanded into the parking lot in order to give enough space between tables. We wanted to get out of the chill, though, and there was just one table left inside. Hooray!

Auntie Bridgett, very happy

It felt odd, after these long weeks, to sit at a table in a public place, and order food. Odd, but wonderful.

Susan, bringer of beer, crab rolls, and smiles

Our waitress, Susan, was masked and pleasant, and brought us beer (beer!) and food I hadn’t cooked. We ate and basked in the new normality as we watched the morning clouds blow away to flood our window with sunshine.

And then the sun came out!

Once we were warm and sated, we headed off to explore. The shops that were open had these adorable reminders to stay safe.

Staying safe (and cute)

We looked at art through gallery windows and stopped at the candy shop for Grandpa Nelson’s beloved salt water taffy. The public art was delightful! I love this newly-installed fountain and sculpture of ravens, but foolishly neglected to note its title or artist.

Ravens sharing a feather

On our way back to the car, we stopped on the top of a bluff to have another long look at the beach and nearly got hit by a kite! A very young fellow was below us, trying to reel in his kite, and it was doing that bob-and-weave thing kites do when they don’t want to land. We had a chat and I thanked him for making our day at the beach extra special.

The kite, the boy, and his mom

We said goodbye to the sand, wind, and rocks before climbing into the car and realizing how tired we all were! Thank goodness for Auntie Bridgett’s stamina in getting us home.

Us, windblown and happy


Grandma Judy

Fog, Rocks, and Puffins

Dear Liza,

Haystack Rock

Once we got to the windy shore at Cannon Beach, I was in heaven. The wide sweep of the sand and the fog veiled cliffs set the mood for silence and contemplation, and we walked along, thinking our own thoughts. Auntie Bridgett found a reasonably comfy wall and sketched while Grandpa Nelson and I headed down the beach.

A world of clouds and sea

Haystack Rock, which is the landmark and symbol of the town, stands 235 feet above the sand. It is surrounded by starfish and anemone-filled tide pools and, further up, houses thousands of birds. Seagulls and cormorants are the largest and noisiest, but I paid special attention to the Tufted Puffins. They have a cute, wind-up-toy sort of flap and are easy to spot, but hard to photograph.

A Tufted Puffin….Photo credit, Save the Puffins

These are one of three types of Puffins, and are larger than both the Atlantic and Horned species. The colony on Haystack Rock had 600 birds years ago, but has dwindled to about 100, mostly because the fish they depend on have been either over-fished or are dying out due to pollution and climate change.

Photo Credit, Bruce McMillan

I have a soft spot in my teacher’s heart for Puffins because of a story called “Nights of the Pufflings”, by Bruce McMillan. It was included in a third grade anthology and told the true story of how children in Iceland would stay awake all night in the spring to collect baby Atlantic Puffins, called “Pufflings”, who got lost on their flight from the cliffs to the sea.

The children would collect the birds at night, saving them from traffic and dogs, and release them the next day at the beach. The children’s activism and care of their small charges warmed all the fuzzy feels of my heart.

Statue of a Puffin guarding the parking lot

Cannon Beach has this sort of love for their own Puffins, erecting statues around town and selling sweatshirts to raise money for their protection.

Once we had soaked up all the sea and wind that we could, it was time to get warm and fed. Tomorrow I will tell you about the pretty town of Cannon Beach.


Grandma Judy

West to Cannon Beach

Dear Liza,

Wednesday morning we got up early and were on highway 26 to Cannon Beach by nine o’clock. The weather was chilly, grey, and almost rainy.

As usual, the trip west really started once we went through the Vista Ridge tunnel. This is a tunnel that actually goes under a neighborhood in the west hills, and whenever we go through it, I wonder how the folks in that lovely and very expensive neighborhood feel about living above a major freeway.

Can you imagine living above the Vista Ridge Tunnel?

The city of Portland ends pretty abruptly once we passed the hills, because of the urban growth boundary. Other, smaller towns, like Beaverton, have grownup, but Portland doesn’t spread out. I like that. Having watched Southern California become one giant suburb, I am happy to see a bit of country green between cities.

Once we had passed the open fields and headed up into the Coastal Range of mountains, we pulled over at a rest stop, and I got my first history lesson

History lesson by the road

This historical marker tells of The Tillamook Burn, which was actually four fires between 1933 and 1939. They were all caused by logging accidents and, in the midst of the Great Depression, cost Oregon over 13 billion board feet of lumber. The lumber industry, like so many others, had been left to “police itself”, and it had not gone well.

The Tillamook Burn led to regulations on how trees are taken and what sort of equipment can be used, which has made logging safer.

Wolf Creek

Just behind the sign was a delightfully gurgling stream, a branch of Wolf Creek. It was mysterious and shady, and on a warmer day I would have been tempted to stick my feet in and hang out with the woods for a while. But the chill and damp discouraged such shenanigans, and we continued west.

We passed Camp 18 and the Elderberry Cafe, where we have stopped for lunch on other trips, but we were anxious to get to the beach. We found parking and grabbed coats, hats and towels, getting in sight of the ocean just as quickly as we could.

Haystack Rock and the BEACH!!!

We all inhaled, filling ourselves up with salty air. It felt like home. I will tell you more about our adventure tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Weather or Not, We’re Going!!

Dear Liza,

Monterey, when it’s cold,

Every year, for my birthday, I go to the beach. In Southern California, where I grew up, it was always, always sunny. When we lived in Salinas, the beach at Monterey was often cloudy or even rainy and cold in March. I didn’t care. I went and walked in the wind and rain, loving the ocean. I’m sure it loved me right back, too.

And when it shines!

This year we were shut down for my birthday, and Grandpa Nelson’s, too. We were both missing the ocean a lot, but all the Oregon coastal beaches have been closed to keep people from congregating and risk spreading the virus. Even when the beach towns like Cannon Beach opened, they asked people from Portland NOT to come, because Portland still had too many cases.

Portland during the shutdown…

But now, our county and city are opening up! Restaurants are washing windows and setting up tables. And since our city is healthy, we don’t feel as though we are endangering the places we visit the lovely Oregon Coast.

The only problem is that we are now in the middle of our “second winter”. We had bright skies and warm sunshine weeks ago, custom made for long walks and taking pictures. Now, we have had three days of rain and cooler temperatures.

Storm clouds coming!

I don’t care! Tomorrow, we pack up Miles, our midnight blue Volkswagen Golf, with coats, umbrellas and boots, and head off for the beach!



Grandma Judy