Memories of Our School Years

One of the fun parts of maintaining friendships with classmates is sharing memories and stories from the good old days. So, we are devoting this page to such memories. We know there are hundreds of good stories out there just waiting to be shared. These may be short or long, humorous or serious. We want to hear of these memories in your words -- you don't have to be a writer or even write in complete sentences, as we are happy to provide editorial assistance).So, please consider sharing some of your memories with us. Contact us (Ignore the spam blocker. I will see it-- Bob)

Stories of Classmate Memories: (Click on the following):

Tom Taylor Locked up (New 11/2017)

Memories of Lincoln Grade School Days

The Basic Rules for Clotheslines

Cherry Picking Days

'Jeep' Skating on the Ice

Bicycling To Cashmere

A Snake In The Grass

The Great Wenatchee Beer Heist

A Near Tragedy

Tom Taylor Locked Up

(Submitted by Carlton)

The following story was published in the WHS Apple Leaf in 1956. It was found in Pat Quinn Bryant's memorabilia that was donated to our class by her son, Randy Bryant.

It seems that, in the 1956 football game against Yakima, the last game of the year, Tom stayed behind in the dressing room to adjust his contact lenses. The Yakima custodian came by and locked the room's door. Well, now fit and ready for the second half battles, Tom trots to the door to find it shut tighter than a drum. What to do?

He of course panics and starts to shout at the top of his voice while pounding on the door to no avail. Next he picks up an iron pipe, now terrified, and starts smashing a window at least to get attention, as it had heavy bars over it. Finally, after about twenty minutes of banging and hollering, some Yakima students heard his cries for help and found the custodian who unlocked his “ prison” door. He runs to the Panther bench to find ten minutes of play time now gone. Talk about a game to remember forever. Tom’s adrenaline must have been at a super high level which no doubt helped the Panthers beat the Yakima Pirates 27 to 20.

Memories of Lincoln Grade School Days

By Carol Travers with additions by Kathy Morgan, Sheila Mohr,

Paul Burton, and Betty Sims: Photo from Pat Quinn

Illustration 1: Row 1: Carol Travers, Kathy Morgan, Mary Jo SmartRow 2: Dotty Neidhart, Sally Raines, Rosalie Burns, JoAnn Croghan, Joyce OlsonRow 3: Joel Maupin, Cheryl Reed, Peggy McMullen, Phyllis Lloyd, Valerie Fox, Connie VanWinkleRow 4: Larry Chicken, Jimmy Walker, Gene Britts?, Jack Boushay, Johnny Augustine, Ron McCarty, Mrs. Schutz (Click here to enlarge photo)

This “memory” is a compilation of contributions from classmates who attended Lincoln. Assembling this has been a fun, but as yet incomplete project. We know that these contributions are certain to bring back even more memories for those classmates who attended Lincoln, and we hope you will send these to us -- memories, comments, and perhaps more photos that we can add to this page or Candid Camera.

We are beginning with this photo of Mrs. Shutz 5th grade class that was provided by Pat Quinn. Carol Travers made a good start at identifying those pictured and with help of Kathy and Sheila, we believe we have all the names. If you see any errors, please let us know. Carol also tapped her excellent memory and went into her archives and came up with information on the class and on Lincoln Class Day, as follows: “The class was divided into two classrooms and some kids we knew better than others.  The class as a whole had the motto "Always do your best."  The Class Flower was - Rose and the Class Colors were - Orange & Blue.  I have the program from Class Day when we were 6th graders and the program featured Michael Cook, Roger Moore and Paul Burton presenting the colors; Sonja Heflin, Sheila Mohr and Peggy McMullen singing, "It's No Secret," A skit on Manners with Barbara Weston, Cheryl Reed, Barbara Moore and Kathryn Morgan, Rhonda Young and Beverly Zodrow singing "Mocking Bird Hill"; Violin Duet, Ida McMullen  and Jo Ann Croghan, Falsetto Solo by Edgar Lisenberry;  Tap Dance to School Days by Dotty and Carol Travers, Piano Solo by Joyce Olson; Kathryn and Mary Jo - violin duet, Words of Appreciation by Jimmy Doolittle and the Sixth Grade Class sang "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" featuring Dotty as soloist.  I guess you really didn't ask for that but it was fun for me to read through it.  We had a little WaWa of Grade School and all the teachers and kids signed the programs.” In another note, Carol relates the following humorous memory -- “I do remember a Miss Stache who was the violin teacher and I was so jealous the Kathy Morgan got to take lessons.  Dad said if I practiced in the garage it wouldn't be far enough away.  He did pay for my tap dance lessons though - what a waste!!!”


After receiving Carol's information, Shirley e mailed the photo to several other Lincoln classmates evoking the following from Kathy Morgan, Sheila Mohr, Paul Burton, and Betty Sims.

Kathy Morgan's addition: I remember Lincoln Grade School as that is where I met my very best friend Mary Jo Smart Towne in the 3rd grade!  I had Miss Evans and I can remember her peeling her apple at lunchtime in one long unbroken strip and eating everything except the stem and the seeds.  Mrs. Carrico, from Canada, was my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Schultz my 5th grade teacher and Miss Asher my 6th Grade teacher.  We had such fun in Camp Fire Girls. Carol Travers mom was our leader and most of us went to camp at Lake Wenatchee every summer.  I have always thought that is where I would like to have my ashes scattered.  A number of us played the violin – I was never good, but I have a lifelong love of classic music, especially violin music.  Thanks for all the memories of many wonderful days and friends.


Sheila Mohr's addition: This was great fun!  However, I'm still trying to put some pieces together -- maybe someone can help.

 Lincoln had two rooms for each grade -- grades 1-3 on the bottom floor and 4-6 on the top floor. Therefore, Mrs. Schutz (who I don't remember at ALL), Mr. Verne Huffman (who I had), and Mr. Davis couldn't have all been teaching 5th grade.  I sort of remember a Mr. Davis from jr high -- 7th grade maybe?  I remember Mr. Huffman as being the only male teacher at Lincoln and somewhat of a celebrity because he was the only one.  Following is a list of teachers I had at Lincoln. Maybe someone can fill in the other six teachers? 

1st grade -- Mrs. Lee (adored her)

2nd -- Miss LeBus

3rd -- Mrs. Weed (adored her too)

4th -- Miss Evans

5th -- Mr. Huffman -- way fun!  We played more than we studied and he started us on a square dancing group.  I remember Jimmy Doolittle, Edgar Lisenberry – does anyone remember who else?  Sometimes we went to retirement homes and danced for the people.  Joyce Olson and I babysat for him once.

6th -- Mrs. Kincaid – She was very nice


Paul Burton's addition -- I don’t remember Mrs. Schutz at all either.  The two fifth grade teachers I do remember were Mr. Huffman and Mr. Davis.  Mr. Hoffman learned soccer in the Army while stationed in England so we soon had soccer teams.  We played soccer all year, including in the snow in winter.  Both Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Davis had large wood paddles with holes drilled in them, nicely finished with lacquer or varnish.  In those days, swats were a common punishment for misbehavior, and considered better than being sent to the principal’s office.  Mr. Hoffman (or Huffman) was the only male teacher until we reached fifth grade.  I believe Mr. Davis started that year.  The other 6th grade teacher was Mrs. Evans, also very nice.  I was in her class.  Back to 5th grade, I remember Jimmy Doolittle, Edgar Lisenberry, Sheila Mohr, Barbara Moore, Monte Chaussee, Joyce Olson, Jerry Smith, Donald Ayers (who moved away in 5th or 6th grade), Dick Brown, Michael Caldwell, Joel Maupin, Sally Raines, Eddy Monnot, Johnny Augustine, Larry Chicken, and that’s about it for now.  I wonder if the Wenatchee School District (or whatever it is called) has records going back to the 1940’s and 1950’s.

I see Gean Britts on this e-mail string.  I remember him too.  We were in some of the same classes I believe, but I don’t recall if he was in Mr. Huffman’s 5th grade class or not.  I remember Ms. Weed, my third grade teacher.  I moved to Wenatchee while in the second grade, but I don’t remember the teacher.  I don’t remember the Lincoln Elementary principal either.  I do remember Mr. Wile, the HB Ellison Jr. HS principal, and Warren Avery, the Wenatchee HS principal.  As I recall, we used to call him “Warden Avery”.  If all our failing memories are combined, maybe we did have three teachers for each grade at Lincoln Elementary.  But, like Sheila, I just remember two classes for each grade.  But then, I sometimes have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast.


Betty Sim's addition -- I also had wonderful Mrs. Lee for first grade, Mrs. LeBus for second grade and I loved having  Mrs. Weed for third grade. I didn't have Miss Evans for 4th grade, I think my brother did. I had another lady and can't remember her name. She left after that year and got married. I also had Mr. Huffman for 5th grade and I remember what a good time we had in his class, and we also learned a lot from him. LOL I remember Joyce Olson babysitting for Mr. Huffman as I went with her once or twice when she baby sit. I had Mrs. Asher for 6th grade. It was her last year to teach and she retired that year. I remember her blue hair!!! LOL But, I thought she was a wonderful teacher. I've thought and thought but I can't remember the other teachers. Of course we had John Rutherford for our Principal. I need to go through some of my mother's things. She had our grade cards and pictures of the classes and I might be able to find some other names. My brother John didn't have the same teachers I did. It has been fun thinking back to those days. When Mrs. Lee passed away, I went to her funeral with Mrs. Weed and we both sat and cried. Mrs. Weed was a wonderful, caring woman!!! I remember when my father passed away, both Mr. and Mrs. Weed was right there for my mother, bringing sacks of groceries and doing whatever they could to help my mother. She was a great friend all through the years. We still live in the Lincoln School district and our children all attended Lincoln School


So, here is the quiz – who were the Lincoln teachers. You may notice that there are some conflicting memories and we know that memories do fade. There does seem to be agreement that there were two and only two teachers for each grade at any one time. Exactly who they were is uncertain from the above memories. However, Carol has again tapped her archives and come up with the following. We offer this as the presumptive true history. However, if anyone feels there is more to add, please send it along. Here's the straight stuff from Carol: Okay - this is the real deal.  The names were signed in my last day of school WaWa.

1st - Florence Campbell replaced a Mrs. Laird

        Elvira Lee

2nd - Helen Lebus

        Peggy Laughlin

3rd - Frances Evans

       Margaret Weed

4th.- Jean Carrico

       Dean Gordanier or W.E. Davis

5th - Vivian Schutz

       W.E. Davis

6th - Geneva Kinkade

         Vern Huffman

In addition Mr. Rutherford was the principal and Mrs. John Slichter was his secretary.  Mr. Herb Kinkade was the Co. Superintendent of Schools and Phyllis Clinesmith replaced a first grade teacher I believe it was Mrs. Lee and Marian Winters was the music teacher along with Mrs. Rutherford.  I don't have a signature of Miss Asher.”

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THE BASIC RULES FOR CLOTHESLINES, a sign of how much times have changed and a memory we are happy to forget – Author Unknown

You have to be a certain age to appreciate this. (If you don't know what clotheslines are, ya’ can skip this one)
1.  You had to wash the clothes line before hanging any clothes- walk the whole length of each line with a damp cloth around the lines.
2..  You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang "whites" with "whites," and hang them first.  All of the same type of clothes were hung together - underwear, socks, shirts, etc.
3.  You never hung a shirt by the shoulders - always by the tail!  What would the neighbors think?
4.  Wash day on a Monday! . . . Never hang clothes on the weekend, or
Sunday, OH MY… for Heaven's sake, NO!
5. Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your unmentionables" in the middle.
6.  It didn't matter if it was sub zero weather  . . . Clothes would "freeze-dry."
7. If the clothesline was long, use a prop with the vee shaped notch on top to keep the line from sagging and clothes off the ground.

8.  Always gather the clothes pins and placed in the ‘clothespin bag’ when taking down dry clothes!  Pins left on the lines were "tacky!"
9.  If you were efficient, which my Mother was, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.
10.  Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.
11. IRONED?!!!  Well, that's a whole other subject, and was the job for Tuesday!

A clothesline was a news forecast. There were no secrets you could keep when clothes were hung to dry. Neighbors always knew by the fancy sheets and table cloths on the line if company had stopped by to spend a night or two. New baby clothes and diapers on the line announced a baby's birth. Clothes from the line smelled fresh. Sheets were stiff like they had been ironed, but so were socks which wasn't so great.

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Cherry Picking Days -- By Pat Quinn

Editor's note – The following story will no doubt bring back memories for many classmates. If you find that it does cause you to recall memories and stories of times working in an orchard --picking cherries, packing cherries, thinning apples, or other summer work in the fruit business -- please send me an e mail and note describing your memories. To kick this off, I have added one of my own at the end of Pat's write-up – Bob

Kathy (Morgan) Hickey, Mary Jo (Armstrong) Smart, and I picked cherries for Mr. Smart. (See ) We were only thirteen years old, but this seemed so much better than baby sitting. The Smart home (100 years old this year & still in family) up Squilchuk is where we stayed for a few weeks. Getting up early was the norm and we had a good breakfast. The big 20-foot ladders were hard to move at first but I got the hang of it ans was in the top of the trees in no time. Mr. Smart said I should pick lower on the tree as there were more cherries. They did not use bins back then, just wooden boxes. The boxes were loaded on the big truck and most of the time the thee of us would climb on top of boxes and ride all the way into Wenatchee to the packing shed (sure couldn't do that today!) and go into the packing shed with Mr. Smart. It was so much fun and we would wave to everyone.

This is funny to think back on, but I remember that in the evening, Kathy and Mary Jo were planning their weddings with all the colors and everything. I told them that I was not going getting married, but that I was going to have a little girl.

One day, Mr Smart told us that he had an easy job for us. We got to milk the cherries off for four cents a pound. I don't recall but think maybe the cherries were milked with no stems when they were split due to rain. Anyway, that was an easy way to make more money. Kathy, Mary Jo and I were planning to buy our own school clothes. We were so proud to do that -- Pat.

Addendum by Bob Ajax -- Reading Pat's story certainly brings back many memories of various jobs I had in the fruit business – thinning apples with Carlton and others on Norm Jack's dad's ranch up #2 Canyon and another time with Doug at Beebe, and working at Northern Fruit during cherry packing time when I was 14 and 15. Working at Northern was a great job – about 100 girls and very few guys. I remember some of the packers – Bonnie Crawford, Joanne Bretz, Sue Beauliau. I was very shy and got red in the face easily so I took a lot of kidding. The first year at Northern I ate so many cherries that I developed a distaste for cherries. The next year and for the rest of my life I have probably eaten less than 10 cherries. But the memory that really sticks is of my first cherry picking job which was at Frank Barnett's folks ranch on cherry street probably when I was 12 or 13. The memory that stuck with me is of lying in bed after what seemed like a long day of cherry picking and having terrifying nightmares of limbs and limbs of cherries over my head to be picked. I may have unconsciously decided at that time that the fruit business was not for me. But in all, those were fun days!

Addendum by Marilyn (Dalvit) Ash -- I remember packing cherries, in fact a funny story about that.  When I was 12, I wanted to pack cherries so that I could buy my school clothes, but you had to have a social security number and in those days you weren't allowed one until you were 13.  So....being very resoureful, I lied about my age and got one.  I went to work at Cascadian and learned the art of packing.....neatly, but fast.  I became a great packer that season, but had to tell my mother about the social security number.  Of course, we went back to the SS ofice and I had to tell the people that I had lied about my age......too bad, I could have been collecting a year sooner!!!!!  Great memories.

Addendum by Betty Buckles --Reading Cherry Picking Days brought back a lot of memories. I didn’t pick cherries but I did pack them at Wells and Wade. I was thirteen and I remember going down to get my permit and social security number. I was so nervous. My grandfather Hizey knew someone at Wells and Wade and he really got me my first job. I actually was pretty good at it. They always played fast music so it helped you work faster. I remember getting up early, packing my lunch and walking down to the packing shed. Of course, I spent all my money on school clothes. I just HAD to have sweaters with the Jantzen label, and I shopped at the Webb and I think the other place was McBrides on Wenatchee Avenue. I packed cherries for two years then when school started, my friend, Lynn Gorman's, mother was the manager at Larson’s Bakery and she asked me if I wanted to work after school and Saturday and of course I said yes. I even got a loaf of bread everyday to take home. When cherry packing time came around again, I had a big decision to make. I could make more money packing cherries but it only lasted a short time or work at the bakery. I remember talking to my Dad about this and being the wise man that he was, he said it would be my decision but he told me to do the math and see which one was better at the end of the year. I never packed cherries again but I really did have fun those two years that I did.

Addendum by Carol Cammack -- The cherry picking and packing brought back so many memories to me.  I didn't start packing until I was 16 so I could drive to and from work.  I worked at Wenoka.  They only wanted experienced packers and I assured them I was experienced.  So, with no on the job training I began.  At lunch break I was still working on my first box.  Janice Chase's Dad was our supervisor and I think he took pity on me so I didn't get fired.  Once I figured it all out, by about day 3 I was a real wizz.  I credit all of my piano work with providing me the manual dexterity to pack cherries.  Usually, by 10:30 AM I would have 27 boxes packed so Stan Chase made a good decision to keep me on board. 

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Bicycling To Cashmere Through Number 2 Canyon – Carlton Olson


Editor's note – After reading Paul Burton's story of snake hunting in #2 canyon, I recalled a bicycle ride Carlton had taken across the summit of #2 canyon, and asked Carlton if he might write that one up. My recollection was that his brakes froze on the way down and he went over the handle bars. He denies that, but sent the following great recollection of one of the fun adventures that was part of growing up in Wenatchee. What a contrast this is to today's times when parents don't let kids out of their sight. As Carlton reports:

Oh, I remember that bike adventure well. Around the 5th or 6th grade years Joe Gaynor always helped me grease and repair my bicycle because I'm sure he felt sorry for me. One hot summer day when we were working on our bikes he said why don't we bike to Cashmere over the # 2 Canyon Road. Trying to be interested I ventured, "why would we want to do that and something to the tune of how will we get back to "America"?


Not quite Carlton's bike but close -- his had no chain guard

Well as planning progressed, a day was picked so his father could pick us up with his truck at the bottom of Mission Creek in late afternoon. The time arrived and with lunches packed and hopefully a few repair tools ( I'm not sure of that now) we peddled up Washington Street to # 2 canyon with the eagerness of a first game scrimmage. In those days the dirt road started right near Western Avenue so it wasn't long before our perspiration mingled with the dust so that our chests were bronzed like Roman Gods (our shirts were off by then). The upward "climb" (mostly walking) is a bit hazy to me now, but I'm guessing in about three hours we reached the top and some how kept on the Cashmere Road. As you may have figured out there weren't any road signs and there were a few other roads to choose.


After lunch we headed down hill which was exhilarating to say the least. I had only one repair stop when my chain came off, but have no recollection of a crash landing. As we approached upper Mission Creek we made a bath stop as we were still in the mountain area. Stripping down to our shorts we jumped in the creek and cooled off and lost our “bronzed  bodies”. But, hey, we wanted to be presentable at the winner's circle. Who knew, maybe the Cashmere Mayor would be there to welcome us.


Thankfully, at least Joe's dad was at the finish line and thus ended a memorable sunny day for Joe Gaynor and me.

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A Snake In The Grass -- By Paul Burton

It was the summer between 5th & 6th grade. I was 11 years old. My brother was 9. Our friend from down the street was 10. We spent our summers swimming, fishing, playing marbles, riding our bikes, jumping our bikes off gravel piles in a vacant lot in our neighborhood, playing baseball and basketball, and some chores like mowing the yard, weeding the flowerbeds, etc. – all the things boys did in the summer in Wenatchee. This summer would be different.

I have no idea how we got the information. Perhaps another kid told us, or we overheard grownups talking, maybe our parents, I don’t know. The news was exciting. There was a new research scientist at the Tree Fruit Experiment Station (now called the Tree Fruit Experiment Center). He was looking for rattlesnakes and would pay $5.00 for each snake. $5.00 was a lot of money when I was 11.

My brother, our friend, and I had always been fascinated by potentially dangerous animals like Black Widow spiders, rattle snakes, etc. Our interest up to that point had been more of the detached spectator type, not directly involved. This was different. The next day we got on our bikes and rode to the Tree Fruit Experiment Station (TFES). We met the research scientist. He was a doctor. We could tell he was not a regular medical doctor. Looking back, he was probably a biologist. TFES was a campus of WSU. We didn’t know any of this at the time. The doctor was very nice to us. He told us a lot about rattle snakes, their daily schedules and habits, how to catch them, where to find them, what tools we would need, etc. He was collecting the venom for research, particularly the component that prevented blood from clotting. He sent samples to WSU and to some professor of medicine at UofW. We told him we were interested and would bring him some snakes.

We still weren’t sure how to proceed. We went to the public library and checked out five books about rattlesnakes. We followed the directions in the books. We found two 10 foot lengths of bamboo that a neighbor had discarded in the alley. On one pole we attached a hook at the end that we made from a coat hanger. On the other pole we attached leather loop on one end which was tied to a rope than extended all the way to the other end of the pole. We made guides for the rope out of coat hangers and taped them to the pole, much like line guides on a fishing rod. The hook was to lift snakes. The leather loop was used to slide over the snake’s head and tightened to grab them from behind their head, at their neck, so they could be maneuvered while the head was controlled. We collected three burlap bags (gunny sacks) from our garage. We were ready.

Although we didn’t know it at the time, we were seeking the Western Rattlesnake. They were abundant in the hills and fields around Wenatchee. We handled our search like a job. We gathered our bamboo rods, gunny sacks, took a lunch, and rode our bikes as far into the hills as we could go. We would go on foot from there. We knew we had to be home before dark. Our first day of snake hunting produced nothing. We were not discouraged. The doctor at TFES said that would happen. On the third day we found a rattle snake crawling across a dirt road in number 2 canyon. It was an easy capture. The snake must have been tired or hungry. It didn’t put up any fight. I picked it up with the hook on the bamboo pole and dropped it into one of the burlap bags which was held open by my brother and our friend. We promptly went to the TFES and the good doctor was as good as his word. He paid us $5.00. We celebrated by treating ourselves to popsicles and sodas.

We only had one close call, and that was the day we captured 11 snakes.  We were always careful, walked slowly, looked under bushes and rocks, etc.  We didn’t want to surprise any snakes and we sure didn’t want them surprising us.  Another rule we followed was that if we heard a rattle we would freeze until we could figure out where it was coming from, which wasn’t always as easy as it sounds. Western Rattlesnakes are shy, would rather hide or run than fight.  However, a surprised or scared snake would bite.  One time on a rocky foothill we found a gathering of snakes.  What would happen is if there were colonies of rodents often many snakes would move into the neighborhood to be close to the food supply.  We happened to walk into the neighborhood.  Lucky for us, it was morning and the snakes were on top of rocks getting the morning sun.  Often by afternoon the sun would be too hot so they would move under rocks and bushes to be in the shade, where they were often very hard to see even if we were looking right at them.  I know we probably missed several snakes by walking by and they did not rattle to give away their position and we just didn’t see them.  Also, we were dressed right.  We had calf-high leather boots, and a pair of heavy leather welder’s gloves.  That was about the only close call, or the only time I can remember being scared.  Several snakes were rattling and it was hard to know where they were all located.  After we captured 11 there were still more rattles but we had enough and got out of there.

Our snake hunting careers lasted about two or three more weeks. We had good days and bad days. We didn’t go hunting every day as there was still swimming, chores, etc., that took some of our time. We had one terrific day where we caught 11 snakes and made $55.00. My brother spent his share of the earnings at the corner grocery store. The appearance of sodas, snacks and treats caused my mother to launch an inquiry into what we had been doing. I proudly explained it to her, showed her the bamboo poles and gunny sacks, explained that we had checked out library books so we knew what we were doing, etc. My mom was shocked. She thought the bamboo poles were being used for fishing. My mother had the old fashioned belief that her primary parental duty was to make sure her children survived long enough to reach adulthood. My father shared that view. Having two of her boys engaged in capturing poisonous snakes did not fit that parental view. Our snake hunting days came abruptly to an end.

The entire experience was very educational. We learned a lot about the habits of the Western Rattlesnake, we watched snakes being “milked”, their venom extracted by sticking their fangs through a membrane, and we earned some spending money which was a big deal at that age. Looking back on it I think we approached it in a very responsible manner. We had no desire to be bit by a rattlesnake either. At the time we believed a bite would be automatically fatal. So, we were very careful. The rattlesnake hunting experience is but one of many interesting and educational growing up experiences I had as a kid in Wenatchee.

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A Near Tragedy -- Classmates Walk Across Lake Wenatchee in the Winter of '54Bob Ajax

Bob Ajax (now retired in a warmer climate)

This is a story about one of those events that we all just took in stride at the time, but that certainly remains permanently etched in the memory of the eight or ten classmates who were involved. This occurred back in the winter of 1954 when a group of us who were members of the Wenatchee Jr Hi-Y club decided to go up to the YMCA camp at Lake Wenatchee for a weekend. This was just something that boys our age did for fun I guess – if there was another purpose, I don't recall it. We checked and found it would be alright to use a couple of the cabins and the mess hall there for a night.

So, we made plans, packed food and sleeping bags and headed up to the lake on a Saturday morning. At the camp there was snow on the ground, the temperatures were around freezing, the lake was frozen over, and the cabins were not heated. One might reasonably ask why we thought it would be fun to stay overnight in such conditions. Good question – I have no idea. Anyway, we were there with a couple of fathers and a year-around caretaker who lived at the camp and who provided us with access to the facilities.

We had a good time Saturday doing the things guys did back then. At dinner time we divided ourselves into two groups for KP. One group was assigned to do the evening dishes and kitchen clean up chores and the other group was assigned to clean up after Sunday breakfast. I don't remember everyone who was there. But I know I was assigned to Sunday KP, and Gar Jeffers, Don Gerber, Tom Taylor and Gordon Pobst were among those assigned to Saturday KP.

By now you are saying, get to the point, Bob – what is the big deal about going to a winter camp? Ok, here is the part I remember very well. As I noted, I was in the group that had to stay after Sunday breakfast and clean up. The other group had nothing to do after breakfast so they asked the caretaker if it was safe to go out on the ice. He assured them that it was. Off they went, a group of four or five guys who headed across the lake. I believe they pulled a sled or a toboggan with them.

The others of us spent maybe a half hour to complete the KP work. Then we also decided to head out across the lake. By then the first group was out to about the middle of the lake. They were far enough across that we couldn't see them very well and were much to far away to hear. When we got out to about the middle we could see the first group was almost to the other side and they appeared to be playing around on the ice. Also about that time we came to a hole in the ice. It was a couple feet across and finding it surprised us. We wondered how they had made the hole, but figured that they must have had an axe or something with them and had chopped it out. We went on a ways further but soon began to notice that we could feel the ice moving slightly as we walked – when someone took a step, the person near them could feel the ice move with a slight rolling motion as though a wave were moving under it. I'm not sure that bothered us much but it was enough of an odd feeling to make us decide to head back to the camp which we did.

By then the first group was so far away that we couldn't see what they were doing and we were becoming concerned. Around that time, Gar's dad arrived to give us a ride home. We explained what the situation was and that we had been told that walking on the ice was safe. Mr Jeffers, who was familiar with the area around the lake, got in his car and headed off to drive around the South end and up the other side. It turned out that the road was not plowed on the West side of the lake. However, somehow the group of guys and Mr. Jeffers found each other.

Once they all got back to the camp we learned what had happened. It turned out that the hole we had come to was from one of the guys falling through the ice out in the middle. I don't recall why at that point they didn't head back – perhaps they felt they were closer to the west side of the lake. However, as they neared the west shore, the ice began to give way. They all ended up breaking through the ice and because the ice was becoming soft they couldn't climb back out. The ice would just crumble away when they tried to pull themselves out of the water. Remember, the water and air temperatures were freezing and by then they were all wet. But somehow they were able to get themselves to shore where they broke into a cabin and started a fire. In writing this story, I contacted Gar to help refresh my memory on some of the details. In Gar's words, “Tom and I kept breaking through the ice and were completely drenched. We, were able, with the help of the others, to get back up on the ice. Without the others we would have drowned. It was scary as hell and stupid to be out there but we had no idea of what we were getting into. We fell through the ice on multiple occasions. By the time we got to the other side we were freezing and suffering from a mild degree of hypothermia. We broke into a cabin and started a fire and heated up some soup. That saved the day. We left a note for the owners.”

Ice Breakup on Lake Wenatchee - 2008 photo by Arnie Clarke - In this photo the wind is pushing the ice down the lake.

What had occurred and what they didn't realize when they had continued on to the west side of the lake was that because the lake is in a valley the sun had been shining on the west side of the lake for much longer than on the east side. The sun had warmed the ice on that side and had softened it. Clearly the ice had not been safe for anyone to have been out on and these guys were extremely lucky to have survived.

It has been interesting to think back on this and to chat about it with Gar after all these years, and also with Carlton who was on the outing but tells me he either had enough sense to stay off the ice or perhaps was just afraid. Both of them remembered the experience very well. All this must have been a big deal at the time it occurred and I suppose it is something we talked about later, but I don't recall that. My recollection is that it was one of the many experiences one has during that time in one's life, although I clearly recall that Mr. Jeffers felt a lot stronger about it than that. Gar tells me that about ten or fifteen years ago, two outstanding Wenatchee High School seniors drowned in a similar accident at Lake Wenatchee. They were from prominent families so outstanding that it received a lot of publicity.

Addendum from Tom Taylorafter reading the above report, Tom commented as follows: “My recollections are that the purpose of the trip was to do a spring clean-up of the Y-Camp, or so we induced Larry Handy to believe.  Two of the fathers accompanying us were Mel Watkinson and Nels Taylor.  On the morning of our trek, Mel had to drive Carlton back to Wenatchee as he had forgotten his diabetic medicine.  (So much for Carlton having more sense than the rest of us... bob) Dad was nervous about letting us cross the Lake, but was assured by the caretaker that the ice was plenty thick.


I'm fuzzy about who was in the group, but I seem to remember Don Gerber, Gar Jeffers, Pat Drew, Kent Shoemaker, Doug Olesen and myself.  As I recall, there were eight of us that finally made it to the other side of the lake.  I do remember us crawling on hands and knees on the ice to spread out the weight.  Don Gerber had the tobaggon which he used to pull us back out of the ice when we had fallen through.  Don was the only one who didn't fall through the ice. 


When we reached the far shore, we broke a window in Potter's cabin, got in and built a fire to thaw out.  I do know that Dad was with the group that waded through the snow from the south end, saw the smoke from our fire and found us.  I had to listen to him tell that story a thousand times!.


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Jeep” Skating on the IceShirley Cannon

Editor's note – It turns out that playing around on the ice at Lake Wenatchee was not the only “on-the-ice” experience during our high school years. That story brought to mind some on-the-ice fun times that Shirley and others experienced. Shirley's story which follows, brings back more memories of the fun and adventurous side of the cold winters in Wenatchee that we could only enjoy as kids. We are happy to add this one to our collection of memory stories, and expect that her experience may bring to mind even more great classmate winter-in-Wenatchee stories that are just waiting to be told. If you have a good one, please send it along.

Shirley begins with a little advice to the YMCA camp guys who didn't know any better -- “The guys who tried to walk across a "frozen" Lake Wenatchee (see preceding story), should have talked to Mr. Babcock, math and physics teacher, before they started their trek, and they wouldn't have fallen through the ice. When Don Wile, Wes Craven and Dave Deal wanted to take Wes's jeep on Lily Lake to tow ice skaters, they met with the helpful science and math teacher. They came armed with precise information: ice thickness taken by cutting holes in the ice at several locations, the weight of the jeep, plus weight of passengers and distance of tow rope. And, like a "story problem" in math classes, he helped them figure out if the ice would hold them. They all got an "A" because no one ever fell through. The guys were always totally confident they wouldn't lose the jeep or people in these outings, but I always wondered why no one told their parents why the kids enjoyed crack the whip so much at Lily Lake. What the parents didn't know is that it wasn't simply a line of skaters whipping you around. Rather, it was a jeep speeding across the ice, making quick turns and flinging us to the far corners at break-neck speed.

For the more cautious, there was another game called Fox and Geese. This involved drawing a large circle on the ice with spokes and rim of a wheel for paths. One person is "it" -- the fox, who chases the other players – the geese. Everyone must stay on the lines - the "hub” is the free zone.

Don Wile, in reminiscing about Lily Lake, said he usually drove the jeep since he wasn't the best skater. "I can't believe how reckless I was," he said. (Gee Don, could that have been because it was Wes's jeep?? -- ed.) "The most frightening time was one of the later weekends in winter when the temperatures were rising. At one end of the lake there was a fallen tree angling out through the ice. I was driving with a string of skaters on the tow rope and as we neared the end of the lake, the sound of ice cracking scared all of us. I think we hung up our skates for the season after that episode." (or at least went back to the drawing board with new measurements.)

The best part of these unforgettable ice skating outings was the hot chocolate and cookies on the shore afterwards. Even though these winter adventures happened more than 50 years ago, it seems like only last Saturday that we were piling into Wes's "army" jeep and heading to the south end of town, by Malaga and Stemilt Hill to go "jeep skating" and to forget our homework, at least for a day. The rest of the gang probably remembers as clearly as I do. How about it.. Dorothy Shadbolt, Carol Soule, Bev Smith, Carol Travers, Leon Kent* and Mike Bartram**... Did I leave anybody out? Hope not.... - when the five guys weren't thrill seeking with jeep skating, they were sneaking over the fence at the D & D roller and ice skating rink on Wenatchee Ave. Don said they skated late at night when everything was closed and never got caught! (plus didn't have to worry about falling through.)

Addendum by Leon Kent.* When Leon read this in the website, he expanded on the Lily Lake memories with these comments: “I remember the Lily Lake "Icecapades" very well. Like Don Wile, I was not a good skater, so I was usually assigned to the bank to keep the fire going. I very willingly took that role as I just did not trust the "scientific" calculations of David Deal and Wes Craven.  Their tradition of competition started in Junior High school. They were constantly betting each other on every possible issue in the world.  And, the pay off was a Chocolate Milkshake to the winner.  David was always  challenging Wes to whatever the daily issue was and Wes loved the competition.  At the end of high school, they totaled up the number of milkshakes won, and I think David was ahead by about 2,000. 

Their ice thickness calculations suggested that you could land a large airplane on a lake with at least six inches of ice.  My more reasoned hesitation was based on the fact that I just did not trust "scientists" who were betting a chocolate milkshake on the outcome of driving a jeep across the frozen Lily Lake.  Well, they were right after all. But I still was not willing to place my safety in the hands of those two, and if I went through the ice, one of them won  and the other one lost, and  the winner would drinking a chocolate milkshake.”)

Addendum by Mike Bartram** Mike wins the award for adding the best trivia to the skating story. He remarked that: "My often selective memory tells me that two historic events took place on Jan. 1, 1959. Fidel Castro took Havana and a bunch of us went up to Lily Lake and skated behind Wes's jeep." Shirley wonders, who would remember that, but Mike, and maybe Fidel?.. (My thought is that folks attending the same party I did on New Years Eve would not likely to have remembered anything about Jan 1, Mike – bob.)

As a Post Script to Shirley's memory story, and in keeping with our desire to include photos with stories, we thought we might include the photo on the left. Several appropriate captions come to mind as indicated below the photo.


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The Great Wenatchee Beer Heist

This is a write-up of another story describing the sorts of things that boys do for fun in Wenatchee. This is a classic that should really be submitted as a candidate for a Darwin award in the special award category for those who actually survived. (The Darwin Awards, named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it. The details of this event have been passed along by word of mouth. Although the precise details are disputed, this is based on a true story, written to take as many versions into account as possible.

This one occurred on Wenatchee Avenue and involved two esteemed classmates, Lael Vickery and Leonard Ward. It seems that these guys were out cruising in Lael's jeep and were short of funds and thirsty for a few beers. And as luck would have it, they came across a fully loaded Budweiser delivery truck. The load included a few cases on a rack above the rear bumper. Being the enterprising fellows that they were, Leonard quickly jumped onto the hood of the jeep and laid down, spread eagle, pointing forward while Lael headed after the truck. Lael drove carefully up to the rear bumper at about 15 miles and hour and VOILA, a case of beer was in hand. (And here we thought those stories of good ol boy innovation applied only to Southerners. Way to go, guys!)

Follow-up – After posting this story we have learned that the above doesn't quite capture the complete adventure. It has now come to light that Lael and Leonard were out delivering Thanksgiving care packages to needy families when the Budweiser truck was spotted. This aspect of the story prompted one commenter to suggest that the boys must have felt that the care package recipients should, perhaps, be blessed with holiday spirit(s).

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