The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., June 19, 1924, page 7

(By Rev. Troy Shelley)

     I located here in Odell in May, 1882. Two things stand out prominently in my recollection of the early days in Odell. One, the ever lasting struggle with poverty and the stumps; the other the kindness of heart of the neighbors to one another, and the good social times we had when we visited or gathered together in our public meetings.
     Every acre of land and almost every rod of it had to be cleared. There was no powder to be bought, and no money to buy it with if there had been any. We knew nothing about handling of the levers of an auto, but the axe, the saw and the grubbing hoe were our daily companions from morning till night. And instead of getting in an auto and going down to the movies in the evening, we often fired our rolled up log heaps, and had a free exhibition of our own, with the flames roaring upward, and the stars shining over head and dreams in our hearts for the future.
     After we had struggled awhile to clear the land we had to change our work and struggle awhile to get bread for the family. And these two things were always alternating and running counter to each other. It would have been a cinch to have cleared the land if the family could have had food while we were doing it.
     I remember a remarkable answer to prayer for bread in those early days. I had brought with wheat down from the upper country to grind for flour, but when I took it down to the old Rogers' grist mill at Belmont, they said there was not enough water in the creek to grind, and they would have to wait for rain. I had no money to buy flour, but had counted on the wheat. Well, I went home that Saturday night, and like Elijah on top of Mount Carmel, I prayed for rain. And like Elijah I got the answer, for soon that night there was sound of abundance of rain. A few days later Clarence Knapp came to get my wagon to go to town, and said he would bring my flour home. Thus, the rain came, the week with ground, and the flour brought home without my turning over my hand.
     As to clothing we had to be most economical. The boys and girls in the summertime often went to school and Sunday school bare footed. The boys wore hickory or denim shirts and overalls, and the girls calico dresses and sunbonnets. I cannot help but think that the solution of many of our troubles in these later years would be found in a return to the simple and economical living of pioneer days.
     That are many compensations for hard trials in life, and as I look back upon it, the one thing that compensated for all of our hard trials was the spirit of brotherly kindness and helpfulness towards each other. If one got sick, the neighbors would do the chores and take turns sitting up at night. If one died, someone would make the coffin and others dig the grave, the body would be driven slowly and carefully to its last resting place, and the coffin lowered by the lines from a harness, while they stood reverently by as the minister said the last comforting words to the broken hearts. The beauty of all this was, that it was done by and for each other, freely, knowing that we were all dependent on each other.
     A few incidents may be drawn from memory. The old school house stood where the grade school stands now. A dead pine had been left standing there. In a severe wind it fell, the top striking the roof, knocking off a few singles, and the broken end punched a hole in the wall. School was in session and there was consternation for a few moments. Some of the children jumped up and threw their books out of the open window. Had the tree broken off near the ground, there would have been a tragedy, but, as it happened, no harm was done.
     I was minister as well as school teacher, but on answering a knock at the school house door one day, I was asked if I could marry a couple, then and there. I said yes, and invited them in. The children, for once, sat very still, and watched the ceremony with wondering eyes. It may have put new thoughts in their heads, for the young people of the Odell have been getting married ever since.
     One of the chief recreations in those days was going to Lost Lake in the hot months. For the most of the way there was only a trail, and one had to ride horseback, with pack horses for the grub and blankets. Memory recalls the yellowjackets' nests we encountered, where some of the horses would run away, some would buck, and some would stand and stamp. On one occasion one of the pack horses laid down and refused to go. One of the boys undertook to whip her and make her get up. Instead, she rolled over and went down the mountain like a saw log. She had a bell on, and every time she rolled over I heard, as I thought, her death knell. Instead, the horse was not hurt, but the pack was smashed and had to be carried up the steep mountain on the boys' shoulders. On such occasions this became a proverb: "But you must remember this is recreation." Then there were the wonderful fish we caught before sunrise and after sundown, which can never be duplicated. But best of all, or worst of all, where the wonderful appetites we had. One time we went in a dozen other us, with a carefully calculated supply to last a week. In three days we had eaten everything and had come home without a meal. Paul Aubert gave the consensus of the opinion when he said, "I'll tell you what's the matter with this country up here. The food digests to quick." But many of us in older years and days of ennui would give a great deal to have again the food "digest too quick."
     Before closing let me bear tribute to the memory of Wm. Odell, after whom the town was named, the father of M.D. Odell. I quote from the old Times Mountaineer a notice of his death which I wrote in 1891. "His last words were, "I want to go home." Yes he is gone and all his friends will miss him, but none more than the writer, for with his departure out of my life has gone one of the dearest friends God ever gave me."

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer