The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., January 2, 1948, page 1

Extensive Program Planned For January 4

     Services of dedication of the Memorial Sanctuary and the Lamar Cooper Memorial Organ will be at Parkdale Sunday, January 4, with many of the residents of the valley and town participating at the invitation of the United Church of the Upper Hood River Valley, officers of which are: James M. Brown, minister; James H. Willey, clerk of sessions; Wilbur C. Halliday, chairman of trustees, and Mrs. Harold Dykstra, treasurer.
     The program will open at 11 a.m., with the dedication of the Sanctuary. At 1 p.m., the VanNuys recreation room will be dedicated, and at 3:30 p.m., dedication of the Lamar Cooper memorial organ, presented by Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper, in memory of their son, will be featured.
     At 7:30 p.m. a former pastor's service will be held.
     Members of the Building committee for the Memorial Sanctuary are: Joseph D. Smullin, Jr., chairman; Mrs. Hilda McIsaac, secretary, Harris Higgins, Glenn Miller, Johnny B. Doggett, James H. Willey, Mrs. Chester Walton, Daniel Davies, and James M. Brown.
     On the Financial committee are: Sidney G. Babson, Chester C. Walton, Harris Higgins, William C. Smullin and Mrs. R.J. McIsaac, treasurer.
     David Delano was the contractor.
     At the service of dedication of the Memorial Sanctuary, the Rev. James M. Brown will preside. Mrs. Harris Higgins will be at the organ and Mrs. Edward Gadwood will be music director. Miss Dorothy Rather will be vocal soloist.
     Taking part in the services will be the Revs. Fred G. Shearer, Walter O. Benthin, Henry O. Grafious, and Sidney A. Walker.
     At the dinner and dedication of the VanNuys recreation room, the Rev. Walter O. Benthin will preside. The Rev. Robert Hutchinson will read the history of the United Church of the Upper Hood River Valley, composed by Sidney Gorham Babson. Mrs. Kate VanNuys will represent the VanNuys family and a tribute to Doctor Walter L. VanNuys will be given by the Rev. Fred G. Shearer.
     Presiding at the service of dedication of the Lamar Cooper Memorial organ will be the Rev. Dick Morgan. Soloist will be Miss Dorothy Rather, and organist will be Avis Paulson.
     Rev. Henry F. Grafious will preside at the dedication of the organ, which bears the following message: "Given in memory of John Lamar Cooper by his parents, John and Hilda Cooper.
     An organ recital will be a feature of this dedication.
     At the former pastor's service, the Rev. Robert Hutchinson will preside, with Avis Paulson at the organ and Mrs. Edward Gadwood, music director. Miss Dorothy Rather will sing a solo.

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., January 9, 1948, page 1

More Than 300 Upper Valley Folk Take Part

     Members of the United Church of the Upper Hood River Valley and their friends, to the number of 325 were in attendance last Sunday morning for the dedication of the Memorial Sanctuary, the development of which had been made possible by the combined effort of the friends of the church, working in cooperation with a building committee, comprising: Joseph D. Smullin, Jr., chairman; Mrs. Harold McIsaac, secretary; Harris Higgins, Glenn Miller, John B. Doggett, James H. Willey, Mrs. Chester Walton, Daniel Davies and Rev. James M. Brown. The financial committee included: Sidney G. Babson, Chester C. Walton, Harris Higgins, William C. Smullin and Mrs. R.J. McIsaac, treasurer.
     Taking part in the dedication in addition to the Rev. James M. Brown, were several former pastors of the church, the Revs. Fred G. Shearer, Walter O. Benthin, Henry L. Grafious and Sydney A. Walker. Organist was Mrs. Harris Higgins, music director, Mrs. Edward Gadwood, and soloist, Miss Dorothy Rather.
     At the dinner served at noon, about 300 participated, and an excellent meal was served in the Van Nuys Recreation room, named for a former well-known pastor of the Upper Valley.
     At this service, the Rev. W.O. Benthin presided, while the Rev. Orville D. Parnell rendered the prayer of thanks. The history of the United Church of the Upper Valley, composed by Sidney Gorham Babson, was read by the Rev. Robert H. Hutchinson, of Hood River.
     A tribute to the memory of Dr. Walter L. Van Nuys, was rendered by the Rev. Fred G. Shearer, Mrs. Kate Van Nuys represented the Van Nuys family.
     Next on the day's program was the service of dedication of the Lamar Cooper Memorial Organ, with the Rev. Dick Morgan presiding. Miss Dorothy Rather was the soloist, and Avis Paulson was at the organ. Others taking leading parts in this service were: Rev. Henry L. Grafious, and Rev. Fred Shearer. An organ recital was featured during this service.
     In the evening, a former pastor's service was attended also by a large number of members of the church and friends. Presiding was the Rev. Robert Hutchinson, who was assisted by the Rev. Henry L. Grafious, Dick Morgan and W.O. Benthin.
     Music director was Mrs. Edward Gadwood and Avis Paulson was at the organ.
     The day was eventful in the history of the United Church of the Upper Valley and all residents associated with this church over the many years.
     The history of the church appears elsewhere in this week's News.

The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., January 9, 1948, page 2
Includes photograph


     Featured in connection with the dedications last Sunday, at the United Church of the Upper Hood River Valley, was "Our History," a booklet written by Sidney Gorham Babson, a review of the history of the Upper Valley and its United Church. Because of its general interest to all who live in Hood River Valley, the text is being published in the Hood River News, as follows:

"Up through the Valley the highway winds
And the shining cars go fast;
You, you, who travel along that way,
What do you know of an earlier day,
What do you know of the Past?
Of the men and women who struggled and saved
What had never doubts of fears;
They opened the country, their troubles they shared;
They were brave, they were strong, and they did and they dared --
They were men -- the old pioneers

From "The Pioneers" - S.G.B.

     The history of the United Church of the Upper Valley is irrevocably bound up with the history of the Upper Valley itself.
     First came the real pioneers -- the forerunners -- men who dared to venture forth into an untrodden wilderness. Lured by the opportunity to acquire free lands, they took up homesteaders, erected log cabins, cleared an acre or more. Sometimes they left the stumps remaining.
     Life was not easy for these men and women, yet they were a hardy crew -- rugged individuals by nature. Somehow they got a toehold and stayed.
     In order to grow food for themselves and hay for their livestock, water was needed. Irrigation was born of a cooperative effort and …

"They dug their ditches to bring the streams
Down to the thirsty land …

     By 1883 there were all ready a number of families established at the Mt. Hood settlement, then the gateway to the broader, more beautiful lands south and west. Among these families were the Cooper's, Langilles, Dimmicks and Baldwins.
     As time went on more of these courageous and adventurous travelers kept entering the valley, passing by the Mt. Hood settlement, taking up homesteads on the lands of that lay beyond. By 1900 practically all the land was homesteaded, even the higher levels far south of what is now Valley Crest. Mt. Hood was still the center and had the only store and the post office for miles around.
     In 1908 except for the Reese homestead, what is now Parkdale was a wilderness of willow brush, dead snags and giant firs.

* * *

     There had been church services held at the school house erected on the Cooper homestead in 1884, and it was there that Frederick Balch, author of "The Bridge of the Gods," conducted revival services. But it was not until 1907 (just 40 years ago) that the Mt. Hood church was organized under Presbyterian auspices. They chose the Presbyterian church because in that little group there were more of that denomination than any other. The church was built that the year on land donated by Mrs. T.H. Larwood and George Wishart.

* * *

     By this time the extensive gently sloping lands to the south and west of the Mt. Hood settlement were changing hands. A great development was now in progress. Dee had become the port of entry. A new type of settler with coming in. More land was being cleared. Everywhere one heard the crash of falling trees and the detonation of blasting powder as stumps hurtled skyward. Dangerous brush fires tore through the thickets.
     And then when the job was done at last, how beautiful was the clearing! How lovely the land lay!
     This period marked the arrival of the "New Yorkers." A "New Yorker" was a tenderfoot, a person not accustomed to country ways -- anyone coming from town or city whether it was New York or Minot, North Dakota.
     They began coming in 1907 and continued for almost a decade.
     Why did these men from the city come to this wild and undeveloped valley? It is still something of a mystery. Was it the white mountain, the glorious rushing streams, the magnificent green hills enclosing the valley? Was it the lure of fancy profits from fruit growing that brought them? Was it not rather a dissatisfaction with life in the city as they found it and the wish for adventure that spurned them on?
     They came in droves, risking their money in a project few were fitted to cope with and carry through.
     Some came with ideals. One partnership called itself the Red Cross Orchard Company. It had pledged itself to give all the profits over 20 percent to the Red Cross. What does it matter now if no dividends were ever paid?
     As many as sixty-eight of these men from the city established themselves in the Upper Valley from 1907 to 1916. Only a few remain today.

* * *

     Hundreds of acres were now being cleared, apple trees were being planted by the tens of thousands. The railroad was extending itself southward and soon the little settlement of Parkdale came to life at the terminus of the line.
     In the course of time Parkdale became the center of a single community which extended from Booth Hill and Dee to the foothills of the mountain.

* * *

     It was Dr. W.L. Van Nuys who brought us the vision of a United Community church. In December, 1909, he became pastor of the Mt. Hood church and also held meetings at the local school house where the Parkdale grade school now stands as well as at the school house at Valley Crest. It was planned to build a church at Parkdale; and Rea Babson, at twenty-foor, headed the building committee of which R.J. McIsaac was a member. In 1911 the Little Brown Church was completed and dedicated.
     Under the consecrated leadership of Mr. Van Nuys, the Mt. Hood and Parkdale churches and the Valley Crest Sunday school were consolidated "with the purpose of forming one church to include as far as possible all denominations." Mr. Van Nuys felt so strongly the need for this that he offered the Episcopalians an Altar, the Baptists a Baptistry. And so the name "United Church of the Upper Valley" was born.
     The history of this church is the history of the men who ministered to us. After Dr. Van Nuys came William H. Boddy in 1916. He started the Men's Forum, which lasted for years in which was the center for discussion, as well as for the carrying out of ideals and projects beneficial to the community.
     Dr. Boddy was a poet at heart and a great inspiration to many. At his death he was pastor of one of the largest churches in Minneapolis. His greatest wish was granted, he was brought home to his beautiful valley to rest under the shadow of his beloved mountain.
     W.O. Benthin came to us in 1918. At this time our pastors were serving not only at Mt. Hood and Parkdale but also at Middle Valley and Dee. While first starting as a mission church, ours had become a church with missions of its own.
     Mr. Benthin was also very active in the Men's Forum and organized it for effective service. Realizing the need for wholesome entertainment in our somewhat isolated community, the Forum promoted and carried out successfully a moving picture enterprise at McIsaac's hall with Ralph Davies and Bill Sommers as managers and Charles Craven as operator. Florence Craven was the pianist.
     These community movies lasted for years, until the sound pictures drove them out. No one who attended them will forget their unique appeal and the entertainment that was provided by these silent films.
     In 1923 we got our first Irishman, Robert Hutchinson, who, like Dr. Boddy, eventually went to the Riverside church in Hood River. It was during his regime that the manse was built. Under him it is needless to say we never had a dull moment.
     We are glad that he has returned to the valley below to be our neighbor and friend.
     About this time in Mr. Van Nuys came back for a short period and carried out his dream of a summer service on the mountain. He stood on Pulpit Rock and his congregations sat on the sloping ground of a great natural amphitheater. Those who were there will always remember seeing him and hearing him recite Sidney Lanier's poem, "Into the Woods my Master Went." As a tribute to Dr. Van Nuys we are happy to dedicate today this new recreation and social hall.
     Fred Shearer came next, in 1927. A new addition to the Sunday school was given us by Mrs. Wm. Harbison in memory of her mother, Mrs. Virginia Euwer.
     Empires rise and fall. The Forum had its rise and a great period of usefulness, but like the Progressive association of the early days, its power had waned.
     The great depression had come upon us just as our special new high school auditorium had been completed. Fruit prices were far below costs. Wages were only twenty-five cents an hour. Something was necessary to bolster our spirits, some relaxing and healthy activity needed to raise the adult morale during the long winter months.
     The large new auditorium seemed to hold the answer and Mr. Shearer, with the help of Dave Cooper, organized the Specialists.
     For six years six teams of enthusiastics played indoor baseball in the vast auditorium. Each winter at least 70 men participated in the sport and there was always a crowd of fans in the bleachers. No one who was here during that period will ever forget those exciting evenings of fun. With the first year's profits and some donations, the Specialists built the fireplace in the basement room of the church.
     Needless to say the indoor baseball was a lifesaver for the community. "Fighting the depression with baseballs" was a victory for all!
     We were almost at the end of our tether. Mr. Fiscus arrived upon the scene in 1933. Under his leadership and enthusiasm, a kitchen was added to the basement room. This made it possible to hold the many social gatherings and dinners which we have had ever since and which have meant so much to the community.
     He was the inspiration for the new bell tower and the bell which had hung so long in silence in the old Mt. Hood church belfry. He also sponsored the Sunday school buses.
     Mr. Fiscus did a lot for us by the very hopefulness of his outlook during the unprofitable years of the early thirties. With no automobile at his service he covered the country roads on foot. It was a real inspiration to see his tall and erect figure, briskly walking the highways and byways, making friendly visits for miles around.
     Dick and Mary Morgan followed in 1935. Their work with the young people was phenomenal. Sunday school attendance reached its peak at Parkdale. As many as two hundred or more attended each Sunday. The Christian Endeavor was also very active and alive.
     The gentle and inspiring spirit of this happy couple made the Upper Valley a friendlier place.
     There were others who served at different periods, Mr. Amos and Mr. Burleigh among them. Mr. Bond from the Riverside church, and Mr. A.F. Butzin helped when we had no regular minister.
      In 1941 Mr. Grafious became our pastor. This Christian gentleman was with us for five years and then retired from active ministry. To Mr. Grafious was entrusted the task of conveying tragic war news to bereaved families and many an Upper Valley family's grief was lightened by his deep understanding and sympathy.
     It was at this time that plans for a new Sunday school building matured. Later it was decided to adapt the present church for this purpose and to build the new church which we are dedicating today.
     Then in the summer of '46 we got our second Irishman, who came to America seeking the Promised Land. Strange to relate is the fact that Jim Brown and Bob Hutchinson came from the same locality and their homes were about three miles apart.
     Jim brought with him a young wife of Dutch descent, Grace by name and grace by nature.

* * *

     We have now caught up with the Present. The future lies before us, unknown and challenging.
     The new church is at last complete and free of debt. Few realize that it was no easy job tearing apart an army chapel, bringing it all the way from Medford, a distance of 300 miles and setting it up here. The building committee, with Joe Smullin, Jr., as chairman, has truly sweated blood and tears. Mr. David Delano and his crew have done a wonderful piece of work.
     This memorial chapel, so beautiful and inspiring, should be a sign and a promise. It will provide not only a sanctuary but a workshop for greater effort and greater accomplishment.

* * *

     Those who came here in the early days can never forget the road which wound through the mighty forest which extended almost from Dee to Parkdale. It was in those days that we had to go by train from Dee to get to Hood River, spending the night there in order to return the next day.
     It was a hazardous journey entering this dark forest in winter when a "chinook" was roaring through the firs. Crawling homeward by wagon or sleigh, giant trees rocked dangerously in the fierce blast.
     But on fair days when one emerged at last upon the clearing, what a sight it was to view the White Mountain rising like a temple and gleaming in the sun.
     The forest is gone.
     The mountain and the Church remain.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer