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August 1989 was memorable--it was the time that Betty and I went to Mullan for a visit and to attend the Mullan Schools Centennial celebration. I had misgivings about attending, but as it turned out, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world". It brought back memories and I'll write about some of them for my "WAY BACK MEMORIES". I met many of my old friends and had interesting talks with them. It's funny how they remembered "way back events" a lot differently than I do. I was reminded of events when I found a big envelope filled with Centennial Memorabilia mixed in with a lot of unwanted material in my files. As I looked over the material in the envelope material, I recalled "old" friends I had seen and talked with and how the town had changed.
As I looked over the material in the envelope, Betty and I had planned our trip to Mullan so we would stay overnight in Elmer City, visiting with Linda, Ralph and the grandchildren and viewing the spectacular "Laser Lit Coulee Dam", then go to Butte, Montana, to visit cousins Sennie and Irene, hoping that we could talk Sennie to come to Mullan with us. Irene was in the hospital recovering from a cancerous tongue operation. (She didn't recover because of lung and heart complications.) We tried to talk Sennie to come to Mullan with us but she didn't want to leave Irene. We stopped briefly in Wallace and Mullan on our way to Butte to make sure our motel reservations were in order, and to lunch.
While we visited with Linda, Ralph, Eddie, Heidi and Samuel, Ralph suggested we see the night time laser show at Coulee Dam. It was spectacular and I hope to see it again. Linda gathered some literature of it for me to write my impressions of it sometime. I'll have many hours to spend before my thoughts and memories are recorded.
Irene was in intensive care in the hospital when we arrived in Butte. We talked to her, and she replied with a shake of the head or wrote on a piece of paper. Although the operation was successful, lung and heart complications set in later that she could not combat. Our trip back to Mullan was an easy one, but we discovered a car problem as we were going over Lookout Pass. Our transmission acted up. We had no troubles getting home, but the Oldsmobile people said they would replace the $1600 transmission--fortunately the cost were covered by the warranty. We registered for the Centennial at the Mullan High School gym which hadn't changed much from what it was during my school days although they had enlarged the building. We met and talked with many who never left town and with old timers visiting our old home town. Material of Mullan school life was displayed on the various tables in the gymnasium. The "give-aways" I picked up were in the big brown envelope.
We registered for the centennial events In Mullan, and met a lot of people, including Norman Heikkila and his sisters Martha, who was in a wheel chair and Celia. During some wild discussions, Leo Henikman spilled some coffee on me, accidentally I hope. After registering, we talked and visited with others, including Honey (Virginia) Wickman, the Gorshe girls and Virginia Giachino (Mrs. Paul Tiitso) and looked at memorabilia. Since there were no living places available in Mullan, we went to Wallace to a brand new, plush, Wallace Inn to dine, rest and sleep. We didn't go to a Mullan Dance which catered to the younger people. It was over-crowded, according to reports from friends. The registrations and the Friday night dance opened the activities for the Centennial Celebration but Saturday was the big day with parades, long distance races (or walks), tours of the Lucky Friday Mine and a street dance.
During the parade we talked with many old friends, and even met some new ones. Earl Avenue is no longer the street of aged buildings as I remember them--in fact the only ones still standing were Steven's Hotel and the old movie house, now turned museum, and Harwood's Drug store which was all boarded up. Central Corner was gone and the space turned into a city park. The Parade was a great one for Mullan--I didn't think they could muster up one like it with fire engines from neighboring towns, a band, little kiddie section and even horses. (With riders, of course.)
Betty's thrill of the day was the Lucky Friday mine tour and the elevator ride which brought us down to the 5100 foot level. The changes in mining techniques amazed me. The mines are much safer now and it's obvious that the elevator was safe for it brought us back to the top station. (I recalled the 1936 elevator accident in the Morning Mine.)
On the way to the mine, we had to be careful not to run over the centennial racers, some running and some just walking--no one had faces that I recognized--they were all too young! We spent about an hour with Reino during the day, and tried unsuccessfully to get him to come to lunch or dinner with us.
I used to puff to keep up with him when we went fishing in mountain lakes. Now he is crippled up with arthritis, and just shuffles when he walks. He apologized for not writing to us, and his knuckles showed us why. He said he couldn't even zip up his pants. The lady that owns the cabins, Virginia Nigh, takes care of him, makes him move around, and gets his groceries. Ray seemed pleased to see us; he was still wearing a stocking hat. He started wearing a hat everywhere, and even to bed I suppose when he started losing his hair. I promised to write to him even if he doesn't answer the letters. I have kept that promise, but it sure would be nice to hear how he's getting along. While we were there he tried to get his car and his truck started but I doubted if he could drive them--he said he'd find out.
While walking the street to Reino's, a voice called out with "Hey Ed, remember me? I'm the one that helped you in Chemistry." I remembered Dominic Garitone and the time he was was to write a chemistry report based on one I had written. He copied it word for word even to my signature. He had been playing football when the test was done. Incidentally, the first familiar face I saw in Mullan was Dominic's brother Gene.
The street dance, again, seemed to be geared to the young people, and as Reino said, the drums and noise (music) was loud. Most of the friends that I saw, stood on the sidelines, talking but not dancing. Betty had a chance to ask Norma Zimmer (she was there with her husband) if she still sang any more and she said she had stopped last March. Norma was the Champagne Lady in the Lawrence Welk show which we used to watch years ago and still do when it is aired on the PBS channel on Sunday evenings. Their music wasn't the kind that was played for the street dance.
Sunday was also a big day. Sunday was the final day of the centennial with church services in the morning and the picnic at the Shoshone Park (Pottsville) in the afternoon. We first went to the Lutheran Church in Mullan, a first for us, where we sat 3 or 4 rows back of Norma Zimmer and her husband. After the service, we talked with her. I told her that I used to fish behind her home in Larson when I was a child, but couldn't remember her at all. She said, "No wonder, I was only two and bald-headed. My folks worried that I would never grow hair." Betty and I thought she was a nice, pleasant person--she even let me take her picture at the picnic. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out very good. It was surprising to see Louis Gorshe there as an usher and Walter Krulitz as an elder. But I shouldn't have been surprised since I didn't go to church either when I lived in Mullan.
At the picnic were hundreds of people and I remembered all those that had lived in Mullan in those former years. Friends included Oliver Kaippi and his sister Helvi, Oliver Silfvast, his wife Martha and his sister Elsie, Bruno Aires and his wife Francis Haight, Edith (Houston) Mihelich, Einer Maki, Celia and Martha Heikkila, Oliver and Voitto Luukkonen, Harold (Sonny) Ives, Virginia Giachino and her husband, Paul Tiitso, Silvio Sigerini, and many others. Somewhere I have a list of those I talked with during the three days and when I write "Memories" I'll write the good things about them--only because I can't remember the bad.
The picnic was nice, with food catered--some thought the chicken could have been cooked a little longer, but we weren't very hungry and enjoyed the people more. Betty was able to talk with friends old and new too, so I don't think she was bored too much as I meandered around the park visiting with friends and former classmates.
Betty talked with Al Haugen and his wife while I searched for friends around the parks. Al graduated from high school with me and lives a few blocks from us here in Bremerton. Next door neighbors of mine when I lived at 316 Idaho Avenue introduced themselves to Betty and she called me to meet Oliver Silfvast, his wife Martha and his sister Elsie. The Silfvasts owned and operated a grocery and department store in Mullan. They were musical and I wrote about them in "This and That." Other friends included Oliver Kaippi and his sister Helvi, Bruno Aires and his wife Francis Haight, typing teacher Edith (Houston) Mihelich, Einer Maki (the only one of about 8 kids in the Maki family at the centennial)), Norman, Celia and Martha Heikkila who were family friends and neighbors for many years. (I've talked about Norman many times in my writings), Oliver and Voitto Luukkonen, Harold (Sonny) Ives, Virginia Giachino and her husband, Paul Tiitso, Silvio Sigerini, and many others. I mentioned Reino Hendrickson a moment ago. We spent about an hour with him one day, and tried unsuccessfully to get him come to lunch or dinner with us. I used to puff to keep up with him when we went fishing in mountain lakes. Now he is crippled up with arthritis, and just shuffles when he walks. He apologized for not writing to us, and his knuckles showed us why he couldn't write. Ray seemed pleased to see us; he was still wearing a stocking hat which he started wearing everywhere, (even to bed I suppose) when he started losing his hair. I promised to write to him even if he didn't answer the letters.
Dominic Garitone called me from the swimming pool steps and asked if I remembered him as the one who helped me in Chemistry. The real story was that the football coach who taught the class asked Dominic to read my report of a test the class conducted while the football team was away and then write his version. He copied my report word for word and even signed my name! Incidentally, the first familiar face I saw in Mullan was Dominic's brother Gene. A classmate, Linea Ford and her brother Francis were at the park and classmate Ruth Prescott was chasing down all her friends. Mary McRae started school with me but got married (to Ted Asvestas) before finishing. She was the smallest girl in my third or fourth grade and was my partner during dancing lessons. A wild greeting with Leo Henikman resulted in some spilled coffee on me, accidentally I think.
We talked and visited with others, including Honey (Virginia) Wickman, the Gorshe girls and Virginia Giachino (Mrs. Paul Tiitso) Friends Norman Heikkila and his sisters Martha, who was in a wheel chair and Celia were there also. The Heikkila girls came from the old country and were older than me. I was an English/Finnish interpreter for Celia in the second grade. There may have been other friends, too, and when I write "Memories" I'll mention them.
Most of the friends I saw during the street dance, stood on the sidelines, talking but not dancing, including Norma Zimmer and her husband where at the street dancing and at the Lutheran Church service. Betty had a chance to ask if she sang any more and she said she had stopped last March. Norma was the Champagne Lady in the Lawrence Welk show which we used to watch years ago and still do when it is aired on the PBS channel on Sunday evenings. Their music wasn't the kind that was played for the street dance. After the church service, we talked with her. I told her that I used to fish behind her home in Larson when I was a child, but couldn't remember her at all. She said, "No wonder, I was only two and bald-headed. My folks worried that I would never grow hair." Betty and I thought she was a nice, pleasant person--she even let me take her picture at the picnic. Louis Gorshe was an usher and Walter Krulitz an elder at the church which surprised me since none of us went to church when I lived in Mullan.
Earle Avenue (Main Street) had changed drastically. Buildings had been removed or rebuilt and those still standing were occupied with different people and activities. Earl Avenue is no longer the street of aged buildings as I remember them--in fact the only ones still standing in the main part of town were Steven's Hotel, the old movie house, now turned museum, boarded up Harwood's Drug store and Morrow Retail Store, now the Lutheran Church. Central Corner was gone and the space turned into a city park. I've heard that Irish Monroe's grandson (Pat's son) has purchased several buildings like the Harwoods Drug Store with plans to make the town a tourist mecca.
At about four o'clock we left the picnic grounds and headed for Coulee Dam for a few days visit with Ralph and Linda and the grandchildren. We returned to Bremerton on Wednesday (August 9) with Eddie. Linda and Ralph and the other grandchildren followed us the next day for a few days of visiting and shopping.
It was a wonderful trip for me, and as I mentioned before, I have a lot of memories to write about as I look at pictures snapped during the celebration and those saved from years past. Just think, it was about fifty years ago that I was a Mullanite. I left for college in 1936, and Bremerton in 1943. I did spend a some time in 1947 and 1948, with my folks after being laid off at the end of the war. I returned to Bremerton in 1948 after receiving a letter from Carl Newstrom, head of the section I worked in during the war, asking me to come back to the Test Section.