Selected Radio Commentaries
by Peter Wotton
Many community organizations take part in the Eugene Celebration parade which takes place in September. In the undated photograph on the right, Peter Wotton is shown waving to the crowds from the rumble seat of a 1931 Model A Ford. Wotton represented the "Community Time Share: Seniors Helping Seniors" program.
# 74 -- October 26, 1983
What a glorious event the Eugene Celebration turned out to be! Blessed with a perfect day, the parade snaked its way through streets lined with cheering spectators, greeting us everywhere with smiles, cheer, and good feelings. I was asked by my friend Judith Barker Roberts if I would participate, so I dressed up as an inquiring reporter, smeared on a little rouge for kicks, and set out with a tape recorder to see what I could capture.
I arrived at the county fairground early, and had a chance to scout the parade participants. Resplendent in their period costumes were co-marshals Hallie Huntington and Horace Robinson. "I have been in every Celebration they've had here, and the last time I was chairman of the parade, which was a horrendous job." And when was that, Hallie?" "Nineteen-fifty." Hallie had on a beautiful black gown. "This is quite an unusual one because it's a wedding outfit -- the dress is -- of the early eighteen-sixties, and the cape which I'm wearing went to Lincoln's inaugural. It's a black velvet beaded cape."
Then I looked at a model "T" Ford stake-bed truck, bought new originally by Cal Young, Lane County pioneer, for $457. ("honk") I talked to the present owner, Nils Hult, who explained the function of the three pedals on the floor. "That's the gears. The left-hand one, you push it down for low, and let it out and it goes into high. You push the low pedal halfway in for neutral, the middle pedal then is reverse, and the right-hand pedal is the brake."
I next encountered a grinning leprechaun. "Me name is Michael McCarthy, and all of us, we're from the Eugene Public Library, celebratin' our resurrection from the dead, as it were. The bookmobile is back on the road; we're fully funded now, picking up the neighborhood stops, service to the nursing homes and retirement centers, the week of the 17th of October."
"Now I'm looking at a 1931 model "A" Ford, exactly the same kind -- it's a roadster -- exactly the same kind that I drove when I was fourteen and fifteen. It's a nice shade of blue -- mine was yellow with red wheels -- otherwise -- that's just a gorgeous roadster, and, can you tell me who owns the roadster, please?" "Yes, my name is Rich Deluna." "From what I recall of my model it would make fifty-five miles an hour and then it would start to vibrate a little bit. How about this one?" "Yeah, we usually true over about forty-five. We don't like to push'em too fast, 'cause, like you said, they do start to vibrate."
"Here's the Olive Plaza exhibit. It's a van full of a lot of people that I guess live at Olive Plaza. Maybe we can have a word with some of the people here from Olive Plaza. Could I have your name, please?" "My name's Mary Lynn." "And are you one of the people who like to tell how old you are -- Or are you not?" "Yeah, I'll tell." (pause) "Well, then, how old are you?" "Eighty-two." "Eighty-two. And could I have your name?" "Millie Forbes. I'm ninety-two." "I'm Julia Higgins. I'll be ninety-two next June." "Who's been here the longest in Eugene?" "Kate McCullough. I haven't been in Eugene that long, but I'm past ninety-six." "We're the 'gay nineties.- I'm Gertrude Blomberg. I walk for the Eugene Symphony every year."
"And here we have the KLCC marching band, and Don Hein." "Fine precision this morning. They're looking very good." "Okay, and let's see if we can pick up a little of that music. (music) This is the first band I ever saw that carries electronic instruments and just goes along with its radios playin' the music. "
From this point on, I concentrated on interviewing onlookers who looked as if they might be seniors. I talked to Ed Ryersburg, who came here in about 1933; I talked to Otis Gates, who'd been here three days visiting his daughter, who'd been here all of three weeks. I talked to Pauline Gore, and Belle Winningham, and Nancy Hayward, Margaret Erikson -- there were a lot of really great folks along the road that I got to talk to as we went along. And it was altogether a really beautiful celebration. I arrived back at the fairgrounds tired, but very satisfied with a beautiful day, and a lot of fun.
"Elderberry Wine" is copyrighted by KLCC-FM. Permission to rebroadcast or publish the commentaries must be obtained from KLCC-FM.