75 years ago

Local businessmen make up crew for initial runoff

The Blue Mt. Mills’ sawmill started operations Wednesday afternoon and, quite a crowd of local people were on hand to see the first log run off, with L. De Line, local hotel man and a veteran of the sawmill game, acting in the capacity of sawyer, a job which it is understood he will be employed at regularly in the new mill. The remainder of the opening shift crew consisted of local business men, who were sent letters from the mill owners requesting them “to appear for work at 4:00 p.m. May 3rd at the positions listed opposite their names,” as follows: Mill Supt., Dr. W. B. Prophet; sawyer, Louie De Line; tail sawyer, Jim Maple; setter, Ed Gunther; dogger, Orval Yokom; pond monkey, John Farley; handyman, Caesar McKrola; oiler, Buck Smith; fireman, Dow Wilson; log scaler, E. T. Wav; grader, Earl B. Moore; trimmerman, Dan Gleason; carrier driver, Carl Driskill; electrician, Clay Roberts; cut-off saw, Cliff Benson; green chain, Pete Winne, Guy Boyer and Glen Chandler. Most of this crew showed up and filled their positions, with a little assistance from the regular mill hands. Three or four logs were sawed, after which the crew and visitors were treated to refreshments.

A good many of the local business houses closed their doors at 4 o’clock for the opening and, the Chamber of Commerce, Grant County Club and several local business firms sent beautiful bouquets of flowers with messages of congratulations to the owners of the new mill.

The mill is opening with about 40 employees and for the present will operate one shift, with the possibility of a double shift some time in the near future.

50 years ago

21st Annual Junior Rodeo activities start Saturday

Ropin’ and ridin’ and doggin’ with a youthful accent will unfold with the 21st annual Eastern Oregon Junior Rodeo.

Rodeo events begin at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Grant County fairgrounds in John Day.

Kicking off the Western States Junior Rodeo Association approved show will be a street parade in John Day at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Reigning over the two-day event will be Queen Laurie Gray of John Day and her princesses, Anna Belle Winegar and Dixie Sherman, both of Prairie City.

Over 150 young cowboys and cowgirls from Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Idaho will be competing for the belt buckles and trophies.

New this year will be an All Around trophy for the top performer from Grant County. The George Gibbs Memorial trophy, donated by the Gibbs family, will be offered for the first time. The late George Gibbs was one of the early organizers of the Junior Rodeo.

Following the grant entry, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, calf riding, Texas barrel racing, steer dobbing, bareback bronc riding, calf roping, pole bending, cow riding, bulldogging, team roping and steer riding events will take place.

Jackpot steer roping will be held Saturday night and Sunday morning at the fairgrounds.

A dance is being planned Saturday evening at the ’62 Hall in Canyon City.

Serving as the chairman of the Junior Rodeo is A. C. (Ace) Bond of John Day. Mrs. Pat Still of Canyon City is the secretary for the Junior Rodeo.

10 years ago

History lesson: Revisiting Hiroshima

History students learn about WWII through daughter of survivor

A 17-year-old Japanese girl daydreams, arms folded on a windowsill, as she gazes across the bay at the city Hiroshima.

It was the morning of Aug. 6, 1945.

What Hisako Otani witnessed that morning she later passed down to her daughter, Jackie Sario of Mt. Vernon, who recently shared her mother’s World War II experience with history students at Grant Union High School.

All was quiet in Carol Kilpatrick’s History of the United States Honors class – nicknamed HUSH – on April 22, as the students listened to Sario’s account of events far away and more than 68 years ago.

Sario shaped the story by first describing what her mother was like in her early years.

“Mom was husky, strong – not just physically but personally,” Sario said.

As a teen her mom could beat adult men at a fisherman’s net game, which required a bit of muscle, she added. Two people hold opposite sides of a net and twist until one person is overcome and can’t twist any longer.

“Who wants to marry a woman like that?” Sario asked.

Her mom, from a family of nine, was taken out of school after eighth grade to tend to housework, mending and gardening at their home on Mitaka Island, now called Etajima.

Feeling used and undervalued, she ran away to the city Hiroshima when she was just 14 or 15, Sario said.

It was wartime. In the electronics company where Hisako found work, she became manager of a group of women who built detonators to attach to small kamikaze rafts. The work was part of a plan to use young children to fight invasion.

“Mom was trained in hand-to-hand combat,” Sario said. “It was a desperate country.”

Using city services Hisako’s father eventually tracked her down, forcing the teen to come home, an action “which ultimately saved her life,” Sario noted.

Sometime after returning home Hisako went to work at a military camp, six days a week.

“Monday morning she was sitting at the window, just daydreaming, looking across the bay,” Sario said.

That’s when Hisako saw a huge blue dome and a flashing metallic color in the sky.

She put on her shoes and started running down the road toward a bomb shelter.

“All the windows started exploding,” Sario noted.

The shelter was already locked up, so she stood with some officers and together they watched the mushroom cloud.

“The center was a deep red,” Sario explained. As she described the red center as bubbling, Sario held her hands up, drumming her fingertips in the air.

Hisako talked with the officers about what it could be.

Had an ammunition stockpile been bombed?

Did a natural gas storage tank explode?

They didn’t know they were witnessing the first atomic bomb bursting in war.

In the first of many attempts, Sario’s mother and grandparents crossed the waters the next day to look for family members, only to find all the docks in flames.

“The only person who told me everything, was my mom,” Sario said. The stories she heard were chilling.

Hiroshima was “unrecognizable” Sario noted.

Fumiko, Hisako’s sister, was finally found seven days after the bombing.

She had been sitting on the floor across the dining table from her baby. They had finished breakfast.

She felt a “gut reaction to grab her baby,” Sario said, but as she reached across nothing was there.

The home collapsed.

Sario explained that her aunt was found naked, her clothes blown off from the blast.”

While the mother and father were pulled from the rubble, the baby couldn’t be reached – the building was on fire. Fumiko “ripped all her fingernails out” trying to get to her crying baby.

Students in the HUSH class asked questions.

“Were they aware of the bomb being dropped in Nagasaki?” asked Kieron Callahan. Sario replied that information didn’t get out as quickly and it was well after the Western forces arrived that her mom found out about the other bombing.

Sario’s grandfather told her in 1985 that if the atomic bomb hadn’t been dropped, the Emperor wouldn’t have surrendered and he may not have had any children left – they would have died fighting in war.

Her mother, she said, never spoke to her about the event with anger.

“It’s always been with love for her family,” she said.

Sometime after the bombing, Hisako worked as a waitress. When a co-worker came up $5 short at the end of the day Hisako spoke to the manager in her behalf, asking for some leniency.

A U.S. Marine named Hugh Brown was in the room and heard her story.

“He took $5 out of his pocket and gave it to (my mother),” Sario said.

“Who wouldn’t fall in love with him?” Sario asked.

“She saw the humanity in my dad, not his citizenship,” Sario later said. “She didn’t fall in love with an American – she fell in love with a wonderful man.”

The two married, and they moved to the United States when Sario was 9 years old. Hisako became a U.S. citizen in 1976; she died in 2007.

“They did a great job helping me be what I am,” Sario noted.

One student asked, “Are you glad you came to the United States?”

“Oh yes,” was Sario’s reply. She was considered a low-class citizen in Japan at the time, because of her mixed race. She’s now an advocate for mixed-race issues and people.

As Elyse Lemaire headed for her next class, she told Sario, “I hope you come back.”

She did.

Kilpatrick said she was pleased her students heard the story and the effects the bombing had on Hisako and her family. Her students were instructed to take notes and generate more questions for Sario.

Kilpatrick said, “My kids loved having Jackie in twice to class because they were able to ask wonderful follow-up questions to clarify what it means to grow up half-Japanese and half-white in Japan and the U.S.”

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