Small town ways

I grew up in suburban Chicago, in a town chosen by my parents for its excellent schools and its proximity to my father's place of work. We enjoyed the big city nearby and benefited greatly from the offerings of the school system. However, both my parents were from rural Illinois, and it was with great pleasure that I would take frequent trips to visit my grandparents. Besides the delicious meals and loving hugs, I remember being thrilled that I could go into the local five and dime and be greeted by folks who were not only friendly, but knew who I was visiting because I looked like my mom: "Now are you Lillian Mae's daughter or Norma Jean's?"

After moving a few times to places where I felt out of my element, where I felt a bit like a cog in a wheel, I found Hood River. I had been living for a few years in an area that was overrun with development, and where the smog from the big city two hours away affected the air quality so badly on several occasions that my first grade class could not go outside for recess. I decided to move to a place that had strong land use planning laws that would keep the mountains and rivers healthy for its residents and where I could feel at home. I chose Oregon, and at the suggestion of a friend who had picked fruit in the area, and the assistance of almanacs and other reference books from the library, I packed up my belongings and moved to Hood River.

My first surprise upon moving to this town in 1979 was to find that people were friendly to me, a young stranger without a job. I met people who remembered me and my personal goals and plans from one week to the next. These people were the small business owners in town, the local school district officials, and the local members of the American Association of University Women where I met a number of women of different ages and backgrounds who all admired education and our human and natural resources. I discovered a small bookstore, an art gallery, and a family of orchardists who welcomed me into their midst for Thanksgiving dinner and pleasant conversation. I discovered others who loved the Spanish language, and I discovered hardworking natives of Mexico with whom I could enjoy that language. Best of all, I could tell one and all that I had moved here "on a song," after researching the town in a California library, and that no one could turn the hills and the valley into suburban sprawl because we were protected by geography and love of the land and by the laws of this land.

Now I worry about losing that protection the community has had, and the hard work so many have put in to preserve a friendly, small town atmosphere. No, actually, it's not just atmosphere; it IS a small town! I worry that the desires of the 10th largest public corporation, to which we are merely a fly speck, will win out over the rights and needs of our local community and our way of life. Don't get me wrong; I don't deny that people need the option for low cost products. Many of our fellow residents appreciate the chance to save money on items they need for everyday living. What we don't need, however, is to create traffic jams, wider roads, more air and noise pollution.

I can live with a normal Wal-Mart, and am proud that the strip malls of my childhood days are in The Dalles and Portland, and not in my beloved Hood River. Please do what you can to keep it this way.

Kathy McGregor

Hood River

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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