Freedom March

June 29, 2005

General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia Boggs Dent, strolled arm in arm down the main street of Cascade Locks on Saturday.

Butch and Cheryle Mathias were joined in their period costumes at the annual Sternwheeler Days parade by a troupe of living historians.

The entourage included Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, the Earp brothers, Annie Oakley, Pocahontas, Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill and Jeremiah Johnson, among others.

The Freedom Bell Group not only marched in the downtown parade, they educated crowds at Port Marine Park all weekend.

For example, the Lincolns passed out handwritten copies of the Gettysburg Address that he delivered at a cemetery dedication on Nov. 19, 1863. Visitors of the show were also informed of a little know fact about Grant; that he had changed his name from Hiram Ulysses Grant to avoid the monogram HUG.

Allen Berg of The Dalles, who portrayed Johnson, proudly showed off the Freedom Bell that his parents found along the Oregon Trail in 1941.

Always a history buff, the younger Berg refurbished the one-ton bell that had been used for many years as a garden decoration in his parents’ yard.

He was helped in that endeavor by Lee Elmgren of Hood River.

The bell, which had been missing a clapper, was outfitted with a replica ringer made from a Civil War-area cannonball that Berg had run across in the field that is now Pamona Meadows. The bell was then mounted on an old horse-drawn wagon and ready for its public debut.

“I call it the Freedom Bell because that’s why our forefathers came here, to get that freedom,” said Berg.

He and partner Roberta Manley, who portrays Pocahontas, eventually hooked up with other history buffs to form the Freedom Bell Group. They now lead many parades, visit historic forts along the Oregon Trail and educate citizens all along the way about America’s colorful past.

Having the living history re-enactments at Port Marine Park helped make up for this year’s loss of the Mountain Men Rendezvous.

The Columbia Gorge Lion’s Club, which organized the festival, learned on Friday afternoon that the representatives of western lore would not be setting up camp on Thunder Island.

That news left a big hole in the program just one hour before the weekend opening. But that gap was aptly filled by the Freedom Bell demonstrations.

“I’m really glad that we had the Freedom Bell Group because we’ve always had the Mountain Men and they were missed by a lot of people,” said Martena Pennington, Lion’s treasurer.

She said the new attraction proved to be very popular and that act, combined with the good weather, brought a lot of people down to the park.

Once there, they could select from a variety of handcrafted items marketed by Gorge vendors and enjoy a wide sampling of foods.

“All in all I think it went quite well. We had a few worries but everything just worked out,” said Pennington.

Not only did local residents flock to the event, it drew many visitors — some of whom were just decided to stop in the rural community out of curiosity.

“We didn’t know this was going on when we came through town. I think it is really nice,” said Helen Wilks, who was traveling with her daughter and family to the Oregon Coast.

Another crowd pleaser at Sternwheeler Days was the entertainment provided by the Tri-Cities Steelband Association. Middle and high schoolers evoked a range of “island style” music from 55-gallon oil drums with a full chromatic scale of notes. The lively tunes filled the air and created a festival atmosphere.

The Lions have organized Sternwheeler Days since 1975, when it was first known as Portage Days.

The name was later changed to showcase the paddlewheel replica owned by the Port of Cascade Locks, which provided cruises and a salmon bake dinner during the weekend.

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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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