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  • 1946 in Medford

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  • After four years of a worldwide war and 17 years of the Great Depression, the year 1946 seemed the end of a wild roller coaster ride.
    John, my brother, and his wife, Evelyn, had just moved to Medford. John had been stationed at Camp White early in the war and fell in love with the area, so his release from the service brought them here. I had been living in Seattle but soon followed and we found an old house converted into two apartments on South Holly Street.
    During the war no houses were built and the population had expanded, so housing was scarce. My brother, his wife and I had the downstairs while another couple took the upstairs. The mild, spring weather after Seattle's constant rain and cold winter gave me much happiness.
    The evenings, I spent walking. The old substantial homes on Oakdale had trees so old and large that the leaves met over the avenue. The library on Main was situated on an entire city block, surrounded by a park with a fountain. It was a favorite spot and was only four blocks from our apartment. All of the Medford streets, those 60 years ago, felt my footsteps.
    On May 16, 1946, three weeks after my arrival, I was walking in the evening on Main Street, where Joseph Winans Furniture store would one day be. A mid-30s Chevy drove up with three young men. We chatted and I agreed to go for a Coke with them. A sophisticated girl of 19 with Seattle experience, it never occurred to me to think twice about climbing into the car with them.
    We ended up at the Coffeepot on North Riverside where I was introduced to a drive-in, complete with carhops. I hadn't been to one before. The fellows, Johnny and Leonard, who were brothers, and Pete, had been home from the service about six months. They were the Medford High class of '43. Pete had seen me downtown wearing a hat and gloves, perfect for downtown Seattle, but way out of place in Medford. Medford was that small then, one person would stand out. We chatted some more and they drove me home. Pete had my phone number and I hoped he would call.
    During the war and still, in 1946, there was no new telephone installation, so we shared one in the lower dark hall with the couple upstairs. The suspense whether Pete would call was heightened as others tied up the line, but eventually he called.
    Nightclubs and lounges were crowded seven nights a week in the Rogue Valley. Servicemen had grown into men and had been introduced to drinking in far corners of the earth and returned home to continue. Valentines, at the corner of Riverside and Main, was the site of our first date, just Pete and me. More often, we were in a crowd of six or more people. Kyle's in Central Point had a larger dance floor and live music. Burgoins, near the site of Kim's Restaurant, had a huge dance floor and a small bar.
    Women and girls all wore dresses at almost all times, so it was a change to go on picnics and wear slacks. The hanging bridge over the Applegate was a dare to me by the gang, but I wasn't up to it and went only a short way on the undulating surface. We swam in the cold Applegate River, ate, drank beer and met others. It was wonderful and I thoroughly embraced being in the midst of all of Pete's friends and schoolmates. His friends had girlfriends time and again, but no one long enough that I can remember their names. The fellows called Pete and me "Ma & Pa" because we were always together.
    Pete and I married July 3, 1948. Reverend Ray Millard and his wife had a structure (I believe it was their home as well) where the Medford courthouse now stands. It was The Chapel of Rocks and Roses. The building was made of river rock and surrounded by a garden filled with beautiful rose bushes. A few years later, the Millards sold to someone who operated a funeral home until the space was eventually cleared to build the courthouse.
    And Pete and I? We're still together, enjoying life. Our son Mark, daughters SuAnne and Beth have given us seven beautiful grandchildren to enjoy. We live in Ashland, now, but will always have our special memories of Medford in 1946.
     
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