Jubilee Memories from Baker's Early Days
By Phylis Badgley
There’s a certain feeling of nostalgia, plus anticipation, that accompanies the Jubilee celebration! No doubt that comes from childhood parade participation, plus the fact that reunions are held and I’m privileged to see many former Bakerites return for the July weekend. During childhood years, I watched the annual Jubilee parade from a vantage point 3 blocks from our family home. We usually walked to the corner of 4th and Broadway, but a few times we parked the car at Miller Bros. Garage. This provided shade.
In mid-30’s Miners’ Jubilee was held during July 4th holiday. At the time the sun-tanned cowboys came to town, bought a new pair of Levis, shirt, straw hat, and took the day off from working in the hayfields, and wrangling cattle.
The Jubilee parade featured beautifully decorated floats, made of paper mache forms or chicken wire stuffed with tissue paper.
Elaborate entries from Baker’s financial institutions, utility companies, and fraternal organizations often garnered first prize. Prominent were mining entries embracing the theme of the celebration. I recall huge logs in the parade. These products of nearby forests were of such size that 3 logs made a full load. They were proudly displayed by the logging companies who made their living harvesting trees. I was fascinated by the sight of Indians in full head dress who participated in the parade. They advertised the Pendleton Roundup.
Not to be forgotten were Jubilee contests of rock drilling and log sawing. Court street was blocked off between Main and Resort to accommodate these events. Muscle power, endurance, and precision marked the winners of these contests. On-lookers cheered enthusiastically. Efforts of Chamber of Commerce and Leo Adler brought famous persons to Baker’s celebrations. Phil Harris, noted Hollywood entertainer came with his orchestra to play for the Jubilee dance at the Covered Wagon hall on old Highway 30. The structure later burned. Presently it’s the location of Ward Ranches potato cellar.
My anticipation mounted as July 5 drew near, for it meant my parents would buy my sister, Alma, and I a metal cap gun. A roll of caps threaded through it. All to soon the 5-cent box of caps had to be re-supplied. The metal gun was definitely more exciting than the wooden models we made by hand. Those used a clothespin trigger that released inner tube strips. I had sold several cardboard cartons to Rapp’s Bakery for 2-cents each, so spent a dime for a box of sparklers. Hand held sawdust “punks” helped ignite the sparklers. We learned early the pain of touching hot sparklers wires.
Firecrackers were packaged in decorated tissue, with interwoven fuses. The tiny “lady fingers” were about the size of pencil lead. When we lighted bigger firecrackers beneath a can, we had the approval of all the neighborhood “kids.” From a safe ward, as a sulphur odor emitted from the mini-explosion. Activity for kids? You bet! July 3 Children’s parade found participants decorating bicycle spokes with red, white, blue, crape paper and dressing unwilling pets in costume. “Dollar Bill Ellis” beloved local merchant marshaled the lineup at City Hall. His trademark, a 10 gallon hat was a familiar sight. The parade ended at City Park. Prospects of cash prizes sharpened children’s participation. In the three-legged race, one leg of each contestant was secured at the ankle and they raced to the finish line. In the sack race, contestants placed both feet in a gunny sack, held onto the corners, propelled themselves in jumps to the finish line. A few spills inevitable occurred. Pie eating contestants sat at wooded tables. Hands behind their back. At a given signal they ate as much pie as possible without the aid of fork or utensil. Blackberry stain quickly transferred onto the faces of the participants. Much laughter flowed from nearby observers.
Printed here with permission of Record Courier