Friday, October 26, 2007

In old Walla Walla

Each night as my Dad would come into the house after work he would go throught the litany- What's new with Dorothy? How's Sadie? How's Violet. Did you speak to Leona or Clara?

This was a bit of a tweak on my mother's close relationship and her daily phone calls with the "girls".

Like teenagers, the girl's made the rounds by telephone planning social events, charitable activities, Mah Jong games, etc.

Other's came and went and some just didn't participate in the A phone circuit but were part of the sisterhood anyway.

The history of Jewish people in Walla Walla goes back as far as Walla Walla itself. Shortly after the valley was reopened for settlement following a ban after the Whitman masacre, the Schwabachers moved up from The Dalles and made the community the headquaters for their retail chain that extended through most of the towns in the area from Boise on the East to the village of Seattle on the West where there son in law Bailly Gatzaert also served as mayor. They eventually moved on selling their flagship store to their manager who renamed it Gardener's.

My earliest memories are of my mother and Aunt Dorothy under the watchful eyes of the ├Âlder hands" like Mrs. Chernis, Mrs. Youdavitch, the Gorfkles putting together the chartering of the B'Nai B'rith Lodge and Auxillary along with families from Pendleton and Baker, Oregon, the Tri Cities and I believe as far away as Yakima.

The occasion took place at the old Odd Fellows Hall on Fifth and Main which was torn down many years ago. The sponsoring group was the Spokane Lodge.

The charter presenter was Bessie Copeland, Aunt Dorothy's mother. Mrs. Copeland was an officer and eventually president of District #4 of the order. District#4 encompassed the states of Washington, Oregon, California and I believe some of the peripheral states as well the province of Brittish Columbia.

Whoops got off the track again. More to follow.

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