Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Just back from India I spoke to son, Steve.

Among the things he told me was that Emory had died. O. K. Emory was 94 but he had been a presence or as the expression goes the 600 pound elephant in the room for as long as I can remember.

According to an eastern Oregon newspaper obit, he had been born in Idaho. His family lived briefly in Colorado but eventually settled on a farm in an isolated area of the Imnaha River valley.

As a young man, in the 1930's he operated a rendering plant in Ellensburg at the foot of the Cascade Mountains in central Washington state.

BB&S as part of their business in animal skins at the time had accounts in the Lewiston, Idaho, area where they bought the animal fat by-product, tallow. This was about 70 years ago. Emory ranged his operations into Idaho and was a severe competitor.

As my father reported, Emory, to hold down expenses had a small shack built onto his truck for his wife and young family. He also kept a goat on the truck for fresh milk.

According to newspaper accounts I have read, Emory took to wife a young high school girl from an Idaho hamlet who had been sickly all of her life. To impress her on their honeymoon trip to Ellensburg he swerved to intentionally run over a skunk. Inadvertently giving a portent of her life to come. She bore him five children, was expected to have a hearty lunch on the table daily for Emory's working crew, and to have some money for herself cared for terminally ill patients in her home.

In regard to her "own money" it was alleged by relatives that although she had willed the money to her church, Emory convinced her on her death bed to alter the will in his favor.

In the 1940's Emory had some difficulties with the city of Ellensburg and moved his rendering operations to a ten acre site on the edge of Walla Walla. He also became aggressive in the scrap metal business, a direct collision with BB&S again.

Over the years he did several dismantling jobs at the Hanford Works. According to Ed "the horse" Lauritsen who worked both for Emory and for me at different times, he would bring a trailer to the site but after working from dawn to dusk would often throw a bedroll on the ground and pop up the next morninhg to work again. How he was able to do this in a very highly unionized, safety conscious area no one seems to know. It was reported that even when he sustained a severe hand injury or burns from his acetylene torch he refused to get medical attention and continued on the job.

Recently I visited him at his scrapyard. He turned off his torch long enough to chat for a couple of minutes and then adjusting his goggles bent over the piece of farm equipment he was preparing for recycle.

A determined business competitor to four generations of our family he was termed by Uncle Dave Ä working fool". Not an expression of derision.