"Oldies but Goodies" by Joni Stewart

I caught up with Cecille and Charlie Lewis at Len's lunch counter this week. These perennial sweethearts are virtually inseparable. Over coffee we talked about relationships in general, and their 63 year union in particular.

"We were married here in John Day at Dr. George Carl's home. Cecille's folks lived here, and mine came from Walla Walla for the ceremony," says Charlie. They had met at a dance here in town. Cecille remembers seeing this new dark-haired fella across the room, and when he asked her to dance she said yes. They've been together ever since.

Cecille was born to the J.C. Lemmons family in 1908. She recalls driving the mules to Mt. Vernon school with her twin brother, Sedrick. She continued her schooling, and in the late 1920's she began her teaching career in Moon Creek, 5 miles below Mt. Vernon. Her next assignment was at the John Day school, where she taught all grades plus music.

Charlie came to this valley originally to visit a cousin in 1929. He moved here shortly thereafter and began working at the Post Office. He worked also on a surveying crew and at S & M Motors.

Most folks remember the Lewises as the owners and operators of John Day Floral which, together, they ran for 21 years. Their business encompassed a greenhouse which supplied them with many of the flowers and plants. Valentine's Day was special for them in many ways. "It takes two to make a bargain," Charlie is fond of saying.

Cecille is best known perhaps for her creations 'people-ing' the Grant County Historical Museum. During the years between 1940-1955 she crafted figures of the folks who pioneered Grant County, and others who led prominent lives here. Her research was aided by seniors of that era who donated antique and vintage clothing and materials to her. When service station owner Charlie Brown had collected so many intiques and relics of this area that they were over-flowing, Cecille and Charlie helped him move the treasures into the Canyon City building. Eliza and Herman Oliver subsidized the project, and the museum was born.

When asked what it takes to keep a marriage alive for six decades, Charlie responds, "You've got to believe in one another. If you don't have that, you don't have anything."

Happy Valentine's Day to one and all.

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

..... Return to Grant County, Oregon Home Page
..... Return to "A Place Called Oregon"