This page is dedicated to both my maternal and paternal ancestor's, who by the grace of God, along with some 300,000 other pioneers survived a journey beset with the perils of famine, Indian attacks, illness, and death. These extraordinary people, brave of heart and strong in spirit, arrived in the Great Northwest penniless and broken. Those who could walk carrying those who had fallen. Those who had breath, buried those who had none. They were the feeble ... they were the stricken and they were the lame. Yet in the face of all adversity, they reached deep into their hearts and found an inner strength. The strength to raise a cabin ... the strength to till the fields ... the strength to build a state. This undying pioneer spirit still prevails, and is and always will be, the heart and soul of the beautiful state of Oregon,
... to you, the Pioneer.

John F. Kennedy was running for President. The logging trucks were still whistling down Kneeland Mountain, on the old highway that ran in front of Grandma's house. I was ten years old and love was still as simple as a baked potato with scrambled eggs. It had only been a few months prior, that Daddy had packed us all up in the old rounded dash stationwagon and headed us off down the road, in pursuit of our big city dreams. I have many wonderful memories of our life in San Francisco. Each and every one of them wrapped in a bouquet of scent from the lasting perfume of the geraniums. To this very day the slightest scent ... and I'm carried away to Page Street and back to the Panhandle Park, where a little country girl could still weave a daisy chain and sprawl out in a field of cool clover.

However golden were those days, none would come to shine so greatly as those memories I would later store from my two week summer vacation, back home with my Grandma. She was such a wonderfully kind woman. Silly, to the point of being giddy ... loving, to the point of spoliation. Every single morning of my stay, Grandma would make me a baked potato and scrambled eggs. Why? Because that's what I wanted. Hours and hours were spent that summer, with me snuggled up in grandma's warm arm and her pouring over the old family photographs. Over and over again, I wanted to hear those stories. "These were my people," Grandma would say ... "and those were your, Great-Grandma's people." Oh God, how I wish I could remember those stories! The time past very quickly and soon it was time for me to return to the city. I remember it being a very sad day for me ...until Grandma appeared in the livingroom, with that big box of pictures in her arms. Such an uncertain sacrifice it must have been for her. Grandma never had very much, and every precious family heirloom was being handed over to this shy and scrawny little ten year old girl. How did this wonderful woman know, which of her granddaughters would guard the family heirlooms for the rest of her life? I guess that Grandma wasn't so giddy afterall. Well such would come to pass, that I would never see my grandmother again. She filled my arms with her love for the very last time ... hugged me and kissed me good-bye, and slipped away from us forever.

Many years have come to pass. The shy and scrawny girl of ten is now ten and nearly 40. Silly, sometimes to the point of being giddy, she still rummages through those old photographs... with her grandmother's fingers, still chasing down the memories and the stories. God Bless You Forever, Grandma

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Roxann Gess Smith
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Roxann Gess Smith - April 04, 1998
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