By: Lana (Owen) Abarr


My first acquaintance with Bates and Austin was in 1942.  I was six months old.  Dad and Mom, Frank and Pearl Owen, moved there from Big Flat in the Hereford Valley.  At that time my Dad went to work on the State Highway Crew, which is still there.  The highway foreman at that time was Frank Fry.  Later one we moved down the road to Bates where Dad was a Road Grader Operator for Oregon Lumber Company.  Some years later it became known as Edward Hines Lumber Company.  He worked there until he retired.


I attended my first year of school at the old Austin school.  I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Black.  I still remember how my knuckles felt after she laid her ruler on them!


I attended all my grade school years at Bates school.  My favorite teacher was, and always will be, Mr. Cardwell.  I do believe I learned more from the two years I spent in his classes, than any other.  I'm not the only person to have made that statement about him. 


I had many a good time in those early years of my life.  Playing softball in the cow pasture that was part of our school activities.  During the long hard winters, sleigh riding in that same pasture, coming home all wet, with faces black from standing around a bonfire made of old truck tires to keep us warm.  There was no high school at Bates, so we rode the bus each day to Prairie City to attend school.  Those bus rides were a whole other story!


I have so many good memories of Bates that it is hard just to stop with one or two.  One story that comes to mind is one that I only heard from others, but never witnessed.  My older and only brother Doug had a big Harley Motorcycle.  One day he took my Dad for a spin on that cycle downtown Bates to the dry kiln area.  After some joking and kidding around with some of the local workers, my Dad feeling pretty cocky by then, got the notion he could ride that Harley by himself.  He got astride that big cycle, revved the engines a few times and popped it into gear.  Up over a near-by stack of dried lumber he and Harley went.  Coming to rest on the other side, face all skinned up and bruised, but no broken bones.  Needless to say my Dad never rode a cycle from that day on!


One of my favorite hang outs was the old Hobb's Ranch just over the hill from Bates about a couple miles or so.  It had an old two-story house and a couple of huge barns.  No one had lived there for several years.  I and my cousins, Pauline and Leslie were playing upstairs in the house, when we heard a couple rifle shots, and bricks started falling down the roof from the chimney.  We tore out of that house, ran across the field towards home with a few more shots fired kicking up dirt behind us.  It put the fear of God in us and we never went to Hobb's Ranch to play anymore.


Several years later I returned many times just to sit and remember the good times.  The house and one of the barns has long since been gone.  One barn still stands.  What a view, with Dixie Butte looming up on one side of the meadow and the Greenhorns on the northside.  I love that place so much that my Aunt Elva painted me a large picture of the old place.


I left Bates a short time after getting out of high school.  I went to the big city of Portland.  Hated every minute of living there.  Got married and after a time returned to Bates.  Moved around some, but always stayed in Grant County.  I have three handsome and fine sons, who also share memories of Bates when they were little kids.


When my time on this good earth comes to an end, I wish for my ashes to blow around on the top of Vinegar Hill.  I'll be listening for the laughter of three little boys riding up that hill in an old blue jeep.