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  • Ednold

Redmond 9/2/22

When I’m king of the world there are going to be a lot of changes around here. One of the first things I’m going to do is make Labor Day the first day of the year. Labor Day is really when we kick off a new year-long cycle, and it deserves to be celebrated that way. I’m not sure when I’ll get my chance to be king, but until I do I’ll always feel a little bad for Labor Day weekend. If Memorial Day is like the opening ceremonies for summer, then Labor Day acts as the closing ceremonies for all the fun of the previous three months. On Memorial Day the possibilities are endless. By Labor Day the window for those opportunities is closing fast. All that stuff you were looking forward to during the opening ceremonies three months ago? Well, I hope it all worked out because Labor Day weekend was your last chance for some happiness before the endless string of days upon weeks upon months of grey, wet, dreariness that lie just around the corner. Put those white clothes away and grab your ice scraper, because the party’s over, kids. Get back to work, or school, or wherever. In reality, some of the best weather of the year comes in September and October, but symbolically the fat lady is already backstage taking off her viking helmet. I’m afraid poor Labor Day is stuck with the party-pooper image until after my coronation, and until then it will have to take comfort in the fact that it means something Memorial Day never will: Football season!

For the Ednolds, the beginning of this season coincided with a camping trip up in the mountains. Mrs. Ednold was in the kitchen preparing dinner when I first learned that we’d be in Central Oregon for Labor Day weekend, and from my desk in the other room I asked her what she’d like to do while we were there. “Monkey Face!!”, she replied immediately. Wow. I was not expecting that. We’ve been to Smith Rock State Park before and watched the climbers make their way up the side of that 350’ tower of rock, but Mrs. Ednold has never been a hard-core climber herself.

“You really want to go back to Smith Rock?”, I asked.

Once again came her emphatic reply, “Monkey Face!”

“It’s always looked a little dangerous to me”, I said, still surprised, “and neither of us are in the greatest shape, but I’m up for it if that’s what you’d like to do.”

“Monkey Face!” she exclaimed again. She seemed to have her heart set on doing some serious climbing.

“OK. I get it. I’ll round up the gear and get everything ready.”

Then she popped her head around the corner: “Monkey Face, are you just ignoring me? I’ve been trying to get your attention - I could use another set of hands in the kitchen.”

So our trip didn’t involve any rock climbing. Just some camping, a little hiking, and sitting around the campfire with friends. I like the mountains, and I really like sleeping somewhere that’s not my own bed, preferably somewhere with at least a moderate chance that I might catch frostbite before I wake up in the morning. And I always take a little extra time picking out a campsite to make sure there are a few pointy rocks underneath me that will stick me in the ribs no matter which way I toss and turn throughout the night. My other favorite part is waking up in the middle of the night to find the bathroom, and finding that the flashlight I’d carefully placed at the foot of the entrance has disappeared, and wandering around in the pitch dark trying to find the path to the restroom, then walking into a tree limb and deciding that’s close enough to the restroom to relieve myself and realizing the next morning that that limb on a tree on the other side of the forest had actually been a guyline for the tent next door. Oops. Sorry! It’s those little things that really make a trip memorable. And the cool thing about the mountains is that you’re never really as far from a town as it feels, and if there’s a town, there’s a football game to watch.

On this occasion, Redmond High School was hosting Hood River Valley Eagles in the non-league season opener for both schools. Redmond are the Panthers, and they compete in the 5A Intermountain Conference, made up of the four Bend high schools and the two Redmond High Schools. The Panthers have never played in a state championship football game, let alone won one. But since winning a single game in 2017 they progressed to post a 5-1 record during the 2020-21 weinerpus season before going just 4-5 last fall, out of the playoff picture again. It was an up and down season for the Panthers, who beat The Dalles 76-12 and Parkrose 77-7 in successive weeks, only to lose to this Hood River Valley team the following week, 44-0. Very strange, and making it hard to be too optimistic about the outcome of this game.

Compared to other towns in Oregon, Redmond got off to a late start. It wasn’t settled until 1905, and it was named for the couple who settled it: Frank and Josephine Redmond. Just a few years later irrigation canals were completed in the area and a few years after that the Oregon Trunk Railway came through on its route along the Deschutes River from the Columbia River to Bend, reaching Redmond in 1911. During WWII Redmond was the home of a U.S. Army Air base, making it a logical place to establish a commercial airport after the war. With the canals, railroad and airport, Redmond was a thriving, but small, community.

In Redmond’s early days potato farming was a big part of the economy in Central Oregon, and for many years the Redmond Potato Show was a big deal. It was a chance for them to showcase the dozens of different types of potatoes grown in the area, and a chance for everyone to celebrate spuds once a year. Eventually the potato industry moved further east and the Potato Show is long gone, but agriculture is still a big part of the Redmond economy. The timber industry was also big in Redmond from the 30’s through the 80’s, and though a couple of mills remain, it’s not the economic force it once was. But the airport has grown and now links the area with several big cities throughout the west, and Eagle Crest resort just outside of town, and tourism in general, provides lots of jobs and tax revenues. Potato Show or no Potato Show, people just keep moving there, lured by lots of outdoor recreation opportunities and a relatively low cost of living.

Few places make me feel as old as Central Oregon does. I guess I’m old, but I’m not THAT old. But I can remember when Redmond was a little place of less than 5,000 people. Then it tripled in size during the last three decades of the 1900’s, and has almost tripled again since then. In 2000 the population was just over 13,000. Now it’s closing in on 40,000, and the whole area has been completely transformed in my lifetime. And, it bears repeating: I’m really not that old.

We rolled into town with enough time to check out the small but busy downtown area before heading to the high school. It's several blocks of welcoming small businesses that make for a nice stroll on a sunny Friday afternoon, and the most welcome of those was Wild Ride Brew Co. While most of the crowd opted for the ample outdoor seating, we snagged the last little table in the air-conditioned inside, where a pint of Mr. Mild's Best Bitter hit the spot. Then it was time to get back on Highway 126 where we found the high school on the corner of Rimrock Way.

As you may remember from a different story, Governor Tom McCall was a graduate of Redmond High School, but you already know all about him, so let’s play a little trivia. We’ll start off easy: What high school in Oregon has the distinction of having the worst Wikipedia page in the world? If you guessed Redmond, you are correct. I can’t tell you much about the school because their page contains almost no information, and at least some of what’s there is incorrect. According to that page the school opened in 1926. Keep that in mind as you read the answer to our next question. Hopefully everyone got that first one right, so let’s try something a little more challenging: Who is the greatest athlete produced by a Deschutes County high school? It would be hard to argue that anyone was better than the guy who was named the World’s Greatest Athlete, twice, but the answer may not be as obvious as you might think. Ashton Eaton’s Mountain View track teams never won a state championship, and he only won two individual championships, in the long jump and 400 meters. Let's compare that to Redmond’s Arthur Tuck who, as the only member of the Redmond High School track team, won a team championship all by himself in 1919. Let me repeat that: He was the only guy on the team. IT WAS A TEAM OF ONE! Of the twelve events contested at the state meet, he won seven of them and came in second in another. He set three state records in the process, and broke the previous state javelin record by 30 feet. The guy was a frickin’ beast.

Until that meet Tuck was a relative unknown west of the mountains, and his performance at that meet his senior year set off a recruiting contest between Oregon and Oregon State that was won by Oregon when they promised him a job at one of the car dealerships in town to help pay for his tuition. It was a blatant violation of the rules, but… I’ll let you finish that sentence yourself. Tuck was persuaded and spent the next two years competing for the Webfoots. The next year he injured his knee during the season but still managed to make the Olympic team and finished 11th in the javeline at the Olympics in Antwerp as a teen-ager.

Tuck competed in several events for Oregon and set conference records in the discus and javelin during his time there, but after two seasons he had had enough and went back home to Redmond, where he eventually joined the newly created Oregon State Police force and spent the rest of his working life as a State Trooper. Had he remained healthy, might he have won three or four Olympic decathlon gold medals? I can say with absolute certainty that, yes, he would have. But I can’t prove it, so if you guessed either Tuck or Eaton you get full credit. One interesting side-note to this story is that Arthur Tuck doesn’t have a school in Redmond named for him, but his father John does. John started teaching in Redmond in 1906, eventually becoming the grade school superintendent, and John Tuck Elementary opened in 1948 and is still going strong.

If you had to pick a distant third place athlete, one possibility might be a former tight end for the Redmond Panthers, Jed Weaver. Weaver walked on at the University of Oregon and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. He played 6 years professionally and got a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots in 2004 before retiring.

Though the school has been around a long time, renovations have been completed in the past 10 years that have given it a modern look and, though Redmond was the only high school in town until Ridgeview opened in 2012 on the extreme south end of town, it doesn't look any older than that itself. There's plenty of parking between the school and the field, and the late-arriving crowd on this night left us with our choice of spots.

$6 each got us into the game, where Mrs. Ednold picked out our seats in the mostly-empty aluminum bleachers on the west side of the field. The bleachers are large, with a big double-deck press box up above. The small section in the middle marked "reserved" has seat backs, which the rest of the benches lack, but they didn't seem to be checking credentials so I didn't make a fuss when Mrs. Ednold chose to sit there. There were more than enough to go around. Visitors' seating is on the east side with the natural grass field and rubber asphalt track in the middle. A bonus to sitting on the home side is that, although most of the jet traffic leaving Redmond airport is headed east, they take off heading west and make a sharp U-turn just east of the field. So, every 10 to 15 minutes a plane was making that turn in front of us as it climbed and headed to Denver, or Salt Lake, or wherever it was going. I'm not sure why I enjoy watching that, but I do.

The crowd was small and the warm wind was howling from the northwest as the game got underway, but as the sun got lower and the lights came on the crowd grew and the wind died down, and what began as a very warm evening turned into a comfortable night, at least for the home fans. The few who had made the trip from Hood River probably got less comfortable as the game went on and the Panthers started to assert themselves. The only thing really missing was a band. I can't imagine that Redmond doesn't have one, but they were no-shows for this game, and classic rock played over the loudspeakers is a sorry substitute. Mrs. Ednold did call my attention to the precision of the cheerleading squad and, though they didn't do anything I hadn't seen many times before, I have to agree that they did it with great attention to detail and took their cheering seriously, which isn't always the case.

Though the Panthers took the football field in white helmets with a big RDM on the side instead of something that would have made sense, they found their passing game early and the Eagle secondary was burned time and again for big plays. Then the Hood River Valley offense and special teams coughed up the ball a few times and it was 28-0 at halftime, with the Panthers showing no signs of letting up.

With the game seemingly well in hand it was time for a trip to the concession stand to see if the food was as good as the football team. The large concession window, staffed by extremely pleasant workers, was on par with the team, and the covered outdoor dining area next to it might be the best I've seen, but the food itself was nothing special. The nachos and popcorn were no better or worse than average.

Hood River Valley did get on the board in the third quarter, but the game was never in doubt, and the Panthers won in dominant fashion, 44-8. Once they had established that passing game they also got their running game going, and the Eagles just couldn't find a way to stop them consistently. The poor Panther mascot started the game doing push-ups after each Redmond score, but seemed to lose interest in that routine after halftime. He'd better get in better shape if the Panthers are going to keep playing like this.

With the Ednolds 1-0 this season, we headed back to the tent to arrange ourselves amidst the pointy rocks and dream of all the other games we'll be seeing in the weeks ahead. At least Mrs. Ednold told me she had that dream too, and really, what else is there to dream about?

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