Letters to the Editor for Feb. 12, 2014
Remembering great BHS athletes
The recent passing of Donn Smithpeter brought to mind many recollections of our high school days. He was a longtime friend and schoolmate. Only a few weeks before he died I asked his sister, Deni, to inquire as to our age when Donn gave me his Baker Democrat Herald paper route. Donn said he could not recall, but it was when we were either 10 or 11, as he went to work at the family grocery store on Main Street during the last years of World War II. Delivering papers was much easier than competing with the likes of Jim Pifher or Bobb McKittrick hawking papers at businesses on Main Street.
Baker High was not noted for having highly competitive track teams in the late 1940s or early 1950s, but 1949 turned out to be an exception. There were five members of the boys track team that qualified to go to the Oregon state meet in Corvallis. As Carlyle Staab recalled, they traveled in a car with the track coach. Budgets were tight. Carlyle was the team sprinter and hurdler. Donn was the 440 runner. Don Thompson was the pole vaulter and high jumper. Gerald Church threw the javelin. Harold Parrot ran distance races. Of the five, Carlyle was on the baseball team as pitcher and shortstop, Gerry was also pitcher and fielder, Don was center on the basketball team. Not much time to practice track.
At the state meet Baker High was represented by coach Al Grove (also the football coach, manager John Heriza and the six participants. At the end of the state tournament Baker High was third in team points. Donn with his smooth stride was either third or fourth in the 440-yard dash. Gerald won the javelin. Don won both the high jump and the pole vault. Carlyle placed fifth in the 100-yard dash, third in the 220-yard dash, third in the low hurdles. Harold placed either third or fourth in the mile; and the 880-yard relay team was fifth. The fourth member of the relay team is still a mystery.
Gerry went on to be Oregon State’s (then College, now University) javeline thrower with a throw at the NCAA championships that put him in first place until the final day. Carlyle became a starting guard on the OSC freshman basketball team and shortstop on the baseball team before signing a baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers his sophomore year. Don was a member of the OSC track team during his years there and went on to be an aviator. Donn became a civil engineer from OSC and had a long career in the nuclear power business. John Heriza taught school for his career. Al Grove moved back to the Willamette Valley to coach. Harold is probably still running somewhere, ala Forrest Gump. The folow up on the mystery athlete is still unresolved.
Baker High School Class of 1952
Editor’s note: The author is the uncle of Herald publisher Kari Borgen’s husband, Kerry.
Sage grouse a pawn used to close public land
Those of you who use public lands in Eastern Oregon are faced with another dilemma. The Greater Sage Grouse could potentially close large tracts of BLM land. Once again it appears that those of us who live here are at the mercy of vocal, well-funded special interest groups that not only don’t even live and work in the area, but whose goals are the elimination of all public land grazing practices, and probably have other hidden agendas that will further their elitist plans. The sage grouse appears to be only a pawn in the much larger scheme of keeping the legitimate ranchers, miners, recreational users, hunters, fisherman and other public land users off public lands.
As usual, the BLM caters to the interest groups, ignores concerns of legitimate public land users, sets short comment periods and makes it difficult for those living in the area to comment or respond, but caters to the whims of the deep-pocket elitist groups.
I was also thinking of a future plan with no grazing or access on public lands, tall grass and brush, and a wildfire. That’s not happened before, has it! What then will be the plight of the “endangered sage grouse?” Pre-cooked?