30 April 2009

Notes from Woodland

Woodland Friends Church
Bob Adams (center), Tom
Hancock (pastor, Woodland
Friends, right)
McIntires' farm, Woodland
A Woodland morning
Awaiting breakfast

More breakfast
View of Kamiah from
Bob Adams' hilltop
I'm just checking in briefly from La Grande, Oregon, on the way home from Woodland, Idaho. I am still trying to absorb all the beauty of that little Woodland community, twelve nearly vertical miles uphill from the nearest incorporated town, Kamiah, Idaho.

It's not just the physical beauty, as extraordinary as that is. This was my second experience of the hospitality and friendliness of the Woodland community, including the descendants of the Quakers who originally arrived from Kansas and settled in the newly opened territory at the end of the 19th century. Woodland has changed a lot since then--the beauty, isolation, and fertile land has attracted an interesting combination of farmers, workers, retirees, inventors, scholars, along with survivalists and activists (example) of various stripes--not all of whom always see eye to eye, and many of whom don't share Friends emphases, but the Quaker center seems to be holding.

A few years ago, Pam McIntire compiled Woodland Remembered, a collection of personal recollections of Woodland history. The profile contributed by Mrs. Floyd Finney on Woodland's earliest Finney brothers, sums up with these words:
These times, from 1895 to 1910 or so, were often wild and wooly, but the settlers only wanted peace and stability; gun-play and other violence was discouraged. The Finney brothers were from a Quaker background, many of their ancestors were educated in Quaker schools, married in Quaker churches, and buried in Quaker cemeteries in Indiana, Kansas, and points south and east. Mostly, their descendants are quiet, decent people.
They're not just decent, these people are fascinating! For example, thanks to Tom Hancock, who with his wife Lola serves the Friends meeting, we were able to meet Bob Adams. At age 78, Bob is constructing a new home for himself half a mile uphill from his childhood home. Having given up cars, he bicycles to meeting and to town (Kamiah!) and he's busy digging a new garden. His careers ranged from a first education at telegraph school (leading to his first job, telegrapher for Union Pacific railroad) to a PhD study of Japanese folklore and 25 years as a scholar in Japan. (To my delight, he also speaks Russian!) Friend Floyd Schmoe played a crucial role in bringing him and his late wife Yasuko together. (Floyd was, among many other things, a leader in organizing American students to help rebuild Hiroshima, Japan.)

Bob Adams also spent some years at Indiana University in Bloomington, and I was delighted to find that he had known Bloomington Friend Bill Edgerton, late professor of Russian history.

Part of the reason we were in Woodland was to tell our friends there about our experiences in Elektrostal and our travels in Russia. The roomful of people assembled at Woodland Friends two evenings ago listened thoughtfully to our program and asked great questions.

Some people probably settle in Woodland to hide from the world, but others have found an anchor there, from which they can reach out to the whole world. I'm not about to change my urban identity, but if I were, I think I know where I'd like to settle....

June Hodson Schoeffler, one of the contributors to Woodland Remembered, included memories of homesteader George F. Beam. She appended these documents:
Woodland, Idaho, August 14, 1923

Mr. J.L. Johnson,
Woodland, Idaho
Dear Sir:-

Following is a resolution passed by the board of highway commissioners at their regular meeting August 11, 1923, a copy of which I am directed to transmit to you.

WHEREAS: J.L. Johnson, commissioner for sub district No. 2, or Woodland Highway District, having willfully absented himself for two consecutive times from the meetings of the board of highway commissioners, and WHEREAS: his advice and counsel being needed that the affairs of the district may be properly and effectively administered, and, WHEREAS: the public welfare being seriously jeopardized by his continued absence from the deliberations of the board, therefore be it RESOLVED: That the said J.L. Johnson, (familiarly known as "Johnny" Johnson), shall be, and is hereby fined one box of peaches; said peaches must be sound, without spot or blemish and of the proper ripeness and succulency. Said peaches must be delivered by the said J.L. Johnson, his heirs or assigns at the road house at Woodland in the county and State of Idaho at the next meeting of the board of highway commissioners September 8, 1923, for the especial use and enjoyment of the two remaining members of the board of highway commissioners, namely: O.J. Harvey and W.R. George together with their faithful and hard working secretary, Geo. F. Beam. And be it further RESOLVED: That if the said J.L. Johnson (familiarly known as "Johnny" Johnson), shall deliver or cause to be delivered, the said box of peaches at the aforementioned time and place he, the said J.L. Johnson, shall be acquitted of all blame; but failure of the said J.L. Johnson to comply with the spirit and intent of this order shall incur a further penalty of two (2) boxes of peaches.
In witness whereof we, the commissioners of Woodland Highway District, have hereunto set our hands and the great seal of Woodland Highway District this 14th day of August A.D. 1923 and of the independence of the United States of America the 149th.

[seal and signatures]

I have been instructed by the commissioners of Woodland highway district, O.J. Harvey and W.R. George, to express their profound regret that necessity and a deep sense of their obligation to their constituency compels them to take such severe measures against one for whom they entertain only the most sincere feeling of friendship, but the public welfare is of paramount importance and should outweigh personal and individual wishes.

Commissioners Harvey and George respectfully but firmly decline to accept anything of a pecuniary or intrinsic value in lieu of peaches as they feel that nothing but peaches can atone for your continued absence from the sessions of the board of highway commissioners.

Hoping that you realize the enormity of your offense and that the box of peaches will be a big one, I am

Regretfully yours
[signature] Geo. F. Beam, Secretary.

I've been away from the Internet most of this week, so I have just a short list of links to recommend:

Nicholas Eberstadt on "Russia's depopulation bomb." (Thanks to robertamsterdam.com for the reference.)

Mark Galli suggests that the "strict-church" thesis needs revising.

Mary Kay Rehard links to a conversation with Kenyan environmental leader (and Nobel winner) Wangari Maathai.

Another clip of Floyd Lee, subject of the film Full Moon Lightnin ...

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