WHERE THE WILD THINGS GROW
“Grandpa, can we go down by the river where the purple grapes grow?” Asked the little boy hopefully. “No, not today, Son. But on Sunday we will go that way when we walk to Sunday School.”
“OK Gramps”, said the small boy who was just about 4 years old.
The young boy’s real name was Alan Gaylord Wasson. Even as a small child he hated that name. When he was old enough to talk well, he announced to his Grandpa,
“I don’t like my name, and I want to change it” His Grandpa, being a very tolerant and understanding man , answered cheerfully
“Fine then what would you like to be called? ”Without hesitation the little boy replied,“Jack, I want to be called Jack, like Jack Frost” .remembering how people were always saying, ‘Jack Frost came last night and turned everything white’.
“All right , from now on you will be called ‘Jack” And so it was.
Each Sunday Grandpa who had a farm on the Cline Road, and little Jack, who lived with him , would walk through the huge potato field behind their house, and down toward the Cowlitz River . Turning East they walked along the bank toward the morning sun until they came to the home of a kindly woman , Mrs. Anderson, whose home was near the Cora bridge . She was one of the Pioneer Hampton’s daughters. She taught the little ones Bible stories. Daniel in the Lions Den, Samson the strong man, and David the giant killer were Jack’s favorites. She would give each child a little colored card depicting the day’s lesson to take home. It was a real treat for a lonely child like Jack.
It was a beautiful golden autumn day now and the Grandpa , along with the happy little boy who carried a small colored memorial card in his pocket, started for home.
There were the wonderful wild grape vines growing helter skelter along the bank . The vines were climbing the trees and bushes in wild abandon, with the abundant dark purple grape clusters hanging down from everywhere. They were absolutely delicious. They picked all they could, ate a great lot of them, filling up their shirts, and then started for home.
Now you are asking how can grapes grow wild along the Cowlitz. Many years before, the pioneers probably planted them and they just kept growing. Over on Stretch Island is a town called Grapeview, where some French people settled around 1850, bringing their grape vines with them. I have seen those same grape vines today, growing wild everywhere. I would venture to guess those grape vines little Jack saw as a child are still there in the same place, watered by the Cowlitz River…….and he is now 81 years old!
When you prune your grape vines this year, why not take some starts from the prunings and plant them out in the woods along a trail just for fun. The birds love grapes and perhaps some hungry people who pass by would also enjoy them. That kindly woman who took the time and effort to teach these small children the Bible stories was planting a seed or a vine that took root. Little Jack grew up, but never stopped reading his Bible. The roots grew deep and he was sustained through the war times and other bad times.
May God Bless that kindly woman and the good seeds she planted.
And may the good seeds in our gardens and those planted in each of our lives both flourish and bring forth much fruit.
The area between Packwood and Glenoma has traditionally been known as “The Big Bottom Country” This was probably an English adaptation from the Indian. ‘Pockets of level land surrounded by mountians’ was the Appalachian settler’s discription of a Big Bottom land.
Local Indians, in their own language referred to this area as Big River Bottom. When James Longmire and William Packwood hiked in to the area by way of Skate Creek, they reported it to be “a big bottom valley”. The early settlers left out the word ‘river’ and added the word ‘country’ and so it eventually became known as THE BIG BOTTOM COUNTRY.