Community, Creswell

Cal Taylor: Been here since ’32

LONGTIME RESIDENT CAL TAYLOR WILL BE 94 ON MARCH 1. Erin Tierney/The Creswell Chronicle

Some are fortunate to have lived a long, well-intentioned life; the rest of us can only hope for the same. In the meantime, we are fortunate enough to hear stories of a life well-spent – like Creswell’s Cal Taylor.
Cal was born in 1925, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Calvin Taylor, youngest of six. He’s lived in Creswell since ’32, moving here during the Great Depression when he was seven years old, after hard times fell on his family farm just north of Coburg.
He lives on Harvey Road now, his house acknowledged by a mailbox decorated with a wooden red fire engine, now mossy and splintered from rain. It signals one of the many endeavors Cal’s partaken in during his decades here.
Cal, who will be 94 on March 1, has been a witness and an active participant in the unfolding of time in Creswell – once-little farming community that’s only continued to grow since the ’30s.
From dried prune tray cleaner to lumber worker, to insurance man, sports announcer and fire chief, Cal’s made a mark on this little city – though he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.
When his family arrived here in ’32, Creswell maybe had a population of 300 people. He said space-wise, ”It was pretty open, everyone parked in the middle of the street. We had four grocery stores, a couple of restaurants, the Cozy Corner Tavern and Cafe, a dance hall and a big grange hall.”
It was a close-knit, community minded town.
”We had a lot of community play performances,” Cal said. ”The fire department and the Lions’ Club put on plays; a lot of community-type things that went on were well-attended.”
Creswell was a farming community, he said, and his family was no exception.
As a boy, Cal was responsible for milking the cows and getting them into their stables as well as plowing the fields with horses on their 200-acre Howe Lane family farm.
But just before his 10th birthday, February ’35, Cal’s mother died of pneumonia. ”We had six of us (kids) still at home,” Cal recalled. ”It was a very busy time in life.”
To pay for his mother’s funeral costs, the Taylors furnished a Cottage Grove mortuary with wood, enough to heat the building for years. His father never remarried. ”Dad was busy making a living and keeping things going” at home, he said.
Two years later, the Taylors welcomed new neighbors: the Harry and Bertha Holt family. The Holts are known for Holt Lumber Co. (in which Cal’s father was later employed by) and the creation of the internationally famous Holt Adoption Agency.
But before the Holts found success in Creswell, they too were affected by the Great Depression.
Originally from South Dakota, the Holts came to Creswell in ’37 in search of fertile soil and forested hills for farming, and purchased the property next to the Taylor family on Howe Lane.
”The Holts were good neighbors,”Cal said. ”We helped feed them their first year here. They had four children at that time and we had the farm with cows, milk and eggs, so we helped them along in that time.”
When Cal was in the second grade and was enrolled into Howe School, in an old one-room schoolhouse once located on the corner of Howe Lane and Mahr Road. But there was a problem.
”When we moved here I was in the second grade, except for the school didn’t have any second graders, so they put me in with the third graders,” he said. Annedocedtly, with only 11 years of schooling, he’s still a high school graduate, he says with a wink and a smile.
In ’39, the family relocated to the house that sits in front of Cal’s current home on Harvey Road, a house in which his father built.
The school experience in 2019 is vastly different than Cal experienced growing up. Despite technological advances and new educational approaches since Cal’s childhood, he said education, ”was maybe even a little better back then than it is now,” noting there was more of an emphasis on history courses and teachers had more control over students.
”I can remember a friend of mine, Sherwood Ellis, he was cutting up (clowning around) and the teacher knocked him out of his chair with a book upside his head. Well, you know what would happen today if that were to happen – lawsuit, big-time,” he said with a laugh.
Cal was active in sports in school, most notably in baseball. He was the pitcher for the Creswell Bulldogs for four years and was coached by Bill Harcum, former University of Oregon basketball player. He coached everything under the sun except track, Cal said. And he was good at it.
Their team won League twice, but lost a District League Championship due to an error on Cal’s older brother, of all people. ”I never let him forget that one,” he joked.
In addition to baseball, for fun, Cal played six-man football, threw axes in contests and square danced at the community center. He also threw quite a few punches as a young buck.
Cal said he never got in much trouble, ”but I liked to fight.”
After basketball games, ”we would go down in the City Square (to fight). You didn’t have to be mad at anyone or anything to challenge them,” he said. All that came to an end, however, when he was given an ultimatum by his coach.
”Coach got a hold of me and told me either I quit fighting or I quit sports,’ so I quit fighting,” he said.
He had a lot of odd jobs while going to school. He worked in the hayfields and cleaned dried prune trays in the old Whistle Stop building between Mill and Front streets. He also chopped and hauled a lot of wood; his family contracted with the school district to keep their buildings heated.
Cal graduated from Creswell High School in ’42 – the first graduating class in the high school that once stood where the middle school currently sits on Oregon Avenue. ”I’m the last surviving member of our class,” Cal surmised.
After graduation, Cal immediately went to work at Clyde Mathers Garage in Goshen. ”My first job there was running a cutting torch – cutting up old cars for the war effort,” he said.
That only lasted about a month, however; Cal joined the United States Navy in July of ’42 at age 17. ”My dad had to sign of course to do that (join the Navy). If my mother had been alive, I don’t see her signing to let me go at 17,” he said.
He said for him, joining the Navy so young, ”was a good thing. It gave me some structure in life.” During World War II, Cal spent three-and-a-half years in the Navy working on a replenishment oiler which supplied fuel to the north pacific battle group in the Aleutian Islands, before he got hurt.
In February ’45, Cal’s vessel got caught in a storm from which he suffered a chipped tailbone. He wound up in hospitals in Seattle and Idaho from February until May.
But while stationed in the Aleutian Islands, a pretty Creswell girl sent Cal a photo – Beverly Traxler. It was one of those classic, gently posed-photos he said, one of Beverly, ”leaning against a tree – that type of thing.”
The two casually dated in high school, though it was nothing serious – just a few dates to the movies. But one day while hunched over the photo she had sent him, it all became clear. ”In my mind I thought, ‘I’m going to marry that girl.’”
When Cal came home from his Naval injury at age 20, he asked Beverly for her hand.
Eight days later, on May 5, ’45, they were married.
And so started their 72-plus year journey together, until her passing on Feb. 25, 2018.
Beverly was a descendant of Oregon pioneer, Cyrus Shepard, who arrived in the Willamette Valley in 1834. Born on Aug. 30, ’24, she was the oldest daughter of Harold and Corolyn Traxler. She, too, graduated from CHS in ’42 and worked as a secretary for the family business, HN Traxler Real Estate.
The two got married so spontaneously, and he had just gotten out of the Navy, so he had no idea where to live or how to make a living. He ended up going to work for Beverly’s father, Harold, in the real estate business. ”I would tie up a piece of ground and start the foundations, and Harold would sell it.” He said they did this a few times, though Cal ”never got past the foundation on a house.”
Not long after, Harold invited Cal to join the firm in the insurance sector – a career he’d stick to for 44 years.
In the midst of all of this, Cal also spent 51 years a volunteer firefighter for Crewell Rural Fire Protection District, and was fire chief for the district from 1970-85. The District maintained crew of 40 to 45 volunteers, ”an extraordinary bunch of guys that knew what to do,” he said.
He was a member of the VFW, the Lions’ Club, and served a few terms on the Creswell School Board. For 15 years, his voice was well-known as a sports announcer for the schools.
Cal spent many years as announcer for basketball, and announced football along with Marvin Kerr and Bill Markley. Cal also umpired baseball for grade and high school, ”usually in conjunction with Norm Few; he was on the other end of it,” Cal said.
When Beverly’s parents passed away, he retained overship of the Traxler Real Estate family business. Cal and Bev operated the family business for eight years until their retirement.
Together, they raised four children, Calvin H. of Creswell; Jerry (Debi), of Bozeman, Mont.; JoAnne (Jerry Fletcher); of Redmond; and Bobby (Julie) of Eugene; and have seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
”I’ve lived a long life; never thought I’d live this long,” he said. ”Figure I’d go before my wife, but unfortunately she got ill and that didn’t happen. The days are long; it gets lonely being here by myself.”
At 94, he admittedly feels a little worn out, having bum knees that prevent him from getting around like he wants to. ”I always envisioned when I retired that I would go for walks, take my little dog, this type of thing, but it didn’t happen,” he said as he points to his bum knees and shrugs. ”Nothing I can do about that. But that’s okay, that’s the way life goes. Life keeps going on.”
These days, Cal lives his life a little quieter. His son visits him a few times a week and cooks him Sunday dinners, and they go out for pizza on Saturday nights.
And of course, Cal still goes to all the home sporting events at the high school. Some things never change.
But as the decades passed, Cal said he’s never thought about leaving Creswell.
”We (Beverly and Cal) went around to other states – Colorado, Montana; there are lots of pretty places across the country, but I never found any other place I liked any better than Creswell,” Cal said; spoken like a true Creswellian.
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Though some details could not be verified, the historical contents and in this interview were researched to the best of The Chronicle’s ability, with help from Creswell Historical Museum staff, with information noted in ”The Blue Valley: A history of Creswell” and through Chronicle archives.



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