Cottage Grove

Through the Grove-Vine – A busy groove in the Grove

The Cottage Grove Flour Mill: one of the historical photos on the exterior of Cascade Home Center. Photo provided/Dana Merryday

It was one of those weekends that I kind of dread in Cottage Grove. Everything at once! You want to do it all but there is only so much time available. The nice weather didn’t help either.
Although I enjoy the cool grey days, there was such a burst of sun and warmth that many a folk, I suspect, were forced out of doors by the sheer magnificence of the past few days.
On Friday I rushed out of work to head out to Latham School’s community celebration. I was met by student volunteers who welcomed me with a passport and a name tag, which they asked me to write any years I was at Latham. I had been there multiple times as a substitute teacher, but was surprised when people asked me if I went there as a student.
It was touching to see so many former students and teachers there. I was watching alumni greeting former classmates and old teachers while noting their era from the dates on their tags. Mayor Jeff Gowing, himself a proud Latham graduate and Eagle basketball player, was one of the speakers. ”I never imagined when I was a student here that one day I would be standing on this stage as the Mayor of Cottage Grove,” Gowing said.
After the Latham School bell was rung one last time by Tom Davis, son of longtime teacher and principal ”Cal” Davis, the crowd hugged and said fond farewells not only to each other but also to Latham School.
When I got into town the last Friday, Art Walk was in full swing. I noticed quite a lot of energy and variety at this monthly event in particular. There was a dance recital happening in a blocked off street, spirited buskers, and art everywhere. The streets were crowded with both locals and out-of-town visitors. One woman asked if I lived here, and when I confessed it was so, she remarked that it was her first Art Walk and she was really enjoying it. She picked a great one start with.
I was told not to miss the ”Danceability” show at the Opal Center. I caught their last show of the evening and was mesmerized by the dance performance that paired certified instructors with alter-abled performers. Together they develop a choreography that is tailored to both dancers. The organization’s purpose states, ”DanceAbility International’s mission is to dissolve barriers and connect people with and without disabilities through dance and movement.” That describes what I saw perfectly!
Saturday, I strolled down to Cascade Home Center for the Community Celebration and BBQ. This event was both the official presentation of the historical photos that have been added to their building and as an appreciation for the two partners who assisted in the display.
Stan Simonsen, who has been with Cascade Home Center for 24 years, told me about the celebration. First was to thank the Cottage Grove Historical Society and the Cottage Grove museum. Both of these local history organizations made their photo archives available and searched through hundreds of photos for ones that would show a fair representation of Cottage Grove’s colorful past and would also scan well enough to enlarge into window-sized images.
”We wanted to offer this glance into the past to the people of Cottage Grove as well as beautify our building,” Simonsen said. He was seen happily checking on the gratis hot dogs and hamburgers being grilled up and handed out. The Annie Mae Rhodes Band provided the perfect vibe to give the celebration a sentimental edge of days gone by, even as they were being remembered today via the photo display. The crowd appreciated the efforts of both historical groups as well as Cascade Home Center giving back to the town. I know I appreciate having a first-rate local hardware and building supply source right downtown so I can buy local!
I also got to peek into the bank building on Main Street, which is going through a modernization of its interior while simultaneously having the exterior turned back to its 1905 appearance. I was talking with a born-and-bred Grover who was encouraged by the fact that someone, namely Len Blackstone, was willing to take on such a project and invest in our town. He was excited to see yet more evidence of the revitalization of the historic downtown.
Heading home Friday night I noticed the equipment and barricades being unloaded in preparation for Saturday’s opening of the fifth Oregon Grand Fondo bike event, where 500 riders will be setting out from downtown on various routes of varying difficulty levels. Looking eastward, I could see the lights of the traveling carnival over in Bohemia Park.
Yep just one of those weekends in Cottage Grove.
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Dana Merryday is a Chronicle columnist for Through the Grove-Vine and can be reached at 541-942-7037 and [email protected].



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