DANA MERRYDAY/PHOTO The author and his girlfriend decided to marry on April Fools’ Day – a wise decision by all accounts.

“April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are the other three-hundred and sixty-four. – Pudd’head Wilson’s Calendar.” 

– Mark Twain

 I hope your April Fools’ Day is mirthful and not too many pranks come your way. It is a special day for me, my wedding anniversary. Among other career choices I have pursued, one was that of a professional jester. I found that while people generally enjoy foolishness designed to entertain, they rarely are willing to pay for it. Nevertheless, I have been paid for appearances in cap and bells so I can make the claim of being a professional. When I proposed to my girlfriend, I didn’t have a wedding date in mind. Things drifted along in limbo for a while until it hit me that April Fools’ Day would be perfect for our wedding. For one thing it would weed out people who didn’t really know me, thinking it was a joke. Another plus, I wouldn’t likely forget that date. My wife may have taken on a fool, but hasn’t had my head cut off yet. Happy anniversary, dear!

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If you are a regular reader, I hope you will have detected a pattern in this column. That is, there is no way to tell what I am likely to go on about next. But I want to caution you that some themes I glanced off of in my discussion of water and growth in Cottage Grove, in last week’s issue, will get closer attention in the near future through this medium.

I want now to look at some of the good things that are happening “In Da Grove.”

First, I want to acknowledge the cautious optimism as things ease open in town. Businesses shuttered for a while have dusted off the counters and are welcoming masked and distanced customers back inside. Some patrons prefer to exercise caution and utilize the outside seating, often in tents provided by the City, while others hungry for the pre-covid feel of sitting down with friends are taking advantage of the new possibilities. As more people get vaccinations and Oregon eases some of the restrictions, there is a growing confidence.  

Despite the fact I have turned around many times because I had left home without a mask, I will continue to wear one and hope you do, too. We have suffered too much to just throw caution to the winds. Having done many dirty, dusty, mildly toxic jobs for not much pay – demo work, construction labor, burlap crew – I learned early to wear a heavy dust mask. Before figuring that one out, I was shocked at all the nasty stuff I blew out of my nose at night. And the persistent coughing from working under a house digging out a crawl space, without a mask. I had breathed in big batches of old dirt under the house and fiberglass insulation, then hacked half the night. Since I’ve got myself mask-trained I am going to practice restraint and keep wearing it for a while. Be considerate of others.

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The Bohemia Mining Days crew are making plans to have some form of an event this summer. Officials are being optimistically cautious, and building lots of flexibility into their plans. The board realizes that its plans may have to change due to public health monitoring, but are willing to roll the dice on having a two-day event July 16-17, the traditional third weekend in July.  

BMD President Don Williams stated: “We remain hopeful we can provide a much-needed celebration for our community this summer. We have multiple meetings each week, among our planning committees and with community leaders, to be ready ... (to) produce an event for everyone to enjoy.” 

If the social restrictions will not allow an event close to the traditional format, or impose strict attendance requirements, the organizers will likely cancel. So keep your fingers crossed, BMD fans.

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Councilor Kenneth Michael Roberts was sworn in as Bohemia City Marshall last Wednesday by Cottage Grove Municipal Judge James Fisher during the BMD news conference at City Hall. Roberts said that he has large boots to fill following Marshall Bob Ehler, who passed away last year.

Cindy Weeldreyer, festival director, is excited to try to build a local historical rivalry into a modern one that would be as intense as that of the Ducks/Beavers, but localized to Cottage Grove and its outlying inhabitants. For the uninitiated, Cottage Grove was torn into two legal entities in 1894 by lots of issues between the people who lived on the opposite sides of the Coast Fork Willamette River. Although officially known as Cottage Grove, the old business district on the west bank was derogatorily called “Slabtown” because of all the slabs (first cut of the outside of a log – round on one side, flat on the other) that had been laid down to try to make the streets passable and keep people and wagons from having to deal with the sticky mud in the winter.

Finally, tempers boiled over from disagreements on water, roads, and most especially the post office, and the East-siders petitioned state officials in Salem to grant them a city charter, naming their new city “Lemati.” Correct pronunciation is ‘Le-ma-TIE’, and an inhabitant is known as a Lematian.  

In the past BMD’s participants have enjoyed competing against their cross-river nemeses in tug-of-wars and other games. Weeldreyer is envisioning a year-round contest, with each side (Lemati = all residents living to the east of the river and within the city limits, Slabtown = Grovers living west of the river and all those wanting to participate who live outside the town limits). That will even out the teams somewhat. It is hoped that each “town” will come together, elect their own mayor, sheriff, and a couple of councilors. BMD is in talks with the local brew pubs about hosting each town and being declared their hangout spot. There are already Facebook groups set up that Slabtowners and Lematians can join. It is hoped that the two town groups will come up with competing fundraising ideas to help put on the festival in this and in coming years. So start scheming how you can take over your side of town! To volunteer or for more information, please call BMD at 541-942-506.

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SLSD students from 4th grade to high school are eligible to enter the “If I were Mayor” contest. Cottage Grove students will have the chance to express how they would run this town if given the chance. Cash prizes will be awarded for the three contests: 4th-5th grade – Poster Contest, Middle School – Essay Contest, and a Digital Media contest for High School students. The City, along with the Oregon Mayors Association, is sponsoring this as a way for students to learn how their government works and to instill the desire to participate. Besides being able to formulate and promote their visions for Cottage Grove, there is the chance for winners to and compete at the state level and $500.  

Contest deadline is Friday, April 16 at 5 p.m. Aspirant young mayors do have to file their application along with their work. Those forms are available on the city website, along with helpful information explaining what mayors do and help in preparing their presentation. Here is the link: cottagegroveor.gov/citycouncil/page/if-i-were-mayor-contest-2021.

More information and applications also are at City Hall. Young Grovers, step up and represent!

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Those familiar old sounds reverberated in the afternoon last Saturday as the Cottage Grove Speedway fired up for a 2 o’clock “Test & Tune” practice run. Race fans are eagerly awaiting this weekend when the season kicks off with the first real races of the season. A limited-capacity crowd will be allowed to sit in the bleachers. Fans must purchase tickets in advance to be guaranteed a seat. Once they sell out, that’s it, folks. If there are any unsold tickets they will go on sale, first come, first served at the track ticket window. Saturday, the pit gates open at noon, front gates 3:30 p.m., Hot Laps at 5 p.m. and races to begin at 6. Thousands of Easter Eggs and the Easter Bunny are promised too. Wear a mask for entry and to visit concessions. Let the race season begin.

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Lastly, there will be an Open Aire Propagation Fair this Saturday outside of the Armory on Washington, between 6th & 7th Streets, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local seeds, root divisions, and other fruit and vegetable stock will be there to swap, but organizers emphasize that you can come empty-handed too and still walk away with a bounty.

This fair is the perfect place to learn and meet local food growers. They can advise as to the varieties that are best suited for our neck of the woods. Organized primarily by the Agrarian Sharing Network, a group of dedicated propagators who have beat the bushes to locate old favorite scions to graft into the root stock they bring along. You can find heirloom and tried-and-true varieties of apple, pear, plum, fig, peach, cherry and more. This has been an annual event that makes the circuit from Williams, Ashland, last weekend in Bethel, and other stops, but always coming to Cottage Grove. Organizers ask that you wear a mask and respect covid protocals. It’s a great time for all the green thumbs and wanabees to get together and talk plants. 

Well, as usual, there is more going on that any of us can do In Da Grove, so at least try to do something! And from a professional, don’t let anybody fool ya!

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