May 22nd, 2007

ani, glitter

In the Late 1960's She and Her Brother Enjoyed Parade Watching and Attending the Fun Center

I have some very fond memories of watching the Grand Floral Parade from Union Avenue, just down from Sears.

My mom was a telephone operator at Sears and usually had to work on Saturdays, which was parade day. She was a widow and money was tight, but my brother and I had some great times watching the parade.

Mom would take us down there early on Saturday morning, spend some time getting us settled in and visiting with the 'strangers' around us, and when it was time for her to go to work she'd leave us there to watch the parade. I was ten and my brother was eight. You could never do something like that is this day and age.

During her breaks, Mom would come down to make sure we were doing okay.

After the parade was over, we'd check in with Mom then walk over to Lloyd Center where the Fun Center used to be held in the parking lot. My mom would give us each $5 and we could make that last all day.

We had the best time!

~Patti Gilbert
ani, glitter

Her Octogenarian Friend Was One of the Founders of the Junior Parade

An octogenarian and dear friend, Norma McGee, shared this story with me...

Mrs. McGee grew up in northeast Portland in the 1920's, and her father owned a hardware store in the Hollywood district. One year she and 15 other neighborhood children decided they wanted to make their own little parade -- just like the 'big' Rose Festival [Grand Floral] Parade.

So they decorated wagons and bikes, dressed up their pets and themselves and set out along Sandy boulevard. Not a single parent was aware of their activity, but they were stopping traffic and the merchants liked their idea! It was the shopowners who encouraged this into an annual event.

Mrs. McGee lives in Beaverton now and was a founder of the Beaverton Chamber of Commerce.

~Pamela D. Dyer
ani, glitter

He is the Centennial Prime Minister of the Royal Rosarians

My wife Ann and I moved to Portland in 1979. I remember our first Grand Floral Parade -- we stood about six or eight deep amidst several families at the northeast end of the Burnside Bridge. The crowd was festive, the sun was bright and the children played Frisbee or drew with crayons and chalk.

Coming from a small Midwest town where the floats are tractor driven hay wagons and the marching bands are few and far between, I immediately recognized the significance of Portland's Rose Festival as the Grand Floral Parade proceeded around the corner onto Burnside. The creative beauty of the floats and the magnitude of the parade were astounding to this farm boy.

As the men in the white suits marched by, I asked out loud to anyone who was listening, "Who are they?" I'll never forget the reverence, the pride, and the respect with which this question was answered by several people around us. "They are the Royal Rosarians."

Woman with Sign

Over time, I learned that the Rosarians were readily associated with the Rose Festival and that their white uniform was a Portland icon not unlike the silhouette of Mt. Hood or the statue of Portlandia.

After that initial festival experience in 1979, we rarely missed a Grand Floral Parade. I always found myself in awe when the Rosarians marched down Broadway. Never in a million years did I think that a flatlander like me could become a Royal Rosarian. But by 1998, I was deemed a true webfoot and invited to join the organization!

Bob with duck

Wearing the white uniform of the Royal Rosarians has opened the door to many opportunities. Ann and I have traveled to foreign countries and many distant cities representing this City of Roses and promoting the festival. We have met hundreds of interesting people, developed distant friendships and created childhood memories for our young parade-watchers.

Bob and Ann

And now -- in this centennial year of the Portland Rose Festival -- we're honored to serve as the Prime Minister and First Lady of the Royal Rosarians. Who'd a thunk it possible?

~Bob Strader (Prime Minister, Royal Rosarians)
ani, glitter

She Made Purses for the Junior and Senior Rose Festival Courts in the early 1970's

In l971, I was thrilled when I was asked to design the official purses and dresses for the girls of that year's Junior Rose Festival Court.

I was the owner and operator of a boutique shop in Lake Oswego known as "ORIGINAL ROO Baggerie Boutique." I still have the article from the June 1, 1971 edition of The Oregonian that has a picture of me holding a purse I'd just completed with the name "Leza" embroidered upon it!

News Article on Shirley

In 1972, there were two articles in the Oregon Journal with pictures of my handbags being held by the Princesses of the Senior Rose Festival. In 1973, I was again the creator of the official handbags for the Senior Court girls.

Senior Court with Shirley's Purses

Then on June 13, l974, there was a photo on the front page of the Lake Oswego Review entitled, "Princesses Take Time For Lake Oswego Tour." It tells about the Rose Festival Court visiting my shop in Lake Oswego to personally thank me for their official Senior Court purses.

Every year at Rose Festival time I wonder what has happened in the lives of each of those darling girls -- and if any of them still have their official Rose Festival Court purses...

~Shirley (Clarke) Benz (Tigard, Oregon)
ani, glitter

He Was a Benson Driver in 1952

In 1952, I had the privilege of being a Rose Festival driver from Benson High School. I drove dignitaries in a four door Road Master Buick Sudan.

Dale with 1952 Court

Geanne Wallace in the picture (far right) became queen.

Dale in 1952

In 2002, I was co-chairman (with Gene Katke) of our 50th reunion of Rose Festival drivers. Four drivers out of nine showed up.

My brother Wayne Corah was also a driver in 1958.

Dale today

I turned out to be a plumber and worked in the field for 42 years. I've been married to Mary for 50 years. Life has been good to us! We have four children: one fireman, a nurse, a teacher and a post lady -- and for in-laws we have cops, a respiratory therapist, an REI supervisor and a chemist. We also have 11 grandchildren -- one is in the Navy (soon to be 21), and serving our country with pride.

~Dale Corah
ani, glitter

He and His Grandma Submitted the Theme for the Rose Festival of 2000

The Rose Festival is celebrating its 100th year in Portland and is the reason we have our nickname as the "City of Roses."

The Rose Festival has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. To this day I still get an excited feeling inside once May comes, because it won't be long until we select a Queen from one of the high schools in the area and the festival will begin.

Then the events start all over the city, the Junior Parades the rides, the Starlight parade and the best of all -- the Grand Floral Parade with all of the floats and bands from around the world. The Navy and Coast Guard will come to town and park big ships at the sea wall. There are car races at the track -- the CART race and the Rose Cup races, dragon boat races and there have even been milk carton races, too. There's so much going on that it would be difficult to attend all of the events. I've never heard of a city putting on this many events in this short amount of time for one festival.

I have very fond memories of the Rose Festival, but I'd like to share my fondest of all. My Grandmother, Gloria Clint, loved the Rose Festival time of year best of all. She always would get her roses ready in the yard, as this was the first sign that it was 'that time of year again.' Then Grandma and I would sit around trying to come up with the perfect theme for the Rose Festival. I'm not sure how many people know that the public come up with the theme each year, but for Grandma and me, we knew -- and we thought we could come up with the perfect one.

So each year we'd sit and throw our ideas out and then select our favorites. We'd always enter about ten. A couple of times a theme would be selected that we'd entered a few years before -- and then we'd think we might need to enter all of the themes that we'd ever come up with. But we both agreed that part of the fun was coming up with new ideas each year! Besides, who knows what the judges are looking for from year to year?

Then in 1999, after about twenty years or so of doing this together, it happened -- our theme won and would be used for the 2000 Rose Festival.

Grandma Gloria and Larry Pisha in 1999
Grandma Gloria and Larry in 1999

Our theme was "Let's Celebrate!" -- one of the most simple themes we'd ever entered! It was one of the best days I ever spent with my Grandma, she was so happy and excited -- and at this point in her life that meant a lot, as Grandma was now in a wheelchair with only one leg and wasn't in the best of health.

She made it to January of 2000 before she died, but never got to see our theme all over the city. She so wanted to see the floats in the Grand Floral Parade decked out in our theme.

It was very cool for me, but also very hard that year without her there to share it. I know she would have loved that Rose Festival the most of all.

Thank you to all who make this time of year so special, and Happy 100th Year Rose Festival!

~Larry Pisha
ani, glitter

She Was a Princess During World War II (1943)

Mrs. Georgia B. Howe, President of Jane Addams High, announced that we would be again be participating in the Rose Festival -- so choosing a Princess would be in order. I was one of five girls to compete. We each gave a short speech.

I didn't think I had a chance. After the students voted, the five of us were holding our breath. Then our student body president came on stage and announced our new Princess was Phyllis Turner. It was an unbelievably exciting moment for me. I was truly on cloud nine! Back in 1943 there were only nine Princesses selected.

Soon we had our first meeting, with several pictures taken. We met the Rose Festival President, Mr. James Roberts and the chairman, Mr. Ireland, who proceeded to give us information about the coming events.

We had fittings for our outfits which included one suit with hat, shoes, a purse and gloves and a formal evening gown -- both were in light green with a pink shawl.

Pictures were taken by the Gladys Gilbert Studio. The first ones were displayed in windows in the studio and also in department stores. Before the coronation our formal pictures were on display.

The Coronation took place at the amphitheater in Washington Park. Shirley Howard from Commerce High School was selected Queen Shirley II. She was a lovely Queen and we were all very happy for her.

Due to the war [World War II] the parade was cancelled, but this didn't bother us. We were very busy wanting to help with war projects. We visited with boys in the hospitals and welcomed the ones that were home on leave. We visited the Barnes Hospital in Vancouver, Washington. At the U.S.O. we even danced with the boys. Of course, our chaperon Mrs. Browning was with us all the time.

Phyllis, Queen Shirley and Court in 1943
Princess Phyllis with Queen Shirley and Court

We all had a nice time and it was so good to see the boys having a chance to relax.
Queen Shirley -- with all of us watching -- launched the U.S.S. Ephraim W. Baughman ship. It was the 199th ship that was built at the Portland Shipyards.

War Bonds were sold and Victory Gardens were being planted. Our school donated money for the war. We visited Lambert Gardens, where they grew beautiful roses, and Shirley had her footprint placed in cement there. We also attended the gorgeous Rose Show. ('For You A Rose in Portland Grows.')

Meeting in later years

We've been invited to many luncheons and continued to meet several times through the years.

Marilyn Clint and Phyllis Huwa in 2007
Phyllis visits the PRFA office

I would like to thank the 2007 Rose Festival Association (Merilyn Clint and crew), and the Royal Rosarians for inviting me to ride on a float in the 100th Rose Festival Parade. This will be a beautiful and extraordinary experience that I will never forget.

Phooty Wears the Crown
Phooty wearing the royal crown during her visit to PRFA

~Phyllis 'Phooty' (Turner) Huwa, 1943 Princess