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Barbara Hoppes shares her amazing story of growing up in Prineville and the value of family

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHERI RASMUSSEN
 - The Rasmussen family pauses for a photo after Barbara's oldest daughter, Kayla Daum, got married. From left, Trevor Rasmussen, Randy Rasmussen, Cheri Rasmussen, Barbara Hoppes and Kyli Rasmussen.

Barbara Hoppes scans the horizon, looking at the spectacular view of the Cascade Mountains from her quiet neighborhood.

Near her is the farmhouse where she and her husband, Dick, raised three daughters—who now have families of their own. To the south is a regal barn, where the sturdy building watched over family secrets and children's laughter. The Cascade Mountains are unobstructed due to missing hardwood trees recently blown over by a severe windstorm.

Hoppes sits in her family room and looks lovingly at the memoirs that surround her, and deliberately and methodically begins to share the history of the home where she and her family and friends have made many memories.

Middle daughter, Cheri Rasmussen, pauses her paint brush as she applies a fresh coat of paint to the kitchen and dining room.

"We were blessed to grow up here," noted Rasmussen. "Mom was always the rock of the family. She always kept everything together. She is still the rock."

Growing up in Prineville

Hoppes was born in Pine Ridge, Oregon, in 1932. Her father, Dick McRae, was a lumber grader, and in 1937, the company was transitioning to join a union, and he did not want to be part of the union. The family moved to Prineville where he immediately got a job at Alexander-Yawkey Lumber Company.

Soon after starting his new job, McRae and six of his co-workers built the first homes on Ochoco Heights.

"We had seven houses up there when I grew up, and that's all (the homes there were)," said Hoppes.

The home where Hoppes grew up in Prineville is still standing, as well as a playhouse that her dad built and the swimming pool he later added to their property.

"There were four or five kids that were up there with all the families, and boy if we didn't have a good time up there. We had the whole heights to run around and play," she indicated of the neighborhood she grew up in.

Most of the area was sagebrush, with very few junipers. In the winter, the kids in the neighborhood would sled down the hill that overlooks Prineville. There was also a pond below the hill where they could ice skate.

Growing up during the years of the Great Depression, Hoppes recalled that there was an outbreak of whooping cough circulating in Prineville and around the country.

"They hung a sign that nobody could come in," she recalled of the restrictions at the time for any household that had a case.

She recalled the day that they learned of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

"My dad was one of the first ones down the next day, but he had bad eyes, and he couldn't enlist."

McRae eventually became a certified public accountant and then was mayor of Prineville for five terms. He was one of the founders of Central Oregon Community College, serving on the board of directors for many years. He also helped build Prineville Country Club, where they dug the greens by hand.

The main road through Prineville was Second Street, and the original bridge matched up with the street that now serves as an alternate route upon exiting the current bridge below Viewpoint.

Hoppes has fond memories of growing up in Prineville in the 1930s and 1940s. She and many of her friends walked everywhere, including the trek to school each day. She hated the long socks that the girls wore to keep warm during the winter, and girls were required to wear dresses to school—even in the winter.

"Growing up was fun except for those darn long socks. They were awful," laughed Hoppes, demonstrating her keen sense of humor.

One of Hoppes' best friends used to invite her to go to the old bowling alley on Saturdays where her father worked and managed the bowling alley on Fourth Street.

"Sometimes, on a Saturday when they weren't working, he would let us go. I would set pins for her, and she would set pins for me, and we bowled and bowled just the two of us. We just had a ball," she said with a smile.

She added that at that time, they set the pins by hand.

Hoppes graduated in 1950, and hers was the last graduating class at the building that was Crooked River Elementary for more than 50 years and is now the location of Pioneer Complex. She attended college immediately after high school, and she chose a career in airline stewardship. After completing her training, she had to go through a series of interviews.

"When I got almost to the last interview, the gal that was doing the health department procedure said, 'You are too tall.' I was over 5-foot-8, I guess, but she said, 'You have come this far.' I was on my last interview, and so she didn't tell them that I was too tall."'

She flew with United Airlines and completed her school for six weeks, which had high expectations and strict rules. After graduating, she was assigned in New York City, New York, for approximately eight months. She laughed that she could eat a steak and baked potato in seven minutes. She also flew out of Seattle, Washington, for the remainder of the year.

"I could eat in a hurry," she added. "I loved that job."

She had been dating Dick Hoppes, and he talked about marriage. She wanted to be able to be a stewardess, and they temporarily separated. She received a letter from him in 1955, pressing her to get married. She left her career and came back to Prineville and married the love of her life.

Hoppes' second love was teaching. She contacted the principal of Crooked River, Ed Staley, and was hired to teach fifth grade in 1955. She taught there for two years, and she and Dick decided to start their family. They lost their first child, and later had three daughters: Adrienne, Cheri and Michele. She took off teaching for several years while her children were young. She resumed teaching when the youngest, Michele, was in fourth grade.

"She thought the world was coming to an end because I was going back to work," she said with a smile.

When Hoppes resumed her teaching career, she taught first and second grade at Crooked River for 22 years. She worked under Fred Hasse the remainder of her career. Her daughters helped her at school, including the bulletin boards.

"It still to me is Crooked River, and it will always be Crooked River (Grade School)," she said.

Hoppes still keeps in touch with her comrades from school, whom she taught with throughout her career.

"This is a super place to live and a super place for your kids to grow up."

The Hoppes farm was once the Oregon State experimental farm that was built in 1926. In 1929, a local teacher bought the place and had it until 1963, when Dick and Barbara bought it. Dick walked the Hoppes girls from Barnes Butte to the house for many years, since the school bus made the last stop at Barnes Butte.

Hoppes recalled how all her girls played basketball. She is proud that all her girls earned the opportunity to play in a championship during their high school sports career. They had a close camaraderie with the girls on their teams and the families in their circle.

"We all got along. We were just one big family from one girl to the next, and we familied with that group. It was fortunate that all three did as well as they did. I think they had pretty good high school experiences."

Rasmussen added that having her father be a judge helped keep her out of trouble and helped keep her "nose clean."

"It's kind of neat to have all three of us be able to win a state championship, which is unusual," reflected Rasmussen.

She also has fond memories of the family game nights, playing cards. They also spent many happy days in the yard playing croquet with friends from school.

"We were big game players, and so that was always fun," said Rasmussen. "We had our game nights, and as we got older, it was kind of when we could because of ball games. We had big game nights."

Hoppes lost her love in January 2014 from Lewy body dementia. The family still spends a lot of time together whenever possible. She finds solace in the farmhouse that she and Dick raised their family.

She flies with Rasmussen and her grandkids to visit the other girls who live out of state, and of course, she loves to fly.


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