The Campanella family of Estacada discusses what growing up with many siblings was like

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Leona Campanella holds a photo of her family that was taken in 1964. She and her husband, Fred, had nine children.

Not many people can say they have enough siblings to form their own baseball team.

But members of the Campanella clan can.

The longtime Estacada family — led by parents turned grandparents turned great-grandparents Leona and Fred — has nine siblings: John, Hank, Marie, Caron, Frank, Becky, Ben and Laurie. Another brother, Christopher, died at birth.

Growing up in town, the children would play baseball, among other activities, and there was never a shortage of players.

"If we wanted to play baseball, we had our own team," Marie recalled.

Some years before that, Fred and Leona met at school in Estacada and were married in 1947. They remained there to raise their children, who experienced a balance of work and play.

"Mom would look for us, and if she couldn't find us she'd whistle," Marie said.

"She was the only mom that whistled," Caron added, so they always knew the sound was meant for them.

Fred owned Campanella's Market at River Mill and Eagle Creek roads, and the children often helped out at the store or assisted with chores at home.

"We had to tow the line. Mom was in charge (at the house)," Caron said.

Marie remembered that, "When Caron and I got old enough, we stood on a box and did the dishes." Because there were so many members of the family, and in turn, so many plates and bowls, "we wanted to get the dishes done and put away."

Clearing the table also began promptly after the meal was finished.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: CAMPANELLA FAMILY - Members of the Campanella family are pictured in 1964.

"It stays with me even today. Mom's not even done yet, and I'll say, 'Are you ready? Let's clear the table,'" Marie said. "Dinner started with Dad, and if you didn't get something on the first trip, it would be gone."

Leona described raising eight children as "busy, busy, busy."

"The washer and dryer was going every day," she said. "There was never a dull moment."

Initially, the family lived in a two bedroom house on Zobrist Street.

"Thank goodness for bunk beds," Marie said. "We had the boys in one set of bunk beds and another set of bunk beds for Caron and I in the living room. There was a crib in Mom and Dad's room, and we had more bunk beds in the laundry room."

The siblings maximized the opportunities the space gave them. For example, because there wasn't extra room for many toys in the home, they often played outside.

And there was never a shortage of space for those who wished to visit.

"We always had room for friends to stay the night. We always had people over," Marie said.

Friends would often join in the family's outdoor activities, as well.

"We'd go out and sleep outside, and the neighbor kids would be there, and there'd be extra sleeping bags," Marie remembered.

Eventually, the family moved into a five bedroom house on Boulevard Way. Caron and Marie described having the additional space as exciting.

Growing up, the brothers and sisters had many adventures around Estacada.

"Mom wouldn't have to worry because the older kids were with the younger ones," Caron said.

They would play "Bear Bear Out Tonight," a variation of hide-and-seek, journey around the neighborhood several times on Halloween night and sled down the Broadway Street hill during the winter.ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Leona Campanella (center) is pictured with two of her nine children, Marie Torgerson (left) and Caron Sparks (right).

In school, the siblings would sometimes be compared to one another.

"It's interesting because so many of us went through the same teachers over the years," Marie said. "We just had to tell teachers that we weren't our brothers and sisters."

Today, many of the Campanella siblings live in or near Estacada, and they remain close. The family now includes 32 grandchildren and more than 40 great grandchildren. For several gatherings, the group rented the Estacada Oddfellows Hall to accommodate everyone.

Leona noted that she enjoyed raising her children and appreciates seeing them as adults.

"Now, they're married and on their own way, and I'm surprised how well they've kept returning back to see Mom and Dad," she said.

"When we get together, it's a good time. It gives us time to catch up on stuff. It's just good to see each other," Marie added.

The family members are also there for one another during difficult times, such as Fred's death earlier this year.

"If someone needs something, there's always someone to help," Marie said. "It could be weeks or months before we see or talk to someone, but if they need something, we're there. It was like that when we were kids as well."

Both Caron and Marie agree that there were numerous valuable aspects to growing up in a big family.

"It teaches you patience," Marie said. "Not everybody feels and thinks the same way."

Caron noted it was difficult to choose just one favorite memory with her siblings.

"I just love them all," she said.

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