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Cecil Moore forsakes ditch building for school and part time job at Charlie Hobson's cafe

100 YEARS AGO

July 21, 1921

Perhaps there is no man in Madras who tries harder to please his customers than J.C. Wright, proprietor of the Madras market. Wright has gone to a great deal of time and trouble and considerable expense in cleaning up and making his market second to none in the country around. But last week he ran up against a proposition that, although it nearly set him crazy, is funny anyway. Customer after customer came into the shop and insisted that their meat taste peculiar. One customer accused him of putting some sort of preparation on his meat to keep it from spoiling. Wright nearly tore up the floor to discover what was the trouble. Then somebody came in and told him if he didn't take that crate of oranges out of the refrigerator that he would have his meat tasting. Needless to say that Wright immediately took the oranges out of the ice box.

75 YEARS AGO

July 18, 1946

A mid-Columbia and eastern Oregon party of members of the American Legion, aiming at maintaining the prestige of Oregon as the habitat of incomparable trout by providing a "mess" of this delectable fish for a breakfast of visiting national officials of the Legion, due in Portland Monday for the Oregon state convention, were in Madras early Saturday enroute to the remote sections of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

The party was headed by T. Leland Brown, The Dalles, attorney and counsel for the federated tribes of Warm Springs Indian reservation, whose traditional activities in providing trout feeds for national Legion executives visiting Oregon were interrupted by the war. Other members of the party, all of La Grande were: Victor Eckley, La Grande postmaster; Stanley Mills, railroad man; and Jesse Rosenbaum, formerly eastern Oregon district commander.

The La Grande men, after learning of the reputed size of rattlesnakes in the remoter parts of western Jefferson County, augmented their supply of anti-venom serum.

Brown, after a fishing excursion on the reservation earlier this year, reported an encounter with a rattlesnake, the length of which he estimated at five feet. He declared the snake, instead of coiling for attack in customary rattlesnake fashion, jumped at him. The attorney's experience later was told to the wife of a member of the Warm Springs tribe, who listened and then replied with no display of unusual emotion:

"Yes, the snakes get large over in the far reaches of the reservation. My children came back from an excursion into the berry patches last year and told me of having started up a hillside, walking on what they thought was a fallen tree. Then the log they thought they were walking on began to move, and they found out it was a big snake."

The legionnaire fishermen, their excursion sponsored by J.W. Elliott, Warm Springs reservation superintendent, were guided by prominent members of the tribal council.

50 YEARS AGO

July 22, 1971

Cecil Moore, a Bend real estate agent, grew up in Madras. From time to time, he puts his pen to task for the Pioneer about colorful events of the past.

After spending some weeks during winter helping build ditches on the Ochoco irrigation project I came to the conclusion that I should go back to school and get enough education to be able to live in a four-man bunk tent instead of living with a dozen misfits in the larger tents that was my present lot. Twelve buckets of stinking, sweaty clothes when we came in at night; some held their fragrance through the morning!

I operated a "slip" moving the dirt from the ditch bottoms and building fills where needed. This was powered by two horses and this team was cosmopolitan as one horse was a survivor from an Indian's team and the other was a leftover from a German homesteader's disaster who was in from the high desert trying to get a grubstake to last another summer. Neither understood the English language but we understood each other so I could handle them.

So, I quit and went back to school, 18-years-old and once again a freshman with the little kids! No experience in deficit spending, no money and no scholarship. The big boys got the man jobs so I, sometimes, worked for Charlie Hobson his café. I was recognized as a bright, talkative lad who knew all about washing dishes and a little knowledge of cooking; also, I could keep my mouth shut about some things!

Charlie Hobson's café was the spot where the rip tide swirled the flotsam and jetsam of human drift as if by magnetism. It was tacitly understood that no tales were to be carried from what was heard or observed there. Scarcely a day passed without some item that didn't make the Madras Pioneer or was an entirely different version from what was printed on its pages!

Charlie wasn't his real name and Hobson wasn't either. He pointed out that both were genuine American and were almost patriotic. A fine name for a man running a restaurant. Charlie was a most interesting person, plenty smart and as for eccentricity, Charlie was eccentricity itself! A whole book could be written with him as the central figure. Half the people wouldn't want to read it and the other half wouldn't believe it.

During one summer preceding harvest time our city was blessed with a bit of immigration beyond the usual. One, Slim Brazee he called himself, arrived with a commercial pressing iron and little else. He set up shop and living quarters in one room of the sometimes picture show and sometimes church building of the main drag. A hand made sign "Cleaning and Pressing" was tacked above the door which completed this business enterprise.

Slim was a long, gangly individual that had been round a lot of places that most Madrasites had never experienced. Whether he had served time or not was a moot question at best. Anyway, he served a need and soon reached an affluence that brought him out of the bread and bologna stage and into the aura of an occasional customer of Charlie Hobson's café.

At about the same time a big, powerful woman, with two little kids and a runty looking husband arrived and set up a cash register and asked if Slim and his friend had dined with us. The next question was what did they pay with? "Half dollars and quarters," I told him. Then Charlie went through the coins, spinning them on the glass counter until he had the ones he wanted. He showed me a cache of them and when I asked what it was all about, he explained that they were not a very good medium of exchange. I asked him if he was going to turn our customers over to the law? Charlie looked both pained and shocked. He said, "Cecil … you have a lot to learn about the legal situation. If I turned them in I'd lose the money and the county would have to feed them. I'll save them up and sell them to a coin collector. I think Slim will be in the market for the entire collection.

After a couple of weeks, the coin cache was gone, several needed articles were purchased for the café, and I got a slight raise in wages. Charlie stayed in rare good humor for an unusually long period. We lost both our customers!


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