There’s a story here

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The roadside is full of delights. But when you are four years old the delights are larger than life. The roadside of my four-year-old life was US 12 between Raymond and Centralia, Washington. It was the road travelled to Grandma’s house for weekend visits and Sunday chicken dinners. That’s chickens that had not long been without feathers! But back to the road …

At Frances Washington, in 1914, the AC&C club built this improvement to a spring. Who was the AC&C? In the ghost of a town, who maintains this roadside delight today? I can remember stopping here frequently in the 50’s and I don’t remember any counsel of “don’t drink the water”. I could tell you that the water was sweet. But in fact I don’t remember the drinks I took here. But when I write the story, I will of course report that the water was sweet. Do I not remember the water because it was commonplace to have a drink in a spring alongside the road? Or do I not remember the water because in fact I had a Coke in the car? Certainly not the latter! Soda pop was experienced on the 4th of July. Not on a trip to Centralia.

Each year, Terri uses the story, Tuck Everlasting, in her fifth grade class. It is a delightful mythical tale of a family who does not age. Ultimately it is learned that their aging has ceased, because they once made the decision to drink the water from a very special spring. I told Terri that my image of this Frances spring is the image I draw from the story of Tuck Everlasting. It is good sweet water, and a good sweet story.

Also at Frances is a once proud building, with a purpose which I cannot descern. So here is another set of questions and an untold story. Each year as I drive by the west side of the building sinks a bit further into the rain-soaked hillside. And the east side of the building retains much of its dignity upon its concrete foundation. Frances was both a mill town and an agricultural town. I’m aware of creameries and cheese factories down the road in Menlo, but their architecture is much different from this building. I note with interest the two rows of small windows on the west side of the building. Between the two rows, is a row of vents. What was this building?

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