1937 Rose Festival Queen still reigns on Alameda Ridge
Just one year after moving to Portland from Wichita, Kansas in 1937, Frances Hulse was anointed Rose Festival Queen. “We left Kansas because of awful dust storms,” Frances recently recalled. “I remember driving down Sandy Boulevard, lined with roses, and at Northeast 18th Avenue, I saw Rose Festival parade floats disbanding.”
The middle of five girls, she enrolled at Grant High School for her senior year and, as was the custom, all senior girls were considered for Rose Festival princess to represent their high school. During her senior year, Frances worked at the downtown Meier and Frank store and met Dorothy Hardin, who worked in the hosiery department and encouraged Frances to succeed her as Queen. “My father always said to work hard for anything you wanted in life, but I was still surprised to be selected princess from a field of six finalists at Grant.”
Frances fondly remembers riding in the convertible with a police escort during the parade and going on-board ships during fleet week. Her father assembled a large bound scrapbook posting numerous Rose Festival programs, including newspaper clippings from the Oregonian as well as the Wichita Eagle.
Frances majored in English at Reed College and aspired to be a debater. Marriage intervened in 1941, when she married Elwyn Boly after dating him for 30 days. On July 4, 1953, the couple moved to their home on Alameda, where they raised six sons. Frances noted that they were only the second family to live in the 1910-built home. The first occupant was the Royal Rosarian prime minister and his family who planted the sunken rose garden in the back yard. All six Boly sons are successful in their own right, said Frances, who proudly acknowledges that they earned scholarships to schools including Georgetown, Yale, and Stanford. John was a Rhodes Scholar and Father Craig Boly serves as pastor at St. Ignatius Catholic Church.
Even though you can’t stop progress in terms of increased traffic and development on Northeast Fremont Street, Frances said that homes built in the early 1900s are still here and not much has changed on Alameda. “When I was younger, I could walk downtown from this house,” she said. An avid walker, Frances was a member of a local women’s hiking group and remains passionate about gardening. With ten grandchildren and several great-grandchildren, Frances’ goal is to outlive the oldest Oregon woman, who is currently 117. Approaching 98, she’s determined to reach her goal.
Retired Beaumont teacher and Coast Guard yeoman celebrates 100th birthday
Born and raised in John Day in Grant County, third generation Oregonian Roberta Moore Hockett celebrated her 100th birthday in April. In the 1840s, her great grandfather came west on the Oregon Trail. In the 1880s, her grandfather purchased a ranch he named “00,” located on the John Day River. Roberta attended Monmouth College and subsequently taught school in Ritter, Oregon, which had a post office and not much else. She subsequently moved to Portland for an office job at Willamette Iron and Steel, but then World War II came along and she decided to join the Coast Guard. After receiving orders in 1943, she was dispatched to Palm Beach, Florida for boot camp. She mastered shorthand skills in training school and earned her first Yeoman stripe. Roberta requested to be stationed in Washington, D.C., but she was sent to San Pedro, California. “You knew the city by the smell; fish was processed and canned there. Workers wore gum boots and old rubber aprons. You just couldn’t get rid of the smell,” she said.
There was no base housing for female recruits, so they initially stayed at the YWCA, and eventually found housing on the point. “We had to darken the apartment windows as the military feared the Japanese would see lights in attempting to invade the California coast. Women were treated like second-class citizens in the service. There had never been women in the Coast Guard, and they were hired initially so men could go to sea.”
Roberta maintained a logbook of servicemen by name, rating and salary, and a list of wives or families who received part of their paychecks. Roberta and her roommates lived close to the USO and twice a week they attended dances and played cards. Located near Fort MacArthur, she met other servicewomen based in southern California, as well as her future husband. Two and a half years later, Roberta was honorably discharged from the US Coast Guard as Yeoman Third Class.
Roberta married Jay Hockett in 1946, returning to Wallowa County to work at J.C. Penney’s, while he served in the South Pacific for 19 months. The couple later moved to Newberg and lived there between 1949-54 where they raised a son and daughter. In 1954, they moved to the Alameda neighborhood where Jay taught English at Grant High School until 1971, when they moved to east county. Snow Cap, a nonprofit organization serving disadvantaged families, was located near their home, so they signed up to volunteer. For the next 12 years, “We met a lot of interesting people who didn’t have much but appreciated whatever food and clothing that Snow Cap provided,” she recalled recently.
In 1975, the family moved to Rose City Park, where Roberta worked as a teacher’s aide helping children in art classes at Beaumont school. When Jay retired in 1977, they traveled around the country and Roberta finally got to visit Washington, D.C. During their marriage, she never drove as it made her husband too nervous, she recalled.
After Jay died in 2002, Roberta sold their home and moved to Parkview Christian Retirement Community, where she takes writing classes on Tuesday mornings. Roberta shared several pages of notes handwritten on a yellow legal pad, titled My Life, which vividly describes sights and smells gleaned from childhood memories on her grandfather’s sheep and cattle ranch in John Day.
Her memoir reflects Roberta’s tenacity, curiosity and sense of adventure, compassion for people and hard work. She loves to garden and still gets around, although she never drove. “I’m like a cat – I almost died twice,” she laughed, recalling back surgery in the 1940s for a slipped disk and subsequent meningitis. In April, the Coast Guard honored her service at one of three parties held to commemorate her 100th birthday.