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Third-graders helped launch LO Junior Historical Society

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Gertrude Thacker, Kenny Burdick and Mary Goodall stand in front of mural painted by members of the Lake Oswego Junior Historical Society.Gertrude Thacker and her Forest Hills third-graders started the Lake Oswego Junior Historical Society, but the real inspiration came from one of the students.

Robert Landers, who was new to the area, handed Thacker money after local historian Theresa Truchot spoke to his class, saying, “Here is a dollar for the museum.”

“Imagine my surprise,” Thacker said later. “Here was a little boy believing that we would have a museum. I couldn’t damage that little boy’s faith by not accepting.”

Forest Hills was not the only school to organize an historical society. Mrs. Thurlow at Uplands organized one in her third-grade class, as did Mrs. Carr at Bryant. But the individual historical societies consolidated into one group, headed by Beverley Henderson, in 1969. The combined Junior Historical Society had more than 400 members, according to Mary Goodall. Truchot, Thacker, Goodall and Sally Harding served as the original advisers.

Thacker makes it very clear that the society was not a “school-sponsored or supported organization, but a historical society that the schools were kind enough to let us use.”

Some of the Junior Historical Society’s activities included painting murals depicting the history of Lake Oswego and collecting artifacts such as pillars and square nails from the Legion landmark building before it was demolished. Students also sold notecards designed by Truchot to raise money to “Save the Stack.” Truchot drew a picture of the furnace stack and put it on notecards. She had 2,000 printed and gave 800 to the historical society to sell. All sold very quickly.

Although the Junior Historical Society does not exist today, Lake Oswego history is alive and well. A Lake Oswego history curriculum has been developed and distributed to all district elementary schools, thanks to Oswego Heritage Council volunteers Nancy Tongue, Phyllis Miska and teacher Laura Los.

“From Our Vault” is written by Nancy Dunis for the Oswego Heritage Council, using materials she’s found in the council’s archives; look for it on the third Thursday of every month. Have something you’d like to add to the vault? Leave a message for Dunis at 503-635-6373 or email her at r2d2n3@yahoo.com.

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