As Summerfest nears, Pow Wow is not forgotten

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Rabinsky sisters, Bunty and Marg, steer 'Grandpa's Buggy,' led by their horse, Chiquita, through the streets of Scappoose in 1959. The year was 1959.

Evagene “Bunty” Rabinsky — who would later marry and take on the surname of Harry Hamilton Sr. — and her sister, Marg, were preparing their appearance at the inaugural Pow Wow festival junior parade in Scappoose.

Bunty, now 88, can recall the parade route and the theme of the first Pow Wow, “I Remember When,” which was a tilt-of-the-hat to Oregon’s recently concluded centennial celebrations.

“Everybody for the centennial grew beards and mustaches,” Bunty recalls.

This year, Bunty will return to participate as co-grand marshal of the Summerfest Grande Parade with her friend and co-grand marshal, Rowena Tetz, whose maiden name is Smith. Bunty’s sister, Marg, was initially named to serve as the co-grand marshal, but health concerns sidelined her for the event.

Says Bunty of Rowena, 90, “If I can’t do this with my sister, I should do it with a friend who is like a sister!”

Bunty says many of the details of the first Pow Wow escape her today, in part because she was a parade participant and didn’t have a chance to explore too far beyond the parade route. On that day, she rode in a horse-drawn buggy that belonged to her grandfather, Fred Rabinsky. The horse chosen to pull the buggy, Chiquita, was a saddle horse, so there was some apprehension it would perform well on the big day.

There was one episode prior to the parade, Bunty remembers, in which Chiquita froze — for exactly how long, she can’t recollect.

“She stopped, and she would not go,” Bunty says. “She had had enough and wasn’t going any farther.”

But, eventually, Chiquita moved along, avoiding jack-knifes and other mishaps along the way.

“My dad just held his breath. He was afraid we were going to wreck the buggy,” Bunty says.

Organizers considered resurrecting the buggy, which is in storage, for this year’s Summerfest celebrations, but ultimately decided it’s too delicate. But the memories it inspires remain solid.

We always called it ‘Grandpa’s Buggy,” and I always wondered why,” she says. “But he was a pretty big man and I think he took up most of the buggy.”

For the 1959 Pow Wow, the “hug-me-tight” buggy had a fresh coat of paint and had been primped for the big day. Lanterns hung from it, and its roof, now gone, was held together with tape. Delphinium and gladiola blooms were garlanded to its sides and under Chiquita’s neck.

Bunty’s granddaughter and Summerfest organizer, Betsy Stephens, says it is those memories that help carry the Pow Wow vision forward under the new banner of Summerfest, the theme of which for this year is “Continuing the Pow Wow Vision.”

“I’m hoping [Summerfest] will continue the legacy,” Betsy says. “There are a lot of good memories. I think the next generation deserves those as well.”

“I”m trying to get in the spirit,” Bunty says.

Scappoose Summerfest 2014 “Continuing the Pow Wow Vision” begins Friday, June 27, and goes through Saturday, June 28. For complete details, please check out the special Summerfest 2014 section inside the June 20, 2014, issue of the Spotlight.

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