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Henry and Maxine Blankevoort look over a family photo album in 1995.

April 22, 1920

Grandstand is contracted for by county fair association

The Deschutes County Fair Association of Redmond has accepted plans for a 1200 seating capacity grandstand, and work on the cement piers was begun yesterday morning.

The new grandstand is to be on the west side of the new track, work which is already nearing completion. A ten-foot strip of track around the half-mile course was available for high school practice Wednesday night. When completed, the track will be sixty feet wide.

“The new track location eliminated the slight rise in the old track and gives a perfectly level race course,” according to William Buckley, who has the work on the track in charge for the fair association.

“The track will be beyond doubt the best and fastest in Central Oregon. Work on the grading will soon be finished and by watering and rolling during the next three weeks will be in perfect shape for the Central Oregon track and field meet which is to be held here May 15.”

The work on the grandstand and the judges’ stand has been contracted to Al Lindsey, formerly of Scoby, Mont., who is donating part of his profit on the job to the Fair association. He will have ten carpenters here to work on the construction next week, he has announced.

Lumber has been ordered through the Tum-A-Lum Company at Redmond.

To assure the committee ample funds to carry the work through without delay, a second twenty percent assessment was voted Tuesday at a meeting of the Deschutes County Fair Association and the Redmond Commercial Club.

April 26, 1945 — Redmond Asked to Search in Closets for United National Clothing Drive

With the nation-wide United National Clothing collection scheduled to close April 30, every effort is being made to gather large quantities of clothing in Redmond for shipment overseas, announced Lloyd Baker, president of the Kiwanis club, which is sponsoring the drive here.

Receiving stations have been set up at E.O. Adams’ warehouse and in Inter-Mountain Motors, and Piggly Wiggly also is taking clothing contributions.

Last Saturday the Boy Scouts gathered clothing along with paper salvage and a large quantity was obtained. The Scouts will pick up paper and clothing again this Saturday. Donors who not have their clothing contributions ready may take them to one of the receiving stations at any time before the end of the month, Baker says.

All kinds of wearable articles are wanted, as the need is critical among peoples of the allied nations who have suffered because of war, it was stated by Maurice Hoover of Bend, member of the Lions club committee which is in charge of the drive in that city. Because of the war textile mills in Europe have not been operated, and it is estimated that there are 30 million people without adequate clothing. State officials and Henry J. Kalper are sponsoring the drive in Oregon.

Redmond’s contribution will be trucked to Bend and from there the country’s collection will be shipped to Salem, where the clothing and shoes will be sorted at the state penitentiary.

The clothing should be clean, those in charge say, and all shoes should be tied together in pairs. By last weekend Bend had contributed several tons of clothes. Hoover mentioned when in Redmond Friday. He stressed that because of the dire need, contributions cannot be too large.

April 22, 1970 — Redmond High School observes ‘Earth Day’

Members of the student body at Redmond High School are taking time out from their normal routine of classroom work today to take part in a day-long environmental teach-in.

The program is part of a nation-wide “Earth Day” commemoration to bring the American people’s attention to environmental pollution problems.

Two assemblies are planned this morning, the first at 8:50, showing aerial slides of the Central Oregon area and comparing them to slides of other areas that have more severe environmental pollution problems, announced Bill Norris, a member of the student co-ordinating committee. Keynote speaker at the assembly id Kent Ashbaker, district sanitary engineer.

Following the general assembly, 14 speakers from state and county agencies and staff members from Central Oregon Community College will hold seminars on various pollution problems. Each seminar is scheduled for about 35 minutes, with every student attending two of them.

The second assembly will be held about 1 a.m. by the English department which is sponsoring a poster contest. Poems and essays will be read and there will be an explanation of PURE (preserve our urban and rural environment) organization.

Other activities planned are a booth that the Home and Sport Show this weekend, and possibly a pollution “fair “ in the high school gymnasium. A clean-up day is also tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 2.

Other members of the student co-ordinating committee putting on the program are Carol Rakestraw, Phyllis Phillips, Vicki Barnett, Sherri Swecker and Blair Yeager.

All program activities during the day, including the seminars, are open to the public.

April 26, 1995 — Naturalized citizen recalls childhood dangers

“Stay inside, keep the doors locked.”

Marguerite and Nicholas Blankevoort warned their six children before departing by horse and wagon on a two-day journey from their home in Talcahuano, Chile, to Santiago.

European migrants in the early 1900s feared atrocities, such as the massacre of a German family of 13. The Chilean republic was still contending with native Araucanian, Mapucho, Imara and Quichua Indians whom early conquering Spaniards had cruelly mistreated. Descendants remembered and threatened all foreigners.

Redmond retiree Henry Blankevoort said his mother often urged the family’s return to Holland. Father said she could go, but not the children. Defensive and loyal, she remained. Her parents had wired money to Santiago with which they hoped to move to a safer area in Chile.

“We stayed locked in,” Henry recalled. “We were playing games when we heard a noise on the roof and saw a knife whittling a hole in our big front door. Cornelius was 12. He lined up us four boys, laid the shotgun across our shoulders, told John to pull just one trigger, but both fired.”

The blast knocked one Indian off the roof, killed one, wounded a third. Two escaped, were caught and executed. Neighbors heard the commotion and rescued the children.

Past 80, Henry Blankevoort said had he known he’d have a hazardous childhood he’d have kept a diary. Now with his wife, Maxine’s help he is recording his life. Each draft is revised and enlarged as he recalls more incidents.

The parents had met in South Africa, sent by their families in Holland. Nicholas was a civil engineer and railroad surveyor. Marguerite (Visser) represented her father’s ship chandlery business.

After the Boer War Holland did not encourage repatriation. Developing Chile sought emigrants to work in their nitrate and copper mines, farms and ranches, railroads and timber.

Henry was born in 1907 in Talcahuano, one of seven children surviving out of 10. Father was skilled, temperamental, intermittently alcoholic. Mother was well bred but durable; she sewed their clothing, gardened, cooked (food was often sparse), made their rugged homes livable. She counseled and encouraged the children, abiding her husband and return to their homeland.

Schools were ill equipped, inadequate. Henry learned to read at age seven, in Spanish.

Death by accident or intent, commonplace under the early Spaniards, was still a threat. Life was cheap, living an endeavor.

The young Blankevoorts found dried ancient corpses in the nitrate beds, knew of railroad accidents, mourned the death of two infant siblings. They watched a “mystic” Chinese funeral, saw an Italian wake where celebrants pushed a casket up hill, lost momentum, pushed and fell back again and again.

In dry, isolated northern Chile father worked in the copper mines. Nitrate beds were in Iqueque “we we about starved,” but children caught snails on the nearby beach. From Magellan Strait they moved to beautiful Sapigo. Father was a railroad inspector. Older sons got part-time jobs. Living improved.

At Officina Slavia father worked in a nitrate smelter. Chileans whipped green-broke Mississippi mules that hauled wagonloads of nitrate. “So much cruelty,” Henry said.

At Officina Mercedes the family baked bread in an outdoor oven father built, but often were not paid for deliveries. They walked five miles to school in Negredo, fending off dog-sized lizards. “Indians ate ‘em,” Henry said.

Father got a “decent job” in Santa Rita. Henry realized “life was not all play and irresponsibility.” Actually, they all worked very hard, had little leisure. At a copper mine on July 4, 1919, they heard about North America from the Yankees. Henry was a switch tender for a mining railroad, saw a man killed by a train; the man had been drinking.

They lived in Chamaral, a port, 30 days; in Pueblo Hundido a month. At 10,000 foot altitude Porterillos, the children explored with native children. Returning to Chuquecamata they set pins in a bowling alley.

Finally, home to Holland in November 1924. Henry graduated from a technical high school, signed onto a Dutch ship, saw far parts of the world but disliked the weather, conditions aboard, and a collision in the fog. However, he would serve in the United States Navy in World War II. He worked for Shell Oil in Curaçao, boarded a Norwegian freighter, landed in Perth Amboy, N.J. on Feb. 2, 1930.

A shipboard acquaintance told him of American customs, places, opportunities. He found friends at YMCA, lost his savings to a pickpocket, recovered the money through YMCA intervention and kind police.

Rougher cops arrested him as a Lindbergh baby kidnapping suspect while he thumbed his way west. “Who’s Lindbergh?” he remembered asking.

He slept on warm highway pavements, in box cars, in barns. He met an uncle and cousin, worked in Yakima, Wash., gold mines and found a record-sized nugget which owners placed in a museum.

He inspected the rock quarried from the Umpqua River jetties at Reedsport. “The jetties still hold,” he said.

Blankevoort became a citizen in 1936 in Portland. He was a machinist’s mate on a tugboat that supplied Navy ships in the Pacific, taught the trade in Bremerton, Wash., and was a Navy ship inspector in Portland. He and Maxine Perry met in 1941 at a USO; they married in February 1942.

In the 1950s he supervised the mechanical plant for his brother John’s Dutch Maid Food Products in Salem. During many of his working years he was a master plumber, owning shops in Haines and Salem. The couple retired to Redmond in 1987. Maxine Blankevoort’s life is as interesting, though less perilous than her husband’s. Together they’re compiling chronicles for daughters Carol and [unreadable] and five grandchildren.

Though proud of his heritage and history, Henry Blankevoort prizes his United States citizenship.

Continued on redmondspokesman.com.

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