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It’s Friday afternoon at the end of week one and I’ve taken a break from the 1970s to drive three miles up the road to the Green Springs Inn, where the coffee is horrid and the marionberry pie is superb . . . and most importantly, where I can enjoy internet connectivity indoors instead of perched on a park bench in the snow outside the local one-room schoolhouse!

Here is one of the five cabins that house students during the fall, and visitors year round; this is the cabin I stayed in as a student (taken from the porch of the cabin I am renting on this trip); I was in the tiny room next to the woodshed that looks like a mudroom because it was until they modified it to house a fifth student! Everyone here is grateful for the snow because they’ve had such a dry winter thus far that there is talk of fire season starting in April — months ahead of the expected timetable.

On Wednesday, I drove twenty-one miles down into the valley along Highway 66 (state highway, not the famous Route 66) to the town of Ashland, Oregon. How could you not love a town that proclaims “Libraries: The Heart of Our Community”? I was certainly smitten, which is why I stopped to take this photograph. I was on my way to the Ashland Public Library in any event, to see what they offer in terms of local history resources (not a lot in published form, it turns out). The reference desk was very courteous all the same, and the women staffing it were able to direct me to the Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library, wherein is housed a a card catalog index of the Ashland Daily Tidings (the local newspaper). Yet another helpful reference librarian (yay reference librarians!) ushered me into a dark corner (metaphorically speaking) wherein was located this wonderful analog card catalog — yup, they really do still exist!

Sadly, the Daily Tidings (or whomever indexed it) did not see fit to print any stories about the Oregon Extension directly, but I did find a few stories from the late Sixties about the influx of hippies (yes, indexed under “hippies”) from the Bay Area. The locals seemed mostly perplexed rather than truly offended; they must have grown inured soon enough since by 1970 all references to hippies per se vanished. I plan to go back armed with the names of particular local communes and investigate some more tomorrow.

The folks here have been warmly welcoming and generous with their time and their records. My historians heart warms with a frisson of excitement at being able to go through “unprocessed” (in archives-speak) materials related to the early years of the OE, but it’s also a little terrifying to be entrusted with file boxes of other folks’ papers like this.

John Linton, one of the professors here (who arrived in 1981 and is thus, for now, outside the scope of my oral history project…in the future that may change!) has wandered by a couple of times and on his way past exhorts me to “do good work!” I’ll do my best, guys! You’re definitely giving me lots of great stuff to work with. Now I just have to live up to it!

On to week #2…