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Day: July 28, 2014

Welcome home, Officer Ricketts

Officer Travis Ricketts is congratulated by members of the Keizer City Council after being sworn in during a council meeting. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Officer Travis Ricketts is congratulated by members of the Keizer City Council after being sworn in during a council meeting. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Seeing an officer at school during lunch this coming year isn’t necessarily a negative.

Especially not if it’s Keizer Police Department officer Travis Ricketts with his two children – Allison, 9 and Cole, 6.

Ricketts, a former KPD reserve officer, was hired by the KPD on June 18 and started riding solo July 17, following four weeks of training with officer James Young.

A 1995 McNary High School graduate and Keizer native, Ricketts was a mechanic for 13 years before switching to law enforcement. After being a reserve officer for a year-and-a-half, Ricketts took a job as a full-time officer with the Beaverton Police Department. He commuted from Keizer each day.

Now, Ricketts has come back home. Once he saw the opening at KPD, he talked about it extensively with wife Sara, who also hails from the area originally.

“This is where I wanted to be,” Ricketts said. “I’ve always lived here and been a part of the community. It was hard to leave Beaverton, but it was an easy decision to come back. There were tons of emotions.

“I’m relieved because the process is over. I’m happy and ecstatic because I got the job offer. But it’s sad because I had to leave my friends in Beaverton. I’m excited to be working close to home.”

Ricketts isn’t the only one liking the change.

“The kids were very excited about the news,” he said. “They want me to come to lunch with them one day. Both mention that very much. They want me to come to their school, so they can parade me in front of their friends. I’ll go with them. That won’t be a problem. It will be nice to be able to do that, after so long of not being able to.”

For Ricketts, returning home with a few years of law enforcement under his police duty belt is a perfect combination, which he noticed while training with Young.

“I felt like I was at home, finally,” he said. “There was always a part of me that stayed here. It felt good to feel complete. There was a lot of good training and experience I got up there. I dealt with a variety of people. That put me a step ahead. I’m happy to be back home.”

Police chief John Teague, who himself returned to the KPD last fall after more than four years in Dallas noted how quickly Ricketts could hit the road.

“Hiring laterals for the agency is a benefit,” Teague said. “Within a month he’s solo. When you hire someone green, it takes a year. You have to pay for the training. Some people realize they don’t want to do it. There’s a benefit to hiring a lateral officer.”

Teague also noted the factors coming together in this case.

“To be able to hire a guy with an attachment to Keizer, who has already worked here, that brings a lot of satisfaction,” he said. “You have someone who knows and likes the profession. He already has ties to Keizer, so we know he’ll stay here. That is all tremendous.”

Ricketts was and still is a car guy, but had a change of direction.

“I thought I would always be in mechanics,” he said. “Then I started growing a family, I started getting older and priorities shifted. That’s how I ended up here.”

Amidst the commutes to Beaverton, Ricketts kept an eye on his hometown.

“There was always an aspect of wanting to come back to here,” he said. “It never happened. It never showed itself until this year, when I applied.”

“North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both” by Cea Sunrise Person

North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both” by Cea Sunrise Person

c.2014, Harper
$25.99 / $32.99 Canada
339 pages



You stopped in the store the other day, and stopped short.

In all its electric-colored glory, tie-dye is back. Or maybe it never left, just passed down by Baby Boomers like you who also loved groovy music, an everybody-helps-everybody mentality, and how wonderfully carefree that felt.

Ah, the good ol’ days… or were they?  For author Cea Sunrise Person, the answer was “no” for years, but in her new memoir “North of Normal,” she explains how she made peace with it.

Cea Sunrise Person’s grandfather was more at home in nature than he was anywhere else. He’d always wanted to live in the outdoors and so, shortly after he came home from Korea, he took his new bride to live in the wilderness.

In about the mid-60s, the family (including three girls and a boy) moved to Wyoming, then to California where they fit in perfectly: they’d already embraced the emerging counter-culture, so “pot smoking, nude cookouts, and philosophical discussions” were easy additions. Their home soon became known as a clothing-optional place to hang out and score drugs, and “the parents were always totally groovy with it all.”

Not-so-groovy: Person’s mother was sixteen when she became pregnant. She married the boy but they parted before their baby was born, so Person’s first home was a drafty shack in the British Columbia woods. Later, when she was a toddler, the family moved into a tipi on Indian land where she recalls the freedom of an idyllic childhood spent on chores, pretending, and running through meadow, woods, and water.

But that, too, would end: when Person was five, her mother met a man who whisked them away to a life of tent-living, theft, and things little girls shouldn’t see. By the time she was thirteen, Person had enough of the “misfits,” so she lied about her age, left family behind, and started a surprising career – though she still wondered why they couldn’t seem to be “normal.”

Twenty-five years later, broke and twice-divorced, she finally learned the truth.

As a tail-end Baby Boomer, I was really excited to start “North of Normal.” Would author Cea Sunrise Person’s recollections be ones that I shared, too?

No.  Not even remotely, which just made this book more enjoyable.

Through memories of her own and that of her mother’s family, Person tells what it was like to be raised by an unconventional hippie mom who did her best but was, herself, a product of the times. That alone would be a far-out tale, but the way it’s told makes this a book to read: Person is a gifted storyteller, and that snatched me up from the first paragraph. I also was fascinated by her voice, as it changed with the age she was as she remembered.

Beware that this coming-of-age memoir contains explicit language, but it fits with what you’ll read. Yes, it might make you wince but you’ll be so engrossed in the tale that you might not even notice. For you, that’s a hint of what “North or Normal” has in store…

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Candidates spar in governor debate

Dennis Richardson makes a point during the July 18 debate with Gov. John Kitzhaber. (Photos courtesy Scott Washburn)
Dennis Richardson makes a point during the July 18 debate with Gov. John Kitzhaber. (Photos courtesy Scott Washburn)

By CRAIG MURPHY Of the Keizertimes

Dennis Richardson kept attacking.

For the most part, Gov. John Kitzhaber steered clear of the attacks.

The two candidates for governor sparred during their first debate last Friday, July 18 at the Salem Convention Center, as part of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual summer conference. A number of media outlets, including the Keizertimes, streamed the 90-minute debate live online.

Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is seeking a fourth term while Richardson, a Republican, has been a state legislator since 2003.

“What we’ve done together over the past four years is to create a political operational center that used to be the hallmark of our state,” Kitzhaber said. “It allows us to work as a community. Together, we’ve taken on these difficult challenges and together we’ve succeeded. Leaders from both parties have put people back to work and we’ve closed the budget gap.”

Richardson, meanwhile, immediately went on the attack.

“Governor Kitzhaber must explain his third term failures,” Richardson said, referencing Cover Oregon and the Columbia River Crossing projects. “I believe being governor is a full-time job. For three years the governor has been missing in action. It’s important for the governor to show up. The governor is not tuned into governing. He’s not paying attention and his list of failures proves it.”

Richardson said the most important job he’s held was that of parent.

“When you have nine children, you get used to hearing excuses,” he said. “We need a full-time governor dedicated to getting the job done. I’m here to restore faith in state government. I know what Oregon families are going through and I can help.”

Not surprisingly, the Cover Oregon debacle was a hot topic during the debate.

“I sent letters for a year to the governor,” Richardson said. “He had set up a team. He ignored all of that. We should listen to warnings. We need to listen to what the legislature says.”

Kitzhaber, however, defended his action taken.

“I have removed and held responsible the individuals in Cover Oregon and the Health Authority who made the decisions that led to the failure to roll out a functional website, and now I am seeking damages from Oracle for the technology that they provided to us,” he said. “I just don’t accept the premise that all those dollars were wasted. That money wasn’t wasted because we enrolled 300,000 people.”

The two also differed during discussion of the failed CRC project.

“We’ve spent over 15 years on the CRC and $190 million, and not a single shovel of dirt was ever moved,” Richardson said. “That kind of planning we can’t afford. Let’s focus on the outcomes we want.”

Kitzhaber said he doesn’t make apologies for the CRC and emphasized others agreed with him.

“Nobody, including my opponent, said we shouldn’t do this anymore because there’s an outside chance that Washington state, that has been working on this for a decade, wouldn’t hold up its end of the bargain,” he said. “The problem remains. We had to call the question. We had to do all we could to deal with an infrastructure issue that has a huge impact on our economy.”

Richardson said Oregon is ranked 49th in education and said current standards are letting Oregonians down.

“All we’re doing now is changing our teachers into class monitors,” he said. “They’re having to teach to a test.”

Richardson said the governor needs to be in Washington, D.C. seeking changes to help people in need.

“We need to have a governor who will align with other western governors who are in the same situations with their states and go to (TV) and make a national issue of the fact that we have Americans in depression.”

The two candidates agreed on several topics, such as supporting an initiative to switch Oregon to a top-two primary system and opposing a marijuana legalization measure.

Both also mentioned wanting to first see what happens with recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington first.

By the time closing statements came, Richardson was back on the attack.

“Talk is cheap,” he said. “The governor no longer has the passion to serve and it’s hurting the state. He’s become more aloof and out of touch. We’ve seen it with CRC and Cover Oregon and the hiring of Rudy Crew. While Oregon’s economy lagged, he’s studying gross national happiness in Bhutan. We need to have a governor who spends time in the state.”

By contrast, Kitzhaber pointed to a special session he called last fall for legislators to work on the PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) issue. He pointed out everything on the agenda was quickly approved, while the federal government was shut down.

“The success of that session speaks to who we are and how we work together,” Kitzhaber said. “Oregon, in three days, set an example for itself and the nation.”

Kitzhaber said he first got interested in politics with Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign.

“That inspired me and motivated me to be in public service,” he said. “I’ve learned Oregon is not a good place for any of us to live unless it’s a good place for all of us. It’s not about just creating jobs, it’s about a strong and deep middle class.”

Keizer woman recalls the echoes of WWII

Joy Beebe was a teenager living in south London when Germans began bombing the city during World War II. Her memories of the experience are fuel for her involvement in Spirit of '45 Day activities each August. (KEIZERTIMES/ Eric A. Howald)
Joy Beebe was a teenager living in south London when Germans began bombing the city during World War II. Her memories of the experience are fuel for her involvement in Spirit of ’45 Day activities each August. (KEIZERTIMES/
Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Keizerite Joy Bebee’s lasting impression of war is its sounds.

“There is never any quiet. The bombs get bigger and bigger. We had anti-aircraft guns stationed in a nearby park, there were planes in the sky, a railway track several hundred feet away carried rocket guns back and forth. Once the windows were blown out in our home, they were replaced with linen held in place with strips of wood and the wind would blow and you could hear the linen moving,” Beebe said.

Even the silences were marked by a peculiar lack of noise.

“When Dunkirk fell, things got quiet, very quiet. We all knew what was coming then. They told us that there would be peace in our time, but the enemy only had one more step before entering Britain. We sort of braced ourselves for it at that point,” said Bebee, who still speaks with a mild British accent despite 57 years on American soil.

Bebee was 14 years old and living with her family south of London when the British entered World War II alongside France, Australia and New Zealand. Her father, a veteran of World War I, was chronically ill after being gassed twice in that conflict and Bebee’s mother kept the family together.

The area where Bebee’s family lived was 22 miles from the coastline in Dunkirk, France. Preparations for what was to come began even before the German forces captured Dunkirk. Rationing in Britain had begun six months earlier.

“Many of the children were evacuated, but that ended up being a disaster,” Bebee said. “Some of the children were sent to farms and got along all right, but some families didn’t like the children they were sent, some of the children ran away and tried to get back home. Our mother wouldn’t let us be taken away.”

Bebee said airborne dogfights were commonplace in the months prior to the fall of Dunkirk, and quieted only as the Germans began ramping up for a full-scale attempt at invasion.

Families in the area had been issued black fabric to make curtains that would prevent interior light from escaping and indicating to German planes flying overhead which buildings were inhabited. Bebee’s mother didn’t take up the British government on its offer of an Anderson Shelter, an air-raid shelter meant to be partially buried in the ground and expected to withstand everything but a direct hit. They did accept a Morrison Shelter, a large steel table with wire netting that fell around the side to protect from flying shrapnel

“We slept in the cupboard under the stairs until we got the Morrison Shelter,” Bebee said. “Then we slept under the shelter.”

Outside her home, things were also changing. Most of the area’s lakes were drained to prevent German pilots from ascertaining their positions using geological formations. Even road signs were taken down in an attempt to confuse any enemy troops who made it to land.

“The trouble was most of us didn’t know where we were going either,” Bebee said.

Bebee’s family lived in what was to become known as “bomb alley” because it sat on the route German planes used to invade British airspace.

“The Germans would always keep one of their bombs to drop on the way out of the country and it fell around us,” Bebee said.

The family’s neighbor across the street once left her Anderson Shelter to make a cup of tea and the shelter took a direct hit. Down the street, another bomb took out the entire first floor of a residence and left the bathroom fixtures, including the bathtub, hanging from heavy lead pipes. The resident at the time of the bombing had either been bathing or taken shelter in the tub.

“I remember it took them a while to figure out how to get her down,” Bebee said.

Incendiary bombs were dropped by the hundreds and burned anything combustible within its range, Bebee said.

“People were always running around with sandbags to put out the flames. I remember my father going out on several occasions to put out fires on our fences and shed,” she said.

Despite the potential terror each moment held, life carried on even if the schedule was altered. School was canceled for the most part, but Bebee said students met with teachers, in air raid shelters, usually twice a week to pick up work to take home. Bebee herself held a job in central London tracing residents who had failed to pay taxes.

“It turned out that more than 90 percent of them were either overseas fighting or had been killed in the raids, but it took a lot of searching. What you have to remember is that entire families had been wiped out in the raids,” Bebee said.

She returned to London 30 years later and there were still plots of land completely vacant after being bombed in WWII.

“I asked our taxi driver about it and he said the only way the government could be sure no one in a family was left was to wait 30 years to see if anyone filed a claim,” Bebee said.

There were also beacons of hope. One came in the form of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, whose oratory skills helped bolster spirits. Another was St. Paul’s Cathedral. In photos at the time, the area around the cathedral is decimated, but the cathedral itself is unblemished.

“It had survived, and so would we. It was a mental thing,” Bebee said.

For the younger residents, like Bebee, there was also excitement over the influx of new people to the London area.

“The population went up to about 11 million during the war and we had Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, French and Polish troops in the city,” Bebee said.

It was at a dance hall where she met a young American, Pfc. Carl S. Bebee, a member of the Signal Corps, which helped intercept and prepare information that was passed along to Bletchley Park where the Germans’ secret codes were deciphered.

The couple married after Carl summoned up the courage to ask Joy out on a date. Carl brought his bride back to Keizer and they remained married until his death 50 years later. Joy still lives in their first home.

Bebee recalls much of what happened in vivd detail, but those memories also fuel her participation in The Spirit of ‘45 Day honoring WWII veterans.

“Our big thing is to try to get our children to learn about history and not be quite so selfish,” Bebee said. “I learned that nothing is so dramatic that you can’t get over it. I’m known for not dwelling on the bad things and moving on to the next thing. I get more panicky now in my old age than I did when I was younger.”