Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Month: December 2016

Enough revenue, not enough backbone

From the Capitol
By Bill Post

As we come to Christmas, I greatly hesitate to write about politics in this column but feel I must address an important item with the upcoming 2017 legislative session.

First of all, when it comes to the governor’s budget we need to remember it’s not a budget but rather a wish list.  On her wish list Governor Kate Brown writes that we will have a $1.7 billion shortfall in the next biennium. The truth is, we have a windfall of state revenues, to the tune of an 8.5 percent increase over the last biennium (and that’s after a 14 percent increase in revenue in the previous biennium, making a total of 22.5 percent increase in revenue since 2013).

The problem is she “wishes” she could fund all of the items in her budget which is what has led to anxiety for many over the cuts she has proposed which include education, health care and some psychiatric and corrections facilities.

The reality is we have more than enough revenue.  We just don’t seem to have a control on where to spend it. There will be cries for more revenue in the form of cutting interest deductions, raising taxes on what you eat, drink, smoke, wear and more. On top of that, a transportation package will require a gas tax.

Remember, the legislature is the branch charged with crafting and passing a balanced budget, not the governor, and you overwhelmingly chose a certain state representative from Keizer who believes that we, as a state, don’t have a revenue problem but instead have a spending problem.  Therefore I intend to do all that I can to hold the legislature accountable for every dollar. (You can read more about the governor’s budget and the revenue numbers here:

But here is the bottom line: the people of Keizer are some of the most giving people I’ve ever met. We are a city of volunteers and we care about each other. Our churches do incredible humanitarian work. Our Chamber of Commerce is one of the best there is evidenced by the recent Christmas parade, the food drives and other activities.  We have one of the most livable cities in Oregon and one of the most caring; yet none of that is derived from government, it’s derived from we the people.

On this Christmas week, I want to wish you and your family all of the best not just for this season but for all time.  I work for you and I am eager to get back into the legislature in January and do all that I can to help Keizer and Oregon succeed.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my home to yours.

(Bill Post represents House District 25. He can be reached at 503- 986-1425 or via email at rep.bill- [email protected])

Christmas story: A child and a movie

Cute stories about American children and Christmas are seemingly endless.  One to add has come to the attention of my wife and myself during the past week.

It is planned that a certain granddaughter will spend Christmas Eve with gramma and grampa. That’s the night, of course, during which tradition promises that Santa Claus will visit each child’s home with presents, leaving them to open on Christmas morning.

We have a gas fireplace that would be difficult to traverse for even a mouse, much less a bag of presents.  Granddaughter is not to be deterred in her belief of a visit by Santa. She has already explained to her mother—in no uncertain terms—that she does not want to sleep in that room.  Why?  Because she does not want to get in Santa’s way or startle him by waking up when he’s in the middle of a special delivery.

She says she must sleep in a room with a door that shuts tightly. She simply does not want to disturb Santa at work and also does not want to see or hear anything among the presents that would spoil a total surprise at day break.  This little girl, this pre-school child, has mastered the particulars for making certain Santa and presents from his North Pole workshop will get to her and a chuckle for us.

When granddaughter’s wishes were passed along to me, I thought of her mother and our other daughter’s childhood fantasies about Santa and the Easter Bunny. Meanwhile, when children and Christmas come to mind, I think again about my favorite and most endearing Christmas movie, A Christmas Story.  When I was a child, my family and I always watched It’s a Wonderful Life, but it was kind of “dark” and scary in places, much like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Imagining there is an American adult who has never viewed A Christmas Story, is a stretch beyond my grasp. Nevertheless, if there is such an American, it’s hoped that they will see it this December.  Disappointment in the movie is unlikely as its 93 minutes will keep any newcomer viewing it from beginning to end.

In the movie, the couple’s oldest son desires to receive a BB gun drives the plot of the film.  The father wins a “major award” in a contest but does not know what it is until it’s delivered; meanwhile, it causes “the battle of the lamp” between the movie mom and dad.  Another howler is the dad’s never-ending struggle with the family’s ancient furnace.  Then there’s the neighbor’s dog, the flat tire scene and the final confrontation with the neighborhood bully.  Lots of laughs and good family flick fun can be enjoyed in this G-rated movie that can be seen more than once to absorb every last tickle.

A Merry Christmas is passed along from this writer to all Keizertimes readers.  May you and yours bask in the warmth and good cheer of a traditional American family gathering, regardless of how cold it gets outside.  And, keep in mind, as the new year gets underway, longer days and warming temperatures are a mere five months away.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)

Karlin ‘Karl’ Floyd Chambers

K. Chambers
K. Chambers

Karlin Floyd Chambers, 56, passed away Tuesday, Dec. 13. Karl was born in Salem, OR to Othniel Robert Chambers and Ardith Jamie (Jones) Chambers. He was the youngest of four children (though he towered above them all, at 6’5”) nick-named K1, K2, K3, and K4. Raised by a wonderful stay-at-home mom on Manbrin Drive N, in Keizer, OR, their home was a gathering spot for the neighborhood kids.

Karl began playing violin at the age of six (following in the footsteps of his dad) and quickly progressed to perform in school orchestras and, as a teen, in statewide competitions. He was also a member of the Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) group at the Unitarian Church, where he participated in group outings, camping trips, and service projects.

Karl graduated from McNary High School in 1978 and attended OSU for a short time.

Karl was a kind soul, music lover, jokester, punster, violinist, hat wearer, postcard enthusiast, unicyclist, and an avid rootbeer drinker (please drink one today, in his honor). He loved catching up and was always happy to see everyone.


Karl is survived by his daughter, Joleen Braasch; mother Ardith Chambers; siblings, Kathryn “Kathy” (Kadri) Özyurt, Kalyani “Yani” (Steve) Davison, and Kerry (Jill Morgenthaler) Chambers; and family and friends. He is preceded in death by his father, Niel Chambers – may they joke, pun, and find peace together again.

Services were held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Salem, OR, on Sunday, Dec. 18. Assisting the family is Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.

Colleen Mae Bartlett

C. Bartlett
C. Bartlett

Colleen Mae Bartlett, aged 88, passed away on December 12, 2016 at her home in Keizer, Oregon.

Colleen was born on October 4, 1928 in Yakima, Washington to Ivan and Leona Smith. The family moved to Ellensburg, Washington where she graduated high school and attended Central Washington College. While in college, she met Edward (Ed) Dale Bartlett Sr. The two married on July 5, 1947 and were longtime residents of Keizer Oregon.

Colleen was a dedicated mother, grandmother and wife. She enjoyed reading, golf and following her grandchildren’s sporting events.

Colleen was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Ed Bartlett, and her sister, Jo Brown. She is survived by her children, daughter Connie Pitts and husband Barry, son Edward Jr., son John and wife Katherine, son David and wife Micki; her grandchildren, Brendan Pitts, Sarah, Garrett, Drew and Jesiah; brother Ivan Smith and wife Elizabeth, sister Beverly Engel and husband Bob, sister-in-law Mary Alice Hale, and many nieces and nephews.

The family would like to give special thanks to Lenora Johnson, who kindly cared for and assisted Colleen with household tasks over the past few years at Emerald Pointe Senior Living Community.

A graveside service will be held at Restlawn Memory Gardens on December 29, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.

Back from injury, Vincent leading McNary

Carlos Vincent has started his senior wrestling season at McNary 6-0, which included three wins at Silverton on Friday, Dec. 9. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)
Carlos Vincent has started his senior wrestling season at McNary 6-0, which included three wins at Silverton on Friday, Dec. 9. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

Of the Keizertimes

Carlos Vincent is making up for lost time.

Back from a shoulder injury that cost him the second half of last season, the McNary senior went 3-0 in a tournament at Silverton on Friday, Dec. 9 to improve to 6-0 on the season. His goal is to win district and then place at state, which he didn’t get an opportunity to do last year.

“It made me mad,” Vincent said. “I didn’t get to wrestle and I knew I could’ve done something big at districts and just didn’t because I was injured.”

And Vincent is off to an undefeated start while wrestling guys at least 15 pounds heavier than him. Vincent weighed in at 155 at Silverton but wrestled at 170 to fill a spot for the Celtics.

“It’s a lot tougher because they’re a lot bigger but I also have to keep in mind that I’m a lot faster,” Vincent said. “I’m more technical. I’ve been wrestling for a while. I’m just using my brains and being faster.”

Vincent started the tournament by defeating Alec Roberts of North Marion 4-3, which was much tighter than he intended.

“I wasn’t too happy about it,” Vincent said. “I didn’t want it to be that close. I knew I could score more.”

Vincent dominated his next two opponents and his 13-4 major decision was the difference in the Celtics edging Silverton 40-39 for their only team win of the day.

McNary head coach Jason Ebbs hopes Vincent will be an example for the rest of his wrestlers.

“I just think his mind is simply in a good place and that’s something that I think is good advice for any wrestler,” Ebbs said. “It’s easy to get caught up in the nerves and the giving up the weight but he’s just learned to step out on the mat and do his job and it’s working out well for him. He just stayed in really good position.

“Giving up that weight causes you to wrestler a little different. You don’t come out and do flamboyant crazy things. You just have to come out and control the match. He did a great job of keeping his opponent’s feet moving, wrestling and attacking on his terms. He does everything we wish kids would do. It really comes down to that simple. You don’t have to score a 100 points to win a match. You just have to score a few and make sure the other guy doesn’t get a bunch.”

Four McNary wrestlers, Sean Burrows (132), Noah Grunberg (145), Brayden Ebbs (152) and Wyatt Kesler (160), earned pins against Silverton. Enrique Vincent (126) and Anthony Garcia Reyes (195) won by forfeit.

In a 49-27 loss to North Marion, Celtics Nick Hernandez (138) and Ryan Mosgrove (120) won by pin fall. Noah Gatchet (106) and Aiden Foster (113) both won via forfeit.

“North Marion is a really solid 4A program,” coach Ebbs said. “We’re just an extremely young program. It’s five freshmen in our varsity lineup and one first-year wrestler. We’re going to bat with North Marion, who’s a phenomenal team.”

Brayden Ebbs, who won the 138-pound Greater Valley Conference title and placed fourth in the state last season, lost by pin fall to Lane Stigall at 152 pounds.

“The guy that Brayden wrestled has already signed with Division I Missouri,” coach Ebbs said. “He’s a phenomenal wrestler. They’re a great program. They do a good job. Our job right now is maybe not be able to beat them but to get our younger kids up to speed with them so in February we can compete with that team a little better than we did that night.

Celtics also came up short against Cascade, 48-27.

Killian Dato (138), Burrows and Ebbs all got pins. Gatchet won by forfeit.

“For us that tournament was about getting our young kids on the mat,” coach Ebbs said. “It worked out well to wrestle a team like North Marion where we got all our returners some solid competitors. They got plenty of tests. They got challenged just fine. Every week we’ve just got to get tougher and better.”

School board looks at student safety


Of the Keizertimes

Student harassment of other students was the topic most discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Salem-Keizer School Board.

The harassment issue came under the heading of student safety, one of many items in the proposed 2017-18 legislative priorities and policies of the Oregon School Boards Association. The board approved first reading of the proposed priorities and policies, as well as a proposed set of safety policies for the district, and is expected to support them officially Jan. 10.

A long succession of people in the audience addressed the board about harassing incidents, mostly directed at minority students, immigrants, and children of immigrants. Some mentioned students who were afraid to go to school because of the ways other students treated them.

The proposed OSBA policies overall involve finance, programs, personnel, governance and operations, and federal issues. The safety issues are among those of governance and operations

On another OSBA matter, the board voted for Tass Morrison of Sublimity to fill director position No. 11 in the Marion region.

Also approved for first reading was a proposed contract for property realignments with the city of Salem. The contract would involve uses of adjacent proper ties the district and the city have acquired.

Grants the board approved were for $739,884 from the Oregon Department of Education for basic instructional services for migrant children, $350,319 from ODE for Richmond Elementary School, $170,325 from ODE for instructional services for neglected and delinquent youth, $155,000 from Early Learning Hub for kindergarten readiness, and $72,305 from ODE for educational programs for migrant preschool children.

Personnel actions approved by the board the following for the McNary High School attendance area:

•A temporary part-time contract for Arlinda Dixon at Clear Lake Elementary School.

•Temporary full-time contracts for Juanita Aldama-Gandara at Weddle Elementary School and Yelena Fowler at Kennedy Elementary School.

•A first-year probation full-time contract for Misty Buckman at Keizer Elementary School.

•Retirement of Ann Jaynes from Whiteaker Middle School.

McNary swim teams win dual over McKay

McNary senior Parker Dean finished second in the 100 and 200 freestyle Friday, Dec. 9 against McKay at the Kroc Center. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)
McNary senior Parker Dean finished second in the 100 and 200 freestyle Friday, Dec. 9 against McKay at the Kroc Center. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

Of the Keizertimes

Filling out the McNary boys varsity lineup is getting more difficult by the meet and that’s a good thing for head swim coach Casey Lewin.

“We had a lot of good swims, had a few JV kids who again this week had some fast times so that will make some things interesting,” said Lewin after the Celtics defeated McKay 119-41 on Friday, Dec. 9 at the Kroc Center in Salem.

“The boys are getting that depth, which I wasn’t expecting to see quite that much of it and it’s definitely a good thing for the team.”

Two sophomores that have impressed Lewin are Cameron Peters and Wyatt Sherwood.

Swimming on the 200 freestyle C relay, Peters had the fastest lead-off leg, finishing in 26.60. Individually, Peters also won the JV 50 free by more than two seconds in 26.91 and the 100 free by more than eight seconds in 1:02.34.

Sherwood swam varsity and placed third in the 50 free in 26.49.

Leading the varsity, freshman Kyle Hooper won the 100 free in 56.88 and the 200 free in 2:03.9. Jake Wyer took first in the 50 free in 24.64 and the 100 fly in 1:14.16. Harrison Vaughn won the 100 back in 1:13.24, barely beating Brock Wyer, who placed second in 1:13.91. Gavin Jaqua finished second in the 100 breaststroke in 1:25.74.

Swimming both distance and sprint, Grant Biondi won the 500 free in 5:55.12 and took second in the 50 free in 25.23.

“He was pretty strong for me last year but this year I think he’s going to surprise himself, a lot of motivation and drive to push himself,” Lewin said. “He’ll be fun to watch.”

McNary also racked up points in relays. Biondi, Sherwood, Jake Wyer and Parker Dean won the 200 free relay in 1:42.79. Peters, Jaqua, Tyler Covalt and Josiah Metz placed first in the 200 medley relay in 2:16.6. Biondi, Vaughn, Alex Sharabarin and Jabez Rhoades had the fasted time in the 400 free relay, finishing in 4:00.75.

The McNary girls got two of its top swimmers back, Marissa Kuch and Sarah Eckert, who missed the first high school meet to compete for their club teams, and also easily defeated McKay, 131-33.

Kuch won the 200 IM in 2:22.47 and the 100 fly in 1:04.04. Eckert won the 100 free in 1:00.41 and the 100 breast in 1:20.32.

Lizzie Bryant had the fastest time in the 100 back, finishing in 1:12.77. Emily Alger placed first in the 200 free in 2:29.44. Alyssa Garvey won the 50 free in 28.49 and Kylie McCarty touched the wall first in the 500 free, finishing in 6:10.51.

The Lady Celts also won three relays.

Abby McCoy, Emma Garland, Hannah Corpe and McCarty had the fastest time in the 200 medley relay, finishing in 2:16.54. Kuch, Eckert, Garvey and Bailey White won the 200 free relay in 1:54.47. Kuch, McCarty, Corpe and Haley Debban then touched the wall first in the 400 free relay, finishing in 4:17.12.

McNary competed against Sprague on Thursday, Dec. 15 and then took a break for the holidays. The next meet is Tuesday, Jan. 3 at the Kroc Center versus West Salem.

“We’re taking the path that we want to be, getting ready for February,” Lewin said. “The biggest thing that we need to work on is, really we do a good job of racing but sometimes we over think it and get too worried. We’ve got to work on relaxing and going back to what we train to do. Hopefully, we’ll put all that together.”

Oh thank Heaven

NOW AND THEN: Jane and John Hyder in front of their 7-Eleven franchise the day before retiring earlier this week and in February 1982 (below) when they took over the store. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

In nearly 35 years as franchisees of the 7-Eleven at the corner of Lockhaven Drive and River Road, John and Jane Hyder have seen as many as four generations of the same families come through their store.

Until they retired on Tuesday, Dec. 13, it wasn’t uncommon for the children of regular customers to drop in and ask if they remembered them from years, sometimes decades, before.

“It happens a lot around the holidays when family is back in town,” said Jane. “Most of the time they have to give me clues, but it really helps if they bring in their kids because I can look at them and see the resemblances from when the parents were their age.”

The Hyders said the regular customers and their families are the things they’ll miss most about the work.

“We have one guy we call ‘Decaf John’ because he comes in about the same time every day and gets a large decaf coffee. We always make sure to have a fresh pot on when he gets here,” John said.


The Hyders have seen a lot of changes in the past three decades, in their business and in Keizer as a whole.

They have an aerial photograph of the 7-Eleven store taken a few years after they purchased the franchise. The place that is now Creekside Shopping Center is still a field, there is no Dairy Queen or apartments hemmed in along the side and back of the building, there isn’t even a stoplight at the intersection. Keizer hadn’t become its own city when they bought the franchise.

“The Marion County Sheriff’s Office provided police and they kind of used our back counter as a work substation and the store as a place to use the restroom,” John said.

In the early years, Jane would work the day shift and John would come in on evenings and weekends. They ran the entire business mostly by themselves with the help of their kids, Jill and Troy. Troy returned to the shop after graduating from Oregon State University and has worked there for 21 years himself, but he’s also going to pursue other interests as his parents depart.

“Everything was clerk-served. If you wanted a Big Gulp, you ordered it at the counter and we served it. There was no self-serve back in those days,” Jane said.

The offerings have also changed. When the Hyders took the reins, 7-Elevens focused on basic convenience store fare of bread, milk, soda, beer and candy.

“Now it is more of a food store with hot and cold food in addition to all of that other stuff,” Jane said.

When the opportunity arose to take on the other 7-Eleven down the street on River Road North, they purchased that one, too, and retained ownership for 26 years. The Hyders sold that stake in 2009.

John said technology has had one of the biggest impacts.

“We’re saving a lot of trees now. Everything used to be done on paper, but now the system 7-Eleven uses takes care of most of it, including ordering product,” he said.

The Hyders have no agenda for what comes next. John wants to get the garage cleaned up, but after that he wants to start volunteering as a way to stay connected with the many customer-friends he’s met over the years.

“I’m going to miss all of our regular friends and customers and staff. They’ve all made our lives easier over the past couple of years and I cannot thank them enough,” John said.

Jane summed it up with a tagline the convenience store used many moons ago, “Oh thank Heaven for 7-Eleven.”

Forest sale vote brings protest to Keizer

Aiyana and Oliver Gonzales, of Walton, Ore., deliver speeches to protesters before a meeting to discuss selling the Elliott State Forest Tuesday, Dec. 13. The pair also testified against the sale during a public hearing on the matter. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Aiyana and Oliver Gonzales, of Walton, Ore., deliver speeches to protesters before a meeting to discuss selling the Elliott State Forest Tuesday, Dec. 13. The pair also testified against the sale during a public hearing on the matter. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

A hearing by the Oregon State Land Board regarding the potential sale of a state forest in southwest Oregon drew protests outside Keizer Civic Center Tuesday, Dec. 13.

The board, consisting of Gov. Kate Brown, Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler were expected to make a decision whether to proceed with the sale of Elliott State Forest to a private company, but delayed a vote after hearing from more than 80 people during public testimony.

Prior to the 10 a.m. meeting, Oregon residents representing cities and regions up and down the Interstate 5 corridor gathered outside Keizer Civic Center to sing, chant and voice opposition to the sale.

The land board is considering the sale of the forest because it has become a drag on Oregon’s Common School Fund. Elliott State Forest was consolidated in the early 1900s to generate long-term funding through managed timber harvests. However, in recent years, due to renewed focus on endangered species that call the forest home – including the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet and Coho salmon – maintenance and management costs have exceeded what the forest can generate. The result is that money intended for use in the schools is being used for the forest.

State officials began investigating the sale of the forest in 2014 and the end result was one bid on the property valued at $220.8 million.

The bid came from a joint venture between Roseburg’s Lone Rock Timber Management Company and the Umpqua Indian Development Corporation (UIDC). However, Lone Timber would be the dominant force in the deal providing more than 87 percent of the equity investment. The UIDC’s stake amounts to 12.97 percent.

Jim Paul, director of the Department of State Lands, said his staff suggested approval to move forward with the sale despite some reservations about the details that still needed to be hammered out.

One major unanswered issue would be which of the two parties would maintain control of the easements permitting public access in about half of the 93,000 acre forest in perpetuity. Another revolved around possible adjustments to Harvest Protection Areas that shield older growth from cutting.

Michael Rondeau, CEO of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, said that the sale represented at least a partial restitution for broken treaties of the 1850s and tribal termination in the 1950s.

“The tribe never received a reservation that the treaty of 1853 promised, and it has spent the last 34 years working on land restoration,” Rondeau said.

Chief Warren Brainard of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw, said the easements would be held by the tribe.

“The tribe will work in collaboration with key players. We will work hard to make sure it is responsibly and sustainably managed,” he said.

During public testimony, the overwhelming majority spoke against the sale as bad judgement and dangerous precedent.

“Selling now sets a precedent for future land sales. Privatization would be a failure of our government. Do we just give and say we are incapable? What message does it send to the Bundys? What assets do we sell next?” questioned Portland’s John Peterson.

“In the face of previous sale attempts, courts have upheld environmental protections. If the courts judge in protection of the environment as vital, why are you trying to sidestep the laws you have sworn to protect?” asked Christina Hubbard of Cottage Grove.

Eugene biologist Aaron Nelson said the permit process that would become part of the future public use was worrisome.

“They will allow public access to parts, but citizens will be be required to get a permit. Even with the permit, citizens will not be able to look for endangered species in the area,” Nelson said.

Opponents suggested finding ways to uncouple the forest from the Common School Fund or investigating the sale of carbon credits as a way to overcome the recent revenue shortfalls.

Several individuals representing school-related organizations, such as the Oregon Education Association and the Confederation of School Administrators, offered full-throated support of the sale as did representatives of some county commissions in the areas around Elliott State Forest.

There were also those who walked a tighter line of support. Tribal rights advocate Se-ah-dom Edmo said she counted herself among the environmentalists in attendance, but asked those opposing the sale to look at the details.

“This land is returning to the hands of tribes who suffered termination. When it comes right down to it, your position is aligned with the entitled settler mentality you claim to be fighting against,” Edmo said.

“Cradles of Power” by Harold I. Gullan


Cradles of Power” by Harold I. Gullan

c.2016, Skyhorse Publishing
$27.99 / $42.99 Canada
379 pages


Your parents had such high hopes for you.

You were going to make it, and make something of yourself. You’d have a better life than they had: more wealth, stronger health, bigger home, more opportunities. You were going to be somebody even if, as in the new book “Cradles of Power” by Harold I. Gullan, it took everything they had.

Walk through any bookstore or library and you’ll learn that over the last 240 years, a lot has been written about America ’s presidents. We know what history says about those men, but what about the people who raised them?

George Washington, for instance, loved his mother very much but, according to Gullan, she was a bit of a nag. She also embarrassed her son by complaining so much about a lack of money that the Virginia House of Delegates granted her a pension.

Thomas Jefferson also loved his mother but “he wrote next to nothing” about her. When her home burned to the ground in 1770, Jefferson ’s main concern was not Mom, but the loss of his personal library.

When he was just a child, James Madison’s father lost his father. Because there was a plantation to run and his mother couldn’t do it, the nine-year-old future father of our fourth president stepped up to the plate.

Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson had three sons. The eldest was killed in battle; the younger two promptly joined the cavalry and were captured by the British. “Betty” rode horseback to the prisoner’s camp, bargained for the release of Robert and Andrew, brought them home, and the following summer rode back to broker the release of her neighbors’ sons. The second trip resulted in “the fever,” and she died that fall.

Martin Van Buren’s father was a tavernkeeper. John Tyler’s father raised eight children and twenty-one wards. The only president not to marry grew up “at the center of a circle of adoring females.” Chester Arthur’s parents had “Canadian connections” that caused a stir when he ran for office. And, perhaps significantly, a number of Presidents used their mothers’ maiden names as their own.

Sick of politics, you say?  That’s fine; “Cradles of Power” is really more biographical in nature anyway.

From George W. to George W. and the guy after him, author Harold I. Gullan writes of the influences that shaped our presidents, for better or worse, going back sometimes for generations. Because the new nation (or the journey here) could be a hardship, we clearly see how outside forces shaped early leaders and how modern times led to different issues. Gullan does the occasional comparison between sets of parents, which is a viewpoint that becomes quite fascinating, and he doesn’t gloss over negative aspects of our Presidents’ childhoods. That offers a nice balance and a great peek through history.

Perfect for parents or grandparents, this book might also be enjoyed by teens who are just gaining an appreciation for the past and its players. And, of course, if that’s you, then “Cradles of Power” is a book to hope for.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin