Turmoil, rancor, and nasty posts flooded Facebook as witnesses testified before Congress in the hearings to determine whether President Donald Trump should be impeached.

Family members and friends line up in favor of the president or against him.

Some say he’s an innocent victim of a witch hunt. Others describe him as a narcissistic dictator abusing his power for political gain.

I could suffer from whiplash bouncing between the pro- and anti-Trump memes online.

Can we attend family dinners for Thanksgiving and avoid the topic of impeachment? Will the resultant arguments damage forever the relationships we value with family members?

Politics aside, Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of blessings.

At church Sunday, Pastor Mike Stavig asked us to count 10 blessings from the past week. The first 10 were easy—answers to prayers, friendship, safe travels, my husband, my son, my daughter, my daughter’s friend who accompanied Nora to the emergency room in Pullman, the doctors who treated Nora, our home, our pets. The next 10 I had to dig a bit deeper.

Pastor Joe Martin noted that most young people, when they have an inactive moment, reach for their cell phones. So do older people. The days of boredom and daydreaming are gone, which isn’t always a good thing.

Time for reflection also fades with technology addiction.

But in a quiet moment, list the blessings in our life. Then consider the words to this old hymn:

“Count your blessings

Name them one by one

Count your blessings

See what God hath done.”

So often we focus on what’s wrong in our lives. But we have so much to appreciate—not necessarily things, but people and relationships.

“It’s easy to fall in love with blessings and not the one who blesses,” Martin said.

Thinking of blessings, I’m grateful for longtime local residents who helped me capture and preserve local history, three of whom recently passed away.

Margaret Wildhaber, who died Sept. 10 at 100, shared information the book, Chapters of Life at the Southwest Washington Fair. As the wife of longtime fair manager Tony Wildhaber, she edited the text and reviewed the final book before publication.

Roberta Spencer, who died in early October, provided photos and information for the 2008 update of the Toledo Community Story. She was a member of the Calvin family who homesteaded on the Cowlitz River near Toledo.

Alfred J. Good, who grew up in the Boistfort Valley and died Nov. 13 at 102, recounted stories of his days as a brakeman and conductor for the Burlington Northern Railroad when I interviewed him for the two books, Chehalis: A Can-Do Community and A History of the Chehalis Industrial Commission.


Fox Theatre Hiring Executive Director

 Looking for information on the drive-in theater, I stumbled upon a Chehalis Bee-Nugget article from Aug. 29, 1930, under the headline: “New Fox Theater to Open September 5.”

“No finer theater can be found in all of Southwest Washington than that which Fox interests have erected in Centralia,” the newspaper reported of the $200,000 building. “It is rated as the finest between Tacoma and Portland, and it compares favorably with the best in either of these large cities.”

With brick exterior outside, the theater “rich in color and modernistic motif” featured 1,200 cushioned seats, with 400 in the balcony. Large plated doors and a marble ticket office welcomed guests into the golden foyer, where curved stairways led on either side to the mezzanine and balcony with waiting and dressing rooms for men and women. The first movie aired was “The Doughboys” starring Buster Keaton.

Ninety years later, and more than two decades after the theater quit showing movies, the fully restored Centralia Fox is poised to open in late 2020 as an operating theater with 737 seats — 398 of those in the balcony — and concessions on each floor.

The restored Fox “will be the premiere performance and community gathering space in Southwest Washington,” according to a press release from Scott White, president of Historic Fox Theatre Restorations and the volunteer who spearheaded the restoration efforts.

To that end, Historic Fox Theatre Restorations is looking to hire its first executive director. A full job listing can be seen at centraliafoxtheatre.com. Interested applicants should submit resumes and cover letter to jobs@centraliafoxtheatre.com.


Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at chaptersoflife1999@gmail.com.

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