These past few weeks it has been difficult for me to break my news addiction. My brain pattern travels in a circle, searching for good news. It can’t seem to quit. Mental health professionals remind us not to neglect self care. Stop the brain. Take a break. Relax. Breathe.
And in doing so, my momentarily stilled brain reminds me of special places. Some that are threatened. Others that once were. And many that are no more. (Oh, oh. Then the circle starts again.) I try to imagine back to a time here in Oregon when everywhere was a special place; at least perhaps through the lens I wear today as I pine for the wild. I imagine to many like my 3rd great grandparents back in Oregon Territory times, it may have been uncomprehensible to understand the lengths we go and the fights we have to protect wilderness today.
Again, breathe. Stop the brain. Where best to do that if you live here in West Linn? We are lucky to have so many nearby choices. Mary S. Young Park is one of the easiest and most soothing choices. For me, now, I have gained a new appreciation for being able to walk again on all of the park trails. Although I appreciate it’s fewer trails accessible to people like me on scooters and wheels as I could still weave through some of the stands of cottonwood and fir.
Just who was Mary S. Young? Mary Scarborough was born in 1892 in Hanover, New Hampshire. I don’t know what brought her to Oregon, but I thank the Mary S. Young Park Facebook page for helping me learn many details about her life, including that she married Thomas Young in Portland in 1924. Thomas had a degree in engineering and eventually operated the Thomas E Young and Company construction business until the early 1930’s. This couple was the first to buy property on the Lake Oswego bluffs on Lake Oswego’s south shore. Eventually they developed a new home with large gardens on the north shore. They had two daughters and four grandchildren.
Mary was said to have a passion for beauty. She lived in the area for 55 years, and was extremely active in activities popular for some women of that time – church and garden clubs and service projects and organizations. Beginning in 1960 she was consistently active in planting and other work parties at Lake Oswego’s George Rogers Park. She apparently attended the same Lake Oswego Church, Christ Church, where I sung in the children’s choir in the late 1960’s, though I didn’t know her and I’m not sure if she attended it so late in her life. She passed away in 1970.
So how did we get our beloved park? Mary bought the 130 acres of the present park for her husband to run cattle on. The Youngs transferred the property to the State of Oregon, through five separate adjoining parcel gifts from 1963-1966. It was their intention that the property be left as a park to be enjoyed by everyone until eternity. And we thank them. Again and again. Thomas E. Young died in 1967, and Mary followed a few years later in 1970. The park was completed in 1971 by Fred Schubert, a local resident and dedicated in 1972. And today, we appreciate those who support the park financially and with their time and energy.
So as we visit this peaceful spot to catch our early morning, or mid-day or late afternoon breaths, we honor Mary and Thomas. I must imagine that Mary would be pleased to see Mary Young Park today, and how much our community enjoys and supports it.