Bobbie Beese, Vikkie Naccarato, Barbara St. Clair and Sally Green have a common bond that brings them together on Wednesday afternoons – their passion for history.
“We’re memory keepers,” St. Clair said about their group, the Millwood History Enthusiasts. “We’re asking you to share your memories, whatever they are.”
Millwood History Enthusiasts formed to collect and document the city’s history through photos, recorded interviews, written stories or recollections and historical artifacts.
Focusing on “Life in Millwood,” the women gather personal memories dating back to Millwood’s beginnings. The earliest memory collected is from the late 1880s.
“It doesn’t have to be full sentences, just little snippets of feelings or memories are fine,” Beese said. “We don’t care if your memory jumps. Nothing is too small or insignificant to send us.”
The group encourages written submissions about any personal account involving Millwood, even current events. Naccarato said the project isn’t limited to Millwood residents. They also are interested in hearing from those who have passed through and have a memory to share.
“We would love to have anybody from the ’70s or ’80s write something about growing up in Millwood or their experience here,” Beese said. “If someone wants to tell us about the tree lighting that happened (last month) we would love to have it on there.”
Beese said their first priority is to interview the community’s elderly. They hope to include sections of this oral history on the group’s website.
“Our resources are limited,” Beese said. “We’re going to try and get the sources that are going to disappear first.”
After collecting the material, it is posted to the millwoodfriends.org website, organized by topic.
Eventually the group plans to store the information at Millwood City Hall. Beese said Millwood Mayor Dan Mork offered the group a vacant room to house the historical collection.
“All we need to do is come up with some file cabinets.” Beese said. “According to the state archivist the more places you have it and the more mediums you have it the more likely it is to survive.”
The group officially formed in October when Beese and St. Clair considered taking a class at Spokane Community College to preserve family history. However, plans changed and the women decided to meet together instead of attending the class.
“We’ve been talk, talk, talking about this for a long time,” Naccarato said with a laugh. “We finally decided we would do something about it.”
The group meets at the Corner Door Café, and all are welcome to attend.
“If you have the time, come join this informal group who loves to visit about Millwood,” Naccarato said. “We’ll welcome anybody.”
Documenting individual memories allows the group to add a personal side to the history they are collecting. For example, the group is currently seeking memories about the 1957 Inland Empire Paper Co. fire. They have collected several personal accounts of that day already, including that of Linda Larson Baer, who said the fire happened during her birthday party.
Besides personal interviews, the women plan to research subjects such as stores, streets, houses, town events, personalities, the paper mill and families.
“We just have ideas after ideas,” Naccarato said. “We could work on this for years and not run out of stuff.”
All four women have lived and worked in Millwood for several years. St. Clair and Green are sisters who grew up in Millwood. Their grandfather, Chester Buckland, was the town’s second mayor. Their great-grandmother was the housekeeper to Waldo Emerson Rosebush, the paper company’s general manager at the time.
Naccarato moved into the historic Rosebush home in 1982.
“There is a whole generation that called our house haunted,” Naccarato said. “I would love to get some of those stories.”
Beese grew up in Dishman and moved to Millwood in 1972. In 1990, she bought the building where the Corner Door café is located and co-owns the business with her brother Gregg Mott.
“Between us we have all kinds of stuff we’ve just collected over the years from different sources,” Naccarato said. “We have talked for so long on trying to put it someplace and finally this started. We have a place to store it and record it.”
Asked about the goal of their project, Naccarato replied she wasn’t sure they would ever be done.
“History is being created today,” she said. “Give us 20 years and somebody will say they were sitting at table at the Corner Door gathering information. We’ll be the history.”