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Random Reader: Hansons have spent their lives in Elma-McCleary area

Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin | For The Vidette  The Vidette’s “random readers” for this month,” Lyle and Opal Hanson, married more than 58 years, pose for a photo in their cozy rural Elma home.Buy Photo
Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin | For The Vidette The Vidette’s “random readers” for this month,” Lyle and Opal Hanson, married more than 58 years, pose for a photo in their cozy rural Elma home.

ELMA — Lyle and Opal Hanson seem never to have done anything for the short term.

The rural Elma couple’s 60th wedding anniversary is just a year and a half away, and this month’s randomly selected Vidette subscribers say they’ve been reading the newspaper since they were newlyweds.

As residents of rural areas near Elma and McCleary their entire married life, as well, “I had so many family members that had different things in there; I’ve got all kinds of family stuff that I’ve got out of The Vidette,” Mrs. Hanson said.

She especially enjoys the paper’s “Flashback” column, these days known as”Pages of the Past;” gleaning entries on her family from as long ago as 120 years. Additionally, The Vidette has reported the news of the couple’s own wedding, as well as their 25th and 50th anniversaries.

On Oct. 30, 1954, Brady native Opal Barrett, daughter of Roscoe and Myrtle Barrett, became the bride of a kindly half-Norwegian, half-German, Lyle Hanson, who originated from Carrington, N.D. They were married in the McCleary Alliance Church and now have three grown children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A suggestion from Lyle Hanson’s sister, Joyce Whipple, who, with her husband, Leo, lived in the East Grays Harbor area, brought him “out west” shortly after he graduated from high school at Carrington.

His first job in the area was undercoating cars for Whitney’s of Montesano. He still has connections with the dealership, driving vehicles to and from various locations, such as off-site sales and dealer trades, Hanson said.

Whipple was working at the Simpson door plant in McCleary, where his brother-in-law soon joined him, in February of 1952, Hanson said. The Whipples “gave me a start, and I stayed with them and used his car.”

Hanson retired from Simpson in 1995, after 33 years at the McCleary plant, then 10 in Shelton. He worked in production for two decades, then in maintenance the remainder of his time with the company.

In the mid-1980s, Simpson moved its plywood production from the McCleary location to Shelton.

“The maintenance boss came over and said, ‘We’re getting a lot of your machinery, and our guys haven’t worked on it. And we’d love to have you come and work on it,’ ” Hanson said. “I enjoyed that too. They were a good bunch of fellows over there.”

Mrs. Hanson, who had worked as a substitute in the kitchen at Elma High School, said her husband used to joke that “when he retired, he would find me a job.” Ironically, after subbing for nine years, “the year he retired, they hired me fulltime,” she laughed. “I said he had that planned all along.”

“I was Mr. Mom for quite a while,” her husband said. “I enjoyed that.”

Mrs. Hanson recalled that when she’d tell her co-workers about her husband’s having done various household tasks, such as cleaning the bathroom, they’d ask, “Oh, can you loan him out?”

After five years, Mrs. Hanson joined her husband at home again fulltime. They currently are “RVers” and, as members of the Elma Alliance Church for 54 years, enjoy events and activities with their church family, Hanson said.

Mrs. Hanson also keeps herself occupied compiling three-ring family albums fairly bursting with photos of family members both past and present and newspaper items, including many she’s clipped from The Vidette. She began the books around the time her parents celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

The albums are loaded with generations of her family’s history in Brady, including her great-grandfather, James Madson “Matt” Barrett; her grandfather, Jesse Charles “J.C.” Barrett, for whom Barrett Road in the small community west of Satsop is named, and her father, Roscoe Barrett.

“Don’t ever cut the Flashback,” Mrs. Hanson said. “That’s how I keep the books up to date.”

Her family’s history includes an account of Myrtle Shelton and Raleigh Barrett having attended together Matt and Rebecca Barrett’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration at the Brady Grange. “And that’s when she met my dad,” her date’s brother, Mrs. Hanson said.

“She went with Raleigh and came home with Roscoe,” she laughed. They were married six months later, on Dec. 22, 1932.

Sadly, though, Seaman 1st Class Raleigh Barrett was among the more than 640 persons who lost their lives when the heavy cruiser they served on during World War II went down between the islands of Java and Sumatra. Battered by Japanese torpedoes, the USS Houston sank Feb. 28, 1942, in the Battle of Sunda Strait.

The tragedy is also chronicled with photos, newspaper clippings, letters and more in Mrs. Hanson’s family albums.

She’s also assembled individual albums for five of her grandchildren, especially tailored to each from the time they were born and presenting them when they graduated from high school. Currently she’s assembling a sixth for her granddaughter, Mikayla, who will graduate in June from Montesano High School.

She spends “a lot of time” on her albums, her husband noted proudly.

Mrs. Hanson admits that’s true. “I just get lost (in it) sometimes,” she said.