Then and now at Walla Walla's Y

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Since 1886 “the Y” has been our community center of relevance, and wise words from yesteryear speak as clearly now as then. The following words were shared by longtime Y leader F.D. Applegate who inspired so many over a wonderful career of service:

Peregrinations — Sure there is such a word. I know because I looked it up to make sure. It’s on page 512 in my dictionary. During my peregrinations up and down Boyer Avenue these last few years, I’ve seen some new professors with whom I was unacquainted. One of them was Paul Jackson of the English department of Whitman. The other day I met him and tactlessly referred to him as one of the new professors.

Says Paul “I’ve been here now seven years and you refer to me as a new professor. How long does a guy have to live here before he can feel he really belongs?”

Well I’ll tell you how it is Paul; I have lived here now for 36 years and I‘m just beginning to feel like maybe I belong myself. Stay in there pitching Paul and maybe eventually you will arrive!

Fleas and mosquitos — They do say visitors to San Francisco are bothered with fleas but don’t expect a native son to admit there are any such animals. It isn’t that way here in good old Walla Walla . We old-timers are willing to admit under pressure, that there have been a few mosquitoes around here lately.

Screens haven’t seemed to do any good. They go right through them. One of the roomers here insists that Axis saboteurs are responsible and the funny thing about it is he is serious. He really thinks so.

Americanism — “Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry. Every loyal American citizen should be given the opportunity to serve this country wherever his skill will make the greatest contribution. Whether it is in the ranks of our armed forces, war production, agriculture, government service, or other work essential to the war effort.”

I’d like to plagiarize and claim the above lines for my own but I cannot tell a lie. I’m a regular little George Washington. President Roosevelt spoke them Feb. 3, 1943.

He made it — Who, what and when, plus a whereas for extra measure? In other words what’s all the shooting about? Have patience my friends and I’ll tell you. You see all my tribe has walked before they were a year old. Kind of a family tradition so to speak.

“Along comes Mike Monahan, the third grandchild, and he doesn’t seem to be ambitious that way. I began to get worried as the sands of time were fast running out in the direction of birthday No. 1. Yep, you guessed it. The son of a gun made it with a couple of weeks to spare. Now I’ll have to find something else to worry about.”

… It’s December in Walla Walla and life at the YMCA carries on. Through those front doors that bang in the wind enter our community members from diapers to Depends all with individual needs and desires and a life they lead daily both wonderful and sad.

Down that main hall race children anxious for a chance to splash and play while others assisted by two- and four-wheeled legs carefully proceed toward warm water that will make the ache of arthritis go away for another day.

Basketballs bounce because business leaders of today and tomorrow want to improve teamwork, communication and the joy of living.

Then and now Walla Walla carries on. We all could be a little more welcoming to people we don’t know regardless of age, color or socioeconomic standing. We all can embrace the greatness and community needs Walla Walla and every community has, those “mosquitoes.”

We all can stand a little taller when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. We can all celebrate a little more when first steps are taken and weep more when last breaths are given.

Mr. Applegate, you gave a life of service to the YMCA and Walla Walla thanks you yesterday, today and tomorrow. May this Christmas season be filled with hope and love shared among family and friends.

Randy Grant is executive director of the Walla Walla YMCA.

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