My good friend Carl Sherman passed away April 30th at the age of 103. You’ll remember him from our drives around town that I wrote about in previous newsletter issues. I knew Carl as “Bud,” which is how he referred to himself when relaying stories to me, the name that friends and family regularly used while he was growing up. I met Bud in the winter of 2011 after I started volunteering at the Old Train Station for FHFG.
He had called FHFG wanting someone from the organization to come out to his apartment at Jennings-McCall to write down his story, and since we had just resumed our oral history project, so timing was perfect. As it turned out, he had already spent the three years prior to our meeting recording his memoirs, so that was a bonus! I would go visit him once a month or so, and record his recollections of Forest Grove, sometimes driving around town with Bud and a tape recorder. Good times! Bud’s memory, though not as clear in the last few months, was still sharp, particularly when compared with that of yours truly. And he knew every house, every road in Forest Grove like an old friend. Every turn would spark a memory.
Bud was born Herman Carlyle Binkley in 1910 in Portland to Willa Pearl Barrett Binkley and Clyde Darius Binkley at home. When Bud was five, his mother remarried Harry Sherman who ran a saw mill at Warren, near St. Helens. For some reason, Bud preferred being called Bud to “Herman Sherman.” Most of his early life was spent working around the family’s series of saw mills. He worked in Warren for eight or so years, then at Olequa, Washington, where he went to elementary school with members of the Olequa tribe of Cowlitz. After four years at Olequa, the family relocated to the saw mill above Gales Creek. Bud was often responsible for caring for the mill’s electrical system. When Bud was visiting his grandparents in Portland, a fire destroyed the mill at Gales Creek and they moved to Scappoose for a year before settling in Forest Grove. Bud was a sophomore in high school at the time. During one summer, he worked at the Carnation mill, where “Dad Sherman” worked as a sawyer. Though he knew every aspect of the saw mill life, Bud’s true passions were electronics and ham radio. So knowledgeable was Bud, in fact, that when it came time to cover the subject of radio systems in high school, the science teacher let Bud teach the class. While still in high school he got his radio license. He would follow the one electrician in town, Raleigh Walker, around and thus learned the trade. He went to Oregon State University, and obtained his electrician’s license, and when he returned to Forest Grove, he had all the jobs he could handle! He wired several buildings at Pacific University, as well as the two movie theatres in town, and many of the homes built here in the 1930s and 1940s. If your home was built before 1955, he has probably been in your home to repair something or other.
Bud enlisted in the army in 1943 during World War II, and served in the Philippines and New Guinea. Based at Manila Bay, he was put in charge of keeping the bases electrified. He wired much of the area, climbing power poles and a few palm trees too. After the war, he returned to Forest Grove, where he continued to be one of only a few electricians in town. He was an active Mason, was Master at Holbrook Lodge in Forest Grove, and earned the degree of High Priest in 1953. Bud moved to Portland in 1955, and worked at Tice Electric for 23 years. (Interestingly, in the early 1950s, Bud’s brother Harry Jr. became the Superintendent of Forest Grove Light and Power.) Bud was married twice (to Elsie Lemley and Elda Berdan,) and for the last five years, he had a girlfriend named Helen, who also lived at Jennings-McCall. He had a stepdaughter who lived in Beaverton, and many, many nephews and nieces.
Suffice it to say, he left behind numerous stories on tape (now digitized), and I have been working on editing these. He also allowed me to scan a lot of his photos, and said he was fine with me featuring his saw mill stories and photos in the newsletter, so look out for those along the way.
As anyone who knew Bud can tell you, he was an avid joke teller, and he had one for every day and every occasion. The majority of jokes he told me involved his age, such as “Most of my friends are gone, and so are my enemas.” He was proof that humor keeps you young. Bud was well aware that he had much history to share, and I feel so fortunate to have met him, to listen to his stories, and to record and save them. I hope I confirmed the fact that his life and his stories are still important, and that his experiences are valued. Thanks to him, and his desire to make connections across generations, we are left with a treasure trove of information on early Forest Grove for future study.
Thanks Bud for sharing part of your life with me. You will be missed.
[Note from editor: The author and date were not posted on the original version of this story; author may have been Don Skinner?]