Your current subscription does not provide access to this content.
Print Subscriber Verification
Are you a current print subscriber to Columbia Gorge News? If so, you qualify for free access to all content on columbiagorgenews.com. Simply verify with your subscriber id to receive free access. Your subscriber id may be found on your bill or mailing label.
These WASP flying goggles, dog tags and Congressional Gold Medal are on loan to the museum by the family of Eileen Roach Kesti, who served as a WASP in World War II. “Not Just a Footnote: Women Who Shaped Hood River History” will run through June. The History Museum of Hood River County is located at 300 E. Port Marina Drive and is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.hoodriverhistorymuseum.org.
This cedar-root berry basket, made of coiled cedar root, was created by Yakama weaver Netti Kuneki Jackson (1942-2013). It was gifted to the museum by the artist in 1984. The twined basket, dated at c. 1900, was created by an unknown Wasco maker and was a gift of Dorothy Woolpert; the books were written by Martha McKeown (1903-1974), a Hood River teacher, writer and activist.
A collection of Red Cross Badges (c. 1941-1945), an example of a headdress worn by Red Cross nurse volunteers during World War II, a syringe and medicine bottles (from Barclay Pharmacy, a store serving Hood River from 1933-1967).
The new exhibit welcomes public participation in the form of sticky note messages, where museum guests can contribute their own stories and memories of notable women. This one reads: “My Grandmother Ethel Yeager was my biggest inspiration! A poor West Virginian who spent her life helping the poor and downtrodden. She spread joy and love to everyone she met.”
Eileen Roach Kesti was a pilot, lobbyist and veteran (1920-2001) who served in the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) — the first women in history to fly U.S. military aircrafts. Her uniform is on loan to the museum courtesy of the Kesti family.
Said to be the highest honor awarded to civilians, The Sixth Class Order was presented to Shizue Iwatsuki in 1974 for her achievements in poetry and for bridging cultural divides between Japan and the United States. Translated, it reads: “The Sixth Class of the Order of the Precious Crown is hereby conferred upon Mrs. Shizue Iwatsuki, citizen of the U.S.A., by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. In witness thereof, the Seal of State has been affixed to these presents at the Imperial Palace. This day, the 29th of the Fourth month of the Forty-ninth Year of Showa.”
HOOD RIVER — The new temporary exhibit at The History Museum of Hood River County focuses on women, past and present, who have made and continue to make an impact on our region — bringing them out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
“Not Just a Footnote: Women Who Shaped Hood River History” features educators, caregivers, entrepreneurs, historians, activists, artists and community builders of Hood River County.
Though women have always played an integral role in society, their stories are often relegated to footnotes: “But the stories of their determination, ingenuity, self-sacrifice and commitment to bettering their communities for the future deserve a spotlight,” reads an exhibit placard that greets guests to the museum. “This exhibition tells the stories of a few of the many remarkable women from our area.”
It is organized by general activities or occupations that emerged during the research phase of the exhibit — and each features three women from the past and one from the present.
“Most of the women featured do not fit neatly into one category,” said Museum Executive Director Anna Goodwin. “Their lives are complex and their contributions to the community extend well beyond just one arena.”
Indeed, it’s interesting to see how these women’s lives intersect with each other — and how their actions helped pave the way for those who came after them.
There are familiar names among the women featured, such as Juana Dominguez (1913-2002), the entrepreneur and chef behind Juanita’s Fine Foods; Kate McCarthy (1917-2015), a conservationist who founded what is now Thrive Hood River; and Georgiana Smith (1842-1911), an organizer and fundraiser who was instrumental in the opening of the Hood River Library — the park behind the library is named in her honor.
As the person who gathers items from Hood River for Columbia Gorge News’ history page, I enjoyed learning more about the women I have read about and featured over the years: Mary Schlick (1925-2020) and Ruth Guppy (1913-2002) both wrote columns for Hood River News; Shizue Iwatsuki (1897-1984), the first Japanese American to be awarded the Sixth Class Order of the Precious Crown by the Japanese emperor; Emma Hanby (1906-1977), county health nurse after World War II (and still remembered for the immunizations she administered); and Flora Cushinway Thompson (1893-1978), a member of the Warm Springs tribe who lobbied against the building of The Dalles Dam.
And then there are the present-day women who continue to make a difference in a variety of ways: Sisters Terrie Brigham and Kim Brigham-Campbell, owners of Brigham Fish Market in Cascade Locks; Leti Valle Moretti, the first Latinx person elected to the Hood River County Commission; Rachel Harry, honored with a Tony Award for her excellence in Theater Education in 2017; Nan Noteboom, 2023 Advocate of the Year for the State of Oregon’s Migrant Education Program; Linda Tamura, author and historian; and Tina Castañares, longtime doctor and healthcare advocate.
In all, 25 women are featured. But how do you choose who is important, or what actions and accomplishments qualify as influential? What were the factors that influenced the historical documentation of these notable figures?
It’s a question Goodwin answers on another placard: “To present the topic of important and influential women is a daunting task, even in the limited context of Hood River County … We attempted to choose individuals who represent the impact that women made and continue to make on the Hood River County area.”
Ultimately, the exhibit is meant to inspire viewers in identifying the important roles women play in all of our lives and look at how they inspire us to make a difference in our community. Goodwin and Museum Assistant Morganne Pockels have included a space to recognize those women in our lives — sticky notes and pens are available so guests can contribute their own stories and memories.
“Not Just a Footnote: Women Who Shaped Hood River History” will run through June. The History Museum of Hood River County is located at 300 E. Port Marina Drive and is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.hoodriverhistorymuseum.org.