In the spring
of 2002, I was awarded a writing residency at Caldera, a remote artist
community 17 miles from the central Oregon town of Sisters (pop. 911a
number I was seeking respite from at the time). Craig Eisenbeis,
a local writer who had published an article mentioning my visit to the
region, offered his parents, Sid and Harriet, as potential subjects
when I got to town.
Both only children
descended from Northwest pioneer stock, Sid is a retired oil executive
and Harriet a retired teacher. Their home sits on a two-acre lot
full of Ponderosa pine and ancient juniper trees, and abundant bird and
animal life give a constant show outside their picture window.
Why are you married?
Well, when we
got married, goodness
everybody was getting married, whether you
really wanted to or not. Quite a few of my friends just decided
thattheyve usually stayed with em, even sobut
everybody, it was just the thing you just did.
Its interesting that, whether it was something you really wanted
or not, it still stuck.
More so than now, yeah.
Well, my interest in what I was doing, aside
from my work, was around the home; the family; the social activities;
and those all come with marriage, to me. A single person
just arent really available, in the same sense
that they are when youre married.
Its a whole different life. I just wanted
those things. And I got
em. Its as simple as that. We
got married right out of University of Washington. We just sort
of matched up for each other.
Had you been in relationships before?
Nobody I wanted
We both belonged to a fraternity and sorority,
and I met her at a fraternity dance. And just hit it off, real good.
And weve been good ever since. There wasnt
a big wedding.
No, and in those days, they werent weddings
like they are now, and I never wanted one anyway.
It was just a family wedding, in Seattle, at
the University. We came down to Portland, where we rented an apartment;
where I was working. I went to work for Chevron right out of school,
Then children came along?
Well, Craig was our only natural son. After
that, she couldnt have any more kids. So then we adopted a
Of course, having the war going on did not assist
getting a family right away.
No, cause we hadda go to war for three
I went to work for the Coast Guard. I
went overseas with the 7th
Fleet. General Macarthurs command. And was there for quite
a while, while Macarthur went back to the Philippine Islands. We
were in several invasions, and so forth. Especially the Leyte Gulf
and the Philippine Sea.
Harriet, were you teaching school during that time?
Yeah. I think living through the war like
we did makes a difference. Because we were separated for
Almost three years.
It makes you just kind of glad to settle down, you
know, get back on an even keel. Perhaps you overlook more things,
I dont know. But I do think it makes a difference. And
we were very glad when it was over. We had rented a house in Portland,
while we were gone, and sublet it. We bought it after the war.
I was able to avoid going to San Francisco,
where I could have gone
probably should have,
but thats finecause I enjoyed it more where I was.
Maybe we could have made more money someplace, but
its fine. We were always comfortable.
I was more interested in my family, and living
where I wanted to, than I was in getting to be a big shot. However,
I did fine and worked there for about 40 years. I worked in Accounting
for a long time and then she got to teaching school in Lake Oswego, and
we raised our family there. She taught kindergarten half a day for
twenty years while I worked there. I have a hard time explaining
anything thats unusual about our marriage, or why we did this or
that, because it just fell into place. And its just natural,
and its been fine from the beginning.
Hes been exactly like I like.
Ive never regretted marrying him. And
I could have married some other people, too!
Had some other offers?
yes. But not after.
Can you describe a little bit about what it is that you like?
Well, I could stand a little more
I could be much more
Ive never been overwhelmed with gifts, and
that sort of thing.
I could never be particularly interested in
giving her presents and things like that. And I still am not. I
just say, whenever she wants to get anything, "get it." And
she does. Its as simple as that. She had to adjust to
me in that respect. Because I wasnt a person whod shower
her with jewelry, and flowers and all that kind of stuff.
I just got used to it in time. Didnt
What would you say is the purpose of marriage, and has that changed?
Well, its certainly a background to work from.
Towards what you wanna be, and somebody that helps you.
I dont think people today look at marriage,
on the whole, quite the same as we did, many long years, sixty-some years
Ha, ha. No.
And they dont have the same values, all
of society has changed so much. And their opinions and interests
and everything have changed with it. Its understandable; in
some ways its very good, and in some ways it isnt
so good. The sense of home values is being lost. Compared
to the way it used to be. And things thatre being developed
around home, and your children, and raising your family right
just dont do it the same way they used to do it. Little things.
The thing that theyre losing
is the sense of family unity. We talk about the families
nowadays having so much more available to them to do, and diversified
activities... that werent around when we were young. When
you get all that and put it together, it ends up with a different perspective
of life than the way we used to have it. And in some ways, we dont
think its so good. But then, life has to go on, and has to
always keep changing. And thats what its doin.
Do you think marriage is still necessary?
Most certainly is. A country like this is
When you get old.
really founded, and based, on marriages.
Families. When you have a free society.
Well, theres alternative families now. Theres different
kinds of families.
Well, I think thats fine if it works, you know.
But some people just cant stick with anybody, you know.
And you think having the institution of marriage remain intact helps that
Yes. People dont always expect to stay
married. We did. I never thought of getting a divorce
Maybe he did sometime...
No, I never did.
Why do you think that this change has taken place?
Its because we were brought up that way.
In stable families.
We didnt even think of
things like that. When we got married, we intended to stay that
way, and we did, and we liked it.
Thats why were not too good of a subject for some of
the stuff youre asking, because it was so simple.
Theres nothing to talk about. (Harriet