Off Beat: Shirley Temple, peanut butter — and a pitcher of milk

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



A Shirley Temple milk pitcher, made in the 1930s.

Shirley Temple’s recent death stirred up some memories about the time she passed through Clark County, thanks to a La Center woman who made the Hollywood legend a peanut butter sandwich.

Almost 80 years ago, Wilma Soehl Green went to work at the Summit Grove Tavern. She died on Sept. 2 at age 95, but Green left behind a personal history: “My Memories of Summit Grove.”

La Center-area history buffs Tom Wooldridge, Liz Cerveny and Barbara Barnhart all passed along elements of Green’s story; they included copies of some pages of Green’s handwritten memoir:

“I went to work at the Summit in the summer of 1935,” she wrote. “I was trained in the proper way to greet and serve the customers. Their clientele was mostly from Portland and Longview as well as a lot of tourists — some staying in the cabins.

“I had worked there a couple of weeks when Shirley Temple and her parents, brother, and bodyguard stopped. I made a peanut butter sandwich and a chocolate milkshake for Shirley.

“They were a very nice family and they enjoyed the place.”

When the child star — she would have been 7 or 8 in 1935 — walked over to a nearby goldfish pond, “The bodyguard followed at a discreet distance. I thought it was sad that her every move had to be watched,” Green wrote.

The former tavern is in business again. It’s now Summit Grove Lodge, at 30810 N.E .Timmen Road, south of La Center.

‘Motion pitcher’ star

Barnhart, president of the La Center Historical Museum, also shared an interesting image of the child star: It’s on a milk pitcher.

“I have had the Shirley Temple milk pitcher since I was a little girl,” Barnhart said. “Shirley was my favorite movie star when I was growing up.”

As she recalls, the 10-ounce pitcher “was a ‘give-away’ in the 1930s with the purchase of Wheaties. It may have been part of a three-piece set: milk pitcher, bowl and mug.

“In my adult years, the pitcher has always been placed on a special shelf in my kitchen wherever I have lived. It is still in perfect condition.”

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.

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