Harriet Langmas, 85, at her home

Someone recommend that I reach out to a man named David Langmas to talk with him about the project. We met for breakfast and spent an hour or so chatting. He recommended that I reach out to his mother because of her many years of history here in Bend. A few days later I met Harriet at her home. I could have listened to her stories for days. She sure has seen some changes in this community. After we chatted, I asked if she would play something on the piano. She offered to "play me out" and gave me a lovely rendition of "All The Things You Are". I had never been played out before... such an honor. 


I'm an Oregonian. I was born in Portland. Moved here, I think I was 23. I'm now 85. It's nice not to have to go to Portland to buy shoes anymore. That's the first thing that popped into my mind. When David was little, to get tennis shoes we had to go to Portland. There weren't any shoe companies in Bend. Well, there wasn't much of anything, really (laughs). The roads weren't paved. 3rd Street didn't go through. You know, 61 years ago. That's over half the length of time there's been a Bend. It was 1904 - or was it 05? - when Bend started. We've lived here a lot longer than half. I came for one year (laughs). To fish. And to teach. We thought we'd give it a year. But then we just kind of fell in love with it. And met some wonderful people, just such great people. Every year we wouldn't even think of leaving. And Sam became Mayor. Well, first Planning Commissioner, and then Mayor. For 16 years he was on the Council, running Bend. When we had our only flood, it was I think '81, he was Mayor. So he was on national TV. It was the fist time that Bend had ever flooded. 

Who are you?

I'm Harriet Langmas - Mrs. Sam Langmas. I told about Sam being Mayor. He was a football coach and a teacher for many years and then became a landscaper for the last 20 years of his life and loved that. People would see him maintaining the old grain shed before they tore it down and they'd say, "I'll trade jobs with you." (Laughs) He liked what he did his last 20 years, for sure. I've been a teacher and a piano teacher. And very active in quite a few civic organizations. I was State President of the P.E.O Sisterhood 40 years ago. I'm the oldest SMART reader in the state. They started 26 years ago in Bend and Portland and I signed up to read to the children to teach them to love books. I've also been on the Oregon Symphony Board and the Oregon Literacy Association. And, of course, we were really active in the Presbyterian Church. I think when we joined there were 120 members and now there are 1,000 members. So I'm the oldest member in terms of length of time, not in age. Because I'm only 85. 

What brought you to Bend?

As I say, we came to fish. We were coming over here every weekend to fish. We trolled. So we thought, well, we'll just teach in Bend for a year and fish our hearts' content. And then we bought two lots and decided to build a house. So that curtailed our fishing quite a bit (laughs). We came on our honeymoon in '54 and then we moved here in '56. 

What do you like about Bend?

Well, the people, I think. That's the first thing that pops into my head. And we were just greeted by 20 young couples our age who were delightful people. They're still our friends. Most of them are still alive, which is pretty lucky. I think the people. It isn’t always beautiful weather. You know? I was probably more inclined to move toward the beach, but Sam was from Pullman, Washington, and he liked the high desert - the dryness. So I was a good wife and moved with him here. 

All the people we met when we first moved here were just very interested in being in AAUW and working for Community Chest it was called, now it's United Way, active in church. And we started the AAUW nursery school, which became the AAUW kindergarten, which then turned into the Seven Peaks School, so I'm sort of the great grandmother of Seven Peaks School because I started the nursery school. People thought, Oh what a crazy thing to have nursery school. And we couldn't get too many kids. Now, of course, there are lots of them and it's not such a strange idea. But when we moved here there was no state kindergarten. So that was a real valuable thing that our group effort did was start the AAUW kindergarten. It was well attended. You had to put your name in early, really, to be in that. And, of course, now they don't have it because it's state-sponsored kindergartens. When I moved here there wasn't even a hot lunch program in the schools. It was pack your lunch. Then they built the new high school and they saved room for a cafeteria, but they didn't have financing for it. And I think about 1960, '59 or '60, the community donated funds to buy some equipment for a cafeteria in the high school. And that was the first one. Which is kind of strange because hot lunch programs had been going on for years, but not in Bend. You packed your lunch. A little-known fact (laughs). 

We had some doctors here that offered babies to their friends. Our neighbor was Dr. Moody and he already had six children. And so when he was offered another child, he sent it on to us. And then the next one came through a lawyer. So the first one was a doctor and the second one was a lawyer. So it was very common in those days. You didn't go through an agency. Though we had signed up at Boys and Girls Aid for many years and there just weren't enough babies. So we were very happy (laughs). In one week we could have adopted three, so David could have been a triplet. It was the week that we got David, we got two more phone calls. As it turned out, I even had some of those in nursery school that I could have adopted. It was an interesting situation. I don't think that happens very much anymore. Not a common thing. But then it was very easy to adopt a child. There were lots of phone calls. 

Do you have a favorite memory from here?

I think probably spending the summers at Cultus Lake. And waterskiing and picnicking and having my grandchildren up there. The first few years that we used Cultus Lake you could just leave your boat on the dock. You know, there wasn't any expense. In fact, there was even a lottery that never happened. But you put your name in to get a lot up there at Cultus Lake. (Laughs) What an amazing prospect that would have been. But then they had this survey that said no more people were coming to Central Oregon, so they eliminated the drawing for lots on the Cultus Lake shores. But there were people that had cabins on Elk Lake and on the Metolius River, but they stopped it. That was probably in 1957. That's when the lottery was going to take place. But they eliminated the lottery and now you have to pay to even park your car in the parking lot up there and you can't leave your boat at the dock for more than a minute (laughs). Just the difference in how many people have discovered Central Oregon. It used to be that almost everything closed in October when hunting season came and then it didn't open up until High Lakes opened up in May, but then Mount Bachelor appeared and also Sun River and that changed the whole chemistry of Central Oregon. And now I'm sure we are very noted for being a destination resort area. Which is good, I like a lot of the changes that have come in 61 years. 

What do you wish for the future?

We just need to keep it Bend. Keep the personality of the city. You know, not make it be completely a resort town, but make it with good schools and good hospitals and the infrastructure that makes a community strong. It's nice that we have the tourism also, but we need to improve our roads (laughs). Get them mended so that you don't bounce your car all over. We need to keep our City Council strong, our water system strong, you know all the things that Sam worked for for so many years on City Council. We need to keep them in top notch. That's what I hope. And I hope our college does well. I have a lot of questions about whether it can be sustained in such a tight quarters, but there is land there that will need refurbishing. Personally, I just hope that all my friends last a long time so I can keep enjoying them and enjoying my lifestyle, which couldn't be better. Is that a good ending? 

Do you have any thoughts regarding Bend's growth?

I think it's open territory and I've always loved all the Californians. I think they're great people. I live in Mountain High and probably over half of the people here are from California. I call them the California Equity People because they probably sold a house in California for a lot of money and they were able to come to a beautiful place and buy a prettier house for less money than they sold their house for in California. And they all seem to be very good citizens. I don't have any qualms at all. You can't get a negativity out of me. I love all the Californians (laughs). Hope they're listening (laughs)!