My sister Rebecca and I attended the open house for the newly renovated Weyerhaeuser Research Center building today, where our dad worked down there on Pearl Street next to the currently non-operational swimming pool where I was a lifeguard the summer I graduated high school. It was conveniently located to ride my bike down the hill to go swimming in earlier years, then throw the bike in the back of the Chevy station wagon and hitch a ride with Daddy back up the hill for dinner.
Our dad, George, was the director from 1966-1980 (of Weyerhaeuser Research Center, not the swimming pool), and in the early 1990s the building was renovated and named for him. Now it’s been renovated again, bringing new vitality not just to the building, but to his passion for research.
It was nostalgic to be in the building. We took our picture sitting in what used to be Daddy’s corner office. It hasn’t been an office for some time; now it’s part of a beautiful conference room. But that is right where I sat behind his big desk (it’s at the house now), playing with the stuff in the top drawer when I went there after school in third grade, before we had moved to Centralia. (Some of the stuff is still in the drawer too. The drawing tools were my favorite; well, and the rubber stamps of course.)
Rebecca remembered we would stop there after church after Jo Ann left for college and call her from the big room where all the secretaries worked. (I don’t think there are even any secretaries any more, certainly that is no one’s title.) We could call long distance for free from there. I don’t remember that. Perhaps they called me from there too, after I left for college. I don’t remember being on the receiving end of those calls either. It’s good to have sisters with different stuff in their memory banks.
I felt like a rock star being there on behalf of my father, with STAEBLER on my name tag. I wanted to write it really big. I wanted everyone to know I was HIS daughter. And many did.
I wish my mother could have been there. She did know, though, that the renovation was happening and the Center was thriving again. And she was glad. We were a family back in the 60s. My mother threw a luau in the yard for everyone at the research center. My father cooked a salmon over the open fire. And Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon that sailed overhead.
In an intentional honoring of the past, the halls are lined with large photographs of logging before my father’s time, and a display of photos of my dad are in the entry.
The Center declined at some point after that dedication, perhaps with a diminished interest in research by the corporate mucky mucks. I was pleased to meet the new mucky muck, and thank him for his commitment to the research my dad was a part of to “Make trees grow faster. For the future.” Daddy would be so pleased.
The Centralia office is thriving again, and the new open work space, full of wood, is beautiful. Young employees are bringing energy to it; employees who weren’t around in its decline. And they are doing it under the legacy of my father. I hope their families are family, like they were in the 60s when I was a child in the midst of it.
I couldn’t be more proud.