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I learned a lot more about The Barn (Community Center) while going through some old 1945 Western Worlds recently. On the front page of the May 10, 1945, issue, there is an item headlined "Dance to Benefit Community Hall."

A big benefit dance was to be held at the high school gym the following Saturday, sponsored by the Junior Women's Club, with the proceeds going for the new community hall that was being established in city park, under City of Bandon supervision.

The article explains that "the city bought the big horse barn building erected in the city park by the Coast Guard and used for only a short time. It is a substantial structure and lends itself well to remodeling plans that will convert it into a spacious, comfortable, recreational hall. All civic organizations are backing the project, but the Junior Women have been the most active in raising money. They have already contributed $100 which they made on a previous dance ... and with this as a down payment the committee has bought $390 worth of hardwood flooring which is to be laid by volunteer labor soon. Other improvements are to be made at the same time and it is hoped to have the new hall ready by the Fourth of July.

"Bum Gartin's orchestra will play for the dance Saturday night and tickets are being sold at 60 cents per person, tax included."

In a later article, the committee urged people from all service clubs in the community to join them in a work party to further upgrade the building, which today we know as The Barn/Community Center. The spacious building we enjoy today is a far cry from the original building, which is the first picture I am sharing this week.

The second picture I am sharing this week has also changed dramatically over the years. This picture was taken in 1972, and is the building now owned by Dan and Lynn Barnett and known as Billy Smoothboar's. The building has housed a number of restaurants over the years, including the Whistlepunk and Papa Raymond's, but I am not sure what it was called when this ad photo was taken.

Speaking of Lynn and Dan, they hosted their annual Christmas program for the less fortunate Wednesday night, and it was a fabulous success. The restaurant was beautifully decorated for Christmas, as only Dan and Lynn can do, and they were assisted by many volunteers, including one woman who made beautiful knit hats for all the children. Santa (who looked a lot like Eric Albertson) was there to greet each child and send them home with packages of gifts, while local photographer Gary Edmiston donated his time to photograph the entire event. On a Facebook post, Dan said this was the most successful event yet, and I am sure that is true judging from the number of people I saw in the short time I was there.

This is a wonderful thing they do for the community and it seems to get bigger and better each year. Thanks go to Dan and Lynn and their volunteers.

The third picture I am sharing is a bit self-serving (but really, who would wear those glasses?). It was taken during the 1970 Cranberry Festival when I was busy judging the parade from a platform near Western Auto (now Bandon Ace Hardware). Behind me are my uncle and aunt, Clyde and Nellie Stearns, who were the grand marshals. Just to the right of me is Bill Cook, with his trusty pipe. Directly behind my uncle I can see Al Martin, the principal of Ocean Crest School.

* * *

As I was writing my column a couple of weeks ago, I heard a strange noise from the other room. At first I thought it was the sound of rain pounding on the roof, but it was even too loud for that. So I jumped up to see what was going on ... only to find that my new "house-cleaning assistant" had come off its charging dock and was busy cleaning my carpets.

Not that they were dirty. I ran my new Ecovac (robo vac) the previous day and was amazed at how much dirt it picked up ... after not having "worked" for four or five days.

But for the life of me, I can't figure out what causes it to jump off the charging dock and start cleaning, having not been programmed to work unless I specifically ask (tell) it to.

Believe me, for someone who hates vacuuming as much as I do, this is a Godsend. All I have to do is pick up the throw rugs, let it run around the house for an hour or so, empty the dust tray and put the rugs back down.

I always thought it was probably pretty much of a gimmick, but it's not. The thing really works. It does not like shag carpet, but on other carpeting and bare floors, it works great.

It does get hung up on a carpet edge at times, so it's best if you're home when it's cleaning.

That's why I worry about it jumping up and starting to clean at all hours of the day (and maybe the night) without me having programmed it to do so.

But my house has never been this clean .... and I love it.

* * *

I hope people use caution when driving on icy highways, particularly early in the morning.

Last Monday, Dec. 11, a 2009 Kia Rio operated by a woman from Tigard crashed into a westbound white 2015 Jeep Cherokee head-on, killing the driver of the Rio and a young woman, believed to be her daughter, who lived in Wedderburn (near Gold Beach).

The 37-year-old woman and her 15-year-old daughter in the other vehicle were from Scottsburg, not far from where the wreck occurred on Highway 38, and although they were transported by ambulance to the hospital, they were expected to be fine.

Such a sad story of two women and their daughters, on an outing . . .

Last week, there was a fatality on Highway 101 near W. Beaver Hill Road and a 25-year-old women from North Bend, Vanessa Goodwin, died. The police report attributed it to hail and speed, but as you know, no matter how fast you are driving, if you come into a sudden hail storm, no speed is safe. It is like driving on ball bearings. The police put out pictures of the wrecked vehicles to the media, and it is enough to make me want to stay off the highways during the dangerous winter months. But I guess that's not possible ....

* * *

This has certainly been different, from a weather standpoint, than last year. I am not sure how much less rain we've had, but I would guess it is considerable.

My boyfriend and I went to see the movie, "The Greatest Showman," in North Bend Friday evening and then went out to Shore Acres to view the lights ... over 300,000 of them this year. It is an amazing spectacle, and coupled with the crisp, cold weather, it made for a great evening. One person wondered if you drive around to see the lights, but the answer is no. You pay $5 a car to park and then you walk the many trails through the light display, ending with a cup of hot cider and a cookie, served by Friends of Shore Acres volunteers.

Back to the movie. Although one rater in the Register-Guard gave it only a two-star (out of four) because they said the story line was thin (or something like that), it is based on the life of P.T. Barnum of circus fame and is a wonderful holiday film. There were only 10 or 12 people in the theater where it was showing, but when it ended, most of us clapped. You don't often think of clapping in a movie theater. But it was that good!! Sometimes the reviewers just don't get it right, as it had a Rotten Tomatoes rating of only 51 percent ... but the viewers gave it a score of 88 percent. I'd give it 100 percent.

I also wanted to see "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," but it is no longer playing, so I will have to wait for the DVD to come out. It has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 93 percent, which is good.

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