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MARIDEE NYE—March 18, 1918 ~ April 14, 2015


One of my fondest memories of working with Adair Living History (ALH) was when I had the privilege of speaking with Maridee Nye, a wonderful woman in her 90s who lived in Albany, Oregon. We had heard about Maridee from a letter she had written to the Albany Democrat Herald on September 16, 2012. Another of our board members, Mike Jager, and I called Maridee and set up an appointment to capture her oral history.

            Maridee’s letter to the editor described some of the ramifications of local landowners losing their land when Camp Adair was built. From stories I’ve heard and read, the reactions by the locals varied widely, from anger that has echoed through the decades and still affects grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to a sense that this was a way for a family to sacrifice for the war effort. I can imagine both—and I can’t imagine it at all. Families were given very little time to move away from their farms and homes, some moving far away, some re-settling in the neighboring towns and communities.

            I want to be Maridee when I grow up. She was feisty and had more energy in her 90s than I do now. She was still sewing and quilting items that buyers around the region were eager to get their hands on. She was still gardening, for heaven’s sake. A force to be reckoned with.

            Below, you’ll find a link to the edited YouTube version of her oral history, starting with when she and her parents had to move because the United States Army was claiming their land. Many thanks to Mike Jager for making it available.

            But before you click on the link, I want to tell one story about Maridee that tells us all we need to know about her. When Camp Adair was built, Maridee was about 20 years old. She was bored because all the boys had joined the service, and there was nothing much to do. Her solution to that problem? She joined the Coast Guard—and was posted to New York City! This young girl who had never been more than about 20 miles from her home in the mid-Willamette Valley took on about three years of high adventure! Her uniform is in the Polk County Museum in Rickreall, Oregon. If you have a chance to visit, do. It’s a really wonderful place.

            We lost a keeper when Maridee passed away at the age of 97. I think back to our conversation in 2012 and feel a deep gratitude for her and others who worked tirelessly to keep us safe during World War II.