Carol Brewer has lived in La Pine since 1970, coming here from the Fall Creek area near Springfield to run the old general store on Hwy. 97 (called the La Pine HiWay Center). Her family purchased the store in 1946 but her whole family moved here in 1970.
“We had three children, and my husband was in the logging business,” says Carol. “He lasted just one year here full-time, choosing to spend weekends here and work over in the valley during the week. I stayed here with the kids and ran the store. At that time, my two oldest children had to travel to Bend for high school (three hours each day on the bus), while my fourth grader got to go to school here.”
I asked Carol if things have changed much in La Pine since then, and she replied, “That’s putting it mildly! When my husband’s family first came here in 1946, one of them had the job of counting the cars on the Dalles-California Highway each day. One day a total of 58 cars went by…and 38 customers came in the store. There wasn’t any electricity in town in 1946…and no telephones, police or fire department. La Pine was just a spot in the road.”
“Years ago we had a binder full of names of people who came here to vacation during the summers. But many streets weren’t paved yet and didn’t even have names. I lived in the back of the store for ten years.”
In 1997 Carol retired from the Hiway Center, and about five years after that, Homestead Quilts began renting her building. Carol still owns the Chamber of Commerce building next door, too.
“I moved to my current home on an acre and a half in La Pine in 1980,” says Carol, “and paid $12,000 for it, so I guess things have changed quite a bit since then.”
Carol stays busy helping out at the Center making Granny Pies and “helping wherever there’s a little job to be done.“
She decorates the tables at the Center for events and says “People really enjoy sitting down to lunch here, and it’s nice to have the tables decorated attractively. I come to lunch here at least twice a week.”
“There are a lot of places in town that really need help. We have a very unique little city, and we don’t always agree with everyone, but if somebody needs help, by gosh, they’re going to get it.”
“The people of La Pine are caring people, and when I ran the store, we would get the same people each summer coming up to vacation. And they would always say, ‘we love coming here because you’re real: friendly, honest, helpful…and that’s the best compliment you can receive.”