OROVILLE – This year’s choice of members of the Drummond family as May Festival Grand Marshals is a tip of the hat to Bob Drummond, who started Oroville’s premier annual celebration 75 years ago.
Monte and Barbara Drummond of Oroville and Stephen and Jeannie Drummond of Spokane will represent the family at the Grand Parade, although not everyone is aware they will be riding in the parade.
“We haven’t let Steve know about being in the parade, we’re afraid he might not show up if he knew,” said Monte Drummond, about his older brother.
“We’re looking forward to seeing him, he hasn’t been to town since he left his law practice in Oroville and returned to work in Spokane,” said Barb Drummond.
The Drummond brothers also have a sister, Julie, who is in Virginia, but won’t be able to make it home for the festivities.
The Oroville Drummonds say they learned they would be Grand Marshals four years ago.
“Someone asked us back then if we wouldn’t mind waiting until the 75th Anniversary because of Mont’s dad,” said Barbara Drummond.
Bob Drummond grew up in Kellogg, Idaho and at the end of his junior year went to Detroit and lived with an aunt.
“They had five big high schools and he made the varsity basketball team playing for one of them in his senior year. It was in the Polish section and he was the only one without a big long name… when he graduated they called him “the foreigner,” said Monte Drummond.
From there he went back to Kellogg but didn’t have enough money to attend college.
“They talked him into going back to high school and they won the football championship that year. They had gotten three or four big kids from around the region and got them jobs with the mine,” said Monte Drummond, who says that silver mining was the main industry in that part of Idaho.
“All five of the guys from his basketball team in Idaho went on to the University of Idaho and all played ball there together,” he said.
After his dad graduated he went on and worked a year or two as a teacher and coach at a little school in Endicott, Idaho, according to his son.
“When they played Colfax, which was a lot bigger town, they beat their football team and dad went over to shake the other coach’s hand and the coach punched him and broke his jaw,” said Monte Drummond.
Seventy-five years ago Bob Drummond started May Day as a school activity.
“He started it as a school thing because during the Depression most people couldn’t afford to get to Wenatchee for the Apple Blossom Festival,” said Monte Drummond.
“It was mainly a play day for the kids and the school would really take a week off to prepare for the event,” he adds, recalling that the guys would take about two days to work on the frame for the float which would be put over something like a Jeep.
“Then the guys would go hunting groundhogs for the rest of the week while the girls were left to do all the decorating,” said Monte Drummond.
Bob Drummond arrived in Oroville in 1935 because there was some trouble at the high school and the state was looking for someone to take charge of the situation. For his $95 a month, Drummond taught four or five classes, was the high school principal, coached three sports and directed four plays, says his son.
Part of the trouble at the school was the local chief of police’s son, who had decided he liked high school and didn’t want to leave.
“During the welcome for my dad the guy was in the back talking and dad told him to sit up front. He said, ‘no way am I going to take a front seat.’ Dad physically went and got him and moved him to the front,” said Monte Drummond, who adds that his father also promoted Smokers, boxing matches, for the “tough guys.”
“He developed a lot of discipline at the school,” he said.
The old Oroville High School was located on top of a long hill and there were wooden stairs going about half way down the hill and a fairly steep trail at the bottom. When someone decided to dynamite the stairs one Halloween, Drummond never had them replaced.
“He said I guess they didn’t want the stairs,” said his son.
Barbara Drummond said her favorite story was about how there was no smoking at school and he saw a couple of students smoking downtown and how he punished them, well actually one of them.
“These two kids were walking downtown and smoking and when they got back to school he chucked one out and not the other,” said Monte Drummond. “They both went into the service and when they came back they stopped in one day to talk with dad and the one asked why did he kick him out and not the other fellow. Dad said he hadn’t seen the other guy smoking. The one that was caught answered, ‘obviously not, he had swallowed his.’”
In 1948 the Drummonds moved to Lind, Wash. where their dad had a job as high school principal and then got his credentials as superintendent and worked in Spangle, Wash. Monte Drummond moved to Lind for a short period and then moved back to Oroville and lived with his aunt and uncle Mable and Leon Allard.
“Oroville hired dad back as superintendent in 1959. Most of the people on the school board were his former students,” said Monte Drummond.
“I think that really shows how much he was appreciated by the community,” said Barbara Drummond.
Monte and Barbara Drummond have also been a big part of the community. Together they ran Drummond’s Pharmacy for 17 years, before closing in November of 1997. Since then Monte Drummond has been a fill-in pharmacists in many communities in Eastern Washington, including Davenport. Barbara Drummond had a sales route where she sold gift items like those she used to stock in her at the pharmacy. Today they are “sort of” retired.
Over the years they were members of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce and she served as president. Until recently she was also head of the Oroville Streetscape Committee, which they both have worked at to beautify Oroville. She also has worked with North Valley Community Schools. He has served as an Oroville Ambulance Commissioner for several years. The Drummonds like to ski and he can often be seen playing tennis on the high school courts. They recently came back from Palm Springs, Calif. where they had several adventures, including having the place they were staying burglarized while they were sleeping.
Together Barbara and Monte Drummond have four daughters Kyla, Cindy, Heidi and JoEllen. They have eight grandchildren.
Steve and Jean Drummond have two daughters and a son, Kendra, Kelley and Steve. Julie (Drummond) Bettenberg and her husband Bill have a son, Bob.