17 June 2006
Four miles off Highway 99 W in the corner of Benton County is the intersection that forms the hub of Bellfountain. The hill on the northeast corner proudly displays a well-kept community church. To the southeast is the Bellfountain Cornerstone Christian School, already at recess for the summer. On the southwest corner sits an abandoned, dilapidated storefront and two weed-encrusted gas pumps. Painted in script on the front of the pay station are the words, “Gone Fishing.” One gets the impression that this is a permanent fishing trip. To the west is the town park, the location of that family reunion so many years ago.
When I returned to Salem, I called my Dad to see how we were related to the names on the grave markers I had photographed. I should have called him prior to my trip. I didn’t realize that so much of his immediate family history is rooted in the rolling farmland around Bellfountain.
The community park sits on land that once was part of the Humphrey family farm. Over time, great-uncle George divvied up the land among his four sons. It’s where my grandfather, Eston Bruce Humphrey, and his father, Walter, were both born. Since then, it has changed hands outside of the family. The patch of hillside where the old cemetery is fenced off has a good clan of Humphrey men and their Perin wives resting underneath the douglas fir trees. It was a good reminder that I need to have more conversations like that with my Dad.
*The title is inspired by the 1985 film, The Trip to Bountiful, in which a woman in her twilight years yearns to return for one last visit to her childhood home in Bountiful, Texas. Geraldine Page was awarded an Academy Award for her work in the movie.