Susan Pool had seen the blanket dozens of times.
“My mother used this to wrap around a giant ceramic Santa Claus that was in a cedar chest for years,” she said.
It wasn’t until Mom, and the cedar chest, moved in with Susan that the family discovered the blanket was something more.
On its front — the side always facing Santa — is a big collegiate letter P, 16 colored stars, the year 1923, and the name L.L. Hoar.
L.L. was Susan’s grandfather, Leslie, a standout athlete and later coach at Pacific University in the 1920s — and one of many historic Pacific connections for the family. It is likely that the blanket was a senior gift for athletes, not unlike those that today’s Boxers receive upon graduation.
Susan got in touch with Pacific through a friend and arranged to return the blanket to its origins. Her sister, Linda Ikeda, added to the gift, donating a tiny, but loud, silver coaching horn their grandfather had used.
“We had (the) coaching horn on top of the piano for 35 years,” Linda said. “My children have heard it at their athletic events.”
Both women recently visited the Forest Grove campus to reconnect the family with Pacific, deliver treasure from the past — and to learn more about their beloved grandparents.
Leslie “Jazz” Hoar ’23 and Ellen (Anderson) Hoar ’23 were both passionate about education and brought that enthusiasm to their college years at Pacific, taking part in almost every activity available.
Leslie studied math. He played four years of baseball and basketball, as well as three years of football, serving as team captain for each sport. His sophomore year, he sat out football, instead serving as a team manager, running track, managing the student newspaper The Index, and appearing in a class play.
He was a member of the Alpha Zeta Fraternity, serving as treasurer and president. He also was his junior class president and president of the Associated Students of Pacific University.
The 1924 Heart of Oak yearbook sings his praises: “Leslie Hoar … as quarter back, piloted the Badgers through one of the most successful seasons that Pacific has known. … ‘Jazz’ made a name for himself by his deadly passing and cool judgment, which was feared by all opponents.”
And, “Leslie Hoar showed flashes of his old time form this season and was able to connect for a good many baskets in the games he played. He graduates this year and should make a good coach for some high school next fall.”
In fact, Leslie went on to be an assistant coach at Pacific, where he led the “Baby Badgers” (akin to junior varsity) in football and basketball and coached the varsity baseball team to at least two division championships.
In the meantime, he married his college sweetheart Ellen Anderson, and they started a family — Susan and Linda’s father Roland was born about three years after the couple graduated.
Ellen was born in Sweden and moved to Cherry Grove, Ore., as a child. She studied biology and education at Pacific, where she was a member and president of the Kappa Delta Sorority, as well as a member of the Women’s Glee Club, Women’s Debate Team, YWCA, and then-new Women’s Athletic Association. She also worked on the Heart of Oak and served as junior class secretary.
According to family lore, though, Ellen almost didn’t attend college. She was supposed to drop out of high school because her family couldn’t afford the daily trip from Cherry Grove to Forest Grove. Instead, she found work and got her own apartment in Forest Grove, where she took in her younger siblings so that they could finish school, too.
“She saw this was the way, in America, to advance,” Susan said.
As it turned out, her younger sister, Svea, attended Pacific for two years and married fellow student Reginald Menegat ’26. She and Reginald both dedicated their lives to teaching, as did Leslie and Ellen. Leslie’s brother, George, also attended Pacific, as did his two daughters.
After coaching at Pacific, Leslie took over a sweet shop in Forest Grove for about a year, then he and Ellen moved to Kelso, Wash., where their daughter Rosalie (who also became a teacher) was born. They later moved to Tacoma, where Ellen taught and Leslie eventually became assistant superintendent of schools. They both earned master’s degrees from Columbia University, attending courses during the summer months while their children stayed in Oregon with grandparents.
Ellen died in 1976, followed by Leslie in 1980.
Susan and Linda, visiting Pacific’s Forest Grove Campus this summer, remembered their grandparents as active, adventurous and fun.
“They always had a beach home,” Susan said. “When we were with them, it was like going to camp.”
“Grandma always had a project for us,” Linda said.
They would pick huckleberries or collect rocks, go fishing or clamming.
The couple traveled around the world, visiting Ellen’s native Sweden and particularly enjoying New Zealand.
They always kept their passion for education and, it seems, their memories of Pacific, even the piece stowed away with Santa.