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Arlington Heights celebrates 60 years of community improvement

From left, Blayne Parris, Carol Lundberg, Scottie O’Neal, Les Abbenhouse, Shirley Parris and, in front, Gloria Abbenhouse prepare for the upcoming Arlington Heights Barbecue on Sunday, July 27. The quilt at right will be one of many auction items. It was made by Gail Langdon, the wife of Firechief Lon Langdon. - SARAH ARNEY Arts & Leisure
From left, Blayne Parris, Carol Lundberg, Scottie O’Neal, Les Abbenhouse, Shirley Parris and, in front, Gloria Abbenhouse prepare for the upcoming Arlington Heights Barbecue on Sunday, July 27. The quilt at right will be one of many auction items. It was made by Gail Langdon, the wife of Firechief Lon Langdon.
— image credit: SARAH ARNEY Arts & Leisure

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS The last dairy farmer of Arlington Heights, Don Tillman, is donating a bull calf to the upcoming auction at the Arlington Heights Improvement Club's barbecue.

It won't be on the grill however. The grill will feature about 10, 20-pound top round roasts that will be slow roasted over the fire of green alder cut by Scottie O'Neal. Ben Jacobs is in charge of the pit with help from Wayne Parris and Russ Stack. The sauce has evolved through the years, but still keeps the crowd happy, according to O'Neal.

"Some prefer the beans, also cooked slowly in the alder smoke," said Shirley Parris, who grew up a Peper in the neighborhood and is the current manager of the Blue Bird Cafe in Arlington.

"I think that recipe came from the Navy," she added.

The apple cake dessert is also famous.

"It's been around for generations," said Carol Lundberg, co-chair of the barbecue with Laura Hoffman.

It's a passionate group of people up there in the Heights, constantly working on strategies to improve the community.

"We tried changing the name once, but it didn't take," said Lundberg, a lifetime resident of Arlington who has lived in the Heights since 1971.

"Scottie's bringing out the pillows for us to sit on is symbolic of the way we were welcomed into this community 30 years ago," said Les Abbenhouse, the parliamentarian of the improvement club. He and his wife, Gloria, came from Bellevue in 1978. Gloria is the club's treasurer and she will take your money on the day of the barbecue.

"Les keeps us in line," Parris said.

"Bellevue is not that far away physically, but it's very different culturally," said Les Abbenhouse, once famous for his garden.

The community remember its oldtimers while welcoming newcomers.

Violet Pelanconi, also famous for her gardens, used to provide beautiful floral arrangements for the tables, but not any more.

"We lost Clarence Queen recently. He was a scout leader for years," Parris said.

O'Neal remembers when church services were offered the day after the logger festival.

"The drunks were all stood up in time for the preaching," O'Neal laughed.

"There was some fire and brimstone going on in those days," he said.

So many people contribute to the auction, the annual fundraiser that provides the funds to maintain and operate the 60-year-old community hall. The hall is available to rent by community residents for birthdays and weddings and anniversaries and retirements, or whatever. Cost is $175 with a $200 deposit that is refunded if you don't tear up the place.

Funds also go toward a vocational scholarship each year. This year the recipient was Louis Kinney, who wants to study welding.

"We decided to give support to kids who want vocational skills," Parris said.

"So many scholarships go for four-year colleges."

The wife of the fire chief, Gail Langdon donated a beautiful quilt; Olson's Saw Shop donated a chain saw kit; there's an estate planning package from Bailey, Duskin, Peiffle and Canfield, and retirement planning with Edward Jones.

There's Chicken Poop Bingo, thanks to the chicken provided by Jeanne Wessel. There's a 50-50 split the pot raffle and lots of baskets to give away.

Random gifts are distributed throughout the feast which starts at 3 p.m. and ends exactly at 6 p.m., when the auction begins.

"We cut off the food at 6 o'clock so that all the servers can be ready for the auction," Lundberg said.

The hall, which is located next door to the Arlington Heights Fire Station, is also storing emergency supplies for Red Cross.

Barbecue is $8 for adults and $4 for kids. Donations are also accepted.

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