It’s a Christmas memory book from the USS Takelma, packed with photos of sailors serving during the Korean War. An entire page is dedicated to the menu served on Christmas Day, listed in flowery script: snow-whipped potatoes, roast turkey and shrimp cocktail to name a few. No doubt Fayet Scoggin, a big man who loved his food, enjoyed this holiday meal served so far from home.
The naval scrapbook is one of several items of personal memorabilia recently discovered by a Redmond man buying books from a thrift store. Unknown to him, Scoggin was well-known in the community, having been one of only two firefighters from Redmond to have fallen in the line of duty.
“We were good friends,” Verden Fultz, a longtime volunteer firefighter with the Redmond Fire Department, recalled this week. “Fay was a great guy, he’d do anything for you. He was a little ball of fire and strong as an ox.”
Scoggin died of a heart attack May 8, 1974, after suffering smoke inhalation from a brush fire north of Redmond. He was 46.
Joseph Darnell, 35, grew up in Redmond but had never heard of Scoggin. Nonetheless, he could tell the collection of photos, certificates and scrapbooks — tucked into a box of books he picked up at St. Vincent de Paul in Redmond — belonged to a local family and he felt certain the items had ended up there by accident.
“The box was mostly old novels, nothing of real interest,” he said. “Then I found the stuff in a manila folder and I realized some of the names mentioned were the grandparents of my friends. I wanted to return it to the family but I had no idea how to find them. It just seemed a shame. There’s really special stuff in there from an important time in their lives.”
Darnell left the memorabilia at the offices of the Redmond Spokesman, a weekly newspaper owned by Western Communications, parent company of The Bulletin. Attempts by the newspaper to find local family members through public records have been unsuccessful.
In the folder, a black-and-white photo has a crease along its long edge and “Giles-Hegge Photographers, Redmond Oregon” on the back. On its face, a teenage Scoggin, clad in dungarees and a letterman jacket, is handing a young girl a tissue paper-wrapped parcel. She is wearing a homemade crown and robe, and daisies are scattered across the fabric of her dress. Hay bales surround the pair.
“Pictures, certificates, children’s school art and diaries are donated often,” according to Dale Emanuel, a Goodwill Industries spokesman. “People buy them in some cases but most often they are recycled.” Items easier to reunite with their owners — identification cards, credit cards or uncashed checks — are set aside and a diligent effort is made to locate the person.
It can be very difficult to reunite families with memorabilia donated by accident, said Don Smith, manager of St. Vincent de Paul in Redmond. Donations aren’t always sorted immediately after drop-off and many people don’t bother with a receipt that could be used to trace them if something is found.
“Usually people notice if something is missing within the first week, otherwise it’s long forgotten,” he said. “We do research if we can, but we can only spend so much time on it.” Personal documents found in donations are shredded, said Smith.
Scoggin kept the certificate for his letterman jacket, earned from his time on the Redmond Union High School football team. Signed by Principal M.E. Larine, the thin brittle certificate is for the year 1945. His baptismal certificate is tucked next to it: born April 18, 1928. Scoggin was baptized at the Tumalo Presbyterian Church on June 18, 1939.
Redmond residents Lois Frey, Tonia Kissler Cain and Glen Duncan remember Scoggin from his time working at the high school after his return from the Navy. He drove a bus and served as a janitor for the high school, then located on Southwest Ninth Street.
“People liked him, he was a very jocular guy,” said Cain. Frey recalls going to the Scoggin home occasionally because her then-boyfriend (and future husband) was good friends with the brother of Scoggin’s wife, Marian.
“I can’t say I remember Fayet well; he was just a little fat man, very nice,” said Frey.
After serving as a volunteer for more than 10 years, Scoggin was hired as a full-time firefighter for the Redmond Fire Department, one of only three paid staff.
“Fay had one thing on his mind: being a fireman,” said Hoy Fultz, a retired Redmond fire chief who served for 26 years. “He was even at the station when he was off duty. He was one of the best I had.” It was Fultz who sent Scoggin home from the fire in 1974. “Fay had health problems that kept him on limited duty. He was an engineer at the time so he stayed with the truck. But Fay wasn’t one to tell you when he’s having trouble, you had to figure that out for yourself.” Since the Scoggin family lived next door to Fultz at the time, he was also first on the scene when Scoggin was found dead the next morning.
Fayet Scoggin is listed on a state of Oregon website dedicated to fallen heroes.
Included in his memorabilia is a thin autograph book from Redmond Union High School, dedicated to his senior year, when, according to the first page, Scoggin stood 5 feet, 7 inches and weighed 185 pounds. Fountain-pen signatures are scattered in the pages; Verl Hammack, Doris Hacker, Ted Bliss, Bob Peden and Curly Hanson, among others.
“We try to contact family if we have leads,” said Tom Tome, manager for Redmond’s Opportunity Foundation of Central Oregon thrift store. If no one can be located the store sometimes sells items, like old photos that may have decorative value, but most are recycled. In the past, Tome said, he’s taken items to local historical societies to see whether they can locate family, or add it to their collection.
“One time we had a Purple Heart in a donation,” he said. “We found the family but they didn’t want it so we donated it to the VFW.”
At the Humane Society of Central Oregon’s thrift shop in Bend, personal memorabilia is dealt with in a variety of ways, depending on the circumstance.
“For the most part people are good about going through their things before donating so we don’t see much,” said manager Marcy Hosket. If a name is attached to an item new enough to have a living owner, she said, staff try to track down the person. But items with no names and no donation record are another matter.
“Two weeks ago we found a baby book that had some legal papers in it so we took it to the police department to see if they could find the owner,” Hosket said. “But we don’t have the space to store things just in case someone comes back so if it’s not too personal and we think we can sell it we’ll put it out.”
— Reporter: 541-548-2186, firstname.lastname@example.org