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Hermiston History: Teen tells of AIDS battle

Tales from inside the Hermiston Herald’s archives

Published on February 6, 2018 7:10PM

Last changed on February 9, 2018 1:12PM

Students from Hermiston High School's leadership class painted over graffiti at West Park School. The class offered to help anyone who needed assistance painting over graffiti.

Students from Hermiston High School's leadership class painted over graffiti at West Park School. The class offered to help anyone who needed assistance painting over graffiti.

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The Blue Mountains were still buried in snow in early February 1993, as shown by this submitted photo of a reader's cabin.

The Blue Mountains were still buried in snow in early February 1993, as shown by this submitted photo of a reader's cabin.

A group of HHS leadership students paint over graffiti at the old hospital near West Park grade school. The class offered to help anyone who needed help painting over graffiti.

A group of HHS leadership students paint over graffiti at the old hospital near West Park grade school. The class offered to help anyone who needed help painting over graffiti.

Members of the Armand Larive junior High Pit Stop crew in 1993 make repairs on a vehicle that had to be able to travel under human power and move both forward and backward.

Members of the Armand Larive junior High Pit Stop crew in 1993 make repairs on a vehicle that had to be able to travel under human power and move both forward and backward.


25 YEARS AGO

Feb. 9, 1993

A young boy walked into the Hermiston Herald office in February of 1993 to share his struggle with AIDS.

Russ Aiken is a 16 year-old who should be just starting out on a life of endless possibilities. But while his friends are out in the late winter afternoons playing a pick-up game of basketball or thumbing through catalogs trying to decide which college to attend, Russ has to work at keeping his body healthy enough to fight off the infection for another day.

From day one, Russ has had a rough road. He was born with hemophilia, a hereditary disorder that does not allow blood to clot properly. Ten years later, he and his mother were in a serious automobile accident which left Russ comatose for three days. It was after being flown to a hospital in Walla Walla for treatment that the doctors discovered the AIDS virus in his blood, which doctors believe he contracted from the clotting medicine he must take whenever he cuts or bruises himself.

While the physical effects are traumatic for anyone with the disease, Russ has had to put up with the taunts of his peers as he had to battle both his hemophilia and the AIDS virus.

“Everybody makes fun of you,” he explained. “People don’t want to talk to you.”

“They think if you just sneeze on them they’ll get it,” his grandmother remarks. “It isn’t that easy to get.”

With his deteriorating condition, he presently weighs 80 pounds and has lost two inches in height.

50 YEARS AGO

Feb. 8, 1968

  • Every residential pine tree and shrub in the Umatilla County towns of Hermiston, Umatilla and McNary Manor will be sprayed sometime in May as part of the effort to control the pine shoot moth found recently in the area, according to the Oregon State Department of Agriculture. The decision followed a recent meeting of officials of the involved towns, departments of agriculture and forestry, and the U.S. Forest Service regarding the issue. The chemical Sevin will be used. On another front, the three agencies have agreed to establish a research project in the McNary Dam area. This program will seek to find attractants to control the moth and to initiate studies on using sterilized males for controls.

  • The Umatilla PTA scheduled a panel discussion for the general public on the dangers of drug use on Feb. 14, beginning at 8 p.m. in the Umatilla School cafeteria. “Instant Insanity: Drugs and Narcotics” is the title of the discussion, according to Mrs. A.W. Easton, publicity chairman for the program.

75 YEARS AGO

Feb. 11, 1943

  • An urgent request for a used piano for use at the Stanfield camp has been made by the U.S.O. personnel here. Quite a number of soldiers are now stationed at the former CCC barracks in Stanfield and the need of some form of entertainment is quite urgent. Anyone having a piano they would like to donate to the boys or anyone having a piano for sale quite reasonably is asked to get in touch with us.

  • You can buy a pair of shoes now — but you must have a ration stamp No. 17 of Book No. 1 if you do so. Sale of shoes resumed throughout the nation Tuesday morning after the Monday “freeze” that accompanied the OPA order limiting purchasers to three pairs of shoes per year. As with sugar and coffee, the stamp must be torn out of the book at the time of purchase in the presence of the person selling the shoes or making delivery. If you buy shoes by mail, the stamp can be detached and sent with the mail order. Stamp 17 is transferable among members of a family living in the same household.

100 YEARS AGO

Feb. 9, 1918

A Hermiston man enlisted in the Navy sent his mother a letter describing a dangerous sea voyage. Excerpts from Bob West’s letter to his mother from Boston:

We were sent from Boston several weeks since by rail to Quebec, Can., to man the U.S.S “Favorite,” a wrecking ship equipped with large cranes and hoisting machinery.

Quebec is a beautifully located city. However, our two weeks stay there was far from pleasant. Mercury 35 below zero much of the time. The inhabitants are largely of the anti-war class and they treated us worse than one would a dog. We soon learned to never leave the ship in a navy uniform.

At 4:30 a.m. Jan. 10, we cast off and began what many thought to be an impossible trip to Halifax. The first day we were fighting thin ice and made 90 miles. Then the ice was heavier and we could make progress only when the tide was running out. Many times the ice was heavy enough to stop us. That meant back up and take a run at it. Some danger in that too, because our boat was not built to stand such abuse. But for us to stop meant certain disaster from being frozen in so the work of pounding away continued night and day. Our case seemed hopeless, but when we most needed it a lead of open water opened and we escaped.

We arrived in Halifax Jan. 20th and hoped to take on coal. We were unable to get coal on account of the conditions following the terrible explosion and fire, of which you all know. On the morning of Jan. 23 we steamed into Boston harbor, and it sure looked good to us.

Tell every one I appreciate their having remembered me, and I will write them soon. Was surprised to hear that so many from Hermiston had enlisted. Must be rather lonesome around Hermiston.







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