Corvallis native Jodie Hector gets a carriage ride around town
Call it an early Christmas present, a late birthday gift or a trip into the past: When Jodie Hector saw the horse and carriage pull up in front of Corvallis Manor on Tuesday, her reaction was immediate:
“It felt like I was Cinderella.”
Her wish had come true.
Corvallis Manor, where Hector has lived since 2009, is a participant in the Senior Wish Program.
Hector had wished that she could ride a horse across the campus at Oregon State University, as she did when she was growing up. But Teri Kokesch, the activities director at Corvallis Manor, was concerned that a horseback ride might be a bit much.
So two of Hector’s daughters, Peggy Todd of Sweet Home and Lea Lutz of Corvallis, organized a close approximation of that wish as a surprise for her on Tuesday morning — two days after her 86th birthday — and a week before Christmas.
Chafin Farm Carriages of Sweet Home provided the old-fashioned open buggy and horses for Hector and anyone else who wanted to take a ride. The gently falling snow was a bonus.
Hector was helped into her carriage, bundled in blankets and surrounded by loved ones.
“We rode for an hour and a half,” Hector said. “I felt like a princess.”
But Tuesday’s ride wasn’t the only brush with royalty for Tuesday’s princess: Hector recalled being crowned Queen of the Rodeo in 1947, most likely at the Benton County Fair.
She graduated a year early from Corvallis High School in 1943, while World War II raged, to start training as a nurse cadet. Marriage in 1945 brought the birth the following year of the first of her five children. It also cut short her plans to study nursing, although she relished her role as mother.
She’s always thrived on challenges and competition: In addition to her status as rodeo royalty, she also participated in powder puff derby races.
Her affection for horses began when she was 6, and her father, Edward C. Allworth, the first manager of the Memorial Union, gave her a horse named Peanut. She grew up exploring Benton County from a saddle.
She recalled that Grant Avenue was a gravel road then. She recalls riding her horse across the Van Buren Bridge and along Peoria Road. There were trips to Marys Peak. She most recalls the trips around campus, which was near her house.
“I rode all over,” she said.
But on Tuesday, in another slight detour from her original wish, the buggy ride from Corvallis Manor on Conifer Boulevard did not stretch all the way to campus.
“It was too many hours and too many hills,” she said. That would be hard on the horses’ hooves to go up all those hills along those paved streets. She instead thanked everyone for the magical 90 minutes that she spent on her wintry buggy ride — even the horses.
“I got a good kiss on them afterward.”