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  • Writer's pictureEmily Rastovich

Who Started It All: George & Anna Rastovich

1919. The country was eager for peace after the First World War, but the prosperity of the 1920's hadn't come yet. A third wave of a Flu Pandemic claimed over 185,000 lives. The country was introduced to the first dial telephones along with the pop-up toaster and short wave radios. Prohibition was beginning to find its way into the U.S. Constitution.

Around the time Oregon became the first state to levy a gasoline tax, a family of five found themselves in the middle of 40 acres just east of the small town of Bend, Oregon.

Most Serbian immigrants settled in communities near other Serbs who shared their language, culture, and customs. However, the promise of free land by way of the Homestead Act and "knee-high grass" was too tempting for the Rastovich family to pass up. In 1919, George and Anna packed up their kids and what little they owned and headed to Bend, Oregon. This free land for the taking seemed less glamorous when they came upon their 40 acres of rocks, sagebrush, and jackrabbits.

George worked at the local mill to earn money for building materials and farm equipment, while Anna tended to the children. They had seven children: Millie, Marie, Bob, Mike, Martha, Helen, and Danny. Anna had a garden where she planted vegetables to feed the growing family. Even in her later years, she took great pride in her garden, showing it off to visitors while gathering a "mess of this" and a "mess of that" for the visitor to take with them. They farmed potatoes, rye, and alfalfa and raised cows, chickens, and hogs. The cream from the cows was sold to Bend Dairy and hogs were butchered for home-cured bacon, hams, loins, lard, sausages, head cheese, and cracklings. As they used to say, "nothing was wasted but the squeal." While there was often worry about where the money for the bills would come from, they never went hungry.

Anna passed in 1956 and George continued farming until he passed the baton onto his youngest son, Danny. George passed in 1973.

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