A Wasconian through and through
Last updated 8/5/2023 at 7:34am | View PDF
Iola Moore-Smiley was born in 1935 and moved to California with her family in 1938, first making their way to Pond and later moving to Wasco in 1941, where she lived for almost 20 years.
She wrote a book, "The Moore Kids," about her experience growing up in Wasco.
Originally from Oklahoma, the family moved west because her father couldn't find work.
Iola attended elementary, junior high and high school in Wasco. Some of her most cherished memories are of these times, she said.
"I loved school. All my teachers were just wonderful."
There she was active in sports, girl's glee and camera club.
The family was poor, she said, but she never knew it.
"Having all the chickens, pigs and cows, we didn't even know we were poor because we had such good food."
"Though, I don't remember going shopping for clothes."
Her grandmother had an old Singer sewing machine, and she learned to make gathered skirts out of flower sacks with patterns and pretty colors, she said.
They lived on a farm, and the entire family worked.
"We picked potatoes, chopped and picked cotton. We did everything, and my mom worked alongside us."
To supplement the family income, her mother saved money selling butter and eggs, and her father raised and sold greyhound dogs.
"Men would come from Los Angeles to buy the dogs for racing up in Oregon."
Hers was a lively home as her father played the fiddle, and there was always music. "We loved to dance," she remembered.
On the weekends, every Saturday after cleaning house, she went to the movies with her three siblings. Then it only cost a quarter for the movie, popcorn and a Coke.
She also enjoyed going to Hoyt's for hamburgers.
Iola married John Howard in 1953.
"He worked for his folks in the hay business throughout high school. He was a real good mechanic and helped with the machines."
Both attended WHS. They went on to have three children together, Keith, Sharon and Annette, who also attended all Wasco schools, including graduating from WHS.
Iola said Wasco helped shape her into the woman she is today and is where she learned the value of hard work and the importance of education.
In elementary school, Ms. Bartlet, her 4th-grade teacher, encouraged her to read, which would later in life lead to her passion for writing.
In 1996, she started a self-publishing business, I & L Publishing, with her brother, Lonnie.
The business thrived.
"I got a typist and a gentleman who did the book covers."
Iola would go on to write two more books, including "A Hummingbird Named Friendly" and "Ashlee's Smile Quilt."
Since leaving Wasco in 1961, she last visited in 1990 with her son, who took her to see all of her favorite spots.
Iola said the city has changed a lot.
"It was a world of difference from when I lived there. I can remember 7th Street. We only had a couple of grocery stores, so we had to go to Shafter or Delano."
Now in Oroville, she has a subscription to the Wasco Tribune and enjoys keeping up with local news.
"I am thankful I grew up in Wasco. I've always considered it my hometown."