Walla Walla Sweets

I really enjoyed your article on Walla Walla Sweet Onions in the Fall 2010 Washington State Magazine. It brought back a lot of memories of working at the Walla Walla Produce Company, a wholesale fruit and produce company that my Dad ran, as I was growing up in the 1940s and 50s. I spent a lot of summers loading 50-pound bags of Walla Walla Sweet Onions delivered by the growers to our warehouse into rail cars that were being sent to the midwest and east coast. But your article stated that the onions were “not called Walla Walla Sweets until 1960.” As long as I can remember, they were always called Walla Walla Sweets and were being sold that way across the nation.

My dad even developed a recipe for an onion sandwich (1/2 inch slice of onion, lemon juice and sugar with a little mayonnaise on white bread) that we included in the railroad car shipments, that was outstandingly refreshing in the heat of summer.

When we started sorting and packing the Sweet Onions in the 1950s I worked in that operation and I ran the packing house when I was at WSU working on my masters degree in economics 1958-60. Back then there were three onion-packing houses in the valley that eventually closed down and the growers had to do their own selling. I remember buying onions from the Arbini brothers and I remember that one of the state inspectors was Joe Locati. Producing great onions in Walla Walla has been going on for generations. Now they are producing great wines.

Thanks for your great stories.

Robert E. Berney ’54, ’60, Grasonville, MD

Tim Steury replies: The reference to the history of Walla Walla Sweet’s name came from Joe Locati’s The Horticultural Heritage of Walla Walla County 1818–1977. I’d appreciate hearing other accounts of when the name began its commercial use.


Cultivated landscapes

It may not be the centerfold, but the double-page photo of Wenatchee Heights is breathtaking. We have friends in East Wenatchee overlooking the river and I love the time when apricots and cherries are ripening. Then to turn the page and find coverage of all the agriculture going on in the Puget Sound was an extra plus. All those names are so familiar to people in the Puget Sound area. Every year we pick about 130 pounds of blueberries in the Puyallup area for the freezer, and this article gives hope when we are seeing a lot of the farmland (for bulbs or fruit and veggies) disappear. Thank you!

Chellis S. Jensen ’57


About a bridge 

After reading the Fall 2010 edition, I very much applaud you doing an article on Mr. Hans Breivik ’88, a graduate in Construction Management, which was my major. He does the program proud with such responsible assignments.

I very much like your well-laid-out articles …You have great writers and editors who create a very interesting magazine.

I like how the magazine promotes environmentalism and great values. The magazine is very eco-friendly, which shows in its various articles. It’s also very attractive to look at and colorful. And you have a great photographer. I salute your worthy efforts.

Jim Bonnett ’76, Towson, MD


Posts from our website:

25,000 miles of trails

Thank you, Dan Nelson [’89], for what you are doing for our trails, hikers, their companions and our God-given outdoors. I’m now in my 70s, but when I taught at WSU, I was the faculty advisor for their Alpine Club. My aging black Lab, Calvin, thanks you too!

Douglas Rich


The pacemaker

Inspiring … As Annie [Thiessen ’99], I use to compete every weekend for the exact same reasons: The Grr, Kill, Kill, and the social aspect of the race… . Now, I have never won a marathon, nor ever will, but still find running and racing as pivotal elements of my life… . Thanks Annie for inspiring the running community!!! And … Go COUGS!!


As both a WSU alum and a staff person at the Seattle Marathon Association, I just wanted to say thank you for writing this article about Annie Thiessen. It’s inspiring to read about her journey. When she won in 2008, she was so very gracious and humble about her accomplishment, and it was very special to get to witness this. I wish her all the best in her running endeavors, and as always, go Cougs!



Meat of the matter

I remember buying Cougar sausages from Dissmores when I was in school. Last spring I put together an order for myself and some of the people in my office. I recently returned from a year-long deployment to Iraq and now I think I need to make a trip to Pullman to buy some more Cougar Gold and Cougar sausage.



I was so excited to come across this article! My father, Vince N., was good friends with Dan and spoke highly of him and his skills. My husband and I were Cougs in the 70s and have lived in Ohio for 28 years. It has been a long time since I’ve had some good German sausage and it would be a real treat to try some of Dan’s smokies. I’m not sure if it would be as good as my dad’s recipe, but I’m sure it would be good too! lol Do you ship across the country?

Audrey Bowlin

Following Rikki King’s article on Cougar Smokies, many of you wrote to ask about their availability. Unfortunately, availability is limiteddepending entirely on the available raw material. When that material is forthcoming, Cougar Smokies will miraculously appear at Ferdinand’s, Dissmores, and Safeway in Pullman. Again unfortunately, the only way to find them is to show up at the right time at one of these right places.