Living the Dream: Dawn Powers

Dawn Powers
Administrator and
bookkeeper
Scappoose 21 Plus
Scappoose, OR

I love helping people and found an opportunity to help when a friend of mine contacted me with her memories and photos. Leaving a legacy is important to many of us, and as the saying goes, “it takes all kinds.”

As the girl across the street, I grew up watching Irene Girves’ energetic work ethic, her creativity, humor, open mindedness and follow-through on her various projects. In writing this article, I realize how much she has affected my life in a positive way and I can recognize parts and pieces of her in myself. As a business person, these qualities are essential for success. I really appreciate the positive role model she has been, and as we move forward with our businesses, I keep Granny’s courage in mind. I’m inspired by her fearless, pioneering spirit and how she stepped out from the norm.

In 1952, Irene and Ray Girves migrated from Bloomington, Illinois to Alaska with their Jeep pulling a trailer up the Alcan Highway to the Kenai Peninsula where they settled.

The couple’s 1958 homestead cabin, located on 80 acres in the Soldotna area, was later numbered 420 Riverview Drive — not a remarkable number back in the late 1970s by Alaskan standards — but it tells a story of the early marijuana culture in the region.

Irene is one of my lifelong friends. Now 91, she reminisces about her unusual outdoor grow in the past.

Irene and Ray cleared about an acre of ground for a large garden plot. Irene loved gardening and over the years, developed a huge garden of trees, shrubs, vegetables, flowers and several kinds of berries. Ray also built her a modern greenhouse in the early ’70s for her business, “Granny’s Green Things.”

In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in Ravin v. State that the right to possess, cultivate and consume small amounts of marijuana in the home was protected under the state’s constitutional right to privacy.

In the late ‘70s a young friend brought Irene some sprouted seeds in a wet napkin and asked her to plant and grow them. Always the avid gardener, Irene potted and nurtured the seeds that spring and before she knew it, the plants were outgrowing the greenhouse! Irene moved them outside into the open air until Ray used a large plastic bag from a mattress store to create a makeshift greenhouse.

Visiting friends were curious about the plants. They all admired the leaves and how big the plants were, but no one talked too much about them. The plants grew to about 8 feet tall.

In the fall, after the plants had developed seeds, Ray harvested the seven or eight plants and hung them upside down in the sauna he built.

The plants dried, the leaves were stripped and the seeds dried. Ray told Irene to save them in her stash of recycled plastic bread bags. She stuffed several bags full and never thought much about it.

Ray was a cigarette smoker and had a cigarette roller for homemade cigarettes. One evening a couple friends visited and they started talking. Ray asked Irene to bring out her bread bags, and Ray and the guests rolled up some cigarettes from the plants Irene grew in the garden. Ray later told the story of how he tried smoking one of the cigarettes. He had to lay down on the bed, flat as a pancake, unable — or too afraid — to move.

The young friend who had originally brought Irene the seeds brought some brownies for a treat one day. Irene ate two. She had to go to bed because she couldn’t speak, but she noticed how clear and sharp her hearing was. That incident cured Irene of brownies forever.

She still has a garden with some of those super sweet, wild Alaskan strawberries. Just the other day, she wanted to surprise a guest with strawberry pancakes, so she went out to pick some. Irene is a bit rickety at her age and ended up falling in the garden. No one heard her calls for help at first, so while she was down, she scooted along on her butt and picked berries. Finally, some workers at the house next door heard her and came to her aid. Meanwhile, she had a nice bowl of berries. That’s Irene — always making the best of a situation.

Dawn Powers is the administrator and bookkeeper for two marijuana farms and one recreational cannabis store. She lives in Othello, Washington, with her husband, Larry. She is the young friend mentioned in her story. She loves helping people and found an opportunity to help by preserving the legacy of Granny’s Green Things.

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