During prune harvest time, the East Mill Plain area was “almost a city,” said W.L. Frymire, who worked in the East Mill Plain general store from 1925 to 1958. Prune trees were plentiful in the area, and the harvest meant money for growers and pickers.
The store, at what is now 164th Avenue and Mill Plain Boulevard, was operated by Coy and Laura Blair. This was just one of the activities of the numerous Blair family members in Clark County
Coy, son of Matt and Lucinda Blair, purchased the store about 1908. In the earliest days, supplies came from Fisher’s Landing.
The store was a congregating place for community residents.
Customers would sit on nail kegs and chat, sometimes until after midnight, and “we stayed too, until they left,” Laura Blair recalled. Quite a few years after taking over the store, the Blairs set an evening closing time.
After Coy Blair’s death in 1932, Laura Blair continued to operate the store until retirement in 1964. The store was then torn down.
One of the earlier Blairs, Pinkney Blair, served as first postmaster at Fern Prairie, north of Camas, starting in 1878. His grandson, James O. Blair, born in the Fern Prairie area, graduated from Washington State College at Pullman in 1908. He was first principal at Union High School, predecessor of Evergreen High School, and studied law. Blair was admitted to the bar in 1911, and began practicing law in Vancouver in 1912.
Starting in 1914, James O. Blair served a four-year term as Clark County prosecuting attorney. He was elected justice of the peace and appointed police judge in the 1920s.
James Blair’s son, attorney Donald C. Blair, carries on in the legal tradition, in his present position “of counsel,” for Blair, Schaefer, Hutchison, Wynne, Potter and Horton at Vancouver. He was in law school at the University of Washington at the time of his father’s death in May 1943.
Donald Blair, a retired colonel in the Army Reserves, was admitted to the bar in 1949.
Blair’s brother James, an engineer with Boeing Co., died in 1974. His two sisters, both Vancouver residents, are Eulalie Proctor and Dorothy Blair, who taught at Vancouver High School and Fort Vancouver High School.