Series | Growing up in Douglas Co.

Hannah Podlich, at about age 2, with her dad Chuck Podlich. (Provided photo)

 

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

This is the seventh in a series of articles featuring interviews with people who grew up (or are growing up) in Douglas County. Karen Larsen is featuring one person in each decade of life. She began with a resident in their 90s and is moving down one decade with each subsequent interview. The stories told will provide a profile of life growing up in Douglas County over the years. Larsen’s seventh interview is with Hannah (Podlich) Poush, who is 30.

 

Hannah (Podlich) Poush: Orondo orchard childhood provides a vision for community

Hannah Poush now serves as manager of Orondo Cider Works. (Empire Press photo/Karen Larsen)

Hannah (Podlich) Poush was born at the Chelan Hospital on June 27, 1986 to Chuck and Sharon Podlich of Orondo.

Poush was the second of four girls. Chuck and Sharon Podlich had moved to Orondo in 1979 from Vermont with the dream of becoming apple orchardists. After working for others in the business for some years, they bought the orchard that would become the family livelihood and named it Edgewater Orchards.

The Podliches finished building their house in Sun Cove just before Poush’s birth, so she had the good fortune of spending her entire childhood in the same home and working together with the family to build up a strong orchard and business.

Yes, Edgewater Orchards was truly a family business.

Poush remembers that when she and her sisters were very little they would accompany their mother and grandmother to the farmers’ market in Wenatchee every Saturday. The women would sell strawberries, and the girls would run a smaller booth selling Tree Top juices.

They also helped Chuck Podlich sell cherries and corn in Sun Cove. Podlich would drive a golf cart around the neighborhood and the children would go from door-to-door selling the fruit and produce. Podlich would give the girls and any friends that helped a percentage of the profits to share.

From the time she was about 8 years old, Poush worked with her mom and sisters on their own orchard crew from 5 a.m. to early afternoon every summer day. One job that they did was to bag the Fuji apples. At that time, pale Fujis were in very high demand in Asia. They would put a two-layer bag on each apple in June. Then they would rip off the outer layer a few weeks before harvest, and the inner layer the last week before harvest.

“We were helping out wherever dad needed us,” Poush said.

She added that the girls were always paid for their work.

Poush has an unqualified enthusiasm about her childhood hours in the orchard. She said she loved the work, and especially loved the feeling of being out among the trees in the early morning hours. She loved being a part of the process of seeing blossoms turn to apples each year.

Poush said that as passionate as her parents always were about fruit and about the business, they were also passionate about people and had a vision for helping their employees prosper. This vision made a deep impression on Poush and has influenced her in her own direction in life.

Hannah Podlich in her senior photo. (Provided photo/Terry Loss Photography)

Poush saw her parents mentor young workers and help them to become accomplished in orchard work.

The Podliches celebrated with the employees regularly, they showed concern that employees’ children had opportunities to develop and they supported parents in taking time off to be involved in their children’s lives.

Poush herself grew up around the orchard workers and their families and remembers playing with the workers’ children in the orchard — who were also her schoolmates.

As a result of her exposure to Spanish from an early age, Poush can converse in Spanish and understand quite a bit.

Poush was a member of the first class to go to preschool at the new Orondo School, and she said that even at that early age it was a big thing for her that she was part of the first group to be able to attend at the new building.

Poush said she loved Orondo School. The environment was always peaceful and students got along with each other. There wasn’t a tendency for students to divide into different cliques — everyone just played together.

Though Anglo students were a minority at the school, there was never any kind of division on racial lines and the thought that she was in a minority did not occur to her.

Poush remembers reading books to her first grade teacher, Robin Gahringer, who is now her son’s first grade teacher.

She remembers taking part in a science Olympiad with Merry Roy and going to other school districts with Robert Bowman and three other students to instruct the districts on how to use computers. She also remembers attending the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival in Leavenworth each year with Roy.

There would be a field day at Daroga Park at the end of each school year. The students would play “fun and crazy” games like cream pie eating contests. The Parent-Teacher Association was very active in those days and many of its members volunteered to help with the field day.

There was also an annual talent show at the end of each year, which was put on by the PTA. Poush remembers that one year all the members dressed as “Raisinettes” and performed a number at the show.

One year, the PTA organized a raffle to raise money for a new playground structure and Poush remembers working hard to sell tickets. She believes this structure is still in place at the school.

In those days, Orondo School only went through sixth grade, so in seventh grade Poush attended Chelan Middle School and then later Chelan High School.

She was intimidated at first by the number of students at Chelan Middle School. She also noticed a division between races for the first time in her life. She remembers walking into the cafeteria and seeing white and Hispanic students sitting at different tables. There were also groups and cliques.

However, Poush looks back at her years in Chelan as very good years and she grew to love the school just as she had Orondo School.

“It was a really good fit for me,” Poush said of Chelan High School.

During middle and high school, Poush was a competitive figure skater with the Wenatchee Figure Skating Club. This kept her quite busy most of the year. In fact, most weekday mornings, Sharon Podlich would take her to the ice rink before school and then pick her up after practice and take her to a Link stop, so that she could catch a bus to Chelan for school. Some days she would have to practice again in the evening.

Poush has some very happy memories of figure skating performances.

Sharon Podlich was a great seamstress and was also very creative. She always made her daughter’s skating costumes.

One of Hannah Poush’s favorite movies when she was in seventh grade was “Oklahoma!” For one competition, she chose to skate to the song “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from the movie. As usual, Sharon Podlich made her costume, which in this case included chaps and a turquoise cowboy hat. She spun around with a cowgirl flair in front of the judges’ booth. That moment was captured on the front page of The Wenatchee World.

Another year, she skated to “Whistle While You Work” from “Snow White.” Her mother made her a Snow White costume with birds flying around her head (attached by wires).

“It was always very special to me that my mom made my outfits,” Poush said.

Because of her mother’s influence, Poush loves sewing and enjoys working with her three children to decide on what they are going to be for Halloween each year. Then she gets to be creative and develop and construct their costumes.

Because of her figure skating commitment, the only school sport that Poush could participate in was softball in the spring. Her coach was Jeff Barker, who is still a coach at the school. She remembers him being a great softball coach and also a highly influential person in her character development. Poush said that Barker taught the players to encourage and support others and help them to succeed.

Upon her graduation in 2004, Poush attended Trinity Western University in British Columbia with a plan to study agri-business and then return to help run the family orchard and the Orondo Cider Works business, which was started the summer before. However, she found she didn’t enjoy the business classes as much as she thought she would and she shifted to a human services major. For this major, she took some community development courses and something clicked for her.

She realized that her passion for fruit and the cider and donuts sold by Cider Works could combine with a passion for developing people and community. She realized this is what her parents had in fact been doing throughout her growing up years.

By her senior year, Poush’s direction in life turned back to what it had been all along: returning to the family orchard and business so that she could take over the work that her parents had begun. She met her husband, Adam Poush, while living in Portland, Ore., and in 2012 the two moved to this area to help with the business.

Hannah Poush has been the manager of Orondo Cider Works since 2016.

Though the family no longer runs the orchard, Poush takes joy in giving her children a place in the family business. They help with setting up displays and with decorating for holidays like Christmas and Halloween.

“It’s fun for them to come in and say, ‘I made that!’” Poush said.