Our weather keeps getting hotter! So Grandpa Nelson, The Idea Guy, made plans. Just after lunch, we walked out into the already horrible heat to catch the #15 bus. On the air conditioned bus, we rode in happy relief towards downtown. We noticed that the bus goes directly past the Post Office on 7th Street…which will be good to know when Auntie Bridgett needs to mail her zines or I want to send you something.
We got off at the Oregon Historical Society, which is just across the Park Blocks from the Portland Art Museum. Grandpa Nelson was very interested in the “High Hopes” exhibit about President John Kennedy. There were many fun artifacts to see, like John’s report card from The Choate School, where he got a C- in public speaking, and a letter from young John to his father, asking for a raise in his allowance and giving reasons why it was needed.
But what I loved most were the speeches he gave, proving that his weakness in public speaking class was overcome with help and practice. His Inauguration speech, made on the first day he became President, still gives me goosebumps. He was so optimistic about what our country could do for ourselves and for the world. So many of his ideas were proven right, but only after he had died. We needed to sit down for a while, to think about President Kennedy, our country, and what we believe in.
On the second floor we found an exhibit of Oregon history from the time of the Native Americans to now. A Native American story was written down by Ella Clark: “The Earth was once a human being, made by the creator to be a mother to her people. Her soil is flesh, the rocks are her bones, the wind is her breath, the trees and grass are her hair.” Sometimes when I walk in the park here, or by the ocean, I feel that loving mother-ness from the earth. That connection to the earth helps us feel whole, I think.
We learned about all the things that Oregon has chosen as its symbols. These are to recognize what is special about the state. Oregon’s state motto is “She flies on her own wings”. I like this so much! The female image for the state, the freedom of wings and personal ownership, all tell of strength, independence, and freedom. As if Oregon were a strong, lovely fairy.
There are lots of other symbols, so I will make a small list here:
State bird: Western Meadowlark
State flower: Oregon Grape (I know it sounds like a fruit, but it is also a flower)
State fruit: Pears
State drink: Milk
State butterfly: Oregon Swallowtail
State animal: Beaver
State tree: Douglas fir
When we had looked, talked, read and thought all we could about history, we had a snack and caught the streetcar up to Powell’s Bookstore, on SW 10th and Couch, to browse. There are so many wonderful books. I always learn something new or remember something I had forgotten.
For our last fun activity downtown, we walked to the (Air Conditioned) Living Room Theater at SW 10th and Stark. At this movie theater, you can order sandwiches or pizza, as well as beer, wine or soda, and they bring you the food at your seat before the movie starts. Each theater only holds about 30 people, but the chairs are comfortable.
We watched a funny French movie called “Lost in Paris”. It had subtitles but I enjoyed understanding some of the French, as well. It is not a kid’s movie, but we three adults enjoyed it very much.
We took the #20 back home and got Grandpa Nelson a milk shake at Fifty Licks, a very popular ice cream parlor right at the bus stop on Burnside, and just a few blocks from our house.
We rested and wrote in the cool basement until we got sleepy enough to go to bed. It was still hotter than most days in Salinas at 11:30 at night. And tomorrow is predicted to be even warmer! Oy and vey.
Love, Grandma Judy