More Than One Kind of Stone

Dear Liza,

As I mentioned, Auntie Bridgett and I took a nice long walk through Lone Fir Cemetery yesterday. There are so many graves with interesting stories, but they all feel too sad to tell today. I will tell you about another stone I found and the person it tells about.

On my walks to Auntie Katie’s house, I always go through Lone Fir, then down 20th Street to Ladd’s Addition. At the corner of 20th and Madison is a wonderfully cared for Craftsman Style house, and on the curb outside is a block of cement about 24 inches wide, and 10 inches by 10 inches that says “Dr. Locke”.

dr-locke-step.jpg

Being curious, I went online to do some research. Between real estate sites and old newspapers, I have pieced together this history.

Dr. James Kelsey Locke lived and worked in that house from 1906, when he had it built, until 1924, when he died at the age of 62. He was an obstetrician and his house was a “birthing house”, since babies were not born in hospitals back then. He had been a doctor in Portland since 1892, and was much loved by the community. He left a widow, Minnie, and two grown children when he passed away.

There are living quarters on the first floor and four ‘birthing’ bedrooms on the second floor. There was even a ballroom on the third floor, I suppose for celebrations of births and other entertainments. A newspaper article lists the house as being sold to Dr. Arthur Johnson the same year it was built, which leads me to believe Dr. Locke had built it as an investment, sold it to Dr. Johnson, but continued to live and work in it.

He was also on the staff at Good Samaritan Hospital in the Northwest part of Portland for many years, and in the Oregon State Senate for a short term.

The block of cement outside was used as a step, to make it easier for Dr. Locke’s very pregnant patients to step out of their carriages onto the sidewalk. If you watch the old movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”, you will see this sort of step used when people come and go.

Dr. Locke's house.jpg
           Dr. Locke’s former house                                                                   Photo credit:Portland MLS

We don’t know Dr. Locke, and except for the probably thousands of mothers and babies he gave care and comfort to, he was not a historically significant person. But his story is part of the city’s story, and I love finding out more about it.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Park Tour in North Portland

Dear Liza,

Rain has become the “normal weather” here, so when there is some sun, we make the most of it! Sunday was a sunny day so Grandpa Nelson and I went out for a driving “park tour” of this City of Roses. Auntie Bridgett had a lot of art work to do, so we kissed her good-bye and promised to bring back good pictures.

bandstand .jpg
Band stand at Peninsula Park

First, we drove to Peninsula Park. which was built in 1909 as the city Rose Garden. There are a few thousand rose bushes, with a very few blooms still in sight. Most were pruned down for the winter, of course, and the garden was laid out in a wonderfully formal arrangement, looking like they belong in Le Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris. There is also a gazebo-style bandstand and old fashioned pavings. These are surrounded by tall and beautiful elm, birch, maple and ginko trees, all shedding their leaves most colorfully. There is even a soccer field and play area.

We left Peninsula Park knowing that we would return in the summer to see the roses at their peak, and headed off to find lunch. In the historic suburb of Kenton we found lunch and Paul Bunyon. This 31 foot tall statue of the legendary lumberjack was built in 1959 (when I was three years old!) as a tribute to the lumber industry in Portland. It got a new coat of paint last year. The statue is very big for the little bit of land it is on, but people come from all over to see it.

Paul Bunyon.jpg
Paul Bunyon

We enjoyed lunch at Swift and Union, a beef-themed cafe where we had no beef: french fries, squash soup, and salmon cakes filled us up and made us happy.

Columbia Park forst.jpg
Columbia Park

We drove west to Columbia Park, which was built in 1891, when this area was still a separate city called Albina. The park has climbing and water toys for summer, basketball courts, but also a large forested area for walking through. It was nearly empty and very beautiful. The fallen leaves made an almost uniform carpet over sidewalks, walls and lawns, looking like a coloring book filled in by someone with only a yellow crayon.

St. Johns Bridge.jpg
St. John’s Bridge from Cathedral Park

Westward and northward, we passed the University of Portland Campus and drove along the Willamette to Cathedral Park, so called because it runs along the river under the cathedral-like columns of St. John’s Bridge. The bridge was built in 1931 and is acknowledged to be the most beautiful bridge in the city, and possibly in the country. This park has no formal plantings, but some large public sculpture, trees, and the river and bridge itself make for a memorable spot.

When we were cold and a little damp (the sun had hidden itself behind some clouds) we got back in Miles the Volkswagen and drove across this lovely bridge. It is so high above the river ( 205 feet) it doesn’t need to be a drawbridge like the others in town, and soars like a rainbow.

Mossy branches forest park.jpg
Rain forest in Forest Park
 

On the west shore, we found Forest Park, a 5,157 acre park with almost no development. It is, as it promises, a forest. We found a narrow residential road that ended at Lief Erickson Drive, which looks like it used to be for cars but is now only for bikes and people. It was getting damper and colder, but we walked a quarter mile up and found a Jurassic Park-like rain forest and fairy sized waterfalls. We will come back here again.

Driving back to town, I noticed that the #15 bus runs almost to the park entrance! I could walk to Belmont, get on the bus, and be here in about an hour. Or in the car, 20 minutes. Not bad for proximity to a huge, bustling city.

We got home and warmed up, and when Auntie Bridgett had finished her work, she and I went for a walk through Lone Fir Cemetery. But I will tell you about that tomorrow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

 

Feeling Very Urbanized

Dear Liza,

The first big thing that happened yesterday was that Grandpa Nelson bought me my birthday present. Yes, my birthday isn’t until next March. He went on-line for more than an hour and with lots of clicking and frustration and patience, he got two tickets to the musical HAMILTON when it comes to Portland next spring! He tried for four tickets, but there were only two available, so Auntie Katie (who loves Hamilton even more than I do) and I will be going to see the best musical in the last 30 years during spring break, 2018!

I smiled all day and well into the night. This sort of theater just doesn’t exist in Salinas… there just aren’t enough people to support it. I am feeling very blessed to be in this huge city where thousands of people love music and theater, and to have Grandpa Nelson, who will spend the time and money to make sure I can see it!

As if that wasn’t enough for one day, at 5:00 we took the #20 downtown. It was cold but dry and clear, and the lights reflecting off the river were beautiful. We walked from the bus stop up to Cheryl’s on 12th for dinner. We had tried to eat there for brunch, but it had been full. Dinner was pleasant, but nothing fabulous. The best thing was Christina, our server, who was conversational and helpful, and the curry pea salad.

Cheryls on 12th .jpg
Cheryl’s on 12th                                Photo Credit: Cheryl’s
 

Living Room theater .jpg
          The Living Room Theater                                       Photo credit: Living Room

We walked to the Living Room Theater, just a few blocks away. Grandpa Nelson had gotten us tickets to see “The Battle of the Sexes”, a movie set in 1971, when he and I were dating in high school. The movie is about Billie Jean King, a professional tennis player, and her work to get equal pay for women athletes. One of the ways she did this was to play a male tennis player named Bobbie Riggs. I remember when it was all really happening and enjoyed seeing the clothes and hearing the music of my high school days up on the screen.

The movie was so good, we talked about it as we walked toward the bus stop….but didn’t stop! We went into Powell’s City of Books, because Grandpa Nelson wanted to do some early Christmas shopping. He shopped, I people-watched, Auntie Bridgett looked at graphic novels…until 10 P.M., our bed time.

powells-night.jpg
Powell’s City of Books Photo credit: Powell’s

We caught the bus and enjoyed the dark quiet ride home.

Love, Grandma Judy

 

 

 

Leaf Management and Pizza

Dear Liza,

With all the wonderful pictures of changing leaves I have been sending you, you might wonder, “What happens after all those leaves fall down?” Yesterday, we found out!

It turns out that Portland, (“The City That Works” according to the city trucks) has plans for this. Twice during the fall, each part of the city has leaf days. On leaf days, several trucks come, in order, to get rid of most of the leaves.

The first truck is a small bobcat/forklift sort of vehicle, pushing what looks like a small soccer goal with brushes along the bottom. The soccer goal thing corrals leaves that have been gathered on the side of the street into piles. After several trips up and down the block, all the leaves are a pile about 4 feet high in the middle of the intersection.

leaf scooper .jpg
Leaf Scooper

Next comes the scooper. This is another forklift sort of thing with red “hands” that pick up this whole pile in about 3 scoops and puts them into a waiting truck. There is also a vacuum that comes and gets leaves missed by the pusher and scooper, and dumps them into the truck.

leaf clean B.jpg
Leaf washer

After the leaves have been pushed, scooped and vacuumed, a truck with huge water tanks comes by and squirts the street to wash the leftover leaves and slime away. Finally, a regular street cleaner truck, with rotating brushes, comes by and makes the street all clean. When the crew it done, there are about 12 leaves left on a street that had been 2 feet deep in them.

This whole process takes about half an hour….per intersection. I can’t even imagine how many crews just like this must be all over the city.

After a day of leaf watching and writing, we all went over to visit Auntie Katie and the cousins. We stopped by Skottie’s Pizza, on Division, and picked up a “Proctor Special” of pepperoni, pineapple and ‘p’olives (the kids like alliteration) and a seasonal special of squash, caramelized onions and mozzarella. Not cheap, but very good, and plenty for leftovers!

KD pizza .jpg
Auntie Katie making dishes out of pizza box lids!

Grandpa Nelson played Legos with Jasper and Auntie Katie and I made wrapped baked apples with cousin Kestrel. They were delicious!

baked apples .jpg
Wrapped apples

Auntie Katie also showed us how she has improved a cape she got from a now-deceased friend from synagogue, Libby Braverman, about 25 years ago: She made the already warm and beautiful cape Portland-safe by sewing a thin line of lights to the front! It makes you show up while out in these early-dark months.

glowing cape.jpg
Glowing Auntie Katie and Kestrel

 

Dawn Redwood

different color leaves.jpg
Trees change at different times

Dear Liza,

Yesterday I got out for two walks, one in the morning with Grandpa Nelson, and one in the afternoon with Auntie Bridgett. It was cold and wet but not raining, and both walks went through our favorite, Laurelhurst Park.

Grandpa Nelson’s walk was quick. He was still “at work”, at his office downstairs, but he needed to stretch his legs and clear his head. We covered ground, enjoyed the thousands of leaves floating on the lake, and saw dogs running full speed just for the joy of doing it.

My walk with Auntie Bridgett was less hurried. We saw some fine mushrooms.

mushrooms in LH.jpg
Happy mushrooms!
 

We talked about how different kinds of trees are changing at different rates. Most of the maples are pretty bare, but other types of trees still have quite a few green leaves.

Looking up, she said, “For example, this one.” We stopped beside a tree we hadn’t really noticed before. It was some sort of conifer (there were small green cones under it) but had clearly changed color and was getting ready to lose its leaves. “This tree isn’t well,” was my assumption. When an evergreen goes yellow, it’s near the end.

dawn redwood shape.jpg
Mystery Tree

We took pictures of the tree and leaves, tucked the location into our memory banks, and continued our walk.

On the other side of the park is a ‘tree map’, showing what sorts of trees are growing where in the park. Once we got oriented, we saw that our mystery tree was listed as a Metasequoia glyptostroboides, also known as a Dawn Redwood. Dawn Redwoods are deciduous conifers, meaning they have cones like evergreens, but lose their leaves every fall. A rare thing, indeed.

dawn redwood trunk .jpg
Close up of Dawn Redwood

Dawn Redwoods are really special trees for other reasons, too. They were alive 60 million years ago, when dinosaurs were around. Scientists have found their fossils in North America, China and Japan. A Japanese paleobotanist (person who studies extinct plants) named Shegeru Miki found fossils in Japan and called it “Metasequoia”, meaning it was sort of a grandmother to all other redwoods. He assumed the tree was extinct.

At about the same time in China, a forester named T. Kan found a living grove of the same kind of trees. Because this all happened in the middle of World War II, it took years before they learned about each other’s finds.

Dawn redwood needles .jpg
Needles of Dawn Redwood

When the seeds and other parts of the plants were sent to botanists at Harvard University, the tree was called a “fossil tree” and a seed gathering expedition went to China. Thousands of seeds were sent to different places around the world, including the Hoyt Arboretum and Laurelhurst Park here in Portland. The next year, the tree in the Arboretum bore cones, the first tree of its kind to bear cones in North America in 60 million years, or so they all thought.

It turns out there were, and still are, Dawn Redwoods growing wild here, in forests, the Gorge, as well as parks. They weren’t extinct, we just hadn’t found any  as of 1941. Now we have. It seems there are always new things to discover!

I love what this story tells me about curiosity, problem solving, and serendipity. The same kind of trees grew in China, Japan, and North America, for millions of years. How did the seeds travel so far? Were the continents closer then? What if that scientist hadn’t send those particular seeds to that particular guy?

Thinking happy, curious thoughts,

Grandma Judy

Downtown Delights

Dear Liza,

On Sunday, Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson and I took the #20 bus downtown. We admired the architecture while hunting for a place to eat. The problem is, Portland is a very Sunday Brunch-oriented city. If there is a restaurant open, they are packed. We tried Cheryl’s on 12th: a mob. We looked at Tasty n Alder: packed. Finally, we went to our old stand by, Kenny and Zuke’s Deli, at 11th and Stark. They had only a 10 minute wait, and we enjoyed reading the newspapers and magazines they had out.

Kenney and zukes window .jpg
Kenny and Zuke’s looking out
Church yellow leaves .jpg
Church and leaves

After a filling and delicious meal of roasted veggies, eggs and rye toast with lots of butter, we headed off. Since we weren’t in a hurry, we got to notice all sorts of things. The leaves keep changing and are beautiful at every turn.

Odd things, like a dog fountain guarded by a brass bulldog named Zelda wearing a top hat, standing in front of the Hilton Hotel, just cracked us up.

Zelda brass dog .jpg
Zelda the water fountain guardian

At Pioneer Square, we saw the 45 foot Christmas tree being put up. The lower branches had been removed to make it easier (something I had never seen) and some workmen were busy re-attaching the branches onto the tree while other men were running electric cables down the tree for when they light it up next week. Down below, a fellow was stringing lights on smaller trees to make everything cheerful.

Tree going up .jpg
Christmas tree going up!

We kept walking and got to The Oregon Historical Society. A group of talented musicians and historians were putting on a show about The Art of the Protest Song, a history that runs from before I was born to today; people using music to tell other people how they feel about what’s going on in the world, and to let people know they aren’t alone in their concerns. We heard some Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, and several original songs by the musicians. It was wonderful, and very well attended. There were 100 chairs up when we got there, and almost 100 more were added before the show started.

Art of the Protest song .jpg
Quilted logo of the show

After the show, Grandpa Nelson suggested we try walking home. We were surprised, but willing. It wasn’t very cold, and there was even some blue skies coming between the clouds. And there was always a bus close by if we got tired.

Sunset on the river .jpg
Light on the River

 

 

 

We walked down to the river, then north along the Tom McCall Riverfront, to the Morrison Bridge. A curvy on ramp took us up to the bridge, and we walked across the Willamette River. It was beautiful. The trees, seen from above, spread out and drop their leaves onto the roadway. The sidewalk is separated from the big traffic by a bike lane and fence, so we felt safe. The sky had gotten grey so the river was, too.

yellow leaves from bridge .jpg
Trees seen from above

On the east side, we walked past warehouses and car repair places, up Morrison Street, through the Lone Fir Cemetery, and home for dinner. Auntie Bridgett’s Fitbit said we had walked almost 5 miles! Hooray for walking!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Out and About in the Wet

Dear Liza,

It is still wet here…not always raining, but always rain-ish. The colors continue to change and be beautiful. This morning I went out walking with Grandpa Nelson down to the Rocking Frog for coffee and doughnuts, and saw lovely drops on branches, more plants going to seed and making lots of winter food for the birds, and more trees changing.

Purple berry seeds .jpg
Seeds for birds!
drip-on-branch.jpg
Drips

Last night we all went out for dinner at a new restaurant on Belmont (new to us, that is) called Circa 33. It has a dark, secret sort of atmosphere, like a speakeasy of the 1920’s. The first thing I did, while taking off my scarf, was bang into one of their low hanging lights and break it! I felt awful, but it turns out it had been broken before and was held together with tape. Still, what an entrance.

Disaster over, we ordered and enjoyed dinner. Seared salmon, bourbon brined pork chops, and Grandpa Nelson’s french fries filled us all up, then we walked across the street for a few games of pinball at the Belmont Inn. Auntie Bridgett and I love their “Monster Bash” game….lots of characters that move and good sound effects. Pinball is a lot of good time for just $2.00.

Circa 33 .jpg
Circa 33 on Belmont

The little mossy branch I brought home yesterday is now sitting in a small pot on the porch with a maple seed. This is what it looks like!

Moss in pot .jpg
Moss in a pot

Love,

Grandma Judy