Because I am writing a story about Portland kids in 1903, I need to learn about things that kids liked back then. Auntie Bridgett found a magazine article that gave me a wonderful insight: Baseball!
It turns out that the first Oregonian who played Major League Baseball was born right here in Portland in 1871. His given name was Walter Edward Parrot, but his nickname was ‘Jiggs’, though no one seems to know why.
His father Thomas and mother Anneliza were pioneers, coming across the plains in covered wagons. Thomas was a good musician, lead a brass band, and opened up a music store here in Portland. They had seven sons and one daughter. The whole family loved baseball, but Jiggs and his brother Thomas Jr., called ‘Tack’, were the best. They both played for the amateur East Portland Willamettes, which later became the Webfeet. Major League scouts came by and hired Jiggs to play second and third base for the Chicago Colts, and the next year, returned to hire Tack as a pitcher.
Jiggs had four good seasons in Chicago, but he started having health troubles and had to return to the minor leagues, and after a few more years he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, hoping that the warm climate would be better for his lungs. He lived there only a year before dying in 1898, at the age of 26. His brother brought his body back home to be buried at our Lone Fir Cemetery.
Knowing that this interesting, sort-of-famous baseball player is so close, Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to see if we could find him. Fortunately, there is a website called “Find a Grave”, which tells you what plot of the cemetery a person is in, and the Lone Fir Cemetery site that gives a map of the cemetery. Putting those together, we walked straight to the Parrott family,
There is a beautiful tall obelisk with the family name on it, surrounded by smaller markers for the kids, Thomas, and Anneliza. Jiggs was the first to pass away, followed by his father Thomas in 1899. The whole family, as far as Mom, Dad, and the boys, are buried near each other beneath a magnificent elm tree. Their daughter, Jennie Parrott Green, is buried at Rose City Cemetery with her husband’s family.
It felt good to celebrate and appreciate the life of this young man. He had so much promise and wasn’t allowed to live his life as he wanted. I am glad to be able to remember him.
People say that if you can laugh at yourself, you will never cease to be amused. That being said, most people don’t expect to get laughs at a cemetery. But Lone Fir is different.
Yesterday, after visiting the graves of the Parrott family, we found this: A handmade Ouija Board, complete with the little pointer for reading the “messages”, all made out of typing paper with a ballpoint pen. There are some scratch-outs, but mostly, it was a good job, considering the people who made it were probably kids. Both pieces were laying right by the grave of Elizabeth and William Saturley, who died in the 1870s.
This find took a slightly darker turn when I learned that “Zozo”and “Pazuzu” are the names of spirits or ancient gods. The two have nothing in common except for both being mentioned in the 1972 movie “The Exorcist” (which scared me senseless in high school). I wonder if the Saturleys were relatives of the kids, or chosen at random.
And speaking of random, we ran into this stone that says, in neat lettering, “Random Person.”. We can’t figure out if it was made as charity for an unknown person in an unmarked grave, or for someone with a sense of humor who wanted to remain anonymous.
Dale Jones and his wife Helen, who died in the 1990s, had several stones marking their graves. One, a highly polished bench. revealed their busy lives and sense of humor. “This wasn’t in my schedule book,” says a bench by Dale’s grave.
Like I have said before, cemeteries give perspective. It’s nice to know that even when facing our own ends, we can have this perspective and lighten everyone’s load a bit.
I hope this post was more funny than spooky. People are weird.
Since we don’t like to drive much, we do quite a bit of shopping online. This means we get packages delivered.
Today we got two packages. The first one, and the one that made us happiest, was our copy of Whose Boat is this Boat? This is a book created by the staff of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The pictures are by Andro Buneta and John Henry, and the words are by President Donald J. Trump. They are things Mr. Trump said when he was visiting North Carolina after Hurricane Florence did so much damage there.
They are accidentally funny. We like reading the book and looking at the pictures, but mostly we like that all the money from buying the book is being donated to North Carolina to help them rebuild their houses and towns.
The second package was not a book, but was also accidentally funny. Grandpa Nelson had ordered four tiny batteries for some lights we use at Christmas. The card they are on can easily fit inside an envelope for a birthday card, but they were sent in a box big enough for a football!
Surely, a big mailing company like Amazon has smaller boxes, right? Puzzlement.
You know that Auntie Bridgett Spicer is an artist. You know she can paint, draw, and make beautiful collages and cartoons. Did you know that she sells her art?
Well, she does! Last night just before First Friday’s New Artist Reception at The SideStreet Arts Gallery, she sold her first piece of art since we moved to Portland. Her beautiful collage portrait of Max Jacob sold to a nice lady who bought it as a gift for her husband.
We are all so happy and proud of Auntie Bridgett! She works hard on her art and makes such lovely pictures, and it makes me smile to know they will go out into the world and make people happy.
How did she make this beautiful piece? She has given me permission to show you.
Step 1: She drew a pencil portrait of Max Jacob, using photographs for reference. Max was an artist and friend of Picasso in the 1920s and 1930 in France, so there are lots of pictures of him.
Step 2: She cut out all the different parts of the drawing to use as templates for the collage pieces.
Step 3: From her huge collection of papers, she found just the right ones to create his face and suit, then carefully cut them out and glued them down. She rolled each bit so it was smooth. She used paints to give the portrait wonderful depth and humanity. When it was perfect, she matted and framed it.
Step 4: Listening to me when I told her she HAD to take it to the Gallery for her show!
This was a long process where a stray sigh could blow all the bits away, but she stuck with it and made a wonderful piece of art.
As we say slide towards winter, we are remembering the beauty of bright leaves on shiny roads and all the mysteries of the forest coming to the surface.
Laurelhurst Park is, of course, my favorite place in Portland. As cool and busy a playroom as it is in summer, it is a place of small life in fall.
Last year, around this time, we saw a fellow raking leaves into heart shapes and appreciated his art for art’s sake. Yesterday I may have seen his work again, as this wonderful “Yellow Brick Road” leaf installation greeted us uphill from the lake.
Walking today, I saw a plaque near the Pine Street entrance to the Park. It commemorates the planting of this huge oak tree in 1932 by the Wakeenah Chapter of the DAR (The Daughters of the American Revolution) to celebrate the 200th birthday of George Washington.
In a funny way, all the leaves falling reminds me of a speech from The Merchant of Venice, where Portia talks about mercy “blessing both he who gives and he who receives”.
Having given up their leaves, the trees show their beautiful branch structure, allowing us to see beauty that is hidden in summer. It also makes the ground more beautiful, blessing both the tree and the ground.
We have had a few weeks of Halloween celebrations, but Wednesday was ACTUALLY Halloween, so we went out for some fun. We got into costumes and walked around the corner to Suzette, a lovely restaurant and crepe place. French onion soup and goat cheese crepes, along with some lovely wine and cider, filled us up for our adventure.
Then, on to OMSI! The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, down by the river, was having a party which included an exhibit of replicas of the treasures from King Tut’s tomb. The originals were discovered in 1922 by Howard Cater.
We played a game called Haunters, where you needed to find people in ghost costumes who gave you clues for places inside the museum. Then you took pictures of yourself with the ghosts and at the place the clues lead you, to win a prize. After several false starts, we got our prize, which was three tickets to come back to OMSI for free!
There were all sorts of science activities, and I was happy to see that the adults were having just as much fun as the kids do during the daytime. Upstairs we even found a 3-D land form simulator table, like you got to play with at Hartnell College! It was amazing. I will spent lots of happy afternoons there.
When we had seen just about everything and were worn out, we called for a Lyft and headed home. The Halloween season is now officially over and we get to start thinking about Thanksgiving!