Once we sadly said goodbye to Sauvie Island and headed back towards town, lunch was definitely next on the agenda. Auntie Bridgett pulled over in front of a small, idiosyncratic cafe called The Lighthouse Inn.
This building has been here since 1865 and carries a lot of history.
Shortly after the town of Linnton was established in 1844, this was a branch of The First U.S. National Bank and Post Office, and even a barber shop. The brass grill of the teller window and the tiny brass post office boxes are still there, adding to the story.
There are reminders of the area’s location on the Willamette, and its importance to the shipping industry that built the city. Each table has a ship’s bell above it with a pull rope (I guess if you want more beer, like, right now. The tables are held up by ship’s chains, welded to hold their shape. For many years, starting in the 1950s, this was where longshoremen would come after a long cold day loading and unloading ships, to get a drink and something hot to eat.
There is a wonderful old drawing of the river steamer The Portland II between the men’s room and the ladies’.
In other decorative touches, the walls are paneled with at a crazy quilt of different types of wood, and over several of the tables are old English railroad signs. Every place you looked, there was something interesting, quirky, and just plain odd. I loved it.
We chatted with the owner, enjoyed french fries, fried chicken and ahi tuna, caught our breath, and continued on to do the shopping.
Yesterday we got to do something normal! That is, something we have done since we have lived in Portland. We drove out to pick blueberries on Sauvie Island. Sauvie Island is the largest island in the Columbia River, and is a big dollop of farms and wild area just minutes from downtown Portland.
To get there, we crossed to the west bank of the giant Willamette River, drove north a bit, and then crossed the tiny Multnomah Channel, and there we were. Pastoral paradise.
Now, of course there were accommodations for Covid-19. We all wore masks, kept our distance, and used the farm’s boxes to keep from giving them any of our germs.
But the picking was the same. Pulling pounds of juicy berries off bushes, planning the dozens of cobblers and muffins, is very satisfying, in a hunter-gatherer sort of way.
Among the bushes, we listened to parents chat with their kids and smiled at our first post-Covid babies. We watched dozens of swallows swoop low to get berries, only slightly discouraged by the broadcast hawk shrieks. We reveled in just being outdoors, being part of the world. As the box filled up, we picked slower, not wanting our time to end.
There is so much of Sauvie Island we haven’t seen yet. There is a nature preserve full of water birds. There are farms that specialize in Marionberries.
But eventually, the call of lunch got too loud to tune out, and we needed to head off. Of course, this lead to another adventure! More tomorrow.
The condominium where we live is very nice. It is bright and comfortable and is in a busy, lovely neighborhood. But what it lacks is a yard. Partly, this is a good thing.. I don’t have to mow or weed. But when I DO want to play in the dirt, I don’t have a spot.
So when we realized that our kitchen window gets full sun all day, that became our garden spot. We have used it to grow lettuce and chives from seed, and to keep some pretty orchids. But now we have an almost Frankenstein experiment going on.
Auntie Bridgett read that the bottom of a celery stalk would keep growing, even when you had eaten the rest. This was almost too weird to believe, but the window sill was free, so we gave it a shot.
We put a half inch of water in a plastic dish and set the root ends of the stalks in. Then, as with all experiments (and gardens), we waited. It didn’t take long,
Within a day, we had tiny green shoots coming up, as though the celery was saying “I’m not done yet!” As they got bigger, we made space in the planter box and moved them into the dirt. And they are still growing!
They probably won’t grow into a whole new stalk, I keep saying. But I didn’t think they would grow at all, so what do I know?
In the days before Father’s Day, I focused on my Dad, who is long gone. But I got to spend the actual day with two of my favorite dads… Grandpa Nelson and your Daddy David.
First, Grandpa Nelson and I went for a walk. Neither one of us was feeling great, so we planned a slow stroll through the Laurelhurst neighborhood. There are always lovely gardens to see, and the hilly streets make every turn a surprising view.
The houses in this area were built between the 1920s to the 1930s, and have the feeling of ancient mansions. Tiny stone staircases wind through steep yards and hundred year old trees stand proudly.
While we were walking, Auntie Katie texted Grandpa Nelson to say Happy Father’s Day, and we decided to meet up at Colonel Summers Park. It was a longer walk than we had planned, but, as usual, I felt better once I got moving.
At the park we saw folks visiting (from safe distances), walking their dogs, and working in the community garden. Auntie Katie ran over (literally, she was on a run) and I realized I was hungry, so we walked to an old favorite, the Rocking Frog. Their back patio is perfect for non-crowded visiting. We took some Quarantine hair portraits! Katie gets her curly hair from Grandpa Nelson, so they kind of look alike, like Mad Scientists.
After we finished our visit, Katie continued her run and we walked the mile back up the hill to get home. I painted and rested for a while, then your Daddy David called and we had a nice visit over Duo. It was good to see you and hear that your family is planning to visit us here in Portland, once things open up a bit more.
And when all the visiting was over, Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I took our supper of cheese and goodies out onto the balcony and enjoyed the fine summer evening.
Your great grandpa, my dad, Lowell Evans, died in 1998, fifteen years before you were born. He was a very good man, and you should know a little about him.
Lowell was born on a farm in Ellensburg, Washington in 1921. He was the oldest son in a family of ten kids, and was raised to be responsible for himself and to care for other people. He held onto those habits his whole life.
When World War II started, he headed to California to work in the aircraft industry. After a hasty marriage, he was drafted and served in the Pacific, returning home to realize his wife had set up housekeeping with his paycheck and another fellow. Heartbroken, he went to find the only other address he had in California, his former co-worker at the plant, a lady named Billie. After several years’ courtship, he and Billie bought a house in Manhattan Beach, got married and started having kids. That was the beginning of our family.
Dad was always looking for a way to have fun. He’d start singing a made-up song, run out of lyrics, and finish with “…And that’s all I know of that one.” He’d call us all out of the house for a walk and end up at the ice cream shop. His evenings were spent planning camping trips or making furniture for the house. He made desk/dresser/ nightstand sets for all the bedrooms, a desk and coffee table for the living room, and even a playhouse for me.
He helped run the Pop Warner Junior football league, a Little League team, and was a Boy Scout leader. He attended every game, every show and every parade my brothers and I were part of.
He cared for his friends, too. He had become friends with an old bachelor man at work, Phil Conway. One day, Phil got hit by a piece of equipment and cracked some ribs, and the boss sent him home for the weekend. Dad knew that Phil would go home, lay down, and not be able to get up. Since my parents didn’t have a car, Dad took a cab and fetched Phil to our house and had him sleep in the big chair until he healed up.
There were lots of other folks he cared for, too. He walked three brides down the aisle before me, young women from work whose own dads were unwilling or unable to stand up for them.
Camping was how we spent all our vacations. Dad and my brothers loved it, and I did, too. It was a time of not too many rules… we weren’t expected to be quiet, go to bed early, stay clean, or eat our vegetables. We could spend hours walking in the woods or building dams in the river. Even Momma came to enjoy it, as Dad took over the cooking duties and she could read and relax more.
When Dad was fifty five, he developed rheumatoid arthritis. He hurt all the time and had trouble breathing. He got treatment and got better, but his doctor advised taking early retirement because “you don’t know how many good years you have left.” Dad spent two years remodeling the kitchen, learning to bake bread, and generally driving Momma crazy. He finally convinced her to retire, too. They sold the house and moved to tiny Lompoc, California.
And, believe it or not, that was just the beginning of a whole ‘nother set of adventures! More tomorrow!
When Momma and Dad bought the house in Lompoc, the first thing to do was make it ready to live in. The back yard was all weeds and the house had been badly used. Everything needed fixing. But for them, this was part of the fun.
While they worked, they got to know their neighbors and the town. Momma joined the Alpha Club and Dad joined Elks. This was a lucky thing for the Elks, because they were just beginning to build a new lodge, and Dad helped with electrical work and general hauling. He designed and helped build the floats for parades. He even barbecued dinner for everyone!
My folks were natural joiners. They loved playing cards or going dancing with friends, and if those new folks liked camping, so much the better.
After they had lived in Lompoc for about ten years, they bought a fine fifth wheel trailer. Dad got an idea. “How about we go in the road long term?” Momma was against it. She couldn’t imagine leaving her garden or her friends. “Let’s try it for six months,”. Dad promised. “If you hate it, I won’t mention it again.”
So they rented the house to a friend, packed up, and headed off. By the end of the six months, momma was sold on the idea, and they traveled to every state they could drive to over the next eight years. Dad loved history and would visit every tiny museum and library. They went to church every Sunday at whatever church was closest. They made new friends all over the country.
Every now and then, they would swing by our house in Salinas, say hello, and help the kids with their bar mitzvah projects, then head off again. They had so much fun!
In September of 1988 they came by Salinas on their way home, and I took the day off to go with them to Point Lobos. It was the last day we got to spend together.
They were heading home when dad had a stroke and died in his sleep. We were all shocked, as he had seemed in very good health. The family got the trailer moved back to Lompoc, and Momma lived in it for a year, right in the back yard. Even after taking care of the many details required of new widows, she wasn’t quite ready to take up regular life yet, having lost “the most fun part” of her life after 51 years.
But one day when we were visiting, she wiped her eyes after yet another cry, and said, “If Lowell saw me sitting here, crying like a baby, he’d come down and kick my butt.” Sometimes, when I am sad, I say the same thing. Thanks, Dad.
After a successful stint in Kansas, as an associate professor and patron of the local concert series, Hermina moved west to Bozeman, Montana. She took a position in charge of housing and nutrition at Montana State College. As World War II ended, she oversaw the growing budgets of the post-war school housing boom, finding places for all the veterans taking advantage of the GI bill. She lived on campus, too. I hope she kept a nice place for herself.
In 1955 she was hired as director of Portland Schools Lunchrooms, and she moved back in with her Mom and sister Rosina here in Portland. Just four years later, their mother died at the age of 91, and then it was just the two sisters together.
Since director of public school lunchrooms is a public position, there are several articles in the Oregonian where Hermina is mentioned, giving budgets and figures from her office. In 1960 she was the center of a public shouting match when her office and its panel of ‘tasters’ rejected ice cream from Sunnybrook Foremost Dairy for the school lunchrooms, in spite of their low bid. She explained that Mr. Sinner’s ice cream just didn’t taste as good as the next lowest bidder. Mr. Sinner said he “had never heard of such a thing.”
But we really see the now-65 -year-old Miss Zipple shine in 1966, when a series of articles highlights National School Lunch week. She rattled off the figures that her office dealt with, from the 620,000 pounds of meat and poultry annually served, to the seven million half pints of milk, to the 840,000 eggs.
Miss Zipple said her Office got calls from mothers asking for recipes, after their children told them that “the school makes this better.” The article in The Oregonian even included the recipes for the most requested items, cut down to family-sized portions. These included snickerdoodle cookies, porcupine meatballs, tomato sauce, and Halloween pumpkin cookies.
The very next year, Miss Hermina Zipple retired from her position at the age of 66, ending a 31 year career. She lived in Portland with her sister, in the same house where she was born, until she died at the age of 89. Younger sister Rosina had also been a teacher, staying in town for her 42 year career in the elementary schools. Rosina outlived Hermina by a few years. Neither sister ever married. They supported themselves and their mother by their education and ambition, and educated and fed hundreds of kids.
I sure love making new friends do at the Lone Fir Cemetery!
Walking in Lone Fir Cemetery the other day, I came across a name I had never seen before. Zipple. Carl and Emma Zipple, Mother and Father. I wanted to know more.
Since the Oregon Historical Society closed for renovation months even before the corona virus hit, my research is all online. I looked at newspapers around the state and Grandpa Nelson got out his Ancestry.com account. Zipple, it turns out, isn’t a very common name. In fact, for many, many years, these folks were the only ones here in Portland.
Carl was a machinist from Saxony, Germany, and worked at the steel mill here. Emma was from Switzerland. I don’t know when they came to America, how they met, or when they were married.
I looked for their daughters, Hermina and Rosina. The oldest, Hermina, was born when her father and mother were 42 and 31. Even today, this is a bit old to be new parents. Hermina graduated from Portland’s Jefferson High School in 1919, when her father was 60 years old.
As was the practice of the time, she got her first teaching job right out of high school, in Garfield, Oregon. She went on to graduate from the Normal School (teaching college) at Monmouth and then got a job there as the assistant librarian, where she probably stayed for six years. Venturing further from home to advance her education, she moved to Seattle, Washington, and graduated from the University Of Washington in 1935.
And this is where the story gets interesting. I assumed that she would move take a job in Portland and live with her mom, since her dad had just passed away. But instead, she took a job as Director of Food Services for the University in Lawrence, Kansas, halfway across the country! She lived with some other ladies in a house with a maid and houseman.
In 1940 she wrote a paper for the Journal of Nutritian and Dietetics Entitled “Nutrition and War: Feeding the Army and Navy at the University of Kansas.”
I will tell you more about my interesting new friend tomorrow!
I will write properly about my dad, your great-grandpa Lowell, later this week. For now I will just tell how he helped me through a bad time this weekend.
After our wonderful trip to the Coast, staying home all day seemed to get even more tedious and confining. I lost interest in my story, felt stupid when I tried to paint, and was just sad and cranky. The petty inconveniences of the shut down, combined with the very real trouble our country is in right now, were really getting to me.
Saturday, I asked Granda Nelson and Auntie Bridgett to do the weekly shopping so I could stay home and give the house a much needed cleaning. It felt GOOD to be doing something useful and hard, and both the house and I were better for it.
Sunday, the blues crept up again. For most of the day I sat in different places in the house, feeling useless and sad. In the afternoon, I thought of my Dad and some of his advice. He said that when you felt sad, you should find someone worse off, and help them. These past weeks, this advice has led to me making cards for elderly folks and cookies for marchers.
But when you feel really useless, you don’t feel like you CAN help anyone. You are sure your cookies will be awful and your cards will be laughable. What then?
Ice cream, dad’s voice said. Get out of the house and go get some ice cream. So I did what we do now, in Portland, when we want to “go out” for ice cream. I got on the Fifty Licks website.
I rounded up my people and we walked the half mile through our own dear neighborhood, admiring the flowers and fruits as they burst out in yards, driveways and parking spaces.
We got to Fifty Licks, up on Burnside, and realized there were a lot of people doing ice cream therapy. Our online order was ready right on time, but where to eat it?
Indoor dining is NOT an option in Portland yet, so we walked up the block to the Catholic Pastoral Center and borrowed the curb of their parking lot, with a view of tall trees and the Burnside traffic. Informal, al fresco, and yummy. Dad would have approved.
By the time we got home, full of beauty and yummy cream, I felt better. We had also walked a mile, which always helps. We can get through difficult times, with good people and good ice cream.