A Long, Sunny (!) Walk

Dear Liza,

Much appreciated winter sun

Yesterday, we got a break in the weather. It was actually sunny for five hours! Grandpa Nelson wanted a long walk, and I went along.

Broadway Books celebrates local authors

We headed north over the Banfield Freeway and up to Helen Bernhardt Bakery for doughnuts and cinnamon rolls, then crossed the street into Broadway Books. This is a new bookstore for me. Last year it hosted Michelle Obama for a reading and signing of her book, “Becoming”. It must have been crowded!

Sometimes you just need a laugh

The shop was bright and featured local authors, including this posters for the movie “Wild”, signed by author Cheryl Strayed. There were also books out that parody President Trump.

Continuing down Broadway and planning to cross the Steel bridge, we came upon Kitchen Kaboodle, a fancy kitchen shop. “Would they have your things?” Grandpa Nelson asked. I have been looking for new baking pans to fit the new silpats I got for Christmas.

They did, and we bought them! Of course, they were heavy, so we redirected. Instead of crossing the bridge and bussing home, we took a different path and walked home.

We went through Lloyd Center, which was built in 1960 and has an ice skating rink that has been used by thousands of kids and grownups, including local Olympic contender Tonya Harding.

Lloyd Center Skating Rink
The next Olympic contender?
Well, of course!

Grandpa Nelson got some delicious Carmelcorn from Joe Brown’s, the oldest shop in the mall. It was here when the mall opened! The current owner is Joe’s daughter.

View of downtown while crossing Sullivan’s Gulch


We passed Benson Polytechnic Institute, a high school built in 1916 with funds donated by local lumberman and philanthropist Simon Benson. He is the fellow who gave all those water bubblers to the city. There is even in in front of the school!

Benson bubbler in front of Benson Polytechnic

We stopped at the food carts on the way home to have a sit down and get something to drink, then Grandpa Nelson headed home (carrying the heavy baking sheets) and I went to get my hair cut at Yen’s.

By the time I got home, I had walked six miles! Not bad for an old Grandma.

Love,

Grandma Judy

City Crows

Dear Liza,

For such a big city, Portland has a large animal population.

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Bubbler Crow

We see this when the ‘dog parade’ heads from the neighborhoods to Laurelhurst Park for their evening walk. Cats greet us from sunny porches as we pass, and chickens talk amongst themselves when we go by Sunnyside School.

The squirrels, of course, have the best commutes ever, up trees and across power lines, chittering at everyone who will listen, but freezing on tree trunks to become invisible.

But by far the most vocal and numerous animals are the crows. Unlike their more reclusive cousins the ravens, crows thrive in close proximity with humans, and some even enjoy our company. And it’s not just people in general; studies show that crows remember certain humans, reacting positively to those who feed them and negatively to those they see as a threat.

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Queen of the Crows?

There is a lady who walks every day in Lone Fir Cemetery, bringing a large bag of dry cat food, just to feed the crows. She loves their attentions, and they love her, too! She is like the crow’s queen.

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Crow in the Artbar

The art in Portland reflects this affection (some might even say a fixation) with crows. This painting greeted us last week at The Artbar downtown.

And Laurelhurst hosts a fair few of the feathered fellows, as well.

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Laurelhurst Crow

I like having all these living critters in the neighborhood. Since I have fewer small people to talk with, crows and cats can be good conversation. Also, learning how critters get by and help the area (eating all that fallen fruit, for example) lets me see the neighborhood as an ecosystem rather than just a bunch of houses.

Love, Grandma Judy

Downtown again

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Old newspaper building

Dear Liza,

Yesterday I went downtown to do some more research at the Oregon Historical Society Library. The ladies there were very helpful and I learned about the horse pulled and electric trolley car lines of 1880’s Portland.

Because the streets were so muddy before the days of storm drains and paving, street cars made getting around easier. They let the city grow and have room for more people. The lines ran north and south from downtown and east across the Willamette River, opening up East Portland for housing and businesses. I am glad they did, because that’s where we are living now. Except we take buses to get downtown.

There was rain this morning, but it cleared up and then didn’t rain again until afternoon. I enjoyed having some time to look around downtown. I like how the lovely old stone buildings and the shiny new ones seem to get along.

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Shiny new bank building

I also enjoyed a nice cool drink of water from one of the Benson Bubblers.There are 20 of these lovely drinking fountains in downtown Portland, and they run all day and all night, year round. There is no water shortage here in the rainy northwest like there is in California, so this isn’t a problem.

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Benson Bubbler

The bubblers were a gift to the city from Simon Benson, a man who came to Portland with nothing and ended up being very rich. He chopped trees, built buildings, and eventually owned a lot of land and even some banks. Being so successful, he wanted to give something nice to the city.

One thing he noticed was that, except for saloons and bars, there was no where to go to get a drink of water. This bothered him because once a man was in a saloon, he tended to order a beer or two, and wasn’t much use for the afternoon. He had the bubblers installed in downtown and people have been enjoying them ever since. People still drink beer, though. Sorry, Mr. Benson.

Mr. Benson did a lot of other good things with his money. He said that no rich man should die without giving some of his money away, and he wanted to give it away when he was still around to enjoy seeing the results. He donated $100,000 for a high school, now called Benson High School, on the east side of Portland. He donated some property in the Columbia Gorge, called Wakeenah Falls, to the city as a park.

Portland has many people who have been successful and donated nice things to the city. I will tell you about them as I come across their stories.

Love,

Grandma Judy