Finding Common Ground(s)

Dear Liza,

Finding companionship over coffee

It is still chilly here, but we haven’t had rain for a few days. On Tuesday, we took advantage for the dry spell to get out for a walk. Auntie Bridgett wanted to spend some time in a comfy coffee house, Grandpa Nelson wanted a tasty snack, and I just wanted to get out of the house.

Eastside walkway between Taylor and Salmon

We bundled up with scarves and gloves, because it was only about 46 degrees. We wandered through the neighborhood, seeing the winter trees and noticing all the small, promising signs of spring on the way.

Daffodil buds starting to swell

We walked a mile to Common Grounds down on Hawthorne near 43rd Street and found just the comfy coffee house that Auntie Bridgett was looking for. It was busy but not loud, and had an interesting variety of tables, chairs and sofas. People sat alone, reading or working on laptop computers, or in pairs for quiet conversation. The electronic music was at background levels and very pleasant.

Friendly, busy barista

We enjoyed coffee, Fire Tea (a spicy turmeric and cayenne blend), and a delightfully chewy Squirrel Bar. Grandpa Nelson didn’t see what he wanted, so he went half a block down to Zach’s Shack for French fries, and came back and joined us for coffee when he was done.

The remains of the afternoon

It was nice, in the dark chill of winter, to be out among our fellow Portlanders. After a nice long visit, we walked home to make dinner.

Threshold mosaic at Common Grounds

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Pied Cow

Dear Liza,

I have told you about the delightfully quirky, slightly spooky coffee house in our neighborhood called The Pied Cow. But now I have learned more about it.

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The J. C. Havely House at sunset

The Pied Cow is in the house and yard of the J. C. Havely House, built in 1893 by Mr. Havely, who is called a railroad tycoon because he made a lot of money building railroads around the Northwest. It was a mile and a half out of town at the time, reached by trolley car or wagons over muddy roads. It is a Queen Anne Vernacular Style, and has lots of decoration. A square tower with balconies and a roof like a pyramid, and details my Momma called “gingerbread” give it a really unusual look. It is currently painted a shade of green that looks like faded moss.

During the 1890s and early 1900s, the house hosted Suffragist meetings. That means people met here to plan how to change laws to allow women to vote.

After the Havely family moved away and sold the house sometime after the 1920s, I can’t find out who lived in it until the early 1960s when it was used by historic restorers Ben Milligan and Jerry Bosco as a storage place for architectural bits and pieces they used in re-building old houses.

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Auntie Bridgett likes The Pied Cow!

In 1979, Ben and Jerry offered the building as a place for some friends’ new restaurant, Buttertoes. The friends, three sisters named Carolyn, Charmon and Cherous, ran Buttertoes for ten years, using family recipes. The popular, story-themed restaurant also hosted children’s tea parties and was known for making delicious pastries.

It was during the Buttertoes years that the ghost, Aunt Lydia, was discovered. The sisters reported that someone would walk into the back room, which had no exit, and there would be no one there. The people who rented to upstairs apartment reported furniture moving by itself and having strange dreams. A spiritualist was called in and confirmed that a spirit was present.

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Aunt Lydia, in the Belmont Mural

Maybe it was the spiritualist who gave the name Aunt Lydia to the ghost, and described her as wearing a black, high collared dress with her hair pinned up. I still have no information on WHOSE Aunt she might have been.

When Ben and Jerry passed away in 1989, the sisters closed the restaurant and sold the building to the owners of The Pied Cow. They opened Buttertoes Gift Shop down the road on Hawthorne, which ran for another 13 years.

The Pied Cow has been a funky place to have coffee, drink sangria, smoke a hookah, or have some of the best ginger cake ever for almost 30 years now!

Love,

Grandma Judy