New House!

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Even though I am here in Salinas, Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I have just bought a new house in Portland!!

About a month ago, after looking at many houses that were too expensive or in the wrong neighborhood, my two wonderful people found this nice condominium just a few blocks from many of our favorite places. Laurelhurst Park….3 blocks away.  Lone Fir Cemetery, the Belmont Inn, the Nerd Out…all in the neighborhood. The number 15 bus to the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society…. two blocks away.

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Lone Fir in fall
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Desserts, Drinks, and Action Figures!

It was within our budget, new enough to not need major repairs, and bright and sunny. It has room for Auntie Bridgett to paint, for me to write, and for Grandpa Nelson to work on his computer. It has a patio where I can grow a rose or two and a balcony for all of Great Grandma Billie’s geraniums.

Auntie Katie’s friend Alyssa Isenstein-Krueger is a Real Estate Agent with Living Room Realty and helped my two people get in to see the place before the first Open House, so they got first dibs. And boy, did they dib!

We made an offer that afternoon. There was a lot of traffic over the internet with signing papers and passing banking information, but the final papers couldn’t be signed over the net…they needed to be signed in person. A notary named Jasmin printed out the papers and we met in the delicatessen department of the Nob Hill on South Main. So I signed the papers for my house in Portland in the grocery store I shopped at here in Salinas. Nob Hill is the bridge, sort of, between my life here and my life there.

I signed the papers on that rainy evening of the Union march at the Board meeting, going directly from signing papers to marching in the rain. What a day that was!!

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The “Three” of us in front of the new house

Tonight, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett had a bottle of wine at the new place, sitting on folding chairs, and we had a Facetime visit with all of us having wine here, to toast our new home. My two sillies brought along a large ceramic duck to stand in for ME.

We are all emotionally exhausted and ready to have a new nest to feather and be comfortable in. I get to see the house next week when I go to Portland for Spring vacation, and I am looking forward to deciding where everything will fit.

I can’t wait to start my new life in my new home!

Love,

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.

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Kenny and Zuke’s looking out
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Rain, Friendly History, and Pizza

Dear Liza,

Yesterday was another busy day. Auntie Bridgett and I took the #15 downtown just as the rain started, and walked up the hill to the Oregon Historical Society. This was her first time in the Research Library, and after she had signed in and our stuff was put away in a locker, we did our separate research.

I was hunting for pictures of Mrs. Pittock’s house on the corner of SW Park and Washington, and for information about a big party she had there in 1889. Bridgett was looking for information about a very funny KGW radio program called “The Hoot Owls”, which started in 1923. Librarian Scott Daniels helped me with boxes on photographs and folders full of newspaper clippings, and white glove to wear so I didn’t damage the old, delicate paper.

We were both fairly successful. I was able to see and sketch photos of Mrs. Pittock’s house and figure out what other buildings were on the property, but found absolutely nothing about the party. This puzzles me: Every story about the Rose Festival starts with a mention of Mrs. Pittock’s Rose Party…but no one seems to know when it happened, who was there, or what anything looked like. Did this party really happen? I will keep digging!

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A Burl

Bridgett found booklets of the silly songs “The Hoot Owls” sang on their radio show, and had a good time reading them. The producers of the show would publish the booklets and sell them, raising money to give to charity, like Comic Relief raises money today.

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Credit where due

By four o’clock, we were hungry for a snack and ready to head home. We walked up to catch the #20 home, walking down 6th Avenue, which was a new street for us. We saw some new statues and an old bank building with the letters F-A-R-G-O in huge letters across the top. Guess which bank built that?

We got home just in time for dinner, but didn’t want to cook, so after Grandpa Nelson had some dinner, we all walked down to Babydoll Pizza and enjoyed a slice and some cider, and a game of “Ghostbusters” pinball. A very satisfactory end to a lovely day.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Another bit of Burls

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

Oregon Historical Society, Part 2

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Dear Liza,

It has been very hot here, and also smokey, because of the many wildfires in Oregon and Washington. On Tuesday, I took the #15 bus downtown to the Oregon Historical Society. It was a nice, cool bus ride to a nice, cool library.

I am writing a new story, a history of Portland as seen through the eyes of a character I am calling Caroline Estes. She visits Portland when she is 8, 13, 19, 29, and finally moves here at the age of 44 with her husband and two children. To write this story well, I need to know a lot more about what Portland was like from 1888 to 1924….what people were talking about, buying, and wearing, where they went for fun, what were the problems of the day. Stuff like that.

Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I became members of the OHS last Saturday, but you don’t have to be a member to use the Research Library. You just check your bag, sign in, as ask for help. I got to look at theater programs with advertisements from the years 1894 and 1907. It was like visiting the home of an elderly friend, and I handled everything very carefully.

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Car advertisements

Ads can tell you a lot about a place and a time. What I found was that even in 1905, Portland was pretty modern. All the ads included a telephone number, and many of the wagon and buggy shops  had started selling cars. There were tailors, drug stores, candy shops, and fancy restaurants. Railroad agents were offering to arrange train trips to Yosemite or even the Hotel del Monte, down in Monterey. Labor saving devices were all the rage, as well. “Help for the Housewife”, they were called.

Some of the ads were just funny. One simply said, “If you can’t boost, don’t knock. J.C. Lee.” Boost what? Knock what? No idea. But I’m sure it meant something at the time.

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What is he talking about?

Many of the ads used cartoons to catch your eye. The geese (at the top) sure made you look, but it was just an ad for a store. This king on a throne (below) was selling beer.

When my head was full and my hand sore from taking notes, I handed back all the delicate things to the librarian and walked back to the bus.

I plan on spending many more delightful days here, learning all I can to make my story interesting!

Love,

Grandma Judy

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King Gambrinus selling beer

Oregon Historical Society

Dear Liza,

Our weather keeps getting hotter! So Grandpa Nelson, The Idea Guy, made plans.  Just after lunch, we walked out into the already horrible heat to catch the #15 bus. On the air conditioned bus, we rode in happy relief towards downtown. We noticed that the bus goes directly past the Post Office on 7th Street…which will be good to know when Auntie Bridgett needs to mail her zines or I want to send you something.

We got off at the Oregon Historical Society, which is just across the Park Blocks from the Portland Art Museum. Grandpa Nelson was very interested in the “High Hopes” exhibit about President John Kennedy. There were many fun artifacts to see, like John’s report card from The Choate School, where he got a C- in public speaking, and a letter from young John to his father, asking for a raise in his allowance and giving reasons why it was needed.

But what I loved most were the speeches he gave, proving that his weakness in public speaking class was overcome with help and practice. His Inauguration speech, made on the first day he became President, still gives me goosebumps. He was so optimistic about what our country could do for ourselves and for the world. So many of his ideas were proven right, but only after he had died. We needed to sit down for a while, to think about President Kennedy, our country, and what we believe in.

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President John Kennedy

On the second floor we found an exhibit of Oregon history from the time of the Native Americans to now. A Native American story was written down by Ella Clark: “The Earth was once a human being, made by the creator to be a mother to her people. Her soil is flesh, the rocks are her bones, the wind is her breath, the trees and grass are her hair.” Sometimes when I walk in the park here, or by the ocean, I feel that loving mother-ness from the earth. That connection to the earth helps us feel whole, I think.

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State seal of Oregon. The motto is in Latin

We learned about all the things that Oregon has chosen as its symbols. These are to recognize what is special about the state. Oregon’s state motto is “She flies on her own wings”. I like this so much! The female image for the state, the freedom of wings and personal ownership, all tell of strength, independence, and freedom. As if Oregon were a strong, lovely fairy.

There are lots of other symbols, so I will make a small list here:

State bird: Western Meadowlark

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Western Meadowlark               Photo credit:enwikipedia.org

State flower: Oregon Grape (I know it sounds like a fruit, but it is also a flower)

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State fruit: Pears

State drink: Milk

State butterfly: Oregon Swallowtail

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Oregon Swallowtail                                     Photo credit :Fred Bentler

State animal: Beaver

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            Beaver                                                    Photo credit: globe-views.com

 

State tree: Douglas fir

When we had looked, talked, read and thought all we could about history, we had a snack and caught the streetcar up to Powell’s Bookstore, on SW 10th and Couch, to browse. There are so many wonderful books. I always learn something new or remember something I had forgotten.

For our last fun activity downtown, we walked to the (Air Conditioned) Living Room Theater at SW 10th and Stark. At this movie theater, you can order sandwiches or pizza, as well as beer, wine or soda, and they bring you the food at your seat before the movie starts. Each theater only holds about 30 people, but the chairs are comfortable.

We watched a funny French movie called “Lost in Paris”. It had subtitles but I enjoyed understanding some of the French, as well. It is not a kid’s movie, but we three adults enjoyed it very much.

We took the #20 back home and got Grandpa Nelson a milk shake at Fifty Licks, a very popular ice cream parlor right at the bus stop on Burnside, and just a few blocks from our house.

We rested and wrote in the cool basement until we got sleepy enough to go to bed. It was still hotter than most days in Salinas at 11:30 at night. And tomorrow is predicted to be even warmer! Oy and vey.

Love, Grandma Judy