The Lighthouse Inn

Dear Liza,

A place with some history to it!

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.

Cool welded chains

This building has been here since 1865 and carries a lot of history.

Bank alarms and post office boxes

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’.

All the way from Lancashire

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.


Grandma Judy

Hermina Zipple (Part 2)

Dear Liza,

Hamilton Hall, Montana State College (now University)

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.

School kids in Portland

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.”

Ice cream ad from the 1960s

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!


Grandma Judy

Hermina Zipple, Educator and Career Woman

Dear Liza,

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 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.

The Normal School, Monmouth, early 1900s

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.

University of Kansas, 1940s

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!


Grandma Judy

A New Friend at Lone Fir Cemetery

Dear Liza,

Saturday was beautiful and sunny, so between art and errands, Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to visit the Dead People at Lone Fir. This old cemetery is lovely in any weather, but on a sunny spring day it seems to deliver the package of emotions I need; beauty, mourning, eternity, new beginnings and final endings. It was wonderful.

Monument to James Gray Flowerdew

And I found a new friend. This eight foot tall monument was erected to James Gray Flowerdew (great name, right?) who had died on July 22, 1872. The Masonic emblem is on the tombstone, so we know he was a Mason in good standing. He was also only 37, which seemed really young to have this sort of marker.

I was really curious about this fellow, and got on the Internet to find out more about him. Mr. Flowerdew was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1835, where he and his family owned property. I know he lived there at least until 1867, because he is listed in a court case where he and other members of his family were awarded an inheritance due them.

He came to Portland sometime between 1867 and 1870, and on January 2, 1871, he formed a new company, Hewitt, Flowerdew and Co., with businessman Henry Hewitt. According to an ad in a June 1871 Oregonian, they had offices at the corner of First and Ash Streets downtown and bought and sold shipments of Liverpool Salt, Scotch Pig Iron, Dundee textiles, tin plates, and sheet iron.

The company got a valuable new client that June, the Imperial Fire Insurance Company of London. The ad announcing this business move was placed by Henry Corbett and Donald Macleay, powerful movers and shakers in Portland industry. Mr. Macleay was also from Scotland, so maybe having this in common with him helped young Mr. Flowerdew.

On August 16, 1871, Mr. Flowerdew was appointed as Vice Council to Great Britain, being congratulated in the official documents of the State of Oregon by Governor L. F. Grover. Life was good. His business was growing and he was becoming important politically. Then tragedy struck.

Sometime in June of 1872, he was thrown from his buggy in an accident, and died six weeks later of his injuries. He had been in the country less than four years. His brother and sisters back in Scotland put up this magnificent marble monument to him.

So now I know a little bit more about Portland’s late, great population. Only about a million folks to go!


Grandma Judy

Fire Department History

Dear Liza,

Well, it looks like I am now working on two stories. I have Clara’s story, about a traumatized little girl learning to find her voice, which I have been working on for about two years. Clara lives on the west side of Portland in 1903.

The second story, which takes place at the same time, is about Henry, a working class boy who wants to go to college against his father’s wishes. Henry started out as part of the Clara story, but he is a really strong character and I want to give him his due.

“In case of emergency…”

One of the difficulties Henry has to overcome is the memory of his older brother, a juvenile delinquent who left town under a cloud of suspicion. I am hunting up ways for Henry to clear his and his family’s name, so I am looking into the Police and Fire protection procedures of the time. Last week I visited the Police History Museum and told you about it.

Yesterday I visited the historic Belmont Firehouse. I learned that in 1903, there were Fire Boxes about every four blocks here in the Eastside of Portland. If someone saw a fire, they could simply break the glass, pull the lever, and an electrical, Morse Code like message would be sent to every fire station. Each station knew which alarm had been pulled and which stations were closest, and the hook and ladder wagons would be on their way.

You can contrast this “Everyone report fires!” approach for fires to the locked Police boxes, which could only be unlocked and used by a Police officer. Obviously, early Portlanders, living in a crowded wooden city heated by wood stoves and powered by wood-fired steam engines, were much more worried about the whole place burning down than about an outbreak of lawlessness.

Fire Chief David Campbell

While I was at the station, I read more about David Campbell, a hero of a Fire Chief. He got the city to invest in internal combustion fire trucks, to replace the slower horse-drawn wagons. He led the department to its greatest, safest period ever, from 1897 to 1911.

And he died doing his duty, pulling the last injured firefighter out of a burning depot at the Union Oil pier at East Salmon before the building exploded.

All this history gives my Henry a lot of opportunities to redeem himself and I look forward to making it all work out for him.


Grandma Judy

Mr. Frank Dekum

Dear Liza,

Mr. Dekum as he was

Yesterday Auntie Bridgett and I went for a long walk. We enjoyed the dogs and trees at Laurelhurst Park, and the pretty houses of the Laurelhurst neighborhood. We wandered for quite a ways before we decided to turn back towards home.

When we did, I realized that we were very close to The Lone Fir Cemetery and that it had been a long time since we visited the folks there. So we went in.

As you already know, I love the peace and perspective of this old cemetery. We saw familiar headstones; heroic pioneers and shady ladies, revered doctors and just plain folks. And, as so often happens, something new caught our eye. Mr. Frank Dekum.

Auntie Bridgett with Mr. Dekum

We know the name, because a big stone and brick building built by and named for him is on the corner of 3rd and Washington and we pass it every time we go downtown. Mr. Dekum came to Portland in 1853 with his family and started a very successful fruit business. He was also a candy maker, so obviously, a lover of good things.

His tallest namesake

When he had made his fortune in fruit and candy, he started investing in real estate development. He was involved in every building that went up on Washington Street between First and Third. He was on the Boards of banks and water companies, helping bring railroads and fresh drinking water to the city.

When the city was hit by a financial panic in 1893, property investments crashed and Mr. Dekum was badly impacted. He died the next year with only a fraction of his fortune intact. He is buried in our dear Lone Fir along with his eight children, so I can visit the whole family whenever I want.

Gone, as they say, but not forgotten.


Grandma Judy


Downtown Fun

Dear Liza,

The South Park Blocks with Mr. Lincoln’s Statue

My history story about Portland is coming along very well. I actually printed a copy out and had Grandpa Nelson read it! He reads so much that he is a good judge of when a story works, when it doesn’t, and what it needs to make it better.

My story, under construction

He asks good questions, too, questions that I don’t know the answers to…yet.

As usual when I have questions I need answered, I headed downtown to the Oregon Historical Society. Auntie Bridgett came along, but went to the Portland Art Museum.

I spent a few hours reading books about the streetcars that used to run all over the city, and found some really interesting things to use in my story. Did you know there were streetcars that ran on steam engines until 1903? I didn’t!

First Congregational Church and other lights

At 5:00, the library closed and I went to fetch Auntie Bridgett at the Museum. They have so many beautiful things in their gift shop, it was hard to pull ourselves away. We bundled up and walked down the dark, Christmas-lit streets of Portland. The weather was clear and cold, and everything looked so pretty!

We got to Kenny and Zuke’s, our favorite deli, and Grandpa Nelson came downtown to meet us for dinner. When we were full of chicken soup, pastrami and French fries, we walked over to Powell’s bookstore.

Urban Christmas

The author of Lost Portland Oregon, Val C. Ballestrem, was giving a talk about his book. It is a history of a dozen or so important buildings that are no longer standing in Portland, and it is fascinating (of course we bought a copy!)

Some buildings, like the Temple Beth Israel Synagogue , were burned by an arsonist. Another, the Marquam Building and Opera, collapsed while being repaired. And still others, the ones that make me the saddest, were torn down in the interest of urban renewal….. to make room for a parking lot.

There were photographs of the buildings and the lots they stood on, which give a hint of how the city landscape has been molded and changed over the century and a half going from a cabin by the Willamette to urban metropolis.

It is interesting, sometimes sad, always amazing, and I am so glad I get to be here to learn about it!


Grandma Judy

Notable Women of Portland

Dr. Tracy Prince

Dear Liza,

I keep learning more about the history of this wonderful city! Last night we drove through the rain to McMenamin’s Kennedy School, up on NW 33rd. We were there to listen to Tracy Prince and her 15 year old daughter, Zadie Schaffer, talk about their newest book, Notable Women of Portland.

Tracy has a Ph.D in history, is an affiliated professor at Portland State University, and has studied Portland history for years. When Zadie needed a bat mitzvah project, they decided to research the untold stories…. the women who were always referred to by their husbands’ names, the Native Americans who lived on the edges of the city but were a vital part of it, the female welders and doctors who have been forgotten in what Tracy refers to as “the Manifest Destiny version of history.”

The Book!

The resulting book, a “photographic history”, covers white women and women of color, Native Americans, and of Chinese and Japanese ancestry, from the 1840s to the present. The publishers limited Tracy to 75 words per photo, so each person’s story is told briefly, almost as an illustrated outline of history.

A photo showing a Native American woman selling her baskets in the Northwest part of Portland



I got to talk to Tracy before the presentation, and when I told her about my story project, she was gracious enough to give me her email and encourage me to contact her for more detailed information. I look forward to learning what she knows and using it to make my story better.


Grandma Judy

Tanya Lyn March, Historian

Dear Liza,

Tanya Lyn March, Ph.D

Last night, we walked to the Belmont Library to listen to local historian Tanya March, Ph.D, talk about “Ghosts, Criminals and Murders in Slabtown”. It being the Halloween season, the subject matter seemed fitting, and I am always looking for more Portland history.

The meeting room for the talk was decorated with a wonderful quilt made in 1988 to celebrate the centennial of the Sunnyside neighborhood, with embroidered squares showing local landmarks like the library itself and The Avalon, the neighborhood theater. It was a work of love, friendship, and considerable skill.

1988 Sunnyside Quilt

We were early for the talk, so got to visit with Tanya. She is a very energetic young woman who digs into history and ties it to current projects, like protecting old buildings or neighborhoods because of their history. I love that she uses her academia for social good.

Her rapid-fire talk, which included very helpful slides, ranged from stories of murders and hauntings in northwest Portland (called “Slabtown” because of the early use of slabwood for stoves) to the KKK, to reputing the tales of Shanghai Tunnels. She covered so much ground that I thought I would trip over my brain trying to take notes fast enough!

Pretty patch

Most interesting to me, however, was her mention of Mrs. Nina Larowe, who I had just learned about that morning while researching activities for the kids in my story.  Born in 1838, Mrs. Larowe had been a well-to-do lady and actress in New York, and had traveled to The Holy Land on the ship that Mark Twain wrote about in his book “The Innocents Abroad”.

According to Tanya, Twain wrote about Mrs. Larowe as one of the Pilgrims who would break into tombs and take ancient religious relics, then carelessly throw the precious artifacts overboard when their suitcases got full. This damaged her reputation in New York, she got divorced, and moved to Portland for a fresh start. Mrs. Larowe came to Portland in 1888 at the age of 50. She used her knowledge of the theater to open a dance hall called The Esquire, where she taught dancing, gymnastics, and elocution (public speaking).

Tanya included Mrs. Larowe in her talk because of her “criminal” status for defacing ancient tombs, but the lady was successful here in Portland, dying at the age of 83 and remembered in her obituary as a cultural icon and trainer of several generations of young men and women in the social graces.

My brain felt like one of Mrs. Larowe’s overstuffed suitcases, full of wonderful new things that will take some sorting out. Exhausted but happy, we walked home through the dark neighborhood, realizing it is time to break out my well-lit winter coat again!


Grandma Judy

Leach Botanical Garden

Dear Liza,

Pathway through the Garden

On Saturday, Grandpa Nelson had a surprise for me. He took me to see a garden in the city that I had never even heard of, the Leach Botanical garden in the far southeast, just off of Foster Road and 122nd Avenue.

When a park has someone’s name on it, you think: Who was this person? Why is there a park in their honor? In the case of Leach Botanical Garden, there’s an easy, delightful answer. This 16 acre garden was their garden, and the house on the property was their house! The garden was their gift to the city.img_0625.jpg

But of course it’s never that easy.

John and Lila Leach were married in 1913 and were an unusual couple for their time. He was a pharmacist and businessman, and she was a scientist, studying botany and teaching science at Eugene High School. They belonged to a group called the Mazamas who hiked, camped, and skied in the Oregon wilderness. On their trips, Lila discovered two new genera of plants that had never been seen before!

Delightfully threatening skies

In the 1930s they bought 16 acres of land on Johnson Creek and built a small stone cabin. They hired a landscape architect to help lay out the steeply sloping property, and began putting in plants. They named the property Sleepy Hollow.

When World War II started, Lila volunteered with the Red Cross, and after the war, the two were active in supporting the YMCA and the Boy Scouts. They worked in the garden and lived in the larger house they built later until John passed away in 1972. Lila moved to a care facility in Lake Oswego and passed in 1982. Their ashes were spread in the Oregon wilderness they loved so much.

Well loved dinosaur!

In their wills, they both had stated that the house and property was to be given to the City of Portland. But after ten years of typical civic squabbling, the city was ready to let the property go to developers when Parks Commissioner Jordan went to visit the garden and decided it was too precious. It was developed and is maintained by a combination of public and private funding.

It hosts weddings, parties, composting classes, children’s activities, and seedling sales. You can learn more at

Fall colors in the garden

And that is your Portland history lesson for today!


Grandma Judy