Update on Dr. Wo

Dear Liza,

About two years ago, I wrote to you about a Chinese herbalist who had worked and lived in Portland around 1903. His name was Dr. C. Gee Wo.

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Doctor Wo’s ad from the early 1900s

Back then, I learned that the doctor was from China and had studied herbal medicine both there and in Nebraska. He married a woman named Saide Celestine Starbuck and then they moved to Portland, Oregon, where he ran offices and sold medicines until he retired around 1921.

Last summer I went in a walking tour of Chinatown here in Portland, and learned that Dr. Wo had been very well known in the city, and had a clientele that included both Chinese and White people.

And then, this morning, it got even more interesting. Kol Shaver, a collector and dealer of antique and rare books in Vancouver, Washington, contacted me. Kol has been looking for information about Dr. Wo to help categorize some of his writings, and found information in my old blog! It made me ridiculously happy to be useful.

Kol runs an on-line shop at zephyrbook@gmail.com and was also able to give me more information about Dr. Wo.

Dr. Wo issued a series of books entitled “Things Chinese” through his Company Chinese Medicine, which had testimonials about his medical treatments. The testimonials within the book indicate he was still living as of 1926. He was also present at the baptism of his grandson Kenneth, born to his daughter Celestine (her mother’s middle name) in 1925.

Kol told me that there is still no information about the Doctor’s burial, but Mrs. Wo and their daughter are buried right here in our own Lone Fir Cemetery, even giving me the section and plot numbers! I could go visit!

Paying my respects to Mrs. Wo….

But, as Kol told me, if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d never find it. Mrs. Wo’s tombstone reads “Sadie Leo, 1868-1927”. Maybe because of anti-Chinese prejudice, they chose not to use their surname “Wo”. Close by is Celestine “Guie” Tongue Cooke, their daughter, who was born in 1898 and died in 1971.

Their daughter Celestine…

Also nearby is the smaller grave marker of Henry Leo, a son, who was born on August 27, 1903, and only lived two days. I mourned for his parents and little Guie, who would have been just five years old when she lost her baby brother.

And little Henry, who only lived for two days.


I am so happy to have been in contact with someone who is interested in Dr. Wo.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Full-On Portland

Dear Liza,

After weeks of feeling isolated and in my own head, Wednesday was a day that felt very connected, very Portland.

Hooray for Auntie Katie!!!

First, Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books With Pictures, was voted BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP IN PORTLAND by our local newspaper, the Willamette Weekly. Hooray!

I am sure that her hard work and dedication to customer service in having an online ordering service and door to door deliveries during the pandemic has endeared her to everyone. With so many businesses closing down, it is wonderful to see her thrive.

And in the evening, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett walked with me to deliver first aid supplies to the Black Lives Matter protesters. A group of volunteers called Snackbloc collect bandages, gloves, and other useful items in different neighborhoods to be used downtown to support the protesters against the Federal troops.

A beautiful mural along the way!

It pains me so much to see our government beating peaceful protesters. There has been some vandalism, but these troops are not dispersing crowds or stopping it; they are attacking unarmed people, shoving them down and gassing lines of singing women.

Protesters in Portland…. Photo by Beth Nakamura

It is as though they have come to punish these people for standing against the beatings… by beating them, like an abusive father ranting, “Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about.” This is not how I want my country to be.

Police attacking protesters in Portland… photo credit, CNN

But I am a coward. I fear beatings, teargas, arrest and undocumented detention by unknown troops. So I help in a small way so others who are braver can help in larger ways.

Take care, and I will see you soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Wonderful Murals at Richmond School

Dear Liza,

I took a long walk yesterday, all the way south past Division Street, to meet my dear friend Misha at a park. It was so good to sit in the sun and chat! Of course we wore masks, sat further apart than usual, and were outside and away from other people. We are not foolish. But the company was wonderful.

I think someone is missing the Good Old Days….

On the way, I passed this large brick school. I noticed the sentimental chalk graffiti first, then the wonderful bas-relief mosaic murals.

Summer…
Fall…..

The four murals are each about five feet wide and twenty feet high and show nature as it changes during the seasons. I took pictures to remind me, and looked them up when I got home. They were created by Lynn Takata in 2008 when she was the artist in residence at the school. Ms Takata is a local artist and art teacher at several POrtland colleges.

Winter…

I was so impressed with such textured, complex, detailed work, and the appreciation of nature that it reveals.

And Spring

Then, I was intrigued by the Japanese characters under the name RICHMOND over the main entrance.

The school is Richmond Elementary Japanese Immersion School. The building was built in 1908, and is the oldest standing school in Portland. It became an immersion school in 1989. The program has been very successful, growing to include Mount Tabor Middle School and and part of Grant High School. The program includes cultural education and even trips to Japan!

It is closed now, of course, because of the Corona Virus. But I am sure that as soon as it is safe, hundreds of kids will be back, learning everything kids do, in Japanese and English, learning how big the world really is.

And once the doctors have found a way to keep us safe from the virus, I hope you are able to get back to school, too.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Hazel Hall, Poet

Dear Liza,

One of the shops I love most in our little Sunnyside neighborhood is called Noun, “a person’s place for things”. It has a delightful collection of curated second hand things and newer artwork, and is temporarily closed, of course. But it has a wonderful new window display that has taught me new things.

NOUN…A person’s place for things

In the window is this hand lettered and sewn paper creation that looks like a quilt with writing on it, and I got to stop and read it the other day. It is called Nobody Passes and it goes like this:

The day is set, like a stage for feet

With a ridge of white clouds painted high

Across the canvas of the sky,

With pavement gleaming and too clean,

A shimmer of grass that seems too green,

And houses alert in every side,

Showing a stiff and conscious pride.

The day is a stage and life is a play,

But nobody passes down this way.

I was intrigued, and looked up Helen Hall online. She was born in 1886 and lived in northwest Portland. When she was about twelve, either because of a fall or scarlet fever (history is slippery) she became paralyzed and could only get around by wheelchair.

Since her house was a typical Victorian with steep, narrow stairs, Helen spend most of the rest of her life in her upstairs bedroom. When she got older, she started taking in sewing work that she could do from home. Her sewing machine was set up by the window so she could look out.

She started writing poetry, mostly about her work and what she saw happening on the street outside her window. Her poems became well known, and were published in The Nation and Sunset, among many others. Her poems were praised and “true” and “poignant”.

Hazel died in 1924 at the age of 38. Her home, at 106 NW 22nd in Portland, still stands and is on the National Register of Public Places. There is a small park next door, and seems like a good place for us to visit,once we can go out and visit.

I love learning new things about my wonderful city. I hope you get to come see me real soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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.

Love,

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!

Love,

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 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.

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!

Love,

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!

Love,

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.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Mr. Frank Dekum

Dear Liza,

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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.

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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.

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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.

Love,

Grandma Judy