North to Dixon Street

Dear Liza,

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Union Station Tower

I am still researching about Portland history, and I’m learning so much! Besides the history, I am learning about how to get around Portland without driving. Yesterday I needed to get to 501 North Dixon, a part of town I had never been in. That’s where the Portland Public Schools keep their archives.

Googlemaps told me there was no transit solution, and I should walk. Almost 4 miles, one way? Carrying research on my back? Um, nope. Thanks anyway, Google.

I chatted with Steven Hanks, the fellow at the District who was pulling files for me. He suggested the number 17 bus, which passes within a few blocks of the office. Grandpa Nelson suggested the Portland Streetcar. There were so many options, and the only way to see which was best was to do them. I chose the bus method first, taking the number 15 downtown, walking a few blocks, and catching the 17.

Downtown Portland always show me something new.  This time it was that a 13 block stretch of SW Stark Street was renamed Harvey Milk Street in June of this year. I am proud of my city for recognizing this important gay activist. Well, first I was confused, because I was looking for a bus stop on Stark. But then I was proud.

Catching the 17 took me through the Pearl District and old Chinatown, past the fabulously old Union Station, where people have been catching trains since 1896. Then over the Broadway Bridge and into Northeast Portland. Down in the second sub-basement was Steven, who had found all sorts of wonderful history for me.

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Couch School, 1882

As I learn more about schools of 1903, my story keeps adapting. I have been a teacher too long to play fast and loose with facts. So the walking field trip in my story had to get written out, because there were no ‘field trips’ in American elementary schools in the early 1900s. “Kids in school should stay in school”, was the thought. I had included a scene in the school cafeteria, but schools of that time didn’t have them. Kids ate lunches brought from home at their classroom desks. As it is often said, good stories are not written. They are re-written, and re-written…

Heading home, I decided to try Grandpa Nelson’s suggestion, because the Portland Streetcar was as close as the bus. The A Loop runs clockwise, the B Loop, counterclockwise, in a large oval from the Eastside to the Westside of the city. The A Loop would take me within a block of the number 15 for my trip home, so I waited in the Fall sunshine by a delightfully ‘retro’ shelter.

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Streetcar stop on NE Weidler

On the streetcar I chatted with folks visiting from Massachusetts and a potter who works at the Radius Community Art Studio, just under the Morrison Bridge. Another new place to explore!

Walking from the Streetcar to the bus stop, I realized I was fading fast and needed a snack. A perfect opportunity to try the NEW place that smells so good: Pufflewaffle! This pretty shop just opened last month. They sell Pufflewaffles, which are unique, cake-like made-to-order waffles which look like tiny round pillows sewn together. They are sweet and light, and rolled around ice cream. After that, I was ready to make my way home, where I rested and thought about how lucky I am to live here.img_1178.jpg

Love,

Grandma Judy