Oak Grove: Evolution of a small Oregon town

Downtown Oak Grove

My last post I talked about the present Oak Grove and where it might be headed during the next decade. Obviously, I’m curious about the history of Oregon’s cities and towns and am always looking for first-hand information from townspeople on what it was like.

I first ran into local photographer Tom Rutter, based in Portland, last year when he allowed me to re-publish some of his photographs from the infamous 1972 McGovern rally. I think I had originally stumbled on his site, Photomic, through a Google search for “Oak Grove” which landed me here. In his posts on Oak Grove, Tom talks a bit about his childhood during the mid-1960s – and some of the changes the neighborhood had seen during the past few decades. What’s interesting though is how much the area has stayed the same, like a museum of sorts. Our descriptions of the neighborhood’s population – his from the late 50s and mine from 2010 – sound almost alike.

I sent Tom a few questions on what growing up in and near downtown Oak Grove was like and he graciously answered my questions. His family lived in Oak Grove from 1956-1965, where he attended Oak Grove Grade School [now Sojourner] and then moved further south in the Concord School District until the 1970s.

What shops and stores were on Oak Grove Blvd. [between River Road and Arista] when you were a kid?
The pharmacy with soda fountain and large selection of comics and paperback books was there throughout the 60s. Across the street there was a bakery, and a fairly nice small grocery store. I also believe there was a post office in that small cluster of buildings that are still standing. The south side of the street was  tree lined with large chestnut trees back then. The small group of buildings at the Southeast Corner near Arista have always been there as far back as I can remember. There also used to be an old building on the west side of the tavern that has been torn down. The building on the South side of Oak Grove Blvd. east of Arista was a hardware store and lumber supply.  Further down at the east end where River Road intersects with Oak Grove Blvd were two service stations and another larger grocery store. Both of the grocery stores were operated by Japanese families I believe their name was Miramatsu.

Was McLoughlin as busy as it is today? Many stores?
Much less developed though there were still large open areas. At Concord there was a large holly farm that covered acres. There were lots of large open spaces and there was the Super 99 drive-in that was still operating in the 70’s (the screen blew down in the Columbus Day Windstorm). Also a lot of trailer parks, service stations and small motels and a large lumber supply business. I remember when that McDonalds opened there probably around 1964, and the Fred Meyer in 1960-61.

What are some fond memories of Oak Grove as a youngster?
We had a very “free range” childhood. Free to wander in lots of wooded areas outside of adult supervision, ride our bikes all over and no one would have thought of a helmet. The interurban railroad tracks were a good way to go long distance north or south and my older brother claims he used to cross the trestle over the Willamette in to Lake Oswego. The film “Stand by Me” makes me think about growing up in Oak Grove in the 50s.

What were some of the seedier aspects?
In Phil Stanford’s “Portland Confidential” he says a lot of whorehouses were out in Milwaukie close to the county line. My mom said once that there was a run-down motor hotel just off McLoughlin where it was rumored a woman performed abortions.

I also remember a long-going feud between a family and their neighbors on River Road about the family’s run down property. It was a junk yard and it smelled. A neighbor would complain to the city and the father of the family would hire an attorney. That went on for probably 20-30 years well in to the 80s.  The house isn’t standing anymore. I won’t mention the families name but if you ask around about it some old timers around there can probably tell you about it.

What I always remembered was the diversity of economic classes in the area. It was always like that, old established families in very expensive homes, some descendants of early pioneers like the Risley family, and other old established families living in shacks. Maybe not so much “white trash” but “working poor.”

There was little racial diversity at all. Everybody was white though there were some Japanese and Chinese families. My mother’s high school class at Milwaukie in 1939 had one black student. My high school class in 1971 had none.

I described Oak Grove Blvd. in the original post as once bustling – was it ever really? Or has it always been kind of sleepy?
The downtown core area was a tad more vibrant. I don’t know if I would have called it “bustling” in my time. The loss of the street car probably didn’t help.

Do you remember taking the streetcar from downtown Oak Grove to Portland? What was the experience like?
It ran along Arista from Courtney Road to Concord. I do remember when it was in operation probably in its last couple of years in 1957-1958. It ran right behind our home, we would catch it at the Silver Springs Station and take it in to Oregon City and to Milwaukie. I don’t recall how it proceeded north to Portland beyond Milwaukie but it probably ran through Sellwood. The rail bed is pretty visible from where River Road connects to McLoughlin which was called The Island Station, and you could probably walk or bike it south from there through Oak Grove all the way to Jennings Lodge.

After the trolley, Southern Pacific ran freight along it I know as late as 1968 and I remember sometime around 1969-1970 they tore up the rails and ties. The ride wasn’t like Max, I recall the cars seemed to rock back and forth a bit as they went along the track. Also they let out this piercing whistle that scared the crap out of me when I was little.

Arista Drive, south of Concord Blvd showing the rail lines, 1969. This is being re-adapted as the Trolley Trail.

You mentioned in one of your blog posts that your grandparents lived in Oak Grove – did/do they have any interesting stories about the area?
My mother’s parents were Czech immigrants who moved out West from Chicago in the 1920s. They lived in the area around Oatfield Road near Roethe Road. My father’s parents lived right in Oak Grove and both of the homes they lived in are still standing.

I’ve been interested in researching my maternal grandfather who was committed to the state asylum system in 1927 by a Clackamas County Sheriff named E.T. Mass. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what he did to bring about such an extreme reaction by a local authority. I have most of the state’s documents, hospital records etc. but I’ve been meaning to check out the local newspapers from the area around the time it happened at the Oregon Historical Society library to see if I can find any clues there. It’s an ongoing project I’ve been working on.

Do you ever go back to visit?
I like to go back and walk or drive around the old neighborhood a couple times a year. My mother still goes to the same dentist office in Oak Grove and when I take her there for appointments I usually walk around the town and take pictures. I used to take bike rides from SE Portland out to Oak Grove at least once a year but I haven’t done that in a long time.  I am always surprised at how the area where I grew up has changed very little.

Oak Grove has a large population of older and historical homes still standing.

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124 comments

  1. RE: “My mom said once that there was a run-down motor hotel just off McLoughlin where it was rumored a woman performed abortions.”

    According to my Portland Red Guide (pp 145-46), in the early 60s the celebrated abortionist Ruth Barnett had a practice on SW McLoughlin in Milwaukie.

  2. I lived on Arista (14805) and remember the train coming by my house every night around 1:00 AM, from Oregon City.
    Many of us boys were paperboys for Oak Grove during the mid to late 1960’s, delivering the “Oregon Journal”. I had my paper route “203”, between Arista and Rupert Drive, North of OG Blvd. to courtney from 1968 – 1970. My manager was Ray cooper, a real cool guy. I had a Collie that accompanied me on my route everyday after school. I also worked for the Lee family at Buy Rite Grocery from 1971-1973. It was a great town to grow up in. No crime and families were close-knit. We moved to Oregon City in 1972, my junior year at Rex Putnam High.

    1. With regard to the State Hospital – – – I’ve been doing genealogy for over 30 years and it has been my experience that committments to the State Hospital were usually as a result of a court action. I can cite 3 unrelated cases that I have come across in my genealogy research, and each was preceeded by a court order. These files are sometimes called the county’s “Insane Files” and consist of cases for persons committed to the “Insane Asylum” or State Hospital. Check the Clackamas County court records, using your grandfather’s name and the date you found him admitted. That file may contain the answers you are looking for. Often times these folks had simply suffered a stroke, or had dementia, or some other mental illness that today would be treated. People that were committed to the State Hospital often died there. As for newspapers, the Oregon City library has old newspapers on microfilm. Use the known date of committment, and court proceeding if found, to browse through them for some mention of the incident.

      I live in the Philip Oatfield house on Oatfield Rd. near the Fred Meyer store and have been interested in our local history since I studied the Oatfield family and the evolution of Michael Oatfield’s 600 acre farm. We have a rich history.

      I belong to a relatively new local history group called the “Oak Lodge History Detectives” who are interested in the Oak Lodge area’s history. We have been in existence for about 2 years and are still just getting started. You can see our website, still in it’s infancy, at http://www.oaklodgehistory.org/ We meet once a month (except summers & Dec), and among the many things that we seek are early photos that we may post on our website.

    2. Steve, I was a paperboy for the Milwaukie Review and the Oregonian. In 1964 my brother and I won the subscription drive contest the Review was running and we got to go see the Beatles when they were in Portland. What
      an experience that was for a 5th grader! I remember one kid saying “well they did it again”. I said “who what?” He said the Beatles got another #1 hit. I said “yah I have tickets to see them next week”. He flipped because I had no idea who they were.

  3. I thank you for making a site like this. I’m a third generation Oregonian and my boyfriend who is 40 grew up in the area. I was searching for some reminders about what I remembered as a young girl from my south Salem area and found this site.
    The love of my life is also a third generation oregonian, I can’t tell you how many times we point out buildings or memories where ever we go. He is 40 now and we always talk about his childhood bike trips through the fields which is now Clackamas Town Center.
    Thank you for the history, I just love our Oregon roots.

  4. I grew up in Oak Grove with my brother Jim from 1973 to 1990. I rode my bike everywhere; never a helmet. I can remember Buy Rite, Vista, Thriftway as the stores. Oak Grove school was more than our school it was our life.
    The gym became our home away from home thanks to a very cool Janitor named Lee.
    When I visit Oak Grove today time stands still. On one occaision I walked the streets for hours and hours as memories poured over me. I guess I’m feeling nostalgic today but Oak Grove is that kind of place.

    1. John—Next time your back in the Oak Grove neighborhood stop in at Mom’s. She would love to see you again.
      Oak Grove was the best place to grow up in the late 60’s and all through the 70’s, I never has to worry about safety and I used to walk the trolly tracks to my cousins house just off Concord Road.

  5. My mother grew up in Oak Grove and my Grandgather built several of the houses there—one which is shown on your website. My grandfather, Louis Armstrong, also started the Oak Grove All Girl Band in 1910—my mother played cornet in the band.
    My mother went to Oak Grove Grade School and was also a telephone operator there at the telephone company.
    I spent many, many Sundays, and other days visting my grandparents in Oak Grove back in the late 1920s thru the late 1930’s.
    McLoughlin Blvd. used to be a forest where my grandfather hunted
    pheasant. I. Little

  6. Do any of you old-timers — I mean really ancient old-timers — remember Ethel’s Café on Burnside?
    When I was a kid my buddy Bob and I used to go to the Journal in the afternoon and pick up about ten papers each for, I think about a penny or two apiece. Then we’d go about peddling them for 3 cents apiece. We did well on the wartime docks where merchant ships came and went, including Russian ships. The papers sold well, even to the Russians. The Russians were very pleasant and friendly and with movies coming out like “Song of Russia” how could it be otherwise?
    Often the cook on a US ship would ask us if we were hungry and of course we were. He’d sit us down and feed us a big plateful of food. Big pitchers of milk and lots of bread and butter.
    When we didn’t eat on board — and sometimes even if we did — we’d go by Ethel’s Café and sit at the counter where they kept loaves of bread cut in half lined up with the salt and pepper and napkins.
    A dish of beans with all the bread you could eat was but a pittance, and after that, we’d go home just in time for dinner.

  7. I lived in Oak Grove in the 50s and graduated OG school in 1961, in the last class to go to Milwaukie High before the next one went to Rex Putnam. We lived on Overlook Lane off Fair Oaks Drive. My mom taught piano to a lot of people in Oak Grove – including the Japanese family who owned that one market. They always brought Mom rice crackers at Christmas time.

    1. Marian was a classmate and pal of mine and often visited me at my home on Woodland Way. My parents received one acre for a wedding gift, half of my grandparents’ property (15100), built a post-war Cape Cod house (15200), and my father raised rhododendrons and azaleas. He was known internationally for his hybrids, irrigated by runoff water from Fred Meyers’ cooling system.

      I miss Halloween the way it was, safe to go anywhere unaccompanied by parents, safe to eat any cookies or popcorn balls the neighbors gave out. Nobody worried about us kids riding the streetcar by ourselves, either.

      My parents had a friend who worked for the state highway department in the fifties. Mom complained that a stop light was needed at McLaughlin and Oak Street (Oak Grove Blvd) but he said that “not enough people had been killed there yet”. You bet, she prevailed, and the light was promptly installed.

      1. Janet and I “palled” around a lot together when we were st Oak Grove School. I also remember OG as being very safe to ride or walk around. Janet’s house was a long bike ride from mine but I never had a problem with it. I remember many of our teachers at OG but most notably Gladys Worthington and Alice Kreitler. Both treated each student as if they were valued and loved. Janet and I would pass notes in class inside an old ball point pen and Mrs Worthington would give us “the look” nut didn’t say anything. :)

      2. Mrs. Worthington was my favorite teacher at OG Grade School she gave me a love of reading and history. In the early 80’s I was home for a visit and wondered about her. I found her phone number and called and she answered I told her that I was Nancy Stuart and that I wanted to thank her for being such a wonderful teacher. There was a pause on the phone and then she said I had made an old woman very happy. Mrs. Krietler taught choir and I was really horrible and she would always tell me to sing quietly. I graduated from Oak Grove in 1955 and went to Milwaukie High, my junior year they opened Clackamas High and gave the juniors the choice of graduating with their class or graduating from the “new school” A lot of my friends stayed at Milwaukie to graduate. Some of the families that lived around us were the Oetkins, Matthews, Ernsts, Stanleys, Spencers, Linds, who all lived on Laurie avenue and all had children my age. This site really stirs up some wonderful memories of a place that was safe grow up in.

  8. The grocery store on Oak Grove Blvd./River Road was called “George’s.” The owners, a Japanese family had two children, a boy and a girl. The eldest was named Sherrie/Sherry/Shari, and the son, Scotty, I believe, both a few years younger than myself. The store was torn down and rebuilt into a new Thriftway sometime during the 70’s.

    Imbibing must have not been a stranger to ‘downtown’ Oak Grove, as there was the tavern and a pharmacy that carved out a corner in which the State liquor store operated. Considering the size of the small town those two businesses represented a large portion of the downtown real estate, as did the Oak Grove Methodist Church, ironically.

    There was a machinery company on the east end of ‘downtown’ Oak Grove Boulevard, a t-intersection. I believe the name of the business was Cranston (?), though this is a vague memory. On the south side of the Boulevard, across from the machinery company was a ‘modern’ dentist and medical office built in the 60’s. Dr. John Bauers was in that building and was our family physician.

    I remember Mrs. Ernst worked in the Oak Grove Post Office. Her son, Norman, was a classmate of mine at Oak Grove Grammar School.

    My Mom, Helen Page, a school cook at both Oak Grove and later North Oak Grove, took my brother and sister and me to downtown Portland via streetcar, but I was quite young when buses too over to serve transportation needs. It was safe to walk or ride your bike alone, and we did so liberally without issue.

    School lunches were a pleasure, back then. Everything was made from scratch, the hot yeast rolls, fruit cobblers and frosted sheet cakes, friend chicken (fried in butter), mashed or au gratin potatoes, green salad and its dressing, carrot and celery sticks, macaroni and cheese (made with real cheese), spaghetti, deep dish meaty/cheesy pizza, etc. — no shortccuts. Mom and Mrs. Harold were full time cooks at Oak Grove (Mr. “Shorty” Harold was the school janitor), and Trudy Pennell and possibly someone else came in during the busiest lunch hours. The school had a high percentage of students preferring the hot lunches rather than sack lunches.

    Mom was head cook when North Oak Grove was built, and she, Trudy and one other woman who helped them part time during lunch hours continued with the popular lunches. The school received government commodities of butter, cheese, flour, meat, and more. Mom was always trying to figure ways to use up the free provisions. Parents would ask her how she made her spinach because their children would not eat it at home. Butter made everything taste great, but as research rolled in about saturated fats she felt bad that she may have helped develop some discriminating taste buds. At last year’s 40th Rex Putnam H.S. class reunion two classmates made of point of asking me how Mom made the pizza that they so loved. Mom retired from North Oak Grove when North Clackamas School District went to centralized kitchens, introducing such fare as reheated chicken nuggets, corndogs, and other junk food to the children and staff who much preferred Mom’s home cooking.

    It’s possible that Mr. Gutendorf or one of his cohorts delivered our daily Oregon Journal. We lived on Courtney and Schroeder in a tarpaper-covered tutor house that was built by my Dad, Leslie F. Page. Mom and Dad took on home projects when they had the cash to pay for the materials. It took a long time for the home to get finished. Actually, he built the house onto a very small existing home. Mom and Dad were recycling pros long before it became a green practice. Dad made a sign with a Boston Terrier dog image that hung over the front gate, as my Mom bred and showed her dogs. He made a rotating mailbox with granite and an old wagon wheel that served all of north Schroeder and our house.

    I remember that Oak Grove School had the most incredible carnival fundraisers for the PTA. There were no rides, just booths that parents and teachers had put together. Things like ring tosses, having your profile drawn, popping balloons with darts and other simple games. They were held in the gymnasium during the fall. I remember winning goldfish each year it was held. Cake walks were conducted on the gym’s stage, overlooking the event. It was great fun.

    Such a simple and safe time. I feel fortunate for having grown up in Oak Grove.

      1. That pizza really was the best. I took my lunch every day except on pizza day. Seems like I remember it was Wed. or Thurs.

    1. Cranston is the name I remember for the machine shop. I always wondered what went on in there.

      One time the cafeteria received a supply of white beans. Nobody liked them, and for some reason the uncooked ones wound up on the playground. A certain bunch of us had already picked the grounds clean of every fragment of “agate”, or quartz. We did the same with the beans.

    2. Evette nailed it, great recollections… The pizza at OG was awesome! The other grocery store, Buy-Rite was co-owned by Frank & Bonnie Lee and Tom & Mabel Sing, they were Chinese… but George Marimatsu was the Japaneese owner of George’s Market.

      Cranston Machinery was a metal fabricator. There was a door manufacturing company across Rupert Dr. from Cranston, BJ Door Company.

      In the mid 60’s the first large apartment complex came to Oak Grove, the Oakmont Apartments and all the locals saw that as the beginning of the end! The ‘transients’ were coming!

      The summer school was a lot of fun at Oak Grove and very well attended. I really enjoyed Bill Poole’s science classes with photography and bug collecting. Bill would come to OG from Concord just for summer school, but later joined the staff at OG around 1967-68. Summer school always concluded a huge watermelon feed on the playground.

      I will always remember Mrs. LeMaster’s 6th grade class… She convinced us that she could control the weather and she would threaten to stop the snow if we didn’t behave. Another ‘fuzzy’ memory from Mrs. Whaley’s class was the day that Don Charles or Earl Ladd announced on the PA and that President Kennedy had been shot. Shorty Harold was the classic cool janitor who took care of ‘everything’ around the school and there was Mr. Roddy the band teacher (Toad) and Mrs. Kreitler the music teacher who lead the Melodiers and the Jokers.

      On the main street, Oak Grove Blvd., there was also a barbershop between the post office and Buy-Rite. Inside the drug store there was also a soda fountain counter where you could get a ‘cherry phosphate’ and just to the left of the counter was the Oak Grove liquor store also in the drug store all operated by Mr. Sweeney.

      Does anyone remember sledding or biking down ‘Central’?… Oak Grove Blvd ended with an awesome hill (central) that went straight down to the Oak Grove boat ramp and into the Willamette River. I used to walk the RR tressel to Lake Oswego too. I also climbed up to the top of the steel super structure a few times… We did some crazy stuff back them. We used to walk down the railroad tracks to Milwaukie to catch the movies at the Victory theater on Friday nights. What a great place to grow up…I would guess that at least 65-75% of my kindergarten class went on to finish high school together… That is, the one’s who survived without helmets…and we did lose a few.

      Thanks for this Blog!

      1. Rich,
        I (Peter Harrett) was happy to see your contribution here because we know each other and grew up in the same class. I often think about how great it was to grow up in Oak Grove. Here’s a few things you didn’t know about me. First; I moved from Oak Grove to Oak Grove. Just outside of Medofrd Oregon is another Oak Grove school! So I moved from Oak Grove to Oak Grove which is kind of fun to say.

        My family moved into Oak Grove to our newly built house, located at 1365 Anspach Street, which is on the south end of Laurie Avenue. This was on the day JFK was assassinated. I remember like it was yesterday, I was in the living room on moving day, sitting on a plastic pail. It was just me, my older brother Paul, the pail and the TV left in the room. Everything else was on a truck on its way to Oak Grove. Suddenly Walter Cronkite came on the TV crying. He announced JFK had been killed in Dallas. It was a defining moment for a 3rd grader. So I started at Oak Grove School the very next day. This was before the addition was completed so we, MRS. Fritz class, were housed in the band room. I remember well how crowded it was in there with all the band instruments, desks and 20+ kids! Additionally, as I remember it we were the only class in the basement. If you know Oak Grove school you know how creepy it was down there. It was a real dungeon. The locker room and shower areas were downright spooky!

        You mentioned the boat ramp so I thought I would share a good story about it. We lived nearby so when we had the big snow in 1968 Bernie Salsbery, a neighbor boy I am sure you remember, took the aluminum slide off my younger brother and sisters swing set, inverted the stand to make a handle and used it as a toboggan. Remember it had snowed at least one foot that year. Then an ice storm brought in another two inches of ice on top of the snow so it was downright dangerous to walk on. One could easily break the ice, go through it and bang a shin or worse break a leg. So Bernie and I take the toboggan we made to the top of the hill near Georges Market. Keep in mind metal moves pretty fast on ice. So I got on in front, since it was our slide, and Bernie got on in back. Together we headed down the hill fitting nicely in a car tire rut which kept us on the roadway and out of the ditch. Since we were riding on a 2” sheet of ice we started off at breakneck speed. By the time we reached the really steep part, near the Stoltz house, we were pretty scared. Suddenly the tire track disappeared which sent us into the ditch at what must have realistically been in the neighborhood of 70 MPH. This sent us flying into the ditch at full speed! We crashed, broke through the ice, continued to travel at high speed under the ice sheet for quite a ways. We had to fight our way out of the ice. Thankfully other than scraped faces and a few bruises we were unharmed. But it was definitely the ride of a lifetime.

        I walked across the trestle many times. We enjoyed flying our airplanes off the trestle. A few times we walked all the way over to Lake Oswego. I remember having to run to make the center span where there was a small safety room below the tracks at the center of the trestle. Many times we sat there with the train passing just inches overhead.
        The pizza! I am so glad others remember how good it was. I hear that Janice Purcell’s mother was the one responsible for it but I could be wrong. Wasn’t her mother a cook there? The food was so good a lot of local people and seniors regularly ate lunches in the cafeteria. For $0.25 you got a very nice meal.

        The drug Store fountain as a real treat, right out of the 1930’s. I loved to sit at the bar. I recall ordering chocolate Coke’s when we had some money. Buy Rite Grocery was always a good place to stop and buy an Abba-Zabba bar for one cent. It was pretty big for only a penney!

        Mr. Charles had a really nice yellow 1964Olds Cutlass coupe. I like it so well I made my first car a 1964 Cutlass 442 coupe. Do you remember Mr. Roddy’s car? We called it the Toad-mobile. I think it was a white Rambler two door coupe. It looked like an upside-down bathtub. Aptly named too.

        I could go on, but I will summarize by saying Oak Grove was a truly unique, safe, place to grow up. I often wish I could go back to the 1960’s when I was there. I appreciate having the opportunity to contribute here and thank all for their respective contributions as well.

      2. Reguarding peters post….i too lived at 1365 se anspach….small world huh ?…i moved in april of 1978

      3. Reguarding peters post….i too lived at 1365 se anspach….small world huh ?…i moved in april of 1978…and moved away in 1988…i loved living in that house,…

      4. Rich,
        So great to reminisce. I fondly remember my childhood, walking the streets on hallowen night with our friends, summer school days and Ms. Whaleys class. How about the flood that year when the Willamette River rose up and flooded all the houses don on River Forest Drive!! These were all good times and I will always feel tied to that cohort of elementary friends that all went through high school together:)

      5. I remember playing basketball at Oak Grove School. There was a janitor that would let us into the gym anytime we wanted. That janitor was the coolest guy; his name was Lee. I remember the last days he worked at the school were sad because he was being let go; budget cuts.
        I remember Buy-Rite and Vista markets for the video games and candy bars. Later in my rebel youth, with my fake I.D., these markets also supplied us with plenty of beer.
        I lived behind the Oak Grove Church on Lee Ave from ’74 until ’89 with my parents and older brother. I attended OG, Milwaukie Jr High, and Rex Putnam (87)
        We absolutely loved Oak Grove and still do.

      6. I was just mentioning last week to my wife Rachel, how you and Debbie Osland and Harlene Ridpath were co-editors on the Oak Grove ‘Cyclonic News’ paper with me back in the 8th grade. So cool to hear from you!

      1. That’s great news, Severn! Mom was friends with your cousin. I believe Betty had worked at North Oak Grove (on Torbank) and was secretary to Mr. Ladd. I wish your name rang a bell with me. I was a ’52 baby. You?

  9. I lived in oak grove from 78-88, went to oak grove grade school..i moved there when i was about 7 years old. It was a great place to grow up. Me and my friends would ride our bikes everywhere. We would hang out at the conveient stores, dropping quarter after quarter in the latest video games(mostly at buy-rite)..which was also the seediest part of town in my memories..whenever i am out and about i always try and drive through Oak Grove…maybe ill move back someday !!

    1. Sean,

      That’s amazing we lived in the same house on Anspach! I have driven by it many times tempted to knock on the door and ask for a memory tour but didn’t want to bother the homeowner. I expect you know Art Karstetter who still lives on the downhill side. I understand Deana died years ago. I am still in contact with Andrea, Art’s daughter.

      I would like to speak with you more off line so I suggest writing me at peterharrett@gmail.com. Thanks, Pete.

      1. I have copied my response to sean for all to see here. I thought it would be entertaining to those that know the area well.

        Sean,

        I will share some interesting things you don’t know about that house. My family were the original owners of the home. When we bought it, it was a three bedroom house with no yard. The Karstetter place was still a vacant lot. That was 1963. The builder was Al Anspach. He was a relative of Susan Anspach the actress. Perhaps you remember her. Since Al was the builder of the new homes on the street he put in to have the street named after himself. My mom didn’t think too highly of that which is why I remember it.

        My dad David Harrett did the addition all by himself. He was only in his late 20’s at the time. He got a lot of work done in a short period of time! He is responsible for virtually everything there. He was, and still is, a pretty industrious guy. I was a little kid then I think it was something like 1966 when he did it. The addition was built because we had a baby (brother Chris) in 1964. The building in the back was a pigeon house. My dad raised giant homers for show purposes. What did you folks use the pigeon house for?

        We hand dug the birch trees out of the woods south of the house. I helped plant them in the front yard. That was around 1967.

        When we moved there were 21 trees in the yard not including the birch trees or the crabapple tree. My mom Valerie planted it. She used to make crab apple jelly out of them. There was one large maple in back with 20 pecker pole type Doug firs. A big wind happened early on, maybe 1965 and all but two, a big fir and the maple broke off in the wind. None did serious damage but two hit the eaves breaking them off. Repairs had to be made but it all looked like new soon enough.

        My older brother Paul and I shared the bedroom adjacent to the downstairs bathroom. This was originally the master bedroom. The formal dining room where the stairs are was originally the third bedroom.

        Remember a small hole dug into the fireplace hearth? As a baby my sister Andrea would site there by the hour, digging at it with her finger, licking sand off the finger on-and on until there was a hole there. Odd huh?

        Dad also did the stone planters that surrounded the house. Were they there when you lived there? He didn’t have a truck but he had a 1953 Chevrolet business coupe, back seat delete he drove to work. We went up to Oregon City along the river to collect free stones along the road, hauled them home and used them to build the planter walls. I told you he was industrious! He kept everything perfect always making improvements. Paul and I, often worked from dawn to dusk along side him. He is now 77 and nothing has changed.

        Bernie Salsbery was my best friend growing up. Did you know the salsbery’s? Our back yard was 90 degrees to theirs. Jay still lives there but is pretty old now. I understand Bea died a couple of years ago.

        Ever swim or fish in the nearby lake? Sorry I cannot remember the name of the lake. We spent a lot of time there! Tons ‘o fun.

        Well that’s all I can think of now. Let me know what you have on that place. Looking forward to receiving your report. Thanks Pete.

  10. My father Wes Harris was born in Oak Grove in 1907. His parents, George and Ellen Bloom Harris, lived there for many years as did my great grandparents Fred and Mary Colosky Harris and her brother Joseph who was a retired Michigan politician.
    Are there and books or collections of articles on Oak Grove that I can buy or read online?

    Thanks, Sue

  11. If anyone could recall when the (original) Oak Grove Elementary School’s annex (which, until most recently, was Sojourner Elementary) building opened up, I would thank all those respondents who frequent this posting (the original building just due east, now called New Urban High School, dated from 1924 with expansions done in 1948-52, 1955 and 1959, according to official North Clackamas School District data). I know it to have opened during the mid to late 1950s, going by the age of the fixtures in the restrooms (c. 1955-59), which was right around the same time that Riverside Elementary School, just down River Road, had opened.

    1. I do not remember the year, but I think it was about 1955. We had dance lessons in the gym in the 7th or 8th grade thought by mr and mrs Grant stones. I graduated form OG in 1957. I think my dad was on the school board when the annex was built. We moved to Oak Grove in 1947 and all five of us kids went to Oak Grove. Norm LeVee

      1. Well, Janet, there would be every chance the building was completed late in 1955 and opened in January 1956, so, of course when your cousin entered kindergarten in the fall of that year (’56) it of course was already fairly new.

        Only an issue of Clackamas Review magazine from that period that documents the annex portion of Oak Grove Elementary, if ever it were covered, would really give us all the ultimate answer.

  12. Did you all know that The Bomber (owned by the Laceys) is going to be refurbished, I think…. I remember that really clearly. We used to buy groceries at the Piggly Wiggly sometimes. We had Mrs Lacey as a sub at OG once in awhile. On another interesting note – I live now in Corvallis, OR at Samaritan Village – an active retirement community. One of my neighbors here has a cousin who married the dentist in Oak Grove – Elton Storment. Talk about small world! I guess he is retired. My neighbor is the one who pointed me in the direction of your blog.

  13. Mrs. Purcell worked part time, during the busiest part of the lunch hour. I believe she came long quite awhile after the pizza introduction. I believe Mrs. Harold created the original recipe. My Mom, Helen Page and Mrs. Pauline Harold worked at the original full time Oak Grove Elementary School cooks. Trudy Pennell (Scott and Craig Pennell’s Mom) also worked as a full time cook with my Mom when North Oak Grove opened. I believe Mrs. Purcell worked with them there, too, part time. Mrs. Purcell used to get me Jantzen clothes from the Jantzen Salesroom. Ironically, I worked there after graduating from OSU.

    Marian Ely went to school with my sister, Terralee Page Ginther. I don’t remember Marian’s face, but I do remember her name.

    You boys and your hills and trestle! We girls were playing with our dolls, made mud pies, rode our bikes all over the place, and generally didn’t put our lives and limbs at risk, other than climbing a few trees.

    1. Well Evette – I haven’t changed much! :) A lot more gray hair and trifocals and two replaced knees…… Nice to be remembered. Thanks! I remember Oak Grove as a very safe place to be. I did a fair share of climbing trees and playing ball with the boys on my street.

    1. Peter, I do not have the recipe for Oak Grove’s Pizza. Lori Habberman Rafshal has also wanted it, as have others. If I discover another family member has it I will be sure to get it to you.

      1. Evette,

        I keep an keen eye on this site hoping you have had success locating that pizza recipe. Don’t forget, its the good stuff!

  14. I grew up in Oak Grove. We moved to Ruby Drive in 1958, right across the street from Tom & Mabel Sing. We went to St. John’s Catholic School in Milwaukie, but I remember those great school carnivals at OG Elementary. We have some old home movies of sledding down Lee Avenue, too. I believe landing in a ditch was a pretty common way to end a sled ride. I remember walking up the hill to Buy-Rite with a quarter and coming down with a bag of candy. There was a meat locker in “downtown” Oak Grove and on hot summer days, my brothers and I would spend a few minutes in the meat locker to cool off.

    1. When it snowed my brother and I slid down a hill right next to our street. If we made a wrong turn we ended up in Bob and Marolyn Tarrant’s driveway! The carnivals at OG were great. I think we had good spaghetti dinners in the cafeteria before the carnival started. I especially remember the fishing booth and the cake walk they had on stage. My mom contributed a cake one time and I did the cake walk and won it back!

      1. How funny! Our family lived next door to the Tarrants on Fair Oaks Drive and, yes, every time it snowed, we broke out the sleds and went careening down that same hill. Although most memories have faded, some of the most vivid involve the carnivals at Oak Grove Elementary. I never came home with any cakes, but when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade, I was the proud winner of a quart bottle of bright green hair shampoo.

  15. Both my spouse and I grew up in Oak Grove; Evette Page was a contemporary of mine. Evette and I actually shared a seventh grade classroom at Oak Grove Elementary, and performed together in Rex Putnam High School’s chorale ensemble, the Choraliers.

    Our family had a Cape Cod-style house built in 1964 on Cedar Avenue, just a block from OG Elementary, and of course, the Oak Grove Community Hall that still stands on the corner of Cedar Avenue and Maple Street, across from the elementary school and the water company. Our next-door neighbors had a very large lot, and they subdivided it in two, selling us the empty half. Another neighbor, Bernice Busic, was a very accomplished Realtor, and a friend of my mother’s from church. She helped tremendously in expediting the entire process of buying the lot and obtaining financing to pay a local Portland contractor to build our new home.

    We put a lot of “sweat equity” into the finishing process of the house’s construction, doing all the interior finish work like puttying nail holes in the moldings, applying paint to the walls and varnish to the moldings. We couldn’t afford a finished second story, so we settled for a finished second-story bathroom and two totally unfinished bedrooms, one to each side of the bath. It got pretty cold up there in the winter! The upstairs bedrooms weren’t finished until after I had left home, about eight years after we first moved in. My mother and youngest sister still live there, but the house and yard are much nicer now.

    Our neighborhood had at least eight families living close by with children; we had backyard camp-outs at my place because I had dug a fire-pit in the extreme back quarter of the yard, where I also burned paper trash to keep the garbage bills down. The next-door neighbors, the Meyers, had four boys, and they often hosted athletic competitions like pole vaulting in their yard.

    The lake in the area was Oak Grove Lake, located off Riverforest Rd. It had been poisoned with Rotenone once or twice to kill trash fish before I moved to Oak Grove, but I remember pulling small bream fish like crappie or bluegill from the lake. I also swam in the lake with friends, and there were warm and cold spots we would cross as we swam — probably springs welling up from the bottom of the lake, but we imagined all sorts of “lake monsters” lurking in the lake’s muddy depths…

    It’s true that we roamed freely throughout the area. Most vacant pieces of land were heavily overgrown or even wooded; there was even a swampy area that never completely dried out just off River Road, between Maple Street and Courtney Avenue, that only adventurous adolescents even bothered exploring.

    During my teen years, I worked the gas pumps at Johnson & Sons Garage on River Rd. and Maple Street, and also worked the tire machine, removing tires from the wheel rims to effect repairs. When I got my first car, I usually filled up the tank at that garage. I remember paying 18.9 cents/gallon for gas at that time; my girlfriend (now my spouse) would pool her allowance with whatever cash I had so we could drive places on our dates. When my mother found out we were jointly managing our money together, she was so shocked and outraged, she cried: by the mores of her time, we were doing something that should have been reserved for after marriage.

    Besides the businesses previously mentioned in the core of old Oak Grove, there was Fred Meyers Shopping Center at the corner of Oak Grove Blvd. and McLoughlin Blvd. It was a ten-block hike from my house to the Shopping Center, where one could find a large shoe-repair operation inside the FM store, Al’s Records in an adjacent building just across from the grocery load-out area, and a television repair shop. “Freddie Fall-Aparts” was the pejorative term we used to describe the shoes and apparel available from Fred Meyer’s Variety and Apparel section. Fred Meyer’s reputation for quality goods was pretty low in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but they were cheap.

    In the summers, one or more berry farms sent buses to Oak Grove to transport children between the ages of 11 and 18 to pick berries and beans in the farm fields south of Oak Grove; a local woman, Mrs. Dahl, recruited for one of the farms, and made sure that the bus for that farm was pretty full by the time it left Oak Grove around 7AM. I met my wife on a berry bus in the summer of 1967, when she was 12 and I was 13. Ordinarily a very shy girl, she decided I had poor taste in female seat-companions on the bus ride home one day, and she spent the entire ride home perched in the seat just ahead of mine, teasing me and saying she thought I could “do much better” than the “bottle-blonde” girl I was sitting with. The next day, on the ride home, I intercepted her in the aisle on the way to the back of the bus, and instructed her to sit on my lap the whole ride home. She perched on the extreme edge of my knees the whole way, except for when the driver stopped at the A&W Drive-in in Canby so we could buy treats to celebrate the last day of the picking season; I bought her a root-beer float, said good-bye when she got off the bus at Riverforest Avenue and River Road, and figured I’d never see her again.

    Later that summer, I was walking toward the intersection of Oak Grove Blvd and River Road when I noticed a girl on a horse just standing on the corner of the road. The girl was that same blond urchin I’d tangled with on the berry bus! It turned out she’d been riding her sister’s horse up to that intersection about once a week in hopes of seeing me again. I learned her name was Dolly, and I invited her to return the three blocks to my home, where she tethered the horse in my backyard and came in to meet my mother. We’ve been married for 41 years this August.

    Oak Grove is more than just a small town that I lived in. It was a place that was off the beaten path, slow-moving, and slow to change with the times. It still is, for the most part. I still go there for medical care in the same clinic that operated in the 60’s, only it began as the practice of Dr. John Bauers, D.O. (Osteopath), a Swiss who hated the Vietnam War and who battled with the Clackamas County Draft Board on my behalf to obtain a 4F draft status for me; then Dr. John Stiger, D.O. took over the practice; finally, the Oak Grove Family Medical Clinic is now run by an all-female staff, including the osteopathic physicians providing primary family care to several generations of mostly local people.

    The culture of Oak Grove is a significant part of its history, and the view of Oak Grove culture I obtained was unique and priceless. I’m glad I had the opportunity to live and grow up there.

    Dale Moore, with Dolly Moore

    1. Dale –

      How kind of you to remember my grandmother, Bernice Busic. She loved where she lived at 14114 SE River Road for all 60 years she was there. She loved the community and often talked about how it changed during her time there from 1948-2008 – 60 years!

      A favorite thing she told me more than once was being able to help newlyweds find their first homes together and many came back to her when it came time to find a larger home for their growing families. She loved her community and being able to help families in the area find homes. She worked as a realtor with Tarbell which became Coldwell Banker until she was 78 in 1998 and passed away in 2008. – Craig Busic

      1. I remember Mrs. Busic! Everyone knew the Busic’s. I grew up at 14212 SE Cedar. We lived there from 1975 until I graduated high school in 1987. The Meyers lived to our right, Mrs. Dorothy Keene to our left, and the Kambach’s (sp) across the street.

  16. Loved your story Dale. I remember you of course from Photography Staff (where I thought you were really one of the best) at Putnam, and your wife Dolly who was in my class at Concord in 6th and 7th Grade.

    1. I remember going to that B & R back in 1968 and I am pretty sure it had been in business a few years earlier than that.

      1. I am suspicious that the current building of the B-R is not original, for that version of the building is only from around the 1970s-’80s.

        My point is being made on the grounds that B-R stores from the ’50s-’60s used to be these “A-frame” buildings, which in this case, go straight down to the ground. Here is a link to an example of what a B-R store used to look like back in the ’60s:

        [img]http://static.flickr.com/26/89267583_0b13f5002c_o.jpg[/img]

      2. The B and R opened around 1970 or earlier ? If I’m not mistaken ,wasn’t that location the original landing of the Bomber?

  17. The first time I went to Baskin and Robbins was when I was in the scouts which would have been between 66-68. I used to live off of Concord a few blocks west of McLoughlin and where the Goodyear tire place was once this really beat up old Gas Station in the late 60’s. I think it was built sometime around 69-70.

    1. Chinese food at Lani Louie’s and if we behaved ourselves we got ice cream over at Baskin and Robbins afterwards

  18. I lived on S.E. Fair Oaks Way (not far from the river) and attended Oak Grove Elementary from 1950-1953 and offer the following random memories:
    1. Buying baseball cards at the variety store close to the school. I was lucky to find an occasional nickel or dime for a pack or two; but in 1953, my birthday present included about three dollars and I made a bee-line for the variety store to buy two full boxes of Topps cards (for $1.20 per box). An unthinkably large sum, considering my family’s penurious circumstances.
    2. Taking the street car to Milwaukie for the Saturday matinees at the Victory Theatre. I was heartbroken when the family went on vacation and I missed the final two serial episodes of Commando Cody, Sky Marshall of the Universe.
    3. Less happily, taking the same street car all the way to Portland for tooth fillings at a dental school. The only consolation was spending an hour shopping for baseball books at Meier and Frank. Sadly the street car disappeared a couple of years later, despite the S.O.S. (Save our Streetcar) movement.
    3. Buying a 5-cent Coke out of an old-fashioned soft drink machine at the Japanese market on the corner next to the rail tracks. (I thought the owner was Chinese, but how would I have known?) When I came back years later (after soft drinks had gone up to a dime), the proprietor still had cokes for a nickel out of the same machine?
    4. Halloween nights, when parents did not worry about their third- and fourth-grade children wandering alone for hours, dashing from house to house in the dark of night in quest of candy bars and popcorn balls.
    5. Older children in the neighborhood claiming that they walked across the train trestle that spanned the Willamette and daring the younger ones to do likewise. (Not me!)
    6. Trying to convince my father to buy his gas at the Bomber Station on McLoughlin Boulevard.
    7. Dining at the Rickshaw Inn a few blocks away on the same street.
    8. Growing up in a rural community without television where kids had to create their own entertainment (such as a long chain hanging from a tall tree in which the rider launched himself into space, high above a canyon between the houses). Similarly, tramping down the grass in a lot between our house and the neighbor’s to create a make-shift baseball field (and then somehow managing to have real games with a friction tape-covered baseball and WITHOUT the supervision of adult managers, coaches and umpires!).
    9 Actually, the first local television DID arrive in 1953. A local contractor named Carlton Norris (wealthy by the standards of his neighbors) invited us into his living room to witness the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.
    10. The saddest day of my young life was in December, 1953 when the family boarded the Coast Daylight and moved to California.

    1. Great recolections, especialy Lani Louie’s.
      Loved to eat there and also worked there for a few years in the early 70’s. I recall my own penurious circumstances, you can now get a vaccination for Penurious… :)

      The store on River Road was Japanese owned (Maramatsu’s) The store by the railroad tracks was Chinese owned, (same associates that were friends and family of the owners of Lani Louie’s, Lee’s and Sing’s). As I recall, Lani (namesake) had a background in law, but don’t quote me, and her husband Bob ran the kitchen. They would assist Chinese immigrants in the process for coming to America by providing them work. Some spoke little or no English when they arrived. They were great people to work for and I really appreciated their integrity, family values and hard work ethic. I remember Tom Sing the General Manager bailing out one of our dishwashers when he got locked up on the Oregon Coast. The busboy and dishwashers were all pretty crazy back then. Tom was a stand up guy (or at least he didn’t want to wash the dshes)… :) …and I knew the Sings. the Lee’s and Louie’s from the 50’s.

  19. I want to say now that there is now a Plaid Pantry store at the corner of SE McLoughlin Blvd. & Oak Grove Blvd. However, PP is actually not new to this particular intersection. PP had been here once back in the 1980s and early 1990s.

    BTW, the former Goodyear service center on SE McLoughlin Blvd. & Concord Rd. is now being demolished.

    ~Ben

    1. Thanks for the info on the Goodyear building, Ben. Noticed it was closed down. Any idea on what’s being built in its place?

      1. Not known as of yet, for demolition may have just begun.

        Anyways, what did you think of the surprise return of PP (y’know, Plaid Pantry) at the left-hand corner of SE McLoughlin Blvd. & Oak Grove Blvd.? It’s the same building where PP had been once back in the ’70s-’80s-early ’90s.

        ~Ben

  20. I grew up in Oak Grove too. I was in the River Forest District on Oak Shore Lane. I just went back to my 40 year reunion from Rex Putnam and cruised the neighborhood for the first time in many years. I was struck by how much it HAD NOT changed as compared to the rest of Portland.

    It was a great place to grow up, though I didn’t know it at the time. It’s true, we were always on our bikes, or horses riding through the woods or making the trek up to George’s Market to buy a treat.

    I spent a lot of time on the banks of the Willamette feeding the ducks and waving at tugboats. The field across from our house was on the river. There was always a family of China Pheasants living there. I remember hearing their beautiful calls and the sound of their wings beating against the dewy morning air.

    We also used to go to Risley Park and catch tadpoles in the ditch there. I remember joyfully sinking to my ankles in the muck. Then I would bring a jarful home which I would keep in a wheelbarrow of water. Sadly, I don’t thing many of them ever became frogs.

    Behind our house was a woods. At one time it was part of the Risley land holdings. I was best friends with Teri Risley. One day, after the property was sold to a developer, they discovered some human remains there. Dozens of cops and even the newspaper showed up at the scene of the crime. I was about 10 years old at the time and was able to tell them that it was the old family grave yard they had dug up. Disappointed, that there was no murder, the looky loos left pretty quickly, but the Risleys were able to salvage some old bones and coffin handles which became towel bars in their bathroom.

    My cousins were the Naefs. We went over to their place on holidays for bar-b-ques. Uncle Buck made wine in his basement! They had a big piece of acreage that had two houses on it. Buck’s mother, Ruthy, lived in the other one. Her’s was an old farmhouse that remained unaltered over the years. It was like going back in time. She collected porceline plates hand painted with flowers. In the garage was an old Model T. Up in the attic were relics that her sons had brought back from WWII. She had a vegetable garden and always gave us fresh rhubarb. Yum… rhubard pie!!

    In exploring the area as kids, we came upon an old, old house on the River – kind of by Naef Rd. It was what I would call a mansion. It had been abandoned for years. We used to crawl around in it and get the creeps. I wonder whatever happened to it.

    Along those lines, was the Starkweather (sp?) house. I think it was also on Naef Road, but nearer McGloughlin. It was a beautiful old victorian, which again had been abandoned for years. It was torn down eventually.

    Walking to Fred Myers was a great treat. Once again, we were able to make that hike of about 2 miles without any concern by our parents. I remember the record store, Al’s, and the shoe repair that was by the side door of the store. I remember my mom would fill a shopping cart brimming full of groceries, including the shelf underneath, and it would cost $25.

    Then there was Shorty’s. That was a divey gas station on McGloughlin either near Concord or Roethe Rd. We would get gumballs in there that seemed like they’d been there for fifty years. The place smelled of urine and we always joke that Shorty was peeing on the gumballs. When we were really bad, he would sell us kids cigarettes. I guess we had to try it at least once.

    I remember the trestle… and climbing on it and being afraid a train would come. I never made it to the other side, however.

    In Jennings Lodge, there were two elderly sisters that had a plant nursery on River Road. I remember going there with my parents to buy rhododendrons.

    Remember the Chuck Wagon Restaurant? It was a buffet. And Oliver’s Motel. It had the only swimming pool around. And the Castle… that was THE place to go on special occasions. Only to be outdone by the Chalet L’Abbe on the other end of River Road.

    Such good memories…. once you start writing about it, you can’t stop!

    So, besides all the wonderful things I read in early posts, these are things I remember about Oak Grove. I was there from 1964 – just about the time of the flood- until I became of legal age in 1972. I attended West Concord, Rex Putnam, then Clackamas Community. On paper it doesn’t look like very long, but it was a huge part of my childhood, and I’m glad I spent those happy years in Oak Grove.

      1. I think the gas station she is referring to was at Concord. The Goodyear tire store was built over it. I remember going there as a kid with my older brother in the late 50’s and early 60’s it was very creepy. I recall one last visit before it was torn down maybe in 1968-69 my dad sent me up there to get some gas for the lawn mower and the guy behind the counter had one eye and the empty socket wasn’t even covered with a patch. I still can’t get that image out of my head.

  21. Hello,

    I grew up on Oak Grove blvd, My parents bought their house in 1962 for 8900$!! I always thought it was lucky too grow up in the twilight of what was left of Innocence
    of Suburbia, all of the shops where still in business that are long gone now..the post office, the dry cleaners the barber buy rite, the pharmacy/fountian, the saw shop, and the sort of high end gift shop, which was the original Doctors offices ..My neighbors were the reeves (the big old white house) on the corner of rupert and Oak grove Blvd, the Verhagges across from us behind us the Harding’s..I went too old oak grove for kindergarten and then too North OG for 1-3 and back to Old OG for 4-8 and then too private High School (Concordia Lutheran High) In N:E Portland,
    My cousins went to Oak Grove and the school secretary was my cousin too, Betty Meyers.. I went too the same Church as Tom and Mable sing and their Daughter Mariann was in my confirmation class…I think it would be great if there More pictures of oak grove from the 1900’s too the 60’s Even though I no longer live on oregon I Miss the Neighbors that I grew up with and remember what real Neighbors meant…they talked too each other, no electronic!!!!

  22. It’s great reading all this. Someone should arrange an Oak Grove reunion. We moved to Oak Grove in 1956 when I was 3 and I still live here. Wish I could say it was in the same house. I loved that house. Speaking of houses, someone mentioned earlier that they lived in the same house as another poster. During my marriage I lived in the house you lived in, Tom Rutter, on Arista. We rented it from Esther Olsen. My parents spent a lot of time with my daughter and I wanted to be near their house on Linden Lane.

    1. We bought a home on Linden that sounds like it was very, very close to your old home. Olsen properties surround us. I am guessing Linden in 1940 was called Steele Ave, but street numbers don’t appear in the census. I think most of the oldest homes cluster closer to Park than Courtney. Tom Rutter, born in England, lived 4 names away in the census. In the 1933 our home probably had a mailing address of RD10, Box 171A. Do you know the history of this small area? Do you have old pictures of the surroundings?

      1. You are correct that Linden was called Steel prior to 1940. The 1937 Metsker Map shows it as Steel. The original 1890 plat for Oak Grove, platted by Edward and Sarah Cornell, called it “Fourth Ave.”. Just a tid-bit of local history for you.

        If anyone knows where one can get hold local copies of maps of U.S. Post Office historic route numbers I’d LOVE to hear from you.
        Mike Schmeer
        Oak Lodge History Detectives

  23. I moved to Oak Grove in 1980, went to Rowe in 8th grade and 9th at Putnam before emancipating myself at 16. I worked at the famous North’s Chuckwagon back then for a couple years and lived up the street at the infamous LaCerrito apts on Roethe where we held the kind of parties that would get everyone arrested in the first hour nowadays but was tolerated back then. We used to sneak down the trail behind the 99 drive in and sit in the grass and watch movies for free. 1981’s Clash of the Titans comes to mind, a good one for all the green bud we were smoking. My buddy Don lived in the second house down from Concord on Arista on the east side of the old tracks, where you could hear the sounds of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest blasting on the stereo. We were the kids with long hair roaming the area at night drunk, stoned, and occasionally high on acid laughing our asses off looking for cool spots lit up enough to play hacky sack. Ahh Oak Grove, lots of memories. Lost virginity, the start of MTV, joy rides, Donkey Kong, the old Milwaukie police dept, good times. I made it out alive.

  24. I grew up in Oak Grove and was interested in some of the comments about Oak Grove posted here. My father bought his property off of Laurie Avenue in 1926. The little lane leading to his property is now Stuart Lane named for him. The property has stayed in the family, my youngest sister still lives on the property. Anspach Street wasn’t there when I grew up the hill was known as Spencer’s hill and when we had snow that is where we all went to sled and if you weren’t careful you would end up in the creek at the bottom and the water was cold.
    When I was young Mrs. Weigel was the postmistress and George’s store was owned by a man named Kellogg. George and Ruth and their daughter Sherry and son Scotty came later. Mr and Mrs. Johnson owned the cleaners and Mr and Mrs Seeney owned the drugstore. Mac owned the tavern and on Saint Patricks day the juke box was moved onto the porch and the green beer flowed. There was a meat market next to Mac’s and they had lockers you could rent to keep your meat in during the year.
    the barber shop was owned by a man named Bert and the beauty shop was called Myone. Mr. and Mrs. Davenport owned the variety store and had a wonderful selection of penny candy.
    There was a lake between Fairoaks and River Forest and there was a sack swing that we used to swing out over the water and drop. We would take the trolley to Portland and Oregon City to shop and it was a great experience to ride the trolley and sit on the side seat.
    We would take our skates and go up to the school and there was a dip in front of the school that was great to go down. We had basketball teams, softball teams and volleyball teams and we were called the Oak Grove Acorns.
    We walk across the trestle and go to the Victory Theater in Milwaukie to see the Saturday matinee. The Televue in Gladstone wasn’t as easy to get to.

    1. One memory that I forgot to mention was the Piggely Wiggley store on McLoughlin Blvd. I was working at Tektronix and had been home sick and my father and I went to the Piggley Wiggley to buy some groceries and when we came out the sign was blowing all over the place. That was the first sign we had of the Columbus Day Storm. About an hour after we got home the wind really started to hit and the trees were blowing all over the place. Several streets were impacted by trees and power outages it was a scary to listen too.

      1. I remember how warm the wind was in that typhoon (Freda)… we all ran outside and played until the stuff started flying around. We lost some shingles and a tree branch flew through one of our windows. Sue and Nancy Skoog were at our house and that started Susanne (Skoog) crying.

        I also remember when your mom would come to our house and our mothers would ‘do’ each others hair… Loving Care hair color really stunk! … in spite of the smell, it was a good time… cause that’s was when we heard all about you and Joe and Ellen… Things seemed so much simpler then.

  25. Does anyone remember the name of the dry cleaners on McLoughlin Blvd. in Milwaukie back in 1957? If so, do you remember the names of the male partners who owned it? I’m searching for lost relatives…..my aunt told me that this may be an important piece of information if I can get ahold of it. My mother went to Milwaukie High School at that time and she worked there after school. Thanks!

  26. I have a question about the Buy-Rite Grocery: is it true that prior to 1980 (the first year of the modern 7up logo that I’d first seen on the exterior as a boy), were there any older 7up signs on the exterior (like the John Alcorn-designed mural c. 1968)?

    Mention must be made regarding John Alcorn, because his murals resemble the style of Peter Max, whom many think had designed them. Peter Max is also often erroneously credited as the art designer for the Beatles’ animated Yellow Submarine film, but it was actually designed by Heinz Edelmann.

  27. Regarding determining the reasons a person was admitted to the State Hospital – – – – The Oregon State Archives has those records. But their admission records generally only tell WHEN the person was admitted, WHO admitted them, and WHEN they were released, or died – with very little about their diagnosis. To learn more about what led up to their being admitted one needs to locate the court record for the proceeding which took place before admission could occur. That record will be in the records of the County Clerk for the county where it took place – sometimes called the “insane” files. This is probably the closest you’ll ever learn of the truth other than family sources. Newspapers probably will be of little help.

    1. http://imtheomega.blogspot.com/search?q=grandfather

      I did find the papers related to the commitment and they gave no clue. My Grandfather went to talk to the local sheriff, E.T. Mass about a disturbing dream he had. The Sheriff had him held did an investigation and filed a commitment hearing which took about 45 minutes where he was examined by a medical doctor who said he was a manic depressive and he was sent to Salem the same day. I also have the records of his initial review at the Salem Hospital where he stayed for two years before being sent to the State Asylum in Pendleton where he spent the next 23 years. In the official records that I have found there is no mention of anything that he did other than talk to a sheriff, no evidence the sheriff presented at the commitment hearing about why he was there.

  28. I’m the youngest of the Darling family, born in 1951 at Wilcox Maternity Hospital in NW Portland and raised at 14225 SE Laurie Avenue just north of Maple Street. Mom, (Helen Skinner-Darling, great grand-daughter of Eugene Franklin Skinner founder of EUGENE) and I would take our very frequent walks up to Sweeney’s Oak Grove Pharmacy for her Pepsi and my hot fudge milkshake, among others. Streetcar into Portland to Mom’s favorite, Meier & Frank and Woolworth. And then of course to Dad’s favorite burger stand Lew’s Dari Freeze. So hello to all from the neighborhood! Ken Darling, Da Nang, Vietnam

    1. Hi Ken I remember your family well, your brother Dennis was a classmate of my sister Mary. I remember both your parents and the last time I saw them they were at the Dunkin Doughnut shop where my youngest sister Sharon was working.

  29. I came to the Oak grove area from the hospital 17 days after I was born over 60 years ago. I left for a few years between 1968 and 1977. I am now back where I started from on the same property I came home to soooo many years ago.

    I took the street car into Portland many times with my mother and remember the clickety clack as we rolled along through Milwaukie and Sellwood to downtown Portland. We also took it to Oregon City to the first elevator on the hills in oregon City. This has brought back memories of my past and resent days. I will post some pictures when I get the chance.

    1. I’d love to see pictures, too. I also remember taking the street car into Oregon City and Portland to the big vegetable and fruit market downtown.

  30. So many wonderful memories of oak grove! started 5th grade at oak grove elementary. we live at the end of cedar street and there we’re many summer nights you would find all the neighbor kids out playing a game that we had made up that we called devil. The lunches at the school we’re fantastic! I always remembered the drugstore owners name as Mr. Seeley? They made the best cherry caramel sodas…life was sweet.

  31. Does anyone here remember “Antler’s Inn”? Can you describe where it was located? I saw a picture of a matchbook cover that advertised: Antler’s Inn. Fried Chicken, Steak Dinners. Dine & Dance. Club Privileges. Ph. Oak Grove 3-6186. 3 Miles North of Oregon City. Doggone Good place to Drink & Eat. We cater to Parties.

  32. I was searching for old photos of Oak Grove and ran across this page,what a memory ! My father was raised in Oak Grove and some of my fondest memories are of walking to Mr. Sweeneys drug store and sitting at the counter with my grandmother and ordering up a Green River or an ice cream! Everyone in town knew my grandmother , Bertha Martin …grandma lived right on the corner of Lee Ave. behind a giant Laurel hedge that we chopped at for years !
    My Aunt Lillian lived in the apt. House next to the post office….I remember Dad told me his brother in-laws family owned the butcher shop . Life was much simpler then….most of those folks are gone now , our family has moved away, but conversations when we are remanising tend to lead back to the old neighborhood .

  33. Does anyone posting to this part of “Lost Oregon” remember Dana Hamburg? For all those in the know, she was my co-ed teacher at the original Oak Grove Elementary School (at 1901 SE Oak Grove Blvd) from 1990-94. With her thin speaking voice and blonde hair, she thus reminds me of actress Sally Struthers.

  34. Hello, Oak Grovers.

    I was amazed when I looked up the old grade school to see such an amount of affectionate memories from people who lived there over the years. I agree that t was the coolest and safest place for kids to run around (in my case, 1948-1960), and my parents lived there until 1968. My brother, Jim, and I grew up next to the Johnson Car Repair place on River Road. Our family had a side yard garden and a short cut from the grade school down the hill. I remember so much of that time….hi, Mary Stuart….dear recollections.

    I sure remember the grocery store….my ancient relatives owned it before selling it to Mr. Khuen (sp) and then the family arrived to take care of the place. Such nice people, and I wonder where they are now.

    No one seems to have seriously described the building across the trolley tracks from the now gone pharmacy.

    It did had the existing tavern at the corner, but so much is gone! There was the meat store, with the freezer storage place in back (terrifying to be sent there by one’s parents), barber shop, and I remember a shop at the west end where a man processed chickens looking over the school’s athletic field…there was a small house nearby that had some serious religious activities. But, did any one else but Jim and I learn how to correctly shoot 22s at targets, as we did in the upstairs of the building? I am not imagining this! There was a rifle range up there.

    What caused the pharmacy and dime store buildings to burn down?

    Regard to all, Ellen Fahey Reynolds

    1. Hi Ellen, Ken Darling here. Nice to see your name and recollections of our time in Oak Grove. Kindest regards my dear. Ken ; ‘ )

    2. Hi Ellen: I do remember the rifle range that was upstairs over the meat market. You went up the stairs on the outside and Gloria Thompson and I both went there to take shooting lessons. I thought that the fire that burned the buildings was due to a fire that started in the old Cranston building that was next to the five and dime store. ( not the newer builing across from the Methodist Church) The house by the school was at one time a church and then became apartments. We used to ride out bicycles down the road between it and the school. I remember your parents so well and they were the so nice. Mary said that she got a chance to catch up at your class reunion. Our sister Sharon still lives on the old home place on Stuart Lane off Laurie Avenue. Each time I go to visit I see how things have changed and of course get stung by the nostalga bug.

    3. Oak Grove was such a great place to grow up in. Ellen I do remember cutting through the back neighbors yard to go to your house. Your parents were so wonderful, and always welcoming,

      I remember Joe’s barber shop, the freezer storage place, but I don’t remember the chicken processing place or the rifle range. We loved the drug store, especially the milk shakes.
      We were always so curious about the church on the corner, and I remember peaking in the windows to see what was going on, I can’t remember who was with me.

      We took the streetcar down to Gladstone to go to High Rocks, to Milwaukie to the movies, and to Portland to shop.

      We had such freedom, and my sisters and I played with the Merrill kids, Sherry Standley, the Levi’s and Mary Ann Ernst. Later Darlene Browning moved to the other end of Laurie Avenue, and we would walk back and forth from her house to my house.

      Happy memories.

      Mary Stuart Johnson

    1. The last living Boyed to inhabit the historic house on Oak Grove Blvd, at Rupert was buried at Willamette National Cemetery last Tuesday, Aug. 19th. Carl Daniel Boyed had lived there with his mother, Belle; father, Louis; and sister, Betty (Boyed) Shirey. A world War II veteran and construction worker, Carl was 91 when he passed. St. John’s Church in Milwaukie was one of the projects he oversaw. The spire can be seen form many vantage points around the area.

      G.F. “Gary” Blair

  35. My family move to Oak Grove in 1947. We lived on the corner of Maple and Bunnell. I went to Oak Grove Grade School and remember some of the teachers mentioned. There are a few misnomers regarding OG history, but my memory isn’t the greatest either.

    Leonard’s hardware/lumber store was on the southwest corner of Arista and Oak Grove Blvd. The owners of the cleaners were the Johnsons, and Pfenning’s meat market was adjacent to the BuyRite Grocery and had a doorway connecting the two inside the store. Merle Seeney, was the owner of the pharmacy and Belle Boyed, was manager of the liquor store in the back of the pharmacy. She was my sister’s mother-in-law, and lived in the big old house on the corner of OGB and Rupert, which now houses the offices of Cranston Machinery. The frozen food locker was on the second floor of the building that housed the other meat market. The advent of the home freezer caused it’s demise and yes, there was a “small caliber” gun range ther for a while.

    When we first arrived in Oak Grove, the only place you could get your mail was at the Post Office as there was no home delivery service at the time. Our only means of transportation was the trolley for a couple of years. We rode it to church in Oregon City on Sundays and to downtown to buy school clothes and when enough extra money was available to Oaks Park.

    Loss of the trolley (Thank you General Motors) and the construction of the Fred Meyer store eventually led to the near demise of downtown Oak Grove, but were not the only factors. I believe Lani Louie, the sister of Frank Lee, and sister-in-law of Tom SIng, was well known as the first female stock broker in the Northwest. Not a hundred percent sure on that. Janet Li was also part of the family as was Dr. Kim, the dentist on Courtney, east of the car lot on the corner.

    The Piggly Wiggly was a Kienows for a while, and the Bomber once faced east directly across from Holly Street before it was moved a little farther north to its present location. I’ve lived in and around Oak grove for many years except for some short sojourns to southern California in the 80’s and Puget Sound in the late 90’s. I’ve been back in Oak Grove for almost 12 years and live just three blocks from the house I grew where I grew up. I live next door to where one of my classmates from grade school and high school grew up.

    Gary Blair
    Oak Grove

      1. No problem.

        I also meant to mention the Starkeweather house. They were friends of my parents. It is the big white house on River Road north of Concord that is now a B & B. They gave my dad an antique frame miter saw, a glue vise, and a lot of framing material. I still have the miter and vise, and some of the frames my dad made from the materials.

        Gary Blair

    1. Great stuff, Gary. I am not sure who Dr. Kim was, but Dr. Wu was a dentist on Courtney just east of Mcloughlin Blvd, wife Dorthy and kids, Dennis and Linda . If the Janet Li you mention is the same as I knew, she was Janet Lee with two younger brothers Les and Phil, the daughter of Frank and Bonnie Lee at Buy Rite, partners of Tom Sing… My time in Oak Grove spanned 1954 – 1977. Thanks for the excellent history of downtown OG. :)

      1. Not sure where “Kim” came from either. Dr. Wu was my brother, Don’s dentist for many years. The Wu’s were also good friends of my in-laws. Haven’t seen you in a while. Trust all is well with you and yours.

      2. Well, well, well…speak of old OG friends. I remember our next door neighbors from those days and finally I find this blog. Good old Art, Arlene, Dan Rich, and Gail. Sure enjoy the memories I’ve read. Strobel lives over across River Road now. Please contact at zobo58@aol.com

  36. Hi,
    just found this and will be reading it a lot, so much I remember. graduated 1960 from Oak Grove. would love to have a reunion. there was one once but I didn’t learn of it. anyone would like to plan a reunion for the summer of 2015. I’d love to see my classmates.

    so interesting reading all this.. the drug store, that little dime store with the lady who owned it with lots of candy and small fun things to buy, Sam and his brother at the grocery store, and Mr Poole and Mr. Charles, Mrs. Worthington, Mrs. Lampa and did anyone have Mrs. Moll, first grade. so wish I could thank her most of all for her great kindness to me. those fun carnivals. I loved the white elephant. live in Seattle now.
    greetings to any old friends and classmates!
    Joan Huddleston

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