I first met Doris on Twitter earlier in the year. I started following her because her tweets were interesting – she wrote about Portland, its politics, her trips around town, and stops at local attractions.
Oh, and yeah, her tweets were from the mid-1920s.
No, Doris didn’t time travel, nor did I. Doris is actually the great aunt of author Julia Park Tracey. “Doris” is Doris Baily and she passed away last year. Park inherited her diaries and they were so chock full of great material, Park created a Twitter account for her late aunt. Lucky for us.
Each tweet (@TheDorisDiaries) gives a glimpse of Doris’ view of the world, of Portland, of America in its teens. As a self-proclaimed local history nerd, her tweets offers me a perspective of Portland living that goes beyond drawn-out history books or long, snoozy tomes. These tweets seem real – because they are – right from Doris’ diary. Sure, many of the tweets are about being a teen but many bring local Portland history to life, such as:
Went to town again for lack of any other excitement. Saw Art Young, and he walked from the entrance of Meier & Frank’s to the fifth floor.
The Meier & Frank building (now Macy’s) is a wonderful structure in downtown Portland. I see it every day, yet reading the above entry confirms its existence – it really was there in the 1920s – and people saw it then and probably thought it was a handsome building then. It’s this kind of “macro history” that really appeals to me.
Portrait of Doris
Based on these tweets, Park Tracey has now compiled them into a new, wonderful book, “I’ve Got Some Lovin’ To Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen.” It’s a must-read for Portlanders, local history buffs and those interested in how one Portland teen lived in the 1920s. It mixes Doris’ thoughts with local history tidbits and uses photography to tie it all in. Doris’ father was also a Portland architect and family photos help illustrate chapters (the Portland photo from her father’s office is a stunner of a never-seen photo).
Doris died at home, with her dog and cat nearby, at age 101 in March of 2011. She was a remarkable teen and later a full-of-life adult. We’re fortunate that Park Tracey came across her diaries – we can only hope there’s more from Doris and another book in the wings.