Oregon small towns

Oregon: The ‘Small Town’ Capital Of the World. Cut. Print. New branding campaign. Feel free to use it, Oregon Tourism people.

Seriously, I love the fact that Oregon is lousy with small towns that haven’t changed much over the years. This summer we’re heading to Colorado, which will bring us through my favorite part of the state: the eastern side. I love the desert, the geography of it, the land, the small towns of the I-84 as you leave Oregon and travel into Idaho. Don’t get me started on the ghost towns.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. A little closer to home [Portland metro] is Tillamook. My introduction to Tillamook was second-hand stories from The Moneychangers and their nightmare gig there. Rock, roll and lots of booze no doubt.

I’m guessing the town doesn’t look much like this anymore:

And a close up of Dutch Mill Seafood and its glorious signage:

8 replies on “Oregon small towns”

Except for a new Safeway (a bit back from the main drag), downtown Tillamook does still look pretty much like this. The Dutch Mill is still around.

Recollections of small Oregon towns:

Spent a summer in the late 50’s as a 16-year old working in the pea harvest in Milton Freewater. Got there from Portland by freight and thumb with one of my MHS friends. He went to work at the cannery and I caught on driving an old Ford dump truck fetching pea vines from remote fields (driving parallel down rows of cut vines along side a CAT that picked up the vines and chuted them into the truck bed) and dumping them at a depot where the vines were separated from the peas. My shift was 6:00pm-6:00am 7-days a week for the grande sum of $1.00 per hour.

During the loading process we stopped periodically so that I could get into the bed and stomp the vines down to maximize the load. It was considered useful to stir the bed some with a pitchfork to make sure a rattlesnake hadn’t been been scooped into the bed by the CAT.

Wasn’t much time to do anything except eat, sleep and work. I stayed at a boarding house run by a kind old woman who produced great meals on a big harvest table. Fellow drivers were either itinerant harvest workers or students, two of whom were U of W students. “Don’t be runnin’ around with them older boys,” the old woman advised me, “they’ll get you in no end of trouble”. One journey into Milton Freewater on a rainy day proved her right, but that’s another story.

Started the black coffee habit that summer to stay awake during the night, but in the last week of the season, I fell asleep at the wheel, rolled into a ditch and dumped a full load of vines. The ancient Ford suffered a few broken bones, and after my skull was patched up I was fired and sent packing. It took three thumbed rides to get back to Portland: the second one was with two women who were sharing a bottle of whiskey with beer chasers. The driver swiveled her head around (in the manner of an owl), as I sat in the back seat, and asked, “Whas’ a sweet thing like you doing out on the road, honey, and what happened to your head?”

“Rolled a truck,” I said, as the car drifted from the shoulder to the center line and back to the shoulder again.

“You don’t wanna’ talk thas’ fine with me,” she said and returned to a conversation with her front seat partner. “You know that SOB was lucky I didn’t kill him instead of jus’ pushin’ him down the stairs.”

I was in the backseat with two plastered, angry women in a beat up old Plymouth heading for hell (either into the Columbia River or welded into an oncoming semi).

“Mmmm,” I said, trying to find my voice, “I’m gettng off here in Hood River.”

She smoked her tires and I bailed out of the Plymouth, promising myself that I would never thumb again (another broken promise)…

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