This has been brewing for quite some time.
Sure, I love our architecture, buildings, streetscapes, wacky hotels and roadside oddities that all make Oregon a wonderful place we call home.
But, something strange happened along the way.
People started commenting [as I would hope, this being a blog, ya know?] about their experiences with the buildings or the postcards I was scanning and posting.
Here are some comments from the many that I wanted to use to illustrate the illuminating [and to them maybe even mundane but to me, fascinating memories]:
- I have two souvenirs from the Oregon Centennial. A cup and saucer printed with the official logo and scenes. But I also have a printout from our first “computer” experience. Pacific Power and Light Company had a Burroughs 205 “Computer” set up. If you typed in your name and the year you were born, it printed out the events going on in Oregon that year.
- My father was the structural engineer who designed the Civil Defense Operations Center at Kelly Butte. Before it opened he took us to see it. I remember seeing the Diesel generators, the vaulted control room with the big map on the wall, the bunk rooms, the kitchen, the decontamination area. To a little kid, nuclear war looked like an exciting adventure.
- The Music and Art Fair ( 1971?) at the stadium featured a ton of great rock bands, but no money to pay them. Highlight was Bo Diddley punching out the promoter, then Bo’s girlfriend punching out the promoters wife.
- The Carriage Room Burlesque ( strip) joint on Broadway, that up through the 70’s still featured a comic with every performance. Roberts Rod & Reel downtown, Mort Sahl, Sammy Davis, Jr. and many others played there.
- Frank Zappa told me once backstage at the Paramount that Portland was the weirdest place on earth. I think Frank may have been right! In a good way.
- My mother worked as the hostess at Amato’s around 1957-1961. I was only at Amato’s once, as I recall. Had an Elvis Presley (green colored drink for kids) and my sisters had a (pink) Shirley Temple. My mother used to bring home photos of the people who performed at Amato’s (Sammy Davis Jr., likely the only non-white person in the club, among them). She met my stepfather at Amatos. He managed the Owens-Illinois glass plant out near the airport (still there) and took us to dinner at the Aero Club from time to time. Finger bowls were a new one for me.
Their memories were filling in the gaps for me – from earlier decades I was too young to remember to later decades I was not living in Oregon yet. It made the history snap alive. And I thought, if they weren’t commenting on my blog, we’re their memories and recollections lost for all time?
Oregon is well documented up to about WWII. We’re set with the Oregon Trail, the depression and Lewis and Clark information. After that it becomes a bit fuzzy. Sure, OHS has their well-researched journal and exhibits and there are educated and professional historians doing lots of leg work. But it’s all way too big-picture for me. I want to hear the daily experiences from Oregonians. I’m keen on the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s [especially the Nixon years and then 1977 – the punk years]. Call it guerilla history. Or storytelling.
There are a couple of ways I want to approach this. I invite you to share with me via email your memories in the comment sections or by emailing me.
I also have a tape recorder, video recorder and plan on interviewing and posting audio and video files and transcripts from my interviews, of which I have a couple in the works [one with a gentleman born in Portland in 1931]. Whether this stays as Lost Oregon or morphs into a different blog remains to be seen.