My last post was way back in June. On average I post about eight times a year. As Miles Davis was fond of saying, that’s some sad motherfucking shit.
I’ve got excuses, though. Mostly I’ve been busy writing for Neighborhood Notes and am currently working on a post for them on the Alberta Street Arts neighborhood and how it’s changing. [Except I’m not. I’m procrastinating and writing this instead.] I’m enjoying writing for Neighborhood Notes. A couple of the pieces focused on history – the Irvington District, haunted Portland and house history. I also wrote a couple of neighborhood profiles [Sellwood and the Eastside Industrial] which each had a history component to them.
It also meant that I had to do research, reporting and interviewing people in the community instead of lazily scanning postcards, drinking beer and posting snarky comments.
If you ever want to know the history of a neighborhood talk to a Realtor. Randy Miller, the real estate vet I spoke with for the Eastside Industrial piece was a goldmine of information about the area – the flooding every year before I-5 was built; the ill-fated 1980s farmers market/shopping center; the wholesale discount of the area back in the day. Now? It’s happening. Hair of the Dog. Bunk Bar. Water Avenue Coffee. All new in the past six months.
It’s also been an quite an education speaking with people that know the history of Portland, first-hand, which has made me realize of course that I basically know nothing about local history except what I glean from postcards and booklets. Stark Street Ferry in the 1800s? No idea. The tony Irvington District was red-lined and actually had a downturn in the 60s? [Then again what city didn’t have a blight era?] And Sellwood? [We’re quaint! We’re here! Get used to it!] Back in the 70s one local shop had a menu of street drugs one could purchase at any given time.
Another realization too is that local merchants and businesses I spoke with are very neighborhood-centric and passionate about their neighborhoods. And that I really love. These small businesses are so key in the revitalization and health of neighborhoods and our local economy. It’s a cliché to drag out the “buy from Main Street mantra” but buying local keeps the money here and helps neighborhoods thrive and grow. It’s one theme that I picked up on – Portland is a city that’s connected by smaller neighborhoods that each offer something special. And there are a million stories, from neighborhoods to buildings to street corners.
And speaking of stories, I think there was a Grandma Mafia meeting going on with the above posted postcard. Here’s the copy on the back:
Dear Alleene, I plan to take the same bus you did next Monday and now I can hardly wait!
So glad I’ll be there for bazaar! Tell Lizzie, Dorothy and Alice to keep Friday OPEN long enough so Lola and you can get together down at Harbor House to have lunch with them! I got that sort of mixed up with “you know what I mean.”