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Diary of a Portland 1920s teen

Doris tweets from the 1920s. She’s actually the great aunt of author Julia Park Tracey.

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.

4 replies on “Diary of a Portland 1920s teen”

What a great opportunity we’ve been given! I was fortunate to have lived with my dad’s folks when I was very young and I learned first-hand about Portland’s early days. My grandfather, Dominic Leo Callicrate(b.1885) moved west from Notre Dame and began teaching at Columbia(University of Portland) in 1909. Being a civil engineer and Catholic, he got to know Jacobberger(Architect), Doyle and others and even worked platting streetcar tracks throughout the growing city-we still have the maps. My grandmother Lorraine(b.1895) told of her trips to town on the streetcars and the then highest building-Jackson Tower-illuminated at night! Meier&Frank was THE place to see and be seen;especially under the clock after the store was remodeled…the downtown theatres were the life of Broadway and I heard the names of all those early vaudevillians, the organ accompaniments, the ‘new’ talkies and such. I was born in 1960 and I cherish the rides downtown on the Rose City busses to venture into M&F bfore May Co. ruined the store.I would continually here about the old waterfront and it’s cast-iron buildings from my dad who was born 1921…what a tim to have been in Portland as the last century was building and booming…when I get a moment, I’ll try to locate all the letters and postcards my grandparents saved regarding daily life in the teens and twenties of Portland! Thanks for your great work!!Cheers, Tim Callicrate

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