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May, 2020 -- Vol. 114, No. 9
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Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read the special centenary retrospective!


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Have A Happy Quarantine, chalk art, Westmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
We found this charming and apt chalk greeting adorning a corner on S.E. Ellis Street, April 8th. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Stayin’ Alive (at home; at a safe distance)

Editor, THE BEE

A hundred years from now, somebody may be in a research library, going through the pages of this issue of THE BEE, trying to learn just what it was like in the spring of 2020 when suddenly businesses closed, people lost their jobs, “social distancing” became a spectator sport, and folks walked around with bandanas over their faces as if they were going to rob a bank.

And the sun came out, sports of most kinds (except golf) came to a dead stop – and when people stopped driving and stayed home, the air turned as fresh as it had been a century before. What was that all about?

So here it is.

The COVID-19 coronavirus, which is not a flu, but mutated from the class of viruses that produce the common cold, arose in Asia, apparently first in bats – and since it turned out to be quite contagious, swiftly swept around the world. Although most people didn’t experience anything worse than a flu-like symptoms, some experienced much worse – up to and including death. So the only solution, lacking a ready cure, was to keep people from infecting each other.

That resulted in “social distancing” – keeping at least six feet from anybody not in your own family. And it changed everything starting in late March.

Businesses were ordered closed where people congregate – restaurants and movie theaters and bars and sports arenas and schools led the way. Until the disease dies down, they were to remain closed, to keep people healthy. And everyone was strongly urged to stay home!

All those closed businesses had no need of employees, so there were a huge number of layoffs, and filings for unemployment insurance went through the roof. The stock market fell off a cliff, and then bounded back up it again. The Federal Reserve reduced inter-bank interest rates to zero; and Congress passed laws making special payments to individuals and loans to business, in hopes of keeping a complete financial collapse from occurring.

Some people had jobs they could use a computer to continue at home, and suddenly found themselves trying to work that way. Instead of face-to-face communication, within less than a month everyone was familiar with a previously obscure business videoconferencing tool called “Zoom” – and schools, doctors, homebound residents, nonprofit organizations, and friends were joining the businesses already using it, videoconferencing like crazy. There was so much online activity, especially when so many people also tried to watch television on it, that the Internet sagged.

McLoughlin near 17th, Westmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
With everybody staying home, the morning commute disappeared. This photo was taken in the 8 a.m. hour on Tuesday, April 7, looking north on S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard near S.E. 17th Avenue.
Tacoma Street and 13th, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Normally, westbound morning traffic heading for the Sellwood Bridge on S.E. Tacoma Street backs way up past 17th – but this is what Tacoma and 13th looked like in the 8 a.m. hour on Tuesday, April 7.
Woodstock Blvd at 46th, Woodstock, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Woodstock Boulevard, looking west from the middle of S.E. 46th in the 8 a.m. hour of Tuesday, April 7. This normally very-busy street for morning commuters was almost empty.

Automobile traffic dropped to as little as 5% of what it normally would have been at times, and the air cleared up amazingly in major population centers around the world. Portland has some of the best air of any major American metropolis – but what it was like during the hiatus was like being in a fresh breeze on an open prairie somewhere.

Kids, stuck at home, when they were not trying to attend their school classes on a computer, got out their sidewalk chalk – and used masking tape to design concrete works of art – or to write encouraging messages to passers-by.

Restaurants which normally did all their business in dining rooms, put a table in front of their door and posted signs offering “call-ahead take-out”. (But of course most of their wait staffs had no role, with no dine-in customers, and had to be laid off.) On the other hand, restaurants which normally focused on drive-through or take-out just closed off any dining area they had, and proceeded with business as usual.

Since this coronavirus crisis hit Southeast Portland at just about the time spring was getting underway, warm temperatures and sunny skies lured people out to the public parks. So many people, in fact, that the parks closed their parking lots and sent out Park Rangers to remind people keep their distance from each other.

The NBA cancelled the rest of its season; baseball never got to start its season (but had not entirely given up the idea of eventually having a very short season in summer, if the all-clear were given in time to allow it). Golf continued (with social distancing being fairly easy, the way the game is played) at the open-to-the-public Eastmoreland Golf Course – but its clubhouse was closed for the duration.

And how did people deal with all this? For many, it was painful – out of work, with little savings; government promised forbearance on rent payments and evictions, but the delayed rent would eventually have to be paid. The income tax deadline was moved forward a couple of months.

But there was one reaction which puzzled the experts, and became the fodder for endless comedy: In this emergency situation, people went out and bought toilet paper.

Yes, toilet paper. In vast quantities. Week after week. There will be scholarly papers written in the future trying to explain that phenomenon.

The overall community attitude was surprisingly positive – “we’ll get through this together” was a phrase that appeared on windows, in ads, and chalked on sidewalks.

And, to our future researcher, we suggest that after absorbing this introduction, continue through this issue of THE BEE. You’ll find all the things that happened, good and bad, in Inner Southeast Portland in April – the first full month of the full “coronavirus crisis” in Portland.

And next month we’ll share with you in THE BEE just how May went, right here.

Bybee Blvd at Milwaukie Ave, Westmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The busy Westmoreland intersection of S.E. Bybee Boulevard and Milwaukie Avenue, lacking any left-turn lanes, is usually very congested in the morning commute – but on Tuesday morning, April 7, in the 8 a.m. hour, the street was so quiet that PBOT chose that time to dig up a block of Bybee.
Ellis Street, Westmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Sidewalk chalk art gained a new dimension in April, as kids all over Southeast Portland spent time doing art projects on the concrete with masking tape and colored chalk. Here, on the morning of April 8, we found five carefully-created panels in a row, each a bit different.
SE 20th Avenue, Westmoreland, Souitheast Portland, Oregon
Although many described themselves as anxious in the COVID-19 crisis, and feeling isolated, the overall attitude was surprisingly caring and supportive. Here, on S.E. 20th on April 8, someone created a heart at the side of the road with an array of new spring flowers from their garden.
Melyssa Okazake, Central Catholic High School, Rose Festival, Princess, Woodstock, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Woodstock resident Melyssa Okazaki was named the 2020 Portland Rose Festival Princess for Central Catholic High School. (Photo by Vern Uyetake)

Central Catholic High’s Rose Fest Princess hails from Woodstock


The 2020 Portland Rose Festival Princess from Central Catholic High School this year turns out to proudly reside in the Woodstock neighborhood.

The announcement of the school’s selection, Melyssa Okazaki, took place as COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions were being enacted; the announcement took place, not at her school, but near the Lloyd Center ice rink, on Friday afternoon, March 13.

How and when Princess Melyssa will be able to serve is still undetermined. About the Portland Rose Festival, Public Relations Manager Rich Jarvis updated THE BEE in mid April, “We’re hoping for a ten-day Rose Festival this year – perhaps in the late summer, depending upon when restrictions are lifted – and, pending the approval of City of Portland and other stakeholders.”

Nevertheless, Princess Melyssa’s enthusiasm for her role in the celebration, whenever it may be, clearly came through during a telephone interview with THE BEE.

“My mom is a Central Catholic alumna, and my brother is an alumnus, so I feel exhilarated to be representing the school! It was an amazing experience, with my teachers, family, and friends supporting me.”

Almost every week, you’ll find Princess Melyssa and her mother playing at the Eastmoreland Golf Course; and then heading off to Otto’s Sausage Kitchen for lunch after they play.

“There’s just so much to like about Woodstock,” she said, “For example, how people celebrate those medical and emergency first-responders at 7 p.m. [each night] – cheering, and making noise – it’s really inspiring.”

Although born in Bangkok, Thailand, Princess Melyssa told us that one of the things she likes about her school “is the sense of diversity; as an Asian American, and as their representative to the Rose Festival, I’m looking forward to letting people know how accepting and diverse this school really is.”

About the postponement of this year’s Portland Rose Festival activities, the Princess remarked, “It’s disappointing, because I’ve been looking forward to it for months now. But, I’m still getting to know the other Princesses through online meetings.”

Princess Melyssa plans to attend a four-year college in California, focusing on Computer Science or Creative writing, with a minor in Studio Art. That plan will be aided by the Rose Festival $3,500 scholarship provided by The Randall Group.

Stay in touch with how things are unfolding for this year’s Portland Rose Festival by visiting their website –

82nd Avenue, Pawn Shop, theft, bike, shooting, murder, arrest, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Officers guarded the bicycle that may have been the one stolen from the nearby pawn shop. (Photo by David F. Asthton)
David Schneider, arrested, murder, indicted, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Arrested and indicted in the murder and attempted robbery was 22-year-old Joseph David Schneider. (MCDC booking photo)

Pawn shop manager gunned down on 82nd Avenue


Bystanders were providing CPR, and trying to staunch the bleeding of a man with at least one gunshot wound, in the parking lot of a Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza shop at 3335 S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, just before 3 p.m., on Monday afternoon, March 30.

East Precinct officers were dispatched to the area – but medical help proved to be too late. The victim, identified as 31 year-old Benjamin Taylor Johnson, died at the scene.

It was not long before 35 units, including PPB’s Mobile Command Center, had arrived, and the members of the Police Bureau’s Forensic Evidence Division, along with homicide detectives, began the investigation.

According to witnesses, the incident had actually started half a block north, at USA Pawn & Jewelry, 8001 S.E. Powell Boulevard – at the north end of the “Winco”-anchored shopping center.

“I was shopping in the center looking for a notebook, and also went into the pawn store to look around,” said witness “Antonio”.

A man came into the pawn shop, and grabbed a high-end bicycle, and headed out the door, Antonio told THE BEE. “An employee – I think he was the pawn shop manager – ran after the thief, shouting for him to stop.”

Police officers cordoned off the area and a PPB Forensic Evidence Division photographer documented a bicycle that appeared to have been dropped by the thief just outside the store.

Johnson, the store employee, continued after the thief, and nearly caught up with him in the parking lot of Papa Murphy’s store, about a half-block south of the pawn shop.

“The ‘bad guy’ took out a 9mm gun and shot the pawn store man – ‘bam, bam, bam’ – he dropped to the pavement, and the guy with the gun took off running [west] toward the back of the parking lot,” Antonio told us.

“It doesn’t make sense for someone to shoot another because of a bike,” Antonio mused. “And again, not faulting anyone, but I don’t know how smart it was for the pawn shop guy to go chasing after the thief, for a bike.”

The Oregon State Medical Examiner's office determined the cause of death for Johnson was homicide, and the manner was gunshot wounds.

Four days later, on Thursday, April 2, the Portland Police Bureau's Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) arrested a suspect in connection with this case – 22-year-old Joseph David Schneider.

Schneider was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) on one count of Murder in the First Degree, and one count of Robbery in the First Degree. At his arraignment, Schneider learned he’d face four Class A Felony charges, including two Murder in the First Degree and two Robbery in the First Degree charges. He was also initially charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Possession of Methamphetamine.

Based on the results of a Multnomah County Grand Jury proceeding on April 13, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill announced the filing of a seven-count indictment against Schneider for Johnson’s murder, adding additional two Murder in the First Degree charges (now totaling four), and including the two Robbery in the First Degree and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm charges in the indictment. Apparently, the drug charge was dropped.

According to court documents, the indictment alleges that Schneider committed a robbery – and that in the course of and in the furtherance of committing that crime, he unlawfully and intentionally killed Mr. Johnson using a firearm.

And, in addition to the murder, robbery and weapon charges, Schneider has two County “Hold” orders, with a combined bail amount of $862,500. He remains held in MCDC without bail, for the seven counts on which he is indicted.

Tammy Hart, Food Cart, Queen of Mesquite Smoke, Carts on Foster, Foster Road, 52nd, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Getting ready to reopen at her “Road Runner Mesquite Barbecue” in “Carts on Foster” at S.E. Foster and 52nd, here’s “the Queen of Mesquite Smoke” – Tammy Hart. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Tired of cooking? Visit a walk-up local ‘food cart’, for a change


By now, the joy of cooking has likely worn off for those who are “social distancing at home”, but restaurants are closed for dining in, and delivered food can be expensive.

The solution may be as close as a nearby food cart.

THE BEE took a tour of some of the “cart pods” in Inner Southeast on a recent Wednesday afternoon, and found several of them still open and serving customers.

The best selection of open carts proved to be at Cartlandia, on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, near the Springwater Corridor Trail.

“Actually, things are going well, because our businesses here were designed for providing ‘take out food’ from the very start,” grinned Cartlandia owner Roger Goldingay.

At any given time, about half of the carts – 15 of them – are open for business. “Some of our people are reporting large orders; some of those going to health-service providers. But there remains a steady stream of customers coming in for take-out food,” Goldingay told THE BEE. “And, most of our carts also offer delivery through popular services.”

To see which of their carts are open, go online –

Dining in Westmoreland
In Westmoreland, Summer Pommier said her cart, Samurai Lunch Box, at 6661 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue – in the parking lot across from the Moreland Theater – is still open for business seven days a week.

“It’s been different; we’re stable, but we’ve definitely seen a decline in business, because people aren’t out and about,” Pommier said, as she grilled teriyaki marinated chicken breast for an order of “Samurai Chicken Bento”. “We’ve had to change our own processes, here, at the cart, to make it safer for our customers and for us. But, this business has been in this spot since 1998, with different owners, and I’m glad that the community really supports it.”

Learn more about Samurai Lunch Box online –

There are also a couple of food carts just north on Milwaukie Avenue across from Banfield Pet Hospital that have been open, and are worth checking out.

Foster-Powell food choices
At the Portland Mercado, on S.E. Foster Road at 72nd Avenue, several of the carts are open, as well as the open-air “Barrio Bar”. Dining while at the location is prohibited, but the open-air Barrio Bar wine bar is open for business, assured “wine nomad” and owner, Chris Shimamoto.

See what’s open now at the Portland Mercado on their website –

Stopping by Carts on Foster, also on Foster Road – at 52nd Avenue, not many carts were open, but we were assured that typically, a good selection of food was available from those that are. Although indoor dining is verboten there and everywhere at the moment, the “Pod Bar Food Cart” is stocked with the unique beers and wines for which they’re known, and providing growler fills.

Stay in touch with Carts on Foster online –

Many Sellwood carts closed
Hurry Back Ice Cream, La Mai Plate, Luang Prabang Food Cart, and Tubular Tacos, located in the large cart lot across from the Sellwood Branch Library on S.E. 13th, are open intermittently, but all were closed during our visit. You may find more information about them online.

The “Dive Bar” beer garden was open at Piknik Park, on S.E. Tacoma Street just west of the New Seasons Market, but several carts had signs indicating they were “Closed for the Duration”. Find out more online –

So, in addition to the many local restaurants offering food to go, you can also consider the many local food carts as a takeout dining choice.

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