Community Features

The "Events and Activities" for the month are below these featured stories!

The Caldwell Grocery Store was a mainstay of Sellwood for over 35 years. This building later housed an antique store, and today is the location of Grand Central Bakery. Mary Elizabeth Caldwell is the lady standing at the far left, and her son Clinton James stands in the doorway. The rest of the people in the photo are unidentified relatives and friends of the Caldwells. The photo dates from about 1910. Note the trolley tracks passing on the unpaved S.E. 13th Avenue.
The Caldwell Grocery Store was a mainstay of Sellwood for over 35 years. This building later housed an antique store, and today is the location of Grand Central Bakery. Mary Elizabeth Caldwell is the lady standing at the far left, and her son Clinton James stands in the doorway. The rest of the people in the photo are unidentified relatives and friends of the Caldwells. The photo dates from about 1910. Note the trolley tracks passing on the unpaved S.E. 13th Avenue. (Courtesy of Marcia Singer)

From 1900 to today: The saga of Sellwood-Moreland’s Caldwell family

Special to THE BEE

Westmoreland in the 1950s and 1960s found young people spending their Saturday afternoons at the Moreland Theater, while mom and dad played cards with their next-door neighbors, and when teenagers went dancing in sock hops at the local high school. And everyone went to church on Sunday.

For a ten-year-old girl like Marcia Singer, that was a time to appreciate the burst of colorful flowers and wonderful smells that came from Crantford’s Flower Shop on the corner of S.E. Milwaukie Avenue and Bybee Boulevard…a time to ride bikes with neighborhood girlfriends to summer concerts at Sellwood Park…and to rise early in the morning for ballet and tap dance classes at the Sellwood Community Center at Spokane and S.E. 15th.

Raised in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood, Marcia and her older sister lived in a small bungalow on Clatsop Street with their parents, Elizabeth and Jack Singer. In the years that followed, the Singer family moved to a larger house on Lambert Street, and then finally settled in a house her father built on Martins Street at 13th Avenue, behind Llewellyn Elementary School.

Childhood days were filled with the laughter of girls at choir practice in Moreland Presbyterian Church, riding a bike to Llewellyn School, and enjoying the wonderful treats and smells at the Bohemian Bakery inside Kienow’s Grocery Store – a store which today has been rebuilt and renamed the QFC Market.

In the days leading up to each Easter Sunday, Marcia marveled at huge Easter Egg displays in the glass front window of Jen’s Flower Shop. Customers passing by the store could peer in from the street into what looked like the open end of a giant Easter Egg. Inside was an image close to what one might encounter in “Alice in Wonderland”: The egg was filled with a menagerie of birds flying in the air, bunnies on swings, and grassy fields filled with miniature eggs painted in every color of the rainbow.

Milwaukie Avenue was a favorite weekend hangout for young people in the 1950s and 1960s. Kirby’s Toy and Hobby shop offered a variety of gadgets, board games, sporting goods, plastic model cars, and penny candy.

When the Duncan Yoyo guy was slated to give demonstrations, boys and girls – and Marcia, too – walked down from Llewellyn School to gather outside at Kirby’s to watch his many tricks, as he showed new owners how to string, wind, and “throw” their yoyo. Whether the Duncan guy was there giving demonstrations or not, Saturday afternoon was a time for kids to show their yoyo skills, with such techyniques as “Walking the Dog”, “The Elevator”, and “Rock the Baby”.

With a quarter or two in hand, Marcia confessed it took her hours to decide which of the many candies to choose from in the glass display case. But after finally making her choice, and with a paper bag full of goodies, she went off to her next escapade for the day.

Other activities on the weekends for Marcia included seeing a movie at the Moreland Theater or drinking green river sodas at the polished chrome counter at the Westmoreland Pharmacy across from Crantford’s on the corner of Milwaukie and Bybee Boulevard. Marcia recalls that she and her girlfriends practically lived at the Moreland Theater, occasionally going south to Tacoma Street for a Sellwood Theater showing of the latest adventure movie. (The Sellwood Theater is now a Columbia Sportswear outlet store.)

Marcia laughed as she recalled that, “Sometimes me and my girlfriends got kicked out of the theater for throwing candy at the back of some cute boy sitting in front of us. But we always found a way to get back in.”

As she grew, she was also learning from nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles about the rich family history of the Caldwell clan – on her mother’s side of the family. And what follows is some of that rich history.

James and Mary Elizabeth Caldwell
Marcia’s great grandfather James Warren Caldwell arrived from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and together with his wife Mary Elizabeth, the couple settled in Sellwood in the early 1900s. That was back when steamboats and ferries still landed at the foot of Umatilla Street, and merchants and storefronts lined each side of that street eastward up through town.

It was there that the Caldwells operated a market at 11th and S.E. Umatilla. But, within the next few years, J.W. moved the family into another grocery store that fronted on 13th Avenue, at Lexington. Additional living quarters were available for the family in the rear of that store, and upstairs there were two small bedrooms with windows overlooking the street.

Thirteenth Avenue in Sellwood, in the first decade of the 20th Century, was still an unimproved dirt road, and customers venturing out to the Caldwell store had to navigate muddy streets on rainy days – although a wooden boardwalk in the front of the market did help protect the shoppers from any mud splattered by a passing streetcar. The Caldwell Grocery would go on to serve the residents of Sellwood for the next 35 years.

The Caldwell family raised three children – Edna, Clinton James, and Leigh. One- and two-story family homes popped up in the empty lots along the street, and tiny barbershops, additional markets, pharmacies, tailor shops, and bakeries were gradually appearing in the remaining vacant spaces on 13th Avenue.

The result was an impressive commercial district which stretched from S.E. Harney Street north to Malden, offering all the products and services needed by the large families moving into the area; J.W. and Mary enjoyed getting acquainted with new friends as people moved to Sellwood.

At one time, a policeman patrolled the streets there on foot, stopping in to say hello to local vendors, scolding rambunctious boys caught skipping classes at Sellwood School, and perhaps buying a warm loaf of daily-baked-bread at Caldwell’s for his dinner. 

Caldwell’s was one of the first stores on its block to offer national brands of bread in packaged loaves – brands such as Sunrise, Royal, Log Cabin, and TipTop – as well as freshly baked Graham or Rye, with or without caraway seeds, after 4:30 in the late afternoon. An advertisement in THE BEE at the time boasted to the people of Inner Southeast Portland that various breads would be available on the shelves of Caldwell’s, saving housewives the time that home-baking took from their busy lives.

At that time, fully a century ago, fewer than one in ten homes owned an electric refrigerator; most residents still used an “ice box” to preserve perishable food. Ten- and twenty-pound blocks of ice could be purchased from the old Mt. Hood Brewery plant on Marion Street, from which a husky man driving a horse-drawn wagon would arrive at client homes and – using large tongs – lift a frosty block of ice into its slot in the family’s wooden ice box.

Housewives walked to their closest market – such as Caldwell’s – two or three times a week to buy what they needed for their cooking; and if some ingredients were missing for the evening meal, a family’s children were sent at the last minute to dash down to pick up the additional items.

In 1905, the World’s Fair was held in Portland, and Sellwood Park was among possible sites considered for the Lewis and Clark Exposition – a site supported by J.W. Caldwell, and other well-respected businessmen and merchants in the community – but eventually the Exposition was built on Guild’s Lake in Northwest Portland.

The fair drew thousands of people to the Rose City daily. Many of the visitors rode the interurban railway across the Willamette River to the newly-opened Oaks Amusement Park at Sellwood, or travelled through this community to their weekend destinations in the countryside. Additional excursions eastward included stops at Damascus and Boring – and points south to Oregon City and Canemah Park for fishing, hunting, or listening to live music while enjoying a picnic lunch.

Quite an astute businessman, J.W. invested his store’s profits in buying vacant lots and acreage in the new development just to the north – Westmoreland. If passengers alighting from the streetcar in front of the Caldwell store happened to come in to inquire about any land for sale in the area, J.W. offered his own vacant lots.  J.W. Caldwell was not only good at selling fresh vegetables, but also turned out to be a wizard with real estate transactions. 

In 1915, Caldwell was recognized by his peers across the Rose City, and was elected Vice-President of the Portland Grocers and Merchants Association. 

During this period, small grocery stores began to push back against the arrival of nationally-franchised grocery stores like Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, and McMarr Food. These new stores were opening around the city, and they were proposing a law to the  Portland City Council to close stores on Sundays in observance of Sunday Services – a crafty idea that would be disastrous to locally-owned markets.

J.W. organized a group of grocers who stormed down to City Hall by ferryboat or streetcar to protest against such an idea, as endangering the “mom-and-pop” markets. One of these local store owners even went so far as to argue that Sunday was their busiest day of the week. Portland’s City Councilmen relented and decided the local grocery stores could stay open as often, and as long, as they liked.

Getting back to the Caldwell family and its store – when they were old enough, the children were called upon to serve at the counter, sweep the floors, and stack the canned goods as needed. Perishable products like vegetables, milk, eggs, and other dairy products had to be picked up at farms. Often the kids were required to take a trip by truck or wagon down to Union Station in the Northwest Portland where dairy products arrived daily by train.

When she was not helping to staff the store, Mary Caldwell volunteered her services to the Sellwood Presbyterian Ladies Aid Society – helping to raise money for missionary trips for students at the church. J.W. liked the camaraderie of fraternal groups, and was elected to the Sellwood’s business association, which was called the “Sellwood Board of Trade”:.

When the Presbyterian Church was looking for donations to build a new church, James and Mary helped supervise the fund-raising “county fair” held at the Sellwood Feed Store on S.E. 17th Avenue. Visitors came from afar to buy at the open-air booths filled with baked goods, candies, jams and jellies, and decorative flowers – all of it accompanied by all-day music. With the help of the community, the result was the dedication on December 11, 1922, of the new Moreland Presbyterian Church on Bybee Boulevard.

Marcia’s mid-century story resumes
Marcia Singer never got to meet her great grandparents. Her grandmother Elizabeth died before she was born, and J. W. passed away when she was only two years old. As she grew into her preteen years, Westmoreland was ever-changing, and new experiences could be found around every corner.

The Portland Parks Department’s Sellwood Community Center at Spokane and 15th Avenue – today operated by the community as the “Sellwood Community House” – offered an assortment of classes. Marcia signed up for ballet and tap, and she even tried her hand at pottery. She joined the Camp Fire Girls, and during the summer was also involved with the Moreland Presbyterian Church’s Vacation Bible School.

Her summers were also occupied as a counselor at Camp Onahlee, a Camp Fire Girls’ encampment located on the Molalla River near Mulino. Camp Onahlee was designated an outdoor program for young girls in Clackamas County between the ages of 8 and 18. Marcia’s mother was assigned as the camp’s nurse, handling everything from scrapes and bruises to broken bones, and any other outdoor mishaps. And Marcia herself was made a camp counselor.

Cabins were available there for the younger girls, while the older girls were excited to sleep in teepees. At the start of the season, Marcia remembers that an older gentleman would help her and the additional camp counselors to set up the tents for the rest of the summer. It was a ritual that every young counselor looked forward to each year, she says.

One of Marcia’s best-remembered outdoor adventures was when she led a group of students on a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mt. Hood region. “I remember traipsing into the Lodge wearing these big klunky boots and a massive backpack at the start of our trip,” recalls Marcia.

Reading books has always been an important part of Marcia’s life, and the Sellwood Library – then across from St. Agatha’s Catholic Church – was a place where she would spend a lot of her free time. When the Sellwood Library moved east to Milwaukie Avenue, Marcia earned extra money hiring on as a library associate, a job in which she shelved books, worked at the desk, and helped patrons find new books to read.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Easter were treasured times when family gathered, usually at the Singer household. Stories of the Caldwell and Babb clan were told and retold to the young folks, and Marcia learned more and more about her grandparents – Clinton James Caldwell, and his wife Myrtle Grace.

Clinton James and Myrtle Grace Caldwell
Clinton James seemed to have inherited his leadership skills from his father, but in a soft-spoken way. He was chosen Vice President of the Sellwood Alumni Association after he graduated from Sellwood Primary School (today’s Sellwood Middle School) in 1903. Although J. W. Caldwell had been anxious to have his son eventually take over the family’s grocery store, Clinton had other plans – and decided to continue his education in preparation for a career in banking.

Starting out as an assistant cashier, Clinton worked his way up in the banking business. In 1922 he accepted a position as bank teller at Portland Trust Company in downtown Portland; and later he was promoted to Assistant Manager of the Mortgage Loan Department. He retired in 1958, after 36 years in banking.

Hidden among the coins and paper money in the bank, he found a real treasure – his future wife, Myrtle Grace Babb, who herself was a bookkeeper there. The couple had a common connection to Sellwood – it’s where they both grew up! Myrtle’s grandfather, Elmer Sidney Babb, had built many houses in Sellwood. One of his greatest accomplishments, he always said, was the construction of the two-story community building at 15th and S.E. Spokane Street. Built in 1910, it was the first branch in Portland of the YMCA; later it came under the ownership of the Portland Parks Bureau and was renamed the Sellwood Community Center, today’s Sellwood Community House.

Clinton and Myrtle didn’t stray far from their childhood community. After their marriage and honeymoon, they continued to commute to work downtown while still living in Sellwood, in a house at 14th and S.E. Rex Street.

Clinton’s favorite pastimes were golfing and bowling; he later helped organize the Portland Trust and Savings Bowling Club. Myrtle loved to paint, and also spent many hours knitting and doing needlepoint.

(Today, Marcia Singer’s rooms in her Westmoreland house are filled with family treasures – chairs with needlepoint seats, kitchen towels, hand towels, hot pads, lap rugs – all embroidered by hand by her grandmother Myrtle.)

Myrtle and Clinton had two children, Robert and Elizabeth. Robert attended Benson High School, and later enrolled at Lewis and Clark College. He was drafted into the military as the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and he was a well-decorated lieutenant when he finally returned to Portland.

Elizabeth Caldwell wanted to be a nurse, and was a R.N. at Good Samaritan Hospital in Northwest Portland. In 1940 she met her future husband Jack Singer; and when they finally married, just like their forebears, they wanted to stay in Inner Southeast, and raise their children in Westmoreland.

Jack and Elizabeth Singer
Jack worked in the Plywood mills at the Plylock Company in St. Johns. Although travel to and from work made for a long commute, Westmoreland was still the neighborhood they cherished, where old friends and relatives were always around for comfort and support. When most of the employees of Plylock were laid off in the 1960s, Jack found a new job working for a door factory – and he later went to work for a furniture factory near Johns Landing, right across the Willamette River from Westmoreland.

Jack was a good ballroom dancer, and when the family made occasional outings to the Oaks Park Skating Ring, he liked to show off his expertise in dancing wearing roller skates as well. Marcia also remembers her father as an adept handyman around the house, and recalls the many times she accompanied her dad to the Moreland Hardware Store, which opened in 1950, to buy items for weekend projects.

Jack’s interests also included gardening. He gardened in his back yard, and was even elected President of Men’s Garden Club of Portland. But, if truth be told, Marcia recalls that it was really his wife and her mom, Elizabeth, who created the garden design for their yard, planted hundreds of flowers, and made their yard the envy of the entire neighborhood. In her later years, Elizabeth returned to her love of nursing, working at a nursing home on River Road in Milwaukie, south of Sellwood.

Marcia attended Cleveland High School, but outside of her educational responsibilities there, she also took advantage of the opportunity to get involved in the Portland Rose Festival. She took part in several Rose Festival activities in the first two weeks of June. One year her duties included being a flower girl – in which she was to throw a stream of rose petals in front of the Festival Princesses as they walked by. In another year she was chosen as a “train bearer” for Rose Festival Princesses – in which she followed behind a Princess to ensure that her gown didn’t become entangled along the way.

The most satisfying but exhausting responsibility she undertook was decorating Rose Festival floats. This entailed being taken by bus out to an orchard in Gresham where groups of young people volunteered to pick “bachelor button” flowers, and paste them onto the various floats in the week before the Saturday morning Grand Floral Parade. The reward for all this hard work, for her, was a free ride aboard one of the festival floats.

And, there were other activities during Marcia’s C.H.S. years. In her freshman and sophomore years at Cleveland, Marcia was invited to join a group of girls who played guitars and sang some of the popular folk songs of the time. Most of the girls in that group were girlfriends from her church, and her Cleveland High English teacher helped sponsor the girls. “We entertained at retirement homes, and the people there loved our singing,” smiled Marcia during a recent interview. “It was a great way to give back to the community, and hone our skills.”

Annual spring fashion shows and modeling opportunities arose at the Pearl Rhoads ladies’ dress shop on Bybee Boulevard at Milwaukie. A glass-enclosed showroom was located above what is now the Starbucks Coffee Shop, and Marcia was invited by the store owner to model some of the latest fashions there. Those who passed by could view the girls strolling along the “catwalk of fashion” on some afternoons. After that was over, Marcia was allowed to take home her choice of one of the dresses from the store – a luxury to any girl, since most of the clothes she ordinarily wore were hand-sewn by her mother.

And finishing those many memories brings us back to today. Marcia says she will always cherish those days of being a camp counselor, camping out along the Molalla River, the fun-filled weekends along Milwaukie Avenue in Westmoreland, or driving by the house her father once built and the storefront grocery that her great grandparents once ran.

But, those are all in the past now, though fondly remembered. As the lyrics said, in one of Marcia’s favorite songs from her youthful years in the 1960s – it was a song sung by Chad and Jeremy – “That was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.”

Typically, Hayley Andrews is a Rivermark Community Credit Union Community Development Specialist – but on Portland Rebuild Day, she was helping paint the home of an elderly woman in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.
Typically, Hayley Andrews is a Rivermark Community Credit Union Community Development Specialist – but on Portland Rebuild Day, she was helping paint the home of an elderly woman in the Foster-Powell neighborhood. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Rebuilding Portland’ crew helps fix up Inner Southeast home


Volunteers from the organization “Rebuilding Together, Portland” has been getting together at twenty worksites around greater Portland this year – on their annual “Rebuilding Day” – Saturday, April 24.

“In our community, ‘Rebuilding Together Portland’ hosted hundreds of volunteers to repair houses for low-income homeowners at various sites,” said the organization’s Executive Director, Mike Malone.

“These repairs are provided free of charge to homeowners who, often faced with diminishing resources, must choose food and medicine over any critical home repairs,” Malone told THE BEE.

In Inner Southeast Portland, volunteers – many of them associated with project co-sponsor Rivermark Community Credit Union – were busy working on the exterior and the yard of a home in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.

“We’ve got a lot of work happening here, including painting the outside of the house, putting in a ramp at the side door, fixing an electrical breaker and outlets, installing an ADA toilet, cleaning clogged drains, and removing a lot of waste material,” recited the Site Project Leader, Kate Thornton, from Kaizen Construction, another project sponsor.

“I’ve been involved with this for more than twenty years. I started out with my dad, in Kansas City, with that affiliate of this nationwide organization,” recalled Thornton.

“Here, ‘Rebuilding Together Portland’ is a great volunteer organization providing neighbor-helping-neighbor events, making this an excellent way to give back to our community,” Thornton observed. “The value that the community gets back from donated funds and materials is four dollars’ worth of service for every one dollar given to the organization.”

The eleven volunteers at this particular home – capped at that number by COVID-19 restrictions – were busy inside the house and out, taking care of the many chores on their list.

“The work is chosen based on three criteria: Safety, dignity, and warmth,” explained Thornton. “That’s how we prioritize what jobs we’re going to do.”

Thornton said the homeowner told her she was very grateful “and beside herself with joy because she is elderly and has arthritis.”

The volunteers said they were happy to be out, helping their community.

Find out more about Rebuilding Together Portland online –

As students perform their parts in this Rogue Pack Theatre Collective class called “On-Camera Scene Study”, Rogue Pack Theatre Collective instructor Randy Schulman and Executive Director Ann Singer listen intently – under the new Sellwood Community House “Pavilion”.
As students perform their parts in this Rogue Pack Theatre Collective class called “On-Camera Scene Study”, Rogue Pack Theatre Collective instructor Randy Schulman and Executive Director Ann Singer listen intently – under the new Sellwood Community House “Pavilion”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Rogue Pack youth theater classes resume at new venue


It was about a year ago when the “Rogue Pack Theatre Collective” (RPC) found a new home for their theater classes after their old venue was closed for demolition and development. The nonprofit youth organization had just rolled out classes at the Sellwood Community House (SCH) – and then the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic shut down the classes.

“We tried a class online, which was fine – but, not on par with the experience we wish to give our youth,” remarked Rogue Pack Executive Director Ann Singer.

“Theatre, online, ceases to have the excitement of the live theatrical process that characterizes the Rogue Pack storytelling workshops,” Singer explained. “So, we’re thrilled to be back in class, where strong bonds among youth are formed, and a connection with their instructor can be life-changing.”

Starting in March, Rogue Pack instructors again began teaching classes – following COVID-19 safety protocols – under the new outdoor SCH Pavilion. “Each participant answers screening questions, has their temperature taken, wears a mask, and stays six feet apart, at every class,” Singer assured THE BEE.

Live performances this summer
“We’re looking forward to holding live performances this summer!” exclaimed Singer, after being asked about their future plans. “Since the Sellwood Playhouse was sold, we have settled into our new home here at SCH; our new space will benefit the local community by offering classes that are affordable, and where many kids can walk to their RPC classes.”

The classes provide more than just another activity for kids, Singer observed. “We help youth to find creative tools of expression, while helping them discover a common language to better integrate. Physical interaction is integral to a child’s development, but we live in a challenging time of a pandemic and social media.”

Adult classes also coming
And now, RPC staff will begin teaching theatre classes for adults. “Randy Schulman, our ‘On-Camera Acting’ instructor, would love to eventually offer the same class to adults,” Singer mentioned.

They are offering one-week summer camps throughout July and August featuring for Schulman’s “Acting for the Camera” workshops July 12-16, July 26-30, and Aug. 9-13; In the fall, they’ll also be offering a film class for adults, as well as the “Acting for the Camera” class for youth, musical theatre, and improvisational acting.

In closing, Singer reminded that a portion of any proceeds from RPC will go to fund Rogue Pack’s free classes for low-income youth. To learn more, and sign up for classes, visit the Rogue Pack website –

“Friends of Brooklyn Park” on April 25 held a fundraising can drive to support the Brooklyn Park Summer Youth Program. Collecting donations were – from left – Melaney Dittler, April DeWeese, and Ben Tarne.
“Friends of Brooklyn Park” on April 25 held a fundraising can drive to support the Brooklyn Park Summer Youth Program. Collecting donations were – from left – Melaney Dittler, April DeWeese, and Ben Tarne. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Brooklyn can drive supports its summer youth program


“Friends of Brooklyn Park” was formed by residents in the neighborhood to help keep their summer youth program going in Brooklyn Park, after Portland Parks and Recreation decided not to fund it anymore.

They have been successful so far in keeping the program open each summer, but it requires community fundraising – and, in the early afternoon of Sunday, April 25, the group held a returnable can and bottle drive on April 25 at the Brooklyn Park Shack.

Brooklyn neighbors responded with enthusiasm, and the drive gathered some sixty full bags of returnable cans and bottles – some folks brought cans and bottles in laundry baskets. Event Chair Ben Tarne, and helpers Melaney Dittler and April DeWeese, spent three hours accepting the donations.

Tarne told THE BEE, “We had a heavy turnout today, what with the sunny weather. And at this time, we're confident that the popular Brooklyn Summer Park Program, under the leadership of Craig Montag, will be held four days a week, starting on June 21. The can drive is an ongoing program; but, for our collections this week, the bottle drop program will match these donations by 20%.”

If you would like at any time to donate cans and bottles to aid this youth program in the Brooklyn neighborhood, you can pick up empty blue bottle-drop bags at Rose City Coffee Shop and at Brooklyn Pharmacy, both on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue just a short distance south of Powell Boulevard.

And that’s not the only way you can help: Tarne advised, “We’ll also have a fundraising rummage sale, hosted at Brooklyn Center Suites, 3717 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Rhone, on June 25-26.” For more information go online –

People from all over Portland travel to Sellwood Park, to play games of Pickleball in special courts, temporarily set up in an unused Portland Parks & Recreation tennis court.
People from all over Portland travel to Sellwood Park, to play games of Pickleball in special courts, temporarily set up in an unused Portland Parks & Recreation tennis court. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
‘Pickleball’ grows in appeal at Sellwood Park


A simple backyard game created by three dads to entertain their bored kids on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965 – now called “Pickleball” – is still gaining players, especially in Sellwood Park.

According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), “Pickleball” is a proper noun, and thus is capitalized. But, how this game got its name is disputed. There is some agreement that the game may have been named for a crew rowing team, or perhaps for a family dog.

It’s played by either two or four participants, and is described as a mix of ping-pong, badminton, and tennis.

Nevertheless, Pickleball has evolved into a popular sport, now with official rules, and played around the world. Four Pickleball courts neatly fit into the space of one regulation-sized tennis court. The equipment required is a Pickleball paddle – it looks like an oversized ping-pong paddle; a perforated polymer ball, similar to a Wiffle Ball; and a low net.

As we arrived to see the sport being played on a sunny spring afternoon, the activity on all four courts was lively. But, most interesting to us was the fun players were having – with smiles and laughter all around.

“I’ve played this for almost four years now,” said PDX Pickleball Club “volunteer ambassador and energetic evangelist”, Nisa’ Haron.

“As a life-long tennis player, when a volleyball player friend suggested giving this a try, I told her that I didn’t like the name; it sounded silly, not serious,” recalled Haron.

“Indeed Pickleball is not a serious name; but, as you might know, all of us tennis players are elitists,” Haron said with a sly smile.

“At any rate, I tried it – I bought a paddle, and loved the game,” Haron told THE BEE.  “And now, I am not only the USAPA Ambassador for Inner Southeast Portland, but I’ve been promoting the game everywhere. Before the pandemic I started Pickleball in Malaysia; and I’ve also played in Thailand, Tokyo, Singapore.”

A game for all ages
Any age group can play, Haron asserted. “So grandparents can play with their grandchildren and still enjoy the game, because most of the time we play doubles. And, it’s easier to learn and play than tennis! A lot of tennis players of stop playing because of injuries, but they can still enjoy Pickleball.”

Promoting permanent courts
Locally, about 100 PDX Pickleball Club members get together – not only to play the game, but also to promote the sport, and teach newcomers how to play.

Since the club was started in 2016, they’ve lacked permanent Pickleball courts. Now, players mark off four areas in a tennis court, and set up temporary nets to play games.

“Our next project is to work with Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to resurface abandoned tennis courts for Pickleball players; our pilot project is here, in Sellwood Park,” stated Haron. “So, we are collecting funds to help resurface unused, or underused tennis courts, to put in six dedicated Pickleball courts.” (Note: Local tennis players deny that any tennis courts in Sellwood Park are actually abandoned.)

To learn more about Pickleball, go online –

And, to see a video of games of Pickleball, being played on several Pickleball courts set up on one Sellwood tennis court, right here:  

This photo, taken from the Garden side of the Gatehouse on S.E. 28th, shows the site of the erosion just inside the Rhododendron Garden, covered with plastic and awaiting remediation by Portland Parks and Recreation.
This photo, taken from the Garden side of the Gatehouse on S.E. 28th, shows the site of the erosion just inside the Rhododendron Garden, covered with plastic and awaiting remediation by Portland Parks and Recreation. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

This year, Mother’s Day plant sales were online – or else cancelled


The annual Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden Mothers' Day Plant Sale was one of the few Inner Southeast plant sales that actually took place in this time of social distancing.

But for the second time in two years, the annual sale at the Rhododendron Garden was online on May 7, offering over 170 different varieties of species and hybrid rhododendrons for purchase. All proceeds, as always, directly supported the Garden.

The biggest change this year was the smaller size of plants offered – about one-gallon size – which are less likely to bloom this year. The Garden hopes that by 2022 they will be able to return to their usual stock and in-person shopping. The Garden is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In spite of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions at the Garden (masks and social distancing), many spring visitors explored the open paths, waterfalls, birds, and currently-blooming flowers.

The spring visitors were restricted from visiting the spring-fed area below the Gatehouse, however, where the hillside has serious erosion problems. Extensive black plastic covering, weighted down with sandbags, has been in place there for several months, but was scheduled for removal on May 19. Engineers from the city will determine what should be done at the site, and the scope of the work needed.

This spring, the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society appointed Brandon K. Baker as the first Executive Director at CSRG. He brings experience in volunteer and program management, donor and board cultivation, and strategic growth initiatives. He has served as Executive Director for the Hellenic-American Cultural Center and Museum; and before that, in a number of roles with the Portland Japanese Garden, including membership manager and strategic initiatives coordinator.

Brandon says, “I am excited about the opportunity to join such a beloved horticultural asset here in Portland. I hope to bring a shared vision and strategic process to serve the city and its visitors. Gardens have the power to enrich lives through peaceful natural landscapes and botanical education; I’m honored to be part of that effort.”

The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, at 5801 S.E. 28th Avenue, just west across the street from Reed College, and adjacent to the Eastmoreland Golf Course, has over 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, ferns, and companion plants which offer displays of spring color this time of year. For more, go online –

Sellwood Community House’s Director of Community Relations Erin Fryer is assisted by her daughter Kira in preparing pre-sold “SCH Gift Bundles” for distribution on Mother’s Day morning.
Sellwood Community House’s Director of Community Relations Erin Fryer is assisted by her daughter Kira in preparing pre-sold “SCH Gift Bundles” for distribution on Mother’s Day morning. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Many moms receive Sellwood Community House’s ‘Gift Bundles’


After a full year of putting on successful projects that brought together local businesses and neighbors, the nonprofit, community-operated Sellwood Community House (SCH) at S.E. 15th and Spokane Street circled back on May 9 to again offer their fund-raising “SCH Mother’s Day Gift Bundles”.

“I’m the organizer of the ‘Mother’s Day Gift Bundles’,” acknowledged the Community House’s Director of Community Relations and Development, Erin Fryer.

“We started this last May with the 2020 Mother’s Day,” recalled Fryer. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with people not able to go shopping, we collaborated with local businesses to put together fancy gift baskets – and then volunteers delivered them to those who purchased them.”

Since then, they’ve continued on a similar theme, producing “Activity Kits” for kids, “Harvest Baskets”, and “Holiday Baskets”.

“And now, we’re back to Mother’s Day again!” Fryer exclaimed. “But this time, instead of putting the items into a basket, we’re wrapping them in bundles.”

A total of 33 bundles – containing hand-crafted soap and lip balm from Camamu Soaps, hand-made face masks from local artisan Ursula Hood, fresh-cut tulips from Sellwood Flower Company, an “eye pillow” from Silly Daisy wrapped in a Silly Daisy bandana –  were purchased, prepared, and delivered on Mother’s Day morning, Sunday, May 9th.

“Of the $69.00 collected for each one, the funds mostly go back to the small local businesses that provided the products; the remainder helps the Sellwood Community House continue our scholarship program,” Fryer pointed out.

“We’re happy to be a collaborator in our community, doing whatever we can to bring joy and togetherness.”

See the “SCH Mother’s Day Gift Bundles” being prepared for volunteer drivers in this BEE video:

It was 1921 – exactly 100 years ago. This newspaper was already fifteen years old, and THE BEE’s goat-powered wagon rolled by in what was apparently a neighborhood “Rose Festival” event. In its wake was a small rose-covered “float” built onto a smaller wagon.
It was 1921 – exactly 100 years ago. This newspaper was already fifteen years old, and THE BEE’s goat-powered wagon rolled by in what was apparently a neighborhood “Rose Festival” event. In its wake was a small rose-covered “float” built onto a smaller wagon. (Courtesy of SMILE History Committee)

Sellwood’s homegrown ‘Rose Fete’ to lift spirits


For these two years, devotees of Portland’s annual Rose Festival have been without their Grand Floral and Starlight Parades, Queen’s Coronation, Fun Center, Naval ships, and rose exhibit. Locally, we have been deprived of the Milk Carton Boat Races at the Westmoreland Park’s casting pond – Southeast’s very own Rose Festival event.

The cancellations were necessary, to prevent the 2020 Rose Festival Parade becoming an historic super-spreader event. But as COVID-19 continues its slow retreat, an opportunity for some rose-centered celebrating is on the calendar in Sellwood, and everyone is invited to join in the fun!

Every Thursday between April and July, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., the nonprofit, locally-run Sellwood Community House at S.E. 15th and Spokane Street serves as a neighborhood Marketplace. Local crafters set up tables on the sidewalks around the building, and offer a variety of artisan wares – from hand-carved wooden spoons and spicy Creole condiments, to toys, clothing and chocolates.

Beverages and food may be purchased to consume while enjoying a variety of music and other entertainment in the adjacent playground or under the new, permanent, rainproof canopy.

And, to try to fill the “Rose Festival gap”, the special theme “Rose Fete” will be the focus of the June 24 Marketplace. “The Silver Julep” – a beverage bar in an Airline trailer – will feature a special rose-flavored cocktail (non-alcoholic drinks are always available).  “Caesar, the No Drama Llama”, will make an appearance – and the Pride of Portland Chorus, a women’s Sweet Adelines barbershop group, will sing at 5:30.

Other rose-centered activities are being developed; please watch the Sellwood Community House’s website – – for details, times, and opportunities to participate. 

Everything is coming up roses in Sellwood!  Bring friends and family, and enjoy Inner Southeast’s own, neighborhood-centered, “Rose Fete”!

In her backyard showroom where she is hosting the 2021 Woodstock Community Plant Sale, Sandy Profeta examines an allium triquetrum – a bulbous flowering plant in the onion and garlic family.
In her backyard showroom where she is hosting the 2021 Woodstock Community Plant Sale, Sandy Profeta examines an allium triquetrum – a bulbous flowering plant in the onion and garlic family. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Woodstock hosts social, yet physically-distanced, Spring Plant Sale


The Woodstock Community Plant Sale did take place this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but it was a bit lower key than the ones held in the past on a weekend at the Woodstock Community Center.

Over a couple of weeks, starting on April 23, shoppers visited – by appointment – the private home of Sandy Profeta in Woodstock, not far from the Community Center.

“While I’ve been involved with it previously, this year I organized the sale; usually it’s more of a team effort of several volunteers, with Terry Griffiths being the event’s main inspiration for a long time,” Profeta told THE BEE between visitors/shoppers.

This year, the plant sale was stocked by 43 donors who provided some 800 plants, said Profeta. The donors mostly live in Woodstock, Sellwood, Eastmoreland, and Westmoreland, but they also received donations from a resident of the West Hills, and from as far away as Oregon City.

“Keeping this plant sale going is so important, because the funds we raise help keep our Woodstock Community Center open. Although it’s owned by Portland Parks, we provide the routine maintenance with our volunteers, and pay for certain supplies – like paper towels and toilet paper,” Profeta explained. “Without this arrangement with PP&R, our Community Center would have closed down some time ago.”

“While this year’s sale is ‘physically distanced’, I’m getting a lot of great socialization – talking with both the donors and the buyers, which makes it really fun,” Profeta remarked with a twinkle in her eye, as another plant customer came through her backyard gate.

Events & Activities

Open air ballet performances, free, in Eastmoreland:
Sellwood’s Classical Ballet Academy is inaugurating an “Open Air Performance Series” today, from noon until 7 p.m., on eight open-air stages set up along S.E. Reed College Place in Eastmoreland between Tolman Street and Bybee Boulevard. Dancers age 3 to 18 will be presenting excerpts from eight famous classical ballets – Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Alice in Wonderland, Don Quixote, Coppelia, The Firebird, Cinderella, and Snow White – until 5:30 p.m.; and then contemporary choreography will be presented to music of famous composers from 6 till 7:30 p.m.  The southbound side of Reed College Place will be closed to vehicles during this time, so community members can travel between the stages to enjoy the free mini performances.  Free, but a small donation would be welcome, to support the performances.

Historic Sellwood Walking Tour today:
Neighborhood historian and BEE writer Eileen Fitzsimons will be leading two walking tours of Sellwood this summer. The first one – highlighting the early history of Sellwood – is today, Saturday, July 3, 10 a.m. until noon. Due to COVID-19 precautions, groups will be smaller than in the past. Eileen will share information about the history of the neighborhood as reflected in its street patterns and buildings. The tour is under the aegis of The Architectural Heritage Center, which has dozens of other walking tours all over the city, including in the Garthwick community. To register for this one, and to learn more, go online –



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