Community Features

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

Ruth Ashbrook Bakery, Westmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The original Ruth Ashbrook Bakery, at S.E. Henry and Milwaukie Avenue, on the left side of the photo, was established in 1934. Owner Harold Martinson is shown standing in front of the addition. Longtime Westmoreland residents might recognize the old William Zinck Grocery Store, which is the two-story wooden structure on the right side. The Zincks arrived in Westmoreland in 1906, and lived upstairs above their store. (From the Dana Beck Collection)

The Martinson family, and the Ruth Ashbrook Bakery

Special to THE BEE

For many of us, the day doesn’t begin until we visit one of our favorite coffee shops in Westmoreland.

But from the 1940s through the 1980s, the day for many residents began with something else – the aroma of cinnamon and fresh bread in the air, from the daily baking at the Ruth Ashbrook Bakery.

Harold Martinson was the man responsible for bringing those wonderful smells into Westmoreland – when he opened the Ruth Ashbrook Bakery, back in 1934, along Milwaukie Avenue at Henry Street, where Northwest Primary Care and its parking lot sit now, just north of the QFC Market.

Back then, the small bakery was operating adjacent to the “mom and pop” grocery store of William and Bertha Zinck.

The Zinck family arrived in Westmoreland in 1906, when William – anxious to show his entrepreneurial skills – experimented with opening one of the first confectionaries in the newly-established commercial district of Westmoreland.

But it was not a success, and he soon abandoned his dream of operating a candy store. The following year he replaced it with a grocery store. This storefront was situated on Milwaukie Avenue, on the northwest corner of S.E. Henry. However, William continued to experiment – alternating between running a grocery store and trying to establish a bakery.

Fortunately, Mr. Zinck had a building big enough to sell bakery items and also to run a market. A plus: William and Bertha lived upstairs above their store, so commuting to work wasn’t a problem.

Lacking baking skills, William decided to partner with Alex Gorr – and, together, they started the Midway Bakery in 1925 in the rear of the grocery store. The bakery advertised the baking of cakes for special occasions, as well as cookies and doughnuts; but again, this bakery only lasted about five years.

Although his baking and candy ideas were not panning out, William Zinck finally realized that running the Moreland Grocery Store was where his true talents lay. William was such a prominent fixture behind the counter that housewives and children in the community referred to the little Westmoreland market as Zinck’s. Not much was heard about the bakery in the start of the 1930’s, but the grocery store was already well-established with local customers.

During the Great Depression, many stores closed in Sellwood and Westmoreland, since few owners could afford to keep extending their impoverished customers credit, or to keep the business going when sales were poor. William and Bertha had to run the grocery store by themselves, since they couldn’t afford to hire additional help.

In 1934, two men – Harold Martinson, and Floyd Dixson – entered Zinck’s Grocery with a proposal to rent a section of the store to open their own bakery. After negotiations, and plenty of handshaking, Martinson and Dixson established a wholesale bakery in the back of Zinck’s Market, employing a sparse crew of from three to four workers. 

It appears that since the day he was born, Harold Martinson ate, slept, and dreamed of being the owner of a baking company. Previously he’d worked at the Davidson Bakery, and then became plant supervisor with the Homestead Bakery.

The two partners chose the name “Ruth Ashbrook Bakery” – a brand that was started in 1919 by L.C. Stiles, who owned a commercial bakery in Seattle. The Pacific Coast Gazette claimed that that business ran sixteen wagons, and employed fourteen people, making and delivering fresh pastries in the Emerald City.

Home-cooked meals and mouthwatering desserts had long been considered the domain of women. How many of us fondly remember our mother’s favorite recipe, or those wonderful cookies that grandma use to make?  Marketing Companies learned that marketing their boxed products with names like Betty Crocker, Sara Lee, Mrs. Smith’s Pies, or Aunt Jemima, enjoyed great success.

The name “Ruth Ashbrook” seemed to be synonymous with good old home baking, even though like those other trademarks, it was not the name of a real person – just a trade name dreamed up by the Stiles family.

What started out as a small-scale operation – packaging and selling wholesale sweets to just a few local businesses like Safeway and Franz Bakery – soon grew as a result of a host of other retailers wanting the Ashbrook Bakery to bake their  own branded goodies. 

Before long, the Ashbrook Bakery was cranking out over thirty different varieties of related baked goods – including coffee cake, streusel, butterhorns, cinnamon rolls, and a sweet cake called “Butterflies”.

Martinson and Stiles perfected the process of manufacturing sweets from a customers’ secret recipe, wrapping it in the customer’s trademarked packaging, and delivering it to the customers’ stores in a timely manner.

Once the bakery was in full production in Westmoreland, the Martinson family, headed by Harold and Mary, moved into a house on 18th Avenue at Lambert Street in the south end of Westmoreland, where they raised their two children, Jerry and Lerrene.

When he became old enough, young Jerry was introduced to the fine art of pastry-making. Jerry began accompanying his dad to the bakery, where Harold wanted to ensure his son learned all of the ins and outs of the baking business. Most boys back then got excited when they received their first bicycle, baseball glove, model plane, or basketball. But Jerry was joyful at being given a rolling pin and a ball of dough by his dad! Jerry Martinson explains, “My dad sat me down in front of a pastry table, plopped a ball of dough on the counter, and gave me a rolling pin. And, like any other kid, I just started playing around with it.”

Jerry attended St. Agatha’s Primary School, and when he was not spending time with dough and rolling pins, he joined the boys around the neighborhood in various sports activities. On the weekends, or after school, you could find Jerry hanging out with his buddies, playing pick-up ball at the Sellwood Community Center. School games that he participated in at St Agatha’s took place in the old gymnasium located upstairs above the cafeteria.

When school was out for the summer, the Martinson family headed to the Oregon Coast. They usually rented a cabin for four to five weeks at Rockaway, or found a cute cottage at Manhattan Beach up the road.

Rockaway was the happening place to be during the 1950’s – tourists came to swim in the natatorium, go bowling, or ride the bumper cars. There were many activities to keep a young eight-year-old boy busy all summer there. To earn extra cash for salt water taffy, Jerry set up bowling pins at the Rockaway Bowling Alley. The huge natatorium was located near the bowling venue; and when he wasn’t working or exploring the sandy beaches, you could find him spending many an afternoon in the pool. 

By spending the summer in the small resort town, Jerry soon began to be known by everyone in the community – from the Postal Clerk to the ice cream vendor down the street. Even the Rockaway Police Department knew the Westmoreland lad. In fact, they gave little eight-year-old Jerry a sheriff’s badge and cap that he often wore down in the busy commercial district, letting the visitors who passed by him that he was the law.

A favorite pastime for him as a junior sheriff was scrutinizing the vacationers, to see if they resembled any of the faces on the “wanted” posters at the police headquarters. He took his (unpaid) job seriously.

And each morning, Jerry would wait for the local Franz delivery truck to stop and pick him up. The driver delivered bread up and down Highway 101, and somehow Jerry talked him into being his helper. The driver, Durwood Jagger, had a route along the North Coast delivering Franz Bread products to all of the small grocery stores. Jerry thought it was fun stacking the bread on store shelves, and unloading the wooden boxes filled with bread from the back of the truck. For donating all this time and effort, he usually only received a piece of candy or stick of gum. One day, feeling generous, the driver gave Jerry a bag of candy for being such a great helper. Jerry got sick after he ate the whole bag at one sitting!

His father Harold, busy all week in the summer at the Bakery in Westmoreland, would drive down from Portland on the weekends after work to join his family in Rockaway.

After he started high school, Jerry began spending more time at the Bakery on Milwaukie Avenue to supplement his income. He began to understand how the bakery business was changing from those early years, when everything was done manually. In the early days, just completing a single order of cinnamon rolls for a client might require between ten and fifteen people. Indeed, at the height of its production, the Ashbrook Bakery had to rely on 135 employees working three shifts to fill each day’s orders.

But as times changed, new and modern machines were installed to speed up the production time and increase the output. When the baked goods were finished, customers could pick them up, or company drivers in blue-colored Ashbrook Bakery vans would deliver them.

The machinery didn’t immediately reduce the payroll – it increased efficiency. Over the years, workers were assigned various positions as rollers, wrappers, cutters, and deliverymen. Jerry began to learn how each section of the bakery operated. The process was time-consuming, and required a lot of workers to complete the final product. By 1960, new machines replaced the previous ones to further increase the output of the bakery.

Stores now long-gone once lined the busy streets of Westmoreland when Jerry began attending Central Catholic High School. Kienows’ on S.E. Duke Street (now QFC) and the Piggly Wiggly on S.E. Tacoma Street were just a couple of the grocery stores he visited. More obscure food markets in Westmoreland included Retteman’s Meat Market – and the Friendly Grocery, which was where the Silver Lining woman’s consignment shop is now.

According to Jerry, Bertie Lou’s in Sellwood had the best hamburgers in town; and the owner at the time, Betty Shaw, was always entertaining to the customers who stopped by – but not always very welcoming. One time, he remembers, while he sat at the counter enjoying his meal, one of the other patrons wanted to substitute an item on the menu. Betty responded by throwing a set of utensils at the customer, and told him to get out!  “From then on, I learned to keep my mouth shut when Betty was on duty,” remarked Jerry.

During his sophomore year, Jerry played on the Central Catholic football team. Ducktails, greased hair, and suede shoes were just a few of the fashionable styles that high schoolers were sporting during the late 1950s.

Back at the Ashbrook Bakery – after serving the community for over forty years, William and Bertha Zinck decided it was time to call it quits in the grocery business. As the bakery’s sales were still increasing, Harold bought the two-story wooden structure from the Zincks, with plans to update the bakery.

With the wholesale baking business booming, Harold needed additional space and new machinery for the mass production needed to keep up with the additional orders. Just a few of the companies they contracted with by this time were the Associated Grocers in Seattle, the Oroweat Company, Franz U.S. Bakers, and the Hostess Cakes and Williams Bakery in Eugene. According to Bakers Weekly, in an article by Edward R. Lucas, by the mid 1960’s the bakery was operating in a plant of 20,000 square feet, with a crew of about 50 employees. Martinson also leased additional space near 21st and S.E. Ochoco Street, where fruit pies and doughnuts were made and shipped out to clients. .

The Ashbrook Bakery’s first major setback occurred in April of 1969, when Harold Martinson suddenly passed away. Looking to secure the future of the company for his family before his death, Harold had bought out his then-partner LeConie Stiles, and had placed his children Jerry and Lerrene in charge of the company, to continue its success.

Reminiscing about his late father, Jerry said that Harold spent a lot of time sitting at a large wooden desk going over accounts near a round metal stove. Harold, during his busy days at the bakery, even found time to climb Mt. Hood, Jerry recalls.

Operating the Ruth Ashbrook Bakery was quite a challenge for Jerry Martinson – he was only 27 years old when his father died. But, under the experienced direction of the General Manger, Lawrence Fields, and the leadership and dedication of Jo Wilmarth, the Office Manager and the person in charge of the payroll, the Ashbrook Bakery continued to be an icon in the neighborhood. Lawrence stayed with the company for 43 years, and Jo Wilmarth contributed over 40 years of service.

By 1981, the company had purchased the Arden Mayfair Milk Plant, which produced the fillings for their fruit pies and other sweet treats.

Because of his love of sports, Jerry and the Ashbrook Bakery sponsored many Little League baseball teams in Westmoreland and Sellwood. He even invited old school chums, like Gary Elliott from Cleveland High, to play with him on the slow-pitch team supported by the bakery. Gary helped organize an AAU basketball team that both men were able to participate in during the evenings. Jerry remembers that the team even included a few ex-Portland Trailblazers who’d retired from the NBA. More than that, Darnell Valentine, who was a three-time Academic All-American and spent 4½ years with the Blazers, was once a part of the Ashbrook basketball team!

When he was not enjoying his own desserts from Ruth Ashbrook, Jerry recalls that the Westmoreland Pharmacy, on the northeast corner of Bybee Boulevard and Milwaukie Avenue, had the best sodas; and “Dells and Dolls” on Tacoma Street had fantastic milk shakes.

In his spare time he enjoyed taking in the latest movies down the street at the Moreland Theater. It was there where one of his friends, who worked at the theater concession stand, introduced him to a cute young lady named Susan Day – and, just as in some of the films they watched together there, they got hitched, and continued to live close by in the neighborhood.

Together, Susan and Jerry raised five boys – Mark, Christopher, David, Jeffrey, and Mathew – all of whom were active in the community in their own adventures.

By the start of the 1990s, the wholesale baking business had taken a new direction. Companies that ordered baked products from the Ashbrook Bakery began building their own bakeries, and producing their own baked products. Companies like Fred Meyer, Safeway, and Albertsons began hiring and training their own employees for these bakeries. They no longer needed to place orders with wholesalers like Ashbrook Bakery. 

At the same time, most of the manufacturing equipment at the Ashbrook Bakery by then needed to be replaced; and the building needed upgrading. The Martinson family decided that it was time to sell.

Oregon Health Sciences University bought the property, and tore down the aging Ashbrook Bakery – replacing it with a state-of-the-art local clinic. Later, OHSU closed that clinic, and the facility is currently occupied by Northwest Primary Care of Milwaukie.

The days of buying a dozen eggs or a quart of milk at Zinck’s Grocery Store are long gone, as are the heavenly smells throughout the Westmoreland business district of the baking at Ruth Ashbrook’s.

But, since what goes around comes around, who knows? Possibly another large bakery will appear somewhere in Inner Southeast Portland; and the smells emanating from it will bring back fond memories of Ruth Ashbrook’s – so much a part of Westmoreland for a large part of the Twentieth Century.

Star Wars, Mandalorians, constumes, Christmas presents, grieving kids, Dougy Center, Southeast Portland, Oregon
To the delight of the kids – all of them clients of “The Dougy Center for Grieving Children” on S.E. 52nd – members of the “Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club” march in. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Star Wars ‘Mandalorians’ visit Dougy Center’s kids on 52nd Avenue


Although none of them were actually heard speaking “Mando'a” – the language of the fictional planet Mandalore, created by George Lucas as part of the Star Wars films – the Mandalorians who visited The Dougy Center for Grieving Children on December 15 certainly looked authentic.

The children participating in The Dougy Center programs were delighted, as two groups roared into the center on S.E. 52nd Avenue, just south of Foster Road, in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood.

Astride motorcycles were members of the “Mandalorians Riding Club”; and arriving ahead of them, in full battle armor, were a four members of the related “Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club”.

“Our founding members were ‘nerds at heart’! Realizing their love for motorcycles, and their love of Star Wars nerd culture, they founded a club that brings these things together,” explained “Deuce Mando” to THE BEE. He asked we not use his given name.

“Last year, our two clubs got together to help out The Dougy Center; and together this year we’ve raised about $2,000, and are bringing toys here this year as well,” Mando said.

“As a member of both clubs, the best part of this for me is seeing the excitement and joy on the faces of kids here, and at other nonprofit organizations where we visit kids throughout the year,” exclaimed Victor Souto, who arrived on a motorcycle.

“In partnership with Rogue Toys, Excalibur Comics, and the Nerd Out Bar, they’ve been collecting toys and supplies for The Dougy Center this Holiday Season,” the Center’s Development Manager, Linda Miles, told THE BEE.

“While it seems like everyone enjoys the Star Wars stories, the Mandalorians are especially popular, thanks to the new show on The ‘Disney Plus’ streaming network, which also features Baby Yoda,” Miles explained. “Both the financial contribution, as well as the toys and supplies, help sustain our work with grieving children and families in our support groups.”

Learn more about the services of The Dougy Center by visiting their website –

Reed College, recycling, Hayden Henderson, recycling rules, Eastmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Reed College student Hayden Hendersen has spent three years creating a comprehensive on-campus recycling center at the college. Here it is – overflowing with recycling items after Winter Break. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Reed student steers college into major recycling effort


“She is going to change the world,” commented Kevin Myers, Director of Communications at Reed College, as I passed him on my way to a campus interview with student Hayden Hendersen.

Hendersen has started an on-campus recycling center. After an hour of speaking with her, it was clear what Myers was referring to. Hendersen’s passion, perseverance, and probing research on recycling sources are very impressive. Since her sophomore year she has worked diligently on creating a very comprehensive recycling center for students, faculty, and staff at Reed. 

Bins at the recycling center accept all kinds of things – some which can be recycled locally or in the metro area; and some for which there are no recycling outlets in Portland.

The Internet has enabled Hendersen to find places throughout the U.S. that accept the recyclables that are not taken in Portland. Using brown cardboard boxes that people bring to the center, she mails recyclables from the campus mailroom with funds provided by the college. Before she takes anything to local recyclers or mails to a company elsewhere in the U.S., she calls ahead to make sure their website accurately lists what they still will accept.

Hendersen’s recycling commitment is unwavering. In the past, she has ridden her bike several times to the Metro Station in Northwest Portland, with bike basket and bags full of hazardous waste (batteries, light bulbs) from campus. She has used e-mail to get students to volunteer to take responsibility for emptying recycling and composting bins in dorms and other buildings on campus, and to help in other ways.

Now, in her senior year, Henderson is on paid staff – as Student Sustainability Coordinator – and is making plans to have someone replace her, so that the recycling center that she is so passionate about can continue.

Over the last three years she has designed all of the colorful and very descriptive fliers hung around the Reed campus, printed by the campus print shop, which help people understand what can and cannot be recycled.

In the BEE interview, she described how she got the college to agree to have a recycling center that takes a very wide variety of things: Two years ago, living off campus, her basement was becoming overwhelmed with recycling she had collected that no one wanted to accept.

“I was sick of having it [my basement] filled with recycling. Over winter break in my sophomore year, a friend and I collected everything from my basement and went out and bought some containers, labeled them, and put them in an inside corner of campus. Then we went to the Sustainability Committee to ask their permission to start a recycling center,” she says with a grin – knowing full well that she had put the cart a little bit before the horse.

The committee granted permission that has led to many, many visible changes on campus. Bins outside of restrooms, classrooms and dorms are provided for various recyclable items.

Hendersen became interested in recycling in third grade when her mother was service-learning coordinator at her school. They worked with a couple of teachers who implemented “green and healthy” lessons. “There were very few recycling bins in the classrooms, so I started changing that,” she says.

Now in her senior year at Reed, majoring in environmental studies and political science, she is writing a thesis on implementing a national plant-based school lunch program.  “I’m trying to come up with a policy that would do that,” she explains. She is applying for fellowships, and would love to stay in Portland in a job that would achieve more of her recycling goals.

In her small hometown of Raymond, Wisconsin – population 3,500 – her family has been changed by her passionate work. They have become vegetarians; and her sister, a mechanical engineer, learned from her about a foremost U.S. recycling company – Terracycle, in New Jersey – that Hendersen ships some of the recycling to. Her sister has moved there, to take a job with them.       

To see Hendersen’s instructive recycling fliers, and learn more about the recycling center, visit the Reed College website – – and click on the gold box: “Recycling and compost information.” The list we published in the print version of this issue of THE BEE can be downloaded here.

The Metro website – – also lists recycling depots in the metro area.

Since the campus recycling center is only for the Reed College community (Hendersen says the restriction is difficult, but necessary, in terms of volume and space), she hopes that with some of the information she provides, people can get together and carpool to Agilyx in Tigard, and/or find other recycling options from the websites provided. There are alternatives to dumping it all in the garbage.

Cleveland High School. Southeast Portland, hitting barn, hitting facility, baseball, Powell Boulevard, Portland, Oregon
The new Cleveland High baseball “Hitting Facility” will help all Portland area public school baseball programs, organizer say. (Courtesy of Cleveland Hitting Facility)

Parents back new Cleveland High ‘Baseball Batting Barn’ building


Thanks to a cadre of dedicated parents, an indoor baseball and softball practice facility will be coming to Cleveland High School. 

“Everyone in the Southeast Portland baseball and softball communities should be really excited about it, as it will benefit not just the high school programs, but also all the youth programs through the area,” exclaimed project supporter Ken Davis.

Called the “Cleveland Hitting Facility”, this barn-like building will be a 60’x100’ structure situated at the Cleveland track and football field, and will enable players to practice all year ’round. “That’s important, because players start practicing in January,” Davis remarked.

This will be the first such “hitting barn” at any Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) school. 

“That being said, nearly all suburban schools in the area do enjoy one, which puts PIL programs at a real competitive disadvantage, as baseball teams begin practicing right after New Year, when the weather does not often allow for outdoor play, Davis said.

In mid-January, Davis reported to THE BEE that the committee had just met with the City of Portland to put the finishing touches on the permit application, and have made a “serious dent” in fundraising.

Construction may begin in February. To learn more, or to contribute to this project, go online –

2019 – Yes, it really was a pretty dry year

Editor, THE BEE

When we tallied up the daily precipitation measurements at our Westmoreland office for the year 2019, we verified what was already pretty apparent to everyone – it really was a dry year. Our monthly total for December was 4.75 inches, and that was actually the wettest month of the year – followed closely by February’s 4.62 inches and April’s 4.00 inches. The total for the whole year was 29.75 inches.

Most notable for the year were the low readings in what are usually wet months – October’s 1.76 inches, and November’s 1.50 inches. But despite that, it wasn’t the driest year in Southeast Portland in the past twenty years – 2001 checked in with 29.67 inches, and 2013 with 28.89 inches. Although 2018 was a bit dry also, with a total of 35.85 inches, four much wetter years intervened:  2014 had 46.01 inches, 2015 had 47.09 inches, 2016 had 51.89 inches, and 2017 had 52.28 inches – all four years were wetter than our 20-year annual average of 41.63 inches.

Only two days in 2019 recorded more than an inch of rain: 1.08 inches on April 7, and 1.22 inches on the first day of winter, December 21. (We should point out that we read our gauge at 4 p.m. each day, on the date of record.)

As to what our dry 2019 might mean for the future – well, the record tells us, “nothing in particular”. Statistically, we are still more likely to have a wetter than a dryer year than 2019 was, in any successive year; and, of course, our wettest month of the past year was December, which could signal increased rain for us in the rest of this winter.

Enjoy any sunshine you encounter, but carry an umbrella! As of late January, when THE BEE went to press with this February issue, every day of the month, so far, had experienced measurable rain!

Portland Rhododendron Garden, Portland Parks, volunteers, 28th Avenue, Reed College, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The celebration starts at the entrance to the historic Rhododendron Garden, on S.E. 28th Avenue. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Southeast Portland landmark celebrates 70th anniversary


One of Portland Parks’ treasures is about to celebrate its seventieth birthday. It’s the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, at 5801 S.E. 28th Avenue, just west of Reed College. Here you can observe waterfowl, enjoy year-round rhododendron and azalea blooms, and scenic vistas, or just refresh yourself in a lovely natural area.

The Garden was established by the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society in 1950, and its 70th anniversary this year will be recognized at the Society’s national convention this year in Portland, and in Vancouver, Washington, from April 30 through May 3.

The 9.5-acre public garden features over 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and companion plants. Its care and upkeep depends on its memberships, entrance fees, plant sales, special events, and volunteers; significant beautification projects are completed there every year.

This year, Garden Chair Dan McLaughlin reports, the Jane Martin Garden near the entrance is being re-landscaped by McQuiggin’s Inc., since many of the old rhododendrons there had begun to die off. Volunteers spent some six weeks relocating plants before landscaping began, with plans for an end-of-March completion.

Due to the well-publicized cutbacks in Portland Parks and Recreation’s budget, the internationally-recognized garden must become more self-sufficient, in order to complete several necessary projects. These include rebuilding the deteriorating walls below the Gatehouse, and relocating to the peninsula the Fran & Ed Egan Garden – which has been eroding into the lake.

Last year, the Friends held their first ever fund-raising event, “An Evening in the Garden”. The successful program included good food, wine, beer, live music, and an art raffle. Plans are already under way for a similar event on September 10 of this year. The annual Mother's Day Show & Sale (May 9-10) and the Spring Daffodil Show & Sale (April 4-5) also offer special opportunities to enjoy the famous 70-year-old garden.

If you’d care to be among the volunteers who gather every Wednesday morning from February through November each year to clean and update the scenic areas, e-mail –

And, to obtain a garden membership, or just to find out about the garden’s days and hours open, call 503/267-7509.

Woodstock neighborhood, Christmas tree, tree lighting, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The tree was lit on December 5 for another Holiday Season in Woodstock. This photo was taken from the north side of the tree, looking towards Woodstock Boulevard and the crowd gathered for the lighting. (Courtesy of Chris Hammond)

Woodstock tree-lighting warms hearts – and stomachs


At the December Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA) meeting, a request was made for cookies to share at the seventh annual “Homestead Schoolhouse Tree Lighting”, held across from Otto’s Sausage Kitchen on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard.

The celebration took place on Saturday, December 5th; and, by 5:30 that evening, WNA volunteers had attained their goal of a bounty of cookies to spread out on their table.

Sponsored in part by the Woodstock Community Business Association (WCBA), the Tree Lighting welcomes at 6 p.m. all neighbors who want to celebrate the season – as well as snack on food and drink provided by local businesses and nonprofits.

This year, the organizations and businesses with tables and booths were All Saints Episcopal Church, Bridge City Pizza, restaurants El Gallo and Laughing Planet, Otto’s, Papaccino’s Coffee, Toast restaurant, and the WNA.

Woodstock resident and neighborhood association secretary Sonja Miller was to be found at the All Saints Episcopal Church table, serving hot cider and distributing candy canes. An active member of All Saints Church, and one of the volunteer organizers at the church’s Mustard Seed Thrift Store and the popular Book Nook, Miller says she enjoys the tree lighting as a community event.

“It brings together neighbors in the Woodstock neighborhood for a Holiday celebration, without the huge crowds and visibility challenges of downtown. The atmosphere is fun and family-oriented, with small businesses and organizations showcasing their wares with free samples, bonfires, and singing.”

Each year Kiley Cronen, who owns the Homestead Schoolhouse with his wife and its Preschool Director, Keli, cuts a Douglas Fir with the help of a friend. This year the 26-foot tree came from Carus, Oregon (Keli Cronen’s hometown), and was erected with the valuable assistance of four tiers of scaffolding, provided pro bono by Scaffold Erectors Inc., S.E. 57th Avenue at Johnson Creek Boulevard.

The Cronens offered four fire pits, and the Woodstock Law Office roasted marshmallows for two hundred chocolate S’Mores. John L. Scott Real Estate provided the lights, as they do each year – and personnel from Woodstock Fire Station 25 helped hang them on the tree, and then offered their truck at the site for children to examine and explore.

This year, Donald Kotler, owner of Toast restaurant, made beef brisket soup for the crowd.

Elisa Edgington, Vice-President and acting Treasurer of the WCBA, and Manager of the VCA Woodstock Animal Hospital, commented to THE BEE, “The Tree Lighting was a great success, with lots of community involvement. We appreciate Kiley and Keli Cronen, and their dedication to keeping this tradition alive.”

Southeast Events and Activities

Brooklyn Co-op Preschool Open House:
Nonprofit Brooklyn Co-op Preschool, founded in 1971, is holding its annual Open House on this morning, open for drop-in visits anytime from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., to meet the teachers, tour the spaces, chat with current parents and students, and talk to the membership director. The school is located in the back of Reedwood Friends Church, at 2901 S.E. Steele Street, across from the north side of the Reed College campus. More info can be found online –

“Climate Change” in church discussion today:
Moreland Presbyterian Church’s own Charlie Abran will discuss “Youth Climate Activism and Our Environmental Solutions”, as well as a report on his own “environmental pilgrimage using the power of media to help save the planet.” Open to the public at 11 this morning in the “Columbia Room” of Moreland Presbyterian in Westmoreland, 1814 S.E. Bybee Boulevard.

Lunar New Year celebrated today at Woodstock Library: Today, 2-4 p.m., the Woodstock Branch Library will present its annual Lunar New Year Celebration for everyone. Featured are a Tai Chi demonstration; the Kirkland Union Manor Women’s Singing Group; a White Lotus Lion Dance; a Children’s singing group; a Craft Activity; Refreshments; and photo booth with Lotus Lion.  The library is situated at S.E. 49th at Woodstock Boulevard.

Woodstock-based puppeteers present show:
“Leaven Dream Puppets” of Woodstock premieres “The Magic Fish” at 5:30 p.m. this afternoon at TaborSpace, on the Dining Room Event Stage, 5441 Belmont Street. It’s a family friendly puppet show – and the venue is called the Fertile Ground Festival. The same show will also appear on stage there on February 9 at 2 p.m. “The Magic Fish” is an original puppet show that follows a little boy who does not heed his mom’s call, nor convention, and meets with adventures, only to return home wiser. The story is informed by the Irish fairytale “Soul Cages”, Punch and Judy puppetry, and contemporary mask and mime. This mostly word-free performance engages audiences from age 3 and up. The show runs 30 minutes with additional 15 minutes for meeting the puppets. For information on the puppeteers, go to – – and for tickets, $5 per person age 3 and up (only 30 seats per show, so book early), go online to – – and scroll way down to “The Magic Fish”.

Two Sellwood Poets appear at Sellwood Library tonight: Lex Runciman will read from his latest poetry collection, “Salt Moons: Poems 1981-2017”; and Paulann Petersen from hers, “One Small Sun”. Lex Runciman is a winner of an Oregon Book Award for poetry, who now calls Sellwood his home; Paulann Petersen is an Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita who has lived in Sellwood her home for 25 years. The free reading is tonight, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Sellwood Branch Library, S.E. Bidwell Street at 13th Avenue.

“Crackin’ Crab Feast” returns today in Woodstock:
Today, two seatings are available at the annual “Crackin’ Crab Feast” – at 4:45 and at 7 p.m. – at All Saints Episcopal Church Hall, 4033 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard. It’s for those who love crab, and like to have a good time with family and friends. A bargain at $40, the meal comes with fresh crab, salad, and bread – and a cash bar is available. Children under 6 eat free; children 6-11 get mac and cheese for $10; and there are vegan options for all. Childcare available at first seating only. Table pricing for 6, 8, and 10 people. All proceeds support All Saints outreach ministries. For tickets – available now – or for more information, go online -- – or call 916/202-7132.

“Anyone’s Domain 2020” – A Poetry Workshop in Sellwood:
Poetry is not the domain of just a few; it’s as natural and accessible as heartbeat and breath. “Writing poetry requires nothing more than a love of words, and a willingness to let your pen move across a page, following language wherever it takes you.” Join Sellwood’s former Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen 1:30-4:30 p.m. in a free workshop devoted to generating new poems. Using innovative springboards that include notable poems, you’ll make an exhilarating plunge into language. It’s free, but registration is required; register in the library, or by calling 503/988-5123. It’s at the Sellwood Branch Library, S.E. 13th Avenue at Bidwell Street.

“Pageturners Book Group” for adults, at the Woodstock Library:
Be at the Woodstock Branch Library this evening at 6:30 p.m. for “Everybody Reads”, Multnomah County Library’s free annual community-wide book discussion. Read “There There” by Tommy Orange in advance if you can, and then engage in conversation about books, and get to know your neighbors. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library. It lasts an hour and a quarter and it’s free. The library is on the corner of S.E. Woodstock Boulevard and 49th. The same program takes place on FEBRUARY 18, 6:30-7:45 p.m., at the Sellwood Branch Library, at S.E. 13th Avenue and Bidwell Street in Sellwood. 

Red Cross Blood Drive this afternoon in Woodstock:
From 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. this afternoon, the Red Cross will be conducting a blood drive at Woodstock Bible Church, 5101 S.E. Mitchell Street. If you don't have a prior appointment, you are welcome to walk in, and you will be accommodated as quickly as possible.

“Knitting from the Heart” at the Woodstock Library:
Adults and teens can meet their neighbors and share patterns, ideas, and knitting or crochet skills, tonight from 6 to 7:30 p.m,, while working on their own project or one to donate. Knitters of all experience levels welcome. Another session also coming up February 26, 4-5:30 p.m. – both take place at the Woodstock Branch Library, S.E. Woodstock Boulevard at 49th. Free, but please bring your own supplies. If you have any questions, please call 503/988-5123.

“USA Gap Year Fair” this evening at Cleveland High:
Why take a gap year after high school? Learn about options for travel, cultural immersion, service, work experience, and mentorship, and connect with program providers at the *USA Gap Year Fair* at Cleveland High School, S.E. Powell Boulevard at 26th, this evening at 6 p.m., with a presentation in the auditorium, followed by opportunities for face-to-face conversations with gap year program providers, trip leaders, advisors, and gap year alumni in the cafeteria until 8:30 p.m. Admission is free – and pre-registration is recommended, but not required. You can register at – 

For families, puppets tell the story of Papagayo, in Woodtock:
Deep in the jungles of Central America, Papagayo, the parrot, sings and dances as the nocturnal animals try to slumber. One night, the magical Perro Luna wakes up and starts eating the moon! Will the animals learn to work together to save the moon? Presented in both English and Spanish, two entertaining puppeteers interact with the audience and bring this brightly colored tale to life for kids and parents, free, from 2 to 3 p.m., in the Woodstock Branch Library, S.E. 49th at Woodstock Boulevard.

St. Ignatius’ 85th annual Italian Dinner fundraiser:
The beloved community event returns for the 85th time – serving over 10,000 meatballs, as part of a dinner that includes spaghetti, ravioli, bread, salad, wine, beer, and more. “Reasonably priced, and a friendly atmosphere where you are sure to get more than your fill!” It takes place noon until 6 p.m. this afternoon in the St. Ignatius Church Gym, S.E. 43rd and Powell Boulevard. Come one, come all. For parties of 8 or more, please make reservations with Diane Welters at 503/774-0744.

Easy and Affordable Mason Bee Hosting for Families:
At the Sellwood Library today, make a bee house! Being a host for Mason Bees is fun for all ages, and with Honey Bees facing many threats, the native Mason Bees are popular alternative pollinators. This free 90-minute class is for kids in grade K and up, with their favorite adult. Seating is limited, so free tickets available 30 minutes in advance of this 12 noon class today at the Sellwood Branch Library, S.E. 13th at Bidwell Street.

Gala to support Brooklyn Park summer youth program: The Friends of Brooklyn Park offer their annual Gala dinner and live music to help support the summer youth program at Brooklyn Park that PP&R no longer funds. It takes place in the new Fellowship Hall at Sacred Heart, 3850 S.E. 11th Avenue, open to all. $30 per-person tickets includes a raffle. There will also be a silent auction and a dessert auction. For more information, or tickets, go online –

Llewellyn Elementary’s Kindergarten Open House:
This evening, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., “Connect to Kindergarten”– at Llewellyn Elementary School, 6301 S.E. 14th Avenue. This is an opportunity for parents of incoming 2020 Kindergartners to come and hear from teachers and the Principal, to see the classroom, and to tour Llewellyn School. If you have any questions, call Llewellyn 503/916-6216.

Today starts Easter Community Choir’s formation:
Like to sing? Mt. Scott Presbyterian Church is looking for singers of all abilities to perform in an Easter cantata. Rehearsals will be 1 to 2:30 p.m. beginning today, and on each Saturday beginning today through April 11. The resulting performance is on Easter Sunday, April 12, at 10 a.m.  All rehearsals and final performance will be at Mt. Scott Presbyterian Church, S.E. 73rd Avenue at Harold Street. Questions? E-mail –


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