Community Features

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

Penguin Pub, Southeast Portland, history, closing, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
A pre-celebration and gathering for customers, to begin observing the closing of the Penguin Pub. This took place on Saturday, May 5th. (Photo by Dana Beck)

‘Last Call’ for Sellwood’s Penguin Pub & Eatery

Special to THE BEE

On June 9th, DeAnn Carpentier – owner of the iconic Penguin Pub and Eatery on the southeast corner of Tacoma Street and S.E. 17th Avenue – will serve her last drink, stuff her last taco, and listen to her last karaoke song. As previously did Mike’s Drive In across the street, another of the neighborhood’s longtime businesses closes to make way for more apartments.

After 44 years as waitress, bartender, and all-around customer pleaser, DeAnn and her Penguin Pub and Eatery will hold a final goodbye party for those who called the place home.

Westmoreland and Sellwood have had more than their share of changes lately – high rise apartment complexes, the increased traffic on the streets, installation of MAX light rail down McLoughlin Boulevard, and building of a new Sellwood Bridge.

It’s in with the new, and out with the old. Some of the storefronts like the Black Cat Tavern, Dral’s Cleaners, the Skybox Pub, Mike’s Drive In, and even the Taco House on S.E. Powell Boulevard have had their final adieu.

The Penguin Pub has been a mainstay in the community for over 75 years, and has a unique history that I think you’ll find interesting.

As Portland was gradually attempting to recover from the tail end of the Great Depression and was facing World War II, more jobs began opening up for men who had been unemployed for years. New stores and large businesses on the west side of the river offered opportunities to attract the majority of the available workers, who lived on the east side.

Workers commuting to work downtown, came across new cafés, diners, and small eateries. Small food joints offered cheap noontime meals, coffee and soft drinks, and an early breakfast or occasional late night dinner.

The corner of S.E. 17th and Tacoma in Sellwood became what it still is today – a busy commuting route. In those days passing motorists would stop, buy gas, have a slice of pie, or stop and chat with fellow workers at the local café.

Commuters usually traveled to Portland via the then-new [original] Sellwood Bridge, coming from the outskirts of Clackamas County on the newly opened Highway 99E (1933). Even residents from the town of Milwaukie traveling north on 17th Avenue would have to pass this intersection, and proprietors wanted to make sure they spent their money there.

Chevron and Hudson Oil gas stations graced the corners of this busy intersection back in the 1920’s, while Barto’s Confectionary stood for many years on the northeast side of the block. The Sellwood and Pioneer Auto repair shops were located north of the service stations for major repairs, and a small grocery store offered amenities for busy drivers in a rush to get back on the road.

It was the small lunch counter establishments that began showing up along the street that caught the eye of motorists when they stopped to fill up their gas tanks. 

In 1937 George Andrews, opened a small café next to the Flying A gas station on the southwest corner. It stayed just a little corner café through a succession of owners until 1939, when Marie C. Whatley purchased the restaurant and gave it the identity of the Penguin Café. Whatley gave it that woman’s touch that had been missing – good home cooked meals, a cheery smile, and clean and decorative tablecloths helped make it a destination for the commuters as well as the local residents.

The Penguin Café stayed busy all day and in the evening, and began acquiring new customers when Henry J. Kaiser established a pre-war ship building company in the north section of Portland. Over 97,000 industrial workers were employed in the shipyards in the 1940’s, many emigrating from the southern region of the United States.

Rooming houses and vacant rooms were in dire need, and with the influx of new workers temporary housing developments were built by the city of Portland at Guilds Lake and Vanport for their convenience. But it wasn’t all North Portland; just east of the Garthwick District at the south end of Sellwood, the Kellogg Park housing development was built by the City of Milwaukie, offering 600 units for hundreds of families to live in. The Penguin Café then became a favorite gathering place for those workers passing by northbound for their early morning shifts in the shipyards.

Competition along the Avenue was stiff. Mrs. Whatley and her staff competed against other small food venues and restaurants. Kenneth Adams opened his own eating establishment on the next block, and meals were available at Frank and Jacks Café. All of these cafés were within two blocks of each other, including the Dollhouse Restaurant. Family style dinners were offered at the well-known Gottschalk Café just down the street (it’s now the Sellwood Inn).

Prohibition was enacted in 1920 in the State of Oregon, and taverns, bars, saloons, and restaurants were banned from serving or selling alcoholic beverages of any kind. Many bars continued providing alcoholic drinks for daily private parties behind locked doors during prohibition times. These “speakeasies”, as they were called, were usually not raided by the Portland Police Bureau if there weren’t complaints, and if unsavory celebrations were kept to a minimum.

Local folklore has rumored that there were a few “speakeasies” in the Sellwood and Westmoreland neighborhood, and DeAnn Carpentier recalls when Marsha Ewing brought in a photograph of the Penguin Café during this period. The picture revealed blinds across the windows, so passing pedestrians couldn’t see what was happening there, and hinted that the Penguin might have been serving (gasp) forbidden spirits. If anyone knows where that photo is, or knows a relative of the Ewing’s, DeAnn would love to have a copy as a memento.

Fred A. Pasquale bought the café from Mrs. Whatley in the 1950’s, by which time Prohibition long gone, and beer and wine could be served with few restrictions. Mrs. Whatley’s café then became known as the Penguin Tavern. Freddie kept the customers happy serving drinks, sponsoring semi-pro baseball and football teams, and attracting new patrons into the bar to watch boxing matches and basketball events on their new RCA color TV.

Television was still a luxury many people could not afford at home, let alone an expensive color set, and anyway it was always more exciting to watch the big games with your fellow sports enthusiast with a cool pitcher of beer.

In October of 1974, the Penguin Tavern was sold to Robert and Marcella Corbin, and their daughter DeAnn began working as a waitress at the bar in her early twenties. In a recent interview, DeAnn revealed that her brother Dennis Brown back then had been looking for a sports bar to sponsor the semi-pro baseball team he was playing on; and when none of the merchants stepped up to help support his baseball team, the family decided to buy the tavern and sponsor the team themselves.

DeAnn worked full time at the Safeway Bakery, so her mom worked the morning shift, and after she got off her day job DeAnn helped out during the evening hours. Over the course many years the Penguin kept sponsoring baseball teams each summer, even after Dennis stopped playing. They even supported the ladies’ baseball league for a few seasons.

In a recent visit to the Penguin Pub, Kathy Logan Ferris was showing off a photo of the ladies’ baseball team that had been sponsored by the Pub around 1974. There’s also been a framed picture of the 1947 Sellwood Penguins men’s baseball team on view above the kitchen for interested sports enthusiasts.

Games were played at the Sckavone Baseball field in Westmoreland Park, and afterwards many players and fans gathered for a rollicking good time at the Penguin Tavern. Trophies won by the teams have lined the south wall, and DeAnn pointed out that the weekends were so packed that customers had to stand and wait for a table, or lined up outside waiting for a place to sit.

The original Penguin was half the size it is today; a horseshoe-shaped bar with just a few tables provided minimal sitting for customers. Most of the tavern and the entryway were overshadowed by the presence of gasoline pumps and the garage that dominated the corner, and was still in operation in the ’70’s.

Over the course of their ownership, the Corbins enlarged the tavern – especially when they converted a vacant section of the former gas station into more seating for customers. With an up-to-date kitchen, DeAnn began offering tacos on Saturdays for 75 cents – and 35 cents bought you an ice cold mug of beer, or a large pitcher for $1.50 for a large pitch. The success of her Saturday nights led to her offering Taco Tuesdays for patrons who didn’t want to battle the busy weekend crowds.

Tuesday Taco evenings have become such an institution that DeAnn remarks that if a regular doesn’t show up she knows there’s something wrong, and she calls and checks up on her absent weekly visitors.

Other customers stopped by to rekindle the past celebrations or recall the times when they grew up in the community. Susan Heft’s parents, John and Flora Heft, once lived on Spokane street and her father had a part time job pumping gas at the Flying A service station that sat in front of the Penguin. John worked as a tube bender for the Neon Sign Service Company during the day, and spent his evenings at the gas station, with a visit to the Penguin after he was through for the day.

In 1999 the Tavern became licensed to serve hard liquor, and the Penguin Pub and Eatery was the newly dedicated name complete with a plywood cutout of a painted Penguin on the front of the door to greet customers to “the coldest beer in town”.

At the end of 2017, DeAnn received notice that the property on which her Pub sat had been sold to investors – and before long, another mixed-use apartment complex will be taking its place.

But residents and baseball players who once patronized the Penguin will have one last chance to return for a cold beverage and maybe a taco until June 9th, when it will close for good.

Cleveland High School, Camp Cleveland, annual fundraiser, PTA, Foundation, Powell Boulevard, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Matt Cole and auction co-organizer and spouse Kristin greeted guests in the entryway of Southeast’s Melody Ballroom. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Camp Cleveland’ party raises funds for CHS PTA


Some fundraising auctions strive for elegance; this year, the Cleveland High School (CHS) PTA’s organizers decided to go “camp” – and have a more-than-casual party at Southeast’s Melody Ballroom, on Saturday evening, March 17. They called it “Camp Cleveland”.

“Our guests say they’re enjoying the ‘camp out’ theme this year,” smiled co-organizer Kristin Cole. “But, it’s all about raising money to provide quality education at Cleveland High School, and bring the community together in support of our school.”

“Our PTA supplements supplies and programs; and also we’re raising money for the CHS Foundation too, which helps fund instructor positions,” her colleague Jill Stevens remarked. “Fortunately, we have quite a bit of help with this; there are many volunteers who secured donations, and who are helping this evening, so we really appreciate our volunteers, they’re fabulous!”

“I enjoy this wonderful group of volunteers coming together for a common goal, in executing such a delightful event,” Cole agreed.

And this year, they added a “camp cookie name tag” drawing – akin to winning a “golden ticket”. “Those who purchased a ‘camp name’ badge, if their name is drawn before the live auction starts, they could win a stay in a Paris apartment, in a beachfront home, or have a private dinner party catered for them,” Cole told THE BEE.

Butlers at the hall walked about the silent auction area, serving appetizers of deviled eggs, Caprese Skewers, and weenie wraps with mustard, while about 300 participants browsed the many auction items on display.

CHS Principal Ayesha Freeman, dressed in branded Warriors garb, showed off the “camp name” she’d selected: “Solstice” – and smiled as she looked at the activity around her. “Schools are places of community; and tonight is really special, because it allows parents and families involved with the school along with community members to come together with students and teachers.

“And, thank goodness they’re raising the money; with the new staffing formula at CHS, we’re seeing a bit of reduction amongst our staff next year,” Freeman revealed. “Thanks to fundraising, we’re still able to expand our media program, our graphic design program, expand our arts program, and provide other educational opportunities to help our students.”

In keeping with the camp theme, the auction banquet was served family-style, with biscuits, coleslaw, corn on the cob, German potato salad, barbecued chicken, and vegan polenta lasagna. After supper, tables which did not win an item in the “dessert dash”, were treated to plates of graham crackers with melted marshmallows and chocolate s’mores.

In total, about $130,000 was raised – both for the Foundation and for the PTA.

Co-organizer Stevens confided why she is willing to take on such responsibility: “I have two children going to school at CHS, and helping with this auction allows me to give back,”

Stevens thought for a moment and added, “I procure donations for the auction in the same neighborhoods in which I’ve done that for years, and it’s heartening that these small businesses are so willing and ready to donate to help our children. That’s a good feeling.”

Crystal Springs, Rhododendrom Gardens, Portland Parks and Recreation, SE 28th Street, Reed College, volunteers, Reed neighborhood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Volunteers at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden have a good time together on Wednesdays as they care for the Garden. Shown, from left, are volunteers Dottie Alberg, Ed Nunez, Paula Malone, Ingrid Klesh, and Joyce Fang. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Volunteers: The secret of the Rhododendron Garden’s success


Whether it is sunny, overcast, or the rain is blowing sideways – every Wednesday, and also some Saturdays, between February and November, ten to twenty volunteers are weeding, deadheading, and otherwise caring for one of Southeast Portland’s treasures – the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.

The large botanical garden is located between the Eastmoreland Golf Course and Reed College, on S.E. 28th Avenue just north of Woodstock Boulevard.

The garden is a facility of the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau, and operated by the “Friends of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden” – a chapter of the American Rhododendron Society.

The volunteers of the Friends group are indispensable. Without them, the garden simply wouldn’t be as presentable as it always is.

For over a decade Dottie Alberg has organized the volunteers who care for the nine acres containing over 2,000 species and hybrids of rhodies and azaleas that grow around and above the lake fed by Crystal Springs Creek.

“The garden couldn’t exist without the volunteers,” muses Alberg. “And ANY help is welcome, even just a few hours each month.

“Volunteers do the important work of the smaller tasks that Portland Parks & Recreation just doesn’t have time for,” continues Alberg, “like weeding and deadheading. PP&R does the big jobs like cutting up a large tree that has fallen, picking up trash, mowing the lawn and mulching all of the weeds that we pull.”

Alberg started volunteering at the Garden eleven years ago when working with Oregon State University’s Extension Service “Master Gardener” program. The program requires sixty-six hours of service, one half of it at a public venue.

“The Rhododendron Garden was closer to my home in Milwaukie than volunteering at the Pittock Mansion or the Rose Test Garden,” says Alberg. It started for her as a matter of convenience; now she continues because getting together every Wednesday has created friendships. “We like the camaraderie. It is just nice to see each other.”

And of course, working together on a useful project creates shared satisfaction and memorable stories.

The Garden volunteers are one part of the “Friends of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden” that was formed over fifty years ago as a subsidiary of the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. The Friends are responsible for the new rock walls, water features, trails, and many other recent changes. They fund the work from gate fees and wedding events, and by holding an annual Mother’s Day Sale at the garden.

Alberg emphasizes that new volunteers are always welcome. They may contribute as few or as many hours as they are able. There is no need to sign up, either; just go to the Garden on a Wednesday, a little before 9:00 a.m., and meet other volunteers at the large building in the middle of the Garden. All tools and gloves will be provided. Sturdy shoes are necessary, and flip-flops are discouraged. Bring a lunch for you to eat with the others at the end of the work time.

“If not able to stay for the full three-hour shift, volunteers are still welcome. Also, if you can only work once or twice a month, or if you are traveling and must take ‘time off’, that is fine,” remarks Alberg. “That is the beauty of volunteering.”

The Garden is one of Portland’s storied highlights for residents and visitors, and is open to all between March 1st and September 30th each year, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., for a $5.00 admission fee. There is no charge on Mondays, or after hours.

Ramps and trails are ADA-accessible. If the parking lot at the Garden is full, you can park across S.E. 28th Street at Reed College, in the lot at the Performing Arts Building.

Sellwood Moreland Cleanup, SMILE, Heiberg Garbage, Kris Heiberg, Westmoreland Park, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Sellwood and Westmoreland residents got rid of their trash, and recycled materials, at the May 18 SMILE Neighborhood Cleanup in Westmoreland Park. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Tons of trash make a good Sellwood-Westmoreland cleanup day


Neighbors lined up early, as the 39th annual “Sellwood-Moreland Neighborhood Cleanup” got underway in Westmoreland Park’s south parking lot on Saturday morning, May 18.

“Did you know that SMILE actually got an award from Oregon Governor ‘Ted’ Kulongoski, for having the longest continuously-running community cleanup in the state?” asked organizer Kris Heiberg – a former SMILE President, and executive at Heiberg Garbage and Recycling.

“In addition to accepting ‘bulky waste’ – stuff that’s too big to fit in a roll-can – we’re also giving neighbors the opportunity to recycle metal, block Styrofoam, and electronics,” smiled Heiberg. “And, we’ve set up a ‘re-use’ area, where people can drop off good reusable items they don’t want, or can take things they need!”

Some thirty volunteers were on hand to help neighborhood residents offload their trash, and put it in one of the many drop boxes at the site. Many were local businesspeople, recruited by the Sellwood-Moreland Business Alliance (SMBA) business association.

“We continue holding this cleanup because it helps spruce up the community, and at a very reasonable price,” Heiberg explained.

The event was run by the SMILE neighborhood association, and sponsored by Southeast Uplift, Metro, Heiberg Garbage and Recycling, Starbucks, 13 Virtues Brewing, Portland Parks and Recreation, and Free Geek. It’ll be back, mid-May, next year, if you missed it. Watch for it in THE BEE.

Asphalt garden, community garden, Powell Boulevard, Southeast Portland, Oregon
At the entry tent at the Foster-Powell Community Garden were Garden Coordinator Stacey Keller and garden volunteers Dana Schmidt and Erika Bailey. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Foster-Powell’s unique ‘garden on asphalt’ raises funds


On April 15th, the “Foster-Powell Community Garden” held its annual plant sale fundraiser. The garden at S.E. 62nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard is not your typical garden plot. Instead, it grows in raised beds on an asphalt pad, site of a former gas station. The garden uses rainwater from two 2,500-gallon cisterns on the lot. In spite of obstacles, the Garden continues to flourish, providing the neighborhood with a place to meet friends and garden.

Despite cold rainy weather, about a dozen volunteers arrived to assist the scores of shoppers who turned out. Donations included veggie starts, herbs, flowers, rose and berry bushes, cacti, bamboo, and indoor and outdoor landscaping plants.

Garden volunteer Dana Schmidt remarked to THE BEE, “We sold half our stuff before noon. People were showing up in spite of the rain, which points to the strength of our Foster-Powell community.”

Local merchants also helped out. Henry Higgins Bagels donated bagels and coffee, while volunteers Gray Ayer and Dana Schmidt provided snacks. “Our local merchants are great at donating things to our garden and our raffle,” smiled volunteer Erika Bailey, who also donated a portrait. Raffle items included games from Red Castle Games, two cubic yards of soil from Mt. Scott Fuel, and two gift certificates from Bamboo Grille Hawaiian Restaurant.

Garden founder and artist Vicky Wilson contributed a variety of ceramic items from her studio, which were offered free to buyers with each plant purchase. She also brought a wagonload of dry wood to prime the small fire piton site which warmed shoppers and volunteers. Wilson was on hiatus from the garden for six months last year, working as an artist-in-residence in the eastern United States, but now she’s back.

Garden volunteer Gray Ayer announced the successful propagation of fig and plum trees, and a kiwi vine planned to shade the “meeting shack”. “Unfortunately, our persimmon tree didn't make it, but we'll replant that,” he said. “Many of the fruit trees we planted last year didn't make it through last year’s hot summer, but we learn something even from the failures.”

Shoppers made many selections, and stayed to exchange horticultural information and local news items. Others toured the garden, scouting out the availability of raised beds.

The next event scheduled there is a community work party on June 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Garden Coordinator Stacey Keller commented, “This is also a great time to learn about Northwest native and invasive plants.” For more information on this “garden on asphalt”, go online –

Llewellyn Elementary School, auction, heroes and villains, Oaks Park, fundraiser, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
These costumed characters – Llewellyn Dinner Auction volunteers Jeanne Ballaris and Tamara Pugh – check bids during the silent auction. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Heroes and Villains’ raise funds for Llewellyn


Dastardly villains slinked in and superheroes boldly strode in – all converging on historic Oaks Amusement Park’s Dance Pavilion on Saturday evening, April 7.  They were not there to engage in mortal combat, but instead to raise funds in support of education at Llewellyn Elementary School in Westmoreland.

“It looks like everyone is having a lot of fun with the theme of our auction dinner this year – ‘League of Heroes, Den of Villains’,” grinned Llewellyn PTA Auction Chair Erica Morales. “All of the money from the ‘Bidding Paddle Raise’ are dedicated to the Llewellyn Foundation, as well as the teacher-hosted parties in the silent auction.”

A capacity crowd of 220 participants, mostly dressed as costumed characters, swirled about the silent auction tables bidding on all manner of merchandise and services.

The staff of Sellwood’s “a Cena” restaurant busied themselves setting out Caprese Salad on Crostini for nibbling, and created a dinner buffet of mixed green salad, gluten-free pasta salad, deep-fried polenta with Pomodoro sauce, roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary, and meat lasagna.

“It’s important to pitch in and work hard to put on our annual fundraiser, because the teachers in our school need our financial support,” reflected Morales.

While funding from the PTA helps purchase supplies and pay for outings, the money raised by the Foundation last year was used to “purchase” the a second grade teacher this year, she told THE BEE.

Organizers expected to meet or exceed the $95,000 in donations raised last year; the final total had not yet been announced at the time THE BEE went to press.

Morales, dressed as Tonya Harding (and her husband portraying Jeff Gillooly), said she enjoys seeing everyone having a good time. “And it is rewarding for me, and our 100 friends who put on this party, to see the culmination of 12 months’ worth of work – and to know that we’re helping improve our great school in immeasurable ways!”

Brentwood Darlington Cleanup, Woodstock, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Clean-up came to an end when the last drop box was filled. (David F. Ashton)

Brentwood-Darlington neighbors ‘clean up’ in May


After taking a year off, volunteers with the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association again held a “Neighborhood Clean-up” day on Saturday, May 5, giving residents of their neighborhood, and of adjoining Woodstock, a way to dispose of bulky waste that doesn’t fit in roll carts.

The pent-up demand was obvious; before the clean-up opened, cars and trucks were lined up along S.E. 60th Avenue, waiting their turn to drive into the Learning Gardens Laboratory parking lot, where Resource Recovery Systems drop boxes were stationed.

“We weren’t sure if we could have it this year, and we made the final arrangements just the week before it happened – but today, our event is going very well,” grinned Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association Chair Chelsea Powers. “The event ‘organically grew’ from two Board Members doing what needed to be done to make it happen; others joined in.

“We’d filled four drop boxes by 10:30 a.m., and decided not to take scrap metal and yard debris, to allow us to take more bulky waste; and by noon, we’d filled six large drop boxes.”

This neighborhood clean-up had succeeded beyond their expectations, Powers remarked. “Another way it helps is that donations, after expenses, help us to fund activities such as our ‘Movies in the Park’ night, our Spectacular Independence Day Celebration, and our National Night Out events.”

With the drop boxes filled to capacity, volunteers blocked off the driveway to end the collection – and were treated to a pizza lunch.

Balfour Park, Ardenwald, fundraiser, plant sale, Milwaukie, Oregon
Sales were brisk this year at the annual “Balfour Park Committee” plant sale in Ardenwald. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Plant sale brings ‘Balfour Park’ development nearer


Continuing an annual tradition, the Ardenwald Johnson Creek Neighborhood Association’s “Balfour Park Committee” again held a springtime plant-sale fundraiser, this year on Sunday, May 20.

Instead of holding the sale on the site of the planned park, as they did in their first year, lately it’s been located in the spacious and wooded back yard of Committee Chair Lisa Gunion-Rinker.

“We have so many plants donated for the sale each year that we collect here, that it would take all day to move them across the street,” Gunion-Rinker explained.

The plants come from neighborhood people, some of whom are members of the Hardy Plant Society, and others are donated by Master Gardeners, Gunion-Rinker said. “A lot of people are passionate about both parks and plants, so they pitch in to help us raise money.”

With the hoped-for major park development still in the distant future, Gunion-Rinker remarked that the committee is focusing on building a community garden soon, after working with the “Depave” organization to remove a driveway in the otherwise undeveloped park.

“We will pass having collected a total of $10,000 in our ongoing park fundraising this year; and, while that’s a lot of money, it’s far too little to begin developing Balfour Park,” acknowledged Gunion-Rinker. “But, these funds show genuine interest in the project, and will also allow us to apply for matching grants.”

With that, she turned back to help shoppers pick from the scores of plants set out for purchase.

You can learn more about the project at the Ardenwald neighborhood’s webpage:

Sellwood Middle School, 5K walk and run, fundraiser, Springwater Trail, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The SMS Foundation’s 5K Co-Organizer, Brent Welch; SMS Vice Principal Marylyn John; Principal Karl Newsome; and Organizer Lemmy Cooper, got together for a photo for THE BEE just before the 5K run and walk began. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Sellwood Middle School 5K Run moves to springtime


The event that started out years ago, then called “Run for Ed”, and now known as the Sellwood Middle School (SMS) “Foundation 5K Run”, originally held on the first of October.

But this year, organizers turned it into a spring event in hopes of better weather, said SMS Foundation volunteer and event organizer Lemmy Cooper. This year it took place on April 22.

“It’s not a competitive race; this is truly a ‘fun run and walk’ for those who come out to participate, on this fine morning,” Cooper grinned, as participants gathered in the field south of the school.

While folks warmed up for a run or walk, organizers held a “1K” event for little kids, in which they ran around the schoolyard several times, serenaded by music from the SMS Marimba Band. As the official start time of 10:00 a.m. for the main event neared, it appeared as if they were meeting their goal of 250 on hand to participate.

SMS Principal Karl Newsome was all smiles as it got underway. “That these volunteers and participants are here shows an awesome sense of investment and support of what we do,” he said. “I feel joyous and elated, seeing their collective effort to enhance what we do for our students in our community.”

At that point, the runners took off, followed by the walkers, bound eastward along S.E. Umatilla Street to 19th Avenue, south to the Springwater Corridor Trail, and east on that path to a turnaround at S.E. 37th Avenue, and then heading back to the school.

This run and walk is the school’s major fundraiser for its foundation, and this year they intended to raise $15,000 from registrations and 16 business sponsorships, Cooper told THE BEE. “My daughter is a sixth-grader here, and I’m volunteer because the funds the foundation raises will help ‘buy’ another full-time counselor at the school.”

With that, the rest of the participants ran off under the sunshine and into the cool, crisp morning air.

SMILE Open House, Sellwood Moreland Improvement League, SMILE Station, Sellwood, Corinne Stefanick, Elizabeth Milner, Southeast Portland, Oregon
At this SMILE Open House, we beheld the reverse of what one might typically see – here’s an adult, Elizabeth Milner, getting her face painted by a youngster – her daughter, Natalie Bouldin. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

SMILE’s open house promotes community participation


In an effort to get more neighbors involved as volunteers in the affairs of the neighborhood, the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) held an Open House on April 29 at SMILE Station.

“Leaders and members of SMILE committees are holding our Open House today to encourage people to learn what we do, and to consider becoming a volunteer,” explained the organizer, and past SMILE President, Corinne Stefanick. “My goal for the Open House is to have more connection between residents and renters in the neighborhood, and the business community as well.”

While there wasn’t a big crowd at any given time during this “drop-in” event, the room was busy, as many families took some time to come in, talk with the volunteers, visit with SMILE committees, enter the free prize drawing for gift cards and items provided by 27 area businesses, and enjoy snacks provided by New Seasons Market.

It takes “vibrant volunteers”, Stefanick commented, to help with issues ranging from land use, to transportation – a current issue being cut-through traffic in Sellwood – to putting on fun events.

“For example, we’re glad that so many people come to ‘Sundae in the Park’ on the first Sunday in August each year in upper Sellwood Park, but putting on this beloved event takes a lot of energy, and we’re looking for more volunteers,” Stefanick told THE BEE.

For those not sure in which field they’d like to volunteer, Stefanick encouraged neighbors to attend a SMILE neighborhood association General Meeting, held every “first Wednesday” of the month at SMILE Station, 13th and S.E. Tenino Street, starting at 7:30 p.m. It lasts an hour and a half or so.

Springwater Meadows, Springwater Trail, Springwater Gap, Sellwood, SMILE, Southeast Portland, Oregon
A five-year “Springwater Meadows” volunteer, SMILE Board Member Elizabeth Milner, says she’s excited to see the planting project nearing completion. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Springwater Meadows’ celebrates 5th anniversary with planting


Over the past year, volunteers have been tending a block in Sellwood along the Springwater Trail – on S.E. 9th Avenue, between Marion and Linn Streets – that they’ve called “Springwater Meadows”.

On Saturday morning, May 12, eighteen volunteers came out to the area – it’s next to the Oregon Pacific Railroad tracks – and as they worked, they waved to excursion train riders as they passed by, on their way back to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.

“During the year, we’ve planted many trees and shrubs; and today, we’re ‘filling in gaps’ between plants, and adding some more perennial native flowers,” remarked one of the day’s organizers, Nanci Champlin, an Eastmoreland resident.

The project actually began five years ago, Champlin reminded. “While this land is owned by Metro, and managed by Portland Parks & Recreation, SMILE has an agreement with the Parks Bureau to maintain it.”

During the development of the space, community members engaged in extensive public involvement efforts to decide what would be put on the site, Champlin recalled. “Because of the location, next to the Springwater Corridor Trail, the community decided that two things were most important: Safety; and providing habitat for wildlife.”

Metro approved a plan to create a habitat for pollinators, and provided a “Nature in Neighborhoods” grant to help fund the effort.

“One out of every three bites of food grows because of help from pollinators, such as birds, bees and butterflies,” Champlin observed. “Because pollinators are in a steep decline, we believe it’s important to create habitat for them.”

Champlin asked that their “watering superstars”, Rosemary Southwood and Renate Powell, be honored – for faithfully providing moisture to the growing plants over the summer. And, she also expressed thanks to the owner of the triplex nearby, for providing the water they use.

Hula Class, Woodstock, Woodstock Community Center, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The Woodstock hula dance class participants shown here are – bottom row, left to right – Cathy Ingram, Pauline Love, Mary Ellen Andre, and Mindy Gramberg; top row, from left: Chingling Reed, Aurelia Wight, Cathy Taylor, instructor Lisa Chang, Cindy Kapi’olani Selig, and Karen Williams. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Hula class for seniors draws widely at Woodstock Community Center


For many months, word has been spreading about a hula class at the Woodstock Community Center. That’s not surprising, given that participants are passionate about what it offers, and are proud that it has a strong sense of community and family.

That sense of family which participants mention is due to instructor Lisa Chang’s approach to the class – which she travels to from Aloha, near Hillsboro, to present in Woodstock. At each dance class, a “sit-down” time in the middle of the ninety-minute session is set aside to learn the Hawaiian language and culture, and to pronounce the names of the dances and the “Body Songs.”  

One result of the family-like cohesion of the class has been the creation of a “Hula Hands Cookbook of Favorite Soups” that the group has published. Classmate Aurelia Wight writes: “Over the months, we have grown as a team, working together to perfect the Hawaiian hula with accurate footwork and hand gestures.”

This particular “family” is open to all – and keeps expanding, month after month. On a recent Friday morning, nine hula students from Southeast Portland shared with THE BEE what they like about the class. These comments include the names of the interviewees and their neighborhoods:

Karen Williams, Eastmoreland: “It’s pretty appropriate that the instructor lives in Aloha, don’t you think? Because of the ‘sit-down’ half-way through, we have a sense of community.” Cathy Ingram, Sellwood: “I looked for a hula class in Portland for a long, long time. It was hard to find one in this area. When I found this one at the Woodstock Community Center, I was overjoyed.”

Cathy Taylor, Westmoreland: “I was looking for a low-impact class near my neighborhood for people over 60, and I wanted to meet other women my age that live near me.”

Aurelia Wight, Eastmoreland: “It’s fabulous. I’ve met people, and after class we go to lunch each week. I’ve done a lot of PP&R classes, and this hula class is very special. It is like writing poetry, which I do.”

Mindy Gramberg, Mt. Tabor: “I saw this class was for people over sixty, so I knew there was no pressure. I like the cultural pieces; we made lei’s at Lisa’s studio, and it was so fun.”

Mary Ellen Andre, Richmond: “I was looking for something to help with balance and fall prevention. There is no Community Center in my neighborhood. When I walked in the door here it felt like ‘family’ from the very beginning – a sense of community.”

Chingling Reed, Sunnyside: “I used to watch hula dances in Eugene, and then I found this class. It’s true – I feel right at home here, more so than in Taiwan, where classes have less camaraderie.”

Cindy Kapi’olani Selig, Brentwood-Darlington: “In the ’80’s I was interested in Hawaiian culture, but I had a job and no time. In retirement, I was looking for a class that would be good for my body and mind, which the choreography offers. I didn’t expect a real sense of family. And this is a perfect place for hula – with wooden floors, mirrors, and a calm atmosphere.”

Pauline Love, Sellwood: “In Aloha [Oregon] I took a Tahitian dance class, but it took an hour to get there. The commute nearly killed us. I used to dance hula in Hawai’i. It is good exercise, and it’s affordable!”

At the end of these interviews, Cathy Ingram added an observation about the possible closure of some of Portland’s Community Centers – including Woodstock: “People really support the Portland Parks and Recreation tax levies. So why can’t we be sustainable, like the library? Community Centers affect so many people, as the library does. And, like the library, there is inclusion – they’re available to everyone.”

Instructor Lisa Chang is owner of Hula Halau ‘Ohana Holo’oko’a, an Aloha-based school, where she has taught hula dance along with Hawaiian language, stories, and songs for twenty years. For information on Chang’s background, search her name online. Chang’s own website is:

The Woodstock Hula Dance Class, for those sixty years and older, is on Friday mornings 10-11:30, at the Woodstock Community Center, 5905 S.E. 43rd Avenue. The next session runs from June 15 through July 13. The cost is $33.75 per month, or $5 for a drop-in class. At last report, a few openings may still remain in the June-July session. To register for the class call 503/823-7529, or register in person at the Woodstock Community Center.

Southeast Events and Activities
Milk Carton Boat Races today in Westmoreland Park:
A unique Portland tradition dating back to 1973, the “Royal Rosarians Milk Carton Boat Races”, a Rose Festival event, will take place today at the historic Westmoreland Park Casting Pond starting at 11 a.m. (Check-in opens at 9:30 a.m. for participants.) It’s free to attend, and has prizes for winning racers of boats constructed of empty milk cartons and jugs. Fun event for all ages. For race information and free registration, go online – – and, to see the basics of building a Milk Carton Race Boat, go to –

“Fascinating World of Reptiles” at Sellwood Library:
Join the Reptile Man, a/k/a Richard Ritchey, in meeting his outstanding crew of snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises this afternoon, 2-3 p.m., at the Sellwood Branch Library. Richard has been delighting audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years, and has assembled a traveling collection of scaled predators that is unrivaled in quality and reputation. Seating is limited; free tickets will be available 30 minutes in advance. The library is on the corner of S.E. 13th and Bidwell Street.

Woodstock blood drive for the Red Cross: This afternoon, 2-7 p.m., the Red Cross will hold a blood drive at Woodstock Bible Church, 5101 S.E. Mitchell Street – near the intersection of 52nd and Mitchell. To secure a specific time to give, please go online – – to schedule your appointment.  Walk-ins are welcome also. Your blood donation helps to save lives.

Benefit concert for Rovello Tennis Courts at Aladdin: To raise funds for advanced ongoing maintenance of the Alex Rovello Memorial Tennis Courts on S.E. Chavez Blvd (39th) at Bybee Boulevard, three-time Grammy nominee “Acoustic Alchemy” will perform a benefit concert tonight at the Aladdin Theater, on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue half a block south of Powell Boulevard. Tickets online at – – or at the theater boxoffice. $30 per ticket. Doors open 6:30 p.m.; show starts at 7:30 p.m.; appropriate for all ages.

Free concert tonight on S.E. Duke Street:
At 7:30 p.m. this evening, Apostolic Faith Church presents its free Midsummer Concert, featuring classical and sacred music performed by the Apostolic Faith orchestra, choir, ensembles, and soloists. Located at 5601 SE Duke Street. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., and the concert begins at 7:30. No ticket is necessary; this is a free community event and all are welcome. For more information, go online –

11-mile “Portland Bridge Swim” begins in Sellwood
: The 11-mile swimming race from the Sellwood Bridge to the St. Johns Bridge starts this morning at 7:30 a.m. at Sellwood Riverfront Park. The competing swimmers will be gathering at the park starting about 6 a.m. Spectators welcome! For more information, go online:

Sellwood Riverfront Concerts start tonight, 6:30:
The first of the four 2018 Monday night free evening concerts in July at Sellwood Riverfront Park, at the foot of S.E. Spokane Street, begins with Farnell Newton and The Othership Connection, performing “funk and soul with a twist”. Presented by Portland Parks and Recreation and sponsored by Collage and other local businesses, as well as SMBA, and SMILE and its “Sellwood Riverfront Concerts Committee”.

Free Outdoor Youth Concert tonight on Duke Street: At 7 p.m. this evening, the Apostolic Faith Church will be presenting a free Outdoor Youth Concert: The Apostolic Faith combined youth orchestra and choir will present a concert on the front lawn of our campground located at 5414 S.E. Duke Street. Those who attend can bring a blanket or lawn chair to sit on. This is a free community event; no ticket purchase is necessary. For more information go online –

Advanced Excel Spreadsheets class in Sellwood:
This free class at the Sellwood Branch Library, 10 a.m. to noon today, is for people who already know the basics of using Microsoft Excel. Come to this class to learn how to sort, group, and filter data in an Excel spreadsheet; correct a circular reference; create an absolute reference; define functions; and display your data. It’s free, but registration is required; register in the library, or by calling 503/988-5123. The library is on the corner of S.E. Bidwell and 13th.

Oregon Bird Man at Sellwood Library today: Meet the Oregon Bird Man and his parrots! This educational and entertaining program for families features a wide assortment of parrot species from four continents – including many endangered species. Learn about the natural history and unique behaviors of these beautiful creatures, as well as what is happening to them today in the wild, and things to know about parrots before getting one as a pet. Free tickets available 30 minutes in advance. It’s 2 to 3 p.m. this afternoon at the Sellwood Branch Library, S.E. 13th at Bidwell Street.

“Digging for Dinosaurs” for families in Woodstock:
At the Woodstock Branch Library at two times this afternoon – 2-3 p.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m. – families are invited to a free visit to a time when dinosaurs walked the earth! Make a fossil cast, behave like a dinosaur, and more. Become a paleontologist, by using fossils as clues into the past. Free, but registration is required; register in the library, or by calling 503/988.5123. The Woodstock Library is on the corner of Woodstock Boulevard and S.E. 49th Avenue.

Public invited for Holy Family BBQ, games, auction: It's the full meal deal at the Holy Family Church field at S.E. Chavez Blvd (formerly 39th) and Flavel Street – delicious hot dogs and chicken sausage, corn on the cob, salad, watermelon, chips, Otter Pops, and a beverage. So much good food for just $6 per person, or $30 per family. From 5:30 to 8 p.m., in addition to the picnic, there will be volleyball, cornhole, live music, and fantastic auction items. Proceeds benefit Holy Family Youth Ministry.

“12 Key Acupressure Points for Everyday Health” in Woodstock:
Yiwen Yoga presents an experiential holistic event for adults – sharing information based on the wisdom of the ancients to improve your health and strengthen your immune system. Learn how to find and self-massage the most commonly-applied pressure points in the Traditional Chinese Medicine system for everyday care and optimal health. Free, but registration is required; register in the Woodstock Library or by calling 503/988-5123. The class is 2 to 3 p.m. this afternoon in the Woodstock Branch Library, S.E. 49th at Woodstock Boulevard.

Sellwood Riverfront Park Concert tonight:
The July concert series led by Portland Parks and Recreation, and sponsored by SMILE, SMBA, a number of local merchants, and the Sellwood Riverfront Park Concerts Committee, continues tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the foot of S.E. Spokane Street in Sellwood, with the Lloyd Jones Quartet and LaRhonda Steele offering “spontaneous blues, jazz, and soul”.  Free.

Third July Riverfront Concert tonight in Sellwood:
The concert tonight in Sellwood Riverfront Park, at the foot of S.E. Spokane Street, is by Skybound Blue, performing “harmony-driven Americana”. Its free, and starts at 6:30 p.m., presented by Portland Parks and Recreation, and sponsored by a variety of Inner Southeast businesses, SMILE and its Sellwood Riverfront Park Concerts Committee, and SMBA.

Families – Make your own Diorama at Sellwood Library:
Let your imagination flow and create your own tiny world, in this free Diorama workshop. Participants will have access to a wide variety of unique materials to re-purpose and build miniature scenes in boxes – such as decorative paper, vintage magazines, ribbon, fabric, broken jewelry bits, buttons, tile, corks, bottle caps, wood, and more. “SCRAP” provides an exciting introduction to “creative reuse art” with every workshop by sharing examples of projects to inspire reuse! Free tickets available 30 minutes in advance. It’s this afternoon 2-3 p.m., at the Sellwood Branch Library, S.E. 13th at Bidwell Street.

Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast in Eastmoreland:
Holy Family Parish's newly-formed Knights of Columbus chapter is cooking up breakfast for Inner Southeast this morning… Enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage, and beverages from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. inside Celebration Hall, across from the church entrance, at S.E. Chavez Blvd (formerly 39th) at Flavel Street. It's a tasty bargain at only $5 per person, or $15 for the whole family! Cash or card accepted.

Westmoreland Red Cross blood drive:
The Red Cross Bloodmobile will be back on the parking lot at Moreland Presbyterian Church this afternoon, 2-7 p.m., on S.E. 19 th just south of Bybee Boulevard. The need for blood continues, and you can help save a life. Walk-ins accommodated as schedule allows, but it’s best to obtain an appointment by calling 1-800/733-2767, or going online to – – and entering sponsor code: MorelandPresbyterian.

Final Riverfront Park Concert of the season: The fourth and final free summer Monday evening concert of 2018 in Sellwood Riverfront Park, at the foot of S.E. Spokane Street, features Sabroso, offering “passionate, acoustic Latin funk”. Presented by Portland Parks and Recreation, and sponsored by a variety of local merchants, SMBA, and by SMILE, and its Sellwood Riverfront Park Concerts Committee.

Chemistry “Reaction Action” in Sellwood this afternoon:
Chemical reactions abound, in this fun science demonstration for families – and your reaction to these reactions will be awe and wonder! This free demonstration includes a genie in a bottle, burning water, the lemon shuffle, the WOOSH Bottle, and more. Free tickets available 30 minutes in advance. It’s this afternoon, 2-2:45 p.m., at the Sellwood Branch Library, S.E. 13th at Bidwell Street.

“Summerville” merchant promotion today:
Today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance (SMBA) presents all-day, all-neighborhood activities and sales as “Summerville”. Typical of the community activities is one taking place on the sidewalk outside the Sellwood-Westmoreland Branch Library on S.E. 13th – with big paper, colorful markers, and words that come quickly to mind, the nonprofit Rogue Pack Storytelling Theatre for youth will help passersby tell your own unique story – fun for all ages. For more information on “Summerville” go online –

“Sundae in the Park” all day today in Sellwood:
Upper Sellwood Park is the location of SMILE’s annual party in Inner Southeast, with free entertainment starting at noon in the park, under the trees – with Quartetto Allegro playing tunes from classical to pop, followed by three other major entertainment acts all afternoon, plus many family activities, and inexpensive ice cream sundaes served all afternoon by Southeast Portland Rotary. Food will be available at reasonable prices courtesy of St. Agatha’s, too. In the evening, there’s more live entertainment by the Harvest Gold, a Neil Young tribute band – finishing with a Portland Parks and Recreation “Movie in the Park”, sponsored by the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance (SMBA): 2017’s “Star Wars – The Last Jedi”. It’s Southeast’s biggest all-day family party, and open to all.


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