The "Events and Activities" for the month are below these featured stories!
|The introduction of firefighting horses at the Sellwood fire station greatly improved the speed with which the fire brigade reached fires. It was in 1907 that the Sellwood Volunteer Firefighters were replaced with experienced professional firemen and well-trained horses. Here, Hose Company #4 poses outside of Sellwood Firehouse #20, with a black spaniel on board as a companion. The double folding doors had by then replaced the bay doors of the original station, built in 1896. (Courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society)
The VERY early days of Fire Station 20
By DANA BECK
Special to THE BEE
On a typical overcast, slate-grey winter day in Portland nearly a century ago, the tolling of the fire bell at Sellwood’s Fire Station #20, then located at S.E. Tenino and 13th, signaled a call to arms for local firemen.
Responding to a fire on unpaved roads, as THE BEE at the time lamented on one particular occasion, the fire engine hit a Ford coupé – and then rammed another car – in its haste to get to the scene of the blaze.
Undeterred by this mishap, the determined Engineer at the wheel then plowed through four blocks of mud to arrive at a smoked-filled house at 7th and S.E. Nehalem. There, the fire crew swept into action, dousing the flames at the rear of the house. The firefighters also made sure the occupants were safely outside, with no casualties reported.
But, during the subsequent fire investigation, a handmade illegal still was determined to have exploded and caused the fire. Police officers, who arrived quickly after the fire truck’s arrival, seized 250 gallons of homemade mash. It was not reported in the paper whether the fire engine was cited for hit-and-run.
In the time of Prohibition, when it was illegal to buy or sell alcoholic beverages, some people tried to make them – which is as illegal today as it was then. The owner of the singed home was promptly hauled down to the police station and arrested for manufacturing liquor.
Just an incident in the life of a firefighter in Sellwood, almost a century ago!
However, there was a fire station in Sellwood way back in the later 19th Century, when Sellwood was an independent town for a few years, and the firefighters were all volunteers.
It came about at a meeting held at Sellwood City Hall on Umatilla Street. Those in attendance voted to organize a fire protection committee, and the first task for committee members was to assemble a firefighting crew for the town – and that same night a fire brigade was organized. Twenty robust and dedicated men immediately volunteered their services, and prominent businessmen J.E. Reinke was chosen as the foreman to lead the crew.
Everything seemed to be in place, and Sellwood Volunteer Fire Company No.1 was officially formed. Once the meeting was adjourned, the people of Sellwood seemed to be content that they had a firefighting crew sufficient to handle any emergency.
It apparently wasn’t until the next day that residents realized they if they had a fire department, they still lacked a fire truck, firefighting equipment, hoses, and even a fire station to house all the apparatus needed for an emergency! William Hogg offered his barn at 11th and S.E. Spokane as temporary quarters for the fire crew, until one could be built.
At the start of the hunt for a place to build a firehouse for the fire brigade, Sellwood administrators called upon the City of Portland’s fire department for funds to build a firehouse. But there just wasn’t enough money in the firemen’s fund to assist the volunteers of Sellwood – or any other community in the Rose City. As a consolation to Sellwood, however, and to start its drive for firefighting equipment, Portland Fire Commissioner Sylvester Farrell presented to the new fire brigade a Babcock hand-held fire extinguisher, and a deep-toned bell to be used to alert the town of any catastrophe. Basically, though, the community was still on its own!
Like a political candidate campaigning for supporters, the volunteers’ foreman, J.E. Reinke, petitioned business associations around the city and made rousing speeches to religious groups, fraternity organizations, and other groups, seeking cash contributions for construction of a new Sellwood firehouse, and all the needed equipment.
With only a limited budget, Sellwood’s volunteer firefighters relied heavily on their newly-formed Ladies Auxiliary, created in 1896, to supply the fire brigade with the needed fire equipment. Fundraising took the form of monthly dances, celebrations. and other promotions, organized by the ladies to help supply the Sellwood volunteers with axes, pike poles, hand saws, and lanterns.
Fire brigade foreman Reinke was finally able to secure a piece of property owned by the city at the corner of S.E. 13th Avenue and Tenino Street, and lumber from the Sellwood Saw Mill was donated to help construct the new fire station. Local carpenters volunteered their talents; and in 1896 an impressive 28-by-80-foot, two-story firehouse was finally built and ready. Two double-bay doors provided access for the hook and ladder, and the hose wagon that was later purchased.
The deep-toned fire bell was hung high over the station’s entrance. A hose-drying tower was set in the middle of the structure, so 20 and 30-foot hoses could be hung to dry after use, to extend their serviceability. There was, upstairs, a lot of open space, to be rented out as a community hall – where dances, firemen’s balls, holiday celebrations, and neighborhood meetings could be held – with the rent money to be used for buying additional firefighting equipment.
Water cisterns installed around the community made it easier for the “fire boys” to connect hose wagons to a cistern or a city hydrant, for pumping water by hand to fight a fire. But the volunteer fire brigade had their work cut out for them – unfortunately, getting the fire apparatus to a fire, by foot, in a timely manner – was a real problem.
Most roads in Sellwood in the 1890s were of hard-packed dirt, and only a few of the main streets – like Umatilla, or Spokane – were even planked, to provide a better surface. During rainy winters, the husky boys and athletic strongmen of the Sellwood volunteer fire brigade had a hard time dragging a water hose truck through the mud to the scene of a fire. 13th Avenue, which had streetcar rails running down the middle, was still otherwise just a dirt road. And when the “fire laddies” finally arrived, they were already worn out from hauling their equipment from the firehouse to the fire!
In 1900, the Ladies Auxiliary again came to the rescue of the fire brigade. They raised enough money to pay for the installation of electricity in the Sellwood Firehouse. But having electricity was just not enough; the editor of the THE BEE at the time often wasn’t very complimentary about the speed with which the fire brigade got to the fires. Some articles described how a burning house was already in ashes by the time the fire team pulled up.
BEE news reporting of the era included a catastrophic blaze at the Portland Woolen Mills. In 1901, the drying sheds there caught fire. When the fire brigade arrived, they set about using water drawn from Johnson Creek to quench the flames – but, as unhappily had happened on many other occasions as well, the subsequent water pressure from the hoses was insufficient to have any real effect on the raging flames. The Portland Woolen Mills was a total loss.
Other conflagrations of the time included the Miller barn at the corner of 17th and S.E. Miller, which burnt to the ground because an oil lamp had fallen into a pile of hay. The Volunteer fire crew did arrive in time to save the structure – but they found that the nearest fire hydrant was three blocks away, further away than their hoses would reach. The men were reduced to having to fight the flames with a bucket brigade – an inadequate response, and an embarrassment for any firefighting crew in 1916.
Then, in 1911, Sellwood faced an actual fire scandal, when fire Captain George W. Stokes had to appear before a Fire Executive Board – where he was found guilty of drinking on the job, sleeping through an alarm, and jeering junior firefighters. The Board members recommended reducing his rank, and reviewing his work ethic again in the future.
Other interesting fire incidents that were not directly related to firefighting were reported in the pages of THE BEE – such as the time when Willis Hamilton and his wife returned home to find their front door ajar. They promptly called the fire department – to ask them to call the police! But instead, the Sellwood fire crew arrived at the crime scene with loaded rifles and shotguns. Alas, the criminal was long gone by the time of their arrival.
When called to help fight a raging forest fire near Mt. Hood, Sellwood firefighting volunteers brought back an abandoned bear cub that was adopted by Captain Stokes, and which served as a mascot.
After nearly twelve years of grueling yet exciting times, the era the volunteer fire brigade came to an end. In 1907, the City of Portland combined the city’s north and southeast fire stations with the fire stations on the west side of the Willamette River, forming the Municipal Fire Department. Paid and trained firefighters replaced the volunteers, and they moved into the newly-named Sellwood Fire Station #20, after the volunteers boys had cleaned out their lockers and left.
The tall false-fronted firehouse was remodeled, at that time, to provide stables in the ground floor of the building for the addition of horses. Horses were much faster and more reliable in hauling fire equipment to fires than were a bunch of men struggling with ropes. A double folding door was added to the front, for exit and entrance of horses and wagons, and permanent living quarters were added upstairs for those who would be living at the station fulltime.
If watching young firemen muttering curses under their breath while they strained to haul hose and ladder wagons to a fire by hand had provided entertainment to the public, now the gallant charge of a team of horses pulling fire wagons was even more exhilarating to bystanders.
The rumbling of hooves on the pavement, and even on hard-packed dirt, could be heard from blocks away – and the sound of the fire bell was cause for any merchant or patron to stop what they were doing and rush out to the street to watch as the fire wagons rumbled by. For those who were lucky enough to see the team depart their quarters, the bay doors would swing open, and a horse harness was lowered from the ceiling to connect the horses to the fire wagon. Once ready, a shout from the team leader sent the wagon, and the men hanging precariously onto the rear of the wagon, off to fight their next fire.
Often firefighters had to contend with crowds of spectators at the fire – as housewives, bored with their daily tasks, nosy neighbors, and unsupervised children gathered around a smoldering house for entertainment. Sometimes bystanders even hindered the fire brigade itself as it worked to fight the fire. Today’s modern firefighters can relate to that problem.
Men and boys never tired of the spectacle of watching horses and fire brigades in action. Boys often waited in the shadow of the firehouse when the horses returned from an alarm, volunteering to take the horses out for a “cooling down” walk after their strenuous run. Meantime the daily activities of firefighters included cleaning stalls, feeding oats and bran mash, and washing down the horses’ legs. Firefighters became good horse-keepers, and even oiled and polished the hooves of the station horses to keep them from wearing down.
After their hard day’s work, Portland firefighters were paid between 36 cents to 40 cents an hour, back in 1925.
Dogs also proved valuable companions in firehouses. Most of these dogs were trained to clear the way on the fire route, and to keep other dogs from interfering with the team of horses on their way to a fire. They also kept curious boys and overzealous onlookers away from the fire hydrants, or the burning structure itself.
Dalmatians are often associated with firehouses, inasmuch as they had the speed and endurance to keep up with the fire wagons, and were considered more compatible with horses than other breeds. But, from historic photos of the Sellwood Engine House, other dogs served at the station as well – a black spaniel, a golden retriever, and an American pitbull (Staffordshire terrier) among them.
One reported tragedy was the death of “Pouch”, a dog who had been the Sellwood Fire Station mascot in 1916. He was found dead by fireman Sleighten – or so said The Oregonian – struck down by a passing auto; he had been a favorite with the neighborhood children for over ten years.
In the following years, Sellwood Engine Company #20 purchased a hook and ladder truck, four chemical fire extinguishers, and a horse-drawn Amoskeag hose reel wagon. A La France Metropolitan steam pumper hauled by three horses was later added to the fleet.
The romantic era of the firefighting horses came to its end when Portland’s Chief Fire Engineer, David Campbell, began showcasing the new gasoline staff car he’d recently bought for the Portland Fire Department. By beating horse-drawn vehicles to a fire, he attempted to convince the voting public and firefighters that motorized vehicles were the future of firefighting. Autos were cheaper and faster, compared to horses, which also produced as a byproduct 50 pounds of waste per day.
Although Campbell recognized the need to modernize the fire department, he underestimated the relationship between firemen and their horses, and horses’ popularity by the public, and it wasn’t an easy sell – but in the end it was clear he was right.
After only thirteen years of horse-driven service to the community, the citizens of Sellwood and its firefighters sadly saw their beloved fire horses sold off to area farmers. Some of them were reduced to hauling milk or vegetable wagons – still often delivered to homes the old-fashioned way.
In 1914, some 64 horses were replaced by 23 gasoline-powered fire engines, and by 1920 the last firefighting team of horses had been retired.
As the Portland Fire Department turned from fire horses to motorized fire trucks, THE BEE shifted its attention to the condition of the Sellwood firehouse: “The old firehouse is falling down” it declared, and the editor encouraged the city to pony up for a new Sellwood fire station for the new gasoline-powered emergency vehicles.
Many of Portland’s old wooden firehouses were indeed outdated by then, and certainly in need of replacement. The Fire Department looked to one of its own, Battalion Chief Lee Gray Holden, to design a more modern fire station. Subsequently, Holden gained international attention with what he came up with – the first Bungalow-style fire station design, intended to blend in better with the homes surrounding it.
Although he was at best an amateur architect, Holden went on to build twenty-four bungalow-style stations (eleven of them still exist today), which made Portland well-known across the nation in the fire community. And, during his 40-year service, Holden also designed various fireboats for the Portland Fire Department, too.
There are conflicting reports of just when the new Sellwood bungalow-style fire station was finished; city records list the Sellwood Station as having been built in 1926, but The Oregonian and THE BEE announced the more probable date of January 25, 1921, as the official completion date of the station – which was built at a cost of $10,300. The interior included a living room with a stucco fireplace, a men’s dormitory with a bathroom (with a shower and bathtub), and with private lockers lining the wall.
A full basement beneath the fire station was used as a workshop, and 20 firefighters were assigned to the station on a rotating basis.
Captain W.A. Wilson, who was the official photographer for the Portland Fire Bureau, used a portion of the basement of Station #20 as a darkroom for processing his photos. A set of swinging doors made of imitation brick, to match the exterior, opened up to store the single fire engine in the garage section at the front of the building. A wooden windowbox was included on the outside, for a while, to give the firehouse the feeling of a typical English style cottage!
For the next 31 years the little bungalow fire station served the area. Then, in the 1950s, the fire department decided once again to replace its aging firehouses around Portland. In 1957, a three-million-dollar ballot measure was passed by voters – and Sellwood Fire Station #20 was shifted to a new building at its current location in Westmoreland: 22nd Avenue and S.E. Bybee Boulevard, at the north end of Westmoreland Park.
The old fire station building on 13th Avenue was rented out for special events, and at one time was a training center for traffic surveyors employed by the State Highway Department. By the start of 1963 the Sellwood Youth Activity Group had taken over the little brick building; and although it was still owned by the Portland Fire Department, it even later became a home for the Sellwood-Moreland Boys Club. A basketball hoop was placed on the front driveway, and boys from around the neighborhood were welcome to come inside for a game of pool, or to sign up for the seasonal soccer and football leagues that formed in the summertime.
Girls were also welcome at the club, but were not allowed membership until the 1990s, when the organization was renamed the “Boys and Girls Club”. The local club subsequently moved north onto a block formerly the location of a Safeway store, on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Rex Street in Westmoreland – recently redeveloped as the “Meetinghouse” full-block apartment house, after the Meyer Boys and Girls Club moved south into Clackamas County.
In 1990 the “Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League” neighborhood association (SMILE) saved the beloved former Sellwood fire station – buying it from the Portland Fire Department. Hundreds of hours of volunteer labor, restoration, and remodeling, updated the vintage fire station – and today it is a resource for the neighborhood, and is known as SMILE Station. It is used for SMILE meetings, as well as other meetings of all sorts – and it’s also rented out by SMILE for wedding receptions, celebrations, family gatherings, and other events.
One more story before we’re done.
Over 100 years ago, in 1914, a small boy asked Captain Edward L. Boatright of the Sellwood Fire Company if he could mend his broken toy wagon to give to his brother for Christmas.
This was the first spark that led to the beginning of the “Toy and Joy Makers” project, wherein fire stations across Portland – then and now – collect toys to give out to less-fortunate children during the Holidays.
Why not start your own tradition, this Christmas Season? Donate a toy – or money – to any of the many businesses and organizations collecting gifts each year to give to boys and girls who might not otherwise have a present for Christmas!
|Wearing a traditional Mongolian gown and headdress, Uyanga Gankhuyag is one of three Mongolian musicians performing at the Genghis Kahn exhibition. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Genghis Khan exhibit at OMSI thru mid-February
By DAVID F. ASHTON
|For THE BEE
Although taking a trip to a distant exotic location may be out of the question these days, depending upon what the coronavirus restrictions may be at any given time you might be able to travel through space and time to 13th-century Mongolia – through stories, historical artifacts, and live performances at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), while learning about one of the world’s most controversial leaders, at “The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan”.
The current exhibit tells the story of Genghis Khan – a poor, fatherless, nomadic boy who developed the skills and cunning to establish the largest land empire ever to exist on Earth.
That’s what we learned from OMSI Feature Hall Assistant Manager Jennifer Powers during our visit. Go to the OMSI website to learn when you might be able to visit, also.
Live performances enhance Mongolia’s cultural legacy
In an area of the exhibition, Powers introduced us to a trio from Mongolia, who play music in their traditional clothing throughout each day.
“I feel very happy and excited doing this, because everywhere we travel, we take our homeland with us – sharing our traditions, our music, and our dance and art customs from Genghis Khan’s homeland,” said troupe leader Gankhauyag Natsag.
“The best part of doing this, for me, is that since 2009, we have been able to present our performances at exhibitions across North America – letting people to see, hear, and enjoy some our culture,” Natsag remarked.
Genuine artifacts, not reproductions
While some historical exhibits are filled with reproductions – as authentic-looking as they may be – that’s not the case here. The new OMSI presentation, assembled by Exhibits Rex, Inc., was developed in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It’s replete with genuine objects on loan from numerous museums and collectors. One such collector is Traveling Managing Curator Francis Boid.
“The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan” exhibition presents about 300 authentic artifacts, ranging from rare and sophisticated weapons to costumes, jewels, ornaments, instruments, and numerous other Mongolian relics.
A multi-faceted exhibition
“This exhibit explores what it was like during the Mongol Empire, and, the timeline of Genghis Khan,” Powers told THE BEE. “People who come will get to learn about Genghis Khan in an unbiased way, and be able to make their own decision about his place in history, and what his legacy means today.”
The exhibit is more than just a glimpse of artifacts, Powers remarked – but instead, it’s an immersive experience that takes one through the rise of the Mongol Empire, through six key scenes and eight unique galleries:
- The Grasslands: Discover the daily life of a nomad.
- Rise of the Mongols: Learn how Genghis Khan united warring tribes in order to form an unrivaled cavalry.
- The Walled City: Enter the recreation of Karakorum, when arts and diverse religions and cultures flourished as the need for war subsided.
- The Silk Road: Explore this vital trade route which enabled the exchange of both goods and ideas between cultures.
- The Palace of Kublai Khan: Go into the Chinese palace of Xanadu and see porcelain treasures and a sword with the emblem of a guardian of Marco Polo.
- Mongolia Today: Understand the distinctive nomadic culture of Genghis Khan’s time which lives on, eight centuries after his rule.
“By learning about other cultures, we’re broadening our worldview, hopefully – incorporating some of what we’ve learned into our own lives as well,” Powers said.
“The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan” will be on display at OMSI through February 15th.
Exhibit admissions are restricted, with staggered entry times, when state restrictions allow it to be open at all.
Visitors are advised to determine the current status of the exhibit and to purchase tickets online, before you visit, so you won’t be disappointed. The place to go online is – http://www.omsi.edu
|Even though sometimes, during the pandemic, it’s only in his Woodstock backyard, “Artists Sunday” participant Daniel Reyes Llinás continues to perform music. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Local musicians participate in national ‘Artists Sunday’
By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE
Most everyone has heard about “Black Friday”, “Small Business Saturday”, and “Cyber Monday” – three major shopping days after Thanksgiving Day, as folks get ready for their Christmas celebration.
But, we’d never heard of “Artists Sunday” until Dunja Marcum of East Winds Music brought it to our attention. This nationwide initiative was promoted here by the Oregon Arts Commission, and is intended to help artists sell their art and promote their music during the Holiday Season – mainly on what’s now called “Artists Sunday”, November 29.
“I'm the music director of East Winds Music, operating “Vibe of Portland” – which is now closed, due to COVID-19 – an arts-education nonprofit that has done events in places such as the Brentwood-Darlington Moose Lodge,” Marcum told THE BEE.
She introduced us to one of their East Winds Music participants in “Artists Sunday”, Daniel Reyes Llinás, who lives and works in the Woodstock neighborhood.
“I’m from Columbia, having moved here three years ago,” Llinás told us. “I’m a guitarist and composer – classical by training – playing, teaching, and writing my own contemporary music.”
Before moving here, Llinás scored films such as “Carmen G”, released in 2012, and the 2008 motion picture, “The Endless Love of Salamae”.
His genre of music isn’t easily defined: “Some is Latin American music; also electric guitar, and soundscapes.
“I’m part of the ‘Parias Ensemble’, an instrumental group that has been ongoing since 2007, creating a both ‘noted’ and ‘improv’ music, inspired by rock, jazz and South Amerian styles,” Llinás explained.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily put an end to his public performances, travel, and teaching, Llinás said he’s still been creating music, including a new EP released on December 4. “Thanks to the Internet, I’ve collaborated with artists all over the world on this project, with contributors from Berlin, New York, Columbia, Argentina.”
You can learn more about his music from his website – http://www.llinasmusic.com
And now you know more about the latest after-Thanksgiving “shop local” shopping day – buying music on “Artists Sunday”.
|Andrew Land, Senior Neighborhood Tree Specialist for Friends of Trees, plants a Venus Dogwood in Eastmoreland in November. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he worked alone, on a weekday, to finish up the total of 145 trees planted by the nonprofit across two weeks in four Inner Southeast neighborhoods. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)
‘Friends of Trees’ fall plantings observed COVID precautions
By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE
Rain or shine, throughout each year, nonprofit “Friends of Trees” has planted over 850,000 trees since its founding in Portland 31 years ago. Its motto, regarding the plantings, is “Safety, fun, getting it done.”
That slogan took on new meaning during the coronavirus pandemic. With safety measures in place, adhering to the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority, plantings have been taking place with fewer volunteers – but the plantings have continued.
This current planting season started on Hallowe’en, and will continue until the beginning of April. Trees are best planted in the colder months, when they are dormant, because it is least stressful on them when they are “sleeping”.
Recently, in the week before and after November 18th, the planting of 145 trees took place in the Brentwood-Darlington, Eastmoreland, Sellwood-Westmoreland, and Woodstock neighborhoods. There were further plantings scheduled in Brooklyn in December.
On Wednesday, November 18th, THE BEE caught up with Andrew Land, an arborist and Senior Neighborhood Tree Specialist for Friends of Trees, who has worked with the organization for ten years. He is an expert tree planter, inasmuch as he was a volunteer for three years before that.
Working alone, planting a Venus Dogwood in Eastmoreland near the corner of S.E. 34th Avenue and Reed College Place, Land explained to us that Friends of Trees has changed its organizing to be in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.
“We are keeping it ‘inner circle’; so this past Saturday we carried on with thirty people arriving in two shifts – giving folks a [distant] huddle each time four to six people showed up, making it decentralized and distanced. After that help with volunteers, we staff members finished up [plantings] this week. We planted a total of 145 trees in four [Inner Southeast Portland] neighborhoods, with two or three people per crew, because of COVID – to keep things safe and productive.”
Land explains that safety has always been paramount – and now especially so, during the pandemic. He says the organization continues its planting following all protocols, and he considers the staff and volunteers to be “essential workers” in battling climate change.
Planting trees to help remove carbon dioxide from the air is even more important these days of increasing climate change, he observed.
But Portland has a very long history of “greening” the city. That history is chronicled in a ten-minute video entitled, “The Tree History of Portland”, which was produced by PGE sometime in the 1990’s. Narrated by the late renowned Oregon Symphony Director James DePreist, the video describes the stripping and re-planting of trees in Portland – beginning back in the 1800’s, and continuing right up to the present. It can be found and viewed online by putting “History of Friends of Trees” into a search engine.
Jenny Bedell-Stiles, Volunteer and Outreach Manager for Friends of Trees, is enthusiastic about its work, and is looking forward to the future – even as this pandemic continues: “Friends of Trees still guarantees that these new leafy members of the urban canopy will be planted safely and correctly during the 2020-21 planting season.
“We expect to plant somewhere between 400 and 500 trees across Southeast Portland during the 2020-21 planting season. That’s a lot of new trees, cleaning the air and water and adding beauty along the streets that many of us are walking more than usual, in these pandemic times.”
For ample information and photos, go online – http://www.friendsoftrees.org – or call 503/595-0212.
|From left, in Brooklyn Park, are Steve Bachhuber, Ruth-Ann Tsukuda, Josh Hettrick, Kimberlea Ruffu, and Melaney Dittler. All were involved in the special food-gathering effort for the Grout School food assistance program in the park on November 21st. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)
Holiday Food Drive for Grout, at Brooklyn Park
By RITA A. LEONARD
For THE BEE
The last BEE told you of the ongoing “Groceries 4 Grout Elementary” project, in an article by Elizabeth Ussher Groff. The walk-up Grout Food Pantry is open to the public year-’round on Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at Grout Elementary School, at 3119 S.E. Holgate Boulevard. The program is for families who are short of food.
But, during the Holiday Season, the need can be even greater. In the spirit of neighborhood cooperation, and because many of the school’s students attend Grout, a committee from the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association held a food drive for the school’s pantry at Brooklyn Park on Saturday, November 21.
BAC Committee Chair Josh Hettrick and assistants Melaney Dittler and Kimberlea Ruffu spent three hours, collecting bags and boxes of food and supplies from donors, in the park.
The Food Drive also afforded an opportunity for the Brooklyn Action Corps to display the prototype for a Brooklyn Neighborhood “Public Communications Board”. The board is currently under consideration for people who don't have online access.
|Bea Rector helps every Friday to pack grocery bags for the Woodstock Pantry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Woodstock. Her organizing skills were recognized there – and, it turns out, she was once a professional “de-clutterer” and organizer in Arizona. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)
Woodstock pro shares ‘de-cluttering’ tips for the pandemic
By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE
These days some of us occasionally have “COVID fever” – the kind that thankfully isn’t physical, but is the pent-up “cabin fever” of the pandemic. It can be a little like the “Spring Fever” that can lead to spring-cleaning. In this case, it might be called “COVID de-cluttering fever”.
And offering some suggestions as to how to approach this is someone who knows a lot about organizing and de-cluttering – Woodstock resident Bea Rector. Recently, while helping to fill brown grocery bags with food for the weekly Woodstock Pantry Program at All Saints Episcopal Church, other volunteers near her noticed Rector’s enthusiastic organizing skills, and learned that she used to be a professional “de-cluttering” expert!
Remembering her early days of de-cluttering involvement, Rector tells THE BEE, “About 15 years ago I was a member of Tucson Professional Organizers, and learned how much fun it is to really make a difference in a cluttered space. I used to teach organizing workshops to kids and to their moms, too. But the best times were when a team of us ‘T-Pro Ladies’ rescued hoarders from eviction.
“My business was called ‘Busy Bea Organizing’, but it pretty much fizzled out when I moved to Colorado in 2007.” Coincidentally, Rector has since learned that there is a woman in Michigan with a business of the same title! Recently Rector remarked, “This COVID-19 hunkering-down has been good for going through stuff,” and she is eager to share some de-cluttering tips.
Rector’s de-cluttering motto is “Energy, through a system, creates order.” Her liberating discovery for herself, and later for friends and family whom she helped when she no longer had a business, was “order creates spaciousness, which leads to freedom.”
Many of us have heard about the “freedom” that comes from getting rid of unused “stuff”. And, during the pandemic, some people have time on their hands that could be devoted to cleaning out. But, it can be very difficult to get motivated into action on that road towards “freedom”.
Bea likes to emphasize that resistance to de-cluttering is a normal instinct. She says, “One thing I have come to believe is that the best way to motivate someone to do something more – like house cleaning, or weeding, or organizing their stuff – Is by making it easier for them to do it.”
She warns against nagging, or telling people how much freedom or sense of relief they will feel if they neaten up their space a bit.
“It’s easier and more fun with labeled boxes, upbeat music, and refreshments!” she says. And, she tells THE BEE that help with “muscle power” for lifting boxes comes in handy for some people.
With this kind of support, Rector testifies that those trying to de-clutter can often get a good-enough start on the job to keep on with it after the de-cluttering friend or helper leaves.
A “To Decide” box for items one is uncertain about is necessary. When working as a professional, Rector says “I had to use all my psychology smarts to keep the ‘To Decide’ box from filling up!”
Things that are in the “elsewhere” category might go to a trash can, consignment store, Goodwill, thrift shop bookstore, repair shop, or recycling bin or center.
One of Rector’s suggestions for successful de-cluttering is for the owner of “too much stuff” to be patient with himself or herself. “Needless to say, making a significant change in a cluttered home requires many hours of time over weeks, if not months – even with a helper.”
Rector has come to understand the psychology of de-cluttering. “Many of us are afraid to part with things, because we’re so insecure about the future. That’s quite understandable,” she says. And especially during the pandemic, when so many things seem to be uncertain, you might think we would hold on to more things. However, that pent-up “pandemic restlessness” can lead to the opposite. It can get hold of us, and before we know it, we are going through files, closets, and boxes – savoring and saving a few things, but hopefully tossing and recycling a lot. So, as you sit amidst more stuff than you really want in your home, waiting out the pandemic, why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose – but all that clutter.
|Santa’s Elf, at left; and the North Pole Letterbox, at right. This picture was taken on the south side of All Saints Episcopal Church in Woodstock. All Inner Southeast children are invited to deposit letters to Santa into the big red letterbox. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)
Woodstock church joins forces with Santa to deliver mail
By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF
For THE BEE
If you walk by All Saint’s Episcopal Church at S.E. 41st and Woodstock Boulevard in December, you may see a “North Pole Letterbox” on the south side of the building.
It has been rumored to THE BEE that the letterbox was actually Santa Claus’ idea, and he sent an Elf all the way to 4033 S.E. Woodstock to build and install it at the beginning of December.
Santa, it may be presumed, knows that there are 35 children attending All Saints – but it is clear that the letterbox is for everyone who needs to post a letter to Santa. And, no stamps are required, as it is a special box.
The story goes that during the last week of November, the folks at All Saints Episcopal Church received an urgent call from the North Pole. It seemed that Santa was worried that stamped mail could be delayed because of the pandemic, and he didn’t want any children to be concerned that their letters might not reach him in time.
Santa's Elf reportedly asked if the church would be kind enough to install a special “North Pole Letterbox”, so that all children from Inner Southeast Portland could be sure that their letters would arrive at the North Pole in time for the Holidays.
It goes without saying that the staff at All Saints is happy to help with such a project. It's been a difficult year for everyone, and we all need to help each other in every way possible.
Santa, as well as everyone else, knows that all children are wonderful to be coping as they are during this time – and he hopes this letterbox will help bring a little Holiday cheer to the families of Inner Southeast.
So, Santa's Elf, and the staff at All Saints, are inviting families to walk or ride to the church to post their Dear Santa letters in the red letterbox facing Woodstock Boulevard. Santa reminds children to share their letters with their parents first – Santa reminds children to share their letters with their parents first so they can share in the joy of the season-- before they deposit them in the North Pole Letterbox.
No stamps are necessary– since, as we were told, “All Saints has a special reindeer delivery system ready to speed the letters to the North Pole.” It’s sure to work better than did the Pony Express, in its day.
The goal of this unusual project, according to the church, is to assure a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy, Healthy New Year for everyone.
Cinnamon Bear Holiday Sing-Along continues at Oaks Park: Nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park, in partnership with the Portland Spirit and Webracqadabraq Events, presents a family drive-thru Holiday experience this week through today, and again December 26-27, and on New Year’s Eve – December 31 – featuring live music by the Cocklebur Cowboys Band, along with a fanciful story of Cinnamon Bear, Chipper the Squirrel, and the Big Red Elf himself! The charge is $49 per car, and tickets MUST be bought ONLINE IN ADVANCE, at http://www.oakspark.com/cinnamonbear – and the new showtimes at 4:30-5:30 p.m., and also 6-7:30 p.m. Watch the show with your family from the comfort of your own car, but dress warmly. The music portion will be broadcast over your vehicle’s FM radio. Holiday treats, beverages, and merchandise will be available for purchase during your visit.
Christmas Eve Celebration at Moreland Presbyterian: In this case, the celebration is at 4:30 p.m. in the church’s parking lot, physically-distanced, and open to all – with bells and carols. The parking lot is on S.E. 19th, just south of Bybee Boulevard. More, online – http://www.morelandpres.org
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