The "Events and Activities" for the month are below these featured stories!
In 1915, as a summertime lark, Margaret Crosby (later Cutsforth) took an epic road trip to California from Riddle, Oregon, with her grandmother and three cousins. They ostensibly went to visit the Pan American Exposition in San Francisco – but added a side trip down to Tijuana, Mexico. This makeshift auto was their only means of transportation, and they often slept in it during their one-month trip, much of it on dirt roads. (Courtesy of CeCe Cutsforth)
SOUTHEAST HISTORY Summers in Southeast: What we did then, to beat the heat
By DANA BECK Special to THE BEE
Since, in retirement, I now live fulltime on the northern Oregon Coast, I notice that when temperatures in Portland get too hot to bear, people head to the Oregon beaches. It’s not uncommon to see Highway 101 inundated with campers, trailers, cars, and motorcycles – traveling to and from state parks, beach waysides, and viewpoints, to escape the heat in the big city.
Autos are lined up bumper to bumper along the highway near every hiking trail. This mad dash to the beach made me visit the archives to find what Southeast Portlanders did during early years – back when only a few people owned a vehicle, or could afford the luxury of spending a week at the beach.
Even more daunting back then: There weren’t any paved roads or freeways to use for such a trip in those days – yet, towns like Astoria, Gerhart, and even Rockaway at the turn of the Twentieth Century and later, became popular destinations during the summer. So just how did Portlanders get there?
In the 1800s, only the wealthy – who lived mainly in the west hills of Portland – could afford the time or money for a recreational trip anywhere. Portland was a bustling and growing port city, and the working population was consumed with to day-to-day activities, starting a family, working in the big town, or sometimes raising crops in the countryside.
Excursions for those who could afford to take time off might mean three or four days of relaxation with a friends or acquaintances close to home. Hunting in the forests of the West Hills was a pastime for well-off men, or taking a ferry with horse and wagon across the Willamette River in order to fish along Johnson Creek, or in the Clackamas and Sandy Rivers.
Before the Oregon Coast became popular, wealthy families would travel by steam ferry or private launch a short distance on the river to a horse racing track. Horse racing and outdoor sporting events were offered in the 1880s at places like City View Racetrack on the bluff above Oaks Bottom. In miles, it was only a small jaunt from where they lived, but it was up and across the river from downtown – and they spent the week end socializing, drinking, eating, wagering, or taking in the entertainment.
Back then, those desiring a much longer trip – one to the Oregon Coast – went aboard ocean-going vessels or a chartered steamboat from the Willamette River in Portland, westward down the Columbia River to the town of Astoria. You see, there wasn’t a travelable wagon road between the north coast and the Willamette Valley until 1874, when the Trask River Wagon Toll Road opened.
The opening of that road meant that adventurous and hardy souls could brave the 45-mile-long dusty journey to Tillamook – riding in a horse-drawn wagon through steep canyons, across heavily timbered slopes, and by way of narrow ridgeways that often scraped the sides of a wagon or coach as it passed. Enterprising merchants along the way were well-prepared with tents, outdoor sleeping gear, and extra food supplies, in case a broken axle or a lost wheel meant a delay of a day or two for such travelers during their journey.
John Barnes, author of the “Oregon Encyclopedia”, in his article about the Trask Toll Road, explained that, “It was a two-day trip for passengers on the North Yamhill and Tillamook Stage Line – and the cost of a one-way ticket was five dollars.” That was a considerable sum for an individual to pay at that time.
In the early 1900s, the Sellwood Transfer Company – sited at S.E. 11th Avenue and Umatilla, in Sellwood – rented carriages, coaches, and teams of horses for folks seeking a trip to the Oregon Coast, or planning a weekend excursion up to Mt. Hood. In the summer months, the semi-pro Sellwood baseball team would rent a four-horse carriage from the Sellwood Transfer Company for their annual baseball trek west to Seaside, Rockway, and Astoria.
It wasn’t until the 1890s that a well-planned resort town was founded by Marshall and Narcissa Kinney, which they called Gearhart – situated eleven miles south of the industrious timber and fishing town of Astoria. Marshall began construction of the elaborate Hotel Gearhart, which also included a livery stable and auditorium, to attract the wealthy of Portland for a vacation on the beach. In the following years the Gearhart Golf Links were added to the amenities there for those wishing to take up the sport, which was then new to most West Coast residents.
Oregon’s north coast was a tourist destination by 1898, when the Astoria and Columbia River Railroad opened for business, and people from Portland could finally travel to Astoria in a timely manner. Passengers still had to disembark at Astoria and rent a horse and carriage to get to Gearhart, but within the next few years the line was extended south to Seaside, with a stop available at the village of Gearhart on the way.
Even then summer days in Portland could often get stifling hot, and smoke-filled city streets made it even less inviting – busy, as they were, with delivery wagons, shouting teamsters, and clanging street cars, with pedestrians everywhere. Mothers and children could now escape the heat and smoke of the city to the coast, where days were cool and evenings were filled with the sounds of the surf and the wind. But the man of the house stayed in the big city to work!
Daddy came down on weekends to join them, via the famous “Daddy Train Run” – wherein Portland businessmen, bankers, and professionals would leave Portland late Friday night or early Saturday morning, to spend the weekend with their loved ones vacationing on the coast. Come Monday they’d be back in Portland to resume their professions.
It wasn’t uncommon for mothers and kids to spend a month, or even the whole summer, vacationing in tents, small wooden cabins, or in makeshift shelters along the sandy dunes of a north-coast beach or forest. But when the weekend arrived, and rail cars were filled with the husbands and fathers headed to the coast for a couple of days, the stations along the line were packed with hundreds of children and their mothers dressed in their finest, on hand to greet the daddies on their weekend visit to the beach.
This was such a common scenario that railroads offered a weekend special rate of three dollars for the round trip to the coast. As a result, every weekend in the summer, the trains to Astoria were filled to capacity, and when railroad service was extended south to Seaside many continued down to stops on the way to that destination.
In Rockaway, Oregon (then known as Rockaway Beach), it wasn’t until 1912 that the community celebrated the opening of its first train station. Following the lead of Gearhart and Seaside, real estate investors began buying lots at Rockaway Beach, in hopes that a railroad would soon be built, to allow commuters easier access to their vacation spots.
So, in 1911, Elmer and Charles Lytle were actively recruited by local property owners to begin working on a railroad that would operate from Hillsboro to Tillamook. In the beginning, Lytle planned on reaping big rewards from his railway by harvesting coastal trees and shipping the timbers to one of the many sawmills and lumber companies operating along the Willamette waterfront.
However, eventually, Elmer found he could make more money transporting vacationers and coastal property owners, instead of lumber, aboard his Pacific Railway and Navigation Company line. Elmer enjoyed the beach so much he eventually became the sole owner of the townsite of Lytle Lake, and he commissioned an agent to sell off portions of his property. Few people complained about the time consumed in the eleven-hour ride from Portland and the Willamette Valley to a final destination on the north coast.
Merchants, small store owners, doctors, and dentists who all had worked hard over the years eventually accumulated enough money to invest in beach property. Vacation homes were no longer just for people endowed with considerable wealth. For the low price of just twenty dollars, the general public could buy a small lot on which to pitch a tent or build a small shack among the trees and close to the surf of the Pacific Ocean.
As one of Portland’s oldest continuously-operating newspapers, having been established in Sellwood in 1906, THE BEE kept neighbors informed on who was going to the beach and who had just returned from a long summer vacation. Besides the everyday events in the big city and around the neighborhood on the front page, subscribers could turn to the middle of the paper to read “Sellwood Happenings”. This section of the newspaper listed baby and wedding announcements, rooms to rent, fruit and vegetables for sale, and of course who (from out of town) was visiting who. Also, where neighbors going for the summer.
In the issue of August 30th, 1918, this newspaper announced, “John Madlung, Earl Newbury, and others left Thursday morning of last week for salt air for a few days, then on to Wahtum Lake, to be gone until school opens.” Apparently Sellwood residents weren’t worried about break-ins or burglaries by thus advertising to the public how long they would be gone!
Then-editor C.M. Thompson had figured that he could get more people to subscribe to THE BEE if he mentioned their names in the latest edition of the paper, so he mentioned as many as he could. An annual subscription cost one dollar, back in 1923.
In 1922, while hundreds hurried off to the beaches for the cool breezes of the ocean waves, others – like the Stryker family – opted for other choices. THE BEE at the time reported to its subscribers that, “Donald and Rey Stryker Jr. drove their faithful Shetland pony “Ted” to the Stryker farm near Hubbard, Oregon, recently, where they will spend the summer.”
Sellwood and Westmoreland, like most other neighborhoods then, had a substantial middle class with plenty of free time on their hands. For those who couldn’t get the time off, summertime activities might include fishing on the Willamette, picnicking at Oaks Park, or catching a streetcar to one of the outlying parks – where religious gatherings and Chautauquas were popular.
As Portland newspapers and real estate brochures announced low-cost coastal property for sale, more small resort towns and bedroom communities began appearing, starting about fifteen miles north of Tillamook Bay. The Pacific Railway train had stops all along the way – Manhattan Beach, Moroney Town, Lake Lytle, Beal’s Addition, Seaview Park, Elmore Park, Saltair, Rockaway Beach, Midway Beach, Ocean Lake Park, and Profile Rocks. By the 1920s most of these teeny communities were combining to form the township of Rockaway. You can even experience what travel was like in those days, by riding the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad that today in the summers still offers rides between Garibaldi and Rockaway daily.
Shortly, though, the growing and widespread adoption of the automobile as a means of travel would change considerably the length and convenience of the trip for travelers. The emerging middle class and the manufacturing of his Model A car by Henry Ford resulted in a boom in tourism reaching an all-time high along the Oregon Coast.
Governor Oswald West decreed that the Oregon beaches should and would be accessible by a public highway, and the following year – 1915 – the “Roosevelt Coast Military Highway” (Today’s Highway 101) was officially dedicated for motorists to use in traveling the Oregon coast north and south. By August of the same year, the Columbia River Highway was completed between Astoria and Portland. Autos were becoming “King of The Road”, and travelers didn’t need to waste their vacation time traveling on railroad passenger cars that took from 10 to 15 hours to get them to their destination.
The opening of new roadways gave the public a variety of new vacation spots and points of interest to visit. Margaret Crosby, who later in life married Lee Vernon Cutsforth and eventually settled in Sellwood, took a trip south across the States of Oregon and California and back. Margaret – with her grandmother, aunt, and cousins in tow – embarked on a family trip to the Exposition celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal, in San Francisco in 1915.
Despite all the new roads, there was still no state-spanning highway in either state, and many roads were still not paved. Hotels, mainly found in large towns, were the only form of paid lodging – and gas stations were almost nonexistent outside metropolitan areas. So Margaret’s adventure all the way to San Francisco, and considerably beyond, proved definitely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the four ladies and one gentleman in the automobile.
During their journey – which ultimately was from Riddle, Oregon, to Tijuana, Mexico, and back – they had to cross streams and rivers in their path by driving across railroad trestles, and sleeping overnight in farmers’ fields or under haystacks. But, in the long run, they all did return safely in the auto back to Oregon. (Details of the Crosby/Cutsforth family’s epic journey were reported in the May, 2019, issue of THE BEE.)
After the opening of The Oregon Coast Highway and the Columbia River Highway, people in cars began to venture out onto the open road – despite few if any motels or lodges in which to spend the night, few restaurants along the way to dine in, and no gas stations. “Auto Camps” became the default overnight stay for these pioneering motorists.
As Stephen Mark wrote in his “Save the Auto Camps” article, distributed by the National Park Service, most Auto Camps were to be found in city parks, or in well-manicured byways just outside of town. They offered motorists a safe place to pull into a level spot for overnight stays. There, travelers could pitch tents, prepare meals on a metal cooking grill, and often take a showers and/or have the convenience of pit toilets (outhouses).
The southern Oregon community of Grants Pass opened up the first Auto Camp in the state in 1910; it was at Riverside Park, just a stone’s throw from the Rogue River. Lithia Park in Ashland was the next to offer camping services, as Stephen Marks has pointed out: “Local boosters lost no time in trying to capitalize upon tourists traveling to the Panama Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco.” The Crosby/Cutsforth Family may well have stayed the night in one of these layover spots on their way to the Golden State.
The cars and other vehicles used for traveling and camping were as unusual as their owners. Some cars came equipped with a pull-out side tent that connected to the side of the car, and pull-out kitchen units emerging from the rear trunk of a car. A sleeping space built between the ceiling of the car and the roof offered a tomb-like resting niche for the driver or passenger; and often a tool box was strapped to the running board of an auto for storage ofkitchen utensils, tin plates, cups, a coffee pot, and frying pans. Motorists must have felt like they were living the life of pioneers when vacationing in an auto park. (Some of those makeshift innovations have evolved into modern equivalents in the design of modern RVs!)
So the emerging automobile provided an inexpensive way for large families to vacation, and to see the U.S.A. Sarah Laskow wrote in her book, “How America Joined its two Great Loves, Cars and the Outdoors”, reported that, “By the 1920s there were thousands of auto camps – somewhere between 3,000 to 6,000 of them.” Some even contained makeshift cabins to stay in, with a spot beside them in which travelers could park their car. (The first glimmering of the idea of motels!).
When more formal motels were later built along well-traveled highways, the earlier auto camps began to diminish – but, when this nation was immersed in the misery of the Great Depression, these auto parks again became in great demand for a while. In those years, many people were forced from their homes, and had to travel to other states to find work, so these auto parks offered relief for families living in their vehicles. Auto camps gained the reputation as places where migrant workers could gather safely.
Not everyone was itinerant or deeply in debt during the Depression years; and although cars had become the preferred from of transportation for Americans heading out to summer destinations, trains and steamers were still patronized by those who could afford to ride them for weekend trips to the Oregon coast and further distant points.
In 1930, longtime Sellwood resident Chet Keller caddied at a golf tournament in Astoria. His trip there began when he and a friend rode the Sellwood trolley down to the end of the Hawthorne Bridge, where a small steamship called The Oregon waited for boarding passengers. For $3.00 they clambered onto the top deck, where they were given mattresses to lie on while they enjoyed the five-hour trip to Astoria. The ship stopped at every town along the way, and the two men watched the loading and unloading of supplies and the agricultural produce that were traded along the route.
Many of the Waverley Country Club Members and their families in the 1920s spent from six to eight weeks every year on the coast. The men were still using the “daddy trains” for weekend commuting. Caddies were invited to spend the summer at the coast, so the Waverley members could ensure their favorite golf caddies were on hand. Most of these young men lived in tents near the club members’ estate, or found lodging in some low-rent beach shack near the surf.
After the Depression and then World War II few pastimes were perceived as more vigorous and dangerous for a summer vacation than mountain climbing. Sellwood resident CeCe Cutsforth’s father-in-law, Jack Meyer, was an avid mountain climber in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Asked by CeCe at the time why he’d adopted this strenuous sport, he mildly replied, “I was a poor college student, and a tank of gas was cheap”. So he found spending the summer climbing Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and other lofty peaks in the Cascade Range, was an affordable pleasure. He was one of the few men who had ever climbed all the “Three Sisters” peaks in the space of just 22 hours – still even today an astounding accomplishment.
Oregonians in the Twenty First Century are still spending hot summer days at the beach, camping in the Mt. Hood National Forest, or just visiting relatives elsewhere.
In an era of widespread air conditioning, our ever-hotter summers do not compel us to leave home, or to find cooler locations to spend the long summer days. But that convenience has not deterred us from going somewhere and doing something as part of celebrating summertime in Southeast Portland.
Here’s hoping you found a satisfying way tocelebrate the final days of this 2022 summer!
Oregon Rowing Unlimited athletes take their boats down to the Willamette River below Oaks Park for a morning of training. (Photo by Blake Benard)
Sellwood water sports nonprofit teaches competition rowing
By BLAKE BENARD For THE BEE
Fresh off a successful performance at the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships in June, Sellwood-based Oregon Rowing Unlimited (ORU) offered a “Learn to Row” youth camp over the summer in hopes of growing their program.
The two-week camps were run by members of the ORU program, past and present. They taught youngsters the basics of rowing technique, how to handle the delicate crew boat frames and oars, how to balance yourself while climbing into the boat in the water, and how to match your rowing speed and pace with the others in the boat. Overseen by Head Coach Plamen Petrov and Assistant Coach Nadia Petrova, the classes brought attention to the sport of rowing for a younger audience.
“For ORU, this is how we recruit. We can’t do flyers or advertisements that go to any of the public schools, because we are not a Portland Public sponsored sport,” explained Amy Koski, who helps with recruitment for the club.
ORU boasts some 60 members as of now, but that number may rise quickly. Classes that THE BEE attended were filled to capacity. The competitive rowers run a varsity program that practices five days a week – three days a week for the novice crews.
Rowing is one of the original modern Olympic sports. It’s divided up between sculling, in which each rower holds two oars; and sweeping, in which each rower operates only one oar.
There are crew boats, also known as “shells”, for a single person -- or two, four, or eight. Although rowing dates as far back as humankind's first seafaring adventures, Yale and Harvard began the sport’s first American intercollegiate competition in 1852, and the sport of sports rowing in the United States began. It quickly became the most popular sport in the country at the time, even outpacing the modern love of football.
In 1903, the Interscholastic Rowing Association was formed, and later merged with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Over the last century, the attention on college athletics has shifted towards football and basketball, leading to a steady decline in rowing programs and scholarships. However, even without the same level of public attention, rowing sports continue to thrive.
Oregon Rowing Unlimited is proud to report that several of their top athletes are recent high school graduates, now heading off to various universities across the country, thanks to rowing-specific scholarships.
“We have two MIT kids who have been accepted, and will be rowing for MIT this year. They are not the first ORU kids to go to MIT. There are a few going into the University of California system. One is going to the University of Oregon. One is going to the University of Victoria in Canada,” said Amy. “Long story short, they do this and still manage to pull out some of the most intense grades in the hardest programs in high school.”
Coach Plamen runs the varsity program, while Assistant Coach Nadia balances a secondary job and handles the novice rowing team. According to the ORU website, both have Masters Degrees in Sculling, Sweeping, and Physical Fitness Teaching with Nadia adding Sports Management.
The nonprofit sports club is based out of the Oaks Park boathouse. They begin their fall varsity training in September. For more information, or to register, go online – http://www.oregonrowing.org
Young artists put finishing touches on the new mural they created during the “Lift Youth Voices: Vibe of Portland Mural Project”. It’s on the wall of the Loyal Order of Moose; Lodge 291, on S.E. 52nd in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
‘Vibe’ uses Arts grant to create new Brentwood-Darlington mural
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
Earlier this year, the Oregon Arts Commission announced 55 projects it had decided to fund with its “Arts Build Communities” grant program.
The only local award was a $3,243 grant to support the “Lift Youth Voices: Vibe of Portland Mural Project”, a four-month mural-making class and construction project which is now complete.
“I’ve lived in this neighborhood for about twenty years, and watched wealthier families move in, and under-served families move out as housing becomes unaffordable,” said “Vibe of Portland” Program Director, Dunja Marcum. “With this mural, I wanted to create a reminder for neighbors that we are the sum of people with different socioeconomic backgrounds, different ethnicities, races, and cultures, and we have a lot of kids whose voices need to be heard.
“Putting a mural in a busy intersection for the neighborhood meant that people would be forced not only to see both the kids working on the mural for weeks, but also to bear witness to the final result,” she remarked.
Over the course of six weeks fourteen young people participated in the program. “Some were there for shorter periods of time; others were there every single day, making new friendships,” said Marcum.
Working in partnership with Lane SUN School, the students and their muralist brainstormed and settled on the design that now graces the south external wall of the Loyal Order of Moose; Lodge 291 building, on S.E. 52nd Avenue at Flavel Street.
While the wall was being painted, professional muralist Monica Milligan told THE BEE about the chosen design. “During this project, we’re talking about identity, and things that are important and relatable to kids.
“You’ll see animals, like the war horse; native images, a panther – signifying our roots and where we come from,” Milligan went on. “And, then we’re also including native Oregon flowers, and adding some additional creative touches to the wall.”
As the project drew to a conclusion, Marcum said she was satisfied that the project had met her hopes of “drawing awareness to our youth in the community, and that they are capable of great things. I hope to be demonstrating that such community-led projects are powerful, and can create the momentum for change.
“I also hope that this project is just the beginning – that we fund mural projects every summer, and bring some of these kids back to serve as mentors for other kids.”
Woodstock’s Jim Binkley has played and constructed Chinese guqins for over three decades. The one he was playing here was made of redwood salvaged from a 19th Century cabin in California. He also built the table, made from Pacific Northwest red cedar. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)
Playing, teaching, and constructing the Chinese ‘guqin’ in Woodstock
By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF For THE BEE
During the pandemic, a lot of our lives have moved online – meetings, at-home work, mental health counseling, doctor’s visits, and more. Music lessons have also become virtual for some teachers. One Woodstock man went online to keep on teaching music classes – using an ancient instrument, which he makes.
His name is Jim Binkley, and he plays, builds, and teaches the most revered of all Chinese musical instruments – the “guqin” (pronounced, in Mandarin, “goo chin”).
Binkley is a quiet and modest guy, but when asked how many people in the world make guqins, he answers, “There are a handful of people who have made more than one guqin, but there are really only two people outside greater China [Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan] who have more than five” – and those would be himself, and a fellow on the east coast named Stephan Dydo.
Binkley has actually made some fifteen guqins over time, each one taking him a year or two to craft.
A guqin is composed of a top board – which is the soundboard, about 48 inches long and 8 inches at the widest point – and a bottom board for stability. The instrument is fretless, and the nylon and metal strings are plucked by one hand, while the other hand slides to press down the strings to play different notes, as on a cello or violin. (In antiquity the strings were made of silk.)
For crafting a guqin, “they say, ‘the older the wood, the better’. Paulownia [the Princess Tree] is common,” explains Binkley; “But I have been using woods from the Pacific Northwest, such as western red cedar and redwood. I sold one in January made of California redwood, which was salvaged from a garage floor in Ashland.”
The subsequent lacquering process is importantly intricate, involving many layers.
Playing guqin is an ancient Chinese musical art. This seven-stringed instrument, dating back roughly 2,500 years, was used in ritual ceremonies of the Imperial Court in the 1700’s. Binkley says, “It is more or less a solo instrument, using the oldest written music in the world, because this was the instrument of the old [Chinese] literati class.”
Binkley, a retired Portland State University professor who taught computer science from the mid-1990s until 2010, became interested in the guqin in 1975 when his roommate in Taiwan, John Thompson, introduced him to guqin playing.
“I had been playing classical guitar at the time I went to Taiwan, and John decided that I should play guqin, ‘as it was similar’,” Binkley tells THE BEE.
When Binkley went to Taiwan, he had a BA in Chinese, and then took 1.5 years of intensive Chinese language training while there, including classical Chinese. This ability enabled him later to translate excerpts from “Abiding With Antiquity”, a rare Chinese guqin zither handbook, published in Fujian province in China around 1860.
When he returned to the United States he studied for a while at the University of Washington, where he met a guqin teacher who gave him lessons. And he kept on making guqins, as he did while in Taiwan.
In the past, Binkley has given performances. “Mostly solo, and mostly at the Chinese Grden tea house. And a few times at PSU in formal concerts, and elsewhere.”
He began giving guqin lessons in the late 1990s, when a friend talked him into teaching him how to play. These days he still teaches a few students online, but he no longer performs, although he is still building guqins. “But, slower and slower”, he admits.
For anyone interested in learning to play the guqin, Binkley advises: “Get on Facebook and join the international guqin group. Trying to do it by yourself in the U.S. or outside of China is hard. Talking with others is a good idea because, for example, you can be clued into where to get equipment, or where teachers might be found. The Internet and the pandemic both more or less drove the ‘guqin world’ online, outside of China.”
To learn more about Binkley’s guqin adventures in Taiwan, and his translation of the important guqin handbook, read the introduction to his translation: https://tinyurl.com/4x949zp7
Here are a few of the many picnickers at the Brooklyn Park community gathering on August 11. In the center of this group were BAC Board Members Melaney Dittler and Cheryl Crowe. The summer picnic may become an annual event in the Brooklyn neighborhood. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)
Brooklyn Park community picnic draws a crowd
By RITA A. LEONARD For THE BEE
On Thursday evening, August 11, Brooklyn Park was the scene of a somewhat early end-of-summer community picnic – summer doesn’t actually give way to autumn this year until September 23rd – but, for those looking to celebrate outdoors, the evening couldn’t have been better.
The community gathering was sponsored by the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association – intended as an occasion for neighborhood fellowship, games, and music.
Picnickers had been invited to “bring a blanket, bring a friend, bring your own food, and celebrate with us.” During the 5:30-8:30 p.m. event, friends and neighbors gathered in a shady area at the foot of the Brooklyn Park hill, while kids participated in summer park activities at the above them at the top of the rise, supervised by longtime Park Director Craig Montag.
BAC Board Members Melaney Dittler and Cheryl Crowe greeted attendees as neighbors of all ages, some with pets, came to the park on foot and by bike, and then set about establishing their own spaces, getting caught up on community news, meeting new friends, and enjoying a pleasant summer evening.
Montag had recently made a slight change in the hours of the summer park program – which had been from noon until 8 p.m. four days a week – to 1 to 9 p.m., giving kids a bit more time to participate in activities there. The program, no longer funded by PP&R, has been maintained and supported by the Brooklyn neighborhood with a very successful can-and-bottle-return program, plus occasional other fundraisers.
Montag and a host of youthful helpers set up and take down the summertime equipment and supplies, including an occasional hot-day “slip-and-slide” down Brooklyn Park's hillside.
The community picnic appeared to be much enjoyed, and it looks likely to become an annual part of summertime in Brooklyn.
As the last chord of their opening set echoed through Sellwood Park, Jenny Don’t and the Spurs turned and spotted THE BEE camera trained on them from behind the stage! (Photo by David F. Ashton)
SMILE gets just one PP&R ‘Concert in the Park’ this year
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
In years past, SMILE and Portland Parks and Recreation have presented a series of concerts in upper Sellwood Park on every Monday evening in July. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and an end to all such events for two years.
This year, PP&R’s “Summer Free For All” program began ramping up again, but with only one concert for Sellwood Park this year. It was presented on Friday, July 29, as a part of the “Summerville” weekend of community events.
Considering the sweltering high temperature on that hot July evening, Sellwood Park under the shade of the tall trees was a perfect location for an outdoor evening concert – and a large family crowd turned out for it.
It was well above 90°, even in the shade, as the band -- Jenny Don’t and the Spurs -- was doing its sound check, while adults, many with kids and some with dogs, walked in.
Some of the audience members stopped by the sponsor and nonprofit-organization booths and tables set up along the east side of the performance area, just north of the Sellwood Pool and south of the baseball diamond. But ultimately they all spread blankets on the grass, fanned themselves, some sipping beverages.
“After two years without music in the parks due to COVID, it’s great that there’s again music here in Sellwood Park,” enthused SMILE Board Member Jim Friscia – he was also the coordinator of the concert – as he rushed off to make final arrangements before the band played.
As more and more families filtered into the park, some of them visited food vendors to purchase dinners and snacks, while others opened picnic baskets they’d brought with them.
“Being here is better than down in Sellwood Riverfront Park, where we had our concerts for many years,” observed SMILE Treasurer Pat Hainley. “Certainly on a day like today when it’s so hot, this is a much better venue for a concert.
“This is a good way for people to see their neighbors, make new friends, and interact with one another in a very pleasant environment,” mused Hainley. “And, it provides an opportunity for people to be come more engaged with their neighborhood.”
Just before the concert, staff from Portland Parks & Recreation’s Summer Free For All program began giving away bags of Joe Brown’s Carmel Corn.
Jenny Don’t (she just winked and smiled when we asked her real name) and her band, “The Spurs”, didn’t let the heat slow them down one bit. Their energetic presentation of classic Country songs, “rockabilly”, and pop tunes lit up the park.
The estimated 600 people who came to the concert left afterword seemingly agreeing with a local newspaper critic that, “Jenny Don’t and the Spurs is widely considered the current top band in town.” You can judge that for yourself in this brief BEE video at the concert:
The gazebo at Ardenwald Park is always the gathering place on Thursday evenings each August, for the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek Concert Series. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Concerts and ‘National Night Out’ return to Ardenwald Park
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
Neighbors of the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek neighborhood gathered once again on August 4 in Ardenwald Park, as they had for years – before the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic – to enjoy live music and good times.
“This is the start of the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek August Concert Series – and, tonight, also a celebration of National Night Out for our neighborhood,” explained Ardenwald-Johnson Creek Neighborhood Association Co-chair Jeff Davis, who also coordinated the every-Thursday-evening concert series.
“And, since we’re also celebrating ‘National Night Out’ tonight, we’re pleased that the Clackamas Fire Department and Milwaukie Police Department could come out here to say hi to everybody,” Davis told THE BEE.
“This ‘National Night Out Against Crime’ observance is particularly important, because it’s an opportunity for neighbors to see one another after a two-year absence due to COVID. When neighbors get together in a relaxed social setting, it helps build a stronger sense of community here!”
With that, “The Nu Wavers” began their performance of “college radio classics, alternative, and mainstream rock”.
On the successive Thursday evenings in August, audiences were treated to the music of “Mark Seymour and Friends”, “Big Plans”, and “Kathryn Grimm and the Blue Tools”.
Beautiful warm summer evenings, good music, and families coming together for a concert took place each week last month in Ardenwald Park.
The boundaries of Ardenwald are carved from both the City of Portland and City of Milwaukie, with the county line running through the middle of this two-county neighborhood just east of Sellwood.
Here’s Ashley Armsby holding her prize, after being named baker of the First Place entry in the 2022 “6th Annual Pie Bake-off” competition at the Moreland Farmers Market on Saturday, August 6. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Moreland Farmers Market hosts ‘Pie Bake-Off’
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
Hot summer weather didn’t stop dessert cooks from heating up their ovens, early in August, to participate in the Sellwood Moreland Farmers Market “6th Annual Pie Bake-off” competition, which was judged on Saturday, August 6th.
All kinds of pies – both sweet and savory – were presented to the the panel of professional bakers and chefs, during the market’s new day and time – Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – in its new location, on S.E. Claybourne Street in Westmoreland, between Milwaukie Avenue and 17th.
Judging criteria included:
Filling Taste and Texture
Farmers Market Theme
“This is one of the most fun and delicious events we host each year,” exclaimed Market Manager Lannie Kali.
Both the first and second place pie bakers were presented large gift bags full of farmers market items; but all the competing pie bakers would be given a smaller gift bag as a thank you for helping with this fundraiser.
“Then came the most important part,” Kali emphasized. “After the judging, we cut all of the pies into generous slices, and sold them to the public for a donation to our market’s Power of Produce Program – which teaches children how to garden and cook, and familiarizes them with fresh produce.”
Out of 14 entries, the First Place Award went to Ashley Armsby for her “Berried Treasure Pie”, made with peaches, raspberries, and blueberries, with a lattice top crust colored with peach and spinach juice.
In disclosure: Although this reporter had no part in influencing the outcome of the competition, the judges insisted I taste the “Berried Treasure Pie” – and it was fabulous!
Folks were invited to step up to purchase ice cream sandwiches and soft drinks at this year’s “Sundae in the Park” on July 31st. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
‘Sundae in the Park’ returns to Sellwood – sans sundaes
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
The “Summerville!” weekend community celebration continued on July 31 in Sellwood Park – with a revival version of “Sundae in the Park”.
Although sundaes weren’t served, as they were during the four-decades-old annual Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) summer event which drew its name from the dessert, ice cream sandwiches and fruit pops were available for sale.
The afternoon of activities included a baby goat petting area, and a lineup of musical performers on stage.
“We are thrilled to be hosting Sundae in the Park – this is the first one that we’ve had since before the COVID-19 pandemic,” remarked one of this year’s organizers, Sellwood Community House Development Director Elizabeth Milner. “I think this is one of the most loved neighborhood celebrations in Sellwood and Westmoreland.
“This year, SMILE and the Sellwood Community House have teamed up to put this on together,” she told THE BEE. “All proceeds from ice cream sales and donations go to fund Sellwood Community House scholarships for both our after-school and our preschool programs.
“We have had twenty groups – including businesses, churches and nonprofit organizations – set up kids’ activities, and give out treats. It’s been a really fun day,” reflected Milner.
“PDX Art Crawl” organizer Ayomide Nikzi puts away the Silent Disco headsets until the next such event, likely in October. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Sellwood ‘Art Crawl’ a success; another one due in late October
By DAVID F. ASHTON For THE BEE
Some of the events planned for this year’s “Summerville!” celebration melted away in the heat wave that canceled a few scheduled events in the last weekend in July.
The only event that fell victim to the sizzling temperatures and could not be rescheduled was the SMILE Summer Music Concert Series performance featuring the Sellwood Jazz band. The postponed “Open Mic” event was presented at the end of August.
However, the first-ever “PDX Art Crawl” organizers were able to reschedule to two weekends later, on August 13. The festivities were centered at Grounded Gallery in the Milieu Collective, on S.E. 13th Avenue in Sellwood.
Added to the PDX Art Crawlby its organizers was “Silent Disco” – in which participants put on wireless headphones, allowing them to collectively boogie around the area, all grooving on the music only heard in their own headphones; onlookers heard only silence.
Event organizer Ayomide Nikzi, from the Milieu Collective, observed that the mission of the event was – and will continue to be – to support access to art and art-related activities, and to support mental health in local communities and families.
“And more than that, this is about people enjoying their lives, especially on a beautiful summer afternoon,” Nikzi told THE BEE as her eyes sparkled with joy. “If people missed it today, our next one will be in October, before Hallowe’en.”
The “Messy Art” class at the Woodstock Community Center has a weekly theme; here it was “Nature”, and toddlers had fun depicting that with Play Dough. (Courtesy of Gail Budde)
Fall classes announced at Woodstock Community Center
By ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF For THE BEE
The fall schedule of classes for all ages at the Woodstock Community Center begins in the first week of October. There will be two sessions in the fall (Session A 10/3-11/6, and Session B 11/7-12/18) with all classes continuing for both sessions. For more information, or to register, go to http://www.portland.gov/parks – or call Woodstock Community Center at 503/823-3633.
Messy Art – an adult-child art class for toddlers and preschoolers, moves to Wednesdays with classes at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Finger painting, shaving cream painting and lots of play dough and slime make this a fun, messy class!
Dance – returns on Tuesday mornings to WCC for children with Movement & Me, an adult and child class for 2-4 year olds on Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m., and Dance Creatively (3-5 year olds) at 10:30 a.m. Both classes will explore a variety of dance forms and emphasize a love of movement, imagination, and joy.
Expanded fitness options for adults – these are coming this fall, too! Yoga for Everyone will continue Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., emphasizing relaxation, strength, flexibility, and a sense of well-being. Mondays at 5:30 p.m. a new class is Barre Above, offering a total body workout that incorporates the ballet barre, dance, and traditional strength exercises. Low Impact 20/20 combines 20 minutes of cardio with 20 minutes of strength training with light to moderate intensity to create a complete workout on Mondays at 11:30 a.m. Zumba will offer a dynamic, balance of cardio and muscle toning fitness with fun, energetic routines at 6:15 p.m. on Monday evenings.
Tae Kwon Do – continues for all ages (6 years and up), with a Tae Kwon Do-First Kicks beginning class on Fridays at 6 p.m., and Tae Kwon Do-For Everyone on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. The Tae Kwon Do program has been a mainstay at Woodstock Community Center with very skilled instructors with years of experience. Family-friendly and fun.
Capoeira – a Brazilian cultural tradition which combines martial arts, music, movement, and play, will be introduced for the first time this fall. Capoeira Foundations for Kids will be offered for 6–10-year-olds at 4 p.m. Mondays, and Capoeira-Foundations for All will be at 5 p.m. for anyone 11 and older. This high energy, acrobatic, rhythmic martial art will increase coordination, strength, and flexibility.
The Woodstock Community Center is on S.E. 43rd a half block north of Woodstock Boulevard, just west across the street from BiMart.
Events & Activities
SEPTEMBER 26 “Charter Commission” speaker at S.E. Rotary this noon: The Southeast Portland Rotary Club will have, as its speaker at noon today, Portland Charter Commissioner Melanie Billings-Yun, who will explain the changes to Portland city government on the upcoming November ballot, and answer questions about it. The club’s Monday noon meetings are always open to the public, who may drop in at will – but if you also want to participate in lunch, it would be wise to RSVP to 503/757-0014 so that the lunch quantities can be increased accordingly. The meetings are in the Community Area of the Moreland Presbyterian Church, accessed from the ramp off the S.E. 19th Street parking lot just south of Bybee Boulevard.
OCTOBER 2 Sellwood-Moreland Neighborhood PDX Marathon “After Party”: Moreland Presbyterian Church will be holding a community neighborhood barbecue after the marathon – in their parking lot, on S.E. 19th Avenue just south of Bybee Boulevard, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will be live music, hot dogs, SnoCones, and a bake sale put on by the Youth Group. Stop by and say hello to your neighbors!
OCTOBER 5 Learn more about the Portland Charter ballot proposal tonight: The featured speaker at this evening’s SMILE General Meeting is former Portland Charter Commissioner Melanie Billings-Yun, who grew up in Sellwood, and who will explain the changes to Portland city government on the upcoming November ballot, and answer questions about it. Since commission members are constrained from giving many details of it, Ms. Billings-Yun resigned from the commission recently in order to be more informative in discussing the ballot measure. The SMILE meeting is in SMILE Station, on the southeast corner of S.E. 13th and Tenino, one block south of Tacoma Street.
OCTOBER 8 Oregon Music Hall of Fame concert & awards tonight: The nonprofit OMHOF underwrites awards for music scholarships for young Oregon musicians with proceeds from this annual event, held at Brooklyn’s Aladdin Theater on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, a half block south of Powell Boulevard. Among the inductees are Storm Large, Cool Nutz, and Lewi Longmire. Doors open at 6; show starts at 7. Tickets ($30-$100) at the box office; or go online – https://tinyurl.com/2p92b8p4
Contemporary folk singer Deidre McCalla in Reed concert tonight: Tonight the nonprofit Portland Folk Music Society presents in concert Deidre McCalla. The concert is at the Reedwood Friends Church, S.E. 2901 S.E. Steele, starting at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7. For tickets and information, go online – http://www.portlandfolkmusic.org
OCTOBER 10 “Robotics Team 1432 – the Metal Beavers” present, at noon. For those who would like to meet the high school members of a prominent “FIRST Robotics” team in regional competition, and to see some of their expertise in action, Robotics Team 1432 will be presenting in person at noon today at the Southeast Portland Rotary Meeting in the lower level of Moreland Presbyterian Church, accessed from the parking lot on S.E. 19th just south of Bybee. The public is always welcome to all Rotary meetings, but if you’d like to be the club’s guest for lunch please RSVP to 503/757-0014 to make sure there will be enough lunch on hand for all. The club’s Foundation is the fiscal sponsor of Team 1432.
OCTOBER 21 Teen/Tween Dance this evening at Sellwood Community House: DJ Gregarious spins all the current hits for 6th-8th graders, from 7to 9 p.m. $10 admission; no reentry. Code of conduct strictly enforced. The community house is on the corner of S.E. 15th and Spokane Street.
OCTOBER 24 Fall session of acting classes for teens begins: Nonprofit “Rogue Pack”, now operating from the Sellwood Community House at S.E. 15th and Spokane Street, begins its new fall season today with two classes: “Improvisational Comedy” and “Acting for the Camera”. They’ll also be making a silent film directed by instructor Randy Schulman which will be screened at the Moreland Theatre with the kids in these classes during the fall and winter sessions. Registration has been open for these classes since late August. Register here: https://tinyurl.com/3d2yemrh . . . And, for more information, go online: http://www.roguepack.org
OCTOBER 27 “Book Club” night at Sellwood Community House: This evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. it’s Book Club night at Sellwood Community House, S.E. 15th and Spokane. October’s book is "Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno Garcia. Pick up a copy at Wallace Books, and then come and enjoy refreshments and a lively discussion!
OCTOBER 29 The “Monster March” and “Spooktacular” return today: The Monster March Parade and Halloween Spooktacular return this afternoon! The Monster March, is from 3 to 4 p.m., beginning at Sellwood Middle School and ending at Sellwood Community House – which is where the “Spooktacular” happens, 4 to 7 p.m. Food, games, and lots of fun!
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