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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Portland, 1974

It was four years before I got here, but it looks awfully familiar in this wonderful blog post.

Comments (14)

I remember all that very well. I was living in Portland and attending Portland State College, as it was known then. I also remember the Broadway Theater as a strip joint, and that I could not afford to eat at any of the restaurants mentioned on the blog post. But you could afford a lot of beer at a place called Sam's up by the college. I think there is a McDonald's there now.
And the Rose City Transit Company was a great bus service!
I will say that the Pioneer Square is a vast improvement over the parking lot that was left over from the destruction of the Multnomah Hotel and that Naito Parkway and the green space next to the river is also way better than the old public market/old Journal building and the 4 lane road that was there before;
so not all of the changes were bad ones.

The Portland Hotel had been torn down for a M&F Parking structure, which was removed for Pioneer Courthouse Square. The Multnomah still stands. The Hoyt was the other senseless loss - still a parking lot, if even that. The same foolishness threatens the Coliseum.

I rolled in with my band in the summer of 1975, riding in an International Travelall truck. Our PA speakers were homemade plywood boxes - not even painted.

I had been through Portland once before during the hitchhiking years, but I hadn't stayed more than a couple of hours. Now it was June of 1975 and I was going to live here.

At the end of that summer I went back to Arabia for a short time as my father retired from the oil company. I had to be there when my family left. It would have been wrong to skip that.

I even went to London with my folks where we stayed at a hotel so upscale that the janitors wore tails.
But that kind of living was about to end. "How does it feel to be on your own?"

When I got back to town I was on a city bus at night, exhausted after a long flight. I got off and walked toward the band house on an unpaved road, carrying a heavy suitcase.

Everything about my past was sealed up and done. I was ready to launch, but even if I hadn't been, there was no going back. Plan B? I had no Plan B and Plan A was a real long-shot.

Approaching the house that night I could hear music and partying. I set the suitcase down on SE Carlton Street and thought about everything for a few minutes before going in. I was 21 and the Portland years had begun.

Thanks for the memories Jack - and Bill. I moved to Seattle in 1974, and first came to Portland in 1975 for a week-long gig at the Turquoise Room with a funky horn band. Stayed at the Portland Rose across the street, rigged the 'Magic Fingers' bed to run 24/7, and got woken up by Tom Peterson knocking on the TV. Those were the daze . . . Still somewhat crazy (and even gigging occasionally) after all these years.

Thanks Jack, I connected with that memory: January 19, 1974 3:00pm. $20 in my pocket. Two packs and a guitar case. Fell in love with the city as the Greyhound bus crossed the Marquam. It was green, bright blue skies and the people actually made eye contact. Bet a guy $2 that I could teach him to juggle in five minutes while I was standing on the sidewalk on the Pioneer Courthouse, directly across from the parking lot that became the Square. Won the $2.
Harbor drive was still in existence, but it was being torn up. My first dinner was back in the kitchen at the Genoa, my friend worked as a busboy there and asked if I wanted to go with him to work.
One reason I came out here from Atlanta after graduating from Earlham was the sense of hope I encountered in the media and in the people I'd met from Portland and Oregon. I have not been disappointed.

When I was a newspaper reporter in New Jersey ('72-'75), a couple with whom I worked moved to Portland. I remember looking with them at the weather reports from Portland in the middle of the winter, when everybody in New York was freezing off their privates. "Portland - High 45, low 35, rain." Then in the summer, when the East Coast heat was suffocating us all: "Portland - High 75, low 58, partly cloudy." I thought, "That sounds good." It took a roundabout path to get me to Portland eventually, but I have not regretted it.

I was living in Oregon then but not in Portland. I visited with some friends who grew up here. We rode bicycles all around Washington Park on one of those perfect summer days that stays in memory forever. Tom McCall was still Governor. It was before the plundering and despoiling started.

a place called Sam's up by the college. I think there is a McDonald's there now.

Sam's Hofbrau. Family owned and hand carved sandwiches...forced out of business to put that McDonald's in its place.

I own the big beer barrel "S" and the giant German beer stein from the back of the bar. Broke my heart and I swore I'd never eat at McDonald's again.

I came in January 1980 for a job interview. Aftermath of an ice storm by two days, but utility wires were still laying in the roadways - even the major ones. They didn't think I'd take the job, given I had been in California for a couple of years on my first job out of college, and there were plenty of prospects down there. But I did. I came out of much worse weather in the Midwest, after all.

I saw the last four months of the old shape of St. Helens. The first few weeks here, some Portland cops dropped a couple of dead possums on the doorstep of an African-American owned business, and some guy shot up a bar in Salem with an automatic weapon.

It was pretty clear that this wasn't the California west coast. I knew I was somewhere unique. I wouldn't have guessed I'd stay this long.

Was Sam's on the street level of the PSU dorm building The Ondine?

I got nostalgic from this post, and tried tracking down some old musicians I knew back in those days. I found mention of Lester McFarland who was over at the house playing one time. He toured with the Crusaders.

Then I thought of this perfect Portland music story from 1976-ish.

They were tearing down the house across the street and there was mud from the bulldozers on the pavement.
I pulled up in my black '62 Galaxy 500, opened the door, took out some groceries and a glass jar of apple juice dropped on the street. I went in, got a broom and began sweeping up.
Out from the dirt came a gold coin with the lady on the old dime on it, only in gold. I can't remember the year, but for a few minutes I thought I was wealthy. I started calling coin stores and found out that it was worth much less than I had hoped, but since I was broke it was still a tremendous jolt of good luck. Later, at the shop, I saw other versions of this so I knew I wasn't getting ripped off.

I sold the gold coin and had enough to take the drummer and his girlfriend to see the Brothers Johnson at the Paramount. Fortune had smiled on us.

Brothers Johnson brings it full circle, Bill - I probably did I'll Be Good To You at the T Room. Must be a sign for a BoJack memorial jam block party (and we know Jack can do Hang on Sloopy).

My bad...Portland Hotel it was. I was just a small child when it was torn down.
Glad you have the souvenirs from Sam's Frank. McD's is just nasty, but then many small family owned businesses have gone away, put out by the nation wide mega stores.
Shop local folks!

". . . victor ives"?

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