Friday, December 31, 2010

Stare into the Abyss: Toast 2011 with Intensity and Authority

If you don't have NYE plans, almost certainly the best beer on tap in Salem right now is Deschutes Abyss at Venti's.

It's mythic. The New School has a panel review of the current version, and they say stuff like
easily in the Top 5 Imperial Stouts of all time...
Writers and drinkers everywhere praise its complexity and completeness - and yes, the fathomless depths. Just hit the google!

So if you wanted a recommendation on the best beer to toast the New Year, there it is.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Toast to Ben Maxwell (repost)

The obituary writers called him "the sage of Polk County" and "the bard of Eola Hills." Ben Maxwell died 43 years ago today. He was born on the 25th of February, 1898 and died on the 25th of December, 1967.

Maxwell was a raconteur and journalist. He loved stories. His articles and notes are the essential starting point for any research in Salem area history, though as a story-teller Maxwell's taste for flavor and color sometimes caused him to overseason the facts. He is unfailingly reliable for the big picture, but in the fine detail he cannot always be confirmed.

While this more than occasionally vexes Capital Taps, we also acknowledge our debt. And with our holiday tipple, we raise our glass. Prost!

Maxwell wrote for the Capitol Journal, the periodicals of the Marion County Historical Society, as well as for national magazines.

He was also a great collector of photos and clippings, and he donated over 5000 photos to the Salem Public Library. They constitute the Ben Maxwell Collection, images from which regular readers will often see here.

His obituary said:
Ben Maxwell - "the sage of Polk County"; "the bard of Eola Hills" - is gone. Living on, in the wake in life he created, is his memorial to the past he loved so well. Maxwell died of a liver ailment on Christmas in a Salem hospital, 68 years and 10 months from the day he was born into a pioneer family.

He was generally recognized as the Mid-Willamette Valley’s chief historian, particularly for Salem and Polk County. He said once, "The historical inclination grew on me like any other disease." Later, explaining why he continued his research and gathering of printed and photographic memories of history, Maxwell said: "It’s more comfortable to live in the past than in the present, because you can eliminate what you don’t like about the past. You have to live with what you have in the present."

Yet Maxwell lived in the present, too, and became well-known not only because he was a walking history book but for his colorful turn of speech. He described one politician as "nothing whittled down to a fine point." And he said of another that he "could hang a gate and daub mud on the inside of a chimney, but he never will write poetry."

Another of Oregon’s noted historians, state archivist David Duniway, called Maxwell "A great figure in the historical world. His work has been tremendous. He knew more of the history of Salem and Polk County than any other member of the community, and he expressed himself tersely and effectively in describing. it."
About his writing, Al Jones said
Ben's vocabulary added flavor to facts without loss of accuracy. He might refer to a certain politician as being “whittled down to a fine point” or to another early character as one who “could hang a gate or daub mud on the inside of a chimney, but could never write poetry." In describing early Salem hotels, he said: “In pioneer times, most so-called hotels were little more than flop-houses without facilities. The flea bag who scratched when he applied for a room was just as welcome as a dignified citizen who wore a plug hat and squirted tobacco juice through his whiskers."
The slight variations on the favorite phrases are amusing - and characteristic.

According to Jones, he also said:
I’ve always regarded Salem as a good place to be born, a nice place to die in, but a dull place to live.
(originally posted December 25th, 2009)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's the Slavery: South Carolina's Secession

You might have thought the Sesquicentennial was over. Oregon celebrated its 150th last year, and this year Salem celebrated its 150 years since being officially chartered.

But in 1859 Oregon was only a free-ish state, and with the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, the whole country now looks at the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

On December 20th 150 years ago, the State of South Carolina was the first to secede from the Union. A few days later, on Christmas Eve, they composed their apologia, the "Declaration of the Immediate Causes." While we often hear about Secession and the Confederacy as a defense of State's Rights, South Carolina's "Declaration" makes clear that the only State's Right at issue was the right to hold slaves.

This historical amnesia is depressing; the antithesis of freedom for the state and slavery for the man is astonishing. We drink a pint to memory.

(bold added, but CAPS in original)
Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.

The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D. 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue. And now the State of South Carolina having resumed her separate and equal place among nations, deems it due to herself, to the remaining United States of America, and to the nations of the world, that she should declare the immediate causes which have led to this act.

In the year 1765, that portion of the British Empire embracing Great Britain, undertook to make laws for the government of that portion composed of the thirteen American Colonies. A struggle for the right of self-government ensued, which resulted, on the 4th of July, 1776, in a Declaration, by the Colonies, "that they are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do." They further solemnly declared that whenever any "form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government." Deeming the Government of Great Britain to have become destructive of these ends, they declared that the Colonies "are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."
We omit lots of ironic BLAH, BLAH, BLAH about the Declaration of Independence, the War for Independence, the Constitution, and other earnest blather about "FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATES."

More to the point is the relentless riffing on slavery and the brazen wish for freedom to hold the unfree. (Apologies for the longueur, but the stress on the freedom to hold slaves is remarkable.)
On the 23d May, 1788, South Carolina, by a Convention of her People, passed an Ordinance assenting to this Constitution, and afterwards altered her own Constitution, to conform herself to the obligations she had undertaken. Thus was established, by compact between the States, a Government with definite objects and powers, limited to the express words of the grant. This limitation left the whole remaining mass of power subject to the clause reserving it to the States or to the people, and rendered unnecessary any specification of reserved rights....We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due." This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River. The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States. The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States.

For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia.

Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation. The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor. We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection. For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government.

Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States. The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy. Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief. We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.

Adopted December 24, 1860
And maybe things weren't so different here. Oregon was only free-ish. In Oregon's 1857 Constitution, section 35 in Article I, the "Bill of Rights," reads:
Free Negroes and Mulattoes-No free negro or mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution shall come, reside, or be within this state, or hold any real estate, or make any contracts, or maintain any suit therein; and the legislative assembly shall provide by penal laws for the removal by public officers of all such negroes and mulattoes, and for their effectual exclusion from the state, and for the punishment of persons who shall bring them into the state, or employ or harbor them.
It wasn't until 1926 that citizens voted for repeal and to remove this from the Constitution.

(For more on the Civil War Sesquicentennial, see the New York Times "Disunion" blog, and The American Interest "The Long Recall" blog. Both are running daily real-time updates from 150 years ago. Many other newspapers and journals are also observing the Sesquicentennial. The Civil War's a big deal, and we'll check in on it occasionally.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunar Eclipse offers Second Reason to Toast Longer Days Tonight

Unfortunately, the weather doesn't look like it's going to cooperate for our own backyard science pub tonight.

But you should crack open a beer anyway, and step out back tonight if you're up. Maybe you can catch a glimpse in a cloud break.

The Statesman says that the eclipse
will begin at 10:33 p.m., with the total eclipse hitting at 11:41 p.m. and lasting about an hour. The eclipse will end at 2:01 a.m. Tuesday....

This particular eclipse is rare in that it occurs during the winter solstice, which happens at 11:38 p.m. The last time a lunar eclipse happened on Dec. 21 was 1991; the next one will be 2094. The last total eclipse of the moon visible from the United States took place on Feb. 21, 2008; the next will be April 15, 2014.

Weather's always a problem, not surprisingly. In 1895 and 1906 residents could try to watch the lunar eclipse. Like tonight, on September 3rd, 1895, it was cloudy; but on February 8th, 1906, skies were clear.

Here's a couple of reports from the Oregonian. The overheated description of the 1906 one is especially funny.

The "Failure" of 1895.
The Eclipse an Opaque Failure - The lunar eclipse came off last night according to the almanacs, but the only evidence of the occurrence of the phenomenon obtained by observers in this vicinity was the inky blackness overhead between 9:30 and 10:30 P.M. The sky was somber with clouds nearly all day, and they appeared to become more dense as evening fell. Not a star could be discovered anywhere within the usual radius of an observer on the Oregonian tower. The moon's rise was dimly discernible from the greater light in that quarter of the sky, usually traversed by the satellite. The commencement of the total eclipse itself was evidenced by the sudden opaqueness of the whole sky, which continued during the period of time which the astronomers had calculated the eclipse to last. There were very few observers on the streets. An occasional glance at the clouded sky was sufficient to convince the most curious that the spectacle was hopelessly invisible here.

The success of 1906.
So far as the residents of Portland and the surrounding country are concerned, Madame Luna could not have chosen a more auspicious time than last night to shroud her face in the shadows of the earth. A cloudless sky gave to all an opportunity to watch the total eclipse throughout in all its splendor. Its unsurpassed beauty was sufficient to rivet to the sky the attention of each person and it made not the slightest difference whether he possessed the slightest knowledge of the fundamentals of astronomy.

Even before the first uncertain shadow suffused the lower portion of the moon's disc, the street and yards of the city were full of people gazing skywards.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Old Courthouse Christmas Tree, First Illuminated in 1913

For about 40 years, Salem lit up a living Christmas Tree in front of the old Courthouse.

(Click for larger image)

Here's the Courthouse in 1903 or 1904 (there's a couple of different dates floating around) taken from the Grand Theater. You can see the tree in the lower right. According to the caption on the next image from 1913, "The tree is a Norway spruce tree planted by Judge J.J. Shaw in 1882." Using W.W. Piper's design, Wilbur Boothby had built the Courthouse a decade earlier, in 1873.

The Post Office, now Gatke Hall, is behind it, as are the old Capitol and First Methodist Church.

This is from 1913, the first year it was lit up. According to the caption it was the first outdoor tree so lit up in the US.

Here's a view from 1938, the 25th anniversary of its first illumination.

(Click for larger image)

Here's a view from the following year.

The Courthouse was demolished in 1952. A tip of the pint.

(All images from Salem Library Historic Photos Collection)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Science Pub Moves from a Murder to Hormonal Decisions

Science Pub is back! Tomorrow night, tip a pint and learn about the ways we are slaves to chemicals!
Stress Meets Love: The Hormones Behind Appropriate Decision Making

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Brown's Towne Lounge

With Emma Coddington, PhD, assistant professor in the Biology Department at Willamette University. Find out more about her work in behavioral neuroendocrinology and neuroethology.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Holiday Whimsy - Dickinson's Christmas Carols

Like a tart and tasty bite of cranberry and sweet potato comes this holiday whimsy. It's a collage of carols and poetry, a mashup of twee indie pop and canonical verse. It won't make your teeth hurt, promise!

Portland indie pop chanteuse Grey Anne says:
"Dickinson's Christmas Carol" is not a typo. It's a combination of two great things: traditional Christmas songs, and Emily Dickinson poems.

You may notice these recordings are imperfect. They're no-dubs two-channel home recordings, because this is a lark and maybe no one cares. But if people really like it, enhanced versions may be made available later.

A big tip of the pint to Grey Anne!

(And what should that pint be, you ask? Well, not exactly a pint. Nor a barleywine, winter warmer, or other holiday beer. Entirely too massive and rich. This needs something lighter in texture, but structured and with deceptive power...a Belgian tripel!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yesterday a Toast to 77 Years of Legal Beer

Toast the 77th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition! Yesterday was Repeal Day, December 5th, the date in 1933 the states and nation formally ratified the 21st Amendment.

If you forgot, as we did, toast it tonight!

(For more about Repeal in Oregon.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Salem Beer Graffito Proposed to Grace Pyramids in 1909

Here's some ballyhoo from January, 1909.


Jake Duttenhoefer, of Tumwater, Wash., chief engineer of the Olympia Brewing Company, and best known brewery man on the coast, is in the city inspecting the local plant. Duttenhoefer has charge of the engineering work for the big Olympia brewery, the Salem brewery, the Bellingham plant and a brewery in San Francisco. This will probably be his last trip to Salem for some time, as he is planning on a long trip in the east and Europe. He says he intends to paint a Salem Beer sign on the Pyramids and will pull off some other stunts to surprise the natives.

Jake is one of these genial fellows that always makes a hit wherever he goes, and he is ready to bet he will buy the sultan of Turkey a drink before he returns and hopes to introduce Salem foam into King Edward's private family. Duttenhoefer started on the European trip last year, got as far as Philadelphia, fell into the arms of a confidence man and woke up in New York with nothing but a gold brick and the price of a telegram to Olympia. The price of that telegram shows how he happened to get back west on the cushions instead of on the rods. He will remain in Salem several days this time before bidding farewell for a year or two.

For more on Duttenhoefer, see this history of the Port Townsend Brewery.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Better than Billy! Beer Poetry with Keetje Kuipers at Willamette

Keetje Kuipers reads at Willamette University on Wednesday in the Hatfield Room at the Library.

You may recall "Across a Great Wilderness Without You."

Here's another beer poem, a summer verse a little wintry.
4th of July

If I have any romantic notions left,
please let me abandon them here
on the dashboard of your Subaru
beside this container of gas station
potato salad and bottle of sunscreen.
Otherwise, my heart is a sugar packet
waiting to be shaken open by some
other man’s hand. Let there be another town
after this one, a town with an improbable Western
name—Wisdom, Last Chance—where we can get
a room and a six-pack, where the fireworks
end early, say nine o’clock, before it’s really
gotten dark enough to see them because
everyone has to work in the morning.
I’m not asking for love anymore.
I don’t care if I never see a sailboat again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bridge Controversy Nothing New - 1911 Debate over Union St. RR Bridge

Today's eristics in the Statesman over a footbridge between Riverfront Park and Minto-Brown are nothing new.

Just as forces opposed the rehabilitation of the Union Street Railroad Bridge, forces, including Mayor Lachmund, opposed the construction of the bridge in the first place.*

Supporters of the bridge took out a large ad on Thursday, February 23rd, 1911, early in the discussion and planning for the bridge. The ad copy touches on some of the very same issues, with the Coast Guard today succeeding the War Department!
To the ordinary man the building of a bridge across the Willamette, providing one had the money, ought to be a very simple matter, but the Salem, Falls City & Western railroad is finding it to be an exceedingly complicated proposition.

Yesterday John H. and Charles L. McNary, attorneys for the road, forwarded to the secretary of war a request for permission to build a draw bridge across the river at the foot of Union street in this city. This request is accompanied by the plans and specifications for the struture, which will cost $100,000.

Last Monday the council passed a franchise giving the railroad the right to construct this bridge, and last week the state of Oregon gave its consent for the same thing by the passage of a bill through both houses of the legislature. So far about the only department of the government that has not had a finger in the pie are the counties of Polk and Marion.

The war department exercised authority in the matter because the Willamette is a navigable stream. However, it is believed that as soon as the department sees the plans, which provide for a draw sufficient to permit all vessels that ply the river to pass, the permit will be granted as a mere formality. Were the bridge to be a high one, there would undoubtedly be some delay, for then the government would probably send its engineers here to investigate.

The railroad company is pushing the preliminary work as rapidly as possible, it is hoped to begin construction on the bridge in the course of 60 days, and to complete it some time this summer.
Kingwood Park was an early gridded subdivision in the flats in West Salem.

In the same paper a news piece appeared.



Significant Remarks by Mayor Made at the Time the Franchise Was Passed Are Recalled When He Said That He Had Nothing to Say at That Time But Intimated That He Would Latter

That Mayor Lachmund may veto the thirty-five year franchise granted to the Salem, Falls City and Western railroad at the last meeting of the city council is the latest development in the fight that has been waged by the road for permission to lay its tracks on Union street and to span the Willamette with a hundred thousand dollar bridge.

While the mayor has not declared publically that he will use his ax on the franchise, it is well known that he has been opposed to the franchise.

Mr. Lachmund is out of town at the present time and it was therefore impossible to secure a statement from him on the matter. However the Statesman has it from an authoritative source that the mayor has said he would send in a message to the council stating his objections to the franchise.

At the last meeting of the council the franchise passed by a vote of nine to four after considerable discussion. During the consideration fo the bill in the committee of the whole council, Councilman Durbin was in the chair and he asked the mayor if he wished to say anything upon the subject. HIs honor replied that he did not at this time but that he would later.

This remark is significant now in view of the knowledge that the city executive is to use his power of veto.

The main opposition to the granting of the franchise was because the road was to use steam, it being contended that a steam road would make the street unpleasant as a residence district. John H. McNary, representing the road, stated that it was impossible for the road to use electricity.

The grant runs for thirty-five years and gives the road the right to use the streets and to construct a bridge across the Willamette at the foot of Union street.

It is believed that by the people interested in having this road pass through the city on the way to the Abiqua timber and to Silverton, that the council will override the mayor's veto. This will require ten votes if all the members are present.

*We may have more to say on this as hopsman and mayor Louis Lachmund seems to have been especially contentious and cranky in an interesting, though also disagreeable, way. (And more on Lachmund here.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

1911 Thanksgiving Menu at Hotel Marion

Chateaubriand of Moose?! Saddle of Alaska Antelope?

(click for larger menu)

Holy Cow, that's a lot of meat!*

Any culinary historians out there? Perhaps you can mine it better for bons mots or discern curious habits. This was not, needless to say, a proletarian plate. Even so, New York or San Francisco could bury it in excess. So this was Thanksgiving for the Salem gentry and their visitors, such as they were.

For an assortment of historic images of the Hotel Marion, see here. It was located where the Conference Center is today. A history here.

*No wonder Syrup of Figs, Fletcher's Castoria, Paine's Celery Compound, and a ton of other patent medicines attended to the needs of the constipated, who must have been many, judging by the frequency and number of ads and mentions of digestion.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wilfred Owen, Leonidas Willis, and unmild Thoughts of War

Our Veterans Day ruminations took some odd swerves into byways of uncertain patriotism, and it seemed best to postpone them for a few days.

The best straight-up memorial was surely at the Oregon State Hospital Museum blog. If you haven't visited, go read about Robert Riggle, who fought in France at the end of World War I, and who was later committed to the State Hospital. He killed himself on June 4th, 1920. It is good to retell as best we can these stories and lives.

The Brits seem to have found the best beery honor: The Lodden Brewery makes Wilfred's Mild to honor Wilfred Owen, the celebrated poet of World War I:
We are donating 10 pence of every pint of Wilfred's Mild sold to the Church where Wilfred Owen worked. All Saints church in Dunsden is located in the field directly in front of the brewery.
Owen was killed on November 4th, 1918, just a few days before the armistice, November 11th. A color image of the label would show the red poppies in the background behind him.

In his War Requiem, composed for the rededication of the 14th century Coventry Cathedral in 1962, after it was bombed in 1940, Benjamin Britten juxtaposed Owen's poetry with the Latin text of the Requiem Mass.

Out there, we've walked quite friendly up to Death:
Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We've sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn't writhe.
He's spat at us with bullets and he's coughed
Shrapnel. We chorused when he sang aloft;
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.
Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier's paid to kick against his powers.
We laughed, knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars; when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death - for Life; not men - for flags.

Earnest Eckerlen, son of saloon owner and brewery officer Eugene, is named on the doughboy monument, you may recall.

Slightly less reverently, we also observe a different kind of veteran. Apparently there are a few Confederate veterans buried in Salem.

These burials and the lives behind them are something ambiguous and about which we are uncertain and ambivalent. It is to enter an alternate universe where the Civil War is the War of Northern Aggression.

This is an unverified portrait of Lt. Colonel Leonidas Willis, who is buried in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery records cite his obituary on 14 April 1899:
When the civil war broke out in 1861, his sympathies naturally being with the South, Mr. Willis enlisted in the service of the Confederacy and ere the close of the war saw much active service, his field of operation being principally in Arkansas and Mississippi. He was colonel of a battalion of cavalry and under command of General Forrest.

Deceased came to Oregon in 1871 settling in Salem...

The deceased was in no sense of the word an office-seeker, being content with the lot of a private citizen, although while in Texas he served his county faithfully as district clerk for several years.
Forrest had led a feared and powerful cavalry, was accused of war crimes for a massacre of Union prisoners, and was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

The obituary hesitates for a moment, protective, even defensive, about the possibility of Willis seeking patronage.

You might recall this ad from Fourth of July celebrations in 1910, which appears to show a Union and Confederate veteran reconciling in friendship. Mending fences was important, and many would make choices not to dwell too much on the past in order to live together in the present. It seems likely that in the obituary we see a similar reticence.

(A family researcher has put together a history of Willis' battalion of the Texas Cavalry.)

To the dead, and to the living, we tip our pint.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WU Glory: Funhouse Stripper Prof of the Year; Different Prof talks Concrete

The Oregonian has the news that community radio maven, Funhouse Stripper, and, oh yeah, Willametter Prof, Karen Holman, has been named Oregon Professor of the Year.

That's pretty great! A tip of the pint.

In other news, in a scrumptious bit of irony, Willamette University has scheduled a talk for tonight: "Technological Innovation in Imperial Rome: What Can Ancient Concrete Tell Us About Roman Society?"

We propose a similar talk: Technological Failure in Post-Industrial America: What can Modern Concrete Tell us about Marion County Society?

Hopefully the County Commissioners will be in attendance...

(Image of Colosseum: Wikipedia, David Iliff)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Old-Timey Apples Elicit Plea from Slow Food

Does the hegimony of the mealy Red Delicious bug you?

Slow Food's got your back and has published this 16pp guide to preserving heirloom apple varieties.
Apples are endangered?

It’s true—those brightly polished rows of fruit stacked year-round in your grocery store are under threat of extinction and not in the way you would think. Apples as a species are well established, but the majority of known apple varieties are desperately close to extinction, being grown in fewer than three orchards. Just a century ago, there were over 15,000 distinct apple varieties grown on U.S. soil. Today, only 11 varieties regularly appear on supermarket shelves. Red Delicious alone accounts for 41% of all apples grown and eaten in the U.S.
Don't know if the Wandering Aengus folks visit here, but we'd love to read something about the history of apple orchards here and the current state of heirloom varieties locally. The history's not likely as rich or long as that of local prunes and cherries, but surely there is a history. If you've got a thing for 19th and early 20th century Willamette Valley apple orchards, whether eating or cider apples, we'd love a guest post! Do apple trees live a century? Are there any old orchards around?

Interestingly, the pamphlet contains a section on a Sonoma Valley Gravenstein project:
The delicate late-summer Gravenstein apple, first planted in Sonoma County, California in 1820 by Russian trappers once filled Bay area orchards, only to be pushed out of the marketplace by sturdier apple varieties that ship better and last longer. Add to that suburban development, the conversion of apple orchards to vineyards, and overall decreased apple production—the Gravenstein was soon in trouble. In 1958, 5,449 acres of Gravensteins flourished in the U.S. Just fifty years later, production plummeted to fewer than 900 acres. Determined to reverse that trend, Slow Food Russian River leads a project to build awareness about the Gravenstein apple and support Gravenstein farmers.
Gravensteins seem like they might be more popular here and in less danger. Anyone know?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This Thanksgiving Make it an Historic Wine Tour

The change in weather has interrupted our wishes for beer and turned our thoughts to bold, hearty red wines.

Over at Look What's Happening, Rebekah recently wrote about a recent trip of discovery. You should do the same! Most wineries are open for Wine Country Thanksgiving, and the Eola Hills are, like Rebekah says, just out your back door in west Salem. (Here's a crazy detailed topo map, 8mb big.) There are also new clusters of wineries and vineyards out south and east of Salem.

Before the local wineries, though, for a beer-drinker perhaps the most interesting winery is Hop Kiln in the Sonoma Valley.

They've repurposed an early 20th century hop dryer!

More of the vines are planted on valley floor in Sonoma and Napa, and it is interesting to note the apparent overlap of vines and hops. Here we grow vines on the hillsides and hops on the bottom lands, so there is little overlap.

The story of the hops dryer is endearing.
Hops had become a major crop in the area, and in 1905 rancher/farmer [Sol, who had purchased the ranch in 1880] Walters decided to build a hops dryer to serve local farmers. The structure was to be functional, using barn-style architecture and pre-20th century technology. Construction was a race against time with many neighbors betting that it would not be finished for the ‘05 hops harvest. Big Red [The legendary queen of these parts, red-headed Bernadette Randall] cheered on the crew of 25 men working under stonemason Angelo “Skinny” Sodini. With massive redwood timbers from her family’s mill and stone from nearby Felta Creek, the construction team hurried to complete our majestic, 3-story Hop Kiln in 35 days.
At least one other Sonoma winery uses a hops kiln as a tasting room. (Photos: Hop Kiln)

Does anyone know of any existing hops dryers that have been similarly repurposed in the Willamette Valley? The Oregon Historic Sites Database didn't turn up anything - one in Aurora still appears to be on a working farm, and the only other one that looked interesting, from 1890, seems to have been moved or demolished.

In any event, here's some local wineries and wine-related enterprises with cool old stuff. There are almost certainly others - if we've missed an interesting one, do drop a comment!

One historic home at a winery is the Italianate-Four Square at Pudding River Wine Cellars. They are on Sunnyside Road, just past Pratum. Interestingly, the history of the home is not at all part of their brand. Missed opportunity, perhaps?

Out at Ankeny Vineyard, perched on a hillside overlooking Ankeny Bottom, is the Cox Cemetery. Thomas Cox had Salem's first store in 1847. It is a uniquely beautiful pioneer cemetery. Karen at Taphophilic Musings visits at least once a season. Gogouci has a great photo of Cox's headstone at the Salem Daily Photo Diary. And here's a flickr photoset of nearly all the headstones.

Witness Tree's heritage oak is around 250 years old and served as a marker for the original surveys done in the 1850s.

A little farther afield, Argyle has done a good job with their history. Their Spirithouse reserve Pinot Noir honors their Victorian tasting room and its ghost.
Lena Elsie Imus died in 1908 in the building now serving as the tasting room for Argyle Winery at 691 Highway 99W in Dundee. The old house, turned commercial dwelling, was the home of Dundee City Hall from the late 70's until 1989.
The legend of Imus' ghost started with two former city employees: Molly Davis, then the city recorder, and Chris Culver, former city clerk. The two women started to notice strange occurrences in the building.

Ken Wright purchased the early 1920s Carlton train depot and uses it as his tasting room for both Ken Wright Cellars and Tyrus Evan labels. The train was part of the Red Electric passenger rail system between Eugene and Portland.

Practically across the street in Carlton, Scott Paul Wines uses two historic buildings and says of them:
Our winery is housed in a repurposed granary, the former Madsen Grain Company, built in 1900, while our brick tasting room was originally a creamery, built in 1915.

McMenamins of course can offer the Hotel Oregon, Grand Lodge, and Edgefield.

After the heritage tree, the Joel Palmer House in Dayton is the most venerable of them all. Palmer built it in the 1850s. He was a pioneer, climbed Mt. Hood, was Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and later Speaker of the Oregon House. And now the house is a restaurant, with a special focus on wild mushrooms and Oregon wine.

And finally, winemakers are nearly unanimous: the most important ingredient in good wine is good beer! After working the fields, working in the winery, or tasting wines, nothing is better than a frosty beer.

So as you go wine tasting, take some extra time to visit a little bit of the history, too. And then, have a beer!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election 1910 - Oswald West Elected Governor; Many Voted in Barns

Now that we have ourselves a Governor, it might be interesting to look at the Election 100 years ago.

(Front page, afternoon edition, Election Day 1910)

The big news was that the Hotel Marion had reopened after renovation in the space of the Chemeketa and Willamette Hotel. Note the "home industry" slant and the comparison to Portland.

In election news, Governor West was elected (for more on West, see here and here), and among some 32 ballot measures, women suffrage was defeated, Western Oregon University ("State Normal School at Monmouth") authorized, and the local option for liquor approved but statewide prohibition failed.

Most of this doesn't register in the early returns, however.

But Jim Crow does. Oklahoma had joined the union in 1907 in August of 1910 adopted for voters a literacy test with a grandfather clause.

While we couldn't quickly find the polling places in 1910, here are the Salem polling places in 1909 - presumably they didn't change much.

First ward - E.P. Walker's Barn, Union and Church street.
Second ward - The City Hall [Chemeketa and High]
Third ward - Yannke's livery barn, High street, between Court and State
Fourth ward - Low's livery barn, Ferry and High streets
Fifth ward - Wade's cooper shop, North Libery street
Sixth ward - Dalrymple's hall, Asylum avenue
Seventh ward - Townsend's hall, South Commercial street
A barn, two livery stables, a cooper shop, two halls, and city hall. That really gives a sense for how dependent on horses was the city still. It's also interesting how close together the ward locations are - three of them alone on High street: At Chemeketa, between Court and State, and at Ferry.

Salem was small.

And did voters have to hold their noses, too, when they cast their votes?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

More Poe than Pennington: The Lost and Damned at the Prison Block

Maybe you heard a little about the Nightmare Factory at the Oregon School for the Deaf?

But of course Halloween at State institutions isn't always fun and games.

While we wouldn't want to douse most of the fun*, we do think that in addition to the fun, we might take a moment to think about real horror.

As Salemites can hardly not know, Ty Pennington and the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition revamped the haunted house at the School for the Deaf. Since 1987 the fun and games have been an important fund-raiser. Fortunately, stories, apocryphal or verifiable, of the kinds of tragedies that lead to hauntings aren't obvious.

But while there don't appear to be any ghosts at the Deaf School, we're sure there should be ghosts at other Salem places. Unhappy lives and deaths at the Asylum, Penitentiary, and Institution for the Feeble-Minded easily make the case that each institution should be haunted. Some of the stories, in fact, get a page on "haunted Salem" in the Salem online history.

Executions are profoundly sad, horror and woe radiating in every direction. It's also unclear that the state convicts the correct person 100% of the time. The execution of the wrong person is especially horrific. Of course, no matter how you feel about the executions, the truly guilty have left a long trail of woe behind them. There's long sadness no matter where you look.

Here's a list of the hangings and gassings between 1904 and 1962. Two of them are Halloween hangings at the Penitentiary on October 31st, 1913.

The State hanged Frank Seymour at age 19 and Mike Spanos at 21 on that October 31st. The year before, after meeting George Dedasklou at a pool hall in Medford, they retired to an old factory and assaulted and robbed Dedasklou. The robbery went awry and they apparently finished him off.

The case went to the Oregon Supreme Court and it appears there were at least some questions about the validity of the confession and whether a third person was involved in the murder. After reviewing the case, Governor West declined to grant clemency.

At the Penitentiary, the State invited 15 people to witness the executions.

After the deaths, Prison Superintendent said that the men had left letters for him in which they "blamed whiskey for all their troubles."

Spanos and Seymour may not be innocent, but according to the Innocence Project, even with modern protocols and technology, since 1989, 261 people have been exonerated through DNA matching after conviction. A century ago the "error rate" must have been much, much higher. It is difficult to read the newspaper accounts of Spanos and Seymour, at least superficially resembling in some details the cases of Sacco and Vanzetti, and be confident justice was served.

Just north of the prison is the State Hospital. Recently, the Hospital Museum blog mentioned a documentary about David Maisel's Library of Dust project. It's not clear that the documentary is completed.

But what are finished are the amazing photos. You really need to click through to see the azure patina and copper.

The images are beautiful. The contents of the tins, unbearably sad. The moral and aesthetic whiplash, violent. This tin is labeled "baby," March 7, 1924. How did a baby enter or be born at the State Hospital in 1924? Was its mother pregnant before she was admitted? Did she get pregnant while in the Hospital? What's the story?

But the remains went unclaimed, the story erased.

Right after Halloween is All Soul's Day and Day of the Dead. As we celebrate the fun and games this Halloween, we'll take a moment and tip a pint to the lost and damned, known and unknown, in Salem's Institutions.

*Over at DSS, Emily's got a note about zombie hangings whose imagery - indeed, iconography - veers disturbingly close to that of lynching. That's some Halloween fun that could maybe use some dousing. So is the unseemly relish Lost Abbey brewing seems to take in depicting a burning witch.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Science Pub Starts with a Murder

A murder of crows, that is!

With apologies to Drinky Crow, we read news that Professor David Craig of Willamette is going to give a talk titled "Friends or Foes? Facing the Facts about American Crows" at the inaugural Science Pub Salem.

The first one will be Tuesday, November 9th at Brown's Towne Lounge, 6:30pm.

OMSI sponsors Science Pub and says:
Learn about cutting-edge topics in science and technology from leading researchers and scientists, all while enjoying food and drinks. Don't expect a remote speaker behind a distant podium. Instead, experience an informal atmosphere where you can interact with experts and where there are no silly questions. No scientific background is required; just bring your curiosity, sense of humor, and appetite for food, drinks, and knowledge!

Science Pub is open to anyone, no RSVP required. Science Pubs are for ages 21+, or minor with adult. Tell your friends, and we hope to see you there!
We like this!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beer Archeology and an Ancient Ale

Helpful tipsters have identified a very curious convergence: archeologically old-school ale!

At Venti's right now is a modern recreation of an ancient beer. Theobroma from Dogfish Head is on tap. It's a gruit, a beer without hops. It's part of Dogfish's "Ancient Ales" series:
This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (translated into 'food of the gods') is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds).

By itself this is already an interesting curiousity, but it gets even better. It turns out, on April 7th, 2011 (yeah, that's next year), Dr. Patrick E. McGovern, Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, will give a lecture titled, "Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Extreme Fermented Beverages."
The speaker will illustrate the biomolecular archaeological approach by describing the discovery of the most ancient, chemically-attested alcoholic beverage in the world, dating back to about 7000 B.C. Based on the analyses of some of the world’s earliest pottery from Jiahu in the Yellow River valley of China, a mixed fermented beverage of rice, hawthorn fruit/grape, and honey was reconstructed. The laboratory’s most recent finding is a fermented beverage made from the fruit pod of the cacao tree, as based on analyses of ca. 1200 B.C. pottery sherds from the site of Puerto Escondido in Honduras.
Ding, Ding, Ding! We have a winner.

So if you want to double up on culinary archeology, be sure you taste at Venti's and hit the lecture in April. You know, plan a little!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Beer! This Weekend and Next

Starting tomorrow there's a nice cluster of beery pleasures for you!

Friday is "Growler Day" out at Gilgamesh. Fill your jars and buy your kegs out in the wooded hills above Turner.

On Sunday, Wild Pear offers an Oktoberfest-themed Supper Club. The menu promises "two German beers (first time ever in Oregon)." We know it's not the first time for German beer in Oregon, so we suppose they mean two kinds never seen here. How curious!

On Friday the 15th Gilgamesh will also be pouring at Bush Barn's Art Fusion event. Symmmetry/Symmetry play, so you know the music will be good! The cupcakes and beer pairing will be treacherous, so we recommend caution - but the pizza and beer promises safety.

Then on Saturday the 16th Brown's Town Lounge hosts the second Annual Brewers Bash. From out of town will come Oakshire, Calapooia, and Cornelius Pass Roadhouse; the home team will be represented by Thompson's and The Ram.

Maybe there will be a fresh hop ale or two. So get out and enjoy the fall!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cultured in Oregon

So the Oregon Cultural Trust has proclaimed the first week in October the "Oregon Days of Culture." When we think of Oregon Culture, the Kesey family and Nancy's Yogurt are the first things that come to mind!

Obviously that's not what the Trust had in mind...

Unfortunately, Salem's not playing the game very well, and the Salem offerings (you'll have to sort the entire table on the city column - the web interface is pretty clunky) leave us mostly uninspired. The good stuff's in Portland.

So we recommend a different microbial culture - yeast culture!

There's a good post-event discussion of the beer and cider festival over at DSS. It was a great start, and next year will be even better! In the meantime, do your part to support great Oregon Culture with a pint at your favorite establishment!

Support the class programming and make your own culture (shock) at Clockworks Cafe. The September schedule has a few October dates, but look for a new one soon.

The Library's Uniquely Oregon lecture series looks interesting. Next up, on Tuesday, October 12th, is OSU essayist and philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore on environmental ethics. Microbial diversity is an important part of the ecosystem!

Moving up to the macro level, fall brings rain, and brings to mind water and the river. Over at the Conference Center is the 4th Annual Oregon Artists Series show. Two of the paintings show the river, one a rural aerial view, with cotton-candy blue water, and fields in flood; the other, an urban scene, with slashes of electric color against the purple and grey of a rainy day. The Johanson, especially, captures our ambivalence about fall and the wet - depressing sometimes, but also mysterious with possibility. Both of them are too beautiful, really, but together they say something about the wet and water here in the Willamette Valley.

(Water Reaching for Itself, Willamette Flood #3, April Waters)

(Rain and River*, George Johanson)

And there's always Carl Hall's paintings of the Willamette River and Salem hills at Hallie Ford. These seem like authentic expressions of Oregon Culture, too.

*It might be Rain and River #5, but we can't recall...will update later.