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?