Community Features

The "Events and Activities" for the month are below these featured stories!

Telephone service, early days, stringing lines, Columbia Gorge, Oregon
In the early 1900’s, telephone service was expanding – and workers were installing telephone and power poles across America’s open land at a time when few roads were paved or passable in the winter. This team or gang of linesmen was stringing wires beside the Columbia River, barehanded. Garry Wilson’s grandfather, Franklin Wilson, who once lived in Sellwood, was one of the men in this picture. (Photo courtesy of Garry Wilson)

Telephones opened the modern era, in Inner Southeast

Special to THE BEE

If you were living in Southeast Portland in 1893, you didn’t own an electronic device because they still hadn’t been invented yet. Automobiles and radios weren’t yet available, and television was far into the future. You stored your perishables in an ice box, kept cool by an actual block of ice, and you cooked on a wood stove, because electricity was just starting to be introduced in the home.

Life was pretty primitive back then by today’s standards – but if you had enough money, you could purchase a telephone.

Phones are a luxury we now take for granted, but in the 1900’s they were very complex. The Northwest basically relied on the telegraph to communicate with other cities, and learn about news and events from our nation and around the world. There was mail, but it was not fast. For the news of the day, the alternative was waiting patiently for distant newspapers to arrive by ship, which sometimes took weeks from the East Coast – and when they got here, the top news items in them were hastily rewritten by local editors for use in their own newspapers.

In the business world, young men called “messenger boys” raced about the streets of Portland on foot or via bicycle, delivering messages to doctors, lawyers, bankers, and merchants to keep them abreast of the latest news about stocks, mergers, and current events in other major cities that arrived by telegraph.

Housewives, workingmen, and small shop owners – mostly on the east side of the Willamette River – mainly sent important messages by telegram, at the local Western Union office. If an immediate response was required, you had to wait hours or days for a reply.

The newly-invented telephones offered the simplicity of calling clients, customers, and relatives from the comfort of your own home, office, and store. Nonetheless, people were slow in signing up for this expensive luxury service – because, whom could you call, if the people you wanted to talk to didn’t have one too?

When phones first became available, there were over three hundred makers and distributers of the devices – and it would take another twenty years before phones were more affordable and telephone manufacturers began a major push to market them to consumers.

The most recognizable phone of that era, the one that you may since have seen in an antique store, was the “magneto phone”. It was a largely wooden wall-mounted telephone with a hard plastic mouthpiece fixed on the front for speaking, and a tubular hand-held receiver for the ear attached with a fabric-covered wire, and hung on the side.  The receiver was too short to allow anyone to sit in a chair, so you had to stand in one place when talking, making calls brief.

For placing a call, a hand crank was available, usually on the right side of the phone, to ring the distant operator and ask to be connected to your desired party.

To meet competition and increase adoption of the device, local telephone companies began renting telephones to their customers for $2.50 per month. What an exciting day for the family, when a telephone company employee arrived and their new phone was installed on a wall where nothing was before. A ringer for incoming calls only cost an additional $2.50 per month.

With their new phone, homebodies could share gossip with neighbors, and the residents could order food and staples for the home from local stores, or make appointments. It was exciting for the youngsters to have their first opportunity to listen to and talk with distant relatives that they previously only received letters from. Telephones were also helpful in warning residents about a fire or local emergency in a fast and efficient way.

Originally, only party lines were offered by the phone companies, and it wasn’t unusual to have as many as twenty families sharing the same line, which was another incentive to keep calls short. This was implemented by the companies so they didn’t have to run a dedicated line to each individual house. Each home or business had their own distinctive ring for incoming calls – such as three short rings followed by a long ring. Each subscriber’s ring was different.

These selective rings were intended to prevent other people on the same line from accidently picking up their phone and listening in on your personal conversation. But there was little entertainment in the home well into the 1920’s, so some with phones found it hard to resist gently picking up the receiver and listening in on their neighbors’ calls.

There were 33 first-time Portland subscribers who signed up for a phone from the American Telephone and District Telegraph Company in 1878. These mostly constituted doctors, hotels, and large businesses, but also included a few rich residents who enjoyed the novelty of owning the first telephone on their block. Some familiar names listed among the first phone adopters were the Meier and Frank department store, The Oregonian Publishing Company, and the Oregon and California Railroad Company.

Demand for phone service increased so much  in the early 1900’s that Portland’s two competing companies – the Portland Home Telephone and Telegraph Company, and the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Telephone Company – scrambled to install more lines and wires around parts of the city.

Gangs of burly, rugged men were hired as linesmen to haul and install 50-foot round wooden poles into the ground, and string wires atop them, to connect to individual homes and businesses. All of the work was done barehanded, along with a team of horses. Large groups of men struggled to balance the transmission poles upright and bury them into the hard-packed ground securely.

Problems arose for these telephone installers when they met installers from the “Portland Railway, Light, and Power Company” and the “Oregon Water and Power Railway” on the same block installing their own power poles. After heated arguments between them, a compromise was reached by company higher-ups. To save cost, and the time of erecting three or four different 50-foot poles at each intersection, it was agreed to share the same poles. Rental fees were assessed, payable to the owner who installed the utility pole.

Chuck Irwin, a lineman who worked for the “Pacific Northwest Company” for 36 years, stated that company was charged $1.25 per pole it used that was owned by another power or railway company as late as the 1950’s.

“Telephone exchanges” – large two and three story buildings made of hard concrete – were built in residential districts, in which thousands of switches and relays were wired along frames of metal, festooned like grapevines in a vineyard. Men with a particular interest and talent in electricity and its components were trained to maintain the lines in these telephone exchanges.  

In 1906, the “Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company” established what was named the Sellwood Exchange at 15th and S.E. Holgate, in a concrete building which still stands today (and in which movie star Clark Gable is reported to have gotten his professional start – as a telephone employee). The Sellwood Exchange was located near the Eastside Streetcar that ran along Milwaukie Avenue.

Many more telephone exchanges were built around the city during the 1920’s and 30’s, as the number of subscribers increased. Those who lived in Portland from 1940 to 1960 can still remember some of these exchanges – such as Garfield, Belmont, Tabor, Atwater, Arleta, and Woodlawn.

On my recent visit to the Telecommunications Museum in Seattle, Washington, volunteer switchmen pointed out that an office like the Sellwood Exchange could only offer telephone service for up to 10,000 subscribers within a radius of 36 miles. That would explain why phone subscribers of Westmoreland were assigned to the Belmont office instead of the Sellwood Exchange.

The office on Holgate Boulevard had twenty operators handling the calls, and probably up to twenty-five switchmen and technicians working on the remaining floors. The Museum workers explained that twenty men were needed during the day shift, five during the late evening hours, and three workers to handle any problems during the “graveyard hours”. 

Museum Board member Peter Amstein explained that the switchmen were specifically trained in the installation and maintenance of the switching system, while technicians repaired phones, worked out in the field, and basically troubleshot all phases of the phone company. Many Technicians and switchmen were needed during the 1920’s and 30’s to keep a telephone exchange running efficiently during the 1920’s and 30’s until new automated technology arrived.

And before the automation equipment was installed, allowing direct-dialing, switchboard operators were an essential part of a phone company’s success. Young women with acute hearing, and who excelled in eye and hand coordination, were sought out for this position.  Management expected female operators to log close to twelve hours during their stressful work day. Hiring on as an operator allowed women a unique opportunity, in a time when women had few employment options in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Together, operators and technicians worked as a team at the telephone exchange, but on different floors. It was the young ladies who answered calls that were the first to notify the technicians of any problems that needed to be fixed on the lines.

Chuck Irwin pointed out that one in ten women who graduated from school in 1940 would begin working for the phone company, and by that time close to 400 Portland operators were stationed at the Southwest Oak and Park telephone Building. “The ladies were required to work four hour shifts, so they might start at 12 noon and work until 4 p.m., and the next shift would be from 4 to 8, and the one after that 8 to midnight,”   explained Chuck.

Unable to keep up the costly demands in the telephone industry, the “Portland Home Telephone Company” sold its inventory and offices to “Pacific Telegraph and Telephone Company” (PT&T). By 1921 the American Telegraph and Telephone Company (AT&T) had acquired all of the stock and permits of many smaller companies, creating one of the largest monopolies in America. “Pacific Tel” as it was often called, continued operations under the same company name, as did the Sellwood Exchange at the Holgate office well into the 1940’s. In 1961, all telecommunications in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, were known nationwide as the Pacific Northwest Bell Company as a subsidiary of AT&T.

The by-then obsolete Sellwood Exchange on Holgate Boulevard was abandoned for half a decade, until the Arts Product Display Advertising Company began operations there in 1962. After that, for the next 30 years, Carpet City sold carpeting and remnants to furnished many homes in Westmoreland and Brooklyn. The current occupant, since 2003, is the Blaze Cone Co., which manufactures and sells traffic safety cones.

While we no longer call through the telephone exchange buildings that stood in our neighborhoods or use the assistance of friendly operators to connect our calls, a few of these old buildings remain. In addition the former Sellwood Exchange building on Holgate, you can still spot The Belmont Exchange structure at 17 S.E. Belmont Street, and the Mt. Tabor Exchange at 55th S.E. Belmont, as you wander through the city.

bungalow, Brooklyn neighborhood, history, Portland, Oregon
As seen in Brooklyn, bungalows exhibit shorter, boxy style with exposed, often ornate rafter-tails. Wide porches with heavy columns are also frequent features. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Brooklyn history takes a stroll     


It’s a matter of record that the history of the Brooklyn neighborhood dates back to 1851, when Giddeon Tibbetts staked his Donation Land Claim here as “BrookLand”. In fact, the stream in question is echoed today by the rowboat motif in the public art alongside the MAX light rail tracks on S.E. 17th.

The name “BrookLand” eventually morphed to “Brooklyn”, and now often people think the neighborhood is named after the famous borough in New York. It is not.

Our Brooklyn’s colorful history – was the subject of two walking tours this year. The neighborhood is divided by S.E. Milwaukie Ave. into Upper Brooklyn to the west and Lower Brooklyn to the east, and Architectural historian Eric Wheeler (of “Positively Portland Walking Tours”) led an Upper Brooklyn tour this summer, and he was back to lead the Lower Brooklyn tour on Sunday, September 18.

Brooklyn resident Melaney Dittler helped organize the latest two-hour walk. She explained, “This neighborhood developed as a land of opportunity for immigrants who found work in the local lumber mills and rail yards. On the tour we’ll see popular architectural styles of the early 20th Century, and explore the impacts of the ‘automobile era’ on this small residential enclave.”

THE BEE joined the walk through the neighborhood’s history. Wheeler began, “I divide Brooklyn history into transportation eras: Ships, rail, streetcars, and automobiles.”

Portland started as an ideal shipping port. In 1868, Tibbetts granted easement to the Oregon Central Railroad along Brooklyn Creek (now S.E. 17th Avenue). With rail transportation growing across the nation, financier Ben Holladay hoped to build rail connections along the coast to San Francisco.

Tibbetts subdivided his land into lots to accommodate immigrants from Germany and Italy who arrived to work in nearby lumber and rail yards. For a time, the Inman-Poulson Lumber Mill at the foot of Woodward Street was the largest on the West Coast. “German carpenters and Italian stonemasons contributed to the classical and craftsman home styles that arose in Brooklyn,” Wheeler remarked as he strolled.

“The area’s heyday of home building was between 1900 and 1920, when lumber was abundant and the economy ‘roared back’ from World War I, in the Roaring ’20’s. German Catholic families congregated at Sacred Heart Church in Brooklyn, while just to the north, Italian Catholics developed a neighborhood around St. Philip Neri Church.

“Both ethnicities brought the Greek and Roman elements of classical Victorian building style to Brooklyn, in addition to smaller, sturdy workmen’s cottages in the Farmhouse and more boxy Bungalow styles. Later, many Portland homes were built with composite style architecture, some even featuring elements of Asian culture from across the Pacific.”

European-trained carpenters made good use of the ready supply of local lumber. The Gotten home, at 3353 S.E. 13th Avenue was built in 1890 in Queen Anne Victorian style. The home features verticality, asymmetry, stained glass windows, and sunburst motifs at peak and gables. Bay windows and fish scale shingles adorn the outside, while jigsaw fancywork and elaborate spindlework frame the second floor wrap-around porch.   

The old Sacred Heart Convent on S.E. Cora Street (now the Sellwood House apartments) was built for the nuns in 1893, and later rented to railworkers. Nearby, a row of small railworkers’ homes formerly lined S.E. 16th Avenue between Bush and Center Streets, where rowhouses now stand.  Historic Brooklyn School (today’s Winterhaven) was built in the Italianate Revival style in 1930 after the original wooden School, on 10th Avenue at Brooklyn Park, was demolished.

“In the early 1900’s many wooden schools tragically burned down,” remarked Wheeler. “By the1920's, most schools were constructed of brick and stone, to be safer. You can spot classic architectural elements in many area brick schools built at that time. Winterhaven’s entryway features columns, friezes, tall arched windows, downspouts engraved with the letter B, and cornice detailing that make it seem like you’re entering a temple.”

Portland neighborhoods were connected by trolley before automobiles replaced them. Portland's trolley system began in 1872, using horse-drawn cars. Next, electric streetcars proceeded through what was then Brooklyn’s town center at the intersection of Milwaukie Avenue and Powell Boulevard. They continued past the Sacred Heart grounds, which were rented to Kiser Studios in 1922 to create silent films, as detailed in THE BEE recently in an article by Dana Beck.

Streetcar riders proceeded southward down to Oaks Amusement Park, which was built specifically as a destination for riders of the electric trolley system in 1905. Another such was a horse-racing track in and east what is now Sellwood Park, as well as to the Crystal Lake floating dance hall in Milwaukie in the 1930's. Later, the City of Milwaukie drained Crystal Lake and built what is now known as the Crystal Lake Apartments there.

The Ford Building, at S.E. 11th Avenue at Division Street, was built in 1914 as an assembly and distribution plant for Model T Fords. Personal auto traffic increased until 1926, when the Ross Island Bridge was built as a critical link across the Willamette River. The bridge effectively cut off the northern part of Brooklyn from its “Town Square”, and the section north of Powell became part of the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood.

TriMet's MAX Orange line, opened in 2015, continues to whittle down the Brooklyn neighborhood.  It cuts off the small eastern part of the neighborhood, now accessible only by the Powell underpass, the Holgate overpass, and TriMet’s elevated bridge across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Today, Brooklyn is awash in rush hour traffic as commuters drive through the neighborhood to cross the bridge to and from downtown, and commute on Powell Boulevard to and from more affordable homes in Outer Southeast Portland. Currently, the Brooklyn neighborhood fights to maintain its historic identity, even as encroaching multi-use developments and large new houses threaten its historic roots, Wheeler concluded. 

Moreland Monster March, SWBA, Llewellyn Elementary School, parade, Westmorland, Portland, Oregon
The Wright family – Barbara, Oliver, Mitchell, and Ramona – were given the honor of carrying the Monster March banner as the parade set out. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Westmoreland ‘Monster Marchers’ dodge raindrops


With rainclouds in the skies overhead on Sunday, October 30th, some bystanders wondered if a Hallowe’en tradition, the “Moreland Monster March”, this year would actually draw a crowd. They needn’t have worried.

As the Sellwood Middle School Marching Band warmed up, and as Portland Police Traffic Division motorcycle officers pulled up in front of Llewellyn Elementary School, costumed folks big and small indeed started filtering in and gathering under the school’s covered play area.

“Raining or not, we’re ready to hold the 15th annual ‘Monster March’ – an event started by parents in 2001, after the 9-11 terrorism attacks,” assured former Sellwood Westmoreland Business Alliance (SWBA) President Tom Brown.

“SWBA’s President is [in the hospital] having her baby, but I’m happy to be coming back doing this, year after year; I just like the tradition, because it’s so much fun,” Brown told THE BEE.

The parade permit was approved by the city for the same ten-block route as usual. Monster Marchers left the school on S.E. 14th Avenue eastbound on Tolman Street, reaching Milwaukie Avenue and turning south to Bybee Boulevard, then heading west to 14th Avenue, and finally returning north to Llewellyn School, the point of origin, where goodies awaited.

“The business association is involved in this, because we feel the need to give back to the community – as often, and in as many ways, as we can!” Brown smiled. “Our community supports us so well, we definitely want to give back to our neighbors.”

Brown thanked the Westmoreland QFC Market for donating the cookies and cider offered free to all who marched the whole route: “These treats help make this a fun and free family event.”

The rain paused, and then continued, as the large Moreland Monster March stepped out at 3:00 p.m., with the SMS Marching Band leading the way.

As in past years, hundreds of neighbors joined the parade en route, swelling the crowd to a throng, as it passed through downtown Westmoreland. Many merchants handed out candy and treats along the way, turning the march into more of a saunter.

As the afternoon rain continued, umbrellas started sprouting up from the midst of the multitude, sheltering costumed revelers from the rain.

Again this year, with so many participants joining the procession, some people were just leaving the school as the marching band was returning to it, completing the circuit.

Getting wet didn’t matter – having a wonderful time with neighbors, as always, was what made this year’s “Monster March” successful.

Down Syndrome, Brandon Gruber, Rose City Coffee, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon
Artist-actor-model Brandon Gruber was introduced at the Rose City Coffee fundraiser by the shop’s October artist of the month, Jenna Palomino. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Down Syndrome celebrity appears at Westmoreland fundraiser


Scores of supporters of the Down Syndrome Society gathered at Rose City Coffee in Westmoreland, at 7325 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue just south of Knapp, for an October 8 fundraiser.

Jenna Palomino, photographer with “fickleZeal”, was the featured artist of the month at the coffee shop. Her portrait collection, “Friends Are Friends”, raised funds and awareness for the Northwest Down Syndrome Association. Also featured at the Saturday fundraiser was Santa Cruz artist/actor/model Brandon Gruber, age 20, who was born with Down Syndrome. October was “Down Syndrome Appreciation Month”.

Palomino explained, “I want to highlight that children with Down Syndrome should be included among all our friends in the community. These photos in natural settings reflect that they are part of our world, hoping to live and grow and make a difference, just like everyone else.” In THE BEE’s interview with Gruber during the occasion, he reflected, “I think the goal is simply to develop kindness, work hard, have fun, and just be yourself.”

Christie Gryphon, owner of Rose City Coffee, was pleased at the festive turnout, and set up a kid play area with Play-Doh for fidgety youngsters. “We’re serving complementary apple pie and sparkling apple cider to all visitors,” she said. “We're also offering 100% of sales of our special coffee roast, The Winter Blend, to benefit the DSA. People who wish to purchase any art portraits, or stationery painted by Brandon, will find that a portion of those sales is slated to benefit the ‘321Project +1’ that Brandon founded to support empathy.”

On the “321 Project +1” website, Brandon explains, “When people get bullied, it makes them feel hopeless. I want to make a difference, to be a friend for all, and give people hope. People would be surprised what a difference one person can make. Anything is possible. If someone is feeling lonely, all it takes is one person who believes in them to change their life. I want to be that person, and I invite you to join me! Let us all spread love and joy, the best feelings in the world. Let’s be the role models who start this amazing journey.”

As for featured artist Palomino, she remarked, “The mission of this exhibit is to highlight the value of both people with Down Syndrome and the friends that accept them exactly as they are. We are proud to showcase the strong bonds and beauty of their friendships for this exhibit. The stories of each meaningful friendship have inspired new perspectives, more acceptance, and an appreciation for all. With a dependable support team, anyone's dreams and goals can be achieved.”

Woodstock neighborhood, Halloween, storytime, Portland, Oregon
Joan Smith and Peter Ford begin their special Hallowe’en edition of “Story Time” at the Woodstock Library. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Woodstock celebrates its traditional Hallowe’en


Starting at the the Woodstock Branch Library, telling its annual “Not So Scary Stories”, and continuing west on Woodstock Boulevard at participating merchants along the way, and ending up the Woodstock Community Center – Hallowe’en was well and traditionally celebrated on October 31.

The library’s story-time area was packed – wall-to-wall – with costumed kids who listened to the stories and sang songs led by “Little Red Story Hood” Joan Smith, and “Cat in the Hat” Peter Ford.

Then, keeping a sharp eye out for the “Treats Here” signs at participating businesses along the boulevard, families made their way west from the library. Parents with older kids skipped the story-time, and went directly for the trick-or-treating.

It all ended up at the Woodstock Community Center, where volunteers were ready for the arrivals, setting up treats and activities.

“Here at the Community Center we’re providing free refreshments; the opportunity to dance to a live band; to take selfies with our backdrop; and to participate in the raffle,” said Woodstock Neighborhood Association Events Co-Chair Kim Woodhouse.

There was no need for the raincoat and umbrella rack they’d set up just outside the center. After the record wet October, Woodhouse observed, “Tonight the weather is cooperating beautifully.”

About twenty businesses participated in the trick-or-treating part of the event, Woodhouse told THE BEE. “And, we’ve gotten very generous donations of food, beverages, and raffle prizes from our Woodstock merchants, too.”

The best part about this for her? Woodhouse said, “I still enjoy seeing the kids getting all dressed up!”

Juggling Festival, Reed College, Portland, Oregon
Things are up in the air, as teams take turn “passing the clubs” at the Portland Juggling Festival at Reed College. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

It’s all up in the air at Reed’s ‘Portland Juggling Festival’


The 24th annual Portland Juggling Festival took over most of the Reed College Sports Complex from September 30 through October 2. And, zany vaudeville acts wooed festival participants and “outsiders” into Kaul Auditorium for the Saturday night show.

“We have this event because, well, we all like to juggle – and we like to invite others to come learn about our sport,” smiled this year’s Volunteer Coordinator, Justin Martin. 

Front desk volunteers admitted they’d lost count of their registered participants – and they guessed that more than “a couple hundred people” are attending.

“We have a large turnout from Portland and the Pacific Northwest,” Martin observed. “But people from all over are attending – including California, Boston, and performers from Germany.”

The annual three-day festival this year featured some fifty workshops, teaching a variety of techniques for juggling clubs, balls, and rings; stilt walking; unicycle riding – in fact, almost any “circus art” one could imagine.

When not taking a class, many people gravitated to the large gym, where they perfected skills they’d learned in one of the workshops, or juggling back and forth with friends.

“It takes a lot of focus, attention, and practice – being willing to try things and see what happens, and pick up things you’ve dropped!” Martin concluded.

You can give juggling a try by attending the “No Problem, Easy Pickup” Portland Jugglers club meetings, Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m. in the Reed College Sports Center, Gym 1.

Pumpkin Festival, contest, Llewellyn Elementary School, Marty Carouser, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon
Costumed as his alternate identity, “SuperTeacher”, Llewellyn instructor Marty Carouser proudly shows of some of the two hundred jack-o-lanterns displayed on Hallowe’en at the school. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Llewellyn Elementary School hosts jack-o-lantern show


On the heels of the “Moreland Monster March” the day before, Llewellyn Elementary School in Westmoreland held a carved pumpkin competition on Hallowe’en itself, October 31.

“Every year we encourage students to bring in their carved pumpkins,” said Llewellyn fifth-grade teacher Marty Carouser. “This is a way to give our students the opportunity to continue ‘in the spirit’ of Hallowe’en!”

In this competition, Carouser revealed, all entries are given a special award, based on the design of their pumpkin. “Coming up with award names is almost as much a creative exercise as carving the pumpkin,” he said.

Throughout the day, classes took tours to look at the pumpkins and admire the artistry in the ones on display, before they went home that evening for the students’ own personal Hallowe’en celebration.

“Because they’re older, some of my students no longer have much Hallowe’en spirit; but they love to see the excitement on the faces of the young kids,” Carouser said. “On this special day, everyone can still be a kid.”

Apple Festival, Woodstock Elementary School, Mandarin Immersion Program, Shu Ren
Daniel and Sammy Schaller are enrolled in the Woodstock Elementary School Mandarin Program; they and their mother and sister, Beth and Sukey Schaller, sold caramel apples as a fundraiser at the September 2 Woodstock Apple Festival. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Apple Festival again benefits Mandarin Immersion Program at Woodstock Elementary       


On Sunday, October 2nd, Shu Ren of Portland held its third annual Apple Festival on the Chase Bank parking lot on Woodstock Boulevard, across the street from the Woodstock Farmers Market.

The fundraiser is held each year to provide supplementary funds for the Shu Ren Program. Funds from this apple festival benefit Woodstock Elementary’s Mandarin Program.

Shu Ren is a nonprofit organization that supports the Portland Public Schools Mandarin Immersion Programs at Woodstock Elementary, Hosford Middle School, and Cleveland High School.

The Woodstock New Seasons Market provided the apple-tasting with several varieties of apples – Jonagolds, Galas, and Honey Crisp – helping festival attendees decide the ones they wanted to purchase. Apples and Asian pears were sold for a dollar per pound. Apple cider was available in half gallon and gallon jugs. Next year, festival organizers say they hope to restore the tradition of pressing cider on-site.

Set up on the parking lot were tables selling caramel apples and popcorn, representing five classes from Woodstock Elementary School. A couple of classes had tables offering services such as hair-braiding and face-painting. In addition there were five vendors from the community, including Woodstock’s Bridge City Pizza, which was giving out free pizza slices. Other vendor tables were sponsored by doTerra Essential Oils consultants, Thirty One Gifts, craft jewelry, and books for sale.

Scott Farestrand, whose three children had been in Woodstock Elementary’s Mandarin Program but have now graduated, continues to be the co-coordinator of the Apple Festival, along with Woodstock parent Kelli George.

Woodstock Elementary School’s student body is 533, with 334 students enrolled in the Mandarin Program that began in 1998. 199 students are not in the program, but benefit from exposure to Chinese cultural events held there throughout the year.

Hosford Middle School’s total population is 632, with 119 enrolled in the Mandarin Program. Mandarin Program students receive half day instruction in Mandarin and half day in English.

If you missed it, the Apple Festival will return to Woodstock in 2017.

Harvest Hustle, OMSI, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, OHSU, Oregon Health Sciences University
One with a babe in arms, this group of participants walks toward the Hawthorne Bridge as part of the 2016 “Harvest Hustle” fundraiser for OHSU, on the sidewalk near OMSI. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Harvest Hustle’ strolls through Inner Southeast


The “Harvest Hustle”, an annual fundraiser for OHSU’s Institute on Development and Disability (IDD), visited Portland’s Inner East Side, as participants in this 5K event got a move on, Saturday morning, October 22.

The new route this year started in front of the Collaborative Life Sciences Building on the west side of the Willamette River, and moved across the new Tilikum Crossing and Hawthorne Bridges, providing participants a picturesque view of the river.

“Each year we dedicate the proceeds from the run to programs which directly enhance the lives of children and families who experience disability,” explained Communications Manager Rob Boy.

“This year we will be supporting four IDD programs that help children with disabilities ranging from mobility issues, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and speech and hearing disorders,” he said.

As the participants made their way past OMSI – the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, on the east bank of the Willamette just north of the Ross Island Bridge – they waved and smiled as they, ah, hustled on by.

Botanical Garden, Gladstone Street, Lance Wright, agave, Creston Kenilworth, Portland, Oregon
Lance Wright can view the blossom on his twenty-one-foot-tall agave – when he climbs up to his upstairs porch! (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Botanical ‘wonder garden’ on S.E. Gladstone Street


Those who are fascinated by unusual plant species will relish a visit to the corner of S.E. 28th and Gladstone Street, in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood.

There, at the home of Lance Wright, you can see a variety of palms, succulents, agaves, banana plants, and other drought-tolerant species. In July, one street-side hybrid agave there grew a flower stalk almost 21 feet tall – nearly up to the overhead powerlines!

Wright, who was a horticulturist for the Portland Parks Bureau for forty years, has a variety of other agaves and hybrids on his lot. “Some agaves take up to thirty years to bloom, and only flower once,” he remarks. “This one has been growing about three to nine inches every day since April. Although it can’t self-pollinate, it's a heavy nectar producer, and bees love it.

“Since it draws moisture out of the ‘mother plant’ below, during its growth spurt, the whole plant will die after blooming. I have it shored up right now with fish line and a rubber collar, since it is so top-heavy.”

Wright’s parking strip and yard display a fascinating array of unusual plants, including oleander, euphorbias, flowering hesperaloe, cycads from China, a feather palm from Argentina, palmate palms from the Himalayas, a grevillea from Australia,  a mimulus (monkey flower) from the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, and a red hybrid erythrinia that likes the heat.

Wright obtains these from friends or through mail-order, and enjoys nurturing them through the seasons.

“Portland is a plant mecca,” he marvels. “If you pay attention to the soil, and the ‘micro site’, you can grow as many different plants here as anywhere else in the country. Inner Southeast Portland is warmer than most parts of Portland. The micro site here is south-facing for warmth, and cold weather slides away downhill. All my plants along the sidewalk are drought-tolerant, but I water the ones in my back yard.”

Wright is now a horticultural consultant, working at the fine tuning of garden design, garden maintenance plans, and sustainable and functional gardening. He can be contacted through his website at:

Every year, the Hardy Plant Society hosts an “Open Garden Directory” of private gardens whose owners allow visitors to come and explore. “I’ve had my garden listed in there a couple of times, but not a lot,” he says. “However, folks passing by on the sidewalk often stop to look at the nearby plantings. I strive to make them appealing and sustainable, although I’m more interested in the horticultural science of plants.

“Portland presently doesn't have a regular botanic garden; just smaller ones like the Leach and Berry Botanic Gardens,” he observes. “We have a climate here that would support a world-class Botanic Garden, but no one has set one up yet.”

Brentwood Darlington, Spooktacular, trunk or treat, Halloween, Portland, Oregon
Viking Melissa Long offered kids the opportunity to dip into her “Mystery Box” for a prize or candy, at the Brentwood-Darlington “Spooktacular”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Spooktacular’ haunts Brentwood-Darlington


Because its second annual event was attended by parents with little kids, the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association’s (BDNA) “Spooktacular” provided treats without any tricks, on the afternoon of October 30.

The free all-age party featured games, kids’ crafts, and tasty snacks. Volunteers also set up a “Hallowe’en Costume Closet” where parents could donate, swap, or take a “previously loved” costume.

“We also have a costume parade around the Lane Middle School grounds, followed by ‘Trunk-or-Treating’ – providing a safe experience, hosted by neighbors, in the Community Center parking lot,” smiled BDNA Board Chair Lesley McKinley. “About 120 people came to enjoy our potluck and activities here this year.”

The BDNA Board members believe it’s worth the investment in time, McKinley said, “Because are so many families with young children moving into the neighborhood. Along with a group called Brentwood Darlington Connected Families, we do all kinds of awesome events.”

If you live in the area, you can stay in touch with your neighborhood association by visiting their website:  

Southeast Events and Activities

Boy Scouts open two Christmas tree lots today:

Boy Scout troop 351 is once again selling fresh Christmas trees and wreaths. This is their 36th year; proceeds from the sales fund the Boy Scout and Venture Crew’s summer camps and activities for the entire year. The Christmas tree lot is run by volunteer boys, girls, and parents. And now, the tree lot now operates at two Portland locations: 3400 S.E. 43rd Avenue, just north of Powell, in the St. Ignatius parking lot; and in Westmoreland at 6646 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, in the Wells Fargo parking lot. Both lots will be open every day, starting today, through December 23; hours are 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, and 9 to 9 on weekends. Credit and debit cards accepted. For information, call 503/775-2848 – or go online to

Michael Allen Harrison performs in Westmoreland tonight:

Michael Allen Harrison and Julianne Johnson offer, this evening starting at 5 p.m., their seventh annual benefit concert for the Franciscan Spiritual Center. It will take place at Moreland Presbyterian Church, 1814 S.E. Bybee Boulevard in Westmoreland. Tickets are $25. Earlier today, on the first Sunday in Advent, the church offers Advent Prayer Time at 9 a.m., and Worship and Lighting Advent Wreath at 9:30.

Michael Allen Harrison performs north of Brooklyn tonight:

Michael Allen Harrison and Julianne Johnson perform tonight at 7 p.m. at St. Philip Neri church, S.E. 18th and Division. Free parking for this benefit concert. $15 general seating, $25 preferred seating. Tickets at the door – or call 503/231-4955.

Red Cross blood drive at Moreland Presbyterian Church:

The next American Red Cross Blood Drive held at Moreland Presbyterian Church is this afternoon, 3 to 7 p.m. To make a reservation, call 1-800/733-2767, or go online to:, and use sponsor code “MorelandPresbyterian”.

Performance, open to the public, at Reed College:

“The Gas Heart” will be performed tonight through Saturday night at the Black Box Theater at Reed College, S.E. 28th Avenue at Woodstock Boulevard, at 7:30 pm. Tickets $3 to $5 – for details, e-mail:

Willamette View Annual Carousel Holiday Sale:

Today from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Main Auditorium of nonprofit Willamette View Retirement Community, up the hill at 12705 S.E. River Road, just south of the City of Milwaukie – it’s the annual Carousel Holiday Sale – with proceeds to Willamette View’s Riverview Building Fund. Find treasures among 25 tables. Looking for gifts, Holiday supplies, one-of-kind items, and collectibles? China, glassware, silver, jewelry, gift items, Toys, and decorations? Featured are designer clothes – Chicos, DNKY, Pendleton, etc. All sizes, all seasons. Much “Old Stuff and One of a Kind Items”. A new feature is fine arts. This is a classy “garage sale”, not a Bazaar.

Annual Duniway Holiday Home Tour and Boutique:
For the 38th year, it’s the annual Duniway School benefit Holiday Home Tour and Boutique. Visit impressive homes in a variety of styles and periods in two different tours: From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, and the second tour is this evening, 6-9 p.m. The tour begins at Duniway Elementary School, which the tour benefits, at 7700 S.E. Reed College Place in Eastmoreland; attendees can pick up their tour booklet – which includes home descriptions and a map showing the locations – at the Holiday Boutique (open 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today in the Duniway gym), and then enjoy the tour at their leisure in whatever order suits their fancy. Advance tickets were $25; if you buy them today, they’re $30. Tickets available at Duniway Elementary School, online at:, and at selected local businesses.

Holiday Bazaar and Soup Luncheon today, on Steele:

Trinity United Methodist Church announces its annual Holiday Bazaar and Soup Luncheon today – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 3915 S.E. Steele at Chavez Blvd (39th). Featured are baked goods, crafts, Grandma’s Attic, and vendor tables (some spaces still available – e-mail:

Toddler Dance Party this morning at Sellwood Library:
This morning, 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. at the Sellwood Branch Library, it’s the “Micah And Me Children’s Music show” – a dance party for children 0-7 years and for the young at heart. “Micah And Me” have the ability to connect with youngsters of all ages while playing live fun-filled music on the ukulele and guitar. Free, but tickets required; those will be available at 10 a.m. this morning. Come a bit early to be sure of a seat. The Sellwood Library is at the corner of S.E. 13th Avenue and Bidwell Street.

S.E. Rotary annual charity Wreath Auction – and Concert:
This year for the first time, the annual Southeast Portland Rotary Club “Wreath Auction” – which not only offers a huge variety of hand-decorated wreaths for silent auction, but also includes the auctioning of a variety of items and vacations – will be held at the Oaks Park Dance Pavilion 5-9 p.m. this evening, with dinner included. And, to celebrate this new location for the event, your ticket for the evening also includes a live concert by Portland’s famous “rock violinist”, Aaron Meyer. $50 ticket not only admits you and gives you dinner, but helps fund the many charitable activities of the Southeast Portland Rotary Club. More information on the club is online:

Second Sunday of Advent at Moreland Presbyterian:

This morning at 9, Advent Prayer Time; Worship and Decorating Chrismon at 9:30 a.m., at Moreland Presbyterian Church, 1814 S.E. Bybee Boulevard. Open to all.

Free concert at Reed College this afternoon:
Chorus & Collegium; Text & Time; Shakespeare at 400 – a free concert, is presented at 4 p.m. this afternoon at Kaul Auditorium, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard,  on the campus at Reed College. No charge to attend.

Annual “Sing Along Messiah” this evening:
The Reedwood Friends Church invites everyone to come in for the annual “Sing Along Messiah” at 6:30 p.m. this evening at the church. Start the Holiday season early with friends and neighbors to sing along with (or listen to) selected pieces from Handel's “Messiah”, with soloists and piano accompaniment. Bring your own score, or use one provided. Light refreshments served after the concert. 2901 S.E. Steele Street, just north of the Reed College dorms. For more information, call 503/234-5017.

Register online today for “WomenStrength” self-defense class:

“WomenStrength” is a free self-defense class sponsored by the Portland Police Bureau. A January training is scheduled at the SMILE Station, 8210 S.E. 13th Avenue at Tenino Street, on three consecutive Mondays next month: January 9, 16, and 23 from 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. It is essential that participants attend all three sessions as each builds on the previous class. This training is open to all Portland female residents and all who identify as women. Classes are open to ages 13 and above, but young women under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult female. Registration for this class opens online at 9:00 a.m. today, December 6th. These free classes generally fill very fast, so register today. For more information about how the class is conducted, and to register for the SMILE Station class, go online to:

Two-hour “Windows 10” clinic for adults:
Are you confused by your new operating system? Bring your own Windows 10 laptop or tablet to this Sellwood Branch Library class, to learn the basics of Windows 10. Free, but registration is required; sign up in the library, or by calling 503/988-5234. It’s 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. this evening at the Sellwood Library, on the corner of S.E. 13th and Bidwell Street.

Noon Advent Services begin in Sellwood:

Advent Services are held today and every Wednesday at noon through December 21st – at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 7810 S.E. 15th Avenue in Sellwood. Open to all.

“Winter Dance Concert” at Reed College:

Tonight at 7, and tomorrow night at the same hour, Reed College presents its “Winter Dance Concert” on its Greenwood Performance Stage. Open to the public. Tickets $3 to $7. For details, e-mail:

Third Sunday of Advent in Westmoreland:

Moreland Presbyterian Church invites everyone to its Advent service this morning, starting with Advent Prayer Time at 9, and Worship and Children’s Pageant at 9:30 a.m. The church is situated at 1814 S.E. Bybee Boulevard.

Breakfast Forum spotlights “Progressive Party” future:

The “Breakfast Forum” is an informal group chaired by Reed neighborhood resident Ann B. Clarkson; the group meets monthly to learn about and discuss issues in respectful ways. This morning, 7:30-8:30 a.m., David Delk, a recent Progressive Party candidate for Oregon's Congressional Third District, will talk about the party's history and future, and the role minorities play in Oregon's political life. Free; no registration required to attend. For information call 503/774-9621.

For kids – a ride on the Polar Express:
Put on your pajamas and get a ticket to ride on the “Polar Express” at the Woodstock Branch Library this afternoon! “We'll go all the way to the North Pole and back. We'll take time to read a story and make a reindeer face.” Free tickets available at 3:30 p.m. for this 4-5 p.m. event. The Woodstock Library is on the corner of S.E. 49th and Woodstock Boulevard.

Concert recital at Reed College:
A concert recital by John Vergin (originally scheduled for last night) begins at 7:30 p.m. this evening in Eliot Chapel on the Reed College Campus on Woodstock Boulevard. Open to the public. Tickets are $15 to $20 at the door.

Chamber Concert tonight at Reed College:

This evening at 7:30 p.m., the Oregon Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra performs in Kaul Auditorium, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, on the Reed College Campus; open to the public. For details and to buy tickets, go online:

Moreland Presbyterian – Fourth Sunday of Advent:
This morning, the Advent service is preceded by Advent Prayer Time at 9 a.m., followed by Worship and Choir Cantata at 9:30 a.m. In turn, the Wassail Party follows at 10:30 a.m. Open to everyone. 1814 S.E. Bybee Boulevard.

Eclectic Christmas Concert on S.E. Steele Street:
At 7 p.m. tonight, come and enjoy an evening of instrumental and vocal Christmas music at the Reedwood Friends Church. Arrangements include vocals, piano, guitars, reeds, brass, and percussion. CD’s will be available for purchase. Light refreshments will be served. Please bring non-perishable food to benefit the Oregon Food Bank. The cost of the concert has been underwritten. Reedwood Friends Church is situated at 2901 S.E., on the north side of Reed College. For information, call 503/234-5017.

Red Cross blood drive in Woodstock today:

The American Red Cross will be holding another blood drive this afternoon from 2 until 7 p.m., at Woodstock Bible Church, 5101 S.E. Mitchell Street. Walk-ins accepted, as the schedule allows; but for your convenience, pre-register online at: – Thank you for giving so generously to save lives.

Sellwood Classical Ballet Academy again presents Christmas:

Once again, the Sellwood Classical Ballet Academy takes to the stage at Lincoln Hall, Portland State University to offer “A Christmas Carol”, a spectacular dance adaptation of Charles Dickens’ most well-known story. This high-energy show, based on the original Broadway musical, showcases dancers from Classical Ballet Academy’s Pre-Professional Contemporary, Modern & Jazz Program. That’s on stage one time tonight – December 21st, 6 p.m. They’ll also again dance “The Nutcracker” – which follows Clara and her beloved nutcracker on a magical Christmas Eve journey; the two survive a raging battle between a horde of roguish rats and toy soldiers. Enjoy that show tomorrow, December 22nd, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Friday, December 23rd, 11 a.m. and 3 pm. $25 admission for adults (18+), $19 for Senior (65+) and kids (10-17), $14 (ages 2-9). Call 503/725-3307 for tickets, or go online: – Lincoln Hall is downtown at 1620 S.W. Park Avenue.

“Science from the North Pole” at the Woodstock Library:

Science fun for kids age 5 to 12, straight from the North Pole, 1 to 1:45 p.m. this afternoon! Watch how science helps Eggbert get down the “chimney.” Defrost a chemical snowman, and see simple powders burst into color. Analyze a mysterious substance that is said to have come straight from an iceberg! Be amazed at the science behind many of the traditions we see during the winter season. Free, and highly interactive. The Woodstock Branch Library is on the corner of S.E. Woodstock Boulevard and 49th Street.

Christmas Eve Celebration at 2 p.m. near Mt. Scott Park:
Sanctuary Presbyterian Church offers, this afternoon, “A Lesson in the Carols” – an early candlelight service of singing and worship celebrating that “Unto us a child is born...” It’s open to all, at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, at Sanctuary Presbyterian Church, 5512 S.E. 73rd Avenue at Harold Street, on the north side of Mt. Scott Park.

Christmas Eve Family Service; later, Candlelight Service:
Moreland Presbyterian Church has its Christmas Eve Family Service with Bell Choir at 5 p.m. this afternoon; return for the Candlelight Service at 11 p.m. Open to everyone. Moreland Presbyterian is at 1814 S.E. Bybee Boulevard in Westmoreland.

Christmas Day Service in Sellwood:

Christmas Day Worship is open to everyone at 10 a.m. this morning, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 7810 S.E. 15th Avenue in Sellwood.

Christmas Day Gathering in Westmoreland:
Moreland Presbyterian Church invites everyone to “come as you are” to its Christmas Day Fireside Gathering, 11 a.m. this morning. 1814 S.E. Bybee Boulevard.

Diorama Workshop today for kids and families in Sellwood:

Let your imagination flow and create your own tiny world in this diorama workshop at the Sellwood Branch Library. Participants will have access to a variety of materials to re-purpose and build miniature scenes. SCRAP provides an exciting introduction to creative reuse art, by sharing examples of projects to inspire reuse. Free tickets available at 11:30 a.m.; workshop is noon to 1 p.m. Come early to be sure of a seat. The Sellwood Library is on S.E. Bidwell Street at 13th Avenue.

“Breakfast Forum” to address economic issues:

The informal discussion group “Breakfast Forum”, organized and moderated by Reed Neighborhood resident Ann B. Clarkson, has its monthly meeting this morning, 7:30-8:30 a.m., at Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church Library, 5441 S.E. Belmont. This month’s topic is a review of proposals to update economic systems in the world today, “to create a more democratic and participatory economy”. The Breakfast Forum is an informal group which meets monthly to learn about and discuss educational and political issues “in respectful ways”. Free. No registration required. For information call 503/774-9621.

For seniors in Southeast interested in “aging in place”:

Nonprofit “Eastside Village” – which is an organization, and not a place – invites anyone interested in aging at home to attend an informational meeting on the resources available and the process, at Woodstock Wine and Deli, 4030 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, this morning, 10:30 a.m. to noon. Informational only, and free.

Today and tomorrow – Chamber music at Reed College:

Chamber Music Northwest’s “Winter Festival 2017” is today and tomorrow in Kaul Auditorium on the Reed College Campus, S.E. Woodstock Boulevard at 28th. There are four concerts of great Romantic works, performed with passion by some of the world’s greatest musical artists, including David Finckel and Wu Han, the Montrose Trio, and the Miró Quartet. Among the highlights, the Miró Quartet is joined by Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith of the Montrose Trio to perform Johannes Brahms’s spellbinding string sextets. For more information and tickets, please go online:

Tickets already on sale for annual “Crab Feast”:

Tickets are available now for the annual “Crackin’ Crab Feast!” at All Saints Episcopal Church, on Woodstock Boulevard, on Saturday, February 4th. Two seatings are available: 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the church hall on 4033 S.E. Woodstock Boulevard. Tickets make great Holiday presents and stocking stuffers! “A bargain at $37.50”, the meal comes with fresh crab, salad, and bread. A cash bar is available as well, and children 6 and under eat free with a macaroni and cheese option. All proceeds support All Saints’ outreach ministries. For tickets or more info, go online: – or call Nancy at 1-916/202-7132.


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