Grant Keltner

The trip to New England

So mom died on April 12, 2015.  It was a hard death; I hated to see her go.  I had talked with her the last few months that she was alive; we talked about me taking a trip back to New England.  She urged me to do the trip, I had never been to New England, she had been there several times, and she had visited Boston, Massachusetts and had been up to Bangor, Maine.  She had been to Burlington, Vermont and she had traveled to Hartford, Connecticut.  I was her care provider before she died.  I watched over her until she left this earth.  She had urged me to go, I wanted to drive back, take a cross-country trip, mom did not like the idea of me driving alone, and she wanted me to take the train if I could.

So, Mom died, it took me several months to organize everything, to go through her estate, to make sure everything was in order.  Starting in June of 2015 I decided to sit down and plot out my trip with New England, I studied maps, went on line, found motels and campgrounds, with every city that I planned on visiting I would find two or three motels and two or three campgrounds.  It took time picking the cities and historical places of interest that I would visit with my trip.  I sold my mom’s Ford Fiesta, I hated to sell it, but I really didn’t need it, I sold it in September of 2015 and told myself that I would use the proceeds to fund the trip back east.

I called campgrounds, I called motels, I called some of the museums and art galleries that I would visit, I went to AAA and talked with travel advisors, and I went on line and studied each state that I wanted to visit.  It took lots of work.  I had decided that I would take about an eight weeks to do the trip.  As I said I wanted to drive cross-country, the plan was that I would travel through Oregon, go to the Painted Hills, camp a night there, go to Idaho and camp a night, and then travel into Wyoming and camp at Grand Teton National Park and then go up to Yellowstone National Park.  After visiting Yellowstone Park I would then go to Mt. Rushmore and cut through South Dakota and drop down into Iowa, camp a night or two there and then go into Illinois, then drive through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and then drop back in Boston, Massachusetts.  From Boston I would go in a counter clock tour with the New England states, I would go through Maine and then through New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, and then stop back in Massachusetts.  From Boston, I planned to travel down through Virginia, North Carolina, cut through Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and then up through Northern California and back to Oregon.  If I drove it would take about two months to do the trip.

Well, I had all the camping gear, I had everything planned out, and then in mid-September of 2015 it started snowing in Wyoming about two weeks before I was to leave.  Global warming.  I rethought everything; I did not want to go through Wyoming by myself and possibly face snowstorms while I was driving.  I tossed and turned on it, finally I decided to take the train from Portland, instead of driving, I thought I’d take the “Empire Builder” back to Chicago and then from there go to Boston, Massachusetts.  From Boston I could rent a car and camp through New England and head back home.  I studied my maps, went online and made sure I had the phone numbers with campgrounds that I was going to visit, tried to make sure on dates and times, I wanted to make sure it was going to be an epic trip.

I called Amtrak and made a reservation.  I bought a round trip ticket to Boston, Massachusetts and back to Portland, Oregon.  I would be leaving on October 1, 2015 and getting back to Boston, Massachusetts’s on October 4, 2015.  I would take in New England for about two weeks.  I would then take the train back to Chicago, Illinois leaving on October 18, 2015 from the South Station in Boston.  I’d stay in Chicago for four days and then take the train to Portland, Oregon.  I’d arrive back in Portland, Oregon on October 25, 2015.

I booked the ticket for the train.  I next had to book a motel or look at going to an AirBnB in both Boston and Chicago.  I checked on prices with the motels in Boston, I wanted to make sure I was going to be close to the Freedom Trail in Boston, I studied maps of Boston and finally decided on booking an AirBnB.  I checked online and found a great rate on a room in North Boston, up near Charlestown, up near Summerville, up near the Bunker Hill Memorial.  I booked the room and got confirmation, I then booked an AirBnB in Chicago, Illinois, near Logan Square, and I booked it for October 19th-21st.  I then checked on campsites in Salem, Massachusetts and in Bath, Maine.  These would be the first two campsites that I would be staying at when I left Boston.  I had planned to stay in Boston, Massachusetts for four nights and then on day five rent an SUV and car camp for about 10 days or so through the New England states.  The next thing I did was to rent a SUV through Hertz out of Boston, Massachusetts.  I would book the car for almost ten days and drop it back off in Boston on October 18th, 2015.  It took a lot of work in making sure I had everything booked with the train, AirBnB and the rental car.  I called all of the campgrounds that I would be staying in, I wanted to make sure I could get a site and wanted to know when they would be closing for the winter.

As October got closer, I made sure on what I would be packing for the trip.  I packed sweat shirts and jeans and long-sleeve t-shirts, socks, I packed two pair of shoes, underwear, stocking caps, a sleeping bag, a pillow, a blanket, a toilet kit, a few jackets, two cameras, binoculars and a few other odds and ends.  I decided to take on medium sized backpack and I decided to take a large backpack.  I stuffed them full with everything I needed.  I also decided to take my lap top computer and my IPhone.

I paid my rent in advanced with the month of October, made sure my mail was taken care of, I got phone numbers with bills I might have to pay while on the road.  I asked my friend Dan Wade to watch my place and gave him a key to the apartment so he could make sure everything was all right.

I sold my mother’s car in mid-September, I got a good price for the car, it actually was going to pay for the trip back east.  I studied Boston, got maps online, got maps with the Freedom Trail, and studied the location of my AirBnB in both Boston and Chicago.  The location of my AirBnB in Boston was about twelve blocks to the east of the Bunker Hill Memorial, located in Summerville.  From the Bunker Hill Memorial I would run into the starting point of the north end of the Freedom Trail.  I studied The Freedom Trail; I noted the famous spots located on Freedom Trail.  I then studied the highways in Massachusetts and in Maine.  In studying the maps it looked like I would be going in a counter clockwise motion, heading through Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, Connecticut and back to Massachusetts.  I wanted to make sure I would get to some of the states in their peak with colors of fall.  I was going to photograph the fall colors of New England.  I made a list, got most of the things I needed for the trip in order.  I had found campsites that I could stay at.

Well, the day had come to go back east with my trip.  I was packed, got everything in order, my big backpack was heavy, my smaller backpack felt light, I grabbed my laptop and my cameras.  My buddy Jonathan Swanson picked me up and took me off to Union Station in Portland.  He dropped me off in the front of the train station and said good-bye, it was a sunny day.  When I got inside of Union Station I could not help but notice all the activity with armed security, there were several police officers walking throughout the train station, several of them had dogs, I felt like something was wrong, I remember wondering what had happened, I felt like there was a heightened security.

The police started to search people; they went through their bags and belongings.  I remember how hot it was that day, it was close to 85 degrees, it was hot and humid, forest fires had been burning down in the gorge, haze, and smoke was pretty thick that day in Portland.  I realized right away that I was probably carrying too much for the trip.  The red brick train station is one of my favorite train stations.  I sat and waited for my train.  Soon the speakers in Union Train Station had a loud voice blaring out an announcement, “All aboard for Chicago!  All aboard the Empire Builder!”  People scurried to get in line for the train.  I grabbed my ticket and grabbed my backpacks.  I would be staying in the coach section on the train.  We went outside, crossed over a few tracks and a big conductor waved at me to board the train.  I had just stepped on board the train when suddenly three police officers and a dog stopped me.  “Ah sir, may we check your bags?”  I was hot, I had a jacket on and I was sweating, I looked at the police officer, “Sure, go ahead, I’m traveling to Boston, Massachusetts.”  They went through everything in my bag, the train started to move, the conductor looked at the police officer, “We need to get going.”  The police officer looked through everything and then looked at me, “You’re free to go, thanks.”  They stepped off the train and went on their way.  I put my large backpack up on the storage area; I took my smaller backpack and my laptop up to the second level of the coach car.  The silver streamlined train started to pull out of Union Station.

I found a good seat, next to a window, I had two seats in my row, I would have ample room to stretch out, and the car was about half full.  There were four or five people sitting around my section in the train.  I was settled in.  The train moved forward, it jerked back and forth, it soon slowly pulled out of Union Station, we went west, headed over the Willamette River and then headed through North Portland and then went over the train bridge that crosses over the Columbia River; we stopped in the train station in Vancouver, Washington.  I love the train station and the train yards in Vancouver, Washington, the train yards have a great old roundhouse.  We stayed in Vancouver, Washington for a few minutes and then we were off, heading through Camas, Washington and down west through the Columbia River Gorge.  We followed the Columbia River to the east.  It was a clear day, the train left Portland around 5:00 P.M. that day.

Within a few minutes one of the passengers on board the train looked at me with a horrified look on his face, he was staring at his IPhone, “Did you see what happened in Roseburg, Oregon?”  I looked at him curiously, “No, no I didn’t hear anything all day, what happened?” he paused for a moment, “Ten people have been killed in a shooting at the Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, several people have been hurt.  Looks like some student went nuts.”  I paused and felt sick.  I thought to myself, another shooting.  “That’s terrible, no wonder there were all those police officers at the train station back in Portland.”  He looked at me.  A gal dressed in a jean jacket and wearing faded blue jeans looked at me from across from my seat, she was sitting in the row across from me.  “I live in Alaska and where I live you need to have a gun.  I’m all in favor in the right to bear arms!”  I asked her her name, “My name’s Donna Boatright.”  A few other people looked over at her.  A college student by the name of Gabe Smith was sitting there and listening to her carry on, he interrupted her, “Ten people have been shot!”  An intense argument took place between Donna and Gabe, they argued for almost an hour as we rolled down into the Columbia River Gorge, it was starting to get dark, we were headed toward our next stop in Spokane, Washington.  The train rolled through mountains and forests.  The sun set and I was heading into the first night with my trip.

Well that Donna Boatright from Alaska went on about her Constitutional rights; she went on and on about the right to bear arms.  A few more people joined in the conversation as my first night on the train started to approach.  I thought of my mother, thought about the trip ahead.  I had packed a few things to eat.  I had enough food until we got to Chicago I figured.  I remember going down the gorge, it was a beautiful sunset that night, I got some great photos, and I remember the air being full of smoke from all of the forest fires in both Oregon and Washington.  People tried to settle in for a sleep, it was around 10:00 P.M. or so.

The argument about the right to bear arms went on and on that night.  Three or four people were arguing with Donna, Donna was outmanned and she knew it.  Suddenly Donna jumped out of her seat, grabbed her things, and looked at everyone in our section.  “I’m moving to another section!  I have my rights!”  She stormed off and walked a few cars down.  Gabe laughed, a few folks in the car started to talk about the shootings.  All I could remember was the day I found out John Lennon had been shot.  I always felt that this country needed to do something about gun control after John Lennon was killed.  The night set in, we were supposed to get to Spokane, Washington around 2:00 A.M. in the morning, and I covered myself up with a jacket and slept until we got to Spokane.

It was hard to sleep on the train that first night; I dosed rather than slept.  I would wake up occasionally, my body twisted in odd positions.  It was dark; I could make out small homes in the distance, old country roads carried on through meadows and fields.  We pulled into Spokane, Washington.  I got off the train and looked around, I thought of Edward R. Murrow and the Journalism school at Washington State.  It was dark out, clear and dark.  I asked the conductor what time we might be pulling into our next stop in White Fish, Montana, “Oh will be pulling in there around 6:30 A.M. or so.”  I thanked him, went back to my seat, and fell asleep.  I woke up around 6:00 A.M.  I was tired and did not get much sleep that first night.  I decided to head up and check out the observation deck.  I made my way through passengers sleeping in their seats, I weaved back and forth as the big train shaked and shimmied.  I worked my way up to the observation car.  There were wide windows on both sides of the observation car; the observation car was about half full.  I could see beautiful views of the early morning Montana sky; we were approaching White Fish, Montana.  I remember the pinks, blues, and shades of yellow.  It was amazing.  I got my camera out and started to take photos.  The landscape was so beautiful.  The beautiful light reflected off the mountains and rivers.

I remember seeing Donna sitting in a seat in the observation car, she looked over at me and made a dirty face, I was a bit surprised.  I kept on taking photographs as we passed through rough hillsides, majestic mountains and beautiful rivers; soon we pulled up into the train station in White Fish, Montana.  It was a beautiful train station, one of the nicest I have seen, the lodge was spectacular, and the countryside was beautiful.  Large mountains and hillsides covered the landscape.

I sat in the observation car for a couple hours as we travelled through Montana.  As I was sitting there I could not help but notice this gentleman and his friend sitting a few seats away from me.  I got to talking to the two men and asked then their names, “My names Dean, this is my fried Tom.”  I introduced myself and we got to talking.  Dean was a big man, dressed in a heavy wool jacket; he had glasses and a stocking cap on, he had a big beard and he had an infectious laugh.  Tom was younger, they were heading to South Dakota, they were going to get off near the far eastern section of Montana.  Dean goes on to tell me that he was an engineer for Burlington Northern for over thirty years, tells me that he drove trains through the west.  I come to find out that they both had worked for the railroad.  I have always loved trains, loved the history of trains.  Dean goes on for a few hours in telling me about some of the famous train stories and tells me about the famous train wrecks that happened in the west.  He pointed out famous sites along the way through Montana.  He pointed out the Lewis and Clark post in showing the point where Lewis and Clark traveled through Montana.  He pointed out the site of the most famous train wreck in Montana and the locomotive that was in the wreck, we talked for hours as we traveled through the state, it would take us a whole day to travel through Montana.  Montana was big and brown and the colors of the sunsets were amazing.  We passed through rivers and countryside.  Horses and cows stared at the train, we passed through small towns, people stood and waved.  We passed through corals and barren land that sprawled out as far as the eye could see.  It was western, raw, and rough.  Montana was beautiful, the sunsets were beautiful and majestic, the colors in the early fall were so vivid.  I got lots of photos through Montana.  I was amazed at the sites through Montana; the one point of interest was the buffalo jump.  It’s a famous spot of land where the Indians would herd the buffalo to a small mountain, they would herd them to the top of the mountain, and they would fall off the ledge dropping to their death.

Night set in, I tried to fall asleep, the train went darting along, pulling and winding its way east.  We made a stop near 11:00 P.M. that night, Dean and Tom got off the train, they said good-by and waved as they stepped off the train, we were approaching North Dakota.  I slept that night, woke up a few times, my seat shook back and forth, people tried to get comfortable.  Some people talked, some people went to the club car or maybe to the observation car.  I slept through the night; early that morning I found that I had slept through North Dakota, I didn’t see hardly any of the countryside, and we were going into Minnesota when I woke up that morning.  We passed through cornfields and farmland, around noon; we pulled into St. Paul, Minnesota.  It was a clear morning, sunny and bright.  It was October 3rd, 2016.  I remember getting off the train and taking photos of St. Paul.  It was a beautiful town; I can remember how clean the city was.  The sun shinned brightly.

We got on board the train and headed through Wisconsin, the Wisconsin countryside was beautiful, signs of fall were setting in, and the colors were changing.  The sun shinned brightly; it was a beautiful fall day.  I remember looking at the fields and lakes of Wisconsin, the farmland, the small cities that we passed through, I remember the small churches and schools.  We stopped in Milwaukie; it was a beautiful town, canals and rivers wound through the city.  I thought of Vince Lombardi and of the Green Bay Packers.  We traveled through the lake country of Wisconsin.  It was a beautiful day, clear sunny skies, the weather could not have been better.  We would be arriving in Chicago, Illinois later that late afternoon and then we would be changing trains for Albany, New York, and then going to Boston, Massachusetts.  We rolled through Wisconsin; I ate dinner that night in the club car.  African American workers scurried about, they smiled at me and took my order.  I made notes with my trip, in a few hours we would be stopping in Chicago, Illinois.  The countryside of Wisconsin was fascinating, the colors changed as we went from the rural countryside to the lake country; hues of brown and green leaves flew past my window.  While traveling in the southern part of Wisconsin the sun started to go down as we crossed the state line into Illinois.

We cruised through Illinois, going through small farm towns.  Illinois was big, the countryside rolled on and on.  Big farms and agricultural buildings spread out through the vast fields.  Tractors and pick-ups were parked along the old dusty roads.  Big grain elevators and barns touched the blue sky that day.  We soon started to roll into Cook County, the stockyards and warehouses sprawled on through neighborhoods, I could not believe the massive buildings as we pulled into Chicago, the old red brick buildings, the masonry work, the massive warehouses, the scrap metal, the work yards.  Soon we approached Union Station in Chicago, Illinois.  We traveled past high-rises and skyscrapers, the John Hancock building stood up amongst the Chicago skyline.

We pulled into Union Station, I grabbed my backpacks and laptop and walked into the famous train station, I walked into the Great Hall, architecturally speaking it was awesome, and the purple illumination and lighting inside of the Great Hall was stunning.  I always think back to the United Airlines Commercials showing the Great Hall.  I waited for about two hours before hoping aboard the train to Albany, New York.  I checked my IPhone with e-mail, I took photos of the Great Hall, it was nice to be in Chicago, Illinois, and it was the birthplace of my father.  I sat and waited for the train to Albany.  Within a few hours, the shiny train pulled into Union Station, we climbed aboard, and soon we were headed out into the night.  We traveled through eastern Illinois, soon we were going through Indiana, it was dark, I started to fall asleep, and I didn’t see much of Indiana that night.  Around 1:30 A.M. we made a stop in Cleveland, Ohio, I looked out and noticed the illumination and river walk around the city, we rolled through Ohio and made our way through to New York.  It had been a long trip, I was heading into my third night on board the train.  We would switch trains in Albany and then head up to Boston.

In the early morning, I remember going to the club car and taking photos of the countryside.  We stopped in Buffalo, New York.  It was another beautiful fall day.  The architecture stood out while traveling through Buffalo, old brick chimney’s stood out, and big massive brick buildings passed by the train as we headed east…  There were some great older brick refineries and factories as we headed east.  The farmland of New York was beautiful, quant little homes dotted the countryside as green lush oaks and maples flashed their early October colors.  I was impressed with how big New York was; we were in upper New York.  We would be getting to Albany in the early afternoon.  People onboard the train got off at their destinations, the conductors scurried about as people worked in the dining car.  There was a rhythm to the train as we went along.  I ordered lunch and watched the scenery.  I was tired, had not really had that much sleep.  By early afternoon, we pulled into Albany, New York.  It was a great town; I loved the countryside through Albany, the sunshine felt nice as we rolled through the countryside.  We came to our stop in Albany, it was a nice train station, and we waited a bit and then climbed on board the last train that we would be on in getting to Boston.  We switched trains and headed towards Syracuse.  I liked Syracuse, New York, it was a great town, and I wish I could have stayed a few days.  We moved through New York, we headed into the Hudson River Valley.

I have to say that the Hudson River Valley was a gorgeous; it was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip.  The colors of fall really started to show while we went through the countryside, the farms and dairies were mesmerizing.  I was excited; we would be getting to Boston by 5:00 P.M. that night.  The train took us through southern Massachusetts; I had known idea of the majestic beauty that would unfold before me while going through the Hudson River Valley.  I now could understand why the Hudson River painters moved to this area, the landscapes were beautiful.  It seemed that every view or point along the way would lead your eye towards something stunning to look at.  The trees in early October were really starting to show their colors.  It was a sea of orange when we went through the Hudson River Valley.

We started to approach the south side of Boston; it sprawled out in front of me, the architecture stood out, it jumped out at me in a way.  The brick and masonry work with the buildings weaved patterns with the neighborhoods as we weaved through South Boston.  The city of Boston went rolling past me, historical buildings and modern silver steel high-rises shinned in the fall sky that late afternoon.  We approached the South Train station; we pulled in at exactly 5:00 P.M. that day, it was dark, night had set in.  I had known idea where I was, I had made it to Boston!  I remember how relieved I was to be in Boston.  I was tired, for the last three days I had not gotten that much sleep.  The plan was to catch the Redline up to Sullivan Station, the AirBnB that I would be staying at was in North Boston, up in Summerville.  I grabbed my backpacks and laptop; I went inside of the South Station in Boston.  I walked round a bit and flagged won someone in asking where I could catch the Redline.

The South Train station in Boston was beautiful, I love train stations.  Along the trip there were some beautiful train stations, the South Train station was awesome.  I asked someone where I could catch the Redline; I went through a turn style, bought a ticket for the Redline, and waited for about fifteen minutes.  The Redline pulled up and I walked on board.  In about ten minutes I was at my stop in Summerville.

I got off the subway and looked around; the AirBnB that I was going to stay at was on Myrtle Street.  I walked toward a cab that was waiting to pick someone up.  It was dark out.  There was a young guy standing by the cab, “Hey I’m from Portland, Oregon, I’m visiting here, and I wanted to know if you know where Myrtle Street is?”  The young kid looked at me, “I’m taking this cab close to Myrtle Street, jump in I’ll give you a lift there.”  The cabby jumped in the cab, the young kid jumped in and we weaved through north Boston to Myrtle Street.  I remember feeling tired and I was not real sure of the young kid or the cab driver, in a few minutes we pulled up to my AirBnB.  I could not believe how nice the kid was; he waved as the cab took off down the street.  I had made it to Boston, it was October 4th.  2016.

I stood in front of the AirBnB, it was a big brownstone.  I walked up the steps with my backpacks, I rang the front door, and in a couple of seconds there was a young gentleman that answered the door, “Grant, welcome to Boston.”  I was relieved, I introduced myself and he showed me to my room, I unloaded my things, we chatted a bit, I thanked him and I unpacked my things.  Shortly I soon fell asleep, I slept through the night.  The next morning it was beautiful, no clouds in the sky.  I took a shower and ate breakfast.  I got my cameras.  The plan was to walk the Freedom Trail.  I studied my maps and my IPhone with the Freedom Trail.  I wanted to hike about twelve blocks to the Bunker Hill Memorial.  I locked the house up and started to hike toward the Bunker Hill Memorial.  It was sunny and clear, a beautiful day.  I was lucky to have such nice weather.  I felt relieved to be in Boston, it had been a long exhausting ride on the train.

I walked through North Boston, I loved the old buildings and homes, and I remember how kind people were in trying to find my way to Bunker Hill.  Boston was rich with history; the architecture was amazing.  I remember feeling a great sense of pride in my country.  I remember the rows and rows of flags hanging from the houses.  I remember being impressed by the city squares that each neighborhood had, a place for the neighbors to congregate.  Cobblestones and brick rambled through the streets and alleyways.  I kept walking east towards Bunker Hill, soon I noticed the monument, it was a special moment, I stood there and took photos, I walked up to the memorial, I turned south and looked at the view into Boston.  It was a beautiful view, I could see the Charles River below me, and I remember wondering what it must have been like to have cannonballs falling on top of Bunker Hill.  I felt a great deal of pride while I stood there.  The British ships shot their cannons on top of the Patriots.  I climbed to the top of Bunker Hill, went to the top of the memorial.  I climbed back down and walked south across the street and went to the Bunker Hill Memorial Museum, I spent an hour or so there.  I found Freedom Trail once again and walked south, down through old neighborhoods, this was one of my favorite parts of my trip while in Boston, and I just loved the old brickwork of the homes.  Some of the ironwork and hardware on the homes was truly amazing.  I remember taking photographs of old iron doorknockers; they were beautiful; I kept heading south and soon was at the U.S.S. Constitution.  I was amazed at the shipyards in Boston, the U.S.S. Constitution was sitting in front of me, I took photographs and stood there for at least a half hour marveling at the craftsmanship with the famous ship.  The ocean air felt wonderful.  I felt like Gulliver in a way.  I loved the history with ships and the sea while I was in Boston.

I continued on hiking Freedom Trail.  In a few minutes I came to Boston City Square, there was a beautiful fountain in the middle of the park, it had plants and vegetation, a fountain splashed water as I sat a bit and ate an orange, I sat a spell, it was a great park, and I continued on my way and soon approached the Charlestown Bridge.  I looked south and could see The Boston Garden.  I have always been a big Boston Celtic fan.  I took photos of the Charles River.  I remember standing there and trying to calculate how far the British ships must have been from Bunker Hill when they shot their cannons.  The Converse headquarters stood out against the Boston skyline.  I headed into Boston.

I kept heading south; I was soon approaching Coop’s Cemetery and the North Church.  From where I had hiked I was approaching Coop’s cemetery from the north, I walked up a hill and there at the top of the hill was the famous cemetery.  I took photos and walked through the grounds.  Large gravestones[GAK1]  going back to the late 1600’s stood in front of me.  I remember an old black cat walking through the cemetery.  Some of the gravestones go back to the late 1600’s.

I continued south and within a few seconds, there was the famous North Church standing tall in the beautiful fall day.  I noticed the plaque on the south side of the church spire; it notes the famous ride of Paul Revere.  I could not help but notice the date of the famous ride, April 18th.  1775. My mother’s birthday was April 18th 1930.  I went inside and walked through the famous church.  It was beautiful; the gold organ located on the north wall of the church was stunning.  Small figurines were placed throughout the church.  A guide went on a told the history of the church.  I walked outside, went along the west side of the church, down into the courtyard.  I had brought some of my mother’s remains with me on the trip; I brought some of her remains with me that day.  I put them down at the North Church.  She loved Boston so.  She loved the history of New England.  She was a huge Red Sox fan and Celtic fan.  I put her remains down, said a prayer and kept walking south on the Freedom Trail.

I passed through a large courtyard and then there standing in front of me stood another famous old Boston church, St. Patrick’s.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy was married at the church, they had Rose Kennedy’s funeral at the St. Patrick’s.  I went inside and marveled at the intricate woodwork.  I went back outside and continued walking through the old neighborhoods; I could not help but notice the Italian and Irish sections of Boston, it really was something I enjoyed in being part Italian.  Within a few minutes I approached an old cobblestone road, I headed down the road; soon, there to the right of me was Paul Revere’s home.  I took photographs and marveled at the wooden structure.  There was a line of people waiting to go in.  It was dark brown, located on an old section of historic Boston.  It was a memorable moment.  I continued on Freedom Trail.  It was close to noon by now.

I soon came to a busy intersection and crossed into Nathanial Hall.  Cars and people crossed the intersection.  It stretched out for a few blocks.  I walked through some of the shops, there were musicians playing out front.  I stopped in the Black Rose.  The Black Rose is one of the more famous Irish bars in Boston, I continued through to the site of the Boston Massacre.  I loved this spot; the gold leaf decoration on the buildings was beautiful.  It was in the early afternoon, I had lucked out that day, and the weather was beautiful.

I came to a statue near the old Boston City Hall.  It was a statue in tribute to the Irish Famine, had to do with honoring those that starved during the great famine of Ireland.  I remember sitting there and how sad I felt thinking of those that had died in the famine.  I crossed the street and there stood a fruit stand and I bought some fresh fruit, the owner was Irish, his name was Tom, we talked for a few minutes.  I continued heading south, down into the Boston Commons.  I remember how relieved I felt in getting to the Boston Commons.  The Boston Commons is a beautiful park and green space that goes down through the south end of Boston.  The State Building is located there, it’s a beautiful building.  I sat on a park bench and took photographs of the State Building.  Big trees wound through the park.  There were hundreds of people walking around the Boston Commons that day, I walked over to the Cheers Tavern and took photographs of the famous spot.  I wore my Oregon baseball cap, a few people commented me on my cap, I liked wearing my Oregon hat, I thought that people might comment on the hat, it might make in getting to know people.  I was glad to be in Boston, the people were so friendly to me, and they were so kind.  I loved Boston.  It was a beautiful afternoon, the sun started to go down slowly.

By the late afternoon I headed back north on the Freedom Trail, I continued to take photographs, I loved the Charlestown Bridge.  It was rustic and I enjoyed the old rust and yellow paint.  I loved standing on the bridge and looking at the Charles River and thinking of all the history.  I was hungry, I went up to the Boston City Square in Charlestown and sat for a while, I checked my IPhone and Goggled in trying to find a good restaurant so I could get something to eat, I found a place called “Warren Tavern,” it was located in Charlestown.  I walked up to the Historic Inn.  It was built in 1780.  It was a great spot; I found a seat at the bar and ordered something to eat, I remember ordering a turkey sandwich with dressing and a salad.  It tasted so good.  I watched a Monday Night football game that was on the television.  The place was packed, I soon found out that Samuel Adams and John Hancock use to frequent the famous Inn.  It was old and the woodwork inside of the tavern was wonderful an ornate.  I got to talking with the bartender, his name was Pete.  We talked about sports, we talked about Oregon, I told him I was staying on Myrtle Street, he was so kind, and he offered to drive me back to my AirBnB that night.  Again, I was so impressed in how kind the Boston folks were.  I got back to the AirBnB, thanked Pete and he drove off.

On the second day in Boston, it was a beautiful sunny day; I had lucked out with the weather.  There was not a cloud in the sky.  I decided to go back down Freedom Trail and go see Fenway Park that day.  I have been a Red Sox fan since I can remember, their season had just ended and they had a disappointing year.  The playoffs with baseball were going to start shortly.  I started out on my hike in the mid-afternoon.  I hiked over to the Bunker Hill Memorial and took a few more photographs; I went by the U.S.S. Constitution and snapped a few more photos of the huge ship.  I went over the Charleston Bridge and hiked down to the Boston Garden.  It’s a massive building, I went inside and cruised up to the gift shop with the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins.  I bought a few mementos and then headed back over to Freedom Trail.  I found a pizza spot and grabbed a few slices of olive pizza.  It was getting dark.  The great thing about Boston when it gets dark is the illumination of the city.  The State Building was aglow when I got to the Boston Commons.  I kept hiking south down through South Boston.  I hiked past row upon row of homes.  I kept heading down the trail until finally I had come to the S.W. corner of Fenway Park, I actually walked up to the street that goes behind “The Green Monster” I stood there in awe, I looked down Lansdowne Street Street.  I looked up at the left field section of the historic ballpark.  There were banners hanging from the side of the ballpark, there were long banners showing the years that the Red Sox won their A.L. Pennants and World Series wins.  I cruised around the ballpark three times; I snapped photographs of historic statues, monuments, and plaques.  The old brickwork was really amazing.  It’s in a great neighborhood.

I decided to go around to the backside of the Green Monster.  I was like a kid in a candy store; it was like a dream in away.  I thought of all the memories in watching the Red Sox play baseball when I was a kid.  There were bars and restaurants and even a blues club in back of Fenway, I was standing directly behind the Green Monster, I remember I was wearing my University of Oregon baseball cap, when all of a sudden I hear a voice from across the street, “Go Beavers!”  I stopped and looked across the way.  There standing across the street was a big man, he was wearing a suit and tie, he had blonde hair, and was laughing, and I thought I recognized him from somewhere.  I walked across the street and chuckled, I thought it was funny that someone would go out of there way and yell, “Go Beavers!”  I extended my hand to him and introduced myself, “Funny, you must have gone to Oregon State!”  He smiled and we got to talking, turns out that it was the Boston Red Sox color man Steve Lyon’s.  I laughed; he goes on and tells me that he played baseball at Beaverton High School located back in Beaverton, Oregon.  He tells me that he played collegiate baseball at Oregon State University; he was drafted in the major leagues and played for the Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox.  We chatted for a while; he was really kind and funny.  I took a few more photos of the historic ballpark.  I laughed to myself as I headed back north, up Freedom Trail.

I went through South Boston, the Boston Commons, I wound through old historic districts.  I took photos of the illumination of the city.  I remember it must have been close to midnight while I walked through the streets of Boston.  I went past the North Church and kept heading north on the trail to the Charlestown Bridge.  The city looked so beautiful.  The Leonard P. Zakim Bridge illuminated the sky; it really was beautiful with all of the lights.  I decided I would hike back up to the Bunker Hill Memorial, I took photographs of the monument, I looked down into Boston, and it was gorgeous that night.  I had covered a lot of ground that day; I fell asleep around 1:00 A.M.  It had been a long day.  I had covered a lot of ground in seeing Boston.

With the third day in Boston, I decided I would hike back down Freedom Trail once again; I’d go to the North Train Station located under the Boston Garden and take the commuter up to Lowell, Massachusetts that day.  I had planned to try to visit American authors’ memorials, historical homes, and gravesites while I was on my trip.  I had planned in visiting Jack Kerouac’s memorial that day.  Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts; he was of French-Canadian decent.  Lowell is located about an hour north of Boston.  I consider Jack Kerouac to be one of this country’s greatest writers.  I bought a ticket and soon I was off to Lowell.  The countryside going up to Lowell was beautiful.  We arrived in Lowell within an hour; I walked through an old neighborhood that led me down towards the downtown section of Lowell.  I studied my IPhone, there was a park named in Jack Kerouac’s honor, which I visited, there are large pieces of marble with etched quotes from his books in the park.  An old textile mill sits across from the park.  I sat there awhile and rested, I read the various quotes, I got up, and walked a few blocks, shortly I came across the high school and the Catholic Church that Jack Kerouac attended as a young boy.  He wrote about Lowell in his books.  I went across the street and went into the Textile Memorial and Woman’s Workers Memorial Museum.  Inside of this museum is a tribute and memorial to Jack Kerouac, I went inside and went up the stairs to his memorial.  I have always loved Jack Kerouac; he was an inspiration of mine when I was younger.  I loved his descriptive way in which he wrote, he wrote about his travels across America.  I soon came to a large glass display, I was amazed at the items they had, there sitting behind the glass case memorial was the original typewriter that Jack Kerouac used to write “On the Road.”  I felt a sense of accomplishment in knowing I had trekked all the way across the country in trying to see this great American writer’s typewriter.  I was in awe.  I walked up close to the display case; there was a backpack of his, some socks, shoes, and various items of interest.  I was amazed at his typewriter, it really was something.  I remember feeling like I was in a bit of a dream standing there.  This was one of the places I wanted to see and I did it.  I remember feeling happy and satisfied.  I left and walked down through Lowell, soon I was at the train station and I hopped on board the commuter and headed back to Boston, it was dark by the time I had arrived at the North Train Station.  I decided I would go back to the Warren Tavern that night and have dinner; I walked through Charlestown and got to the Warren Tavern.  The place was packed, I got to talking with some of the locals, there was a baseball game on, the Cubs, and Cardinals were playing.  I sat there and ate, around 11:30 P.M. or so I headed back to my AirBnB.  I slept well that night, I was tired, and the next day I’d rent a car through Hertz Rent-A-Car and head up north to Salem, Massachusetts.

It was a beautiful morning the next day, it was October 8th.  2016. I ate breakfast, took a shower, and packed my things.  I hiked back down Freedom Trail and went to the Hertz Rent-A-Car located in South Boston.  I rented a Nissan SUV.  I spread out my sleeping bag in the back of the SUV and put my backpacks and other items in the car.  I had planned on car camping the next ten days or so.  I got everything in order.  Soon I was heading out of North Boston; I took the turnpike and drove north towards Salem, Massachusetts.  I could not believe how fast the cars went on the turnpike out of Boston, they flew by me, and I got nervous for a bit and pulled off to the side of the turnpike.  I was glad I had my IPhone, I checked on the route I would take going north to Salem that day.  The trees and foliage was turning color, orange and red covered trees passed by, the scenery was beautiful.  I drove up to Salem.

Soon I rolled into Salem; I parked south of town and found a parking spot in an old historic neighborhood.  I parked the SUV.  I walked heading to the north toward Salem, I went about six or seven blocks and suddenly came across this old Unitarian Church, I come to find out that it is one of the oldest churches in the United States, a few doors down was the famous “Witches House.”  It was creepy, I felt lonesome and worried in a way; it was around 3:00 P.M. that day.  I felt strange when I got to Salem.  I guess it was the history with the witches.  I took photographs and walked inside of the “Witches’ House.”  According to one of the guides there, the famous house was where the women accused of being witches were put on trial.  It was an eerie feeling in a way.  It was getting late in the afternoon.

I decided to walk through Salem, I walked through the town, it was cool, and there were some great shops and several famous sites to see along the way.  It was a small town, with great old brick and wooden buildings.  I headed up north, up through the downtown section of town.  There were several cute shops and several people in costumes walking around.  It was a fun town; I headed north of town and came to the “Friendship Ship.”  I took photographs and marveled at the famous old wooden ship.  It was built in the late 1700’s.  A famous ship indeed, a tall massed ship, it looked beautiful while at rest.  I continued to head up north of town and soon came across the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne and “The House of Seven Gables.”  It was a beautiful old historic section of Salem, right near the ocean.  I walked around the neighborhood, walked through small streets and alleyways, rested a bit and headed back into town.  I loved Salem, it was a great town, and I loved the historical points of interest and the small shops and businesses.  I came across the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery; it sits in the middle of town.  It’s a statue from the television show “Bewitched” It’s a great statue.  I loved the old buildings, the back alleys, and green spaces that wound through the city.  I loved the comic book shop there; it is one of the best comic book shops that I had ever seen.  Orange and red bricks buildings were scattered through town.  Small trails wound through the outskirts of town.  Crows flew through the air as night approached that day.  Fall was setting in.

I made it back to my car; I was parked in an old historic neighborhood south of Salem.  There were beautiful homes in the neighborhood.  Some of the homes went back to being built in the late 1600’s.  I checked directions and started to drive to the east of town and found the first campgrounds that I would be staying in with the trip.  I had called a few days earlier in checking on availability.  The campgrounds were located about two miles east of Salem, I rolled up to the office of the campgrounds and reserved a campsite, and it was a quiet spot, located near the ocean.  It was dark now.  There were other campers there that night.  There were crickets loudly chirping in a small meadow near where I camped that night.  They played a melody of tunes as I tried to fall asleep, I was a bit uneasy sleeping there that first night, I wasn’t sure of where I was, it was the first night that I would be falling asleep in the car, I woke up a few times during the night, the crickets chirped.  I had made it to Salem, Massachusetts.

I woke up in the morning and looked out at the ocean that laid out in front of me; I had found a great campground indeed.  It was sunny that morning.  I got out of the car and showered; I got back to the car and went on a hike exploring the campgrounds.  I came to find out that the campgrounds where I was staying was only one of only two campgrounds inside of a city.  I walked along through some small thickets of trees and came to an old airplane hangar; it was big, there was a small store nearby where I got some things for breakfast.  I get to talking with one of the park rangers and he tells me the old hanger was originally built for the U.S. Coast Guard.  There were some photographs hanging from the wall.  I went back to the car and decided to grab breakfast in Salem.  I remember someone telling me I should go to “Red’s.”  I found the restaurant; it was a great breakfast diner in the middle of Salem.  Small businesses and little homes dotted the town.  I had a great breakfast there; the place was packed as I woofed down my pancakes.  I left Salem, Massachusetts by noon; my next stop would be the Hermit Island Campground located outside of Bath, Maine.  It was a sunny fall day that day, I’d be heading to the north, and I’d be driving for about four hours up to the next campgrounds.

According to what I could find out about the Hermit Island Campground was that it was a private campground and I’d be staying there for two nights.  I drove for close to four hours up to Bath, Maine that day, I rolled off the highway into Bath, it was a beautiful town, old brick buildings dot Main Street, and the masonry work was wonderful.  It was a very clean town.  It was getting close to dark and I still had not found the campground that I was supposed to be staying at that night.  I found a Subway and went inside.  I was tired from driving; I ate a sandwich and then drove a few miles before I found the road heading to the south that would take me to the Hermit Island Campgrounds.  I drove through the dark night, trying to find the turnoff into the campgrounds.  It was dark, it was hard to make my way.

I pulled into the campgrounds around 9:00 P.M., I went into the general store and reserved a campsite for two nights.  It was a great general store; I bought a few donuts for fifty cents and wolfed them down.  I drove on an old gravel sandy road through pines and forest until I found my campsite, it was dark and I could not see much, I pulled into the site and got out of the car, another clear night.  It was October 9th, 2016.  I camped under tall pines and looked up at a beautiful site with the constellation.  The stars popped out of the sky that night.  I fell softly to sleep.  The fragrance of the pines permeated the air.

I woke up the next morning; it was around 6:30 A.M.  I found myself up on a ridge overlooking a beautiful inlet, tall pines were everywhere.  The Blue colors of the early morning loomed large over my campsite.  I grabbed my cameras and started to take photographs of the landscape.  It was beautiful, it was peaceful, and on the other side of some sand dunes was the Atlantic Ocean.  There were a few other campers parked around me, nobody had gotten out of their cars.  I tried to be quiet as I organized my things.  I pulled out a few maps and tried to study notes I had made with the campgrounds and the city of bath, Maine.  I ate some food and I drove to the general store to get some coffee.  While I was waiting in line to pay for my coffee there was this big guy standing over in the corner, he had a huge, large Boston Bruins parka on, he was wearing a Boston Bruins hat on top of his noggin’.  He was huge, at least 6’ 5” and maybe 280 pounds.  His daughter was working behind the counter; he had stopped by and was visiting with her when I got to the counter.  I get to talking with him for nearly a half hour.  We talked hockey and we talked about the Bruins.  He worked in Bath, worked for one of the defense contractors.  His name was Paul.  I told him I was going to go to Bath and take in the city that day.  He tells me that I should visit Fort Popham when I got done looking through Bath, he tells me there’s is a state park with an old fort that I should go and visit.  He tells me the directions and gives me the names of the roads; I scribbled them down on a piece of paper.  He tells me that it’s a beautiful spot and that I should see the fort.  I thanked him and drove down towards Bath, Maine the fall colors were really starting to pop out; I took several photographs that day.  I traveled down a country road for about ten miles.

I drove down that old country road that led me down into Bath, Maine.  I guess I left my campsite around noon I guess.  I parked and walked a few blocks and found a little breakfast spot, it was a great breakfast.  I drank as much coffee as I could and walked through the town.  Bath, Maine is famous for the ships it builds for the U.S. Navy.  I loved Bath, I found a small park and sat down for a few minutes and tried to look at my IPhone in making sure where I was and looked up points of interest.  I found a great coffee shop and recharged my laptop and my IPhone.  I cruised through Bath, Maine.  I visited City Hall and stop and talked with some of the locals.  I walked through some shops and wound my way through the town.  I came across the famous “Chocolate Church.”  It was a famous old church that was located a few blocks from the downtown.  I drove around Bath, Maine for most of the afternoon, I stopped by old mansions located north of town.  I walked through green hillsides that overlooked the city.  The sun felt good.  Around 4:00 P.M or so I drove back down the road south to the campgrounds, I turned left down another country road that took me to Fort Popham.  It was getting near sunset; it was a beautiful spot, right on the ocean.  It was such a spectacular night that night; it was one of the most beautiful nights on the trip, I was glad I had gone and visited the famous fort.  I drove back to my campsite, the stars came out, and I was sitting on a picnic table in my campsite.  I was looking up and all of a sudden a Chinese lantern went flying through the air, just grazing over the tops of the tall pines, it cruised over the forest, I could see it drift down for what seemed a half mile or so over a large body of water and then disappear into some mountains across the way.  I had never seen anything like it.  I went and talked to some other campers that saw it flying in the air.  They were surprised in seeing it as well.  I listened to the Chicago Cubs on the radio; they had just beaten the St. Louis Cardinals.  I ate some snacks.  I drank some seltzer water I had.  I slept well that night, I was full, and it got cold at night.  I had my trusty down sleeping bag.  I was comfortable in the car.

The nights in Maine were beautiful; the stars were bright and eliminated the fall sky.  In the morning I had a Blue Heron visit my campsite, he was big and stood there and looked at me, it was a great campsite, I left early that morning, I would be heading due S.W. on Highway 2.  Highway 2 would take me through western Maine; it would take me through New Hampshire and take me down into Burlington, Vermont.  It would be a six-hour drive that day, one of the longest stretches while driving through New England.  I studied my maps, double checked my directions, and headed out of the Hermit Island Campgrounds.  It was a beautiful sunny fall day, I drove through beautiful countryside, small cabins, and farms dotted the land.  I headed out west through Maine, the colors with the trees were amazing, and a sea of yellow and orange covered the landscape.  I stopped several times along the way just to look at the scenery.  I loved Maine, the people were so friendly.  I passed through small farm towns, rolling green meadows and orange, red, and yellow covered trees spread out for miles.  It was cool and crisp, Maine was rural; the little towns reminded me of Norman Rockwell paintings.  I drove through Maine; highway 2 is a two-lane highway that covers a lot of ground.  I kept heading S.W. down into New Hampshire, soon I could see off in the distance Mt. Washington towering out in front of me, I was close to the new Hampshire border.  The trees were in their full colors, I had timed the trip perfectly.  I kept driving.  I listened to the classical radio station and from time to time I took photographs with the landscape.  I was amazed at the small town, they almost seemed to be a picture perfect postcard.

By noon or so, I was now approaching eastern New Hampshire.  I remember the beautiful lakes and streams along the way, cows and horses standing out in green meadows, small tiny towns dotted the countryside, and little white churches were located in almost every town.  Small gas stations and little diners could be found at nearly every corner.  I remember the orange, red and yellow covered hillsides of New Hampshire, I passed by Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in New England, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky that day, the hills were covered with orange, red and yellow maple trees.  It was October 11th 2016.  I drove by pumpkin patches and farmland; I drove up on a hillside looking down on a forest aglow with color.  The orange light from the trees seemed to cast beautiful streams of color down valleys and illuminate through the forest.  The light passed through the trees casting shadows of color.  It was beautiful.  I took photographs and kept driving down Highway 2.  I passed through New Hampshire; it did not take that long to get through New Hampshire, maybe a couple hours at the most.  I stopped several times in trying to get a photograph.  The valleys and hillsides were beautiful.  I kept heading for Vermont.  I soon was driving in Vermont.  I stopped along the roadside a few times taking photographs of the countryside.  I walked by a farm and the beautiful corn fields that covered the rich fertile soil.  I drove most of the afternoon, I finally reached the capital of Vermont around 5:00 P.M. in the evening, I pushed own through to Burlington, Vermont.  The colors of fall were screaming at me as I approached Burlington that night.  There were times when I wish I could stop; I kept moving on towards Vermont.

The sunset in Burlington was beautiful that night, one of the most spectacular sunsets that I saw while I was on my trip.  The pinks, purples, and blues were spectacular as they illuminated Lake Champlain.  The Adirondacks stood out to the south, big and dark blue with color.  Lake Champlain was unbelievable; I rolled through Burlington and found the campgrounds that I would be staying at for the next two nights.  It was located right on the lake, right on the border with the city limits.  I remember checking in and getting my campsite.  It was a great campsite, under a big ‘ol elm.  I parked, organized some of my belongings, and walked down to the shoreline, not located more than a few hundred feet from my campsite.  I marveled at the sunset and naturally took photos.  I got back to my car, someone was playing a guitar a few cars down from where I was parked.  The music sounded wonderful that night.  I fell asleep.  The stars illuminated the sky.  I was glad to be in the great state of Vermont.

I woke up early the next morning, ate, went, and got some coffee at the campground office; I asked questions about Burlington and found out a few details in what to see in the city.  I would only be there for a day; I would be leaving the next day.  I found a breakfast spot in town, and then hiked along the beach of Lake Champlain.  It was another beautiful fall day, cool, and crisp.  I went and visited City Hall and walked the historical parts of the downtown section.  I went by the University of Burlington, hiked down to the campgrounds.  I took photographs of the sunset and the clouds that night.  I was amazed at the sunsets in Burlington, they were unbelievable, spectacular with purple and pink colors.  It was a beautiful view looking across Lake Champlain from my campsite.  I took a shower and went to bed early that night.  I loved Burlington, Vermont; I really hated to leave the city.  I loved the architecture and loved the beaches and the campground that I stayed at.  I lucked out when I was there; the last night I stayed in the campgrounds was the last night that the campgrounds would be open.  It was October 12, 2016.

So I left the campgrounds early the morning of October 13th, 2016.  I headed for the ferry boat located in Charlotte, Vermont.  It was the first day with overcast weather; rain clouds rolled in by the mid-morning.  I took the ferryboat across Lake Champlain; I floated over the beautiful lake.  It took about twenty minutes to cross the great lake.  Lake Champlain was big and wide, it stretched out, the Adirondacks stood out to the south, and the beautiful lake glistened in the fall morning.  The small ferryboat stopped off in Essex, New York.  I loved Essex, it was a small town, the fall colors were everywhere, I had timed my trip perfectly, I had hoped to catch the fall colors in their zenith, and I had.  Upper New York was amazingly beautiful; the countryside was gorgeous.  I wound through small towns, following the shorelines of Lake Champlain.  I was on my way to Cooperstown, New York and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  I wound through the side of Lake Champlain.  The colors were spectacular, I stopped a few times in looking out over Lake Champlain.

I was excited as I drove through the farmland; I rolled through the hillsides as I finally came into the small town of Cooperstown, New York.  The fall colors adorned the city.  Historical homes surrounded the downtown section, I drove east a few blocks, and soon, there standing in front of me was the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  I took photographs and walked around the entire building; I walked over to Doubleday Field and took photographs of the first baseball field ever built.  I grabbed breakfast at a small diner and then tried to find the campgrounds that I would be staying in for the next two nights.  The plan was to camp the first night, and then spend the next day at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and also go and also go and try to find the statue and memorial of James Fennimore Cooper, another famous American author that I had planned on seeing with my travels.  I drove a few miles south out of town and found the Cooperstown Family Campgrounds.  I loved the spot as soon as I pulled up to it, I pulled up to the general store and got to talking with the owner of the campground.  He tells me that the campgrounds had been in the family for two generations that it had been an old farm and they turned it into the campgrounds.  It was a beautiful farm, he had goats and some wild cats cruising through one of the barns, there was a beautiful lake and the leafs had started to fall.  He gave me one of the best campsites; I drove my car down through a small forest and then parked in my spot.  It was a beautiful setting.  I organized a few things and soon I fell asleep that night gazing at the stars.  It was October 13th, 2016.

I woke up early and drove back into Cooperstown the next morning.  I drove through farmland and then dropped into Cooperstown.  I found a place to park and walked a few blocks to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Large maple and oak trees covered the city.  I paid for admission and spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon going through the Hall of Fame.  It was incredible; almost every part of the Hall of Fame had something that was of interest.  I am a huge sports fan; I just could not believe that I had made it in seeing the famous Hall of Fame.  There was so much history and memories that flashed in front of me as I looked at all the exhibits.  I cruised up both level, I walked through all the hallways that had big plaques and large glass showcases.  They had statues of famous ball players.  There were photographs and bronze memorials.  I was fascinated with everything that they had on display.  I found my favorite teams and found my favorite players.  It was wonderful.

In the late afternoon, I went two blocks or so and found the famous statue of James Fennimore Cooper.  It stands on what was once where his home stood before it was destroyed by fire.  I walked a block or so and found his gravesite; he is buried next to Christ Church.  I walked the famous grounds; the trees looked beautiful with the colors of fall.  Large yellow elms and maples stood tall around the city.  As night approached, I found a small pub and had something to eat.  I got back to my campsite and fell asleep.  The next morning I would be driving to Hartford, Connecticut and would be visiting the Mark Twain Mansion.  It was October 14th, 2016.  I was a bit concerned that night.  I tried calling the campgrounds near Hartford; most of them were closing the day I would be getting into Hartford.  I wondered where I would sleep with my first night in Hartford.

I left early on the morning of October 15th, 2016.  I headed out of Cooperstown and drove through the Adirondacks.  It was beautiful cruising through upper New York, it was some of the most beautiful countryside’s with the trip, I cruised down the New York turnpike, passing through dense forestland, and I drove for nearly four or five hours.  I pulled over a few times and tried to find a campground that might be open near Hartford.  I called two or three campgrounds and could not find anything that was open.  I was tired from driving and I pulled into Hartford around 2:00 P.M. that afternoon.  Hartford was beautiful.  I thought to myself and decided I would worry about the campgrounds later on.  I wanted to get to Mark Twain’s Mansion.  It was clear and sunny that afternoon.  I kept driving until I came to the Mark Twain Museum and Mansion.  I was so excited; it was one of the most important stops with my trip, it was another famous American author stop with my travels.

I pulled into the parking lot, Mark Twain’s mansion sat up on a small bluff, I walked over to the museum and paid my admission, I spent nearly an hour going through the Mark Twain museum, they had several display, and there was the linotype machine that he invested so much of his money.  They had one of his writing desks on display; they had several of the original books that he had written.  It was fascination.  I went to the gift shop and bought a few items.

I next bought a ticket and took the tour of the Mark Twain Mansion.  I walked across the way over towards his mansion.  I noticed some acorns on the grounds and picked a handful of them up, something to remember his mansion with.  It was unbelievable, I walked inside the huge historic mansion, he had elaborate etchings in the walls, and ornate fixtures were made out of cast iron.  A large stairway went up three stories.  There was beautiful crystal and handcrafted wooden furniture.  We took the tour through the historic home.  I was amazed at his writing room or office if you will.  He had a pool table in the middle of the famous room; it was a wonderful home.  I was left speechless.

After the tour of Mark Twain’s home I took the tour of another famous American author, I cruised through the home of Harriet Bircher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” It was a beautiful home, the painting and handcrafted items were stunning.  I finished looking at both homes by 6:00 P.M. or so, it was dark and I was sitting in the Nissan SUV wondering where I was going to stay that night.  It was getting dark, I looked up a few restaurants nearby and found an Irish pub close to the museum.

I decided to head over to the Irish pub, it was just a few blocks away from the mansion, I got something to eat, and got to start talking with the bartender, I told him I was traveling through Hartford and that the campgrounds I wanted to stay at had closed that day.  He thought a bit and then he tells me that it’s O.K to park in the bars parking lot located out back of the pub and tells me that I could stay there for the night until I could figure things out in where I was going to stay.  I was tired, parked my car, and fell asleep, it was cold, and I woke up around 5:00 A.M.  I woke up and I quickly did a Google search on my IPhone, I wanted to find a motel that I could stay in.  It was cold and I had not slept well, it was a rough spot of Hartford[GAK2] .  I found a Motel 6 about five miles away, I found the spot thankfully, I called and made a reservation, I checked in and slept most of the morning and early afternoon once I got to the motel.  It felt so good in getting a good night sleep that night.  I was close to the Hartford airport; I could remember planes flying over the motel.  I took a shower, got something to eat, and watched a college football game that night, it was the Michigan vs. Michigan State game.  It was a classic game.  It was the first night that I had slept in a bed for almost eight days or so.  I tried to catch up on food and sleep that day.  It was October 17th.  I spent two nights there in Hartford in the Motel Six.

The next day I decided to go to the National Basketball Hall of Fame, located not more than ten miles away in Springfield, Massachusetts.  I took off around noon and within a half hour or so I was in Springfield, Massachusetts.  I found the National Basketball Hall of Fame; I bought a ticket with admission and went inside.  It was a newer building, almost reminded me of a mall in a way, it was impressive.  It had a basketball court; I spent almost five hours at the National Basketball Hall of Fame that day.  I found my favorite players and favorite teams.  They had photographs, shoes, statues, and plaques; it was really a great museum.  I left late that afternoon and went back to the motel.  I got something to eat and went to bed early that night, I had planned to get up early and head back to Boston the next morning, I would drop the rental car off and then take the train out of the South Train Station later that afternoon and head back west to Chicago.  I would be heading west and planned on spending three nights in Chicago, Illinois.  It was October 18th, 2016.

I headed out of Hartford early that morning, it was cold, and frost was on my car windows.  I took the highway through Connecticut and traveled into eastern Massachusetts, it was very scenic along the way, and I stopped several times in order to get a photograph.  It was beautiful and sunny that day.  I headed through to Boston and dropped off the rental car at the Hertz Rent-a-Car office in South Boston.  I then grabbed my backpacks and walked about six blocks or so to the South Train Station.  I waited about three hours there.  My train for Chicago was going to leave around 3:00 P.M that afternoon.  The South Train station in Boston is really a great train station.  It’s big and has gigantic columns inside of the main hall.  It was crowded; people were busily walking around.  I sat there and watched the people, until it was time to board the train for Chicago.  The train pulled up and I settled in my seat, we headed west through Massachusetts, the Hudson River Valley was gorgeous, the fall colors had popped out and the train slowly made its way to down through New York.  I got some great photos while on the way to Albany, New York.  Around 5:00 P.M we pulled into Albany.  It was a beautiful night; I remember watching the sunset.  We switched trains in Albany and headed down through Ohio, it was dark that night as we passed through Ohio.  In the middle of the night we stopped in Cleveland.  I remember the illumination with the city, skyscrapers dotted the skyline as we rode through to Chicago.

The next morning, say around 7:00 A.M. or so I woke up and went to the club car.  An Amish gentleman sat down and joined me for breakfast, his name was John Pryor, and he lived in Pennsylvania, he was curious about Oregon, curious to hear about the new marijuana laws that went into effect on October 1, 2016.  We ate and watched the cornfields roll by.  There were several Amish people that I noticed while I was on the train with my travels.  We were traveling through Indiana now; I just remember Indiana in being rural, cornfields went rolling by, big farms, beautiful fields stretching out as far as you could see.  There were orchards, miles and miles or orchards.  By the early afternoon we reached the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois, it was October 19th, 2016.  It was clear and the fall sky was warm and inviting.

I remember the stockyards, I remember how big they were, huge locomotives roared, old abandoned warehouses seemed to stretch out for miles, and scrap iron an old rusted metal was lying in work yards.  Large vacant brick buildings stood out against the skyline.  There were big dark brown warehouses that sat on big lots, to the west I could see the silver skyscrapers of Chicago, we traveled through south Chicago, soon we pulled up to Union Station, our train came to a stop.  I stepped out into the massive train station, I found a place to sit, I would now walk a few blocks and catch the Blue Line up to Logan Square, and it was located in North Chicago.  I got on board the “L” and rode through Chicago, within fifteen minutes I got off in Logan Square.  Logan Square is an old neighborhood, the neighborhood stretched on and on, big brick homes and townhouses crowded the blocks.  I walked about eight blocks or so and soon found my AirBnB.  I knocked on the door and I met the owner of the three level brick row house.  Her name was Paula and she was really kind, she showed me my bedroom and I put my bags on my bed, it was about 5:00 P.M. or so.  I was tired and hungry, I took a shower and then walked down Kedze Street and found a neighborhood bar, and I ordered something to eat.  It was a crowded section of the neighborhood, traffic passed by as I sat and ate my dinner.

The Chicago Cubs had made it to the National League Pennant; they had beaten the St. Louis Cardinals a few days earlier in one of the playoff series.  Seemed like the whole city of Chicago was caught up with the excitement with the Cubs being in the pennant.  All the restaurants and bars flew Chicago Cub flags; everyone was wearing Cub hats. The Cubs would be playing the New York Mets in the 2015 Pennant; the Mets won the first two games in New York a few days earlier, the Cubs were down 2 games to none.  Game 3 and game 4 would be played at Wrigley Field.  Game 3 was scheduled to be played on October 20th, 2015.  What were the odds that I would be in Chicago when the Cubs were in the National league pennant?  I remember getting home that night and stretching out in my bed, it felt so good.  I fell asleep soundly that night.  I had made it to Chicago.

The next morning I woke up and ate breakfast, I took a shower and had decided to take the “L” down to Michigan Avenue and go see the Art Institute of Chicago.  My mother had told me to see the Art Institute of Chicago; she had been there several times.  She loved Chicago.  I hiked about eight blocks and got on board the Blue Line.  In about fifteen minutes, I got off close to the Art Institute of Chicago.  I walked a few blocks and took photographs, soon I was at the Art Institute of Chicago, and it’s a massive building.  I walked up the front steps and walked in.  There hanging in front of me was a painting by George Seurat.  It was beautiful, people were scurrying about, and it was a busy day.  I checked in my backpack and I decided to head to the Impressionistic Section.  It was about 10:00 A.M when I got to the institute that day.  I grabbed a program guide and tried to find the paintings I wanted to see first.  I went through the Impressionistic section, it was fabulous, and they had so many beautiful paintings, painted by well-known artists.  There were paintings done by Cezanne, Matisse, Renoir, I was in awe.  They were all so beautiful.

Next, I went through the American Art section, it was amazing.  There standing in front of me stood paintings done by Grant Wood, Jackson Pollock, Edward Hopper, Fredrick Remington, and Winslow Homer.  I cruised through the huge museum, I went in almost every room, and I took photographs of some of the more well-known paintings.  I could have stayed for two or three days.  I was glad that I could take photographs of the paintings.  It is a great museum, one of the finest that I have ever seen.

Around 2:00 P.M, I stopped and ate lunch the Art Institute of Chicago has a big cafeteria located on the second floor.  I wanted to see a few more rooms with paintings after I finished my lunch.  By 4:30 P.M or so, I had spent almost seven hours in the Art Institute.  I wanted to go up to Wrigley Field and take photographs of the grand old stadium, the Cubs were playing in game 3 of the National League Pennant that night, I walked a few blocks and jumped on board the Red Line, it took me up to Wrigley Field.  The crowd had gathered around the ballpark, I got off near the N.E. section of the famous old ballpark, near the right field bleachers.  Cub fans were everywhere; there was a sea of blue as far as I could see.  I started to take photographs of the crowd.  There were bars and shops and sports stores circling all around the ballpark.  I weaved my way through the crowd.  People were scalping tickets, television crews gathered around and shot film of the crowd, some newscaster was interviewing some fan about the game.  I made my way up to the statue of Ernie Banks, it’s a big statue located in the front of Wrigley Filed.  There were thousands of people jammed in big lines waiting to get into the ballpark.  A line had formed near the front of Wrigley Field.  I got in the line and waited about an hour in seeing if I could get a ticket.  People were yelling and screaming out in the streets, “Let’s go Cubs!”  I strolled up to the ticket window and started to talk to the ticket lady, “I’d like to buy one ticket if I could,” She looked at me.  She looked at a computer screen.  “We have one ticket in right field, it will cost you $110.00” I looked at her and looked at a map with the seating with Wrigley Field.  It was a bad seat, located in the middle of right field.”  I looked up at her and said, “No thanks.”  There was a guy standing next to me, he suddenly looked at me and said, “Come on, let’s walk around the ballpark, we can get a cheaper ticket from some scalper.”  He introduced himself, his name was Jeff Alston, and he goes on and tells me that he lives in Chicago that he was a Physical Education teacher and a lifelong Cubs fan.  He pointed out things of interest as we walked through a huge crowd of people outside the left field bleachers.  We stopped and talked to a few people that were trying to sell tickets; they all wanted around $100.00 or so.  We kept walking around the stadium, soon we were over in the right field section of the ballpark, and across the street was “Murphy’s Tavern.”  The famous tavern was named after the famous goat that a Chicago Cub fan once brought to the ballpark back in the 1920’s.  We stood there a moment a looked around, the place was jammed with people.  The lights of Wrigley illuminated the dark night.

There was a huge crowd standing outside of the ballpark, we weaved back in front of Wrigley Field, and we walked up to the ticket window one more time just to see if the prices had dropped with the tickets.  I went up to the ticket window; the same ticket lady was there.  She looked at me and then glanced at her computer screen.  “I have two tickets about forty rows up from home plate, located in the first level, $95.00 a piece.”  I talked things over with Jeff and we quickly decided to buy the tickets.  We went through the turnstile, walked up some old wooden stairs, went down a ramp, and walked out into the ballpark.  It was an amazing site; I stopped and looked out at centerfield.  In right field was a big scoreboard.  There was Wrigley Field; it was massive.  It was packed, the announcer was introducing the ballplayers, and we got to our seats and they started to play the national anthem.  Huge rows of lights lit up the ballpark.  It was a great experience.  It was gothic in a way, American gothic.

Our seats were great; we could see the whole field.  The game started out with a few runs being scored by both teams, by the second inning the score was tied 2-2.  In the 5th inning the Mets scored a couple of runs, the third baseman for the Cubs made an error.  You could feel the life go out of the crowd, it started raining around the 7th inning, and I walked around the ballpark and took photographs of the game.  It was an amazing sight.  The Mets won the game 5-2.  The Mets were now up 3 games to none in the series.  People booed, I tried to push through the crowd as I tried to find an exit.  I waded through the huge crowd.  I remember mounted police riding huge horses through the crowd.  I remember the horse poop on the streets.  There were drunk people screaming and yelling, the rain poured.  I tried to find a restaurant or a bar so I could get out of the rain, Jeff and I walked into some club across from Wrigley Field, a rock band was playing loud music.  I sat there and tried to regroup, the massive crowd jammed the streets and sidewalks.  I talked with Jeff a bit and then we went our separate ways.  I walked in the rain, walked down side streets.  I hoped a bus that took me to Logan Square, within a few minutes I was back at my AirBnB.  It was around 1:00 A.M.  I fell asleep; it had been a long day.  The rain came down as I fell asleep that night.

The next morning I took a shower, I ate breakfast and took the “L” down to Michigan Avenue.  I walked around Chicago; I had planned to take photographs of the city that day.  I wanted to hike the city and see some of the famous architecture.  One of the highlights that day had to have been the Chicago library, it is a stunning building, the ornaments, and decoration was truly spectacular.  Around noon, I stopped into a Subway and grabbed lunch.  I walked up towards the Chicago Art Institute; I headed up north on Michigan Avenue.  I passed by huge, massive historic buildings, I walked into the financial district and stopped to look at all of the buildings, it was magnificent, truly a marvel.  Concrete and steel structures spread out in front of me, I hiked the modern day caverns and by-ways.  Tall skyscrapers rose into the skyline as buses and delivery trucks honked and moved through the busy city.  The wind off of Lake Michigan blew some leaves in the air.  There was a mixture of old and new buildings as I kept heading orth.  I stopped to marvel at the monstrous silver steel and concrete gray structures.  I came across the Tribune Newspaper building; it’s a great old building located in the heart of downtown Chicago.  I walked around a bit and kept heading north.  Soon I was at the John Hancock building, one of the tallest buildings in the world.  Across the street is the 4th Presbyterian Church, it was beautiful.  I stood there, looked at the historic church for a while, and snapped photos.  I went inside the lobby to the John Hancock.  I took the elevator up to the 96th.  Floor.  I got off on the observation floor.  The view was incredible.  There was the city of Chicago and Lake Michigan.  It was a beautiful view.  I stayed on the observation floor for about an hour and then went back down the elevator.  I walked back outside and hiked back south down Michigan Avenue.  The financial district of Chicago is massive, big brick and concrete buildings form canyons as you walk through the huge city.  It was getting close to dark.  I hoped the “L” back to Logan Square.  I stopped and got something to eat.  I went to bed early that night.  It was October 21st 2016.

The next morning I grabbed my bags and grabbed the “L” to Union Station.  I got to Union Station a few hours before my train was supposed to leave, it was scheduled to leave Chicago around 2:00 P.M. that afternoon.  I waited in the station.  The “Great Hall” in Union Station is beautiful; it was a highlight with my trip.  The purple lights and the ornate decorations really were beautiful.  I waited awhile and watched people board their trains, shortly our train pulled into the station and we lined up and boarded the “Empire Builder” back to Portland, Oregon.  I would be getting back to Portland on October 24th, 2016.  It was a sunny afternoon that day.  I was glad that I was on the last train with my trip; I wouldn’t have to hop on board and switch on to another train.  We pulled out of Chicago, the huge stockyards sprawled out for miles, big dark warehouses and busy work yards followed the rail road tracks, heavy equipment and scraps of metal and rusted steel sat next to the tracks as we passed through the northern end of Chicago.  Old buildings, and small neighborhoods passed by my window.  We kept going north through Illinois, farmland and fields rolled over hills and drifted off into small forests.

By the late afternoon, we rolled into the fall of Wisconsin; the colors had changed since the first time I had been there not more than three weeks earlier.  Brown fields and small lakes dotted the countryside; we made a few stops along the way in Wisconsin, we stopped in small towns as little white painted farms dotted the landscape.  Big dairy cows stood out in green meadows as our train went rolling by.  I remember seeing migrating ducks and geese flying in the fall sky.  I went up to the observation car and took photographs of the landscape.  Wisconsin was brown and orange decorated with all of the fall colors.

Night approached as we started to head into Minnesota, I stayed up until midnight, and I got my laptop out and watched a movie I had brought with me on CD.  I went to bed as we rolled through Minnesota that night.  All I can remember before I feel asleep was how grateful I was in knowing that I was heading back to Portland.  It had been a long trip, almost four weeks.  The train rolled through the countryside, I remember looking out my window and seeing the stars over Minnesota.  It was a dark night, the stars shinned, as I feel asleep.  The train rolled through Minnesota that night.  The moon glowed and the light from the moon shown down on the landscape.

The next morning it was clear and sunny, we were now in the middle part of North Dakota.  It was October 23rd, 2016.  North Dakota was big, the countryside sprawled out in front of me, the brown land stretched out, and it was flat, big, and flat.  It was dusty, we passed through oil refineries and big warehouses.  We went along through the big state; I watched the fields from my seat as the scenery went on by my window.  A pheasant flew by, I might see an occasional deer or two.  We rolled through North Dakota and by the mid-afternoon, we were getting close to Montana.  I went to the dining car and got some breakfast.  Africa American workers moved around the dining car as people came to get their morning breakfast. I ate breakfast and headed back to my seat, the train rocked back and forth, people stood in the isles of the cars and chatted. I sat back down in my seat and checked my IPhone for e-mail. The day dragged on, we went through North Dakota, near the end of the day I spent most of my time in the observation car taking photographs from the observation deck.

While we were rolling through the western part of North Dakota I got to talking to a kid that boarded the train in Chicago, he must have been around 18, he was rocking out with some headphones he had on. He had thick glasses, he had a black t-shirt and his hair was slicked back. I got to talking with him. His name was Steve Jensen. He told me he was heading to Montana, “Oh dude I for sure like the Doors and Def Leopard, Rush is a totally cool band.  It’s all so gnarly dude.  My grandpa is going to pick me up in his pick-up when our train gets to White Fish, Montana.  That’s where I am going, I’m going to Whitefish.  I’m going to go to a trade school.  I’m going to trade school and study electronics and motors.”  I looked at him and listened to Steve name his favorite bands with rock and roll, we talked for about an hour.  “Do you like the Foo’s?”  I asked him.  “Oh for sure!  The Foo’s are awesome.”  I looked out the big observation windows as the North Dakota sky turned beautiful colors that afternoon.

In the late afternoon we started to roll through Montana, Montana is big and the countryside rolls on for miles.  We passed through ranches; horses in huge corals went passing by as ‘The Empire Builder” went rolling along.  It was a clear afternoon, near the late afternoon, big gray and blue clouds rolled in along the hillsides; the sun started to set, we were approaching western Montana.  As the late afternoon dragged on we went through some of the most beautiful countryside that I had ever seen.  We approached the western section of Montana by nightfall.  Steve got off the train and sure enough there was his grandpa in his Chevy pick-up waving as Steve got off the train.  The sky was ablaze with pink, orange, and blue colors, white misty puffy clouds rolled in.

I took a few more photographs, went down, and found my seat on the train.  I studied a few maps I had brought with me; I jotted down some things with my notebooks that I had stuffed inside one of my backpacks.  The skies over Montana were pink and blue and gray, it was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen.  It started to get dark.  I settled down for the night.  I was glad; it would be the last night on the train.  It was October 23rd, 2014.

On the morning of October 24th I repacked my backpacks, made sure I had everything in order, I got breakfast.  We were in the state of Washington now; we were heading into Spokane, Washington.  It was another clear sunny fall day.  We made our stop in Spokane and rolled through forests and streams as we wound down into the Columbia River Gorge, we followed the Columbia River.  Mt. Hood shinned brightly to the south.  We passed through The Dallas and soon approached Hood River.  We headed down along the Columbia River.  We went through rough hard-edged mountains, streams and small lakes followed us on our way.  It was getting into the middle of the afternoon; we stopped in Vancouver, Washington.  We waited there for about fifteen minutes and then we were on our way across the Columbia River, we had made it to Oregon.  We passed through North Portland; we crossed the Willamette and finally stopped in Portland, Oregon around 4:00 P.M that afternoon.

I was relieved, people walked off the train.  I got off the train and went inside Union Station.  I sat down for a bit and waited for my buddy Jonathan Swanson to come and pick me up.  I was tired; it had been a great trip.  Soon Jonathan pulled up and we headed back to my place.  I unloaded my bags, separated my dirty clothes, and made something to eat.  I checked my cameras; I had taken over 1500 photographs with my trip back to New England.  I fell asleep and slept for about ten hours that night.  I was exhausted, it had turned out to be a wonderful trip, and I do not think I would have changed anything about the trip.  Everything was perfect, the campgrounds were great, the only real issue was the first night in Hartford, the afternoon I pulled into Hartford and the campgrounds I wanted to stay at closed for the winter the day I got to Hartford.  The rental car was perfect, the weather was wonderful, I figured I got one night of rain and that was the second night that I was in Chicago.  I suppose I shouldn’t have brought my laptop, I really didn’t need it on  my trip and I did bring too many clothes with my trip.  I had traveled cross-country.  I had seen just about everything I wanted to see while on my trip and I had seen many historical points of interest.  It was a great trip.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  I loved New England, I loved Chicago.  I was glad to be home, the water, beer, and food tasted so fresh once I got back home.  The climate of Oregon is something I missed while I was on my trip.

I was glad I had taken the trip, I enjoyed the history, it was great to travel and see the countryside.  I’d like to go back and visit again, maybe stay a bit longer next time.  I loved New England and I loved Chicago.  I was glad to have seen almost everything that I had planned on seeing.  The colors of fall in New England were beautiful.  I loved the climate, the people were great.  I loved the history.


 [GAK1]

 [GAK2]Beer

Thurman Jones

I was raised in Northwest Portland, lived a few blocks far from Chapman grade school back then, moved to the neighborhood with my mother when I was around four or so, back in 1962.  My mom’s place was located just a few blocks away from Forest Park and Wallace Park.  It was a great spot to grow up as a kid; I started attending Chapman grade school when I was six years old, finished up with eighth grade back in 1972.

I had lots of friends at Chapman.  I was a pretty popular kid, looking back it was a fine neighborhood; it  really was a mixture of wealthy, middle class, and poor kids back then; I  was involved with sports, cub scouts, along with singing in the school choir.  It was a great school to go attend.  There were all walks of life in the neighborhood.

Growing up in the Northwest Portland I was raised as an only child, brought up by my mother, most kids got along with me just fine, I was a pretty good kid, never caused too much trouble back then, there were a few bullies that picked on me when I was a younger, one day a couple of tough kids gave me what was known as a wedgie.  Three or four of the bullies ran over and pulled up my underwear from behind my pants and proceeded to tug and stretch the waist band all the way up to the back of my neck; it hurt, it kind of scrunched the trunk if you know what I mean.  Nevertheless, for some reason, it was a ritual, part of a mysterious initiation in attending school at Chapman back then.  It was almost a golden rule, or a rite of passage; it seems as though you had to receive a wedgie if you wanted to graduate from Chapman.  At other times, I was chased by older kids, maybe picked on in the halls, there were times I have to confess that I wished that I had an older brother to help me out at times back then, somebody to look after me in tough situations, a guardian of the flock you might say.

Around that time, I guess I was twelve or so, it must have been when I was in sixth grade; there were a few kids whom I enjoyed more than others back then.  There were tough kids who caused trouble that went to Chapman; some came from rough backgrounds, lived in rough areas, down off N.W. Thurman or N.W. Vaughn.  They ran around at night, caused mischief; everyone knew who they were.  They picked on kids, maybe tripped a poor kid during recess.  It was a pretty common practice back then.

One kid whom I always liked, and who kept an eye on me from an early age was a kid by the name of Thurman Jones.  Thurman came from a prominent family that lived up in the west hills, up in Kings Heights; his father was in construction, a matter of fact, he owned one of the largest construction companies in Portland at the time.  He had a few brothers and sisters, and most of the kids in the neighborhood liked Thurman.  He was a fun-loving guy, always went out of his way in saying “Hello” to me.  Thurman would watch after me from time to time, stand up for me if I was in a confrontation, he knew who the other bullies were and could lick most of them; he  knew the ones that picked on the younger kids; Thurman and his good buddies, including Billy Johnson, Steve Pinkerton, and Pat Jenson,  would watch after us from time to time, Thurman was like Robin Hood, Robin Hood and his merry men, it was reassuring, he was kind and like an older brother to me.

Before school most of the kids would play tackle football behind Chapman in the field that’s located just west of the school, in the wet rain, we were soon covered with grass stains, you could count on at least twenty kids running in ankle deep mud trying to pull, trip and tackle each other, we usually were covered with dirt from head to toe before school started.  Thurman was always on my team, he always watched after the smaller kids back then, he would have been in eighth grade at the time, everybody liked Thurman, and everyone liked him except the bullies that he scared away.  During the spring when the weather was better, when the sun was out we’d play softball and tennis baseball in Wallace park.  We always clowned around and wrestled, chased after other kids, Thurman’s face would turn dark red when he ran around on the big field; he was stocky and loved sports.  We’d walk down to Swift Mart and grab a coke or some candy; he was just a great guy.  He liked me, and also liked the other kids in the neighborhood, went out of his way in in saying “Hello” during recess or between classes.

He had blonde hair, wore Levi blue jeans and usually wore a surfing shirt or a buttoned down dress shirt to school.  He was well liked by all that knew him; I actually think he was elected his seventh grade class president back then, needless to say he was popular.

Thurman would walk up the hill with me after school, walking up N.W. Pettygrove, we’d kick rocks as we headed up the street.  Sometimes I’d go up to his house off N.W. Westover road.  We’d snatch a few cookies from his mom while she was baking in the kitchen or run up to his room and build model planes or cars.  He was involved with all kinds of activities back then, he liked to snow ski and skate board.  I skate boarded with him several times when I was younger, when I was around twelve or so, we’d skate down N.W. Westover or skate down N.W. Pettygrove.  We had steel wheel skate boards; you could hear us coming from a block away when we flew down the hills back then.

Thurman was well mannered, a nice kid, well behaved, never did anybody any harm that I know of.  He had other friends, kids that grew up in the neighborhood that hung with us, kids that went to Chapman.  We built forts and tree houses, hiked in Forest park, shot B.B. guns.  During the school year, during class breaks Thurman would come over and check up on me, make sure I was O.K.  He was the big brother I never had.  He was a good friend, I felt safe when he and his buddies were around.

I’d see him at the Uptown Shopping Center, racing slot cars at the local slot car track called the “The Racin’ Housin’.”  Most kids back then had slot cars.  “The Racin’ Housin’” was located up above one of my favorite restaurants back then, “The Foothill Broiler.”  All the kids in the neighborhood raced their slot cars there; it was a really popular spot.  Thurman and a few friends were usually there on Saturday morning, racing their Ford G.T’s or Chevy Chaparrals, the place was jammed with kids yelling and racing their fast cars; it was such a popular place back then.

Thurman liked to ski , in the late 1960’s and early 1970s most kids that wanted to go ski up on Mt Hood would take the ski bus that stopped in at Howells Mountain Shop located in the Uptown Shopping Center.  They’d gather and wait for the bus to take them to Ski Bowl, it was great fun, Mike skied with his buddies, and I sat with them a few times when I took the bus up to Mt. Hood.  I skied with them, made it back to the ski bus and soon we were on our way back to N.W Portland.

At school Thurman would weave through the hall, he’d go out of his way to find me and let me know that he and a bunch of the guys were going to go to a Portland Beaver baseball game one Saturday afternoon, I tagged along.  We sat in the left field bleachers and ate snow cones and yelled and laughed.  We got Cotton Nash’s autograph (a famous Portland Beaver baseball player back then), we talked with Luis Tiant, who went on to pitch for the Boston Red Sox.

Once in a blue moon a bunch of the kids would go to the Esquire Theater and watch a movie on a Friday night.  It was fun, the theater sat on the corner of N.W. 23rd and Kearney.  We knew the girls that operated the ticket office, they went to school with us; they let us in for free.  We watched the Sand Pebbles with Steve McQueen if I remember right.  It was great fun.

Right around the early 1970’s or so the board of directors with the old St. Vincent hospital decided that they would close the big old dilapidated hospital, they decided they would shut the doors for good, the historic old hospital was then located on N.W. Westover, it was built in 1896.  It was a huge building, made of red brick, sat on five acres of prime land up in the hills of Northwest Portland; plans were soon being made in building a new hospital up on N.W. Barnes road.

They closed the old hospital; they shut the doors and put a big, tall cyclone fence around the land.  Doors and windows were boarded up, driveways were chained up.  The old hospital sat there for years, vacant, it was a big hospital, it used to be so busy, busy with doctors, patients, nurses and maintenance men scurrying about walking the grounds, it had a few wings that stretched out to the north and south, everything was locked tight, it was eerie in a way, movers, haulers and state officials grabbed all the furniture and big metal files that sat in the empty offices, medical machines were moved off the property, equipment was auctioned off.

I soon found out through certain friends that Thurman’s father had bought the land that the old hospital sat on; he had plans to tear the old hospital down and build condos on the valuable property.  His dad had developed big projects in the Portland area through the years, the old hospital sat there empty, a big dark skeleton; it was around the summer of 1971.

I went to California at the end of the school year that year, went to visit my dad for a couple of months.  I usually stayed with my father and step mother during the summers, it was fun to get out of town and see the sights of San Francisco.  I came back to Portland right before the school year; I was going into seventh grade around that time.

When I got home I called my friends, ran down to Wallace Park, there was Thurman, he would be going to Lincoln that fall starting his freshmen year.  We talked and chatted, it was near the end of August.  Thurman told me about the plans his father had in tearing down the old hospital, they had architectural drawings done, most of the rooms in the hospital were empty by then, there were old fire escapes attached to the side of the brick walls.  An old red brick smoke stack rose high in the air sticking out like a sore thumb.

A few weeks before school was to start that fall I saw Thurman down at Henry Thieles, a famous old popular restaurant located on N.W. Burnside and N.W. 23rd. Thurman was with his family, they were having breakfast, he waved as my mother, and I sat down at one of the booths.  He came over and introduced himself to my mother.  My mother always liked Thurman.

A few days later I was down at Wallace Park playing with my buddies, playing tennis baseball in the basketball courts.  Soon one of the kids that usually played with us at Wallace Park, a kid by the name of Dan Upshaw came running towards us; he had tears in his eyes, we couldn’t understand him at first, I couldn’t figure out why he was crying, we had to calm him down.  He looked at us.

“Thurman!  Thurman!  Thurman!  He, he fell, he’s dead!”

All my friends looked at each other in disbelief.  A state of panic went through the air.

“What!  What are you saying Dan!  What are you talking about?”  I exclaimed.

I started to get mad, I started to tense up, I looked down towards the ground and shook my head.  Other kids ran over to hear the news.  Some kids started to cry.  I couldn’t believe it.

Dan ran off, he ran across the grassy field of Wallace Park over towards some other kids standing over by one of the big trees that line the park, whimpering as he ran.  Everyone looked at one another and started to walk away.

I shook my head, and looked around, I looked to the skies, and I took off for home.  I kept telling myself it couldn’t be, that it had to be somebody else.  I waited for my mother to get home.  I sat there and couldn’t believe the news.  I was in shock, I had just seen Thurman the day before, he was in the park with some friends of his, he was with Billy Johnson, Steve Pinkerton, and Pat Jenson, they were hanging around playing, they had planned on cruising around that night, they liked to explore like most kids.  They were going to meet later in the evening and cruse through the west hills that night.

I called a good friend of mine; he was good friends with Thurman’s older brother.  I tried to find out what happened to Thurman the night before; I wanted to find out if it was true in what I had heard.  My buddies’ voice started to break up, he cleared his voice.

“Grant, Thurman has died, he’s gone, he fell, he was up at the old hospital with some friends, he was with Billy, Steve, and Pat, they were exploring around in the old hospital, they were up on the seventh floor, he fell off of an old fire escape, it gave way, it wasn’t attached to the building properly.  He fell and landed in the old parking lot.”

I couldn’t hear myself think, I hung up the phone and ran into my bedroom, jumped up in my bed and cried, buried myself in the pillow.  Thurman had been a friend of mine, lived a few blocks away from me, he was gone in an instant.  The next day I walked down to Wallace Park, kids were in the park, some of them were still in shock over what had happened to Thurman.

A few days later a good friend of Thurman’s (Billy Johnson) told me what happened.  He went into detail in what exactly did happen that terrible night.  He sobbed as he told the story.

Thurman, Billy, Steve, and Pat had met at Wallace Park early in the evening that night and quickly decided to go up to Thurman’s dad’s house, they decided to get flash lights that sat in his father’s garage, they rummaged around in his father’s office and found one of the key chains that opened the old hospital.  They wanted to cruise around the old boarded up building, they planned to go up and check out the rooms, look at the operating tables and old laboratories.  The hospital was dark and dank.  The Jones home wasn’t located more than a few blocks away from the old St. Vincent.  They started off and hiked over to the hospital.  They laughed and joked along the way.

They ran through bushes and climbed over an old fence near the hospital, they walked over to a door located on the main level of the hospital, off the old parking lot.  Thurman tried a few keys attached to the old key ring, soon the door was opened.  Two or three of the boys walked into a deep dark hallway, Thurman followed them, shining his flashlight in helping find the way.  They crept around, stumbling, laughing, they climbed the stairs heading up to seventh floor.  They joked and clowned around; they opened the door leading them to the dark hallway up on the seventh floor.  They ran over to a room located on the north side of the seventh floor, big windows faced out toward the north, they could see the lights of the Montgomery Ward building, could see the cars below on N.W. Westover as they passed below.  Thurman tried to open a window that led to a small metal porch connected to an old beaten up fire escape, they pried the window open, there was just enough room for one person on the porch, they thought it’d be cool to scramble down the scaffolding, circle down the fire escape and explore each floor, they’d be able to get to the ground floor in no time.  It was getting late; it was dark that summer night.

Thurman decided he’d go down the fire escape first, after all he knew the old hospital the best out of any of the kids; he’d scramble down and wave to his other friends when he had reached the ground floor.  He stood out on the small perch, waved to his friends, he started to climb down to the next floor, the fire escape was attached to a huge wall of bricks, you could see certain areas that were loose with the bricks, some of the bolts had come out from the mortar, suddenly, without warning the metal steps attached to the fire escape popped loose, the scaffolding bent and shifted, rattled and detached from the wall, Thurman grabbed on to a metal hand rail, suddenly other areas of the scaffolding started to pop loose, it shifted violently, twisting and turning, it started to detach itself off the brick wall, you could hear the metal snap and pop off the wall, it started to slowly fall down the side of the old hospital, Thurman fell, twisting and turning, the force threw him all kinds of directions, it took him down to the cement parking lot below, he was trapped and was wound up in the heap of twisted metal, it feel with a thud, he was eaten up in the metal scrap, thrown violently and landed on his head, he died instantly.

His friends were up on the seventh floor, they watched in horror as Thurman fell almost seven floors in a matter of seconds, they leaned out the window, screamed for Thurman; he lay motionless on the cold concrete parking lot.  His friends yelled and started to panic, Steve and Bill ran down the stairs, Pat stayed on the seventh floor, he was afraid to leave.  They cried, running in a panic, Thurman lied in the twisted metal, mangled from the fall, the boys rushed down to his side.

“He’s dead!  Oh my god!”

They panicked and cried, they became confused and angry.

“What are we going to do, what are we going to do!  Thurman, oh my god!”

They looked around, nobody had heard the crash, and nobody had seen the fall.  They looked up at their buddy on the seventh floor; they waved to Pat, motioning for him to come down.

“Get down here, let’s get out of here!”

Soon they were running back to Thurman’s house.  They had to tell his folks.  They ran and stumbled through their tears.  They rang the doorbell of Thurman’s families home, they were sobbing.  Thurman’s mom answered the door; she could tell something was wrong.  She looked at the boys.

“Where’s Thurman!  Where’s my son, where’s my Thurman!” she asked.

They proceeded to tell her what happened, she screamed, started crying and ran upstairs, yelling for her husband.  The boys waited and told Mr. Jones of the news.  He rushed to the phone in calling for an ambulance.

Police were called in, they drove up to the hospital and found Thurman, his body was twisted in the metal, an ambulance rushed him off to the hospital, and he was pronounced dead upon arrival.  He died at fourteen; it would have been early fall of 1971.  There was a memorial at school, my mother sent in a contribution to the family, we mourned his passing.  Life moved forward.  All of us were saddened, it was terrible.

The Jones family took their sons passing pretty hard needless to say, the old hospital stood there for years, it stood there vacant bordered up for almost twenty years to be exact, and I don’t think they could come to grips with their loss.  Weeds and trees wound around the building, ivy crawled up the side of the brick walls, and the old rusty cyclone fence surrounded the hospital.  I walked by the hospital on my way home almost every day while I was in high school, I don’t think there wasn’t a day that passed when I didn’t think of Thurman and his family.  The family didn’t do anything with the land all those years, it sat there; the loss of their son had devastated them.  It was like an old haunted memorial.

Around 1990 construction workers drove their trucks up to the fence and started to remove the ratty old metal fence; they walked around the hospital and tore the wooden boards off the windows.  Big cranes were set up and soon they started to knock the hospital down, they demolished it in a couple of weeks, and the old towering smoke stack came falling down in a heap.  They bulldozed the entire hospital, huge dump trucks were loaded up with brick and rubble, and tractors leveled the landscape, within a month or so there was nothing left of the old hospital.

They put that old cyclone fence back up for a few more years, the long tall weeds popped up out of the ground.  The Jones let the land sit for a few more years.

Through the years I always hoped that the Jones would build a community center on the land, Northwest Portland always needed an aquatic park; it would have been a perfect location.  Name it after Thurman in memorial.  A few years passed and then one day, trucks and trailers arrived, they started building foundations, constructing frames, the workers kept building, within a few years or so condominiums were put in, the condominiums stretched out over the Jones land, parking stales were put in.

Soon modern condominiums stretched on both sides the hill on N.W. Westover.  They sold for a good deal of money; money talks, nothing was left of the old hospital.  People bought the condos, it was around 1996.

I often think of Thurman, think of the times spent, how he looked over me as a friend, he was a mentor to me, his fall was terrible, and he died so young.  I’ll always miss Thurman.

On thin ice

My grandmother was a great woman.  I loved her very much; she was the rock in my mother’s family.  She told me many stories while I sat on her lap as a child, old family stories about her family.  I stayed with her during the weekends usually when I was little, she would have a fire going, her orange cat Herkimer usually sat by my side.  She was really a wonderful woman and I was glad to have known her up until she passed away of cancer back in 1983 or so.

She’d tell me stories about growing up in Vancouver, Washington.  She told me wonderful stories about her family pioneering out west during the 1910’s and 1920’s.  She had several family members that lived throughout southwest Washington back then.  My grandmother settled in Vancouver back in the early 1910’s.

One of my favorite funny stories that she handed down to me back then had to have been the tale about her and her high school friends driving across the Columbia River in a friend of hers car back in the early 1920’s or so, back when the Columbia River would freeze over, during cold historical snow storms, famous blizzards that were truly memorable.  She sat me down one night and proceeded to tell me of a high school prank that she and some of her friends carried out, it took place one cold winter Friday night.

The story goes as follows:

It seems as though one dark and cold snowy winter Friday back in the 1920’s my grandmother and a few of her friends gathered in the school library at the old Fort Vancouver high school, they watched as nearly a foot and a half of snow covered downtown Vancouver, the snow had piled up steadily, it had been snowing for a couple of days.  Kids played out in the snow as my grandmother and her friends planned their little prank that day.  They gathered in the library at noon time, four or five of her friends chatted away; the snow kept falling down as they looked outside from the frosty library windows.

Going back during the 1920’s the weather in the Portland/Vancouver area was much more severe and harsher than it is now, it wasn’t unusual for it to snow a foot or two each and every winter, thick ice would cover the Columbia River, it would freeze over, at times it might freeze up as much as a foot thick in some of the areas in the river, freezing the river, a sheet of thick ice going all the way over to the Portland side of the river.

Several people that lived on both sides of the river would gather along the banks of the Columbia and drive their cars across the frigid Columbia River when it would freeze up, usually at night, articles had been written in both the Columbia Newspaper and the Oregonian Newspaper about these famous crossings, photographs were included in the articles, photographs showing teenagers, friends and families piled up in their cars driving across the river on the ice.  It was a ritual in a way.

My grandmother had met her friends that cold winter day and they made plans to drive their family car across the Columbia River that Friday night.  They had seen other kids drive across the river a few nights earlier, some of her friends had crossed the river before.

She met with her friends in the library; they giggled and laughed as they planned their winter drive that night.  There was Echo and Helen, Edith and Pearl, they were all friends of my grandmother, and she had known them for years.  Echo’s boyfriend Billy would be able to get the family car that night; it would hold six or seven teenaged kids just fine.

“Echo, you get Billy to pick you up at 7:00 P.M, “said my grandmother.

“Helen, you and Edith and Pearl meet me at my house.  Echo we’ll meet you at my house at 7:30 P.M. Remember to bring warm jackets and hats and gloves.  I’ll bring some coffee for us to drink.  Everyone has to bring a kerosene lamp for the ride over to Portland.  Ask Jimmy to bring some firewood so we can make a bon fire along the river.”

They gathered around the library table and laughed, everything was set for the ride that cold winter night.  They told a few other people and within a few minutes the whole school knew about their plans.

Soon 3:00 P.M. rolled around, school was over for the day, my grandmother walked home in the snow with Edith and Echo, and they were great friends.  It snowed and snowed through the day, a real blizzard had formed throughout the afternoon.  Temperatures were forecasted to get down below freezing that night; it would be a perfect night to drive across the river.  It was close to 22 degrees that night.

My grandmother rushed through her dinner that night; soon there was a knock on the door, Helen, Edith, and Pearl were standing in the doorway, and they waved to my grandmother as she rushed to answer the door.  They were covered with snow and came running into the living room.

“Jerry!  Let’s get going, its perfect out!  The river will be frozen!”

They hurried about, grabbed a few blankets and a few kerosene lamps, they grabbed some cookies.  Her friends followed her as she headed out to the backyard and rummaged around for some wood from an old wood pile stacked under an old oak tree in the back yard.  She gathered a few pieces of wood and rushed inside, it was bitterly cold out.

There was a knock on the door; it was Echo and her boyfriend Billy.

“Hello everybody, are you ready to go?” asked Echo.

They all rushed out to Jimmy’s car, it was a 1924 Ford, it had a rag top, was black, it was a trusty car and it ran like a charm.  The car was parked in the driveway, the motor was running as my grandmother, and her friends jammed into the car.

They covered themselves with blankets; the firewood was thrown in the trunk along with the kerosene lamps.  They were dressed warm and toasty; they started to sing songs as they headed out through the snow.

They drove down Main Street, down to the banks of the Columbia River.  When they got there a few kids in other cars had parked along the banks, there were three or four groups of kids, a car was coming over from the Portland side, and the river was completely frozen.  People were yelling and waving their hands.

They got out of the car and unloaded the firewood and lamps, they lit the lamps and placed them along the bank, and they made a big bon fire and huddled alongside the warm fire.  Kids were yelling and screaming with excitement.  They waved as one of the cars from Portland pulled onto the Washington side of the river.  Somebody took a photograph of the car when they got to the other side of the river.

My grandmother started to laugh and smile, she knew some of the kids in the car that had just came across the river.  They looked cold and a bit thankful in making it across the river.

Within a few minutes everybody piled into Billy’s families car.  They heaved the blankets over themselves and bundled up as warm as they could.  They closed the side doors to the car, waved at friends that had gathered to watch them cross the river.  The bon fire roared, silhouettes of people who had gathered stood out against the fire.

My grandmother and her friends waved as the car rolled off the banks of the river, the weight from the car caused ice to crack at first, the tires spun and slid a bit.  Billy grabbed the steering wheel tightly as the car started out, everyone in the car screamed; they laughed and waved as the car started to pull out.  They tied one of the lamps to the side of the car in making sure they could be seen from the other side of the river.  The night was pitch black, snow flurries made it extremely cold on the river that night, the wind seemed to bounce off the ice as they slowly travelled across the river.

Within a few minutes they were in the middle of the Columbia, another car from the Oregon side of the river was crossing, they waved as the car went buy.  People yelled and waved.

“Jimmy, you’re doing a great job driving!” yelled my grandmother from the back seat.  The other kids cheered, the snow kept falling.

Soon they had reached the Oregon side of the river, a couple of bon fires were burning bright, and kids ran over to the car.

“We did it, we did it!” yelled my grandmother.  They parked the car in a safe solid spot along the river.  They gathered around the bon fire and slapped each other on the back.  They drank the coffee.  Now they would drive back to the Washington side.  Another car came across from Washington.  It was freezing, the wind came down from the east, down through the gorge.  They wrapped scarves around their faces so they wouldn’t get frostbit; they piled back in the car.

“We’re going next,” yelled Billy, everybody screamed and waved as they started out onto the Columbia.  The wind came flying down the river; they sang songs as they traveled across the icy river.  It was pitch black out, another car came across from the Washington side, people yelled and waved as the cars paths crossed.  Somebody saying they were from the Oregonian, most likely a writer took notes and tried to get everybody’s name, the next day they ran a story about the cars crossing the Columbia.

Soon they could make out the side of the river, they could see the city of Vancouver, could see glimmering lights of the city, someone took their photograph, they could see the bon fire and a few cars that have gathered.  They approached the Washington side and pulled up on dry land, people cheered.  They wore their raccoon coats, wore their warm fuzzy hats, and stood by the bon fire.

“We did it, we made it across!” screamed Billy, his trusty family car rattled in the night.  My grandmother and her friends laughed at what they had done.  They watched a few other cars cross the river.  They went home that night, went back to their warm toasty beds, and slept through the snow that night.

The next morning my grandmother’s friends called her, they discussed the events from the night before.  It had been a rousing success.  They went to school the following Monday and other students came up and congratulated them on their daring escapade.  Someone brought a copy of the Columbian Newspaper, there was a photograph of Billy’s car, and you could see my grandmother and her friends in the photograph.  People laughed and gathered around the paper.  My grandmother cut out the photograph and put it in a book of memories.  I have the photograph; keep it in the hall closet.  I always loved her telling me this great story; she really was a wonderful woman.

As a young child my parents divorced when I was around five years old, it was hard on everybody; my parents loved me very much.  It was tough not having both of my parents in my life as a child.  My mother was given custody by the courts in raising me, the family home was sold, and my mother found a cute apartment located close to Providence hospital, where I was enrolled and attended the Montessori school that was offered to young kids that grew up in Portland at the time.

The nuns watched after me while I was attending the school.  I’ll never forget the day that John Kennedy was shot; I was four at the time, the nuns wept and gathered all the children around the big television set located in the playroom in watching the historic proceedings that followed that tragic day.

My mother reminds me of my closest friend that I had at that time, my best friend by the name of Tim, Tim was an imaginary, invisible friend that was part of my life up until I was five years old or so.  Most young kids have imaginary friends in growing up, in this case in being an only child I started to mention Tim when I was three or so.

Tim magically appeared one morning while my mother was feeding me in at the breakfast table, I was fidgeting while I was picking at my food when suddenly I looked at her, pointed my finger at the chair next to me, smiled, looked back at her, tilted my head and said, “Tim!”

My mother looked at the empty chair and then looked at me.  I blinked my eyes at her and emphatically squealed, “Tim!”

My mother laughed at me and I started to smile, giggle, and wiggle with delight.  We had an uninvited guest at the kitchen table that day that would eventually be part of our family for almost two years.

In the months to follow me usually went to bed at night mentioning Tim, if I took a bath or went to the store Tim was usually by my side.  He was my best friend, my security blanket.  My mother would find me in my room at night talking with my best buddy, usually having a serious conversation that would last into the wee hours of the night.

I can vaguely remember Tim; he was with me by my side through thick and thin, a trusted friend that would be there whenever I needed him.  Come rain, snow, sleet or darkness of night Tim was always there, like Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson, like Jerry Lewis to Dean Martin, like Conan O’Brian to Andy Richter, Tim was my trusted side kick.

My aunt Toni Jo usually would baby sit me at times and uncontrollably laugh when I started to have my serious discussions with my invisible imaginary friend.  My aunt looked at me and giggled.

“Grant who are you talking too?”

I’d looked at her like she was nutty; naturally I was taking with Tim!

There were several instances that my family can remember in me talking with my invisible friend Tim.  I was three at the time, in my aunt’s back yard, sitting on her big green lawn.  She’d peek around the corner of the house and laugh, her friends would visit and spy on me as I was in a deep discussion.  I didn’t know any better at the time, how was I to know that it was a bit odd in having an invisible friend, as far as I was concerned Tim was as real as could be, I could see him as plain as the nose on your face.

The family doctor assured my mother that it was normal for children at that age to have imaginary friends.  Some children that come from a divorced situation try to replace loved ones that are no longer in their lives.  Tim was my segregate brother, my Tonto to the Lone Ranger, my trusted right hand man.  Was Tim my long lost brother, was he my guardian angel?

I’ve always loved the movie Harvey, the story about Edward P. Dowd and his adventurers with his best friend by the name of Harvey, the imaginary rabbit, or what is better known as a Pokka.  In the movie Harvey follows Jimmy Stewart throughout the entire movie, according to Edward P Dowd; he could see Harvey as clear as a bell.

When my mother drove me to preschool I was usually talking with Tim, having a serious discussion with my bosom buddy.  I’d laugh, or joke, babble and chirp away while sitting in the back of my mother’s Volkswagen.  She’d sneak a chuckle and laugh while keeping an eye on me in her rear view mirror.

At times I’d point my finger at the scenery passing by, making sure Tim was aware of the sights and sounds of the local neighborhood.  At night, wrapped up in warm wool blankets, with my trusty night light shining next to my bed my mother would peek around my bedroom door as I discussed the latest current events with Tim.

I’m sure some of my mother’s friends thought I was a bit nutty; some people have a hard time understanding things that they can’t see.  Tim followed me everywhere, while I was at home, preschool, while my mother was paying her bills.

According to my mother, one day while walking with her at one of the local markets in the neighborhood, I was conversing with Tim while we passed by the cereal boxes, fresh fruits and vegetables.

One lady noticing that I was deep in an imaginary conversation stopped and asked my mother who I was talking too?

“Oh my son is talking with his friend Tim,” replied my mother.

The lady looked at her, looked at me, looked at my mother once again and smiled

“My son had an imaginary friend as well, his name was Tommy,” said the lady.  She smiled at my mother and walked down the aisle.

While coloring, or watching television I was usually involved with Tim.  Tim watched over me, while I was sick, he was there 24/7 making sure I was O.K.  When I was three I had a terrible blood disease, I almost died from it.  According to my mother Tim saw me through the painful shots and blood transfusions; he was there by my side for almost a year while I battled through the sickness.  He was great, he was there when I was lonely and if I was busy he would disappear until I needed him.

One day while I was visiting my grandmother I was in her living room playing with the knick knacks arranged on her end tables.  She entered the living room and found some of her prized trinkets on the floor.  Being only three or four years old at the time I sat comfortably on her comfy couch looking innocent as could be.

“Grant, who put those things on the floor?”  I looked at my loving grandmother, smiled and laughed.

“Tim!”

“Oh, Tim put those things on the floor?”

“Yep,” I nodded.

She picked up her prized possessions and put them back on the end tables.  Her cat Herkimer looked at me and ran down the hall.  She laughed and went back in the kitchen cooking up one of her magical meals.

I can’t really describe Tim, I can’t tell you what color of hair he had, can’t tell you how tall he was or what color his eyes were.  I can’t tell you why he showed up in my life.  All I know was that he was by my side no matter what the situation.

When I was around five my mother noticed that Tim wasn’t visiting me as much as he had been.  We moved to Northwest Portland by then, I had new friends that came into my life.  Once in a while he’d appear and then the next day he’d be gone.  A few weeks went by and then Tim was gone, he vanished.  Eventually we didn’t hear from him anymore.  Maybe he found another child that was sick or lonely or that needed love.

Tim saw me through my parents’ divorce, saw me through a near life threatening disease, was there when I was lonely, he helped me through my fear of the dark, and making sure I was well taken care of when nobody was there.

My mother looks back with kind fondness with my great trusted friend Tim, he was a good friend to me, and she knew I was in good hands under his watchful eye.  My mother knew I was a creative child when I was young, knew I loved to paint,

sing and draw, I loved to use my imagination and Tim was a big part of my life.

I remember my mother telling me stories of Tim through the years, how she could remember the nights that I would have with my conversations with Tim.

Looking back I wish I had more friends like Tim, I’ll always remember him, and he was my loyal trusted friend.

Matt Dillon

I have a photography background, been involved with photography for years; I took my first class with photography when I was in high school, a black and white photography class to be exact, I took the class my junior year, learned about “F” stops and Aperture settings, learned about I.S.O. and White balance, I learned how to develop film and make prints.  I learned about burning and dodging, worked with enlargers, learned about tripods, it was fun.  I loved looking at the work of Ansell Adams, Imogene Cunningham, Edward Curtis, Margaret Burke White, and Robert Frank in just naming a few famous photographers.  I loved Vanity Fair and Life magazine, loved the portrait shots.  I took photography classes while I attended college at the University of Oregon.  I took advanced classes working with 35mm cameras.  I’ve been taking photographs most of my life.  I prefer landscape photographs.

As a kid my father was always buying me cameras, I think he was trying to tell me something at a young age.  I had an old Kodak Brownie and a Polaroid Swinger, they were great cameras.  After graduating from the University of Oregon I got a job working for the Northwest Examiner newspaper which is located in N.W. Portland.  It’s an awarding wining bi-weekly newspaper.  I was hired in taking photographs of local events; I worked with the Examiner for almost eight years.  I covered several hot topics in the neighborhood at that time.  I photographed several writers, politicians, community gatherings, rummages, neighborhood events, court hearings, legislation that was taking place in the neighborhood.  I covered people getting elected, school events, new shops opening in the neighborhood, sporting events, you name it I photographed it.  I shot a lot of film.

I covered many memorable news events while at the N.W. Examiner, the demolition of old homes in N.W. Portland was a very memorable news event, or should I say a series of news events that I covered with my camera.  We saved two homes from the wrecking ball (when I say “WE” I should clarify that my assignments came from the editor of the paper, Mr. Allen Clausen.); we saved homes from the wrecking ball back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  One of the homes we saved was a famous old captains house built in the 1880s, the other home we saved was a really nice old N.W. home located on the corner of N.W. 23rd and Northrup.  We covered the demolition with certain sections of the neighborhood, the demolition was ordered by a developer by the name of Phil Morford.  Phil bought several homes in the neighborhood during this time, bought them from a well to do doctor, this doctor owned several homes down off of N.W. Pettygrove, N.W. Overton, N.W. 24th, N.W. Thurmun and N.W. Upshur.  He destroyed about twenty or thirty homes or so, scraped them in a matter of minutes; it sure caused a commotion in the neighborhood.

Mr. Morford caused a lot of ruckus, he kicked renters out of the homes he owned, several people had been renting there for years, some of these people got mad, the neighborhood had changed, and it was 1992 or so.

I was down at a protest one day, I was sent in to shoot the protests over Mr. Morford tearing down some of the older homes in the neighborhood, down off of N.W. Pettygrove.  I got to the protest, there were several people with signs, police stopped in with their lights flashing, arguments broke out, people got mad, a small riot broke out, somebody threw a rock, someone took a swing at a cop, a police officer came up to me and got tough when I started to take photographs, he yelled at me, wanted me to get out of the way, I thought my camera would be broken, people got arrested.  It was a pretty ugly scene.

The neighborhood was upset at what had been done to the homes, the protests continued; old folks with limited incomes were forced to leave their homes.  A few months after the arrests some unknown person took a torch to one of the newly constructed wood framed condos.  The fire caused damage to three of the units; old Victorians use to sit on the ground that now had rows and rows of condos.  Fire trucks were called in to put out the fire, the fire was on local news.  People got mad, real mad, more protests followed.

Laws were passed; several people tried to put new rules and regulations in place in not allowing historical homes to be torn down in N.W. Portland.  We got landmark legislation in place in not allowing people to tear down these great old homes, are whole idea was to bring attention to what was being done, how these beautiful homes were being torn down.  This assignment went on for almost three years.

There was the time I did the photo shoot at the Northwest Animal hospital.  Two of the veterinarians at the hospital were standing out front when I got there with my trusty camera.  There was a miniature collie and a big tabby cat being held by each vet.  I took a portrait of the two doctors holding the collie and the tabby, it was a nice shoot overall and was included in an informative article about new changes that were being done at the hospital, a benefit to the community.

The funniest photo shoot I ever was involved with had to have been the shoot with the movie “Drugstore Cowboy,” filmed in N.W. Portland.  I talked to my editor in getting the O.K. in shooting the movie set; I was instructed to get a pass with clearance.  The film was filmed by Gus Van Sant; the neighborhood had movie sets in certain sections of the neighborhood associated with the movie.  I called the city of Portland and got the pass, the pass would let me get on the film set and photograph the actors and actresses.  I went down town and got the pass, pinned it to my jacket and got all my photograph equipment ready for the shoot.

I showed up on the set, it was early in the morning; there were a few trailers, lights, and wires draped out along the street.  I was walking down the sidewalk towards the set.  Stepping over the wires and cables attached to cameras and lights.  All of a sudden here pops out Matt Dillon, walking out of one of the trailers.  He looked at me and gave me a funny look, looked at my camera.  He was about 5’8” or so, he started to get tough with me, flexing his muscles.  He made a few tough guy faces at me; it reminded me of a Popeye cartoon.

“What are you doin’ here?” replied Matt.

I was taken a back, I couldn’t believe it in a way, and there was Matt Dillon, standing right in front of me.  He was dressed in a dark black sir jacket and was wearing worn black jeans, smoking a cigarette; he tried to get tough with me, looked at my camera and stuck out his chin at me, he had a nice square chin, he gave me his best Marlon Brando impersonation and wiggled his eye brows at me.

I looked at him and smiled.  I really couldn’t believe I was standing next to Matt Dillon, I had seen his movies in the past, liked him in Rumble Fish, and a few other films with his earlier work when he was just a kid.  He always played a tough kid that smoked and had a lousy attitude, usually causing trouble in his early movies.  I loved Drugstore Cowboy and Something about Mary and Crash, their all great movies.

Well there he was, he moved towards me, I thought he was going to grab my camera, he looked like a burglar.  I was concerned for the safety of my camera.

“What are ya’ doin’ with that camera?” he barked.  He was kind of whipping his nose as I stood in front of him.  His hands were on his hips, his head was tilt to the side.

I backed away; he looked like he was going to tackle me or maybe wrestle me to the ground.  I looked at him, gave him a glare, gave him my best Bruce Lee.

“I’m here on a photo assignment, I have a press pass right here,” I pointed to the shiny piece of paper hanging from my jacket.

“Yeah, well tough, I don’t want ya’ to take my photograph, I didn’t give you the right to take my photograph, ya’ can’t take my photograph, I have my rights, who gave you the O.K in taking my photograph?”  He babbled along and I kept looking at him, I thought maybe his underwear was on to tight.

He started to move closer to me; I kept backing off, gradually taking tiny steps in the other direction.  He started to make more goofy faces at me.  I shook my head, and asked myself how do I get in these situations?  Was this part of his method acting classes?

I had my press pass, I was fine I thought to myself, he continued to give me dirty looks, I kept taking his photograph.  I backed off and walked down the sidewalk past big movie set lights that had been set up in shooting the movie.

He kept looking at me as I walked away, he went into one of the trailers, and shut the door, I made my way back to where his trailer was, I sat down on a stair attached to one of the apartments on the set, checked my camera settings.  I sat across from his trailer for about ten minutes and then eventually he came walking out, he glared at me as I sat there with my camera.  He started to walk up to me, hunched over, acting like a character from one of his movies I thought.

“If you do anything to my camera I’ll punch you!  I don’t want any of that Hollywood Pavarotti stuff!”  I barked at him.

He started to laugh at me, he laughed like a mad scientist, and I started to take his photograph.

I kept walking back down the street, he kept coming towards me, and I kept looking over my shoulders as he followed me.

I turned around and kept taking his photograph, he started to get closer to me.  I kept going down the street.  He yelled something at me:

“Reper’ stipper’ madder jabber tribley melt!”  I was standing twenty yards from him, I couldn’t hear what he was yelling, he was well dressed, as far as I knew he could have been drunk, his hair looked good, he was yelling at me and I couldn’t hear a word he was saying.  It sounded like someone that had marbles in his mouth.

I smiled, flipped him off, and then walked down the street.

I got home and had Pro Photo develop the film, got the proofs back, I had some really funny shots of Matt Dillon.  I wish he would have been cool, let me really take his photograph and be able to capture a nice portrait of him.  I got his mad Popeye shots, got shots of him smiling, got shots of him laughing, looking grumpy, and it was a good shoot I thought to myself.

Looking back I wish he wasn’t such a curmudgeon, he could have been easier to work with, I thought to myself, I have a guest pass, I’m legit, no reason in being a brat, or a wanker.  I think I could have gotten a real nice shot of him, a photograph that people would have enjoyed.

I took the photographs to my editor, he looked at them, and laughed as I told him the story about the shoot, we chuckled about it.  We picked out a photograph that looked good, lots of contrast, portrait shot of him standing on the sidewalk looking tough.  We put the photograph on the back cover of the newspaper.

I liked the movie he shot here in Portland, after everything was said and done I thought Matt Dillon did a great job in the movie, I just wish we could have gotten along a bit better.

The day my mother had high tea with Eric Clapton

My mother loved music, her name was Shirley Ann Keltner  Her mother (my grandmother) played the piano most of her life, my grandmother was the musical director of her church and she also played in an all-girl jazz band back in the 1920’s.  I have fond memories of my grandmother playing her piano whenever I visited her house through the years.

My mother loved her music, live theater, and film.  Throughout her life my mother saw many wonderful, talented musicians and entertainers perform, she watched a lot of great films.  She saw the Benny Goodman Band play at the old Jantzen Beach ballroom.  She saw Lionel Hampton, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, Mel Torne, Tony Bennet, Dave Brubeck, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Miles Davis and many other famous musicians perform live.

Her record collection included Frank Sinatra, Oscar, and Hammerstein, Pavarotti, Andy Williams, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Leonard Bernstein, Harry Belafonte, so many wonderful records, and memories.  She enjoyed listening to classical music as well, she had Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and other artists in her collection.

My mother loved live theater.  She saw live theater in both London and New York.  She saw Dame Maggie Smith perform in London, England; she saw the original Broadway production of Mary Martin in Peter Pan in the early 1950’s.  She went to theater whenever she could.

My mother loved film as well and looking back, she was like an encyclopedia with her knowledge of music, theater, and film.  She was the first one to watch Alfred Hitchcock films with me, I first watched The Wizard of OZ with her and the first one to tell me about Film Noir.  I was so lucky in having her as my mother.

My mother had a wonderful collection of jazz, and classical records, it included several wonderful songs.  She use to play her records for me when I was a kid, I always enjoyed listening to her record collections, and I have fond memories in remembering the music filling our home.  I remember staying up several rainy nights listening to her play her favorite songs.

I have memories of her playing the great Brazilian musician Antonio Carlos Jobim.  She played Django Reinhardt and Stephen Grapelli for me.  She played music scores from famous films and animated films as well, she actually bought me a record with the musical scores from all of the animated Disney films.  I remember listening to the musical score from Pinocchio, Johnny Appleseed, and Dumbo.  She played Arron Copeland from time to time or maybe might play something by Gershwin.  She loved Andy Williams and Bobby Darin.  She listened to Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell along with Willie Nelson.  She would sit with me and watch me do my homework or let me paint and draw while the music was playing, it was really great to have my mother as my music teacher when I was growing up.

When she realized that I liked her music she would leave records out so I would listen to them.  I guess it was her way with enlightening me about all the wonderful music that was being played.  She was always going to concerts back when I was a kid.  I remember the first time she took me to see my first concert.  She took me to see Dave Brubeck when I was eight years old at Portland’s Civic Theater.  My mother was always listening to good music.

Through the years she would buy me records or maybe give me tickets to go see a musician.  I remember going to see Tom Jones when I was 12 at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon.  It was a great show.  Tom Jones had a live show on television back then and it was quite popular.

My mother did not listen to too much rock and roll when I was a kid.  She was born in the 1930’s, I think it was a generational thing with her and rock and roll.  She listened to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, she liked some other bands that were popular through the years, but in the long run she was usually listening to her jazz and classical albums.

I remember that she liked to watch the Oregon Public Broadcasting station in Portland, Oregon.  She’d always watch the Boston Pops or she might watch a good classical musical show that might be on or maybe listen to a set featuring Dizzy Gillespie.  My mother’s house was always full of music.  I was lucky.

Through the years, when I was in high school and in college I started to listen to Rock and Roll.  I liked most Rock and Roll back then, I liked The Doors and Credence Clearwater Revival, The Grateful Dead or maybe Eric Clapton or Jimmy Hendrix.  She listened to some of it, I will give her credit for that.

Well as the years went by, my mother would listen to her music.  My mother had worked in the airline business most of her life, she had traveled near and wide.  She had seen Europe and the Orient several times.  She enjoyed visiting the finer hotels in the cities she stayed at.  She often would stay at some of these fine establishments; dine at them and then recommend the hotels to her clients.  She stayed at some wonderful places with her travels.

She felt that Portland, Oregon needed to build more hotels in the future in order to have proper accommodations for people visiting the City of Roses, especially when the city built the Convention Center.  She dined at some of the finer hotels in Portland, Oregon while she lived and worked here.  She ate at Trader Vic’s at the Benson Hotel, went to the Heathman Hotel, and had high tea from time to time, she might have a meeting with the travel industry business at the Hilton Hotel located in downtown Portland.  She was always traveling and seeing new things that might help her in giving the very best service with her clientele.

I will never forget the day my mother had high tea with Erick Clapton.  This is a true story, no fiction with this tale.  She was probably 75 at the time when she met Mr. Clapton, back in the spring of 2005 or so if I remember right, a rainy cold Saturday afternoon in March.

She had met with a business client in the morning that day, promptly dropped off some airline tickets, then decided to have high tea at The Heathman Hotel that afternoon.  The Heathman Hotel is one of the finer hotels in Portland, Oregon, it’s adorned in the inside with fine wood and gold leaf decoration.  It has a separate dining room for high tea, they have live music from time to time, and the Arlene Snitzer Music Hall is located right across the street from the Heathman.  The Arlene Snitzer Music Hall has performances and concerts throughout the year, I’ve seen Jerry Seinfeld perform there and have seen several musical performers play there through the years.  Mom would have high tea from time to time at the Heathman, it was the way she would treat herself after a long week with work.

Well, mom went to have her tea in the afternoon that rainy Saturday afternoon.  She found a parking spot near the Park Blocks and walked in the rain a few blocks in order to get to The Heathman, it was dark out, there were big rain clouds floating about.  She walked through the entrance to the hotel and looked for a place that she could sit down and have her high tea.  A fire roared in the fireplace in one of the dining rooms to the hotel.  There were not many people sitting in the lounge or restaurant that day, it was in the mid afternoon.  My mother found a comfortable chair, took her wet coat off, and sat down at an empty table.  Soon a waiter took her order and came back with her tea pot and she poured herself a hot cup of tea.  She relaxed a bit and looked at the fire, she looked around the room.

She sipped on her tea and kept looking at a fellow that she thought she had seen before, maybe a famous musician or maybe some sort of celebrity.  He wore glasses, had a beard and mid length hair, a nice looking man.  She tried to remember, she smiled at the gentleman and he nodded to her and he smiled back.  He wore a pleasant smile, a smile that she remembered seeing somewhere before.

My mother looked at the gentlemen and politely asked, “My name is Shirley Keltner.  I know I’ve seen you somewhere before, would you pardon me in asking your name?”  He looked over at my mother and smiled, he started to chuckle.  “Why yes ma’am my name is Eric Clapton.”  My mother laughed and smiled, she giggled, she blushed.  He was performing that night at The Arlene Snitzer Concert Hall.  She smiled and looked at Eric, “Oh Mr. Clapton it’s a pleasure meeting you, I’ve heard your music and you are a wonderful musician.”  He smiled and nodded at my mother.  “Thank you, would you care to sit with me, have high tea and chat?”  My mother laughed and smiled, “Why I’d be delighted.”  My mother smiled, she always had a great smile.

She got up from her seat and walked over and pulled up a chair and had high tea with Erick Clapton that afternoon.  That was my mother, she had met famous people before.  She was a very kind woman.  Eric Clapton and my mother talked for about an hour, chatting about music, about England, they chatted a bit about Portland.  My mother had heard Derick and the Dominos, had heard Eric sing on television.  She always liked his music.  Funny to think my mother had high tea with Erick Clapton that day.  They talked about his upcoming concert, my mother told him about my grandmother playing the piano, about the jazz band she played in back in the early 1920’s.  They talked about soccer, about artwork, the conversation drifted back and worth, they got together wonderfully that day.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your son,” said my mother.  He looked across the room and smiled.  About ten years earlier Mr. Clapton had lost his young son.  He wrote the song “Tears in heaven.”  My mother loved the son and actually had the album.  They continued to have their tea and talk.

They got along wonderfully that day.  Soon it was time to excuse themselves.  My mother held out her hand and shook Eric Clapton’s had.  “It was a pleasure sir.”  He smiled and shook her hand.  “All the best Shirley.  It was a pleasure.”  My mother paid her bill and left a tip, she put her rain coat on and left.  She drove home.  She called me on the phone later that day.

“Guess who I had high tea with today at the Heathmen Hotel?”  I thought to myself a minute, “Ah you had high tea with John Wayne!” she laughed, “No, guess again.”  I thought a bit, “You had high tea with Margaret Thatcher!” she giggled and laughed.  “Come on mom who did you have high tea with?”  She laughed and yelled,” I had high tea with Eric Clapton!”  I paused and thought to myself and then I laughed, “Ah, What?”  She laughed and went on to tell me all about her historic meeting that afternoon.

“Grant, oh he was so kind to me, we talked about music, we talked about Portland, oh my it was wonderful, he’s such a kind person.”  I thought to myself, “Mom I can’t believe you had high tea with Eric Clapton at the Heathmen Hotel!”  She laughed and continued in telling me about her day.  She was so happy, she was like a child that day.  I’ll never forget how happy she was.

“He’s playing at The Arlene Snitzer Concert Hall tonight.”  I grabbed the Oregonian newspaper that was sitting on the kitchen table.  I thumbed to the Arts and Entertainment section and sure enough Eric Clapton was playing that night.  Wow, I thought how neat that must have been for my mother in meeting this great musician, how kind of him to go out of his way and be so friendly to my mother.  A world famous musician that night went out of his way in asking my mother to sit with him and join him for high tea.

The next day I met with her and she went on and on and on in telling me of her chance meeting.  She went into detail two or three times in telling me the story, she went into detail in telling me how he looked and what he was wearing.  My mother was impressed with him after that and went out and bought several of his albums.  She became a big fan of Eric Clapton the rest of her life, she kept a CD of his greatest hits in her car so she could play it from time to time, and she enjoyed his work.

I went and told my friends about my mother meeting Eric Clapton, they were surprised, and some kind of them thought I might be pulling their leg.

My mother had seen and met several great musicians and entertainers throughout her life.  I always wanted to thank Eric Clapton in being so kind to my mother that day.  My mother was really thoughtful, understanding and kind to people throughout her life, I think that my mother and Eric Clapton might have had a fine time that day, that they shared some thoughts with life, talked about music and art.  Crazy about my mother, she had a way in reaching out to people, touching them in a way that I can’t really explain.  I’ll never forget the day my mother met Eric Clapton.

Anthony

My grandfather, given the name of Anthony Joseph Furio, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 22, 1904.  His parents migrated over to this country, sailed over from southern Italy around 1898 from what I’ve been told.  They spoke Italian and English; he was raised in Philadelphia, grew up in what is known as the “Little Italy” section of the city, it was a tough neighborhood; kids went without food or clothing, and the streets were jammed with wagons, horses, and people selling their produce.

My great grandparents had a little two-bedroom home back then, a bit worn down, weathered; the roof needed patching; it was cold and drafty; it was located in an older section of the city of “Brotherly Love”; his parents were hard-working folks, rarely rested.  They were Catholic and proud of it; they were cruel at times with their children, always yelling and nagging at my grandfather and his two sisters when he was a small boy, keeping a watchful eye on their children; my grandfather was twelve years old when he ran away from home, running away from the abuse he suffered while he was growing up as a child.

My grandfather was a good-looking boy; he had dark hair, brown eyes, and a larger nose, he looked like Al Pacino in a way.  He was proud in being an Italian, faced prejudice, and was neglected.  He was smaller, wiry, an inquisitive child that wasn’t afraid to work hard peddling fruit or working for his parents doing assorted odd jobs and chores; his  parents made his life a living hell when he was a growing up.

He was beaten as a child, punishment started when he was a small boy, he received terrible beatings; he came from a family that was extremely strict with their kids, and if he did anything wrong in his parent’s eyes they’d bring out the leather belts.  He had photographs of his parents passing through Ellis Island; his folks were so thankful in being capable to come to America, being able to settle in a new country with more opportunities.  The fights with his parents started when he was four or five, if he disobeyed his parents, his father and mother would tie him up and give him his punishment; they tied him up by his wrists’ down in the dark basement of their house; he  screamed, and struggled to escape the abuse.

His parents wore dark clothes, had dark hair, and dark-brown eyes; they spoke to him in Italian, while my grandfather was tied down in the cold cement corners of the wet basement he was given his lashes; they would take his shirt off and whip him on his back, screaming at every beating that he was given, when he disobeyed his parents, they used the leather belts; his back was bruised and cut.  He cried through the beatings, yelped through the pain, often he was left in the lonely basement after receiving his punishment, left in the dark, often going without dinner, he would faint at times.  It was how his parents raised him; the neighbors knew of the abuse; they could hear it late at night; they could hear the yelling and screaming; other children in the neighborhood knew about his problems.

The beatings continued through the years, he had told himself several times that he would run away, that someday he’d flee his parents, he had thought of several ideas in how to get out of his hell, finally after suffering another harsh night with beatings when he was twelve or so, he decided he’d indeed run away from home, he had often thought of how he’d escape from the torture, he wouldn’t come back, wouldn’t even think of coming back, he hated his parents.

One dark snowy winter night, after receiving another famous lashing he noticed in the local papers that the circus was in town, had heard through friends about the big top, he had talked with them about the circus, heard about the excitement, had seen photographs of the clowns and wild tigers and lions.  He sat down that night and decided he would indeed run away and join the circus, in his mind it was the best way for him to escape the cruelty he faced at home, and he’d jump on that train that carried the circus through the countryside, out of Philadelphia, far, far away from his torture.

He had packed a small suit case, brought his rosary beads and a few photographs.  He didn’t tell anybody of his plans, it was a secret.  It was dark outside; the  streets were quiet; it  was cold when he looked out to make sure the coast was clear; it  seemed to get colder as he ran away, while his folks were fast asleep he slipped out the cellar door as quietly as he could, he ran, he  kept running, finally running out into an old alley that was located off the back yard; he  ran across the hard brick covered streets, ran through the old warehouse district of Philadelphia, running through the smoky, gray, murky train yards in trying to catch the rattler taking the circus out of town, he skipped over the tracks of rail; he had read in the paper the circus was packing up, knew he might have a chance in escaping; dogs barked as he fled through the busy train yards.

It was a huge circus, the Barnum and Bailey circus to be exact; they had just finished up the last show in the city that day; they had been traveling up and down the east coast sea board; it was grueling to unpack and set up, tear down and pack up time and again;   Philadelphia was one of the latest stops on the tour before the large show headed back to the company’s headquarters located in Memphis, Tennessee.  Big bulky men loaded up the train with supplies before it went back out on the road for its next scheduled stop.  People screamed and yelled as they packed the tents, animals, and cargo.

The circus had giraffes, tigers, lions, elephants, chimpanzees, horses, mules, dogs, trapeze artists, clowns; it had side shows and food carts.  It was famous as a circus goes, a little boy could easily get lost in the shuffle of the huge act.  He hid behind a wooden crate; he ate some scraps of food that he stuck in his pocket, he had wrapped up small pieces of cheese and an apple up in a napkin that he had snuck out of his parent’s kitchen that night.

He ran over to one of the old worn down warehouses located by one of the circus tents, over to where he could get a better view, close near tracks that led the busy trains and their cargo down south out of town, he ran and jumped on board a box car that belonged to the circus, looking over his shoulder making sure nobody saw him hoping the train, scared, he boarded the box car taking the circus back to Memphis.  He threw his belongings in the box car; hay covered the floor, there were crates and costumes, animals, people yelling and scurrying and hurrying to pack everything up.  He was left homeless.

He watched the big rusty box cars getting loaded up with all the   animals, horses; elephants and camels fought their trainers as they climbed into their cages, my grandfather crept through stacked cargo, hid behind old boxes containing costumes; he hid in a dark corner, deep down in one of the box cars, soon the cargo door was shut on him; he sat in the dark and wound up spending the night traveling west through the Pennsylvania countryside, not knowing where the next stop would be.  He was getting out of Philadelphia that was for sure; away from the cruelty he suffered most of his life.  He hadn’t told anybody that he was running away, didn’t leave a note telling his folks where he went.  He cried that night, not knowing his fate.  The box cars banged and rattled through the night.  He covered himself with his jacket in keeping warm.  The train moved along; it started blowing its whistle as it moved down the cold steel tracks, through huge dusty meadows and bristling streams, taking the well-known circus act out of Philadelphia, out of the hustle and bustle of the large city, pulling its cargo through rivers’ hills and valleys through dense dark forests, the train was heading back to its headquarters, back to its home.  Barnum and Bailey had set up their corporate offices in Tennessee, it’s where they managed their business, it would take a day or so in getting to the famous city, there were at least forty box cars carrying the circus back that night.  My grandfather didn’t know where he was going, didn’t know where he was heading that winter night.  His wounds from his beatings kept throbbing; he was cold and scared, didn’t know what the future held for him.  I don’t think he slept a wink that night.

The next day, early in the morning he woke up with a large man standing over him, towering over him, his shadow covered my grandfather’s face; he had been discovered by the head foremen working for the circus; he had been found while this mountain of a man was helping in unloading the big-box car, my grandfather was found hiding under an old wooden crate; he was afraid; the big man looked down on the small boy, chuckled; my grandfather started to weep, he told the big foreman of his troubles, cried, tired and trembling, pleading with him, he couldn’t go back to his family; he  begged the foreman of the circus to let him stay, pulling on his baggy pants.

“I’ll do anything you ask!” cried my grandfather.

He kept pleading with him, hoping he would help him to escape the hell he was going through; he hoped he would help him escape from the beatings that he was running away from.  The Forman looked down on the small boy; he had seen other boys that had run away through the years; he thought it over and decided that he would keep him; he had a place for him.  The kind man needed someone in helping with the circus chores; he decided my grandfather would help tear down the large tents, make sure the animals were taken care of and help pack and unpack up all the supplies.  My grandfather was given a chance to escape his troubles.  He’d get his meals provided for him, and he would get a place to sleep; his bed was a bed of hay located in one of the box cars.

“Don’t worry son, well watch over you,” the large man looked down over him and smiled.

The train pulled into Memphis late that next day; people unloaded the animals; supplies were ordered; food and tools were loaded on the train, within a few days the train started back out on the road; my grandfather had found a new home.  He didn’t have time to see his new home town; they were back on the road.

Within a week or so he got accustomed to his new surroundings.  There were other kids in the circus, families with children his age; the kids ran around the big top, and caused mischief.  My grandfather was given chores cleaning up after the animal stalls, shown how to feed the animals, he was given orders in how to set up the props, instructed in helping the circus foreman and his hired hands with almost anything they needed, usually loading and unloading the circus.

Soon he was given a cot to sleep on, received some clothes, and traveled around through the country with his new family.  He got to see the landscape by riding on the train, mountains, hillsides; farms and tiny towns rushed buy as the circus made its appointed rounds.  He had no family other than the circus; he hadn’t heard from his parents, hadn’t talked with them for months he figured.  He slept in horse-drawn wagons, or maybe a cot tucked up under a tent or maybe find a makeshift bed in some soft hay in a box car; he didn’t attend school, and he worked and traveled getting accustomed to his new family life, getting to know the clowns, the vendors, and the roadies that helped set up the circus.  He loved his new home and his new family.

He was proud of being Italian, listened to Italian operas on the radio.  He tried to attend mass if he could.  He had a close affiliation with the Catholic Church through most of his life.  He was nearly thirteen, and he was on his own.  He hadn’t heard from his family for almost a year by now.  He watched the performers practice tricks and moves, learned how to do flips and summer saults; he learned how to tumble.  He worked into the early morning at times; he learned how to tie knots, how to work with rope, how to set up the shows, how to set up poles that held up the huge tents; he learned all types of skills in unpacking and tearing things down, how to load supplies, within a year he had become a valued roadie with the circus.

He worked hard, following instructions that were barked his way.  He scrubbed and cleaned; he shined performer’s shoes, washed clothes.  Made sure that people knew when the train was leaving for the next town.  He got to watch the crowds during performances, got to watch the shows; he even got to dress as a clown at times.  He worked hard, made friends with all kinds of folks that worked under the big top.  He explored the new cities that the circus stopped in.  He ran with the toughs that also worked with the circus; he got a chance to see several cities and towns that booked the famous traveling show.

In the circus, there were acts with certain performers who were billed and better known as being what was called in being “Freaks,” they traveled with the circus, and they entertained the crowds.  There was a bearded lady, a two-headed woman, a thin man and a sword swallower.  They were kind to my grandfather, and in many ways were kinder to him than most of the other performers on the show.  Gypsies traveled with the show, helping set up and tear down the circus and their acts.  The gypsies became friends with my grandfather; they taught him how to watch after himself.  They taught him how to throw a knife and how to pick pockets.

He learned to love the circus, the costumes, the animals, the excitement of the crowds, the children screaming, the sound of the orchestra, all the animals amazed him; the high-wire acts and gymnasts fascinated him, the smell of the popcorn and the balloons excited him, the loud voice of the lion tamer roared through the large crowds that gathered; he wouldn’t get beaten by the people that looked after him.  He escaped the abuse in his life; he earned his employers trust.

He had very few things in life back then, didn’t have many clothes, didn’t have more than one pair of shoes; he collected books and magazines and photographs from his travels; he bought a good knife in protecting himself.  He shared with other children who had escaped to the circus as well.  Some had run away from their families; some were from poor families looking for a way to make it through the day.  He fought with other kids at times, maybe fight for a spot to sleep or fight over a small scrap of food.

He learned about makeup in watching the clowns painting their faces, heard the clowns laughing; he watched as seamstresses sewed lavish costumes for the high-wire acts.  He traveled with the circus for a few years, traveling two years or so with the big top, meeting and talking to all walks of life, traveling through Chicago, New Orleans, Milwaukie, and Columbus.  He traveled to the headquarters of the circus located in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

He cried at night, thought of his family; he knew he couldn’t go back, he’d never go back to the cruelty.  He woke up early in the morning to start his day; he ate with the other hired hands.  He rode on the elephants and camels that were included in the circus.  He worked hard and received a small salary, enough money in buying food and maybe some clothes.  The life was hard, the trains carrying the circus from town to town passed along the cities, darting through and passing small towns like Des Moines, Akron, Rockford, and Bloomington; he watched the world while riding the train.  People waved as the locomotive whistled through each town, kids chased the train, dogs barked.  The nights were cold; they plowed through snow, wind, and rain.  He became tough, learning to watch after himself, knowing not to trust certain people, to keep valuables hidden, or they would be gone in a blink of an eye.  He learned how to steal things, how to trade for things.  He watched the fields roll by as the train hauled the circus to the next scheduled event.  People came and went with the circus; some hired hands would jump the train at the following town.  He watched friends, and families move on to other jobs or opportunities in their lives.  He saw workers fight, get drunk, heard them swear and cuss; he saw knife fights, and beatings.

Huge celebrations were performed greeting the circus as it approached a new town.  Bands would gather along the train stations, normally the mayor of each town would greet the performers.  Usually the circus would take a good day or two in setting up the tents, most of the time they’d set up near a local meadow or vacant city park.  Local dignitaries welcomed them.

One of the kids whom my grandfather had befriended had a father who was the head roadie in the circus, he watched over my grandfather, spent time with my grandfather in teaching him how to write and read; the family tried to care for him the best they could, fed him from time to time, made sure he received some love the best way they knew how.

Some of the kids showed my grandfather how to drink and smoke how to gamble.  He learned how to fight and defend himself, and they showed him how to hold his own with other kids.  He saw warehouse workers and steel workers fight, saw some gruesome sights, saw animals get sick and die; it was the life of the circus.  By the time he was fifteen he had learned about life through the circus and the streets with each town he visited, it was the way he got his education, they usually would set up not staying more than a week or so and then off they’d go, into the night heading to the next city.  He lived half his life on the train and the other half camping in the cities they visited.  He saw the harder side of life.  He lifted ladders, made sure stakes and posts were set up and fastened.  Cables were stretched out and tightened.

While in Memphis, Tennessee, while he was working with the circus, after working a hard long day cleaning up after one of the animals, he decided he had enough of the circus life, had seen most of the country by then and figured it was time to move on to something else in his life.  He had talked with friends about a new job opportunity that had come his way; plans were made.  He jumped ship with the circus in Memphis around 1919 or so.  He left the circus slipping out in the night, not telling anybody.  He left as quickly as he came.  For the last two years, he had been with the circus.

A few days later, following the tip with the new job, he was urged to talk to the owners of a famous well-known local cat house located in Memphis, not more than a mile or two from the big top; he had a good friend who had told him that this particular brothel was looking for young hired hands, that he might be able to get a job working at the busy house.  He didn’t have any home in his life back then; he had known about the cathouse; he was around fifteen or so when he walked up the steps to the large old Victorian house in asking the Madame for work.  He explained to the owner of the brothel that he was a good worker, would help her with anything needed in the house.  He told her of his work experience in the circus, how he was a handyman and could do almost any repair that might be needed.  She looked at him and thought it over and finally agreed in letting him live and work in her establishment.

“You look like you can handle most chores, your job will be in making sure the girls are taken care of, you’ll clean and pick up the place, you’ll work hard here, that will be your job Toni,” ordered the Madame.

He grabbed his suitcase and some clothes and a few belongings and within a day or so he started working at the cathouse, worked there for a year or so, he helped serve the working girls, making sure they got a meal, helping them with chores, local politicians in the Memphis area kept the girls’ busy and noted dignitaries visited from time to time, rich college students were entertained by the girls.  My grandfather made sure the ladies were taken care of, protected them, keeping an eye on some of the rougher clients in making sure the girls weren’t beaten up.  Local police kept the business running and from time to time if the ladies needed help my grandfather would contact one of the obliging officers working the night beat.

He lived in a spare bedroom located up on the third floor in that big old weathered Victorian home located in the Southaven section of Memphis.  The girls had loyal clientele; it was a popular house; music was played; he was exposed to the seeder side of life in Memphis; he started to listen to the blues and jazz, traveling through dark alleys with friends who led him to music halls and bars, running through streets exploring what the town had to offer.  He’d stayed out until the early-morning hours, creeping in quietly, snatching something to eat from the kitchen.

He discovered dancing and the big musical dance halls; he watched movies of Valentino at some of the local movie theaters and soon took dancing lessons from the girls when they had time to show him the latest steps, he was taught how to dance the tango, the Argentine tango; my grandfather was soon one of the best dancers in Memphis.  He loved dancing to the music of the roaring twenties.

He learned how to work all hours while in the cathouse, he made sure clients had their glasses full, answered the phones with appointments, answered the door to let valued customers come in, sat them in the parlor, he learned how to keep the books, did washing and ironing, and made beds.  He could hear the girls doing their business through the thin walls of the busy brothel.  The owners of the house tried to teach him how to read and write while he worked in the establishment.  By the time he was sixteen, or so he had a sixth-grade education he figured.  He got to know Memphis, lived in the house for about a year or so.  He cooked for the girls, watched over them.  If a patron got out of hand, he usually would help escort them out the front door.  He learned about woman back then, watched the girls make their appointed rounds during the day and well into the early morning.  Within a year or so he had decided to leave the house, he was urged to join the U.S. Army; he visited his local recruiting office and signed up.

He joined the service when he was sixteen, he enlisted and was shown were too sign up and get to basic training, the First World War had ended, and he was soon sent on a train heading to Charleston, South Carolina.  Out of basic training, he went through a grueling schedule, learned about discipline, taking orders, learned about keeping things clean, learned about respect.  The army made my grandfather march; they marched through basic training and while he was in his platoon, he braced at attention, a matter of fact   he was involved in one of the largest marches recorded in the U.S. Army; it went on for almost 20 miles.  It’s one of the longest marches recorded to this day with marching!  He became a sergeant after a year or so.  The army gave him a salary; he had proper medical care, and he had found a home in the service.

He continued to dance, following all the shows; he liked Charleston, liked the south and its old world charm.  He traveled to the coast, tried to continue to read and teach himself basic things.  He bought books and wrote.  He liked the weather in South Carolina; there was so much history in the area.  He lived there for about a year.  The weather was nice, cool, and sweet.  He visited the sea shore when on leave.

He made it through basic training.  Around 1922 he was transferred and stationed to Vancouver, Washington, up to the great Pacific Northwest; he would serve a hitch at Fort Vancouver; the Grant house was located on the grounds of the fort; there was a port in Vancouver, it had a railroad, shipping and lumber.  It was close to Portland; he played taps, played the bugle, played at night, played during the long summers in Vancouver.  He loved Vancouver; it was a small town, nothing like Memphis or Philadelphia.

During his granted leaves given to him, he traveled through the Columbia River Gorge, went to the coast, down to Long beach or Astoria, traveled to Seattle and San Francisco.  He learned how to fish; he fished out on the Lewis River, out of the Columbia River, and he traveled to Eugene and Salem.  He liked the northwest, liked the weather and the people.  The harvest was bountiful.

He kept dancing, loved Fred Astaire; he danced at some of the best ballrooms located in Portland, Oregon during the 1920’s and 1930’s, during the depression, he danced to win prizes, knew of other dancers that he paired up with.  He danced over at the old Jantzen Beach ballroom.  They had contests in seeing which dancers could dance the longest, sometimes they danced for ten or twelve hours.

He met my grandmother while playing taps one night, she drifted over to the barracks out of Fort Vancouver and listened while he played one summer night, they dated, and soon they married and bought their first home on West Columbia, near Carter’s park, located not more than a few minutes from downtown Vancouver.

He finished his hitch in the service around 1926; he would have been around twenty two or so.  He worked odd jobs for a while, worked in warehouses, and did long shore man work for a year or so.  He got work with the W.P.A. in surveying and laying roads.  He learned how to watch for landslides and floods.  He worked hard hours back then.  He went through small towns; they’d have work camps set up, places to sleep and take a shower.

He camped in the outback while working with crews in the 1920s and early 1930s.  He traveled through Eastern Washington, through Spokane and Walla Walla, went through Boise, Idaho.  He loved the Columbia River Gorge, traveled in and visited friends in Pendleton, Hermiston, The Dallas, Hood River, Camas, and Longview; he helped establish roads and helped bring people closer to the larger towns.  He learned how to hunt and fish back then.  I have photographs of him fishing on the Columbia River.

He married my grandmother and had three daughters, Shirley, Mary, and Toni Jo, raised them with the help of my loving grandmother.  He helped provide for his family, my great grandmother Harris (My grandmother’s grandmother helped my grandfather in lending them money in buying their first home); she was a great woman and helped watch after them through the years, helped my grandmother in raising the kids.  My mother loved her great grandma Harris.

My grandfather started his janitorial business when he was around twenty-eight years old that would have been right around 1932.  He started working out of his home, soon his business grew; he  hired more employees, then got an accountant, took ads out in the Columbian newspaper, acquired more and more business; he bought a few commercial buildings and leased them out to small businesses in the Vancouver area.  He bought five or six commercial buildings in Vancouver by the mid-1930s.  He soon was well-known in   Vancouver.  He bought a small farm up north out of Hazel Dell.  He ate breakfast at the Holland restaurant; most people knew who my grandfather was back then.

By the late 1930’s my grandfather’s business became the largest janitorial service in Vancouver, Washington.  He handled the local P.U.D., various government buildings, received contracts in handling Clark College; he soon was under contract in taking care of the local phone company.  He had three or four panel trucks with “Vancouver Janitorial Service’ painted on each side of the dark-green Ford panel trucks.  He set up an office in his home and garage; his basement was full with supplies; workers would come by and collect checks.  He bought another farm located in Woodland, Washington; he owned two farms by the 1950s.  He became involved in the local rotary and did business in smaller towns outside of Vancouver.  He took out newspaper ads about his business.  He was well known, well-liked and had a reputation as a hard worker and a good provider for his family.  By 1940, he was voted by the Columbian newspapers “Businessman of the Year.”

He had some great workers who stayed loyal with my grandfather through the years; some stayed over forty years with his company.  Leslie was my grandfather’s right-hand man, was hired as his foreman.  I loved Leslie, he and his family lived down of Columbia Boulevard.  He worked late at night, often stopping in the early morning to have a cup of coffee with my grandfather before he started his day.  If my grandfather needed help, he was his go-to guy.  Leslie helped order and buy supplies, loaded up trucks, made sure other hired hands got proper training and knew addresses with work.

My grandfather had his three girls, truly wanted a boy in the family, and never got his wish; it was something that bothered him through the years; he wanted an heir, wanted a boy to pass on his name.  He was strict with his daughters, demanded the best from them, and watched over them; at times, they were denied things.  My grandmother was the house wife, involved with her church, and other social organizations.  The kids grew.

During the war years, my grandfather’s business continued to prosper; he soon was doing business in Portland; he continued to invest in commercial properties, by the mid-1940s he owned eight or nine commercial buildings located in Vancouver.  He worked late at night early into the morning.  He did work with the Port of Vancouver, with banks located in town.

He started to drift from my grandmother back in the 1940s, still dancing at night and entertaining a certain woman back then; my mother knew her as the woman in the black dress.  My grandmother caught wind of what was going on; they talked and tried to forgive and move forward.  I don’t know why my grandfather allowed another woman in his life, most likely he was lonely; maybe he needed affection from somebody else.  My mother knew of his infidelity; my grandmother kept it hidden.  From time to time,   my grandmother and mother spoke about the woman in the black dress.  She continued to stay in my grandfather’s life for the next twenty years or so.  She’d drift in and out of his life, sometimes it would be months before they’d get together.  He’d work late at times, maybe meet with his friend.  My grandmother kept it quiet; she wanted to keep her family together.

In the early 1950’s my grandparents bought a new home located up on1109 West 43rd and Lavina, a nice sized yellow brick ranch on a large lot; it  had a nice back yard, had a great basement.  They packed up and moved up in the heights; it had new appliances and carpeting.  It was located just a few blocks away from Lincoln grade school.  It had a big two-car garage a Japanese maple was planted in the S.W. corner of the lot.  It was a great three-bedroom home.  By the late 1940s, my mother had graduated from high school, and my aunt Mary was on schedule to graduate shortly thereafter.  Mom went to the University of Washington, and Mary went to the University of Portland.

My grandfather started to slap around my mother back when she was small, back when she was eight or so, my mother stood up to him; he  slapped her and took out his anger out on her.  The abuse he had suffered as a kid had gotten the best of him at times; he couldn’t stop the circle of abuse from continuing in his life.  It must have been sad; it happened once in a blue moon; he’d slap her face or maybe slap her arms, she’d cry, run, and hide.  The abuse continued through her teen years.  My grandmother intervened, pleaded with him to take it easy on his oldest daughter.  He slapped her and knocked her around; the abuse continued; it continued up until she graduated from high school and attended college at the University of Washington in the late 1940’s.  She knew about my grandfather’s affair with the woman in the black dress.  I’m sure my mother stood up for her mother.  I figure he took out his frustrations out on herm my mother is a strong willed woman.  I’m sure my mother fought over the way he treated my grandmother back then.

He bought the land that is now known as Day Break Park back in the early 1950s, up north near what is called Dollars Corner just outside of Battleground, Washington.  He traveled through the countryside collecting rent money and visiting the families that leased his property.  He loved the countryside in Southwest Washington.  The farm at Daybreak was big, maybe forty acres or so; followed along the Lewis River, a couple of  years later he sold the farm, sold it to avoid the new assessed taxes upon the property.  The man who bought his farm eventually sold it to the state of Washington; the state turned around and made it a park a few years afterward.  It’s a beautiful piece of land.  I’ve fished its banks in the past, fished for winter steelhead there.

My grandmother raised her kids; they all were involved in school and other activities; they sang in a choir, active in church.  The kids were given nice clothes and toys, got to go to movies and ride bikes; they had friends over and played after school.

My grandfather’s temper was bad at times; he created a lot of his own problems.  His company kept growing; he bought oil wells in Oklahoma traveled to see his wells.  He bought into mineral mines in Idaho.  He traveled to Boise from time to time.  He traveled through the west, buying mementos and bringing them home to his girls.

Back in the mid-1950s he had looked at buying another home east of Vancouver, up along the bluffs looking over the Columbia River.  It was a beautiful home and location, up near the president of the Keizer ship yards home.  He was denied his right to buy the home.  He was denied buying in areas of Portland and Vancouver because of being Italian during the 1940’s and 1950’s, it was called red lining.  There were certain areas that were off the limits to Italians back then.

His business kept growing; my grandmother kept involved with church and social groups.  She was known by all the right families in the area, in 1952.  She was voted “Mother of the Year” for the state of Washington; she won the award one more time in the late 1950s.  She was very proud of her accomplishments.  She helped feed the homeless, lobbied the state capital in helping fund the Washington State hot lunch program.  She had articles written about her in the local papers.

My grandfather loved listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, listened to the “Italian Hour” broadcasted on local radio over in Portland.  He was proud of being an American, hung a flag outside of his home.  He continued to work hard.  He loved his garden.

One day, back in the mid-1950s my grandfather was contacted and asked if he would testify with a federal investigation that was going to take place, he was asked if he had ever seen or been involved with any illegal activities carried out by any Italian families or Italian businesses in the Portland/Vancouver area.

My grandfather was summoned in testifying with the government investigation and organized crime in Portland and Vancouver.  Organized crime was present for years in the Portland/Vancouver area; prominent Italian businessmen were asked to testify during the government probe.  He arrived at the Multnomah County Courthouse; the courthouse was jammed with reporters and camera men; he was sworn in and asked the following question:

“Mr. Furio, have you known of any Italian businessmen or Italian businesses involved in organized crime in the Portland/Vancouver area?”  My grandfather scratched his head, looked perplexed, blinked and answered the question.

“Mr. Investigator, I’m an Italian who has lived in Vancouver for almost forty years, I have a family, work hard long hours; you  are asking me a very foolish question, why would I tell you of any wrong doing, especially with Italians?  I want to do business in Vancouver sir, I want to prosper and not be bothered by anybody.  I know nothing of any wrong doing sir.”

He looked over the court room, watched as people scribbled notes and took photographs.  He was asked to step down.

The next-day roses were delivered to my grandfathers and grandmothers’ home, a grand bouquet consisting of three dozen red roses were delivered to their door step.  A note was attached to the flowers.  My grandmother opened it.

“Mr. and Mrs. Furio I want to thank you in testifying.”

The note was signed by an owner of one of the largest warehouses located in Portland, a fellow Italian, who had testified in the investigation.  He was noted in having connections with the Port of Vancouver.  My grandfather didn’t want trouble; he kept his mouth shut, he had seen things through the years, things that would stay quiet.  The roses were put in the living room.

My grandfather decided to run for mayor of Vancouver back in the mid-1950s.  He ran on his background with doing business in the Vancouver area.  He was popular, had lots and lots of friends.  He donated time and money to local charitable organizations.  He helped the Catholic Church located in down town Vancouver in buying a new roof for their congregation; He helped with other philanthropic organizations.  He made buttons and placed ads in the Columbian newspaper; He had a campaign manager; he lost in a really close election, he lost to a doctor that had been on the Vancouver city council before the election.  He never got too involved with politics after that.

He always bought a new car every other year or so during the 50’s, he loved music and film, he loved to listen to the soundtrack with the movie “Days of Wine and Roses.”  He loved Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, and Duke Ellington.  He loved Jackie Gleason.

In 1956, my parents got married; my mother became pregnant with me in 1958.  My grandfather was so excited.  He was going to get a boy!  Plans were made; my father built their home, and they had the reception at Columbia Edgewater Country club.

Around 1958 or so my grandfather started to display his award-winning Christmas light extravaganza.  Through a local competition with the Columbian Newspaper and the Oregonian Newspaper, my grandfather bought over 3,000 midnight blue lights.  With the help of his hired workers, he placed decorations, shadow boxes and the lights over every nook and cranny of his home.  He had lights wrapped around bushes and trees; a big flocked noble was placed in the living room.  He won award after award with his display, people drove for miles in trying to catch a glimpse of this magnificent show.  Police cars helped direct traffic out on Lincoln and West 43rd.  It was an amazing site; he displayed his lights up to 1968 or so.  It was called the “House of blue lights.”

When I was born my grandfather was so thrilled, he had gotten a boy, the boy he never had.  He showered me with gifts when I was a child; I had the best clothes, given toys.  He was so proud of his new grandson.  He showed me off to his friends, co-workers and other prominent people.  He loved my father, got along with him just fine.  He helped them get started in life.

A few years passed; it would have been 1962 or so.  I came down with a terrible blood disease; I contracted a fever; my mother and father argued about what to do.  My temperature hovered at over 105 degrees, when I was five years old, they divorced.  My mother was awarded custody by the courts; I’d visit my father at Christmas and during the summer months.  They were married almost eight years or so.  Dad moved to San Francisco and remarried.  It was hard losing my father; I loved him and couldn’t understand why he had to leave.  I cried.

My grandfather hated to see my parents split; he made sure I was looked after, and given things that other kids got.  He made sure I was in boy scouts and little league, that I attended camps.  He was a great-grandfather and I knew he loved me.

He continued to see his friend, the woman in the black dress.  When I was six or seven, I asked my grandfather why he slept in a separate bedroom, why he didn’t sleep with my grandmother.  He looked at me.

“I work during the night Grant; sometimes I don’t get home until early in the morning, I don’t want to wake grandma or you.”

I only saw my grandfather get mad once in my life, once when my aunt Toni Jo didn’t sign his birthday card correctly, he blew up and threw her birthday cake up against the kitchen cabinet, smashing it to bits.  I was astounded at this act.  It’s something I’ll always remembered.  He never got mad at me.

My grandfather loved sports, loved the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants, and loved the New York Yankees and all the Italians that played in professional sports back in the early 1960s, loved Rocky Marciano.  He loved going to local high school football games and attended the college football games that use to be played over at the old Civic stadium located in Portland, Oregon.  He loved watching Portland wrestling and actually went to some of the matches.  He took me to my first college football game back in 1966, took me to the Kingston Café located on S.W. Burnside; we  ate breakfast in the dining room; we  watched Oregon State and Stanford play that day, hopped in his dark-green  Ford panel truck and headed back over to Vancouver.  I remember watching wrestling with him in the basement, watching the Packers play with Bart Starr.  I remember him taking me fishing, up to Salmon Creek, down to the reservoir and catching trout and catfish.  Down the cool dark trails that started off the country roads that rambled down the rich Washington countryside.  He’d take me in meeting his renters, would take me visiting the farms he owned.  We followed fences that bordered the fields of his property; he had orchards, walnut, apple, and hazel nuts.  Big meadows whisked by as I watched out the car window.  My grandfather loved the land, kept a statue of St Francis in his back yard.

He helped my mother when she divorced my father, helped put me in the Montessori at Providence Hospital, located on NE 29th, I loved the Montessori.  I attended the Montessori for a couple of years; remember him picking me up after school, taking me to his house for a weekend, giving my mother a break.  He bought me Tonka toys, bought me tools to dig around in his garden.

While I was in the Montessori, one of the most memorable things in my life happened to me while attending the school.  I was in the restroom, washing my hands after eating lunch, suddenly one of the nuns came running in; it was Mrs. Walker; she  was crying and distraught.  All the kids were gathered in and circled in front of the television that was positioned in the middle of the big-play room.  Pictures of President Kennedy went flashing by the screen.  The president had been shot; the nuns wept, bowing in front of the television.  My grandmother and mother picked me up that day, they both cried.  I’ll never forget it.

We ate at the kitchen table at my grandparents’ house, had grand meals; he loved his family; he showered me with love; I was the son he never had.  He had a couple of cats, Herkimer and Ralph.  He had a work bench in the garage and had another one located down in the basement.  He liked to tinker with things, always liked to work with his hands.  He loved his garden, loved flowers, and planted tomatoes every year.  He had a sunflower out in the yard.  He loved Lawrence Welk, loved to watch Ed Sullivan.

At its zenith, my grandfather’s business employed twenty people or so, he now owned the largest janitorial business in S.W. Washington; he was a smart business man, and he usually borrowed from Peter to pay Paul.  I remember him working long hard hours; my grandmother was head of the music department of her church, playing piano at weddings and Sunday service.  She cooked and sewed, was a perfect mother to her children.  She had an organ upstairs in the dining room; she played in her spare time; she had an upright piano down in the basement, and I loved hearing her house full of music; she used to wake me by playing taps on the organ.

My grandmother was a debutant of Vancouver and for that matter,   the state of Washington; she traveled to Europe, went to London and Amsterdam, Vienna and France during the 1960’s.  She had her church groups and organizations that were so important to her; she held the family together, and looking back she was such a strong individual.

My grandfather watched over me, bought me kites and bicycles.  He taught me how to ride my first bicycle, bought me training wheels.  He held on to the bike as I rode along West 43rd.  He was so happy in watching me learning how to ride my bike.

He wore overalls; he wore Osh Gosh Be Gosh overalls, and they had tiny blue stripes.  He loved trains; we use to go down to the Vancouver train yards and look at the locomotives and Pony engines.  He loved “H” scale trains.  He bought seven or eight locomotives one day, bought at least fifty box cars; he bought switches and bought eight or nine buildings that you could lay out with the set.  He bought what seemed at least a mile of track.  He laid out the metal track in the basement; it sprawled out on the basement floor, winding around furniture and tables.  It was great; all the kids in the neighborhood came over to play with the gigantic train set.  The basement was huge, had a fireplace and the train set wound through all kinds of things, and you had to watch where you stepped.

He watched me play in my first little league game, over at Wallace Park.  He watched me score my first run.  He played catch with me; he took me to get ice cream.  He loved to sing, and his car radio was tuned into the local classical station.  He told me to tighten my shoe laces when I played ball.

He continued dancing during the 1960’s.  He danced in local competitions, dating his friend, the woman in the black dress.  My grandmother entertained and belonged to her church groups.  As a young child I enjoyed all of her friends, most of them had gone to high school with my grandmother.  There was Ethel and Margaret, Dorothy and Lu Ida, all friends of my grandmother.  He dressed to the nines, wore fine suits.  He had rings and jewelry that he always wore out at nights.  He was gone during the night at times.  I never knew where he was.  I often thought of my grandmother and how she felt in trying to hold things together.

Around this time, my grandfather bought a new 1967 charcoal gray Oldsmobile, it was a great car, a convertible; my grandfather drove me to his appointed rounds; he would put the top-down and drive out to the country, out to his farm out near Hazel Dell; we traveled to down old gravel roads, muddy country roads; pheasant and deer dotted the landscape.  He had horses and cows on his farm; ducks and geese squawked.  He was well liked; people use to wave as he went through the neighborhood.

He sang in a barber shop quartet; he practiced in the dining room; my   grandmother would pound away on her piano as they sang songs, my cousin Becker, who lived in Los Angeles would stop and visit every year or so, he worked for Columbia records, in their jazz division.  He loved my grandmother and grandfather.  They’d sing through the night into the early morning.  They’d have breakfast and sing more tunes, my poor grandmother.  I’d sit and listen to them until I was too tired, go to bed and listen through the night to the wonderful music.

Around 1966 or so my grandfather was contacted by some of the more well to do businessmen that lived in Vancouver.  They wanted to build a motel down along the Columbia River.  They were going to call it the Red Lion Motel; they discussed financing with it, looked at permits required, did feasibility studies; they talked late in the night; business men in big fancy suits and cars stopped in at all hours of the night.  I could remember him talking with these important people.  My grandparents talked about the financing; they met with banks and looked at helping fund the motel.  They talked about the motel up until 1967; the project was put on hold once my grandfather started to get his famous headaches.

He started to complain of his headaches back around 1967 or so, violent headaches; he was soon diagnosed in having brain cancer.  It shocked everybody; he was sixty-four years old back then.  He went under treatment, went to the doctors; my grandmother watched over him, made sure he was O.K.; he worried about having cancer, met with his bankers and executed a will, making sure my grandmother would be taken care of through the years to follow.  I remember the first operation; they removed the tumor, and it was the size of a small walnut.  In late 1967, he knew he was dying.  I cried at night.

In the next few months, he spent all the time he could with me, spent so much of his time with me in his garden, he told me of things that he did as a child, tried to pass down stories and showed me his books and drove me to meet friends he did business with.  I remember him wearing a small white stocking cap around his head, protecting him after the first operation, the cancer kept growing.  We went down to the High School Pharmacy and got pills to help him with the cancer one night, I’ll never forget it.  We were parked in the parking lot of the pharmacy; my grandmother went in to get and order with his medication.  My grandfather started to cry; he looked at me and hugged me, crying, fighting through his tears.

“Don’t ever smoke Grant, I don’t want you to ever get cancer, please don’t smoke, I love you, I’m dying,” he tried to hold back his tears.  I was scared; I started to cry, I loved my grandfather so much.  He fought the cancer with dignity, asked my grandmother for forgiveness, asked that he be buried out east of Vancouver; he wanted to die a Catholic.  It was sad to see him go that winter.  We celebrated Christmas as a family.

In the early winter of 1968 on February 14, 1968 to be exact, my grandfather died at Emanuel hospital; I saw him the night before, hugged him, and said “Good Bye.”  He wept as I walked away.

The day he died, I was at my grandfather’s house; most of the    relatives were there; we  got the call around 6:00 P.M. or so, I was in the living room; a fire was roaring in the living room fireplace; I  was watching the 1968 Olympics, watching Peggy Fleming skating during one of her famous performances, I’ll never forget it; my aunts had gathered in the kitchen, they were on the phone with my grandmother who was at the hospital; I  could hear them start to weep; it  was eerie in a way; I knew he had died right away; my mother came into the living room and looked at me; she had tears in her eyes; my  grandfather had indeed died. I remember how lonely I felt.  I went and sat in his bedroom, shut the door, and felt so saddened in his passing.

He went quickly; I remember how lost I felt.  I walked through the house and looked at everything he left behind.  I walked through the garage and the basement; so many memories came rushing back my way.  I looked at where he showed me how to fly a kite, where he showed me how to ride my bike, passed by flowers we had planted in his garden.  We had planted rhododendrons, azaleas, miniature maples, tomatoes; a small fountain was placed in the yard, he had his prized roses planted in the side yard, all types of color were displayed with his flowers.  He loved his garden, I think it’s where he found peace of mind.

My grandmother plodded through his estate; she ran his business up to about 1980 or so then sold it.  My grandmother forgave him for his mistakes, forgave him for his infidelity.  She had the power of forgiveness.  Some of the properties were sold; my grandmother sold some of his things or gave them away to Good Will.

I loved my grandfather; he came from a hard background; he  worked for everything he had, was left homeless when he was twelve, worked in a circus, worked in a brothel, joined the Army when he was sixteen and started his own business, became a success in his field, raised three girls.  There was a memorable memorial service, it seemed like the entire city of Vancouver came out to give their respect.

In the years to follow flowers were placed on his grave; my mother always thought that the flowers were placed down by the lady in the black dress.  I miss my grandfather, will always miss him.  He had his issues; he was abused as a boy and abused people he loved.  He died too young, cancer is a terrible thing.  He gave back to the city he loved.  He accomplished so much in his life.  I’ll always miss him.  He couldn’t have treated me any kinder if he tried.

The Wayne/Chapman Murders

The following story is based on a true set of murders that took place in Portland, Oregon years ago.  Not many people remember the crimes, I suppose it’s a mystery in a way in who committed the murders, nobody knows for sure what happened that terrible night, they were shocking crimes, some said it was the end of innocence in Portland, a double homicide, it took place back in the early 1960’s.

Through the years, I had heard of the murders when I was a young kid while growing up in N.W. Portland.  I was told spooky, scary tales with the grim details, they frightened me, people who lived in the neighborhood down through the years, bits and pieces of facts, stories that would scare anybody I suppose, especially a young kid, nobody ever truly knowing in what happened that fateful night.

People started locking their doors; things had changed in the neighborhood.  The murders involved a young couple, a few kids were held in jail and charged in committing the crimes, the authorities could not prove they were guilty and let them go a few years later.  The names; well the names have been changed in order to protect the innocent.  I hope you enjoy the following tale, it’s pretty gruesome, a story of a horrific set of murders that happened a long, long time ago, up in Forest Park, near Inspiration Point, they happened on a cold, wet fall night back in 1962.

It was early October in the year of 2014, I was restless that night, I told myself I had to get out of the house, I had been working hard that day and I needed to have a beer and I wanted to take in a football game.  I had not been out in a while; I needed to stretch my legs I told myself.  The colors of fall had set in, the leaves were in full color, and the nights were getting cooler as foggy white misty clouds rolled through the Douglas firs and Maple trees that covered the rolling deep dark hillside of Forest Park.

I meandered here and there through N.W. Portland that night, saw some homeless old man trying to ask a passerby for some money, I just kept walking, not knowing where I was going for sure, hiking over the old gray cracked cement sidewalks that wined through the Nob Hill neighborhood.  I strolled past old homes carved out in the 1880’s and 1890’s, passing by at what at one time were grand old lumber baron and sea captain mansions, they were huge, massive old structures, they seemed to go on for blocks and blocks.  I walked down to the Nob Hill Bar and Grill on that cool crisp Monday night, I had just remembered, lucky me, it was taco night, I was glad, I decided to pop in; the Nobby always served fifty-cent tacos on Monday night.  I usually would buy six or seven tacos cover them with tomatoes, lettuce and cheese along with salsa sauce have a beer and I was a happy camper.  I decided I would find a seat and relax for a bit.

I enjoyed going to the Nob every once in a while, there were some true characters that hung out in the dark lit bar, some of the customers were drifters, others were regulars, neighborhood folk, a real cross section of people, it’s a sports bar and you could always find it crowded if there was a good game on.  Some customers were down on their luck; others worked graveyard at the ESCO steel factory or maybe worked at the Good Samaritan hospital located across the street on N.W. 23rd.

Through the years, I had gotten to know several of the customers that frequented the Nobby; I enjoyed talking to some of these folks more than others at times I suppose, some of the regular customers could get a bit grumpy, especially when they started to drink too much.  I had a few people chew me out at times through the years while conversing with a few of the local folk at the Nob, I told myself I didn’t want anybody to get starting on me that night.

I found a spot in one of the corners of the bar and started to watch a Monday Night football game that was on the big high def. television that hung down in front of me.  I was going to meet my mother that night.  She was getting off work and wanted to have dinner with me at the Nobby and watch the game.  My mother was a huge sports fan, I’d often take her to watch a game at the Nobby through the years.  A few of the bartenders knew her by her first name.  She would order a drink and get something to eat; it was one of her favorite spots in a pinch.

The bar was dark that night, I looked around and didn’t see anybody that I knew.  I watched the game and scribbled down some notes I had kept in one of my pockets, they were notes with a photo shoot that I was going to work on in the next few days.  I enjoyed photography, always had, I was making notes in making sure I had the correct address with the scheduled shoot and making detailed notes with F Stops and exposure settings, making sure I had all the correct equipment, I thought maybe I could review my notes as I sat sipping on a beer that night.

At that time in my life I was working as a photographer with one of the local newspapers based in Portland and had just finished a shoot with a story about a local politician that had helped fund a community center.  I had taken the photos that afternoon.  Soon mom walked in, she was wet from head to toe, I felt sorry for her, she was drenched, and she came in and sat down beside me.  “Man, it’s raining hard out Grant!”  She almost tripped on the way to the table I was sitting at.  She grabbed a chair, sat down and laughed.  I nodded at her, smiled, and continued to watch the game.  We looked at the menu, ordered something to eat, and chatted a bit.  We talked about the events in the day, how her work was keeping her busy, we talked about my writing and photography.

I’ve always enjoyed the local history of Portland, especially the history of N.W. Portland and occasionally I might be lucky in striking up a conversation with one of the well-known locals that frequented the Nobby and maybe have them conger up a conversation with me.  I knew of a couple older journalist’s that liked to hang out at the Nobby from time to time, maybe one of them would be around that night I thought to myself.  Through the years I had heard several stories about the history of the neighborhood while visiting the Nob, lots of the local history I know now was passed down through the customers that went to the Nob Hill, I always liked hearing them tell their tales.

Suddenly, one of the regulars that I knew walked in, he bumped into a chair, and almost fell over, he stumbled a bit and then bumped into a table and almost spilled a customer’s drink, it was Donnie Snell, everybody knew Donnie Snell, and he crept in the back door soon after mom had seated herself.  Donnie is a warm-hearted human being, a bit slow minded, uncoordinated, kind of an outcast, people poked fun at him, and at times he reminded me of Billy Bibbit, the character from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Ol’ Donnie grew up in N.W. Portland, went to Chapman Grade School, and then attended Lincoln High School and from there worked at the ESCO Steel Mill for several years up until he retired a couple years back.

Donnie was a proud American, loved his country, and loved N.W. Portland immensely.  I found it fascinating when it came to him knowing the local history with the neighborhood.  Why he even knew about the old prominent families and knew of the historical buildings that were built back in the area going back years and years ago.  He knew about all the street names and knew all about the facts with the local lore.

Donnie’s about sixty-five or so, stands about five foot eight, graduated from Lincoln High School in 1964 if I remember right.  I often had talked with Donnie about some of the local news events while he was a kid growing up in the neighborhood through the years.  He saw the famous Forestry Building fire when he was a youngster, knew about the famous baseball players that grew up in the area, knew both Johnny Pesky and Mickey Lolich while going to Chapman.  He knew about the local politicians and newsmakers of the day.

Donnie was a bit slow minded at times, weren’t his fault, according to him he didn’t get much love from his folks while he was growing up, according to Donnie his dad was always hollerin’ and screamin’ at him, he just never really fit in to well with people.  The way he seed it them people made him feel inferior in a way I guess, it was a shame the way those folks were always pesterin’ him so at times when he was growing up.  He seemed to be out of sorts when he talked to people, he was a bit nervous, kind of the runt of the liter I guess.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, please don’t misunderstand me, according to him he was the youngest in his family and he always got the short end of the stick.  I guess he had some agitating health issues when he was younger and it affected him.  Mentally at times he might seem a bit slow to some folk, didn’t bother me none.  He would twitch now and then, shrug his head and shoulders, or maybe forget the conversation from time to time.  Some of the regulars made fun of him, I always felt bad for Donnie, especially when some of the meaner folks that frequented the bar started in on him.  He always would ignore the locals when they got uppity towards him, then shrug ‘em off, I know he was kind hearted and always courteous and polite.  He was usually the scapegoat for some of the folks after they had a few too many beers.

In watching Donnie through the years I pretty much thought he was a loner in away, yep a social recluse you might say.  Usually heading home alone, no significant other in his life, and a bit of a drifter at times.  I would watch Donnie weave himself through a crowded bar or sit by himself.  He would stutter from time to time, his teeth needed fixing; he usually wore worn blue jeans, a Scottish golf cap and maybe a plaid shirt, maybe some old worn brown shoes.  He was scruffy at times.

He would interrupt you if he got on a roll with a story, he would go on for a while and tell a yarn or two or maybe a recollection about folklore in the neighborhood, he enjoyed the attention of a crowd when he got on with his famous long-winded stories.  I always enjoyed his conversation.  He would go on and on, it was hard to get a word in edgewise at times.  I think when he got people listening to his stories it set him free in away, once he saw the green light he would stretch a story out for what seemed to go on for days if he was given the opportunity.

His face was weathered; he had a scar or two on his hands, burned ‘em from working in the local steel mill I figured.  He had a scruffy brown stubble beard, had big dark bags under his eyes, he had worked hard his entire life, you could see it in the way his face was carved out.

Donnie came over and took off his cap with both his hands, bowed his head, looked down and seemed to almost to be apologetic in interrupting me as I sat there at the table watching the football game with mom and eating my tacos.  My mom smiled at him and looked over at me.

“Ah, ah, hi, Gra, Gra, Gra, Grant.  Ah, hello ma’am, why you must be Mrs. Keltner, Grant’s mom!”  Donnie stuttered, mumbled, and searched for words, he seemed to blush at my mom.  He kind of shuffled his feet as he stood beside me.

“Hello Donnie, how are you tonight?  Wet out isn’t it?”  My mother looked at him, “Well hello there Donnie, ol’ Donnie Snell, glad to meet you, won’t you have a seat, blow your nose, it looks like you have a man overboard.”  She smiled at me, turned and she smiled at Donnie.  My mom was funny.

Donnie beamed at me, it had looked like he had not spoken to anybody for a few days or maybe weeks for that matter, and I think he enjoyed knowing I was there this night.  He smiled and looked around the room.  He fumbled for a chair and began to sit down.  He reminded me of a child at times.  Stuttering and drifting on with his stories.

Suddenly one of the customers sitting at the crowded bar shouted at Donnie.  “Hey Donnie you owe me for the drink I bought you the other night!”  It was big Mark Tatter, one of the regulars.  I did not like Mark Tatter that much, came across as a know it all, was big, overweight you might say and smoked too much.  I hated talking to Mark Tatter, he’d always holler about things, I glanced away and looked at mom.

“Wha, wha, what’s happening Grant?”  I looked at Donnie and looked back at mom; his hair was thinning on top, sported a nice smile, and as I said he always took time in telling me a story.  He was a good listener, and if he got lost with a story that I was telling him he would look at me, tap me on the shoulder and stare me in the eyes and say, “Now wait, wait, now let me get this straight Grant, you’re sayin’ that this and that happened?”  I always enjoyed talking with Donnie, he’d always want to hear a good story, better yet be able to tell a good story.

Mark Tatter looked over in our direction and hollered even louder than before, “Ah, Donnie, you know good for nothin’ Wimpy, I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday freeloader!”  My mother looked at me “Who’s that Bozo?”  I shrugged my shoulders.

As far as I could tell Donnie Snell indeed was a loner or recluse, was raised by his folks who lived in the neighborhood going back to the 1940’s or so.  I do not know if Donnie ever had a girl in his life, I kind of doubt it to tell you the truth, I just think he was shy and unsure of himself, brought up to be respectful and found his adopted family usually at the Nobby or maybe one of the other bars in the neighborhood.  He told me he had a rough upbringing, I often wondered about the possible neglect he received as a kid, he reminded me of a punch drunk fighter at times, didn’t really know if he was coming or going.  People would point their fingers at him, make fun of him, and laugh.  I know it bothered Donnie at times, I watched his reaction, he let things fester up inside, then all of a sudden he seemed to shrug it off, don’t know if it bothered him, can’t say one way or the other, maybe didn’t matter know how.  Some people can take more than others, I thought to myself as he sat in front of me.

I was watching the Niner vs. Vikings game that Monday night, the Niners were having an O.K. year I suppose.  All of a sudden out of the blue Donnie Snell went on and on in telling me a story about some famous local family he knew, he went on telling me a story about a local family that he grew up with, he was going on and on and on about this damn family and their kids that he knew going back starting from the time he was in first grade.  I was not really listening to him.  I was drifting off back in time, all of a sudden he reminded me of a story I had heard when I was younger, and I started drifting back to the history of the neighborhood for some reason.  Donnie continued to talk as I kept trying to reach back in time and recollect back to a famous story that I had heard about when I was a kid, a story I could barely recall, it had happened such a long time ago.  I watched him as he sat and talked, mom yelled at the television, she was getting pretty involved with the game.  “Yay!” she screamed, it seemed like everyone in the bar turned and looked our way; Donnie was twitching a bit and rambling on and on and on.  His mouth moved and I couldn’t hear a word he was saying, his lips moved as I tried to recollect back to a famous murder that took place in the neighborhood, it happened a long time ago, back in 1962, back when I was only four years old or so.  Oh I hated it when I couldn’t remember certain things, I knew I’d remember it, what was the name of those kids that were murdered?  Mom got excited at a play and started to cheer.  She clapped her hands.  I loved my mother.

My mother had divorced my father back in 1962; I was four at the time, she moved to N.W. Portland in 1963 and I started to attend Chapman Grade School in 1964.  When I was going to school back then families I knew in the neighborhood and their kids that I use to play with told me these far out stories about these terrible murders that took place.  I heard bits and pieces with the details of the gruesome crimes, they were passed along from their relatives and family members.  It had been a long time since anybody told me about the homicides.  I figured hardly anyone knew about the murders by now, time had passed by.  As a child I remember hearing long drawn out yarns about the way certain things happened that night up in Forest Park, the famous murder stories handed down through the years in the neighborhood when I was just a kid.

These stories always frightened me when I was young.  I guess they happened to close to home I suppose, after all they occurred only a few blocks away from where I grew up.  They took place up in Forest Park, up off of N.W. 53rd road, up in the dark part of the forest, in a secluded, cold, isolated old location called Inspiration Point.

The stories frightened me, they disturbed me, sometimes I couldn’t sleep at night in just thinking about the murders, especially when the wind howled at night and it was raining outside.  I’d lay awake a cry myself to sleep.  These were forgotten tales about young kids bodies being found, stories about a young couple, stories about them being sweethearts, bits and pieces of the story circled around in my mind as Donnie sat there telling his story rambling on and on, I thought he’d never stop.  Christ all mighty I thought to myself!  Mom glanced at Donnie, listening to him go on and on, she sat and watched the game and nodded at Donnie every so often as he rattled away.  Damn!  I wanted to remember the story.

I looked at Donnie, he had finished his yarn, seemed about a year since he started his story.  I sat upright and looked him square in the face.  All of a sudden I remembered the details with what I was trying to remember with that long forgotten story.  It was like I had just woken up, a light went on in my head.  Mom looked startled.  I looked at Donnie, “Donnie, Donnie, do you, do you know about the Wayne-Chapman murders?”  I had remembered now, I had remembered the story!  I felt relieved.

Donnie, well Donnie looked at me, flinched, made a face, he looked at me, flinched, sat back, shook his head and stared at me, then looked at mom.  He looked startled and a bit surprised at me.  “Ah, well ah, I uh.” was his reply.  He seemed to withdraw from the conversation.  He sunk down in his chair.  He blinked his eyes at me, mumbled a bit.  He took a look around, almost wanting to check and see if anyone else was listening.  He scratched his head.

He leaned over at me and whispered, I could barely hear him, and his breath was bad from smoking.  “Grant, how, why, why, how, well how do you know about the Billy Wayne-Mary Beth Chapman murders?”  His mouth dropped open as he looked at me.  He drooled a bit, mom made a funny face.  “Do you need a napkin Donnie?”  He wiped his mouth.  He had a blank look on his face, he started to twitch and could not sit still in his chair, and he was revved up that was for sure.  He grabbed his cap and rolled it up in his worn hands.  My mom looked at me, kind of frazzled in a way.

“Why Donnie, you know I grew up in this neighborhood, and let me remind you that as a kid I first heard about the stories with those murders back around in 1964 or so, I was probably four or five when I heard those stories.”  I looked at him, “I knew families that told me about the tragic events, the whole neighborhood was in an uproar about those murders, lots of folks were afraid in letting their kids roam around at night.  I remember the articles and I remember how scared people were.  Mom was frightened by the murders weren’t you mom?”  Mom looked at me, “Oh my yes, the Wayne-Chapman murders, boy do I sure remember them, wow, wowwie wow wow!”

“Oh, yeah, yeah I, I, I remember now, huh,” Donnie replied, he looked at mom and then back at me shaking his head.  He flinched a bit and looked at me once again.  He seemed agitated.  He seemed to be wrestling with his thoughts, flipping through his mind, sifting through his files inside his brain checking through unturned folders in what he knew about the murders.

“My mind is a bit groggy; a bit foggy, a bit frazzled, a bit discombobulated mind you, it was a long time ago!”  He fidgeted around a bit, put his hands in his pocket and fumbled around, pulling bits of tissues from his pocket and wiping his nose.  “The Wayne-Chapman murders happened back around 1962, my mind is groggy and I’m trying to remember all the details Grant, it’s hard to recall the entire story, it was such a long time ago.  They were a young couple, went to Lincoln High, lived in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood, or somewhere near Sylvan if I remember, they were dating back in high school, they were sweethearts, Wayne was the boy, Chapman was the girl.”  He looked out the window and then looked at me, and then at mom, he started shaking a bit.  “They were gruesome murders, why geez, they were stabbed, mutilated, raped!”  I sat there and looked at him, I let him go on yappin’.  “They were out on a date, cruisin’ in his dad’s Ford, or Chevy, ah hell I can’t remember what kind of car it was, story goes they went down to S.W. Broadway and cruised like most teenagers back then.”  He looked at me, “Can, can you buy me a drink Grant, heh, huh?”  I looked at Donnie; he had a nice smile and looked at me with sympathetic eyes as almost as though he hadn’t had a drink in a few years, he reminded me of a puppy that hadn’t been fed.  I waved at the bartender and ordered Donnie a fireball, his favorite drink.  He smiled at the drink and swizzled his swizzle stick and licked the cinnamon from the edge of the glass.  He grinned at me and sang a little tune.  “Doddlie Doddlie Doodlie Doo.”  My mom laughed.

The bartender came around and looked at mom, “Can I get you something else to drink honey?”  My mom laughed, “Maybe a small draft if you don’t mind.”  Within an instant the bartender brought back mom a beer.  She started to watch her football game.  She looked at me, “I don’t think that Kapernack kid has it anymore.”  I always thought my mother should have married a football coach.  She loved her football.

Donnie went on and on in telling me what he knew the best he could recollect.  I knew that once I got Donnie Snell rolling on about a story that there was no stopping him from tellin’ a tale or two.  “Yep, they went cruisin’ on S.W. Broadway one Friday night and it seems that the Chapman girl got into yappin’ with a couple of boys in one of the cars that pulled up beside them that night.  They were screamin’ and a hollerin’, seems the boys went to Lincoln High School and knew the young couple, maybe had grown up with them?  Guess they drag raced a bit, cruisin’ in their hot cars.  Donnie paused a bit as he sipped his drink.

“Billy Wayne and Mary Beth Chapman exchanged words with those boys in the other car, got to cussin’ and a hollerin’ at each other.  One of the boys in the car that night was a kid named Jimmy Smith, and the other kid was a kid by the name of, oh what was his name, ah, Dan Carlson if I remember.”  Donnie took another sip from his drink and looked at me.  “Thanks for the drink Grant, sure tastes good.”  I nodded at him, he continued on with his recollection of what happened.

“Well, it seems as those boys racing around in the car that night told Billy Wayne and Mary Beth Chapman about a kegger party up on N.W. 53rd, off of N.W. Cornell Road.  It was a secluded spot, in the thick of the cold dark forest.”  Donnie looked around and kept telling his story, he started shaking a bit.  “Wayne and Chapman went up to the kegger that night, I think they followed those boys in their car if I recollect right, they parked up there, they were hootin’ and a hollerin’, they partied well into the night, well, matter of fact they partied into the early morning.  The kids that had gathered at the keggar that night started to leave around one or two in the morning.”  Donnie scratched his head, stuck his jaw out, trying to look tough, looked around the room, and thought a bit, there was a pause.

“Hey Donnie, don’t forget you owe me a beer!”  It was Mark Tatter hollerin’ from across the bar.  He sat there with his big belly hangin’ over his pants.  He wiped his face and snarled at Donnie.  I looked at Mark and looked at my mother, she was staring at Mark, I slightly tapped her ankle with my foot, “Don’t stare,” I whispered.

Donnie looked at me, “The next morning the authorities found the young Wayne boy in his dad’s car.  He’d been stabbed several times, his head was crushed in.  Blood was everywhere, his body was badly cut, his body was found face down on the ground, and it was hard in identifying him.”  My mother made a face and then looked at me.  He continued, “The front window was smashed and a bullet hole was found in the front window.  The cops showed up along with news reporters, cameramen, the county medical examiner and curious locals along with detectives showed up.  People that lived in the neighborhood had seen the flashing red lights and sirens of the cop cars racing up N.W. Cornell.  They made their way up to the crime scene hoping to catch a peek at what had happened.”  I cringed in hearing the story, Donnie had done a good job in refreshing my memory with remembering about the famous murders.  The famous Wayne-Chapman murders.

“My mind is a little groggy like I told you with the story Grant, I’m, I’m, and I’m trying to remember.”  He rubbed his forehead and flinched a bit.  A pained look came across his face.  He looked up at me.  He licked his lips and pulled at his right ear.  His eyes were big an’ round, “They found the Chapman girl about a month later, she had been raped, and her body was disfigured, and stabbed, left for dead off of Highway 26, found lying in the mud.”  He looked at me.  He paused for a few seconds, “It was a terrible murder, I hate talkin’ about it Grant!”  I looked outside as leaves flashed by in the wind as it began to rain.  The wind picked up as a businessman walked by and grabbed his hat before it flew off his head.  My mom giggled.

“They arrested the two boys, the two kids that told the couple about the party, the Jimmy Smith, and the Dan Carlson kid, they arrested them back in 1969 or so, they didn’t arrest them for nearly seven years after the murders if you can believe that!  They only served a small amount of time, one was in prison for about a year and the other for a few years later and then released.”  He fidgeted a bit.  “The authorities didn’t have enough evidence, they released the kids, story goes the police misplaced files and medical records, or something like that, not enough proof and couldn’t pin anything on them kids.”

I looked at him a bit, he slunk down in his chair and looked at his drink, then stared at mom.  He continued his story, “Back in 1962, matter of fact the next day after the murders they arrested a guy by the name of Charlie, Cha, Charles, what was his name?  Oh yeah, they arrested a guy by the name of Charles W. Charles for the murders.  He escaped within a day or so.  Nobody knows how he got away.  He showed up in California around 1970.  He was being tried for a murder in California when they found him, a murder similar to the Wayne-Chapman murders.  He died in the 1970’s.  I don’t think they ever really found out for sure who killed those kids.  I remember hearing stories and reading articles in the Oregonian and in the Journal newspapers.”  He looked at me, “My, my heads groggy Grant I can’t really remember all the details as I said.”

I patted Donnie on his shoulder, ‘You did fine Donnie, just fine.”

Mark Tatter got up from his chair and walked out one of the side doors to have a smoke, he past some gas as he walked by.  The big back door at the Nobby slammed shut with a loud thud.

I looked at Donnie and shook his hand, “Thanks Donnie, you helped me remember the story; I knew you probably knew about this murder.  After all it happened here in the neighborhood.  Pretty amazing that you can remember all this stuff, you’re invaluable, thanks Donnie!”  I looked at mom, she looked at me and said, “Isn’t it about time that we should be going?” she smiled and thanked Donnie.  Before we left Donnie asked my mother for her address.  I was curious as to why he’d ask for her address.  “I want to send you a Christmas gift Mrs. Keltner if that’s O.K.?  I like you and you’ve always been kind to me.  Would you mind?”  I looked at my mother as she wrote down her address on a piece of paper; it was a Radio Cab scratch pad.  She wrote her address down and handed the paper to Donnie.  “Your mother is so kind Grant; I want to send her a Whitman Sampler.”  We got up and walked out on N.W. 23rd and Lovejoy for a while and watched as the locals drifted by, the traffic rushed through the night, it was getting late in the evening, glowing orange and purple neon illuminated the night, I needed to get back home.  I thanked Donnie and waved to mom as she got in her car.  I smiled at Donnie, he looked at me and raised his voice, “Oh, oh, oh good seeing you Grant, I’m glad I could help you out!”  He crossed the street and waved again as he walked back home that night, he glanced at me a couple times as he headed north down N.W. 23rd.  It was dark and cold.

Later that night, when I got home, I did a quick Google search about the Billy Wayne-Mary Beth Chapman murders, I found several articles about the murders, many of the articles went into detail and remarkably Donnie’s recollection about what happened that eerie night was almost spot on, almost identical to what Donnie had told me.  It amazed me on how he could remember all of the details that night.

The murders were covered in all the local newspapers back then; it reminded me of a pulp fiction murder mystery in away.  A well know journalist had written a story about the murders a few years later and included it in one of his books.  I found lots of information on the internet about the murders that had been written.

According to the articles in the Oregonian and Journal newspaper it seems like the Wayne-Chapman kids were indeed young high school sweethearts, they lived in the West Hills, up near Raleigh Hills and the Garden Home area, a small community located just southwest of Forest Park, not more than three or four miles from the murder scene.  They had dated for a while and were out on a hoot that night, cruising around in the young Wayne’s fathers 1949 Ford Coupe.  They attended Lincoln High School.  According to a good friend that was interviewed, Wayne was a bit of a tough in school, a bit of a troublemaker and actually was known to carry a handgun from time to time, some kids said he kept it in the glove compartment of his dad’s car.  Nobody knew for sure.

The reports went into detail in mentioning that the Mary Beth Chapman girl was a bit of a rough neck.  Known to be loud.  I guess she was a bit of a rebel she was, seems as though she got around a bit, and it seems as though she got into a bit of a skirmish with some of the boys in that other car that was cruising along with them on that fall night.

According to the notes the police took, Jimmy Smith and Dan Carlson told the young sweethearts about a party up on N.W. 53rd, told them of a remote place called Inspiration Point, a dark secluded area that local students that attended Lincoln High School back then would frequent from time to time.  The kids usually met there on a Friday night, would build a fire, have a cold keg of beer tucked in back of one of the trunks of the their

cars, twenty, thirty maybe forty people would gather at the keggers.  They would park their cars along side of the rocky, dirty beat up road located up off of N.W. Cornell, they’d gather and party in the cold, wet, dark forest.

Hoot owls would perch in one of the firs, critters would roam around; maybe a couple of deer would appear through the site.  The kids drank, and smoked, laughed, necked, and caused mischief, maybe smash a few bottles and holler.  They’d stand around the big fire and tell stories.  Their shadows would cast long shadows out on the hillside that overlooked them.  The local cops knew about the parties, occasionally they busted the parties up and would follow the kid’s home.

Well, seems the young couple showed up at Inspiration Point that night and that indeed they drank and partied through the night.  The next morning the Wayne kid was found stabbed twenty two times, poor kid, blood was everywhere and part of his head was caved in from a harsh blow, the Chapman girl was nowhere to be found.  About a month later a few kids found her body off Highway 26, up near the Sylvan area.  She had been stabbed, raped, her dress was ripped apart, and the newspapers reported the finding.

According to reports the police opened a file with the case, the medical examiner showed up, detectives, newspaper reporters arrived along with local residences, a few hikers that were walking by the Wayne boy’s car that early fall morning stopped in to take a look as an ambulance carried off the body of the young boy.  The police started to round up kids from the party from the night before, names were taken, and they slowly sifted through evidence, questioned people.

The police reports noted a well-known tough in the neighborhood was at the crime scene early that morning, the night after the murders.  The police gathered him in, he was arrested, matter of fact he was arrested the day after the murders, seemed the local authorities arrested a man by the name of Charles W. Charles, he was thrown in the Multnomah County Jail, after being arrested for about a day or so he escaped, and disappeared.  Seems as though Charles W. Charles was linked to a couple murders going back to Wisconsin and in Montana in the late 1950’s, and according to the records the murders back east were very similar to the ones committed that night of the Wayne-Chapman murders.  He did indeed escape from the County Jail; he drifted off in the night and never was seen around Oregon again.

Years later the police finally arrested the two boys that were cruising in the car that night down on S.W. Broadway, the ones telling the couple about the party, they arrested them about seven years after the murder.  The case dragged on and on.  The Smith kid served about a year in jail, the Carlson kid served about three years.  They were finally released due to lack of evidence, back in 1970 or 1971.  The police and local authorities never knew for sure who committed the murders that night.  It’s been a mystery to this day.  Almost fifty years after the fact.

I kept reading the reports and scanning through the headlines in the Oregonian and Journal archives, trying to find anything that could help me in finding out anything else that might shed light on this mysterious murder, it seems like the police lost valuable clues during the case, that there was a smear done on the Chapman girl, they lost some of the evidence, seems as though certain things disappeared.  The boys were thrown in jail almost seven years after the murders then released, and what about Charles W. Charles and his involvement, how did he escape the very next day after being arrested?

In reading through more of the news stories, it seems that this Charles W. Charles had been know in the area; was known to drink and have a few buddies that got caught stealin’ in the neighborhood.  I guess they used Charles spot for a drop off for their loot every once in a while, according to the authorities he had indeed been a suspect to murders in Wisconsin and in Montana and had drifted west to Portland, hoping to try and find a new life in Oregon.

He was at the murder scene the next morning, witnesses noted him, he was seen up on N.W. 53rd. he was seen walking around early in the morning, staring at the dead body lying by the car, and as I had mentioned police arrested him and he was locked up in the Multnomah County Jail.  The next day he escaped, vanished in thin air, nobody could figure how he escaped, he was found ten years later, in California, and he was arrested for a murder similar to the Wayne-Chapman murders.  A local reporter questioned Charles W. Charles about the murders, he never confessed to the Wayne-Chapman murders.  He died in California’s death row.

So what actually did happen to Wayne and Chapman that night I thought to myself?  I kept going through the articles as I have mentioned, studied the evidence, and finally came up with a couple scenarios or hunches as to what may have happened the night of the Wayne-Chapman murders.  I began to write into the early morning.  I wanted to write a story about this famous local murder mystery.  I knew Donnie could help me if I ran into any issues with the story, he was a river of knowledge with the story.  How lucky I thought to myself.

I’d like to note, If you didn’t grow up in Portland, Oregon you wouldn’t have known that back in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s S.W. Broadway was “THE” place to be if you had a car and especially if you were in high school.  It was the most popular spot to mingle if you were out of a Friday night.  It was known for its cruisin’ and drag racin’ from time to time, especially on Friday or Saturday nights.  Rows upon rows of cars would cruise Broadway, people would yell and scream, laugh and holler well into the night.

I did my research; I started to compare notes and added up information.  I scribbled on napkins, I started to compile things together, I stayed up late at night and tried to imagine and surmise as to what could have had happened that gruesome night.  I thought about the Wayne and Chapman kids and their involvement, I started to piece together a few scenarios as to what may had happened that tragic night.  I thought it was odd that Charles W. Charles had been arrested the day after the murder of Billy Wayne.  How did he escape a day later, what about the Smith, and Carlson kids, the two boys that had told the young couple about the party?  Why were they arrested almost seven years later and then released?  As far as I could tell there were a few questions that needed to be answered to this puzzling case.  I sat up nights imaging what could have had happened that horrific night.

Well, after doing my research I decided to write a few scenarios down as to what may have happened that night.  The following sketched out story has to do with the first scenario in what I believe may have happened that cold, frightful night, the following story is based on facts with the possible involvement and arrests with Jimmy Smith and Dan Carlson, the two boys that told the young couple about the party that Friday night.

Friday October 20, 1962.  Scenario #1 Jimmy Smith and Dan Carlson.

It was a cool crisp night that night, wet and damp, thick mud lined the streets, leaves were changing colors, and darkness had covered the landscape of the West Hills.  If you walked outside you were sure to get wet feet.  Billy Wayne and Mary Beth Chapman had talked at school that afternoon, met in the cafeteria at lunch, had planned on a date later that night.  They were young and in love.  They were both juniors at Lincoln High school.

Billy Wayne went home right after school, he had a few pimples on his young face, and he raced home matter of fact and got his best duds on.  He fussed with his tie, looked for a clean shirt, gobbled his dinner down in a few minutes, and franticly paced in his bedroom looking at his watch until it was close time to pick up his sweetheart.  He wasn’t that well liked in school, he had caused trouble and was known to get into a scuffle or two from time to time, so was his girlfriend.

“Hey dad I’m going to borrow the car tonight if you don’t mind!  It’s Friday and I wanted to take Mary Beth out on a date if that’s O.K.?”  The young boy grabbed a handgun he hid in his dresser drawer, loaded it with some bullets, tucked it in his coat and whisked off, slammed the front door, hopped in his dad’s car.  He rolled down the window of the driver side window and shouted to his father, “Don’t worry dad I’ll be home by midnight!”

Buddy Holly and the Crickets blared on the car radio as he sped off in the night.  He had snuck a few beers, they rolled on the floor of the car, as Billy swirled around corners leading to his high school sweetheart’s house.  Within a few minutes he pulled up to a nice older Tudor home located up off of S.W. Montgomery road, it was an upper class neighborhood, and the lawns were well manicured.  He pulled up in the Ford, combed his hair and, stumbled a few times and then rushed to ring the front door bell.

When he rang the doorbell the Chapman families Golden Labrador started to bark, a few voices from behind the door could vaguely be heard.  Mary Beth answered the door.  “Hey there Billy, watcha’ know?”  Billy laughed and gave her a kiss on her cheek.

“I know you and I have a hot date.  Let’s skedaddle out of here!”  He grabbed her hand, Mrs. Chapman waved and yelled to them as they ran to his father’s car.  “Don’t be late Mary Beth, don’t forget you have to help me in the morning!”

They piled in the car, turned up the radio as KISN radio, one of the local radio stations in Portland played a tune.  Billy looked around and pulled out a couple of the beers he had hidden underneath the front seat.  They laughed and giggled as they headed downtown.  Somebody lit a cigarette and fumbled for a lighter.

“Where do you want to go honey?”  Mary Beth smiled and rolled her window down as she guzzled on the cold beer.  “Let’s go downtown!  Let’s cruise Broadway sugar, yeah!”  She looked at Billy.  “I adore you Billy.”  They looked at each other and laughed.  Billy proceeded to head down S.W. Vista then turned to S.W. Salmon and headed east to S.W. Broadway.  Within a few minutes, they were on one of the busiest street corners in Portland.  There were hundreds of roadsters cruising the busy street that night.  Kids out on a Friday night, yelling, conversing, revving up their engines as people waved and gawked at the spectacle.  They turned right off of S.W. Salmon and headed south on S.W. Broadway.  Cars surrounded them on the one-way street, soon a shiny blue 1958 Buick with two boys in it rolled down their window and started up a conversation with the couple.  Seems they had known each other from Lincoln High School.

“Hey there freckle face strawberry Mary Beth what’s going on?”  Billy Wayne glared at them and barked back, “She’s with me turds!  Let her be!”  The boys got startled and started to laugh, revved up their engine and started to follow them along the jammed street.  At the south end of S.W. Broadway they turned left and started to go north down S.W. 7th.  They yelled back and forth, traded jabs with remarks, honked their horns, tried to act tough, but deep down a bit scared in not knowing what might happen that night.  Mary Beth looked at them and stuck her tongue out at the boys; the boys in the car were Jimmy Smith and Dan Carlson, they attended Lincoln High School, they were out looking for action that Friday night.  They knew of the Wayne and Chapman kids, knew them from going to Lincoln High.  They cruised S.W. Broadway, finally Steve Carlson looked at the young couple, “Hey you numbskulls were heading to a party tonight, were heading up to Forest Park, up off of N.W. 53rd!”  Mary Beth looked at Billy, “O.K!  Will see you there!  Will follow you!”

The boys headed north and got out of the crowded downtown streets, the young couple followed them.  They turned up S.W. Burnside, wound through N.W. Portland, headed up N.W. Lovejoy, and then up through N.W. Cornell road.  They went through the two dark tunnels along the curvy road, the dark forest made it hard to see, they sped past McLeay Park, headed west up N.W. Cornell until they got to the intersection of N.W. 53rd, they climbed the hills, followed the two boys that had told them about the party.  They followed them until they reached Inspiration Point.  There were cars parked along the road, the boys pulled their car off to an old dirt side road, they turned off the engine, and turned off their lights, Billy parked his father’s car just a few yards away.  They were a bit giddy from the beer, off in the woods you could see a fire with twenty, or so people gathered around.  You could hear the wood crackle as the fire got more intense as they walked closer to the gathering.  From where the parked cars were was a trail, leading up to the group of teenagers, it wound through the forest for about one hundred yards or so.

“Come on!” squealed Mary Beth, she grabbed her sweetheart’s hand.  They headed down the trail.

“Hey, you two made it to the party!” screamed Dan Carlson, he was standing next to the fire with a couple kids on each side of him.  Dan and his friend Jim were drinking a couple of cold beers; you could tell they had a bit too much to drink that night.  They were smoking and laughing, telling jokes and guzzling their beers.  The crowd glowed in the orange light, the fire made strange odd shadows in the night.

“Here, here have a beer!” yelled Jim.  He tossed the couple a couple of beers.  They drank well into the night.  Kids were running around, yellin’ and chasing each other.  Music from one of the cars parked close by blared music in the night.  After a while the crowd started to thin out.  Some kids screamed and raced off in their cars.  Soon there were just the four kids left at the gathering that night, the Wayne kid, the Chapman girl, and the Smith and Carlson boys.  It strangely went quiet that night, the wind blew through the trees.  They started going back to their cars at the end of the night.  It was dark and kind of creepy somehow.

They took the trail going back to the car, the two boys closely followed the young couple, they followed them up to where the couple had parked their car, and they talked amongst themselves as they got back to the cars.  They looked at each other.  “Wha, where are you two going?” asked Dan as he moved his hand inside one of his coat pockets.  They got closer to the young couples car, Jim stood by Dan’s side as the young couple started to climb in their car, once they got into the car the Smith and Carlson kids all of a sudden attacked the kids while they had their backs turned, they beat them both senselessly, it went on for a few minutes They struggled and wrestled in the mud.  They screamed but nobody heard them.  The wind continued to blow in the trees.  Mary Beth tried to run but fell, Jim Carlson jumped on top of her.  Billy Wayne reached over and opened his glove compartment as the scuffle continued, he reached for his gun, he fired a shot, was hit hard in the head with a rock Jim Smith had picked up off the ground.  He started to stab the Wayne kid, he stabbed him several times, and Billy screamed, nobody heard him, he died in the driver seat of his car.  The Chapman girl was raped and beaten, they dragged her off and took her to the car the two boys had parked close bye.  They sped off in the night, they headed up N.W. Thompson road, down into an old farm off of N.W. Skyline.  They continued to rape the young girl and then stabbed her, they took the life out of her, they stood over the poor girl, and then they took her body up off of Highway 26, dumped it in a ravine, and pretended nothing happened.  They went home that night.

Early the next morning a passerby had noticed the car that Billy Wayne had been driving and went up to look inside, they found the Wayne boy lying face down, blood was everywhere, and the front window of the car was shattered by a bullet.  The passerby ran home and called the authorities as quickly as he could.  A crowd gathered.  Soon the radios and television stations spread the news.

The police called in suspects, questioned the two boys the next morning, and actually arrested a suspect by the name of Charles W. Charles, a known drifter that lived in N.W. Portland.  Seems as though Mr. Charles lived off N.W. Vaughn and N.W. 29th, down near the Industrial area, near Guilds Lake.  He had a small beaten up apartment, had moved from back east within the last year or so, seems that he had been questioned about two murders very similar to the Wayne-Chapman murders a few years back, the police had known about him.  A day or so after he was arrested he escaped, he vanished into thin air, never was seen around Portland again.  Ten years later, back in around 1970, authorities in Northern California had arrested Charles W. Charles, arrested him for murdering a young couple.  Reporters interviewed him and asked if he had killed the Wayne-Chapman kids, denied killing the couple up until his death

So, the police’s top suspect escapes and the two boys are arrested seven year later, the Smith and Carlson boys, one is released within a year or so later the other kids is released three years later, lack of evidence the police said.  The two boys drift out of town and nobody is ever heard from again.  How odd I thought to myself.

So, with this first scenario the two boys are to blame, they’re the ones that people thought murdered the young couple, most folks that heard or knew about the case believed the boys were the ones that committed the crimes.  Since bits and pieces of evidence did not add up or were found missing, nobody knew for sure what had exactly did happen that night.  They shut the book on the case and people within time forgot about the murders.

Friday October 20th, 1962.  Scenario #2 Charles W. Charles.

With the second scenario I came up with the following side to the tale as to what could have happened that frightful night.  This second scenario points out Charles W. Charles in being the main suspect with the murders.

So the young couple drive through the west hills and get to the kegger that night, they follow the two boys who told them about the party, the Smith and Carlson kids.  They party well in the night.  Unfortunately, the young couple does not know that their being watched that night, yep they were being watched by Charles W. Charles.  Hiding in the bushes he was, hiding behind a few trees, or boulders, after all he only lived a few blocks away from the crime scene, the kids never knew that he used this spot to observe and possibly kill his next victims.  Seems that he hid through Forest Park from time to time, it seems he watched people and possibly plotted out his next murders.  He quietly waits for the party to end that night.  He was clever and hid behind large rocks and shrubs, tip toeing, slithering around, the unsuspecting kids never knew he was there.  He was carrying a knife with him that night, he was soon going to kill the Wayne and Chapman kids.

Well Charles W. Charles watches the young couple deep into the night, had actually seen the couple a few times before while walking through the neighborhood in N.W. Portland.  He didn’t like the Wayne kid too much, thought he was a punk, figured him in always being a smart mouth and never giving anybody any respect.  As for the Chapman girl, he knew of her, he just thought she was a dumb kid that should keep her mouth shut and mind her own business.

So Mr. Charles watches those kids in the dark that night and as the party starts to thin out he slowly walks to their car.  He grabs his knife that he kept in his pocket, he slowly sneaks up behind them and hits the Wayne kid in the head with a rock and proceeds to fight with him, a shot is fired, the bullet glances and hits Charles W. Charles in the arm.  He kills the boy, stabs him several times, runs after the Chapman girl and rapes her, beats her and drags her to his car.  He continues to rape her into the night, he mercilessly kills her and dumps her remains down off a gully off of Highway 26, near the Sylvan overpass.

He drives home, cleans up his car and the next morning decides to walk up to the crime scene and see what the police are doing with the dead body he left behind the night before.  He laughs to himself.  The police note his presence at the crime scene, seems as though he was one of the first at the crime scene that morning, he was found poking around and finally the police decide to arrest him right there on the spot.

One of the local officers on the crime scene goes up to Charles and talks with him, “Ah, ah hey buddy, I saw you here, ah, ah what brings you up here?”  Charles becomes agitated and looks at the cop. “I was curious, heard the news on the radio earlier this morning.”  Within a few minutes, two cops have put handcuffs on him and are reading him his rights.  A squad car pulls up and they put him in the back seat, people watch as he’s taken away.  He screams and yells at the cops as he’s hauled off.

They take him to Multnomah County Jail.  He keeps arguing with the police, argues over his involvement with the murders.  “You guys don’t have anything on me, what’s the charge?”  They take mug shots of him, while their moving him to a more secure jail cell located downstairs in the basement of the County Jail.  He notices a door left open down the hall way and he escapes into thin air.  It baffles the police, he escapes and isn’t heard of again up until his arrest in Northern California ten years later, arrested for a murder very similar to the murders that took place in Portland with the Wayne- Chapman murders.  When reporters interview Charles in California he denies his involvement with the Wayne- Chapman deaths, the case is closed.  The murders remain a mystery to this day.

So I took notes and tried to surmise as to what may have happened that night.  After a while I came up with a few scenarios with what may have unfolded that night with the murders.  I scribbled down ideas and antidotes as to what may have happened that night.  I sat down and wrote a story as to what may have happened.  I actually went up to Inspiration Point and walked around the site where the Wayne kid was found in his dad’s car.  It felt eerie in away.  The trees surrounded me, the wind blew, and it got dark quick.

So I came up with these two scenarios, seemed to make the most sense as to who may have been involved with the murders that night.  It took a lot of hard work, I spent several months researching the facts and taking my notes.  I thought I might have a good story.  After a while I had gathered quite a bit of information.  I started to write page after page with the murders.  I found old photographs with the couple, photographs from newspapers articles.  I continued to write down my notes.

It was a Saturday night and I decided to head to the Nobby and have a beer.  It was near the end of November or so, I remember it being cold and remembered how fall had set in quickly, I took some of my notes with me that night and tried to find a seat.  I was hoping Donnie Snell would be at the bar, I thought I’d go over some of my findings with him and discuss the murders, I thought he might be able to add to the story I had written, I knew he’d be interested.

I walked in the door and I was in luck, Donnie was sitting in one of the tables in the back of the bar, sitting by himself with his favorite drink, a fireball.  I noticed him as I sat down.  He got up waved and started to walk over.

“Ha, hello, Grant!” exclaimed Donnie.  “Can, can, can I sit down next to you?”  I looked at him and nodded my head yes.

“Wha, wha, what you got there Grant?”  I shuffled through my notes and glanced over at him.  “Oh Donnie these are my notes with the Wayne-Chapman murders.  Don’t you remember when we talked about the murders about a month ago?  My mom was with me that night?  You remembered quite a bit of information with the events that took place; you helped me get started in writing a story about them.”  He blinked at me and rolled up his golf cap in his hands.  He looked down at the ground and shuffled his feet.

He gave me a hard look and stared a bit.  “Don’t, Grant, well, don’t you think, well Grant don’t you think you ought to just leave what happened in the past with those murders?  The police did their work, they couldn’t catch nobody, whoever killed those kids probably left Portland a long time ago,” He stared at me as I looked at him.  The strangest feeling came over me, a feeling as though Donnie knew something much more about the murders than I had suspected.

He glared at me, looked roughly at me, cleared his throat, and looked outside at a passerby.  He tapped his fingers on the table.  “I think your pissin’ in the wind, and if I were you I might just forget about your nutty story.”  I felt uncomfortable as he talked, he looked mean and worn out, I had never seen his bad side.  I could tell he had been drinking and was upset with me.

He tried to change the subject.  “Grant I wanted to send your mother a Christmas gift, last time she was here she gave me her address.”  I looked at him and thought it strange that he mentioned this, I tried to remember my mom giving him her address, then I remembered, that’s right he asked mom for her address last time I took her to the Nobby, the night Donnie told me about the murders, I remember now.  She wrote her address down and handed it to him while we were watchin’ that Niner football game that night, that’s right.

I looked at Donnie.  “Yes Donnie, mom still lives at the address she gave you.”  He looked at me and smiled.  “I want to send her a Whitman Sampler for Christmas; she’s such a kind lady.”  I smiled at him as he calmed down a bit.  He chuckled to himself.  I was fearful for some reason, I didn’t know why, he had made me feel strangely uncomfortable that night.  “Yes Donnie I moved back to her home a few months ago to help her, she’s had a few falls, and she can’t do certain things like she use too.  I moved back to help her, I’m sure you can send her those chocolates, she’ll love them.”  He nodded at me and wrestled around in his pockets and smiled at me.

Donnie looked outside and then glanced at me quickly, “Well, Gra, Gra, Grant, I have to go!  Again Grant I’d forget your crazy goose chase with the murders, who cares, that happened over fifty years ago, leave it in the past, be a good boy and let it be, that’s what I’d do.”  He bumped into a customer on his way out and turned around and looked at me.  “I’d leave what happened that night alone if I was you,” He walked quickly and headed out the door and drifted north down N. W. 23rd.

I thought about what Donnie had said, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why he got so upset at me in writing a story about the murders.  I shuffled through my notes, stayed about a half hour and decided to walk back to my car, which I parked a few blocks away.  As I walked to my car in the dark that night I noticed footsteps, I glanced over my back three or four times as I made my way to down to my car.  At one point I swore I saw somebody run into the bushes, I thought to myself and got to my car, I unlocked the door and got in.  I sat there awhile seeing if anybody was following me.  I drove home and soon went to bed.

The next morning I woke up and went to work, in those days I was working for a local newspaper called the Northwest Examiner Newspaper, I was a photographer for the paper and wrote a few articles from time to time, covering local stories.  I had an assignment working on a new condo development taking shape off N.W. Thurman that day.  I called my editor and he paved the way for me being able to take a few photos at the construction site of the new development.  Around 4:00 P.M.  I got to the site and there were a few sharp dressed businessmen with hard hats on.  I introduced myself to them, took a few photographs of them holding shovels, walked the site, took a few more photos, jotted down some information, and then thanked them and left.

I arrived home around 6:00 P.M. Mom was standing by the door way, crying, I looked at her, she was visibly upset, I was worried, “What happened mom, what is it?”  She was beside herself, I held her as she cried.  “Oh Grant I went shopping this afternoon, wasn’t gone for more than a couple of hours, I get back and walked into the apartment and there’s a man in the dining room, he looked at me and ran out on the patio and around the bushes on the side of the house.  He dropped a knife!”  She trembled as I held her in my arms.

“Don’t be afraid mom,” I tried to reassure her.  “Did you call the police?”  She caught her breath and looked up at me, “I called them just before you got here.  I tried calling you, but you didn’t pick your phone up.”  I looked at my phone; sure enough there was a message from my mom on my phone.  Within a few minutes, the Portland Police Department showed up.  They sat down with mom and took notes.  “Will have a squad car keep a look out on your place the next couple of days,” noted the sergeant in charge.  My mother nodded her head.  “Good thing your son lives with you.  You might want to keep an eye out and give us a call if you notice anything suspicious.”  They looked around the apartment, took notes, and soon left.

I stayed up most of the night that night, watched over mom, made sure she got to sleep O.K. and went back to writing the story and checking the photos with my shoot that day.  I started to think about the intruder that stopped in on my mother that night.  Why would anybody want to break in?  He must have been watching the place whoever it was.  What did he want from my mother?  I slowly drifted off to sleep that night.

Next morning mom was in the kitchen making eggs, the television was on, “Mom, are you O.K?”  I replied.  She looked up at me, “I feel so much safer with you here.  I don’t know what he wanted, I guess I scared him off and he got startled and skedaddled.”  She laughed and went on cooking her eggs.

A week or so passed by, I turned in my photos with the condo developer story to my editor, Christmas was soon approaching, there were decorations strewn about, this told me Christmas wasn’t too far behind.  Mom decorated the house and we settled in for the holidays.

A few days before Christmas I decided to float by the 23rd Market, it’s located in the middle of the block, between N.W. Lovejoy and N.W. Marshall, located close to the Nobby.  I liked grabbing a sandwich, bag of chips and maybe a soft drink when I stopped in to the old market.  I walked up to the counter and gave my order.  I ordered a roast beef on whole wheat, cream cheese, with lettuce and tomatoes.  Nick was the store manager; he waited on me and took my order.  He was Greek and I enjoyed talking soccer with him.  “Thanks Grant here’s your sandwich, I think Barcelona will win on Saturday.”  He laughed and handed me my change.  It was around midnight, the streets were quiet, a dark rainy night, my car was parked around the block, down off of N.W. Marshall.  Christmas decorations were hung about on the old homes, bright Christmas lights twinkled bright.  As I was walking along I thought I heard somebody following me, I thought I heard footsteps, I thought to myself “Was I being followed again?”  There were a few sounds and then it went silent.  I turned to glance, nobody was around, and I got to my car and started it up.  Was my mind playing tricks on me I thought to myself?  I pulled out and drove back home that night, I felt uneasy as I headed home, I felt like I was being watched.  I soon got home, mom was up, and I told her about being followed.

“What, what’s going on Grant?  Why are we being watched?  What was that man doing around here?  I’m frightened.”  She looked out a window to check and see if anyone was around.  She went to bed and I stayed up to watch the local news.

Christmas soon rolled around and I was busy with a few photo assignments that I was working on and I continued with my notes with the Wayne-Chapman murders, they preoccupied my time.  I had just gotten off work and decided to stop in on the Nobby that night.  I felt uneasy, Donnie was there he looked at me and he quickly got up and left, not saying a word.  He ignored me, I thought it was odd, he just looked off and tried to avoid me.  I had a beer and left about a half hour later.  I thought about how strange it was in seeing Donnie act as though he didn’t know me, as if he had never met me before.  It was a Friday night and it was dark out, not many people on the streets.  I had parked my car a few blocks away, around the corner and off of N.W. Marshall as I usually did.  Donnie lived off of N.W. 23rd, at the cross section of N.W. 23rd and Quimby.

A few minutes later, as I was walking towards my car somebody popped out of the bushes a few twenty yards or so behind me, it startled me and I glanced back, I could hear footsteps, I really couldn’t make out the figure.  Soon, before I got to my car I could feel a gun barrel pressed abruptly against the middle of my back.  Whoever was holding the gun jammed it in my back as hard as they could.

“Get in the car!”  It was Donnie Larson, he shoved and pushed me in the car, and he jumped in next to me in the passenger seat.  He looked around in making sure nobody was following us.  I didn’t have time to react.  He held his gun in his hand.  “You wouldn’t leave things alone would you, you just wouldn’t leave things alone?”  He was mad and annoyed, I could tell he was drinking, I was surprised, Donnie wore a black leather jacket and some worn jeans, wore some old gloves and in his right hand was a revolver, I could see a knife tucked inside his jeans.

“Start your car up, were going to take a little drive, up to Forest Park, up to Inspiration Point.”  I started the car up and drove three or four blocks, drove up to the corner of N.W. 25th and Thurman.  I was scared; I could tell Donnie was upset.  “We want to head up towards Leif Erickson road, it’s up near the end of Thurman, keep driving dick weed.”  I looked at him, he was pointing the gun, and shaking a bit, he slurred words a few times.  Outside it was cold and the rain poured down on the windshield, the wipers moved back and forth, as car headlights casted long abstract shadows inside my car, we headed up Thurman.  I was afraid, didn’t know what to do, I kept driving, I glanced in the rear view mirror in hoping someone saw us as we got in the car.

“You just couldn’t stop with the Wayne- Chapman murders could you?  Could you!?”  I looked at Donnie, I looked surprised.  “Why, ah why Donnie I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  He leaned towards me and quickly hit me in the head, he slapped me upside the head with his gun, it knocked me to one side, and I grabbed my face and looked at him painfully.

“Donnie, wha, what’s going on, what are you talking about?”  He sat, and flinched at me and waved his gun around in my face.  He was mad, he was beside himself as I drove.

“You, you started to poke around,” he started to twitch, “Those kids deserved to die!  They use to make fun of me, they called me names, they use to think they were so frickin’ smart!  Well they aren’t too smart now are they?”  He came up close to me and started to scream, he spit on me as he yelled.  “I use to follow ‘em, I use to watch ‘em, I’d go to Forest Park and watch them from the woods when they had their fancy high falooten’ parties.  They never invited me!”  I looked at him.  It suddenly dawned on me that Donnie had killed those kids that night.  I started to panic, what was I going to do!  I started to think.

He looked at me, “I took care of them kids, and yep I took care of them good that night.  I showed them, I killed ‘em both, I stabbed them, I killed them!  I had fun with the girl!”  He looked at me.  “Those cops, ha!”  They thought the boys in the car or that Charles W. Charles character had killed ‘em, but no, it was me who done it!”  I flinched a bit.  I sat driving my car trying to find the right words to say as Donnie pointed his gun at me.

“Donnie, are you saying that you killed the Wayne-Chapman kids that night?”  He looked at me and made a strange face, “YES!  It was me that killed those kids you dumb bastard!  You never suspected me did you?”  He looked at me and tried to roll down his window.  “I was friends with Charles W. Charles!”  He looked proud while telling me his story.  “I met him one dark night while hanging out at Crackerjacks Bar, I was walking up on N.W. Thurman, he took me and showed me his place, he took me to his apartment, he’d buy me beer and play music and talk into the night, he introduced me to a couple gals he knew.  He showed me his guns and knives.  We had a fine time, he told me of how he killed a few people back east, told me how he escaped and drifted down the Columbia River to Portland, how he changed his name, that nobody knew where he was or what he did.”  Donnie looked at his gun and then looked at me.  ”You see the cops never figured that it was me that could have done a thing like that.  Guess I fooled them!  Ha!  I was sixteen when I killed them kids.”  He laughed for a few minutes, “They thought it was those boys or maybe Charles W. Charles.  Why, when those cops arrested Charles the very next day after they found the Wayne boy, why I heard they arrested Charles.  So I went down to the County Jail and I helped Charles escape the night after he was arrested.  I snuck down and I went through an old washroom and got inside the jail, why he was standing there waiting for the guards to throw him in a  more secure cell, I waved to him and he went slidin’ out a side door when he saw me, he waved and thanked me and ran off into the night.”  I looked at him, “Well I figured if Charles W. Charles escaped then there wouldn’t be anyway the cops could have figured it was me that killed those kids, ha, ha it was perfect!  Dumb bastards!  It weren’t the boys, that’s for sure!”  He started to laugh.

I sat there and looked at Donnie as I drove up towards the Thurman Bridge.  So it was Donnie that had killed the young couple that night, it had been fifty years since that terrible night.  He had gone fifty years in nobody suspecting that it was him.  “You want to keep driving up to where Thurman ends, stop at the parking area there near the drinking fountain, were going to take a walk up to Inspiration Point.”  He laughed and pulled a stocking cap over the top of his head.  “Those kids use to pick on me at school, call me names, and make fun of me.  Well they ain’t making fun of me no more are they?”  He looked at me and laughed, he went on with his mad laugh.  I sat there startled.  I didn’t know what to do, my head hurt, I had a welt on the side of my head where he had smacked me.

We crossed over the Thurman Bridge and got up to Willamette Heights, We kept driving up past N.W. Gordon and then came to the dead end on N.W. Thurman.  “Now get your sorry ass out of the car and toss me them keys to your car!”  I reached for the keys, pulled them out of the ignition, and tossed them to him.  He caught the keys and put them in his pant pocket.  He smiled at me.  He was becoming louder and more agitated.  I got out of my car, nobody was parked around the area.  We headed up toward the fountain and he stuck his gun in my back, “Now keep walking!”  We walked a ways, headed towards Cherry Trail, which would eventually take us up to Inspiration Point.

As we were walking I continued to talk to him.  “Why, why Donnie, why would you kill those kids?”  He stuck the gun in my back as we headed up Leif Erickson in the dark, the trail was only a few feet away.  “They made fun of me, in school they made fun of me all the time, they were mean, they teased me.”  He became more annoyed.  We kept walking in the dark, the wind picked up and an’ old dog started barking off in the distance.

“Stop, stop here Grant!”  I came to an abrupt halt.  We had come to the Cherry Lane Trail, eventually it would take us to Inspiration Point, we started hiking up a hill, the trail wound through the dark covered hills, off in the distance you could hear the sounds of box cars banging down in the Industrial area.  “I’m going to kill you Grant, yep I’m going to kill you you dumb bastard!  You know too much, you now know that I killed those kids!”  Suddenly I panicked, I turned quickly and grabbed for the gun that he was holding in his left hand, I raised his arm in the air and he fired off a shot.  We wrestled a bit and I knocked the gun out of his hand, it fell to the ground, I could not see where the gun fell, it was too dark.  I knocked him down and started to run down the muddy dark trail, back toward my parked car, Donnie fired a shot and I could hear the bullet wiz by my head, it bounced off of rock and I could hear it deflect and hit something else.  I ran back to the car, I had forgotten about the car keys, damn now what?

I started to run down N.W. Thurman.  I turned and watched as Donnie started up my car and started to race down Thurman after me.  I weaved in an out of cars parked along the street, I kept heading down towards the Thurman Bridge.  Donnie was quickly heading towards me, he side swiped a few cars and fired off another shot, I weaved back and forth, and I continued to run down N.W. Thurman, down toward the bridge.  It seemed like I ran forever, I remember feeling tired, and he kept chasing me.  Donnie yelled as he kept coming towards me in my car, swerving, he was mad, out of his mind, the front lights glared out brightly in the windy night, he was about a half block away from me and fired another shot as I approached the old bridge.

Just then the 6:30 P.M. Tri-Met #20 bus was heading up N.W. Thurman that night, I could see the lights as it approached the east side of the bridge, the bus was shortly going to pass over the bridge and head my way.  I had to do something as I thought to myself; I hid in some bushes and waited for the bus.  I stopped near the west end of the bridge, Donnie spotted me and started to head straight for me in my car, the bus crept closer and closer, he drove my car right towards me almost as though he was going to run over me, I could see his face through the front window, he was screaming.

Suddenly, without really thinking, I jumped in front of the bus.  The driver was startled and his passengers yelled, the driver of the bus slammed on his breaks and quickly swerved to the left and plowed right into my car.  It was a horrific impact, the bus veered to the left, the bus bumped my car, pushing my car, and Donnie up over the guard rail of the Thurman Bridge, my car flipped over the bridge, and I could hear Donnie scream as I watched in horror.

The car exploded and went flying to the ground below landing in a fiery heap.  Donnie burned inside the car, the bus came to a halt as I stood in disbelief.  People screamed and hurried about.  I ran over to the side of the bridge and looked down towards Balch Creek.  I watched as my car burned down below.  People on the bus continued to scream, the bus driver ran out and looked at me.  Soon there was a small crowd.  Donnie laid motionless as people started to gather.  The police arrived and soon I was taken down town for questioning.  I told them of Donnie, the murders, of how he confessed.  They had a hard time in believing the tail.

The police were in disbelief.  Donnie was the murderer all right, a neglected kid that was made fun of most of his life, poor kid had had enough and decided one night to kill the young couple.  He decided to help one of the suspects escape into the night, it was a perfect murder, up until I brought back old memories one night while sitting with Donnie at the Nobby.

I told the police how I had been writing a story about the murders, how Donnie helped me with facts and that since I got a little to close in finding out who had committed the murders that Donnie decided he was going to put an end to me.  The police came around to believing me finally, they went back to his apartment and found old newspaper clippings he had saved through the years, articles telling about the murders.  They found his knives and bullets, he was the one that murdered those two kids alright.  The police put an end to the case.

So Donnie had been there that night, watched those kids and followed the couple back to their car and then committed the murders, He helped Charles W. Charles escape and for nearly fifty years lived a pretty quiet life.  They took Donnie off to the morgue, he died of a crushed skull, and broken back and he burned to death in my car.  It took me a long time to get over what happened that night, poor soul.  Newspapers wrote about what happened that night, they went into detail.  Everywhere I went people wanted to ask me about the murders.  I suppose in time the stories will be forgotten.  For the most part the case was closed.  I have trouble sleeping at night at times, thinking about the murders, and thinking about Donnie.

As a kid, my father would tell me tall stories while lying up late at night in my bed.  He would tell stories about the west, tales of cowboys, cowgirls and assorted folklore and foibles.  The following short little yarn is from a bedtime story that my father used to tell me when I couldn’t sleep at night.  It always seemed to work in helping me get a good snooze.  I hope you enjoy it.

This little tale starts and curves, flows, and nestles along Johnson Creek, east of town, around Powel Butte, up over to a ranch on the west side of Mt. Scott, around and through to where the mountain touches the sky and the wind blows and whistles through the trees.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal lived up near the tall Doug firs that meandered up along the west ridge of the mountains on this particular noted location, sacred land overlooking the rolling creeks and streams that weave through the countryside.  Her spread faced out to the south, towards Clackamas County.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal had freckles, wore western duds, sported a big ten-gallon cowgirl hat, wore a western shirt with glittering silver snap buttons, a sassy little blue jean skirt, and a pair of old brown cowboy boots that reached up to her knees.  She wore a blue bandana scarf around her neck.  Her hair was dark red, and she had cherry red lips.  She had a snow-white complexion and her eyes were bright blue and glistened like two car headlights beaming through fog in the cold Oregon night.

She had three brothers named Martin, Luke, and John.  They were noted for playing banjo, accordion, and harmonica.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal had several horses (naturally), goats, chickens, buffalo, and a few roosters on her ranch.  She had an old International red tractor that she drove around the farm to do chores in and to haul hay and feed for her hungry livestock.  She drove a steam shovel and even had an old dump truck to do her grocery shopping.

Her cabin was made from the finest, oldest timber that grew on her land.  Her Ma’ and Pa’ helped cut and trim the fallen timber with a sixteen foot saw that was handed down from generation to generation.  They then took the logs and cured the timber to withstand the cold, harsh Oregon weather.  They took river rock from Johnson’s Creek and built the foundation for her cabin.  Her friends Cisco, Sunny, Bo Diddley, and Lead Belly helped her with the hardest of chores.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal was as big as a house and as tall as a young pine.  She liked to wrestle and roll in the mud with her cowgirl and cowboy friends.  She’d pick herself off the ground, take her cowboy hat, and brush herself off.  She came with the dust and left with the wind.  She had a pair of six shooters that hung above her fireplace.

Her parents taught her how to throw horseshoes when she was just a young kid.  One day, her Pa’ pounded two stakes in the ground about thirty yards apart under an old oak tree on the family spread.  He grabbed some old boards that he had in the garage for the backboard of the horseshoe pit and measured out a specific area for players to stand in.

When she was ten or so, her Ma’ bought her a pair of horseshoes for her birthday, small horseshoes that were made for a small Shetland pony.  They fit in her hands just right.

“You get one point for the closest horseshoe thrown to the stake, two points for a leaner, and three points for a ringer!” squawked her Pa’.

You could hear the clank of the horseshoes when they hit the stake as she practiced.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal learned to throw the horseshoes high up in the air.  She learned to throw the horseshoes just right, in the shape of an arc when she released them.  They would hit the ground with a thud, roll, and dart close to the stake.  Her friends loved to gather after school just to watch her toss the pieces of handcrafted iron.  They watched right up until she reached the score of twenty-one.

As she got older, Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal got horseshoes that were bigger and heavier.  Once in.  While, she wrestled one of her horses to the ground, took a piece of rope, tied the scared animal’s legs together, and took off the horseshoes right then and there…right off the startled horse!  She took the new horseshoes and headed over to the horseshoe pit and practiced.  She wanted to be the best horseshoe thrower in the state.

She was painting her family’s old shed one day when her Ma’ came running around the corner of the cabin.  “Sal, Sal!  There’s going to be a state competition in tossin’ horseshoes!”  She looked surprised.  “Yippee!  Yippee!  Yahoo!” exclaimed her Pa.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal ran and grabbed her best pair of horseshoes.  “Pa’, can we pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease go to the state fair!  I can win the horseshoe contest!”

Her father rubbed his shin, squinted, scratched his head, spat on the ground, and looked at her.  “O.K. Sal, you can go but ya’ better practice.  You have about one month before the competition!”

“Yippee!  Yahoo!” shouted Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal.

For the next few weeks she spent all of her spare time tossing horseshoes in her big backyard.  Her trusty dog Sam would run after them.  Once, he got in the way and was hit in the noggin’.  “Yowie!  Ouch!  Yahoo!” cried Sam.  He learned not to get too close to the horseshoe pit.

Sal practiced and practiced.  She practiced until the horseshoes got too heavy to throw and her hands turned red.  She practiced leaners and throwing ringers.  She would throw all kinds of tosses.  Her friends would watch in amazement as she refined her technique.

Finally the day had come.  They woke up early that day and ate a big plate of pancakes.  The state fair was held in Salem and Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal gathered all her family and friends, jumped in her dump truck, and proceeded to head down to Salem.  Her father grabbed his old cowboy hat and away they flew down the road.  Dogs and chickens chased after them.

Sal, Cisco, Sunny, Bo Diddley, and Lead Belly made sure she had all of her horseshoes.  She had some beautiful horseshoes, some of the rarest in the land, some made as far away as Pendleton.  She wore her finest clothes, a bright white cowboy hat with a long feather in it, a beautiful white scarf, a bright blue cowboy shirt with silver snaps, a red denim skirt, and white cowboy boots.  She painted her horseshoes red, white, and blue.

The truck wound down I-5 toward the state capital.  People waved as they saw Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal and all of her friends and family in the dump truck.  They soon arrived in Salem.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal jumped down off the truck followed by her friends.  Sam, her dog, barked as they ran up to the check in area for the competition.

The horseshoe pits were beautiful, well-manicured lawns.  Fresh chalk lined the official horseshoe area.  Red, white, and blue ruffled banners were lined all around the grandstands.  Bleachers were set up to hold close to ten thousand fans.  A large brass band was playing old favorite music.  The conductor had a big white beard, a big belly, and a tall hat on his head.

The stands were full.  Kids munched on cotton candy.  Balloons were dotted throughout the crowd.  Dogs barked and the concession stands were packed with people buying candy, lemonade, and corn dogs.

All the best horseshoe throwers in the state were there at the fair.  There was Big Boom Boom Batlin’ Joanie Weston, noted horseshoe thrower Ramblin’ Tamblin’ Bobbie Magee, Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie, and a few other noted highly skilled throwers.

They were known to be the finest horseshoe throwers in the Pacific Northwest.  Most of the competitors for the horseshoe contest were found warming up in the official horseshoe pits.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal grabbed her horseshoes and began to practice.  Everybody stopped to watch her toss.  It was obvious that she was a natural at horseshoes.  Everybody clapped and screamed when she scored a ringer.

“Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Oregon State Fair woman’s horseshoe championships!” roared the announcer’s voice through the big speakers that were placed throughout the crowd.  Everybody cheered.  The competition would include the first round, second round, semifinal and final matches.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal would compete against one of the best horseshoe players in the tournament.  She would face Bouncin’ Trouncin’ Wilma Walker.

They dusted off their horseshoes and started play.  Wilma threw first and scored a ringer right off the bat.  Sal followed, throwing a leaner.  They continued to throw and rack up points.  The score was tied fifteen to fifteen going down the stretch.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal threw a ringer and finally pulled away and won her first hard fought match of the day.  All of her friends cheered.  Her Ma’ and Pa’ started to cry.  It was a fantastic match.

She cooled down and had a big tall glass of lemonade made by an old maid in the shade.  “Great job Slap Happy Sal!” exclaimed Cisco, Sunny, Bo Diddley, and Lead Belly.

The second round would follow, and Sal would now face Big Boom Boom Batlin’ Joanie Weston!  They started to throw their horseshoes one turn after another.  The excitement mounted and the crowd roared as each gal racked up points.  It was nip and tuck as the match dragged on, Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal found enough gumption and vigor and threw a ringer to pull away and leave Big Boom Boom Batlin’ Joanie Weston in the dust.  She was exhausted by the end of the match.  Her Ma’ and Pa’ came over and flapped a towel to try to cool her off.

“Remember to throw your horseshoes so they land close to the stake!” yelled her Pa’.  She nodded her head and tried to stay calm.  She had now made it to the semi-finals and her next opponent would be Ramblin’ Tamblin’ Bobbie Magee, one of the most famous horseshoe throwers in the state.  Slap Happy Sal was the first to throw.

“Don’t forget to tie your shoe!” yelled Bobbie Magee just as Slap Happy Sal threw her first horseshoe.  Slap Happy Sal lost her concentration and committed a foot fault.  Sal gave Bobbie a mean look.  The match went back and forth.  It was a real battle of expert horseshoe masters.  Near the end, through sheer determination and will power, Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal pulled away and won the match.  The crowd went wild.  Sal fell to the ground.  Her dog, Sam, licked her face.  The final would be played the next day.  Everybody was exhausted from the competition.

That night, Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal had trouble falling asleep.  She tossed and turned worrying about her championship match.  She knew she would be facing the reigning champion in the horseshoe state competition.  She would be matched against Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie!  People from all around feared Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie.  She was known for always trying to intimidate her competitors, she would growl, claw, scream, and yell just to win her matches.  She had the local radio and television personnel in her back pocket.  She paid them money under the table in turn for them saying favorable comments about her.  She drove a pink Cadillac.

That morning Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal’s mama came walking up to her while she was lying in her bed.  “Slap happy Sal, I want you to know no matter how the championship match turns out, that I…I…I…well, that I want you to know that I will always love you even if you lose and leave the family penniless.  I’ll still cherish the day you were born.”

“Gee, thanks Ma’” replied Slap Happy Sal.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s now the time for the Oregon State Fair championship horseshoe throwing contest!” yelled the official announcer.

“Yahoo!” yelled the crowd.  Kids let go of their balloons, dogs barked, and everyone was worked up into a wild frenzy.

Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal looked at Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie.  “Watch yam’ lookin’ at ya’ old nag!” barked Susie.

“Oh, I ain’t lookin’ at nothin’ except an old piece of poop!” replied Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal.  As soon as Sal said those words, Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie jumped at Slap happy Sal and the two gals started to wrestle right then and there.  They rolled back and forth, tether and fro.  They dragged each other all over the horseshoe pits.  They knocked over the carefully placed decorations and ran over a little old lady holding a fifteen-year-old cat.  They even rolled over the official scorekeeper and finally were broken apart by one of the local fire fighter brigades that were sitting in attendance that fine day.

“Now lookie’ here you two young wildcats…we will have none of your shenanigans at this here competition!  Now, either you act like gentrified ladies or we’ll stop this horseshoe event right here and now!” exclaimed the official Oregon State Fair horseshoe judge.

The crowd was at a fever pitch.  Local dignitaries were in attendance, including the owner of the local doughnut hut and the honorable Governor Waldo John Hossenfeffer.  The governor had a long handle bar mustache that decorated his bright red face.  He sat in the very important section at this fine event, centered right behind the grandstand, located just behind the backstop of the east horseshoe pit.

Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie threw the first horseshoe and naturally, she threw a ringer.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal threw her horseshoe and also threw a ringer.  They threw ringers, leaner’s, in betweeners; heck, they threw all kinds of shots.  They went back and forth and up and down the horseshoe pits.  Poor Slap Happy Sal’s Pa’ chewed his fingernails to the nubs.  It was a very exciting match.

Well, after about an hour it came down to the final few throws for each gal.  Slap Happy Sal had dirt and grime covered all over herself.  Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie looked like a truck had hit her.  The gals had played a great match.  It would go down in state history as one of the finest matches ever recorded.

Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie took aim, threw her horseshoe, and it landed right up against the stake at the east

end of the horseshoe pits.  She had a score of twenty.  She needed but one point to win the match.

Slap Happy Sal knew she was in trouble.  She had eighteen points and needed a ringer to win the match and it came down to her last toss.  She took a deep breath, smiled at her friends and family, and started to prepare to throw her horseshoe into the air.  Right then, at that very instant before she threw her horseshoe, Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie pulled one of the oldest, meanest, low down, dirtiest tricks known to man.  She looked at Sal and stuck out her foot.  Sal slipped and lost her balance and threw her horseshoe with such might and velocity that it flew into the crowd, hitting the honorable Governor Waldo John Hossenfeffer right in the noggin’.  It bounced off his poor head, hit the ground in a thud, rolled, and came to rest right around the stake sticking out of the ground.

The crowd was at a gasp.  The governor fell to the ground, dropping his twenty-ounce microbrew and the crowd roared.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal jumped for joy.  Ragin’ Cagin’ Susie Ooochie Canoechie kicked the scorekeeper’s judge right in the shin.  Cisco, Sunny, Bo Didley, and Lead Belly put Slap Happy Sal on their shoulders and took her to the winner’s circle.  The band began to play old favorite tunes.  Her parents were so proud.  The honorable Governor Waldo John Hossenfeffer staggered to his feet and rubbed his sore head.  He had a lump the size of a large walnut.  He handed Slap Happy Sal a six-foot gold trophy, a big blue ribbon, and a check for $5,000 made out to the Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal.

“It’s my pleasure, my fellow Oregonians, on this beautiful warm spring day in May, to award the first-place trophy to Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal!”  Everybody roared, had a fine time, cheered, screamed, and finally the crowd started to dwindle and made their way home.  Slap Happy Sal the horseshoe gal went down in history as being the finest horseshoe thrower in Oregon.

Usually, just about at this time in the story, I’d be fast asleep, tucked away, and warm under the covers of my bed.  My father would quietly walk back to his bedroom and turn off the hall light.  My father always had a great sense of humor and I figure he’s probably still telling stories to this day.

Link to the national horseshoe pitching website:

Cricket

I can remember the night my mother’s cousin Meredith (nicknamed Cricket) died of cancer.  It’s a night that I’ll always look back on with sadness.  She died when she was nineteen, close to four years after being diagnosed with having the life-threatening disease.  It was 1966.  I was around eight years old when Meredith died.  She sounded like a cricket when she talked, that’s how she received the name Cricket.  My mother’s family took her passing very, very hard.  She was loved by the entire family and she’s still missed to this day.

At the age of fifteen, Meredith was diagnosed with cancer.  The outlook wasn’t very good; the doctors didn’t give her much of a chance to live.  She fought the disease with grace and dignity.  My mother was very close to her and enjoyed the time spent with her.  They shared recipes, talked about sewing.  As a child, Meredith was always kind to me.  She was genuine and caring; I loved her very much.

She was active growing up and popular, a very pretty girl.  She had blonde hair and she was close to her family.  She enjoyed sewing, baking and belonged to the local 4-H.  Her future was bright.

My grandmother was very close to all of her relatives.  Georgia was one of my grandmother’s cousin’s, she was very dear friends with my grandmother.  When Georgia was around thirty years old, she was diagnosed with having schizophrenia.  Back in the 1940’s and the 1950’s many doctors prescribed performing a lobotomy to cure the disease.  It had to have been a terrible experience for her when doctors performed the lobotomy on Georgia.  Meredith (Georgia’s daughter) was three years old at the time.  Georgia’s mother, Whitney watched over Meredith while Georgia was in the Washington state mental institution.

Georgia was such a happy woman at times.  She always liked me; I think I was one of her favorites.  She was different in a way, kind of distant and numb to certain things.  She talked to herself once in a while and the effects of the lobotomy could be noticed.  It was sad.  In the middle of conversations she would drift off thinking or wondering.  She was always in the care of her family.

I traveled with my mother and grandmother to visit Meredith, Georgia, and Whitney.  They lived in Vancouver off of Lincoln Street in a small home, close to my grandmother’s house.  I often saw them while attending family reunions.  She was always kind to me, waved my way, and wanted me to try her cakes and pies.

When Meredith was diagnosed with cancer, the doctors performed tests and prescribed medication for her.  It went in and out of remission.  In June when she was nineteen, a year after her high school graduation, she was back in the hospital.  Relatives flocked to be by her side.  My mother

rushed to meet my grandmother and other relatives at Good Samaritan Hospital in Northwest Portland.  I can remember when my mother went to visit her that night.  I went to bed thinking of her and hoping that she would be okay.  My mother got home late that night and went to bed and drifted off to sleep.

Around 3:25 a.m. Mom woke up.  She was cold; her body was colder than she could ever remember.  She was shivering and felt like she was freezing.  She got out of her bed and went into the living room to get warm.  She sat on the couch for about twenty minutes.  It was dark that night, darker than most.  You could hear the sounds of the boats cruising along the Willamette, crickets in a nearby field played a symphony of music.  She went back to bed and fell asleep.

The next morning mom went to work.  Around 7:30 a.m. my mother got a call from my grandmother.  “Shirley, Meredith died!” replied my grandmother.  My mother started to cry.

“Oh mama!”  My mother wept.  Meredith quickly passed early that morning.  I can remember watching her cry later that night.

My mother thought to herself.  “What time did Meredith die mama?” asked my mother.

“She died at 3:25 a.m.”  That was the same time my mother woke in the middle of the night.  All of the relatives were so sad over her death.  I think its eerie how she woke up out of her sleep that night, at the exact time that Meredith died.  Was Meredith telling my mother goodbye that night?