Grant Keltner

The concussion

I was seventeen, it was the fall of my senior year, and it was October, 1975.  That was a great fall, one of my favorites, I had just finished watching the Cincinnati Reds beat the Boston Red Sox in the 1975 World Series, it was a painful world series, game six was a great memory for me back then, when Carton Fisk waved for his home run ball to stay fair as it sailed out towards left field.  I was a huge Red Sox fan back then; it broke my heart when they lost game seven.  It was a beautiful fall back then, the leaves had turned, and a wide variety of fall colors decorated N.W. Portland that autumn.

I was attending Lincoln High school at the time, located in S.W. Portland.  I was getting ready to play for the Portland city championship with men’s soccer this particular day, I’ll always remember the night, and it was going to be a magical night.  We were ranked second in state at the time and the team had worked hard the entire season in readying ourselves for a run for the state championships.  I had fallen in love with soccer a couple years earlier, right around my sophomore year.  I had played club soccer with the Portland Oysters (High school club team), within a year the state of Oregon included both men’s, and woman’s soccer, making it a varsity sport by the fall of 1974.  Everyone was excited that day, we had been written up in the Oregonian, several sports writers had gathered this day to cover the event, many local television stations had scheduled to show highlights of the big game.  It was a cold, rainy, dark night with the championship game.  We had played well my senior year, several of the players had been playing soccer both in high school and with club and select all-star teams.; the varsity soccer team at Lincoln that fall finished league going 11-1-0.  We would be playing the city championship at historical Civic Stadium, we’d be playing on old Astroturf, the field would be wet and slick, fog rolled in during the late afternoon, it began to pour, I thought to myself, I knew the soccer ball would surly skip along the artificial surface, unexpected bounces off the turf would certainly make the ball move faster than normal.  Dark clouds came rolling in that night, they covered the west hills.  I remember feeling apprehensive, a bit scared; there was a lot of pressure that day.

After school I went home right away, and if I remember right I walked back to N.W. Portland, I couldn’t sit still; I was so nervous, anxious in wanting to play the game as the afternoon wore on.  The phone rang a few times, I didn’t pick it up.  I had a really good year that season as the starting goalkeeper, I had been the starting goalkeeper for the Lincoln Cardinals for almost a year now, my junior year we had finished second in state, we were ready for the city championship game that night, we’d be playing the Franklin Quakers.  I had allowed six gals the entire season up to the city championship game, I had several shutouts that year, matter of fact I still hold the school record for fewest goals allowed in a season, I was always proud of this accomplishment.  I had some great players that helped make my job much easier.

I laid out my soccer gear on my bed.  I said a prayer, a small prayer in asking to watch over me.  Soccer is a hard physical game of endurance, skill teamwork, dedication, and creativity.  I went into the kitchen and made a sandwich, put on some music in helping relax, I sat down and worked on some writing that I was doing for the Cardinal Times, at that time I had a column that ran in the school newspaper, it was a satirical, factual, humorous column, I had been working on a portion of the article that day, I had a tight deadline and wanted to make sure I finished the piece before I turned it in on Friday afternoon.  Mr. Baily was our journalism teacher; I knew he was a stickler in making sure my stories were written correctly.  He was one of the toughest teachers I had at Lincoln, he wanted us to be the best we could be.

I sat alone for a while gathering my thoughts.  My mother’s apartment faced out towards Montgomery Park, the leaves flew by the window of her apartment as I sat there thinking about the upcoming game.  All my friends and family were planning on attending the big match that night, I called my grandmother.

“You can do it Grant, I know you can, I have faith in you!’ bubbled my grandmother.  She wished me good luck; she knew we’d do well.  She was so reassuring.  She had been following me through my high school athletics, I started on the baseball team, started in left field my sophomore and junior years, I played city league basketball and club soccer in the winter and spring, needless to say I was active.  I tried out for the Lincoln club soccer team my sophomore year, I watched and learned the game, I learned from Steve Angel and Rich Director and Mark Coldwell, all great players with Lincoln soccer, some of my team mates transferred from Catlin Gabel (a famous private school tucked up in the west hills.  Catlin was a powerhouse with soccer back then, they had won six straight state titles), on Saturday mornings we watched “Soccer Made in Germany.”  It was great fun, the Timbers made their debut in the spring of my junior year in high school, the Timbers made it all the way to the N.A.S.L. championship game, eventually losing to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  Within a matter of a few months soccer became a huge sport in Portland.  The city of Portland had fall in love with the sport.

My grandmother wished me good luck; she knew we’d do well.  She was so reassuring; I always liked calling her when I faced a big event.  Several of my team mates had planned on meeting at Blaine Deming’s house, which at that time was about a block away from my mother’s apartment.  Seems like the Deming’s had offered to have the team over before the game, they would provide us with dinner and a ride to the game.  Everyone showed up at their house that night, friends from the football team and from the cross country team came over, everyone was excited, and dogs barked in the courtyard of their backyard, a few kids on the team started to kick a soccer ball in the back yard.

The phone rang and it was Blaine Deming at the other end, Blaine had talked me into playing soccer when I was a sophomore, he believed in me, he thought I was a great goalkeeper.  I kept reminding him I hadn’t done anything yet.

“Grant, when will you be at my house?  Franco is here and a few of the other guys,” said Blaine.

‘Blaine give me a few minutes, I’ll be there by 5:00 P.M.”

I hung up the phone, went back in my room and started to put on my soccer gear, I put on a warm turtle neck first, followed by my black goalkeeper jersey, and then I put on some shorts, then some stretchy warm-ups, followed by my socks, shin guards and another pair of soccer socks over the shin guards.  I put on some tennis shoes and grabbed my soccer shoes.  Andrew Groshong loaned me a pair of Puma molded cleats that were made for AstroTurf earlier in the day.  I grabbed my goalkeeping gloves and put them in a back pack and stuffed in a clean t-shirt and a hat along with my soccer shoes.  I put on my rain coat and looked around in making sure I didn’t forget anything.  I headed out the front door and shut the door.  I headed over to the staircase that led up to N.W. Cornell road.  I headed east, down Cornell, crossed the street and soon I was at the Deming’s house.  I could hear some of my team mates busily hurrying around outside of the house.

I rang the doorbell, it was Blaine that answered.

“Come on in Grant!”

I entered their home, it was a beautiful spot, well decorated, everyone had congregated in the kitchen, there were thirteen, or so of my team mates, most of them couldn’t stand still, a soccer ball was on the floor, everyone was excited.  Mrs. Deming had made some spaghetti and a huge tossed salad, bread and fruit.  We all sat down and got our fair share of food.  The doorbell rang and a few more kids came on in.  Everyone that started on the team was there, Dan Shallanberger (Right wing), Franco Ferrua (Striker), George Kissas (Center midfield), Blaine Deming (Left wing), Andrew Groshong (Right half back), Robert Jumonville (Left half back), Peter Serrier (Central defense), Ben Miller (Fullback), Gordon Bowen (Sweeper), Tim Green (Left back) and Phil Bennet (Right back) were there, John Monague was there, Chris Leonard, Pat Burns, John Bennet, John Williamson, Richard Paxson and a few other people that would be called on as substitutes if need be. We had some really good athletes on the team.  A bunch of underclassmen showed up, kids on the junior varsity team, friends of their friends showed up.  We had close to twenty five people there!  Our head coach Greg Kreble showed up along with Dennis Tong the assistant coach.  We talked about the team, sat down and discussed what we needed to do to win the game that night, we discussed what we had to accomplish to win, dogs barked, some of the younger kids started to scream and get excited, it was close to 6:00 P.M or so.

“Let’s go Cards!” yelled one of the parents that had showed up in helping Mrs. Deming.

We all laughed and started to get ready to go, I piled into Andrew Groton’s fathers big Dodge pickup, and he headed down to Lincoln high school.  We laughed and joked on the way down to the school.

Several cars pulled up in front of the Deming’s, kids pilled in cars and soon we had a caravan heading down through N.W. Portland.  Within a matter of minutes we arrived at Lincoln high school, it was around 6:30 P.M.  We were supposed to meet at the locker room with the men’s soccer team, we were supposed to go over some chalk talk and then walk over to Civic stadium as a team.  It was dark and cold that night, it was just a couple of blocks in getting over to the stadium.  I was excited; everyone came up to me, slapping me on the back or my shoulder.  I loved soccer, it had quickly become a true love of mine, and I received awards and had received admiration from coaches and players around the Portland metro area.

“You can do it Grant!” yelled one of my buddies on the cross country team, it was David Boileau, one of my closest friends of mine while I was attending high school.  David was always good about going to my soccer games.

It was a great group of guys; looking back we had some wonderful players on our team.  Peter Serrier, Robert Jumonville, Franco Ferrua, Blaine Deming, Gordon Bowen, and George Kissas were the players with the most experience with soccer back then.  Several of our players went on to play college soccer.

I remember walking out of the Lincoln locker room that night, I had visited with the trainer, I had got some ICEY Hot rubbed on my legs, I headed out the side entrance to the locker rooms, and I walked down along the sidewalk of the school.  K.G.W. channel 8 was located right next door to Lincoln, I walked out to the coach’s parking lot, a few players were there, looking at me, you could see they were ready to go, several teachers were there, planning on going to the game, Mr. Baily was there, Mr. Morton and a few of the athletic trainers started to walk briskly up to S.W. Salmon.  I kept reviewing what I had to do in the game, I had to be aggressive, I had to come off my line as quickly as possible, I had to dominate the box, make sure I talked to my defenders, make sure my kicks and punts were accurate, if there was anything in the air around the 18 yard box I had to be able to capture all fifty-fifty balls.  I walked along S.W. Salmon, the lights were turned off at the Lincoln football field, and I looked through the cyclone fence that surrounded the football field.  It started to rain, a few of the guys from the team went running by, I made my way across S.W. 18th and then approached historical Civic Stadium.  We headed down the service entrance road out near center field, we walked down into the stadium, the lights were on, the players from Franklin were there, warming up, kicking soccer balls up against the center field and right field walls, I proceeded to head to the team locker room located under the main grandstands.  I found the locker room; a big piece of paper was hung from the front of the locker room door, it had the word “Lincoln” written out in dark felt marker, there was everyone on the team standing in the middle of the locker room, everyone was getting ready for the game.  I could hear people start to enter the stadium, fans poured in, some had drums or plastic horns.  I could hear cheer leaders, people started to scream.  I got nervous, I went into the room containing the urinal stales and went the bathroom, I went back into the locker room and stretched, someone threw a ball at me, and I caught it quickly.

“O.K. boys this is it!” cried coach Kriebal he looked at us with pride.

Everyone started to yell, and scream, we met in the center of the locker room and each player put a hand in the middle of a circle, we looked at each other and smiled.  It was an amazing feeling that night; I had all the faith in the world in my fellow teammates, we were truly a team, we played as a team and stood beside each other.  Everyone started to walk out the locker room; we headed through a dark narrow tunnel leading us down towards the playing field, we headed out to the main entry of the tunnel that led us out onto the huge soccer field.  The lights lit up the entire stadium, you could see the rain falling down against the huge light towers that surrounded the stadium, there were four or five thousand people at the game, and there were people up on the porch of the Multnomah Club.  I could hear Ben Millers mother ringing a big cow bell, there were about a thousand people on the porch.  My mother had gotten off work that night early to watch me play, she was so proud of me.

Franklin had won the P.I.L. eastern division that year, they had a big team, physical, they had Ricardo Zalinski on their team, and he was a tough player.  Both teams were ready to go full tilt, I could tell my teammates were nervous, some of their kicks went flying in the air.  I started to warm up, I felt good; my punts were long and deep, almost sixty yards or so.  I practiced my throws, threw the soccer ball about thirty yards to two or three defenders on the team.  I got in goal and they practiced shooting on me, I dove to my right and to my left.  I felt quick and agile in the goal, I made some great saves.  People started to yell and scream, kick off was scheduled for 7:30 P.M. that night.  I could see my mother up on the porch of the Multnomah Club, I waved to her.  She waved at me, she was excited.  My mother was always so good about attending my athletic events.

Soon the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the large center circle, the captains from each team met in the middle, the referee tossed his silver coin in the air, it landed heads up, and we would kick off.

We met over on the east side of the soccer field; Franklin had the west side of the field.  We gathered in a circle and gave out a team cheer, the captain of the team back then was Robert Jumonville, he was a spark plug for our team, he never stopped running, and I loved playing soccer with Robert.  He looked at me and smiled.  I jogged down to the south end of Civic stadium; I looked up toward the porch overhanging off of the Multnomah club.  I ran back and forth in the goal, I tapped the cross bar for good luck, it became quiet, just for an instant as I stood in goal waiting for the kick off.

Within a few seconds we had kicked off, the players for both teams ran hard and fast, people slid on the turf when they tried a slide tackle, we put pressure on the Franklin goal, Dan Shallanburger took a shot on goal, it went right to the goalkeeper.  He held the ball for a few seconds and gave the ball a long kick; it went passed the midfield stripe, drifting to my left as I stood looking to the north.  The ball bounced at midfield and took a big bounce, Ricardo Zalinski trapped the ball, split two of my defenders and came running full speed at me.  I ran off my line, actually I sprinted as hard as I could, I came flying off the goal line, I slid on the AstroTurf as my left side of my body got covered with water that had gathered in small puddles along the top of the AstroTurf.  I came flying out of the goal, Ricardo pushed the wet soccer ball in front of him, pushing the ball towards the goal, I slid low about three feet in front of the attacker.  My hands touched the ball, his momentum carried his body towards mine, his right foot came forward, my head got in the way of his foot, his foot hit me just below my left ear, my head hit the Astroturf, the back of my head hit the turf with a thud, it felt like I had landed on cement.  I could feel the ball hit my stomach as I came sliding on my side.  His foot snapped my head back in an instant I was out, everything went black, I vaguely remember the ball being cradled in my arms, and he couldn’t stop his impact.  I was knocked out, my body laid motionless as I held the ball in my hands, teammates came running over, pushing and shoving preceded the hard foul, and the referee came running in with a yellow card held high in his hand.  The athletic trainers along with my coach came running over from the far side of the field.  They tilted my head back and gave me a strong dose of smelling salts.  I started to come too, my teammates faded in and out of focus, I didn’t know where I was, and I looked at my teammates.  I couldn’t figure out where I was, I lied there on the ground.  They helped me up to my feet, things were foggy, I started to panic a bit, they checked on my eyes.

“He’s good, he’s going to be O.K.!” shouted the trainer, my coach looked at me.  He looked at my eyes.

“Are you O.K. Grant?”  I looked at him and nodded my head.  I went back to the goal, people were yelling down from the Multnomah Club, my mother got worried, people kept screaming down to me.  It felt like I was in a dream, I kept going in and out of consciousness; I didn’t know where I was or what I was doing at Civic Stadium.  It was eerie, it felt dark and cold, frightening, I panicked a bit, the images dancing in front of me as the soccer players kept running around on the wet turf, there was some excitement within a couple minutes, Franco had scored our first goal, one of my defenders came up to me and looked at me.

“Are you O.K. Grant?”

I looked at him and just stared back, my head hurt, if felt like I had a headache, where was I kept asking myself?

By that time nearly twenty minutes had passed and soon we scored another goal, it was eerie how my teammates that night looked like ghosts, they looked like ancient spirits floating in air as I tried to stay focused, I kept blinking my eyes, trying to remember my name and what year it was.  It almost felt as though I was experiencing an outer body experience, it felt strange and uneasy.  My concentration started to fade in and out.

Ten minutes before the first half ended I was subbed out of the game, my back up, John Montague went into the game, I remember being upset that my coach subbed me out; it was the right decision at the time.  I came running off the field, and I immediately went to the bench located on the fifty yard line, I sat down, two of my classmates, Donna Hartman and Lori Maletis were taking photographs for the Cardinal Times, they came up to me, I looked at them and I started to come in and out of consciousness, I was dazed and confused and couldn’t make out to where I was.  The team physicians came over and looked me over, the half ended and a few of my teammates came over to me.  They looked at the team trainers.

“Is he going to be O.K.?”

“Let’s get him to the locker room.”

We headed into the locker room, I remember looking into the stands, and seeing all these people cheering, I looked up towards the Multnomah Club and tried to find my mother, I couldn’t find her.

We went into the locker room; everyone was yelling and encouraging everyone to keep up the good work.  We had played great in the first half.

I sat down and drank some water, they put a towel behind my head, and I sat quietly as the coach went on about the second half.

“How do you feel Grant?  We need you, can you play?” asked my coach.  I looked at him.

“I can play coach,” he smiled at me.  I looked over at John Monague, I could tell he was nervous, I don’t think he expected me to get injured in the game.  Soon we were heading back on to the field; the score was 2-0 as we started the second half.

Within fifteen minutes we scored again to make the score 3-0, I remember people yelling and screaming, I remember my teammates running around in front of me, it seemed like a foggy dream.  Near the end of the game we scored again to make the score 4-0.  I don’t really remember anything about the game, people came up and celebrated, I remember my teammates running around the field holding the trophy, the celebration went on for at least a half hour, it was a really great moment.

I don’t remember anything that went on during the game; I was told I made six or seven saves that I saved a couple of goals.  To this day I don’t remember a thing.

Reporters from the Oregonian came running up to me and poked there cameras in my face and wrote notes in small paper tablets that they held in their hands.  A couple of news cameras were pointed in my face as people asked all kinds of questions, I was at a loss as to what to say.

“Grant, Grant, you played a great game!”  I looked at them and smiled, funny because I couldn’t remember a thing.

“Grant, what did you think of the game?  What did you think of the score?” replied one of the head sports writers for the Oregonian.  I blinked and looked at him; I really didn’t know what to say.

“We won 3-0 didn’t we?”  Everybody laughed.

I remember the lights that shinned so brightly down on Civic Stadium that night being shut off, the field was pitch black when we left, I remember walking back over to Lincoln and taking a shower, putting my dress clothes on and feeling drained.  My head hurt, actually it throbbed.  We had won the city championship that night, it was a great feeling.

“Hey everyone, were going up to the Mrs. Jumonville’s house, Robert and the guys are going to have a celebration party there!”

I called my mother; she was in a panic, poor thing.

“Are you O.K. Grant?” asked my mother.  She had left at half time; she couldn’t watch the game in knowing that there was something wrong with me.  She went home and waited for my call.

I assured her I would be O.K. and that I was going up to the Jumonville’s and join in the celebration.  Andrew Groshong drove me up to Roberts’s house.  When we arrived there was around forty or so people laughing and singing, when I walked in the room everyone cheered.  It was a great feeling.  There were two or three television sets on, each one had a channel on, soon the sports segments came along, and each sportscaster reported on the game, everyone cheered.

I remember going upstairs and lying down for fifteen minutes or so, just to get away from the noise.  I went back down stairs and celebrated; my mother honked her horn and was parked out front of the Jumonville’s home.  I thanked everyone and ran out to the car.  We drove back to N.W. Portland, my head hurt, it kept throbbing.

“I’m going to make a doctor’s appointment in the morning, I want you to see the doctor,” replied my mother.

I remember going to bed that night, it took a while before I could find peace and fall asleep.

The next morning my mother laid out the Oregonian for me, there on the front cover was a big story about the game, there was a picture of me on the front of the Oregonian.  The reporter quoted me in the article with the score.

“We won 3-0 didn’t we?”

My head throbbed and I looked at my mother the next morning.  I was scheduled in seeing a doctor that morning.  I ate breakfast and went with my mother to the doctor’s office.  The doctor examined my head and noted that I had suffered a concussion.  I left his office and my mother dropped me off at Lincoln around lunch time, I walked in the cafeteria and several friends came over to congratulate me on the championship.  Everyone was so kind to me; they had a ceremony at school in the gymnasium, the gym was packed.

We went on to state that year, beat the number ranked Sunset Apollo’s in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, in the semi-finals we lost to top ranked Parkrose when one of my defenders scored an own goal on a clearance in front of the net, it was heartbreaking.  In the game for third place we won on penalty kicks, I was named to the all-state, all tournament, and Oregon select all-star.  I received a lot of recognition in the Oregonian and other local papers, I went on to receive a scholarship to play in college, and I was chosen to be a PAC-8 collegiate all-star representing the University of Oregon Ducks.  I played for the university when I was in college.

I’ll never forget the night of the concussion, it was haunting in a way, when I go and watch sporting events at JELD-WEN field (formerly Civic Stadium) I get a funny feeling every time I see the soccer field.  I was proud of my accomplishments in playing sports at Lincoln High school, I’m proud of my team; I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.  I appreciated the recognition.  I was glad to have been part of helping shape soccer in its early stages here in Oregon.  They were great memories.

Forest Park

My mother moved to N.W. Portland in 1962, her apartment was located up above Chapman grade school, just minutes from Forest Park.  I’ve had many memorable times in Forest Park.  The following story contains two sections.  The first section is a detailed history of the park; the second section goes into my own experiences with this magical place.

History

According to the recent article written in Wikipedia, “Forest Park (Portland, Oregon)”  (n.d.)  In Wikipedia.  Retrieved October 15, 2012, from “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest Park Portland, Oregon,” Forest Park is a public municipal park west of downtown Portland, Oregon.  Stretching for more than 8 miles on hillsides overlooking the Willamette River, it is one of the country’s largest urban forest reserves.  The park, a major component of a regional system of parks and trails, covers more than 5,100 acres of mostly second-growth forest with a few patches of old growth.  About 70 miles of recreational trails, including the Wildwood Trail segment of the city’s 40 Mile loop system, crisscross the park.

As early as the 1860s, civic leaders sought to create a natural preserve in the woods near Portland.  Their efforts led to the creation of a municipal park commission that in 1903 hired the Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm to develop a plan for Portland’s parks.  Acquiring land through donations, transfers from Multnomah County, and delinquent tax foreclosures, the city eventually acted on a proposal by the City Club of Portland and combined parcels totaling about 4,000 acres to create the reserve.  Formally dedicated in 1948, it ranks 19th in size among parks within U.S. cities, according to The Trust for Public Land.

Before settlers arrived, the land that became known as Forest Park was covered by a Douglas-fir forest.  By 1851, its acreage had been divided into donation land claims filed by settlers with plans to clear the forest and build upon the property.  After logging, the steep slopes and unstable silt loosened by heavy rains caused landslides that defeated construction plans, and claims were defaulted or donated to the city.

Civic leaders beginning with the Reverend Thomas Lamb Eliot, a minister who moved to Portland in 1867, sought to create a natural preserve in the woods that eventually became Forest Park.  By 1899, Eliot’s efforts led to the formation of the Municipal Park Commission of Portland, which in 1903 hired the highly regarded landscape architecture firm, the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, to study the city’s park system and recommend a plan.  John Charles Olmsted, the stepson of Frederick Law Olmsted, spent May 1903 in Portland.  The Olmsted Report, received in December, emphasized creation of a system of parks and linking parkways that would take advantage of natural scenery.  It proposed a formal square for Union Station, squares along the downtown waterfront, and parks in places later known as Forest Park, Sellwood Park, Mount Tabor Park, Rocky Butte, and Ross Island, as well as Terwilliger Parkway, the 40 Mile Loop, and other connecting parkways.  Proposed parks for Swan Island, in the Willamette River, and other places in Portland did not develop.  Others like Forest Park came into being only after many years.

The city acquired land for Forest Park bit by bit over several decades.  In 1897, Donald McLeay, a Portland merchant and real-estate developer, deeded a 108-acre tract of land along Balch Creek to the city to provide an outdoor space for patients from nearby hospitals.  In the 1890s, Frederick Van Voorhies Holman, a Portland lawyer and a president of the Oregon Historical Society, proposed a gift of 52 acres of nearby land that was added to the city’s holdings in 1939 when his siblings, George F. and Mary Holman, completed the donation.  Clark and Wilson Timber Company donated 17 acres in 1927 to create a Western Oregon timber park near Northwest Germantown Road.  Nine years later, the estate of Aaron Meier, one of the founders of the Meier & Frank chain of department stores, donated land for Linnton Park near Portland’s Linnton neighborhood along Highway 30.  These smaller parks became part of the larger park when it was finally created.  Some of them, such as McLeay Park, are still referred to by their original names even though they are part of Forest Park.

Other parcels were acquired through government action.  In 1928, the City Council’s Delinquent Tax Committee transferred land to the Parks Bureau for a wildflower garden along Balch Creek.  Multnomah County in that year gave the bureau perpetual use of about 145 acres of land north of Washington Park.  Encouraged by the City Club of Portland, which conducted a park feasibility study in 1945, civic leaders supported the Forest Park project.  In 1948, Multnomah County transferred to the city another 2,000 acres acquired through delinquent tax foreclosures.  On September 23, 1948, the city formally dedicated 4,200 acres of land as Forest Park, which as of 2009 covered more than 5,100 acres.  It is one of the largest urban forest reserves in the U.S, though its exact ranking has been questioned.  The city’s Parks and Recreation Department claims it is the “largest forested natural area within city limits in the United States.”  However, an article in the Portland Tribune said Forest Park ranked no higher than third among U.S. urban forests in 2006.

In 1991, Metro, the regional governmental agency for the Oregon portion of the Portland metropolitan area, began budgeting for what became its Natural Areas Program aimed at protecting these areas in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.  By 1995, the program had targeted 320 acres next to or within Forest Park for acquisition.  A 2006 bond measure allowed for the purchase of more land to expand the park, to protect its creeks’ headwaters and those of nearby streams in Washington County, and to link Forest Park to other public lands to the northwest.  Along with buying land, the regional government protects it through environmental easements on land that is privately owned.  Through early 2009, the agency had acquired or protected 865 acres related to Forest Park, including 600 acres (beyond the existing park’s northern boundary.

Forest Park is a major component, sometimes called the “crown jewel,” of a regional network of parks, trails, and natural areas.  At the southeastern end of the park, Wildwood Trail, the centerpiece of the Forest Park trail system, passes through McLeay Park.  This part of the larger park, which includes the Forest Park field headquarters, is heavily used by pedestrians entering Balch Creek Canyon from nearby city streets.  Further southeast, Wildwood Trail, while still in Forest Park, passes Pittock Mansion and its panoramic views of Portland and five volcanic peaks: Mounts Rainier, Adams, St. Helens, Hood, and Jefferson.  Shortly thereafter, the trail connects to adjoining Washington Park and attractions such as the Oregon Zoo.  From this point and from more remote Forest Park trailheads near the St. Johns Bridge, other components of the 40 Mile Loop system of trails encircle the city.  They follow the Willamette and Columbia rivers, the Columbia Slough and the Springwater Corridor along Johnson Creek and extend to the eastern suburbs of Fairview, Gresham, and Boring.  This trail network links more than 30 separate parks that offer diverse recreational opportunities, such as horse-back riding, in-line skating, canoeing, and viewing of wetland wildlife, in addition to hiking and biking.  It connects to other trail systems such as Discovery Trail in Clark County, Washington, and the Terwilliger Trail running through Tryon Creek State Natural Area to Lake Oswego.

As of 2009, this network of parks and trails is still expanding.  Metro, the regional government, plans to link the 40 Mile Loop to trails along the Willamette River to Wilsonville, south of Lake Oswego.  The regional government has also proposed connecting Wildwood Trail to the partly completed Westside Trail running north–south through Washington County to the Tualatin River.  Another planned trail would extend the Springwater Corridor along a proposed Cazadero Trail to Barton on the Clackamas River.  Longer-term goals include trail links to the Sandy River Gorge Trail east of Gresham and the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada and follows the Cascade Range through Oregon.

More than 70 miles of trails and fire lanes cut through the park.  The longest trail in the park is the Wildwood Trail, of which about 27 miles is in Forest Park and about 3 miles in Washington Park.  It is also the longest section of the 40 Mile Loop, a trail network of roughly 150 miles reaching many parts of the Portland metropolitan area.  The trail runs southeast to northwest from trail marker 0 in Washington Park to Northwest Newberry Road, just beyond trail marker 30 on the ridge above the southeastern end of Sauvie Island.  The straight-line distance from beginning to end is about 9 miles, but because the trail includes many switchbacks and hairpin turns, it is 30.2 miles long.

Wildwood Trail begins in Washington Park near the Oregon Zoo, a light rail stop, the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World Forestry Center and the Hoyt Arboretum.  Blue diamonds placed about 6 feet above the ground appear on trees along the trail every 0.25 mile.  The diamonds and the mileage markers above them are visible to hikers traveling in either direction on the path.  In its first 5 miles, the trail passes near the Portland Japanese Garden, Pittock Mansion, the Audubon Society of Portland wildlife sanctuary, and the Stone House in Balch Creek Canyon.  From this point west, Wildwood Trail runs through forest generally uninterrupted by buildings but crisscrossed by shorter trails, small streams, roads, and fire lanes.

Many shorter Forest Park trails, roads, and fire lanes intersect the Wildwood Trail.  Most of the trails are open only to hikers and runners, but several roads and fire lanes are open to bicycles or horses or both.  Leif Erickson Drive, a road closed to motorized traffic, runs at lower elevation than and roughly parallel to the Wildwood Trail for about 11 miles from the end of Northwest Thurman Street to Northwest Germantown Road.  Originally called Hillside Drive, it was renamed in 1933 at the request of the Sons of Norway, a fraternal organization.  Easements for an oil line, a gas line, and electric transmission lines for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) cross the park.  Paved roads surround the park, which is crossed or entered by other roads including Northwest Pittock Drive, Northwest Cornell Road, Northwest 53rd Drive, Northwest Saltzman Road, Northwest Springville Road, Northwest Germantown Road, Northwest Newton Road, and BPA Road.

Forest Park lies in the Coast Range Eco region designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  In its natural state, the forest consists mainly of three tree species, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar, and smaller numbers of grand fir, black cottonwood, red alder, big leaf maple, madrone, and western yew.  Much of the forest that existed here before 1850 was gone by 1940.  The stage of re-growth in the forest depends on when it was last logged or burned.

In the mid-1990s, about one percent of the total vegetation in the park consisted of grasses, bracken, thistle, and fireweed in sections of the forest cleared two to five years earlier.  Another two percent had reached the shrub stage, between three and thirty years old, with small trees dominated by such plants as thimbleberry, salmonberry, and blackberry.  Forest areas 10 to 30 years old that contained tall alder and maple trees and smaller conifers accounted for about 20 percent of the park.

Larger areas were occupied by forests in which conifers had grown taller than the alders and maples.  About 50 percent of Forest Park consists of these areas, which are between 30 and 80 years old and in which Douglas-firs have begun to dominate.  Another 25 percent of the park contains forests dominated by middle-aged conifers; 80 to 250 years old.  In these areas, red alders, which live for about 100 years, have begun to die, and the Douglas-firs, which can live for 750 years, attain heights up to about 240 feet.  Under the big trees are shade-tolerant trees such as western red cedar, western hemlock, and grand fir and smaller plants such as Oregon-grape, and vine maple.

The last forest stage, old growth, is reached after 250 years and includes many snags, downed and dead trees, and fallen logs.  Timber-cutting and fires reduced old growth in Forest Park to “almost nothing” by 1940 and most of the forest has not yet attained this stage.  Patches exist near McLeay Park and further west near Germantown Road and Newton Road.  The largest tree in Forest Park is a Douglas-fir near the Stone House, the remains of a former public restroom near Balch Creek.  It is 242 feet high, and the trunk is 18.6 feet in circumference.

Among the prominent wildflowers are Hooker’s fairy bells, vanilla leaf, evergreen violet, and trillium.  Invasive species include English ivy, European holly, clematis, morning glory, and Himalayan blackberry.  Citizen groups such as the No Ivy League and The Forest Park Conservancy engage in projects to remove ivy, maintain trails, and plant native species.

Wildlife in Forest Park is strongly affected by contiguous tracts of nearby habitat that make the park accessible to birds and animals from the Tualatin River valley, the Oregon Coast Range, the Willamette River, Sauvie Island, the Columbia River, and the Vancouver, Washington, lowlands.  Sixty-two mammal species, including the northern flying squirrel, black-tailed deer, creeping vole, bobcat, coyote, Mazama pocket gopher, little brown bat, Roosevelt elk, and Pacific Jumping Mouse frequent Forest Park.  Blue Grouse, Great Horned Owl, Hairy Woodpecker, Bewick’s Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler, Osprey, Northern Pygmy-owl, and Hermit Thrush are among the more than 112 species of birds that have been observed in the park.  In Balch Creek Canyon adjacent to Forest Park, the Audubon Society of Portland maintains a wildlife sanctuary with more than 4 miles of trails, a wildlife care center, and avian exhibits.  Amphibian species frequenting the Audubon Society pond include rough-skinned newts, Pacific tree frogs, and salamanders.

Pressure from habitat loss, pollution, hunting, and urban development has reduced or eliminated the presence of wolves, bears, and wild cats and has led to increased numbers of weasels, raccoons, and other small predators.  Invasive plant species such as English ivy have made the habitat simpler and less supportive of native insects and the salamanders and other amphibians that feed on them.  Roads in the area severely hamper the movement of large animals.  Multnomah County has designated Northwest Cornell Road and Northwest Germantown Road as “rural collector” streets, carrying traffic of less than 3,000 vehicles per day but more than streets designated as “local roads.”  Dogs allowed to run (illegally) off-leash in the park pose threats to birds, fish, and other wildlife.

About 40 inches of rain falls on Forest Park each year.  Many small creeks, only a few of which are named, flow northeast through the park from the ridge at the top of the West Hills to the base of the hills near U.S. Route 30.  The five named streams from east to west are Balch Creek, Rocking Chair Creek, Saltzman Creek, Doane Creek, and Miller Creek.  Rocking Chair Creek is a tributary of Saltzman Creek.  After leaving the park, the streams pass through culverts and other conduits before reaching the Willamette River.  These conduits block fish migration to and from the Willamette River except on Miller Creek, where the conduits are short and have been modified to assist the fish. Near the east end of the park, the free-flowing reaches of Balch Creek support a population of resident cutthroat trout. Near the west end, furthest from the city center, Miller Creek retains much of its historic nature and supports a greater diversity of aquatic organisms than other Forest Park streams. Biological field surveys of Miller Creek in 1990 noted sea-run cutthroat trout, Coho salmon, as well as abundant macro invertebrate species including stoneflies, mayflies, caddis flies, water striders, and crayfish.

Memories

I’ve had several memorable moments in Forest Park. While I was in first grade, our teacher Mrs. Hughes scheduled our class to take a field trip in the park, it was the first time I really realized what this great place had to offer. 

We started out from Chapman, headed out on N.W. 27th., then north to N.W. Thurman, from there we headed up Thurman to the staircase that leads you down under the Thurman Bridge, located in this exact spot there once was a farm owned by Donald McLeay, it spread up along Balch Creek, his livestock roamed the land back then. He is famous for killing his son in law, seems as though they had a family argument and wound up shooting him. 

We traveled up Balch Creek to what is known as the Stone House, which was built in the early 1920’s. There are many myths about the use of the old Stone House, according to historical records it was originally built as restrooms for the forest service workers that helped maintain the area. The stone house has sat vacated for years.

I was introduced on that field trip to Balch Creek and to the Portland Audubon Society, located up in Forest Park. The Audubon Society is located off of N.W. Cornell Road. It includes a wide collection of birds of prey, including owls, falcons and eagles. 

I went crawdad fishing in Balch Creek when I was in the Cub Scout, back when I was in fourth grade, the crawdads use to be found in fresh water pools located under rocks and boulders that helped form the creek. 

In grade school, say around 1968 or so I can remember Leif Erickson road use to be open to traffic; the cars and trucks would flow up to N.W. Germantown.  Friends of mine fathers use to go up off Leif Erickson and hunt deer and elk.  Back then it wasn’t uncommon in seeing deer strapped down to old International pick-up trucks or rusty Ramblers.  The city of Portland closed access to N.W. Leif Erickson road around the early 1970’s.

When I was a Cub Scout back around 1970 our den took hikes on Wildwood trail and Cherry trail, there are several paths that off shoot some of the major trials located in the park, several of the trails can take you up to the Pittock Mansion, one of the highest points in the area.

In high school we use to have kegger’s off of N.W. Aspen (The meadow) and N.W. 53rd avenue (Inspiration point), usually on a Friday night after a football game, several of the kids that attended Lincoln High school  would gather in these secluded spots.  We’d laugh and joke, tell stories and listen to music on our car stereos.

While in high school kids in their muscle cars use to race on N.W. Thompson road, usually seeing how fast their big American muscle cars roared down the road.  One of the more popular stretches back then was where N.W. Thompson heads up to N.W. Skyline.  Old farms and orchards were located along N.W. Thompson.  I can remember hillbillies that had cabins and farms located up around Forest park.  Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s hippies use to have communes in the Willamette Heights neighborhood a few of them had old cabins that bordered the park.

There are the two tunnels that are located on N.W. Cornell road, both being built back in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Before the tunnels were built old dirt roads wound around the hillsides leading you up to N.W. Skyline.

I started running the trails of Forest park back around 1978 or so, running three or four miles at first and then increasing the distance.  I guess I first met my good buddy Chuck Eidenschink back in 1978 or so, Chuck was one of the first people that I knew that ran ultra-marathons, Chuck use to run close to eighty or nighty miles a week back then, he was always encouraging me to run with him, we ran the hills, up Balch Creek, along Wildwood Trail, up through to the Pittock Mansion, over N.W. Burnside, up along Himalaya Trail, along through the Portland Zoo and the Portland Audubon Society, down through Washington Park, the Japanese Gardens, the tennis courts, the Rose Garden and up along N.W. Westover. I traveled thousands of miles with Chuck through the years.  He was always such a driving force in helping me run back in the late 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.

I had some great times in Forest Park; back around 1985 I bought my first mountain bike, a Panasonic mountain bike to be exact.  I bought it from Sherman over at Coventry Bicycles (Located on S.E. Hawthorne), I was one of the first people that I knew that had a mountain bike back then, and I liked the idea of being able to bike almost anywhere and not have to worry about wear and tear being done to my bicycle.  I had a road bike and I always had to repair the bike.  My mountain bike was heavy duty, had a chrome frame, thick knobby tires, and upright handles bars; it got me through the trails and fire lanes that cut through Forest Park.  I was one of only three bicyclists back then that I knew who had a mountain bike. 

I usually would wake up early in the morning and bike up N.W Thurman, over the Thurman Bridge, up to N.W. Leif Erickson, heading up to N.W. Saltzman or N.W. Springville, out to N.W. Skyline road to N.W. Newbery road, and then down to Highway 30 and back home.

Balch Creek use to flow into Guild’s Lake back around 1900, the old lake front use to run along Highway 30, if you travel down along the old streets you can see the homes that bordered Forest Park, many of the old homes are dilapidated, old warehouses and shops dot the land.

In the winter of 1996 it snowed around 6” inches in the park, within twenty four hours the temperature started to rise, it rose above freezing, the snow pack melted, causing flooding down through Balch Creek, soon there were major landslides that formed off of the dead end of N.W. Savier and Raleigh, an old home slid down the hillside overlooking Balch Creek, huge mud slides poured into the creek, the creeks natural flow had changed, areas of the creek were damned up.  Trees came down the hillside into the water, natural habitats were destroyed.  Up off N.W. Skyline sections of the road slid down into Forest Heights.  The slides covered trails along Wildwood trail and Leif Erickson road.

As you travel back further west on N.W. Leif Erickson you start to go deeper and deeper into the woods.  Off of N.W. Springville, as you head down this fire lane you pass through Linton, one of the oldest cities along the banks of the Willamette.  I love this section of Forest Park, old homes dot the hillside, the homes are surrounded by trees and foliage, old gravel roads take you down to the St. John’s Bridge.  There are views of the Willamette River from several vistas located around Linton; the roads drops you down to highway 30. 

During the 1880’s and 1890’s huge wooden clipper ships would dock up in Linton, N.W. Springville road was the main road into Beaverton and Washington County back then, it provided wooden horse drawn carts to load and unload produce from farms that were located along the western hillside overlooking the valley.

During the 1904 the Lewis and Clark Exposition Balch creek flowed into Guilds Lake.  There were numerous buildings and exhibits located around the lake front that stretched along Forest Park, several homes and buildings were temporarily built during this time.  Most of the buildings were made of plaster of Paris, they were soon torn down after the exhibit ended.  The lake damned up, dried out, and during the 1910’s and 1920’s oil refineries and industrial parks were built, the lake country was gone.  Huge warehouses, rail lines, and businesses were built in the area.

One of my favorite spots that I enjoy the most in Forest Park has to be what is known as “The Meadow,” located off of Holman Trail and N.W. Aspen.  The meadow has been a gathering spot with locals for years; it provides a great area for picnics and in reading a good book or providing a great spot to view native birds.  I love the meadow; I’ve seen deer roam through this area many times.

N.W. Holman road goes up through the meadow; it’s a fire lane, heading up to N.W. 53rd avenue.  One of my favorite spots up along this stretch has to be a secluded meadow up on N.W. 53rd, nested up along old growth this area has been a great stopping spot in viewing young deer, especially in the spring.  I have biked up and ran up N.W. Holman several times; it has always been one of my favorite hills located in and around Forest Park.

N.W. Saltzman road is located off of N.W. Skyline, from N.W. Skyline you can travel down the fire lane, beautiful views of forest stretch out for miles, leading you down to N.W. Leif Erickson.  If you keep traveling down Saltzman you will eventually hit Highway 30.  N.W. Saltzman is a great stretch through Forest Park.  Traveling further west on N.W. Leif Erickson you eventually will connect with N.W. Germantown road.  N.W. Germantown road will take you up to N.W. Skyline or down to Highway 30.  The St. Johns Bridge is located off of N.W. Germantown.

Forest Park borders Willamette Heights, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Portland.  Most of the homes were carved out during the 1880’s and 1890’s; massive wooden homes surround the hillside.  One of my favorite spots to go explore is located off of N.W. Thurman, off of N.W. Gordon, if you travel down N.W. Gordon you will eventually cross over an old bridge leading you to the White Shield home, an old school and grounds built specifically for unwed mothers, not many people know about this area, its hidden away up in a secluded area.

Back in 2001 I was mountain biking down N.W. Springville road; it was a sunny day, as I was heading down the trail from N.W. Leif Erikson road a man in his late twenties made a face at me as I went down the trail, he pretended to lunge at me, I passed by on my bike, a few days later the local news had broadcasted news stories about girls that were found murdered up in Forest Park, I called the local police and told them about the strange man that I had encountered on N.W. Springville that day.  They brought me in and the detectives in charge asked me questions, they brought in a sketch artist and we came up with a composite drawing of the man I saw that day.  About a month later the Portland police department caught the murderer, he wasn’t the man that I had described in the drawing.  Thankfully they caught him.

Friends of Forest Park

I joined Friends of Forest Park in 2000.  I sat on the board for almost two years.  I tried to help preserve the park.  I was proud in working with this organization.  The following is a brief history of Friends of Forest Park.

In 1948, due to heroic efforts by the City Club and corporate visionary Ding Cannon, CEO of The Standard, the 3,000-acre core of the current Forest Park was dedicated as city parkland.  Since this beginning, Forest Park has attracted a group of citizen stewards dedicated to its protection and enhancement.  Since 1989, working in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation, the Friends of Forest Park advocated, educated, raised funds, and coordinated volunteer efforts for the Park.  In 2007, Friends of Forest Park evolved into The Forest Park Conservancy.

What better way to protect a place of such rich history and inestimable value?  Strategically purchase land and add it to existing acreage!  In the 1990’s, Friends of Forest Park raised over $1 million for the acquisition of 78 acres of privately-owned lands inside the park that were slated for development.  Friends of Forest Park also raised the funds to acquire a 38-acre stand of low-elevation old growth forest to the north of the Park that was going to be logged.  In 2002, we partnered with Metro and Portland Parks &Recreation to purchase a 31-acre in-holding in the north end of the Park that was also destined for housing.  A more recent acquisition is a 1.5-acre parcel of land at the bottom of Fire lane 9 that was headed for housing.  We are grateful to the many individual donors stepped forward to make these acquisitions possible.

I love Forest Park; it’s a wonderful spot.  I hope that the city of Portland continues to preserve this land for future generations to enjoy.

Stuck in the mud

It was a late fall afternoon in 1967; I was nine at the time.  My mother lived in N.W. Portland; our apartment was located at the dead end of N.W. Pettygrove.  The apartment my mother lived in was surrounded by two large fields that sat on both sides of her spot.  The lot located to the west was owned by a local family in the neighborhood it had a few huge alders and a several big Douglas fir     on it, it sat there undisturbed for years; the field to the east of her apartment was a big old blackberry field; blackberries covered most of the lot, there were a few trails and a small cleared out little meadow that sat on the lot.  I was in third grade at the time.

The big old blackberry field located to the east of her apartment was a popular spot to play, several of the neighbor kids gathered in the vacant land; we threw dirt clods and played army in the meadow from time to time.  Kids after school, heading up in the hills of Kings Heights would congregate, maybe throw blackberries at each other, or mud.  Raccoons built their dens in the dense blackberries; once in a blue moon, you’d see a few deer eating the ripe berries on the prickly vines.

Well, around this time, it must have been the middle of fall; around  1967 or so, workmen pulled up in a pickup one day; they got out and surveyed the land; they  pounded orange steaks in the ground, soon bulldozers and a steam shovel started to push the blackberries around, construction workers carrying chain saws cut down the trees that sat on the land; big dump trucks drove up on the lot; they  piled up dirt and shrubs, afterward they dug trenches for sewer and water lines that ran about two feet below the ground. They piled dirt around the lot; some of the piles were ten feet high or so, the piles sat up above the ground; they cleared off most of the land and drove off, the land sat there for a while, it was coming into the early winter, at that time, I figured they’d start building in the spring when the weather was better.  As kids we’d play in the lot, hiding in the areas that were dug out for sewers and pipes.  We had the whole lot to ourselves.

Well, in the fall of 1967 it was pretty wet; it rained all fall if I remember right.  Leaves were piled up; the rain soaked the cleared out lot, and the big piles of dirt got drenched; mud flowed down the street and got into the sewers.  Deep thick dirt covered the lot.  We soon found out plans had been set; new  apartments would go on the lot; I  had heard they were going to put in ten or so apartment units, they’d get rid of the lot; it  would be covered with the new apartments.

I had several friends in the neighborhood at that time, had a few friends who liked to come over to my house on Saturday mornings, we’d play in the vacant lot or go down to Wallace Park.  That Friday at school two of my good friends came up and asked me if I’d like to get together and play on Saturday morning?

“Sure let’s get together at my house, I’ll see you at 9:00 A.M.,” I replied.  I went home that day, walked by the lot; everything on the lot was covered with a dark-colored gook, and piles of mud sat just there, the orange sticks stuck out of the ground.  A few tractors sat on the land.  I saw my mother that night and told her about getting together with my buddies the next day.

“That sounds fine Grant, it looks like they’ve forecasted rain for Saturday, you better wear you galoshes, rain coat, and your stocking cap.”

I nodded to her as I read my latest Spider Man comic book.  I ate dinner and called my buddies on the phone; it was set, David Everett and Kendall Perryman would come over around 9:00 A.M. the next day.  I watched Johnny Quest and a late-night monster movie; I watched “The House of Frankenstein” and went to bed that night.  I had a few dreams about Frankenstein living under my bed.

The next morning I was up bright and early, it was pouring out; big dark clouds rolled along the west hills; they looked so black and gruesome.  I ate my oatmeal, ran in my room, and put my clothes on.  I wore a big Oregon sweat shirt and some handy brown cords, put on some wool socks and put on my trusty galoshes.

There was a knock at the door; it was David Everett and Kendall.  I could hear them laughing.  They were giggling and rough housing.

“Ask your friends to come in,” replied to my mother.

They came running in; they were wet; their clothes were soaked; my mother made them hot chocolate and cinnamon toast.  We hung their wet coats in the hall coat closet.  We watched cartoons and drank hot chocolate, usually on Saturday morning, they showed Bugs Bunny.  We laughed at one of the cartoons.

“Let’s go play outside!” barked David.

We grabbed our jackets that were hanging in the coat closet and ran outside.  It was pouring; we played catch with a football for a while out in the street; we chased each other; we ran around and yelled at each other, then we decided to go over to the vacant lot that had been cleared; we sloshed around in ankle deep mud.  It was a real mess; we climbed around some of the mud piles, and the rain came pounding down; dark rain clouds got thicker and darker, dumping more rain on us as we played.  Someone pushed me, and I went flying face down in the mud; everybody laughed.  Kendall started to throw mud at David; the mud flew up and hit him right in the face.  We ran through the lot exploring, climbing under and over dirt and trenches that covered the lot.

David and I were playing over in the N.W. corner of the lot; Kendal was climbing on one of the huge piles of dirt; he had climbed near the top of one of the piles, pretending he was an explorer climbing to the top of the pile.  Suddenly, Kendall started to scream.

“Help, Help!”

David and I stopped and looked over at Kendall.  We couldn’t believe it; Kendall was stuck in the mud pile, stuck in the mud up to his knees, crying and screaming; he was trying to pull his legs out of his boots; his face was bright red; the rain poured down on us.

David and I ran over to Kendall, we ran up that huge pile of mud and tried to help him, soon David was stuck in the mud, and then I was stuck, all three of us in knee deep mud, Kendall kept crying, David started to pull on his legs, soon he got out of his boots and rolled down the mud pile.  He stood there and looked at us and laughed.  He was standing in his stocking feet, soaked, and covered with mud as the rain kept pounding down.

“David, go and get my mom, she can help us get out of this!”  David looked at me and started to shake his head.

“I’m not going to get your mom; she’ll kill us if she sees how we look!”

He started to run down N.W. Pettygrove; I remember watching him run down the street in his socking feet, covered with mud.  Some friend he turned out to be.  I remember a neighbor sticking his head out of his front door and laughing as David went running by.  He laughed even harder when he saw Kendall and me standing knee-deep in the pile of mud screaming our heads off.  I started to panic, started to think that we might sink in the big pile of mud, perhaps Frankenstein would get us, or maybe the Wolfman would get us!  That’s what I get in watching those late-night monster movies, I thought to myself.  I panicked, and I pulled on my legs, fighting to get my feet out of my goulashes; I looked at Kendall, and he was busily pulling and pulling on his legs, screaming and crying.  I got one leg out of my boots, and my foot sank deeper into the mud.

Kendall was screaming, soon my mother appeared, and she was wearing a heavy-duty rain coat and a stocking cap on her head.

“What are you boys doing?  What happened?  What…….What is going on!”

I looked at her; I was embarrassed, cold, wet, covered with mud; Kendall was sinking bigger and deeper in the gooey mess.  He was beside himself.

“Oh mom, I’m so glad you heard us yell, were stuck, were stuck, Kendall and I can’t get out of the mud!”

She rushed over to the lot; she was wearing her trusty rain boots.  We stood there watching her as she started to run through the mud and up to the huge pile of dirt that held us captive.  She pulled on my leg, and it came popping out of the boot; my boot was stuck down deep in the mud; it vanished shortly.  I held my other boot in my hand as I watched Kendall scream; my mother was pulling on his legs trying to get him free from his boots.  My mother stood in ankle deep mud.  My mother pulled on both of Kendall’s legs, and soon he was free; his boots had disappeared in the mud pile as well.  He ran down the mound of dirt and started to run home.  He was crying as he ran up the hill to his home.  I could see the mud tracks David left looking down the sidewalk; my mother looked at me and started to yell.

“Why, I you, why I can’t believe you got stuck in the mud!  Look at yourself!  Look at all the mud, your boots, why your boots are ruined.  They’re stuck in the mud!”

I laughed at her as we started to run in the apartment.  Mud was everywhere; she rushed me to the tub and peeled off my clothes.  I remember scrubbing and scrubbing at myself; the bath tub was covered with the dark mess; I had to scrub the tub down until my hands hurt.  I scrubbed most of the morning.

I looked outside, there was a trail of mud; you could see my mother and my foot prints on the cement outside her apartment.  I called David first.

“David are you O.K.?”  I asked.

David was laughing on the phone.

“Grant, Grant my boots there gone, my mother is really upset at me!”

I didn’t know what to say, I hung up the phone and called Kendall.

Kendall’s mother picked up the phone.  I could hear his mother yelling at Kendall.  “You get in the tub right now!”

There was a pause on the phone.

“Grant, I can’t talk right now my mother is pretty mad at me, besides that I lost my boots in the mud, and she just bought those for me!”

He hung up the phone.  I could tell he was in deep trouble.

I looked at my mother as she stood there cleaning off the floor.  She took my dirty clothes down to the laundry room.  I did homework the rest of the afternoon; I didn’t say a word to her the rest of the day.

The next day I drove with my mother down to the store, we drove by the vacant lot; I looked at the tall piles of dirt with Kendall, David and my boots stuck in the thick mud pile; I started to laugh, from my count five boots were devoured by the rich, dark Willamette mud that day.  The boots stayed in the gook until a tractor a few days later scooped up the pile and loaded it into a dump truck.

Soon the apartments were built; ten units were put in along with a parking lot, and nothing was left of the blackberries, the mud, or the boots.  The apartments are still there, every time I go by those apartments I think of my boots that got stuck in the mud that day.  It was one of the funnier times as a child growing up in Portland.

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.