Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lake Oswego Vignettes: Illiterate Cows to College-Educated Cabbage by Marylou Colver

This book, published by The History Press, is now available. A sampling of the vignettes can be found below. 
To purchase the book, please visit the website Bookshop page:
Proceeds from the sales of the book will benefit the Lake Oswego Preservation Society, a non-profit corporation.

An Electric Pig in the Kitchen

On February 24, 1935 it was reported in the Oswego Review that Harold Pierce Davidson and his wife, Leona, moved from one of the oldest houses in Old Town Oswego, to their brand-new home on Lake Front Road.  The home was equipped with all of the modern conveniences, including an “electric pig” for the disposal of garbage.  For the time, this was an avant-garde appliance.  Although the first garbage disposal was invented in 1927, the invention didn’t gain widespread popularity in American homes until the 1970s and 1980s.
The intent of the building contractor, Ray Wason, was to provide unrestricted views from almost every part of the home. Wason came from Massachusetts and his father was prominent in the field of concrete construction. The Streamline Moderne style house was built of steel, glass, and vibrated concrete. Vibrating was a technique used to remove air pockets from concrete slabs or units. This building material was appropriate for Davidson, an employee of the Oregon Portland Cement Company for forty years. The ship-like lines of the house fit the lakeside setting and it was one of the few examples of this architectural style in Oswego.
On the interior, indirect lighting fixtures were used throughout the house. This is shielded up-lighting that is bounced off the ceiling, an innovation developed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The stair banister was made of stainless steel in a modernistic design. The corners of the rooms were rounded for style and easy cleaning. In fact, the house, it was said, “…would delight any woman who cares for homemaking and housekeeping.”

The Streamline Moderne style Davidson House (demolished) on Lake Front Road.  Author's collection.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting Hitched to a Star

Rock star, film idol, Nobel Prize winner, poet laureate, military brass, classical composer, Olympic champion, suffragette, world water-ski champion -- Lake Oswego, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, may have had its fifteen minutes of fame.
Actress Julianne Phillips, who went to school in Lake Oswego, married rock star Bruce Springsteen on May 13, 1985, in Our Lady of the Lake Church on A Avenue. Humphrey Bogart, and his Portland-born wife, Mayo Methot, honeymooned in a summer cottage on North Shore Drive now known as “Casablanca.” Two-time Nobel prize winner, Linus Pauling, lived in Oswego briefly as an infant and spent many summers at his grandparent’s house in First Addition.  Renowned local poet, William Stafford, was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 1970. From 1939 until their move to Agate Beach in 1941, Swiss-born composer Ernest Bloch and his wife lived near their son Ivan in Lake Grove. Nathan Farragut Twining, who became the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Eisenhower, grew up in a house that still stands in the Glenmorrie neighborhood. Swim coach, Martha Schollander was a stunt swimmer in Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan films. In 1964, her son, Don Schollander, was the first swimmer to win four gold medals in the Olympics. Sarah Evans, who once lived on Furnace Street, played a major role in the 1912 victory for women’s suffrage in Oregon. Willa Worthington began water-skiing on Oswego Lake as a teenager and subsequently brought the town fame by garnering eight national and three international titles during her career on skis. Worthington was also a star performer at Florida’s Cypress Gardens. So hitch your wagon to a star. After all, Clark Gable once worked as a tie salesman at Portland’s Meier & Frank department store.

A Lake Oswego parade celebrating Don Schollander’s Olympic victories. Photo courtesy of Lake Oswego Public Library

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

College-Educated Cabbage

Mark Twain said, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” Both cauliflower and its less educated cousin, cabbage, once played a large role in Oswego’s agriculture. Pearl Kruse recalled: “The Oregonian, on November 9, 1913, had an article about the cauliflower they [Kruse family] were raising. It was under the heading “New Industry is Thriving in the State.” It showed pictures of Charles [Kruse] and the fields of cauliflower.” Cauliflowers and cabbages were entered into fairs and Charles Kruse won the Certificate of Merit award from the Oregon Agricultural College in Corvallis Hort[icultural] Show in 1922. 
Harold Kruse remembered, “In the summertime we’d plant cabbage and stuff. We raised a thousand tons of cabbage there for the pickle works. We would haul it to town [Portland] with horses." Kruse transported his crop to Portland, first by horse-drawn cart and later by truck.
In 1926 the Kruse cabbage farm made the news. An airplane flown by two Portland air service reserve officers ran out of gasoline and crash-landed in the C. W. Kruse farm’s cabbage patch where Westlake is now located. The airplane was a complete wreck, but Lieutenant J. T. Kern and Sergeant George Drew escaped with minor injuries.

Charles W. Kruse hauling cauliflower to market. Photo courtesy of Lake Oswego Public Library

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Illiterate Cows

On March 19, 1914 the Oswego Woman Club’s Committee Chair, Mary C. Smith, petitioned the Mayor and City Councilors for permission to install a public drinking fountain on the southwest corner of A Avenue and Front St. (now State Street). In 1966 Kenneth L Davidson recalled that Oswego’s first mayor, Jerome Thomas “knew all of the cows by name.” His recollection continues, “I remember well the cows using the old drinking fountain at First and A, where a fellow had to take his turn with the cows to get a drink.” The situation was remedied by posting a board that read, “No cows allowed beyond this sign.” Needless to say cows ignored the sign and continued to quench their thirst in the fountain.
Cows roaming the beach at the Oswego Landing. Photo courtesy of Lake Oswego Public Library

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Water Skiing on Pie Tins
Among the first to water ski on Oswego Lake was a foursome comprised of Willa Worthington, Ray Morris, Diane Spencer, and Don Smith. After work they skied off the dock of Wallace Worthington’s Marine Sales and Service, better known as Wally’s Marina, between State Street and Lakewood Bay. Wally taught his daughter, Willa, to water-ski when she was fourteen. At age seventeen she became the National Women’s Water-Ski Champion. She went on to win other national and international awards that made Oswego famous for the sport. Willa organized the Lake Oswego Water-Ski Club in 1947.
In the early days of the sport, experiments were tried with mixed results. Ray Morris, among others, successfully

nailed tennis shoes to boards. Don Smith tried to ski on pie tins, but this failed because the tins buckled. After the marina burned to the ground the four became stars of the aqua shows at Florida’s Cypress Gardens.
Stars of Cypress Gardens from the left: Ray Morris, Willa Worthington, Diane Spencer, and Don Smith. Photo courtesy of Lake Oswego Public Library