Tuesday, October 14, 2014
During the early 1920s, and the brief but frenetic heyday of the Ku Klux Klan in Oregon politics, this postcard was one small instrument of alarm and persuasion. At issue in 1922 was a vote for or against a bill that would abolish private elementary and high school education in Oregon. The target: Catholic schools. The purport: “Americanization.” Other potentially affected parties: Lutheran and other religious schools, and private schools and academies.
This postcard points to another fear: from a few nuns who taught in public schools. The Committee on Americanization of Public Schools was an arm of the Klan in Oregon, and its secretary, Fred L. Gifford, was the head of the Klan in the state.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
We’ve been to Denmark, and we’ve been to Norway. We haven’t yet made it to Berlin, but we have perused nearby Waterloo. This past weekend, we hit both London and Holland.
|Hotel at London, 1945|
Ben Maxwell photo, Salem PL
Holland—named for a farming family, not the Netherlands—was a post office from 1899 to 1954, situated in the Illinois River valley south of Cave Junction. We passed through on our way home from a splendid overnight stay at the Oregon Caves Chateau (on its last night of the season).
|Holland General Merchandise, September 29, 2014|
Denmark and Norway, both on the southern Oregon coast, mark the presence of immigrants from Scandinavia. Waterloo is a curiosity, and so is Berlin, five miles from Berlin in Linn County. Waterloo got its name from a family feud, which had dire results for one party. Berlin is derived from the Burrell family and their casual hostelry; colloquially, Burrell’s Inn. When a post office was to be established in 1899, Burl Inn was a suggested name; Berlin was a compromise. The post office closed in 1937. See the entry on Berlin in Lewis McArthur’s Oregon Geographic Names for another Berlin tale from World War II—very curious!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The menu from the Brand Café of about 1955 indeed shows that coffee was a dime. And it wasn't just any coffee, but Folger’s Coffee, a longtime San Francisco-based brand much favored on the West Coast in the 1950s which went national in the 1960s. And not just a cup for a dime: “Folger’s by the Hour, 10c” proclaimed the menu.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Here are a couple of Oregon foodways oddments: banquet menus printed on wood. Both menus make a nod to regional foods, and both make it clear that eating locally wasn’t easy, even in the 1920s.
The “Road, Rail and Sail Banquet” was held in Marshfield (renamed Coos Bay in 1940) in the spring of 1925. Apparently in celebration of transportation, the chamber of commerce offered locally-produced cottage cheese, cheddar cheese (Melowest brand), butter, and ice cream—and indeed Coos County was prime dairy country in the 1920s. The crab was no doubt local, possibly some of the vegetables, but the pineapple, olives, cigars, and coffee had to come a long ways to Coos Bay: by road, by rail, by sail.
The “Oregon Products Banquet” held in Bend in 1929 was clearly an earnest endeavor by the Woman’s Civic League to promote local products. While Bend was, like Marshfield, very much a lumber town, irrigation had brought some crops to the area, notably potatoes. The dairy products and the turkey may be local and the cabbage salad and fresh vegetables are attributed to the farmers of nearby Tumalo (in February!), it would appear that many items were imported from a far piece of the state: Del Monte peas, cranberries, celery, apples. And coffee, of course: that had to come from beyond Oregon’s borders. Ah, but the retailers were local!
Notice, however, the presence in Bend in 1929 of chain stores: Piggly Wiggly, Safeway, Woolworth. The chains-vs.-the-little-guys would become a major issue, especially in groceries, in the next couple of years in Oregon.
Menus from small town eateries are usually predictable in their offerings, as much so today as they were seventy-odd years ago. The good eats at the White Restaurant in The Dalles, Oregon, as presented in this menu from about 1940, feature breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, hotcakes, some omelettes (plain, cheese, ham, bacon, jelly, or Spanish). The menu also lists a modest assortment of steaks and chops, sandwiches, salads, soups, beverages, five potato preparations and a scattering of vegetables, plus raw, stewed, or fried oysters, and “Chinese noodles”: pork or chicken.
Tipped into the menu when I acquired it was a loose sheet of daily specials, a typed listing on carbon paper. In comparison with the White Restaurant menu, it is quite ambitious. At the top, it says BIG MEADOW CAFÉ, crossed out and replaced with Camel; also, the notation Lovelock, Nevada, 1,263 pop. At the bottom is the suggestion, “’STAR DUST’ AT THE THEATRE.” So what’s that all about?
Google made it surprisingly easy to find out—sort of. On January 27, 1940, Andy Milich of Lovelock, Nevada, was killed in an automobile accident. According to the Nevada State Journal, Milich was “the proprietor of a chain of business establishments throughout the state, including the Big Meadow Café, Nevada Bakery and Camel Café in Lovelock, Montana Club in Tonopah, and the commissaries at Silver Peak, Getchell, Copper Canyon, Stardust mine and other mining districts.” And the movie Star Dust, starring the teenaged Linda Darnell, came out in 1940.
But what was that daily special sheet from Lovelock doing tucked into a menu from The Dalles? And why were the offerings from Mr. Milich’s restaurants in a Nevada desert town of 1,263 residents seeminglyso much broader and varied than what was found in The Dalles with its 6,266 residents? Ah, and where will you find an abalone steak with tartar sauce today?