Category Archives: Oregon

Starting Over


I’m going to start all over again. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either. You have to be a little tough in situations like this,” says Artemio Guterrez, a single father of four who just returned to Oregon from his mother’s funeral in Mexico only to have his home burned down by a wildfire.


More than half a million Oregonians evacuate


SALEM, Ore. — Authorities in Oregon report that more than 500,000 people statewide have been forced to evacuate because of wildfires. That’s over 12% of the state’s 4.2 million population. The number includes convicts from at least three jails and prisons. None have been released, just relocated.


Seventy Five Years Ago

A man tries to escape from a soon-to-be collapsing Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
A man tries to escape from a soon-to-be collapsing Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Seventy five years ago today — November 7th, 1940 — the Tacoma Narrows Bridge began swaying in the wind, eventually violently so. The concrete and steel couldn’t withstand the wild contorting, soon collapsing into the waters of Puget Sound below.

A film of Galloping Gertie, as the bridge came to be known, was made. One day while browsing the shelves at the school library I discovered a copy of it and soon grew fascinated by it. I was young and watched it again and again. It’s still captivating.

And I have an even more personal connection to the story. Until yesterday, I hadn’t thought about it. My great uncle, who celebrated his 100th birthday in July, was living in Seattle at the time. He had arrived with friends from South Dakota in 1939. He was following his girlfriend’s family, who had moved to Oregon. One of his sons and his family have called Tacoma home for many years. They still live there.


Constance Edith Fowler

A wood engraving of Waller Hall on the campus of Willamette University by Constance Edith Fowler, 1938-40 (reprinted in 1969).
A wood engraving of Waller Hall on the campus of Willamette University by Constance Edith Fowler, 1938-40 (reprinted in 1969).

Weeks ago I strolled through the Pioneer Square area in downtown Seattle during the First Thursday art walk of galleries.

I actually had one of my prints hanging in one of the pop-up galleries displayed just for that night. I would have had another one on exhibit, too, but I wanted to take it home. It’s a series of four prints of the same image: an elderly man with a beard.

It’s based on an image of my great-great-great grandfather, Brazilla Van Note. In hindsight, I should have let it go on display. I was afraid it might get lost among the sea of art. Much of my work has disappeared into a black hole, though I very much support the non-profit behind the exhibitions.

But enough about me.

While thumbing through a catalog at one of the galleries, I came across a print of Waller Hall, a building on the campus of Willamette University in my hometown of Salem, Oregon. I never knew it existed. I never knew about the artist. I’d never heard her name before.

Constance Edith Fowler lived from 1907 to 1996. Born in Minnesota, her family moved to Pullman, Washington, where she studied at Washington State College. She spent a year at the University of Washington before a moving to California. Then, in 1932, they settled, for good, in Salem, Oregon, basing a lot of her work on her time there. In 1935, she was hired to teach art at Willamette, staying until 1947.

Check out some of her work, with the assistance of the Google.


100 Years!

11800458_935479824288_4591741592690228539_n 100 Years!

My sister-in-law, the redhead seen talking to my great uncle on his 100th birthday in the photo on the left, wrote this up a few weeks ago, in celebration. She posted it on Facebook. She’s quite the poet, and now doing it for pay, too.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there. But I do plan on visiting him first chance I get.

“This bright soul turned 100 years old today. And as we looked back on a century of memories and experiences, I couldn’t quell the overwhelming sense of joy and awe at this man’s stunning accomplishments and wealth of fantastical stories. We can only hope to be as humorous and spry and humble and kind as Everett as age creeps and curls into our bones. I would consider myself immensely blessed to leave behind even an iota of the legacy he has created in his wake.”


Three Remain

Three siblings celebrate a birthday, his 100th.
Three siblings celebrate a birthday, his 100th.

My great uncle recently celebrated his 100th birthday with many of the family on hand at his humble abode in Oregon. My grandmother, now 88, visits him every week. Their youngest sister and her husband were there, too, visiting from South Dakota, where their father and grandfather built a farm and homestead.

I plan on visiting him in a few weeks, once I get settled after moving. It’s been a crazy, hectic month.

Here’s a little history to supplement his remarkable life. It shows the family in 1930: their father, George B., and mother, Geneva, who lived into her 90s. Sadly, Lois and Azalea are gone, but Grace, Everett and Marilyn remain.



Adventures in the West Valley

Took a trip through the countryside yesterday, using Yamhill County Transit. I prefer it to the commuter busses on the other side of the river, operated by Salem-Keizer Transit and the city of Wilsonville. That route is often crowded and subject to traffic on the freeway. To get to Portland, one has to take the commuter train north from Wilsonville. It’s cheaper to take the shuttles operated by Yamhill.

The only problem is that it’s a long haul from the beginning of the line to the end. I started in West Salem, not far from my parents’ house, which made it very handy. Unfortunately, the shuttles leave every few hours so timing is important. Thankfully, I made my connection with no problems. In McMinnville, I transferred to another shuttle headed for Hillsboro and the Blue MAX light rail line.

I enjoyed gazing at the farmland, pastures with horses, a few bison, some cows, dilapidated barns, and the clouds casting shadows on the faraway hills topped with fir trees.. The scenery is serene.

There are many small towns along the way. I’ll have to stop and visit sometime in the future, though when I’ll be back to this part of Oregon, I really don’t know.

Among the highlights, places I liked just from looking out the window are Lincoln and the Lincoln Store — though there’s not much there, Carlton — a beautiful, little town, Cove Orchard, and Gaston. Forest Grove is closer to Portland, so I want to explore there, too.

I made my way onto the light rail in Hillsboro and dozed off here and there while riding into the heart of Portland. It was another long ride.

This morning I’m in Portland, at a friend’s place. After a good night’s sleep, I’m slowly waking up and getting ready to venture further north, to Kelso, where I am rendezvousing with my niece, nephews and sister and joining them on a trip to the Oregon Coast.