About thebeerchaser

Retired Chief Operating Officer at a large Northwest regional law firm. Attended Oregon State University in the late '60's and went to Portland State University for graduate school. Have resided in Oregon since our family moved here in 1960.

The Oregon State Giant Killers and Billy Main – Part II

Note:  If you are reading this on your mobile device, click on the title above so that you will see all of the images in the proper format.

In the first post on the story of the newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, I related how Billy “Rabbit” Main, who had his sights set on playing college football for the California Golden Bears, ended up instead as an Oregon State Beaver and member of the 1967 OSU Giant Killer Team.

He was a starting wingback from 1967 to 1969 for the Beavs and their beloved coach, Dee Andros – The Great Pumpkin – whose 5’10’ frame carried 310 pounds.

The first blog post highlights Billy’s outstanding football career – not only as a running back, but a pass catcher, blocker, kick-off return specialist and even holder on PATs and field goals.

Rabbit – not just a runner but a pass catcher – one of eight against the Dawgs in 1969….

The prior post also features a tribute Billy wrote for Duane “Thumper” Barton, his football teammate, our shipmate in the Navy ROTC program at OSU and my SAE fraternity brother.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/05/11/tucker-william-billy-main-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

But as I mentioned in the first post, Billy wanted to emphasize the team aspect rather than his own story – a key attribute of the members of that team:

“Don, please make sure you focus on my other teammates as we go forward.  I remain to this day, in awe of many of them; Jesse (Lewis), Dude (Hanneman), Enyart, Preece, Foote, Vanderbundt, Houser, Didion…the list goes on and on.”

And if you want to learn more about the Giant Killers, check out the wonderful, comprehensive narrative with great pictures and historical documents developed by OSU alum and long-time friend of Billy Main’s – Jud Blakley.    https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

Jud as Student Body President at OSU

Beaver alums remember these years as part of the rich tradition of Oregon State Football including the Civil War Game with the University of Oregon – it goes back 126 years to 1894.

 

 

 

 

Thebeerchaser also covered this story in May, 2018 at https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/      .

Gone But Not Forgotten

So, we will start by remembering the fifteen players and coaches from the 1967 team – including Coach Andros who passed away in 2003 at the age of 79 – who are deceased but still remembered in the hearts and minds of their teammates – brothers – who defeated two nationally ranked top ten teams (No. 2 – Purdue and No. 1 – USC) and tied the number two team (UCLA) .

“In a four-week period, the Beavers became the only team to ever go undefeated against three top two teams in one season since the inception of the AP Poll, earning the nickname ‘Giant Killers.”

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Oregon_State_Beavers_football_team

Players

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides instilling the commitment to team, Dee Andros also demanded individual accountability. This was a key factor contributing to their success on the gridiron and also why so many of the members of those teams went on to meaningful careers after graduation.

He illustrated this accountability with a narrative entitled “Man in the Glass” which you see below. This was a poem originally entitled “The Guy in the Glass” written by Peter Dale Wimbrow in 1934 – an American composer, radio artist and writer.  The Great Pumpkin’s version is slightly different and reads:

The late Coach Dee Andros (19– 200 “The Man in the Glass”

Billy Main – Part II — After College

As I mentioned above, Billy, did want to focus on himself in this or the previous blog post and I’ve tried to honor that request.  Nevertheless, he is an integral part of the overall story of the Giant Killers.  So I asked GK historical expert and Main’s friend, Blakely, for his advice in structuring the posts. Jud e-mailed me the following:

Oregon Sports Hall of Fame member, Dr. Bob Gill, Blakely and Main outside the Angry Beaver in 2018

“Don, the Giant Killers did what they did because they were ‘All for One and One for All.’ They may not have all ‘liked’ each other but they sure as hell all did love each other. And so, no member of that brotherhood will single himself out for acclaim or for attention.

Steve Preece – Fox

The GKs had leaders on both sides of the ball – Preece was alpha leader on offense. Steve will never endorse that.  He will name other guys whose leadership was essential. 

Same on defense –  Lewis, Sandstrom, Easley––each of them will name other guys. Like them, Main will deflect and Main will diminish his role.  Do not buy it.  Tell the story.” 

Jess “Froggie” Lewis – Giant Killer and always to be remembered for “the tackle” of O..J. Simpson

Therefore, read on:

Besides football, Billy was also enrolled in the two-year Navy ROTC program.  I would see Billy in the Navy Armory because both of us were in NROTC.  He was in the two-year program and one-year ahead of me.

After playing Rook football in 1965, he was red-shirted the next year and when his military deferment was eventually continued because of NROTC, it enabled him to play in the 1969 season.  He was then scheduled to report for Navy flight school in the spring of 1970.

Billy said: “Between NROTC, football and regular academics, those were the most intense two years of my life.”  

One benefit of NROTC which he used for both work and leisure for many years afterwards, was getting his pilot’s license at the nearby Albany Airport – the Navy paid all of it.  “I love to fly and I flew for over 25 years – over 2,000 hours logged.” 

The account below of his college experience as a midshipman below is interesting and worth reading, as is the Appendix at the end of this post – a remarkable and entertaining account of the culmination of summer training at the end of his junior year at the Naval Air Station – Pensacola.

“As I look back, 50 years ago to the 1960’s, I can say with total clarity and perspective that the Vietnam War was probably the single factor that most affected my life, the career path I chose, and the quality of life I enjoyed.

My draft board was in Richmond and at that time the Army desperately needed recruits to replenish the pipeline of daily fatalities in Vietnam. I was a sophomore at OSU and was redshirted in 1966 because of Bob Grim, from Red Bluff, maybe Oregon State’s greatest wingback, my mentor, and a spectacular athlete and role model.

Bob Grim

Then one day I received my induction notice from the Richmond draft board, and my life changed forever. I had one week to respond, and was expected to report at Ford Ord, CA. at some point. My OSU football career was over. I called my Pop and he suggested I talk to the Navy ROTC. 

The CO there in Corvallis was a Navy Captain named John Hitchcock, who, as fate would have it, was a huge football fan.  In a matter of days, I took the oath and joined the Navy ROTC program, allowing me to graduate in 1970 as an Ensign, subject to (2) summer camps in Los Angeles and later, Florida. I could continue playing football.

After taking the proverbial oath and effectively ducking the Richmond draft board, ROTC classes represented one 3-hour college-credit class a week and it quickly became serious business. I was very impressed with the organization, the structure, and the discipline, which was completely aligned with my experiences in football, from High School through college

Current-day Oregon State NROTC middies drilling

We had drill one day a week for 3 hours, in full uniform. I remember vividly marching with my weapon around Gill Coliseum parking lot adjacent to the football players’ entrance.

I’d finish drill around 3PM, and then go to football practice.   I was one of a few players in ROTC – Tight-end, Nick Rogers, was in the Army ROTC with a similar draft board story, so we were able to commiserate. (Duane Barton and Rus Jordan were also NROTC and played football.)

Eventually, the day when all the 50+ ROTC members at OSU were called in to a meeting room to declare their preference.   My time to declare arrived and my subconscious mind overwhelmed my conscious mind!  Without realizing it, I said, ‘aviation.” To this day, I cannot reconcile how it happened.  For the record, Pop (who served in World War II on the USS Porterfield) was pleased with my choice and I think he was proud as hell of me.

NROTC Armory at Oregon State

When we went to Pensacola the next summer, there were 15 midshipman in our aviation cohort. We were then asked by the US Marine Corps Gunny Sergeant, who was our “shepherd” during that training, to declare what division of aviation we preferred – Fixed Wing, Helicopters or Jets.

Fixed-wing preference

Thinking fast, I preferred Fixed Wing (propellers) like the E-2 radar picket planes. Jets, of course were sexy and being a ‘jet jockey’ was appealing. (The later movie “Top Gun” with Tom Cruise brought back many memories of my summer cruise as a Midshipman on the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington)

So, the Gunny says…’How many of you opt for Jet’s?’  9 hands go up enthusiastically.   Next, ‘How many of want Fixed Wing?’  6 more hands go up enthusiastically – mine included.   Finally, ‘How many of you opt for helicopters?’  No hands go up.

(Remember, the Vietnam War was losing a lot of US helicopters on an ongoing basis and horrible stories were circulating about POW pilots being tortured by the Viet Cong.  One of the 15 in our group – Bill Scott – actually flew in Vietnam and he is a good friend to this day.)

Then the Gunny smiled broadly, and said the words I will never forget:  ‘Well, gentlemen, you are all officially going Helicopters, that’s where the action is.’  And my life changed forever.   As we filed out of the room, stunned and disillusioned, the Gunny said…’Welcome to the US Navy, gentlemen!'”

“You will go helicopters. And you will enjoy it!”

After the 1969 football season ended, Billy took a number of courses in upper level economics and graduated with an Econ degree which he said had an impact for the rest of his life.

To fulfill his military obligation for NROTC, he was set to go to Navy Flight School back in Pensacola and prepared to serve six years as a Navy pilot after commissioning.  But the winding down phase of the Viet Nam War in 1970, meant the Navy’s need for pilots was significantly less.  His dream was to fly and when given the option to serve aboard a ship or return to civilian life, he chose the latter and the remainder of his service obligation was waived.

Based on his athletic achievements at OSU, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and went to training camp in the fall of 1970.  They wanted him to play running back and wide receiver and he made it to the last cut. 

He then was a member of the taxi squad for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League for two weeks but was never activated – also not enamored with the $12,500 annual salary.   Main also felt that he’d been a football player long enough and retired even before his NFL career got going.

When he returned to Corvallis, reality set in.   He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, but needed a job to eat and pay the rent.   Fortunately, Kenny Ross, the owner of the fabled Beaver Hut – the favorite watering hole of many OSU students and especially athletes (Still operating for take-out orders and growlers) hired him – as a night janitor or “swamper” where he cleaned the Hut between midnight and 4 AM each morning.

Still operating on NW 16th Street in Corvallis

After a while he started bartending and really enjoyed it and thought, “This could be a great business.”   But he didn’t want to work for anybody else, so he returned to his home state. 

Main’s mixologist skills were refined in San Francisco.   He planned a bar in Chico.  The idea was to create the Beaver Hut concept for the students at Cal. State University – Chico.

A Corvallis concept in Chico?

Unfortunately, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union did not want to see another bar in the city and one near the college campus – even one owned by an All-Pac 8 football player and opposed the license.  It was never opened.  Main was not one to give up easily, however and Jud Blakely continues the story:

“Soon enough (1973), he opened his own seafood place in Half Moon Bay named The Shorebird and made a big success of that venture, and was off and running in the world of food…this time with no blockers out front clearing the way.”

This successful venture led to another establishment named The Sandpiper in Chico, which he opened in 1979 and sold in 1986.  Billy then opened his hospitality consulting firm, Bill Main and Associates and Blakely continues the career story:

“Sought after for his advice in the hospitality (ie, food and drink) business, The Rabbit is sought after, too, as an expert witness when the owners of a restaurant—or restaurant chain—get tangled up in a dispute that lands in court where millions of dollars and countless jobs are at stake.  His diagnosis of the issues is highly prized and reflects the impeccable arc of his long career.” 

Consultant and expert witness

And as you might expect based on his upbringing, Billy was also a family man.  He married Nancy in 1992, a registered nurse with a Masters Degree, and while he was managing restaurants and consulting, she was working as a pediatric RN and teaching nursing at the college level.

Jud Blakely with granddaughter, Nylah Rose

Consistent with the previous years you’ve read about, nothing was ever dull or routine in Tucker’s William (Billy) Main’s life and I’ll wind down the story with a final quote from Martin Jud Blakely:

“Billy “The Rabbit” Main – #22 in your program but #1 in being a great and unwavering friend of so many—was the cover boy for Street & Smith’s 1969 West Coast football preview.  He was second-team as a Pac 8 all-star, a record-setter on the field…and then (one remarkable day in 1995 (when he was 44 years old and his wife was 42) they became the parents of triplets (WHAT!)”

Sierra Exif JPEG

Nancy, passed away from cancer in 2010, but they raised a wonderful (and great looking as you can see below) family.   The triplets are now 24 and all are embarked on promising careers.

Jack Main – second from right – on break from Special Forces training with colleagues

His son, Jack, graduated from the US Naval Academy and is now in Special Forces training.  Daughter, Kim, is following in her mom’s footsteps and is scheduled to graduate from Azusa Pacific University in nursing and will be commissioned as a Navy nurse.

And son, Steve, is following his dad’s footsteps while living in San Francisco.  He went to bartending school and now has a great job in a San Francisco restaurant and bar.  Billy stated, “He’s an idea generator and has a passion for process.   He can be a great success in that industry.”

Steve, Kim and Jack Main

And so Beerchaser followers, this ends my characterization of the Billy Main story and the continuing legacy of the 1967 Oregon State Giant Killers.  But stay tuned, there are a lot more wonderful stories surrounding this fabled team you can read about in future posts of Thebeerchaser.

Appendix – “Nine Yards and In!”

My first summer camp as an ROTC Midshipman was at UCLA in Los Angeles, the summer of 1967. There were about 60 of us from all over the western US universities. Duane Barton (nickname Thumper) was my OSU football teammate and was also going Naval Aviation.

Thumper – Naval aviation colleague

He was #2 fullback behind Bill Enyart, (Buffalo) and a real character. That 10-week summer in Los Angles was heavily classroom and PT oriented and was intended to fast-track flight school.

Flight School was normally 18 months in Pensacola, but the US was losing pilots in Vietnam so fast that the Naval Aviation ‘new pilot pipeline’ had to be accelerated while still allowing the NROTC guys to stay in school and complete their degrees.

One particular event that summer sticks vividly in my mind. We were assembled on the football practice field and told to ‘pair off’ by weight. We were assembled in a long line, smallest guys first. Then a Gunny went down the line, asked each candidate their weight, and then re-ordered accordingly.

After this process was completed, I found myself, at 190 lbs, being #59. The biggest guy, at 230, was last. He was a big baby-faced guy from the University of Washington, I think, and a very nice guy named Kyle.

All of the 2-man teams were then paired off in the end zone. The Gunny then instructed us on how to do the ‘battlefield carry’ – meaning, placing a wounded man over your shoulders, cross wise, and carrying him to the medic.

I began to sense a ‘feeling’ among the candidates that resulted in them staring at me…and then I understood…I would be carrying a guy 45 pounds heavier that I was. Now the ‘battlefield carry’ was 100 yards, from one end zone to the other.

My stomach turned, and I felt a bit light-headed with all the candidates looking at me curiously. So, it started, one pair at a time, with everyone yelling and cheering; the emotion was palpable. Finally, my turn came. Being last, I looked down the field, 100 yards away, and saw all my fellow midshipmen lined up anxiously awaiting – watching me carry a guy 100 yards that was much bigger than I was.

Nine Yards and In??

As 1 of 3 college football players of the ’60’s, I can honestly say that we were somewhat of an anomaly and that the other midshipmen were very supportive of us (both) playing football and being in the aviation program.  The adrenaline rush I had was reminiscent of the rush I always had standing in the end zone, waiting for an opening kick-off, in front of a stadium filled with 50,000 people.

So, I threw Kyle over my shoulders, and started the slow jog towards the other end zone. I have never felt more physically challenged, and after 50 yards I was afraid I was going to collapse. I kept readjusting Kyle slightly to balance the weight on my lower body. After 80 yards I started feeling light-headed but kept going, my vision blurring, heart pounding, and breath gasping. The other midshipmen were yelling and cheering me on, but that was just a blur in my mind.

At 90 yards I remember stumbling and Kyle and I went down fairly hard, hitting the turf, my breath gasping. I remember thinking “don’t quit” but realized I was too spent to ever get Kyle back on my shoulders, so I quickly grabbed him by the wrists and dragged him the last 10 yards across the goal line on his back. Then I collapsed to a knee, gasping for breath, with dozens of my fellow midshipman around me.

Gunny – “Gentlemen, what say you about Mr. Main?”

Then the Gunny assembled us all together and informed the group that they had all passed the exercise except me. Technically, I had failed…it was 100 yards, not 90 yards. He then said…’gentlemen, with a your approval, I will ‘pass’ Mr. Main for this component of the exercise….only if you all agree’…there was a huge roar of agreement by the midshipmen, and dozens of guys slapped me on the back as if I had just returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

During my time at Oregon State, during the season, we had a ritual called ‘9 yards and in’ which simulated the red zone game specific circumstances. Needless to say, that term always had special significance to me based on my Navy experience dragging poor Kyle the last 9 yards

Training for the Buddy Carry!

 

Tucker William (Billy) Main – Beerchaser of the Quarter

The 1967 Oregon State Beaver Giant Killer Player Recognition Awardees – “Brothers and Timeless”

Rest in Peace – Duane “Thumper” Barton

After the initial publication I am adding to this post.  I am saddened to report that my fraternity brother and member of the 1967 Beaver Giant Killer Team, Duane “Thumper” Barton, passed away at the age of 73 on May 14th from Alzheimers Disease.

Duane played fullback and his brother, Gary, later played quarterback for the Beavers. They were star multi-sport athletes at Baker High School and both graduated from OSU as did their younger brother, Ronnie.   Duane was enrolled in the Navy ROTC program and flew for the Navy after commissioning and then had a career as a pilot for Alaska Airlines.

Gary and Duane, besides being great athletes, had wonderful voices and were key members of the SAE team that won or placed highly in the annual Inter-fraternity Council Sing for several years.

Duane and Gary – first row – second and third from right at the IFC sing.

Gary stated that memorials for Duane can be made on behalf of the National Alzheimer’s Association.

Our newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Billy Main, was not only a football teammate, but both were enrolled in the aviation division of NROTC and got their private pilot licenses while in college.

Billy (Rabbit) wrote this this tribute to “Thumper” yesterday and it eloquently conveys why Duane was loved by his teammates.

Duane Barton was the back-up fullback to Bill Enyart in 1967 and 1968. He knew Buff well in that they were roommates when the team traveled.

He was physically very different: Enyart was 6’4, 235 Duane was 5’8 and 210. Duane came from Baker, Oregon and was one of the great players from eastern Oregon that were part of that GK team

He was nicknamed “Thumper” ‘…..the provenance of that nickname is unknown

Duane was the purest essence of the spirit and ethos of those teams…TEAM

He was a skilled and proficient runner and blocker, and had Buff gotten injured, we lost very little. Absent Bill Enyart, Duane was a solid replacement in the backfield. Under different circumstances, he would have probably had a more extensive football career. He was loved and respected by all of his teammates.

My real friendship with Thumper was grounded in the US Navy ROTC Flight Program in which we were both enrolled. As I remember, there were the only 3 members of the GK team roster in the Navy at that time. (Rus Jordan was the other.)

Duane and I learned to fly together at the Corvallis airport. We also were in the summer Navy summer camps in Los Angles and Pensacola. We were together on Aircraft Carriers that summer: the USS Randolph and the USS Lexington.

During that summer in Pensacola and when we had a few days leave, Thumper suggested we jump a freight train and see where it was going. He was always pushing to try something new. (I talked him out of it)

USS Lexington (CV-2)

He was a skilled pilot and eventually flew on active duty, followed by a career with Alaska Airines.  Thumper had an outrageous sense of humor and was constantly pinching your ass when you weren’t looking, then laughing like hell.        RIP, Thumper

Gary Barton gave this account of how Duane got his nickname:

“The Thumper nickname came from the Disney movie Bambi.  If you recall there was a cute little cottontail named Thumper living in Bambi’s forest.   Among the burly football jocks at OSU, Duane was like their Thumper, both in size and perhaps even more so in personality.  (However, he also gave one a memorable ‘thump’ when he hit you on the football field….)

******

Some readers might ask, “Why don’t you stick to the bar and brewery reviews on your blog and what’s this Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter?”   The response – pretty easy.   I have loved writing about the history, bartenders, regulars and distinguishing characteristics of each of the 375 watering holes I’ve visited and reviewed since starting Thebeerchaser in August, 2011.

The memories cheer me up during this lockdown and make me yearn for the safe reopening of these establishments.  And all of them deserve and need our patronage and support.  That said, another joy derived from this hobby is telling the story of some remarkable individuals or groups – most of whom I’ve known personally or met through this blog.

Attorney Jack Faust

These former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, besides their memorable stories, have contributed to society through their heroism, athletic achievements, civic work, dedication to their careers or otherwise.   All of them possess either a great sense of humor or noteworthy personal traits that have made them or would make them great Beerchasing companions.

Rugger, Rafter, Rider and Lawyer, Jay Waldron

I’ve highlighted my former law firm colleagues like Jack Faust and Jay Waldron.

The Godfather – Dwight Jaynes

Then there’s NW media personalities such as Amy Faust and Dwight (The Godfather Jaynes) and SOLV co-directors Jack and Jan McGowan. 

The list also includes military veterans with exemplary service to their country like the late Col. Terry McKinsey (USMC Ret.), Viet Nam era heroes such as Doug Bomarito, Steve Lawrence and Jud Blakely and my brother Capt. Rick Williams (USN Ret.).

The late Retired Colonel Terry “Spike” McKinsey

There’s even the legendary crew of the USS Constitution for their 1798 War Cruise and for you Seinfeld fans, don’t forget the “celebrated” corporate tycoon, Art Vandelay.

Art Vandelay – A Legend in Latex….

Click on the links over the names to see the individual stories noted here or on the tab “Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter” right below the blog header above.

2020’s Second Quarter “Honoree”

The newest BOQ has something in common with one of the former – Craig – The Dude – Hanneman.  Both were Pac Eight Football stars for the Oregon State Beavers under legendary coach, Dee Andros.

The Dude – on the right during the Everest climb

The Dude achieved new heights in 2012, when he became the first former NFL or NBA player to successfully scale Mt. Everest.

Since in 1967, freshmen did not play on the varsity, Craig was on the Rook Team while Billy Main was a key figure in the renowned OSU Giant Killers team – one of the most fabled stories in the annals of NCAA Football history.

As an OSU sophomore, I had the thrill of seeing the Beavs beat an OJ Simpson – led USC Team 3 to 0 when the Trojans were rated No. 1 in the nation.

Bye – Bye,  OJ…

But that was only a small part of the overall narrative – notice the moniker is Killers rather than the singular.

The full story can be seen by either reading my blog post in which I paid tribute to that team’s achievements

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/

Or you can read another former OSU alum and Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, the aforementioned, Jud Blakely, who put together a wonderful website which would make any sports historian tip his or her hat.

The picture at the left is Blakely receiving his 1967 promotion to Captain and the Bronze Star for valor in Viet Nam from General Garretson, Deputy Commandant of USMC and on the right is Col. Bronars’, Jud’s CO during his first six months in Vietnam..

https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

“Tucker William (Billy)”

Billy Main made his mark at Oregon State through his athletic achievements and his other activities.  He also had a very successful career in the hospitality industry (which started as a “swamper” or night-time janitor at the Beaver Hut – a legendary watering hole for OSU students.)  But how did he get to Corvallis from his roots outside San Francisco in Lafayette, California?

Billy was named after his Uncle Bill who played for the Cal Golden Bears and went to the 1948 Rose Bowl under College Hall of Fame Coach Pappy Waldorf.   His dad also played football for Cal.   Waldorf coached at Cal from 1947 through 1956.

Legendary Coach Pappy Waldorf

The 1946 team of his predecessor went 2 and 7 and Waldorf’s first year, the Golden Bears compiled a 9 and 1 and lost only to USC.  The next two years, his teams went to the Rose Bowl and although losing both times, the turnaround was remarkable.

Memorial Stadium at University of California

He started the tradition of commenting on the game and complimenting the crowd for their support after every home game in the balcony over the northwest gate of the stadium. He continued this tradition through his last home game in 1956.

Billy was an excellent high school athlete playing basketball and football and for the first seventeen years of his life, there was no doubt in his mind that his college home and athletics would be at Berkeley.

“I played basketball like I did football,” Billy told me.  “I was always the first guy to foul out, but they always had me guard the other team’s best player.”

His desire was to go to Cal when he graduated from Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek in 1965, and Jim “Truck” Cullom the Offensive Line Coach recruited him.   Cullom had played football at Cal and remembered Billy’s dad and uncle.

However, the Cal Athletic Dept. advised him to go to junior college first because his grades didn’t meet the standard. (Actually, he met the criteria for an exception, but Cal. messed it up – something they undoubtedly bemoaned from 1967-69.)  His dad told him to look at other college options, so he made a trip up to Pullman to check out Washington State.

Coach Paul Valenti

Fortunately for the Oregon State Beavers:

Main’s basketball coach, Doug Pederson was a friend of Oregon State Basketball Coach, Paul Valenti, that contact got the Beavers in the door.”   (They both played basketball for OSU in 1942)     (The Civil War Rivalry by Kerry Eggers. Page 237.)

Assistant Football Coach Sam Boghosian showed up at one of Billy’s basketball practices.  “I saw this fierce looking guy looking at me practice from across the gym,” Billy said.

A visit in the gym from Assistant OSU Coach Sam Boghosian

Dee Andros had been an Assistant Football Coach at Cal and started his tenure as Head Football Coach at Oregon State in 1965, where he became known as “The Great Pumpkin.” (He was 5’10 and weighed over 300 pounds.)

Boghosian came to the Main’s house to recruit him for the Beavers.  Billy then took a Greyhound Bus up to Corvallis.   “Wayne Valley, a tackle on the team showed me around campus and I really liked it.”

A great read by Kerry Eggers

Another quote from Kerry Eggers, wonderful book The Civil War Rivalry demonstrates the respect and love Andros’ players had for their coach.

(Eggers, an OSU alum, was a columnist in Portland for 45-years, is the author of six books and a five-time winner of the Oregon Sportswriter of the Year Award.  Any OSU or U of O fan should read this book!)

“‘I sat down with the Great Pumpkin, and it was one of those moments,’ recalled Main…..’We chatted about my pop who was on a destroyer in World War II.’  Dee said, ‘Billy we want you to come to Oregon State.  I committed on the spot. The Pumpkin had a special gift.  He inspired us in that it is difficult to define.  It was magic.'”  (Page 237)

Main was red-shirted for the 1966 season – with a November birthday, he was young and they wanted him to use the extra season to “bulk-up” and help the scout team scrimmage against the Varsity during practice.   Billy also explained:

 “I was a sophomore and was red-shirted  because of Bob Grim, from Red Bluff, maybe Oregon States greatest wingback, my mentor, and a spectacular athlete and role model.”

Bob Grim – mentor and role model

But the year of the Giant Killers in 1967 has to be the most memorable.  Quarterback Steve Preece and Billy were fraternity brothers and best friends at the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji)  house, but the entire  team was an extremely close knit group.

Fox and Rabbit – Fiji Fraternity house at OSU

According to Preece, “Dee convinced us that we’d only win if we were a group playing as one…Everybody believed it.” (Eggers – The Civil War Rivalry – Page 195)

The option – Preece and Main – frat bros and teammates..

That team attitude was deeply ingrained and made a lifelong impression.   In one of the last e-mails we exchanged for my research for this post.

Ingrained a Team Attitude

Billy wrote:

“Don, please make sure you focus on my other teammates as we go forward.  I remain to this day, in awe of many of them; Jesse (Lewis), Dude (Hanneman), Preece, Foote, Vanderbundt, Houser, Didion…the list goes on and on.”

(Note:  This request is honored if you view my past post about The Giant Killers and will be the case as future posts on Thebeerchaser will continue the story of the Beavers of that era.  That said, this post is primarily about Billy Main and you will understand why as you continue reading.)

Jud Blakely – At Dee Andros’ parents’ gravesite in Oklahoma in 2005

Based on his extensive knowledge of the Giant Killer Team, I asked Jud Blakely to write a few paragraphs about Billy and the team.

Jud first met Main in 2003 when Blakely was considering writing a screen play on the Giant Killers and he used Billy as a resource.  A long-time friendship developed which continues as evidenced by our trip to Corvallis in 2018.

“Okay, so, Bill Main…who entered this world listed as Tucker W. Main…and…you guessed it; the W. stands for “William. Then William made the predictable journey to being ‘Bill’ before it made the slightly less predictable journey to being “Billy”…and Billy Main is how Tucker’s vintage pals know him and address him.

By “vintage pals,” I mean legends in their own right such as Steve Preece, Jon Sandstrom, Mike Foote, Tom Greerty, Jess Lewis, Gary Houser, Louis Armstrong, Bobby Mayes, Mel Easley, and the Rest-In-Peace squad of Bill Enyart, Roger Cantlon, Donnie Summers, John Didion, etc.  Thing is, though, they mostly called him “Rabbit”…and (mostly) they had nicknames, too…

…and so, Preece was “Fox”…Cantlon was “Deer”…Sandstrom was “Grape Eyes”…Bill Enyart was always “Buff” and never “Earthquake,” and on and on.  This was the nature of OSU’s 1967 Giant-Killer football team that caught lightning in a bottle…the fabled and legendary squad on which Billy “Rabbit” Main electrified fans as a star wingback when he was but 18 years old.

(Billy got the name “Rabbit” and Preece got the nicknames “Fox” from their fraternity brother Jeff Wissler.)

Blakely continues about his friendship with Main:

“Bottom line—I’m blessed to be one of Billy Main’s 14 thousand-2 hundred (and 52) friends…

but

I’m estimating here because the count goes up every week.  When it comes to friendship, Billy Main is, like, nearly the size of a South-Pacific atoll that morphed into a nation.  The reason he’s so rich in friends?  It’s as simple as hearing, ‘Hey, I’m thinkin’ about you. ‘How are you?'”

(Note:  I asked my friend of fifty years, Blakely to write a short paragraph or two to use in the posts about Billy.  You will see from this post and the next that’s comparable to asking him to read and summarize a magazine article resulting in him sending a synopsis of Winston Churchill’s six-volume The Second World War.  What he wrote was eloquent and with feeling, but when I kidded him about the length, he responded, “Once I got going, I was too lazy to stop.”)

Janet Williams and Larry and Mariellen Rich in 2019. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in  2019

I was the beneficiary of friendship and living with eleven of the members of the team during the Giant Killer era in the SAE House at OSU.  They included my 1970 classmates, defensive back starters, Larry Rich and Don Whitney.

Other SAE’s footballers during those years were Craig Hanneman, Jim Scheele, Chris Wahle, Clyde Smith, Don Welch, Jim Blackford, Roger Cantlon and Gary and Duane Barton.  They were not only great athletes but outstanding individuals.

Oregon Alpha Chapter of SAE in 1967

Billy’s solid family roots which were a key to his character can be demonstrated by this story on radio broadcasts while he played for OSU.  He told me:

“They didn’t broadcast OSU games in Lafayette, so my Pop and mom drove up I-5 to Etna, California (near Weed) several times each season .  Pops went into the radio station which didn’t carry the games either and asked the manager, ‘Where’s your tower?’  It was up in the Siskiyou Mountains near the Oregon/California border.   They drove up high enough to get the KEX broadcast from Portland and had picnic lunches while they listened to the game.”

At 5′ 11″ and weighing 188 pounds when he was a freshman, Billy was not a big guy compared to his many, if not most of his teammates, but he had a reputation for being a  fierce competitor.  (“I was born in November so was always smaller than my teammates in school which helped shape my attitude.”)

One of Main’s eight catches against the Huskies.

In the Andros Power T Offense, he was a running back and wide receiver who was named to the Coaches’ Second Pac-8 Second Team.  Notwithstanding his size, he was also a skilled blocking back for his fullback Buffalo Bill Enyart. 

A true utility man, Main even was the holder for field goals and extra points for part of the 1968 season.

He became holder, when safety Larry Rich was converted to the kicker after the regular kicker, Mike Haggard was injured. Starting in the Washington game, this newly initiated duo went 5 for 5 in PAT’s in the Beaver victory.

Newly converted holder and kicker, Rich and Mains

Kerry Eggers relates an incident in his book during the 1968 Civil War game with Oregon to show Rabbit’s toughness. The Beavs won that home game 41 to 14 at Parker Stadium.

In the Civil War the year before at Autzen, the Giant Killers, who were nationally ranked, had to make a fourth quarter comeback to beat the Ducks who went into the game with a 2 and 8 record.  Billy Main said of the ’68 game:

“‘We’d remembered what happened (in the Civil War) the year before when we had our heads up our ass and almost lost.   Everybody was ready before the game. You could feel it….’

Fox calling a play

Oregon was poised to “take out” Preece on Oregon State’s patented option play.  Preece had broken a shoulder the previous season, and opponents that year took shots at it.  Early in the game, U of O defensive end, Dennis Gassner cold-cocked him.  Main saw it.

“Billy told me, ‘Run that play again,'” Preece recalled.  “I ran it again and Main goes flying by me and hits (Gassner) so hard I thought he was going to kill him.  He’s standing over him screaming, ‘Don’t touch my quarterback again.”  (Civil War Rivalry – Page 196)

Eggers: Award-winning reporter and author (and OSU alum…)

Given the scenario above, one has to chuckle at Billy’s description of his demeanor in the continuing description of this incident in Kerry Eggers’s book:

“’We had a slight altercation,’ Main acknowledged.  ‘I was uncharacteristically agitated – I was more of a lover than a fighter (emphasis supplied) – and Gassner was pushing because Fox (Preece) has the marginal shoulder. 

It came close to shoving with lots of mouth.  I was ready for a dust-up.  But we were seriously restricted by the Pumpkin’s code of behavior – no fighting, just do your job.”

Main – the portrait of a Lover – not a Fighter….!

So Beerchaser followers, you have the first part of the Tucker W. Main story.  Stay tuned for the next post and the story of Rabbit’s naval service, return to Corvallis and subsequent career and family life.  You can see it at:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/05/25/the-oregon-state-giant-killers-and-billy-main-part-ii/

Giant Killer Duane Barton

Beerchasing in Corvallis (and Stanley, Idaho) Part II – Drinking with Kings….

As mentioned in my last post, I am “catching up” on a number of bars and breweries visited during the last few years which never got written up – something which makes sense now when watering holes are closed except, in some cases, for pick-up.

The last post was Part I of two trips to Corvallis.    The most recent in 2018, in which I talked about our trip to the Oregon State vs Washington State game and a visit to the outstanding sports bar – The Angry Beaver Grill.  We met with former Beaver Giant Killer, Billy Main, who got us fifty-yard line seats. The link to that post is https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/04/15/beerchasing-in-corvallis-part-1/

One year earlier, in October of 2017, I was the overnight guest of Brian and Nancy King at their Corvallis residence.   During the day and one-half I was there, Brian and I hit several watering holes and in the evening, Nancy joined us briefly at Block 15 Brewery and Tap Room south of town and then we had dinner at Squirrels Tavern and in the evening, a nightcap at Caves Bier and Kitchen .

Gracious hosts in 2017 – Brian and Nancy King at the Block 15 Brewery

Brian and I also hit the following establishments:

Cloud and Kelly’s,  The Peacock

Those of you who follow my blog know that in my twenty-five years at the Schwabe Williamson firm and prior to that, six years at the Oregon State Bar, although not a lawyer, I loved working with them in my legal management role.

And my general affinity for the lawyer personality was characterized by Robert Elfers, a lawyer himself and my mentor/boss for over twenty of those years in both organizations, as a “pressing need for ongoing psycho-therapy…”

Thebeerchaser and “Brain” on 2017 visit

I have many wonderful attorney friends both at Schwabe and all over the country, but Brian (Brain) King, an environmental lawyer from the time he passed the Bar in -1980, until his 2016 retirement, is one of my favorites.  He epitomizes why I hold most lawyers in such high esteem.

He has also been on a number of Portland Beerchasing expeditions including the memorable Mummy’s (along with Schwabe colleague, Margaret Hoffmann and Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar (with lawyers, Carson Bowler, Brien Flannigan and Cheryl Rath).  This also occurred in 2016.

Before social distancing – in 2016 at Billy Rays. Brian is holding the can of Tecate…

Before talking about the Corvallis saloons, I need to tell you why I make the assertion above.  Brian has a wonderful dry sense of humor and notwithstanding the accolades he garnered in his professional career as both corporate counsel at Boise Cascade, the Bogle and Gates firm and then at Schwabe, he does not take himself too seriously.

He was a skilled advocate and extremely knowledgeable in his specialties, but also an attorney held in high esteem by not only his firm colleagues, but those who were on the opposing side of the legal issues in question.

Thebeerchaser at the Rod & Gun

Now I also may be biased because he was a primary factor in the motivation to start this blog when I retired in 2011.  I’ll write another post to finish the Corvallis visits, because I feel compelled to offer this background.

Based on his own experience, Brian insisted on my 2004 sabbatical road trip to Idaho and Montana, that I visit the Stanley Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon in Stanley Idaho.

The Sawtooths on the edge of Stanley city limits.

When he served as corporate counsel in Idaho, he spent time in Stanley at the foot of the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains and told me, “You need to stop at the Rod and Gun Whitewater Saloon and say hello to the owner and notable musician, Casanova Jack. You can find the bar at 44 Ace of Diamonds Street in downtown Stanley.”

The musician had a reputation throughout the West having at one time played with Marty Robbins and his band.   Jack’s bar also has a colorful history:

“Tall Mary, at 6-foot-4, ran the Rod and Gun Club with Casanova Jack, and a French woman served whiskey and great hot sandwiches all night long at the Kasino Club. (That’s just a block away and also on Ace of Diamonds Street.)  ”  (“Winter 2010 Sun Valley Guide”)

While visiting Stanley years ago, Brian even took the stage and was lead vocal on “Blue Suede Shoes” with Jack.

So while staying at Stanley on the road trip, I spent hours at the bar on Karaoke Night.   I made sure to ask if Casanova Jack was in and my conversation with the female manager went like this:

Beerchaser:   “One of my colleagues made me promise that I would say hello to Casanova Jack.  Is he in tonight?”

Manager“No.  And for your information, Casanova Jack died in 1990.”

Beerchaser:  “I’m sorry to hear that.  I’m sure that he lived a colorful and active life.”

Manager:   “Not really.  He was a raving a-hole….”

My wife and I returned to the bar on a road trip in 2016.  The bar is now owned by Jack’s brother, Johnny Ray and his wife of thirty-eight years, Eve.

The personable Johnny Ray on our 2016 trip

Johnny Ray played the bass guitar and sang in Jack’s group and spent a good amount of time filling me in on his story and that of the bar.

For Johnny Ray’s interesting version of the bar’s history, check out this link: https://www.facebook.com/155766471164/posts/casanova-jack-ran-the-rod-gun-club-from-1971-until-his-untimely-passing-in-1990-/10154619946136165/

After the notable experience at both the Rod and Gun and Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee, Oregon, I decided that visiting bars and breweries would be a fantastic retirement hobby which led to commencement of Thebeerchaser in 2011.  More about Brian and his wife in the next post.

Cloud and Kelly’s 

See narrative below re. the women at the left side of the bar…….

This spacious bar downtown has an interesting story as evidenced by this excerpt from a Corvallis Gazette Times article dated June 30, 2017 entitled, “Tiki Bar Stirs Up Cocktail of Accusations”:  (Pardon the length but the story is compelling)

“The Hapuna Kahuna Tiki Bar & Kitchen — until recently, the location was Cloud & Kelly’s Public House, an Irish pub — will close Sunday and reopen Sunday night as an extension of the Downward Dog, an adjacent bar that Davidson owns.  Hapuna Kahuna started its short run on June 22.

Davidson said that residents of Polynesian ancestry, including those with the Oregon State University Asian and Pacific Cultural Center, complained about a combination of factors such as the use of a Hawaiian name, traditional iconography displayed in a cartoonish way, and how plastic leis were handed off to customers.  Some Hawaiians and other Polynesians liked the Tiki-themed bar and didn’t want him to change it, Davidson said.

Culturally inappropriate?

A local Facebook forum also had numerous comments about the situation, including questions of whether it was appropriate for chefs to cook ethnic food that wasn’t from their ancestry, such as a Korean chef running a sushi joint, since the cuisine is Japanese; discussion on the origins of Tiki ‘culture’ as an inauthentic fantasy mashup of tropical influences, and how there are Tiki bars in Hawaii; and comments on the evolution of Hawaiian cuisine to include items from numerous cultures, including those of Asian and Western countries.

The Tiki bar also made more financial sense than Cloud & Kelly’s, Davidson said, as the price of Irish cheddar, heavy creams, butters and lamb was rising. There also are rather obvious limitations to Irish cuisine, he added.

‘It all came down to the cost. … I know it had a good reputation but I felt I was at a crossroads and I was willing to try something new,’ he added.”

Now, since I don’t know the entire story in detail, I will refrain from making comments other than the cultural appropriation issues laid out above seem to pale considering the global health and economic issues we’re now facing.  And the story didn’t end there as set forth in two additional local news stories.

Downward Dog still has a campus location

The downtown Downward Dog, Cloud Davidson converted, closed in late 2018.   What is a sad commentary is David’son’s understandable sentiments in the November 24, 2018 article:

“I’m OK with letting it go, but I’ll always have an ill feeling about how it happened…I took a big risk doing Cloud & Kelly’s and it took off like a rocket ship,” Davidson said…..From the middle to the right to the left, I couldn’t do anything right…..It’s beyond rhyme or reason. But it all just blew up in my face,”

Morgan Orr

We wish Davidson, who appears to have done everything he could to assuage the objections, the best as a small business owner, since he still owns the Downward Dog location near the OSU campus.

The good news is that Morgan Orr who was his right-hand person for years, is now the owner of The Brass Monkey: A Public House, which is operating out of Davidson’s former downtown space.  The campus DD is still open for takeout and the BMPH is temporarily closed during the lockdown.  Both have received great social media reviews.

Brian and I hit the former Cloud and Kelly’s in the early afternoon on a weekday and one of only two other customers was the dark-haired woman you see sitting at the left end of the bar in the photo above.   She evidently listened to us telling some stories and laughing and then went into the bathroom.  We had finished our beers and were ready to leave when she came out carrying a small paper bag. Walking boldly up to me with a big smile she said,  “You deserve a present,” placed the package in front of me and walked out.

“Calm down and lower your voice, Beerchaser!”

Well, inside the bag were four marijuana gummy bears in the original package.   I was astonished and started to say  in a loud voice, “Hey Brian, those are ……..,” whereupon Brian in his best lawyerly voice said softly, “Lower your voice, Don and let’s split.”  

Even though marijuana edibles are legal in Oregon, I harkened back to my NROTC days at OSU when even inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke was probably enough to lose my scholarship …..Brian, as usual, was giving good advice.  The package hit the next garbage can on the way to our car.

Block 15 Brewery

Having opened their initial brewpub in downtown Corvallis in 2008, Block 15 Brewery and Taproom is south of town in a very attractive building with a beautiful view of Mary’s Peak.   They also opened a European-style pub—Caves Bier & Kitchen downtown which we hit later that evening after dinner.

Two of my favorite Oregon beers are Astoria’s Buoy Brewing IPA and Block 15’s Sticky Hand Ale. (Both with fairly high ABV at 7.5 and 8.1 respectively)

A great IPA and my opinion was not influenced by the glass!

Block 15 is known for its “barrel-aged rarities and one of the Northwest’s most extensive wild & sour programs.”  According to an 8/29/19 Oregonian article

….Block 15 remains fresh and innovative with ten years of brewing under its belt….From its well-known Sticky Hands Ale to a near-perfect pilsner, Block 15 has few holes in its game.”

An impressive tap list of creative brews

Although we did not eat there, the social media reviews on the food are very good, as exemplified by this recent 1/7/20 Trip Advisor review:

Great beer and perhaps the best sandwich I’ve ever had!   Every summer Block 15 has a sandwich called the ZATS – zucchini, avocado, tomato and sauce, on a french roll. I love this sandwich, and along with one of their hoppier beers I’m as close to heaven as I’m ever likely to get.  Also, their hamburger may be the best ever, as well. ….. ‘Nuff said.”

Note:  I’m happy to report that all three of the establishments covered above – Block 15, the Downward Dog and the Brass Monkey are continuing to offer safe options where you can still support them through takeout or home delivery.

Well Beerchasers, stay tuned for the third and final installment of Corvallis Beerchasing and some final comments on my wonderful hosts – the Kings.

Cheers (Image created by Pam Williams)

 

 

Beerchasing in Corvallis – Part 1

As I stated in my last post on Thebeerchaser blog, with all Oregon and Washington watering holes closed except for takeout, I ‘m going to “catch up” on some great bars and breweries that I visited in the  last few years, but just didn’t write up because of my formidable Beerchasing agenda……

And what better place to start then two trips to Corvallis, Oregon – home of my undergraduate alma mater – Oregon State University.  The next Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter will also be introduced to Beerchaser followers in the following post and is part of an OSU legend.

Ariel view of the Memorial Union and the Quad

As a precursor, I can state that OSU was a wonderful place to live and learn for four years.  Although some refer to OSU as simply an aggie school, it has nationally recognized programs in Ocean Sciences, Engineering and Forestry. 

It was also one of the first colleges in the country to initiate a Fermentation Science degree in 1996, which still ranks among the best in the country – certainly dear to the heart of Thebeerchaser.  It comprises about 50% of the students who are pursuing a degree in Food Science and Technology.

West Coast IPA has been one of the fastest growing styles of craft beer and “the hop that launched this revolution was an Oregon-grown variety called Cascade, developed at Oregon State University by the USDA hop breeding program.”

Fermentation Science at OSU

The two Beerchaser posts on Corvallis will be on ventures back to my undergrad stomping grounds:

In October, 2018:  I accompanied my fraternity brother and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jud Blakely and his friend, Dr. Bob Gill when we drove down to see the Beavers play the Washington State Cougars.

If you click on the link above you will also see the compelling story of my friend of 50 + years, Jud, ranging from his time – albeit abbreviated – as OSU Student Body President, to his heroic service during the Viet Nam War and beyond.

Dr. Bob Gill, Jud Blakely and Billy Main

Thanks to the generosity of former Beaver Giant Killer, Billy Main, who played running back on that fabled 1967 team, we also had 50-yard line complimentary tickets and attended a reception for alumni in which new Coach Jonathan Smith appeared about an hour before the game for a ten-minute inspirational briefing.

Coach Smith inspiring the alums right before the game with WSU

Indeed, Billy Main epitomized that Giant Killer football team which is one of the great sports stories – not only in Oregon, but in American college football lore.   For those who want to know more about that legendary team check out my own post:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/

Or for the most comprehensive and impressive chronology and documentation, check out the aforementioned, Jud Blakely’s website.  It is a labor of love by this OSU alum and I consider it the War and Peace equivalent of sports websites:  https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

I knew Billy as a fellow NROTC midshipman – one class ahead of mine.  His college football and subsequent professional career in the hospitality industry are stories that deserve to be told and are inspiring as you will learn in the next post.

On the first trip back – also in October one year earlier – I was privileged to be the overnight guests of former Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm colleague, Brian (Brain) King and his wife, Nancy.

Brian was an environmental litigator in the corporate sector and then with two large law firms.  Nancy King – also a lawyer – after her career in private practice – served as a professor at both Willamette University College of Law and in the Oregon State School of Business.

Gracious hosts in 2017 – Brian and Nancy King at the Block 15 Brewery

Before his retirement in 2016, he “anchored” Schwabe’s one-person Corvallis office. In the second post on Corvallis, you will learn more about Brian’s notable legal career and why I credit him as a primary inspiration for starting this blog in 2011.  Nancy also retired in 2016 although she taught during the summer at Aarhus University in Denmark in 2017.

Why Would One Go to College in Corvallis?

NROTC Class of 1970 at OSU

Not to belabor the point, but Corvallis is not only a wonderful community, but an ideal college town.  Now perhaps, I was slightly parochial in 1966, but as a recipient of the NROTC scholarship, I had the option to attend any of the fifty or so US universities that offered that program (and to which I could get admitted which, of course, narrowed the list quite a bit….) 

College recruitment and selection is a lot different these days (maybe not going forward) but I only visited OSU, loved the campus and also the opportunity to pledge the SAE fraternity.

Oregon State SAE House at 29th and Harrison

Corvallis has a population of 59,000 – 85 miles south of Portland, it was founded in 1845 and has the motto “Enhancing Community Livability.”   (We earnestly tried to live up to this standard while we were students….)

In doing some research for this post, I did find one interesting statistic (and perspective) from a real estate blog: (https://www.estately.com/blog/2016/06/15-things-you-should-know-before-moving-to-corvallis-oregon/

“Corvallis has the lowest percentage of children of any of the 20 largest cities in Oregon. This is great news for those of you don’t enjoy the sounds of screaming children while dining out, seeing a movie, riding public transport, meditating in the park, or playing video games at an arcade. On the other hand, if you have small children the city might feel a little devoid of other youngsters.”

Now during my college years (1966-70), there were no breweries and just a few notable bars – classics if you will including the SAE’s favorite – Price’s Tavern.  Also Don’s Den and The Peacock Bar and Grill.   The Peacock and it’s iconic rooftop pavilion – “The Top of the Cock” – is the only one surviving to this day.

Corvallis now offers a great variety of bars – including nine sports bars, breweries , distilleries and even a meadery to suit just about anyone’s preference.   In fact, the Corvallis Visitors’ Bureau offers a brochure entitled the Mid-Valley-Sip Trip listing seventeen establishments – all within the City limits.

On my two trips, I hit the following:

2018:  The Angry Beaver

2017:  Block 15 Brewing, Caves, Squirrels, Cloud and Kelly’s, Flat Tail Brewing and The Peacock

What you Should Know about Bob Gill

The trip to Corvallis was the first time I met Dr. Bob Gill – who attended and played football at both OSU and then Portland State after starring at Jefferson High School his senior season in 1953.   He was selected for the Shrine All-Star game and got a scholarship to OSU.

All-star Quarterback

He was a successful Portland dentist for many years.  But like many of Jud’s friends (other than Thebeerchaser), Bob also has an outstanding Oregon legacy as both an athlete and in the annals of athletics for the State of Oregon.

Click on the link to read his full bio when he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame  in 2019 along with two former Beaver Basketball players from the ’80’s Mark Radford and Ray Blume.

Among his achievements to garner this honor:

  • Bob’s research led to the publication of “It’s in Their Blood,” a history and legacies of 53 Oregon football coaches.
  • As a historian, Bob successfully nominated Tommy Prothro, Neil Lomax and Ad Rutschman into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame. For 14 years, he presented the “Walk of Champions” award to champion high school coaches.

  • In 1998, Bob Gill provided the early leadership to return the North-South All-Star Football Game to Portland establishing the Les Schwab Bowl.
  • In 2010, Bob offered to write the story of Oregon and NFL legend, Mel Renfro. After 5 years of research and writing, he authored the biography “Mel Renfro: Forever A Cowboy.”

And from spending a day with him, I can also state that he an amazingly humble and classy gentleman.

When we got to Corvallis, we had lunch at the Angry Beaver Grill where we met Billy and were also joined by Giant Killer Quarterback, Steve Preece and his wife, Karen.

After college, Steve played in the NFL for nine seasons – as a defensive back and his last year, in 1977, he started for the Seattle Seahawks.  After football, he has been a successful Portland commercial real estate broker and developer and is a member of the Beavers’ radio broadcasting crew.

From left – Billy Main, Jud Blakely, Don Williams, Karen Preece, Steve Preece, Dr. Bob Gill

The Angry Beaver Grill is a bastion of Oregon State sports history, co-owned by former Beaver football running back Randy Holmes (#31) who averaged 3.7 yards per carry during his four years at OSU.  Randy was a great host to our group and is a wonderful story teller.

Holmes – an expert in the kitchen

He was also known for catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from Beav quarterback, Ed Singler to make the score 28-14 against Fresno State in the 1981 season.   The Beavers after being behind 28 to 0 in the first half, won 31 to 28 and ended a 14 game losing streak.

According to Wikipedia, “With the win, Oregon State had set the record for the biggest comeback (28 points) in major college football history at that time.”

And the Angry Beaver is a great venue – especially on game day although according to the OSU student newspaper – The Barometer – it was the best live music venue in Corvallis in 2020.

The Angry Beaver Reuben

For lunch we had burgers and their outstanding Reuben sandwich, but Randy made his mark for years as a chef and according to a 2/2/18 story in the Corvallis Gazette Times

“………..resurrected a bit of Corvallis’ culinary history with the Angry Beaver, which opened in January 2018. For more than a decade, Holmes was the chef at The Gables, which was known as Corvallis’ premier restaurant for years before it closed.

‘I literally made the croutons and chicken bisque soup every day,’ Holmes said. Angry Beaver chef Mike Adams also worked at the Gables.  Naturally, that signature chicken bisque soup with croutons is featured on the menu, as is a prime rib with Danish whipped potatoes special on Friday nights, and that also was a Gables’ staple.” 

Retired Coach Jimmy Anderson

After lunch, Jud wanted to stop by former OSU Head Basketball Coach, Jimmy Anderson’s (from 1989-95) house.   Jimmy was coach of the freshman basketball team in 1961 and Jud got cut in the final round of tryouts.

They ended up playing together on the Truax Oilers AAU team and have maintained a friendship since.  (Of course, Jud told Jimmy he made the wrong decision by cutting him.)

The Beavs on their way to the locker room before the game.

Then we moved on to Reser Stadium for the early evening game.   However, Billy insisted that we be his guests at the Alumni Reception – and it was in the beautiful quarters above the north endzone.   Bob, Jud and I joined about 150 people and soon realized that they were all former OSU athletes and their guests.

And among them were a number of former Pac (8-10-12) all stars and a both current and former pro-athletes – which made me feel a little out-of-place although my size when compared to most of them meant that my presence was not conspicuous.

Scott Barnes OSU AD

We heard the great talk by Coach Jon Smith and then affable OSU Athletic Director, Scott Barnes, closed the affair and understandably started making the rounds shaking hands with those who attended.  He stuck out his hand to me and said, “Thanks for coming back.”   Given the presence of all the other athletes, I almost could not resist responding to his greeting with “Don Williams, SAE Intramural Basketball 1966 – 70.”

Well, although it was a pretty good game for three quarters, Oregon State lost 56 – 37. In retrospect, sitting there in a crowded stadium on a lovely fall night even when your team loses, seems like a wonderful future scenario.

Go Beavs!!

And although the Angry Beaver Grill is now closed during the pandemic, when bars and restaurants reopen, be sure to stop in and say “hello” to Randy and his friendly and effective staff.   You will enjoy the great atmosphere, the good tap list and the great food.

Get a Read on the Rose City Book Club – Even Now!!

Explanatory Note

I was ready to publish this post on March 15th, but decided in light of world events, that perhaps I should suspend Thebeerchaser.com. for some period.   Offsetting this sentiment about being insensitive were quite a few comments from followers and family that by providing narratives that are on the lighter side right now might be appreciated and provide a diversion from the news.

With that in mind, I will do a few posts about some establishments that I visited months and maybe even a year or two ago, but never had the time to write – not the situation now….. You’ll also see updates on some bars and breweries that are adapting and still doing a good job of serving their customers now – in creative ways that comply with the Oregon’s regulations.

Such is the case with Rose City Book Pub, where owner, Elise Schumock, who you will meet below, is still open for “take out food, growler fills, and book sales.”  Her new hours are 11 am until 10 pm.  Check out the introductory paragraphs in her website which convey what she is doing and some great options you should consider not only for your own enjoyment, but to support a small business owner during this crisis.  (I visited Rose City three times in the last year.)

And if you have any thoughts about if and where Thebeerchaser should “go” in the next weeks – other than to have a draft beer in your favorite watering hole, leave a comment.    Don Williams aka Thebeerchaser

Cheers!

I have to admit that when I read about bars that have a dual function e.g. a tap room and also serve as a cycle or record shop, etc. it evokes reservations.   The bars and watering holes I love (all 367 in the last eight years) are almost always characterized by patrons – especially the regulars in dive bars – engaged in active discussions and interaction.

At home in a tavern…..

Two quotes by Samuel Johnson reinforce this idea although I have used the first on this blog before:

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”

and

“’As soon,’ said he, ‘as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience an oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude : when I am seated….wine there exhilarates my spirits, and prompts me to free conversation and an interchange of discourse with those whom I most love.’”

Philosopher opposed nukes….

Would a book pub be one where patrons immerse themselves in 500-page volumes of Tolstoy or quietly ponder philosopher and historian, Bertrand Russell’s views on nuclear disarmament with only an occasional sip of a brewski while deliberately refraining from any typical barroom banter?

Thus, I had some skepticism about the announcement of the new Rose City Book Pub (hereafter RCBP) when it opened in November, 2018. Part of that was from the fond memories I had at a Beerchasing event in 2012.

I joined colleagues who were members of the Schwabe Williamson law firm Environmental and Natural Resources group when County Cork was located in the same space on NE Fremont.  It’s a charming space in a wonderful old building built in 1927.

Schwabe Environmental lawyers toasting the EPA in an Irish Pub

We had both cheerful and weighty conversations and we liked the pub’s Irish theme.  Brien Flanagan, who is now the leader of that group, a Notre Dame undergrad before law school, even told the joke about the Irish boomerang: “It doesn’t come back. It just sings songs about how much it wants to.”

Why Should You Visit the Rose City Book Pub?

After three visits and a great interview with the cordial and interesting owner, Elise, however, my reservations disappeared and I will return.  The concept works quite well.

And since on two of the three visits to the new establishment were also with lawyers who are Beerchasing regulars (former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Jim Westwood – and Bernie Stea), the company was equally stimulating at both County Cork and RCBP.

Elise, Bernie and Jim

I say this as a non-attorney who worked with lawyers for forty years and as one family member said, was a victim of the curse, “May your life be filled with lawyers.”  I loved my career in legal management, however, and as evidenced by these three examples, still spend a lot of time Beerchasing with lawyers – voluntarily…..

The RCPB has a very nice physical layout and ambiance.  And in spite of my concern that it might tend to be a bunch of bibliophiles burying their faces in books, it was exactly the opposite.

Although there are some nice niches where one can cozy up with a book, most people are reading, socializing or working on computers at tables or booths which are an  integral part of the large comfortable and bustling room or chatting at the bar.  The book shelves on each of the far sides provide nice “bookends,” if you will, sitting against walls which are attractively painted.

And the bar with about ten barstools fronts the kitchen where the jovial staff has ongoing interaction with customers.   There’s also some nice art by local artists scattered throughout.

Bar opens to kitchen

What About Elise?

We should talk a little bit about Elise, who based on her outgoing personality, her entrepreneurial spirit and her interesting background deserves accolades.

Elise – “temporary” hiatus in LA….

This Portland native, who attended Grant High School, and then Whitman College, where she majored in Education.   She graduated during the recession and there were no jobs teaching Latin in the NW – her career choice – so she moved to LA in 2001.  She then worked at an elite K-12 private school in which the annual tuition was $40,000.   Her second week as a teacher started with the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.

The neophyte educator tutored and taught Latin, which started a great conversation since Jim Westwood’s mom, Catherine, was both Jim’s and my Latin teacher for two years at Oregon City High School in the ‘60’s.   I threw out the only two Latin words I remember – “pulchra puella” which means beautiful girl.

Caeser – Bloody in Canada…

So Jim and Elise started talking about the Roman Empire and to keep it in context he informed us that a Bloody Caesar is the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary except it includes clam broth.

Her goal was always to return to Portland and after seventeen years, a friend, Matan Gold, had an conceptual idea about a “book pub” in Portland and she thought, “I could do that!”   After a six-month search, she found the building “which perfectly matched my parameters.

Is this used book store and pub the only such combination in Portland?  Well, according to critic Michael Russell in Oregon Live:

As noted by Eater PDX, which broke the bar news last week, this will be Portland’s first such establishment, joining Boston’s Trident Cafe, the Spotty Dog in Hudson, or Afterwords in Washington, D.C.”

They opened on November 3, 2018 and after starting months that saw packed houses,  the first part 2019 “was pretty lean.”  Since that time things have gone very well.  (With that said, Elise, who goes by the title of Book Publican, like any small business owner is concerned about the long-term economic impact of the Corona Virus.)

So does the RCBP have the feel of a typical pub or of a bookstore that just offers some alcoholic beverages.   Let’s look at Willamette Week’s well-stated description in January, 2019:

“It has all the makings of a Portland cliché: craft brews, staged poetry readings, rows of old, obscure books. But don’t be deterred by appearances. The simple bar manages to fuse two of the city’s trademarks—beer and used books—without a drop of pretension…..

This isn’t a bookstore you enter seeking something specific. It’s a humble, well-curated selection, presented for carefree browsing and happenstance discovery. Plus, the bar’s inviting atmosphere and free-flowing beer taps are a recipe for a rare Portland occurrence: chatting with strangers.” (Emphasis supplied)

What’s to Drink?

They have fourteen rotating micro and two nitros on tap in addition to two ciders and Kombucha.  As you can see from the image below, the beers are diverse and comprise 3 IPA’s, a couple amber ales, a Kolsch and Pilsner and a sour ale.  Elise reports, however, that her top single seller is the house red wine – one of four.

You can also have a cocktail as well. And the next time I go back, I will definitely supplement my beer and with a root beer float for $5.

Bernie Stea, a member of the elite law school honorary, Order-of-the-Coif and not to be outdone by Westwood’s erudition in his reference to the Roman Empire, made a point of ordering one of Camas, Washington brewery Grains of Wrath‘s beer.  He then quoted  John Steinbeck – thinking we might see the connection:

“There is nothing in the world like the first taste of beer.”

And his preference for beer from the Camas brewery is understandable since Bernie and his wife, former Portland radio personality, Debb Janes, have a successful high-end residential real estate practice there – View Homes of Clark County.

Grains of Wrath – A good Camas brewery option…..

What’s to Eat?

Elise on her website describes their menu as, “….cafe and bistro style with hearty, whole ingredients and bold flavors.” 

And while I didn’t eat there, it appears to be pretty robust and offers more options than one would expect ranging from sandwiches, salads, appetizers and even some entrees such as roasted chicken and pork shoulder – the latter at reasonable prices of $12.50 and $16.00 respectively.   Also deserts and a kids’ menu.

One Yelp reviewer commented that they should have more vegan options and Elise replied:

Our vegan options are Mediterranean Sandwich, Quinoa Bowl, Pasta Puttanesca, Hummus Plate, Fries made in our gf and vv fryer.  One of the rotating soups is always vegan, and several of our snacks are vegan, including olives, Chex mix, gf pretzels, hummus and carrots, apples and peanut butter, and ants on a log. 

The term “pub crawl” doesn’t apply to this snack.

Elsie asserted the need for diversity in her menu by also stating, “Vegans have friends who are not vegan.”

(BTW,I didn’t know what “ants on a log” were and was relieved when I learned the snack is made by “…spreading cream cheese, peanut butter, ricotta cheese…..on spreads of celery and placing raisins on top.” (Wikipedia)

For those put off by the title, it’s better than one of the variations “ticks on a stick” – substitute black olives for the raisins.  Elise asserted that ants on a log goes very well with a shot of whiskey.

She and her staff (Christine, Amy and John, the cook) are very friendly and helpful in explaining the food options and a very impressive tap list for a small, new establishment.

Christine and Amy are great ambassadors for the pub

One thing I have noticed in the eight years of my watering hole travels is that the bars that appear to be successful and radiate a welcoming vibe are those that have become a “community” of sorts, not only within their neighborhood but for those who gather socially from other parts of the City.

Elise promotes this approach stating:

“We host all kinds of events: readings and live music, book clubs, fundraisers, and stuff for kids, We aim to build a community, and become a hub of sharing, discussion, and good times.”

Stuff for kids…

And the Calendar-of-Events on their website is filled with gatherings such as Trivia Night every Wednesday from 7:00 to 9:00, affirms it.  Live music also brings in patrons on the evenings its offered.

They also have a very nice back patio.

What’s to Read?

The inventory of books on the shelves and in niches throughout the large space is about 5,000 (with about another 100 boxes in storage)  and Elise’s specialty is literary fiction.  They also have kids’ books.

How are the Reviews?

Certainly, one way to get a feel for how things are going besides personal visits and talking to the owner, is checking out social media reviews.   I always try to see if there are themes and if their are trends to the comments.  Also, if there are any crazy reviewers which is often the case.

My son-in-law, Ryan Keene orders from Christine

In the first year of operation, one would expect some negative reviews but other than one reviewer who complained that she thought it was too loud and another that he thought that it was too quiet and they needed music, many of the reviews were almost effusive (see below).

I was impressed that whenever there was a comment with even a mild criticism or some suggestions for improvements, Elise always responded – a smart move for any business owner.  And I did find one from 12/7/19 that seemed at least at little bit crazy:

Everyone here seemed nice, but snobby. I found myself to be the only one of 7-8 people grooming the book shelves in search of a life changing event. Most people keyed away on their laptops or tablets.

I really just didn’t like the kind of people in this place. Maybe it’s that I don’t fit in. I felt like I was surrounded by angry feminists and judgmental leftists. I was wearing business attire and the glares I got were uncomfortable. I just didn’t feel like I fit in. Otherwise this would be a 5/5”

I hope this person had a life-changing event other than the one all of us have experienced in the last few weeks, but in contrast, the comments below describe the ambiance of the pub:

“This place feels like a comfortable mix of a Powell’s and your favorite corner bar. People were sitting alone reading and sipping beer, playing games with family, meeting up with a friend or having a glass of wine while they worked on their computer.  I got lucky enough to meet the owner, Elise, who is as charming as this pub. She has made a place that everyone can feel welcome.”   (Yelp 12/29/19)

Beautiful space with friendly ‘barbarians’ and a warm atmosphere. Will definitely be back!” (Yelp 3/11/20)

“I stopped in for the first time on my latest trip to Portland and absolutely fell in love!  This place is basically Portland in a pub.”    (Yelp 9/12/19)

“Only in Portland will you find a place as cool as this. Where east meets west, the place that defines PDX. If you thought Powells was cool, this place trumps it in all aspects.”   (Yelp 7/22/19)

What’s Holding You Back?

And finally, another one that is more evidence that you should drop by and say “hello” to Elise and her staff:

“This place is pretty awesome! Do you ever have a book and want to read? Do you ever want to read with beer and or wine, maybe a cocktail? Not a bar, not some scene place, but some place where you can actually read. I’ve long wanted one and this is it.

It’s a mash up if you’re favorite small bookstore had food and drinks, this is what would happen. We came here for bookclub and it was so fun. We had a great discussion, their selection of beers on tap is extensive and they have several food options.”

And if you feel so inclined, you can even bring in and post some original writing or poetry for patrons to view which occupy one wall and add another nice community touch.  This photo  shows  their  “Take a Poem/Leave a Poem” feature.  Some are original works, some are copies of published works.  Another nice touch. (And by the way, if you want to help, the RCBP also takes donations of books.)

Rose City Book Pub     

1329 NE Fremont

 

BS Revisited – If Only I had Known in 2012!

The Brilliant Tome by Dr. Harry Frankfurt

“The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.”

When I started this blog in late 2011, I decided that besides reviewing bars and breweries, I would feature an interesting individual or group each quarter.  They might not have anything to do with beer or bars, but in my opinion they’ve made a meaningful contribution to society and their story should be told.

In almost every case, I have known the approximately thirty-two individual or groups I’ve since tried to recognize personally and they range from athletes, authors, media personalities, military heroes and even academicians (including my graduate school professor in Public Finance).   One of the few I did not know, but felt compelled to “honor” after reading his brilliant essay, was Princeton Emeritus Professor Dr. Harry Frankfurt.

One of my friends in the Schwabe law firm, when I was COO, gave me a hardbound copy of the professor’s 1986 essay On Bullshit – I think as a subtle hint to describe the information conveyed by firm management….  I couldn’t put it down, laughed out loud throughout and decided to make Dr. Franklin my second Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

As a lark, I looked up his contact info at Princeton and sent him an e-mail describing Thebeerchaser blog and his designation as B-O-Q.   I thought it would get caught in Princeton’s spam filter or that a person with this distinguished Ph.D.’s schedule would just ignore it..

So I was surprised and thrilled to receive the e-mail below several days later.   His cryptic reference in the last sentence also indicated that he read the very long post in its entirety.  (If you want to find out what it is, you should also……)

Sent: Monday, January 30, 2012 7:36 AM
To: Williams, Donald
Subject: RE: Hello Dr. Frankfurt

Dear Mr. Williams,

First of all, thank you for the honor of naming me the January 12, 2012 Beerchaser of the Quarter.

I have looked at the blog in which you announced my receipt of this distinction, and I was impressed by its wit, its charm, and its erudition. Also, I enjoyed the pictures. I intend to follow your blog regularly. I am especially interested in keeping up with the debate over whether to remove the letter M from the alphabet. I believe that, with regard to this issue, my mind is still completely open.

Anyhow, thanks very much for writing.

Sincerely,         Harry Frankfurt     

And I can say with some confidence that eight years later, few of us would believe that the level of BS pervading the airwaves and emanating from the Nation’s Capital would have far surpassed what even Dr. Frankfurt described.  So I decided to republish it – in some ways as a sad commentary on ongoing communication. 

A dramatic increase in BS percentage

I sent a copy to my late friend and author and another Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Brian Doyle, knowing that with his wit and appreciation of the written word, he would enjoy it.  His reaction was as follows:

“I read it (On Bullshit) instantly and was delighted.  In all my life, I never read such a careful essay on such a crucial subject and one with a humor so dry I was thirsty at the end and had a glass of the best.”

The narrative below will give you a taste (or sip) of what Brian described and I would recommend you purchase it.   Dr. Frankfurt is now fully retired at the age of 90, but his incredible perceptions on BS will be a lasting legacy!

The Original Blog Post – January , 2012

Although somewhat erratic in 2011, the intent of this blog is to recognize a Beerchaser of the Quarter four times each year.  The honoree, so to speak, may or may not have a direct relationship to pubs or beer.  When more indirect, I will attempt to explain the link, which is necessary for the January recipient.  Dr. Harry Frankfurt Ph.D., an author and professor at Princeton University, has shown wisdom and humor in promoting meaningful communication.

One of the reasons for thebeerchaser tour is to experience the ambiance unique to each bar, pub or tavern.  I would suggest that each ale house has its own character based, in part, on the conversations and relationships of its patrons.

The Yukon Tavern

Thus, by listening and interacting, I have gleaned pearls of wisdom from my visit to Joe’s Cellar that were distinct from Prost, the Yukon Tavern or the Twilight Room and other stops on my tour;

however,

All the discourse was worthwhile and sincere, which is not true of much of today’s dialogue – most notably in politics, government and law.  It seems fitting, therefore to start the New Year by acknowledging, Dr. Harry Frankfurt Ph.D., as the Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  He is the author of a brilliant 67-page treatise published in 2005 entitled On Bullshit.

As the esteemed Dr. states: (all quotes below in blue italics)

Unmitigated Bullshit

“The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.”       

 

In On Bullshit, Dr. Frankfurt, quotes from learned sources such as the Oxford English Dictionary The Prevalence of Humbug(an essay by Max Black 1985)   

The Economist,

St. Augustine

and ‘”Lying’ in Treatises on Various Subject in Fathers of the Church” by RJ Deferrari (1952) re. St. Augustine’s position on the  issue of lying.

Dr. Frankfurt’s stated purpose in On Bullshit will help you understand why this little book is so insightful:

“In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.  And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us.  In other words, we have no theory. 

I propose to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory analysis…..My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not.”

Understandably, the professor agonized that, “Even the most basic and preliminary questions about bullshit remain, after all, not only answered, but unasked.” (emphasis supplied)  

Questions on BS??

With the Presidential election cycle upon us and the increasing use of the internet and social media for communication, On Bullshit becomes an invaluable resource to gauge communication….and character.

A recent column by The New York Times Columnist, David Brooks, entitled, “Behaving Badly in Cyberspace” wisely states:

“And if more people spent their evenings at least thinking about what exemplary behavior means they might be less likely to find themselves sending out emotionally stunted tweets at night.                                    

   ……The reason politicians behave badly these days is that we spend less time thinking about what it means to behave well.  This was less of a problem in past centuries when leaders, teachers and clergy held detailed debates over what it meant to have good character.” 

The New York Times David Brooks

Does the proliferation of e-mail and social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, increase the amount of bullshit in global society?  Dr. Frankfurt wrote his tome before the advent of social media and since then the number of talk shows and reality shows has also increased dramatically.

Is the Amount of BS – Time Relative???

Even in 2005, when Dr. Frankfurt wrote his book, he opined that the amount of BS was distressing:

“Why is there so much bullshit?  Of course, it is impossible to be sure that there is relatively more of it nowadays than at other times.  There is more communication of all kinds in our time than ever before, but the proportion that is bullshit may not have increased.”        

Perhaps it is nostalgia, but it would seem that some of the great statesman and intellects of the past were more direct and concise – essentially far less inclined to bullshit, than current dignitaries.    For example, let’s compare the wonderfully concise assertion of Henry David Thoreau in 1854, to former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s response at a press briefing in February 2002:

“We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.” 

Henry David Thoreau – Thought a lot before he talked….

Thoreau said this even before some of the statements uttered by George W. Bush and Texas Governor, Rick Perry  (I wonder if they had a pub in the vicinity of Walden Pond?)  It also begs the question whether Thoreau was implying that Maine and Texas residents are bullshitters, which Dr. Frankfurt does not address in his book.

Known Knowns (Although Rudy has become a known unknown in 2020)

And now, Rumsfeld’s comment on why no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq:

“There are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

Rumsfeld’s quote may typify government communication and reinforces the need for a new law signed by President Obama, effective October 2011 – “The Plain Writing Act” – perhaps more aptly described as the “Anti-Bullshit Act.”

It was prompted by such examples as the Pentagon 26-page brownie recipe which included a directive that “ingredients shall be examined organoleptically.”

Frankfurt would certainly classify that directive as bullshit. A pre and post – Act comparison is edifying:

Before –The Dietary Guidelines for Americans” recommends a half-hour or more of moderate physical activity on most days, preferably every day.  The activity can include brisk walking, calisthenics, home care, gardening, moderated sports exercise and dancing.”

After – “Do at least 30 minutes of exercise, like brisk walking, most days of the week.”

A Stark Contrast – Does it Drive One to Drink?

To further the premise that communication has declined in quality and the bullshit quotient increased, we can turn to the contrast between Benjamin Franklin and current Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.  Perhaps dialogue was more meaningful, tempered and civil in Franklin and Thoreau’s time because they exerted considerable effort to make it that way.

Founder of The Junto

Franklin integrated his social and civic life with his business life.  In 1727, he formed a club of young workingman called, “The Junto.”     

When they met they discussed issues of the day, debated philosophical topics and devised schemes for self-improvement.  In a description of the goals of this group, Walter Isaacson, in his 2003 590-page book, Benjamin Franklin, An American Life states:

“Franklin stressed the importance of deferring, or at least giving the appearance of deferring, to others…… ‘When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him.’  

Instead, he would agree in parts and suggest differences only indirectly…. This velvet-tongued and sweetly passive style of circumspect argument would make him seem sage to some, insinuating and manipulative to others, but inflammatory to almost nobody.”

BS Trendline in Election Years

The contrast between Franklin and Gingrich’s demeanor and communication is striking.  Gingrich’s term as Speaker of the House, essentially marked the beginning of the end of bi-partisanship and civility in Congress.

Warning – BS Alert!!!

“I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words.

..There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

The above is Newtie’s rationale for multiple marital affairs – BS so profound that it would astonish even Dr. Harry Frankfurt.  Perhaps the following excerpt from On Bullshit is particularly apt during election campaigns — especially in this era of concern about global warming:

“When we characterize talk as hot air, we mean that what comes out of the speaker’s mouth is only that. It is mere vapor.  His speech is empty, without substance or content.  His use of language accordingly does not contribute to the purpose it purports to serve. 

Hot Air!!

No more information is communicated than if the speaker had merely exhaled.  There are similarities between hot air and excrement, incidentally, which make hot air seem an especially suitable equivalent for bullshit.  Just as hot air is speech that has been emptied of all informative content, so excrement is matter from which everything nutritive has been removed.”

While Franklin’s Junto may not have initially met in a tavern or alehouse, it would seem that this type of setting would have been appropriate.  Although it is a generalization, I have found that those who frequent pubs have a propensity to identify and refrain from drinking with bullshitters.  There is a certain authenticity and candor to bar-room rhetoric that is refreshing.

This is not to suggest, however, that a good bull session is out of place in the tavern setting.  It is critical to understand the distinction.   

“What tends to go on in a bull session is that the participants try out various thoughts and attitudes in order to see how it feels to hear themselves saying such things and in order to discover how others respond, without it being assumed that they are committed to what they say. It is understood by everyone in a bull session that the statements people make do not necessarily reveal what they believe or how they really feel…..

Bull Session at Tavern

The purpose of the conversation is not to communicate beliefs.  Accordingly, the usual assumptions about the connection between what people say and what they believe are suspendedThe statements made in a bull session are different than bullshit in that there is no pretense that this connection is being sustained.

This resemblance between bull sessions and bullshit is suggested also by the term ‘shooting the bull,’ which refers to the sort of conversation that characterizes bull sessions and in which the term ‘shooting’ is very likely a cleaned-up rendition of ‘shitting.’  The very term ‘bull session’ is, indeed, quite probably a sanitized version of ‘bullshit session.’”

So let us embark in 2012 by toasting Dr. Harry Frankfurt and his essay – still available at Amazon.  Let us resolve to speak with candor and frankness, but with civility.  Let us not shy away from debating issues ranging from the Portland Trailblazers, to the Columbia River Crossing to the impact of eliminating the letter ‘M’ from the alphabet, in bull sessions.

But as we lift our mugs in 2012, let us at least attempt to avoid the furtherance of bullshit.

A Concluding Rhetorical Question from Dr. Frankfurt

Is the bullshitter by his very nature a mindless slob?  Is his product necessarily messy or unrefined?     The word ‘shit”’ does, to be sure, suggest this. 

Excrement is not designed or crafted after all; it is merely emitted or dumped.  It may have more or less coherent shape, or it may not, but it is in any case, certainly not wrought.”

Happy New Year from Thebeerchaser

Turn to The Vern!

The Vern in Southeast Portland (in the area sometimes referred to as ‘The Barmuda Triangle” because of the prevalence of bars and taverns in the area) epitomizes the debate Willamette Week aptly labeled, “(Portland’s) endless war between condos and character.”

You will see below that while a number of people in their social media reviews bemoan the fact that their beloved Hannigan’s Bar – the Vern’s predecessor which opened in 1986 – and the old Vern are now history – the bar was remodeled, the interior refurbished and the menu revamped, into what is now a cozy neighborhood watering hole that still has many aspects of dive bar ambiance.

Remodeled and refurbished

Now some take issue with what WW calls the transition from “haute-scumbag chic to fresh new spaces” of the rebooted Vern. I would suggest, however, that Portland is fortunate to have entrepreneurs, Warren Boothby and Marcus Archambeault to save these establishments from development into structures such as urban storage units or commercial office space.

In the good old days…..

Alternatively, some old bars with great character have permanently disappeared and supposedly suave cocktail and beer bars – many in strip malls – have sprung up.

The Club 21 was one owned by this duo which didn’t survive and what was a wonderful bar in an iconic building that at one time served as a Greek Orthodox Church is now gone.  Fortunately, as you will see below, some of the old signs and memorabilia from the Club 21 have a new home in The Vern.

What happens when a fine establishment like the Club 21 closes…..

An example of the urbane-type establishment  is the Yard House in downtown Portland – a bar although boasting “the world’s largest selection of draft beers featuring over 100 imported and local beers bars on tap,” has all the ambiance of an Olive Garden.

That’s quite possibly because the chain of Yard House bars across the US is owned by the same corporation as the above-mentioned pseudo Italian eatery which those who love boffo buffet flock to for “Never Ending Stuffed Pastas – Pick your pasta sauce and topping plus all the soup or salad and breadsticks you want – over and over….”

Urbane or sterile??

When I reviewed the Yard House on this blog in 2016, I asked rhetorically if it “measured up.”  (It didn’t…!)

Indeed, we can thank this duo for their commitment to save and invest in such great bars as the Sandy Hut, the Double Barrel, Gold Dust Meridian and the Elvis Room, which are still thriving.

(To see Thebeerchaser’s reviews, click on the links above.)

To further the case on why The Vern’s transition in late 2018, potentially saved it, take this excerpt from WW’s 4/9/19 review after it reopened, “(The Vern) weathered multiple waves of change with one foot planted firmly in the grave. It’s teetered on the precipice of extinction for decades.”

The Vern garnered its moniker purportedly by what the Portland Mercury described in its 12/19/18 review as “a long-neglected neon sign that once flashed ‘Vern’ after a decades-old auto accident 86’d the ‘TA’ in ‘TAVERN.’”

In fact, the story reminded me of another great east-side bar that had a similar signage story – Mad Son’s Pub – which changed its name from “Madison’s” after the “i” in the neon sign burned out.   To further my assertion regarding the precarious nature of old bars, Mad Son’s, which I reviewed in 2016 and had great ambiance, permanently closed in 2017.

The Vern was suggested by my friend, Hillary Barbour, who hit a home run when she previously recommended Mad Hanna’s as a dive bar that should be visited by Thebeerchaser. (Click on the link to see the review).

National Power List!

Hillary, a Reed College grad, is now the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Burgerville and was recently honored by The Nation’s Restaurant News on their 2020 Power List in an article captioned Burgerville’s Hillary Barbour Develops a Burger that is Better for the Planet.”

It should be noted that inclusion on any kind of establishment Power List may be viewed with reproach by her fellow Reed alums.

Hillary Barbour at The Vern

The space is expansive with two large rooms and features which make The Vern a good place to raise a mug or just hang out.  These include a great backbar with cool barstools, large booths with red felt cushions, several old-fashioned pinball machines as well as Big Buck Hunter (and a big buck head taxidermy mounted on the wall), a great fire-pit and a number of typical dive bar signs – many from the Club 21 – including my favorite Schlitz globe.

Don’t forget the iconic “STEAKS” sign from the aforementioned Club 21 as well as some posters from live music events at the former bar.

Maureen and Jelly Bean

There is also a great patio where we had a nice chat with Maureen, a Vern regular who lives nearby and was out on the patio with her friendly Newfoundland breed dog, “Jelly Bean.”

The Vern could improve a few minor things such as creating a website and improving its Facebook page which leaves a lot to be desired.  However, the history of the “institution” and the stories, which go back over thirty years, remain intact notwithstanding the spruced up interior fixings.

For example, many Portlanders will remember an August 2019 Oregonian story entitled “Man in MAGA hat clashed with crowd before his alleged assault at different bar, witnesses say.”

The Vern was where this saga began when at about 10:30 on a Saturday night, a guy and his wife, who told police that she “….wanted to see how people would treat her husband if he wore a Make America Great Again hat into some bars.”

(Not related to the Oregon Live story)

The female bartender at the Vern – she asked the man to leave – not because of his headgear, but based on his demeanor and actions.

And patrons said he began “Scanning the room and staring down anyone who would happen to look at him…..(and) began to accuse people inside the bar as being cowards and draft dodgers.” This in spite of the fact that he had no military service and the US discontinued the draft in 1973.

Usually a pretty staid environment..

Really??  Only one head where these belong!

Now the hat guy, who was subsequently assaulted by another woman and man outside the Growler Taproom – about ten blocks down Belmont Street -alleged that somebody at the Vern “placed a toilet seat cover on his head and that another patron threw something at him.”  That claim was questionable, but the two were later arrested by Portland Police for third degree assault.

The entire incident is somewhat humorous since nobody was seriously hurt, but the statement of a guy who filmed the debacle at The Vern before the couple left has to be one of the most misguided and ridiculous statements I’ve seen since starting this blog:

“I would equate wearing a MAGA hat while in hyper-liberal Portland to wearing Klan robes in a black community.”

Now while I may personally question the hat person’s  policy leanings, God help us when the expression of political preference – be it in speech or on apparel – is perceived in accordance with this intellectually challenged observer’s judgement.

How about pinball rather than politics……!

So what about the beer and the food at the Vern.   They have Rainier and two ciders on tap in addition to four micro-brews for which pints are a reasonable $6.

The food offerings are pretty typical of the other establishments of these two bar owners and the menu has a lot of options.  Take this WW review:

“…..customary spread of fried food snacks served with salty dipping sauces including honey-coated sweet potato jojos and cream fraiche ($7) and a plate of ‘golden nuggets’ which meld cheese curds and chicken into a singular deep-fried, bite size chunks ($8).”

While Hillary and I did not eat at The Vern, I had the above referenced golden nuggets when I visited the Double Barrel a few years ago and they were scrumptious.   (Given that Hillary is responsible for Burgerville’s locally-sourced and organic menu featuring regenerative agriculture, I wisely decided not to suggest anything on the Vern menu as she would have gotten up and left…..)

That said, the weekend brunch is one that might well motivate me to return even if it required a trip in from the burbs.

And this Yelp review from 8/13/19 certainly liked the burger.  That’s a tradition at the bars owned by this pair.  (8/13/19 Yelp)

“Everything about the burger was awesome, from the bun to the patty to the ingredients. However, my favorite topping was the crispy onion- it really pushed it up to the ‘wow- I love it, delicious’ burger list.”

Side Note – Different Bar(s) at Another Portland Vern(e)

I often convey related stories when writing this blog.   The latest occurred when I tried to call to check on the number of beers on tap.  I googled “The Vern” and hit the “Call” button on my i-Phone whereupon a very formal male voice answered “Control Room.”

Realizing no bar that I’ve ever been to had a control room, I quickly hung up and rechecked the link and the phone number and then realized that I had called The Vern(e) – but this one was a male prison in England. “The Verne is a men’s prison, located within the historic Verne Citadel on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England….operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service.”  (Well at least it was in Portland……)

The Other Portland Vern(e)

And to end this review by again pointing out the dichotomy in views on bars that receive the Boothby/Archambeault treatment, I present a quote from Warren Boothby on their intent in their resurrection of the Vern:

“We used to hang out there a lot 20 years ago, and we want it to feel like home again for those who remember it as a place where you could be super comfortable and that wasn’t pretentious.” (Portland Mercury 12/19/18)

Comfortable and non-pretentious….

Reinforcing this sentiment is the realistic statement of this August 2019 Yelp reviewer who stated:

“What kind of bars serve $3.75 wells in 2019? Bars that close.

Granted I never went to the old Vern, but from the sound of it, not many other people went there, either. Checking out the remodel, I’m happy that somebody stepped in and saved this space, even if it’s not really what it used to be.

Again as a reminder, what it used to be was a bar that was going to close. At least this place was taken over by people who have genuine care for the space and the history and for operating great spaces. I’ll be back, and I’ll bring my crew in tow.”

They are also trying to create a community at The Vern with 50-cent wings during Blazer games, an interesting “daily six-shooter” featuring a shot of whiskey and a pint of Rainier  for $6, trivia nights, occasional DJ’s and their excellent brunches to encourage neighbors and groups to patronize.

The Daily Six-Shooter

Thebeerchaser will definitely return to The Vern.

And a tip of the hat (with no logo or slogan) to Warren Boothby and Marcus Achambeault for their continuing stewardship in preserving Portland’s watering hole tradition, notwithstanding a contrary view.

I regard the guy below as one who perhaps should make an effort to allow pragmatism to transcend his naive nostalgia when he wrote on Yelp on 4/23/19:

“Not a dive bar anymore. Sadly the Vern lost its charm in the remodel and we are left with yet another basic-yuppie bar. Well drinks went for $3.75 and now it’s $6. No more pool tables, no more bathtub in the smoking area, and ultimately no more personality.

This place that once felt like a quirky safe space feels awkward and uncomfortable. Trying way too hard to be something else, and it’ll never be the same.  I’m going to be switching my favorite dive bar to Bare Bones just up the street.”

The Charm still remains – it’s just different.

I guess I’ll have to visit and review the Bare Bones Cafe and Bar, but it appears to me to be more of a café than a bar. The Vern will continue the tradition of its predecessors. Go there and don’t be reluctant to wear your t-shirts or hats with slogans regardless of whether they are political or show a college sports theme such as “Go Beavs!!” 

The Vern         2622 SE Belmont Street   Portland

How Jack and Jan McGowan SOLV(E) the Equation

Meet Jan and Jack McGowan, the first Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter in 2020.

Oregon Governor Tom McCall, the founder of SOLV, once said, ”Heroes are not statues framed against a red sky.  They are individuals who say,  ‘This is my community and it is my responsibility to make it better.’”

There can be no doubt that by Governor McCall’s eloquent definition, Jack and Jan McGowan are true heroes, as few Oregonians have given as much time and effort as they have to making all of Oregon’s communities better. 

SOLV has played a special role in modern Oregon history, and Jack and Jan’s intelligence, integrity, and  indefatigable energy were instrumental in its success.

Kerry Tymchuk

When I asked Kerry Tymchuk, Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society, a good friend of the McGowans, to write a short commendation to start this post, he agreed immediately.  Kerry, himself, is an outstanding Oregonian, having received Oregon Business and Industry’s (OBI) Statesman of the Year Award in 2018.

The picture above was taken on the seventeen-acre property at which Jack and Jan McGowan reside – about seven miles outside of Sisters, Oregon bordering Indian Ford Meadows.

The couple moved into the house and became caretaker/managers of it multiple properties near Sisters in 2008 through the generosity of very close friends.

They returned to make Sisters their home almost twenty-three years after they were married in nearby Camp Sherman and had their rehearsal dinner at the Sisters Hotel.

Not the average – but the lower range….

It’s a beautiful forested acreage with geese flying, hummingbirds fluttering, eagles swooping, woodpeckers tapping (four species – White-headed, Downy, Hairy and Northern Flicker) and wild creatures ranging from deer and elk to bear and coyote.

here are  guest quarters and a wonderful greenhouse in which Jan spends a lot of time during the winter when the average snowfall is about eight inches and the temperature stays around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. (Jack doesn’t even have the key to the structure housing the plants.)

The Greenhouse

Both Jan and Jack had extremely interesting and divergent backgrounds before they met – when they worked for former Portland Mayor Bud Clark starting in 1985.  I’ll explore each’s story, but their collective legacy is the leadership and sustained effort they devoted in shaping and developing SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism).

SOLV was created in 1969 and celebrated its fifty-year anniversary in 2019.   (The non-profit dropped the words from its name to just the acronym in 1998 and added the E in 2012 to reflect its expanded mission in the community and environment.)

What is Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter?

For context, besides visiting and reviewing bars, pubs and breweries, each quarter on this blog, I “honor” an individual(s) or an organization who may or may not have anything to do with bars or beers.

The late author, Brian Doyle – B-O-Q in 2014

Past recipients – almost all of whom I have known personally, have included authors, athletes, media personalities, academicians and military veterans. (To see their posts, click the tab below the header at the top of the page.)

They all have interesting stories, notable achievements in their careers or public service and deserve recognition for their contributions to make it a better world.

Amy Faust

Attorney Jack Faust

Although there has been a father-daughter awardee (Jack and Amy Faust) Jan and Jack McGowan are the first couple to be so named and by inference, the organization they co-directed to become a powerful and effective force in Oregon environmental history.

Lessons to be Learned!

When reviewing their tireless efforts for SOLV, there’s a distinct lesson for those who feel overwhelmed and powerless to address complex Oregon or national problems.  Pay attention to this story……

The story of SOLV and the McGowans epitomizes using one’s energy, talents and creativity to build and sustain a successful non-profit organization.   And most Oregon citizens, political officials, corporate and non-profit leaders and media outlets understand and respect SOLV’s contribution to their State.

As just one example, Jack and Jan are on the cover of the December 2003 Oregon Business Magazine recognizing SOLV as one of the recipients of the Oregon Philanthropical Awards in 2017 for effecting dynamic changes in Oregon communities.  And Jack McGowan, as was Jack Faust mentioned above, was the recipient of the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors Portland First Citizen Award – Faust in 1993 and McGowan in 2006.

The announcement re. Rose Festival Grand Marshal at Sisters High School

Jack was the Grand Marshall of the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade in 2009, the Oregon State Parks Foundation published the couple’s book The Oregon Coast – a Legacy Like No Other in 2017 and Jan continues to lead her successful firm consulting for non-profits formed in 2008.

Jack received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Pacific University.  Among his political mentors were US Senator Mark Hatfield and State Senator Ted Hallock.

The couple’s other honors and civic service are too numerous to mention here.  As Jack’s profile on Linked-in states, “Retired, but still very much involved!”

It’s a saga of smart and creative marketing and use of the media, cultivating fruitful partnerships – including their marriage – political savvy, perseverance through challenges, dynamic management and maybe a little bit of luck as well.

The vision of Tom McCall continues…

In 1990, Jack McGowan became the first paid director of the organization founded by Governor Tom McCall in 1969 as a result of a heated political compromise with the bottle and beverage industry over Oregon Bottle Bill Legislation. It was a joint decision by the couple based on their love for Oregon as Jack’s initial annual compensation was $10,000 with no benefits.

Jack smiled when he stated, “When I started SOLV had no staff, no office, no phone, 100 sheets of letterhead and $12,000 in a checking account.”  The office for the first five yeas, was in the family room of their house in Helvetia. 

Besides having an infectious grin, is a splendid story-teller and several times during our conversation such as when talking about his parents or about returning to Manhattan with the Flight for Freedom from Portland in 2001, he teared up.  Although it is a cliché, Jack truly wears his heart on his sleeve – in this case a western ranch shirt…..

2001 Oregonians in New York City

After Jan joined the effort in 1991, they operated out of their home for the first five years.  And from that staff of one and budget of $12,000 to the time of their retirement in 2008, it grew to a staff of twenty-six (now 32) and a budget of $2.6 million and tens of thousands of volunteers.

The Beach Cleanup….and Then Some!

The initial Oregon Beach Cleanup was in 1984.  The McGowans have been to 34 of the 36 including the first one for their son, Travis, when he was three years old.  It has become an Oregon tradition involving countless individual volunteers and hundreds of organizations.

“Alarmed by the dangers of plastics to wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employee Judie Neilson Hanson organized the first state-wide beach cleanup, and SOLVE helped.

That year, 2,100 volunteers collected 2,800 bags of trash. In 1986, Hanson coordinated beach clean-ups with similar efforts in fourteen coastal states. The following year, SOLVE took over leadership of the Oregon’s beach clean-ups, which have continued to be successful.”  (From the Oregon Encyclopedia)

SOLVE is now the largest volunteer organization in the Northwest. And the initial beach cleanup has expanded to become a Beach and Riverside Cleanup with far greater scope. (Take a look at this graphic demonstrating the involvement in the 2019 Cleanup).

Jan Van!!

Janet Van Domelen, was born in Anchorage and raised in Banks, Oregon.  Her dad was career Army and she was one of six children. I first met her when we both worked at the Oregon State Bar in 1979.   “Jan Van” – her moniker – was the Bar’s only receptionist and first rate at what most of her co-workers viewed as a terrible and stressful job. 

Any person who was dissatisfied with the service provided by his or her lawyer, believed their attorney had committed malpractice or had violated Bar ethics rules — or just didn’t like lawyers in general……would call or write the Bar which was the admissions and disciplinary arm of the Oregon Judicial Branch.

Membership was approximately 7,500 Oregon lawyers at that juncture.  (In 2019, that number had grown to over 12,000.)  So you can imagine the volume of calls and letters received was significant

To give you an idea, take a look at one of my favorite letters received at the Bar in 1981 when Jan and I worked there, from what will remain an unnamed individual from Independence, Oregon.

And many of the callers were harsh and rude – sometimes under-standably, and they vented on Jan Van.  She handled them with grace and aplomb.  We all knew that she would move on and have a great professional career.

Former Mayor Clark in 2014 at the Goose Hollow Inn which he owns – flanked by Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter Jim Westwood and John Terry.

That started when she left in late 1984 and interviewed to the Executive Assistant for future Mayor Bud Clark who took office in 1985.

Jack who was to become the Mayor’s Press Secretary was working with the Transition Team and he was one of four people interviewing the finalists.  Jan later told a friend who inquired about the interview:

“I think the interview went well, but even if they offered it to me, I don’t think I could take it.  Jack McGowan is the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen and I wouldn’t get any work done.”

She obviously overcame this concern and served for six years as Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of International Relations.  She headed the Sister City Program and traveled throughout Asia in this role.  When she left, Portland had expanded to seven Sister Cities.  (More on Jan’s post SOLV career below.)  They couple started dating and got married in 1986.

With Mayor Clark and after Jack came up with the concept “Dress as You Please Day” in 1985

Jack….

When my wife and I joined the McGowans at the Sisters’ home – the first time I had met Jack, I knew immediately I would relate to him because of our mutual New York roots.  In face, both of us born in 1948 – Jack on August 2nd and me eighty seven days earlier.  (Jack treated me like a respected elder…..)

Jack was born in Jackson Heights – a multi-ethnic neighborhood in the Borough of Queens and I in Merrick, Long Island in Nassau, County right outside the City – according to Google Maps – as infants, we lived only an about an hour or twenty-three miles apart by the Sunrise Highway – part of New York State Route 27……..

Jackson Heights in 2005 — 77th Street, Jackson Heights, Queens, between 37th and 35th Avenues, looking north )

Jack’s grandfather, John, came to America from Ireland and met his future wife, Nora.  They had three children, one of which was George (Jack’s dad), John – the oldest and Marie.  They lived in Manhattan.

His grandfather held numerous jobs (dockworker, chauffer for a prominent NYC family and lastly, the owner of a bar on West 57th St. in Manhattan named “McGowan’s.”  When Prohibition came, John continued to operate it as a speakeasy.

On January 6, 1932, a young punk who went by the name of William “Three-Gun” Turner, came into the bar with an accomplice – their intention was to rob the bar.

During a botched hold-up, Turner killed John, was arrested, found guilty and sent to Sing Sing Prison’s electric chair where he was executed on February 2, 1933.

The picture below shows confessed killer, Turner, handcuffed to Detective Jacobs, waiting for a grilling in the DA’s office.  Throughout the trial, he showed little, if any, remorse and played solitaire. It’s from the book New York Noir – Crime Photos from the Daily News Archive.

Nora converted their Jackson Heights home to a three-bedroom boarding house. Jack’s parents, George and Rosemary had a one room apartment several blocks away and Jack was born in 1948.  He slept on a convertible sofa in the living room through high school.

Richie and Jackie on the floor here starting in 1966

 

Fast forward to 1966 when Jack graduated from high school.

He and his buddy, Richie Grasso, went to work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as floor clerks. (“In our neighborhood, every guy had an “ie” attached to his first name.  I was Jackie and Grasso was Richie.”)

Starting as a floor clerk and then to a floor broker was about the only honest way a kid from New York City with no higher education could grow up to be a millionaire.

Richie loved the work, but after four years Jack, who was then living in Greenwich Village – across the street from Bob Dylan grew disillusioned with the job, the War in Viet Nam and wondered what he was going to do with his life, so he quit in 1970.

Jan and Jack with son, Travis, at a cafe’ Jack where Jack was a regular in the ’60’s

Having never been west of New Jersey, he decided he was going to hitchhike to California for a new beginning. (Stay tuned for a marvelous follow-up story about Richie and Jackie below.)

But fate intervened when he and a friend were waiting for a light at the intersection of 6th Ave and 61st Street in downtown Manhattan.

Paul Simon in 1966 – a little before Jack ran into him at the intersection….

I don’t know if Jack was humming “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” but singer, Paul Simon, was also waiting for the light and they started what ended up being a twenty-five minute conversation in which the noted singer advised Jack not to go to California:

“Try the Pacific Northwest – Seattle is a lot like San Francisco and Portland is a great smaller city.” (Jack has the ability to keep people actively engaged in even a curbside chat!)

So Jack went up to Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts and joined two guys who were looking for a third person to share expenses and drive to SF.  He got to Portland, by also sharing a ride – where he had no family, no car, no friends and no job, but decided “I need to get serious.”

Thus, while living in an $82 per month (including utilities) apartment – one of four in an old house at NW 24th and Pettygrove, he worked as a roofer, fork-lift operator and talked his way into a sales job at the British Motor Car dealer in Portland.  (He had his mom send out his New York suits and told the manager that he had just left his job on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.)

With his sights set higher, in 1974, using his personal appearance and ability to speak, he coaxed his way into becoming on-air host and Director of Promotion/Public Affairs at KINK-FM – a job he had for four years.  This was the first step in what was to become his first career – in broadcasting and public relations and the chance to use his creative talents as shown below:

1978 – 1981Public Relations Director for the Oregon Zoo. He created and produced the “Your Zoo, And All That Jazz” concert series, the world’s first musical series held in a zoological park.

1981 – 1984:  Partner, Biggs-McGowan Public Relations/Marketing. He conceptualized and co-produced Mt. Hood Festival of Jazz.

1984 – 1986:   Assistant to Portland Mayor J.E. Bud Clark. He was liaison/spokesperson to the Portland/National media and business communities.

From 1986-1989, Jack was a correspondent and on-air host for NBC Affilitate, KGW -TV Northwest News with Teresa Richardson and Elaine Busby.  He covered Oregon issues and hosted various international programs from Japan, Australia and the Amazon region of Brazil.

Besides his part-time broadcasting gigs, Jack was a house-husband, doing freelance writing and taking care of the McGowan’s son, Travis, who was born in 1987.  Jan was still working for Mayor Clark.   And then in 1990, SOLV came into the picture for Jack and Jan left the City in early 1991 and became Co-Director.

Son Travis – in the middle on the ____ Beach Cleanup

So Jack and Jan “retired” in 2008 and are living in Sisters.  SOLVE celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009.  Jan, based on her extensive experience with non-profits and her entrepreneurial inclinations, formed a successful sole-proprietor consulting firm –  in 2008 to assist non-profits in strategic planning, fund-raising and leadership development.

Her first client was SOLVE and she now has clients in Oregon and Washington.  Typical of the reviews is this one from Gwen Wysling, Executive Director of Bethlehem Inn in Bend – a shelter and resource for homeless persons:

“Jan  is a gifted facilitator and strategic thinker.  She worked closely with  our staff, board and stakeholders to quickly navigate and help bring  about positive and dynamic organizational change and development.  She  employs her talents genuinely and unselfishly.”

A skilled facilitator

Meanwhile Jack starts serving on various non-profit boards such as Oregon Public Broadcasting, the Providence Medical Foundation and is elected to the Board of the Sisters/Camp Sherman Fire District.

In 1993, he narrates a documentary for KPTV named “Beyond Eden’s Gate:  The Legacy of the Oregon Trail”  which wins the Western Heritage Award (“Established in 1961 by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  The award honors the legacy of men and women for their works in literature, music, film, and television.”).

Jack’s Western Heritage Award on the McGowan’s Deck

Winners receive “The Wrangler,” a bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback and it is proudly displayed on the McGowan’s deck.

The Oregon Flight for Freedom

In 2001, we were all stunned by the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.   But Jack, having grown up there said, “When I saw the Towers go down, it affected me viscerally.”

Sho Dozono and Portland Commissioner, Nick Fish – right – with a NYC firefighter at the reunion tour

Portland travel agency icon, Sho Dozono, his wife Loen, the late Commissioner Nick Fish and Oregon Congressman David Wu, John Ray along with Portland influencers, Len Bergstein and Elaine Franklin collectively began orchestrating the concept in the lobby of KGW television studios shortly after the attack on NYC.

At the time, Jack was co-hosting the local part of a national broadcast and pledge drive for the rescue workers.

Elaine Franklin originated the name “Flight for Freedom” and Loen Dozono came up with the vision of a “Reverse Oregon Wagon Train” – only by air.

When New York City was struggling with the aftermath and people were avoiding airline flights as being too hazardous, they decided let’s get a group of Oregonians and “Fly to New York City, look terrorism in the face and not blink!”

Jack and John Ray went three days early as an advance party to pave the way for the official flight, which included Oregon dignitaries (even Mayor Vera Katz notwithstanding her fear of flying) and regular folks who felt compelled to show their support for New York and provide an urgently needed economic shot in the arm.  (Jan stayed home because she was coordinating the Beach Cleanup) The Oregonian’s  story was remarkable – especially for Jackie McGowan from Jackson Heights!

The unique group of about 500 flew into Manhattan where the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel was virtually empty.  (Delta Airlines gave a great deal on cost of the flight.) Few people were going to Manhattan unless they absolutely had to – especially tourists.  The Oregonians filled the hotel –  the only cost was for the room tax.  All other lodging expense was gladly absorbed by hotel management.  The Flight was covered by national and international print and broadcast media.

The original 2001 contingent – That’s Vera Katz in the middle in red….

And according to Jack:

“New York City went crazy!  Cops hugged us.  We went to a restaurant and when the maitre’d announced that we were the group from Oregon, we got a standing ovation and multiple parties debated as to whom would pick up the bill for the meal.

We met with Rudy Guliani and Governor Pataki and had appearances on Good Morning America and Today.”

A group from Oregon with Diane Sawyer from Good Morning America

But the highlight for Jack was when they asked ten of the Oregonians, including him, to ring the traditional opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on October 8th.  They gathered next to the Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.

Former Oregonian, Ann Curry greeting the group on Today.

 

Richard Grasso

Jack who ended up standing next to the NYSE Chair and CEO (from 1995 to 2002) who according to print media sources was making approximately $140 million annually, looked to his side and exclaimed,

“Hi Richie.  How are you doing?”  And Richard Grasso, responded, ‘Hey Jackie!”  It was the first time they had seen each other since 1970.

From left to right front :Sho Dozono, Jackie, Richie, Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, Oregon St. Treas. Randall Edwards, Julia-Brim Edwards. Back row: Pres. of Board of NYSE, Don McClave, Cheryl Perrin, Ron Saxton, Roger Hinshaw and John Rickman

Jack said that the trip to New York was, “One of the most profound experiences of my life,” and he was also involved in a reunion tour ten years later to commemorate the anniversary of the event with hundreds of firefighters from all over the country and to coincide with the World Trade Center Memorial opening on September 11, 2011.

Aerial view of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on Monday, May 21, 2018. Credit: 9/11 Memorial, Photo by Jin S. Lee

Well, the McGowans are now enjoying their well deserved retirement, staying active and traveling.  Last fall, they toured the Southwest in a seven week RV trip.  This wonderful couple, who shuns the limelight, has a lasting Oregon legacy and earned a well-deserved toast as Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter.

Jan and Jan served on the Board of the Sister’s Quilt Show and the Sister’s Folk Festival, respectively.  What are Jan and Jack’s future plans for public service in their community?  Time will tell but maybe it can best be described as:

“Retired, but still very much involved!”

And if you want to honor their service and commitment, consider making a donation to SOLVE – or better yet, participating in the 2020 Spring Beach Cleanup on March 28th.

YUR’s. Truly!!

“Yur’s is a Dark Dive Perfect for Day Drinking.”
I could end this review right here and that caption above would be enough motivation for many of Thebeerchaser’s followers to put their jobs temporarily on hold and make a weekday junket to this watering hole in Slabtown, but there’s a lot more to the story of this wonderful bar than the caption of this 2018 Willamette Week review .
Last year I did a blog post devoted to my favorite Portland-area dive bars – visited after pursuing this tour of bars, breweries and pubs for seven and one half years.   You can see that post at the link below, but I will at least give you the four dives that made my all-star list:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/02/09/thebeerchasers-best-portland-dive-bars/

My favorite was The Standard – you can read the post and see why and lament with me that the only major change is that the renowned “Hamm’s for a Buck” – special on Wednesday is gone but not forgotten.

And while The Standard is still thriving, an alarming number of the great bars and breweries which have disappeared from the scene in the last few years including the legendary Slabtown – which poured its last PBR in 2017 and was right down the street from Yur’s.

(In the Standard’s case, it was their insurance coverage which mandated the change in the Hamm’s special.  And it is probable it was due to an  overly cautious insurance company lawyer – one I would suggest may not have bothered to review the Standard’s history and lack of problems with this arrangement for many years.)

The other three on my list – not in any order are below.  Click on the names to see the full Beerchaser review:

The Ship Tavern (Multnomah Village)        Gil’s Speakeasy

  Mockcrest Tavern

John Mansfield (on the left) with the owner of Church bar in Portland

And it wasn’t The Ship’s memorable exterior, the fact that Gil’s owner asserts that “We’re the nicest assholes in town,” or remembering my visit to the historic Mock Crest with one of my favorite Intellectual Property lawyers (and musicians) John Mansfield.

In each case, as with Yur’s, it’s the overall character of the bar, the people and the side stories.

Now had I visited Yurs’ in Northwest Portland (Slabtown), it would have been added to the list of favorites above.  And while Yur’s has some true dive bar characteristics, it was clean, did not smell of stale beer, has a wide variety of good food and even some interesting and worthy art.

About fifteen of my friends including  former colleagues from the Schwabe Williamson law firm gathered on a late Tuesday afternoon at this bar and our group was not disappointed for a variety of reasons.

Part of the group that afternoon from l to r: Steve Oltman, Mike Mitchell, Skip Greenwood, Jim Westwood, Jack Faust and Jim Larpenteur

These ranged from the cheerful hospitality shown by Bartender Eric Zoeller, to the regulars who populated the bar, to the distinctive art (see below) to the nooks and crannies in the expansive space, the signs, the free popcorn, the old-fashioned pinball machines, the free pool tables, the unique alleyway with street art and the general ambiance that made us unanimously concur with WW’s assertion.

A distinct group of regulars..

The Slabtown area of Portland is a working class neighborhood and the bar in the space Yur’s now occupies has served the cabbies, longshoreman and neighbors in that area for at least sixty years – since 1968 – it was called the 16th Street Tavern before Yur’s.  One characteristic of urban dive bars – they are rarely in strip malls and many such as the outstanding historic dives I wrote about in Pueblo, Colorado are in interesting old buildings which have served other purposes through the years.

Unfortunately, these usually expansive spaces are also prime fodder for developers for condos or commercial purposes which is one reason so many have disappeared. Yur’s is housed in a structure built in 1884 – it was originally was a cellar and stables. (For an interesting side story on the building, see *1 below)

The bar has been owned for about the last twenty-five years by former NFL lineman, Terry Hermeling – an offensive tackle (weighed in at 255 and is 6’5” tall) for the Washington Redskins during the 1970’s after starring at the University of Nevada at Reno).   According to Wikipedia, “He helped the Redskins win the 1972 NFC Championship and (the team) lead the NFC in yards passing in 1975.”   He played under Hall of Fame Coach, George Allen.

Terry Hermeling in his playing days

The Redskins meeting with Pres. Nixon in 1971 after winning the NFC Championship

Although he was undrafted in 1970, Terry Hermeling had an impressive NFL career, playing 120 games – starting in 103 and being listed on the Redskins official website as one of the  “80 Greatest Redskins”

Joe Theismann – 1983 NFL MVP, 2-tme Pro Bowler (1982-3) and Super Bowl XVII Champion

And joining him on the list above are some NFL Hall of Famers such as Sonny Jurgensen (QB), Sam Huff (LB), Charley Taylor (WR) and other guys with notable gridiron fame such as Chris Hanberger (LB), John Riggins (RB), Art Monk (WR) and quarterbacks Sammy Baugh, Mark Rypien and Joe Theismann.

In fact, a guy who has a website called “Hogs Heaven” and evidently travels the country to find Redskin fans wrote in 2014 about plans to meet at Yur’s:

“With that in mind, it is my pleasure to announce that Hogs Haven is traveling to Portland! I happen to know that there is a very solid representation of Redskins fans out there and I am hoping to meet as many of them as I can.”

Terry Hermeling – present day.

Terry’s son, Cody, is now the co-owner and his father trained him in the business aspects of the bar as he grew up.  The elder Hermeling evidently now resides in Palm Springs and Bend.

As an aside, former NFL players going into the bar business in Oregon is not unique to Hermerling. Former Oregon Duck quarterback, Joey Harrington, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2002 and played seven years in the pros tried it.  His partner was Ryan Magarian – the cofounder of Aviation Gin, an internationally known hospitality industry consultant and entrepreneur – in 2016 with his Portland establishment the Pearl Tavern which closed after only three years and is now the Portland brewpub of Backwoods Brewing in Carson, Washington.

Drew Bledsoe -Life after the NFL….

Another former NFL star – Boston Patriot starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe has owned a successful winery – first in Walla Walla.  The Bledsoe Family Winery expanded into Bend, Oregon where Bledsoe and his wife reside with vineyards and a tasting room in 2019 as reported in the Oregon Wine Press.

(Interestingly enough, there appears to be no explanation on why the Pearl Tavern closed.  Media reviews in 2017 were positive and the Backwoods Brewpub appears to be doing very well in the same location.)

But I digress….Yur’s bartender/assistant kitchen manager is now Eric Zoeller, who was a great and helpful resource in giving me background information and reflects the warm personality of the bar itself.   He is a Kentucky native who moved to Portland from California and has worked there for four and one-half years.

Eric – friendly bar manager

Eric wrote in an e-mail to me:

“What makes us different is that we are more than just a bar to our customers. As one of the last old school bars of old Portland, we provide a haven for those who remember what this neighborhood used top be and those who are just now learning about the area. We have customers who have been coming here for 50 years and those who’ve found out about us.”

We strive to provide a safe place where friends and family gather to meet, where everyone can be themselves. If it’s a holiday, a sporting event or just a normal day, our customers always feel at home here at Yur’s and we feel very much at home in our neighborhood.”

Classic pinball machines

And our group was welcomed by the regulars sitting at the bar who chatted with us and Eric and he tended bar.   Six of us were sitting in one of their big booths drinking beer and chatting and one got up to hit the restroom.   A middle-aged guy promptly and without hesitation sits down in the booth next to me and started looking at the beers on tap.

I didn’t recognize the guy (and I was the one who invited everyone to Beerchase) so I casually stuck out my hand and asked if he was a regular at Yur’s.   He said, “No,” aren’t you guys part of the motorcycle club that meets here?”   (We felt complimented that he would think a bunch of old guys looked like Harley people.)   I told him we weren’t and he got up and when I saw him an hour later, he said that he never found the group, but liked the bar and decided to have a few beers and skip his meeting.

There is a cool room around the corner from the kitchen with couches and a table which houses about twenty people that is used to watch sporting events or just for groups (such as motorcycle clubs….).  They call it the “Front Room” or “The Alcove.”

A Dive Bar with Distinctive Art!!

One of the distinguishing factors at Yur’s was the art work – displayed over the booths which are located along a narrow hall, of sorts, in front of the long bar.   It is distinctive and attractive and I noted the artist’s name and website on one of her paintings. And as I have found with the individuals involved with a lot of watering holes visited, the side stories are fascinating.   And Anna Duvall, is no exception.

Beerchasers Jim Westwood and Alana Finn eat popcorn under Anna Duvall’s art…

I traded a few phone calls with her and eventually had a wonderful and interesting phone chat with this talented Berlin native whose mother is German and who moved with her parents to Maui when she was two. After graduation from high school, she went to the California College of Arts and Crafts.  

A move to Eugene in 2001 gave her the chance to pursue her passion at the U of O and she studied multi-media design, while working part time at a Dairy Queen.   After moving to Portland, she started showing her art while working as a server at Jake’s Grill.

Mo Mo Bar is next to Jakes in downtown Portland (see Thebeerchaser review) and she would sketch while having a brew after work.   In 2006, Thomas McLouglin, the owner, gave her the opportunity to display some of her paintings (they’ve never been taken down) which were then also displayed at the Low Brow Lounge. She also has a mural inside Sizzle Pie on the east side.   Yur’s then provided another venue where she could show her talent.

She was “discovered” by Tony Lawrence – the owner of Boneyard Brewing, who asked her to design a tap handle with his image on it for one of his beers Pabo Pilsner in 2016.   (Her college friend, Dana, who also worked at the Dairy Queen, was working at Boneyard in Bend and when Lawrence had a tap handle designed, she said, “My friend, Anna, could do a much better job than that.)

Lawrence evidently agreed and she has also done designs for Boneyard’s Incredible Pulp and Brewjeria American Lager.   When Boneyard celebrates its tenth anniversary in Bend next year, you will see Anna Duvall’s painting displayed in the Brewpub.

You can find this cheerful and talented artist working as a full-time server  at Jake’s Grill and view her creations at Mo Mo’s, Yur’s or on her Facebook page under “Killallartists” or on her Instagram account (@annadeeznutz).   Yur’s is the first dive bar I know to have an “art curator” but Patrick Zahn, the owner at Steel Door Gallery has been recently tasked with this function according to Anna.

Beerchasers Darien Loisell and Don Russo in the alley – but not smoking….

Anna’s art isn’t the only creative attraction at Yur’s.   If you take the exit by the pinball machines into what is used as a smokers’ lounge, of sorts, you will enter an alleyway that has some distinctive murals along the walls of this narrow passage-way which has to be about at least 100 feet long.

The only similar type of passage I have seen in my travels was adjacent to Renners’ Bar – another classic dive in Multnomah Village which I reviewed in 2017 before the disastrous fire which put it out of operation since – although they are trying to reopen.

Food and Beer

Yur’s transcends the typical dive with a reasonable tap list with the standards – Coors Light and a number of microbrews and two ciders. I loved their creative approach to PBR

The social media reviews emphasize the cheap prices and the stiff drinks – a good combination. I liked this one from an October, 2017 Yelp review:

“Great neighborhood bar with affordable drinks and free popcorn…. I’m still not sure why extra shots kept being poured into my drink (by friends not bartenders) and be prepared that the ladies’ room stalls have shower curtains rather than doors.”

I could not verify the shower curtain assertion, but possibly empathize with one of  the only other really negative Yelp reviews. – (Yelp 11/25/18):

“This bar allows soccer fans from out of the city to come in and take over there (sic) restaurant. For that reason, and for only that reason, they get one star.”

Yur’s gets great reviews for the quality and price of their food menu.  And they have specials every day. We didn’t have a chance to partake other than the popcorn, but I’m going back for either the Prime Rib Thursday (Prime Rib served with Seasonal Vegetable, Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Au Jus $12.95) or Taco Tuesday (3 for $4).  And where else on Saturday morning can you get a two-egg breakfast and PBR Tall Boy for $6!

This comment from Yelp on 7/25/19 from a guy who had just moved from San Francisco:

Prime Rib on Thursdays….

“Had their prime rib steak. The prime rib is less than $11. It’s a nice portion size. It’s tender and juicy. The steak is served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The potatoes were good; cooked to perfection and had a nice seasoning of salt and pepper. The steak is also served with horseradish…..A wonderful compliment to the prime rib steak. Enjoyable experience at this dive bar in my first day in Portland.”

And the burgers…….

“We went in for the $5 Burger-Week burger.  Friendly bartender, clean table, fantastic hamburger.  It is, without a doubt, the best burger I have ever had.” (Yelp – 8/10/19)

A burger with four strips of bacon…!

Now to be objective, one reviewer stated that the bratwurst was “simply shameful.  It was quite possibly the teeniest tiniest bratwurst I’ve ever seen, the texture was pretty gross, and it tasted nothing like a bratwurst.  
The fries were pretty good though.”  (Yelp 2/19/16)

Our group would have liked Yur’s even if the guy hadn’t asked us if we were motorcycle club members.   The environment is one that is all too rare and not found in almost any of the newer and more polished quarters which house brewpubs and cocktail bars.

These suave, sleek establishments have great and varied beer, but not the authentic ambiance (or distinctive art work…..) which, at Yur’s is a magnet for Slabtown neighborhood.  (And try getting free popcorn at one of these brewpubs….)

Former Beerchaser of the Quarter, Jim Westwood, pontificating on politics, philosophy and the statute of ultimate repose….

If you want to gain that experience and drink beer in a friendly and comfortable enviorment try Yur’s.

Truly!!!

Yur’s     717 NW 16th        Portland

Amy Faust – now a non-profit auctioneer among other avocations..

*1 One more interesting sidelight on Yur’s and historic buildings.  My talented and interesting friend and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, Amy Faust, brought this issue to light because she was traveling and could not be at the Yur’s Beerchasing event.

Amy did a search on-line for Yur’s and came across the picture below.   She asked if I knew what the “U” on the building meant to which I responded in the negative.

Since she is blessed with a significant amount of intellectual curiosity, she had previously researched the symbol after seeing it on another Portland building and sent me the following link to an article in Oregon Live entitled “Fire Warning Signs Mark 21 Buildings in Portland Metro.”

Notice the upper left-hand corner of the photo

The good news is that the article was first written in 2010, but updated in 2019 and the pictures I took of Yur’s and those on current social media show no “U” remains on the building.  In addition, the article, which shows the addresses of all twenty-one of the current structures, does not list any with Yur’s address.

I concluded that this means they have addressed the deficiencies (although based on how well I like the bar, that designation wouldn’t have stopped me – just made me more cautious about where I was drinking my beer in the large space…..).

Quoting the article:

“The signs aren’t meant for the public; they’re for firefighters…..The signs, placed on at least 21 Portland buildings since the bureau introduced its Unsafe Building Alerts Program in December 2009, tell firefighters that if a fire were to break out in the building, it would be unsafe to battle from inside. Firefighters will still enter to rescue people, though.”

Thanks Amy, for the interesting sidelight.

Pueblo Beerchasing Continued…..

The Rio Grande Bridge outside Alburquerque

Two recent posts will give Beerchaser followers an idea of our trip to the Southwest US last September and the first installment on the wonderful historic dive bars we visited in Pueblo Colorado.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/05/beerchasing-in-the-southwest-part-i-oh-ernie-bob/

The last post focused on Gus’ Tavern and Eiler’s Place, both of which have retained their rich character going back to the end of Prohibition.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/28/pueblo-rich-in-history-and-dive-bars/

Shamrock Brewery and Irish Pub

Our next stop that afternoon was at the Shamrock Brewery and Public House right in the heart of downtown Pueblo.  Like the other Pueblo establishments we visited, it’s housed in an historic building and has been in operation for over sixty years.

Shamrock Brewing Co. is one of the oldest Irish pubs in Colorado.  Originally constructed as a mercantile building in 1908, the first notable tenant was Johnson Bros. Motor Company in 1913.  Founded as a bicycle shop, Johnson Bros. became one of the first Xcelsor dealerships west of the Mississippi.”  (Shamrock Brewing Website) 

It’s an expansive space divided into two parts – the east side which has an impressive mahogany bar with old-fashioned bar stools and a wonderful backbar was opened as the Shamrock Cafe in 1940.

The west side – acquired later and where we had our beers – has been a cigar shop and pool hall before the bar expanded and they started brewing.

It is a family- oriented and community gathering place:

“The Pub was the main meeting place in downtown Pueblo for many years and locals still reminisce about past business deal, raucous St. Patrick’s Days and old romances.  To this day, couples frequent the establishment on the anniversary of the day they met there so many years ago.”

The Shamrock gets good reviews on both food and beer – they usually have four of their standard and two seasonal rotating.  And, of course, as you would expect, green beer on St. Patty’s Day.

But what made the Shamrock such a positive experience was meeting the Taylor family (except for their son, Travis).

Cassy Taylor is our Beerchasing friend, John and Barb Senger’s daughter, and her husband, Kirk is the Sheriff of Pueblo County.  Their daughter, Sarah Taylor Gallegos, was there with her daughter, Penelope, and this is one impressive and friendly family.

From l to r: John Senger, Kirk Taylor, Cassy Taylor, Penelope, Sarah Taylor, Barb Senger and Janet

Since I’m not part of the family, I can do a little bragging about these new friends and Beerchasing companions…..Let’s start with Cassy – seen in the picture below with husband, Kirk.

Cassy has had a distinguished teaching career in Pueblo City Schools, where she is an elementary literacy specialist.  Like the rest of her family, she is an advocate of continuing learning and besides her undergraduate degree, has two Master’s Degrees related to education.

Kirk is an elected official for Pueblo County with responsibility for law enforcement and corrections as Sheriff – first elected in 2007 and re-elected three times.

Although I only spent several hours chatting with him, he reflects the quiet confidence plus having both a background and values which make Pueblo fortunate to have him leading the Department.

Kirk is a USMC Veteran and started as a patrolman in the narcotics division for the City of Almarosa, CO. After earning his associates degree and while ranching full-time, he completed his BA.

While working as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, he attended and graduated from law school at the University of Colorado.  He has been a leader in law enforcement serving on numerous state task forces in addition to teaching at the State  Police Academy.

Kirk is a man of faith, family, an avid outdoorsman, coaches youth athletics and is active in civic and non-profit organizations such as 4-H.   He is also a national authority on the impact of legalizing marijuana including an appearance on a CBS 60 Minutes special.

And then there’s Sara.  I was fascinated by her background because of her Navy experience – a 2009 graduate of the US Naval Academy with her degree in chemistry.  (Having had a brother who graduated from West Point, and Academy degree is an accomplishment in itself.)

But Sarah’s record since graduation at the Academy transcends the ordinary.

(Sarah – second from left)

She was the Captain of the Women’s Rugby Team and also a soprano in the Women’s Glee Club!

(Sarah is third from the left)

After commissioning, she became a Surface Warfare Officer and was stationed in Pearl Harbor with one tour aboard the USS Crommelin FFG 37 where she had two deployments to Southeastern Asia and one shore tour as a Communications Officer.

USS Crommelin FFG 37

Sarah states:

“I completed my pre-requisites for nursing school while on shore duty and got accepted to Colorado State University-Pueblo Accelerated Program for a Bachelor’s of nursing.

I was ready to come home and be closer to my family in Colorado.  I actually served as a bartender and a unit secretary at the local hospital during nursing school……I have been working as an  ER and ICU nurse for the past 5 years in Pueblo and am now going thru Walden University online program for my Masters of Nursing-Nurse Practitioner where I hope to graduate in 2021!”

Smitty’s Green Light Tavern

From the Brewery, our group walked one-half block to the Fitch Block in the heart of Pueblo and the home of an imposing three-story historic building – the oldest in Pueblo and originally the home of Stockholders’ Bank built in 1873 by Pueblo cattlemen, Charles Goodnight and Col. Michael Fitch.

The Pueblo Club – an association of Pueblo’s wealthiest – met there, President Teddy Roosevelt was a guest – and in later years, the Elks and Eagles also “lounged and loafed” in its luxurious furnishings.   In other words, it reeked of the history of this railroad, steel and mining town.

Before it became Smitty’s Green Light Tavern the building was also home to the Pueblo Telephone Exchange.

Now when the Sheriff walks into your establishment, patrons take notice and Greg – “Smitty” – was there to greet us with a warm smile and welcoming handshake.

The bar, which opened in 1933 and having four owners since, has been part of his family since his dad – Linn “Smitty” Smith bought it in 1956. Greg became the sole owner in 1985 and loves the building and has enhanced and remodeled it while always being sensitive to preserving its heritage.

This South Pueblo High School graduate is now sixty-two and his bearing and personality reflect his athletic background – he was captain of the football and wrestling teams in high school.

The clientele was diverse and low key the afternoon we were there and did not reflect the reputation that some assert Smitty’s carries as a biker bar.

Smitty’s response is:

“I’ve had the stigma of being a biker bar. They’re all my friends. They come in here and support the place.” 

(And Thebeerchaser has seen many bars where the Harley guys and gals who are regulars add character – not trouble – to the environment. The Gemini in Lake Oswego and the Corner Saloon in Tualatin are examples.)

Smitty, although the bar was hopping during “Panic Hour” (every weekday from 5 to 6 PM with beers $1 and premiums $2), joined us at our booand he radiated enthusiasm for not only his bar but the City he calls home.

Quite a few customers came up and shook his hand and chatted – and for many that was also the case with Sheriff Taylor – both well known Pueblo personalities. 

The bar’s décor is fitting the tradition of the region.   On weekends, there is live music

 

 

 

 

The Star Bar

While in Pueblo, we wanted to experience a  dinner built on the City’s reputation for green chile peppers.  Now at $5.00, the Starburger, a straight burger has a great tradition. 

And while many bars and restaurants serve “Sloppers,” the Star Bar in the Grove Neighborhood, is purported to be the origin of this amazing creation. The bar is also a Pueblo institution.

It was closed for a time and has had several different owners, but is now going strong.  Sam Romero, the current owner, was quoted stating he didn’t believe it was a dive bar.

“We try to make everybody as welcome as a regular.”

Well, Thebeerchaser has been to a lot of dives and the Star Bar appeared to be one – just look at the building this classic bar occupies – and the regulars in many bars welcome strangers contrary to the stereotype.

The dark mahogany bar, the old bar stools, the booths and the distinctive ceiling tiles all make the “dive” description appropriate as do the two beers on tap – Bud and Bud Light, sold in $2.50 schooners – cash only…..

The “Slopper” is an open-faced burger – single, double or triple – smothered in green chile and raw onions. As one November, 2019 review on Restaurant.com stated effusively (and somewhat redundantly…)

“I finally got to taste what generations of Puebloans have shared with me in their storytelling. WOW. I had a triple and added Pueblo Chile and bacon. WOW. I also had the fresh cut fries. WOW. Need I say more. And so affordable…..Add a schooner and you are all set.”

And is it popular?   According to an article in The Pueblo Chieftain:

“Star Bar goes through about five gallons of green chili a day. Five pound of green chilies, five pounds of pork, diced tomatoes and a bit of salt and pepper to into the pot and are simmered for at least two hours. The result is chili that’s brought customers back ever since the Star Bar began serving up the slopper forty-five years ago.”

My slopper experience replicated the reviewer’s above, although given my recent lack of exercise, I didn’t have the guts – so to speak – for the triple and wolfed down a double slopper with a schooner of Bud.

(At $7, my double slopper was a bargain and to validate that premise, I offer the following comparison)

The next night we stayed at a wonderful organic farm – the Los Pablosnos Inn and Farm on the outskirts of Albuquerque.   The expansive acreage with a picturesque old hotel and many acres with vegetables, bee hives, goats and other healthy stuff I usually don’t eat, had an outstanding, high-scale restaurant.   The cost of Janet’s glass of wine that night weighed in at 275% of my double slopper!!

Although being built in 1900 didn’t seem “old” compared to the previous Pueblo watering holes, the Star Bar, which Cassy Taylor recommended and at which she accompanied us, ended our Beerchasing adventures that day on the same high note that will notch the Pueblo bars in Thebeerchaser’s all-time favorites.

We were warmly greeted by Margarette, the manager, and we noticed the dart tournament in the back of the bar, a lively game at the pool table and the crowded poker room immediately adjacent. Part of the ambiance is reflected in the ceiling tiles – a remarkable recollection of those who have visited the bar in the past.

(I didn’t find out how one qualifies for the ceiling tile option, but since the allure of the Pueblo watering holes beckons me to return, I will find out.)

Margarette warmly welcomes our group to the Star Bar

Back to Albuquerque

And so ended our unforgettable time in Pueblo and after a stay at the aforementioned organic farm, we spent one more night and half-day in Albuquerque before catching the flight back to Portland.

The tap room at Sante Fe Brewing in Alburquerque

We went to four establishments – all which were nice but not notable: Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Bow and Arrow Brewing, Gecko’s Bar and Tapas and Santa Fe. Brewing.

We attended a climate change demonstration in the afternoon, visited an historic chapel – the San Filipe de Neri Church in a building constructed in 1793 and walked to the historic Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town

The San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church

And while the scenery on our Southwest trip – most notably the National Parks (Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes) and the historic cathedrals –  were memorable, the history of the entire region was remarkable, the food was good (I still “relish” another slopper….) and the beer was varied and well-crafted from the Second Street IPA on the first night at Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe to the schooner of Budweiser at Star Bar in Pueblo, what will make this trip stand out to us when we reminisce are the people.

Horse at Eiler’s Place

From Ernie Bob at Second Street our first night, to shaking hands with “Horse” McHorsney at Eilers Place to reuniting with John and Barb Senger and meeting the wonderful Taylor family, to having a beer with Smitty from the Green Light and to Margarette’s greeting at the Star Bar that made us feel like regulars, our road trip reaffirmed why Thebeerchaser will continue his tour.

Even if in future years I end up bellying up to the bar to order just a soda water or Hires Root Beer….I will continue to meet the wonderful owners, bartenders, regulars and visitors that have made this an outstanding retirement hobby for the last eight years!

Check out the other blog posts from our Southwest trip at:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/28/pueblo-rich-in-history-and-dive-bars/

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/12/05/beerchasing-in-the-southwest-part-i-oh-ernie-bob/