Beerchasing Miscellany – Looking Back……

Darwin’s Theory Bar in Anchorage (see below)

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

While we’re not technically still in a lockdown, by no means have things returned to normal based on the pandemic.   And for me, Beerchasing is on a hiatus other than Happy Hours on our back deck and one trip to the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel. Janet and I could easily social distance outside in a wonderful environment.

Visit the St. Michael Taproom in Mount Angel at the Benedictine Brewery

The Evolution of Darwin’s Theory

One of my favorite Dive Bars in the nine years of Beerchasing is Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage, Alaska.  It’s owned by an Oregon State graduate and we visited it in 2014 at the start of an Alaskan cruise. To that point, I had pretty much restricted my blog posts to Portland establishments.

My wife and I were doing a lot of retirement traveling, however and I thought, “Why not expand this project to other venues than Portland?”  Darwin’s was one of the first and we loved this little two-room dive bar with great nooks and crannies and which only served beer in bottles.   We each had a beer and left at about 10 PM to walk back to our hotel – but – it was still totally daylight and I said, “Since it’s this light, I’m going back to have another beer.”

Lincoln Town Coupe – plenty of passenger room, but more important, spacious fenders….

At the crowed bar, I ordered a PBR and sat next to Bill – an Alaskan fisherman.  He told me about his work driving repeatedly across the US from LA to Washington DC in the 70’s.  Bill said he had a Lincoln Continental with big fenders.    I’ll leave it to your imaginations what he carried in those fenders….

When I told him about my hobby reviewing bars he advised me to be very careful in downtown Anchorage because there had been several murders in watering holes during the past year.  I thought he might be exaggerating, but when I got back to the hotel, I checked it out on-line.  He wasn’t!  Three men were shot and injured outside the Anchor Pub less than a year before – three blocks from Darwin’s.

Jon and Nancy Magnusson and Bob and Stephanie __

My daughter’s wonderful in-laws, Jon and Nancy Magnusson, from Seattle, were traveling to Alaska with their good friends Bob and Stephanie Thompson in January to see the Northern Lights and their first stay was in Anchorage.   They asked if I could recommend a good bar….  And you can see from the picture below that they loved Darwin’s as they did the dog-sled ride they took the next day.

Homespun wisdom from Darwin

Darwin’s also publishes a monthly newsletter I still receive and I got a chuckle out of this rhetorical question on page 3 of the June edition.  After being closed for ten weeks during the pandemic, the bar reopened on June 1.

“I always wondered what a job application is like at Hooters.  Do they just give you a bra and say, ‘Fill it out.’?”

Speaking of Darwin and looking for some more lighthearted topics in response to a global crisis, I was reminded of the Annual Darwin Awards.

“How did my work evolve to this ridiculous award??”

The judges use five criteria and to win, “Nominees must significantly improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race in an astonishingly stupid way. All races, cultures, and socioeconomic groups are eligible to compete.” 

I was struck by the reference to a winner in a 2014 article in the Arizona Independent Network which quoted a study by researchers in England.  One of the 413 winners from 1995 to 2014 was the the terrorist who posted a letter bomb with insufficient postage stamps and who, on its return, unthinkingly opened his own letter.

High School Memories Continued….

Vortex 1 – August 1970

In two recent Beerchaser posts, I mentioned Dr. Cameron Bangs and the story of this late and fabled Oregon physician including his role as supervising physician at Vortex I.  It was the only state-sponsored rock concert in US history held at McIver State Park near Estacada, Oregon in August, 1970.

Matt Love, a very talented and prolific writer who has his own publishing house on the Oregon Coast – the Nestucca Spit Press – wrote a book on Vortex I from Dr. Bangs’ 20,000 + word diary.  Several articles Matt wrote for Vortex Magazine are also fascinating and particularly relevant at this time because of the 60 + days of protests now occurring in downtown Portland 50 years later.

And through a few conversations and checking out his website, I also discovered that Matt wrote a serialized chronicle entitled Pioneer Pride – An Oregon City Memoir.  It was fascinating to me because we both graduated from Oregon City High School – I was in the class of 1966 and Matt in 1982.

I would suggest that the recollections of sports, high school love and unforgettable teachers – both terrible and terrific – among other interactions in Matt’s great narrative make it one you should read regardless of when and where you graduated.

And it made me start to reflect…….I thought about our senior prank.  Around ten of us managed to hoist an old berry field outhouse on to the roof of the high school.

Oregon City High School as it was in the 1960’s

This was not fake news in 1966 – unfortunately….

Principal Vern Larson scared the hell out of us the next day when we were called into his office to “property chastise” us as referenced in the article to the left in the Oregon City Enterprise Courier.

Now I joke, however, about how he told us to shape up and even “said a little prayer” for us in his office at the end of our session – “If you ever do something like that again, God Help You….!”

“I’ll Say a Little Prayer for You…..said Vern Larson

And there were the highs and lows of high school romance.  I recently played about ten times consecutively and now cannot get the hit tune which epitomizes this topic out of my head, “There’s  a Moon Out Tonight” by the Capris.

“Dated Up” just like he “Married Up”

It reminded me of Ginger, my first girlfriend.  The Capris – a doo-wop group out of New York City, were a one-hit wonder, but one member is still living and the group continues to perform.  (The flip side of the 45’RPM was “Indian Girl” which never hit the charts and would also not be politically correct in this time.)

 

————

The Capris – “There’s a Moon Out Tonight…”

The Jet’s – the OCHS dance team

I was a junior and Ginger was a senior and I couldn’t believe that a member of the Famous Oregon City Dancing Majorettes would go out with a younger guy.

We met in a study hall and I finally got up the nerve to ask her out.  We kidded Ginger because KISN – a Top Forty Radio Station had a contest – Mrs. Brown’s Daughter – named after the Herman’s Hermits 1965 number 1 single on the Billboard Top 100“Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.”

Senior Picture

She had been nominated and her picture was one on display in the window of their studio on W. Burnside in Portland.  Ginger was embarrassed and I assured her that it wasn’t me who nominated her; however, nobody would have been surprised if she won.

And nothing beat a date after the Friday night football game (even though OCHS did not have its own field and played home games at Thora B. Gardiner Jr. High’s cow pasture gridiron).  Getting a cheap burger in my VW Bug at Dick’s Club 19 in Gladstone – that’s right, burgers were only $.19 – was a chance to see classmates and plan the weekend.

Matt’s memoir was a great catharsis.  On three consecutive days when I was drinking a Buoy IPA (7.5 ABV and 70 IBU) on our back deck, I was also harkening back to what a great place Oregon City had been to live and be educated.   I moved here from Cincinnati, Ohio, the summer before 7th grade.

For a few years, I had an Oregon Journal afternoon paper route and every day would park my bike on the Promenade overlooking downtown and take “the only outside municipally owned elevator in the US” down to Main Street to deliver to my customers.

Oregon City was the first incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains and when I delivered the paper to the County Clerk’s office, I would see the original Plat of San Francisco –filed in OC.  It was first filed in 1849 and rediscovered in a vault in 1904.

Flash Forward…..

After college and the Navy I came back to live and work in OC and eventually was appointed to the City Planning Commission (for almost eight years).  I met my wife (now of forty years), Janet, at one of those meetings in 1979 after she was appointed the Neighborhood Involvement Coordinator on an LCDC grant.  She  subsequently became the Assistant City Administrator for the City of West Linn in 1981.

One of my favorite teachers in junior high was Mrs. Maxine Stroup, who taught Oregon History .  She made us realize we were living right where countless celebrated Oregon events took place over the years.  Mrs. Stroup brought those to life.  She was a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher and historian.  She made a lasting impression on all her students.

Historic Willamette Falls at the south end of town

I had not seen Mrs. Stroup in almost twenty years until she showed up at the final hearing in 1979, where after six-months of agonizing debate and testimony, we were set to adopt the controversial Historic Preservation Ordinance.   Sentiment on what type of control the City should have on historic property was very polarized. (sound familiar….?)

Janet in 1981 after she became Assistant City Administrator for the City of West Linn

After three hours we finally took the vote and it was adopted with one dissent.  As the hearing ended, I saw Janet (we had been dating for several months but nobody new it) talking to Mrs. Stroup and a very outspoken Neighborhood Group representative advocating for strong controls and who was not pleased with the final ordinance.  The conversation went like this:

Beerchaser:   “Hi Mrs. Stroup.  It’s so good to see you and I remember well your wonderful classes from many years ago.”   I then turned to Janet and the neighborhood rep and said, “Mrs. Stroup was my seventh grade Oregon History teacher.”

Neighborhood Rep“Well it’s too bad that she didn’t teach you a damn thing about it.”

Flash Back

And each day when I delivered papers on Main Street, I would look to the Willamette River and see the beautiful and historic Oregon City (Arch) Bridge, built in 1922. (Some classmates walked the arch before the game with arch-rival West Linn right across the river)

We first lived on Center Street right across from the historic Barclay House.  (I learned in Mrs. Stroup’s class that Dr. Forbes Barclay, after working for the Hudson Bay Company, moved to Oregon City and built the house in 1842.)

The Barclay House – right across the street from our house on Center Street

“(He)…… served as physician for local settlers and townspeople, and served as Clackamas County coroner, City School Superintendent, Oregon City mayor, and city councilman.”

Now, according to Wikipedia, the house is purportedly one of the haunted locations in Oregon – “The apparition of a red-haired boy has been seen on the property.”  

The Barclay house is in the same block (right next door) as the historical  McLoughlin House (Mrs. Stroup taught me that Dr.John McLoughlin was the Superintendent of the Hudson Bay Company and the Father of the Oregon Territory…..)

My summer job was watering the (expansive) lawn each day and mowing each week for a total of $20 per month.

A big lawn for $20 per month…..

Now even in the 1960’s, it seemed like a paltry wage.  However, on reflection, I guess it could buy 104 burgers and a large order of fries at Dick’s Club 19.

There were some astoundingly bad moments in high school like in the middle of Mrs. Westwood’s Latin 1 class (they still taught it back then….and she was another outstanding educator) in 1963, when we heard a shaken Principal Larson announce that President John Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas.

Excellent Latin and French teacher

I loved my senior Modern Problems teacher, Mr. Larry Austin who was also my Senior Advisor.  I had an A going when I missed one afternoon class because we had an away golf match.

One week later, Mr. Austin decided to give us a quick oral quiz and told us to write two pages on what we thought were the most salient points in the film he had shown us the week before about the “Census.”  

Just one of the five “Census???!!”

Well, it was spring term my senior year, I was thinking about the fall when I was going to enter Oregon State University and without giving much thought to its relevance to a Modern Problems Class, I produced an eloquent stream of consciousness essay on the “Five Senses.”

“It’s been interesting……”

He gave me a D and wrote at the top of the test, “I  suggest next time, you focus more on hearing…..” 

Perhaps that’s why when he signed his picture in my yearbook, he ended with the sentence, “It was interesting having you in class this year.

Wasted Willie?

Another teacher – this one in my junior year for Algebra II and Trig was Wayne Bauer – he was also the varsity baseball coach.  The following incident took place his 29th year of teaching at OCHS.  Mr Bauer’s classroom routine for the fifty-minute period was pretty basic – lecture for ten or fifteen minutes, give the next day’s assignment, tell the class to work on our homework and then sit back in his desk chair and read what I assumed were coaching magazines until the bell rang.  (Alternatively, he would leave the room altogether for the Teachers’ Lounge.)

Admittedly, I was somewhat immature (as were a number of my classmates) and getting the homework done was not a high priority.  We usually just chatted or read our own magazines.  But I made a mistake one day when Mr. Bauer came back and heard me yelling across the room to a classmate as he opened the door.  He walked to the center of the room, paused for effect and then said in a stern and emphatic tone:

“Williams.  You have a lot of potential.  Too bad it’s wasted.”

On 30th anniversary with OCHS – “(HIs) ability as a teacher balances his skills in coaching.”

Well, two of my teammates on the JV Basketball team were in the room and by the time I got to practice that afternoon, my fellow hoopsters had adopted the moniker “Wasted Willie.”   And it stuck through High School.  (Even Ginger in her message when she signed my yearbook, referenced “Wasted Willie.”)

Now perhaps, Wayne Bauer, had some foresight because my nickname from my freshman year in college (and to this day as you will see from my blog header above) is “Dirt”  – a derivation of “Dirty Donnie” — that’s another story.   I guess both “Waste” and “Dirt” could be considered Salt of the Earth!   But his comment did at least motivate me to shut up and do my homework in the 80% of the period available each day from then on.

Basketball at OCHS

Things have changed since the ’60’s.  To make the varsity (or for that matter a JV squad) these days, one generally has to start playing AAU or club sports in grade school and go to summer camps.  The physicality of most contemporary varsity athletes is amazing.

In Ohio, there were no grade school team sports and junior high was therefore the first time I tried out for basketball.  After getting cut in seventh grade, I made the eighth grade team but got cut in the ninth.   I was devastated – so my dad put up a lighted basket in our driveway. (Probably no longer permitted in the historic neighborhood…) I spent many hours practicing.

Knowing the chances were not good because the JV Team is made up of both sophomores and juniors, I still tried out and made the JV Team as a sophmore.

Notice the athleticism of the guy on the far right..  1964 Sophomore Year *1

Then the next year, I was one of the three juniors to play JV (guys who would make varsity their senior year but would get more playing time as a JV.)  I loved it.

*1 A heartfelt expression of gratitude to Joe Gabriel, the Manager in the picture above, one of our classmates along with my best friend, Gary Kestler, both of whom made the ultimate sacrifice for his country in Viet Nam.

Inspirational Coach

I started every game and Coach Dick Arbuckle, who was also the head varsity football coach, was the best coach I ever had – a real motivator.

He went on to be head football coach at Sheldon High School and then had an outstanding career as an assistant coach at a number of Pac 8 Division 1 schools including Oregon, Oregon State, Cal and Arizona.

He inspired us as a team and even the last guy on the bench knew he might get called and to be ready at any time.  I learned that first-hand my sophomore year when towards the end of the first half of the season we played West Linn away.

I had hardly played at all that season and only if the game was out-of-reach.  In the first quarter, the starters and sixth-man guard were just dragging and Coach looked down at the end of the bench and said to my surprise, “Williams!”

I was in pretty good shape and got two steals right away and played most of the rest of the game ending up with three steals and going 7 for 8 at the free-throw line.  The next week, a local sportswriter, started his column with:  “Sometimes its not the stars of the game who make it interesting to watch.  Such was the case when Don Williams, who couldn’t weigh more than 120 pounds dripping wet……”

Coach Arbuckle years later

I also still remember in my junior year what Coach did after we lost our first two games and then went on to win eight straight only to lose in a lackluster Friday night effort at McMinnville. (Janet’s home town.)

On the next Tuesday night, we were suited-up and ready to play Forest Grove and as we were gathered for the pre-game talk, he said,”

“After last Friday, none of you deserve to start.”   He handed the score-book to the manager and said, “Manager, you pick the starting line-up.”  He did and we won the game by the largest margin that season.

While most of my hardwood experience in my Senior Year was on the bench, it was always a thrill to come up from the locker room for game warm-ups to a packed spirit-filled gym.  The pep band was stationed on an elevated platform in one corner of the gym and except for the cross-river rival West Linn Lion’s game when they played “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” the group would play the memorable four stanza pep-song “OC – OC – OC High!”   It had stunning lyrics sung by everybody in the gym:

“OC – OC – OC High

“OC – OC – OC High

“OC – OC – OC High!  (OC High)

OC——High!

And one of the most thrilling highlights for our class during our senior year was winning the TYV League Basketball Championship and a trip to the OSAA State Tournament held at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland. 

Although we lost our first round game to Lincoln High of Portland, we beat Wyeast in the second round before losing to Thurston High in overtime to be eliminated.

I will never forget that experience even though I did lose my chance to score in the State Tournament when in the Lincoln game, I missed an uncontested lay-in after intercepting a pass at half-court.  We had a cracker box gym in OC and there were rows of spectators behind the basket at the Coliseum.  Oh well….!

The first time in 20 Years!

Pioneer Pete

At the end of our senior year, our class gave the School a big plywood rendering of Pioneer Pete – our wonderful school mascot – to hang at the entrance to the gym which it did for years until a new school was built in 2003. 

Fortunately, in 2001 when a few activists wanted to “emasculate” our mascot by “photo-shopping” out his musket, the ill-conceived move was resisted.  One suggestion was to replace the musket with a flag pole.

And I covered this story in a 2012 Beerchaser post, because it was quite interesting as reported in this excerpt from the December 12, 2001 story in The Oregonian:

” A burly guy with a coonskin cap, Pioneer Pete stands like a sentinel throughout Oregon City High School. He stares from hallway murals, the backs of varsity jackets and walls in the gymnasium and football stadium.

A musket in his grip and a knife slung off his hip, Pioneer Pete is catching some flak these days. Some students and administrators say his weapon-toting ways break rules that apply to students. He’s even been booted off the cover of a brochure advertising the search for a new superintendent.”

A rich history from 1885

Well, the District Administration got quite irate about the flack this article created and sent the following message:

“Please note that this was not about Pioneer Pete , the OCHS mascot. It was a clip-art picture that was to decorate a brochure to advertise our superintendent position nationally. Our preference, with the covered wagon on the cover, was a couple of pioneers, not a mountain man with a gun.

The story in the newspaper was inaccurate. There is no conversation about changing Pete at the high school. The Oregonian reporter has certainly heard from us today about the misleading story and we have asked for her to clarify that this was not a discussion about Pete. On a slow news day, this story has taken off. We have been barraged with angry people over our decision to change a clip art picture on a brochure……….”

Current logo from OCHS website

I, personally am all in favor of most gun control legislation, but Pete, who used his musket and Bowie knife primarily to put meat on his family’s table should not be a victim of revisionist history.

And I’m proud to see that the current logo on the OCHS Website still has Pete carrying his musket.  In fact, in a June 2019 Oregonian story entitled, Oregon’s Top 10 High School Mascots, Pioneer Pete (with musket) was No. 5!

At our 50th class reunion in 2016, we got a good laugh when a classmate – rather than taking away from what Pete was carrying – added something in his left hand for a more mature Pete to help “walk the trails.” He also gained a receding hairline.

And Finally

I guess a certain amount of penitence on my part is required for those of you who logically come to a blog entitled Thebeerchaser expecting to hear about bars and beers and instead, read my embellished memories of high school and living in a great Oregon community.

Stay Tuned….

But rather than apologize, I want to thank Matt Love for his Oregon City MemoirIt was so well written and enjoyable and it compelled me to take some time to recollect some times in the past we tend to take for granted.

And remember, I currently can’t go to most bars or breweries now anyway.  But that will come.  In fact, in the next post I will feature Matt Love’s Oregon Tavern Age – a fifty-four page tabloid that is filled with wonderful stories on his 22-years writing about dive bars on the Oregon Coast.

In closing, my fellow Beerchasers, Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (the late actor Michael Conrad) used to close every episode of Hill Street Blues with the now famous admonition, “Let’s be Careful Out There!”

Well, I think the good sergeant, if he were still on duty would change that now to:

PS:  Thanks to my friend Mollie Larson Cook for the pins she sent me shown here.   Mollie, also known as The Jazz Cookie, is a talented writer and painter now living in Corvallis. She has two outstanding blogs which you should check out:

Art and Tulips        and       I Thought There was a Pony    

Beerchaser Miscellany – Lockdown Version III

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped.)

Pandemic Age Procedures

Whether it’s a simple trip to pick up groceries, getting a haircut or even an overdue appointment at your friendly urologist….formerly routine tasks and activities are a lot different during the Pandemic.  They require more planning, enhanced awareness and even paradigm changes especially on those where group gatherings used to be the norm.

The new normal…..

I know a slew of people who are primarily or exclusively working from home – another example requiring changes in ingrained routines ranging from attire, work companions i.e. wife and family members and work furniture to on-the-job accouterments – for example, having a mug by one’s side.

An April 23 (even in the earlier stages of this crisis) Oregon Live article entitled, “Almost half of Oregonians are drinking while working at home during coronavirus pandemic survey says.” talks about a new phenomenon.

It’s 10 AM somewhere…..

Multiple national surveys affirmed this trend and it’s probably not surprising that:

“Advertising and marketing agency employees had the highest percentage of employees answering with ‘Yes’, with 49.14%” and “North Carolina, Oregon and Connecticut were the biggest drinkers, each with 47% partaking on the job.” 

Of course, this raises other questions such as:

“Will growlers in the refrigerator, replace the water cooler during breaks?” and “Will employers need to install breathalyzers as a supplement to passwords before computers can be accessed” and “Will growlers and the contents thereof qualify for a home office deduction under the Internal Revenue Code?”

This would really be safe!!

So many questions, but unfortunately, so much time…..

The Legion of Zoom!

And Zoom, Microsoft Teams or other video platforms which are now main (live?) stream are a blessing although not without their negatives.   I  have attended services at multiple churches – even noon prayer at the Mount Angel Abbey, Happy Hours, book club sessions, non-profit Board meetings and even had a routine physician visit by Telemedecine – all of which went pretty well and were safe.

(And since I am on the Abbey Foundation of Oregon Board, I will put a plug in for the short and inspirational video messages by Abbot Jeremy Driscoll.   Regardless of one’s specific faith or lack thereof, the Abbot conveys messages of hope and comfort that are superb.)

Abbot Jeremy Driscoll – a wonderful Man of God

But two June International Rotary Club presentations on the nine-year story of my blog, Thebeerchaser, were quite different and a lot more challenging than the two I had done in prior years at Rotary Chapters in Lincoln City and West Linn

For the separate presentations at Lake Oswego and Bend, Oregon, I pre-tested the technology to ensure my PowerPoint would be visible to the audiences which averaged about eighty attendees.

Since everyone except the speaker(s) is supposed to mute their microphone, Zoom results in no audio feedback from the audience – something which normally helps to encourage or alert the presenter that things are either going well or he/she is crashing and burning.

Note:  There have been some embarrassing incidents where a participant forgets that “mute rule.”  The most publicized was when the US Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments by phone and livestream and in the midst of the proceeding, during a pause, a toilet was heard flushing.  The case was Barr v American Association of Political Consultants regarding the issue of robocalls.

He dealt  a straight flush?

This led one analyst to opine, “I bet that was one of the guys….”   Later speculation was that Associate Justice Stephen Breyer was the offender although there was no rationale for that conclusion.

However, in an article in Slate – an online publication associated with the Washington Post: “Investigation: I think I Know Which Justice Flushed,” the author presents a “scholarly” and exhaustive case as to why Breyer appears to be the culprit.

With the absence of auditory cues on Zoom, I decided to get some visual calibration on Rotary Club attendees’ reactions by looking at one of the four panels on the right of my computer screen in which I could gauge the ongoing response by the expression on their faces.  I focused on one middle-aged guy and about half-way through, I got concerned because he seemed totally passive – no reaction when I mentioned an historic dive bar, nor a smile or even a grimace when I told one of my bar jokes.

Notice the panels on the right of some attendees

Then I realized that the guy was using a photo as his “background” – some people use landscapes or photos,etc. rather than appear live so they can multi-task without appearing rude….I learned a lesson.

This PowerPoint slide from the computer of a friend who “attended” – shows the number of Internet views for the blog each year since its inception.

Dr. Cameron Bangs continued……

Dr. Bangs in his younger days.

In my first Lockdown Miscellany post, I ended the post with my own story when he was my personal physician and some of the remarkable history of his medical career and adventures.  He was an icon in the Oregon medical profession.

Dr. Bangs said, “I have never treated more sunburned breasts and penises or LSD overdoses

Cam Bangs was the supervising physician at  Vortex 1: A Biodegradable Festival of Life held at McIver Park near Estacada in 1970.

As stated in the previous post, Vortex I hosted between 30,000 to 100,000 protesters – against President Richard Nixon, who was scheduled to appear at an American Legion Conference to be held in Portland. “……it remains the only state-sponsored rock festival in United States History.”  (Wikipedia) 

It would appear that today’s political leaders at the national, state and local level, could learn some useful lessons from the creativity, courage and cooperation evidenced exactly fifty years ago in light of the ongoing violence and ham-handed (or perhaps that should be small handed) tactics to quell it in Portland for the last 50 + days!

Listening to rock music rather than destroying property…….

Oregon writer, Matt Love, wrote a book entitled “The  Far Out Story of Vortex 1″based on Bangs’ “entire 20,000 word-in-the-moment diary of Vortex.”   (More on Matt Love and his publishing house on the Oregon coast below.)  He also wrote an article for Vortex Magazine (Vortex I – A Strange Oregon Trip) of which every Oregon Baby Boomer or student of Oregon history or leadership should read.   Some  excerpts:

 “McCall, a Republican, was facing a tough a re-election vote later that fall. When he approved the festival, he said, ‘I’ve just committed political suicide.’ He won a second term by a landslide and became an Oregon legend for his visionary leadership.”

 “The state’s most powerful corporate executive of that era, the Cascade Corporation’s Robert Warren, drove a pickup truck full of licorice out to the park.”

“Several Oregon National guardsmen stationed around the park stripped off their uniforms and swam across the Clackamas River to join the party.”

Governor Tom McCall – The epitome of leadership….

“At the festival’s end, McCall visited the park, hugged some hippies, and then joined them holding hands in a circle. They chanted ‘oms’ for a few minutes and then recited the Lord’s Prayer and a few lines from William Blake.”

Dr. Bangs medical career including his research on hypothermia and his long involvement and activities in mountain-rescue medicine saved many lives.  This 2015 Oregon Live obituary gives a full account of his contributions to medicine and society.

And I have been fortunate for my friendships with two other physicians who are in the same category as Cameron Bangs – Oregon medical profession icons – both now retired and living in Portland – Dr. Fran Storrs and Dr. Doug Walta.

Dr. Doug Walta

Doug is now retired but founded the Oregon Clinic and served as CEO of Clinical Services for Providence Health & Services.   He has dedicated many years to serving others outside his time as a leading Northwest gastroenterologist. 

Doug served on the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners,has been active in legislative efforts to combat big pharma and has championed efforts to expand affordable medical care at both the state and national level.

He has been a board member for the Oregon Transition Projects advocating for the homeless and most recently spent many hours working on the successful campaign to pass the Metro Housing Bond Measure at the Primary Election.  Doug has always worked in a low-key but influential manner behind the scenes, and is known for his effective advocacy.

He is also an avid hiker, outdoors-man, skier and international traveler.

Dr. Fran Storrs   

Fran was the daughter of two physicians and she graduated from Cornell University’s Medical School. She is a charismatic woman who is known as a trailblazer – the first to complete a residency in dermatology at Oregon Health Sciences University.  She later joined the OHSU faculty and is now a Professor Emerita.

A life-changing incident in her career occurred at Portland’s Arlington Club in 1971:

“When she was asked to leave a meeting of prominent dermatologists being held  (at the) males-only establishment, Storrs got mad. ‘I had a curtain going up (on my consciousness) …. For me, it was a dramatic experience with being excluded for an irrational sort of reason. It changed my life.'” (OHSU Blogspot)

Fran, in a 2007 interview stated: “Through these experiences, a lifetime of conservative influence dissolved, and I saw the world through a suddenly opened window shade. I got to feel what it was like to be an outsider…..I also learned that in my community I couldn’t be ‘prominent’ because I had no penis.”  (The Dermotologist – April 2007)

Site of Fran’s epiphany – The Arlington Club – Males only bastion from 1867 until 1990 – that’s 123 years!

After that incident, she became passionate about civil liberties joined and became a board member of the ACLU.

She was elected President of the City Club of Portland in 1997-98 which is where I first met her when we served on the Board together.

Interestingly enough, the City Club, founded in 1916 excluded women from membership until 1993.  (Unlike the Arlington Club, it only took them 77 years to come to its senses.)  Her creative and colorful introduction of Friday Forum speakers was another example of creativity and dedication to excellence.  And her impersonation of NPR reporter, Sylvia Poggoli in one of those introductions was one for the archives.

Fran served as chair of a citizen’s committee for the City of Portland that resulted in a ballot measure and creation of an oversight committee for the Internal Affairs Division of the Portland Police Bureau.  While her immersion in other civic activities and non-profits such as Outside In, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette and the Portland Baroque Orchestra, are remarkable, (she is evidently a woman with poor refusal skills…) it is her achievements in the medical field which deserve more comment.

“Her skills in the classroom have earned her many teaching and service awards. She is known nationally and internationally for her work in contact dermatitis and discovering new workplace allergens. She has received virtually every honor her specialty can bestow.”

Dr. Storrs’ mentoring, especially for women emanated, in part, from the Arlington Club incident and “It is the teacher and mentor whom generations of OHSU residents celebrate.” (Fran Storrs M. D.- A Lasting Legacy”)  In fact, my current dermatologist, Dr.Patty Norris,was a mentee of Fran’s.  Each time I have a visit, we spend the first five minutes telling Fran Storrs’ stories.

“She takes pride in the mentorship program of the Women’s Dermatology Society that she initiated. It pairs young men and women with senior women dermatologists. Almost 400 young dermatologists have participated in the program and most other dermatology sub-specialty societies have since copied it.” (OHSU Women in Academic Health and Medicine)

David Brooks, in his remarkable book The Second Mountain has a chapter entitled “What Mentors Do,” and states:

“Good mentors teach you the tacit wisdom embedded in any craft…..they give us the freedom to not fear our failures, but to proceed with a confidence that invites them, knowing they can be rectified later on….Finally, mentors teach how to embrace the struggle–that the struggle is the good part.” (Page 104)

And my younger daughter, Laura, got to witness Fran’s influence first-hand in 1997, when Fran, notwithstanding her incredibly busy schedule, spent an hour with her on a fifth-grade school project where she was researching Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell – another female trailblazing physician who was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.

The interview had an impact on Laura who is now a Pediatric Emergency Department Nurse at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland.

Sixth grade school project in 1997 had an impact.

All three of these physicians (Cameron Bangs, Doug Walta and Fran Storrs) knew each other and I have been the beneficiary of their friendships.  I had dinner with Doug Walta in January and a beer with Fran Storrs at the Gemini Bar and Grill in Lake Oswego in early March – right before the lock-down.  Both radiated enthusiasm and had insights that make me yearn for the end of the pandemic and another round…..

Oregon Tavern Age and Oregon City Pioneer Memories

I quoted prolific Oregon writer Matt Love, both in this post and my previous one regarding Cameron Bangs.  I first became aware of Matt’s work in 2011 when I started Thebeerchaser blog and I discovered his blog Let It Pour.net – a wonderful blog on his adventures in bars on the  Oregon Coast.  It was both an inspiration for my own exploits and a great resource which I cited often.

I reconnected with Matt while doing the post on Dr. Bangs.  He now is the owner of a small publishing company on the Oregon Coast, The Nestucca Spit Press. Matt is an incredibly talented writer and anyone who enjoys good narratives and essays on Oregon, ranging from a chronicle on the filming of Ken Kesey’s novel Sometimes a Great Notion to poetry and fiction should check out his website.

I am ordering The Bonnie and Clyde Files – How Two Dogs Saved a Middle Aged Man, after vociferously digesting two other publications I just received and will cover in my next blog post.  Matt states about this book:

“In 2017, at the age of 53, I experienced an extinction of self. For the first time in my life, I could not get a job, I was nearly broke, and I had no freedom of movement or conscience…..I learned important lessons of faith, friendship, family, face-to-face encounters and the timeless remedy of nature, lessons I intuit can enlighten others who experience a cataclysmic personal event.”

The “Oregon Tavern Age” should be read by any person who appreciates the history, rich character and the legacy of the regulars in these unforgettable (and endangered)  watering holes on the Oregon Coast.  And the pandemic exacerbates this unfortunate trend as stated in a July 14th e-mail Matt sent me stating, “The OTA joints where I am are teetering.  It really is dire.”  The 64-page tabloid was so interesting and compelling that I used a yellow highlighter when reading it so I could come back and review.

I was also delighted and surprised when I discovered one work – “Pioneer Pride:  An Oregon City Memoir” written in 2020 about Matt’s time at Oregon City High School.  (He graduated in 1982) Nostalgia washed over me as I’m also an OCHS alum – although sixteen years before Matt.

His account of sports, classroom antics and the days when many Pioneer grads went to work at one of the two paper mills – Publishers in OC and Crown Zellerbach in West Linn – also will elicit smiles and recollections of the travails of adolescent education.

Cheers and Stay Safe

Beerchasing Miscellany – Lockdown Version II

We can still enjoy a pint a home – Ryan Keene exemplifies…

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped.)

In the last post, I covered a number of miscellaneous categories – most of which were not related to bars or breweries, but since my Beerchasing expeditions to new venues are temporarily on hold, please pardon my editorial license

But

As I mentioned in the last post, rummaging through some of my old files has uncovered some “treasures” and elicited some laughs when I harken back.  Consequently, I have reviewed some older Beerchaser posts in light of current events.

The First Tuesday After the First Monday……

One of my first jobs out of the Navy was in the Clackamas County Elections Department where we administered not only the Primary and General Elections, but hundreds of school and special district measures.   Understandably, most citizens have no comprehension on the amount of detail, technology and legal compliance required to manage an election.

On election nights, I still have some empathy for election officials who are trying to maintain the integrity of their systems while concurrently being pressed by print and broadcast media and candidates to give them immediate returns.

While the initial data are always qualified as preliminary and un-audited, that disclaimer is often forgotten.

Back in 1976, when my hair was almost as long as it is now (No  haircut for 4.5 months. ) Norma Paulus then served two terms as SOS.

Oregon Law (ORS 254.056) states the General Election is held as stated on the day in the caption above in even numbered years – and that, my friends is only 109 days away.

Since this is a blog about bars and beer, I typically refrain from political topics, but unless one has been living under a rock for the last 18 months, it’s difficult to stay above the fray.

A Precursor to the “Digital” Age  (Excerpted, in part, from Thebeerchaser May 18, 2017)

And we know from the 2020 Primary, campaign divisive politics will be unceasing and brutal going forward.  It causes wishful thinking about the civility and at least reasonably bipartisanship approach of leaders from past decades that characterized Oregon politics e.g. Tom McCall, Norma Paulus, Hector MacPherson, Vera Katz and the US Congress e.g. Senator Mark Hatfield, Speakers of the House Sam Rayburn and Tip O’Neill.

Senator Mark Hatfield in his DC office in our visit in 1993

Wendell Wyatt – Statesman and Lawyer

And don’t forget my late friend and law firm colleague, Wendell Wyatt, who served from 1964 to 1975 and was an effective Congressman, a wonderful person and skilled attorney at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt.

 

Yet, based on the nature of the beast, there were times years ago – even in a more refined era (without 24-hour cable news coverage) when emotions overcame propriety – something which lent some humor and excitement to the news.

Such was the case on September 16, 1976, when Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was campaigning with Sen. Bob Dole, who had been selected to be President Gerald Ford’s running mate.

A student in a group of hecklers gave the finger to the VP and he immediately reciprocated the gesture — with gusto!  I’ve kept the picture below from the newspaper for all these years thinking I could use it at some point and the excerpt below describes the incident: 

At the time, Rockefeller’s finger flashing was scandalous and the gesture was referred to thereafter as ‘The Rockefeller Salute.’  Rockefeller refused to apologize for his outburst. ‘I was just responding in kind’ he said, neatly avoiding the point that the apology was not expected to go to the hecklers but to the general public.”

Statesman and war hero with a dry sense of humor

Bob Dole was asked by a reporter why he didn’t join Rockefeller in “the salute”.  “I have trouble with my right arm,” the wounded WW II veteran replied. (Rarehistorical photos.com October 16,2016)

This Beer Really Hops….

And since limited activity during the pandemic results in time to free-associate, seeing that image brought back the memory of one of my business trips in the late ’80’s which I recounted in Thebeerchaser on February 8, 2013. (Excerpted below)

Laura loved frogs in 1990

Thebeerchaser’s youngest daughter, when she was in grade school, had a wonderful frog collection – ceramic amphibians, posters, stuffed frogs, etc.

Each time I had a business trip, I would seek out and bring home an addition to that collection, which grew to be almost 100 in number.

The remnants of a once great amphibian collection…..

On a business trip to Chicago, I consumed an excellent light-colored amber beer from a brewery in Michigan and decided that the empty bottle with the amazing Bad Frog Logo would be a unique supplement to the group of cold-blooded amphibians in my daughter’s room.  The bottle survived a suitcase ride home and my daughter liked it.

Now married and a pediatric ER nurse

Thebeerchaser’s spouse, however, had better judgment – much better! – and you will probably understand why.  She refused to accept my assertion that our young collector did not yet understand the underlying message conveyed by this rebellious frog. 

Jim Wauldron, the founder, was not a brewer, but a graphic artist and t-shirt designer, who created the image and merchandise – but initially – no beer.

The Bad Frog story is quite interesting and you should visit this link to their website to see their story and perhaps even purchase a sweatshirt:

“Well we did learn about beer and started brewing in October 1995.  Then the whole thing went BESERK!  We’ve expanded to 25 states and overseas.  We were BANNED in 8 states.

The banning of the Beer and the non-stop legal battles with each State prevented the expansion of the Beer, but BAD FROG fans all over the world still wanted the BAD FROG merchandise.  We’ve been featured on CNN, CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC. BAD FROG was even featured in PLAYBOY Magazine TWICE.”

From the Bad Frog Brewery

The legal challenges resulted because of the frog’s none-too-subtle extension of its middle digit.  Liquor Commissions in multiple states banned the beer.  Eventually the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the New York State Liquor Authority‘s ban on selling Bad Frog Beer in an interesting and extremely entertaining  First Amendment case Bad Frog Brewery, Inc. v. New York State Liquor Authority 134 F.3d 87 (1998).

Lawyers would love the language from the court opinion which has some great footnotes and includes,“…..(The logo) is patently offensive’ and presumably a suggestion to have intercourse with oneself.”

It appears that one can still purchase Bad Frog merchandise, but the beer disappeared a number of years ago, in part, because of the problems associated with all the legal issues.

The Pandemic

While current headlines are shattering, we can also view many wonderful acts of kindness, sacrifice and charity to help those who have been affected by the virus and these unselfish deeds continue to occur.

A novel of suspense (and spice….)

And though all of this, we need to maintain a sense of humor and optimism and realize that life is filled with joy and tragedy.  I thought a good quote to reflect the ups and downs, was from Joe Lansdale’s novel Bad Chili which I mention in my post entitled Books and Brew published in November, 2018.

The action is innovative e.g. an early encounter with a “vicious, angry, bloodthirsty, rabid squirrel.”  The author’s dialogue is unique and rich with quotes such as this one from Jim Bob Luke, a primary character:

Texas Chili – tasty and spicy ….

“Life’s like a bowl of chili in a strange café.  Sometimes it’s pretty tasty and spicy.  Other times, it tastes like shit.”

Now while the next quote has nothing to do with the pandemic, it always causes me to smile and at least it’s related to bars.   I originally covered it in a 2011 post about one of my first Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter.

James Crumley was a Montana author who taught at both the University of Montana and Portland’s Reed College.  Some critics describe his final book The Last Good Kiss as “the most influential crime novel of the last 50 years.”

Crime Novelist James Crumley

Others maintain that initial sentence of the book is the best first-line ever written in an American crime novel.

“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”

Fireball Roberts ??

At the time, I suggested that you could toast Fireball Roberts with a pint of In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen from Flying Dog Brewery in Denver.

It appears that this beer is no longer available but they certainly have some of which Fireball would approve.  (For example, Raging Bitch Belgian IPA at a robust 8.3% ABV – strong enough for any mongrel….)

Cutting to the Chase

With the lockdown, many of us have transformed wardrobes to sweats or “quarantine casual wear” especially when working at home. Even when one has a Zoom meeting, there’s always the tactic of using a landscape or photo as background rather than a live shot.

Second from left in 1968 in Washington DC with then Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird

But it is entertaining to see the impact that the absence of haircuts or styling for about four months has wrought.   From the requirement to have “stunted” hair during high school basketball and then during NROTC all during college, my locks have undergone a number of transformations over the ensuing years.

I even tried the beard and mustache route in the late ’70’s because of a misguided belief that it was cool.

Last week, I was scheduled for a haircut and as I pulled into my guy’s parking lot, he called my cellphone with this information:

“Don, I have a story for you.   I got a call one hour ago from a couple whose hair I cut last week.  They have Covid, so I’ve been exposed.   I get tested tomorrow.”

I thanked him for the call and reflected on the good timing and decided to let things stand for awhile.  This sentiment was reinforced after I saw some former male colleagues in a Zoom meeting this week who are of about the same demographic.  One looked like a Mountain Man and the other essentially had bangs, but both looked good.

Go for five months??

My daughters are urging me to continue to let it grow, but for both time management and economic purposes, I’m seriously contemplating returning (maybe regressing) to the crew cut and black Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star High Tops.

According to the Converse website the Chuck ’70 has:

“More cushioning, tougher canvas, same versatility…..is built off of the original 1970’s design, with premium materials and an extraordinary attention to detail…… No reason not to wear them all day, every day.” 

And Finally…..

Even before all of us are able to frequent bars and breweries again when it is safe and permitted, we can still support these establishments by buying their products and using takeout options – many of which are innovative.

A friend with strong knowledge of the hospitality industry stated in an e-mail about watering holes on the Oregon coast:

“The joints are teetering. It really is dire.”

The Old Oregon Tavern in Lincoln City – a classic dive bar

And even in Portland, one of my favorite breweries Old Town Brewing, which I reviewed last year, was forced to temporarily close their Old Town location since many people are not traveling downtown because of the violence occurring with the continuing protests.

Entrepreneur Adam Milne

Owner Adam Milne showed innovation and collaboration with other breweries early on in the pandemic by hosting a Brewers Market  at their second location and brewing headquarters on NE Martin Luther King Blvd.

It’s a weekly assembly of booths offering various breweries’ beers to-go in a drive-thru meets farmers-market setting.  Adam turned the parking lot there into a mashup of a drive-thru and a brewer safari.However, as reported in a July 12th Willamette Week article:

“‘The moment of a temporary closure became, sadly, clear on Thursday when our revenue for the day was $18.75,’ he says. ‘I spent the last week trying to get a rent reduction from our landlord, but was unsuccessful. We really need help from the city. Downtown businesses have been hit especially hard with the high density, vandalism and tents in front of our business.'”

This is just one example and all of us can help support OTB and other small businesses.

Cheers and Be Safe!

 

Beerchasing in Corvallis with the King(s) II…!

Brian and Nancy King outside the historic Squirrels Tavern in Corvallis

Followers of Thebeerchaser know (or could have guessed) that the lockdown since mid-March curtailed both singular Beerchasing visits and group BC events which have been a hit in the past.  This is the final post on my 2017-18 trips to Corvallis – the home of my college alma mater – Oregon State University.

An aerial post of the Memorial Union and the beautiful OSU campus

The first post can be seen at https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/04/15/beerchasing-in-corvallis-part-1/

In reflecting on the absence of watering holes in my life for the last 3.5 months, it both reminded me and made me lament on one of my favorite quotes – used several times in prior blog posts – by 18th century English man-of-letters, Samuel Johnson.  And it’s supplemented by a new one that reinforces his original assertion.

If you can’t drink a draft in a saloon, there are good alternatives

The latter I discovered reading one of David Brooks’ marvelous books (The Road to Character) yesterday afternoon during my Happy Hour on our deck drinking a great can of Bend’s Breakside Brewing’s Sweet As Pacific Ale.

Brooks gives a remarkable and insightful narrative on Johnson – the complex individual known as a “poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer.” (Wikipedia).  However, he loved watering holes.

“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

“I look upon every day to be lost in which I do not make a new acquaintance.”

A complex personality “….a mass of contradictions: lazy and energetic, aggressive and tender, melancholic and humorous, common-sensical and irrational, comforted yet tormented by religion.” (David Brooks – page 221 The Road to Character)

These quotes epitomize the rationale for Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Breweries initiated upon my retirement in late 2011 and until the pandemic, the inspiration for visits (and reviews) of 375 watering holes during the last nine years in Portland, throughout Oregon and the US and even in Europe – also why I’m looking forward to the end of the lockdown.

The Kings Treated me Like 
Royalty

On the first trip in October 2017, I was privileged to be the overnight guest of former Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm colleague, Brian (Brain) King and his wife, Nancy.   Brian had a notable career as an environmental litigator – first in the corporate sector and then with two large law firms.   Before his retirement in 2016, he “anchored” Schwabe’s one-person Corvallis office after working in the Portland office for several years. The link below explains why I credit him as a primary inspiration for starting this blog in 2011.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/04/24/beerchasing-in-corvallis-and-stanley-idaho-part-ii-drinking-with-kings/

On a 2016 Beerchasing to Mummy’s – a Portland classic

(Brian has been on many prior Beerchasing expeditions in Portland, and for me, will always retain the moniker Brain.”  He will correspondingly label me as “Dan” although the humorous and true account surrounding those names will have to wait for the book I plan to write on law firm management.)

To demonstrate both his priorities and commitment, Brian even took a bus from the downtown Portland office after he drove up from Corvallis in 2016 to Beerchase at North Portland’s wonderful Billy Ray’s Neighborhood Dive Bar.

Schwabe colleagues Brian Flanagan and John Mansfield celebrate “Brain’s” (left) arrival by Tri-Met.

Professor and attorney, Nancy King

Nancy King, Brian’s wife is also a lawyer and until her recent retirement was a professor at OSU and earlier at Willamette University College of Law.  During her academic career, she taught graduate and undergrad business law courses including MBA courses on law and ethics for new businesses and emerging technologies.

She received a 2008 Fulbright Fellowship in European Union Affairs to conduct comparative law research on privacy and data protection issues related to mobile advertising enabling her to work on her research with law and technology experts at a University in Belgium.  Earlier in her career, she distinguished herself as an employment lawyer for the Bullard Law, a firm in Portland.

Now in the first Corvallis post, I related our visits to Cloud and Kelly’s and Block 15 Brewing.   The other establishments on this trip described below, included Squirrel’s Tavern, The Caves, and The Peacock.

Squirrel’s Tavern

Bustling on a weeknight.

The Loft at Squirrel’s

The Kings recommended Squirrel’s for dinner and I could see why.  It had great food and on a weekday evening was hopping, so to speak.

Since there were no seats available on the main level, we ended eating in the loft, which was a very good substitute.  And for $8, the Squirrel Burger would be a treat wherever you consumed it:

 (“Beef patty topped with fried egg, grilled ham slice, cheddar & swiss cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mendocino mustard & ketchup. Potato chips & pickle slice on the side.”)  It lived up to its reputation!

The “Squirrel Burger” – no rodent aftertaste!!

Squirrel’s has an interesting history as related in this story in The Corvallis Gazette Times on the tavern’s 40th anniversary in 2014.  A great tradition is their hosted Annual Labor Day Party at a nearby park since 1976 – it always draws several hundred people.

Owning and operating a tavern for 45 years – especially in a university town, is a real accomplishment and Greg “Squirrel” Little, the owner, is known as an outstanding business man and citizen in Corvallis.

The bar obviously closed during the pandemic and will open again in July starting with curbside service.   As stated on their website, Look, it took a pandemic to get Greg to take cards!!!! 

And besides a number of bottled beers, Squirrels has seventeen beers on tap.  Of course, what better way to consume a Squirrel Burger than with a draft PBR.

Looking down from the loft

Squirrel’s has great ambiance, from the cordiality of the staff and regulars to the interesting and idiosyncratic art, to the pictures, sports memorabilia and cool rodent-related accoutrements such as mounted squirrels….

The bar is also known for its popular live music gigs.  The length of this post limits the number of social media reviews I can show, but this one (Yelp 10/22/19) does an apt job of summing up Corvallis’ sentiments:

“You cant beat Squirrel’s. Unpretentious. Good ordinary food at a good price. Really nice people. We’ve lived in Corvallis for over 40 years and Greg has been part of so many experiences for us. Off nights are best. You’ll get more of a local feel when it’s not so packed.”

According to Facebook, their plan is to reopen on July 6th, once safety protocols are tested and physical changes made to keep patrons safe.  Drop by and show your support for a business which deserves your patronage.!

The Peacock

A Corvallis watering hole since 1929

The Peacock Bar and Grill has been operating since 1929 – it’s birth was even before either Brian’s or mine and the history of this bar made at least a short visit on my trip mandatory.

After all, how many late night visits to the Top of the ‘Cock did we make when we were undergraduates and the second floor of this historic bar was always rocking and thereby lured us away from cramming for our Western Civ midterm the next day.

Unfortunately, based on the predominant sentiments in Yelp reviews from the last several years, the legendary $1.99 Early-bird Breakfast and quality burgers, don’t appear to overcome repeated concerns about rude and surly staff and bouncers such as (8/11/18):

“Don’t go to this bar for a good time on the weekend. The confrontation-happy bouncers will throw patrons on the ground as you walk out of the restroom.  They will beat up patrons, and throw your girl in a ditch. After doing reviews on the peacock they are consistently calling the cops on these patrons.”

The Top of the “Cock” in better days. Will it ever be the same?

Two dudes looking for conversation not confrontation….

Fortunately, Brian and I were in no mood that evening to engage in either a physical or mental confrontation, and we just stopped in to survey the surroundings and departed.

And while the description above may be exaggerated, it appears that you can now assess the Peacock’s service yourself as:

“Benton County was approved to enter Phase 2 starting Friday, June 5. The Peacock Bar & Grill is open for dine in 7am-midnight daily, starting June 5. We will continue to be open for take out, curb side and delivery 7am-1am daily.”

Caves Bier and Kitchen (Les Caves)

We ended the night with class although Brian had to convince me that he wasn’t taking us to a crypt with dead OSU alums buried there.

Ready for a nightcap with patrons who are still living…

The Kings and I stopped at this delightful European bar and bistro for a nightcap as they advertise – probably correctly:

“….Corvallis’ largest selection of draft and bottled beer from around the world with artisanal pub fare served in a cozy atmosphere.”

The pub is comfortable and with an upscale ambiance.  Although they describe their menu as “artisanal pub faire,” it seems very suitable to someone with a discriminating palate and accustomed to more sophisticated culinary faire in contrast to a Squirrel Burger (which tantalized my taste-buds earlier that evening….)

The prices seem very reasonable for such items as Chicken and Apricot Tagine, Moules Frites, Chana Marsala and Elk Ragout.

A cozy, upscale ambiance with a classic bar

“From a distance the bar top looks like a nice but somewhat standard wooden bar with a nice shiny finish, but once you pony up to it and grab a seat its beauty is immediately apparent.

Underneath its shiny polish are oak barrel staves from some of the Northwest’s best barrel-aged brews that have been re-purposed, cut up, straightened, and aligned meticulously for the bar top. Other than just being beautiful, it really speaks to the love of oak barrel-aging….”

Friendly and knowledgeable

Unlike the description of staff at one establishment above, our server was a very friendly and knowledgeable young woman who went through their robust tap list and let us sample a number before ordering:

“On tap you will find a selection of twenty beers brewed around the block and around the world. Our bottle list boasts over 130 unique bottled beers, stored in our temperature – and UV light-controlled beer cooler. All bottles are opened tableside and served in glassware appropriate to the style.”

The owners of Block 15 Brewery opened Caves in 2011 and its named for the cellars under Block 15’s brewery and Les Caves itself, which house more than 100 barrels of beer.  They feature several of Block 15’s excellent beers.  Brian and Nancy split a pint of their Alpha IPA (“6.5% ABV – Northwest style IPA with notes of citrus, fruit, and pine delivered by a robust blend of four NE grown hops.”)

Brian, knowing that in my undergrad days, I only drank in sips from the Fountain-of-Knowledge, suggested I down a pint of the Effect of Education Farmhouse Ale (also appropriate for an ag college).

It’s a collaboration with McMinnville’s Allegory Brewing (“8.2% ABV – Ransom whiskey barrel aged mixed culture Farmhouse Ale with local, hand-picked cherries.) A collaboration with our friends at Caves Bier & Kitchen.”)

Shoyu deviled eggs -floating on your bowl of ramen….

Caves is worth a return trip to test their kitchen and would also merit some research on their World Bier Passport“Take a trip around the world of artisan beer, guided by Caves’ World Bier Passport. By the time you complete your journey, you’ll gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of regional beer styles, timeless traditions, and emerging brewing techniques.”

Going with the flow…….

We returned to the King’s and Brian and I had a nightcap in their living room.  Nancy excused herself when I encouraged Brian to summarize his presentation a few years earlier at a local government symposium entitled, “How to Prepare for Your MS4 Inspection.”  He was duly impressed that I knew MS4 is an acronym for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.

But when he declined and then got us some snifters of brandy, upon returning he did open up about the book he co-authored when I asked about it.

I have always respected Brian’s position on environmental issues and remembered reading an article in the Portland Business Journal shortly before he joined the Schwabe firm:

“Despite the upheaval of his now-defunct firm (Bogle and Gates), Brian King, also found the time to co-write a book published last month called “Fundamentals of Environmental Management.”

King said the book couches environmental compliance as a combination of law, science, politics and public relations….Despite company complaints, there is time and money to not only meet current regulations, but to exceed them.”

Available at Amazon

But the kicker was a summary of said tome which I had read from an unknown reviewer in Idaho which stated, in part: Fundamentals of Environmental Management with stimulating chapters such as ‘Air Emission Inventory and Analysis”’or ‘Ozone-Depleting Chemicals (ODCs).’ (Environmental lawyers are not a real popular group in Idaho….)”

I thought his book could lead to a stimulating conversation that would help me fall asleep that evening (or possibly while we were still chatting…)

For those of you interested, this legal thriller is still available new on for $13.92 – a savings of $136.83 off the list price – but hurry there is only one left in stock at Amazon.

Lawyer, author, environmentalist and prefers beer to Bloody Mary’s

Now if you do a Google search for this book, be careful not to get confused and order by mistake a volume by prolific author Dr. Brian King.   This Brian King has written less weighty manuscripts including ” The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life’s Stressors  and also  “A Field Guide to the North American Bloody Mary.”

Dr. Brian King, has an entirely different background from my friend according to his bio:

“…..trained as a neuroscientist and psychologist and for the past decade has traveled the world as a comedian and public speaker. By day he conducts seminars, presented nationwide and attended by thousands of people each year, on positive psychology, the health benefits of humor, and stress management. By night he practices what he teaches in comedy clubs.”

While “Brain” and “Dan” will always do a lot of mutual kidding, I would suggest that any person would be richer for knowing both him and his wife Nancy.  Brian has a wonderful and dry sense of humor and was respected and liked by both his colleagues and adversaries in the courtroom.

A wonderful couple who are great hosts

Note:  As a closing note, I was sorry to hear that it appears that the cherished Corvallis Flat Tail Brewery has permanently closed – not because of Covid 19 – but because of a dispute with their landlord over their lease as chronicled in a BrewPublic.com post on June 15th entitled “Flat Tail Brewing Closes its Doors in Downtown Corvallis.”  We certainly hope the ten-year old brewery with the slogan “Dam Good Beer,” finds a new location and reopens in the near future.

Hoping for a quick return….

 

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!

 

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

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/