2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Year: Janet Dancer Williams

2014 Beerchaser of the Year, Janet Williams

2014 Beerchaser-of-the-Year, Janet Dancer Williams

After publishing this blog for over three years and periodically recognizing various individuals or organizations as Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, events dictate the establishment of the first Beerchaser-of-the-Year Award – and it will now be a yearly happening retroactive to 2014.

Janet (usually a wine drinker) and Thebeerchaser
Janet (usually a wine drinker) and Thebeerchaser

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulsom Brew Pub

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulton Brew Pub last year

Thebeerchaser blog posts have  “honored” individuals who are war heroes such as my good friends, Jud Blakely and Steve Lawrence; authors such as Northwest icon, Brian Doyle, deceased mystery writer James Crumley and the venerable Dr. Harry Frankfurt, author of the marvelous tome On Bullshit

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Lt. Jud Blakely USMC in Viet Nam in 1965

Harry_Frankfurt

Princeton Professor and author, Dr. Harry Frankfurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

———–

Since I worked with  attorneys for many years, some of the Oregon stalwarts in the profession such as Schwabe’s Jack Faust and Stoel Rives’ Jim Westwood have been designated.  And then there are some more creative picks such as the Crew of the USS Constitution and retired chemist Charles Schlumberg.  For you Seinefeld fans, the venerable Art Vandelay made the list and even former Beaver coach, Mike Riley and his 2012 football team, for their performance — at least after the first six games……

Former Beerchaser of the Quarter - Oregon appellate lawyer, Jim Westwood.

Former Beerchaser of the Quarter – Oregon appellate lawyer, Jim Westwood.

 

But the omission of any female Beerchaser honoree is glaring, especially since there are many worthy of the recognition.  Although this situation will be rectified in 2015, none have made a more lasting and significant contribution to Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs than my wife of 35 years, Janet Dancer Williams.

A hike in Breckenridge

A hike in Breckenridge

Although our first date in 1979 after an Oregon City Planning Commission meeting (where we first met) was having a beer, Janet is a wine-drinker.   Notwithstanding that, she recently accompanied me to eighteen bars and microbreweries in twelve days on our Colorado trip and was a great companion as we integrated our tour of the wonderful Colorado scenery with Beerchasing in some of the great brewpubs. P1020965

In fact, she was responsible for our VIP tour of New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins – arranged after she met Shawn Hines, one of the executives and his wife, Allison, at the Dundee Hills Winery earlier this year.

She tolerates the hours I sit at my computer researching and writing about the watering holes and only once in awhile accuses me of being preoccupied and not listening to her — at least that’s what I think she’s said……

Jamie and Lisa Williams Magnusson, Laura, Don and Janet Williams with Sullivan

Jamie and Lisa Williams Magnusson, Laura, Don and Janet Williams with Sullivan

And besides her support for Beerchasing, she is a wonderful wife, mom to our two daughters and grandmother (Mimi).

We survived two terms of graduate school Data Analysis in the same class at Portland State University right after we got married in 1980.  We still laugh about negotiating who would stand in line on Saturday mornings to run the computer program at Shattuck Hall and who would stay home and clean the bathrooms.

Memories of Shattuck Hall on the campus at PSU
Memories of Shattuck Hall on the campus at PSU

 

Janet is a native Oregonian, born in McMinnville where her dad, Joe,  was City Manager for 26 years – Joe Dancer Park is named in his honor.  She is a Duck, having graduated from the U of O in 1976 and went on to earn her Masters-in-Public Administration at PSU in 1984.

Mu logo

 ————

She had an outstanding career in local government (Assistant City Manager in both Oregon City and West Linn) and then worked in Human Resources at Nike before becoming the Vice President for Human Resources at Marylhurst University – a position which she held for twenty years.   During that time she also served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations.

P1020885

Janet with Barb and John Senger at The Sink in Boulder

 

Now back to her role in Beerchasing.   She first accompanied me in 2011 to the Coalition Brew Pub, which she loved, but the enthusiasm was not forthcoming that same night when she returned with me and our son-in-law, Jamie, for my second visit to the first bar I reviewed.

That was the Brooklyn Park Pub, a great neighborhood bar.   She asked me afterwards, “Beerchaser (she only calls me that when we are in bars), why do you go to dives like this, when there are so many other good bars?”

She was not agreeable with my response (originally authored by an unknown expert) when I stated, “Janet, these bars are just like hanging out in our own living room —- if our living room were a dingy dive full of strangers.”

On the Mediterranean in Italy

On the Mediterranean Sea in Italy

We have had some wonderful retirement travel together to National Parks, European museums and cathedrals, Spring Training in Arizona, an Alaskan cruise and a Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour.

On the Rick Steves' Best of Europe Tour

On the Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour

DSCN0699

Hiking in the Colorado aspens

And with cheerful (and sometimes restrained enthusiasm) she has gone with me to a number of bars including the Muddy Rudder, Lutz Tavern, Bazi Bier Brasserie and Saraveza in Portland and to the eighteen aforementioned venues in Colorado.

Don’t forget the Devils’ Forest Pub (Venice) and Café Karpershoeck (Amsterdam) and last summer Humpy’s Ale House in Alaska to Roadhouse 101 and the Snug Harbor Bar and Grill on the Central Oregon Coast.

Beerchasing at Saraveza in Portland

Beerchasing at Saraveza in Portland with Mary Maxwell and Roy Lambert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—————–

Thank you, Janet, and please accept the bottle of 2011 Penner~Ash Pinot Noir that I bought you.  I figured that you would appreciate it more than a case of PBR – a great gift you might consider for me on our next anniversary.

March 30, 1980
March 29, 1980

Thebeerchaser’s 2014 Annual Report

Thebeerchaser on one of the three visits to his favorite 2014 bar - Crackerjacks in NW Portland

Thebeerchaser on one of the three visits to his favorite 2014 bar – Crackerjacks in NW Portland

During the twenty-five years I worked at my favorite law firm (Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt P.C.) the frantic end-of-year financial and compensation activities culminated with preparation for the auditors in the new year.  We had good auditors, but this combat analogy seems fitting: “Auditors are those who arrive after the battle and bayonet the wounded.”

The Original Beerchaser Logo

The Original Beerchaser Logo

Fortunately, there is no similar pressure in the blogging world.  The gurus at WordPress prepared a 2014 Annual report for this blog – replete with graphics and interesting statistics. You can see a summary below which will supplement my own reflections.  But first some context:

Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs commenced in August 2011 – about six months after I retired as the COO of the law firm.  I had a great career working with lawyers at Schwabe, the Oregon State Bar and in local government, but I was ready for new adventures.  And so with great deliberation, I considered many options.   Based on stringent criteria, it was narrowed to two:

Public Domain - National Park Service - 9/14/2009 Wikimedia Commons (http:///en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pacific Crest Trail -logo.jpg)

Public Domain – National Park Service – 9/14/2009 Wikimedia Commons

Either hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) or making a tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs and blogging about them.  My due diligence involved reviewing past backpacking trips.  Reflecting on these pictures of a hiking trip with my two brothers and brother-in-law on the Eagle Creek Trail in the late ’70’s added perspective.

Cheryl Strayed would be proud!!

Cheryl Strayed would be proud!!

 

 

 

I then visited the watering hole that was the inspiration for this hobby – a great dive bar in Dundee named Lumpy’s Landing.  There were many similarities to the two options – the 2,663 mile hike or the multi-year bar tour.

Regrouping at Wahtum Lake after a day of backpacking in the '70's. The Williams boys - Rick, Garry and Don

Regrouping at Wahtum Lake after a day of backpacking in the ’70’s

First, both require use of a compass or GPS to get to remote and sometimes obscure locations not adequately marked with signs and not generally seen as desirable by others.

Secondly, the subpar menu for each option would not be the diverse and tasty culinary delights one is used to at home.  (Example: Kiskie’s powdered eggs on the trail and Hot Mama sausages or pickled hard-boiled eggs – a staple at most dive bars.

Aged to perfection.... but better than powdered eggs
Aged to perfection…. but better than powdered eggs

 

Darwin's Theory - A magnificent Anchorage Alaska dive bar

Darwin’s Theory – A magnificent Anchorage Alaska dive bar – try the free popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, it all “boiled down” to liquid.  In order to avoid the gastro-intestinal distress of giardia, purifying all water by filter, tablets or boiling is required on the PCT.  However, only a few dive bars would require this step on a Bar Tour.

The Ship Tavern - might want to try PBR instead of the water

The Ship Tavern – might want to try PBR instead of the water

And when dive bar potability issues are manifest, there is always PBR – usually cold although at other temperatures still a good option.  (This provides a good chance to take umbrage with an Oregonian movie reviewer who used the following inappropriate analogy when panning a 2014 film:  ….But it had all the zing of a can of flat Pabst.”)   

Good at any temperature!

Good at any temperature!

P1010724

Necessary admonition in Eastern Oregon bar (Burns, Oregon)

 

 

 

 

 

So the bar option was chosen and initiating Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Portland  Bars, Taverns and Pubs was a wonderful decision.  My initial intent to restrict this journey to just Portland venues was soon discarded.

Thus, followers of this blog have seen reviews of bars in Europe, Alaska, the Oregon Coast, Eastern Oregon, Washington and Colorado (18 visited but not yet posted).

Thebeerchaser enjoying the scenery and a brewski outside the Horner Tavern in laldll Switzerland

Thebeerchaser enjoying the scenery and a brewski outside the Horner Pub in Lauterbrunneen, Switzerland

So three years and five months later, what has been accomplished keeping in mind my forty-years in management were often focused on performance metrics?

In the chart below, the right column is the average number of days between bar reviews for each year although it should be kept in mind that a repeat visit to each bar is generally the case to ensure accurate reporting and not reflected.

Year Days Bar Reviews Avg. Days
2011 146 8 18.3
2012 366 24 15.3
2013 365 29 12.6
2014 365 34 10.7
1242 95 13.1
Stay tuned in 2015 for the Colorado beer tour details

Stay tuned in 2015 for the Colorado beer tour details

Thus you can see that intensity has increased each year and while I do not want to regress to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), the statistics are not accrual-based i.e. there are 18 bars and micro-breweries we visited in a wonderful fall 2014 trip to Colorado that aren’t included in the count and will be posted in early 2015.  This is also a good time to multi-task with both a bar and accountant joke:

A guy in a bar leans over to the guy next to him and says, ‘Want to hear an accountant joke?  The guy next to him replies, ‘Well, before you tell that joke, you should know that I’m 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, and make me living as an accountant. And the guy sitting next to me is 6’2″ tall, 225 pounds, and he’s an accountant too. Now, do you still want to tell that joke?’

The first guy says, ‘No, I don’t want to have to explain it two times.’

That said, those who are interested in statistics (like the drunk using a lamppost – more for support than illumination…) may be interested that the standard deviation from the mean during those four years is 3.27 days demonstrating reasonable volatility and thus stability in frequency of visits.

Beerchasing on the Central Oregon Coast

Beerchasing on the Central Oregon Coast at the Tide Pool Inn in Depoe Bay

So before I conclude by briefing you on the venues visited during 2014, take a look at Thebeerchaser’s Annual Report compiled by WordPress.  I am most proud that in December, the blog surpassed the 40,000 views threshold – from those searching the internet in 115 countries – even those where a limb or appendage might be cut off if you are caught drinking my favorite beverage.

The report below also does not mention the distinguished individuals I have tried to recognize with the designation “Beerchaser of the Quarter”  – an eclectic group ranging from war heroes I know personally to authors to academicians to coaches and even the crew of the USS Constitution based on its famous albeit fictitious voyage in 1798.  A summary of these “honorees” for 2014 follows and to see the others, check out the blog.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 2014 Establishments Visited and Reveiwed

Beerchasing at Saraveza

Beerchasing at Saraveza

Now remember, the thirty-four venues visited in 2014 do not include the eighteen varied and wonderful bars and micro-breweries we had the privilege of frequenting on our Colorado trip this fall, but here’s the breakdown:

Dive Bars (9) – Club 21 and Sandy Hut in Portland, Nauti Mermaid, Old Oregon Saloon, Sportsman Pub and Grub on the Central Oregon Coast and Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee (a revisit from 2011). 

Club 21 - Would you believe a former Greek Orthodox Church?

Club 21 – Would you believe a former Greek Orthodox Church?

Neighborhood Bars (9) Stamtisch, Lost and Found, Bazi Bier Brasserie, Crackerjacks, Quimbys, Saraveza, Richmond and Nest in Portland and the Mad Dog Tavern in Newport on the coast.     

Outside Stamtisch - a great new NE bar - Laura Williams, Ryan Keen and Kenzie Larson
Outside Stamtisch – a great new NE bar – Laura Williams, Ryan Keen and Kenzie Larson

 

———————

Historic Bars (4) – Skyline Tavern in Portland, Bay Haven Inn and Snug Harbor on the Central Oregon Coast and Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Alaska.

An Historic Newport  Oregon Bar

An Historic Newport Oregon Bar

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Sports  Bars (2) – Cheerful Bullpen and Marathon Taverna in Portland

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Owner Amy, Denny Ferguson and Jessica at the Cheerful Bullpen

Owner Amy, Denny Ferguson and Jessica at the Cheerful Bullpen

Miscellaneous (4) – Sniff Café and Peda-lounge (not a bar per se’) in Portland, Oar House and Hoover’s on the Central Oregon Coast    

Multiple bars visited on the Pedaloung tour

Multiple bars visited on the Peda-lounge tour

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P1020604                 Brew Pubs (5)Roadhouse 101/Rusty Truck Brewery and the Pelican Brew Pub on the Central Oregon Coast and Haines Brewery, Glacier Brewhouse and Snow Goose Bar/Sleeping Lady Brewery in Alaska.

Bottle Shops (1) – BeerMongers in Portland

The BeerMongers - an excellent bottle shop

The BeerMongers – an excellent bottle shop

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Beerchasers of the Quarter – I am pleased to have spent time and chronicled the remarkable careers, contributions and charismatic personalities of the following individuals in 2014:

Art Vandelay, President and CEO of Vandelay Enterprises
Art Vandelay, President and CEO of Vandelay Enterprises

 Art Vandelay – Entrepreneur, lawyer, philanthropist and voted “Most Likely” at his high school alma mater.

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Brian Doyle – Award-winning Northwest author and editor of Portland, the University of Portland’s outstanding and lauded quarterly publication.

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulsom Brew Pub

Author and Editor, Brian Doyle, at The Fulton Brew Pub

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Steve Lawrence – Attorney and now Mayor of The Dalles.  Awarded two bronze stars for service in the Viet Nam conflict.

Two Viet Nam heroes - Beerchaser of the Quarter 2014 Steve Lawrence and 2013 BoQ Jud Blakely
Two Viet Nam heroes – Beerchaser of the Quarter 2014 Steve Lawrence and 2013 BoQ Jud Blakely

 

Jack Faust – Attorney, award-winning Portland media personality and former military intelligence officer during the Korean conflict.

Portland Appellate Lawyer and Media Personality Jack Faust

Portland Appellate Lawyer and Media Personality Jack Faust

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In a self-critique, I noted that during the last three years there have been no female recipients of Thebeerchaser-of-the-Quarter award.  Along with working on lowering the average days between bar visits, that will be a goal in 2015.  Stay tuned!!

While it’s not the Pacific Crest Trail, we will continue to blaze trails in the bar scene.  And for those who have discovered and frequent their own favorite Portland bars – ones that are not included in the 57 reviewed so far by Thebeerchaser, please let me know.  With some perseverance and effort, it may not take 10.7 days for me to get there.

Happy New Year

Lumpy's Landing on Highway 18 in Dundee - an inspiration!

Lumpy’s Landing on Highway 18 in Dundee – an inspiration!

Thebeerchaser Does the Central Oregon Coast – Part I

2012-07-10 20.55.21Last year, Thebeerchaser, joined by friends Dave Booher and Steve Larson, toured Eastern Oregon for four days visiting bars, taverns and pubs from Madras and Prineville to Baker City, LaGrande to Burns – our favorite on the trip was the Central Pastime Tavern in Burns. (the link is to the review in   2013)

The Central Pastime in 2013

2013 – The Central Pastime in Burns

Although Thebeerchaser Tour of Portland Bars, Taverns and Pubs was originally confined to just the City of Roses, it has evolved — there have been posts on venues in Alaska, Europe and Eastern Oregon.  We decided to tour the Central Oregon Coast (Pacific City to Newport) where we visited thirteen wonderful watering holes in 3.5 days.

Note:   To digress slightly, I am pleased to report that Thebeerchaser Blog on September 19th surpassed 35,000 views since its inception in August 2011.  Views in the last several months have averaged 1,500 and twice exceeded 2,000 and those interested in bars visit this site from countries all over the world.

For example, stats for the last two days show visitors from ten countries outside of the US including Brazil, the Russian Federation, New Zealand, Columbia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Lebanon, etc.  Perhaps future Beerchaser visits will hit watering holes in all of those countries!  These are not spam, but people doing Google searches about bars, Bad Frog BeerBeerchaser-of-the-Quarter such as author Brian Doyle, Mayor of the Dalles, Steve Lawrence and appellate lawyer, Jack Faust, etc.

Revisiting the venue where Thebeerchaser idea originated

Revisiting the venue where Thebeerchaser idea originated

On the way to the coast, we stopped for lunch and a brewski at  Lumpy’s Landing in Dundee – the bar that spurred the idea for Thebeerchaser Tour four years ago when I decided to have nachos and a PBR with the locals. 

I left pondering the premise — each bar has its own ambiance, history and regulars that deserve narration.  Lumpy’s – known for its clever signs (see below), its burgers, live weekend music and colorful locals as evidenced by the dialogue we heard from two of them while we drank our $2.50 PBR Tall-boys and chowed down delicious burgers and hot dogs (they ran out of sauerkraut..).  

Lumpy's Philosophy

Lumpy’s Philosophy

Local No. 1: “I’m really dragging today – just worn out.”

Local No. 2 – “You can’t stay here all day – you need some exercise.  You need to get up and go to another bar.”

An engineering marvel - The Spruce Goose

An engineering marvel – The Spruce Goose

                

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We added another stop on the way to Lincoln City – the  Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville – and if you have never visited that incredible display of aviation history – you should do so before the bankruptcy of Evergreen International Inc. results in changes.  

P1020565

Which one is Tom Cruise???

Oh wait - that's the Spirit of St. Louis made of Coors Light cans in the Sportsman Pub in Pacific City - not the Evergreen Museum.

Oh wait – that’s the Spirit of St. Louis made of Coors Light cans in the Sportsman Pub in Pacific City – not the Evergreen Museum.

 

Our three hours there were magnificent, including an iMax screening of a D-Day movie.  Hundreds of planes from early gliders to a B-17 Flying Fortress, to jets, to a Titan II booster rocket  and historical exhibits which will enthrall you.

The Old O

The Old O

We hit Lincoln City in the early evening and our first visit was right in Lincoln City on Highway 101 – the Old Oregon Tavern.  Now before we start relating our adventures in this pub, Thebeerchaser needs to give credit to a comrade-in-arms, of sorts.

That would be Matt Love, a former Lincoln City teacher, who for a number of years had a wonderful blog about bars on the Oregon coast – a Beerchaser-on-the-Shore.  He now lives in Astoria and discontinued his blog in 2004, but has written several books.  You should check out “Let it Pour” with the link since a number of venues are still active and he has great reviews.

The Old Oregon - Let the Good Times Roll

The Old Oregon – Let the Good Times Roll

I came across his blog when researching our trip and his descriptions of many of the places we hit are wonderful and compelling.   For example, this excerpt from his post on The Old Oregon Tavern:

“(It’s) a damn fine gritty place to drink beer – a lot of beer….The regulars call it The Old O and after spending time there over the years, I feel it is not too outrageous to suggest the nickname stands not only for The Old Oregon Tavern in Lincoln City — which it does — but really some of the patrons’ last long ago orgasm.  Maybe the Johnson Administration.

 

Well maybe Carter or Reagan....but not Johnson..!

Well maybe Carter or Reagan….but not Johnson..!

 

The interior of the Old O reflects the taste of the owners and its rich history as a tavern.  According to one patron who smoked cigarettes (Matt wrote this before the 2009 law banning smoking) and drank beer while attached to a portable oxygen tank, the joint dates to World War II, but maybe earlier.”

Nancy, the bartender who has worked there for two years, told us that they had thirteen beers on tap.  She also said the building was once Johnson’s Ice Cream Parlor.  It has regulars playing pool, all of the great signs and mementoes that make a great old bar including some old peace signs – also from the Johnson era – and if you visit, make it on Tye Dye Tuesday.   P1020578

Not to be taken literally....

Not to be taken literally….

And we noticed the planned wake for one of the regulars, Rod Dollar, who Nancy said had died suddenly of a heart attack.  The sign beckoned his friends to “Come in and have a drink on Ron,” which we assumed was not to be taken literally since he had been buried the week before.

 

——————-

 We met our first regular when a burly old guy with a white beard limped in and sat in the back.  Nancy told us he was “Irish Mike McKenna,” and he was the “Local Ambassador,” for the Old O.

Irish Mike ordered a beer and just sat back and observed.  I was wandering around and taking a bunch of pictures after we ordered our Rusty Truck IPA (very good – see below).

P1020579

 

I looked back and Irish Mike was motioning for me to come see him which made me very nervous since I thought he was going to either yell at me or kick me out for taking pictures

however

As I headed back, he took a few bucks out of his wallet and handed me $2 when I got to him.  He smiled and said, “It’s your turn to pick the song on the juke-box — Don’t screw it up!” 

Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser at the Old O

Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser at the Old O

Now a number of the bars we would visit in the next few days would have music collections that made one cringe.  

As one crime novelist wrote, You could chose between bad songs and terrible songs on the jukebox – a breathtaking array of pop hits, from the seventies, such as ‘Muskrat Love,’ that burrowed into you like a tick…”  And selecting a Captain and Tenille song at the Old O might have caused a ruckus.

But the Old O’s music locker rocked…..My first pick was Tom Petty’sAmerican Girl,” followed by the Eagles, “Take it Easy.”  Irish Mike seemed to approve (which pleased me a lot) and we left The Old O and its appropriate motto – “Where friends and family meet,” and headed south on 101.   

Where Friends and Family Meet.

Where Friends and Family Meet.

Tune in to Part II of the coastal journey as we hit Road House 101 – also in Lincoln City and home to the Rusty Truck Brewery which makes some good beers and a pub that has some great grub.

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Lumpy’s Landing                       975 N Highway 99W  Dundee

The Old Oregon Saloon                 1604 NE Highway 101   Lincoln City

Steve Lawrence – Mayor of the Dalles and Beerchaser of the Quarter

The Dalles - West from the City's official website.

The Dalles – from the City’s official website.

The Dalles, with a current population just under 15,000 people, incorporated in 1857 (as The Dalles City) is one of Oregon’s most historic cities on the Columbia River.  It was known earlier in its history as the town at the end of the Oregon Trail.  Archeological evidence suggests the area has been inhabited more or less continuously for more than 10,000 years.

Steve Lawrence is now the Mayor of The Dalles and fits the ideal profile as a chief elected official – one you would expect of any of the towns listed in Small Town Gems of America which to illustrate, include Red Wing and Stillwater, Minnesota; Guthrie, Oklahoma and Cody, Wyoming.

Steve Lawrence with 2014 Beerchaser of the Quarter and his good friend Jud Blakely

Steve Lawrence with 2014 Beerchaser of the Quarter and his good friend Jud Blakely

He and his twin brother were born in 1945 and graduated from high school in The Dalles, where the future lawyer was a three-sport athlete – wrestling, track (held his high school’s pole-vault record twice) and football (he was a 146 pound starting center.)

Steve went to Boise Jr. College and ended up enlisting in the Army in 1967, which of course, meant a trip to the Republic of Viet Nam.  He was selected for Officer Candidate School and because of his linguistic skills, was promised Russian Language School, and in a series of events that remind one of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 – after training at Ft. Benning he ended up commanding an infantry platoon in Viet Nam where he was decorated for heroism in combat.

2nd Lt. Steve Lawrence

2nd Lt. Steve Lawrence

We were joined that day by another Viet Nam hero – Jud Blakely, awarded the Bronze Star (with Combat V) and recipient of the Purple Heart in 1967 as a Marine Corps 1st Lt. – described in Thebeerchaser’s post from October 2013.

While a Second Lieutenant, Steve recalls several “serious helicopter events” including two crashes nearby during fire-fights, and an Army pilot who made three passes firing on Steve’s troops and wounding half of his squad before the chopper was called off by radio.

His Silver Star was awarded for action in combat in July 1968 and Bronze Star (with Combat V) for “his display of personal bravery and devotion to duty” in February 1969.  His Bronze Star has an Oak Leaf Cluster because he received a second one for meritorious service while still in Viet Nam. Excerpts from the text of the citations for these two medals is shown below:

Steve's Bronze and Silver Stars for Gallentry

Steve’s Bronze and Silver Stars for Gallantry

Silver Star “For gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force….2nd Lt. Lawrence distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader……When his unit became heavily engaged with a large enemy force, (he) exposed himself to hostile fire as he moved to a forward fighting position to direct the fire of his men.  When two men were wounded, and lying in an exposed area (he) maneuvered his men into position enabling the injured personnel to be recovered.” 14 October, 1968

Bronze Star with Combat V – “During an intense mortar and rocket attack, one of the billits in (his) unit took a direct rocket hit.  With total disregard for his own safety (he)…moved through the rocket and mortar fire to the damaged building….and assisted in applying first aid and evacuating severely wounded men.  Although the attack continued….,he repeatedly returned…in search of other missing individuals. 3 June 1969

A moment of "relaxation" in Quang Tri Province.

A moment of  “relaxation” in Quang Tri Province.

After the Army, Steve attended  Portland State College where he first met Jud Blakely – then a Marine Corps Officer Recruiter – while Steve was involved in student government and trying to mediate in the dispute with students, who tried to throw the Marines off campus after the Kent State University tragedy.

At Jud’s suggestion, both were going to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), but after Jud purchased two of the massive prep manuals, he decided otherwise, although he still justifies the decision by quoting comedian, John Wing:

“And God said, ‘Let there be Satan, so people don’t blame everything on Me.  And let there by lawyers, so people don’t blame everything on Satan…'”

Steve was admitted to Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College at night and Jud went on to work as the Asst. to General Manager Tom King at TriMet (newly formed in 1969 to replace five private bus companies in the Tri-County area). The two were reunited after Steve was selected as the Asst. Director of Marketing and then as Asst. Personnel Director. (Jud told him about the job opening)   A major project was developing Tri-Met’s first handicap accessible policy.

Mementos of his military service.

Mementos of his military service.

During this time Blakely, Thebeerchaser and Lawrence (as a 146 pound center…) played basketball on Friday nights in the gym at Catlin-Gabel School with a group of Nike execs, and then Mayor Neil Goldschmidt with some of his key staff including Alan Webber (now an entrepreneur and candidate for Governor of New Mexico)

The two offered Steve a chance to write and manage a federal demonstration grant for the LIFT Project through the City of Portland.  The LIFT became a permanent TriMet special transportation program and still exists.

After admission to the Oregon State Bar, he had a long legal career and established a reputation as a tough litigator first at the Hampson Bayless & Stiner labor law firm (Lon Stiner is the son of legendary Oregon State Football coach, Alonzo Stiner from 1933 to 1948), in his own practice in The Dalles, at the Williams &Troutwine firm and then as in-house counsel for both North Pacific Insurance Co. and Liberty Mutual.

The hometown boy retired in 2007 and returned to The Dalles where in 2008, he married the widow of the quarterback on his team.  Donna, his new wife, was his high-school sweetheart and they had lost contact when Steve went to junior college.  His civic work in the Dalles and beyond is notable including 25 years on the Board of United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon and SW Washington (3 terms as President).

His initial novel, First Light, based on his experience in Viet Nam, will be published on-line in the near future and his second novel, Amaton Field – an historical novel of The Dalles is about 3/4 finished.

Steve for MayorHe ran successfully for Mayor in 2012 and will be on the General Election ballot this November. One can see his energy, enthusiasm and leadership by reading one of his monthly reports.  They chronicle his efforts to bring new industry, capitalize on recreational opportunities including cycling and promote the City’s agricultural legacy:

In the movie, “Lincoln,” I witnessed three skills which Abraham Lincoln possessed. The first, was to listen more and blame less. The second, was to relax now and then and the third was not to hold grudges. He had a vision and he was persistent. If we exercise these skills, we can all help move The Dalles forward.”

 ——————-

Beerchasing in the Dalles

Steve, Jud and Danny at The Ale House - great food and beer and no salmonella!

Steve, Jud and Danny at Clocktower Ale House – great food and beer and no salmonella!

P1020193Steve invited Jud and me to hit a few of watering holes and it was interesting to see the affection of the townsfolk to their elected leader. (It was also part of the effort to “relax now and then…”

We kidded him about the safety of these eateries, harkening back to 1984, when 750 people were victims of the Rajneesh bio-terror attack through the deliberate contamination of salad bars at ten local restaurants with salmonella. This bizarre plot, according to some sources, was one of only two confirmed bio-terrorist attacks on humans in the US since 1945. 

Clock Tower Ales and Brew Pub, where Steve had his election victory party, “is located in the second Wasco County Courthouse built in 1883 and home to the last public hanging in 1905….. Join us in Historic Downtown for fine pub grub, live entertainment and over 30 craft beers on tap (cider, local wines and a full bar also).” 

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Danny mixes a cocktail at the Clocktower bar.

 

Our waitress, Danny, from Wamic, was a wonderful server, the beer and food was excellent and they have a great patio.

The Clocktower patio on Union Street.

The Clocktower patio on Union Street.

 

 

 

 

 

We then trekked a short distance to River Tap – owned by Tom Wood, who has a similar bar in Hood River – in one of first new buildings in downtown, The Dalles, in about 20 years.  We toasted over Braeval single-malt scotch shots.

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Happy Hour — All Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve is a Renaissance guy, and he had mentioned to us that he reads poetry at “Open Microphone Night” at Zim’s Brau Haus – another bar with great ambiance just up the street.  So we set out again – but it was closed since it was late on a Sunday afternoon.  However, in deference to the Mayor, the owners, Bill and Connie Ford, readily answered his knock and gave us a walk-through of their establishment.

Zims

Zims

Zims is noted for its $2.50 breakfast and two steak nights – Tuesday and Friday “yum! The steak is cooked just as ordered…..better than Delicious!!  They have Spatzel!!  it’s absolutely wonderful!
(Yelp review)

Besides the Mayor reading poetry, there’s also some good entertainment: Total forty-something and over place. Lively on a Tuesday night. Old guys with acoustic guitars crooning old country favorites–and giving a pretty professional performance to boot. (Trip Advisor)

The owners of Zims with Thebeerchaser logo.

The owners of Zims with Thebeerchaser logo.

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As an aside, Steve is also a great fan and collector of Hemingway’s works as evidenced by the view of his home den below.

This summer beckons for a return trip to The Dalles.  In one of his monthly Mayor’s report he states, “If interested in serving on a city committee or commission, please let me know….. My phone number is 503-807-0724 and my email is SeLawrence1963@yahoo.com.”

 

A fan of Hemingway.
A fan of Hemingway.

Even if you don’t reside in The Dalles, but are visiting, you should take him up on that offer.  He might even buy you a micro-brew at Clock Tower, a shot of scotch at River Tap or read a poem at Zim’s!

And if you talk to him, thank him for his service to his country and community.