Gaining Perspective at the Falls View….

The Falls View Tavern

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

Note: The last 25% of this post may be of particular interest to history buffs.  Check out this story which goes back to 1850 and continues to the present time.

I’ve published quite a few posts related to my time in Oregon City, Oregon – from seventh grade until after I got married at age thirty-one except for time at Oregon State University and in the Navy.  My wife and I then moved across the Willamette River to West Linn – another Portland burb and our high school rival in the old Tualatin Yamhill Valley League.

I was a pretty good kid in high school – motivated by the admonition of Dale Herron, our basketball coach, that if we even thought of frequenting one of Oregon City’s bars (or went skiing at Mt. Hood) we would have to turn in our Chuck Taylor Converse All-stars (black high-tops). 

Knowing that attending college also depended on an academic scholarship and a clean record, I never drank alcohol before I turned twenty-one in college.  (* photo attribution at end of post.)

Oh yeah. When I when I asserted above “pretty good kid,” – in the interest of full disclosure, there was that one incident at the end of our senior year when several of us from the Class of ’66 decided to put an old out-house on the roof of the school. 

Fortunately, OCHS Principal Vern Larson (possibly remembering his own school pranks in North Dakota) went easy on us.   His son, Dave, was one of my best friends, so maybe that didn’t hurt either.  Understandably, Dave was not in the group of pranksters.

And when I worked on Main Street for Clackamas County after naval service, my haunt was either McNaulty and Barry’s – a wonderful and fabled dive (still going strong) across the street from the Courthouse. 

The Dunes Motel Lounge (long gone) was a sleazy alternative – after work attendance and political banter and ample booze consumption were expected during the last two years when I worked for the Clackamas County Commissioners.

Thus, I was surprised when my friend, Matt Love, another Oregon City High School grad, (a lot of years after my diploma) but also an expert on Oregon dive bars, suggested the Falls View Tavern.   It’s right across the street from what was one of our favorite high school hangouts – Art’s Cafe.

We spent a lot of time at Art’s on Friday nights after our games eating their great burgers and fries (Art’s is now the Highland Still House which is a great place to go for a shot of fine whiskey):

“With more than 500 bottles of whisky consistently behind the bar and a rotating collection of rare and exciting whiskies from around the globe.”  *2

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But I never really even bothered noticing the Falls View Tavern. I’m glad that I remedied that in early July with Matt and another Beerchasing regular, Jim Westwood – the dean of our group and another Oregon City High grad.

Both Matt and Jim are outstanding individuals and accomplished professionals as set forth in my post: .https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/07/22/2021-summer-beerchasing-miscellany-part-ii/

And we were not disappointed.  Since it was a nice summer day, we sat in their expansive patio or beer garden.  Falls View on their website describes it as:

Best Beer Garden within ?,??? miles.  Umbrella Covered Tables, Covered Stage, Covered Smoking Area, Fire Pit and a refreshing Misting Station for those two really hot days.”

The patio was a recurring theme in the positive reviews of the bar as best summarized by this 2017 Yelp Review:

“They have created an amazing outdoor area for live music or just kicking back to enjoy some food and drink. Whenever I take pictures of the bands playing in their back patio, friends always think I’m in someone’s backyard, and that’s exactly how it feels. But it’s the best backyard because there are these lovely people who will bring you food and drink in exchange for plastic or cash.”

While it’s nothing fancy, it’s spacious and draws a lot of people who just hang out or listen to the live music on weekends, compete in Wednesday Night Trivia or sing at the open mike on Thursdays.   

The owner, Terry Bee Enstad, another Oregon City High School graduate, said that during the restrictions on indoor dining, the patio was always full and people would come from all over the surrounding area.

The Yelp review mentions “lovely people” and there are other comments about friendly staff. Cyndee, our server that afternoon, exemplified this sentiment.  She’s worked at the bar for 5 1/2 years and since they weren’t extremely busy initially, spent time enlightening us about what makes the bar a “Community.”

And Terry Bee, the delightful owner for the last twenty-one years as of the Friday before we were there (the bar goes back to the 1920’s) lives nearby.   She’s used her charisma and personal touch to turn the Falls View into a community gathering place.  

Cyndee introduced us to one of the regulars named Sabrina, who positively gushed about why “The Falls View has become the only bar I’ll ever visit in the future.”  She lives in nearby Canby and talked about the great food and people she’s experienced since the first time she came to the Falls View two years ago.

“This is the last bar I ever want to be in!” (Sabrina – a regular)

An old building provides some challenges and Terry had had her hands full with maintenance and updating.  For example, a 2018 project involving the flooring gives an apt picture of the challenges:

“With the discovery of hardwood flooring under the carpet, it was an easy decision for Terry to lead the charge to rescue it.  But as with all repairs and projects at The Falls View, being a hundred year old building, you have to be prepared for surprises (usually unpleasant & costly ones). 

 We immediately discovered the first one to be that the floor was covered with a variety of materials including plywood (heavily nailed down), particle board, and something called Fix-All which proved to be a huge obstacle.”  (Falls View Website)

The inside of the dive bar validates the label and has a great musty ambiance with historic photos, signs and a great back bar.  There’s also an alcove for video machines which is nice as they are away from the main part of the bar.

The food is one factor that distinguishes Falls View and people rave about the broiled chicken:

“That said, this place is a KEEPER!  I came for the chicken and left with the opinion that it was, by far, the best chicken experience I’ve ever had.  I say ‘experience’ because everything from the service to the seating was excellent.  Then comes the chicken – five pieces totaling a full half of a chicken, perfectly broasted and seasoned with a very light coating, some hand-cut jo-jos, and garlic bread.” (Yelp 7/9/17)

One-half of a chicken, jo-jos and garlic bread is only $11.75, or the cod fish and fries is a stunningly reasonable $9.75.  And I will definitely return for the chicken gizzards and fries for $8.25 – the only bar I know in the Portland area besides the Yukon Tavern that serves this “delicacy.” 

As their website asserts, “Quirky was probably invented here.”  The breakfast menu also looked very good.

To further give you an example of why Terry should probably raise her prices, take a look at the total bill for the three of us.   Matt had two micro-brew pints and Jim and I each had two tall-boys (Old German – the first time I’ve had that Pittsburgh beer) for a total of $8 since there is a $2 tall-boy special each day. We topped off with a large order of great French fries

And they have five rotating taps besides the three standards (Coors Light, Bud Light and Boneyard IPA) supplemented by almost twenty different bottled and canned beers, wine in addition to ciders and hard lemonades.

Notwithstanding the fact that she was being pulled in several directions as the regulars started to pour in, I spent a pleasant twenty minutes talking to Terry about the bar’s history and her plans.   

My congratulations for her shepherding this establishment into one of the most distinctive and pleasant neighborhood dives I’ve been to in ten years of Beerchasing.  I will definitely be back….

One More Thing…..But It’s Important!

Now to end this post, I have to include some of Oregon City’s fabled history which I have talked about in several prior posts.   That’s also easy with Matt Love, an authority on Oregon lore and history (check out his offerings at the Nestucca Spit Press).

Matt told us that we had to check out the historical marker across the street from the bar at the Willamette Falls View Point.  Besides the outstanding view of the Falls, the locks and the historic mills on both sides of the Willamette River, he told us that the marker conveyed the story of the last Oregon public execution in 1850.

Well there was, in fact, an historic marker, but it was just that of Dr. John McLoughlin,  “known as the ‘Father of Oregon’ for his role in assisting the American cause in the Oregon Country.” (Wikipedia)

What happened to the plaque about the Cayuse Five?

However there was nothing regarding the hanging which Matt had referenced.  This sent me on an Internet search and the research may have revealed why officials removed the sign about the capital punishment:

“In May 21, 1850, the trial of five Cayuse men accused of murdering Protestant missionary Marcus Whitman begins in Oregon City, capital of the newly organized Oregon Territory. Whitman, his wife Narcissa, and 11 others had been killed during a Cayuse attack on the Whitman Mission near Walla Walla two and a half years earlier…..

The defendants were indicted on several charges associated with the attack but were tried on only a single count, that of ‘feloniously, wilfully and of their malice aforethought’ killing ‘one Marcus Whitman’ (Grand Jury indictment No. 11). The trial lasts four days and ends when all five defendants are convicted and sentenced to death by hanging…….

And, it does not speak well for “frontier” justice at that time:

“How the Cayuse made the decision to turn in those five men is not known. There was some speculation, at the time and afterward, that the Cayuse simply gave up five volunteers in order to appease the whites and end the fighting. For his part, Lane (the Governor of the Oregon Territory) seemed unconcerned about whether any of the prisoners had participated in the killings or whether any of the actual attackers had gone free. ‘The punishment of these Indians,’ he told the Territorial Legislature on May 7, 1850, two weeks before the trial, ‘will remove the barrier to a peace with the Cayuse, and have a good effect upon all the tribes’…….

“Oregon City at that time was a frontier town of about 500. The jail was a one-room structure on Abernethy Island, at the foot of Willamette Falls. There was no courthouse; the trial took place in a tavern, crowded with a couple of hundred onlookers. During the jury selection process, on the morning of May 23, the defense issued so many preemptory challenges that the original panel of 24 prospective jurors had to be augmented with people chosen at random from among the spectators. Eventually, a jury of 12 was empaneled and District Attorney Amory Holbrook (1820-1866) began presenting the prosecution’s case……

“The court heard three hours of summation from the defense and the prosecution and then adjourned. In giving his charge to the jury, at 9 a.m. Friday, May 24, Judge Pratt basically said the defendants’ guilt was proven by the fact that the tribe had turned them over to the authorities. As Lansing points out, ‘Today, Judge Pratt’s actions would have been a clear violation of the hearsay rule and the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment confrontation clause: ‘the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him’ “‘(Lansing, 151).

The jury deliberated for one hour and 15 minutes before returning the expected verdict: guilty. The defense immediately filed several motions on appeal; all were denied. At 4 p.m., Judge Pratt reconvened the court and pronounced his sentence. He ordered the prisoners to be confined until 2 p.m. on Monday, June 3, 1850, when they were to be taken by the U.S. marshal — Joe Meek — to a gallows to be erected in Oregon City, ‘and there by him be hung by the neck, until you are dead’ (Oregon Spectator, May 30, 1850).”

(History Link Essay No. 9401 – By Cassandra Tate – Posted 4/16/2010: “Trial of Five Cayuse Accused of Whitman Murder Begins on May 21, 1850.” https://www.historylink.org/File/9401)

The story has a woeful ending according to this account in article from MyNorthwest.com by Feliks Banel on 11/29/2-017:

“The Cayuse Five were [named] Clokomas, Kiamasumkin, Isiaasheluckas, Tomahas and Telokite,’ Karson Engum said. ‘They were hung in Oregon City and they were taken off in a cart and they were put either in an unmarked grave or in a mass grave, and at this point, there’s ideas that they may be under a parking lot somewhere in Oregon City or in some not necessarily unknown cemetery.’

Those interested in this story and related history will hear more in coming months as the area in question and adjacent to the Falls View Tavern is part of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.  While the Whitman massacre was a tragedy, the manner in which the accused were convicted adds to the sad narrative.

Interested parties including the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, various historians and government agencies involved in the project including the City of Oregon City and Metro are involved in bringing more information to light as set forth in this article by Oregon City historian, James Nicita, in the 6/13/18 Clackamas Review entitled A step towards healing: Repatriating the Cayuse Five; author offers theory on gravesite location.”

Photo Attribution

*1  https://www.facebook.com/highlandstillhousepub/photos

/a.442627192277/154748597277/

*2 Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:

A_classic_Black_pair_of_Converse_All_Stars_resting_on_the_Black_%26_White_

Ed._Shoebox_ (1998-2002).JPG Author: Hadley1978  at English Wikipedia

*3 – *7 Falls View Tavern Website (https://thefallsviewtavern.com/)

Pondering the Pandemic – No. 2

The historic New Atlas Bar in Columbus, Montana – notice the albino mule deer

(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.)

As I’ve mentioned in my last few posts – probably self-evident – visits to new watering holes whether bars or breweries are temporarily on hold for Thebeerchaser.  That said, I have a lot of old memories and thoughts about my favorite topic which can still provide grist to loyal followers – at least for awhile.

That was true reminiscing about our road trip through Montana last year in the recent post (see link below)  and that narrative was about just five of the 49 new establishments we visited on that 3,700 mile trip — like the historic New Atlas Bar in Columbus, Montana.

Joan Melcher, who wrote two books on Montana bars described the New Atlas  – one of her favorites below – and the second paragraph is a little curious.  The New Atlas, indeed, was one of the most curious of the forty-nine bars we hit on the trip:

“Hulking throughout the room are bald eagles, an albino mule deer fawn, a coyote howling to the moon, young bobcats fighting an Audak (African mountain sheep), a Canadian lynx, raccoon or two, a fox, a snow owl. moose heads, elk heads – buffalo, antelope, mountain sheep – all kinds of heads…

Amused acceptance?!  What’s the other option??

…..There’s a queer sensation that goes with drinking sur-rounded by dead, stuffed animals.  The first reaction is one of nonchalance – ah some nice stuffed animals. 

After a few drinks, you feel countless pairs of eyes bearing down.  You have another beer to relax under their scrutiny, look around again, and you’re among friends, the animals’ glares having softened to amused acceptance.”

The last post with the five other Montana bar descriptions (Trapper’s Saloon in Eureka, the Saw Mill Saloon in Darby – a town with a legendary Town Marshal, the Wise River Club in Wise River, the Antler Saloon in Wisdom and the Dewey Tavern also in Wise River – all Montana classics is at the link below:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/08/19/pondering-during-the-pandemic-1/

A Return to the Central Oregon Coast

Right now, however, I’m coming back to Oregon – some of my favorite spots – dive bars on the Oregon Coast. These institutions are in jeopardy especially since the pandemic and be protected as should any endangered species such as the Washington golden mantel ground squirrel…..

The Sportsman in Pacific City

One of the great resources in the earlier days of this blog (2011-14) was a similar blog I came upon in doing research for my posts.  Matt Love, a prolific and talented author and now owner of a small Astoria publishing house he founded in 2003 – The Nestucca Spit Press

His blog, “Let it Pour”, originated as a popular column in Hipfish Monthly, an alternative magazine in Astoria. He no longer maintains the site and unfortunately a number of the watering holes are no longer in business..

Matt in his younger days sans beard…

Matt is a keen observer of both the ambiance of dive bars and the interactions that take place among the patrons – and is an expert in describing those in entertaining style.  Take this one from LetItPour.net that made me check out the Old Oregon as one of my first Coast dives.

“(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 in the Johnson Administration.”

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.”

So with some curiosity, but no expectations, I hunkered into the Old O – right on Highway 101 in the heart of Lincoln City with my brother-in-law, Dave Booher and our friend, Steve Larson for a few beers and to observe. 

As per my usual Beerchaser process, I was sitting at the bar drinking draft PBR’s, asking the bartender questions and taking photos around the quaint place.  As per Matt’s observation about the family character of Coast dives, we noted  there was going to be a wake for a recently deceased regular – “Rod.”  We did not take the sign literally and assumed that when it stated, “Have a drink on Rod,” that his casket was not going to be in the Old O for the celebration.

A wake – but no casket….

Then, in walks a very stocky middle-aged guy in a motorcycle jacket and hat and purposefully strides towards a seat at the back of the bar where he could observe everything going on.   The bartender said softly, “That’s Irish Mike – our local ambassador.”   I took a few more pictures and rejoined my companions at the bar.

At that point Irish Mike pointed and motioned me to come to his chair.  With some trepidation, but also curiosity, I headed back to him and as I approached, he reached into his wallet and pulled out two one-dollar bills.  He stared at me and said:

“It’s your turn to plug the juke box. Don’t screw it up!”

Irish Mike and Thebeerchaser

Fortunately, he liked my selections of Van Morrison and the Eagles.  We had a great chat and I found out that he is a retired exec from San Francisco and rides his Harley up to Oregon a few times a year and the Old O is always one of his stops.

That stop after three years of Beerchasing, affirmed that there were many more yarns in the future. My stories, however, pale to Matt’s Love’s.  So take a look at his newspaper-tabloid publication Oregon Tavern Age – a bargain at $10 or three copies for $20 at his Nestucca Spit Press website where you will also find other wonderful books on Oregon he has written.

Before we get to OTA, the picture above gives me reason to momentarily digress.   I asked Matt what spurred his fascination with beavers – pervasive and tactically placed throughout the almost eighty different bar tails… (sorry – I couldn’t resist) tales throughout the 58-page OTA publication.

I thought it might be because he, like I, was an OSU grad but he got his degrees at Portland State and Lewis and Clark.  His captivation with the flat-tailed, semi-aquatic rodent was a product of observing them in the woods during his walks on the Oregon coast and his collection of beaver wood – an obsession, of sorts, for the last ten years – and an amazing sight adjacent to his RV.

Beaverwood – ten years worth…

The topic of Beavers then provides a convenient segue to my next topic – Oregon State Football and whether the Beavs under Coach Jonathan Smith will exceed expectations this fall.

However, not only will the Beaver quarterbacks, lineman and defensive backs, etc. be occupied otherwise on Saturday afternoons, but so will the midfielders on the soccer team and the setter and outside hitter on the volleyball team.

The Pac 12, as did some of the other NCAA conferences made the wise decision to protect athletes and fans by either suspending or delaying fall and winter sports.

So instead of being on the gridiron, the Beaver football players will have a chance to spend time in the library until at least next spring and help bolster the academic standing of OSU – possibly to a scholastic peak that the football team can be proud of. Thus, any current discussion of football would be strictly academic……

Oregon Tavern Age

Don’t bother Googling Oregon Tavern Preservation Society. That’s Matt’s imagination…

Matt describes how the phrase was coined based on an experience thirty-four years ago when he and some friends were sitting in Seaside’s The Beach Club, drinking 50-cent drafts:

“A man blasted through the door and obliterated the tavern’s somnolent mood.  His hair was feathered….and perfect.  He appeared anywhere from 40 to 70 years old.  Many years later, I coined the phrase ‘Oregon Tavern Age’ or ‘OTA’ to describe the condition….*1

The man’s name was Larry or Wayne, both solid OTA names.  He sat down with us at the bar.  He was loud.  I struck up a conversation with him and learned he had $10,000 in cash stuffed into his pants pocket…..*2

He had cashed a check the previous afternoon – a settlement from an injury suffered in an automobile accident and was ready to party down – hard.  He bought the house a round, screamed an encouraging profanity, and then bolted out the door.”

*1 I am appalled now that I’m 72, Matt doesn’t consider me part of OTA.  Through my lawyer, I will consider notifying federal and state agencies (such as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission) and WCTU (?) on possible sanctions for age discrimination.

*2  Wayne or Larry probably only had about 70% of that amount of cash on him as his lawyer would have taken the other 30% as his or her contingency fee.

This was clearly not the last or even a tiny slice of the stories and observations Love makes in this treatise that was so interesting and enjoyable to me that I used a yellow highlighter so I could come back and savor parts of it again later.

Matt published OTA in 2019, but these stories go back years to:

“…the halcyon days of Oregon tavern life:  no liquor, no craft beers, no meth, no video poker or  slots, smoke-filled and the classic cheap Pacific Northwest lagers brewing in the Pacific Northwest by union men reigned supreme.”

Now based on the 375 watering holes I have visited, I have a lot of stories, but Matt is a master of observation not only of the human interaction, but the trappings and character of these dives.  He converts the notes he took “jotting down observations with a pencil on a golf score card” and his conversations with the regulars into a captivating collection of stories and anecdotes with great graphic illustrations – courtesy of his ex-wife.

It will make you want to drive down to Pacific City and have a draft Budweiser at the Sportsman Pub and Grub where for years, Matt served as the bar’s Writer in Residence (Thebeerchaser reviewed this great dive in October 2014.)

“I like Old!”

For example, his observation upon getting a recommendation to check out the Crow’s Nest Lounge in Gold Beach – although being warned it’s regulars were an older crowd:

“’Good,’ I thought. I like old.”   That’s where the real OTA action unfolds like so much frozen molasses locked inside a glacier.  I hate fast bars with loud, dumb kids throwing down jello shots while fiddiling on their fancy phones.  They need a little Black Velvet to calm then down…..We all do.”

And I can just visualize Matt, sitting at a dark red booth with cracked vinyl, enveloped in second-hand smoke and nursing a cheap Hamm’s – this as he observed a guy drinking white wine:

“The white wine hailed from a black box.  The man sat next to another OTA man drinking Budweiser from a tall can.  In the wings, a female bartender fiddled on her phone.  The Stanley Cup Final highlights played quietly on a flatscreen.

At a nearby table, an OTA woman drank coffee and ate clam chowder and dunked a peanut butter bar, in both, while reading a firearms magazine.  She hacked an ex-smoker’s hack between dunks and turning the pages.”

Now there have been about eight dives on the coast that have either closed permanently or indefinitely suspended operations   It’s not possible for someone to open a new dive bar – it’s somewhat of a contradiction of terms. And Matt is the cerebral vault in which many of the stories are maintained and only unlocked on special occasions.  For example:

“One day, many years ago, a woman sat in Pitch’s Tavern in Port Orford.   She saw a horse drinking beer from a saucer on the counter.  On another visit, she saw a live boxer crab holding an unlit cigarette in one claw and a glass of beer in the other.”

The author is sometimes maudlin and philosophical in his musings and I will leave you with his rhetorical question and the recommendation that you order the Oregon Tavern Age and join Thebeerchaser in reveling at the stories of a gifted writer:

“Could all the bartenders in OTA country be replaced by Alexa-like robot devices?  Can you imagine Alexa responding to a question like: “Alexa, can I have the bear tacos and Hamm’s special?’ 

There will never be an algorithm for that.  There will never be an algorithm for OTA country. Everything is utterly random, except for the consistency of the regulars and their stories and the utter unpredictability of the bartenders.  If I want an algorithm, I’ll go to a brewpub.”

Savor the story of the Deep Fried Miller High Life at the Mad Dog Country Tavern just out of Newport (that and The Triangle Tavern under the Megler Bridge in Astoria are two of his favorites )

Or check out the one on the blue parrot playing video poker (and winning) at the historic Bay Haven Inn in the heart of Newport, by ordering Matt’s OTA.  And take a look at some of the other great offerings at the Nestucca Spit Press while you’re at it.

And Finally…

Courtesy of Molly Larson Cook

With two daughters who are both nurses, I’ve stated before, my plea for everyone to wear masks.   And here’s a great place to get one plus a bonus from Patty Voldbaeck – a former excellent legal secretary at the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt firm. 

Patty’s masks are made of 100%cotton fabric with ultralight fusible interfacing (if requested) and a pocket insert protector of your personal preference.  She also has a piece of N-95 fabric available with instructions for care.

Designer Masks

The bonus is that one of Patty’s Famous Molasses Cookies comes with each mask order or if you would like more (based on my experience, you will….) they are available at $12 a dozen. 
 
GP   Grandma Patty’s Famous Creations
Masks, Molasses Cookies & Scrubbys
Notary-Oregon
503-476-2216