History Connection: Bringing history to life
I am a list-maker — things to do, recipes to try, names (and phone numbers) of people and organizations, meetings, events, books. Ever since I started writing a history column four years ago, I have kept a list — now an Excel spreadsheet — of historical resources I thought I might want to follow up on and might be of interest to readers.
So having read many books and attended a lot of meetings, lectures and the like, I would like to offer some recommendations based on my personal experience. But ...
Before I get to that list, let's first rewind to an article I wrote about Sears kit houses ("In 1902, it was 'Cheapest supply house on Earth,'" July 19). That article created a lot of buzz, and I wanted to share some additional information that has since come to light.
I have discovered that there was a Sears kit house in Lake Oswego at one time, owned by a gentleman named Mel Taylor. It was located on Pilkington Road but demolished a few years ago. Several people emailed me to say they knew Mel Taylor. He was an active community volunteer, leading many hikes for the Parks & Rec Department. I am hoping to gather more information about Taylor for a future article.
Another Sears kit house I discovered is still located on Highway 43 between Hidden Springs Road and Pimlico Road, up on the hill. Unity Church is the current owner of the house, which was built in 1937 and, according to the Rev. Victoria Etchemendy, was fashioned from Sears' "Kensington" design.
Retired Luscher Farm manager Karen Davis and I visited the house and were treated to a tour of the grounds and building. Many renovations have been made, but we could still evidence of some original flooring, door jambs, a few light fixtures, chimney and dormers.
Now for some of those historical resources I mentioned.
First are the organizations: West Linn Historical Society (westlinnhistory.org); Tualatin Historical Society (tualatinhistoricalsociety.org); Clackamas County Historical Society (clackamashistory.org), including the Museum of the Oregon Territory; the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (historicoregoncity.org) and the Oswego Heritage House and Museum (oswegoheritage.org). Each offers unique programs, lectures and events.
For example, the Clackamas County Historical Society just launched a new lecture series entitled Murdock Talks, focusing on local and historical topics that range from Willamette Falls papermaking to the Willamette Locks. And the Tualatin Historical Society partners with the Ice Age Flood Institute to present lectures about the geologic history of the area resulting from the Missoula Floods and the Ice Age. Fascinating lectures!
These two organizations should be on your bucket list. I have really enjoyed learning about the geology of this area, about fossils and artifacts students have dug up in Woodburn and about some of the wild animals who roamed this area millions of years ago.
This summer, I attended a concert at the End of The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center by The Oregon Trail Band, which plays country music and songs depicting life on the Oregon Trail. Two of the band members, Rindy and Marv Ross, started the band Quarterflash and later Seafood Mama. A fun concert and a fantastic way to learn about history!
Closer to home, the Oswego Heritage House and Museum has a beautiful historic rose garden, museum and archive center. And the West Linn Historical Society has a lecture series and does a lot of historical character re-enactments. Visit their websites for details.
On the page
Some interesting books I have either read and/or heard the author speak about include Dede Montgomery's "My Music Man" and Sandy Carter's "$1.09 An Hour and Glad to Have It."
Montgomery's book is about growing up on the Willamette River in Wilsonville and her relationship with her dad. (She is a sixth-generation Oregonian.) Carter's book is an anthology of oral histories of several people who worked at the Crown Zellerbach paper mill in West Linn.
Another good read is "Underneath It All — History of Women's Underwear," by Amber Keyser. And of course Barb Randall's pictorial history of Oregon wineries, "Willamette Valley Wineries."
Any of Jane Kirkptrick's novels about early pioneer women in Oregon are a must-read. Her just-released title "Everything She Didn't Say" is on my list; it's a story about Jennie Picket Parrish, an early physician in Oregon who worked with children and families.
An author I just discovered who lives locally is Ellen Notbohm. Her "The River By Starlight" is a poignant historical novel that tells the tragic story of Annie and Adam Fielding's life in Montana. I have not read the book, but did hear the author speak recently at the library. Very inspiring.
Although not related to Lake Oswego history, Phil Stanford's book "Portland Confidential" is a fascinating story about Portland's dark history in the 1950s. (He does mention Stan Terry — one of Lake Oswego's colorful characters — in the book.)