Guest Post: Writer Stewart Holbrook Was the NW’s ‘Best-Known Personality’ But Never Received the Credit He Deserved

by Michael Schepps (you’ll find a full bio, including a link to Schepps’s new book, Split Aces, at the end of the article)

Throughout much of his life, the writer Stewart Holbrook (1893-1964) was considered “perhaps the Pacific Northwest’s best-known personality.” In seemingly endless articles that garnered a devoted local readership and were often excerpted in the national press, Holbrook captured and caricatured what he called the country’s “Far Corner” during its rapid mid-20th century modernization, painting an indelible portrait whose legacy lives on today. But Holbrook did more than just portray the Northwest. His stylistic innovations in the field of creative nonfiction are the equal of the more-celebrated Joseph Mitchell, but he has never received the credit he deserves.

One of Holbrook’s primary interests was timber. After years of working in Northwest logging camps (as well as sojourns in the theater world and on the battlefields of France), he took a position in Portland in 1923 as the associate editor of the 4-L Lumber News, the mouthpiece for a government-and-industry-backed labor union meant to be an alternative to the radical Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies. Seeking to supplement his income through freelancing, he found a home in the pages of The Oregonian. There, he regaled readers with histories, character studies, and reportage about whatever crossed his path, including his observations during drinking sessions with the grizzled waterfront tough Edward “Spider” Johnson.

Written with considerable brio while invoking a demi-realm of myth and history, these articles are much of the reason for Holbrook’s lasting influence. In particular, his vivid evocation of the Pantagruelian proportions of Augustus Erickson’s gargantuan bar and the sinister chthonic depths of the city’s Shanghai Tunnels helped create the popular perception of nineteenth-century Portland as an “anything-goes” fantasia.

In Holbrook’s depiction, a wild drinking session at the “longest bar in the world” might end with the drinker being drugged and trafficked (alongside dead men and cigar-store statues) through tunnels honeycombing the waterfront, only to wake up in chains (while facing a year’s harsh service) on a rotting clipper ship rounding the Horn.

Although Holbrook’s work appeared in national publications such as The New Yorker, The American Mercury, and Esquire at the same time his East Coast contemporary Joseph Mitchell was publishing the character sketches that would make him famous as a progenitor of what is called “new journalism,” he has never received adequate credit for his own innovations in prose. When literary historian Norman Sims named Joseph Mitchell a major influence on “new journalism” (or literary journalism) he pointed to Mitchell’s penchant for “merging fiction and nonfiction, the symbolic and the literal, biography and reportage, the real and the imagined landscapes of the city.” What is true for Mitchell is equally true for Holbrook.

Along with Mitchell, Holbrook wrote from a participant-observer perspective and often focused on “lowbrow” life, which are valuable tools today in any nonfiction writer’s toolkit. Of course, he shared some of Mitchell’s more questionable practices too, including the use of composite characters, invented dialogue, and hyperbole in the service of a larger truth (practices for which Mitchell has more recently suffered a dramatic reappraisal, with some even wondering if he was truly a journalist).

Read as imaginative literature or “literary journalism,” Holbrook’s work remains clean and compelling, the deeper truths beneath the varnish of embellishment and hyperbole shining through as bright as ever. But as serious history, it is greatly lacking. One historian has gone so far as to say that “repetition of a Holbrook fiction is a sure indication of lazy scholarship and gullibility.”

During his lifetime, Holbrook published over 30 books and countless articles. At its best, his work ties together strands of deep research and interviewing, a bright sense of place and character, and a singularly appealing voice. The East Coast transplant understood an essential truth about the region where he made his home and set his writing: it was a place of malleability and reinvention whose story had not yet been fully told—a place where the telling of its story could both define it and make it new.

Michael Schepps is a writer, editor and publisher in Portland. His exploration of authorial invention and identity continues in his debut noir novella Split Aces, available now from Korza Books, in both e-book and print. To read more of his work, visit MLSchepps.com.

Guest Post: A Veteran Sports Reporter Laments the Decline in Access for NW Journalists Today

by Bud Withers

[Bud Withers covered sports for decades in Eugene and Seattle. You’ll find his full bio at the end of this post, including information on his latest book, Mad Hoops. This writing is copyrighted and used by permission of the author.]

The other day, on the anniversary of the New York Jets’ ringing upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in Miami, ESPN showed a familiar video clip of Joe Namath lounging by the pool in the days before the game.

As an old journalist, I was inclined to assimilate that in old-journalist fashion: marveling at the access a TV cameraman had in 1969 to get a loose-and-easy shot of Namath.

When we think of today’s journalism compared to what I knew when I was coming up as a young reporter in 1970s Eugene, the difference is often about access, which is sort of the lifeblood of the business.

 Of course, newspapers had more cachet then. They were a bigger deal. There was no online competition, so, if only by number of outlets, the local paper stood out.

I covered University of Oregon football in those days, and to further our insights into the Ducks, my sports editor and I finagled a weekly lunch session with the UO football staff. Every fall Wednesday at noon, we’d pick up sandwiches and an assistant coach would show us game film, talking candidly – and off-the-record – about players and big-picture strategy. Occasionally, the head coach did it.

 Do you think Chris Petersen, the Washington coach a few years back, would have been party to something like this?

Closed practices? Practice was always open. Even Dick Harter, the Bobby Knight-like taskmaster who coached the Oregon basketball team, allowed media people into practice on the second level of old McArthur Court. In football, it was assumed you wouldn’t write about the double-reverse pass they were practicing, and the matter of practice injuries was something to be negotiated. But practices were open, unfailingly.

I covered the Hall of Fame curmudgeon Ralph Miller when he coached Oregon State basketball. Practice went from 2 to 4 p.m., and on multiple occasions, I was in his office interviewing him at 1:30. Two o’clock would come, 2:02, 2:03, before he’d pull himself away, knowing he hadn’t missed anything.

 Not only in the ‘70s, but for decades later, access remained relatively easy. The University of Washington had football media lunches and afterwards, coaches like Jim Lambright and Rick Neuheisel would routinely hang around, entertaining the one-on-one questions you didn’t want to ask in the group session.

In the 1990s, I worked at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which didn’t have a Sunday paper (anathema to a guy covering Saturday’s college-football game). So I convinced Lambright and the Washington publicist that we needed a Sunday-evening call from the coach to update the day-after view of the game for the Monday-morning paper, simply because we were disadvantaged. It wasn’t Lambright’s favorite thing, and he sometimes missed it, but he usually came through.

We struck deals with coaches. I don’t say that with pride, but we did it. I’d like to think it was mostly because of the paucity of news outlets–and a belief that a greater good was being served–than any shady relationship with the teams we were covering.

One time, an announcement came that a coach’s contract had been extended. I sought reaction, and to my surprise, several players issued a no-comment response. All of them were African American. It couldn’t be coincidence.

It would have been perfectly justifiable simply to report this reaction. But my boss decided that would raise more questions than it answered (I agreed). And it probably would have been a career killer for the coach. So we arranged a meeting with him that night and confronted him with the details. I don’t recall how we finessed writing the story, but it didn’t center on Black aversion to the contract extension. Our stance was that we knew something important that could be of use later – and yes, the coach now owed us one.

The propriety of our approach is debatable, but my point is that today, I don’t think the story unfolds that way. The landscape is too competitive.

Two things have dramatically cut into access, changing journalism forever. First, the camera phone. Everything can now be proven, and anything is subject to revelation, including a team’s secretive switch to a different defense.

Second, the number of news outlets. Fueled by online sites, that number has doubled, tripled and quadrupled the amount of coverage. In my little sports realm, where a coach might once have had a healthy relationship with a veteran beat writer, he’s surrounded today by people he may not know. People with camera phones. It’s the path of least resistance simply to shut it down, so closed practices are now the norm.

You can trace the trend by the evolution of post-game interviews. Once, the locker room was open–a steamy, smelly place that yielded an unvarnished look at the game. Over the years, the locker room gave way to a meeting room or hallway where you could move from player to player. Now, increasingly, players are brought to a podium or interview table and, knowing they’re speaking to everyone, provide sterile responses that reveal little. Naturally, this pleases team management, which sets things up this way to control the message.

We could debate endlessly how much diminished access has hurt journalism. Just know that when you see an exceptional newspaper story or an exemplary piece on TV today, it’s usually in spite of access, not because of it.

Bud Withers wrote for three Northwest dailies during a 45-year career in the newspaper business. A member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame, he has authored five books. The latest, Mad Hoops, on the frenzied seven-year run of University of Oregon basketball’s “Kamikaze Kids,” is available at Amazon and Bookshop.org.

Click here for a Portland Tribune review of Mad Hoops.

Guest Post: Celebrating Ursula K. Le Guin’s Real and Imaginative Connections to a Place Called Portland

by David Naimon, co-author of Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing

[Editor’s note: The following is Naimon’s foreword to a new collection of writings by Portland writers called Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin, edited by Susan DeFreitas and published by Portland-based Forest Avenue Press. In it, he discusses how Le Guin’s science fiction and other imaginative works reflect her experiences of living in the Pacific Northwest. You’ll find more information about Naimon and the book at the end of the post. This writing is copyrighted and used by permission of the author.]

Dispatches from Anarres is a tribute to the vision of Ursula K. Le Guin from writers who either live in or have a strong connection to Portland, Oregon, the city Le Guin called home for sixty of her eighty-eight years. The premise behind this book is not only that Portland shaped Le Guin’s writing but also that writers who live in Portland, who walk the same streets Le Guin once walked, in turn have been shaped by Le Guin, arguably Oregon’s greatest writer.

But are either of these notions, when examined, actually true? Yes, one of Le Guin’s canonical science fiction novels, The Lathe of Heaven, is set in a future Portland, but for the most part her science fiction and fantasy novels are set in imagined other worlds. Should we therefore consider Le Guin’s relationship to Portland in the same way we do Alice Munro’s to southwestern Ontario or Gwendolyn Brooks’s to Bronzeville, Chicago—places these writers’ work seemed to emerge from, be fed by, and grow out of? Le Guin often wrote about the importance of the imagination and put forth a philosophy that, interestingly, did not place the imagination in opposition to the real. Can a book be truly called “realistic” if it does not include the imaginative, given that our imaginative faculties are so central to what makes us human? Or as Ursula put it(more pithily than I ever could): “People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.” And: “Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real. But they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books.” Le Guin was quick to point out that many of our foundational cultural texts, from Beowulf to Don Quixote, from The Odyssey to Hamlet, are in fact fantastical, imaginative works that are also true and real ones.

Outside of science fiction and fantasy, Le Guin did directly engage with “the real world.” Her poetry and nonfiction often explicitly spoke to the geography, culture, and ecology of Oregon and northern California. From a meditation on the street where she lived to poems written from her favorite cabin in the remote Steens Mountain region (where her family briefly homesteaded generations ago), these writings are rooted in the “here” of place. But when it came to her fiction, she said: “I seldom exploit experience directly. I do what the poet Gary Snyder calls ‘composting’—you let everything you do or think or read or feel sink down inside yourself and stay in the dark, and then (years later, maybe) something entirely new grows up out of that rich darkness. This takes patience.”

If everything Le Guin did or thought is part of this composting process—the process that led to the world of Earthsea and the planets of the Hainish cycle—then the metaphor of composting seems not a metaphor at all. Le Guin and the landscape she inhabited, literary and geographic, were inseparable. A founder of Oregon Institute of Literary Arts (the precursor to Portland’s most prominent literary organization, Literary Arts), she also taught writing workshops at Portland State University, at the Malheur Field Station in remote Harney County, Oregon, and at Fishtrap in the Wallowa Mountains. She was an enduring supporter of Portland’s KBOO community radio and of West Coast small presses, from the feminist sci-fi press Aqueduct in Seattle to Tin House in Portland to the anarchist AK Press in Chico, California. She explicitly credits the landscape of the Steens Mountain region of Oregon as an inspiration for The Tombs of Atuan, and that of northern California for Always Coming Home—and one could imagine, standing atop the high point of Orcas Island, Mount Constitution, in northern Washington, overlooking the watery wonderland of that island archipelago, that it too could’ve been a wellspring, if not the wellspring, for the world of Earthsea. Le Guin’s imagination arose from the Cascadia bioregion, and she continued to weave herself from it and back into it again. Her imaginative composting came from and returned to this land, this earth in particular. Taken in this light, Susan DeFreitas’s twinning of Portland and Anarres—not as a reductive one-to-one correspondence, but as a mysterious union of the real and the imaginative—makes sense.

In Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, Anarres, the smaller planet in the double planetary system it shares with Urras, is considered lesser, not a planet at all, but rather a moon, a “rebel moon,” by its larger, wealthier, capitalistic, patriarchal neighbor. Long ago, in order to stop an anarchist rebellion, Urras agreed to allow the revolutionaries to live as they saw fit on Anarres, signing a noninterference pact to that effect. The anarchist society that arose on Anarres considered itself free and independent of the old world largely thanks to this pact.

For the longest time, Portland too was left alone, the forgotten big city on the West Coast. Without the immediately dramatic and stunning settings of San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver, Portland was a quiet inland port, one that lacked the scope of international commerce and cosmopolitan cultural influence of its outward-facing neighbor cities. And it was here, out of the spotlight, far from the hype, that artists and writers and dreamers, attracted by the cheap rent and affordable cost of living, were drawn to reinvent themselves. Whether it was the DIY ethos that developed here, the farm-to-table relationships that supported the local food movement, the family-like network of writers that emerged, or the radical acts of civil disobedience to protect the environment or protest the latest war (so prevalent that the first President Bush called Portland “Little Beirut”), the city emerged in many ways as a rebel moon.

Le Guin believed the notion of home was both imaginary and very real. “Home isn’t where they have to let you in. It’s not a place at all. Home is imaginary. Home, imagined, comes to be,” she said. “It is real, realer than any other place, but you can’t get to it unless your people show you how to imagine it—whoever your people are.” It is easy to imagine that these people—the tree sitters, the DIY artists, the community organizers—were not only inspired by Le Guin’s writing but also showed her how to imagine it. Le Guin was a listener, and a composter of what she heard. She advocated fellow feeling for the nonhuman “other,” for plants, animals, rocks, rivers, and even the tools we have fashioned from what the world has given us.

No wonder the stories of her fellow Portlanders, these dispatches from Anarres, include tales of women coming of age, women coming into their power, of tree-like networks in our brains, of tree-like networks as our brains, of the inquisitive and nostalgic remembrance of humans by ant collectives, and discussions of rebellion among bees. But there are tales that reveal the darker side of Portland as well. There is a reason Le Guin subtitled The Dispossessed “an ambiguous utopia.” Le Guin didn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses. Nor did she see Anarres or Portland this way.

As Jo Walton has pointed out, “Anarres could so easily be irritatingly perfect, but it isn’t. There are droughts and famines, petty bureaucrats and growing centralization of power.” And Portland’s self-regard, its self-mythologizing, its imagining itself into being as a place of self-reinvention, has often been fueled by historical and cultural amnesia. Founded on stolen indigenous land, built on the idea of racial exclusion, many Portlanders live here without a sense of the city’s history of redlining and displacement, of lash laws and internment. And as Portland has entered the spotlight, succumbing to a hype it had avoided for so long, housing prices have skyrocketed, the homeless population has exploded, communities of color have been pushed to its periphery, and Portland’s own utopic mythology has rightfully been called into question.

Samuel Delany suggests that the term “ambiguous utopia” is not meant to apply to Anarres in particular. That the peoples of Urras and Anarres both mistakenly believe they are living in a utopia. That Le Guin is questioning the notion of utopic visions altogether. “It’s only by problematizing the utopian notion,” Delany said, “by rendering its hard, hard perimeters somehow permeable, even undecidable, that you make it yield anything interesting.” This is what Le Guin has done. And under her spell, there are stories here that root the imaginative deeply in place, that suggest that there is no walking away from difficulty to create a happiness “over there.” Here we are, as in so many of Le Guin’s novels, in a place where people are imagining worlds into being that suggest both dystopic and utopic possible futures. Here we are with choices to make. About where to be, how to be, and what to imagine. Welcome to Dispatches from Anarres.

David Naimon is a writer and host of the literary podcast Between the Covers in Portland, Oregon.  He is also co-author, with Ursula K. Le Guin, of Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing (Tin House Books), winner of the 2019 Locus Award in nonfiction and a Hugo Award finalist.  His writing can be found in Orion, AGNI, Boulevard, Black Warrior Review and elsewhere.  It has received a Pushcart prize and been cited in Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing and Best American Mystery & Suspense Stories.

~~~~~

Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin, edited by Susan DeFreitas

Forest Avenue Press, Portland, Oregon

Published: November 2021

366 pages

$18

Contributors: TJ Acena, Kesha Ajọsẹ-Fisher, Stevan Allred, Jason Arias, Stewart C. Baker, Jonah Barrett, Curtis Chen, Tina Connolly, Mo Daviau, Rene Denfeld, Molly Gloss, Rachael K. Jones, Michelle Ruiz Keil, Juhea Kim, Jessie Kwak, Jason LaPier, Fonda Lee, David D. Levine, Gigi Little, Sonia Orin Lyris, Tracy Manaster, James Mapes, C.A. McDonald, David Naimon (foreword), Tim O’Leary, Ben Parzybok, Nicole Rosevear, Arwen Spicer, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Leni Zumas.

Guest Post: The Myth of the “Other World” in Oregon-Set Films

by Michael Schepps

Despite Oregon’s geographic proximity to Hollywood, films shot in the state are a rarity. Rarer still are films actually set in Oregon, films that embrace it as a place unto itself. The singularity of the setting and its place in the American psyche may help account for this paucity. Oregon, and the larger bioregion of the Pacific Northwest, continues to occupy a place apart in the American imagination, ensuring that its presence in narrative ties neatly in with the storytelling motif of the monomyth, or hero’s journey. This trope refers to the quest in which an individual must enter the “other world” in order to achieve a victory before returning, changed, to the world from which they came. This storytelling framework helps account for the enduring popularity of some of Oregon’s most defining films: the adolescent quest narratives of Stand By Me, The Goonies, and Coraline.

 For generations, “The Oregon Trail”—whether as an actual physical track, the beguiling siren for scores of itinerants throughout the 19th century,  or as the setting for a ubiquitous computer game— represented the ultimate terminality, the promised destination at the end of the arduous odyssey. In some atavistic  corner of the American psyche, the Northwest remains a transcendental locale shaped by the journey and the quest when contrasted with the “ordinary world” of the remainder of the country.  On film that division  is even stronger. Much of  the Pacific Northwest is filmically distinct, encompassing ecological and geographical extremes and standing utterly apart. In cinema, Oregon is a fantastical place—the other world— where anything can happen.

In 1986’s Stand By Me, director Rob Reiner replaces the Maine of Stephen King’s original short story with the small town of Brownsville in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The Oregon landscape reflects and enhances the gauzy second-order nostalgia of the post-war pastiche, in which a group of boys encounter the ultimate terminality of death in the form of a rumored cadaver. Quietly moldering pioneer townships and vital, pulsing greenery, with death lurking in the margins, are perfect for inducing an “otherworldly” presence, which helps account for the movie’s enduring popularity. The environment is a strange and threatening place—full of rattling trains on narrow bridges, hungry leeches and murderous bullies—the crucible in which the realized adult is formed. To travel there, in memory or on foot, is a challenge. 

Offering a more fantastical take on a similar adolescent quest narrative, 1985’s Goonies is another beloved classic with lasting influence among those who came of age in the 1980s and 90s. Trading the verdant landscape of the Willamette Valley for the riparian setting of the Oregon Coast and the Columbia River, Goonies has the feel of a 19th century “boy’s own” adventure transplanted to the gently decaying rot of Reagen-era Astoria. 

The propulsive script is fully immersed in the tropes of the monomyth. In it, a group of children–the titular Goonies– undertake a collective quest to find a pirate’s treasure, dodging obstacles in the form of murderous gangsters and elaborate booby-traps, in the hopes of saving their neighborhood from development. The “otherworldliness” of its ordinary setting is established in the opening scene, with a high-speed car chase sweeping through Astoria and ending near the remarkable seaside monolith of Haystack Rock. Long before the Goonies embark on their own journey into the fantastical, the viewer is transported to the numinous landscape of the Northwest itself.

A more recent addition to the canon of coming-of-age narratives set in Oregon, Laika’s 2009 hit Coraline takes the uncanny possibilities of the region to the extreme. The protagonist, the eponymous Coraline, begins the story newly transplanted from Michigan to the damp surreality of Ashland, Oregon. It is a grim and sodden place, inhabited by eccentrics and semi-neglected children, where the ignored Coraline soon discovers a mysterious portal to a literal “other world” in the form of a sinister mirror to her own.

Here the usage of the hero’s journey is explicit, with the “other world” a defined location and named as such.  Coraline’s journey to, and subsequent flight from, this other world helps define her presence in the ordinary world, the exoticism of the Ashland setting made pedestrian in contrast to the baleful other. 

As a new cohort of artists and filmmakers arises in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon’s potential as a narrative setting remains large and largely unexplored. The success of Travel Oregon’s recent Only Slightly Exaggerated” campaign, with its surreal  Miyazaki-inspired depiction of the state, points to the ways the state remains distinct; with a setting that can accept, challenge  and strengthen whatever narrative it encounters.

[Editor’s note: A more recent addition to the kind of Oregon cinema Schepps explores here is “Leave No Trace,” based on the novel My Abandonment by Portland writer Peter Rock.]

Michael Schepps lives in Portland, Oregon where he is an editor for Kithe Journal, a publisher with Korza Books and a writer at large. In his free time he juggles, hikes and takes photographs of birds. For more of his work, go to MLSchepps.com and look for his debut novella Split Aces, to be released on January 22, 2022. 

Guest Post: “Oregon, My Oregon” Exhibit at Portland’s Central Library Gives Expansive View of How Writers, Artists, and Others Have Depicted the State Throughout Its History

by Jim Carmin (John Wilson Special Collections Librarian, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR, jimc@multcolib.org)

Mr. Otis painting, image courtesy of Jim Carmin

When, in October, I was asked, at the last minute, to install an exhibition at the Central Library, my eyes closed and my mind raced as I wondered how I’d approach this new challenge. Then, when I opened my eyes, I saw a Mr. Otis painting sitting atop a shelf in the special collections and it all came together.

It’s not surprising that our collection represents much of what Oregon has been and is, as our library is only five years younger than the state itself. Built by the generosity of this community, past and present, our special collections holdings reflect the economic and social history, the art, the writing, and the natural history of our great state.

  • “Oregon, My Oregon” from the John Wilson Special Collections
  • November 13, 2021 – January 24, 2022
  • 10-6 M, W-Sat., 10-5 Sun., 12-8 T
  • Collins Gallery, 3rd Floor
  • Central Library, Multnomah County Library
  • 801 SW 10th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 

On view in the new exhibition are large maps of Portland neighborhoods, including Sellwood and Mt. Tabor Heights, produced just before the turn of the 20th century to induce home buyers to move to these “most desirable” new neighborhoods. Another case features a plan of Vanport, Oregon’s second most populous city in the 1940s, built quickly to house shipyard workers during World War II. Also on exhibit are photographs of the aftermath of the terrible flood that destroyed Vanport in 1948, displacing thousands, including Black workers who were suddenly homeless in Portland; there is also the only copy of a report written to determine why the calamity occurred.

Oregon has a harsh history of treating its people of color poorly and stark evidence of that is on exhibit, including the original 1849 Oregon Territory Statute excluding Black people from moving into or living in the state. In the same case is Masks Off! Confessions of an Imperial Klansman from 1925, exposing Oregon politicians’ affinity with this terrible hate group. Oregon’s Indigenous people also suffered mightily. On display is a map showing ancestral locations of various tribes in, ironically, an 1875 publication meant to encourage white settlement in the state, as well as photographs of the Indian Training School in Forest Grove from the early 1880s showing young men and women, calling them “new recruits” despite being forcefully brought here.

There are numerous 19th-photographs of Portland including a well-known three-panel large panorama by Carleton Watkins from 1867 given to library by Matthew Deady; there are also several new acquisitions purchased (with funds from The Library Foundation) during the current pandemic, including a two-part photo from 1884 of Portland school children that shows the rare presence of three Black children; and a spectacular photo album containing almost 300 images around the turn of the 20th century, open to a two-page spread of Portland firehouses and firefighters.

A small number of Oregon’s many writers are represented here, including Ken Kesey (his seminal Oregon novel Sometimes a Great Notion; and an original drawing by former Oregonian editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman of Kesey’s obituary); Elizabeth Woody (her first book of poems and an early manuscript of a short story, with corrections); Beverly Cleary (born in McMinnville; Henry Huggins is here along with a map of his northeast Portland neighborhood); Ursula K. LeGuin (a signed broadside of a poem written for Oregon’s Calyx Journal, one of the first journals ever that celebrated women writers and artists); Edwin Markham (Oregon’s first Poet Laureate most well known for “The Man with the Hoe” from 1898); Kim Stafford (a broadside he wrote for former Governor John Kitzhaber and a poem he wrote in Spirit Land, a fine press book with beautiful color lino prints by Oregon artist Peggy Prentice of Eugene); and Barry Lopez, represented here with his provocative essay Apologia about his empathy to roadkill while driving from Oregon to Indiana, and a moving printed plan of his McKenzie River property showing where the late National Book Award winner found cougar tracks, and where he planted trees–all the more poignant now after most of this land was devastated by a wildfire in 2020, just a few months before he died on Christmas day.

drawing of Barry Lopez property, image courtesy of Jim Carmin

Other prominent Oregonians appearing in the exhibition include the aforementioned Mr. Otis (and coincidentally, Stewart Holbrook); Laverne Krause; George Flanders; Henry W. Corbett; John Wilson; Paulann Petersen; David Sohappy, Sr.; and George Johanson. Natural Oregon is here too with unusual views of Mr. Hood glaciers; of early Oregon logging camps; and 33 reels of three-dimensional mushrooms, along with the Viewmaster device in which to see them. And of course there’s more, including our newly revised state song, “Oregon, My Oregon,” so take a look and let me know if you have any questions or comments.