Fun Fact #68 Why did St. Johns Seceded from Portland in 1893?

Fun Fact #68 Why did St. Johns Seceded from Portland in 1893?

Fun Fact #68 Why did St. Johns Seceded from Portland in 1893?

Above image c. 1908 A panorama view from a scrapbook of Chief B.F. Dowell’s Scrapbook 4 held by the City of Portland Archives and records center shows the waterfront at St. Johns. Among the businesses pointed out in the picture are: Woolen Mills, Flour Mill, George W. Cone Lumber Company, ST Johns Lumber Company, Shipbuilding Plant, Veneer and Basket Factory, Excelsior Mill and the Dry dock.

St. Johns seceded from Portland in 1893 because of a combination of higher taxes and unsatisfactory municipal services. The St. Johns-Portland love-hate relationship ramped up in 1891. In February of that year, the unincorporated area of St Johns was annexed by the City of Albina. (The City of Albina had been incorporated in 1887.) In a matter of months, on July 6, 1891, Portland, East Portland, and Albina were consolidated into one city. The relationship “failed” and St. Johns seceded from the City of Portland in 1898 with permission of the Oregon Legislature. And then, on February 19, 1903. St. Johns was incorporated as a city. St. Johns did not have tax base an access to clean drinking water to operate as an independent city. A majority of residents voted for the merger; St. Johns rejoined Portland in 1915. The St. Johns affirmative vote to remerge with occurred in unison with its neighbor across the river, Linnton. The voters approved annexations to Portland, increased the land area Portland’s by twenty-five percent.  Once again St Johns expected to benefit from improvements in municipal services by joining Portland proved to be a disappointment. Portland’s increase tax receipts St. Johns businesses residents did not initially enhance the quality of life in St. Johns.

Merger Ballot (There were two layers of the vote- St. Johns residents voted first. This is merger ballot is phase two for Portlanders to vote to expand the city note that the vote tally is in pencil YES 29,957 NO 5160)

During the first year after incorporation, St. Johns residents continued to pay high prices for well water when they had been enticed to merge with the promised use of the Bull Run watershed.  These requirements over inequitable access to the services within the City of Portland continue to be a source for discontent for some St Johns community members.


New Paper Article
For Portland according to The Oregon Daily Journal., April 07, 1915, Page 6, Image 6 the relationship with St. Johns was destiny.


Fun Fact #67 What animal marched next to two dump trucks during the dedication of the St. Johns Bridge in 1931?

Fun Fact #67  What animal marched next to two dump trucks during the dedication of the St. Johns Bridge in 1931?

What animal marched next to two dump trucks during the dedication of the St. Johns Bridge in 1931?

Answer: An Elephant 

AL G Barnes Circus poster for Tusko
Image from article:
Prior to 1921 Tusko was known as Ned. M. L. Clark Broadside.
St Johns Bridge with cars a floats covered with flowers driving in one lane people standing on both sides of suspension bridge.
Courtesy Norm Gholston

Tusko, a male asian elephant, lived a horrible life in the United States.  Born in Siam (Thailand) in 1892 this male Asian Elephant was ship to New York City at the age of six. The elephant performed under the name Ned until he was resold in 1921; renamed Tusko because of his 7 foot long tusks. By that time Tusko was 10’2″ tall and considered to be the “meanest” and possibly the largest performing circus elephant in the US. Tusko had escaped a circus in 1922 causing $20,000s worth of damage over a distance of 30 miles. In 1931 Tusko was sold to the owner of the Lotus Isle, Portland’s largest and shortest lived amusement park built on Hayden Island in 1930. The publicist billed the elephant as “Tusko the Magnificent”.  Disaster struck on March 23, 1931 when a plane crash at Lotus Isle into the artificial mountain of the Scenic Railway scaring Tusko and sending him on a rampage of destruction.  It boggles the mind that three months later Tusko would be forced to join the dedication for the St. Johns Bridge on Saturday June 13, 1931.  He was chained in front and back to dump trucks owned by Wentworth & Irwin.  Lotus Isle was not able to recover from the damage and closed in the winter on 1932.

Courtesy Salem Public Library Historic Photo Collection.

Life only went down hill for Tusko when his owner abandoned him at the Oregon State Fair in 1931 where he had been exhibited chained to a flatbed trailer.  His final living years were spent at the Seattle Zoo where he died of a blood clot because the Zoo did not provide the space he needed to amble. 

According to an August 25, 2017 story in the Statesmen Journal  his bones traveled “as a sideshow act for about 15 years before being donated in December 1954 to the University of Oregon Museum of Natural History.”

Two elephants a man a horse a man and a camel
Elephants Ned and Mena with their trainer in 1921 part of the M.L. Clark Circus. Courtesy Alexandria Tpwn Talk Jan 24, 2022.

Fun Fact #65 When did Oregon go dry?

Ad for Gambrinus Brewery, only one of the pitured buildings still stands NW of 23rd and Burnside
Image of a five story apartment building. Low quality B&W image from a newspaper.
Courtesy: The Oregon Daily Journal, Jul 30, 1911 p. 14. This building during Prohibition would house an elaborate Speakeasy operation in Nob Hill.

Answer: Oregon prohibited liquor 1916.  Three years after Oregon went dry the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.  It prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors…”.  Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933, with the ratification of the 21st Amendment.  One of the last places that continued our state’s temperance tradition was Monmouth, Oregon, which stayed dry until 2002.

Fun Fact #64 How much did 2247 NW Kearney rent for in the 1970s?

Cover of newspaper, with Kearney St House
Cover of newspaper, with Kearney St House
Link to the cover story “No Portland Homes for Rent Only Apartments.”

This 1909 single family home off of NW23rd on the edge between Nob Hill & Slabtown is 2,472 square feet and rented for $65/month in the 1970s.  Image on left appeared on the cover of a marketing newspaper in my St. Johns mailbox. I remain curious why of all the houses the real estate agent could have picked from in Portland that his team selected this particular house, and an unflattering image of the home to boot. Large homes like this with one or two bathrooms often rented to a dozen individuals 50 years ago. The rent figure was shared with me by Mike Ryerson rented this home house for many years starting at $65/month.

Mike Ryerson using his umbrella as a pointer,  Tanya and three tour guests are also pictured mid-walking tour
Mike Ryerson & his sidekick Tanya March leading a tour in 2013.

Mike Ryerson co-designed the tour route and often included buildings he had lived in to enrich tour content. Back in the 1970s hippies lived in many of the large homes many still struggled to pay the rent.  The rent for 2247 Kearney was $65/month for the entire house; Mike sublet rooms in the home to nurses for $50/month which covered his share of the rent. Mike thought it a tragedy when his wife put an end to that income steam.  $65 in 1970 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $496.40 today.  Zillow estimates that if this house were for rent the cost would be $4,663/month.  Because families had all migrated to the suburbs.

Fun Fact #63 Which Nob Hill celebrity chef’s cooking was used to entice 1,000s of workers to move west during WWII?

color image of restaurant on 23rd c. 1960

Fun Fact #63: Which Nob Hill celebrity chef’s cooking was used to entice 1,000s of workers to move west during WWII? Answer: Henry Thiele’s cooking was used as an enticement for men from Vermont to Texas to move west to work in Henry Kaiser’s shipyards.

Image from 1937 Corner of Burnside & 23rd
Henry Thiele’s Restaurant 1937 on the Corner of Burnside & 23rd Courtesy Norm Gholston

Sideview of Henry Thiele

Left: Chef Henry Thiele instructing hotel workers’ class at Girls; Polytechnic “Training Women Hotel Cooks to earn wage paid men” The Oregon Daily Journal, Apr 14, 1918 · Page 13. Even in WWI he was trying to help with labor shortages.

Henry Thiele was hired during WWII to cook for 1,000 of new workers arriving in the Pacific NW. A 3,900-room dream dormitory “Hudson House” awaits you in Vancouver.  “Chef of the huge dining rooms, which can serve 1,200 meals at one time is Henry Thiele, long famous in Portland for his cuisine and in younger days a student of European cookline.”  I stumbled upon David W. Eyre’s 1942 article for the Newspaper Enterprise Association syndication in a half dozen newspapers; knowing that those dormitories were built first and that workers were being promised that housing like Vanport was being constructed and would be ready in 90 days.  The Hudson House Theater was identical to the Vanport Theater—I’ve been trying to find blueprints or as-builts.

Newspaper headline "Dream Dormitory" Houses Henry Kaiser's Workers
San Angelo Standard-Times (San Angelo, Texas) · 6 Oct 1942 · p 6

Henry Thiele was the chief steward on the Benson Hotel when it opened in 1913. His talents established the standard of excellence. During WWI he had trained matrons at Girl’s Poly to cook for hotels during labor shortages; he also talked about the need to reduce food waste and how to cook on a budget.  Henry Thiele’s Restaurant, 2315 NW Westover Road, opened in 1932.  The stucco building pictured below had table service for 150 diners and had ample free parking for 100 cars.

color image of restaurant on 23rd c. 1960
Image Courtesy Norman Gholston. This Building is no longer standing.

According to historian Richard Engeman, “Thiele’s social connections conferred celebrity chef status on him from the 1920s until his death in 1952.”  From the 1959 menu: “We are not the glamorous-type restaurant, but solid, family-eating place and over the years have built our reputation on word-of-mouth advertising.” They made their own dill pickles in the basement on the corner of Burnside and NW 23rd and in the early days had their own butcher in the basement.  The restaurant operated until 1990.

Fun Fact #62: Was the Hotel Repose built for the 1905 Fair?

Half demolished three story wood frame building
This image posted inside Tavern and Pool taken in 1924 outside the Bodner family tailor shop courtesy George Bodner via Mike Ryerson. It is a rare image of Besaw’s in the background with the second floor intact.

The Hotel Repose, a working-man’s lodging, stood on NW 23rd and Savier from 1912 until 1968. The Bodner family moved into the building in 1915 and ran a tailoring shop on the first floor of the hotel. George Bodner was interviewed by Sylvia Frankel June 26, 2007, he had this to say about his home and neighborhood: 

At that time it was a very nice – not first class – but a nice, family neighborhood. On that corner of Savier and NW 23rd, across from Besaws, there was a new hotel called the Hotel Repose. And along 23rd Avenue , there were stores. There was a grocery next door and a hardware on the other…We lived in back of the shop. He had a good-sized tailor shop there. And in the back was a roomy apartment. And back of that we had a backyard with chickens. My father bought the shop. He came out in 1914 and he bought the shop about 1915. We were there until 1925.

 Link to Full Oregon Jewish Museum  Interview

The Hotel Repose was still new on the block when the Bodner’s arrived in 1914. In the building’s last years after the Hotel Repose closed was occupied by the Wizard of Odds furniture store on the first floor frontage at 1629 NW 23rd, a lawn mower repair shop on the side and a Chinese gambling hall was tucked in the rear of the structure. 

Half demolished three story wood frame building
Image Courtsey The Oregonian. September 20, 1968 p 32.

Despite the Sanborn footprint evidence that there was no hotel at the site in 1905, rumors persist that the hotel was built for the Lewis & Clark Exposition, or that it was a building moved in 1904 from a site cleared for the Exposition. As it turns out there was a bit of truth to all three of these narratives. This history detective believes that the Hotel Repose was a repurposed section of the North Portland Hotel built in 1905 at the foot of NW 22nd. A significant segment possibly half of the  of the North Portland Hotel, was moved seven blocks from the corner of Guild’s Avenue and Suffolk, and  transformed into the Hotel Repose. That also explains in part why the new building in 1912 appears to be an out of date design. The Oregon Journal reported on that relocation while covering the destruction of the quaintly named desolate structure. Davis Industrial Products had the building demolished to create an employee parking lot.  

1910 Federal Census

The North Portland Hotel in 1909 proprietor J.S. Bruck was charging $1/week for furnished rooms, hot and cold water and bath. Most of the residents worked for the neighboring saw mills, a few for the iron works rolling mill of the Pacific Steel & Hardware Company, the streetcar, an odd farmer, miner and sailor for good measure.  The Federal Census of 1910 lists over 105 boarders in the 89 rooms at the North Portland Hotel at 734 Suffolk Street. There was a Saloon in the hotel operated by J. E Brink.  Adolph Wildman purchased the 3-story hotel in 1909 for $25,000 from the J. M. Wright Estate. The hotel and saloon were offered up for sale again on Christmas in 1910. The last historic record of the North Portland Hotel was in the 1912 Polk directory listing the property manager as the widow Mrs. Charlotte Borglund.

Fun Fact #61 How old is the oldest original functioning flushing toilet in Slabtown?

Fun Fact #61 How old is the oldest original functioning flushing toilet in Slabtown?

How old is the oldest original functioning flushing toilet in Slabtown? 133 years old

Toilet, the Toilet Seat is Wood and the tank is about 6 feet up and is also wood.
This toilet is 133 years old and is fully functional. It is in its original home built in 1889. The tank was found under the porch and re-installed. The bowl is a Thomas Crapper style. The water flushes from the rear and empties in front into the trap.
Telling guess to use the facilities prior to arriving for a walking tour has been more challenging than any mask mandates, tour capacity limits, and reduced hours of operation rules during these challenging times. With all this potty stress, I distracted myself by looking into the history of the flushing toilet. Sir John Harrington, godson of Elizabeth is credit for inventing the flushing toilet in 1592. There was not a patent for the water closet until 1775. In the 1930s The Work Projects Administration built two million outhouses across the United States. Many homes built in the 1880s and 1890s in East Portland were built with outhouses, sample. I have learned more about Portland’s historic toilets at Hippo Hardware than you could ever learn online.
I had to look up Thomas Crapper and Co..  they were established in 1861 and operated just over 100 years. This British company was revived in 2010 and produces authentic reproductions of Crapper’s original Victorian bathroom fittings for sale. Thomas Crapper (b. 1836-d.1910) held nine patents. He improved the S-bend plumbing trap in 1880 by inventing the U-bend. Sadly, his name is not the origin of the word “crap”.

Fun Fact #60 How much was a pack of regular cigarettes in 1959? (or for that matter a walking tour in 1906?)

A dozen women with tobacco pipes in their mouths holding up a banner that says St Patrick and has a harp on it. Very silly poses but not a candid image.

Fun Fact #60 How much was a pack of regular cigarettes in 1959? (or for that matter a walking tour in 1906?)

Clyde Besaw at the bar in front of register.  Sign states cigarettes regular are 20 cents King Size are 23 cents filter tip are 25 cents
Clyde Besaw 1959 dressed for the 100th birthday of Oregon’s State Hood. Image courtesy Mike Ryerson. (Developed in April but possibly taken on 2-14-1959)

Clyde Besaw was selling regular cigarettes from Besaw’s Cafe on NW 23rd for 20 cents a pack. After Prohibition was repealed, Besaws was granted the first liquor license in the state of Oregon. Bars and smoking went hand in hand until public health awareness.  On occasion  find images of people pretending to smoke in old pictures. Bob Hilger a former resident of Guild’s Lake Housing Authority of Portland wartime housing wanted to make sure that his children and other descendants were aware that he was only faking smoking in this image taken at their home with Forrest Park in the background.  I was not alive to meet these lovely women of St. Patricks church but I assume they would be making the same request.

St. Patrick Church women courtesy Norman Gholston

Bob Hilger and his father at their home in Guild’s Lack c. 1944 Courtesy Bob Hilger

Oregon Journal Ad. "See Chinatown"
“See Chinatown” Oregon Journal January 25, 1906 page 3.

Walking tours also have also increased in price:

Seid Beck (sometimes spelled Back) was a merchant and labor broker in Portland. His son led walking tours of Chinatown. “Chinatown…is in the very heart of the city.”-Seid Back, Jr.,  A Trip Through Chinatown in Portland souvenir book and guided food tour sold for 75 cents.  His tours appealed to a popular desire to extend touristic travel beyond the fairgrounds where our Slabtown Tours take you today.

Fun Fact #59 Roses are not always because we are the City of Roses.

Image taken by author December 2020.

The rose wrapping that popped up on the building at 315 NW 23rd honors Rose’s Restaurant, a business started at this location by Rose Garbow Naftalin in 1956.  Rose’s was a popular place for significant events and good memories. Wedding proposals like that of Sen. Mark Hatfield were not uncommon.

Rose listed the business for sale in 1967, selling to Max Birnbach and Ivan Runge in May 1968.  The men had started out at the Benson Hotel, where Max had been the catering manager & Ivan had been the executive chef.  They were still listed as owning the restaurant in 1982.  Max Birnbach was true to Rose’s legacy and was smart to keep the quality the same (some say even better).  Reporter Joan Johnson interviewed Max Birnbach for The Neighbor in  January 1985  “Birnbach, who was born in Vienna of Jewish parents, was in his early 20s when he was put in a concentration camp…He managed to escape and fled with his brother to Switzerland where they were interned in a labor camp.” His parents died in Auschwitz. Max was assigned to the kitchens in the labor camp. He attended a hotel restaurant school in Zurich after the war.

The original location on NW 23rd shuttered in 1993.  The building was remodeled in 1994 for Restoration Hardware.  Rose’s Restaurant was revived in 2001 by Dick Werth and Jeff Jetton and opened its doors on NW 23rd & Kearny (currently the location of Bamboo Sushi).  According to Business Journal’s Wendy Culverwell (12/4/2005) “Though [Werth] dreamed of reviving Rose’s at its original location, the vision foundered.”

Rose learned to cook from classes by mail.  Inquiring minds want to know—did her teacher get to taste her cooking?

Rose from Cook Book Cover.

Rose Garbow Naftalin was less than 5 feet tall and 100 pounds soaking wet.  She was born in today’s Ukraine on March 18, 1898.  She moved to Chicago with her family at age five.  At 19 she married Mandel Naftalin, an accountant who loved good food.  She had no training in the kitchen and she wanted to please her husband.  She was tenacious; she took correspondence courses in cooking and read cookbooks and asked friends for culinary advice.  During the Great Depression Mandel lost his job and he was confident that her amazing cooking could support the family.  They bought a deli together in Toledo, Ohio.  She cooked food in their home and they took turns running the shop so that one of them could always be home with their two children.  After he died in 1939, she ran the deli alone.


Rose moved to Portland in 1955 to be near her family and opened Rose’s Restaurant on NW 23rd the next year.  Her old-school Viennese pastries and New York-style deli kosher deli mainstays developed a following.  She was known not only for her amazing quality and generous portions but for a generosity of spirit—baking 7-layer cakes for community members as gifts on their birthdays.  She retired in 1967.

Customers remember fondly the authentic Reubens, matzoh ball soup, and famous giant cinnamon rolls.  What customers may have forgotten was that the lounge, not the restaurant, covered the expenses.  Rose told the Oregon Journal (10/25/78) that the cocktails at the lounge “pulled me out of the red many a month”—that was the best end of the business.

Oregonian clipping from Find a Grave.

She did not slow down in retirement.  She wrote two cookbooks that promoted what was now a chain of restaurants.  She wrote her first cookbook, Grandma Rose’s Book of Sinfully Delicious Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Cheese Cakes, Cake Rolls & Pastries, in 1975.  Published by Random House, it sold more than 150,000 copies in 12 printings.  She followed that in 1978 with Grandma Rose’s Book of Sinfully Delicious Snacks, Nibbles, Noshes & Other Delights.  Rose’s recipes were indeed sinfully delicious.


The cookbooks were a way to heal the relationship with her daughter-in-law after the death of Rose’s grandson.  Their unique home-spun presentation of recipes and photographs contributed to their success.  The 1978 cookbook became the third most popular cookbook that year, behind those by Julia Child and James Beard.  The woman who learned to cook by mail, whose restaurant at 315 N.W. 23rd Ave., became one of the earliest hangouts for fine food in Northwest Portland, was now one of the nation’s leading cookbook authors.  She filled her retirement years traveling the country in signing books and giving cooking demonstrations.  Beloved for her community spirit, she died at age 100 on April 16, 1998.

Her advice to readers: keep split vanilla beans in the sugar and always use real butter because quality ingredients are the key to baking.