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 After Prohibition was repealed, Besaws was granted the first liquor license in the state of Oregon.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.

Fun Fact # 58 Which Slabtown building has the tallest fire escape?

Fire Escape White painted (most fore escapes in Portland are left cast iron black) lots of sun light so glare and sharp shadows.

Which Slabtown building has the tallest fire escape?

Answer: Montgomery Park has the tallest series of fire escapes and possibly the most banks of fire escapes in Slabtown.

Two banks of fire escapes on the north facade. Courtesy Unico Properties purchased building in 2019 from Bill Natio Comp.

Currently, this building is the second largest office building in Portland.  Montgomery Ward & Company building was a department store and warehouse distribution center in operation from 1920-1985.

Postcard c. 1920 showing the Portland Montgomery Ward & Co. building. There were similar buildings in Oakland, Chicago, Baltimore, Kansas City, St. Pauls, and Fort Worth.

Close up of a fire escape on the south facade.

Cropped in image from the historic marker in front of the fountain on the west side of the building. The building is under construction yet you can clearly make out a train locomotive peeking out of the building (c.1920)

I use to think historic postcards that are bereft of the fire escapes were pulling my leg when they depicted a train with smokestack billowing entering the structure.  In fact trains were able to deliver directly to basement. The building housed a postoffice for many years.

Fire escape used in Drug Store Cowboy:

The Irving Street Apartments’ (now “The Irving”) the fire escape was featured in Drugstore Cowboy (1989) American crime drama film directed Portland film maker Gus Van Sant.Link to all PDX Location in the film. Image MLS Listing
Fire escapes are not protected in Oregon, even when they were included in the original architectural drawings and are attached to designated landmark buildings, and like curb guards they are fading away. During Covid-19 you might be looking for something new to watch why not pick a movie that features a fire escape?
The Irving Street Apartments’ (now “The Irving”) the fire escape was featured in Drugstore Cowboy (1989) American crime drama film directed Portland film maker Gus Van Sant.Link to all PDX Location in the film. Image MLS Listing

Fun Fact #57 What is the oldest retail business in Northwest Portland?

Display cases inside Chown Hardware Co. There are guns under the glass in the case on the right. Possibly fishing reels or maybe door knobs in the case on the left. Display of riffles in the background. In the foreground boot and rain gear.
Chown Hardware Exterior C. 1900 Courtesy Chown Hardware Pinterest Page

The oldest retail business in Northwest Portland is Chown Hardware dating back to 1879.  Still a family owned business that has evolved to meet the community needs.

Northwest’s Legacy Businesses

1875 Good Samaritan Hospital

1879 Chown Hardware

1885 Fruit & Flower

1903 Besaw’s (Not in Continuous Operation)

1926 Friendly House

1941 Joe’s Cellar

1944 Ring Side

1958 Radio Cab (founded in 1946, moved to headquarters on NW Kearney)

1962 Cinema 21 (Theater operations in space since 1926)

1965 William Temple House

1973 Food Front Co-op

1975 Kitchen Kaboodle

1978 Inn at Northrup Station (Carriage Inn)

1979 Twist, Child’s Play (Mud Puddle Toys founded 1987 merge 2017)

1980 Elephant’s Deli

1983 Jim & Patty’s (Coffee People), Papa Hayden, Escape From NY Pizza

1984 Tavern & Pool (McMenamins)

1985 Kornblatt’s NY Style Deli, Dazzle

1986 Nob Hill Bar and Grill (Nobby’s), NW Examiner

1989 Anna Bannana’s

1993 West Coast Bento

1994 The Marathon Tavern

1996 Coffee Time, Istanbul Rug Bazaar

1998 NW International Hostel

1997 Kelsall Chiropractic

2000 Vivace, Le Happy Creperia & Bar, Baue Thai, August Moon

2001 Ken’s Artisan Bakery, Yurs

2005 Dragonfly Coffee House

(Pending 21st Grill, Marrakesh, Nob Hill Shoe Repair, Ling Garden, Uptown Barber Shop, Delphinos/Serrotto)

May Day Fun Fact 56 What was Bloody Wednesday?

May Day Fun Fact 56 What was Bloody Wednesday?

Striking longshore workers occupy the railroad tracks near Pier Park and N. Columbia Blvd. courtesy of City of Portland Archives & Records A2004-002.9377,

What was Bloody Wednesday?

Bloody Wednesday on July 11, 1934 was a victory for the ILWU, in the effort to gain Union recognition.  The great West Coast Maritime Strike of 1934 left its mark in the trees of Pier Park.  Police shot at strikers blocking the train tracks leading to Terminal 4 in St. Johns,   Chief of Police B. K Lawson had been instructed to break the picket line. Four strikers Elmus W. Beatty, Peter Stephenson, Bert Yates and W. Huntington and many trees were shot by Portland Police.  “Police said not more than thirty-five shots were fired while strikers said several hundred were fired. Police Captain Fred West said a shot rang out in the woods of Pier park and men in brush and behind trees started a a rock bombardment. ‘I do not think anyone gave instructions to “fire” but the police considered themselves in danger.” (The Statesman Journal, July 12, 1934 pp 1,2).  The picket line held.

Fun Fact # 55 Marge Davenport, a staff writer for the Oregon Journal and author of several short story collections, wrote about many amazing dogs. Which dog from her books was the star of a silent film produced in Portland?

Fun Fact # 55 Marge Davenport, a staff writer for the Oregon Journal and author of several short story collections, wrote about many amazing dogs.  Which dog from her books was the star of a silent film produced in Portland?

Fun fact #55: Marge Davenport, a staff writer for the Oregon Journal and author of several short story collections, wrote about many amazing dogs. Which dog from her books was the star of a silent film produced in Portland?

Bobbie at The Reo restaurant at South Water St., Silverton.
Courtesy Vades Crockett, Silverton

The Brazier family of Silverton, Oregon—Frank, Elizabeth, Leona, and Nova—were the owners of Bobbie, a Scotch-collie dog was born in 1921. In 1923, when the Braziers were visiting relatives in Wolcott, Indiana, two-year-old Bobbie was attacked by three other dogs and fled. The Braziers searched for him around Wolcott, but eventually gave    up and returned home.



Where did the 3,000-mile journey of Bobbie the Wonder dog take him?

Oregonian (published as The Sunday Oregonian.) February 24, 1924 page 12



What made Bobbie so famous is that he travelled 3,000 miles to get home. Six months after going missing, “wonder dog” Bobbie came home, breaking the bedroom window to greet his master. Witnesses claimed Bobbie’s six-month, 3,000-mile journey started with him walking in ever-widening circles. Bobbie met lots of people on the way home to Silverton—one boy was nice enough to take Bobbie in and restore him to health. Bobbie then escaped and headed west and down the Gorge into Portland. Going south from there, Bobbie finally got back to Silverton.

The Call of the West featuring The wonder Dog “Bobbie” 1924 35mm nitrate film

A group of Portlanders made a silent film called “The Call of the West” , presented by the Columbia Feature Film Syndicate and featuring the actual Wonder Dog “Bobbie”. The film was directed by E. N. Camp, the scenario and title were by S. E. Chambers, and it was photographed by F. C. Heaton and Fred St John. The movie takes place before the family left for Wolcott, Indiana, presenting a fictional story using Bobbie the collie as the star. The plot begins with the dog being taken and driven off by a truck. Then the boy the dog belongs to in the movie gets help because he cannot drive to rescue his dog. He gets Bobbie back. He tries to convince a baseball team called the Tigers to let him be the team’s manager but a boy on the team said he has to pay for the team (or, as the boy puts, it “produce the coin”). He sells his dog to get the money for the baseball team but he steals Bobbie back from the man he sold Bobbie to. Link to watch the Movie. Link to Silverton Road Trip (since like me you’re stuck home out of school and can’t road trip right now. News story about Bobbie’s legacy).

Author of this Fun Fact was Berkeley Sherman’s Guest Author Age 12.  My son will be excited when school reopens.

Serious Fact #55.5 How Many Portlanders Died of the Spanish Influenza?

Serious Fact #55.5 How Many Portlanders Died of the Spanish Influenza?

Spanish Flu in Portland. October 10, 1918 to January 26, 1919, Portland had 16,633 reported cases of the Spanish Flu and 1,170 deaths. Former classmate and fellow PhD Andree Tremoulet assisted me with this graphic.

Today’s national news references to the 1918–1919 Spanish Influenza pandemic have focused on the contrasting experience of two cities—Philadelphia and St. Louis. In the face of the pandemic in September 1918, Philadelphia held a parade; over the next six months 16,000 residents died. St. Louis canceled its parade; its death toll was only 700. I wanted to learn more about Portland during the Spanish Flu—in particular how many people died in the 1918–1919 flu season? My article on the local quarantine history of that era will appear in the April issue of the NW Examiner. Until I can once again lead walking tours, I will continue to be a Portland history detective!

The answer: From October 10, 1918 to January 26, 1919, Portland had 16,633 reported cases of the Spanish Flu and 1,170 deaths (at that time Portland’s population was around 250,000). I spent weeks looking for daily reports of deaths in the local papers. Even when I found a hand-drawn chart prepared under the direction of Dr. A. C. Seely—which tabulated daily cases as reported to the city health bureau, the state board, and the consolidated health board for city and county—there was no summary data. I had to input Seely’s figures into Excel to show the answer.

City Comparison:

Nurse wearing a mask as protection against influenza. September 13, 1918. In October of 1918, Congress approved a $1 million budget for the U. S. Public Health Service to recruit 1000 medical doctors and over 700 registered nurses. Nurses were scarce, as their proximity to and interaction with the disease increased the risk of death. Record held at: National Archives at College Park, MD. Record number 165-WW-269B-5.

In February 1919, the Oregon Journal reported on deaths in various cities, but omitted a figure for Portland—so I added it back in. (The lack of record in the press is similar to my challenges years ago when looking for information on the smallpox cemetery. Out-of-state news press had more information on Portland than did our local press, which historically had wanted to boost Portland’s image and downplay the negative news.)

City-by city death toll as reported in the Oregon Journal 2/12/19 (with Portland’s figure included):

  • 18,590 Philadelphia
  • 14,563 New York
  • 7,584 Chicago
  • 3,165 San Francisco
  • 2,611 Los Angeles
  • 1,401 Kansas City
  • 1,170 Portland
  • 143 Louisville
  • 94 Grand Rapids
  • 59 Atlanta
  • 81,427 deaths in US

Links to great resources for further study: National Archives “The Deadly Virus”

A link to Portland on the Influenza Archive which uses a great methodology to determine the rate of death in 50 large US cities produced by Influenza Encyclopedia University of Michigan Library with funding from the CDC.  Their findings for Portland are higher than mine and worth exploration.

Fun Fact #54: Which Slabtown grade school student became the invisible Dodger?

Guild's Lake Jr. Fire squad at University Park. Five young Black youths aiming a fire hose.
At the front of the hose, from left to right, are James Peterson and James McDowell, at the rear are James Green (in hat) and Captain James Neal, Charles Neal is watching in the background. Image Courtesy City of Portland Archives A2001-025.245 Guild’s Lake Jr. Fire Squad 1944

Charles Lenard Neal, a former student at Guild’s Lake School and member of the Guild’s Lake Fire Brigade, became the spidery speedster and batting star of the 1959 World Series. This fun fact was inspired by the Portland Diamond Project’s event celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Negro League.  While Charley is most identified with Texas, he lived briefly in WWII housing in Slabtown and grew up to play in the World Series. His parents were passionate about baseball. He began his career in the Negro Leagues with the Atlanta Black Crackers. Signed by the Dodgers in 1950, Charlie spent six years on the Dodgers’ minor league farm team, reaching the major leagues with the Dodgers in the 1956 season. In the majors he was mentored by Jim Gilliam and Jackie Robinson. He ended his profession baseball career playing for the NY Mets. He died in 1996, at age 85. For more  on Charlie Neal’s career I recommend a piece by Warren Corbett. Corbett coined the term the invisible Dodger because of the overall talent on the team during his career: “He was still invisible; several of his Topps baseball cards printed his name as “Charley” even though his autograph on the same card said “Charlie.” 

Image of 1959 World Series winning team. Courtesy Monroe Morning World, October 3, 1959, Page 11-A


1957 Topps-Baseball 242 With the miss spelling of Charlie-Neal’s 2nd Baseman for the Dodgers

I knew that Charlie—a Texan at heart—spent time in Slabtown, but I’ve found had no other evidence besides the single image taken by the Housing Authority of Portland,. He was not included in any of the Guild’s Lake School quarterlies, nor do his parents (Houston & Verdell Neal) appear in any Portland City Directories. The 1940 census lists four siblings: James (age 10), Charles (age 9), Harlod (age 6), and baby Vivian—all living in a home owned by their parents in Longview, Texas.

The Dodger of 1956 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn Charles Neal is on the second row five in from the left his mentor Jackie Robinson is four more down. Courtesy Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press

Nob Hill Fun Fact #53 What bands might you have seen…1970s?

Question: What bands might you have seen at NW 21st and Irving in the 1970s?

Answer: Just to name a few: Dead Kennedys, The Ramones, The Dils, The Wipers, Rubbers, Smegma, Stiphnoyds, Inputs, Cleavers…  Numerous punk rock/new wave bands played at The Earth Tavern at 632 NW 21st.  The club offered all ages shows and some of the live recordings have made it in onto Youtube. This fun fact was a spin off from a real estate agent continuing education class I led last month.  Once we returned to the  Coldwell Banker Bain office at 636 NW 21st I was asked about the history of their office building.  I’m sure none of  these punk flyers are going up on the walls at the office.  Below I also imported in a flyer from a Food Front Fundraiser that included poets in-between sets, the local resident and author of Geek Love Katherine Dunn was on the list.

Nob Hill Fun Fact #52 Why do some curbs in Portland have metal curb guards?

Nob Hill Fun Fact #52 Why do some curbs in Portland have metal curb guards?
Question: Why do some curbs in Portland have metal curb guards?
Curb on NW19th and Flanders, Summer 2019.
 There are existing historic street pavements in Northwest Portland that were installed prior to the annexation of East Portland, Albina & St. Johns.  Many sidewalk curbs in the Alphabet Historic District had a simple “N” the mason’s kit was not missing the letter “W”.  The wrote iron or meta edge iron curb is not unique to Portland. And were often installed along dirt roads.  In the United States the metal on curb corners was used to prevent damage from the steel wheels of wagons just after the turn of the 19th century.

Pedestrian Facilities and ADA Compliance has over time slowly replaced a curiosity enjoyed along our tour routes. The arrival of tactile paving and curb cuts is laudable we only ask that you appreciate those that remain from our days when horses were the main source of transportation.  Lucky the horse rings are protected under current codes.  Our tours guests and guides appreciate that in 1903 the city phased out wooden sidewalks; the wooden sidewalks must have been quite slippery.

COVID-19 has stopped our tours for now. My family and I created a fun Curb Guard Scavenger Hunt. Link