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February 13th, 2020

On this Valentine’s day we celebrate a different type of love—our love for the great state of Oregon! On February 14, 1859, Oregon was officially granted statehood by President James Buchanan. To recognize this day in honor of Oregon’s 161st birthday, we are sharing a snapshot of Oregon’s history through the development of sports. Brian S. Campf’s Sporting Oregon highlights the growing popularity of sports such as baseball, football, and basketball during the mid-1800s, and the unity and camaraderie that sports inspired in Oregonians. What better way to depict Oregon’s history than through excerpts of Sporting Oregon!

Baseball [pp. 6-8, 88, 174]

The first pitch for organized baseball in Portland was thrown . . . [when nine] of the city’s young athletes gathered in the office of J. W. Cook, a bag factory, on the evening of Monday, May 28, 1866, to form a team. . . . They met again on June 2 and emerged with team officers and a name befitting them: the Pioneer Base Ball Club (PBBC). Thirty members were added to the club’s rolls just over two weeks later, including Joseph Buchtel, a player who managed the club and would become the face of early Portland baseball. Thirty-one men from among the city’s population of 6,508 signed a constitution the club adopted. Portland was a small town then, with one architect, four hardware stores, six restaurants, nine bakeries, and one astrologer.

Less than two months after the team formed, the Oregonian called baseball “exhilarating,” observing that the spirit of the Pioneer’s play showed that “its enlivening effects are by no means a small matter,” and called the club’s progress “remarkable.”

Bat and ball games were not new to Oregon. One of baseball’s predecessor games, town ball, had been played in Oregon since the pioneer days. In a 1900 Oregonian story, an Oregonian born in 1848 recalled his experience with the sport as a boy:

The ballground had four corners, similar to our baseball ground, with a pitcher and a catcher. We did not know anything about curves, but threw the ball over-hand right from the shoulder. We did not stand on the bases as in the modern game. The striker [batter] had to run the bases, and if we could catch the ball on the fly or on the first bound the striker was out. If, when he ran from one base to the next, we could throw the ball in front of him, that is, between him and the base he was trying to reach, he was out. If we could hit him with the ball while he was running from one base to the next, he was out. It would be surprising how quickly one side could be caught out and the other side let in.

Balls for town ball were made by unraveling an old sock or stocking and wrapping the yarn around a piece of leather until it was the right size. Then “we would carry in the wood and do all kinds of chores to get mother to cover it with a piece of old pants leg or coat sleeve.”

A Medford resident claimed to have organized Oregon’s first baseball team in Corvallis in 1856, ten years before the Pioneers formed. “No, it wasn’t ‘town ball’ we played, but the original game of baseball,” he told the Medford Mail Tribune in 1910. Their only equipment was a bat whittled from native wood and a ball that at first was rubber and later was made of yarn covered in buckskin with a rubber center. “That ball was the most valuable piece of property belonging to the club,” he added. “If in playing in open fields, as we did in those days, the ball was ‘lost,’ the game was called until the players, spectators and even the umpire had searched until they found it.”


A note on the back of the 1909 “The Lions” of Scio postcard of female players reads, “This team beat the Star Nine 3 to 1 in a 5-inning game.” The Oregonian had previewed the contest: in Scio, “a unique feature of the carnival of sports to be held here the latter part of this week will be a baseball game next Saturday afternoon between two teams composed entirely of girls. A number of local girls have been practicing strenuously for the contest and it will be an interesting exhibition.”



Southpaw pitcher Jimmy Claxton became the first African American to play organized baseball in the twentieth century when he pitched for the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks on May 28, 1916. That same year he became the first black player to appear on an American baseball card (with the Oaks). He kneels in the front row, far right of this postcard of Portland’s 1914 Hubbard Giants baseball team, named for its manager Lew Hubbard. He played for them in 1915, as well.

Football [pp 25-26, 105] 

On November 12, 1892, Pacific University became Oregon’s first college team to enter the football fray, defeating Bishop Scott Academy 18–6. The following year, Pacific University played in the state’s first intercollegiate football game, trouncing Oregon State Normal School (now Western Oregon University) 54–0 on November 3. Only one or two of its players from the normal school had ever seen a game.

Five hundred people in Corvallis paid ten cents apiece to see Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) play its first foot-ball game on November 11, 1893. The Corvallis Gazette explained the new game to its readers, starting with this preamble: “Many of our people have never witnessed a game of football as it is now played, and as there is to be a contest between our boys and the visiting team from Albany tomorrow afternoon, perhaps a few simple points as we remember them will be of interest, the details of which can only be understood by seeing the men on the field.” OAC cruised to a 62–0 win over Albany Collegiate Institute (now Lewis & Clark College). “The Albany team proved no match for the Agricultural boys. In fact they were mere playthings,” according to the Oregonian.

Elsewhere in the school ranks, Portland Academy had a team by early 1893 and Portland High School (now Lincoln High) had one by November. Perhaps the most delightful story of a new team comes from Salem’s Willamette University, which would have been practicing in November but for an important missing ingredient: “The foot-ball has not arrived as yet so the boys have been creating exercise for themselves, by getting the field in good shape.”. . .

Beneath the mild heading of “Other Oregon News,” the Oregonian sandwiched a brief article about that historic contest between stories on business picking up in Pendleton and a Jacksonville boy who cut his foot chopping wood: 

Eugene, March 24—The first match game of football this city has witnessed was played today between the teams of Albany college and the University of Oregon. The Albany boys were outplayed at every point, and the score stood 44 to 2 in favor of the University of Oregon. Two of the Albany men were slightly injured.



The 1909 Eugene High School football team in the postcard expected to vie for

the Western Oregon interscholastic championship (they had won it two years earlier). They did not disappoint, beating every high school they played in 1909 after losing their first game 18–0 to the University of Oregon freshmen squad. Unsettled claims for the 1909 state title were asserted by Eugene High and by Portland’s undefeated Washington High School team. 

[pp, 32-33, 89]

A March 16, 1895, Oregonian article described the sport’s appeal. “An exciting game of basket-ball was played last night in the gymnasium hall of the Young Men’s Christian Association. This is a new game, and is just being introduced here. The rules are such as to avoid the roughness and liability to injury of foot-ball; yet the exercise brings into play and develops about every muscle and portion of the body. It is a great fad in the East, and promises to be a most enticing amusement and exercise here.”

By late April 1895, at Portland’s East Side YMCA “a lively game of basket ball” was being played on most evenings, nine to a side played in a contest in May, and by July basketball was the “principal amusement” there. A sense of the action comes from the following excerpt from the Oregonian’s coverage of the May game:

A game of basket ball was played yesterday afternoon at 5 o’clock on the East Side YMCA field between the regular nine and the “scrubs.” It was the hottest game yet played, the practice the players are receiving being plainly evident. The features of the game were the first goal made by the regulars in three throws, Gwilt’s remarkable agility and sprinting to keep from being hit by the ball, McMonies’ high-jumping, and Van Auken’s fine goal-throwing. The score was 4 to 2 in favor of the regulars.

Play improved with practice. In intramural women’s athletics at the University of Oregon, “the ladies teams of basket ball continue to practice as rigorously as if they were to enter some inter-collegiate contest,” the Daily Eugene Guard reported in February 1895. . . .

Women thrived in the game. In 1895, the first athletic exhibition given by the Multnomah Club’s “lady members” included a basket-ball contest played before at least four hundred spectators. Wearing red or white ribbons to identify their sides, they played two ten-minute halves to a 3–1 final score. Young men watching “yelled as if they were on a football field."


The center for Astoria High School’s women’s basketball team is featured on a postcard mailed in February 1909 to William E. Gregory, Captain of the USS Armeria, detailing past and future games.

The team disbanded in November 1909 after the coach insisted they play under girls’ rules; the team countered that other teams would only play them under boys’ rules.




January 14th, 2020

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified 100 years ago today, giving women the right to vote. Long before they could vote, women in Oregon were shaping our history and fighting for political, social, and economic justice. Among them was Marie Equi, a Portland physician and one of the first "out" lesbians in Oregon. Today's blog post examines some of the ways that Marie Equi has made her way into contemporary classrooms and offers some suggestions for further reading.

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The life story of Portland’s Dr. Marie Equi continues to appear in Pacific Northwest curriculum, according to Equi biographer Michael Helquist. Last spring an 8th grader in a private school in Portland contacted him through his website to ask about the history of abortions in Oregon. The student was curious about enforcement of the anti-abortion laws, and he asked how Equi had avoided prosecution. The student wrote that his inquiry had been approved by his school counselors since he had a well-defined project that he had already begun to research. He also took the occasion for an author interview, asking about motivation, obstacles, and the persistence needed to write history. 


On May 1st of last year, Professor Kimberly Jensen of Western Oregon University invited Helquist to speak to her undergraduate class, Women in Oregon History. Rather than a personal appearance, Helquist participated in a two-hour Q and A with the students via WebEx. All the students – about twenty young women and men– had read the full biography before the session, and they had prepared a list of questions and interests.


The comments and questions were spirited and probing, according to Helquist. “They were so appreciative of speaking to the author of one of the books they had enjoyed.” One spoke of her disappointment in not hearing about Marie Equi earlier in her schooling. This led to a discussion about historical erasure. Several expressed interest in pursuing a career in history. And they were especially curious about the research and writing process. The politics of abortion recurred again in questions. Following the discussion, Helquist notes, “the students mailed me a thank-you card with individual comments. I found it important that so many thanked me for ‘taking time’ and for ‘allowing us to engage with your book, knowledge, and personal experience.’ To me it suggests that students not only appreciated a change in classroom learning but also crave the interaction with someone from the outside listening to them individually.” 

 (For more information about using Marie Equi in the classroom, contact michael.helquist@gmail.com)

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For further reading, check out these books about women who changed the course of Oregon history:

Beyond the Rebel Girl: Women and the Industrial Workers of the World in the Pacific Northwest, 1905-1924 by Heather Mayer

A Force for Change: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936 by Kimberley Mangun

Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions by Michael Helquist

The Only Woman in the Room: The Norma Paulus Story by Norma Paulus

Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader by Avel Louise Gordly

Shaping the Public Good: Women Making History in the Pacific Northwest by Sue Armitage

Up the Capitol Steps:A Woman's March to the Governorship by Barbara Roberts

With Grit and by Grace: Breaking Trails in Politics and Law by Betty Roberts

Yours for Liberty: Selections from Abigail Scott Duniway's Suffrage Newspaper edited by Jean M. Ward and Elaine A. Maveety

December 13th, 2019
If environmental scholar Peter Brewitt didn’t have his hands full with two young daughters, he could moonlight as a film critic. In this guest blog post, Brewitt explores the unexpected connections between Disney’s Frozen franchise and Same River Twice, his 2019 book on dam removal.

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Peter Brewitt(Massive spoilers ahead for Frozen 2. Also Frozen. This should be fine because, to judge by ticket sales, you’ve probably already seen them.)

I have two daughters, but for the last few years, I’ve felt like I have four: Penny and Lupin, princesses of House Brewitt, and Anna and Elsa, princesses of Arendelle. I know I’m not alone in this—Anna and Elsa have joined many, many families. The first thing my older daughter wanted to be when she grew up was an Elsa. My younger daughter has only just turned two but demanded a toothbrush with Anna on it and totes around a stuffed Olaf (the snowman) instead of a teddy bear. I know all of the songs by heart. So of course, when Frozen 2 hit theaters, we (except for the two-year-old) went to see it immediately. I really liked it, but I did not expect it to be about environmental interest groups, political framing, and dam removal. Which is to say, my book.

Quick background if you don’t know Frozen . . . Arendelle, a lightly disguised Norway, has two princesses. Elsa, the older sister, possesses the power to shoot ice out of her fingers. Anna, the younger one, has no such power but DOES have a spunky personality. Their parents die at sea (Disney trusts kids to deal with some heavy themes between catchy showtunes; Frozen is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”), Elsa freezes Arendelle but eventually sorts out how to harness her powers and be herself, and in the end, everyone learns about love, understanding, and the importance of taking action to fight climate change.

Frozen 2 is also about love and understanding, but this time the characters come together through dam removal. The action takes us north of Arendelle, to the tribal lands of Northuldra. The girls’ dad, King Agnarr, had been part of a state visit there as a young prince, and Arendelle had built a dam to support economic development in the Northuldrans’ pre-industrial landscape. But the dam, the girls discover, was really an instrument of colonial violence—the girls’ grandfather, a nasty combination of Andrew Jackson and Otto Von Bismarck named Runeard, built the dam to destroy Northulda’s magic and open the land for conquest. What’s more, Elsa and Anna turn out to be half Northuldran themselves! They decide to destroy the dam, and they rouse Earth Giants to do just that. Elsa uses her powers to divert the uncontrolled dam release away from Arendelle, and everyone, again, lives happily ever after or until the inevitable sequel.

And it’s all true! Other than talking snowmen and ice magic. In real life, dams have been and still are used to destroy indigenous livelihoods, displace local communities, and force the dominant culture onto native people who live near the river. The Northuldrans are directly based on the Sami, the indigenous people of northwestern Europe. Norway’s dams (96 percent of Norway’s power comes from hydro) have destroyed the Samis’ traditional resources and stoked political conflict. While Disney seems to have done a pretty good job partnering with Sami people to make the movie, the magic of Northuldrans, and Arendelle’s fear of it, parallel a worldwide tendency to treat indigenous people as extra–human beings, like fairies or hobbits. Honestly, I’m impressed that Disney raised all this in a movie for elementary schoolers.

So how to deal with the industrial mistakes and limited perspectives of the past? In Frozen 2 and Same River Twice, the same lessons apply. In river politics, we’re all stuck with one another, and all stakeholders need to communicate in order to make any progress at all—there is always someone else downstream. Different people frame and value nature differently. Failure to coordinate with one another results in conflict, whether because a magical mist descends upon the watershed or because a nonmagical mist of lawsuits descends upon the United States courts. And when a dam is useless or harmful (of course some of them are useful), it should be removed. Though I have to recommend a responsible engineering approach that minimizes downstream impact; I cannot recommend the Earth Giants.

December 10th, 2019

In today's blog post, coauthor and illustrator M.L. Herring gives a glimpse into the progression of a few of her illustrations featured in the Ellie and Ricky series (co-written with Judith L. Li). She also shares some of Ellie and Ricky’s various adventures throughout the series and highlights the ways their journeys have been integrated in the classroom and beyond. 



After four books covering four seasons, four regions, and four fields of science, our fictional eleven-year-olds, Ellie and Ricky, have completed their exploration of Oregon.


It’s been quite a journey for these intrepid kids, and for me and my coauthor Judy Li. Ellie’s Log began this adventure, as Ellie and Ricky explore the old-growth forest of the Oregon Cascades. The log, of course is not just a toppled old tree. The log is also Ellie’s journal, where she records what she and Ricky discover after a snowstorm delivers 220 feet of vertical life down to eye-level. The John Burroughs Society honored Ellie’s Log, the first time the society ever awarded a book of fiction.


Ellie’s Log struck a chord. It was clear that Oregon kids wanted to explore their own backyards and teachers needed engaging ways to meet new learning standards for science and the humanities. The OSU Press realized the importance of building a pipeline for future scientists and communicators. So the series was born.


Ricky’s Atlas allowed us to showcase Ellie’s friend Ricky, the son of Mexican immigrants, whose point of view expands Ellie’s world. In this summer story, Ricky invites Ellie to join him on a visit to his uncle’s ranch in Eastern Oregon. It’s fire season, and the kids see firsthand what wildfire means to people living in the West. Their journey gave us the chance to illustrate how fire continues to shape our arid lands and communities.

You have
to be quick to sketch wild animals. Sometimes you can draw only a few lines that you later develop into a realistic picture of what you saw.

Ricky, as it turns out, loves maps, and the atlas he creates during his visit is a playful exploration of time and space at multiple scales. However lighthearted, Ricky’s map-making follows the standards for geographic education established by the National Geographic Society. Ricky’s Atlas won the AAAS/Subaru award for the best hands-on science book of 2017.


In Ricky in the City, Ricky and Ellie travel to Portland on a school exchange in October. There they hone their skills of scientific observation to help monitor urban wildlife. Going beyond curiosity-led exploration, Ellie and Ricky are now working side-by-side with natural area managers on a citizen-science project to map wildlife connections throughout the metro area.


Ricky in the City gave me the chance to draw animals of the Willamette Valley, including these river otters, a common sight on Sauvie Island and on our farm. 

This gave Judy and me the chance to dive into the region’s many conservation organizations. We illustrate how the world is expanding for Ellie and Ricky, with new friends and new experiences in an urban setting familiar to half of Oregon’s kids.


And finally, Ellie’s Strand records one single winter day, when Ellie and Ricky travel to the coast to volunteer for a beach cleanup. By now, our two Oregon explorers are becoming adept at observation of the natural world around them. But the edge of the Pacific Ocean challenges them on a global scale.


Their day at the beach reveals amazing coastal creatures bathing in tidepools, hidden in beach wrack, and frolicking offshore. This was, of course, a joy to write and illustrate. But as they collect trash from their strand of beach, Ellie and Ricky soon realize the global scale of ocean pollution that threatens those creatures. It’s a feeling that is familiar to all of us who know and love the ocean, and we wanted especially to show how Ellie and Ricky rise to the enormity of the task. They realize the superpower of collaborative work, a recognition that is empowering children around the world.


I sketch what I see, and that means that I often sketch what’s in my hand. This is a drawing of California mussels for Ellie’s Strand 

The adventure continues. Judy and I are now at work with OSU Press to expand ways to encourage kids to explore nearby natural areas. Oregon Sea Grant has adopted Ellie’s Strand as a centerpiece for the Coast STEM Hub teacher training. Ellie’s Log and Ricky’s Atlas are used by the Oregon Natural Resources Education Program and OSU Extension Service for outdoor education. And the newest book, Ricky in the City, is quickly gaining a following among kids and teachers in Portland and beyond.


We hope that for years to come, young readers across the state will go outside with Ellie and Ricky to explore and record their own place in Oregon.




M.L. Herring lives on a peach farm in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where she writes and illustrates works of science. She is an associate professor emeritus of science communication at Oregon State University.



December 6th, 2019
The Other Oregon Book CoverIn The Other Oregon, Thomas R. Cox explores the complexities of Oregon east of the Cascades with a thorough, multidisciplinary eye. He focuses on the interactions between environmental history, cultural and physical geography, natural resource management, and the people of the region. Here, an excerpt from his preface reveals a bit more about his background and approach.


Growing up in Redmond in the 1940s and 1950s, my friends and I used to bewail the inattention to our section by the state’s politicians and the metropolitan press. Eastern Oregon ought to be a separate state, we argued. And when I arrived at Oregon State as an undergraduate, I was both surprised and pleased to learn that classmates from Ontario, on Oregon’s eastern border, had engaged in the same discussions. Meanwhile, various and sundry fraternity brothers chided me for being from the “great desert,” to which I responded that I would rather bask in the sun like a lizard than be a “moss-back” from “the great swamp.” The stereotypes on which these exchanges were based, like most such, were oversimplifications. Vast stretches east of the Cascades—south from Bend, between Klamath Falls and Lakeview, and in the Blue and Wallowa Mountains—are forested, and north of the Blues mile after mile of onetime bunchgrass steppe now sport highly productive wheat ranches. Nor is the Westside a vast swamp; major portions of the Willamette, Rogue, and Umpqua Valleys receive so little rain they have never been forested in modern times. Yet, all in all, west of the Cascades is a well-watered land, while relative aridity dominates east of the range.

Thus stereotypes persist, and they are not limited to the fantasies of teenagers or rivalries of undergraduates. An old prospector, scouring the sun-drenched Pueblo Mountains in far southeastern Oregon, long ago commented on Western Oregon and its people: “Too many trees,” he opined, “It gives them a narrow vision, and they can’t see out.”

One can accept that the prospector had touched on a basic truth without falling into the maw of environmental determinism. As nineteenth-century historian Theodor Mommsen reputedly said, “Don’t speak to me of environmental determinism. Where once lived the ancient Greeks now live the Otooman Turks!” The relatively dry, challenging environment east of the Cascades presented opportunities quite different from those of the Willamette Valley; this harsh land drew people of a different sort, people who brought with them values and attitudes that shaped the economy, society, and outlook of the area and thus laid the foundation for the east-west divisions that, in spite of an ongoing influx of outsiders, have continued to the present day. The region’s identity remains shaped by the land and the ways that people have survived—and even prospered—on it. And for those who have not prospered, a certain pride remains in simply having persevered in this challenging place.

More lies behind these differences than relative levels of precipitation: the contrasts are cultural as well as environmental. Some years ago Dorothy Johansen, in her presidential address to the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, sought to explain the palpable differences between Oregon, Washington, and California—although her “Oregon,” like that of my daughter’s roommate, clearly lay west of the Cascades, particularly in Portland and the Willamette Valley. Echoing Louis Hartz’s fragment thesis, she argued that original settlers set the tone for each of the three states and thus shaped their societies in the years that followed. In his bicentennial history of the state, Gordon Dodds took much the same position—as did I some years ago in trying to delineate the sociopolitical differences among Oregon, Washington, and Idaho through a study of the state parks movement in each. All of us reflected the earlier argument of Earl Pomeroy, that settlers of the American West brought with them cultural baggage that shaped what they did and what they built. Experience in its varied forms reinforced the mix.

Excerpt from The Other Oregon: People, Environment, and History East of the Cascades by Thomas R. Cox, copyright © 2019.
November 19th, 2019
On today’s blog post, author Gretel Van Weiren shares with us some tips for getting kids outside. Her new book, Listening at Lookout Creek, reveals her spiritual practice as it has evolved with her—and her family’s—changing lives. Listening at Lookout Creek additionally explores the development of her own deep connection with the natural world—and that of her overscheduled teenagers’, despite their hyper-tech, hyper-busy lives.

10 Tips for Getting Your Kids Outdoors

We all know the data, mostly from personal experience: kids today are spending an inordinate amount of time on screens indoors and it is not healthy. We also know that time spent off screen outdoors is incredibly beneficial for childhood well-being. One recent study showed that just 15 minutes spent outside, whether in an urban park or a forested area, had significant psychologically restorative benefits. So how do we get our kids outside in today’s hyper high-tech world? This is a question that I have pondered since my own three children, now teenagers, have been small. Here are some ideas that I have gathered over the years.

1. Take food. This is a trick that I learned from my father, who on almost every fishing expedition would bring a snack that we were not otherwise allowed to have at home. Even with teens, I have learned that taking food on outings makes a huge difference for morale and serves as an enticement for future outdoor activities. My son Carl likes jerky, and daughters, Inga and Clara, chocolate.

2. Invite friends. This is a great one for kids of all ages, most of whom are happier when they are with their friends. Pack a picnic, meet at a park or sporting event, go on a bike ride or hike. And when they are together, give them the freedom to do what they want and try not to intervene (within reason, of course).

3. Ask them what they want to do. I cannot tell you how many times my kids have refused to go outside because it was my idea, not theirs. Sure, tell them that they need to go outdoors at some point during the day, but let them do what they want to do and on their time. When they do get up the gumption, which I promise they will, even if with some gentle prodding, be truly open to what they choose—even if it involves the phone some of the time.

4. Do it with them. I am convinced that mother used to send me and my three sisters outdoors immediately after school (and I mean within 10 minutes) because she wanted some peace and quiet to make dinner. And believe me, I completely understand the need. But studies show that it helps to get kids outside if you are willing to go with them. Learn to be, at least occasionally, a “companion in wonder,” as naturalist Rachel Carson famously termed it. You will enjoy it more than you think you might, and be healthier for it.

5. Work it into their study schedule. This is something that I started to do when my children entered high school and began to have so much homework and so many extracurricular activities that there was virtually zero free time to do anything else. We live in Michigan, so the weather dictates this activity, but for a good chunk of the year, I have a small table set up outside the front door where they can sit and do homework, even if for a few minutes. A neighborhood park with a picnic table, coffee shop with outdoor seating, or quilt spread on the grass also works.

6. Reward them. Repay them with something that they like when they do go outside. I am not talking about a new iPhone or car. You would be surprised, actually, at how small the remuneration needs to be for this to work. Think extra time on the x-box or simply promising them that you will not badger them for the rest of the day. Yesterday, for example, I made Carl a milkshake after he had voluntarily taken our dog outside.

7. Take their phone. Or, better yet, have a designated drawer in the house where they (and you) put the phone when a little stress reduction is needed. I know this is an incredibly unpopular proposal, especially among teens, but remember, you are the parent and are likely paying for a significant portion of their livelihood, including their phone. The time frame does not have to be long—15 minutes or so will do. But tell them to unplug and go do anything outdoors. I promise, over time, they will notice a difference in their mental state. Eventually, I have learned, they may even come to do it on their own.

8. Do chores. Make sure you give a list of options. It can be as small as taking the dog or garbage out or collecting the mail. Monetary compensation is always a good incentive. But so is simply reminding them that they are an integral part of the family unit who is needed to make it all work on a day-to-day basis. I cannot tell you how many times I have forced my children to do yardwork and they have come away seeing the value in it, for themselves and the noticeable difference.

9. Surprise them! There is nothing like a good surprise to make your children appreciate the outdoors. And again, like many of the above, it can be something very small. A short walk with an ice-cream cone on the first day of spring or permission to stay up late to see the full moon.

10. Make outside somewhere they want to be. In his popular book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, journalist Richard Louv quotes a child he interviewed who said that the reason that he prefers it indoors is because that is where all the plugs are. Make your yard or patio a place that is enticing to be. Add a hammock, pot of flowers, bird feeder, or comfortable chair. And again, bringing food outdoors always seems to work.
November 7th, 2019

This Monday, November 11, marks the 100th anniversary of an infamous event in Pacific Northwest history known variously as the Centralia Tragedy, the Centralia Massacre, the Armistice Day Riot, or the Armistice Day Tragedy. Whatever name it goes by, a day that began with fanfare and parades in celebration of the first anniverary of Armistice Day ended in violence and six deaths, as members of the American Legion squared off against members of the International Workers of the World labor union (IWW, or Wobblies). In today's blog post, historian Aaron Goings provides background, context, and an excerpt from The Red Coast: Radicalism and Anti-radicalism in Southwest Washington, which he coauthored with Brian Barnes and Roger Snider.

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In the annals of North American history, few years stand out as much as 1919. That year witnessed workers across the continent striking, with employers and the state combining to halt labor’s progress. The aftermath of the First World War saw left-wing movements burst forth across the globe with general strikes, socialist political victories, and attempts to spread revolution beyond Russia.

With wartime unemployment low, American workers unionized and struck in record numbers. In Seattle, thousands of workers laid down their tools in one of the country’s best-known general strikes. But Pacific Northwest strikes and labor radicalism were not confined to the Emerald City. To twenty-first century readers, it might be surprising that many of labor’s most notable conflicts took place in southwest Washington, especially in its lumber towns and logging camps. Partly to commemorate that history of working-class activism and class struggle, I joined my coworkers Brian Barnes and Roger Snider to write a popular labor history of this region. It is our hope that The Red Coast: Radicalism and Anti-radicalism in Southwest Washington (published in June 2019 by Oregon State University Press) reminds readers of the rich history of radicalism and progressive activism in southwest Washington, so frequently identified with conservatism.

Few incidents speak more directly to the intensity of class conflict than the Armistice Day Tragedy in Centralia, Washington, a horrible event in Pacific Northwest history. On November 11, 1919, a mob of American Legionaires raided the Centralia Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) hall and later lynched Wesley Everest, an IWW logger. The Red Coast provides a working-class perspective on many of the labor struggles of the early twentieth century Pacific Northwest, including the Armistice Day Tragedy. What follows is a chapter from the book entitled “Class War: Centralia 1919,” lightly revised for this venue.

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Around Centralia are wooded hills; men have been beaten beneath these trees and lynched from them. The beautiful Chehalis River flows near by; Wesley Everest was left dangling from one of its bridges. But Centralia is provokingly pretty for all that. It is small wonder that lumber trust henchmen wish to keep it all for themselves.

— Ralph Chaplin, The Centralia Conspiracy

The Centralia American Legion and the leading businessmen of that city had more than a parade in mind when they gathered on November 11, 1919, to celebrate Armistice Day. Apparently believing that the spectacle of political violence would enhance the patriotic experience, they concocted a plan to raid the Centralia IWW Hall. IWW halls were of great practical and symbolic importance to workers. As Wobbly activist and historian Ralph Chaplin explains, the halls were loved by workers, but despised by employers. These “churches of the movement,” as public historian Robert Weyeneth called them, represented the closest thing to a home for many wandering IWW members. Chaplin noted:

It is here the men can gather around a crackling wood fire, smoke their pipes and warm their souls with the glow of comradeship. Here they can, between jobs or after work, discuss the vicissitudes of their daily lives, read their books and magazines and sing their songs of solidarity, or merely listen to the “tinned” humor or harmony of the much prized Victrola. Also they here attend to the affairs of their union—line up members, hold business and educational meetings and a weekly “open forum.”

So, as the parading legionnaires passed the hall for the second time, they paused, then charged the hall, only to be surprised by the spirited defense they encountered. A volley of gunfire dropped three of the attackers, but the mob continued to press home its attack, capturing the hall. One additional legionnaire was killed in pursuit of Wesley Everest, who escaped out the back but was later captured and dragged by the neck to the jail. Later that night, he joined the ranks of IWW martyrs when he was lynched at the hands of Centralia businessmen and patriots, none of whom were ever prosecuted for his gruesome murder.

The Armistice Day 1919 Centralia event is perhaps the single most written about event involving the IWW in the entire state of Washington. Analysis of the event has been extremely polarized, as interests representing the employing class and the working class have contested its meaning. And because of competing accounts, affidavits, and testimony, even some of the most basic facts of the case will probably never be established conclusively. What is perfectly clear is that the Centralia story must be understood in the context of the class struggle that had been raging on the Red Coast for over a decade and which had surfaced in Centralia since at least 1914. As all of the working-class accounts of the Centralia event note, violence and lawlessness were defining characteristics of the employers’ approach to this conflict.

The IWW served as the most logical target of employers’ violence and repression because, since its inception in 1905, it represented the most advanced, class conscious, and revolutionary element of the working class in this country. The patriotic fervor of the First World War and fear that the Russian Revolution would heighten class consciousness among American workers only intensified persecution of the Wobblies. Sensing an opportunity, employers engaged both the state and the public in their efforts to crush the hated IWW. Nationally, the federal government enforced the wartime Espionage and Sedition Acts against the IWW and other radicals to imprison and deport many. In September of 1917, the federal government raided IWW halls across the country and indicted more than 160 leaders of the organization. At the state and local level, class warfare raged as employers mobilized both the state and the mob to lash out at class-conscious workers. Washington State was one of the great theaters of this conflict, as the teens witnessed the Grays Harbor and Pacific County Lumber Strike of 1912, multiple free speech fights, the 1916 Everett Massacre, and the 1919 Seattle General Strike.

In Centralia, this war against workers effectively merged employers’ traditional weapons—a cooperative police, a captive legal system, and vigilante citizens’ committees—with the anti-radicalism and patriotism of the American Legion, a veterans’ organization at the fore of anti-radical activities. The American Legion described Centralia like this: “The city is the center of a rich timber district and the logging camps of the northwest are infested with bearers of the red card, who boast that in many districts membership in the I.W.W. is a requisite to employment.” The leadership of the Centralia Legion read like a roster of Centralia businessmen and the Legion became essentially a front organization, even the vanguard, for Northwest lumber bosses. In the words of Wobbly Ralph Chaplin, “The American Legion began to function as a cat’s paw for the men behind the scenes.” Indeed, there was nothing secret about the role of the Legion in the class war. The National Commander of the American Legion declared in 1923: “If ever needed, the American Legion stands ready to protect our country’s institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who menaced Italy. . . . Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the American Legion is to the United States.”

Representatives of capital did not shy away from class conflict. An IWW organizer was run out of Centralia by the sheriff in 1914, and in early 1915 more Wobblies were “escorted” out of town by police and vigilantes. According to historian John McClelland, the local paper, the Centralia Chronicle, applauded anti-Wobbly repression and stated that it was everyone’s responsibility to keep rebel workers out of Centralia. Tom Lassiter, a partially blind newsstand operator whose stock included labor and radical papers, was victimized by the business interest on several occasions. At various times, his radical papers were destroyed, he was threatened, arrested, kidnapped, and dumped in a ditch. Yet no one was ever prosecuted for any of these acts of class violence. In Centralia, it was clear, the law was a weapon in the hands of the propertied class.

Perhaps inevitably, class conflict in Centralia came to center on the struggle to establish and defend an IWW union hall. As Chaplin notes, the “union halls were a standing challenge to their [the employers’] hitherto undisputed right to the complete domination of the forests. . . . They were not going to tolerate the encroachments of the One Big Union of the lumber workers.” In 1917, an IWW attempt to establish a hall was met with great hostility in the employer-dominated town, and the landlord evicted the Wobblies on learning of their identity. In the spring of 1918, Centralia employers targeted the town’s new IWW hall. During a Red Cross parade, prominent businessmen, including members of the Centralia Elks, and political officials attacked and destroyed it. They beat IWW members and burned hall property and records in a street bonfire. F. B. Hubbard, the most prominent of the Centralia timber barons and president of the Washington Employers’ Association, stole the desk from the Wobbly Hall and donated it to the local Chamber of Commerce. Despite the intimidation of the business leaders, the local IWW secretary, Britt Smith, opened a new hall on north Tower Avenue on September 1, 1919. It was clear for all to see that the IWW was not easily intimidated, but neither were their enemies.

In July 1919, George Russell, secretary of the Washington Employers’ Association, called a meeting of the Centralia Chamber of Commerce to find a way to destroy the IWW. F. B. Hubbard was picked to head a group designed to accomplish that objective. Although this was not the first meeting of Centralia business interests to combat the Wobbly threat, it marked a new level of organization on the part of capital that would not tolerate the affront the new IWW Hall afforded to its dominance.

Plans to rid themselves of the enemy intensified with the formation of the Centralia Citizens Protective Association, the purpose of which, according to one local paper, was “to combat IWW activities in this vicinity.” Local businessmen were members of the Chamber of Commerce, the Centralia Elks, and the American Legion; many belonged to more than one of these organizations. Although the plans called for greater secrecy as to the specific methods to rid themselves of the Wobblies, too many people were aware of the plans to keep it secret. Word began to leak out, and soon it became public knowledge that the IWW would be driven out of town. Once the Armistice Day Parade was planned, the Wobblies knew that this was the pretense to attack their hall, destroy their property, and assault them.

Initially, IWW members acted with uncommon prudence in attempting to prevent a violent attack on their hall. The owners of the Roderick Hotel, which housed the union hall and from whom the IWW rented, went to the local police with information about the planned attack. IWW members requested police protection. A trusted attorney, Elmer Smith, sought help from Governor Louis F. Hart in Olympia. The Wobblies even made a desperate appeal to the entire community. They distributed a lengthy handbill “to the law-abiding citizens of Centralia and to the working class in general,” which said, in part, “The profiteering class of Centralia have of late been waving the flag of our country in an endeavor to incite the lawless element of our city to raid our hall and club us out of town.” But Wobbly pleas to avoid violence fell on deaf ears, and the police chief declined protection.

Finally, as a last resort, the Wobblies sought legal advice from attorney Elmer Smith to determine whether they had the legal right to defend their hall with arms. Smith affirmed that they did. This was a major move on the part of the IWW. Although it had always shown remarkable restraint, the IWW was a defiant and proud group of class-conscious workers, and by November 1919 in Centralia Washington the Wobblies had had enough of the beatings, enough of the tar and featherings, enough of the destruction of their meager property, enough of the humiliation, and enough of the criminally brutal business-patriotic element. They would defend their hall, and plans for its self-defense were laid. Radical historian Harvey O’Conner opined: “Prudent men, valuing their own skins, would have closed the hall in the face of the obvious threat. But prudence was not a Wobbly trait. Rather their shining glory stood out in audacity, courage, and stubbornness in defense of their rights, and for that they are remembered in history.”

As the Armistice Day Parade got under way on the drizzly and ill-fated afternoon of November 11, 1919, the Wobblies made ready to defend their hall. They positioned armed men inside the hall and also in three locations outside the hall: in the Avalon and Arnold Hotels on the opposite (east) side of the street, and on Seminary Hill which overlooked the street from some considerable distance away. The parade route took the marchers north on Tower Avenue past the main business district to Third Street, the next side street past the IWW Hall, in a section of town occupied by businesses catering to the working class. At Third Street the marchers reversed direction to return now southbound on Tower Avenue with the Centralia American Legion contingent making up the rear of the parade. In front of the IWW Hall, the marchers paused and then rushed the hall.

Shots rang out from the hall and then from Seminary Hill and the Avalon Hotel. Three Legionnaires—Warren Grimm, Arthur McElfresh, and Ben Cassagranda—received fatal wounds on the streets near the hall, and Dale Hubbard, the nephew of the lumbar baron F. B. Hubbard, was shot by a fleeing Wesley Everest at the edge of the Skookumchuck river. Hubbard died later that night. Several other marchers were injured, and the IWW Hall was smashed and its contents dragged to the street and burned. Wesley Everest was severely beaten and dragged back into town and thrown in a heap on the jail floor. One of the marchers who pursued Everest to the river and presumably helped drag him to the jail was Legionnaire Ed Cunningham, who was picked by the American Legion to become the Special Prosecutor in the trial against the Centralia Wobblies. According to the Legion account, “Cunningham was able to use his first-hand knowledge of the tragedy to telling effect.”

In many of their clashes with the working class, employers hired detective agencies or relied on local or state police to combat workers, but in Centralia the American Legion served as the armed guard of the employing class. As news of the event spread, the American Legion assumed control of the town, controlled the flow of information, formed vigilante groups to hunt down suspected Wobblies, and raided establishments and homes. In touting the Legion takeover, the American Legion Weekly stated, “Though the office of the Sheriff and the Chief of Police assisted as much as possible, their forces were small and their aid nominal,” and “Posses which scoured the country about Centralia in search of fugitives were made up almost exclusively of American Legion men.”

That evening, two meetings were held at the Elks Club in which the murder of Wesley Everest was conceivably planned. At about five o’clock a group of men was told to go the armory for weapons and return to the Elks at six o’clock. At the six o’clock meeting, all assembled men who were not members of the Elks or the American Legion were asked to leave. In effect, this left the established business class and the Legion, those that could most be trusted to carry out a class lynching and protect those involved in it. This meeting lasted until about seven o’clock. At seven-thirty, someone visited the city’s power station and shut off all the lights in Centralia. Meanwhile, a lynching party entered the jail where Wesley Everest was held. The lynching party—meeting no opposition from the jailer—seized Everest and dragged him to a waiting automobile.

The automobile that held Everest fell in with a procession of automobiles containing Centralia’s most prominent citizens, and proceeded to the Chehalis River Bridge. Radical author Harvey O’Conner graphically described the scene:

At the bridge Everest was dragged out and rope knotted around his neck, and his body flung over. Everest clutched at a plank; Legionnaires stamped on his fingers, and he fell. Dissatisfied with the knot, the lynchers pulled the body back up and used a longer rope, and hurled the body over again. Still dissatisfied, they hauled Everest body up a third time—by then he must have been dead—and tied a more professional knot on a longer rope and flung the body over. Then with carlights playing on the scene, they amused themselves awhile by shooting at the swaying body. Satiated at last, the mob left and darkness returned. Next morning somebody cut the rope and the body fell into the Chehalis River.

The next day, Everest’s mutilated body was retrieved from the river, dumped on the jail floor, and left for two days in plain view of his imprisoned fellow workers. As Centralia’s authorities were no doubt complicit in the lynching, no attempt was ever made to bring the Everest’s murderers to justice.

As the Legion-led posses combed the surrounding area for more Wobblies, state authorities interrogated the jailed Wobblies by day as the enraged mobs terrorized them by night. In the woods surrounding Centralia, one posse member was shot and killed when he was mistaken by another for a Wobbly. This shooting, first reported as a murder committed by a Wobbly, was later ruled an accident. As this reign of terror continued in southwest Washington, the commercial press continued to churn out propagandistic accounts of how the Wobblies ambushed and murdered America’s finest young men in the streets of Centralia. Characteristic of this treatment was the front-page article in the Chehalis Bee-Nugget: “IWW Shoot into Armistice Day Parade in Centralia Tuesday. Warren Grimm, Arthur McElfresh, Dale Hubbard, and Ben Cassagranda Killed by the Assassins.” Authorities, businessmen, and Legionnaires combined to attack workers in other parts of the state and in neighboring Oregon. In Seattle, the Department of Justice seized the Union Record, the official organ of the Seattle Central Labor Council, and arrested its staff, including Harry Ault and Anna Louise Strong, on charges of sedition.

The passions that this class war engendered were still highly visible on January 26, 1920, when eleven Wobblies, including Elmer Smith, the attorney who advised the IWW members that they had the legal right to defend their hall, were brought to trial in the town of Montesano, the county seat of neighboring Grays Harbor County. The defense faced many obstacles in the trial, beginning with a huge resource disparity. The Wobblies were represented by George Vanderveer with occasional help from his law partner, Ralph Pierce, and attorney Elmer Smith, himself a defendant in the case. Meanwhile, Special Prosecutor Ed Cunningham led a staff of six attorneys, whom Vanderveer referred to as the attorneys for the lumber trust. The Luke May Secret Service, a private detective agency paid for by lumber company funds, aided them. Finally, the American Legion recruited some fifty uniformed veterans to sit in on the trial by day, presumably to influence the jury. They were paid four dollars a day from funds contributed by the lumber companies and the Elks.

The prosecution certainly lived up to its reputation as the counsel for the lumber trust. Special Prosecutor Cunningham was himself deeply involved in the Armistice Day violence. He was one of the members of the mob that pursued Everest to the Skookumchuck River and helped drag him to jail. He watched while the mob broke into the jail and kidnapped Everest, and was alleged to have witnessed his murder. Historian Tom Copeland observed that “as Cunningham built the case against the Wobblies, he was also shielding himself from any potential legal action for his role in the raid and lynching.” Cunningham’s team successfully fought off a change of venue request, claiming there was no prejudice against the IWW in either Centralia or Montesano. In a clear attempt to intimidate anyone willing to testify for the defense, the prosecution had two defense witnesses arrested for perjury when they finished their testimony. The prosecution called on the governor to have troops from Camp Lewis sent to Montesano to stand guard outside the courtroom, thereby frightening the jury into thinking that an IWW attack was imminent.

The trial was, in fact, a mere extension of the class war, a political trial in which the authorities put the IWW on trial while pretending to adhere to the rule of law. The judge, John M. Wilson, insisted that he could try the case impartially, despite the fact that he had delivered an anti-IWW speech in the nearby town of Bucoda and had addressed the memorial service at the Centralia Elks commemorating the Legionnaires who had been killed during the Armistice Day Parade. Wilson rejected the defense’s request for a change of venue from Montesano, disallowed much of the evidence that Vanderveer tried to introduce during the trial, and made numerous prejudicial rulings that favored the prosecution and infuriated the defense. Vanderveer captured the trial’s essence in his closing statement. The prosecutors, he told the jury, “have told you this was a murder trial, and not a labor trial. But vastly more than the lives of ten men are the stakes in the big gamble here; for the right of workers to organize for the bettering of their own condition is on trial; the right of free assemblage is on trial; democracy and Americanism are on trial.”

“In view of such a charged atmosphere,” Albert Gunns contended, “the final verdict of the jury was moderate.” The prosecution sought a first-degree murder verdict for all of the defendants, but the jury did not agree. Elmer Smith, the Wobbly attorney, was acquitted, along with one other defendant. Seven defendants were convicted of second-degree murder, and one young defendant was judged legally insane. The jury attached to their verdict a written request for leniency in sentencing, but Judge Wilson rendered stiff sentences ranging from 25 to 40 years in the state penitentiary in Walla Walla. Irish immigrant James McInerney, himself a veteran of the Everett Massacre and victim of torture while in the Centralia jail, died while imprisoned, “murdered,” the Industrial Worker proclaimed, “by the Capitalist class.” Most of the remaining prisoners remained incarcerated until 1933, when Governor Clarence Martin commuted their sentences.

Several jurors were clearly uneasy with their decision, believing that they were not allowed to hear all of the important evidence. “Remarkably, two years after the trial,” Robert Weyeneth concludes, “seven of the twelve jurors voluntarily repudiated their verdict.” No member of the employing class or its “cat paws” was ever charged or even investigated for Everest’s murder or the Armistice Day hall raid that ushered in the Centralia Tragedy.

* * * * *


Excerpt from The Red Coast: Radicalism and Anti-Radicalism in Southwest Washington by Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes, and Roger Snider, copyright © 2019.

November 5th, 2019

Our University Press Week blog tour post features author Marcy Cottrell Houle, whose new book, A Generous Nature, celebrates some of the individuals and institutions behind the state’s progressive land-use policies.

Below, she elaborates on her motivations for writing A Generous Nature and her aspirations for Oregon’s future generations.

* * * * * * * * * *

Many authors envision writing a bestseller. Some harbor a wish to have their work become required reading in academic circles. Still more long for stellar reviews in the New York Times or the Economist.

Those are not my intentions for A Generous Nature. The muse that inspired this book was bigger, more fanciful, even outlandish. Like a burr, though, it stayed attached to me for ten years, never shaking off even when my writing trail wound up mountains and through thickets, or crossed rivers of doubt.

Witnessing newcomers flocking to Oregon—which remains near the top in the nation for in-state ingress—I realized something. People are drawn to Oregon for reasons of its livability and beauty. At the same time, few, whether long-term residents or brand new to Oregon, know what lies behind the exceptional qualities that draw them here. They don’t see the years of struggle it took to make all 362 miles of Oregon’s coast public. They don’t comprehend the efforts to produce and defend the incredible ruling, Senate Bill 100—a law, first of its kind in the nation, that created statewide land-use goals protecting farm and forest lands from urban sprawl.

They don’t recognize the face behind the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Act that protected 292,500 acres of spectacular basaltic cliffs and flower strewn forests and was the only stand-alone conservation legislation ever passed during the Reagan administration. If not for one tireless woman who faced steep and vociferous opposition every step of the way, this national treasure would be covered with development.

Oregon’s fifty-nine designated wild and scenic rivers remain safeguarded because of the work of one man who took a serious challenge to their integrity all the way to the supreme court of Oregon—and won. A beloved park near Portland, Tryon Creek, would have become 650 acres of condominiums and homes if not for a woman who started a “kitchen counter drive” to save it—and succeeded.

The achievements go on, but the stories of the people behind them, who gave great gifts to all Oregonians, I saw with despair, were being lost. Without that understanding, I realized those things that make Oregon an outstanding place to live could easily be undone.

It is happening everywhere. Nationwide, environmental laws are being relaxed or eviscerated. Incremental loss of natural areas, agricultural lands, and forests is on the verge of happening in Oregon. For those of us who love this state, sitting back and watching Oregon’s inspiring model being whittled away is not an option.

That was my motivation for writing A Generous Nature. The book showcases what lies behind Oregon’s good fortune. It strives to elevate understanding that Oregon didn’t just "happen." Rather, the devotion, sweat, persistence, and commitment of many individuals made it the place it is today.

A Generous Nature is also an attempt to resurrect and revive the Oregon spirit, giving it life for a whole new generation of Oregonians. These stories highlight the citizens who did this great work—not for themselves alone, but for our benefit and for future generations of Oregonians. They are filled with inspiration and values for living. At the same time, however, they offer a challenge, reminding us of our responsibility to carry these values forward.

That is where my dream of the Five O’s begins.

The Five O’s are organizations, based in Oregon, that in every step of writing A Generous Nature I hoped would catch a glimpse of this vision and become partners to spread the word. Nearing completion of the book, I reached out to all five, asking for their support of this mission to help Oregonians develop an appreciation for what people have done in Oregon’s past. With that understanding, I believe the Oregon has a better chance of keeping its remarkable, progressive ideals alive.

What was my appeal exactly? That A Generous Nature would be published by Oregon State University Press. From there, that it would be picked up by the Oregon Historical Society, which could act as a repository for the valuable interviews and be a facilitator in launching the book’s purpose. I reached out to Oregon Public Broadcasting, asking if they might follow up these amazing stories and bring to life these individual’s work in other media forms in future programming. I adjured the Oregon Community Foundation—a generous organization that gives grants and scholarships throughout Oregon for the advancement of collaborate action, stewardship, equity, diversity, and inclusion—to lend their support. In my request I urged them to donate a copy of A Generous Nature to every public library in Oregon, through the Oregon Library Association, my fifth O.

What is wonderful to see is that each of the Five O’s has risen to this challenge. They have embraced the Oregon spirit and hope to pass it forward.

This clarion call is not just for Oregon. Every state has an opportunity to find its own Five O’s, to spread stories of citizens endeavoring to save this earth. Inspiring stories can act as a call to action. For they tell us this truth: we can be the future we wish to see.

November 1st, 2019

Joseph E. Taylor III is a professor of history and geography at Simon Fraser University. He earned his degrees at the University of Oregon and University of Washington, and his research investigates the intersection of social and ecological systems in the fisheries, outdoor recreation, gentrification, conservation, and politics of the North American West. He is the author of the recently released Persistent Callings: Seasons of Work and Identity on the Oregon Coast, which explores the history of seasonal labor and intertwined industries in the Nestucca Valley.

Ashley: Did you have the idea for the book first, and then begin your research, or did you start accumulating research, and then decide to put it together into a book?

Joseph: First of all, there’s never a plan. I am always living on Plan B or Plan C, whatever. In this case it’s a particularly shaggy dog story because I started this project in 1988 in an undergraduate seminar, extended as an honors thesis, and then promptly forgot it. Three years ago, a neighbor out of the blue suggested publishing it to make some money for a scholarship fund. The Nestucca Valley has a very low rate of sending kids to college. I thought that was a good idea, but it required a lot of work to transform it into a book, including many rabbit holes. So, I backed into this project, but that’s the story of everything I’ve ever done.

Ashley: What were some of these rabbit holes? Do you have any examples?

Joseph: Employment data, voting records—there were just a whole bunch of themes that still needed exploring. The thirty years between when I defended my honors thesis and right now has included a really tragic story of what’s happened to the rural West in general, and rural Oregon in particular. It includes stories about meth and opiate addiction and what economists call “deaths of despair.” Plus, I had to wrap my brain around the gentrification of the Nestucca Valley, especially the Pacific City/Neskowin area. And all those were stories that simply had not yet happened the first time around. Then, when I was done with the research, I had to rewrite everything because I’m a different writer now than I was as an undergraduate.

Ashley: A different writer in what sense?

Joseph: Better! There were moments when reading my undergraduate prose was really painful. I wrote a hundred-and-thirty-page honors thesis in nine days flat. I basically took spring break, kicked my roommate out of the dorm, cranked up the music, and wrote nonstop while living off of Track Town pizza and Coca-Cola.

Ashley: So I imagine your writing process is a little bit different now.

Joseph: Not that much, really. I wrote my dissertation on Coca-Cola and Hostess Fruit Pies, as well as my first book. The second book was sustained by Snickers and Coca-Cola. You can see the constant. Coke was big this time around as well.

Ashley: Do you have any other traits or qualities that have helped with this kind of work?

Joseph: Well, the most important thing for this project was dropping out of school and spending ten years climbing and fishing and living in the Nestucca Valley. That’s really important because it gave me a baseline understanding of the temperament of a place and the complexity of small-town life. But it also gave me the passion to carry this through.

Ashley: Do you think it’s important for other researchers who are doing similar projects to immerse themselves in that region the way that you have?

Joseph: It helps to see the landscape but also interact with people enough to get a sense of who lives in this world and how it works. Because the past is a different country. The past really is a different place you’re trying to write about. You can’t simply extrapolate back from your own experiences. So, yeah, I think you have to embed yourself at some level for some period. I know many people who go to see landscapes, but they don’t really interact enough, in my mind, with the people. Especially for a book like this which is so people-driven, I think you have to have some sense of that.

Ashley: How did you draw stories out from the people you interviewed?

Joseph: I simply asked questions and let them go. With many it took two or three interviews. They needed a comfort level and, in most cases, it helped that people were vouching for me before I went in, saying, “This is not a stranger; this is not an outsider.” And I am absolutely certain that made a huge difference in terms of willingness of some residents even to talk to me.

Ashley: What else did you do to set them at ease?

Joseph: In every case it started without the recorder. There were cases where we spoke two or three times before they said, “Okay, now you can start the recorder.” I had specific questions, but I let them go where they wanted because what they said was important to them and that’s what mattered. It became easier when I realized I had some baseline data and that they were as likely as not to err on certain facts. I realized that I would need a variety of research methods, basically, to nail down anything.

Ashley: If you had to give one piece of advice to other scholars who plan on writing similarly research-heavy books like your own, or books about a specific region, what advice would you give them?

Joseph: One of the advantages of waiting so long after the honors thesis for publication is that I had time to mull over what I had. The single best example is that is when I finally came back to it, what I thought was a history of the fisheries was much more about the entanglements among the valley’s many industries. I was able to see a story of seasonal labor that nobody has actually ever told. I had one of those idiot epiphanies, where I sat back and suddenly realized, “Why didn’t I ever see this?” It took me twenty-eight years to get to that point, so a scholar’s greatest resource is not necessarily money, but time. Having the time to actually think about what we have, and not rushing to judgment on things: I think that’s the best advice I can give.

October 22nd, 2019

In Sporting Oregon: A Pictorial History of Early Oregon Sports, Brian S. Campf presents a slice of history--spanning over twenty-five years--through photographs related to Oregon sports. Campf tracks the development and popularity of sports such as baseball, football, basketball, horse racing, track, hockey, tennis, and cricket, incorporating various artifacts along the way. Though the progression of many sports unfolded on a national level, Sporting Oregon provides local context and rich detail about the history of sports in the state.

Here we share an exclusive preview of Sporting Oregon--an excerpt from the foreword (written by Carl Abbott) and the author’s preface: 



Excerpt from the Foreword by Carl Abbott

Oregon was a very young state at the end of the 1860s—Oregon City was thirty years old, Portland was twenty-five, and the state itself was just completing its first decade with 91,000 people spread thinly over the landscape. Men outnumbered women by nearly three to two, a sign of the state’s frontier resource economy. Only three cities counted more than 1,000 residents—Portland, Salem, and Oregon City. Fifty years later, when the last photographs in this collection were made, the state had grown up, with the 1920 census counting 788,000 Oregonians who lived a much more settled life than previous generations.


Competitive sports grew up with the state. The images that Brian Campf has assembled tell us about the growth of education, the establishment of a middle class, and the spread of railroads. They also testify to Oregonians’ love of the outdoors.


If you wanted to play competitive team sports in nineteenth century Oregon, one of the big challenges was finding the competition. In the 1870s, Columbia River steamers plied the great river of the West; Willamette River steamboats connected river towns like Harrisburg, Salem, and Albany; and the first railroads connected Portland and East Portland to a string of Willamette Valley cities and towns. That was it for easy travel. Salem ballplayers could travel to Aurora with relative ease, or a McMinnville nine could take on a Portland team. Even in the 1910s, however, the only comfortable way to get from eastern Oregon to the western side of the state required changing trains in Portland. The images also remind us of the importance of Albany and Astoria in these decades. Albany rivaled Salem as the most important city in the upper Willamette Valley until Eugene nudged ahead in the early twentieth century, and Albany athletes make the third most appearances in this book. Astoria, which also appears repeatedly, ranked second only to Portland in the 1880s and 1890s.


Outside the northwestern quadrant of the state, competition was local. Campf documents separate constellations of competition in the Coos Bay area, in Umatilla County where at least nine towns had teams in the early 1910s and there was fierce competition among the members of the Blue Mountain League and the finely named but short-lived Irrigation League. The Inland Empire League stretched more ambitiously from Baker City (the Nuggets) to Walla Walla. Prineville, Bend, and Redmond put in their appearance in 1909, reflecting the beginnings of central Oregon’s timber industry and anticipating the resolution of the battle between James J. Hill of the Great Northern/Northern Pacific and E. H. Harriman of the Union Pacific/ Southern Pacific to be the first to control the Deschutes River railroad route.


Sports developed in step with the developing infrastructure of public education. Teams from the University of Oregon and Oregon Agricultural College garnered plenty of attention, tiny as the schools were compared to the institutions of the twenty-first century. Even more telling is the way that the images reflect the creation of comprehensive public high schools as essential community institutions. Even though Oregonian editor Harvey Scott fulminated against public high schools as a waste of money (he fulminated against a lot of things), Portland established its first high school in 1869 in rented space, built a neo-gothic building in 1885, and then a modern Lincoln High School on the Park Blocks in 1912. Jefferson High School opened on the east side in 1908 and Gresham High School dates to 1906. And it was not only the larger cities, as we learn that Harney County High School had twelve seniors in 1911–1912, divided equally between boys and girls.


Campf concentrates on the big three teams sports—baseball and its community and semi-pro teams, football and its college teams, and basketball with its high school teams for boys and for girls who refused to play by wimpy “girls’ rules.” Oregonians, of course, had plenty of other ways to enjoy exercise and the outdoors. There were elite sports like rowing, lawn tennis, and golf (the Waverly Golf Club dates to 1896). English immigrants and ex-pats sporadically kept their ethnic sport of cricket alive in Portland. And there were outdoor activities like fly-fishing where no one kept score (well, maybe the trout did). Energetic Portlanders joined the Mazamas, whose inaugural climb on July 19, 1894, took 158 men and 38 women to the top of Mt. Hood. If you didn’t have time to summit a mountain, you could join the bicycle craze of the 1890s. Thousands of people took to the roads on Sunday cycling expeditions—sedate families, daredevil wheelmen, and “scorchers”—young men who rode too fast and too recklessly for most people’s taste (what else is new).

Preface by Brian Campf 

I have loved sports for as long as I can remember. I enjoy the anticipation of the game, watching the drama unfold, and seeing a winner and a loser. There is nothing else like it.


A few weeks shy of my tenth birthday I watched on television as the Portland Trail Blazers won the NBA title in 1977. My parents took us downtown for dinner that night. We found ourselves in the midst of a massive celebration. A picture of me near the podium at the Blazers championship parade the next day was published in Hoop magazine. My wife, Sandy, says that I remember the parade day as fondly as our wedding. I won’t say if she’s right.


Baseball was just as important to me. Portland had no major league team, but I followed the big leaguers and also Portland’s minor league team, the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. When we were kids, my father, Alan, would take me and my brother, Andy, to their games at Portland’s Civic Stadium. I began collecting baseball, basketball, and football cards around 1978, the same year as my first trip to the Memorial Coliseum to see the Blazers play.


A baseball card store opened in Portland in 1980. I insisted that my mother, Susan, drive me there. I must have been one of its earliest visitors. Though I was only about thirteen and had no money to spend, I loved my visit. Andy had come with us. A Wall Street Journal article published soon afterward described the store owner patiently answering the many questions from two unidentified youngsters (me and Andy).                                                                                                                              

Later in the 1980s, at the same store I stumbled across a baseball card. It showed a local player, a Portland player. The card was old and its history intrigued me. I snapped it up. This is the one: Miles Albion Netzel, issued in 1910 with Obak Cigarettes.I thought it would be a fun challenge to seek out cards issued of other Portland players during that 1910 era and research their base- ball careers. Around the same time I got to know several dealers of vintage baseball collectibles who helped me in that pursuit. They remain my friends to this day.


Then something changed everything: the arrival of the Internet. The Internet gave me access to Oregon sports objects, such as photos and postcards, that were dispersed across America. What had been far away suddenly became a few mouse clicks away from reaching my mailbox. I also began to look for items associated with Oregon sports other than baseball. With the Internet my collection expanded by leaps and bounds. I continued to enjoy investigating the history of each new piece. Sandy stopped asking about the little boxes that kept arriving.


The Internet also opened a door to new avenues of research. Keyword searches in century-old newspapers could be swiftly performed to reveal the stories behind a photo’s charm and mystique. Period photography ultimately became a focus of the collection because it offers interesting and varied content, as well as locations and a more personal kind of connection to its subjects than objects such as trophies provide. Over the decades I acted like a magnet for these images, bringing them home to Oregon and into the archive, usually one at a time.


What emerged from my efforts is an archive of images I did not create but a collection I did create. I came to realize that anyone who says the fun is in the looking is seriously underestimating the satisfaction in the finding. It would be like saying the real fun of going on vacation is the plane ride. The pleasure for me came in adding some- thing to the collection that gave it more depth and dimension.


I recall my mom asking me, “What are you going to do with all of this stuff?” I had no idea what to say so I answered, “Maybe a book one day.” I had to say something, and in the back of my mind it seemed that if I said “book,” there might actually be one. I also had begun to feel weird about squirreling this “stuff ” away and being the only one who could see it. It is, after all, Oregon’s history, and it deserves not just to be compiled, but preserved, seen, and enjoyed.


A website instead of a book seemed like a good place to start, sort of like learning to ride a bicycle before you drive a car. I store the entire collection in an enormous bank vault, so I started bringing home boxes of goodies from the bank, scanning it all, returning the boxes, and retrieving more, back and forth until the scanning was done. It was during one of those bank runs that someone nearly sideswiped my car. Were it not for some defensive driving that would have made my driving teacher proud, the contents of this book would look very different.

Seeing the website go live made me feel that I had conquered the law of gravity. I conceived of it as a free virtual museum. I researched each item and added brief descriptions I hoped would approximate placards on the wall next to objects hung in galleries. I also left my name off the site so it would be about “the” stuff and not “my” stuff, something that has necessarily and somewhat regrettably changed with the publication of this book.


The website (no longer active) showed Oregon sports material and also original images from my collection of early major league, minor league, and Negro league baseball. The site began receiving visitors who shared kind comments. The Oregonian even published a story about it. That encouragement helped push me toward making this book a reality. I liked the idea of a book offering a more permanent re- cord than a website, plus it gave me the opportunity (read: awesome excuse) to research early Oregon sports.


After years of acquiring images and now sifting through them to decide what to include here, it occurs to me that if history is written by the victors, pictorial accounts are made possible by the collectors. I hope you enjoy this one.






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