Life on the West Side


During spring vacation that year, my dad took me with him up into the mountains to visit Aunt Phoebe and Uncle George Littreal, who were working at a new logging camp job. My dad and Phoebe and George all remained good friends.

This new logging camp was in the rugged mountains of southwest Oregon. We drove up in the Overland. However, the only way we could get into camp the final three miles was by way of the old logging railroad tracks.

We joined up with two loggers who were returning to camp on the timber company’s mechanized hand car— open on all sides. I held on for dear life as we rounded the bends and crossed two high, narrow trestles—hundreds of feet above some wild rapids in the steep gorge, far below. For me, it was a great adventure.

In the cook shack, I was spoiled rotten, as usual, with Aunt Phoebe’s famous freshly-baked pies, right out of the oven, Apricot, strawberry-rhubarb. green apple, peach, wild huckleberry—hey, I don’t remember them all. But I probably sampled them all, topped with generous scoops of home-made ice cream, of course.


In her ambitious climb to movie stardom, Gladys decided to take up tap dancing, She talked me into going with her. Tap dancing! Can you believe it?

The Oregon Journal, Portland’s afternoon newspaper, sponsored a variety of activities for kids under the club name “Journal Juniors.” Gladys read about the tap dance offer in the Journal Junior section of the Sunday comics. For 50 cents a lesson, you could learn how to tap dance during eight Saturday morning sessions at the Paramount Theater in downtown Portland.

Neff said the price was too high. He finally gave in, however, And my mother walked us into town and signed us up for lessons.

I had never seen a movie palace as big and asbeautiful as the Paramount Theater. It had a grand carpeted staircase sweeping down to a long, inlaid marble lobby that seemed to stretch on forever, Magnificent crystal chandeliers sparkled overhead. Gilded rococo walls and smoky mirrors added to the glamour, It all had the look and feeling of the king’s royal court in a fairy tale, I was
entranced, (This Beaux Arts beauty still exists, I was happy to discover during a visit we made to Portland a few years ago, It’s now a part of the city’s handsome civic center performance complex.)

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