The Beat Goes On

I saw little of my dad during the early ‘30s. He didn’t escape the depression. The construction firm he worked for went belly up. Then he was in and out of town on various jobs, including about five months up the Columbia River on the Bonneville Dam project.

On one of his infrequent visits, he took me to a fancy miniature golf course far out Sandy Boulevard, on the way to Mt. Hood.. We played three rounds of golf.

Started in Florida in 1929 by a creative entrepreneur named Garnet Carter, miniature golf courses developedinto a national craze in the early ‘30s. By the summer of 1932, some 30,000 roadside courses regularly attracted hundreds of thousands of Americans. These were true fantasyland courses, far more elaborate than the pale imitations that exist today.

Playing against my dad, I won two out of three rounds. But I really think he let me win.


Arthur Murray was probably the most successful ballroom dance instructor and dance promoter ever to appear on the American scene. He devised the idea of teaching simple dance steps with footprint diagrams, in two years during the late ‘20s, he reportedly sold more than 500,000 dance courses by mail.

After he married his dance partner, Kathryn, he started opening popular dancing schools. By the middle of the 1930s, they operated hundreds of dance studios around the world.

Emma Lindquist landed a job as an instructor at the new Arthur Murray Dance Studio that opened in Portland. Finally, she got a lucky break.


By the early ‘30s, prohibition laws were being flouted more openly than ever before. After ten years of prohibition, most people held “the noble experiment” in complete contempt. A full-scale national straw vote indicated an astounding 70% of adult Americans favored repeal of the 18th amendment. Politicians began to listen.


Battuzi’ s speakeasy was booming. Agnes said she was finally making some good money. My mother was getting by on heavy tips, too. At the same time, she became involved with the drummer in the club’s Chicago jazz band. The drummer’s name was Freddy something. I don’t remember his last name. They had some wild times, my mother admitted later. It was fun and games for awhile.

I never did get to meet Freddy, however. Everything fell apart when a new reform mayor announced that he was “cleaning up” the City of Portland.

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