"Portland Beard Menace Not Growing; It Only Seems So" (March 13th, 1966). In which the local paper of record wandered the streets looking for bearded men, interviewed the very few it found (since hippiedom arrived a bit late here), and then asked a couple of local professors to try to explain what the deal was with beards or the lack of beards.
Dr. Walter G. Klopfer of Portland State (unbearded) had a theory about beards:
“Young men have an urgent need to prove themselves. In spite of their own uncertainty, they would like to give every appearance of independence and rugged manhood. In the early days of America, they could blaze trails and fight Indians… but what can they do today short of going to Viet Nam?
"The beard has been a symbol of virility ever since the days of Samson. The student with a beard announces that he is not bound by traditions but is his own man. As he matures further, he may find other ways of asserting his manhood."
Dr. William Wiest of Reed College (bearded) disagreed, arguing that no blanket theory of beards (or non-beards) was possible and it was all just wild speculation.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “it is equally easy to argue that those men who SHAVE regularly are so badly disturbed psychologically that they can only be described as obsessed with ideas of suicide. Another common speculation has it that anyone who places razor to chin is indulging in a shocking sexual perversion.”
"Web of Newsprint", a modern sculpture that once sat in tiny Oregonian Printing Press Park, SW 1st & Morrison. It was unveiled April 1st 1970, and removed in May 1983, replaced by today’s boring cobblestone plaza and historical plaques. I wonder what happened to the old sculpture? Did they just bulldoze it, or is it in a dusty county warehouse somewhere just waiting to be rediscovered?
"Mayor for Dance Ban", December 23rd 1924. The Multnomah County commission had recently banned all public dancing on Sundays. The city began receiving complaints about Sunday dancing, so Mayor Baker announced his support for the Portland police enforcing the new law within city limits. One of the complaints veers beyond Footloose-style puritanism into downright creepiness: "The petitioners also complained that the Jewish Neighborhood House operates Sunday dances and that the dancers are not restricted to Hebrews.".
By February 1925, the police were raiding sites suspected of illicit Sunday dancin’ and carryin’ on. By July of that year, the law had already been overturned; as it turned out, the county lacked legal authority from the state to ban Sunday dancing entirely, since contemporary state law only banned dancing between midnight and 6 am.
Photo from Richard Nixon’s campaign stop in Portland, September 14th 1960. Richard Nixon (who was Eisenhower’s Vice President at this point) made a brief stop here during his first run for the presidency in 1960, which he ultimately lost narrowly to JFK. Nixon spoke briefly downtown, then appeared at the Lloyd Center ice rink, and then headed across the river to Vancouver. At his Lloyd Center stop, Nixon endorsed the state’s proposal to use Eastern Oregon’s Boardman Industrial Park as some sort of NASA center (which obviously never panned out), and went on to praise the new mall as America’s answer to communism:
“Some suggest,” he said, “that while we’re ahead now, we’re losing our grip. I’ve been in the Soviet Union. And I’ve seen the United States. Anybody who says the Soviet Union is going to catch the United States just doesn’t know what he’s talking about… If they think the United States has stood still, who built the Lloyd Center?”
"Shipment of Volkswagen Beetles parked by color at the port of Portland, 1965" via @ClassicPics. (As usual with ‘Pics’ Twitter accounts, the photo isn’t credited to who actually took it, which is frustrating.)
"Freak Ordinance in Grave", September 12th 1907. In which Portland’s mayor vetoed a proposed ordinance that would have required anyone who “wished to defame the character of public officials” to pay a fee and become a licensed “scandalmonger”. Because no First Amendment concerns there, nope, zero.
, in which the April 28th, 1940 Oregonian giggles at bike-crazy 1895 Portland:
That new-fangled contraption, the bicycle, was all the rage in Portland in the gay ’90s. Observed The Oregonian in its New Year’s edition of 1895: “Scores of wheelmen leave the city every Sunday during the summer months and easily ride 50 to 100 miles during the day without any great fatigue.” Many will remember the bicycle paths on Williams avenue, and other pathways.
The subtext here was that the bicycle was a weird passing fad, and everyone in today’s modern 1940 world preferred to drive everywhere, because Progress. And that was true for decades. In 2013, however, rapidly-gentrifying Williams Avenue is home to one of the city’s busiest bike lanes. What goes around, comes around.
"Front Avenue ‘Coventrized’ by Hand of Progress; Ruins Warlike", July 31st 1941. The state had begun demolishing historic buildings along Front Avenue to make room for the short-lived Harbor Drive freeway, which was ripped out in the early 70s to make room for today’s Waterfront Park. This demolition is now widely regarded as a crime against historic preservation, but comparing it to Nazi Germany carpet-bombing Coventry, England is a bit much. Using this analogy today would be a great way to get fired from the newspaper business, but it seems that back in 1941 Godwin’s Law hadn’t been invented yet.
"Bunyan Statues Vie for ‘Biggest’ Title", July 5th 1959. Wherein civic boosters from Portland and Bangor, Maine squabbled over which city’s shiny new Bunyan statue was taller. It seems theirs was 31 feet tall, ours was 31 feet and a couple of inches tall, but theirs stood atop a six-foot pedestal and ours didn’t. And naturally the sides disagreed on whether the pedestal counted toward total statue height. This became a moot point in 1961 when an indisputably larger one was built at the Trees of Mystery in Northern California. The California Bunyan holds the record to this day.