Sunday, October 24, 2010

Portland Thoughts, At the Breakfast Table

(Author's Note: I recently had the opportunity to attend my great-aunt and great-uncle's 60th wedding anniversary with a lot of other family in Denver. It was a real blast, and one of the awesome moments was having my aunt-and-uncle's best friends come in for a surprise, who had been the matron of honor and best man at their wedding. Sunday morning, we were sitting around the breakfast table at the hotel and they started reminiscing about Portland, back in the fifties. It was a wonderful moment that I had to recreate from memory, an hour later--I didn't want to record it and break the moment. The following is the best I can remember.)

Our apartment back then had bunk beds.

That’s right! Bunk beds. Because there was no space for two beds side by side. But it was classy--hey, it had a separate bedroom! That was CLASS.

That’s right, and in the living room we had that double bed, with wheels on the top.

That’s right. If we had overnight guests, we’d lay it flat, you know, but in the daytime we’d push it up against the wall, and it became a couch, you know, because one side of the double bed had wheels on it and it ran up against the wall.

Like a futon, these days.

That’s right.

We shared a bathroom with the couple next to us, and SHE kept the bathroom clean.

That’s right. That was a miracle, such a boon for two bachelors living alone, you know.

Yes. And the walls were so thin that she could easily hear our alarm through the walls, so when our alarm went off, she used to jump up and run into the bathroom first.

That’s right, and one day we got wise to this, so Dave set his alarm for three o’clock in the morning.


(Dave: I cannot confirm my actions at that time.)

They were such a nice couple, though, that the husband--what was his name?


That’s right, Hap. Hap found me (Jimmy) the next day and said, “Hey, you know my wife gets up when she hears your alarm, and I think yesterday you might have set it wrong! I hope you didn’t get up late or miss an important meeting.”

(More laughter)

And he meant it, too--he was concerned about us.

That’s right. And then he was so nice about the girls.

That’s RIGHT! The landlady, would only rent to couples, normally, but she made an exception for Dave and I, but she said: “NO GIRLS.” We weren’t allowed to have any lady guests at all in the apartment.

That’s right. So Hap says to me, (Dave), “Don’t worry about it,” he says. “If you want to have lady friends over, you just tell me, and we’ll run ‘em through my apartment.”


And when it rained, we had to put a PLANK down to walk over to the university.

That’s right. Thirty bucks a month, we paid for that place, fifteen a piece.

(Joan speaking.) And then there was that big house on Stevens street that we lived in right after we were married. And we threw a New Year’s Eve party.

(Dave speaking) And that was the LAST New Year’s eve party we EVER threw. All my fraternity brothers came, and their wives and girlfriends, and it got pretty wild.

[Name forgotten] got so mad that we ran out of fixings for Tom and Jerry’s, and so he went into the kitchen and scooped that stuff out of the sink!

(Joan) That’s right. We threw a dinner party there and we [she and Matron of Honor] were making spaghetti, because that was all we could afford in those days, and we didn’t have a colander so we were draining it over the sink and the lid came off and there went all the spaghetti, right into the sink.

[Matron of Honor] We looked around, and we didn’t see anyone, so we just scooped it out of the sink and put it back in the pan.


Well, there wasn’t any more! To serve, I mean, or eat. That was all we had.

That was a wonderful old house, though. On that New Year’s eve party, Margaret’s husband Whitney was supposed to leave for Korea the next day, and in the middle of the festivities, he quietly left the party and went out to his car. No one saw him go.

All of a sudden we hear a gunshot.

All of us, thinking the worst, run out to the car, and there is Whitney with the gun in his hand, very calm. He had just fired it in celebration of the New Year. It was a tradition with him.

That’s right! He fired it into the ground, though, not into the air, because he was smart and careful.

Yes, he was very savvy with guns. Always was.

That was a wonderful old house. It was old and large and falling apart, but I loved it. They knocked it down, you know, because they put the street through there.

Oh, I didn’t know!

Yes, it’s gone.

Well, it wouldn’t have lasted long anyway. It was falling apart. Needed a lot of work.

(Dave) Like that cabin that my father’s friend, Jay Gould, (Author's note: ?) had. It was out by the lake. We used to go out there, and fish during the day and play cards at night, and he (Jay) had to have the biggest and best of everything, so one year he buys this gigantic, high-powered, portable radio. This thing was HUGE, I remember, although of course most of the size was due to the batteries. And it was my job, back when Portland had a ball team, to listen to the radio and call out the score. And I could barely hear it, because the reception was so bad, but still it was my job to sit with my ear pressed against that goddamned thing.

What was that announcer’s name?

Randy Truitt. (Author's note: I got this wrong.)

(Wow, there’s a name I haven’t heard in fifty years.)

Yes, Randy Truitt. And when they hit the ball, he’d announce it, and he had a matchbox in the press box and he’d flick the matchbox--thwock--so that it sounded like you could really hear it.

That’s right.

Right before we got married, Joan’s mother knew that she was going to move out, so we moved her into a much smaller apartment downtown, so she could get to work easily.

That’s right--right around the corner from the big Unitarian church. I slept on a cot in the living room, because we knew it wouldn’t be for long.


(Author's Note: It sounds so...simple. I'm not one to be nostalgic, but...awww.)

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