Portland

"Bunco" KelleyBy Finn J.D. John
In the shadowy world of late-1800s Portland waterfront folklore, there’s nobody who quite cuts the figure of a man named Joseph Kelley — better known by the nickname he carefully cultivated: Bunco Kelley.
Kelley was a crimp — that is, one of those tough waterfront characters involved in the trade of furnishing sailors, willing or not, to ship captains in need of a crew.
Kelley was also an easy and chronic liar with a real flair for a dramatic story — which means it’s often difficult to tell his fact from fiction.
In today’s article, we’ll explore the facts of Bunco Kelley’s life as best we are able to know them. Next week, we’ll turn to the spectacular legends that grew up around this unusually colorful bad guy.

Vortex stageBy Finn J.D. John
As the last weekend of August 1970 approached, many Oregonians were sort of holding their breath.
The American Legion was coming to town for its annual convention. The theme was “Victory in Vietnam.” President Richard Nixon would be there. And so would a group of particularly belligerent anti-war activists who had pointedly declined to renounce violence as a tool of protest.
Everyone seemed to be spoiling for a fight: the Legion, the activists, the Portland city police and even President Nixon.

Hitler saluteBy Finn J.D. John
(Editor’s note: This is one of three articles about this event.)
Around midsummer in 1970, Ed Westerdahl finally agreed to talk to the two scruffy hippies who’d been politely pestering him for the previous week.
The hippies — Robert Wehe and Glen Swift — had come to Salem from Portland in an old Opel Kadett. They wanted to talk to the governor, Tom McCall, and Westerdahl was McCall’s chief of staff. Westerdahl had initially blown them off, hoping they’d give up and go away, but they’d shown no sign of doing so. And so, no doubt with a heavy sigh, Westerdahl had them come in to talk to him.

Pioneer SquareBy Finn J.D. John
In January of 1969, the owners of Meier and Frank Department Stores in Portland had a problem.

Opium denBy Finn J.D. John

Most people think of opium today with a certain kind of mild romantic  nostalgia. We know it was bad, and people got hurt, but opium and the  demi-monde that developed around it had a certain dark allure with its  fragrant, smoky fumes and its elegant, exotic smoking rituals.

Sunken PT boatBy Finn J.D. John
The Porpoise was one ugly boat in 1992 when the guys from Portland first laid eyes on it.
It was a massive, weatherbeaten old hulk, 78 feet long and 20 feet wide, wallowing by the dock on Treasure Island in the Alameda estuary.

Mayor Geprge BakerBy Finn J.D. John

George L. Baker, the big, bluff, hail-fellow-well-met owner of Portland’s Baker Theater, was flabbergasted. As he and his fellow Portland Rosarians were getting ready to march in the 1917 Rose Festival parade, a courier had run up to him with a cryptic message:
“The grand marshal’s car awaits,” the messenger puffed. “Hurry and get in and don’t delay the parade.”
“Why, I’m not grand marshal,” Baker replied, puzzled.

Will DalyBy Finn J.D. John

Late on the evening of June 2, 1917, the Portland Morning Oregonian sprang a trap – a cunning and dirty trap.
The always-formidable daily newspaper, owned and edited by Henry Pittock following the death of the legendary Harvey Scott, had thrown its weight behind a big, boisterous City Council member named George Baker in the race for Portland city mayor. But in a fierce race with Union man and small-business owner Will Daly, Baker was clearly on track to lose.

War posterBy Finn J.D. John
Nobody remembers it today, because it was so long ago. But the outbreak of the First World War changed Oregon – and the rest of the United States – a great deal.
News of America’s entry into the fight was greeted with excitement, eagerness and dread. But there was one particular group of Oregonians for whom the dread was particularly pronounced: The German-American community.

Crooked gamblersBy Finn J.D. John

In November 1892 in downtown Portland, a “fast” young man named J.P. Cochran stepped off a passenger train from St. Louis, Missouri.
J.P. was the dashing 22-year-old son of a railroad executive. In St. Louis, he’d been running amok in the saloons and “faro banks,” getting into lots of high-spirited trouble with fast women and irresponsible friends. His father, wanting to get him away from the company he was keeping, had come up with a scheme to send him off to what he no doubt considered the most sober, hardworking, Little-House-on-the-Prairie-like place on Earth: Oregon.

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.