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1-10-83 (Monday)


A former Oregon governor died last Saturday.
Tom McCall breathed his last in the hospital up the street. Good Samaritan.
A student nurse in my building cared for him at the end.
She said he’s a great guy. Everyone says it.
He seems like someone you’d like to know.
Oregon history’s Tom Vaughan remembered McCall as a great man with the ease of one used to seeing great men pass.
Vaughan explained how McCall and current governor Vic Atiyeh were formidable adversaries in politics and McCall probably died the day of Governor Atiyeh’s second term inauguration to best him one last time.
Dark humor at its finest?

From today’s vantage point, we’re all used to seeing great men pass.

Baby boomers across America have seen their dads, their mentors, their leaders, leave the stage. So has boomerpdx.

You never get used to it, this endless wave of mortality with a nasty break.

And it’s always a surprise.

First came the grandparents. Then MLK and the Kennedys. After our parents pass we know who’s next.

Northwest Portland in 1983 isn’t what you see today.

You could rent a $155/mo studio across from Heavy Number Taco, The Wheel of Fortune a few blocks away.

Many buildings remain the same, but the stories have changed.

The Esquire Theater on 23rd and Kearney? Changed.

Cinema 21? Right where you left it.

Friends from the era are still in my life. I married one of them.

Twenty eight years later we still visit the sites and tell stories about the hold up at Paolo’s Fine Food where the robber shot a can of chili.

Or the time a big strong man used his face to stop a fight.

Val’s Place for a beer or something to eat from the Italian place where Val’s sister worked.

The world was tidy then.

City living at it’s finest with food and friends on the same block, in the same building.

A typical weekend was a group going out together without worries about the future and who might be there.

No kids, no cars. Just a small apartment with a bike.

It changed a little bit when the neighbors, two guys, squared off on the sidewalk one night.

The little guy kept telling the big one they didn’t need to do this. He’d pepper the big guy with a flurry of jabs then tell him again, “We don’t need to do this.”

They stayed roommates afterward.

It changed a little more when a man barged into my apartment accidentally thinking his girlfriend was there.

We talked it out while he broke a lamp, pulled a phone cord out of the wall, and stomped my bike.

Big misunderstanding.

Today Oregon has a new leader in Governor Kate Brown.

Tom McCall passed away. Vic Atiyeh passed away. Tom Vaughan too.

Former governor Neil Goldschmidt left under the dark cloud he’d been living with for decades.

John Kitzhaber left with his girlfriend after she planned a life that may have tainted the governor’s office.

The old apartment house gang moved along. Some got married and had kids. Some changed teams. Some are waiting for bigger things to happen.

Portland baby boomers in their fifties and sixties still have hope for a better world.

The moves they made in 1983 set them up for 2015, the same as those in their twenties today are setting up a world thirty years away.

If you see something odd, ask the people involved. Chances are they have a plan you don’t know about.

Younger people watch boomers climb out of ruts, turn their lives around, embark on certain failures that turn out good.

We’ll never know what the next big deal is until we see proof.

What proof do you show for your effort?











About David Gillaspie
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