SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Salem in 1921

World Events
  • Warren Harding is elected President of the United States.
  • The post-war stock market boom begins.
  • Glider flights and racing car events are popular.
  • The old game of table tennis is revived.

In Salem
Commercial steamboats on the Willamette became less frequent. However, shallow draft sternwheelers still signaled for the raising of the lift span. In 1924 drifting ice damaged a ship at the foot of Court Street. These were perilous times for water commerce: higher costs during the Depression ten years later almost stopped river traffic. In 2002 Harvey Fox remembered when, as a youngster selling newspapers from his corner at Court and Commercial, he would listen for the steamboat signal at three o'clock in the afternoon twice a week. It announced the arrival of cargo from Portland. Harvey would rush down to the dock to sell his papers at 5 cents each. He also fondly recalls the delicious cinnamon bun he would purchase from the ship's bakery.

When you visit
Today an excursion stern-wheeler is the last vestige of what was once a vital link in Salem's commercial life: steamboat traffic on the Willamette. The lift span of the former Union Street Railroad Bridge is now locked place and the tracks have been transformed into a platform for pedestrians, bikers and emergency vehicles if they are needed. After an April 2009 opening, the bridge was temporarily closed for lead paint encapsulation, but opened again in May 2010. By summer of 2014, pedestrians walking west on the trestle could look down to the right approaching Wallace Marine Park and see new a path leading to Willamette River lookout. The river now accommodates only the Willamette Queen and recreational water craft.

Other events
  • G.E.Halverson becomes mayor.
  • The Gospel Mission serves the needy out of the Wade Smith building.
  • The fire department establishes a two-platoon system so fire fighters worked every other day.
  • The city's streetcars are losing money: Superintendent Billingsley announces a deficit of $43,000.
  • The State fairgrounds are annexed to the city.
  • The Salem Alliance Church begins service with six families. Mrs. Isabelle White is lay pastor.
  • Charles Maxwell, and African-American citizen of Salem had a shoeshine business on State Street that attracted attention. This year a letter signed by the local Ku Klux Klan over a skull and crossbones was published in the Capital Journal which was addressed to him with the message that "We have stood you as long as we intend to stand you, and you must unload, if you don't we will come to see you." He did not leave town and his business grew to two locations. In 1928 he opened the Fat Boy Barbecue in the Hollywood section. With his wife and four daughters, he was admitted to the First Methodist Church as a member and one daughter was married in that church. However, another daughter, Maxine, was denied a room in a women's dormitory at OSU. Mr. Maxwell lost his business during the Depression.
  • The Pringle School building is enlarged with the rooms and facilities that would remain until 1987.
  • The Highland Friends Church is rebuilt on property developed by the Oregon Land Company. J. H. Minthorn, the owner, had donated land for the church. The bell, the side facing stained glass windows, and the decorative gable in the Gothic style with the inscription "1891" were taken from the old church to be used in the present structure. The church, now serving a different religious congregation, is a local Landmark in the Highland neighborhood.

The Becke House
The Compton House
  • Bungalows continue to be a favorite new home style as seen in the Becke House on the popular Summer Street of the Grant neighborhood. It was apparently built for Karl and Helen Becke, although they did not live there. The earliest owner-occupants were William and Gertrude Walker who resided here in 1934. Mr. Walker was associated with the Economy Grocery Store. The residence maintains its original appearance and is now a Local Landmark. Also on Summer Street, William Post built a home for Henry Compton and his wife Vera. Their son, Stuart Compton, remembers that in the 1930's Summer Street was not 99E and neighborhood boys played ball in the street. Only a few blocks of these once socially prominent “Summer Street” homes remain today, several of these moved north to their present sites as State buildings of the North Capitol Mall replaced residences. The present owner of the Compton house and his neighbors are preserving the dignified character of this Salem.
  • Nearby on Winter Street, the 1921 Ford and Perry houses were built this year. Both were relocated to the Heritage Park on D Street in 2000 when the North Mall Office Building was constructed.
  • A house for the Douglas Minto family is built next door to the original home on Saginaw Street. These houses are now National Register properties in the SCAN neighborhood.
Below - From Ben Maxwell's Salem, Oregon, edited by Scott McArthur, 2006:
  • Marion County Judge, George Bingham blamed dance halls and a craving for amusement as major causes for divorce. "The family is scattered. They are too busy hunting excitement...Pool halls young men frequent today are the very cradles of crime." Since 1895, the judge and his wife had lived at 1116 Mission Street, a house on an estate that would later, under the ownership of Alice Brown Powell, be named Deepwood.
  • Twenty-six new members were installed into the KuKlux Klan at Salem. C. K. Pilkington, Kleagle of the Oregon Realm, said that Klan membership was increasingly rapidly in this locality and that 250 belonged in one local district.

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