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

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Salem in 1939

World Events
  • The first manufactured turbine jet plane was for the German Air Force, piloted by Erich Warsitz.
  • In September the Germans invade England's ally, Poland and World War II begins.
  • Popular songs like "The Last Time I Saw Paris" reflect war anxieties.
  • Nylon stockings appear ~ temporarily.
  • Television is officially introduced in America, but will not be available until late 1940s.
In Salem

One Salem citizen, Ralph Barnes, with his young wife and two daughters, is witnessing the political affairs in Europe as Foreign Correspondent for the NY Herald Tribune. The news Ralph is getting from his Salem father that the new State Library in the North Capitol Mall has been completed and that the Piety Hill homes along Court Street will be demolished next, for the Public Service Building. The Barnes handsome family home on Chemeketa Street, threatened by the construction of the state buildings on the North Capitol Mall, is safe for the present. Ralph learns that Charles Sprague, owner, editor, and publisher of the Oregon Statesman newspaper has been elected governor.
This scene, looking west on State Street, would be familiar to Ralph. Business is picking up with industry anticipating wartime contracts and increased employment. With few suburbs, downtown is in easy walking distance for many residents. It is the center of shopping and professional appointments for adults, for teenagers' drugstore sodas after school and movies on weekends, for family church services. But this is a watchful and anxious time as residents of Salem gather around their radios to listen to the news broadcasts and President Roosevelt's "fire-side chats".

When you visit
Many of these buildings remain, but of significant loss is the Capitol Theater to the left with its marquee dome. It was demolished in 2001: the lot remains empty with the only the back wall of the theater as evidence of its past presence. Beyond the next intersection at High Street, the interurban electric rail line, even then, no longer operated; travel of any distance was by automobile. Other familiar landmarks of this photograph remain, several recently renovated. From left to right, the Livesley Building, still our only skyscraper at 11 floors, the Pioneer Trust Bank and the Masonic Hall. Since 2001, a significant part of downtown has been accepted on the National Register of Historic Places and Heritage Tourism is encouraged. The new Grand Hotel and Conference Center have replaced the Marion Hotel (which was destroyed by fire in 1971) as a social center for both residents and visitors. Civic efforts are strongly focused on bringing more business downtown.

Other Events
  • William W. Chadwick becomes mayor. He is among the group at the railroad station greeting Prince Olaf and Princess Martha of Norway on their brief stop in Salem. Since 1926, William W. and Lorena Chadwick had made their home at 1390 Winter Street NE. (above) Mr. Chadwick had been in Salem for only a few years, having been the Postmaster in Canby before 1921. From 1932, He rose in his local hotel career, becoming manager of the Senator Hotel, and General Manager of the Chadwick Hotel Co. Inc. and Chadwick Operating Company. The Chadwicks continued to live in their Winter Street home through his death in 1968.
 
  • With the Patton residence gone, the new Oregon State Library and one remaining tree loom over empty space. The first of four state buildings envisioned for North Capitol Mall, it is an impressive structure. Faced in Georgia marble, granite steps lead to the main entrance, on the east, and the seal of Oregon, carved by Gabriel Lavare. This artist also created the "Pioneer Mother" statuary in the main lobby, the brass elevator, and the decorative architectural features of the second floor; plaques along the wall memorialize persons and symbols important in Oregon history.
  • The last two Salem Civil War veterans, John Olsen and Al Feilen, march in the Memorial Day parade.
  • South of town, the Buena Vista ferry operates across the Willamette near the town of Independence.
  • At Wheatland to the north, another ferry is in operation. One commercial ferry or another has crossed the Willamette River between Yamhill and Marion Counties for over 160 years.
  • Hugh Morrow becomes Director of the Salem Public Library, beginning a more than 30 career of service to that facility and our cultural community.
  • The first wedding takes place in the new Oregon State Capitol.
From the Capitol Journal:
  • Plans to extend water mains into the Salem Heights area reached the stage for voter approval.
  • Salem High School was dropped from the basketball tournament because of participation in the "riot" staged after the Salem-Chemewa game in March.
  • A Salem man was asking for a divorce from his wife, alleging she struck him in the face without first removing his eyeglasses.
  • The following comics were features: Little Orphan Annie, Reg'lar Fellows, Tailspin Tommy, Dumb Dora, Bringing Up Father and Mutt and Jeff.
  • The American Legion's Committee on Subversive Activities reported that four un-American organizations were active in Oregon: Young Communists, the Communist party, German-American Bund and the Silver Shirts. The Silver Shirts were potentially most dangerous since they relied on the "vigilante spirit" in achieving their un-American ends.
  • In November, other municipalities of Oregon referred to the city government of Salem as a "three ring circus" because its affairs were conducted by a mayor and 14 councilmen serving without pay and each responsible only for the department immediately under individual control.

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