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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Salem in 1946

World Events
  • The UN holds its first General Assembly.
  • Churchill speaks: "The iron curtain has descended in Europe."
  • U.S. Army's ENIAC, which used decimal arithmetic, is first general purpose electronic computer.
  • The navy tests an improved atomic bomb over the tiny Bikini Island.
  • "Annie Get Your Gun" is a hit musical.
In Salem

Shopping returns to importance for the ladies and in April a new supply of nylon hose for sale at Miller's Department Store causes a line to form out into Chemeketa Street. The Office of Price Administration set a goal of producers supplying six pairs of nylon hose for every woman in the country by June. 
Returning servicemen discover finding a place to live is among their biggest problems immediately after the war. Veterans housing was hastily put up in Salem and their families moved in. But soon new small "tract houses" began appearing in former farmlands as new subdivisions multiplied on the edges of town. The city grew to meet the demand for services and patches of land were annexed where the developments were growing. Young parents with children (who later became known as Baby Boomers) found a community of their own outside the core of the city. Their interests in common were based on the husband's job security, a social life based on church going, back-yard neighborhood barbecue parties and looking forward to prosperity their own parents had lost in the Depression.

When you visit
Miller's Department Store of that year is now restored to its original name as Reed Opera House. It contains many specialty shops, cafes and offices, serving as a true "mall" in a local heritage site. Many illustrated panels in the hallways describe the events of the building's history.

Other events
  • A small country school south of Salem, founded by the Pringle family in 1856, has an opportunity in 1946 to add classes on Battle Creek and Boone Road corner. The Pleasant Point School was divided into two sections and dragged two miles up Boone Road to be attached to Pringle School. Growing school populations would make new building an urgent concern for the next generation. A 1956 photograph shows a bus dropping students off in the 100th year of this busy school. In 1987 the public school was built in a new location. This site has recently been utilized as a private institution and as offices. It is the most historic structure in the South Gateway neighborhood.
  • The site is selected for Detroit Dam. The dam and its reservoir transformed the North Santiam Canyon. Nearly 200 residents of the unincorporated town of Detroit were moved, and Oregon State Highway 22 and the North Santiam River were realigned. Over 1,000 dam workers and engineers labored on the project, many of whom moved into nearby towns, including Mill City, Idanha, Gates, and a new town of Detroit.
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  •  Two residences of prominent earlier residents are demolished: the home of former Governor Stephen Chadwick at Capitol and Center Streets (above); and the pioneer John Zieber's house in the area that would become Keizer (below right)
  • Another old-timer having a portrait this year is the Star Exchange on the northwest corner of Commercial and Chemeketa Streets. In the 1890s (or earlier) it had been the State Insurance Company with the YMCA upstairs - where the first Salem basketball game was held in its gym. It was also the first Salem Elks Lodge and housed many other civic ventures. This venerable building lasted until at least 1981. (below)
  • The Capitol Journal newspaper gets a new home on Chemeketa Street.
  • A rail strike closes train traffic out of the local station.
  • David Duniway, who will become the leader in local historical preservation, becomes the Oregon State Archivist. To quote Elisabeth Walton Potter, “David was recruited from a National Archives field supervisory position in San Francisco to head the newly created Archives Division within the Oregon State Library. He was a great repository of facts concerning the capital city. The figures of early Salem and Oregon history were his familiars. He knew them from their papers, journals, published writings, and the documents they signed. Who better to write the entry about “Salem” for the 1964 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica?"
  • Miss Sally Bush dies at the age of 86 and is buried with her family in the I.O.O.F Cemetery, now the Pioneer Cemetery. Before her death this year, the sale of Bush family land to the city of Salem was completed by Henry Compton, trusted friend of Bush family and officer of Pioneer Trust Company. The purchase of the upland 47 acres was made subject to a life estate in the home site for Sally and A. N. Bush. The home site was the area from the south side of the barn to Mission Street and High Street to the top of the hill going down into the lowlands. Effective on the purchase date, the city gained possession and control of the uplands except the life estate area and the 53 acres of the lowlands less the area sold by the city to Willamette.

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