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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Salem in 1962

World Events
  • A crisis ends as Kennedy forces Khrushchev to stop delivering missiles to Cuba.
  • John Glenn orbits earth in Friendship 7.
  • Deaths of two American women: August 5, Marilyn Monroe; November 7, Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • Rachel Carson's Silent Spring warns of eco-danger.
In Salem
If the 1935 fire that destroyed the State Capitol building is the most remembered event in the city's history, the windstorm of 1962 probably ranks as the second.
The majority of structures in Salem experienced damage during that calamitous storm on Columbus Day. At its peak, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. that Friday, it brought gusts of 90 M.P.H. and sustained winds of over 70 M.P.H. The $4 million total damages to Salem were higher than for any disaster the City had yet seen. The storm came with little warning and hit hard. It crossed the Oregon-California border on Friday, October 12, at noon, moving north at 48 M.P.H., reaching Salem at mid-afternoon. The ferocity of the winds as they roared through Salem shocked residents. Downtown, pedestrians were hit by glass from shattering windows, and dodged flying debris. Shoppers trying to get home were knocked to the ground. Cars were blown onto sidewalks and yards. The large sign on the roof of the Elsinore Theater was battered and crumpled by the wind and part of a wall at the Capitol Press Building fell onto two cars; rain then poured into the building. The steeple was torn from the Christ Lutheran Church at 18th and State Streets and dropped onto the sidewalk. Trees were blown over and uprooted. On the Capitol grounds, a falling tree knocked over the 3 1/2 ton statue of The Circuit Rider. (The photo seen here is from the Hugh Stryker Collection.)

When you visit
A few months later, the statue was repaired and replaced on its plinth.
The Circuit Rider statue was sculpted by A. Phimister Proctor to honor Oregon's circuit-riding ministers. Robert A. Booth, whose father was a Methodist Episcopal circuit rider, presented the statue to the state as a gift in 1924. It was originally placed in an imposing location in front of the 1876 State House. When the Capitol was rebuilt in 1937, facing north instead of west, the Circuit Rider was repositioned among other statuary in a wooded area. The imposing memorial can be seen to the east of the Capitol on the path leading to Waverly Street.

Other Events
Purification ponds on Minto Brown Island, 1965
  • Boise Cascade purchases Oregon Pulp and Paper Company, a lumber company that began production at the same site in 1920. (The gabled roof of the Oregon Pulp and Paper Company building was still visible as part of the Boise Cascade plant when it was demolished in 2009.) After 1962 purchase, a yeast plant was added to convert byproducts of paper making into a food additive. In 1964 a container facility supplied cartons for food processing plants. Several improvements were made under Boise both to expand production and to meet air and water quality standards; purification lagoons were built on Minto Brown Island across the slough. Today these lagoons are both a protection from further water contamination and a hindrance to development of that section Minto Brown Island for public use. The industrial abuse of both the Willamette Slough and the island beyond makes urban development adjoining Riverfront Park's south border especially difficult. The plan for a pedestrian bridge from the park (beginning near the Eco Ball) must avoid disturbing the soil beneath the slough and the users of the bridge will have limited access to the island on the other side. A path will lead users to the now public section of the Minto Brown Park.
  • The Chemeketa Street property of the Church of Christ Scientist is sold in September, providing space for the future development of the Nordstrom Mall. Meanwhile, church members have purchased property at High and Kearney Streets from Willamette University for the purpose of constructing a new church. This was the site of the 1860 John Carson house. (See 1954)
  • Migrant Hispanic workers are employed in Marion County fields, but in Salem itself, the Latino population is small. Isabella Varela Ott moved to Salem in the 1950s to live with her daughter, Mary Varela Martinez, and her husband Pablo Martinez, a native of Peru. Mrs. Ott had a strong work ethic and wanted her children and grandchildren to have the same. She would take them out into the fields in the summers to pick beans, hops, and string beans. She also worked in local canneries. She was proud to be an American citizen and considered it a privilege to be able to vote and would do so at every opportunity. She also respected the people and culture of Mexico and stayed in contact with her son Luis who lived with his wife and family in Guadalajara. As the wife of a railway worker, she had access to a Southern Pacific pass that authorized her to travel free to Mexico. These trips continued every other year until her last one in 1971 at the age of seventy-six, twice taking her grandson David. She made it very clear that the American family should never forget their Mexican relatives. That grandson, Dr. David Martinez of Portland, recalls that theirs was one of only four Latino families in Salem in the 1960s and his social life as a high school teenager was difficult. 
Thomas Kay Mill in last years of operation
  • Thomas Kay Woolen Mill closes due to loss of business in a changing market. The mill had been under continuous ownership and management of three generations of the Kay family until it was sold to the Mission Mill Museum Association for $160,000 in 1965, after having been closed for three years. The Mission Mill Association restored it to show authentic manufacturing processes from the time, and to depict the industrialization of America. Its buildings, exhibits and tours are now the centerpiece of the Willamette Heritage Center. The Kay family home on Court Street, only a few blocks away from the mill itself, had been demolished in 1937 when the State of Oregon had appropriated the property for the first building of the North Capitol Mall. The Oregon State Library stands on the former residence site.

2 comments:

Salem Man said...

Very interesting story about the Circuit Rider. I now have some new material when doing tours of the Capitol building.

Virginia Green said...

I hope you will include some stories about Piety Hill families in your Capitol tours.