Ninety and Counting
I was a contentedly employed editor on a trade magazine when I saw a want ad for the Oregon Quarterly editorship fourteen years ago. I hadn’t updated my résumé in ten years because I wasn’t looking for work. But . . . Oregon Quarterly was something special because of my love for and gratitude toward the University of Oregon, which had changed my life by accepting, nurturing, and challenging a former college dropout to the point where I graduated with honors beyond my wildest expectations. And Oregon Quarterly was special, too, because when the magazine landed in my mailbox every three months—with tidbits like an economic analysis from Ed Whitelaw, a profile of Ann Curry, or an essay on Northwest literature by Robin Cody—it rekindled that spark of curiosity and discovery that the UO had lit in me, strengthening and deepening the connection I felt toward the University.
For ninety years, the University has produced a magazine for its alumni. For its first seventy-five years, it was called Old Oregon (and despite our best efforts, many people still call it that). The magazine has changed in many ways besides it name over those years—check out a sampling of covers and top stories on page 52.
I have felt a keen sense of responsibility as the carrier of this legacy. Four of the past six editors have been mentors and friends to me (Ken Metzler ’51, Barbara West ’69, M.A. ’74, Ph.D. ’89, Alan Baas, M.A. ’73, and Tom Hager, M.S. ’81—the five of us account for close to fifty years of the magazine’s history).
As much as the magazine has changed in its ninety years, at least since the Metzler era (which began in 1956), the magazine has been built around strong writing, compelling graphics—and editorial independence.
Editorial independence means that the magazine is edited for readers, not to serve the agenda of University administrators. There are other, better ways to communicate messages and talking points—and my colleagues here do that very well. A magazine tells stories that engage readers. A university magazine, a fellow editor once said, should be a gift to alumni that they are pleased to receive—not another way of asking them for something. If we do our jobs well, we develop and strengthen the relationship our readers feel toward the UO by showing, not telling (Journalism 101), the many ways this institution touches their lives and serves their communities.
Another one-time college dropout who eventually finished his degree at the UO, Jim Warsaw ’06, though a lifelong Californian, was drawn to study at the UO because of what he described as the “Oregon spirit.” As we mourn Jim’s recent death, we celebrate his embodiment of that spirit. Jim was a savvy businessman, a bit of a rebel, and as kind as they come. His eyes sparkled with that Oregon spirit whenever you met him on his frequent visits to this campus that he loved. And he gave back to the UO—not only with the money that helped found the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, but more profoundly with the way his spirit changed the lives of everyone who studied there, including my son, Corey, M.B.A. ’01.
You’ll find other faces and voices of the Oregon spirit in Marcus Mundy M.B.A. ’07 (page 38), Harold Toliver ’54 (page 28), Ana Maria Spagna ’89 (page 56), Dave Frohnmayer (page 56), and Alice Tallmadge, M.A. ’87 (page 32)—and throughout this issue.
Communicating that spirit—which cannot, thank goodness, be reduced to a paragraph or a catch phrase—is what this magazine is all about. For ninety years Old Oregon and Oregon Quarterly have told the rich and complex story of the University of Oregon, not in any single article or issue, but over time, through the mix of stories and people and ideas and images that fill these pages, have filled these pages since 1919, and will continue to fill pages into the foreseeable future.
A college buddy and I purchased the weekly newspaper in Canyonville, the Canyon Creek Current, in 1980. We eventually merged with a competing weekly in Myrtle Creek and created the Umpqua Free Press. I lived in Canyonville for five years—pre-casino, I tell people.
The highlight of producing the Canyonville paper each week was driving to Milo Academy, which served as regional publishing house for the Adventist church, and having our paper published on its press. During the two-hour wait, we would drive to the Tiller Tavern for lunch. We were exhausted (usually up all Tuesday night pasting up the paper) but happy. I also found my way to Tiller to cover stories, visit a girlfriend who worked at the ranger station, or run the twice-a-year Tiller to Milo ten-kilometer Scenic River Run. I never, ever tired of driving that stretch of Highway 227 between Canyonville and Tiller—it was always good tonic.
Thanks for sharing your essay about Tiller and Raymond Spore [“An Oregon Story," Editor’s Note, Spring 2009].
Jeff Wright, M.S. ’87
We didn’t know Raymond Spore [Editor’s Note], but his image, and many like him, springs to mind from our forty years in Oregon. He represented a “state” of mind of rural Oregon. How refreshing!
George ’65 and Susan Corrigan ’65
San Marcos, California
A note of appreciation for the Editor’s Note in the Spring 2009 issue. The story is so remarkably like our own from back then. We were also a group of long-haired kids from Elsewhere who ended up on the banks of the South Umpqua, largely due to the efforts of one couple, Pete and Sharon. We purchased twenty-two wooded acres on the Umpqua about seven miles upriver from Days Creek.
We too had elderly neighbors who befriended us despite our appearances and clueless ways. Jim and Evelyn McKuen were probably in their sixties back then. Evelyn in particular was invaluable in teaching us how to maintain a viable garden despite the persistent deer and how to can and preserve what we grew. That first summer (’72) was the best: languid days skinny-dipping in the river, picking blackberries on the wild scrub island next to our land, and playing our guitars and fiddles. But after four months of country life, as much as we had enjoyed it, most of us reluctantly came to understand that we were urban-suburban creatures whose futures realistically would take shape elsewhere. So we moved back south to California, in my case to San Francisco with my girlfriend (and wife-to-be and one-time UO student), Kathy Patterson, who had shared the summer with me. Only Pete and Sharon remained committed to the dream and set down roots on the Umpqua.
They, too, eventually left the land, to move to Roseburg, where they remain to this day. For those of us who experienced “The Land” (as we will always think of it), it now exists only in our memories, but those memories are among the best of our lives. Thanks for reminding us how amazing those days were.
So much enjoyed “An Oregon Story,” particularly because I met Raymond and had my initial Oregon experience there in Days Creek (1971) with my fellow Los Angeles escapee, Jim Heilman, whose younger brother, Robert Leo, appears on page 34 of Oregon Quarterly [“Why We Celebrate"]. Those were most memorable days filled with adventures and friends. Because of Jim, I had a place to stay and a mailing address which brought me an interview (successful) offer to teach in Camas Valley: my ticket out of LA! Later I received a master in education from the UO.
Both Raymond and Jim have recirculated themselves, but they remain with me. Thanks for the memories.
Wayne Powell, M.Ed. ’83
My husband, Steve Au ’60, receives the Oregon Quarterly, which he shares with me, and I was very impressed by “Sweet and Sour Globalization” by Sona Pai [Upfront, Spring 2009].
I too love mangoes, and at our hillside home in Lanikai, Hawaii, I have planted seventeen varieties and boast several Indian varieties: Bennett Alphonse, Himayat, Alampur Baneshan—baby trees that are about two feet tall that arrived recently from India and were planted last month in my garden. It will take about three or four years before they fruit, but I have other varieties that have been planted since 1976 and I’m enjoying their sweet taste, some almost fiberless.
I, too, bend over the sink when I eat the seeds of our wonderful crops. Hawaii with its warm sunny days sometimes gets two seasons in a year.
If Pai is ever in our neck of the woods in the summer, I would love to share stories of mangoes and the taste and fruits with her.
I worked in Hong Kong for several years in the sixties and remember fondly one summer when a flight attendant from Lufthansa arrived with a basket of Indian mangoes for us, the ground staff. Those mangoes were huge, beautiful, and sweet.
This year will be great for mangoes unless we have a terrible wind storm. All over the state, the trees are flowering and mangoes are already available in the markets and home garden.
Where in the drawing at the top of page 22 [“Briefs,” Upfront, Spring 2009] is the new Ford Alumni Center? I walked by there last week, and I thought the center was being built in the triangle between 13th and Franklin, the old parking lot, not on top of the Hamilton Complex? Renderings on page 45 are more accurate. Thanks for great work in general.
Ray Honerlah, M.S ’64, Ph.D. ’68
Editor’s note: The drawing on page 22 is correct. The Ford Alumni Center will be at the corner of East 13th and Columbia, next to the Matthew Knight Arena and across the street from the Hamilton Complex. The construction in the triangle at East 13th and Franklin is for the new Jaqua Academic Learning Center.
How disappointing it was to open the first issue of Oregon Quarterly since the historic elections in November and find an article featuring two Oregon grads who proudly stood on the wrong side of history. [“The Right Stuff,” Old Oregon, Spring 2009].
Why not feature some of the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Oregon graduates who worked (and continue to work) on reversing the terrible course in which Republicans have steered our country for the last eight years?
I understand and respect the need for diversity in all areas, politics especially, on a university campus. But should we be proud of graduates who, apparently, were among the architects of a failed campaign that ended up relying on the worst of politics—smears and lies?
Chad Sullivan ’01
I disagree with William Pederson that Mary Lincoln was all that stood between Lincoln and the Oregon governorship in 1849 [“Oregon’s Loss, Democracy’s Gain,” Old Oregon, Spring 2009]. Mary was not the only ambitious one in the family. As Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, is often quoted as saying, “Lincoln’s ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.” In 1849 Lincoln was busy trying to pass out Whig patronage in Illinois through the new Whig president Taylor, and wasn’t seeking office for himself until an adversary for the Illinois Land Office prompted Lincoln to seek that post. He was torpedoed by a Taylor cabinet member for that post, but Lincoln’s voluminous correspondence in his Collected Works regarding this period shows no interest by him in Oregon.
David Herbert Donald concluded in Lincoln (1995) that Lincoln put the “blame” on Mary, but that he realized that Oregon was overwhelmingly Democratic at that time and would never elect a Whig upon statehood, a belief that later became fact. Moreover, Oregon was in the throes of the long hunt, capture, trial, and hanging of members of the Umatilla tribes following Whitman’s fiasco of returning to Oregon against the advice of his church and Oregon pioneers. The overarching Whitman story could hardly have helped encourage a man to move his family from his established law practice and political base. Lincoln’s choice not to move to Oregon was most probably due to Lincoln’s reluctance to abandon his political base in Illinois. Contemporaneously in Oregon, there were few, if any, established communities outside of Oregon City. Indeed, at the time of the Whitman killings, Oregon wasn’t formally a territory yet. Counsel for the Umatilla defendants raised jurisdictional challenges at the trial (after formal territoriality was rushed through Congress) about the applicability of U.S. laws. “Governor” Lincoln was never a serious possibility in Lincoln’s mind, in my humble opinion.
Thanks for the excerpt from Daniel Pope’s book [“Whoops!” Upfront, Spring 2009]. I took four classes from him and have fond memories of his help and friendship.
George Stevens ’80
In the Spring 2009 issue, Chuck Chicks ’56, ’60 suggests that “everything attributed to Alaby Blivet ’63 was actually done by a classmate of the same name” [“Mistaken Identity,” Letters].
Sorry, Chuck; no cigar. It’s a logical mistake, though. Alaby moves from interest to interest and place to place so fast that many people assume he’s at least twins. Other people suggest Alaby doesn’t exist at all. I’ve known the man for almost forty years. He does exist and is not a twin. Trust me.
I first met him in a cloud of tear gas and pepper spray swirling around protesters behind Johnson Hall on April 23, 1970. I was there as associate editor of Old Oregon, gathering info for an article. Alaby had driven to Eugene from his home in Blivet Junction, Utah, in order to take part in the protests. “Seemed like a good idea at the time,” he said later.
(There’s a photo of Alaby at that protest on page seven of the July-August 1970 issue of Old Oregon. His features aren’t real clear, but trust me; it’s him.)
Unexpected encounters like that first meeting characterize our four-decade friendship. My phone rings at 3:00 in the morning; it’s Alaby calling from an archaeological dig in Afghanistan. Somebody taps me on the shoulder when I’m standing in line for a movie; it’s Alaby and his wife, Sara Lee, dropping by on their way to somewhere (their sky-blue 727 is parked at the Redmond airport). My e-mail account chokes on a couple gigs of photos from Thailand; Alaby is there to touch up his meditation skills.
Alaby’s alumni notes may read like fantasy, but they capture his essence. His life is a reminder that a fuzzy boundary exists between reality and legend; we risk missing the truth of one if we cease to believe in the other.
Stan Bettis ’63
Editor’s note: Stan Bettis was editor of Old Oregon in 1971–72, and associate editor for two years before that.
The Winter issue of Oregon Quarterly has several references and articles about the original White Stag building on Burnside in Portland. The mention of this building brought back many memories of my initial year employed by White Stag Manufacturing Company. After graduating from the UO in 1952 and getting my master’s at New York University in 1953, I started a career in the apparel industry with White Stag (later Warnaco), which lasted forty-three years. I vividly remember the initial “sales training” year, beginning in the building warehouse and shipping basement, then moving up to the main floor, where all of the executive offices were located as well as sales showroom, accounting, design, and pattern making. On the floors above were the fabric storage, cutting room, and dozens of sewing machine operators. Of course, on top of the building was the now famous White Stag sign. This building was originally the Hirsch-Weiss facility and made canvas sails for ships and waterproof clothing for the outdoor lumber industry. Founder Max Hirsch’s son, Harold, originated the White Stag label for apparel in this building, beginning with skiwear and later sportswear apparel.
It is certainly fitting that this original White Stag building has now been renovated for current UO functions.
Conrad Christensen ’52
Vail, Colorado, and Scottsdale, Arizona