Shipwreck on the Willamette
Do you ever get a hankering to grab a 40-ouncer, and head down to the river for some relaxation and fun? While I wouldn't recommend swimming at this particular site because of the EXTREME danger to your health, I would recommend a good climb on one of Portland's prettiest shipwrecks. Check out this withering masterpiece made completely of wood, poke around a bit, then stand on the bow and take a long swig of Steel Reserve like the sailors of yore might have done. But whatever you do, don't get so wasted you fall off the boat and into the water. Unless of course you want a third testicle. KS
At the intersection of Willamette and Edgewater, take a left. Park and follow the trail down to the water. Stop at the Portway Tavern (7600 N Willamette, at the top of the hill) for a cold one when you're done.
PLACE TO GET A NICKNAME
St. Johns Bachelor Club
The St. Johns Bachelor Club was started by a small band of brothers nearly 100 years ago, to share manly camaraderie, help out the community, and toss back beers without a bunch of women spoiling their fun. Over the years, the membership list waxed and waned, but today stands strong as ever. Known for their benevolence, community service and athletic skills, the Bachelor Club may be best known for the odd nicknames they bestow upon their members.
I spoke recently with Brother Humm--an older chain-smoking man's man--about the Bachelor Club and it's history. The current club stands alone on an empty lot near the St. Johns library and a historic church.
"We name each brother. When they join the Bachelor Club, we give them a nickname. At club meetings and club functions, you can be kangaroo'd one dollar if you call anybody by his real name. There's a whole list, a roster of members nicknames."
The list goes back to the early 1910s.
"Usually it has something to do with their job. See, I'm Brother Humm. They named me that 25 years ago. I retired from the federal government, but they already had a Brother 'Fed.' Now, Joe Husted, the undertaker up there? He said that when I'd run a function or something, I'd get up on the mike and I always hummed when I talked. So Brother Humm."
Some of the names are so basic it hurts, such as Ply for the wood guy, Block the Butcher, Core the radiator shop guy, Mort the undertaker, and Brush the painter. Other nicknames are shameful reminders of embarrassing behavior, such as Brothers SOB and Crash.
As Brother Humm tells it, SOB's dad's name was Barf. "He got his name because he was out deep sea fishing with a bunch of the boys one day. He got seasick and barfed. So, he was Barf, and SOB is Son of Barf."
"Crash, well, hummm, he crashed about seven times driving down to our lodge down on the Wilson River."
Potential members must be recommended by a brother, and the club votes to accept or deny membership. But, Brother Humm says, the club will never ask you to join. "You have to have an interest and show that you would like to be a club brother. We have an investigative committee to make sure you're not an escaped prisoner or something."
In the old days, if someone got married, they'd be booted out. But after the crippling flu epidemic of 1918 and a half dozen wars, those restrictions were eased just to keep the lights on. Today, most members are married, and Brother Humm says new people are joining every day. JD
St. Johns Bachelor Club, 8204 N Central
Mock Crest Tavern
Is there any food as elegant and versatile--yet absolutely simple--as the pickle? A pickle can be served sliced or in its Full Monty glory. Martha Stewart has a sweet dill pickle salad, or perhaps you prefer your pickles minced as relish. Think about it: Pickles are the first food you crave. As a mere fetus, what do you demand from your mama? Pickles and ice cream, of course.
Refreshing and full of flavor, the pickles at Mock Crest are not your flaccid, water boogers that burger joints toss on the side as an afterthought. No sir, these pickles hold their own (and are served stuffed in a pint glass)--a meal unto themselves or a wonderful co-conspirator to a pint full of beer. PB
Mock Crest Tavern, 3435 N Lombard, $1.75 for a mug o'pickles!
YWCA FOR SALE
St. Johns YWCA
Looking for a YWCA to buy? Who isn't? Currently housing services for the elderly (elderly aerobics, lunchtime Bingo), this charming 8200-square-foot community center is on the auction block. With a spacious auditorium, locker rooms, and industrial-sized kitchen, there is room to grow here. Oh, and have you seen the lawn? Huge! More than enough space to sponsor a horseshoe tournament or a game of lawn darts--AT THE SAME TIME!
Oh sure, for the first few months of ownership you may need to put up with senile old folks wandering into your new compound looking for their weekly osteoporosis classes, but these visits will die off eventually, leaving you in peace... to start your own cult! Or to train a semi-pro curling team. With this much space--and plenty of meeting rooms--the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. PB
YWCA, 8010 N Charleston, contact realtor Doug Jones, 223-7181, asking price $475,000
WAR-TORN CROATIAN VILLAGE
Set of The Hunted
After wooing our city with his bedroom eyes and oily charm, Benicio del Toro left us a jaded, unsatisfied lover. God that movie SUCKED! But like most every love affair that eventually crashes and burns, there are often fond memories to be mined from the ashes.
During production for The Hunted, the otherwise peaceful residents of St. Johns were shaken from their beds by late-night explosions as the film crew tried to re-enact a war-torn Croatian village where the hunky del Toro was stationed. Some of the buildings have been bulldozed, but tucked snugly underneath the river bluffs, a few of the faux Croatian houses and market stores remain intact--complete with painted-on bullet holes (no, really, they look authentic in the movie).
Nighttime is the best time to visit the Disneyesque war-torn village. Officially it is "private property" so you will be "trespassing," but there are two good approaches. Either descend the switchback trail from the northwest corner of University of Portland campus or, from Van Houten St., cross the railroad tracks and sprint towards the warehouses. As with any Croatian village, it is important to have an escape route. There's often a night guard, and like Benicio del Toro, he may be armed. PB
Faux Croatian Village, dusk-dawn, trespassing is a $254 ticket
HAUNTED SUSPENSION BRIDGE
St. Johns Bridge
In 1949, 15-year-old Thelma Taylor was considered unpopular amongst her classmates. She was often teased and referred to as "stinky" because of her strong body odor. And while most teenagers usually overcome this type of adversity as they grow older, Thelma Taylor never got the opportunity.
In the summer of that year, Thelma had a job picking berries and was last seen on North Fessenden Street waiting for a "berry bus" to take her to work. She was abducted, and taken to the area below St. Johns bridge (now known as Cathedral Park) which was overgrown with brush. For a week she was tied up, held captive, and raped until she eventually died.
According to the Ghosts of North Portland website (
http://home.comcast.net/~hmb01/ghosts/ghosts.htm) , every summer the police get calls of terrified, pain-riddled screams coming from the bridge--but when they arrive, the source of the screams can never be found. Are the cops victims of vivid imaginations? Tell that to the ghost of Thelma Taylor. WSH