Skip to content

Frank at Powells

The streetcar approached Burnside, the Powells sign was out the window and Frank saw a young woman, short, to the shoulder black hair, big confident strides, crossing the street.  She reminded him of his daughter, Pattie when she first worked at the Library, not yet twenty, her first job.  The large Powell’s Marque was framed by the window of the streetcar. Pattie’s story (here a link)  of the strike and picket line at Powell’s returned to him.  He could see her tight earnest smile when she first told him the story. 

A young student across the isle dropped his newspaper on the floor of the streetcar.  Frank followed the newspaper to the floor.  His mind wandered to Johnny from high school years at Lincoln High.  Johnny wanted to be a journalist and work for the Oregonian like his dad.  In high school he wrote for the school newspaper, “The Cardinal”. 

Then 1959 happened, the newspaper strike.  Johnny’s dad, Dave lost his job at the Oregon Journal during the strike.  The strike at the paper lasted for years.   

The streetcar does not move, a problem with the streetcar wheelchair ramp.

Still remembering Johnny, he wasn’t going to college like most of his friends.  His dad had been out of work for over a year by then.  Frank still remembered the look on Johnny’s face, stoic and tense, how hard it was that he was staying home.  

Remembering Johnny’s flashy outfits brought a smile to Frank’s face.  He was always a sharp dresser.  They were in different worlds after high school.  Frank in the dormitory at school, Johnny at home but they stayed in touch writing to one another.

Johnny’s dad, Dave kept writing but not for the Oregon Journal  The Journal which was the afternoon paper was sold to its competitor, the Oregonian.  The circumstances of the sale led to lots of speculation, some wondering, was the strike all about eliminating the competition?  The Journal stopped publication in 1982.

The Streetcar glided past the windows where the Powells internet shipping room once was and Frank thought again of Pattie, his daughter.  Her story was from inside the shipping room on the day of the Powells strike and picket.

“How ya doin’?  Frank heard Johnny’s voice.  A friendly down home voice.  He remembered Johnny’s eyes.  HIs eyes, animal-like, were always looking around and alert.  It’s no wonder Johnny became a reporter, even after what happened to his dad.  The newspaper strike was long from (1959 to 1965).  And the strike created a multitude of stories, tragedies and triumphs.

The exploding delivery trucks January 1961 Frank remembered best. The “January Boom, Boom”, the Oregonian headline.  It was the day the trucks, trucks delivering the Oregonian were dynamited, at two locations.  It was early in the morning there were no injuries.  The employees on strike were sure the Oregonian had something to do with the bombing, but the strikers were blamed.  One of the type setters on the union negotiating team was later convicted of the bombings, on shaky evidence.  All of the Unions at the newspaper were eventually eliminated.

The streetcar came to a stop.