Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Canby, Oregon is a quiet, but growing, town.

Just this past year it has gotten large enough to require a second middle school. It’s a place where folks know each other at the grocery store and we all eagerly anticipate the sense of community we get in gathering at the gazebo in Wait Park for “Slice of Summer” concerts, 3 on 3 Basketball, Cutsforth’s Cruise In (classic cars!), and General Canby Days (4th of July).

This once farming town is turning into a bedroom community of Portland. So for big city excitment we hope on the freeway which runs five miles to the west and head to Stump Town.

Portland is a quirky, fun place. I’ve been in a number of large cities, Los Angeles, San Diego, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, but as big cities goes, Portland is by far my favorite.

Portland is the home of the world’s largest used book store, Powell’s City of Books. Originally several buildings, the whole city block has been connected so one can wander from one color coded room to another, discovering treasures pleasing to any literary soul.

There is public art everywhere. Former Mayor Bud Clark (previously a tavern owner) posed for a poster promoting public art:

"Expose Yourself to Art"

My favorite work of public art is Portlandia. The trident-bearing figure, wedged into the tight space of the large buildings, reaches below her perch, offering assistance to the mortals below.

Being confronted by sculptures and other artwork at every turn isn't the only quirky thing about Portland. For one thing, there seems less litter than any other city I’ve seen.

A river runs through it, two actually, so there are bridges everywhere. Once a year they close many of them so folks can bicycle across them.

The politics are definitely quirky. But that would take several posts to fully address.

It has the largest forest within the city limits of any American city (Forest Park).

It is the only major city in the United States with a volcano in its limits (Mt. Tabor).

I like the quirky people. The mixture of people types and attitudes is unique.

Brenda, myself, and our two sons went in to Portland on Saturday. It was an interesting time for all of us. Well, interesting for all of us much of the time, one part the boys found boring (more on that in a bit).

Brenda is taking classes, working her way to a career in substance abuse counseling. Currently, a history class requires she visit a certain number of museums and tours on local history.

So we went to The Oregon Historical Society. The main exhibit is "The Way We Worked", a series of photographs from the industrial revolution to the present (a special section on Portland). The vanished public-private World War community of Vanport, the building of military vessels, Roosevelt’s influence on putting folks to work was shown, on and on a great and fun exhibit, except for the boys who found it boring (in recounting the day Jeremiah made sure we understood that it was bo-o-ring!). They found the pioneer and indigenous people exhibits upstairs slightly more tolerable.

After the museum visit headed north, making our way to Chinatown for dinner. Passing Powell’s on the way we say college students shouting and laughing and waving signs. I could make out the word “Free” on it readily enough, but was straining to read the rest. A momentary pause in the mad waiving of a sign held by a bearded, dread-lock bearing revealed its message.

“Free Hugs!”

Now that is quirky.

So we found a parking spot, paid the 25 cents for the meter, went back for our hugs. I got four.

We managed to talk Isaac into trying some sesame chicken (he isn’t that adventurous), and I had the squid in garlic sauce (I like all sorts of things).

We then went to Hobo’s Restaurant, across the street from the rescue mission, and waited for the tour.

The high point of the night was The Portland Underground.

From 1850 to 1941 Portland was the Shanghai Capitol of the world.

A series of tunnels led from taverns all over the north end of town to the docks. An average of 1,500 men per year, and up to 3,000 per year at its peak, were drugged, held in unlit cells beneath the city, and sold to ship captains bound for asia.

Men would be out for a night of carousin’, fightin’, spittin’ an’ cussin’. They’d be drinking in a crowded bar, lined up, occasionally using the urinal trough running along the floor beside the bar.

When it was crowded enough, drunk enough, the bartender would reach under the counter and press a button, and a buzzer would sound in the tunnels below.

The crimpers would come, thump the floor with a pole, and the bartender reached under the counter and pulled the rope. The latch released, three, four, up to five men dropped away into darkness. Relieved of its load, the trap door swung back up, the latch clicked.

The drunken men were beaten, thrown into dark cells. Their shoes were removed. The passageways' boardwalks were covered with broken glass. The walls were draped with ropes stringing tin cans, a simple escape warning system.


broken glass

Some went down voluntarily, to opium dens, but they did not leave voluntarily.

opium den

They were drugged and carried to waiting ships. The sea captains paid about $50 for each man who woke from his drugged sleep when the ship was already at sea. And if the food got low, they ate long pork.


Portland is a great city. I love it. But like all human things, it is not ideal.

The sparkling city I love to visit has its dark secrets. So do so many other institutions.

What secrets lie within the hearts of all of us? What secrets surround us as we sit in church?

The solution?

Recognize we are fallen. Accept who we are and face it directly. Repent. Pray about it.

Draw near to God. He will draw near to you.


curious servant said...

In a hurry... I'll add pics of the underground this evening...

Ame said...

hummm ... "the good ole days?"

that underground is interesting. i wonder if any of the men ever made it back to the states, or perhaps their sons or grandsons.

there was a girl older than i in my youth group in HS. she disappeard one night. they believed she was sold into white slavery. the last she was seen was getting into an elevator at a hotel after being in a bar there. i'm fearful of getting into elevators now, especially at hotels on the beach.


i read stuff like this and wonder how God processes all of it ... but His thoughts are different from mine, so it's a hamster's wheel of thought to hop on.

i'm thankful for real Hope :)

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jel said...

That sounded like fun, and the book store, I could spend all day there :)

take care

Jim said...

That long pork is pretty bad stuff too!
I hope there are more secrets in those still drunken people who get taken advantage than I could ever have. They all have some severe problems and need our and God's help.

Is moving to Washington a hoped for escape from Oregon, especially the northern part?
This is a wonderful post for me!

Cinder said...

Wow, Portland sounds like a great city to visit. Quite the interesting history as well.

"What secrets lie within the hearts of all of us? What secrets surround us as we sit in church? The solution? Recognize we are fallen. Accept who we are and face it directly. Repent. Pray about it.
Draw near to God. He will draw near to you." (Curious Servant)

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. About the secrets which are there and the effects they have on us, the people trying to get to know us, on the church body as a whole. It seems so simple when you read the solution, but for some reason and somedays, it seemingly becomes a battle.

Blessings to you and yours...

curious servant said...

hi folks! I have a moment to catch my breath... I'll post those pics thisevening, but first... some replies:

Ame: I understand that many never returned, but those who did it took at least six years... with no pay for their labors. I tend to think of the abductors and monsters around us as a modern thing, but I suspect it isn't true... it's a human thing.

Jel: The book store is hard to believe. That pic of the store front is deceptive. All the attached buildings are connected. Each large room is dedicated to a particular subject. They have lots of authors come in and speak, do book signings. The old pillars have signatures of all sorts of writers. A lot of fun.

Jim: Long pork... hard to believe, but it happened. The Shanghaied men had to draw straws (regular crew excempted). Oregon isn't so crowded yet that we feel theneed to escape (and Seattle is bigger than Portland). I live in the North end of the Willamette Valley. Beautiful.

curious servant said...

Cinder: Thanks for dwelling on the last part of the post. I wondered if I tied it in well enough. I've been thinking a lot about James 4 lately.

Jada's Gigi said...

My, you surprised me with the jump from touring Portland to the darness falleness of mankind...Portland sound lovely and interesting...our own falleness...not so lovely...:)

curious servant said...

Jada's Gigi: I like to surprise folks. would you like to try some garlic squid?

Godzheart said...

Now you've convinced me...I have one of my friends from college living in Oregon, she works in the University of Oregon...she's invited me a lot of times...now I guess I can add another reason to it. :)
I'm not much of a fish fan...(if squids are categorised as fishes)..aren't they the ones that defend themselves by giving out some ink like colour?

curious servant said...

The poster under Bud Clark should read:

"Expose Yourself to Art"

Deborah and Sally said...

I have an Aunt that lives in Oregon. I've never been there, but it sounds very interesting - especially the used book store. That would be neat !
Great question at the end, "what secrets lie within the hearts of all of us?"
We all have them :)

Cinder said...

Thanks for the James 4 reference. I'm actually going to spend some time in James this week.

gracie said...

Great post, curious servant, with excellent photographs and tour of the town! Making memories with days out like this is great for kids - hope your boys know how much they are blessed!

Jada's Gigi said...

Sorry, my typing is atroucious and I jsut don't care enough to fix it..lol
and NO I don't think I would like to try garlic squid...yuck! :)

curious servant said...

Deborah: I think this is the best place to live! The mountainns are an hour to the east, the ocean an hour to the west, the desert is beyond the mountains, forests abound, waterfalls everywhere, animals on every wooded path... we have gentle seasons, rarely severe... ...as for secrets, we needn't share them with the world, but certainly with our master, and perhaps a close friend or two.

Cinder: Lately I can't seem to get away from James 4... the more I think on it the more it grips me.

Gracie: I'm gload you liked the post. I hope you visit Portland some day. As for my kids, it is sad, but they are grateful for being taken away from that dark place where they were born. I don't want them overly grateful. We are so blessed to have them as our children... they owe us nothing.

Jada's Gigi: The garlic squid was good, but a touch too spicy. not nearly as good as the panang squid i get when I go to our local Thai restaurant! Hmmmmmm! My mouth is watering just thinking about those slices of squid in the coconut milk and panang spices!

Judas Hate said...


What a great post.

Would have loved to have been there with you guys. I love an adventure.

And free hugs to boot!!

Take care.


Deborah and Sally said...

Oh wow, that sounds great !! My Aunt lives in Salem, she has said that it rains a lot where she is though.
Are you close to Salem ?
As for trying new things, I'm all up for that but I also don't know about squid !
Oh I totally agree about secrets - My husbands the only one that knows all my secrets.
Of course the Lord knows what's in our hearts to !

curious servant said...

Judas Hate: I wish you could have been along as well! I would have bought you a beer at Hobo's Bar where the tour began.

Deborah: Salem is about a half hour south of us, so a touch further than Portland. I would guess the drive from Salem to Portland to be aboout 45 minutes. As far as rain goes... putting aside the jokes that Oregonians have webbed feet and that we don't tan, we rust, I would say it really doesn't rain that much (go to Seattle for more liquid sunshine). We tend to exagerate the rain so folks aren't tempted to move here. Personally, I love a little rain. And that is why we have so much forest, and greenery, and waterfalls. I will have to write a post dedicated to how beautiful Oregon is. I especially love the spring, but different folks enjoy different seasons here. It's all pretty grand!

Karen said...

quite the unique, curious city! i've always wanted to visit Portland, OR. maybe someday...

Godzheart said...

I read your post again today, and I re-read the last bit "Recognize we are fallen. Accept who we are and face it directly. Repent. Pray about it.
Draw near to God. He will draw near to you."

The devils lies always make sure that you turn away from God in times of trouble with self, but the Truth and the Word of God promises otherwise. What a sneak that devil is...grrr
Thanks for the post.

Aphra said...

Our city is pretty quirky too. We opened our Church with the 'free hugs' video on youtube. Not that that relates to our city being quirky.

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I read through some of your blog at the start of the in the bible, but I guess I was too shy to comment!

Coco said...

Hmmm, I'll need to add Portland to my wish to see list...

Have a wonderful weekend!


things are MUCH better at home
Thank you!

Terry said...

Dear Curious Servant...As I am writing this I am preparing to print out your posting to take to work with me to read!!

Have a blessed weekend!!...From Terry

Joe said...

I lived in Tacoma, Wash. for about eighteen months and visited Portland from time-to-time.


donna said...

What an interesting post...Will, you just continually, wonderfully amaze me...

Christopher said...

I'll be spending some time in
OR next fall at George fox evan seminary, 10 days in the fall and 10 more sometime in the spring.