“We will be lining SE Stark St and holding signs to show our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. We will provide the signs or you can bring your own. We will be maintaining physical distancing and adults should wear face coverings.”
“Join your fellow classmates and community, as we bike, walk, and stroll together in a unified demonstration against the violence, death, and systematic, institutional racism against Black men, women, and children.”
From Boise-Elliot / Humboldt Elementary School to Sabin Elementary. Organizers are requiring social distancing and masks for adults.
“This year there will be no start location or start time due to Covid-19. Instead, riders are encouraged to celebrate World Naked Bike Ride DAY — riding wherever they’d like whenever they’d like on June 27th.”
various locations * all day
Standing at the gate:
Folks are asking for more turnout at the Multnomah County Justice Center downtown. There have been assaults multiple injuries so attend at your own risk. It’s not recommended for children or animals.
The gathering has happened every night since the protests began, and are expected to continue…
MC Justice Center, 1120 SW 3rd Ave * 9 pm
SUNDAY, JUNE 28TH
On Sunday is the Lents International Farmers Market!
Learn more about the market here, including how to “double up” your SNAP benefits.
SE 92nd & Reedway, between Foster Rd & Harold St * 9 am – 2 pm
The Montavilla Farmers Market is every Sunday, and a great way to link in with the creators and growers in the area.
Rose City Justice, a civil rights collective that has hosted many prominent marches and rallies recently, has committed to a restructuring, equity and sensitivity training, more transparency with funds, and to work with long-standing Portland organizations.
This came in a statement today, June 25th, after criticism had been directed at the group.
Multiple daily protests have all risen out of the nation-wide outcry of Black Lives Matter and call for reform since the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Throughout the city, Portlanders have been vocal in their support of the movement, and the call for better policing.
Out of these protests, the RCJ was formed. After a month of protests, RCJ’s their nearly-nightly, family-friendly events and marches have drawn big crowds and attention from local mainstream media.
RCJ are calling for a series of police reforms including divestment of funding and reinvesting those funds into communities of color.
Despite their popularity, some long-time organizers, and some those protesting nightly at the Multnomah County Justice Center, are questioning the goals and leadership of the group.
Much of the criticism has been towards Darren Harold-Golden, one of the group’s leaders. On his Indeed profile, he lists that he worked as a United States Air Force military police officer from 2011 to 2018. He now works as a policy specialist for the Urban League of Portland and as an intern for the Oregon Legislature.
The group was established as a non-profit on June 11, 2020. Harold-Golden and Daniel Rosenburg, both from Portland, are listed as the principals.
RCJ responds to critics
Yesterday, Wednesday, June 24th, RCJ cancelled their planned march. On their Instagram page, a message apologized for the group’s lack of accountability based on unacceptable behavior including “silencing, neglecting feedback from our communities”, especially Black queer voices. In that message they called for questions and feedback from their supporters.
Also on Wednesday, several young Black activists on a Instagram account called jadex666grilled Harold-Golden on several topics in a livestream: including sexually-suggestive comments he made about teenage women; privacy about data collection and privacy on RCJ’s website; his history in law enforcement; and other issues.
RCJ continued their activism Thursday morning, with a rally for Letha Wilson, mother of Patrick Kimmons, a Black man shot and killed by Portland Police in 2018.
According to Fox 12, Letha and the activists supporting her want the case re-opened and a change to Portland Police Bureau‘s use of force policy. Patrick, who was armed and engaged in a gun battle in downtown Portland, was shot nine times by police. A grand jury ruled the officers’ actions as legal self defense at the end of October of that year.
Parallel to RCJ events and marches, which have largely been violence-free, hundreds of people have been gathering at the Multnomah County Justice Center and nearby parks every night. These rallies and marches have been more tense, and unprovoked police violence (two of many examples 1, 2) against protesters and the media have attracted national and international news.
In the face of these threats from police, many who gather at the Justice Center seem to resent RCJ’s unwillingness to join them downtown. Many of the JC crew seem to believe that RCJ’s police-conflict-free gatherings and marches aren’t doing enough to confront the system and demand change.
In an interview with Village Portland Managing Editor Cory Elia near the Justice Center, the activist below also believes these new groups don’t understand the local history around reform, don’t know the local, long-term leaders, and don’t know that local white supremacist are attending— and menacing— their events.
Some protesters say that RCJ representatives are leading people away from the JC, making those remaining more vulnerable to police violence.
In this June 22nd Facebook livestream video from Kevin David Williams below, a conflict about an attempt to lead the crowd away from the JC led to an angry conflict and violence.
2020 has been quite a ride— and it’s good to see police reform as the focus of American life right now.
Here in Portland, we’ve seen huge crowds marking to support better policing and Black Lives Matter. But late at night, after the majority of the crowds have gone home we’re seeing extreme police violence in the streets.
Local media have not been spared from that violence. Village Portland managing editor Cory Elia has been sent to the hospital twice, and he is one of many injured out there. Read more about it here.
When the world gets a little wild, sometimes I take comfort in the simple truths of cartoon animals… so with that: this latest edition of “Life in the Village”.
And in case you were wondering, yes, that is Comic Sans; added strategically as hater bait.
FRIDAY, JUNE 19TH
There’s a lot of awesome events happening, and I hope it’s a time to reflect on the ending of slavery as we struggle for a further expansion of rights: the right to policing that actually does protect and serve.
Last weekend, thanks to a generous supporter, Cory and I were able to visit Seattle’s CHAZ / CHOP (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone / Capitol Hill Occupied Protest). Along with photos and livestreams (here), we were thankful to be there for the “Black is Beautiful: Femme” a speakers forum on Saturday. Below is a video from that experience:
There is a march today for Juneteenth here in Portland:
XRAY.fm is also doing an all-day event, find that here.
Listen when you can, and even if you can’t— check out their lineup. It’s amazing all the Black excellence they’ve brought together.
SATURDAY, JUNE 20TH
Last year’s Juneteenth festival was awesome, we had a good time volunteering. This year, the same team is taking their show online… learn more about that here.
As the protests for better policing continue downtown and around the city, keep in touch with our photographs, livestreams, and observations on our Twitter page.
Keep track of daily Black Lives Matter events here.
The Green Lents Community Tool Library re-opened May 23rd. It’s a great resource for folks in East Portland who like to plant, build, and create.
See if you live in an area they serve on the map below. View the tools they have here.
FRIDAY, JUNE 12TH
Multnomah County was supposed to begin opening today— but Governor Kate Brown put that plan on pause, due to lack of progress in tamping down the COVID-19 pandemic. The “yellow light” will remain for seven days, she said.
The Montavilla Neighborhood Association has started a post that includes some of how businesses are adjusting to quarantine. See that by clicking on the link below their new-ish logo (the heart forms an M & V, clever, right?) below:
Among volleys of flash-bang grenades and tear gas Tuesday night, Cory Elia, our managing editor, was assaulted by a police officer in downtown Portland.
Cory documenting a protest in August of 2018. Photo by Samuel Gehrke
He’s been covering the protests about police violence and the killing of George Floyd and black folk since their beginning, and protests in Portland for two years. It’s his independent work, partly because I’m not comfortable sending a reporter into often-dangerous Portland protests. Despite it not fitting into Village Portland‘s standard coverage, it’s very important work.
It’s important work because if the police are willing to abuse folks in front of a crowd… what are they willing to do when no one is watching?
Every group has its values and culture, and police officers in the United States are being called to transform how they interact with the public, and we must transform how they’re held accountable.
Let’s not forget how difficult it is to be a police officer— being the person expected to parachute into an unknown, chaotic situation with a goal of restoring the peace— but reform has to acknowledge that for many the public’s trust in police to act responsibly has been lost.
Cory described the interaction that took place near SW Yamhill and SW 3rd Avenue on SW 4th Ave between Taylor and Yamhill Streets:
In the cloud of tear gas that was filtering through downtown, Cory said he wasn’t able to see or breathe very well, but was moving in the direction indicated by police as they moved to disperse the crowd.
Even though he identified himself as a journalist, he said a female police officer grabbed him and started shoving him forward. During this, he said he told them that he was a journalist— and they responded that they didn’t care.
After that, he recalled that another officer, a larger male, struck him in his back, sending him crashing head-first into a nearby wall. Tangled in his bike, he said he fell to the ground. As he laid there, he said the male officer kicked him away from their line.
Afterwards, another indie journalist helped him up, and they left together.
Video of the encounter:
You can see Cory on camera with his bike early in the video above, and then him being accosted by police officers on the left side of the screen.
There’s video evidence of many examples, but I still have to wonder how many times across this nation that a violent interaction like this has been perpetrated by the police over the course of these protests. It’s casual brutality towards citizens; a doubling down of the attitude and actions that have moved so many Americans to take to the streets in defiance.
We’re gathering more evidence— and a lawsuit is planned— but I can say now with confidence that Portland PoliceBureau and all police in the United States should allow and encourage the scrutiny of the free press, and work to ensure a safe environment for all Americans to gather and protest.
All this seems like common sense, but apparently it needs to be said.
Earlier in the night of June 2nd, thousands gather peacefully at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. Photo by Cory Elia
Tens of thousands of people have been able to peacefully demand better policing and mourn black Americans lost to police violence— but what happens at the end of the night? We should be able to trust that police can distinguish between bad actors and the rest of the crowd.
I believe we should expect civility from all involved, but a well-armed, and well-funded should be held to a much higher standard. And I, and many other Portlanders, believe the Portland Police Bureau have failed to meet that mark.
Many reported that Portland Police were more restrained on the next night, Wednesday, June 2nd. But the night Cory was assaulted, as you can see in the first video and the one below, Portland Police went wild with the tear gas and rubber bullets.
If used at all, violence and shock-and-awe weaponry should be an absolute last resort for police— because they are dangerous, frighten many people from even attempting to come out and express their constitutional rights, and violate what should be essential values of police officers: de-escalation and peacekeeping.
It’s going to take a lot of work for Portland police to rebuild the community’s trust in them. Many think that’s not even possible, and want to start over from scratch.
But when I see the calm concern and determination on the faces of the tens of thousand of folks marching peacefully, I know that they want better— and believe that better policing is possible. “Protect and serve”, or PPB’s more lavishly-phrased version, seems like such a simple mission, but also so far from where we are now.
I think we’re missing an opportunity to turn the current outpouring of support for improved police oversight. The time for change is now; people have adjusted to virtual participation and want change now.
Differences in the approach to better policing aside, it’s probably not be within the skillset of folks horrified by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, BriannaTaylor— and countless others who have been wronged by failures of policing— to fix the problem. But the marchers instinctively know that something is wrong and they deserve better.
Cory visited the emergency room yesterday, the day after the incident, and the doctor said he’s going to be okay. The x-ray showed that his ribs aren’t broken. And after one night of rest, he’ll be back out reporting again tonight on Thursday, June 4th.
I wish I could watch all the speakers from the nights of gatherings, to absorb all the wisdom and experience gleaned from decades of engagement and advocacy by Portland’s black community… but the revolution won’t likely be on social media.
Not everyone can attend a protest, and real change will come in people’s hearts and the wonky details of law and policy. So within that range of opportunities, I encourage you to find your own way to get help make change happen.
Shared by KBOO, here are a few minutes from the speakers at Wednesday, June 4th’s gathering in Portland.
A short treatise on why I believe its time to secede from the failed nation of America
By REE CAMPBELL
America is broken.
Not broken down, needing repair. Broken, we need to call a scrapper to tow this and figure out where the exit is and what services we will need once there.
ONLY the internet is still working properly, and only for those who can afford it.
The rich are holed up in second homes to wait out the danger.
The middle classes are stuck in their homes trying to educate their own children.
The working class have been forced out to the front lines or become homeless. The poverty stricken can’t even get money panhandling right now. Store shelves are empty.
Plants and factories are unable to nimbly shift production needs because they are modernized to create one piece of a larger monopoly on that product. Meat packing plants are closing down. Food is rotting in fields while people wait in miles-long lines for food boxes.
And the government supposed to be helping those people are instead crafting laws to protect those corporations from lawsuits from sick workers forced back to work.
The same government stealing purchased PPE to hoard in stockpiles they say is not meant for the states who bought those stockpiles.
The same government ginning up support from their bases by politicizing both public health and freedoms without responsibilities.
The same government using the Justice Department to gerrymandering maps and steal votes.
Unemployment rates so high that they have not been seen since the Great Depression but the stock market is soaring. The rich aren’t feeling any of this in any meaningful way.
Everybody thinks America is on the side of the road with a flat tire.
If you crawl under it and swish the smoke away… you will see that the axles have fallen off a completely corroded and rotten chassis.
America has spent the last 40 years on its social vehicle; shining up the body, on paint jobs, graphics, spoilers and turn signals on a car that hasn’t has a tune up or oil change in 40 years.
In real terms, it has sent manufacturing and skilled labor contracts overseas to increase profit; gutted workers rights, wages, and benefits to increase their profits; used taxpayer bailout funds and tax abatements to reward their corporate shareholders; spends an outrageous amount of public funds to pay private companies to imprison the highest population in any developed “democratic” nation in the world; uses publicly funded services to oppress, kill, intimidate, obfuscate, and terrorize its citizens and then uses that same public’s Justice Department to excuse the violence and to blame the victims; systematically defunded schools, infrastructure, social service programs, and the safety net to fund an out-sized and unsustainable military; plundered the treasury for pointless and unwinnable wars so they could profit from those wars; and bowed to the wishes of corporate political interests by handing you the *corporation’s* choice for nomination because he is their creature.
There is no going back to before. This is officially a failed state.
Why are we talking about an election rather than a revolution?
WHAT PART OF ANY OF THIS WILL CHANGE AFTER THE ELECTIONS?
As I was researching my article on the 1918 – 1919 influenza pandemic in Montavilla, I came across a news item about Victory Gardens in 1919. Why, I wondered, would they still be growing Victory Gardens months after World War I had ended in 1918?
With some investigation, I discovered this was intended was to help alleviate the food shortages in war-ravaged Europe. The gardens planted during the war were actually called Liberty or War Gardens. When Congress voted to declare war on Germany on April 4th, 1917, food was already in short supply in the United States due to crop failures and the Allied nations’ needs.
On April 11th, President Woodrow Wilson called on farmers to increase production. Retired businessman Charles Lathrop Pack said America would win the war “by fighting it with food…” and wanted to enlist civilians in this battle.
Pack believed urban gardens could contribute substantially. In March 1917, on the eve of America’s entry into the war, he founded the National Emergency Food Garden Commission (later called the National War Garden Commission) to advocate and educate the public on the importance of vegetable gardens. Backyards, schoolyards, and vacant lots needed to be brought into production.
By the end of 1917, nearly 3 million war gardens (1,150,000 acres) were under cultivation in cities and towns. In 1918, that number grew to an estimated 5,285,000. Not only did this increase the food supply, it also freed up trains for war-related purposes. Adults and children on the home front were significant contributors to the war effort.
Source: Charles Lathrop Pack, “The War Garden Victorious”, 1919 (artist J. N. Darling); Google Books
On March 3rd, 1918, when Portland held a war rally at the downtown Auditorium, it became an official proponent of the movement. Supporters, of course, recognized that amateur gardeners would need assistance in orde to succeed.
Help came in a variety of ways. Local newspapers ran how-to articles on food gardening. Pamphlets, demonstrations, lectures, and classes were also available. Then the federal government provided an extra hour for after-work gardening by initiating Daylight Saving Time on March 31st, 1918.
“How to Succeed with the War Garden”, planting table Source: The Sunday Oregonian, April 14, 1918 (Historic Oregon Newspapers)
Millions of Americans are now practically forced to stay in their homes, that is, if they are lucky enough to have homes. Some are without their usual meager income and unable to afford their bills. Many are limiting their trips to the store, not just to protect themselves, but also to protect others.
Many Americans have recently lost their jobs, their healthcare, and without a stay on evictions, would be on the verge of losing their housing. It remains to be seen how they will pay if the debt is merely pushed off to another date.
One thing that all these Americans have in common is that they are in this predicament through no fault of their own. Not a single one of them created COVID-19— yet they all suffer from an event, or series of events, beyond their control.
Nor is their restricted freedom the fault of their government, which is taking appropriate action by restricting movement, just as it does by restricting drunk driving. Even libertarians agree that the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the rare times where it is appropriate to restrict otherwise paramount freedoms.
Those Americans who are currently falling into poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic also have something in common with many other Americans who were in poverty before a global health emergency: they are there through no fault of their own.
Certainly some people are in poverty as a result of their own poor decision making, and I don’t want to discuss whether or not we should include a person’s IQ in the relevant list of factors beyond their control. But even in the best of times, ignoring IQ and focusing solely on choices, there are some people in poverty through no fault of their own.
When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Oregon Governor Kate Brown to issue a stay home order, many of the state’s unsheltered houseless population were left wondering where they would be able to go. Many of the services they rely on daily began issuing social distancing requirements or shutting down entirely due to the pandemic.
In response to the crisis, communities and organizations have mobilized to address the issue of sheltering the extremely vulnerable houseless population during this crisis.
When COVID-19 hit, Clackamas County put out an urgent request to get as many at-risk houseless individuals in motel rooms as possible. Do Good Multnomah was one of the organizations that answered that request. Over the last year prior to the crisis, they had been working with multiple groups and organizations to help the houseless community in different ways.
One of their most recent partnerships was with Clackamas Service Center– which is also helping the houseless community during this crisis– to staff and run their warming shelter over the winter. Through their partnership with CSC they were able to get a head start on the program due to pre-existing relationships with the service center’s clients.
Jeremiah Kelton, an emergency outreach specialist, and Stephanie Billmyre, a social worker, are running the organization’s motel program. “The aim is to get as many of the at-risk and elderly homeless off the streets as fast as possible” states Kelton.
So far, they have placed 72 individuals in rooms spread out over six different motels in the Portland area. The motels are not named out of respect for their client’s privacy.
The organization started their work around March 25th, according to Kelton. They plan on adding more people to the program, ultimately sheltering around 120 people. The program is being funded by a $500,000 grant from Clackamas County.
Kelton cites the cramped spaces of shelters as one of the main reasons the organization decided to use motel rooms to help people socially distance and isolate themselves. “Our main criteria are that a person be 60 years of age or have pre-existing, underlying health issues”, Kelton states about the requirements to get into the program.
Enzel Chillingworth is one of the clients of CSC that was placed in a motel room so she could properly isolate from others. “This group [Do Good] is amazing and I love both Stephanie and Jeremiah for the work they are doing!” Enzel stated.
Prior to this, Chillingworth had been living on the edge of houselessness in a derelict 1987 Winnebago RV parked in the driveway of a friend’s house not far from Clackamas Service Center. According to Chillingworth, she ended up in this living situation abruptly in order to get out of a violently abusive relationship a couple year prior. Her rent was $300, but she said that the tiny space was never enough for her and her two small dogs.
I’ve known Enzel for two years; we met during the time I volunteered at CSC. I’ve also been working along side the Village Coalition to raise money to buy a tiny home for her that would be placed on private property.
Enzel described her daily routine before the pandemic as: waking up in the morning, feeding her dogs and some stray cats, getting ready for the day, and then heading out for either Clackamas Service Center or to whatever job she was working that day.
“When everything started to shut down, I was worried about work, of course, but mostly about the completely unsheltered homeless living along the bike trail and on the streets around the city,” she said. “I figured this would leave them with nowhere to turn or go when in need.”
The types of work she does varies, but during spring and summer each year, Enzel spends her time working for the carnival company Funtastic Games during summer gatherings like Cinco De Mayo or Rose Festival. The rest of the year she works odd jobs.
“I enjoy working the carnivals during the summer because of all the smiling kids’ faces”. At the end of fall 2019, Chillingworth was diagnosed with serious medical issues and has been receiving medical attention.
Even while receiving medical attention, Chillingworth was still going to the center to get food boxes and services while also doing what she could to help the other houseless individuals that frequent the center. “The people at Clackamas Service Center are amazing as well because they are still open and offering some form of help when most everything else is closed.”
According to Billmyre, while they have these individuals safely sheltered in their rooms Do Good is also “case managing to get resources like medical and housing for them as well”. Lacking a clear projection of when the crisis might subside, Billmyre foresees the program changing in the future.
According to her, with proper funding the organization might be using the motels as transitional housing while they work to get individuals into houses and apartments of their own.
There are other examples of this model being implemented around the city as well. Jupiter Hotel, located on SE 8th Avenue and Burnside Street, has partnered with Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services to shelter some of the houseless during this crisis too.
The pandemic has shown that quick actions are needed in order to protect the health of the at-risk and highly vulnerable houseless population of Portland, but also the nation at large.
To conclude, Chillingworth shared that “I was freaking out when all this began but thanks to the kindness and hard work of Stephanie and Jeremiah, I have been able to gather my thoughts on the situation and calm down some. I wish more organizations would follow their example!”
Editor’s note: Portions of this story first appeared in Street Roots.
Cory Elia is a journalist, photographer, videographer, documentary director & producer, radio personality & podcaster. His journalistic focus is on politics, protest, and poverty.
Being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we frequently hear about the 1918 or so-called Spanish flu pandemic, which was the worst pandemic in history up to that time. Scientists put total deaths worldwide as somewhere between 50 and 100 million. The U. S. experienced between 675,000 deaths, with more soldiers dying of the flu than were killed in battle.
But what can be said about how Montavilla fared during the outbreak in Portland that lasted from early October 1918 to early February 1919?
This is a difficult question to answer. 1918 and 1919 Portland newspapers ran stories on the flu in Portland almost daily, but few included information about Montavilla. Then I searched for “W. H. Hamilton”, owner of Montavilla’s only funeral parlor. Bingo! Two notices about the funeral of influenza victim Corporal Bert Barnes.
Here was conrete proof Montavilla did not go untouched. Not that he was the only victim; a few more could be identified by address in the newspapers’ lists of the latest flu deaths.
Interestingly, Corporal Barnes fits the profile of the most at-risk victims to a T. He was in the prime of life and in the military. Persons between the ages of approximately 20 and 40 accounted for roughly 50% of global deaths. With World War I still going, it’s hardly surprising that influenza was rife, given the crowded conditions of military camps, battlefields, troop ships, and hospitals.
In fact, the first reported cases of mass infections came from military camps, beginning with Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas in March, 1918. As the flu traveled from the Eastern US to the West, troops stationed at the posts nearest Portland— Camp Lewis (near, Washington), Vancouver Barracks (Vancouver, Washington), and Fort Stephens (near Astoria, Oregon), where some Montavilla draftees were assigned— all had significant outbreaks.
Corporal Barnes was stationed at Vancouver Barracks. Clearly, this placed him at risk of infection.
Barnes had deep Montavilla roots. His grandparents and parents came to Montavilla from Kansas in the late 1890s. Bert was living in Montavilla with his parents when he registered for the draft at age 22 in 1917, and still lived with them in 1918 shortly after he married his wife Iva.
On Wednesday evening October 9th, 1918, the Barnes family and their guests gathered at Montavilla’s Grace Baptist Church (SE 76th Ave and Ash St) for the wedding of Bert’s sister Ida and Private First Class Arthur Bradley.
It was a big wedding, with some 50 guests and 20 soldiers from Vancouver Barracks forming a guard of honor.
Since The Morning Oregonian had declared the very day of the wedding that the flu was under control in Portland, probably few of the family and guests were worried about contagion. But if you read the article carefully, you would have noticed that City Health Officer George Parrish had cancelled his trip to the health officers’ convention in Chicago, and that he had warned Mayor George L. Baker that an epidemic may be at hand.
The Barnes wedding was among the last large gatherings legally permitted in Portland for the next five weeks.
A BAN ON CROWDS IS IMPOSED
The day after the wedding, October 10th, life changed abruptly and dramatically.
Public officials were all too aware of the devastation wreaked by the influenza epidemic. Fearing its spread in the Northwest, the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service ordered all mass congregating to cease in Oregon. Although Portland then had only a handful of diagnosed cases, Mayor Baker reluctantly complied.
What did that mean for Montavilla?
Although Montavilla was essentially a Portland suburb, it was a very active, engaged community, and the ban would be a hardship. Montavilla School had to close. All eight of its churches must stop holding services. The Scenic Theatre at northwest corner of SE 79th Avenue and Stark Street could not show movies. Montavilla’s several social halls could not hold meetings or events. The Montavilla Reading Room closed. Grocery stores and other businesses could stay open, but they were supposed to prevent crowding.
New rules would also be applied to crowded cars of the Montavilla and Mount Tabor streetcars lines that Montavilla residents relied on to get them to work and downtown shopping. Fresh air was considered beneficial, so windows had to stay open. Overcrowding was prohibited. As new cases and deaths rose, City Health Officer Parrish ordered all side windows removed and police enforcement of the non-crowding rule (Morning Oregonian – October 21, 1918).
The City posted a long list of ways to avoid getting or transmitting the flu. Keep at least four feet between individuals. Do not spit in public places. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Keep your skin and clothes clean. Exercise. Keep your windows open. Do not use someone else’s cup, utensils or towel. Consult a physician immediately if symptoms appeared. And so forth…
Public education was also critical. The teachers— furloughed, but still getting full pay— became part of district teams to help in that effort. Montavilla teachers, headed by school principal, Jesse McCord, went to each house and business in the neighborhood explaining how to avoid the flu and ensuring that the epidemic regulations were being followed. When they encountered homes with infected persons, they presented a quarantine card with instructions about how to display it.
As elsewhere, Montavilla’s doctors and pharmacists would have been busy. In 1918, Montavilla had three physicians: Dr. C. B. Zeebuyth and Dr. J. T. Le Fevre on NE 80th Avenue as well as Dr. W. G. Scott on Division Street. Doctors were expected to attend to flu patients and to report new cases to the City Health Bureau, which tracked the progress of influenza. Physicians who failed to report cases promptly could be arrested.
Your local doctor could give you a vaccination based on a serum developed by Dr. E. C. Rosenow at the Mayo Clinic and produced in Portland laboratories.
This seemed to benefit some patients, but since that advice was based on stopping the spread of bacteria (which scientists at first thought caused the flu), it was not really effective against what was much later identified the H1N1 virus. (By the way, there were researchers and public health officials in 1918 who regarded a virus as the cause.)
Drug store business, of course, flourished. In 1918, Montavilla had two drug stores that could supply common remedies, like aspirin and the new Vicks Vaporub. L. V. Dickson operated Dickson Drug Store at Stark Street and SE 80th Avenue and W. E. Fowler owned The Drug Shop on Glisan Street near 80th Avenue. Although drug companies advertised, and drug stores carried, medicines supposed to prevent or cure the “Spanish” influenza, there were, in fact, no effective pharmaceuticals at that time.
After the ban was imposed, flu cases and deaths increased. By October 25th there had been 1,771 cases and 90 deaths in Portland. The public was urged to stay home and go to stores only for things they absolutely needed. Gyms were ordered closed.
The Oregon Daily Journal reported a possible peak on October 29th, but, during the first week of November, the numbers climbed.
WAR OVER, HUGE CROWDS CELEBRATE
On November 7th, false news of an armistice agreement sent throngs of Portlanders— presumably some Montavillans among them— into the streets, ignoring the ban on crowds, in joyful, if slightly premature, relief over the war’s end.
The real armistice was signed on November 11th and Portlanders woke to newspaper boys’ cries of “Uxtr-e-e-e! “Uxtr-e-e-e” (The Morning Oregonian, November 12th, 1918). As the news spread, people headed into the streets again. The Mayor proclaimed a holiday, so factories, stores and offices closed. Workers helped swell the exulting throng.
As the crowd grew, so did the noise. Every sound maker conceivable– from auto horns to cow bells to tin cans to saw blades— contributed to the glad din. It was loud enough, wrote one Oregonianreporter “to kill the most courageous ‘flu’ germ”. “The ban was liften [sic] by a higher power than the mayor’s order,” exclaimed The Oregon Daily Journal of November 11th.
War was at an end! Our boys were coming home! Flags bloomed everywhere— on cars, on homes, on people! Influenza be damned!
The apparent cost of Monday’s public celebrations was 310 new cases of influenza. Among the new deaths was Maria Faber, 62, of 1904 East Washington Street (Montavilla).
Mayor Baker announced a victory jubilee with a parade and other patriotic events for November 16th. Then he rescheduled it for November 28th. Then he delayed it until the signing of peace terms. Since peace negotiations would not begin until early January, the mayor proposed making the annual Rose Festival a victory celebration, which is what happened.
THE BAN IS LIFTED
The November 17th Oregonian graph (above) shows the flu having peaked and apparently declining, so the State Health Office lifted the ban on November 16th. City Health Officer Parrish cautioned Portlanders to continue taking precautions, since the epidemic could recur.
Mass events were again allowed. Downtown stores, markets and theaters immediately filled with crowds.
Since Thanksgiving was coming up, Mayor Baker proposed that church services include patriotic songs, so these became mini-victory celebrations. Hope Presbyterian Church (at the northeast corner of NE Everett St and NE 78th Ave) hosted a community Thanksgiving service for all the Montavilla churches.
Also on Thanksgiving Day, an athletic event was held at Vancouver Barracks as a farewell celebration for members of the Spruce Production Division a unit of the United States Army that produced wood products needed to make aircraft), who were soon to be homeward bound, now that the war had ended.
Two weeks later, on December 8th, Corporal Barnes succumbed to influenza at his home, just 11 days after his 24th birthday.
He was given a full military funeral in Montavilla with two squadrons from Vancouver Barracks. The procession formed at the W. H. Hamilton Funeral Parlor (at the northeast corner of NE 79th Ave and Glisan St). From there the entourage proceeded to Grace Baptist Church for services, then to Brainard Cemetery (at NE 92nd Ave and Glisan St) for the interment.
On April 4th, 1919, Montavilla School held a memorial service to honor the memory of alums who gave their lives in World War I: Bert H. Barnes and Lee Meadows. Likely Barnes was also remembered at the Grace Baptist Memorial Day service on May 24th. We can presume the Barnes family attended both.
At the end of December and early January, the number of cases and deaths in Portland continued to rise. In order to get the recurrence under control, a Consolidated Health Bureau was formed with Dr. E. A. Sommer as director. Sommer blamed the spread on carelessness and public apathy.
The flu peaked in mid-January and, then, began to decline.
On February 8th, 1919, John G. Abele, Health Officer of the City of Portland, proclaimed the epidemic in Portland over.
LIFE IN MONTAVILLA RETURNS TO NORMAL
The epidemic may have ended, but memories of the dual trauma— influenza and war— did not soon fade. In spring semester, the school curriculum emphasized health and hygiene as well as how to avoid the flu. Pupils again planted and tended the huge Montavilla School garden. Patriotic groups sponsored various war memorial events.
A sub-theme of this Montavilla story is what today we’d see as the need for social or physical distancing. Throughout this story, we’ve seen examples of how exhortations to avoid close contact with others was ignored: weddings, impromptu parades, streetcars, funerals, shopping, to say nothing of the unavoidable crowding on military bases.
Portlanders, and presumably Montavillans, were not vigilant enough and the “Spanish” flu infected and killed more than it should have. I have yet to find an official count of cases and deaths in Portland, but as of January 23rd, 1919 there had been 16,355 cases and 1,151 deaths, according to The Morning Oregonian (January 24, 1919).