Archive for June, 2011

DISTRACTED RESEARCHER

June 25, 2011

With a temporary limit on travel, this month seemed a perfect time to work on research close to home– Highway 99 through Eugene.  Easy enough, come in from the south on Franklin Blvd. which briefly becomes Broadway then Sixth St all the way trough the city until it rejoins the traffic heading south on Seventh St. and again becomes Highway 99 connecting Eugene to Junction City.

Looking through the history of Eugene, my attention was caught by the “Club Cigar” established as a men’s resort in the 1800s.  No women patrons allowed.  In 1911, Ted Luckey Sr. purchased the business and renamed it “Luckey’s Club Cigar Store.”  A man could  go there to shop for a cigar, shoot pool, get a haircut and shave,  order a sandwich at the cafe in back, even play cards.  At one time the back room held two tables of poker and two of rummy players which were full from open to close. 

After Prohibition ended in 1933, Luckey’s became the first business in Lane County licensed by the newly formed Oregon Liquor Control Commision. 

In the 1930s, when downtown went neon, Ted Luckey splurged on a horseshoe-shaped neon sign.   When codes changed in the 1970s and the sign was too big for outdoor display, it was moved inside, one of the few neon signs that survived.

When Tad Luckey Sr. and co-owner Louis De Berg passed away in the 1940s, the business passed to their widows.  Ironic that the two women, Maude Luckey and Lucinda (Luckey) De Berg owned and operated a “man’s resort” that did not serve women or have a women’s restroom until the 1950s.

In 1973, when the old historic buildings of down town were being demolished in the “urban renewal” movement, BenRayovich, owner of Luckey’s at that time, purchased a dirt parking lot at 933 Olive St. and built an exact replica of the old Luckey’s.  He moved all the furnishings and fixtures, even the fir wainscoting, into the new building.  He added a few modern amenities:sprinklers, heating and air conditioning, and by OLCC insistence, a women’s restroom. 

Now owned by Jo Dee Moine, Luckey’s offers music in addition to the best of the features that have kept it in Business for a century and it serves women.

I found the Luckey’s story fascinating, with many of the elements I’m looking for– however, it had nothing to do with Highway 99.  It really doesn’t fit into my current writing project even though it has an impressive list of firsts in Eugene and even in Lane County.  I’m headed back to the books to find more about the Oregon Electric Railway.

Material excerpted from http:luckeysclub.com/hist5.php  

 

 

TREASURE HUNTING

June 18, 2011

We live in the area north of Eugene, Oregon, just a house or two off River Road, the original Highway 99 route between Eugene and Junction City.  For me, it’s a wonderful place to live.  I’m close enough to the Willamette River to walk the path along its banks.  

I can sit to watch the water when my soul needs soothing or see the sun shining on the riffles when my spirits need lifting. 

Life along the old highway offers more.  It’s an area where the home you create can be related back to the settlers who took out the original claim with the homestead act.  It still has ties to the people who came before.  Those native Americans who sought the Camas and berries, who fished and hunted  here.

Now, when I drive that old way north to shop for produce at family farms that have been part of the valley culture for generations, I’m reminded of the schools that were along the road and later the small stores that served the little clusters of neighbors.  A few remnants of the early highway development remain– maybe serving a different purpose now but still, with a link to the past.

One of my favorites is the beautiful Normandy style structure, built as a Richfield gas station in the early 1930’s, before the Highway 99 designation was moved to Sixth Street to avoid the occasional flooding of the Willamette.   The gas station was one of a string of luxurious and well- built structures that included a tower with a lighted beacon on top to light the flyway, extending north through California and Oregon.  That part of the Richfield Company  went bankrupt in 1939 so the station on River Road assumed a new life.  First as a speakeasy and then as a private home.  Through time it transitioned again and is now a location for special events.  Weddings in the beautiful gardens are frequent.  The tower and beacon are long gone but the reminder is there in the name of the cross street, Beacon Drive and in the name of the place, Beacon House.

On the River Road drive north, some of the farm land has been turned into subdivisions, individual housing,  a mobile home park, and a golf course but much remains:  in Christmas tree farms, in nursery stock, and produce stands.  It’s a good place to touch base with a slower, earlier time.

THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD

June 10, 2011

  This year Oregon’s cool, damp spring has our verdant central valley almost bursting with shades of green. As I pass by rivers, between communities, I notice the young hawks practicing their soaring flight above or see a squirrel scamper across the road just ahead. I can’t help wondering about the families that came to Oregon over Highway 99. Those families, like mine, who came north from California after the wartime jobs ended.

  What did they see? They would have been driving on a narrow and curvy mountain road that eventually dropped them into a sea of green. They would pass by and over rivers with rushing water in them, maybe notice an occasional deer mixed in with the cattle or sheep in the fields.  Pass small communities with prideful slogans.     

  Their automobiles  would have been packed with supplies for several days, often children, and whatever they needed to keep the car running: jacks, extra water, wrenches, tube patches, maybe even a partially used spare tire or two.
  Passing by farms and through the small towns along the highway, did they hope for one that offered a promise of home, or maybe just employment? For some there was a friend or relative already in place to offer suggestions, or possibly a place to stay for awhile.
  Then there were the veterans, some returning to their home area, others looking for a place to start over.  Did it look like the place they left behind?
  Did our rural valleys look as grey and depressing as they sometimes can, or did the travelers see how beautiful it really is?

  Was the beauty one reason to stay?  It’s certainly one of the reasons I don’t stray for long.

Traveling With A Rainbow

June 3, 2011

A cool, wet spring has sent me traveling on scenic and historic roads in less than normal weather.  An evening drive from Eugene to Corvallis on Highway 99 W caught us in a fast-moving hail storm as we drove north but didn’t cancel the trip.

After the granddaughter’s concert, our trip home was framed by a complete and bright rainbow crossing above us at a west- east angle for the whole trip.  Very special.

Earlier in that same day, I set out in search of an old air strip located on Highway 99 south of Creswell.  I’ve heard I’ll be getting a story about a romance that began there so I was intrigued.  I found the air strip, complete with windsock and hangars but a downpour kept me from taking the pictures I wanted.  I’ll be going back, there are other interesting sites along that road.