Saturday, January 26, 2019

Shopping in Corvallis A Century Ago

If you were transported back to Corvallis, Oregon, in 1914, you might recognize some of the buildings in this photograph of Second Street such as the Benton County Bank Building (now Lucidyne offices) in the upper right.
2nd Street Corvallis in 1914
 Then, as now, Second Street was part of the main business district.   The women are standing by the R. H. Huston hardware store. The Benton County Historical Museum does not have a photo of the interior of that store.  It probably would have looked like that of the Cooper and Newton Hardware store, also on Second Street, shown in this 1910 photo.
Cooper & Newton hardware store in 1910
The women might be headed toward the First National Bank building on the southwest corner of Madison and Second Street.
First National Bank, Corvallis, Oregon
Then they might use the cash to shop for groceries or medicines. Kline's Grocery, show in this photograph from 1916-1918, was located on Second Street, across from where the Odd Fellows Hall is now.  In this old-style grocery, customers would hand a clerk a shopping list or make a verbal request and the clerk would retrieve the desired items from the shelves.
Kline's Grocery, Corvallis, Oregon
Meat would be purchased from a special store which operated in a similar fashion. This photograph shows the interior of the Corvallis Meat Market in 1922 or 1923.
Corvallis Meat Market
Today, there are no grocery stores or meat markets on Second Street-- you would have to walk a few blocks to the Safeway supermarket on Third Street.  This different type of grocery retailing began in 1916 when the Piggly Wiggly store in Memphis, Tennessee gave entering customers a shopping basket and let them select from individually priced items on convenient open shelves.

Another type of store you won't find downtown anymore is a pharmacy. The last one was the since the Albright and Raw Rexall store at Third and Madison which closed after selling its pharmacy business to Safeway in September of 2006.  In the circa 1920 era, Graham and Wells operated a store at Jefferson and Second Street.
Graham & Wells Drug Store Interior,
Corvallis, Oregon
One store which was doing business in this era and is still operating on Second Street is Blackledge Furniture, founded in 1901.  The photo below shows the store in 1923.
Blackledge Furniture, Corvallis, Oregon
 By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Personal Recollections of WWI Military Service

This post will complete Don Beery's account of his military service, after his arrival in Le Havre, France.

“January 4 [1918] – We left Le Havre about 4:30 P. M. and arrived at Brest at 2:30 A. M., January 7th.  Why we ever made this trip is a mystery, just more of the army's organized confusion.  We were quartered in barracks and are with a stevedore company.  The next day we hiked about three miles to the old Napoleon Barracks for a bath. This was really a bath by the numbers: (1) Remove your clothes; (2) Enter a large room where there were about 100 shower heads protruding from the ceiling and each man picks out a likely spot; (3) the water is turned on from a master control for all the shower heads (except for those that don't work) and is left on for about one minute for you to get lathered up; (4) After an interval of about one minute the water is turned on again for you to rinse, but when about half the soap is rinsed off the water is turned off. Begin and you've had it! OH! Well! - C'est la guerre.

January 9 – We left Brest about 9:30 P. M. Our passenger cars were connected to the rear of a freight train with our baggage car in between.  “Somewhere in France,” the passenger cars were left on a siding and the freight went on-- with our baggage car containing all our food, still connected.  The French railroad men wanted to move our cars but our captain said, “No! We will not move until the baggage car was returned.” After much shouting and waving of arms, they agreed.  A day and a half later, the car came back.  In the meantime we lived n black French bread, bought, stolen, begged or traded for. 
WWI troop train
January 14 – We arrived at Chaumont at 1:30 A.M. We always seem to arrive in the middle of the night.  The cobblestone streets were glazed with ice and our worn down hob nails were slick as sled runners, so slipping, sliding and falling down, we made our way to our assigned barracks at Camp Bacon where there were bunks ready for us.  We had not had our clothes off and very little sleep since leaving Brest, so this really looked good for us.”
WWI U.S. troops marching in France
WWI troop parade on French cobblestone street
On January 18, Beery became ill with scarlet fever.  He stayed in the hospital until February 27 when he rejoined his company.

“April 24 – The 41st Division was designated a replacement division and all the privates in the company were transferred to various other divisions and the non-commissioned officers (I was a corporal) were ordered back to England to reorganized a unit with casuals from the 32nd Division.  It was an unhappy ending of our close friendships.”

After crossing the channel on April 30, Beery was assigned to a camp at Winchester  “for many months.  While we were here was had many special assignments in addition to the supervision and maintenance of the barracks assigned to troops for their stopover on their way to France.” Later they went to London for guard duty, including for Wilson's visit.  After being promoted to sergeant, he was assigned to military police (M.P.) duty in Liverpool.  He returned to France and sailed for home on June 11.  He was discharged from Fort Lewis, Washington and  arrived in Portland on July 4-- “a grand and glorious Fourth of July.”

Friday, January 11, 2019

Recollections of World War I

The post of December 27, 2018 contained a quotation from Don Beery, a corporal in the 162nd Infantry.

The manuscript in the Benton County Historical Museum's archives contains accounts with additional observations from Beery's military service in World War I.  He enlisted in the National Guard on March 17, 1917, was assigned to guard duty at critical installations in the Portland area until his unit was activated. Here is what he wrote about some of his experiences after that.
Don Beery leading a parade in Corvallis later in life
“December 11 – At about 2:00 a.m. We were awakened and told to pack.  We were leaving.  By daylight we were on board the steamship Tuscania and were sailing out of New York Harbor.  This was the last trip of the Tuscania.  On her next trip she was torpedoed and sunk off the northern coast of Ireland with a loss of about 50 men.”

“December 13 – We arrived at Halifax.  This was only a few days after an ammunition ship had been blown up in the harbor and although we did not go ashore, the damage caused by the terrific explosion was plainly visible.
December 15 – We sailed from Halifax in a convoy with seven other ships.  No storms were encountered, so the crossing was relatively calm.  We followed the northern route and approached England from the north of Ireland.  British destroyers met us three days from the other side and gave us protection the rest of the way.”

It was not until December 28 that they left for France. Beery recounts the trip:

“December 28 – We went to Southampton and boarded the Southwest Miller.... The night of December 29th we crossed the English Channel to Le Havre, France.  The only protection for these ships crossing the channel was darkness.  They sailed after dark and made a run for it, hoping for the best and by daylight were in port in France.  They were terribly overcrowded, standing room only, and if one of them had been sunk the loss of live would have been high.

December 30 – The Havre.  We go to British Rest Camp Number 1.  We are provided with British rations (terrible) and British tents (worse).  These tents were round and although they had board floors, there were no bunks or cots, so we slept on the floor with our heads all to the center pole.  There were about eight men to a tent.  The weather was miserable, cold and windy.”
Next week's post will include some additional anecdotes from Beery's time in the military. 
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Friday, January 4, 2019

S. S. Northern Pacific Shipwreck

On January 1, 1919 the S. S. Northern Pacific ran aground in a dense fog off Fire Island, New York. The ship was returning 2,973 sick and wounded soldiers to the United States.
Newspaper clipping
Scrapbook page
The Northern Pacific was a passenger ship on the Astoria to San Francisco run which had been acquired by the government for troop transport during World War I.  She was remodeled into barracks and equipped 6 guns. She made 13 round trips between Hoboken, New Jersey and Brest France.

The Navy immediately sent small ships to help move the soldiers to nearby destroyers and hospital ships.  They also rigged a breeches buoy to remove soldiers if the seas got too rough for the small life boats to reach the ship. 

Breeches buoy
Great Northern & breeches buoy rescue set-up
One of the surf boats capsized but the occupants were rescued by men who jumped into the cold water and carried them to shore.

Carrying men to shore
By January 4, all the soldiers aboard ship had been rescued.  After some of her heavy equipment was removed, the Northern Pacific was re-floated on January 18.

These photos were taken by pilot and Oregon State University graduate Estell (“Eck”) Rorick, who assisted in the rescue operations.

"E.H.R. eating a sandwich"
By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon