A walk in Southern Portland with Polina Olsen, composer of ‘Stories from Jewish Portland’

A walk in Southern Portland with Polina Olsen, composer of ‘Stories from Jewish Portland’

Polina Olsen stands at a Lair Hill intersection and points towards the web web site the place where a Jewish mail-order bride from Ukraine once lived together with her spouse, a Jewish farmer from Southern Dakota.

They lived maybe maybe maybe not too much from the barn that housed the horses of many junk that is jewish whom lived and plied their trade within the community. These recyclers that are early pile their wagons high with rags and containers and other things they might find, then offer them towards the junk dealers whom lined Front Avenue.

Southern Portland’s populace “was one-third Jewish, one-third Italian and everyone that is one-third,” states Olsen, who’s written four publications in regards to the reputation for the area. Her latest, «

Before 1900, Olsen describes, there have been few, if any, Jews in Southern Portland. But by 1920, there have been about 6,000. Numerous were sent here because of the Industrial Removal Organization, a charity that helped Jews keep the slum conditions of Manhattan’s Lower East Side in nyc.

When they surely got to Southern Portland — about 1 1/2 square kilometers stretching from approximately Southwest Hall Street and First Avenue into the north to Corbett Avenue between Lowell and Bancroft roads when you look at the south — they put up synagogues, Hebrew schools, clinics, social service agencies and a huge selection of organizations.

Olsen is a retired software engineer whom relocated to Oregon through the East Coast in 1977. She writes a past history column, searching right Back, for the

and in addition leads walking trips of Southwest Portland. She now spends her time as being a writer and researcher. “I think all of this has one thing related to the reality that we never ever asked my four immigrant grand-parents such a thing – it never ever happened in my opinion. Later on, after having examined Jewish folklore at the University of Oregon, I felt a dreadful feeling of loss. It’s a real method of attempting to protect memories before it is too late. It is unimportant that i did son’t develop here. Whenever I find out about these individuals we find out about my grand-parents.”

Certainly one of Olsen’s key sources had been Gussie Reinhardt. “I came across her whenever she was just 96. She had been the grande dame associated with the Jewish community,” says Olsen, incorporating that Reinhardt possessed a memory that is phenomenal. «I would personally check always everything she said within the town directories and she was constantly bang on.»

Make the tale of Minnie Berg, for instance. She was created in Canada in 1911 and lived at once in a flat building in the part of Southwest Meade and Second Avenue.

Her daddy owned one of many Southern Portland concert halls and she’d sing combined with organist whom accompanied the films that are silent. Later she had ukrainian dating been spotted by a skill scout at Kelly’s Beer Parlour downtown. He had been a numerologist who suggested that she alter her name to one thing luckier. Their recommendation? Mona Paulee, following the game, that was extremely popular during the time. She continued to become mezzo-soprano in the Metropolitan Opera.

A block from Mona Paulee’s youth house is really what happens to be the Cedarwood Waldorf class. “This ended up being Neighborhood House,” Olsen claims, established as a sewing school in 1897 because of the nationwide Council of Jewish ladies. They relocated into this grand brand new building at 3030 S.W. Second Ave. in 1910.

«this is one’s heart of this community,” Olsen claims. It had been where newly appeared immigrants decided to go to learn English, where moms took infants towards the center, where junk peddlers held their relationship meetings and where in actuality the neighbor hood kids that are jewish to kindergarten and soon after, Hebrew college following the school time ended up being over.

«Tales from Jewish Portland»

and Polina Olsen’s other publications can be obtained at Powells, Broadway Books, Annie Blooms, Everything Jewish in addition to Multnomah County Library.

As families became more affluent, quite a few relocated off to Laurelhurst or Irvington. After which into the late ’50s and very early ’60s, a number of highway tasks and Portland’s first metropolitan renewal system slice the neighborhood to shreds.

«The Portland developing Commission declared it a neighborhood that is blighted » Olsen states, and razed 54 obstructs. Other obstructs in exactly what is currently Lair Hill would have been laid also to waste or even for the efforts of Gussie Reinhardt, whom for four years led a committee to get rid of the destruction.

Olsen highlights two stunning Victorians on First Avenue which can be nevertheless standing. Farther North, Mosler’s Bagel Shop and lots of other houses and organizations are not therefore happy.

“Gussie’s daughter told me that their bagels were a lot better than New York bagels, but their recipe passed away with him. He didn’t wish their young ones to go fully into the bakery business.»

By the 1960s most families that are jewish relocated far from Southern Portland to communities farther west, Olsen claims. The amounts of people who was raised within the old neighbor hood are dwindling, but Olsen is preserving their memories.

«People don’t get,» she says, «how interesting their lives that are own.»

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