I fixated on my last post after receiving feedback about it when I shared a link on the Dead Memories Portland group page on Facebook. I felt the need to expand on my coverage about the Office. Dead Memories Portland is a group where people post pictures of old Portland landmarks and have discussions about them. The responders to my post revealed to me how little research went into my commentary about the Office. There was also information I found out about the place worth sharing that revealed to me that many thriving businesses have operated out of the site where people did everything from buying groceries a long time ago to drinking, playing darts performing stand up comedy and briefly playing punk rock. It was also pointed out that I had completely forgotten the existence of the punk club called Saratoga that opened up between the time the U & I Tavern closed and the Office opened. Saratoga was around long enough for me to procrastinate going there for a couple of months. Some commenters mentioned that one neighbor made numerous noise complaints, which didn’t make it worth it to keep the club going. I had totally forgotten Saratoga. Once my memory cleared, I remembered the place and thought about how I had felt inspired that something cool was occupying the space and I had been hopeful that it would stick around. I remember it being the same maroon color as the old U & I. I never made it there.
One revelation on the Facebook page made me realize how misguided and lazy I had been about the opinions I offered. I speculated at the end of my post that someone may not have liked “the ugliness” going on inside the strip club and so they made it ugly on the outside. For one thing that’s more judgmental than I wanted to be and it’s silly to think that someone who had this opinion would resort to vandalism. At the very least their graffiti might reflect in words the opinions they had rather than your basic graffiti scribbles. As one commentator pointed out the graffiti was a reflection of the lack of activity going on with the space and the opportunity to decorate the “large blank walls.” That makes more sense than my off base speculation. People who don’t like strip clubs, punk clubs or noisy businesses are more apt to call the police or file noise complaints and not likely to break out spray paint.
It probably would have been better to seek information from Dead Memories Portland before I created my initial post. I could have included historical tidbits and written a sidebar about what it was like to perform stand up comedy at an open mic night in the space but I was impatient and wanted to present my opinion more than a feature story about the building. The reason I post links from my blog, in situations that really pertain to dead memories, is an effort to drum up readers. Now how far people actually read before breaking into guffaws–it’s hard to say. In my defense I have to say that I didn’t deliberately distort my memory about the punk club so I could attempt a joke about a bar becoming a strip club. I know I had been more fixated on the plight of the Office last spring when I rode up and down Interstate on my way to a substitute job at a charter school. It made more of an impact when the Office did open because the building received that new paint job so my memory was stuck on U & I becoming the Office. I have figured out that even a bit of rudimentary research might have helped me relieve my own dead memory spots.
A gentleman commented about a history project he did concerning business occupants of Interstate Ave and used the Polk’s Portland City Directories to do kind of a ten year census that revealed that the building was built in 1928 and had been the N. Elliot Grocery Store in 1940, the S.E. Cornell Grocery Store in 1950 the Bru Room Tavern in 1960 and the U & I Tavern in 1970 until 2008. I appreciate dead memories Portland because I’m interested in any historical commentary about anything that has gone on in Portland. When it’s something closer to where I live that I see more often it’s even cooler to get as much speculation along with specific information as I can get. While it’s been a bummer to see the building fall into disrepair it has been uplifting to see a flurry of activity with construction going on inside the building and plumbing trucks being parked outside. There seems to be some effort happening to bring the building back for a chance to serve the community again.
Follow the comment thread concerning my last post: