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

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

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

They lived maybe perhaps maybe not too far from the barn that housed the horses of the numerous Jewish junk peddlers whom lived and plied their trade within the neighbor hood. These recyclers that are early pile their wagons high with rags and containers and other things they might find, then offer them into the junk dealers who lined Front Avenue.

South Portland’s populace “was one-third Jewish, one-third Italian and one-third everyone else else,” says Olsen, who has got written four publications in regards to the reputation for a nearby. 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. Many were delivered right here by 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 miles stretching from approximately Southwest Hall Street and First Avenue when you look at the north to Corbett Avenue between Lowell and Bancroft roads into the south — they arranged synagogues, Hebrew schools, clinics, social solution agencies and hundreds of companies.

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

as well as leads walking trips of Southwest Portland. She now spends her time as being a researcher and author. “I think all this work has one thing related to the truth that we never ever asked my four immigrant grandparents any such thing – it never ever happened in my opinion. Later on, after having examined folklore that is jewish the University of Oregon, we felt a dreadful feeling of loss. It’s a real means of attempting to protect memories before it is too late. It is unimportant that i did son’t develop here. Once I read about these individuals we read 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 of this Jewish community,” says Olsen, incorporating that Reinhardt possessed a memory that is phenomenal. “I would personally always check every thing she explained into the town directories and she was constantly bang on.”

just take the whole tale of Minnie Berg, as an example. She came to be in Canada in 1911 and lived in the past in a flat building from the part of Southwest Meade and 2nd Avenue.

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

A block from Mona Paulee’s youth house is really what is now the Cedarwood Waldorf class. “This was Neighborhood home,” Olsen claims, started 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. 2nd Ave. in 1910.

“this is the center of this community,” Olsen claims. It had been where newly appeared immigrants went along to learn English, where moms took children into the center, where junk peddlers held their relationship conferences and where in actuality the community Jewish children went to kindergarten and soon after, Hebrew college following the college time ended up being over.

“Tales from Jewish Portland”

and Polina Olsen’s other books can be found at Powells, Broadway Books, Annie Blooms, Everything Jewish while the Multnomah County Library.

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

“The Portland developing Commission declared it a neighborhood that is blighted ” Olsen claims, and razed 54 obstructs. Various other obstructs with what has become Lair Hill would have been laid also to waste or even when it comes to efforts of Gussie Reinhardt, who for four years led a committee to get rid of the destruction.

Olsen highlights two gorgeous Victorians on First Avenue which can be nevertheless standing. Farther North hot ukrainian brides, Mosler’s Bagel Shop and lots of other domiciles and companies are not therefore happy.

“Gussie’s daughter told me that their bagels were much better than ny bagels, but their recipe passed away with him. He didn’t desire their kiddies to go fully into the bakery company.”

By the 1960s most families that are jewish moved far from Southern Portland to communities farther west, Olsen claims. The amounts of those that spent my youth within the old community 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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