Today's article represents the dream of the Eastmoreland 100 project and the mission of community storytelling. These pictures come from family albums of Michael Willan - the grandson of Dr. Ralph K. Strong, who in 1933 purchased a beautiful home beside the Eastmoreland Golf Course and Reed College, where Dr. Strong taught chemistry.
The lovely photo here is Michael's mother, Patti (Strong) Willian, who was born just after the family moved into their new home. You can see the golf course off in the distance along with a few players lining up putts on the 6th green.
For you pleasure, please enjoy Michael's family history as a glimpse into the lives of the people who shaped the neighborhood in 1933 and the home and view today.
Michael lived in Indiana and Illinois his entire life and never played Eastmoreland. He has a passion for history and golf like myself, and for that we are all grateful. Here is his story:
The photo was taken in October 1932 from the house my mom was born in at 7705 SE 28th Ave, so a block east of the course on the hillside between 27th and 28th. Her parents had just finished building the house and moved into it in early September from nearby Reed College faculty housing -- my grandfather, Dr. Ralph K. Strong, was a chemistry professor there. My mom was born a few days later. The house is still there, largely unchanged. Not surprisingly they picked that lot for the amazing setting and unique composition of course, trains and hills.
It seems this part of Eastmoreland was still filling in. In the foreground is an empty lot directly west and below them, then 27th Ave, then a view across the southern portion of the course.
One with adult (my aunt) is from March 1933. It's in rougher shape and obviously wall blocks quite a bit, but I like it for the additional insight on the original open course feel and how the growing neighborhood interfaced with the course. I am able to match up trees -- particularly the evergreen -- with the ones on the right side of the first photo. Maybe some bunkering details in there but hard to tell.
The one of the little girl (my mom) is from Sept 1934. Again the wall maddeningly blocks much of the course, but I can see at least one maybe two golfers walking off the same green as in the first. The trees line up with trees on left side of first pic.
The green Michael is referring to is the 6th hole. I was able to verify that using Google Maps (an amazing resource) by using the street maps and satellite views to get some perspective. See below for my estimate of the perspective of the course beyond their backyard wall. This photo is taken pointing due west towards the top.
A Reed College professor? Did your grandfather Dr. Strong happen to know Dr. Knowlton - the physics professor and first President of the Eastmoreland Club?
Regarding Dr. Knowlton, he actually hired my grandfather, Dr. Ralph K. Strong.
Knowlton hired him away from Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State) in 1920 to head Reed's Department of Chemistry.
My grandparents were friends with the Knowltons -- my grandmother's diary mentions dinners with the Knowltons and a baby dress bought by them for my mom.
So I don't think it's a stretch to say the Knowltons would have been encouraging my grandparents to buy that lot. Dr. Knowlton was probably thinking how nice it will be to have a visit with Ralph while viewing his home course, and guessing he did so a time or two!
Reed was a great fit for my grandfather -- a bit of an enigma himself. Super smart/talented chemist and educator (had Linus Pauling as a student at Oregon State). Smoked a pipe and had a stern, intimidating demeanor.
The Reed students apparently enjoyed poking fun at his ways. Here's one tongue-in-cheek yearbook entry:
"Mr. Strong is the most lenient member of the faculty. You can just see his mild and gentle disposition in the way he strolls slowly across the campus. He is always so patient about having his picture taken, too."
Through the Reed oral history archives - I found one of his star students, Betty Hines, who anxious to atrend Reed and study chemistry, was interviewed by Dr. Strong during her senior year of Jefferson High.
"The entire top floor of the Arts Building (Eliot Hall) was set up for chemistry. "On the left [west] would be the upper class labs. Then to the right [east] would be the lower class labs. In between was the library and Dr. Strong's office." She considered Strong to be the individual most critical to her success at Reed—"a very severe taskmaster, but a very fine person."
My grandmother, Mary Brown Strong, was a music teacher at Catlin Gabel School.
Both were from Nova Scotia and were set up via a dinner party by a mutual friend who was convinced that two Nova Scotians living so far away from home had to meet each other!
My grandmother was part of the 1920s golf craze -- I have photos of her somewhere posing with clubs back in Nova Scotia.
She sent that first pic to her family back home proudly describing on the back of the photo Eastmoreland's two-part layout, and to her dad extending an invitation to come west and play: "How about an early morning game on Christmas Day?" She would have walked the course often and may have played it.
While I don't think my grandfather played golf, he was a train fanatic, having worked as a young adult for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
So I'm sure that while my grandmother was drawn by the course and golfers he was thinking train whistles and train smoke from the line west of the course, and I'm sure that sealed the deal on the house.
Unfortunately, the dream set up did not last long. My grandmother passed away the next year and in 1936 my grandfather and mom moved to Terre Haute, Indiana for his new job as head of the Chemistry department at an engineering university, Rose Poly. Years later my dad enrolled at Rose and ended up in Dr. Strong's first-year chemistry class. He was one of Dr. Strong's favorite students, that is until he showed up one night on Dr. Strong's doorstep to pick up his daughter for a date! Luckily for me, my dad perservered.
While my mother, Patti (Strong) Willian, grew up in Indiana she was a Portlander at heart and returned every summer as a child for visits with family and friends and camp on the coast.
I grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, went to undergrad at Miami of Ohio, am a huge Cubs fan, have been an in-house tech lawyer for the last 15 years (just recently left Lenovo/Motorola Mobility) and enjoy writing (several years ago published a book on the film It's a Wonderful Life).
And of course I love golf. I definitely want to play Eastmoreland this year for obvious reasons! Unfortunately I have only seen the course and neighborhood on Google Maps.
Michael for sharing your family's story and photos, the Eastmoreland 100 Project would like to extend you an open invitation to you come play golf with us any time. If you like, consider joining us for the June 16, 2018 Centennial where the festivities will include the NWHickory Sticks are organizing a tournament. We would be honored to have you come play 18 and walk the fairways your grandmother may have strolled on Christmas Day! Hopefully with a new niblick or mashie in the bag : )
If you find that photo of Mary and her golf clubs, we would love to include that in the story of Eastmoreland 100.