This impressive structure in the center of Downtown Portland is the Pioneer Courthouse. The trees are now as high as the roof.
The Portland Hotel was torn down a long time ago, and for many years there was an unsightly hole in its place that served as a parking garage. Now that block is Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland's "Living Room."
Even today, the Williamette River through downtown Portland is a busy place. It's been a long time, though, since ships like this tied up at the riverfront.
Still serving as Portland's depot, Union Station hasn't changed much since this picture was taken. Of course, the automobiles are a bit different.
West High School. It isn't there any more, but isn't it an interesting building?
Cape Horn, on the Columbia. Solid basalt. A real challenge when they built the water-level rail line along the Washington side.
Oregon has had three capitol buildings. This one burned down more than 50 years ago.
The Cascades of the Columbia were a major barrier to ship traffic, so this canal was built to bypass them. There is a new set of locks at Bonneville dam now, and these aren't used any more. Trees cover the hillsides again, and there's a freeway right outside of town.
Ashland is the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The streets are paved now, and they even allow automobiles in town.
This is what's meant by Old Growth timber. One doesn't often see trees like this any more. Much of western Oregon's timber was brought out of the hills on railroads built especially for the purpose. Sometimes the radii of their curves determined how long the logs could be.
Hattie Holmes Wright collected postcards. She had a whole drawer full of them, some dating back to before 1900. When she died in 1953, those postcards went into a box which sat in closets, under beds, and in various dark corners for 40 years. A few were damaged by water when a basement flooded, but most survived to be found and treasured.
Many of the postcards bear messages from relatives, from friends. Several are love letters, for Hattie's future husband, Clarence Wright, courted her with postcards, both comic and tender. Some bear bad news--a sister had major surgery, a brother lost his job, a friend died. Saddest of all was the one that told of Clarence's death in Florida, that Hattie was bringing her aged mother and her infant daughter to Idaho to take refuge with her sister, Luella.
Hattie was born in 1882, the youngest of fifteen children with an age spread of 40 years. She probably never met her oldest siblings. They stayed in Indiana when her father moved to Illinois—another brother stayed there—then to Kansas—some more stayed, and Hattie was born—and finally to Oklahoma, when Hattie was only 10. Her father died there a few years later, but Hattie's mother stayed on until 1915. She must have begun the postcard collection, because many of them are addressed to her.
There are postcards addressed to Hattie's older sister, Luella, too. She picked them up in her travels, to Colorado, to Oregon, finally to Idaho, in 1912. sending many back to Oklahoma, keeping others as souvenirs.
About half the postcards are holiday greetings of various sorts. One of Hattie's other sisters, Katie, was proud of her husband's Irish ancestry (And hers? The Holmes family is supposed to be Scots-Irish) and she sent St. Patrick's Day greetings to her mother, to Hattie, and to Luella every year from 1909 to 1918. And of course there were many Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and Easter greetings exchanged.
For some reason, the cards became scarcer about 1919, then tapered off to one or two a year. A few got added now and then by Hattie's daughter and her husband and by traveling friends. But there were no more from her sisters and brothers, although most of them lived many years more. Hattie was a contentious woman, and never forgot a slight. She refused to keep in touch with Clarence's parents after his death, but nobody ever knew the exact reasons why. Perhaps she fought with other relatives too, and that's why the postcards didn't come any more.
Contentious or not, Hattie left a priceless legacy. Her postcards opened new doors in family history for her descendants. And many more of them, scattered here and there on the World Wide Web, are still showing folks what the world looked like three-quarters of a century ago.
©2000, 2002, 2005 Judith B. Glad
Updated 15 October 2005