Monday, August 10, 2009

i love my sweet, eclectic, very cool small town

It's been difficult to not talk about my town here at Writerquake. After last weekend's annual Homer Davenport Days celebrations here I decided, what the heck, I'm going to show you these glimpses of our breakfast in the park on Saturday morning prior to the Homer Davenport Days parade, as well as shots of the parade itself.

Homer Davenport was a famous native son of Silverton, described in a marvelous full article at the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission website, with this introduction:
Homer Davenport (1867-1912), the Silverton cartoonist, is one of Oregon's most extraordinary celebrities. Through the support of formidable newspaperman William Randolph Hearst, he would become the most influential political cartoonist in the U.S.A.

Millions saw his cartoons. Hearst used his darling "Davvy" as a point man muckraking against political bosses and big trusts such as Standard Oil Company. Davenport cartoons, with direction from Hearst, ushered in the Progressive Era and promoted the ascendancy of the American Empire. Breaking with Hearst, Davenport helped reelect Teddy Roosevelt to the presidency in 1904. One might argue that he had more impact on the American way of life than radical journalist John Reed or poet-lawyer C.E.S. Wood, both Oregonians and players on the national scene.

Yet Homer Davenport's life is an enigma. Did this fantastic success bring him happiness? It is doubtful he ever would have left his beloved Silverton if his father Timothy W. hadn't cajoled, encouraged, and pushed his reluctant son toward a career in the arts. Homer remained homesick for his small town on the edge of the Willamette Valley all of his life.

This short clip (3:41) shows snippets of the Lion's Club Breakfast in the city park, passing vintage cars on display during our short walk through the park (as we followed a darling little girl with her family), and pieces of the parade.

The day began with breakfast in our city park.
(Click on any photo to enlarge)

After breakfast we enjoyed looking at some of the craft vendors' booths and the display of vintage cars in the park before the Homer Davenport Parade.

Mike and I marched with Silverton People for Peace in a huge, peaceful demonstration protest in downtown Portland just before the Iraq War began. I've also walked with them in the Homer Davenport Days parade in years past.

Another Silverton native son -- our mayor, Stu Rasmussen -- who is the first transgender mayor in the United States (read one of
many articles at the link).

The Silverton High School class of 1959 was even there.

Silverton was voted as one of the Top Ten Coolest Small Towns in 2009!

#9. Silverton, Ore. (3,142)
{The article is wrong...the population is 7,414}
An artsy, liberal town, that's perfect for nature lovers (It's the gateway to Oregon's largest state park, and it's home to the Oregon Gardens, an 80-acre botanical park).
Located: About 45 miles South of Portland
Population: 9,433
Silverton's also been dubbed the Mural City. Visitors can pick up a walking map of downtown to tour the 14 mural, including one by Norman Rockwell.

After the parade we enjoyed more of downtown and then took our memories home with us.



Erin Davis said...

What a cool town!

Darlene said...

Thank you so much, Lydia, for a glimpse of the friendly small town you live in. It looks like an ideal place to retire.

I love the photos of your parade. And I love the fact that the residents continue to march for peace.

Boy, did your vintage cars bring back memories. Rumble seats - wow! I remember riding in one when I was about ten years old and it was a thrilling adventure. However, they proved to be dangerous (A couple were decapitated in an accident) and were phased out.

bookmanie said...

A vibrant city is a city alive. Yours is the case. The whole point of a city is its animation for communication, if it is not common, it is better to live in the countryside. Bookman

La Belette Rouge said...

I think I have been to your town. Once we were driving between McMinnville and Portland. We are going to be in Oregon for OSU's opening game. I can't wait to go. I miss Oregon! It is such a gorgeous state.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Looks like a very beautiful city and interesting people too. A friend of mine just came from Astoria, Oregon.

Lydia said...

@Erin- It really is!

@Darlene- I'm glad you enjoyed the small tour. I'm not sure many people actually move here to retire. What is more common is that people stay all their lives and die here! We have many 4th and 5th generation families here. Also quite a few designated "Century Farms" in the countryside, those farms that have been in one family for at least 100 years.
You have some interesting car memories!

@bookmanie- I like your phrase about a town having "animation for communication" in order to be vibrant. Makes sense.

@La Belette Rouge- McMinnville is a town that's gone through some positive change in recent years.
Are you an OSU alum? I wasn't aware that you had lived in (or are from?) Oregon. My husband's mom and dad met while students at OSU.

@Phivos- It's lovely. Not as lovely as some of the places you show in your blog, but lovely!
Astoria is one of my most favorite places. It seems a tiny San Francisco in some ways. There is a large Finnish community there (I'm half Finn but wasn't raised by that side of the family so it's fun to learn more from them.)

cathwrynn said...

How come you did not want to talk about it on your blog?

It seems amazing, and blows some stereotypes of small town USA out of the water.

Is it really a very liberal town? I would love to hear more on the social life of your town with regards to gender politics, race conflict and religion etc.

I am, sadly, very cynical about "political salvation" ie institutionalized rights and legislated liberality. Having grown up in RSA we don't have much faith that just putting the right people in power is enough... its really about what happens in the hearts and minds of ordinary people that makes the difference (even despite unjust laws). And that Law cannot create an open society by themselves.

Your town seems to have a wonderful mix of small town belonging and security, whilst somehow creating space for diversity of all kinds.

Has it always been so? I would love to hear the story of how it has managed this....

thanks for sharing this post.

naomi dagen bloom said...

Lydia, Another delightful stroll through a place unknown to me. So many of your place adventures seem a series of picture postcards from other times.

Though we'll soon be living near Silverton, I'm wondering if visiting it in real time could not live up to the experience of residing there.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

I have good tights with Finland and very good Finnish friends.

Lydia said...

@cathwynn- Your queries about this town are somewhat a conundrum for me. See my comments to Darlene above about the many long-time families living here. They are very solid citizens who I've found are usually on the conservative side. However, Silverton People for Peace was begun by a young woman from one of those families who not only broke from conservative tradition in her family but also changed her mother's politics in the process! The county is largely Republican. We've had a heck of a time electing a Democrat representative in this area for the State Legislative Assembly....still haven't done it.

But then there's Stu Rasmussen, who was formerly mayor before he underwent his latest changes and has been a city councilman for years - leading the fight against rampant growth in his hometown. I've known him since 1984; many here have known him all their/his lives. It's remarkable that we who supported him in the mayoral election slowly became the majority that ultimately unseated a long-term, quite admired (even by me) mayor who favored growth beyond what we think the town should accept. He's been very controversial since taking office. Who knows if he will seek or could win re-election later.

The merchants are a real mix of entrepreneurs and community-minded leaders. We have a goodly amount of lovely shops and restaurants. There is a First Friday event each month that highlights the artists downtown and art is overall very supported here. The Silverton Arts Festival is this weekend in the park, and will attract vendors from other states. So, the people seem to very much support well-thought-out businesses while not liking the idea of more subdivisions to grow the town for more.

The city council meetings are well attended, and when the topic is a hot one it's normal to see protesting and to hear heated debates. The town has its own cable channel, run by I believe the high school, and every city council meeting is recorded and shown there throughout the month. Regular citizens run for and win seats on the city council, and it's a mix of old-timers and new-comers to the town.

The town has numerous churches, none of which I attend. The church congregations tend to stay within themselves and I think that is where the true conservatism is bred and fed. Not to say that a few of the churches don't spread out into the community for service, but it's not the norm.

Would I describe Silverton as liberal? It's not the first tag I would necessarily give it because of that whole conundrum thing. I think visitors and residents alike find what they are seeking here because the town has such a mixture of interests and offerings.

What I think prevails is that it is a family town. People choose to raise their families here for many reasons I've listed and more.

I hope that answered some of your questions, and I really appreciate that you had an interest in knowing more. Here's the website for more info.

Lydia said...

@naomi- After responding to cathrynn's comments I'm a bit tapped out. However.....suffice to say that have I got a shop for you! I thought to write you about it when you lived in NYC, but thought that would be silly. But now you will be a nice little drive away from The Purl District. The last photo in this post, the one with the welcome sign, is taken in front of the beautifully refurbished building that The Purl District shares with other merchants. I don't knit (yet) but I'll look around with you and we can have coffee upstairs!

[Everyone: The name The Purl District is very clever for a knitting shop in these parts because there is a marvelous district in Portland called The Pearl District, or The Pearl, as more and more are calling it...]

@Phivos- Do you know the town of Lapua, where my cousin lives? I want to visit him before he dies, for heaven's sake! I also have a strong wish to visit Lapland, where my paternal grandfather was from!

Lydia said...

@NAOMI- I failed to give your the link for "THE PURL DISTRICT!

earthtoholly said...

What a gorgeous place, Lydia. I would love to live someplace like that. Great photos, too, as they really give a feel for the town. The first transgender mayor? That is really cool.

I would love to dive into that tie-dye booth and rummage around!

Nancy said...

I love Silverton! Yay! That's where you live? Lucky girl.

Lydia said...

@earthtoholly- I wish you'd been here for Homer Davenport Days, Holly. We could have shopped the Tie Dye tent together. I told my husband that I intended on returning Sunday to buy a dress, but didn't.
Seriously, come visit this place! You'd love it, I think.
It is cool having Stu as mayor. He ran as "the logical choice," because he is so intelligent, well-informed, rooted. There was an article in one paper today saying his latest behavior puts into question that he doesn't have an agenda (he wore an outfit that looked like a hooker's in front of a youth gathering, and has since taken lots of -maybe warranted- flack, and also has apologized in writing...). It's time to move on from this episode and I hope the town can do it. Stay tuned.

@Nancy- That is so cool that you know and love Silverton! You must have become acquainted with the town when you lived in Portland. I do consider myself lucky to live here ... for 25 years now. Seems strange that is the exact amount of years I lived in Reno (well, a combination of Reno, Steamboat, and Sparks)!

Gus said...

Great Blog! As another "local" its very nice to see so many kind comments from folks outside the area! As those of us who live here know full well, it is indeed the "Center of the Universe."

Gus Frederick
Liberal University of Oregon
(Founded in Silverton - 1897)

Lydia said...

Gus~ Thank you! What a thrill to have a comment from you today! We have moved in similar circles here at the "Center of the Universe" but I don't think we have ever officially met. Since posting this piece I have written more about Silverton, the town I love so much.
I hope you return here. Am on my way now to visit your link (*love it!).



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