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Garden Home calendar offers history lessons


Months share iconic images of area's landmarks, memories

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Elaine Shreve looks at the 2014 Garden Home Calendar, featuring historical photos.The cover of the new Garden Home History Project’s 2014 calendar features a young girl, Dorothy Johnson, in front of what was then the community’s post office located inside a corner of the community’s service station.

What makes the April 1945 photo memorable is that Johnson, who was probably 9 years old in the photo, is holding a bouquet of flowers, paying her respects to a just-deceased president — Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“My mother took a photograph of me holding flowers in front of the post office as a tribute to FDR,” wrote Johnson, who is now a Florida resident. “We all took such pride in being patriotic Americans.”

Johnson would go on to become Miss Oregon 1955 and was a first runner-up to Miss America, according to the local historians who helped collect the information for the calendar. She later became an actress, appearing in “The Joker’s Wild,” starring Frank Sinatra, and portrayed Pat Boone’s dream girl in the 1957 movie “Bernardine.”

The newest Garden Home calendar, a fundraiser for the Garden Home History Project, aims to capture the flavor of a historic community through the events that shaped the area, according to Elaine Shreve, who along with Virginia Vanture, is a co-chairwoman of the effort.

“The theme of this year’s calendar is events that changed Garden Home,” said Shreve. “The thing that’s different about this calendar that’s different from other calendars is the memoirs.”

Each page of the calendar not only includes several photos but is jammed packed with historical facts and anecdotes recounted by those who lived them.

Shreve helped collect the calendar photos with longtime Garden Home resident Bob Day, printing it through his DACO Business Printing and 3D Graphics company. Day’s wife Delia designed the layout of the calendar.

“A lot of people have purchased these for their children,” said Shreve, who raised her three children in Garden Home after moving to the area in 1966.

The month of January features the former Garden Home Post Office, which once occupied space in one corner of Gust Johnson’s Texaco service station on the corner of Oleson and Garden Home roads in the 1950s.

“The official post office was started in 1882,” said Shreve. Today, U.S. Post Office duties are handled inside Lamb’s Thriftway Marketplace.

January also contains a photo of Day as a young boy, who along with his brother Dean pose in front of the old Texaco station (now home to a Shell service station). The photo includes what today would be a coveted 1950s-style glass reservoir gas pump in an era when Day recalled gas sold for less than 20 cents a gallon.

The month of February pays tribute to the glory days of the railroad, specifically the Oregon Electric, which began running trains through the Garden Home area beginning in 1908.

“Garden Home was a main switching area,” Shreve pointed out.

The old passenger trains would come from Portland heading west to Beaverton along rails on what is now Allen Boulevard. From there, they would take a route south to Tigard and the Willamette Valley, said Day, a Garden Home resident since 1943.

Day said those following the route of the old rail line will notice numerous fruit trees if they walk down the Garden Home Recreation Center Trail, the result of passengers spitting out the pits of their fruits as the old Oregon Electric traveled through the community. The railway featured bright red passenger cars with distinctive round windows at the end of each car and carried passengers through Garden Home until 1933.

Each month highlights a special theme.

April focuses on the years when Garden Home was a mecca for horses.

“This was a center for horse-racing Sulky and Hackney harness ponies,” said Shreve. “Gerry Frank (an author and an heir of the former Meier & Frank store chain), we have communicated with him... and he gave us some photos.”

Those photos include one of Frank’s mother riding a Hackney harness pony as well as his father, Aaron Frank, with a Hackney pony. The calendar notes that the Aaron Frank Farm was once famous for horses that were “acknowledged to be the finest in their classes.”

May features Garden Home’s main general store, a structure that went by myriad names — the Upchurch store, the Jager store, Garden Home Grocery and the White store, among others. Gutted by fire in April 1956 and subsequently razed, the store sat at the intersection of Garden Home and Oleson roads now occupied by Dairy Queen.

“This was really a major grocery store for the area,” Shreve said.

An iconic photo in the calendar, taken by the late firefighter Ernie Metcalfe, shows Beaverton Rural Fire Protection District crews mopping up after the store burned. The photo has a distinctive Norman Rockwellish quality to it, capturing the flavor of the 1950s complete with volunteer firefighters, curious young boys and a sheriff’s deputy (with his back to the camera) all surveying the fire’s aftermath.

Shreve said the store was not only important as a retail destination, but also because the second story of the building was once used by members of the Community Church until their official building was constructed. It also was home to the community’s original elementary school in 1911.

Also, the month of May mentions the fact the Austin Stevens home, just south of the store, caught fire and killed Mildred Stevens’ handicapped mother in the 1950s, a tragedy that helped neighborhood men establish a local volunteer fire department. Stevens, now 91, recounts in the calendar that a volunteer ambulance stationed in Multnomah charged potential patients a membership fee that ensured them a ride to the hospital in case of a medical emergency.

October features the Garden Home Community Library, which is housed in the Garden Home Recreation Center owned by the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District. The library began as an all-volunteer operation when it opened in the former Garden Home Elementary School once the school closed in 1982.

“It takes up two classrooms,” said Shreve.

The quaint library eventually combined with the Washington County Cooperative Library Services system in 1996.

Garden Home History Project calendars are available at Lamb’s Thiftway Marketplace, as well as the Garden Home Community Library, for $12. They also can be found at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing or ordered online at gardenhomehistory.com.by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Bob Day and Elaine Shreve talk about creating the Garden Home calendars that feature photography taken throughout its history.