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Rebuilding History

Three walls of Hoffman's Sandy Market remain during the library renovation
by: contributed photo by ED HOFFMAN In this interior view of the Sandy Market in the late 1940s, Bob Jensen, left, and store owner Ruben Hoffman are seen behind the meat counter, which was located where the library’s circulation desk was positioned.

Ed Hoffman, 69, looks at the changes happening to the old library today through completely different eyes than almost everyone else in town - save a few old-timers.

Hoffman spent most of his school-age years playing baseball, basketball and football on the open lot that now contains such businesses as Pacific Pioneer Real Estate, Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, Sparky's Pizza, Subway and the library building - among others.

Ed's father, Ruben Hoffman, whose name is memorialized in Ruben Lane, built the building (with Ruben's two brothers, Albert and Walter) in 1938. They built a modern structure that eventually became the city library.

The building was so modern at that time that the Sandy Post joined in sponsoring a whirlwind of activities just before Thanksgiving to recognize the Hoffman brothers' achievement. That issue of the newspaper - Nov. 16, 1938 - numbered more than 3,300 distributed copies, which is about the same as today's circulation.

'Sandy should be proud of the investment and modern shopping facilities as shown by the Hoffman brothers,' it was written in that 1938 Post issue. 'Words fail in describing the addition to the town, and one can only realize its modern greatness by a personal visit on opening day, Nov. 19, 1938.'

Ruben, who married Marjorie in 1941, owned the building and operated it as a grocery store until 1946, after that leasing it to several others who operated it as a grocery store until about 1972. Other businesses occupied a small part of the large building, including a drug store and later an appliance store in the northwest corner as well as a liquor store where until recently the police department had been located. And while Ruben Hoffman owned the market, a hay and feed store served farmers out of the south one-third of the building.

By 1972, Ruben had sold the entire city block to Gordon Stone, minus the one small store he didn't own.

As real estate savvy as Ruben Hoffman was - at one time he was the largest taxpayer in Clackamas County - he was unable to buy one small store on the city block that in 2012 will shine with a newly-renovated library.

A clothing store, owned by once-mayor Tom and Edna Scales, was located behind the market and near the Hoffman home.

Ed Hoffman remembers many stories of the past, including that the Scales were heavily into Democratic politics and they had made arrangements for the appearance of John F. Kennedy at Sandy High School when he was running for president. Ed has yearbook photos to prove it. Unfortunately, Ed had to work at the market that day and missed the JFK visit.

Another time, Ed said the Scales arranged for the appearance of Adlai Stevenson in Sandy, but Ed doesn't remember attending.

'My parents were rock-hard Republicans,' he said. 'This is how rock-hard they were: At one time my dad (Ruben) had a mule he named Adlai.'

Stone changed the market venue into a clone of his clothing store in Gresham - a locally-owned business missing in Sandy today.

Ed Hoffman believes his dad and uncles would be proud of what is happening to the building today.

'Even though they just gutted the building,' Ed said, 'it's still in the same place and three of the original walls are still standing.

'After seeing the pictures of what it's going to look like, I think it's gorgeous - it will be a beautiful building.'

But Ed admits he often is a bit uneasy about the work that is ongoing.

'As a kid growing up, working in the store and living right behind it,' he said, 'I have mixed feelings. But, on the other hand, I'm real proud of what they're doing to it.'

Ed's memory goes back to his grandfather, Ludwig Hoffman, who built the first Sandy Market inside the building now housing Joe's 6-Pack. He also built and lived in the home just to the east of the store.

Ruben also built a grocery store in Rhododendron, where he and his family lived, and they called it the second Sandy Market. Ruben, Marjorie and their two sons, Ed and Mick, sold the Rhody store in 1950 and moved to the city block they owned in Sandy.

For eight years, Ruben had operated the third Sandy Market in Sandy - a structure that 74 years later (2012) would rival any downtown building, even though it will only house books, magazines, computers and library materials.

Perhaps it is the proper venue for a library because the early years of the markets were relaxed times when people unhurriedly browsed through the store, talking with one another, the checkers and butchers.

Ed says, even in the late '50s and early '60s, times were 'low-key,' and that's what he misses the most. That's when he was an upperclassman at SHS and worked in the store for Bob and Jeanette Williams, who leased it from Ed's father.

Ed quoted his memory of what Bob Williams told him: 'I'm not worried about people being rushed through the check-out line,' Bob said to Ed. 'These people are our friends and neighbors, and we just like to talk with them.'

While history is being rewritten and rebuilt between Proctor and Pioneer boulevards, some Sandy old-timers like Ed Hoffman remember the good ol' days when everybody knew everybody and life was not a rush of activity.

With a nostalgic look on his face, Ed says, 'Those were different times.'