Sunday, January 11, 2015

Musings of Portland

My brother gave my dad a Douglas DC-3 model recently that made quite an impression. My Dad's response was so cool I had to share it. My dad is typically a pretty quiet guy so I really enjoyed this one.

Thank you for the DC-3. This is one of the engineering greats like the VW bug, the UNIX operating system, and the C programming language. Back then, there was a class of genius design people who actually led projects. Today, we have marketeers in charge who would be better employed on used car lots. 

It seems absurd to me that most of these great machines and airplanes were designed and tested in a year with slide rules and without the 6 DOF modeling that we do today. Contrast this to the F35 joint strike fighter thats been under development for 20 years, cost approaching a trillion dollars, and still doesn't fly very well. 
My first contact with DC-3's was around 1940 when we lived on NE Ainsworth in Portland. We were about 3 miles south of PDX, and a lot of air traffic went over our house---both DC-3's and P-38's. There was a P-38 squadron in Portland, and the squadron commander a Major McCauley lived two houses away from us. I can remember drool ing over his wheels, a Chrysler Airflow. Across the street from us lived an United Airlines captain. His wife said, if yo u watched carefully, he would sometimes dip the wings on the DC-3 going over his house. I never saw this, but I tracked the DC-3's, carefully looking for the dips. 

I'm attaching three photos from that era. The first is the Alberta streetcar that we caught at the end of the line, 30th and Ainsworth. We walked 8 blocks, probably in the rain, to board this trolley.
There is an International panel delivery in the trolley picture, a vintage somewhere between 1937 and 1940. Internationals are dear to me. My first vehicle was a 1936 International PU---a double clutching granny gear monster---a real truck. From the Alberta streetcar, we transferred to the Williams Ave electric trolley bus to go downtown. Its strange that buses were more environmentally friendly 75 years ago. 

The second picture is the Hoy Sun Lo Chinese restaurant, 2nd and Oak, down town Portland--- Studebaker PU parked in front. Restaurant was on the 2nd floor with a steep single flight of stairs. As a kid, I had trouble making the steps. We went there in the 1940's, often on Sat night. Food was better than Chinese food today. I remember the little sesame cakes and barbecued pork with hot mustard. Urban renewal took down most of Portland's Chinatown and replaced it with parking lots. 
 The third picture, also 2nd and Oak, was the downtown police station and city courts. Aunt Gladys worked on the 2nd floor, court clerks office. She was on a first name basis with all of the Portland bondsmen and women. Top floor was the jail. I always wanted to tour the jail and see how the other half lived, but it was off limits back then. 

Enough musings from an old man. 
I don't... I think I could handle a few more.

1 comment:

english stephen said...

Loved Reading your Dad's comments and I particularly like his words on the 'engineering greats' and how they came about - excellent stuff, thanks