Thursday, March 12, 2020

Herbert Hoover, Cleaning Stables, and Involuntary Dismounts in 1920

There are lots of reasons to think about Herbert Hoover right now. Here's a little more on the way Salemites understood and remembered him in 1920, before he was Commerce Secretary or President.

Hoover mania, August 17th, 1920
"The saloons are gone now and are replaced by
the auto repair shops so much in demand."
You may recall the editorial, "A Salem Boy for President," in the note on Warren G. Harding.

The day before, the paper ran a story on Hoover by Fred Lockley. (Lockley had interviewed Ben Taylor in 1934 about having the first bicycle in Salem. He is one of our great journalists!)

February 27th, 1920

From the piece:
(By Fred Lockely in the Portland Journal.)
When I first moved to Salem, in the late 80s we lived on Front street, near Marion Square. Later we bought a place out near Charley Moore's, in Highland addition to Salem. Our next door neighbor to the west was B. S. Cook, now of Portland, while our neighbor on the east was Dr. H. J. Minthorne now of Newport. Or., whom we had known when he was in charge of the Chillocco Indian school in the Cherokee strip of Indian Territory, now a part of Oklahoma. Bert Hoover, son of a sister of Dr. Minthorne, who had been a Quaker evangelist, stayed at Dr. Minthorne's house. He drove the team for Cook and Minthorne, whose firm name was the Oregon Land company, when they took prospective customers out to see land. We kept our cow in the stable where Bert kept his horses, so we saw each other daily. Bert cleaned the stable and curried the horses each morning while I was out in the corral milking the cow. I think Bert would have been [as] incredulous as I would have been if some one had told us that in time to come several million people in Belgium would place his picture on the wall beside that of King Albert and that a whole nation would regard him as a benefactor. If we had been told that the day would come when the people of his own country would unite in a demand for him to become president of the United States we would have been still more incredulous.

Hoover Sends Check.
While I was in Salem a day or so ago I ran across Joe Albert, who told me he had just left Joe Smith, one of the officials of the Friends' church at Salem in which [Her]bert Hoover still retains his membership, and that he had just received a check from Bert for $200 toward the support of the church for the coming year. That evening Governor Olcott and I sat in his office at the state house from 8 o'clock till nearly midnight discussing sundry and various subjects. The subject of Bert Hoover's becoming a presidential candidate came up and we began cheeking over the list of our boyhood friends and acquaintances of Salem. It is rather surprising to find how many have climbed high.

"When Os West and I were rooming together." said Governor Olcott, "I had no idea that the day would come when he would be governor of Oregon. Another roommate of mine has made good in fine shape, and that is John McCourt. When he roomed with me he was driving a milk wagon. In those days West was a bank clerk, and I was selling shoes for William Brown."
March 3rd, 1920
In a different piece with multiple anecdotes there was also a funny story involving Lockley and Hoover and bicycling.
There is the picture of Hoover and Fred Lockley with their bicycles, furnishing "jitney trips" to the sun[day] small folks in the neighborhood. In Salem today, there are folks who remember these 'venturesome jaunts' when as small tots they enjoyed a ride "on the handlebars" of the bike ridden by Bert.

Those residents who recell the days of the old Salem horse car route, tell of sundry occasions when Ber was "master of ceremonies" of the city's transportation system. At these times it is said that the four footed motors demonstrated increased speed and interest in life under the ministrations of their youthful "engineer."

This old horse car outfit is a factor In another sketch of Hoover. His cousin, Agnes Hammer Eskelson, recalls the time when Bert decided to annex some of the motive power for his own uses. The bicycle was brought into play and by means of rope was attached to the car. In this manner, future relief administrator "hooked a ride" from the lumbering carrier, "a brief ride." All went well, Mrs. Eskelson says, until the solid tires of the old "safety" bike, caught in the wide cracks of the planked track; then, there was a sudden parting of the ways. It is said that Bert tried this scheme several times but that the ultimate result of each trial was the sudden unseating of the youthful "navigator" and near destruction to the much used bicycle.
On that August trip, Hoover said, "Before leaving Salem I am going down to look over the old place where I worked as a boy. The place is now an auto repair shop." For more on the State Insurance Building Hoover visited, where Oregon Land Company was located,  see "Four Corners of Dud." He had had his wife register at the hotel for some anonymity, and it did not seem like he was very attached or sentimental about Salem, in addition to not wanting people fussing over him.

March, 1889

No comments: