Duck Duck Book

45 – greetings from oregon
05.9.2007, 6:33 pm
Filed under: art & entertainment

Greetings from Oregon / by Gideon Bosker and Jonathan Nicholas.
Portland, OR : Graphic Arts Center Pub. Co., c1987.
[741.683 B743g; three copies, one hold]

Picture postcards have been ubiquitous for a long time, but before color film was widely available to amateur photographers they must have held a special appeal. If you went to an exotic foreign locale (like, say, Newport, Oregon) you could send home postcards showing beautiful, realistic images of the highlights of your trip to family and friends. Or, you could buy postcards for yourself and use them to indulge in nostalgic memories of your journey later. Think of how thrilling this would be if no one had yet heard of modern wonders like mobile telephones with a built-in cameras!

Greetings from Oregon reproduces hundreds of postcards of the Beaver State. Some are the classic location postcard, the ones with the word “OREGON” or “PORTLAND” or whatever spelled out in letter-shaped pictures of photogenic spots. Others are photographs of prosaic rural vistas, graceful urban environments, important buildings, natural wonders, and scenes depicting practical aspects of the local economy. Most are in full color — beautiful, slightly unrealistic hand-tinted full color — and all are reproduced at about their original size.

After a stirringly patriotic (in the provincial, loyal-to-one’s state sense) and completely unnecessary introduction from then-governor Neil Goldschmidt, the pictorial contents of Greetings from Oregon are arranged geographically and topically, with sections devoted to the Columbia River, the mountains, Eastern Oregon, Portland, the coast, rural Oregon, the timber industry, the towns of the Willamette Valley, and, last but definitely not least, postcards immortalizing three of our state’s major celebratory events — the Lewis & Clark Exposition of 1905, the Pendleton Round-Up, and the Portland Rose Festival.

Greetings from Oregon may be one of the best ways to look at some of Oregon’s lost treasures — Celio Falls (page 12), a passenger train departing Seaside for Portland (page 77), the old State Capitol (page 95), a busy Main Street in Pendleton with no cars in sight (page 31), a single old-growth fir cut to fit four rail cars (page 88), or the old Portland harbor (page 43), not to mention the round bed at the Mallory Hotel (page 59)!

The book would be better if the captions explained the approximate date of each postcard, and (I know I’m always saying this. . .) if it had an index. But, I’m not complaining. Greetings from Oregon shows us at our air-brushed and hand-tinted best, and we ought to be proud of how damned fine we looked.

[thanks, Geoff]


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