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Strassmaier, James
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Oral history interview with Debbs Potts

This oral history interview with Debbs Potts was conducted by James Strassmaier in a Super 8 Motel in Grants Pass, Oregon, and at an ExecuLodge in Salem, Oregon, from April 15, 1991, to May 28, 1991. In the interview, Potts discusses his family background and early life in Eastern Oregon, including his family's religious life, his education in one-room schools, and working various jobs as a young teenager. He also talks about the sawmill business, including owning and operating various sawmills. He then discusses his marriage to Bobbye Irene Michael, including their attempts to adopt children. Potts talks about his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, including his training and life on a ship. He also discusses his time as mayor of Grants Pass from 1958 to 1960.

Potts then discusses serving in the state Senate from 1961 to 1984. He talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party; several prominent Democrats, including Harry Boivin and Jason Boe; and his early committee assignments, particularly the Ways and Means Committee. He discusses his campaigns, legislative procedure, and interpersonal politics. He also talks about legislation that came up during his tenure, including on taxes, reapportionment, and education. He discusses working with other legislators, including Monte Montgomery, Ben Musa, Lynn Newbry, and Ed Fadeley. Potts talks about serving as president of the Senate from 1967 to 1970, including the process of getting elected to that position, having Cecil Edwards as his secretary, and the duties of the president. He also discusses working with different governors' administrations, the Senate presidency of Jason Boe, and partisan politics. Potts talks briefly about his faith and his adopted children. He closes the interview with a discussion on his activities after serving in the Legislature, including running the Oregon Lottery.

Potts, Debbs (Eugene Debbs), 1908-2003

Oral history interview with William L. Dickson

This oral history interview with William L. Dickson was conducted by Jim Strassmaier at Dickson's apartment in San Diego, California, from September 25-26, 1991. In this interview, Dickson discusses his family background and early life in Portland, Oregon, including contracting polio while in high school and his early interest in politics, including his admiration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a fellow polio survivor. He then discusses attending Northwestern Law School and many of his professors; clerking at the probate court in Portland; his family's religious faith; and getting started in a law practice in Portland. He talks about his experience as a debt collector during the Depression; his first run for the Oregon Legislature in 1930; and meeting his wife, Dorothy Adelaide Unk, in 1931.

Dickson goes on to discuss his time in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1933 to 1936, and in the Oregon Senate from 1937 to 1939, including his desire to help people burdened by debt; coordinating with his uncle, Ashby Dickson, to pass a constitutional amendment making judges nonpartisan positions; and legislation he worked on, particularly on the probate and guardianship code. He also talks about the role of lobbyists; the pay scale for legislators; and many of the legislators he served with, including Nan Wood Honeyman, Monroe Sweetland, and Frank Lonergan. He discusses his involvement with the Democratic Party; the impact of the Depression on his politics and career; and New Deal legislation.

Dickson then discusses his career after leaving the Legislature. He talks about working for the federal Department of Justice during World War II, particularly his work on cases involving land condemnation for military use, and arguing before Judge James Alger Fee. He then talks about serving as a judge on the Circuit Court of Multnomah County from 1954 to 1973. He discusses cases involving mental health and guardianship. He then talks about the lives and careers of his children. Dickson closes the interview with a discussion of national politics in the 1990s.

Dickson, William L. (William Lucas), 1907-2002

Oral history interview with Becky Johnson

This oral history interview with Elizabeth Johnson was conducted by Rick Harmon and Jim Strassmaier at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon, from June 25, 1986, to March 31, 1993. In the interview, Johnson discusses her family background and early life in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Bellevue, Ohio, including her family's religious faith, and life under Prohibition and during the Depression. She then discusses attending Miami University, including joining a sorority, her involvement with the YWCA, and the discrimination she saw. She also discusses attending Wellesley College, then teaching English to high school students. Johnson then talks about her experience as a woman in the Navy during World War II, serving with the WAVES, particularly her time stationed in Portland and Astoria, Oregon.

Johnson then discusses, at length, the family background and early life of her husband, Oregon State Representative Sam Johnson. She discusses Sam Johnson's youth and his education in the San Francisco area and in France, as well as his struggle with hereditary gout. She talks about their marriage and settling in Redmond, Oregon, and Sam's career with his family's timber business, including a trip they took to Chile to explore timber opportunities there. She also discusses the S.S. Johnson Foundation.

Johnson goes on to talk about her involvement in Oregon politics, including her involvement with the Oregon Republican Women's organization, campaigning for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and particularly her role on the State Board of Education. She also talks about Sam Johnson's time in the Oregon House of Representatives, his relationship to the changing Republican Party, and legislation he was involved with. She also discusses his time as mayor of Redmond. Johnson closes the interview by talking about her family life.

Johnson, Becky (Elizabeth Avery Hill), 1913-2007

Oral history interview with Irvin Luiten

This oral history interview with Irvin "Irv" Herman Luiten was conducted by Jim Strassmaier from March 16, 1988, to January 19, 1990, at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon. In the interview, Luiten discusses his family background and early life on wheat farms in Ritzville and Edwall, Washington, including his early education and the struggles his family faced during the Great Depression. He then describes studying journalism at Washington State University in the late 1930s, including the evolution of his political views and his interest in radio broadcasting. He discusses his early career as a journalist for the Colville Examiner from 1940 to 1941 and for the Northwest Farm News in 1941. Luiten also talks extensively about his service during World War II, including acting as defense counsel for his battalion and about soldier morale. He talks about his work with the Military Intelligence Service to teach escape and evasion tactics to airmen and setting up lines of escape in France.

Next, he describes his post-war life, including taking the editorship of the Northwest Farm News; marrying Ellen Boyde and raising a family; taking a job at Washington State University; and beginning his career with the Weyerhaeuser Company, doing public relations work as a writer for Weyerhaeuser News. He talks about aspects of Weyerhaeuser that made him loyal to the company, including the company's forest management practices and the management style of Phil Weyerhaeuser. Luiten also describes his experiences as a lobbyist for Weyerhaeuser from 1953 to 1978. He talks about the primary issues Weyerhauser was concerned with, including taxes, particularly timber taxes; pollution; land use; environmental law; and labor laws. Luiten also discusses his involvement with the Izaak Walton League of America and his conservation work; the Clemons Tree Farm; the workplace culture at Weyerhaeuser; and the company's relationship with the public. He goes on to talk about working with lobbyists for other Oregon timber interests, the different timber harvesting philosophies between Weyerhaeuser and Georgia-Pacific, and how those philosophies affected the economy of the state. He speaks at length on the importance of public relations work. He also discusses working with legislators such as Mark Hatfield, Dick Neuberger, Clarence Barton, Dick Eymann, and Vic Atiyeh. He closes the interview by talking about his life in retirement.

Luiten, Irvin H. (Irvin Herman), 1915-1997

Oral history interview with Kathryn Boe-Duncan

This oral history interview with Kathryn Boe-Duncan was conducted by Jim Strassmaier in Portland, Oregon, from October 15 to December 9, 1993, and on April 10, 2002. Robert Duncan was also present. In this interview, Boe-Duncan discusses her family background and early life in Portland, Oregon; her Lutheran upbringing; her early interest in music; her high school experience; and attending Pacific Lutheran University. She then discusses her marriage to Jason Boe and the difficulties involved in getting married at a young age. She talks about Jason Boe's early political career and involvement with the Democratic Party; daily life in Reedsport, Oregon, in the 1950s; and raising a family. She then discusses working as Jason Boe's secretary while he served in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1964 to 1970, including his campaigns. She also speaks about preparing the family to move to Salem, Oregon; social life in Salem, including her relationships with other politicians' wives; and the duties of a representative's secretary. She speaks at length about Jason Boe's legislative record in the Oregon Senate from 1970 to 1980, particularly his work advancing the legislative agenda of Governor Tom McCall. She also talks about his service as president of the Senate from 1973 to 1980, his work on improving the Capitol building, and his efforts in strengthening the power of the legislative branch. She also describes Jason Boe's political ambitions. Boe-Duncan then talks about Jason Boe's activities after leaving the Legislature, including his work as a lobbyist. She describes her career as a musician, which she began pursuing at age 40, as well as her work for the Oregon Historical Society from 1986 to 1989, and for Portland State University from 1989 to 1994. She closes the interview by talking about her marriage to Robert Duncan in 1995 and her family life.

Boe-Duncan, Kathryn, 1930-

Oral history interview with Wendell Gray

This oral history interview with Wendell Gray was conducted by Elizabeth Reichow and James Strassmaier from January 7, 1992, to October 28, 1993. In the first part of this interview, conducted by Elizabeth Reichow on January 7, 1992, Gray discusses his family background and early life on a ranch in Prineville, Oregon. He discusses having to quit law school at the University of Oregon due to appendicitis, returning to Prineville and working various jobs, and then attending the Northwestern College of Law in Portland, Oregon. He talks about his early law career as an insurance investigator while he was in law school, and about foreclosing mortgages with his uncle, Guy LaFollette, during the Depression. He then discusses practicing maritime law and the many clients he represented in the Portland area, particularly during World War II. He also discusses a trip he and his wife, Jean Patrick, took to East Asia in 1964. He goes on to talk about many of the maritime cases he worked on and the clients he represented over his career, as well as the other maritime lawyer in Portland, Erskine Wood. He talks about being on the board of directors of the Family Life Insurance Company; real estate investments; and chairing the Portland Chamber of Commerce.

In 1992, Wendell Gray narrated three tapes on his own. On these tapes, he speaks at length about "interesting people," including Dale, Mac, and Sib Smith of the Smith Brothers Office Outfitters; Orren Brownson; and Tom Cummins. He also talks about serving on the Portland School Board from 1948 to 1956, including the sale of the Lincoln High School building in downtown Portland.

The final part of the interview was conducted by Jim Strassmaier at Gray's home in Portland from October 26-28, 1993. Diana Gray was also present. In this portion, Gray discusses his education at the University of Oregon from 1925 to 1928, including his social life, his involvement with the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and meeting his first wife, Jean Patrick. He then discusses some of his recreational activities, including his involvement with the Deschutes Club, golfing, and the various golf clubs in the Portland area. He discusses serving on the Portland School Board from 1948 to 1956, including his election, policies they adopted, funding, and construction of new school buildings. He also briefly talks about Judge Gus Solomon. He closes the interview by talking about his children and family life.

Gray, Wendell (Wendell Oliver), 1908-1995

Oral history interview with Windsor Calkins

  • SR 470
  • Collection
  • 1986-07-07 - 1986-08-01

This oral history interview with Windsor Calkins was conducted by Jim Strassmaier in Calkins' office in Eugene, Oregon, from July 7 to August 1, 1986. In the interview, Calkins discusses his family background and early life in Eugene, including a 1922 trip on foot from Newport to Florence, Oregon, with his father. He also discusses his father's career as a court reporter, as well as his own interest in the law. Calkins talks about studying law at the University of Oregon, including taking classes from Wayne Morse. Calkins talks about practicing law in Eugene and some of the cases he argued, including bootlegging and murder cases. He also discusses the effect the Depression had on his family. He then talks about his experiences in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Calkins also talks about notable people from Eugene, including William G. East and other judges. He then discusses his work as a lawyer for the Eugene Water and Electric Board and Sacred Heart Hospital, as well as his involvement with the Lane County Bar Association, the Eugene City Health Board, and other civic organizations. He closes the interview with a description of malpractice lawsuits, as well as his family life.

Calkins, Windsor, 1910-1989