Aero Club, 1981

The first of these side-by-side buildings was the old Knights of Columbus building, build circa 1920. The other, less architecturally inspiring, building adjoined it on the west side. The two formed the Aero Club and they stood at SW Park and Taylor until 1998 when they were demolished and replaced with the Paramount Hotel.

(City of Portland Archives)

(City of Portland Archives)

28 Responses to “Aero Club, 1981”

  1. Scott Leverenz Says:

    In 1982, I worked for a sheet metal shop, where the owner had years of sign experience. we were asked to present a proposal to create a metal sculpture for the front of the building that would fill the large space shown above (at the 2nd floor). Somewhere I still have the sketches we used in our presentation.

  2. Brett Says:

    What was the Aero Club? I can’t seem to find any references to it online.

  3. Scott Leverenz Says:

    The Aero Club was a private club (similar to The Towne Club The Arlington Club) exclusively for pilots and aeronautics buffs with enough $$$ to join.

  4. skepweaver Says:

    It’s fun to see these photos. My mother worked in reception at the Aero Club as a young woman, in the early 1940’s.

  5. Flory Says:

    My father worked for the Aero Club in the 60’s, from breakfast, lunch & dinner, and usually don’t come home until after the last guests departed. When they have special events, like birthdays, holidays, my father would stay up late to help serve. He was their #1 bus-boy. He’d walk home 10 blocks to our apartment on 624 SW Mill Street (now a 4 story high parking structure for PSU), carrying a bag of coins from his tips, wrapped in cloth napkin. They have big bands playing, ballroom dancing, think of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s era. That’s what Aero Club has to offer! During their events, he would bring home lots of prizes leftover from their decorations. Once used, they throw them away and start with new ones. My dad recycled them, just enough for his daughters! It was almost a pleasure waiting up for him, even during school nights.
    Here’s one part I’ll never forget. . . . . when my father’s co-workers heard that his family from the Philippines are moving to Portland for good, they gave him a shower. That first night we got home from the airport, he showed us his closet right outside our apartment door, (hallway) pulled a string to turn on the light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and there a closet-full of stash! But he told us to be very quiet, there are people who are sleeping down the hall, but in the morning we could all move them out of there and open them up. OMG! I’ve never seen so much STUFF, enough kitchen, bathroom, and family stuff for four. Many of those are still being used or hidden today.

    My husband’s grandfather, was a KOIN-radio DJ known as Johnnie Walker, used to attend business party functions there, in the 30’s & 40’s.

  6. Allen Ireland Says:

    I have a couple of large plaster arches and pillars that I have been told were cut out of the Aero Club before the demolition. Does anyone have any interior photos of the club? ……..hopefully showing where these were?

  7. Judy Kaminsky Says:

    I grew up learning to swim at the Aero Club in the 1950s. The swim coach was Ty Steinbeck. One of the girls went on to the U.S. Olympic team. There was a “secret” passage up to the fourth floor past the bars and – I think – handball courts(?). We would sneak up there to see what the grown-ups were doing.

  8. Sixis Nine Says:

    My parents were members of the Aero Club through most of the 1970s. They met a number of folks there with whom they stayed friends the rest of their lives. I spent hours and hours there. I swam thousands of laps and got my junior lifeguard certification in that basement pool. On the fourth (top) floor I played some raquetball on the singular court and shot a million buckets in the gym, with its short court and wood backboards. From that fourth floor, too, I dumped countless little Dixie Cups of cold water down on hapless pedestrians walking innocently down Park Street. You could kind of run amok there because their wasn’t anything going on on the second and third floors on weekday afternoons, and there were lots of hidden places, including the aforementioned “secret passage” (just a narrow stairwell running up the back that employees had to use to stay out of sight of the members), and because I spent most of my time there after school when there weren’t a lot of members around. The members that were there were likely in the basement swimming, working out on the “state of the art” Universal Gym, or taking a steam.

    My first job was at the Aero Club. A man named Leroy worked as the mens locker room attendant from forever. I filled in for Leroy for two weeks in the summer of 1976 while he took a vacation. I’m sure Leroy did more, but all I had to do was keep the dry sauna room, steam room, and shower area picked up, and make sure there were lots of clean towels everywhere — oh, and make sure the sauna was stocked with newspapers and magazines, especially porn magazines like “Juggs”, “Stag”,”High Society”, and “Cheri”. Leroy seemed to me to be making pretty good money from the tips he’d get for shining members shoes. In those days men were obsessed with keeping a shine on their loafers and their leather dress shoes, and Leroy shined shoes constantly, as did I during those two weeks. Leroy was a master of the art. I was tolerated by the unreasonably kind gentlemen and they tipped me generously. They must have felt obligated to keep up their routine and probably thought I could do no permanent damage before the Master returned. I continued to work the locker room job on Saturdays for some time.

    Everybody loved the manager of the club during the latter seventies; a young guy named Bruce Logan, who had started as the club’s “athletic director”. I believe the sentiment was that he made great strides in improving the club, which had seen a decline before he came. I remember when Bruce left it was a real loss for everyone. That may have been the beginning of the end for the Aero Club. I’ll take it that the club was formed as a social-athletic club for pilots and those in the aviation business, but by the seventies the membership was opened up to anyone who could pay the dues. (Probably there were some other restrictions that weren’t written into the bylaws — I never saw a black member, for instance.}

    My parents primarily used the club socially. They went to “parties” there every weekend. They drank and danced to a live “combo” (as Mom used to called bands) in the big ballroom that was on the second floor, I think. I don’t remember what was on the third floor. Maybe there was a dining room on the second floor and the ballroom was on the third. I wasn’t interested in any of that stuff the adults were doing, and they didn’t seem interested in having me around during their soirées, so I’m fuzzy on floors two and three.

    My mom took golf lessons with some of the other ladies (from Bruce, I’m pretty sure) and she discovered she loved to play. My Dad got back into the game and their Aero club friends evolved into golfing buddies. My folks eventually gave up their Aero Club membership and joined Columbia Edgewater Country Club, where they remained very active until they moved to Kansas City in 1983.

    I grew up in the West Hills, which had a fair amount of economic diversity back then. My parents could never have afforded the Multnomah Club, but a lot of my friends’ parents were members there. The Aero Club was a very small operation compared to the MAC. I used to always tell people the Aero Club was like a poor man’s Multnomah Club. I stand by that description generally still.

    I remember fondly the fantastic cheeseburgers they served me (free when I worked, sometimes even when I wasn’t working!) in the lounge on the first floor off the main lobby. Uniquely tasty!

  9. Spainflyer Says:

    I swam for the Vancouver Elks in the 1950’s — the Aero Club was one of the three top Portland swim clubs — along with the Multnomah Athletic Club and the Columbia Athletic Club — and produced great swimmers. One I remember competing against often (and beating only rarely) was Bill Slawson.

  10. Michael Boyle Says:

    Francis and Harry Gardner of “Lake” Oswego were members of the Aero Club for many years back in the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s. They had two daughters that swam for the club back in the 50’s, Judith Ann and Pamela Gardener. I just got done cleaning out an old box of trophies, medals, awards and ribbons that my wife won there in the 50’s. These were mementos her father had kept over the years and now that they are both gone I am passing them on to our sons. Ty Steinbeck was also my wife Judy’s coach. I would imagine that Judy Kaminsky and Judi Gardner swam together at some time, or at least knew of one another.

  11. Allen Ireland Says:

    Still hoping to find someone that has photos of the interior of the Aero Club. Thanks

  12. terrypence Says:

    Allen – I worked at the Aero Club in the late ’70’s until the early ”80’s when it closed I have “boxes” of old photo stored I will be more than happy to scan and share with you when I find them. I know of the :”pillars and arches” you mentioned They were most likely from the window openings on the second floor dinning room which was part of the original Knights of Columbus building. I was fortunate enough back then to have access to many photo and remodel archives. I saw pictures of that same room in the ’30s and ’40s when the covered those windows with a false wall and back lighting from floor to ceiling. Very stylish back then I suppose……

    It is nice to hear you have interest in the old Aero Club, and it’s history. One of the most depressing days of my life was when I attended the auction at the Areo Club to sell off it’s furnishings and fixtures. It was much like having a used care salesman standing a a podium in my mother’s dining room selling her keepsakes and personal belongings to strangers that had NO personal attachment or appreciation for any item what so ever.
    This auction company actually had the audacity to bring items in from other estates or properties that had NOTHING to do with the Aero Club or it’s history. Many long time members were there as well. I can assure you the auctioneer and his associates were put in their places and set back a few notches on several occasions that afternoon!

    The membership and employees of the Areo Club were a loyal bunch of people. I still keep in contact with many of them to this day. When I have more time, I look forward to commenting and responding to the other posts on this site regarding the Aero Club.

  13. Allen Ireland Says:

    That would be great to see the photos. I can send you photos of the beautiful arches in their home, framing the stage in an old saloon in Boise. Thanks, allen@fiberpipe.net

  14. Ed Lyons Says:

    Did they ever have a female organist (Lucille Lyons) at the Aero club in the early 1940’s?

  15. http://tinyurl.com/vodiloyd16468 Says:

    I actually tend to agree with everything that was put into writing inside “Aero Club,
    1981 Vintage Portland”. I am grateful for all the actual tips.
    Thank you-Shari

  16. Mark James Says:

    Does anyone from 1964 remember a man named Eddie? He worked in the pantry of the Aero Club?

  17. Flory Says:

    My father worked with him. Dad died in 2005.

  18. Mark James Says:

    Hi Flory, My name is Mark. I’m trying to track down more information on Eddie. Please give me a call @ 323/270-4199. I can explain my interest if we can speak. Anytime is fine. Thanks!!

  19. Flory Says:

    I have heard of him mentioned about Eddie & the head waitress. but my father’s dead, I no nothing more. Sorry!

  20. Mark James Says:

    Thanks for your response!! If you can ever remember your father mentioning his last name please let me know. Mark

  21. Sally Says:

    I have two Aero Club menus and would love to pass them on to someone who wants them. Any takers?

  22. Eric Sloane Says:

    My memories of the Aero Club center on the swimming pool, where I practiced techniques taught by Ty Steinbock. That is the same pool where I hit the wall head-on and chipped my front tooth.

  23. Jay Horton Says:

    Sally, I’d love one of those menus — I spent my childhood roaming about the halls and still can’t quite believe it’s all disappeared.

    Jay Horton
    thexword@gmail.com

  24. Sally Says:

    Hi Jay – I’m sorry, but don’t have the menus anymore. I should have returned to this site to post that.

  25. Gil Parton Says:

    In 1953 I lived in the Admiral Hotel across Park Ave from the Aero Club

  26. Melanie Butera Says:

    My husband Steve Heathman remembers swimming there in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. He and his relay team of Lindsay Fulton, Kim Kelly, Joe Tennant, held the state record for the medley relay for a single day. The record was broken later that night by the Multnomah Club team.

  27. Ken Hobbs Says:

    I remember going there as a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and a guest of a member in 1967. Great memories.

  28. terrypence Says:

    1967 was around the time the club remodeled the third floor ballroom, and much of the main bar and grill on the main level. It must have have been an impressive place to see back then. I worked at the Aero Club in the early ’80’s. Still enjoy hearing about it’s better days. What a wonderful club it was.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,351 other followers

%d bloggers like this: