21 thoughts on “Vanport Recreation Building, 1943

  1. Off the subject, but none-the-less, related to the subjects of this site:
    Vintage Portland has two sites, this one and one on Facebook.
    Does anyone have any comments as to which one they prefer…and why?
    I’ve always been “addicted” to this one…I wasn’t really aware of the Facebook site untill a few months ago…guess I just wasn’t paying attention! Is one really better than the other…or is it simply just a matter of preference?
    Just curious…I’m just tryin’ to figure out if I should add the Facebook site to MY Facebook site or leave well enough alone! Thanks…I appreciate any feedback…

  2. I don’t use Facebook because of my concerns about privacy and data misuse, not to mention the huge time sink it seems to be for those who use it. Acquaintances who use it complain of the plethora of unwanted notifications from it. So, I hope we can always communicate on the regular Vintage Portland site!

  3. I agree with Liz. I have never used facebook and don’t plan on doing so. I really don’t need to see pictures of someone’s dog in a Halloween costume. I like this site and check on it daily. I really love the pictures of old commercial buildings and houses.

  4. This site is one of my first stops every morning. In fact, if I don’t have an email in my inbox at 6:00am i start wondering if I’m off my schedule and it’s Saturday. Love it!

  5. I wanted to comment on the picture….. A number of thoughts. First the building is quite nice by WWII standards (think Quonset huts), the large sawtooth windows are really nice, not just your typical design, also the brick coursing and siding on the gym. An architect tried his best to make an inexpensive building modern.
    The people, I’ll bet many in that group are still alive, I’d love to talk to them about living in Portland before and during the war. Third, the girl on the bike on the left wasn’t ready for the photo and is funny. Interesting to see how this photo says something about the relationships of the young people, some of them are “making time” others just passing time.

  6. More young women than men, and likely some of the guys turned 18 prior to the war ending and either enlisted or were drafted into the military services.

    Note the number of sailor’s cap in the crowd; this is telling us something, but I’m not sure what.

  7. @Craig,

    Thought the same thing, relatively high quality of construction considering the overall haste and economy with which most of Vanport was built.

  8. Low cost spindly window frames and non opening windows meant hot and stuffy classrooms in the warm months.

  9. You will recall the unique smell of the Fir-Tex wall covering in the heat of the summer. The ever present sandy soil. The humidity that seemed to sit in the bowl that Vanport sat in. Memories of youth

  10. Friends and I spent time in the area, after hours parties, in the 80s, and used the bathrooms often, and in the heat, those showers looked really good! One of them , his parents and sisters were evacuated from Vanport as the dam broke, mom was in labour, he was born 30 May, ’48.

  11. I heard all the sewage went into one large pipe and on into the Columbia. Roll on Columbia roll on. LOl.

  12. Portland did not build it’s first sewage treatment plant till 1952 so all of Portland sewage went into the river untreated.

  13. Liz, Barry and Chris…
    …thanks for your feed-back. We seem to agree…I’ll stick with this site and, yeah…it’s the second on my list of things to check on in the morning too! Guilty of said habit…and not ashamed to admit it!
    Too bad they don’t have a “re-run” segment on the weekends! I always have to remember… “Oh, it’s Saturday…no VP this morning!”

  14. I know what you mean about weekends. I joke that I go “into withdrawal” on days VP doesn’t appear!

  15. I forwarded this VP to Norm Zeller, a neighbor in his mid-80’s (in fine mental and physical shape) who had mentioned his boyhood in Vanport, and he emailed back:

    I remember this building very well. On the right side of the picture, inside the framed windows, was the recreation room with ping pong tables, some hard couches and some very plain maple tables and chairs. There was kind of a reception desk as you entered the door you see in the background and there was usually a paid staff member at the desk who would check out games and equipment. The higher part of the building toward the rear was the gym. I played a lot of basketball in that gym. The school was located behind this building so it was easy to skip class and slip over to the Rec. center for some games or a game of basketball. It was common for children to be running around during school time and of course most parents were either at work or home sleeping because they maybe had just arrived home from the swing or graveyard shift. There were no truant officers to my knowledge. Where I lived was upstairs in one of those common apt. buildings about two blocks from this rec. center and the school. There was my mother and my three sisters living in our 2 bedroom apt. The apts. came furnished with some of the same plain maple furniture as was in the rec. center. There was a tiny little kitchen with an ice box for refrigeration. Having grown up to this point of my life with out any refrigeration I thought ice was great. I’ve got lots more good memories of my life in Vanport.

    Norm said he’d be glad to share the memories with me, and I am sure he’d be glad to share them with others. Perhaps Devin Busby, who runs VP, would serve as go-between for email address exchanges if someone wants to reach Norm via me.

  16. This is so exciting! I’m pleased to have facilitated the connection. Thank you for letting me know.

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