16 thoughts on “Vanport Theater, circa 1944

  1. …man, no one but Smiley could be Frog, and you can quote me on that one!

    If you need to.

  2. You’re right, Bob! Interesting read indeed! That’s what happened in this country when the “Greatest Generation” was asked to step up to the plate and get things done! They didn’t hesitate one bit! And they (H.J. Kaiser and associates) kept the gov’t involvement to the minimum. The less involvement with the U.S. “Gummit”, the smoother and quicker things got done. Try that today?…I don’t think so.

  3. @Pat,

    While the Greatest Generation may or may not have been made of sterner stuff than preceding or following generations (I’m sure the pioneers on the Oregon Trail were no slouches), they happily accepted “‘gummint’ involvement.” New Deal, WPA, CCC, GI Bill, plentiful jobs funded by government defense contracts, etc. Henry Kaiser himself credited the support of the government, specifically the US Maritime Commission,for the success of the Oregon Shipbuilding Company (see page 2 of this document: http://www.armed-guard.com/recbr1.html)

  4. The “greatest generation” produced the kids of the sixties. Family values. Like the meat processing plant by my house where they work 6 days a week 10 hours a day for ten bucks an hour. Don’t get me started.

  5. @pat
    Wasn’t this the same housing project that got washed away in a flood less than five years after it was completed? Maybe a little more “gummit” oversight wouldn’t have been such a bad thing in this case?

  6. Everyone always says these buildings were really sloppy and poorly constructed, but really when you look at them though a modern lens they seem pretty nice. I mean, except for that strange angled roof (probably for a stairwell to a projection room) the design is solid and would still be 1000% better than anything built in the 60s and 70s here.

  7. Richard; my parents lived there and lost everything in the flood. The reason it “washed away” was because the gummit maintained dikes broke, much to the insistence by the Army Crop that they would hold back the rising waters.

  8. It was not a government maintained dike that broke, it was a RR fill that was never constructed to be a dike. The fill did what it was intended to do for 50 years, the mistake was building Oregon’s second largest city in a flood plane without considering a dike.

  9. Me and my brother and sister we in that theater when the dike broke through from Smith lake. The manager would not let a large black lady in the front entrance to warn us to get out now. She finally pushed him aside and ran the isles shouting to get out. The dike has broken. I ran all the way home, Jumped in our Grand fathers 1939 Plymouth. We just made it to the top of the bank where the main rd. was. We turned around and watched the water rising . There were people on top of building. A few buildings were off their moorings. Two I remember later. We went to a local Baptist church to pick through clothes and sleeping bags that night. I can still see this in my head. The church is still on Lombard st. We had nothing but what we were wearing and a few things in our hands. The Ham was left in the tiny oven and it was done and ready to eat. The table was set. All the trucks that were supposed to warn everyone never left the Add building. I was 12 yrs. old. homebrewer7@gmail.com

  10. Mr. Dave Brunker: It was rather simple. Since I have a Multnomah County Library card I have access to the research section on the MCL website. I consulted the historic Oregonian, typed in the search terms and presto, up pops the newspaper for June 8, 1944. Sometimes the search terms can be a bit iffy, but if you play around a bit you can usually find what you want.

    It just so happens “Spotlight Scandals” and “Boot and Saddles” was playing that night at the Vanport theater. Being a little more inquisitive I checked the next several issues, 6/9, 6/10, 6/11, 6/12 and 6/13 (Friday to Tuesday). So here’s the line up.

    6/9 – “Spotlight Scandals” and “Boot and Saddles”
    6/10 – “Cosmo Jones in The Crime Smasher” and “A Tornado in the Saddle”
    6/11 – “No Time for Love” and “Lost Angel”
    6/12 – “Crime Smasher” and “No Time for Love” and “Lost Angel”
    6/13 – “Crime Smasher” and “No Time for Love” and “Lost Angel”

    All the movies listed were released in 1943 except for “Tornado” was released late 1942. Definity not a first run theater. I think the admission was $.50, maybe cheaper for kids.

  11. The Vanport Flood was the perfect storm. It was a flood that the floodwaters went up into what is now the Pearl District and all other low lying areas of Portland. People forget that for the first 100 years of Portland’s history downtown Portland was regularly flooded. The flooding is the reason the Seawall was built and later all the dams built on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and their tributaries that everyone complains about. Without them Portland would have suffered 3 or 4 catastrophic floods after Vanport. People can be so shortsighted especially as to building along rivers. In the past the residential areas tended to be on higher ground with business areas taking the lower ground. Today it is almost the opposite and as in the case of Vanport all the riverfront housing will be inundated sometime in the future. The recent Tsunami in Japan is a good example. Up until the last 50 years in coastal Japan there was an unwritten boundary lines that had existed for centuries that you did not build houses beyond that line. In the last 50 years it has been ignored and when the Tsunami came it went up to that line in ,any cases and the houses beyond were destroyed along with everything else.

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