Posted by: David | March 18, 2008

SW 6 Ave Portland OR

Sorry but you’ll have to scroll to see this whole image. It’s a view up and down SW 6 Avenue, downtown Portland, one spring evening in 1976. It happens to be two adjacent frames on some Tri-X that I shot out a window of a 6th floor office where I worked for a while. It’s a little disorienting, so don’t stare at it too long. Photographically speaking, it was a darkroom accident. One of the few times when I broke from my full-frame-compose-in-the-camera snobbery and printed 2 half-frames as one.

My favorite part is the pedestrian lit by the shop window. Blow that up to crazy size …

…and it still kinda works. Like the guy’s hat? And the glowy numeral 7 thingy?

It was kind of an interesting job and was more of an opportunity than I realized at the time. A career counselor at Reed College lined me up with this position at the Portland Public Defender’s office. It was a volunteer position at first, but soon I was getting a monthly “stipend” for my work. The job was to set up and run a darkroom and to prepare photographs to be used in court. I got to select and buy whatever was needed for a tiny B&W darkroom, was given keys to the building and allowed to use the darkroom whenever I wanted. The 6th floor gave a nice view up and down the busy street. Portland was a very picturesque city, and I am not a big fan of cities.

The men of 1970s Portland liked their hats, didn’t they?

Once there was a murder trial and I had to print and mount a bunch of 16 x 20s from an autopsy of a shooting victim. Otherwise it was pictures of cars, houses, and I don’t remember much of whatever else I processed for the public defenders, as I spent much more time in that darkroom working on my own stuff. And then I left Portland went a-wandering for a bit.


  1. Portland still is a picturesque city. It’s where I was born and lived until I was seven and where I still love to return every now and then. However, I wouldn’t want to live downtown but they’ve done some very nice renovations down by the waterfront.

    Yeah I Google Earth fly through Portland all the time and just cannot seem to find the two places where I lived briefly after leaving college. Both were funky little shacks with “half” addresses in SE Portland, and near Reed. The place where I’d had that piano with the window (photo a couple of posts back) was the scene of a grisly crime of the 1960s where the female victim was dismembered. I looked it up on microfilm at the library at the time, there was a newspaper photo of my front door. I can’t quite remember the name of the guy convicted, but remember that my landlord, a retired plasterer with emphysema, had mentioned it to me at some point. My cat never liked that place.

    But it’s nice to see all the trees downtown. It’s one of the only 2 cities I’ve ever really bonded with (New Haven CT the other).

    Nice of you to guest post for moonbeam! I didn’t realize you had 3 blogs going! Wow! Thank you and how the heck do you do that?

  2. Ghastly story about the dismemberment! eek. And I love the photos! AND I love hats.

    Yeah I like hats too. I’m a sort of a hat PERSON, you might say. I’m still hoping that the name of that murderer will bubble up from my fermenting brain storage array. Why do I even care? I haven’t been watching much TV in the past few months but my brain still wants its dose of lurid. Go figure.

  3. +1 for photos. Hats do nothing for me. But I’m not from a hat-culture. 😛

    Thank you Nimish. Lucky for you that you don’t need to wear hats.

  4. A friend of mine’s a homicide detective so it wasn’t unusual to see crime scene and other photos around his house.

    I walked in one day and his kid was chewing on a crime scene photo. I mentioned it and he said,

    “Yeah, it’s weird. We give him all this stuff but he kept picking that photo so I gave it to him.”

    Great pictures, again, David. Thanks for sharing.

    Thank you B&G. I’m getting off a little too much on posting my old photos, but it’s really nice to hear the kudos. I intend to wear out my welcome with these old snaps as soon as I can.

  5. This is accidental awesomeness! 🙂 And of course I stared at it for WAYYY too long, and I felt like I was falling out of the sky or something…or vice versa?? I don’t know it freaked me out, haha…and I started to get a crush on “hat guy”, but then I quickly remembered that he’s very old now (if he’s still alive), so cancel… 😉

    That’s funny Romi! You are such a horndog! The hat guy probably is dead by now. But who knows?

  6. I love the hat photos. I’ve heard that JFK ruined hat-wearing for men. He was a trendsetter I guess, and he went hatless so the country followed suit. Too bad. I really like hats.

    Hats are necessary for people that don’t have nice bushy crops of hair like JFK did. I wear hats all year round.

  7. @ Romi – LOL

  8. I love this photo. It almost looks more like something from the 1930s or 40s than the seventies. It has a Raymond Chandler feel to it. Just wonderful.

    I always thought it looked older than 1976 too. Glad you like it moonbeam.

  9. Damn, I miss hats. People just don’t wear them much anymore, do they? I mean, sure, ball caps are still en vogue, but fedoras? Bowlers? Porkpies? …gone with the wind. I have a small collection of these, but never really wear them… maybe when I’m an old man.

    Nowadays, hats are not even seen much in Portland where they’re wonderfully handy in keeping one’s head dry.

    Excellent picture! Your photos are great!

    Thanks Adam. Your avatar sure knew his way around a hat didn’t he?! I work at a school with just under a thousand undergrads. Maybe one or two per year will wear old school hat. I silently applaud them!

  10. Yes, I also like that long dark photo, though I do not understand its lowest part. And I cannot see any hats in the hat photo. Hats are a wonderful thing for one of my next posts. The hat photo looks like a Miró drawing.

    If you click the picture so it opens in its own browser tab or window it should resize it so it fits the window. Your not understanding the lowest part is the desired effect. Disorientation. That Miró comparison is most kind of you! Thank you cantueso.

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