Thursday, January 14, 2010

A very personal history


I would like to offer some further illumination into this good old house. When I was a child, I lived in the original house that occupied the lot at 725 Oak street (our house was built with square nails) that was burnt down and this one was moved onto. The houses on the two lots west of the lot this house originally resided on Oak street were burnt down that same year this house was moved. A Hood River city councilwoman bought this house from the family I used to do some gardening for to make money as a child. How was the lot it resides on now acquired from my family? We were forced to move as my dad was a poor single hardworking man who ran a barker-cut-off saw at The Cascade Locks Lumber Company. He lost it to back property taxes. If he had been a better businessman or bookkeeper with his 8th grade education, he would have found as the city councilwoman did, that the sewer of all of the addresses on our block higher up in elevation of this property ran through our lot. Actually, he did know the sewer lines ran through our lot. She did not pay my father the ultimatim/take-it-or-leave-it option she presented him with her own personal money. She paid him with monies she charged every address above us on this block for a lifetime easement for their sewer to run through now "her" property. I think it was told to me (I was 15-16 years of age at the time) that my father Gerald Darr walked away with less that three thousand dollars for a property he had bought in 1970 for around 18-19 thousand, about 8-12 years before the "craze" of windsurfing that transformed the dingy grey old Hood River I grew up in, into a nice flourescent pink and green sight-to-see.

After the Davidson-Childs house was moved and they put a pricetag on the door I do believe it was for about four hundred and fifty thousand dollars last I physically saw for myself in 1989. The same property my father had taken 15 years to pay off for nineteen thousand. What a fantastic increase of revenue for everyone involved except my family. Had a great view I guess for the rich folks that were supposed to do some helping with the education system in our state after they conned us into passing the measure that permitted them to open and operate the Oregon Lottery. The Irony that my own father would be sucked up into not only buying a lottery ticket every week (as that was the only hope he would have of ever becoming rich) from the Oregon Lottery, but I remember the excitement that showed on his face when they announced that Washington would start a lottery as well. He could have probably have saved his lottery spendings, and paid the back taxes to keep this lot as I am sure we all would agree he should have done.

I wonder how many other of Oregon's children have grown up in rural small towns that have gone through these drastic transformations, to watch many of their childhood snapshots get altered by the almighty dollar. Just like another story about a large city we are hearing about from the south, the poor are just less valuable and have less of a right to land than someone who can put up a prettier landscape, or a skyscraper, or a railroad line, or a freeway. Or scam their way into one for almost nothing by doing something my father would not have, charge the folks he knew on our block for their sewer lines that ran through the property on 725 Oak street that I grew up on, and at one time, my father did own.