1970s Recollections of an Orchard Cottage, from Leah Sirkus

I moved to a cottage on Boones Ferry Road and Primrose in 1971. At first I sublet the tiny abode, (which once had been a chicken coop). I was a preschool teacher at Fruit and Flower Day Nursery. When I first started working at the school, it was located on the Portland State Campus; then they moved to NW Irving. The rent - at $60 a month - was barely affordable on my teacher's wage, but I managed. The property was close to an acre which included an orchard and the two bedroom house in front of my dwelling. After a few months the fellow I sublet from decided not to return to Portland, I was elated to take over the lease.

From my back window I would buy fresh eggs from my 80+ year old neighbor who had lived in her home from her birth in the early 1890’s. Her house [on Primrose #436] had been the original farm house. I assume the farm was originally several acres which had gradually become subdivided by the time I arrived.

1960 air photo with Cottage in green, and extent of Orchard marked orange.

At one point in my residence, my landlord passed away. His wife informed me she was selling the property, which included my shack plus the two bedroom house in front [on Boones Ferry Road - 9125] and the good size orchard. Apparently, she already had an offer but told me if the buyer did not come up with the money she would sell to me. Well, the buyer did not come through and my grandfather was gifting me $5,000. toward the $11,000. purchase price! Loans for single women at the time were hard to come by but the generous seller was willing to let me pay the remaining $6,000 in monthly payments. I would have been able to collect rent from the two bedroom house which would have helped me with payments.

I loved living there, loved the property, and the location. The cemetery across the street at the time was lined with blackberry bushes, which I picked daily in spite of their prickly thorns. I can still taste the juicy fruit I added to my daily oatmeal breakfast. I had many good friends and friendly neighbors who lived nearby. Everyone had gardens. We would visit each other and exchange flowers and vegetables. I walked to Lewis and Clark College regularly and attended events on their beautiful campus.

BTW, my next door neighbor to the south lived in a house that apparently once was a general store. I wonder if the archives might show the store. [See notes below -ed.] Lo and behold, just before my dream to own the property as the deal was to be sealed, the landlady’s son and daughter-in-law appeared at my door to give me the sad news that my lovely landlady had suffered a stroke and was incapable of fulfilling her promise to sell. Her son informed me that if she survived she would not be of “sound mind” and so he would sell it when she died, BUT for a lot more than the agreed upon price and conditions.

I moved to NW Johnson Street, just around the corner from Fruit and Flower preschool, and eventually out of Oregon.

Sadly the chicken coop, original farmhouse, and my orchard are now all gone - replaced with multiple houses. I often drive by with only my memories sustaining the existence of a less crowded, more rural happy past.

I am delighted to report that my new husband and I have purchased a house in Collins View, that we are in the process of remodeling.

If you come across any photos of Boones Ferry Road and the above mentioned area in the 1970’s I would love to see them!

Thank you, Leah B Sirkus, March 12, 2022

addendum

The home at 9125 Boones Ferry is the location of the house in front of my ‘Hen House’, although my recollection is that it was not so close to the road but I see they might have added sq footage, but for sure added the garage.

Originally my cottage had a garage attached that was accessed from a driveway shared by the grocery store — my neighbor Lorraine’s home. The house at 9109 was built on part of the orchard, it appears one tree is still standing today (March 2022). I had many fun get-togethers in the orchard, even my good friends Lee and Vickie were married there.

I also wanted to mention the house just next to the grocery at 9225 was owned by a couple from Italy I remember admiring their garden which I could see from my tiny kitchen‘s window. I see some remnants of the manicured European style gardening. Much has changed…..

Best, Leah B Sirkus, March 22, 2022.

Notes, and questions to be answered! (From the Editor's Corner)

We would love to know more about the grocery store. There was a newspaper Notice that listed the store was a polling station (voting) at one time. [need date - 1920s?]

Lorraine and Mike (aka Big Mike) lived in the Grocery Store House from perhaps the 1960's through 2000 something. (Need dates here.) Mike had a cement sailboat trailered out front for years on Boones Ferry Road.

The shingles on the south side in the of Grocery Store House are said to have covered up a Collins View Grocery Store sign which was painted on the siding underneath. Wouldn't it be glorious to expose that sign, if only to document?

The Grocery Store House was damaged by fire on June 30, 2021. It's currently Unoccupied. Fate unknown?

Mary Furher lived in the little farm house at 436 SW Primrose. At one time, Mary worked the lunch counter in the old Burlingame Grocery. Mary mowed her sloped lawn into her 90's!

Mary's son Karl lived with her, or certainly checked on her all the time. Karl parked his pickup truck on Primrose, and it served as an early form of traffic calming device! People had to slow and yield to get around it.

After Mary passed, Karl subdivided the property into parcels. As a condition of sale, Karl insisted that the old house not be torn down, and so it was nicely renovated. The new house west of Mary’s is a similar design. (We don’t have contact info for Karl.)

We are still gathering bits and pcs here pertaining to the Store. JM: I think I can find Mike and Lorraine's last name on a BFR NTMP meeting list.

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Comment: This reminds me of Robert W. Service's poem Good-Bye, Little Cabin — John Miller.

Comment: Waiting for Yours.