December 19, 2019 –January 13, 2020
We rolled back into town and arriving near campus parked behind the High Street Pub and Brewery, one of many outlets of the McMenamin’s chain of breweries and taprooms. Founded in 1985 in the Southwest Portland neighborhood of Hillsdale, it is still a family-owned chain of brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs in Oregon and Washington.
Many of their locations are in rehabilitated historical properties; at least nine are on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the Brewers Association, McMenamins is one of the top 50 largest craft breweries in the United States. We were introduced to the chain by good friend Norm many years ago and have had the chance to visit a number, out last being in 2016 (https://3jmann.com/2016/10/19/west-coast-tour-2016-portland-part-two/) when we were in Portland and stopped in for a tour and a beer at the Crystal Ballroom there with Colleen. .
Our goal for the visit was a snack and a beer, resisting ordering more as the food there is quite tempting. We restrained ourselves and ordered a beer apiece, a Penguin DIPA (Malts: Pilsen, Munich, Crystal and Hops: Citra, Simcoe, Strata) for me and a Ruby Ale (Great Western Premium 2-Row Malt and 42 pounds of Oregon-grown raspberry puree is used to craft every batch) for Joanna.
To hold us over until dinner, we ordered a bowl of West African Peanut soup, the offering for the day. What can I say about this choice that would do justice to how uniquely delicious it was, a blend of spices I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered, so good Joanna and I almost came to blows as one would have thought we were accusing each other of eating more than their share.
Fortunately, sanity prevailed, Joanna won the argument, and thoroughly chastised I settled up. We ventured on and in casting about for something to do landed on campus at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. This would be fortuitous decision, finding a small but full of rich content place for us to while away a couple of hours.
it is the largest natural history museum between Seattle and San Francisco and a center for archaeological and paleontological research in the Pacific Northwest and the wider world. Located in a building inspired by the design of Pacific Northwest Native longhouses, the museum traces its origins to the creation of the University of Oregon in 1876, when state geologist Thomas Condon was hired as one of its first three professors, bringing his extensive fossil collection with him.
Today, it’s collections include: nearly 100,000 fossils from Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and around the world; nearly a million archaeological artifacts, including the famous Fort Rock sandals, that are among the oldest shoes in the world (~10,000 years old); extensive ethnographic collections from cultures worldwide, including over 1500 Native American baskets; and thousands of comparative specimens from modern or historical birds (and their eggs and nests), mammals, reptiles, marine and freshwater shells, and other organisms.
Besides the excellent exhibits one would find in a museum of this nature, what caught our attention was the special display Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years – The Eugene Story. It chronicles the civil rights movement in Eugene during the 1960s and 1970s. Through photographs, recorded interviews, and historical archives it contains firsthand accounts from movement organizers, former UO students, elected officials, and other members of Oregon’s Black communities that paint a vivid picture of the area’s past.
While focused on the 20th century, the exhibit also illuminates a longer history of exclusion and resistance through historical documents—including the original Oregon Constitution, which will be at the museum through November 14, displaying the state’s notorious 1857 black exclusion clause.
Oregon’s racial makeup has been shaped by three Black exclusion laws (1843, 1849, and 1857) that were in place during much of the region’s early history. These laws, all later rescinded, largely succeeded in their aim of discouraging free Blacks from settling in Oregon early on, ensuring that Oregon would develop as primarily white. Although the exclusion laws were not generally enforced, they had their intended effect of discouraging Black settlers. The 1860 census for Oregon, for example, reported 128 African Americans in a total population of 52,465. In 2013, only 2 percent of the Oregon population was Black.
Sobered by the exhibit and yet refreshed after having spent a very interesting afternoon we made our way back to the Airbnb to settle in for the night. We had checked out the neighborhood nearby for a place to eat, but finding nothing of interest ended up making a good choice by having a medium Mama’s Pork and Peppa pizza (Red base, whole milk mozzarella, Italian sausage, pickled peppers, and red onion) from Pegasus Pizza delivered to us.
Along with a bottle of Foris Fly Over Red wine it was the perfect way to end our stay in Eugene. We were disappointed that we’d not been able to see my brother in Bend, a city we like to visit, but had turned lemons into lemonade by visiting Eugene, a place we’d like to return to in the future for its big town amenities in a small town package. Who knows what the future would bring?
High Street Pub: https://www.mcmenamins.com/high-street-brewery-cafe
Museum of Natural and Cultural History: https://mnch.uoregon.edu/
Pegasus Pizza: http://pegasuspizza.net/