Yesterday, we cruised on foot an antique, theatre, and tavern storied section of Sellwood then drove to the north facing cliffs where we looked across Oaks Bottom, where still lives lively the Oaks Amusement Park, “where the fun never ends since 1905,” the Oaks Park Roller Skating Rink, East Island, Hardtack Island, Ross Island, and across the Willamette River and above the trees to the tops of the taller downtown Portland buildings, looking smaller than nature in the distance.
The walking tour of Sellwood came after a trip to the Ledding Library of Milwaukie where Clo returned a book and Z checked out a new one and where I purchased from the library discards store a copy of Gordon Bowker’s 2011 “James Joyce: A New Biography.” Ahead of his Preface, Bowker quotes from Bernard Malamud’s 1979 “Dubin’s Lives”:
“The past exudes legend: one can’t make pure clay of time’s mud. There is no life that can be recaptured wholly; as it was. Which is to say that all biography is ultimately fiction.”p. 5
In a similar sense, all photography might be considered fiction. Certainly that view of Portland above is only distantly related to a view of what’s going on in the streets below and between those tall buildings. One problem is how quickly things change, grow, recede. But photographs stick, or they used to. Maybe memory itself is a fiction – without which nostalgia couldn’t thrive like it does. Sellwood is currently an interesting blend of the old and new, of change. Imagine a time when it was necessary to build and display a gargantuan grandfather clock on the street. Did no one carry a watch? Today it’s one of the local antiques, and like a true grandfather tells a fiction all day long about what time it is.