Oregon Tavern Age: FDR

Six OTAs sat at the bar in Drain’s Rose Garden on a Sunday morning. Looking over them was a massive taxidermied head of an elk. According to a plaque it was shot in 1974.

The Rose Garden is an excellent OTA joint but new management recently spruced it up and that never sits well with me. Worst yet, they removed the lending library.

I sat at a table ten feet from the men. I wrote in my notebook and ate my breakfast. At the bar, the men drank coffee, ate their breakfast, and talked about Portland.


Oh sure, they knew everything bad about Portland even though none of them had visited in years or ever. I didn’t catch all their disparagement but it was of the usual Fox news/talk radio propaganda.

Not too long ago these men would have been talking about hunting, fishing, fornication, drinking, trucks or some old story of absurd and distinctly rural miscreant behavior.


A I have written before, storytelling in OTA has almost entirely disappeared thanks to Donald Trump and Fox News. I witnessed it with my own two ears. It wasn’t immediate with his election in 2016; it took a few years.

How in the world these men could think they spoke with any authority or reality about Portland is something that is impossible to fathom.

Was I going to get up and educate these men?

No. I was too busy writing notes about my visit to the Drain pioneer cemetery 15 minutes earlier and how exquisitely beautiful all the blackberry-riddled coyote scat looked spread through a graveyard gone to see. Was their something to the tricksters’ habit of taking their shits almost precisely on the middle of the nicest marble markers on dead people named Myrna and Fred? Yes, I’m sure there was.

It was time to go and return to Portland after a superb visit to Coos Bay to witness the Steve Prefontaine Run and renew my love affair with the gritty and golden town of Reedsport. One of the greatest unwritten stories of forbidden Oregon love happens to be shelved in Reedsport’s bowling alley. I hope to write it one day.

I went up to the bar to pay my check. I stood behind the OTAs. They had moved on from ripping Portland.

One of the men was bitching about Democrats. The other men agreed. They were the cause of all evil in America.

Another man said, “He fired it all.”


The man continued by saying that one President started it all. He couldn’t recall his name. He was President during the Depression. What was his name?

“FDR,” said another man. “It was FDR.”

“Oh yeah, that was his name.”

FDR! Was it finally time to break my longstanding rule of never politicking in OTA country? I established it 25 years ago when I moved to the Oregon Coast and had upheld it since then.

I am nothing less than a professional historian when it comes to the Great Depression, New Deal (especially in Oregon) and FDR. I could tear these dumb old men in Drain a collective new one and relish every second of the tearing.


I said nothing, paid, tipped big, and left.