The Turkey of St. Johns (Part 1?)

At Thanksgiving time this year I’ve found myself working in the St. Johns area. This had me thinking about a turkey I once saw living in a front yard in that neighborhood. The bird seemed to be big and white with multicolored feathers in its back. This was years ago. In my murky memory I tried to figure out what I was doing when I saw the turkey. This might have helped me pinpoint where the turkey had lived. Maybe it was a trip to the dentist that took me past the turkey’s home. The name of the street escapes me, but I do recall the turkey lived close to a corner market that looked like a house. I had to wonder if the turkey was a pet. I suppose any animal that can be tamed in some fashion and express some form of affection has pet potential. Then again the turkey may have been raised for Thanksgiving dinner. I never had a conversation with the turkey or anyone related to the turkey to figure this out.

Phunhouse turkey

Turkey display at Phun House.

At this point, I decided to take a trip back in time, in a way, to find the turkey. I found myself on  streets that seemed as familiar as unfamiliar – wet leaves, multi-color Portland houses, the pastel green paint jobs jumping out in the dusky afternoon. The sidewalks, empty.  Early Christmas decorations intermingled with remainders of Halloween . . .  but I couldn’t pinpoint where I had seen the turkey. As my hands grew cold, I gave up. I could have biked around in circles for hours and not found any evidence. On my way home it occurred to me that the dead memories Portland Facebook page would be a good resource. I posted:

Anyone familiar with a turkey that lived or lives in the front yard of a Portsmouth or St. John neighborhood house in North Portland? It had a pen in a yard with a chain link fence. I remember a corner market that looked like a house was in the area. Any cross streets or general location would be helpful. Thanks.

I got some much appreciated responses. There was a funny comment insinuating that I was on the hunt for a free range turkey that could be more easily purchased at Zuppan’s Market. A specific location of N Wall and N Houghton was mentioned so I made plans to return. One thing I was unsure about was whether the turkey had been in the Portsmouth or St. Johns neighborhood. I’m still not clear of the boundaries but I’m going with St. Johns because it has a better ring to it.

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A turkey lived around here.

I went back to N Wall and N Houghton. It was on the way home from work. The night before I looked on google maps. Using street view, nothing but the corner market looked familiar. I had to laugh about Easy Street being in the area. I liked the idea of a turkey living on Easy St. Really the idea of anyone living on Easy Street is humorous. My return to the location where I had seen a turkey living in someone’s front yard was a reminder of how much things change. The corner market had been spruced up with new paint and was now a marijuana store. I rode up and down the street in that area looking for the chain link fence from my memory. There was nothing that looked like the living quarters of a turkey.

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You can get pot here but not a turkey pot pie.

I could convince myself that the turkey moved away with the family that had taken care of him or her. Any other theory would have bummed me out. Regardless, the turkey of St. Johns doesn’t seem to be around any longer. I’m confident that someday I’ll learn the story of the turkey of St. Johns. I’ve seen other animals in Portland: coyotes on the streets, a rabbit and a couple of cockatiels sharing a chicken coop on N. Killingsworth, I even know the legend of the White Rabbit. I’ll write about that someday. While this might seem on the level of having had a Big Foot sighting, I swear I saw a turkey hanging around in a front yard, waddling, chilling and enjoying life. That memory is the only evidence I have for now.

So in Portland when the sun goes down I ride on an old broken down sidewalk-bike trail watching gray skies roll over industrial warehouse buildings and sense the daydreaming to escape the mundane, and in St. Johns I know now the children must be crying in a neighborhood where they let children cry if they can’t get them to be quiet, and as the stars’ll arrive and don’t you know God is John Cena? the afternoon sun shadows and streaks her rays across the slope, which brings on a night that caresses the earth, envelopes the rivers, holds the peaks and folds the brain creases in and nobody, nobody knows what happened or at least no one is giving up the memory escaped in the continued passing of time, I think of the St. Johns turkey, I think of the old St. Johns turkey I never found, I think of the St. Johns turkey.

Sun streak

Enough turkey talk, time to shop.

Mattress Battle

Box Spring 1

Spring hasn’t even sprung yet.

It happened one morning on my bike commute to work. I noticed what seemed like a random thing that didn’t make sense. I rode past a mattress and a box spring dumped on the side of the road. Then, not too much further down the road, I saw another mattress. I was in a hurry or I would have taken pictures because the mattresses were out of place. They weren’t in front of houses but had been tossed on the side of the street. Sure, mattresses are a challenging disposal nuisance. Then again, it seems like it would be a difficult job for a lone mattress assassin to dispose of a mattress on the side of the road. So why doesn’t one of the two people dragging the mattress around cave and admit that there might be a better way to get rid of bed junk.

torn matress

Worse than bed head.

After work I rode home and spotted a mattress sitting on top of a fire hydrant while leaning against a street sign. It had me thinking that the day could have been set aside for a city-wide mattress pick up.  I went to look for the other  mattresses I had seen in the morning to take pictures with visions of such exotic trash in the grass becoming high-art. They were gone. Some time during the day the offending slumber pads had been cleaned up. I was shocked. I headed over to a dump site that has sprung up in the vicinity of the Kenton neighborhood where I had seen a heap of mattresses and box springs. It seemed like someone may have gathered up the cast off mattresses and added them to the pile in the empty parking lot that is now full of  disposed tires, a TV set, and family room furniture.

 mattress 2

A mattress sandwich. Almost!

That morning the mattresses had seemed like collateral damage from a mattress battle. Sad, sick and bleeding–dead mattresses were now looking sadder still. I initially thought of this piece as a rumination on the idea of what to do with stuff and how to get rid of it when the time comes. It’s really not that difficult given that our crack investigative team got off their duff and did some internet research that found a quick solution. Last night I drove passed a mattress propped up against a tree while coming back from the Roseway Theater. I fought off the compulsion to stop the car and take pictures. It struck me that dragging anything to the curb and making it someone else’s problem or high-art daydream is no disposal solution. The Orbit investigation revealed that mattress disposal doesn’t hit the wallet too hard. The job can be done for $20 per mattress and another 20 for a boxspring and I’m even guessing that these folks don’t discard the picks-ups in an empty lot dump site but even if they do, you have to pay to have someone do your dirty work. In the end, empty parking lots seem like the sneakiest and cheapest way to go. There’s a link above for a mattress recycling company, it’s a plug for them because I consider this piece a public service announcement. It will all be worth it if I can keep even one mattress off the streets.

dump site 2

This place is a dump!

A Bridge To Nowhere, Almost

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Living in a city surrounded by two rivers, bridges are a necessity. It’s possible that we may not have enough bridges, at least to keep traffic moving. I found myself considering a bridge over N Columbia Blvd. more than I ever thought necessary.

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Hours in the dark room pay off.

It’s a foot bridge really, although the ramps that go up three levels make it fun to ride a bike over. After substitute teaching in the area and crossing the bridge a few times I realized it was unnecessary for me to use, especially going home, as I still had to cross back over a four lane road. On my way to the job it made more sense to ride with traffic and use caution when crossing the road. N Columbia Blvd. is the thoroughfare for our northern industrial zone so there’s major truck traffic hurling and screaming back and forth to and from an industrial park at St. Johns. It also feels like a foggy section of town with giant trees and perpetual mist as if from one of those Twilight movies. These hazards and the barreling semi-trucks make it necessary to provide children with a safe way to cross the street to get to the middle school on the other side.

What color do you paint a bridge?

When I used the bridge I took note of its dark forest green color. Let’s face it, it is a nice shade of green. I have no idea who decided or even has to think about what color any bridge should be but they nailed it. It looks great in any weather, sunlight or foggy, gray dawn mist. Surely something that has to be considered, visibility factors, current trends or stylishness when picking a foot bridge color. The ramps take some pedal power to get up which makes the winding trip down worth it but in the end it takes too long to get up and down, making bike traverses a hassle. I was struck by some tasteful and subtle decor.


There’s was a nod to Star Wars but not every last character so it’s not overdone. Another screen printed decal featured a microscope. How inspirational would that be for students to get their days started or ended with a reminder of science or maybe a reminder of science homework or a test.

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Same goes, in a way, for the light bulb sticker. Ideas might start percolating as people walk up and down these ramps to cross the road. Objects from bygone eras like the old timey microphone have a quaint appeal.


I returned weeks later to see that some of the decals had peeled off or been peeled off and some less artistic graffiti had cropped up.


The bridge seems like a fine way to get to school. I can imagine that the bridge will have an impact on the students that use it. They will boast to their own kids someday about how, in their day, they had to walk up three levels of ramps and cross over a treacherous road on a forest green bridge to get to school.