The manuscript is about 40,000 words at this point. But after rereading the first twenty pages I was bored. If I was bored, what would a reader think? So I'm already in rewrite on the beginning. I did write up a kind of intro called Author's Note. Here it is:
Portland’s city form would be vastly differently today had the city implemented the Robert Moses 1943 Plan for Portland. Up until the late 1960s, the city didn’t even have a definite plan for the downtown area. However, in the late 1960s, local community leaders became concerned, and by 1972, a plan for the downtown was in place.
A year earlier I had arrived in Portland having driven half way across the country seeking my fortune. Within a few weeks the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill hired me. I worked at SOM for four years and then moved to Australia. By 1980, I was back in Portland, and in 1984, I formed an investment group that purchased an old warehouse in what was then known as the Northwest Industrial Triangle.
Years later while beginning my research for this book, I spoke with Ken Unkeles who had owned the Carton Service building directly across the street from that old warehouse. During our conversation Ken reminded me of the first time we met. In fact, “I’ve written about it,” he said.
“Where?” I asked.
“Well, I’ve written a hundred pages or so about the Pearl,” was his answer. We chatted, and I discovered Ken had been working on a personal story about his experiences centered on the Carton Service business . So I asked him, “I’d love to read something you’ve written.” A couple days later I got an email with the following text:
And then the developers came. The first one to show up at the Service was Bruce Johnson. A slender, fast-talking landscape architect, maybe a few years older than Ken. Johnson dropped by one day on a courtesy call to introduce himself, and announce his partnership's purchase of the "Gadsby Building" across the street. Kenny had gone to school with the Gadsby girls, had taken Ellen, the middle girl to the movies a time or two, and knew their family had previously owned the building. But it was a surprise to hear it called that. He asked Johnson: "Since when is it the Gadsby Building?"
Johnson replied, “We think it’s an appropriate honorarium.”
“Honorarium?” Kenny mused. “That’s a big word for 13th and Hoyt.” Everybody laughed.
Harold asked next, “If you’re a partnership, and now it’s called the Gadsby Building, what’s going to happen to the tenants?”
Interesting question Kenny thought. The main tenant over there was Kramer Manufacturing, a manufacturer of quickly made mattresses. Though a Carton Service customer, there was intermittent tension between the two outfits over testosteronic protocol. The mattress guys occupied the top three floors of the five-story building and on nice days would hang out by the open windows looking down at the Carton Service loading dock and entrance. At the slightest hint of a female form approaching, catcalls and whistles rained down across the alley onto startled customers of the feminine persuasion. Although not off the uncouth meter for the neighborhood in general, this was found offensive at The Service, and certainly not part of the twin's customer service format.
Complaints to the Kramer family had been compassionately received, but only partially effective in slowing the harassment. A "boys will be boys" attitude prevailed over finer sensibilities. When pressed by one of the twins, the elder Kramer left little room for negotiation: " If you got a workplace where a man breaks a sweat during his shift, then you've got a working class business. And if you got a bunch of working class businesses in one area, like we do here, then you got a working class neighborhood. We’re not wearing suits and ties over here. What do you want from me?" Such was the sentiment over at Kramer Manufacturing.
Bruce Johnson never hesitated: "They will be relocated.” Harold and Gerald roared with laughter.
That’s what Mao said about the landlords in China just before he chopped off their heads." Harold replied. Bruce made no comment and Ken walked out with him as he left.
"What're you going to do over there?" he asked.
“Artist studios” Bruce said. "It's perfect for artists. Tall ceilings, brick walls, eastern light...they're going to love it." Johnson left and Kenny paused to look up to the west at the big brick box of a building across the alley. It was late summer and it blocked the sun perfectly, casting its shadow across the Carton Service dock, cooling the hot dusty street. He looked up to see one of the mattress guys lean out a fifth floor window, hack up a mass of phlegm, puff out his cheeks and spit stupendously down onto the alley below. The spittle thudded dully, like a lofted golf ball landing in sand. Displaced dust rose up into the air from the edges of the crater the spit- ball created and mingled with the cloudy haze of 13th Avenue. Artists? Kenny wondered to himself, what the hell is that guy thinking?
So I have some history in the Pearl…