TINA CECIL GATCHELL
by Edward Conroy
Tina-Louise Gatchell--her maiden name, was born in 1877 (she was the mother of Edward Alonzo Conroy). She was both the main source and the main bottleneck for information on the Conroy's. Most of the information about previous Conroy's was lost with the death of Edward Harrison Conroy and she was the only source left.
Although she was married at least 3-4 times, no one alive today knows just what type of men she married. However, I have heard stores and have seen pictures of a store, that Mr. Rader owned. And I have heard that he was moderately wealthy. Whether or not this was a grocery store, a hardware store, or something else, is unknown. I do not think the store was in Portland or even in Oregon. I think it was in Nevada, or one of the other in-land western states, maybe even Idaho. In any case my grandmother had all the trapping of a moderately wealthy woman. She owned a Packard--which were more expensive and better built than Cadillacs in those days. She had a large, fancy house in Sellwood--right behind where the Sellwood Theater is now (1995) sited. Back in those days, the Sellwood theater was only one house a way--on the northwest corner of the same block that contains the house and the present-day Sellwood Theater. This brick building still exists in 1995.
Behind the regular house in Sellwood was a smaller house--where the Handy-Man lived. The Handy-Man ran errands, fixed, repaired, and maintained the house, did the gardening and most important of all, he stoked the coal furnace that heated the house. This furnace was behind the house, in a dug-out place where it had obviously been added--in a sort of small, rough and unfinished basement. YES, THE CONROY'S HAD SERVANTS!
Grandma also had such a thing as a refrigerator--when most folks just had an Ice Box. In fact, many years later, when we moved into the house in Woodland Park--in 1947, we had an ice box in the basement for the first couple of years. Ice boxes provided much more fun than refrigerators. There were cardboard signs to put in the windows to tell the passing ice-man just how much ice (if any) you wanted. He would stop his truck and open the back door. Reaching in with large, sharp tongs, he would haul back a large rectangle of ice. Skillfully using ice picks, he would trim the ice down to the size desired then he would use the tongs to lift it to the big leather pad on his shoulder. He would then carry the ice into the house and put it in the icebox.
If the children following his every move were well behaved and the Ice-man was nice--as most of them were, he would offer them pieces of the ice he had shaved-off the big piece. These were accepted with much thanks and licked--just like they were ice cream cones.
Ice men were not the only exciting people roaming the neighborhoods in those days. There were men who went door to door selling things. The famous Fuller Brush man was one of these. There were also men who came to the door to sharpen the household knives. They sat out on the sidewalk with a big, foot- pedaled grinding wheel that they used to hone the housewife's cutlery.
Then there were the men that cut your wood. One day a large truck would back up next to the curb in front of your house and dump a load of wood. A few days later, a man with a small truck would show up to cut the wood. On the back of his truck would be a large circular saw. He would saw-up the large chunks of wood until they were of a size that the homeowner could manage. On just about any day toward the end of summer or early fall, you could go outside and hear the sound of one of these saws at work in the distance.
In those days, most of the residential neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon still had iron rings molded into the curbs. These had been installed for the tying of horses to--only a few years before.
As to what type of person she was, I can only guess. By child standards, she was nice. She cared for me and for her family. She baby-sat me all day because both my mother and father worked. I can actually remember her potty training me. She wasn't quick to spank me but would if I really deserved it. I seldom needed spanking because I was so sensitive to other people's emotions that if someone frowned at me, I was devastated and burst into tears. If I was REALLY bad, she would go get a stick of kindling. She would show me this hard piece of spanking-ware but rarely ever hit me with anything but her hand. The few times she did spank me with a piece of kindling, she first wrapped it heavily with loose newspapers-- as a cushion.
I spent a lot of time with her but today, I cannot truly remember entirely what she looked like--perhaps because I cannot find any pictures of her from that era. She did look a lot like Eleanor Roosevelt, the president's wife, because they dressed alike
Here are some of the memories I have of her:
Her Packard had a switch on the dashboard that said "City/Country." This was an exhaust cut-out. Meaning that you had the muffler engaged in the city and had the straight--and very noisy--pipe engaged while in the country-side--for more power. However, if someone cut her off in traffic or otherwise irritated her, she was not adverse to switching over to "Country" in the city and racing the engine--as a very noisy form of protest. I also remember her getting out of the car at night every so often because the headlights were arc-lamps and their carbon rods needed periodic adjustment. If you understand how an arc-lamp works, you will understand that these were much more powerful than any headlights we now have. Also, grandma never let me sit in the front seat with her. There were no such things as seat belt in those days so I was relegated to the back seat where a collision would throw me into the soft back cushions of the massive front seat.
Grandma had some strange cravings for odd foods that she passed on to me. On several special occasions we would have a extra-special snack of Bacon, cooked until it was black and crispy, served with burned toast. This meal of carbonized food was quite tasty--or seemed so back then.
Before we moved in with her, she owned a dog that was very smart and well trained. Besides being trained to sit-up, roll-over, and etc., it was capable of other amazing feats. For example, if it was scolded and then told to ask for forgiveness, it would run to the nearest chair, get up on it, sit-up, put its paws together, then lower its muzzle. The dog was obviously acting-out praying--and it looked exactly as if it was!
She had many nice bushes and flowers planted around her house. She was a conscientious homeowner and kept-up her house and land.
The moderately wealthy Conroys and their moderately wealthy friends, at various times, in various portions of the Mount Hood National Forest, actually owned (or leased from the Government) cabins in the woods. These were quite astonishing places that were heated with fireplaces, pot-bellied stoves, and wood-burning cooking stoves. Early on a cold morning, before the fireplace had made a dent in the cold of the cabin, the best place you could find was in the kitchen where the fire in the stove from breakfast being prepared released a lot of heat. If you are visualizing a rustic cabin, forget it. Despite the fact that there wasn't an electric line within 50 miles of these places, these cabins were big, many-roomed and sometimes two-storied buildings with plush leather surfaced and soft-bodied furniture.
Many of cabins were lit at night by kerosene lanterns that provided a very bright light. In one of them, an old wagon-wheel, with many lanterns mounted on it was suspended by rope from the peak of the two-story living room. At night the wagon-wheel was let down, the lamps lit, then the whole assembly was pulled upwards to provide good light throughout the house. Such lamps are still available at special stores but they are very expensive.
Water came from nearby, roofed, built-up rock wells--visualize the classic wishing well with a bucket and a crank. Sometimes, the cabins had running water--when a spring had been located uphill and the water could be piped down. The water was cold of course and had to be heated on the stove to make bath water or hot water for any purpose. Sometimes, the water was heated in a series of pipes that ran through the back of the fire place.
Music was played from large wind-up phonographs with huge, thick needles resting on brittle and fragile 78 RPM records. These machines were simple enough that a child could operate them and even change the needle if that was required.
Grandma also owned a cabin on Devil's Lake near the present Lincoln City, Oregon. It was right next to the Jewish Binai Birth camp (still there). Her children and their spouses would meet there for fishing and relaxing.
The one bad thing about the cabins were the non-existent bathrooms. Toilets were holes cut out of boards inside outhouses. These weren't too bad--at least by children's notions--but they were terrible on cold days or when you had to leave the house and run through the darkness to get to them at night!
One day, Grandma went to the hospital. She was there for a long time and I visited her many times. But she never returned. She died there in 1943. Her funeral was the first one that I ever attended. Although I had been told what to expect, I was still surprised to see all the grown-ups crying! One sobbing man that I especially remember was some sort of relative that lived in Newburg, Oregon. I remember visiting him and his wife many times--they had a pump-organ in their living room that I was allowed to play with-- which was a very big deal in those days. But who these people were I have no idea!
My Grandma Conroy, the Great Grandmother of Alan, Colleen, Shannon, and Michael Conroy is "interred" in a vault in the Riverview Abbey in Portland Oregon under the name of Tina C. Rader, her last married name. The abbey is a mausoleum. She is in the Cypress Room, on the 5th row up from the floor, on the East side of the room.