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  • Ednold

Wells 3/20/21

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

I will always be grateful that I wasn’t born in the dark ages. I don’t think I would have done well working from sunup to sundown six days a week, eating the stuff people used to eat, sleeping on bags of straw. I could do without cell phones, but I need indoor toilets and hot showers and electric lights and cars and televisions and Taco Bell. Even just a hundred years ago I don’t think I’d have survived. No microwaves? No air conditioning? How did those people do it?

Yes, progress is a good thing, but it can also be difficult. Change isn’t always comfortable, even when it’s needed. That’s why I had mixed emotions when I made our plans to attend this week’s football game. One of the scheduled games, according to the OSAA, was a matchup between two Portland Interscholastic League teams, Lincoln and Wilson. That sounded good. But when I went to the Wilson High School website for the details I found that there is no Wilson High School anymore. Just like that. It has disappeared.

Over the past year students and others had been petitioning for the school board to change the name, given the racial attitudes of our 28th president. While in some ways Wilson was quite progressive for his time, he was no advocate for racial equality. In fact, he was just the opposite. So this winter Wilson High School became Ida B. Wells High School. And the days are probably numbered for other schools named for guys who didn’t do right when they had the chance. It's always nice to see nasty people get what they have coming, even if it takes a hundred years. It’s a good thing. Progress requires change, and if there’s one less thing named for someone who doesn’t deserve it, that’s progress. But for me, and probably lots of other people, it’s going to take a little getting used to.

Not a thing of beauty

So what was billed as a matchup between dead presidents this weekend was actually the very first Lincoln vs. Wells contest ever, and we were there for the historic occasion. It was a Saturday afternoon game which we hoped would mean lots of sunshine and time to explore a little of the surrounding neighborhood. And everything was going to plan as we wound our way up the Capitol Highway through Multnomah Village and into Hillsdale where, at the crest of the hill just west of the Willamette River, we found the new Ida B. Wells High School. Except that it’s not new at all. The school was opened in September of 1956 and I imagine at the time it probably looked pretty modern compared to the older schools in other parts of the city. But today it just looks tired.

Whether the architects just had no imagination or the bean-counters shot down their more creative ideas, it’s unfortunate that probably the most attractive site of any school in the city is the site of the most unattractive school building in the city. It could have been designed by anyone familiar with Legos. One feature that does look modern is the food truck park just north of the school parking lot. I'm guessing it's technically not on school grounds but... It's on school grounds. Only in Portland.

Wilson/Wells competes in the Portland Interscholastic League (PIL), known to the OSAA as 6A Special District 1. Basketball superstar and former Trailblazer Damon Stoudamire was a Wilson Trojan, as was Major League baseball’s two-time MVP Dale Murphy, and Wilson has won 3 state championships in each of those sports. In 1972 the football team lost a close state championship game to Centennial, but that’s as close as they’ve gotten to winning it all.

We had arrived in plenty of time to check out the seating situation and after parking The Bucket to case the joint I was nearly gang-tackled by a trio of attendants who came up behind me from wherever they had been hiding.

“Sir, can we see your ticket and wrist band, please?”

“Um, ticket? Wrist band?”

“You have to have them to enter the field. Your son should have given them to you. Each player got them to hand out.”

“My son didn't mention it. I'll have to have a talk with that boy. He is so forgetful.”

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing. Thanks. Bye”

So, no entry for the Ednolds. And I suppose they expected that I would just hop back in The Bucket and drive home. Ha! We had planned for this occasion and the Ednolds were not to be so easily gotten rid of. I did get back in The Bucket, but only for the short trip downhill into the middle of Hillsdale where we had our choice of tables on the sheltered porch of the Sasquatch Brewing Co. to spend some time laughing at the pitiful attempt to discourage us from attending the game. I also spent some time drinking a Don’t Be Scared IPA that they poured for me, and wondering what it was I wasn’t supposed to be scared about. Then my hamburger showed up with something on the top of it and it all made sense. I could tell it wasn’t a tomato, but what was it? Finally, Mrs. Ednold summoned the courage to take a bite and discovered it was a pickled pepper. I was still a little scared to try it but since she had already taken a bite I wasn’t going to be a big wuss and not do the same. And it wasn’t too bad. I would probably not have picked that pickled pepper to put on the puffy pinnacle of a hamburger, but the IPA was right, I shouldn’t have been scared.

We arrived back at the field just before game time and I took a stroll around the grounds to snap my pictures and pick out a good spot outside the fence to watch the game. Which was right about the same time the heavens opened up and the rain came down in buckets for a good ten minutes before it stopped. And the only reason the rain stopped is because it had turned to hail. As a good Oregonian, I would never be caught holding an umbrella. I would rather be soaked to the skin, freezing to my core, than embarrass myself by using an umbrella. Luckily, Mrs. Ednold isn’t a native and has no such qualms about staying warm and dry. I made my way back to The Bucket, grabbed her umbrella, and headed back out to the chosen game-watching spot, by which time, of course, the rain/hail was coming to an end.

The north side home grandstand.

The field is located on a terrace on the west side of the school, with parking disbursed to the surrounding parking lots. There was no shortage of parking for us due to the small crowd but I could imagine it might get pretty tight for a big game during a normal season. The field is artificial turf surrounded by a rubber asphalt track. The home grandstand, which was closed for this game, is a large concrete structure with aluminum benches. The visitors’ seating is all-aluminum on the south side. Neither of them is covered, and I imagine this wasn't the first day people like me, saturated and hypothermic, had wondered why. Of course, whatever concessions facilities they have were closed for this game so I can’t tell you what they’re like.

Visitors' seating on the south side.

Throughout the game there were sporadic heavy showers and it was generally a miserable afternoon. But we huddled under the giant umbrella and Mrs. Ednold, at least, was able to stay pretty dry. That’s more than I can say for the Wilson/Wells cheer team, who stood and cheered the entire game in their light jackets, tights, and not much else. There were about a dozen of them cheering to a crowd of maybe 3 dozen drenched parents who didn’t make a peep the whole game. I guess maybe they got something out of just being there and getting to put on their uniforms and show people that they really had been practicing. But without any students in attendance and very few people of any kind to see or hear them, they probably could have done without the intermittent downpours. They were there until the bitter end though, and I mean bitter, so they earned my respect which, I’m sure, meant a lot to them.

Since Wells High School has only been Wells High School for a month or two now, there apparently hasn't been time to update everything and get rid of everything Wilson. All of the signs on and outside of the school that used to say Wilson still say Wilson. The football team and cheerleaders still wear Wilson uniforms, and there were still Wilson hats and jackets to be spotted on the supporters in the stands. The PA announcer introduced them as the Wells Trojans before the game, but throughout the game he often forgot and referred to them as Wilson. Sometimes he called them Wilson-Wells, which might be a good idea as people make the mental transition from one to the other.

The monsoon conditions didn’t do much for the football players, either. Both teams were 1-1 coming into the game and I expected a pretty tight game. As with other games we’ve seen this season, turnovers and penalties were common and both teams could have used a little more practice time. It was still exciting though. Before Lincoln scored in the final seconds to seal the win, 28-18, the Wilson/Wells Trojans had come back from a 14 point deficit to trail by only 3. They couldn’t stop the Cardinals’ running game when they needed to, though, and never were able to completely close the gap.

It was a sloppy game played in sloppy conditions, but that sloppiness didn’t include any mud on the field, since the Wilson/Wells turf is artificial, and I hope the players appreciate what they don’t have to contend with these days. Back in the olden days, on a day like this was, half the field would have been ankle-deep in mud that would make any traction almost impossible. They say artificial turf has its disadvantages: It’s a harder surface, and it can give you rug burns. Ok. But they should make these kids eat at least one mouthful of mud during each game just to remind them how good they have it.

We had planned to do some more exploring in this picturesque corner of the city and give Multnomah Village a closer inspection on our way home, but by the time the final horn sounded we were both so cold and tired that we just made a note to come back sometime on a nicer day. We listened to the basketball games all the way home and took satisfaction from the fact that by the time we got home the PAC 12 was still undefeated, even if the Ducks did need a forfeit to stay alive. And here we are with both Oregon teams in the final 32. Now that’s what I call progress.

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Mar 22, 2021


I always learn something when I read your blog. I guess you have to read a Portland paper to know that Wilson High School had changes its name. Doesn't sound like one of your more exciting trips, but who needs excitement when you have such a great traveling companion.

I never thought to top my burgers with a squashed pepper.............Thanks for the hint.


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