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4A • October 19, 2018 | Cannon Beach Gazette | cannonbeachgazette.com
Views from the Rock
For Robert Dietsche,
a tale of two cities
any of the stars of the day have long
since been forgotten. Others live on in the
annals of the city’s musical history, from
visitors like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Louis
Armstrong to locals like Harry Gillgam, Tommy Todd
and Sid Porter, a star at the Chicken Coop, who knew
“every song in all keys.”
Portland’s golden years of jazz began just as World
War II was ending, writes author Robert Dietsche. “In-
land seaports with good railroads make for great jazz,
especially during wartime when there is an acceleration
of fresh ideas and fashions from the thousands of ser-
vicemen and defense workers arriving,” he writes.
Little Harlem ran from Northeast Fremont and east
from North Interstate to Union Avenue, now called Mar-
tin Luther King Boulevard. Action central was Williams
Avenue, an entertainment strip lined with hot spots offer-
ing jazz 24 hours a day.
Dietsche, a Manzanita resident, is a chronicler of
these halcyon days in “Jump Town: The Golden Years of
Portland Jazz, 1942-1957,” from the Dude Ranch to McLen-
don’s Rhythm Room.
“Jump Town,” published in 2005, remains the go-to work
on jazz and its performers in the Rose City, places like the
Jimmy Mak’s, the
Chicken Coop and
“the meeting place
said in 2017.
“Jump Town” stands as a reference for old-timers savoring
the nostalgia and young fans seeking to connect with the city’s
An author’s story
The son of a Nabisco executive, Dietsche graduated from
Toledo’s DeVilbiss High School. He headed westward to the
University of Oregon on a partial tennis scholarship to study
English. In Eugene, he met his wife Susan, a marriage still
strong after 55 years.
Dietsche taught in the Beaverton and Oregon City public
schools before making a career shift in 1973.
Inspired by his friend Walter Powell — founder of Powell’s
Books in 1972 — Dietsche opened Django Records, named
after the great Belgian jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.
The venture provided an opportunity to explore his love of
jazz and turn it into a lucrative career.
“It was the first used record store in Oregon and it took off
like fire,” Dietsche recalled. “My God, all those people who
were giving it away to Goodwill, we were getting money for.”
“Everybody came in,” he said, from the comedian Jack
Benny to the Grateful Dead and former Portland Mayor Frank
The store remained under Dietsche’s ownership until 1999,
when it was sold to an investor seeking to expand into a nation-
“It was mostly jazz those first few months, having been
pared from their collections, and the rock section was only one
crate at first,” wrote a friend of Dietsche’s in an online music
forum. “Their average price was $2.50. The rock section soon
grew to half the store, but it was still the favored place for jazz
collectors, and there was a good section of other categories
What Dietsche does for Portland in “Jump Town” he repli-
cates for his childhood hometown in his new book, “Tatum’s
Town: The Story of Jazz in Toledo, Ohio (1915-1985).”
Dietsche chronicles the urban culture of a Midwestern city
where “dance halls, gaming halls, pool halls and taverns prolif-
erated — and if you messed with the wrong people, “you might
find yourself in a cement suit at the bottom of the Maumee Riv-
From such early 20th-century beginnings came the unparal-
leled pianist Art Tatum and famed lyric writer and vocalist Jon
“For her size and weight, Toledo, Ohio, has more than her
share of great moments in jazz,” Dietsche writes.
Tatum himself, whose “left hand was a wondrous thing,”
exercised his fingers to master keyboard intervals by “carefully
manipulating selected Brazil nuts between his fingers so as to
extend his reach on the piano.”
The author sets the scene: “Sitting at the piano, one eyelid
at half mast, his head turned upward, a glass of beer and a pack
of Luckies within reach, was Art Tatum, a legally blind native
Toledoan who would become the greatest piano player of them
Dietsche’s look back began in 1980 with a profile of Toledo
guitarist Arv Garrison, who appears on historic recordings of
saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker. Garrison, “a lady-killer with
blonde wavy hair,” was a pioneer of bebop jazz in the 1940s,
first attracting attention after winning a high school variety
“I found out he went to my high school,” Dietsche said. “If
Yes, we have apples!
LEFT “Jump Town,” a history of jazz in Portland.
RIGHT “Tatum’s Town” chronicles the urban jazz cul-
ture of Toledo, Ohio, in the 20th century.
you look up four of the most important albums Charlie Parker
did — he’s on them.”
After researching Garrison’s career, Dietsche delivered a
piece for the Toledo Blade newspaper that won him a fan letter
from the foremost jazz critic of the era. “I got this letter from
Leonard Feather congratulating me on the job I did,” Dietsche
said. “There’s no higher honor. That really got me into the
“I’ve got this thing about Toledo, my mistress,” Dietsche
said. “I always wanted to go back. I didn’t care what Thomas
Wolfe said. I figured out a way to do it: Go back and write a story
and have fun.”
“Tatum’s Town” caps a career of education, music and
history, earning the author a certificate of merit award for ex-
cellence from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.
The awards are given to authors of books, articles or recording
liner notes to recognize those publishing work considered the
best in recorded sound research.
Meanwhile, Dietsche’s literary efforts continue with “Eight
Forgotten Ones,” a work in progress about eight great, under-
rated musicians Dietsche has developed particularly affinity
for — like trombonist Ray Sims, the brother of saxophonist
Zoot Sims — and Portland arranger Tommy Todd, who took
Hollywood movies by storm in the 1940s. Todd, “the most
talented guy to come out of Portland, provided charts for Benny
Goodman, Lionel Hampton and Tommy Dorsey before his
death in obscurity in the early 1980s.
“Tommy Todd was in the Billy May category,” Dietsche said,
referring to the great film and television arranger and composer.
“Nobody knows anything about him. He was fascinating.”
Today, Dietsche and his wife Susan enjoy
life in Manzanita. He makes the
drive north on Highway
101 travels north to the
Clatsop County Animal
Shelter one or two
days a week.
For those in the
South County, Dietsche
can regularly be found
at Patty’s Wicker Cafe
in Seaside, a welcoming
place, he said, where you
“can’t improve on perfec-
tion. … There’s nothing
Manzanita author Robert Dietsche.
and the taste
or the past month, I’ve been eating apples all day.
For breakfast, I chop one up to add to my yogurt
or oatmeal. At lunch I might slather a rice cake
with peanut butter and top it with apple slices. I’ve made
Waldorf salad; added apples to tuna salad and chicken
salad; I’ve dipped apple slices in honey. I’ve made eight
apple pies already. Last week I made an apple crisp.
The reason for all this apple eating is our two apple
trees. They came with the house when we bought it; for
the past two years, the trees have created a mother lode.
In addition to all the fruit we’ve personally eaten, I’ve
bagged up at least 100 apples to distribute to friends.
When we lived in New York, one of my favorite fall
rituals was our weekly trip on Sundays to Salinger’s
Orchard located on Guinea Road in Brewster. In addition
to their “U-pick” possibilities and their popular pumpkin
patch, Salinger’s operates a market where one might pur-
chase cider; cider donuts (plain or with powdered sugar);
apple, peach, cherry, pecan, and pumpkin pies; jams, apple
butter, organic honey, and, of course, apples by the bushel.
They focus on the New York heritage varieties, including
Braeburn, and a
small, very dark
red apple called
Macoun, available THE PORCH
only in October
I’ve yet to
kind of apples are
KNOWN IN THE
growing in our
yard. All I can say
is that they taste a
lot like a Macoun.
THOSE PEOPLE WITH
For better or
worse, the apples
have attracted a lot
of attention. We’re probably known in the neighborhood
as Those People With the Apples. The branches, which I
fully intend to cut back this winter, extend over the fence.
This has created some issues as some of the apples drop
into the street. One neighbor asked me a little indignantly
if I planned on letting them all go to waste. I think she was
a little surprised when I said I collect them as they ripen
and they haven’t all ripened yet.
People’s reactions to the apples I give them have been
interesting. One or two people said they prefer Gala
apples; I said, OK, well, you can get those at Fred Meyer.
Most of the recipients of my apples make things with
them. They send me pictures of apple cider, apple pie,
applesauce, apple brown Betty. The most enthusiastic re-
cipient was my tree guy, Arborist Archer, who pronounced
Apples are good for you. They’re an excellent source of
fiber, as well as vitamins A and C. My min-pin, Lucy, likes
them, which is good as they’re natural teeth cleaners and
also freshen dog breath.
Meanwhile, the harvest is almost over. There are still
quite a few apples left on the tree, which means I’ll prob-
ably be giving them away as the bottom drawer of my
refrigerator is completely filled with apples, and there’s
only so much room in my freezer. Last week at a friends
and family dinner at Maggie’s On the Prom introducing
the new menu by the new chef, Brad Dodson, recently
the executive chef at the Pickled Fish and the Shelburne
Dining Room in Washington, the chef introduced an
appetizer platter of smoked steelhead salmon, Tillamook
aged cheddar, crackers, mustard, organic honey, and
sliced apples. I’ll be creating my own rendition of this
dish this week for my book group (if you’re interested,
we read “The High Season” by Judy Blundell). I’ll serve
it along with apple pie, apple crisp, and a gluten-free
Long live the back yard apple!
for the job
Cannon Beach is an ex-
traordinary place and I’m
grateful to operate a business
here. For three decades I’ve
participated in public discus-
sions about a variety of local
issues. Often these discussions
become polarized, pitting peo-
ple who seek to conserve our
village culture against others
who want the area to become
John D. Bruijn
I’m with the conservers,
because I’ve watched how
quickly coastal communities
can grow beyond their livabil-
ity. I’m also keenly aware of
challenges that must be met in
order for the town to function.
Three issues that top the list
are traffic flow, parking, and
We need local leaders who
can address these priorities
without dividing our commu-
nity in the process. Indeed,
that’s the only way we can
move forward. So I’m en-
dorsing Robin Risley to fill
the seat being vacated on City
Council. Robin is the right
person to help bring people
together and build consen-
sus around workable ideas.
I also support the re-election
of Mike Benefield, who has
served as a voice of reason at
Robin Risley and Mike
CANNON BEACH GAZETTE
The Cannon Beach Gazette is
published every other week by EO
1555 N. Roosevelt, Seaside,
503-738-5561 • Fax 503-738-
Benefield can help replace
polarization with balance and
stewardship. They are worthy
of our support.
View from the dunes
It is interesting to note that
when people write in complain-
ing about the dunes, they couch
their complaints as “safety”
com • email:
Annually: $40.50 in county,
$58.00 in and out of county.
Postage Paid at: Cannon Beach,
Send address changes to Cannon
Beach Gazette, P.O. Box 210,
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and “access” issues rather than
what their complaints really are
— the dunes are blocking their
views from Breakers Point.
The silliest of these com-
plaints is that “people are doing
bad things in the dunes.” Peo-
ple are also partying, camping,
drinking and littering in the for-
ests and on the beach as well.
Does that mean we should chop
down our forests or pave over
Most of the people who
live here do not have ocean
front homes. They cannot see
the beach from their window.
They still love it and enjoy the
incredible beauty of this place.
They also love the dunes and
their sense of quiet, peace, and
So lets not make up disingen-
uous reasons to shave down the
dunes and just be honest — you
want your views above all else.
THE NATIONAL AWARD-WINNING