The Miller Farmhouse

The Miller House, ca. early 1900s.

Ava Helen Pauling’s childhood residence near Beavercreek, Oregon, now known as “The Miller House,” was built around 1907 and constructed so solidly that it still stands, albeit in a different location and with a different paint job than was originally the case. It has survived more than one-hundred years of weather and use, beginning with its housing of the Miller family, which included twelve children.  Over subsequent generations the house was sold to at least two other families before being rescued in 2004 by Rick and Kassandra Young. Together with friends and family members, the Youngs have spent the last seven years engaged in the gargantuan task of renovating the Miller family home.

Before Ava Helen Pauling married Linus Pauling, she was Ava Helen Miller, a precocious child who grew up in Beavercreek, Canby and Salem, Oregon. Around the time of her parents’ divorce at age nine, the family’s big, beautiful two-story Craftsman style house was built, and Ava Helen lived on their 160-acre farm with her mother and siblings until the family moved to Canby for a time. When Ave Helen was thirteen, she moved away to Salem to attend high school and live with her older sister Blanche, who worked for the Oregon Supreme Court. As a result, Ava Helen did not spend a great deal of her childhood in the house that her family built, but the few years that she did spend there were sure to have been aesthetically pleasing, given the inviting nature of the house and its beautiful, forested surroundings.

The Miller House, 2011.

When the Youngs bought the Miller House in 2004, it was not even habitable and had been condemned after standing empty for fifteen years. The couple purchased the home for one dollar. “I always wanted an old house,” said Kassandra, “but when we got this one everybody said I was crazy!” Crazy though it may have seemed, the Youngs’ one dollar purchase saved an important piece of history from being razed, though the couple did not know it at the time. Indeed, it wasn’t until after they had moved the house to a new parcel of land in 2005 that Rick began looking through the county’s historical records, in the process discovering that Ava Helen Miller had spent part of her childhood in their house.

Moving the Miller House two miles down the road was a challenging task which took eight hours, required the trimming of trees on both sides of the road to make way for the farmhouse, (which likewise entailed obtaining all of the neighbors’ permissions) blocked school bus routes for a little while and necessitated cutting off a few neighbors’ electricity for a short while. Now that it is moved, the house on the small hill looks as though it has always been there, accompanied by an old barn and ten acres of hay fields and trees. From the front porch, one is treated to a slightly elevated view of forested hills and a road winding between trees. To the north, one is sometimes able to see Mt. Hood. The view isn’t identical to that of the house’s original location, but is close enough that the Miller family probably peered out on something similar.

Restoring the house to habitable condition has been quite a journey for the Youngs, who started a blog about it in 2008 to record their progress. The blog, which can be found at http://www.1907millerhouse.com, also includes a photo of the structure as it was being built in the early 1900s, with members of the Miller family perched on a ladder reaching up to the top wraparound balcony. A copy of the photo now sits in a glass cabinet in the dining room of the house. In the photo the house has not yet been painted and looks gray.  Especially in its unfinished form, one is able to see the sturdiness of the structure and the quality of the milled lumber. The Youngs used the original old photo as a guide to their restoration, and also procured copies of other photos from the Pauling Papers that they try to follow in their continuing renovations. They have also spoken with Linus Pauling Jr. and members of both the Pauling and Miller families about the house, and say that the Paulings have expressed a desire to hold a family reunion there in the future.

Today the house is in remarkably good shape given the fact that it is over 100 years old, has been uprooted and moved, and has been subject to generations of use by families with children. This solidity can be partly attributed to the tight, interlocking design of a Craftsman style house, and also to the precision and attention to detail that went into its construction. Kassandra notes that even in its condemned state there was virtually no rot in the frame of the house, and that it was built using 32-foot two-by-fours, while houses today are built using smaller, weaker beams. Features including a carved staircase and pocket doors, which slide into the wall to open, lend the house character.

The Youngs bought the Miller house in 2004, and worked on it for a year, living in a manufactured home behind the house, before moving in in 2005. “There was no electricity,” said Kassandra. “It was all gas lighting.” Rick and Kassandra did all the wiring and plumbing themselves, and installed lighting fixtures that look like lamps. “The plumbing was the hardest,” said Kassandra, though another big obstacle was getting cleared by Pacific Gas and Electric to move the house. They also had to refinance the house in 2009, which required them to speed up the renovation process and hurry to erect a railing on the lower deck and apply a layer of primer to the whole house. Refinancing was complicated, as were all the other obstacles in their way, but, Kassandra says, “I had to prove everybody wrong.” It may have seemed crazy to buy what appeared to be a pile of rubble, but she saw potential in the old house and appreciated the fine craftsmanship, even without knowing its history.

At this point, most rooms in the home are finished, including a spacious kitchen featuring salvaged yellow cabinetry and slate flooring that Kassandra installed. Leftover slate from the kitchen decorates the fireplace, giving the appearance of old brick. Although it has been thoroughly renovated to make it inhabitable, there is little that is new in the house. On the floor in the living room and parlor, old boards salvaged from another house have been installed, and the window in the kitchen is also a salvaged piece as well. Most of the windows, however, are the originals, with storm windows installed on some to make the drafty structure more airtight. The only aspect of the house that looks at all modern is the basement that the Youngs built; but Kassandra noted, “I want to eventually make that look old, too.”

The Young’s goal for this summer is to finish the porch and put up a railing around the top level. The porch was destroyed back in the 1970s when a tree fell on the house during a storm, so the Youngs are reconstructing it from scratch, making sure to follow the pattern depicted in their old photograph. Their biggest incentive for finishing the porch as quickly as possible, according to Kassandra, is that the Historic Registry requires them to restore it before they can submit an application for the Miller House to be added to the Registry list. The primary advantage to being placed on the Registry is a  fifteen-year tax freeze on their property taxes, the only requirement being that they keep the house looking as it always has on the outside, and that they host an open house once per year.

Although the Historic Registry only requires that the outside of the house appear original, the Youngs have done an incredible job of keeping the inside period-appropriate. Every piece of furniture has been procured either from salvage yards like the Rebuild-it Center and Hippo Hardware, or from eBay or Craigslist. (In order to find the perfect pieces, Kassandra says she was “looking on Craigslist daily.”) The solid, carved 1890s mantelpiece in the living room was shipped from Georgia, and was a bright blue color when it arrived, lacquered with some twelve coats of paint that Kassandra painstakingly sanded off. Now only the grain of the wood is on display, complementing the rest of the house, which is replete with original wood paneling.

The Youngs have fully redone the inside of the house to both comply with the period look as well as to reflect their own tastes, but a few vestiges of the Miller family still remain in the space. The house will soon have the same outward appearance that it did when it was inhabited by the Millers (although now it is a greenish blue color trimmed with a deep wine) and a few photos of the Millers reside in the home. Before they moved the structure, the Youngs also found and saved a stepping stone with the names Betty, Lulu and Jack engraved on it: Lulu and Jack were two of Ava Helen’s siblings, Betty was probably a cousin. A few streets in the area are also named after members of the Miller family and Ava Helen’s grandmother is buried in a cemetery up the road. The structure is in a new location with a new coat of paint and a new family living in it, but the Youngs are determined to retain the authenticity of the Miller House, and to keep the memory of the Millers alive.

The Miller women with the family car, 1914. Ava Helen sits far left.

Period of Transition: Pauling in Corvallis

Linus Pauling, age 17.

Linus Pauling, age 17.

Corvallis, the home of Oregon State University, sits adjacent to the Willamette River in the central Willamette Valley. Nestled between Portland and Eugene, and a reasonable distance from both the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade mountain range, Corvallis offers close proximity to a large variety of outdoor activities and big city accommodations while maintaining the feel of a small town lifestyle. Corvallis’ reputation as a green, vegetarian-friendly, and bicycle-friendly community also help to define its place on the map.

However, when Linus Pauling arrived here in 1917, Corvallis was an entirely different place. As opposed to its current population of roughly 50,000, Pauling’s Corvallis housed only about 5,000 people within its city limits. There were certainly no bike-lanes or vegetarian-friendly restaurants, and Hewlett-Packard, a major employer here, wasn’t even an idea yet. Furthermore, Oregon State University, which Pauling chose to attend because of financial necessity, was known as Oregon Agricultural College.

Interestingly enough, Pauling’s entry into the college world was not marked by his characteristic confidence. Because he was only 16, Pauling was worried about how he would compare to his older and (he assumed) more intelligent classmates. Nonetheless, he pushed his fears aside and before long, had arrived for his first year as an undergraduate.

Pauling started out as, more or less, a typical underclassman. He moved into a boarding house with his cousin Mervyn Stephenson, and enrolled in the classes required for the mining engineering field. He also developed a fair amount of school spirit, or ‘beaver pep’ as he called it. He wore the green beanie required of all freshman, attended and cheered at sport events, joined the student military cadet corps, and began searching for romance. Within a few weeks, Pauling had moved out of the boarding house for financial reasons, had developed a clear idea of the classes he enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, and had taken an interest in a co-ed, although their association wouldn’t last very long.

Painting of Oregon Agricultural College, ca. 1912.

Painting of Oregon Agricultural College, ca. 1912.

As might be expected, Pauling’s favorite courses were math and the physical sciences. Not only did he truly enjoy these classes, but he excelled in them as well. In fact, he found that he had no more trouble mastering college level courses than he did mastering his high school classes. However, Pauling didn’t succeed in every class he took. He received a D in mechanical drawing – a subject for which he didn’t have enough patience – and an F in freshman gymnasium after his attempt to work around the rules for taking the class failed.

Pauling’s sophomore year at OAC was much like his first. He continued to outshine his classmates, was given a job in the chemistry department’s solution room, and also joined a fraternity, Gamma Tau Beta. Between his studies and his job, Pauling had very little free time. This set the precedent for the long hours of hard work that would, in part, define the rest of his life.

Pauling’s third year at OAC, however, was as different from the preceding two as could possibly have been the case. As the end of summer was approaching, Linus’ mother Belle told him that she needed to use all the money he had earned to make ends meet at home. Instead of protesting, Pauling agreed, and prepared himself to make the best of a year at home.

However, the chemistry department at OAC had a very different plan. Burdened by unexpected staff shortages, and fearful of losing their prize student, the department decided to offer him a job teaching quantitative chemistry – a course he had taken only a year earlier. Although the job would be a cut in pay from a job that he had found as  paving instructor for the state’s department of transportation, Pauling didn’t hesitate and headed back to Corvallis. He wasn’t able to take any classes, but Pauling enjoyed the job. It gave him good experience as a lecturer and an excellent opportunity to catch up on the latest research in the field of chemistry.

In 1920, after his yearlong stint as a chemistry instructor, Pauling reentered the OAC chemistry program as a junior. By this time, he had gained a great deal of self-confidence. He was closer in age to the rest of his classmates, officially an upperclassman, and was building his reputation as the smartest man on campus. He continued to have no trouble mastering his courses, and began to develop an interest in public speaking, which he took far enough to compete in a school-wide contest (he finished second).

The next year, as Pauling was traveling home for Christmas vacation, OAC offered him a new job teaching freshman chemistry for home economic majors. Thinking the extra money would be useful, he decided to accept the offer. On his first day of class, a young student by the name of Ava Helen Miller caught his eye. As time went on, they began to become more interested in each other until finally, Pauling asked her to go on a walk with him. From there, their relationship grew, and just before the end of the term, Pauling asked her to marry him. She said yes, and he promptly lowered her final grade by one letter to avoid any possibility of favoritism.  The location where Linus and Ava Helen first met, Education Hall Room 201, is now marked by a plaque.

During his senior year, Pauling also began thinking about graduate school. It was clear to him that his goals in life required a higher education than was attainable at OAC. He applied to several schools that offered advanced chemistry programs including Harvard, Berkeley, and of course, the California Institute of Technology. Although Caltech was the youngest and smallest of the schools, they made Pauling the best offer. He decided to accept, and at the end of the summer of 1922, armed with his B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Pauling left his bride-to-be Ava Helen behind in Corvallis and headed for California.

For more information of Linus Pauling in Oregon, check out our Oregon 150 series. For general information on Linus Pauling, please visit the Linus Pauling Online portal.  For more on Pauling’s undergraduate years, see the Pauling Centenary Exhibit or the Linus Pauling at OSU site published by the Department of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering.

Oregon 150

Lucile Pauling (1904-1992)

Francis Lucile Pauling, 1923.

Francis Lucile Pauling, 1923.

Less is known of the youngest Pauling sibling than is the case with Linus and Pauline Pauling. What can be said is that, of Herman and Belle Pauling’s children, Lucile—quiet, shy, and warmhearted—was the least hardheaded of the three. Always unsettled when trouble arose between family members, she often took on the role of peacekeeper in the Pauling family.

Frances Lucile Pauling, known to everyone as “Lucile,” (and named after one of her mother’s favorite poems, “Lucile” by Owen Meredith) was born in Oswego, Oregon on New Years Day, 1904. Though both her brother and sister remained rather skeptical of their upbringing, Lucile would always remember a happier, more normal childhood – despite circumstances that might suggest otherwise.

Following Herman’s death in 1910, Belle Pauling, overwhelmed by the prospect of raising three children without financial support, opened a boardinghouse with the hopes of providing a living for herself and her children. After both Linus and Pauline left home when they were just teenagers, Lucile stayed behind to care for her mother and help look after the boardinghouse. Belle, whose pernicious anemia often kept her bedridden for long periods at a time, had relied heavily on her children to help make ends meet.

Lucile, Linus, Belle and Pauline Pauling, 1922.

Lucile, Linus, Belle and Pauline Pauling, 1922.

From an early age, Lucile devoted herself to her music. An accomplished pianist, she studied and taught music lessons when she wasn’t helping her mother.

In 1926, Belle, her health deteriorating, sold her boardinghouse for the amount of ten dollars. The buyer and new owner, at least on paper, was Lucile. After renting out the boardinghouse, Lucile and her mother moved to a nearby apartment, where Belle’s pernicious anemia intensified following the move. Her symptoms became so severe that Lucile could no longer care for her. In turn, Belle’s sister, Goldie, was called upon for help.

Pauline (second from left) and Lucile Pauling on a camping excursion with two friends, ca. 1920s.

Pauline (second from left) and Lucile Pauling on a camping excursion with two friends, ca. 1920s.

As a result, Belle was admitted to the state hospital for the insane. Upon visiting for the first time, Lucile was so overwhelmed by the sight of her mother in the mental ward that she tearfully begged that Belle be removed. Unfortunately, Lucile’s request could not be fulfilled and Belle, at the age of forty-five, died just weeks after being admitted. Later, burdened with disappointment, Lucile wrote to her brother, “I left decisions, [Belle’s] care, everything, up to others, being absolutely immature and irresponsible, and easily led.” She would always regret not knowing how to better care for her mother.

In the late 1930s, while working as a secretary in Portland, Lucile married Lemual Lawrence Jenkins (known as “Jenks”). Their son Donald was born soon after and the family settled in Estacada, Oregon. Lucile cared for the family home while continuing her music studies, teaching lessons and accompanying local musicians on the piano. Due to Jenks’s “restlessness,” the couple moved eight times in Estacada, finally finding the right place just before his death in 1965.

The Pauling and Jenkins families: in back, Linda Pauling, Don Jenkins, Crellin and Peter Pauling; in front, Linus and Ava Helen Pauling, Lemual and Lucile Jenkins. 1948.

The Pauling and Jenkins families: in back, Linda Pauling, Don Jenkins, Crellin and Peter Pauling; in front, Linus and Ava Helen Pauling, Lemual and Lucile Jenkins. 1948.

Though she was keenly interested in her family genealogy, scant documentation of Lucile’s own golden years remains extant. She did not remarry and was plagued by chronic health problems – little else is recorded in the Pauling collection.

A sufferer of heart disease, Lucile died on January 19, 1992 of ventricular fibrillation. At eighty-eight years, her life was the shortest of the three Pauling children – Linus lived to 93 and Pauline to 101 – a remarkable fact given the short life-spans of Herman and Belle Pauling, who lived to ages 33 and and 45 respectively.

Linda, Linus, Pauline and Lucile Pauling at the grave of Linus Wilson Darling, Condon, Oregon, 1988.  In retirement, Lucile maintained a keen interest in her family geneology.

Linda, Linus, Pauline and Lucile Pauling at the grave of Linus Wilson Darling, Condon, Oregon, 1988. In retirement, Lucile maintained a keen interest in her family genealogy.

For more on Linus Pauling’s relationship with Oregon and its inhabitants (including his other sister Pauline) please see our year-long blog series commemorating the Oregon150 celebration.

Oregon 150

Pauline Pauling (1902-2003)

Pauline Pauling with her sister Lucile, 1916.

Pauline Pauling with her sister Lucile, 1916.

My name is Pauline Darling Pauling Stockton Ney Dunbar Emmett, and you can see I’ve had an interesting life…

-Pauline Pauling Emmett, 1994.

The sister of one distinguished scientist and later the wife of another, Pauline Darling Pauling, the second oldest of the Herman and Belle Pauling’s children, led a long and eventful life. Once a record-breaking typist, a famous women’s athletic director, and a successful designer and businesswoman, Pauline found success in a plethora of careers and hobbies. Although she remained close to her Nobel Prize-winning brother over his lifetime, Pauline harbored more artistic aspirations than scientific ones. In addition to her professional success, she was a seamstress, quilter, painter, and coin and doll collector.

Pauline Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon on August 2, 1902. She remembers her childhood in Condon as “very stark,” remarking that “it was a wonder [the family] survived.” Following her father’s death in 1910 and the family’s ensuing financial trouble, her mother, Belle Darling Pauling, opened a boardinghouse to support the family. Linus, Pauline, and their younger sister, Lucile, were responsible for the many domestic duties of the boardinghouse as their mother, suffering from a general weakness (later diagnosed as pernicious anemia), had become increasingly dependent on the help of her children.

Pauline Pauling on a hiking excursion in the Oregon forest, 1921.

Pauline Pauling on a hiking excursion in the Oregon forest, 1921.

Pauline, an extrovert by nature, couldn’t wait to escape the small-town life of Condon. An energetic and pretty girl, Pauline became something of a socialite as a teenager.

She dated a string of boys, frequently attended swimming and singing events, and often arranged social get-togethers. As a student at Franklin High School in Portland, Pauline dropped out for a year to attend the Behnke-Walker Business School. There she learned Pitman shorthand and the touch system of typing. She would later become known for her speed typing, breaking the world record on a manual typewriter in an unofficial test.

Pauline Pauling participating in a filmed athletics demonstration, Los Angeles, 1920s.

Pauline Pauling participating in a filmed athletics demonstration, Los Angeles, 1920s.

She met her first husband, Wallace Stockton, while working as a secretary for the Elks Club in Portland. The couple later moved to Los Angeles, where Pauline worked as the Women’s Athletic Director for the Club. Known as the “Elkettes,” the women’s group, attracting some of Hollywood’s most famous stars, gained much publicity for its numerous activities and events. Pauline and Wallace Stockton divorced in the late-1920s.

On October 6, 1932, Pauline married Thomas Ney. After living in Santa Monica, the two moved to Inglewood, California, where their son, Michael Ney, was born on December 23, 1934.

Pauline Pauling, posing for a Paddies, Inc. promotional photograph, 1940s.

Pauline Pauling, posing for a Paddies, Inc. promotional photograph, 1940s.

It was around this time that Pauline took notice of a men’s slipper in an issue of Vogue. Using the pattern, Pauline refined the design to create a women’s slipper. Soon after impressing her friends with the prototype, Pauline began making the slippers and selling them from her home. Subsequently, her initially-modest business (Paddies, Inc.) grew rapidly. She began marketing the “Paddy” slipper to upscale department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and I. Magnin. Unfortunately, Japanese manufacturers were able to copy her design and thus flooded the market with a cheaper model. Pauline lost her big accounts and, as a result, decided to sell the company.

In 1950, Pauline and Thomas Ney divorced. After returning to Santa Monica, California, Pauline became interested in numismatics, eventually opening her own coin shop in 1960. It was during this time that Pauline became acquainted with Charles “Slim” Dunbar, a coin shop owner from Inglewood. The two were married on August 25, 1973. Sadly, Slim, in ill health, died just 23 months after their wedding.

Pauline Pauling, Paul Emmett, Lucile Pauling, Ava Helen and Linus Pauling, 1976.

Pauline Pauling, Paul Emmett, Lucile Pauling, Ava Helen and Linus Pauling, 1976.

Following Slim’s death, Pauline returned to Oregon. It was there that an old friend, Dr. Paul Emmett, re-entered her life. Dr. Emmett, a prominent catalysis scientist, was a longtime friend and colleague of her brother. Emmett was, as Pauline recalls, “underfoot every minute until [she] accepted his proposal.” The two were married on May 22, 1976.

Pauline Pauling with her big brother Linus, 1993.

Pauline Pauling with her big brother Linus, 1993.

Pauline, lively even in her later years, cared for Dr. Emmett (who suffered from Parkinson’s disease) until his death in 1985. Following her husband’s passing, Pauline continued to live in the Portland area until her death on October 19, 2003. She was 101 years old.

Check back next week when we’ll discuss the life of the youngest Pauling sibling, Lucile. For more stories of Linus Pauling’s connection to his home state, please see our growing Oregon150 series.

Oregon 150

Pauling’s Best Friend: Lloyd Jeffress

Lloyd Jeffress, extracted from Physics Today, December 1977.

Photo of Lloyd Jeffress, extracted from Physics Today, December 1977.

As a child, Linus Pauling had relatively few friends. After moving from Condon, Oregon to Portland, the death of his father and subsequent poverty forced him to work when not in school. The remainder of his time was consumed with studying and household chores, leaving little room for companionship. Pauling, even as a boy, was also exceedingly introspective and self-reliant, capable of quietly entertaining himself without supervision. Nevertheless, even the busiest and most independent children need friends.

In 1913, while walking home from school, Pauling began talking with another young boy, Lloyd Jeffress. The two quickly discovered a mutual interest in science and natural phenomena, and Lloyd invited Linus to his home to view a chemistry experiment. Pauling readily agreed and, within the hour, Lloyd was performing a series of basic chemical reactions that bubbled, fizzed and smoked, transfixing the young Pauling. It was on this day, in Lloyd Jeffress’ little Portland bedroom, that Pauling decided to become a chemist.

From that point on, the two boys were inseparable. When not at school or work, they were performing crude, and sometimes dangerous, experiments in the makeshift lab that Linus built in the Pauling basement. Using donated or pilfered chemicals, the boys created noxious gases and exploding powders while dreaming of getting rich as corporate chemists.

Video Link: Watch Pauling recount his and Jeffress’ early chemical experiments

As an adult, Linus Pauling often told a story of Lloyd Jeffress to friends and interviewers. At the age of fifteen, Pauling had imagined himself as a chemical engineer, working for one of the United States’ major companies. When Pauling told his grandmother this, Lloyd chimed in saying, “No, he is going to be a university professor.” Jeffress’ words proved prophetic, as Pauling spent more than thirty years as a professor at the California Institute of Technology.

Following high school, Linus and Lloyd both attended Oregon Agricultural College, where Pauling studied chemistry and Lloyd majored in electrical engineering. Jeffress, however, developed an interest first in physics and later in the medical field, eventually graduating from the University of California with a Ph.D. in psychology, while Pauling, of course, took at job as a chemistry professor at Caltech. Despite the divergence in their interests, the two stayed in intermittent contact for the following sixty years.

Lloyd Jeffress served as best man at Pauling's wedding.  Linus and Ava Helen also gave their second-born son the name Peter Jeffress Pauling.

Lloyd Jeffress served as best man at Pauling's wedding. Linus and Ava Helen also gave their second-born son the name Peter Jeffress Pauling.

With Pauling at Caltech and Jeffress at the University of Texas in Austin, it was difficult for the men to meet. They visited one another as regularly as their schedules would allow, sometimes engaging in the tomfoolery of their youth. In a short manuscript written after Lloyd’s death, (see below) Pauling recounts their deceiving the guests at an academic event with Lloyd’s “mind reading” abilities, a hoax successfully planned and orchestrated by the pair. He also tells readers of Lloyd’s wedding, a hurried affair conducted by an unknown minister in Linus and Ava Helen Pauling’s small California apartment with only the Paulings to act as witnesses.

Jeffress, like Pauling, was a highly successful member of the academic community. Though his career began slowly, the breadth and depth of his research expanded considerably as he aged, with the vast majority of his papers being produced after his 50th birthday. As an expert in experimental psychology, focusing on psychoacoustics, he served as the chairman of the University of Texas psychology department, and even worked with various military-based programs.

Additionally, his longstanding interest in physics led him to take over some physics classes while serving in the university’s psychology department. Perhaps more surprising, his experience with wave transference resulted in work on mine-detecting devices for the United States military. Over the course of his career, Jeffress earned a series of awards and commendations for his excellence as an educator and for his contributions to the field of psychoacoustics. Pauling personally took great pride in his friend’s successes, expressing special interest in his scientific papers.

Following Lloyd’s death, Pauling was asked to write a brief narrative of their relationship as part of a tribute. In it, Linus described their meeting as boys and their lifelong friendship. In closing, he stated “I have many friends, but I continue to think of Lloyd Alexander Jeffress as my best friend.”

For more on the life of Lloyd Jeffress, please see Pauling’s typescript below, as well as this lengthy memorial resolution (PDF link) prepared by members of the University of Texas faculty.  For more on Pauling’s links with Oregon, check out our continuing Oregon150 series.

“Life with Lloyd Jeffress,” by Linus Pauling, June 5, 1986.

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Oregon 150

Tales from Pauling’s Boyhood: The 1917 Shipbuilders’ Strike

Linus Pauling, 1917.

Linus Pauling, 1917.

In 1917, Pauling began a diary, (known simply as the “OAC Diary” among Special Collections staff) in which he described his activities, thoughts and feelings, many of which are both enlightening and entertaining. Just as interesting though, are some of the entries about life in the early 20th century. The diary contains a number of historical gems dating from Pauling’s time in Portland and Corvallis, including the following excerpt; an entry dating from either late September or early October 1917 and describing a strike among shipbuilders along the Oregon coast.

About 10,000 iron and wooden shipbuilders are striking in Portland, with corresponding amounts in other Pacific coast cities. Accordingly I will not get to see the Mt. Hood, the largest motorship in the world, launched. This is the second week that Supple and Ballin, across the river, has been idle. About 60 wooden ship and 12 steel ship ways are near Portland. The Mt. Hood and three sister ships of wood with Ballin’s patent steel reinforcements. The War Monarch, War Baron, War Viceroy, Landoas, and other ships now building on the Northwest Steel Co’s four ways, are of 8,800 tons. The three ships being built at the Coast Ship Building Co.’s place are about 10,000 tons.

After a little digging, the OSU Special Collections staff was able to turn up the fascinating history behind this little-known strike. In honor of Oregon’s 150th year in the Union, we would like to share that history today.

By early 1917, World War I was raging through Europe. Woodrow Wilson, U.S. president from 1913-1921, had maintained a policy of isolationism and neutrality throughout the war, leaving the U.S. relatively unaffected by the massive conflict. In January 1917, however, the situation changed drastically. British intelligence intercepted and decoded the Zimmerman Telegram, an order for the German delegate in Mexico to broker a treaty with the Mexican government. This treaty, if enacted, would require Mexico to go to war against the United States.

Furthermore, in February 1917, the German navy resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, a practice that had previously resulted in the sinking of the Lusitania and the deaths of nearly 2,000 civilian passengers, including hundreds of Americans. The U.S. could no longer remain neutral and, on April 6, 1917, the United States formally declared war on Germany and its allies.

The fall of 1917 saw the U.S. war movement in full swing with troop deployment and military buildup well underway. bio10011-45-shipbuilders-strike-entryWith this boom in military-minded production, underpaid laborers saw opportunity. In early September, wooden shipbuilders up and down the coast of Oregon began plotting a walkout. They knew that, with the need for ships and at an all-time high, plant management would be forced to meet their demands in order to get production back on schedule. Unfortunately for the would-be strikers, word of the plan got out. On September 14, the day before the walkout, E. W. Wright, manager of McEachern Shipbuilding in Astoria, closed his plant for the weekend, effectively superseding the workers’ strike.

Outraged by Wright’s actions, the McEachern workers accused Wright of locking out pro-union workers. The workers struck, citing their rights as union laborers rather than their initial demands for increased wages. On September 16, the Carpenter’s Union and other unions associated with the Metal Trades Council declared a strike as well. The following day, one hundred National Guard troops were sent to Hammond Lumber Co. in Astoria to protect non-union workers from the picketers. Many decried the Governor’s use of the National Guard, noting that no violence had occurred during the strike. This was the first time that National Guard troops had been mobilized during a strike in Oregon since 1898.

Following several unsuccessful meetings between union representatives and shipyard management, metal workers in Portland and Seattle struck in late September, expressing their solidarity with their fellow laborers. The following day, it was announced that Northwest timber companies had lost a series of large Federal lumber orders as a consequence of “uncertainty in the labor market.” Because wooden shipbuilding was on hold in the Northwest, the U.S. government had no reason to purchase timber there. Instead, the government was forced to move many of its contracts to California, where shipyards were still operating.

In early October, three weeks after the strike had begun, the halt in shipbuilding was becoming a danger to the U.S. war effort. The federal government approached shipyard owners, demanding that a solution be found immediately so that production might continue. After another week of fruitless negotiations, the U.S. government stepped in and the Federal Labor Adjustment Board began a series of hearings meant to force negotiations between the owners and laborers. As the hearings continued, the strikers increased their picketing, hoping to gain public support and cow the shipyard management. On October 17, 140 picketers were arrested in front of the Northwest Steel Company compound. As a result, union leaders agreed to stop all picketing until an agreement was reached.

On October 21, a deal was finally brokered between the two parties, with the shipyard owners conceding a small pay raise to the workers. The following day, the U.S. government announced the end of its wooden shipbuilding programs for the duration of World War I, unofficially discontinuing the use of wooden ships in the U.S. military. The shipbuilders returned to work on October 23 with orders to complete all commissioned ships, aware that the strike in which they had engaged had contributed to the demise of an entire industry.

Almost undoubtedly, the shipbuilders’ strike had far-reaching consequences that have greatly impacted the history of the Pacific Northwest. With the loss of government funds originally earmarked for Oregon timber and coastal shipbuilders, and unemployment rising in the wake of the demise of the wooden ship era, Oregon’s economy was altered drastically. It is difficult to imagine what the state’s industry, economy and population might look like today had this important event played out differently.

(And it is unknown whether Pauling ever saw the launching of the Mt. Hood.)

To learn more about Linus Pauling, visit the Linus Pauling Online portal.

Oregon 150

Portland, OR: Pauling’s Teenage Years

Lucile, Linus, Belle, and Pauline Pauling, 1916.

Lucile, Linus, Belle, and Pauline Pauling, Portland, Oregon, 1916.

“This activist loves Oregon more than he loves life.”
– Tom McCall

Portland, the largest city in Oregon, sits at the convergence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers on Oregon’s northern border. Known for its microbreweries, environmentalists, and growing nightlife, Portland is nationally recognized as an epicenter of West Coast progressive culture. However, a century ago, the city held a very different position in the national consciousness.

As a part of the great West, early 20th century Portland was largely seen as an untamed and uncivilized part of the continent, full of opportunities and dangers. Aside from an impoverished and rather seedy Japan Town (located in the same area as Portland’s modern Chinatown) and a thriving red light district, the city was an industrial center and little else. Due to its convenient access to Oregon’s primary rivers, which in turn provided a direct line to the Pacific Ocean, Portland became a hub for the state’s shipbuilding and logging sectors. Oregon’s booming timber industry single-handedly supported much of the state’s economy, providing work in mills, producing lumber for shipbuilders and helping stoke the fires of Portland’s fledgling steel industry.

It was in this young industrial center that Linus Pauling spent his teenage years, immersed in a culture of blue-collar labor and near-poverty. He spent his youth in pursuits appropriate to his surroundings; dreaming up get-rich-quick schemes and fantasizing about life as a successful corporate chemist. Pauling was the product of his environment – bright, industrious, and a capitalist to the core.

Though born in Portland, Pauling was not always an enterprising city boy in a smog-choked factory town. In 1905, his family moved to Condon, Oregon, a small watering hole in north central Oregon frequented by cowboys and nomadic Native American tribes, a veritable Wild West to the young Linus. Here, he spent his early years playing on the expansive prairie, climbing trees and wading through creeks. When his father’s drugstore was sold out from underneath the family, however, the Paulings were forced to leave Condon and return to Portland.

Shortly after moving back to the city, Pauling’s father, Herman, died suddenly and unexpectedly. Linus, his two sisters, and his mother, Belle, were left to fend for themselves. Belle sold the drugstore Herman had just opened in Portland and purchased a house with the proceeds. Unfortunately, she had no practical business skill and grossly overpaid for the six bedroom home. In an attempt to keep her family afloat, she took on boarders, though even with the revenue from her tenets, Belle’s income was not enough to support herself and the children. Moreover, the shock of Herman’s death and the added stress of her difficult financial situation pushed Belle into a state of deep depression which was worsened by pernicious anemia, a blood disease which sapped her strength and left her bedridden.

By the time he had turned thirteen, Linus and his sisters had taken over many of the duties of the boarding house. At his mother’s encouragement, he began working outside jobs for extra income. He sold meat in a butcher shop, tended reels in a movie theater, delivered milk in a horse drawn wagon, and transported special delivery packages for the Portland postal service. The money he earned went straight to his mother, who in turn used it to purchase necessities for the family. Unsurprisingly, Pauling disliked having to give up his hard-earned wages and, in the years to come, disagreements over finances would prove to be a continuing source of friction between Linus and his mother.

Linus’ chief respite from the grim realities of his family life was his intellect. At the age of thirteen, Pauling was first introduced to chemistry by his best friend, Lloyd Jeffress. After watching Lloyd demonstrate a few small chemical reactions with a homemade chemistry set, his own course was set. Linus  had previously built a small room in the basement of his mother’s boardinghouse to house his mineral collection – this space quickly became his laboratory. Soon he was collecting chemicals and supplies with which to conduct his own “experiments.”

Indeed, academic pursuits often served as Pauling’s escape from his difficult adolescence. At the age of sixteen, he chose to formally pursue an academic career and leave Portland altogether. He moved to Corvallis, Oregon in the fall of 1917 where he enrolled at Oregon Agricultural College. There, he embarked on a course that would eventually earn him two Nobel prizes and worldwide acclaim. It should be remembered, however, that Pauling’s life in Portland shaped much of who he was as a scientist and an activist. His difficult youth instilled in him a work ethic and sense of determination that characterized his career and led to some of the most important scientific developments of the 20th century.

For more information about Linus Pauling and his life in Oregon, visit the Linus Pauling Online portal or check out the other posts in our Oregon 150 series.

Oregon 150