Reed magazine welcomes letters from readers concerning the contents of the magazine or issues relating to the college. Letters must be signed and may be edited for clarity and space. Our email address is email@example.com.
The night student at Finley's Mortuary
From Frank Christiansen '60
It was with some interest that I read of Charles Pailthorp '62 and Dr. Demento [Barry Hansen '63] residing (and working) at A.J. Rose and Sons ["Remembering Reed Houses," November '96]. I believe I pioneered those particular digs, living there from summer of '57 till graduation in '60. I "dug up" the accommodations after being given the idea from Reedie Paul Choban '54, who was a "night student" at Finley's Mortuary. Fellow Reed students Joe Colony '59, Noel Reiniger '60, and Charles Edgar '60 shared the job over that time. A.J. Rose built the mortuary in 1913 and was still running the place (at 80 years old) while I was there--the son had died many years earlier. We had the opportunity to earn extra money by performing other functions--I was a paid pallbearer and made "first calls" (collecting the customer) at $10 a throw--pretty good money back then. Joe Colony and I would occasionally converge on a partially occupied table in the commons at lunch and discuss mortuary business--made us popular lunchtime companions.
Reed houses and instant weddings
From Eli Leon '57
I enjoyed "Remembering Reed Houses" and "The End of an Era," your articles about off-campus, mixed-gender, co-op living situations at Reed. Such arrangements, later generations may be surprised to learn, existed at least as far back as the fifties, although they would never have been acknowledged, certainly not in print, at that time. Those of us who chose them, indeed, understood that, although the college would turn a blind eye if we stayed out of trouble, should we bring ourselves to the attention of the authorities--by neighbors reporting loud parties to the police, for example--we would automatically be expelled from school. Not to discourage local financial support, the word was, Reed needed to maintain credibility in a community ever ready to believe we were, as rumor had it, a hotbed of atheism, communism, and free love.
The Zoo, as our non-conformist crew and motley associates called our multispecies abode and hangout, was a two-story house, with a habitable attic, on McLoughlin Boulevard. Six of us (40 years later, three are still friends of mine and I'm sorry to have lost touch with the other two) rented it originally, but four more had moved in, mostly in conjunction with romantic attachments, by the time my partner and I fled, with another couple and a fifth inhabitant, in a surprise exodus, to find new quarters, thereafter referred to as Steele Street. A rift had developed, leading a non-student resident, the only such oddity on the premises, to threaten to turn us in to the vice squad, a--perhaps mythical--arm of the establishment that was believed to conduct raids in the middle of the night. Our special vulnerability, and one that would follow us wherever we went, was that we were cohabiting, unmarried Reedies. To remedy this situation, amidst our hurried moving preparations, we took the morning off, hopped over to Vancouver, where no blood test or waiting period was required, and had ourselves an instant, no-frills, double wedding.
Our sudden departure, I've today been informed by one of those who stayed behind, was a financial disaster for the remaining tenants, whose rent rocketed from $12.50 to $25 a month. The following year, however, after I'd graduated and left town, both houses were still going strong. If my recollection is correct, there was another group living off campus at the time, who called their residence "the Fishmarket."