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Skowhegan, Maine




 
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Author Topic: Skowhegan, Maine  (Read 19743 times)
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k4kyv
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Don
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« on: July 06, 2007, 09:13:46 PM »

For some photos of downtown Skowhegan, Maine, check out the story that appeared on the NPR's All Things Considered on 03 July.  Click on the link below for the photos, and then click on "listen" to hear the archived audio feature.

Just in case there is ANY reader here not familiar with Skowhegan, ME, it's the QTH of WA1HLR.

Disappointingly, none of the photos include a shot of HLR Mountain, nor is there any mention of WA1HLR in the audio clip.

Former Mill Town Struggles to Stay Afloat
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Don, K4KYV                                       AMI#5
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2007, 10:09:06 AM »

Good thing Tim has a steady woman now. Smiley

Quote: The town is plagued by high rates of teen pregnancy, drug abuse and domestic violence, according to Mary Jane Clifford.

I don't Know......
I just tried to get a map because I need to go see tim and Mapquest told me I can't get there from here?
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2007, 06:42:13 PM »

Geez,

I had no idea that Skowhegan looked anything like that!!
With a BIG river flowing through the middle of town!!

WOW!

Idiots saying "turn the factory into condos"!!

ARE THEY COMPLETELY OUT OF THEIR MINDS??

THAT's MEGAWATTS OF FREEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeee POWAH!!!

C'mon!

They couldn't "compete"?? Something wrong with the picture. Badly wrong.
I understand it is the same story everywhere in the country, but most other places do NOT have Freee POWAH!!

What would I have done? Bought the factories, the tooling, the machines, and run the plants not to make profit for shareholders elsehwere, but as a 'co-op' intended to A) make quality AMERICAN product(s) and; B) to provide an income for the residents and stability for the town!!

WTF are people thinking about?? (maybe not thinking at all?)

Arrrgh!

WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!

            _-_-bear
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W1GFH
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2007, 06:55:32 PM »

With a BIG river flowing through the middle of town!!
THAT's MEGAWATTS OF FREEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeee POWAH!!!
Connect hydroelectric generators to the falls, build a factory-floor-sized 75 meter transmitter in the old mill, and strap the world?
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W1UJR
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2007, 07:21:06 PM »

Pretty much the story of Maine, there are really two "Maines".

The coastal region is doing very well, thanks to affluent retirees that move into the area, and buy or build big homes on the water. You also get the weekend refugees from Boston, who want a "weekend place" on the Maine coast. This is especially true of Portland and south, although the forces of development have now moved up the coast to my small town of Wiscasset. Old cabins and camps on the water, many without heat or insulation, are now worth half a mil or more, or worse yet are torn down to make way for fancy new homes. Its a boon to folks in the building and service industries, who take care of those with the deep pockets, but a real hardship for the traditional waterfront users like fisherman and those who lobster.

The other part Maine is struggling, old industrial towns like Skowhegan, Lewiston, Auburn, and Waterville. The "old line" business of garments, shoes, and wood products is largely gone, leaving in its wake wonderful but empty old buildings. Buildings that cost a mint to keep up, and a class of good citizens lacking the skills or training to earn a living in other fields of employment. The high instances of teen pregnancy, illegal drugs, and other social ills come from former hard-working folks and their kids trying to adjust to the new reality. Of course this not unique to Maine, its being played out across America, in Detroit, Buffalo, Allentown and Cleveland.

It is really sad to see, and I'm not certain it can be easily corrected without losing a generation or two. All too often the young people leave the state for higher education, and don't return because of the lack of suitable employment. I chuckled at the mention of fancy shops and condos, the average resident of "Skowtown" does not have the disposable income to spend on that, nor would most be inclined to do so. And most folks "from away" want to be by the lakes or ocean...a hard sell indeed. Condos and artist lofts work fine in Boston and NYC, but the "landed gentry" are few and far between once you get 10 or more miles inland.

Even L.L. Bean, once the iconic image of all this is Maine, now largely sells garments, footwear, and many other items built, assembled, or otherwise manufactured "off shore". And the quality is not the same, it just costs less to make. But its not just L.L. Bean, take a look at Wal-Mart, Target, or any of the other large big box stores, "Made in China" is now the rule, rather than the exception. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I do believe that most Americans, if properly informed, would prefer to buy domestically, given equal quality. Of course, explaining the underlying logic behind a "price vs. value" cost analysis is not a Wal-Mart marketing strategy, nor is it in their best interest to educate customers. Sadly, and perhaps ironically, it is the very patrons of said store who are the ones most adversely affected by the "Made in China" syndrome.

In the end, this is nothing new. Once great names like Johnson, Heathkit and National have been replaced with Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu. Same thing, just with a different product. With that said, an understanding of the situation is not the same thing as being pleased by it. Aside from the profound human costs, I'm deeply concerned about the loss of American manufacturing from a strategic, national security, standpoint.


73 Bruce W1UJR

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David, K3TUE
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« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2007, 09:07:33 PM »

[...] there are really two "Maines".

Was that a nod to John Edwards?  Wink  Joking.  Cheesy

With that said, understanding the situation is not the same thing as being pleased by it.
I'm concerned about the loss of American manufacturing from a strategic national security standpoint.

I could not agree more.  But money talks.  And those who do not have the money find it harder to have a say.  It's not impossible to have a say (recent evidence Senate Illegal Immigration Amnesty Bill), but it is harder for those without the green.
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2007, 10:24:40 AM »

...how big is skowhegan?..population, area, etc....
..seems this is a common thing, happening...i do know of a town, creemore ontario, that revitalized with the introduction of a brewery...creemore springs beer is highly sought after, and now there are alot of shops, etc., that were not there before...alot of "city people" come up to this place, to see the brewery, and spend money in the various businesses that are in town....as far as young people, i've read that alot of the crystal meth labs, and problems, are more evident in rural areas, as compared to larger cities, etc....tim...
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k4kyv
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Don
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2007, 02:43:00 AM »

In a lot of ways, what I have seen of rural Maine reminds me of rural Tennessee.  About the same level of poverty, less than high school education, unemployment, welfare, lack of dental care, etc., and many of the houses and mobile homes are in a similar state of disrepair.  And yes, we have the crystal meth labs too. But at least we don't have the black flies or the freezing cold weather and seemingly endless winters.  Many of the country people down here could never survive a Maine winter.

But we have a hell of a lot more QRN than they do in Maine and the rest of New England, plus hot, nasty, poison ivy laden summers with the air so thick and heavy it feels like you could cut it with a knife.
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Don, K4KYV                                       AMI#5
Licensed since 1959 and not happy to be back on AM...    Never got off AM in the first place.

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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2007, 07:57:22 AM »

...don, sunday was dreadful here...abt 95*f, humidity near 100 percent....was like that all day, no breeze,and finally late in the day, t-storms, hail,lots of rain, (which we need),and a twister reported abt 6 miles from me...summer in southern ontario can be very uncomfortable...and u r right, cut the air wid a knife...same wx today, beer sales are way up...tim....sk..
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Ed W1XAW
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2007, 08:44:51 AM »

In a lot of ways, what I have seen of rural Maine reminds me of rural Tennessee.  About the same level of poverty, less than high school education, unemployment, welfare, lack of dental care, etc., and many of the houses and mobile homes are in a similar state of disrepair.  And yes, we have the crystal meth labs too. But at least we don't have the black flies or the freezing cold weather and seemingly endless winters.  Many of the country people down here could never survive a Maine winter.

But we have a hell of a lot more QRN than they do in Maine and the rest of New England, plus hot, nasty, poison ivy laden summers with the air so thick and heavy it feels like you could cut it with a knife.

Hi Don, 

The dismal views of rural Maine expressed  here are biased by a basic misunderstanding of these people.  Rural Mainers have always been highly resourseful people who are amongst the most talented, clever workers in the world.  They survived the depression with very little problem.  They are widely misunderstood by the "Volvos" as the suburban minded transplants are often called.  It's funny to note that people move here for the lifestyle and to get away from CT, MA etc but their first reactions are usually to try to recreate where they come from and their second reaction is to try to stop all further development.  My Dad was a codes inspector after retirement and he called it the "burn the Kittery bridge syndrome." as so many newcomers were completely against development.    They were constantly on him about getting the natives to "tidy up" their yards so it looked more like where they came from. Where I live in South Portland near Cape Elizabeth people have lost most of their accents and its pretty much a New England culture more so than Maine.   Don't worry too much about rural Mainers, its not all bad and they are not some second class of people. 

Ed
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Are FETs supposed to glow like that?


« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2007, 09:53:08 AM »

ayeuuhh, 'sright....
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« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2007, 10:46:36 AM »

Quote
Rural Mainers have always been highly resourceful people who are amongst the most talented, clever workers in the world.  They survived the depression with very little problem.

My folks were children living in rural Maine during the depression. Their respective families were already fairly poor so the collapsed economy had little impact on their lives. Dad said that everyone had a vegetable garden, some hens, a couple pigs and perhaps a milk cow. Food was never a problem. In fact he fondly remembers sharing meals with some of the guys who were riding the rails that ran by the old family farm. They would often stop there willing to lend a hand with some of the chores for a bit of food.

The newcomers to the state often bring with them some interesting attitudes. I clearly recall the young lawyer who lived next door to my folks trying to enlist my dad's help in coercing Tony, the BIW welder who had lived there longer that anyone, to get rid of his old travel trailer and other offending junk that resided in this yard. Needless to say he didn't get any help with that project. I'm not sure how these same people reconcile  their disdain for American made goods, with their concern for the loss of the skills and infrastructure needed to keep heavy manufacturing alive in this country. Perfectly serviceable, high quality products are still produced here but they are all too often rejected for products perceived to be more upscale, imported from Europe and Japan.

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k4kyv
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« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2007, 02:21:55 PM »

Maine natives of French Canadian origin have related that during the 30's and 40's as children, they were forbidden to speak French at school, even amongst their peers on the playground, outside of class.  Every school  had its  "snitches" who would report to the teacher kids who were observed speaking French to each other, and those kids would be punished.  A similar thing happened with the Cajuns in Louisiana.

Farmers around here survived the Depression with no problem, if they had clear ownership of their land and had no debt, or if they "sharecropped" with an honest landowner who wasn't in debt.  They raised their own food, made their own clothes, did their own house repairs and mechanic's work, etc.  They may have had little or no cash on hand, but the family never went hungry.  Neighbours knew each other and helped each other out.

People who lived in cities suffered, as jobs dried up.

Those who lived through the depression brought with them a  strong ethic that many have retained to this day, of "waste not, want not".  They still never throw away anything that might be useful.  I have heard old timers telling about tearing down buildings for the materials, even saving the nails, straightening them with a hammer, and re-using them.

I think maybe a little bit of that mentality exists out of necessity within the AM community, as we keep our old equipment going despite lack of availability of new parts and tubes.

Sadly, the descendants of long time inhabitants of many areas of the country are being driven off their land by "gentrification".  As affluent newcomers move in and buy up land to "develop", property taxes in the area become unaffordable to the "natives" who are forced to sell out and move elsewhere, where affordable housing still exists.  That is a problem around cities like Nashville, and is one of the reasons why it is so hard to find unrestricted property these days, within commuting distance of work, where you can erect antennas without violating zoning laws and/or enduring the wrath of HOA nazis.

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Licensed since 1959 and not happy to be back on AM...    Never got off AM in the first place.

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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2007, 02:43:19 PM »

       " As affluent newcomers move in and buy up land to "develop", property taxes in the area become unaffordable to the "natives" who are forced to sell out and move elsewhere, where affordable housing still exists.  That is a problem around cities like Nashville, and is one of the reasons why it is so hard to find unrestricted property these days, within commuting distance of work, where you can erect antennas without violating zoning laws and/or enduring the wrath of HOA nazis. "

And then complain that the cost of labor is so high.... ..    klc
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WA1GFZ
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2007, 04:47:26 PM »

and the answer to all problems is to raise taxes to drive the poor without good jobs out making way for the classless yuppie.

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Bill, KD0HG
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2007, 05:32:41 PM »

That seems to be a common situation in tourist areas.

Here in Colorado, the cost of living in mountain towns like Aspen and Vail has gotten so outrageous that ski industry workers, cops, firefighters and teachers can't afford to live anywhere near where they work, unless they want to live 5 to an apartment ;-)



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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2007, 07:23:44 PM »

All I can say is Rant Rant Rant because the board nark will bust me.
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wa1knx
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« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2007, 07:44:23 PM »

i grew up in maine. my grandparents were poor, did the depression thing
and saved ever penny, waste not want not. the money has moved in some
older towns near portland, along with the higher taxes, HOA, and the no tresspassing signs.  I am amazed at the wealth of the average people coming up out
of NJ, CT etc. on the islands you have multimillion dollar homes, inland the
natives live in trailers.  but the rich folks bring opertunities for restaurants,
stores, trades, services to serve them
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« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2007, 08:31:56 PM »

True Dean but the pay is so low the service workers can't afford the gas.
 
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KA2PYQ
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2007, 09:01:37 PM »

Sometimes it`s the same down here, though. I had some neighbors
who grew up in the 80`s of all "affluent" times, they were so poor,
two would eat dinner and wash, then the next two, then the last.
They only had two sets of utensils. The big problem as we know, is
waste. As the talking cricket says in the book, "Pinnocchio",
(title`s spelling approximate), "Puppet, I feel sorry for you not because
you are tired and hungry but because you have a wooden head!".
-The puppet picked up a hammer and  cried, "Hush you incessant croaker!"
and smashed the cricket to the wall. The cricket, dying, had only enough
breath to cry, "cree, cree, cree", then expired.
Two things come to mind at present: Altho` I am usually against making
things "illegal", If power landscaping were made illegal, that would do a lot
of obvious good. Also, if power demolition were made illegal too, that
would also do some good, even tho` you`d have to think hard about
what good it is, and I want you to think. Certainly, those who would argue
about emergencies right now are the people who would put cotton in
our mouths and ignite it.
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N3DRB The Derb
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« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2007, 10:25:06 PM »

dont kid yourselves, most of this so called "prosperity"is based off of debt. You can drive a Benz and be b as poor as a house mouse, bu the average guy would never know - and the guy driving the benz is too stupid o know hat if he just got a chevy he would have such payments an could get in front.

Banks and credit card companies, combined with the "reform" of he bankruptcy laws ( which were written by the industry's lawyers and introduced into state houses and Congress, by paid for legislatures) have turned it into a debt based economy.
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flintstone mop
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« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2007, 10:32:46 PM »

That town looks more depressing than the my little city of New Castle Pa. I bet those water falls make a lot of noise. Yup, they should make POWAH and send three phase lectricity to WBCQ.........ha! One of the board operators up there told me that three 50KW transmitters sucking on a 220V single phase source makes for some hot wires. They use extra fat 00000 awg wire, I bet. They (Some dump of a N.E. Electric company) had to install a regulator station so the lights wouldn't dim in Monticello when Allan hits the Plate On switch. They will not run three phase wires one mile to the transmitter site.
Fred
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« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2007, 06:41:04 AM »

An interesting novel about inland Maine is THE BEANS OF EGYPT MAINE.  I read it a long time ago.  Kinda like TOBACCO ROAD in a way. 

I remember one time going to West Athens, Maine with Timtron to watch the Fourth of July parade.  It was amusing but somewhat bizarre.  A commune called "Creep City" consisting of a cluster of burnt-out big-city Hippies from the Sixties conducts the parade through what passes as a town.  The locals are often more of a show than the parade.  West Athens is known for selective inbreeding.  Ayuh!

Vermont has regions similar to inland Maine as well.  The influx of "flat-landers" supposedly with buckolas, deep pockets and a big line of credit have been having the same effect.  Once they have taken root some of them set about trying to change the way things have always been and import more of their ilk to back them up and to service their needs.  Often this is to the exclusion and detriment of the locals and drives up the costs for everyone. 

As an example, the costs for automobile repairs.  Yuppie-mobiles need special tools to fix and better-than-average mechanics to work on their complexities so some opportunist opens a business to cater to their need.  The hourly labor rate here in the Yup-mobile shop is $75.00 an hour.  Then the dealerships and the other repair shops raise their rates because they now can.  One shop went from $40.00 to $70.00 an hour in two years.  Fortunately there are still some "back yard" mechanics who work under the radar, so to speak, and their rates are still somewhat reasonable.  However they cannot afford to purchase the expensive tooling so they are pretty much limited in what they can do.  On occasion they have to take a customer's car to the dealer for some special work or analysis.

It is easy to see the divergence between the locals and the "summer people".  Just go to the annual Town Meeting.  If you don't live in New England, Town Meeting is probably the last bastion of true democracy left in this country today. If you are registered as a voter and show up you can discuss issues, ask questions, introduce motions and vote.

Every year the same issue presents itself.  The locals want to keep things the way they have been for hundreds of years, voting in person by a show of hands.  On the other hand, the people from "away" want to change the voting to "Australian Ballot" which is a paper ballot and provides for absentee voting so showing up at the meeting isn't required. Thus, so far the locals have maintained the status quo and I hope that this will prevail.  As a parent with a child in public school it is important the school budget be passed.  However, "they" don't have kids in school and all it means to them is higher taxes.  Sometimes the more they have the greedier they are.

Problem with most people who move to places like Maine, NH, Vermont is that they want to change things and the locals don't. 

Sometimes it's the same with ham radio.  The "newbies" often want to change it to suit themselves and the "Old Buzzards" generally like it the way it is.  Sound familiar?

73,

MisterMike, W1RC

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KA1ZGC
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« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2007, 03:31:55 PM »

I was born in Bangor, Maine; lived in Old Town, Maine until age 14, then moved to Albion, Maine. I worked at WTOS (when it was still) in Skowhegan as well as many jobs in Augusta, Rockland, Bangor, Waterville and others, and am acutely familiar with the different issues facing different regions of this beautiful state.

Skowhegan, like many cities in Maine, was originally a mill town. Logs would be floated down the Kennebec River to be milled in Skowhegan. The same was true of my home town of Old Town, just a different river.

Over time, the focus shifted from logging to paper; again, like many cities in Maine. Pretty much every city or town founded on logging grew a paper mill eventually.

Well, the paper industry is dying. Some would say this is a good thing, but those people didn't come here to see how vital the industry was for this state for so many decades. As a result, the lumber and rail industries are vanishing from this state. All that's left for income is farming and tourism. The fishing industry is much smaller than you might expect.

Farming doesn't pay squat, and the only people capitalizing from tourism are the ones who can afford the heavy tax burden one incurs in tourist-rich areas. Since that area is restricted to about 2/3 of Maine's coastline, the few fishermen who aren't already selling their catch in Massachusetts are finding themselves hard pressed to continue living where their families have fished for generations.

Since uttering "big business" is a major faux pas in this state, the end result is akin to keeping the living room spic-n-span and stocked with caviar while the children starve in filth in the back bedroom. Many consecutive administrations: democrat, republican, and even an independent, have kept the government's primary focus on promotion of tourism. This means locking the infrastucture into a static state (no improvements, no acommodation for growth, only repairs) to keep the people driving over the Piscataqua River Bridge every year to peer in amusement at all the adorable little poor people.

Drugs? Crime? Teenage pregnancy? Ayuh, welcome to Maine: The Way Life Never Was. The only hope we were ever born with was changing the linens of the rich and famous, or moving the hell out like most of my generation has. Careless sex, crime, and substance abuse are the end products of a lack of hope; be it in the urban jungle, or in rural Maine. Skowhegan is no better or worse than any non-coastal (or extreme eastern coastal) community in Maine.

So please, come to Maine and visit some time. Eat a lobster, buy some chintzy pinecone souvenir, and enjoy yourself. Just remember: we're the ones paying for it all.

It's a beautiful place to visit, but you don't want to live here.

--Thom
Kilimanjaro Africa One Zulu Goat Cheese
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k4kyv
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« Reply #24 on: July 10, 2007, 04:04:43 PM »

My last time in Portland was back in the 70's just as it was being geared up for the tourist industry, and it was being turned into "convention city".

I recall seeing signs in many of the windows that read "Stop Neighborhood Destruction", as entire blocks were being levelled to build hotels and other attractions designed to bring in "the money".
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Don, K4KYV                                       AMI#5
Licensed since 1959 and not happy to be back on AM...    Never got off AM in the first place.

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