George and Mae Babbitt

Oral history interview done on Feb. 26, 2010 by Elaine Shreve

Mae and George Babbitt, 2011

Mae and George Babbitt, 2010

George and Mae Babbitt moved to Garden Home in January of 1950. George served in the Army Air Force in WWII and moved to Oregon in a 1932 Ford coupe. George’s grandparents had purchased the Canfield property at 7611 SW Alden in 1949 for $3,400 and George and Mae moved in with them in 1950. The grandparents had bought a “stump” ranch near Elk City, OR on the Yaquina River on the coast to get away from the smog of L.A. George and Mae had spirited differences in some of the recall details for this history.

George began his George Babbitt Plumbing business in 1953. In 1969 he built a large shop on the back of the property for his business and continues working although he sold the business in November of 2009.  He does mostly residential plumbing and has solved plumbing problems all over Garden Home. George says Alden was previously labeled Alden Road.

George and Mae first moved to the “Canfield” house which is next door to their current home. The Canfield house was built in 1915 by the Methodist Circuit Rider preacher. The name Canfield reflects the people who lived there from 1928 to 1949. Originally the Canfield house was number 7611 but George assigned that number to the business shop in 1977 and gave the house the 7607 number.

In 1951 George and his grandparents built another house on the lot, 7609, which contains garages below and an apartment above. The grandparents then moved into this apartment and George and Mae continued in the Canfield house. They own all of this property. (The tax rolls reflect only the 7611 property combining the shop and the Canfield house in one tax lot and not separating out the 7607 Canfield house.) The Canfield house is rented to a family member.

The Babbitts currently live next door at 7601 and bought this property in 1975 from Gordon and Alice Banker. This house was originally a barn which was moved to the current location in 1934. George and Mae lived in Beaverton for 14 years and then moved back to this property in 1990.

The Canfield house had just a cold water faucet over a little sink that drained out into the yard. The outhouse was outback (photo).  The house was heated with a wood range in the kitchen and a little wood stove in the living room where the stairs go up now.  They were steep and went up from the kitchen.   (See photos with Grandma Mabel Ford Babbitt on the front porch).  They had a well under the back porch and they didn’t know about it until a puppy fell through the boards on top.  Sometimes the sewage came up in the downstairs toilet when the bathtub was drained  and they had to wait for that to subside (septic system).

Canfield House

Canfield House.
Courtesy George and Mae Babbitt. See post.

George dug a partial basement to the Canfield house in the 1960s. He first jacked up the side of the house that was eight inches off level and then placed concrete block under that section and then around the house. He started in with a shovel and a bucket and a kid’s wagon attached to a pulley rope, then building a ramp and using the little wagon to haul dirt out. Any kid he could get to help haul the dirt speeded things along. Finally the whole basement was dug with a shovel. Alex Bergeron then came and poured the cement basement walls and floor.

The Babbitt’s current house at 7601 was formerly a barn that was moved from the next lot in about 1934. Gordon and Alice Banker moved here in the 1949. Gordon also dug a basement under this home by using an electric motor and conveyor belt to discharge the soil into a wheelbarrow. He then placed the furnace and hot water heater in the basement allowing more space on the main floor.

All four of the Babbitt kids went to Garden Home School. Their children were: Robert, Twanda, Steven, and Carole. Their son Robert went through school with the last 8th grade class at the school. Wayne Thurman was the principal of the school in the 1950s and 1960s and his secretary was Bobbie Henderson. Mr. Gustafson (1913-2002) was principal later. After retirement  Mr. Thurman fell off his own roof and lost all of his memory.  His wife Hannah had to teach him everything all over again. George and Mae  liked having their own school district and was sorry to see it combined with the Beaverton Union School District #48.

George says that the zoning changes on Alden; on his north side, they are able to have horses or cows but not on the south side. George worked for Perry Warren in Portland and one of his early jobs was to put showers in the basement of the Garden Home School.  As George listened to the children practicing for the Christmas program, he decided Garden Home was where he wanted to live.

Mae was busy raising four children and keeping books for the plumbing business.  She drove and did her grocery shopping at the Safeway in Tigard and the Burlingame Fred Meyer and then at Lamb’s Thriftway when that was built in 1957.  Mae did not use the cannery except for one time when she sent nuts to a son in the service.   The Post Office was in the back of Gus Johnson’s service station in Garden Home where the current station is located.  When the children were older, Mae worked for an attorney and various businesses.

Mrs. Harriett Krom  was part owner of the Garden Home Enterprises  who owned and built the Thriftway shopping center at the northeast corner of Garden Home Road and Oleson Road. The Krom children attended Garden Home School. The Krom house was south on Oleson Road and still standing. The Krom’s turned the garage into a bedroom and that’s where the son Don stayed.

The large Throckmorton store was painted green. It burned in the about 1957. Scotty’s building housed Roy’s auto body shop and Ray Wilson’s barber shop.

The first Garden Home School was on the second floor of the Throckmorton’s store.

The Garden Home Park began sometime after the 1950s.

In the 1960s there was discussion of Garden Home becoming a city and one neighbor asked George to run to be the Mayor.  He refused citing the extra taxes and all the details that had not been considered.

At one time, the business group headed by Don Prairie wanted the school kids to write up mottos and slogans to promote the businesses. But this was not completed.

George was instrumental in getting the community on sewers in the early 1960s. Prior to that time, people were on their own septic systems with a house having a septic tank and a drain field in the yard.  This was possible due to the large pieces of property. George felt that the whole system could be installed quite economically if a gravity drainage system was used, up Garden Home Road to the County line being the higher sections and it all could drain downhill and out Dakota street to the south and on toward Tigard.  Some areas were not eligible because they were lower and would have to be pumped into this system at this time.  Later another sewage treatment plant was located where Fanno Creek crosses  92nd. (92nd was called Whitford Road.) This plant drained the Vista Brook and residential areas to the west. After treatment, the water was released into Fanno Creek.

Don Prairie was a retired service man and was building houses in the area. The Board asked George to approach him and ask him to be a sewer commissioner. He turned it down at first and then changed his mind later becoming the head of sewer construction. They had a meeting at the school gym with a full house and George was not scheduled to speak. But when a local attorney got up and downgraded the plan, George jumped up and told why he was wrong and told why the sewer could not economically cover the same boundaries as the water district. The sewer passed on vote and George has always felt the sewer was the best thing he did for his community. Before this meeting, George would go from door to door  to collect $1 and try to encourage a positive vote to show he had community support. The first sewage system in Garden Home was built for about $750 on average per home to get the branch line to the residence property line. Another fee was necessary to provide the hookup to the home which was a fraction of the cost today. Bill Burton may be the only Sewer Commissioner still living in 1010.

The Canfield house, 7611 SW Alden.  Grandma Mabel Ford Babbitt on the front porch. The house number was changed in 1977 when the 7611 was applied to the Plumbing shop on the back of the lot. The new number of 7607 was then applied to this house that was built in 1915 as the Circuit Rider’s home for Methodist preachers.

George recalls other people in the area: Gus Johnson who had the service station. His daughter  Dorothy became Miss Oregon 1955. Gus was a fine man and very honest, hard worker.

Ron and Maxine Hazelette who lived in the big house north of current Shari’s. The log cabin in the lot south of this on Oleson was built in the 1950s and torn down in 2009. (photo)

Amos and Alice Spriggel, both deceased. His father was instrumental in beginning McKay School. His daughter lives near the rock business off Denney road. Alice was a Denney and Denney road was named for her grandfather.

Larry Olson – his parents moved here in 1929.

Jim Oulis from Greece had a grocery store in Raleigh Hills. His son George and wife whose maiden name was Trainer was voted the most beautiful girl at Beaverton High School

Mr. Whitney continued to sell canned food to schools after the Cannery closed. Frank Comella was working at the Piggly Wiggly in Progress before he moved into Leona Whitney’s cannery and created a fresh fruit and vegetable store.  Kind of the forerunner of the current Farmers’ Markets.

Eunice Scofield lived on 74th, home is still there. Pearl Mundin lived across the street from her and had a home filled with shelves and cases full of all kinds of collections.

Gordon and Alice Banker.  He was a state brand inspector in agriculture. Alice was an LPN. They bought 7601 S.W. Alden and lived there until both had died.

Alice’s and Elmer’s Ice Cream Parlour applied for a beer license to much uproar. They did receive it after the uproar died down.

Marvin and Betty Albaugh with 2 children. They lived in what was later the Breshnaham house on Alden.

Leslie and Margaret Smith and 3 children. Margaret now lives on SW Evelyn Street.

The Smiths, Smitty’s parents lived in a white farm house on the north side of Alden, possibly the old Summerfield place, about 3 houses east from 80th.

Leonard and Maryetta Adams with 2 boys.

Walt and Betty Aplanalp  had two children Vickie and Walt Jr. and possibly a younger girl. They lived on Greenwood Drive.

The Cullens lived across the street on the corner of Greenwood. They had a grandson Ronald who lived with them part-time after his dad fell off a tug boat in the river.

Gene and Peggy Cobb with their 4 children lived where the Rennee live now.

Kay and Hollis Morris with with Kay’s 2 kids. They bought the old Summerfield house, the farm house between George’s and 80th.

Jim and Elaine Matterson with Julie and Janet.

Kenney and Phyllis Hewlet and Janice who kept a horse and a monkey.

Hank and Kitty Renee with 3 kids, bought the Cobb house.

Jack and Delores May with their 5 children, good neighbors

Glen Reynolds and wife bought the little garage house from the Clelands.

Tom and Lily Cleland with Edith. Lily has died.

Mrs. Stider who the kids called Mrs. Spider, the kids liked her.

Bob and Midge Anderson and twins Ronald and Patsy.

The Adlers lived on the corner in a prefab house.

Oscar Jacokes and wife lived up the street.  He was the school janitor.

Jerry and Caroline Philips bought the Hacket house with their two girls, from the Coxes.

Stan and Vie Cox and 3 kids.  Their daughter kept histories.

Polly Stady had a home on Garden Lane, her son is a chiropractor in Beaverton.

Ken Waddell was the Superintendent of the Metzger Water District that served Garden Home in the 1960s. The Beaverton Fire Department served the area.

The Powell Kennels were between 71st and 74th on Alden.  People could board their pets as needed.  Dorothy Powell Meisner and her son Tom Meisner (lives in Albany) were well known.

Jackie Upchurch married into the Upchurch family who had the store.  Jackie’s husband was killed in a trucking accident. His parents owned the Upchurch store.

Jack and Doris May.

At George’s house, Mae Babbitt planted the huge redwood tree when it was a tiny sapling and it has now destroyed the concrete driveway.

Mrs. Hale lived at the grocery store east up G.H. Road where the streetcar tracks divided from Portland.

Bill DeWitt was the Water Commisioner before Ken Waddell.

Lou and Marge Russell lived on Mayo Street, they had horses. Marg was a Frank. Lou had major interest in a barge company. They made the down payment for the first school bus. Mr. Russell also paid for the tennis courts at the school. Marge later married a John Crist and lives in Beaverton.

Boyd and Lois Wilson lived on 71st, had three daughters. Boyd’s father Gaylord and mother lived next door and raised two grandsons, the Owen brothers. Gaylord raised his three sons to be plumbers. He knew his trade real well.

Adele Newton lived across the street on Alden and raised three daughters and a son.

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2 Responses to George and Mae Babbitt

  1. Tom Shrader says:

    Neighbors just heard that the Babbitt home has been sold and will be torn down and replaced with three new homes. The wrecking ball comes again to garden home.

  2. Pingback: George Nobel Babbitt and Mae Babbitt obituary | Garden Home History Project

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