Capturing the Past

As a company known for preserving the history of our locations through images, artwork, articles, events and more, people often contact us with information or artifacts or photos they want to give to McMenamins. All of these things help us present and tell the stories of each property. Not to mention it’s lot of fun hearing people’s stories.

You may have experienced this while on the job — someone walks into your hotel or pub and wants to tell you about their connection with the location? When in doubt (or when in the weeds with no time to chat), please feel free to refer them to us here in the History Department. The address is easy to remember:  past@mcmenamins.com  We’ll follow up.

This past week, sales manager Beth Borts-Aguilar had a very cool experience with a former Kennedy School student. Thanks, Beth, for spending time with this special guest, gathering the facts and getting some fantastic images for us – here’s her account:

“Dona May Bertsch attended the Kennedy School in the 1930s. Her family owned and ran Wilson’s Grocery, located nearby. In fact, Dona, her father and her grandfather are shown in a photo that is hung in the hallway near the Gym (a detail from the image, Dona at left).

I asked if I could take her photo and she obliged.

Dona shared memories of her time here. She explained that during the Depression, Kennedy School had little money, so her family gave the school food to prepare in home economics class.

She also told me a story of one afternoon when she saw her mother giving away Dona’s clothes to neighborhood children. Dona cried and asked her mother why she would do such a thing? Her mother marched her up the street and showed her the nearby families that had no clothes and nothing to eat. She said that moment changed her life. She has tried to be a “giver” since then.

It was so fascinating talking with Dona and her son, Joe. They are planning on holding Dona’s 90th birthday here in March, which I am helping them with.”

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