Monday, July 05, 2010


A park in southeast Portland (at the intersection of Taylor and 17th) is named for Colonel Owen Summers.  Colonel Summers commanded the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry in the Spanish American War.  He and the 2nd Oregon took part in suppressing the Philippine Insurrection, as well.

Having read Professor Zinn, I'm not inclined to view service in those conflicts favorably.  Those were misguided, imperialistic wars and nothing to be proud of.  But, according to the account written by Buck Private Joseph DeBurgh, a volunteer from Portland, it sounds as if 2nd Oregon performed admirably, that they were as humane as could be expected.  Second Oregon was nowhere near the Moro Crater Massacre.  I choose to believe that, had they been there, they would have done what they could to prevent it.  I'm that way about Oregonians.

Owen Summers
From what I have read about Colonel Summers (1850-1911), he wasn't a bad fellow either. A state legislator, a business man:  local boy does good.  He was orphaned at the tender age of seven, in Illinois.  He enlisted in the service of the Union against the Confederacy at 14 years of age.  Eventually, he settled in Portland.

There was a guy snoozing on the grass outside the fence at the Clinton Community Garden.  I imagine he was just passing through.  He and his dog had pulled up for a snooze in the grass.  It was a cool, gray day, but they had a nice napping spot, right in the middle of the lawn so that when the sun broke through, they got full benefit.  He was laying on his side in the grass, with his baseball cap over his face and his arm around his dog, who was zonked as well. 

I don't suppose anyone is much likely to name a park for that guy and his dog.

Nor for me, either.  C'est la vie, non?  I bequeath fleeting history to Colonel Wilson; he may have that for me.  My heart was more with the guy and his dog, catching some zees in the open air.

1 comment:

Dan Binmore said...

I loved this post, one of my all-time favorites of yours. It was great to read someone articulate my thoughts that the people who should be lauded are precisely the ones who didn't go around killing people.