Over the years, the capital city has played host to everyone
from movie stars to presidents
Baseball legend Hank Aaron once spent the night in Salem before
an autograph show at a local bed-and breakfast. Charles Lindbergh
flew by in his "Spirit of St. Louis" in 1927 and
tipped the aircrafts wings to the city, and several
presidents and wanna-be presidents have campaigned in the
In the past 150 years, the Capital Journal, The Oregon Statesman,
and the Statesman Journal newspapers have documented the visits
of noted personalities, from womens suffrage leader
Susan B. Anthony to movie stars Bruce Willis and Billy Bob
Thornton in the summer of 2001. Michael Moore promoted his
documentary concerning the Iraq War in 2004 to a packed crowd
at the Salem Armory encouraging those in attendance to vote
in the National election.
Susan B. Anthony, then 41, spent several weeks in Oregon
in 1871, and several days in the Salem area drumming up support
for womens suffrage, which was still almost 50 years
away.She camped out at the Oregon State Fair with local womens
rights leader Abigail S. Duniway. The two women traveled throughout
the Willamette Valley by stagecoach and even horseback to
campaign for a womans right to vote.
According to a Sept. 17, 1871, The Oregon Statesman report
on Anthonys speech at the Reed Opera House:"People
may have expected that a champion of the new movement would
be something of a scold, but the tones in which she did her
scolding - - for she scold all of mankind at a terrible rate
- - were decorous and womanly, so much so that the effect
of her lectures was greatly enhanced by the admirable manner
and apparent good taste of their delivery."
"...We believe that when the first effect of her appearance
wears away the women of Oregon will realize that while she
told many truths and told them well, she treated their own
husbands and fathers unfairly."
Harry S. Truman stopped in Salem on a trip to view the deadly
Columbia River Flood of 1948. Unable to lad his personal plane,
"The Independence," in Portland, Truman landed at
McNary Field on June 11. "This is some son of a bitch
flood, isnt it?" Truman said to Salem Mayor Robert
L. Elfstrom Sr.The mayor agreed.
Trumans stay in Salem was brief. He boarded a car for
the drive to Portland, but on the way through downtown, the
green convertible he was in stopped to allow the president
to stand wave his hat at the crowd.Jack Nicholson came to
Salem in the spring of 1975 to star as R.P. McMurphy in the
film, "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest." The
movie, shot in part at the Oregon State Hospital and in Newport,
earned Nicholson his second Academy Award for best Actor.An
Oct. 3, 1975, article by Oregon Statesman Reporter Ron Cowan
previewed an advance screening of the film in Salem.
"I have very good feelings about Oregon," Nicholson
said. "Im going to direct a film in Oregon next
year." The film, based on the western novel, "Moon
Trap" by Don Berry, was never made.Willamette University
football and country singer/actress Dolly Parton may not seem
like a natural fit, but somehow the Country Music Hall of
Fame found herself leading cheers for the Bearcats alumni
football team in September, 1989. She attended the game as
a friend of her business-associate Heine Fountain, a Willamette
alumni who was coaching the alums. "I just love this
part of the country," she told a reporter. "Its
always beautiful, and the people are always nice."
Perhaps Salems best-known former resident, Herbert Hoover,
became the 31st president of the United States in 1929. Hoover
spent just three years in Salem, but his later fame made him
forever a favorite son. Orphaned before his 10th birthday,
the Iowa native was sent to live in Newberg with is uncle.
In 1889, his uncle opened a land-settlement office in Salem,
and the family moved into a house at Hazel and Highland Avenues
NE.According to remembrances of Hoover Published in the Capital
Journal, he was a quiet, serious teenager with few close friends
and an intense appreciation for the outdoors. He was introduced
to literature by local educator Jennie Gray. Hoover said Gray
had the greatest influence on his life. With Grays help,
Hoover left Salem in 1891 to attend Stanford University.Hoover
returned to Salem several times.
In 1955, upon his return for an 81st birthday party and dedication
of his Newberg home, he was met at McNary Field by only a
Statesman photographer and reporter. Hoover then checked in
to the Senator Hotel, located where Courthouse Square now
stands, and was warmly received the next day on his way to
Newberg by car.
A little bit of Hoover still remains in Salem, according to
local legend. The initials "H.H.," carved while
he was a teen, were found on a brick wall outside of what
was then Lincoln Wades grocery store. The building now
houses Boones Treasury.
Compiled by Cynthia Harvey
Capital Journal newspaper, June 1972, special supplement on
Salem's past and future.
Statesman Journal newspaper, April, 2001, special 150th anniversary