Candidate's Statement, 2000 Oregon Voter's Pamphlet
Occupation: Poet and writer.
Occupational Background: Free-lance writer; Vice President, Cap Hedges & Associates, Portland ad agency; Press Relations Manager, Boise Cascade Corp.; Public Relations Manager, Dawson Turner & Jenkins, Portland ad agency; Public Information Director, First National Bank of Oregon; Assistant Director, Reed College Information Services; reporter and columnist, Oregon City Enterprise-Courier.
Educational Background: West Linn High School, 1950-51; Lake Oswego High School, graduated 1954; Oregon State University, 1954-57; Portland State University, B.S., 1959; University of Oregon Division of Continuing Education, 1960-62.
Prior Governmental Experience: Member, Metropolitan Human Rights Commission Diversity Committee, 1993-94; Assistant to Portland City Commissioner Dick Bogle, 1986-93; Assistant to Majority Leader Ed Lindquist, Oregon House of Representatives, 1975-76; Assistant to Majority Leader Les AuCoin, Oregon House, 1973; Assistant to Multnomah County Commissioner Mel Gordon, 1971-72; Assistant Director, Oregon Travel Information, 1960-61.
Community Involvement: President, Oregon State Poetry Association; board member, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission; charter member, Alternatives to Growth Oregon; past board, Bolton-Cedar Oak Park PTA, Portland Youth Advocates, McLoughlin Memorial Association (McLoughlin House), Albina Art Center, Portland Opera Association, Portland Poetry Festival; much more!
Sick of slick politicians? Me too. How can one poet effect change? Walt Whitman wrote of "passion, pulse, and power." Send me to Salem and watch the sparks fly!
I will not compromise my integrity. Thorn promotes growth at any cost. Krummel buckles under pressure and breaks his word. Peas from the same pod. Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Tom McCall is my guiding light. I share his passion for preserving this special place we call Oregon, his vision of a livable future for our children.
Kids first! As your State Representative, I will hold every action to the yardstick of how it affects children, now and for generations to come.
A popular revolution's afoot. Join! Give me your vote. Make "Kids first!" the District 27 battle cry.
Let's go get 'em, people!
[All right, maybe it was too big a bite for voters to chew on, much less swallow. But I was sincere. Problem was, the Democratic Party was obliged to endorse my Primary opponent because she was the County Central Committee chair, and the long-time Mayor of West Linn. The main reason I filed for office was to present an alternative. My opponent talked out of both sides of her mouth on growth issues. I pointed that out. The only group that had the courage to endorse me was the Clackamas County chapter of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, 9-0, after asking themselves the question, "What would we do if John Muir sat here asking for our endorsement?" They called me an "environmental warrior," the highest compliment I've ever received. But the OLCV's silk-suited lobbyist, Stephen Kafoury, convened a meeting on behalf of the state board to talk some sense into their heads, and, under heavy pressure, they un-endorsed me. Actually, they co-endorsed me and my opponent, and I declined, even though I knew the OLCV would then be free to throw its resources, including phone banks and mailings, against me. The OLCV's credibility dropped to zero in my eyes. Several other special interest organizations found me to be 100 percent on their issues, whereas my opponent was 50 percent. So why did they endorse her? She had money in the bank, and I didn't. No one would give me money because I didn't have money in the bank. Yossarian would have chuckled over that one. The Oregonian editorial board could spare only a wet-behind-the-ears intern to interview me. I was described in the editorial endorsing my opponent as "a former advertising executive," but there was no mention of my wide political experience, including work as a paid professional on more than 60 political campaigns dating back to 1968. With less than $2,000 to spend, and no rich friends to tap, I still managed to grab 40 percent of the vote. My opponent was stunned, expecting nothing short of a landslide. She was wiped out in the General. I felt great. Democracy in action!]
David Hedges of West Linn is honored for contributing to Oregon's literary richness
By Janet Goetze
David Hedges got good grades on English exercises, but he hated writing.
Then Laurence Pratt, a poet who taught English at Lake Oswego High School in the 1950s, walked into his classroom, and Hedges' life changed.
Hedges started writing poetry. And over the years, he's encouraged Oregonians of all ages to share the events in their lives through poetry, too.
Today (November 13, 2003), the 66-year-old will receive the Stewart H. Holbrook Award for Outstanding Contributions to Oregon's Literary Life at the Oregon Book Awards ceremony.
"Poetry is in everyone," Hedges said after a sunny morning in his West Linn garden, where he often gains inspiration for his writing. "All people have the same experiences that poets have.
"That's why they identify with poetry. They haven't tried to commit it to paper yet, but all the same emotions are there.”
Hedges was president of the Oregon State Poetry Association between 1997 and 2002. Much of his work was aimed at young people, said Jan Veile, vice president of the organization.
He helped revive a student poetry contest that has drawn entries from all 36 Oregon counties, Veile said. The winners receive medals—just like top student athletes.
Hedges also secured funding for the Family Poetry (Workshop) Project, sponsored by the poetry association and the Oregon Center for the Book (at the Oregon State Library). For seven years, the project sent Oregon poets to rural libraries, from Alsea to Enterprise. Mentors—parents, teachers, grandparents or neighbors—spent a day writing poetry with children and assembling their work in small books.
"The adults who have been mentors sometimes go to help a kid have a writing experience, but then they see the world in a different way," Hedges said. "They come out as poets, too. They realize they have poetry in themselves."
Hedges worked to increase the membership of the state poetry association from fewer than 100 to more than 400 people over the past half-dozen years, Veile said, and Hedges himself is part of the attraction.
"With his long, white beard, he's unforgettable," she said. "And he is very approachable. He can talk to the well-known poet and to the beginning poet who is trying to learn the craft."
He's willing to work hard on projects, too, said Jim Scheppke, the Oregon State librarian, who was one of those who nominated Hedges for the Holbrook award.
Scheppke, who worked with Hedges on the Family Poetry Project, said it was "a grand success, in large part because of David's insight into the poetry community in Oregon, his knowledge of which poets would be appropriate for this kind of project and his incredible hard work."
In addition to the poetry association, Hedges has served on the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission since 1988. He also has served on panels (approving) grants for Regional Arts & Culture Council projects.
Along the way, Hedges has continued to write poetry. He's won more than 100 awards and has produced three small books of poems plus a book of political satire in rhymed verse, titled Petty Frogs on the Potomac. He says he most often writes narrative poetry with rhyme and meter.
Poetry magazine is scheduled to publish one of Hedges' poems later this year. That's an event most local poets can only dream about, said Marianne Klekacz, his successor as president of the state poetry association.
What turned young Hedges, then an aspiring geologist, into a poet at the age of 15 was the voice of Pratt, a founder of the Oregon State Poetry Association in 1956 and its predecessor, the Verseweavers Poetry Society of Portland, formed in 1936.
"He walked into the classroom and, without any fuss or bother, started reciting Beowulf in Old English," Hedges said. "His voice hooked me."
By the time he graduated, Hedges had had a poem published in the National High School Poetry Anthology. He went on to study geology at Oregon State University anyway.
After three years, he realized he wasn't a scientist after all. He left school, moved to New York and wrote poems in Greenwich Village while trying to find a job. Later, he completed a liberal arts degree at Portland State University.
Hedges hasn't spent his adult life exclusively in meter and rhyme: He once made his living in politics and prose. He was a reporter and columnist for the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier and a writer and editor for several public relations agencies. He also was a public information officer for a college, a bank, Multnomah County Commissioner Mel Gordon, Les AuCoin when he was the Oregon House majority leader, and Portland City Commissioner Dick Bogle.
He's mounted some personal crusades, too, including saving the Canemah Bluff above Willamette Falls from development.
His ancestors settled in the area, Hedges said, and most of them are buried in the cemetery not far from the scenic bluff. He joined with several groups in questioning whether the Oregon City council had examined the historic and scenic values of the property, as state rules require, before approving development plans.
A developer eventually dropped his plans for the bluff, and Metro purchased the land with funds approved for open spaces.
Hedges, like a lot of writers, had been working on a novel for several years when he decided to take the time to finish it in 1992.
"Six weeks later," he said, "I was creamed in an automobile accident."
For nearly three years he couldn't write at all as he dealt with pain and rehabilitation. His wife, Scottie Sterrett, an administrative assistant to the president of Portland Community College, and their six children (by previous marriages), helped him through his ordeal.
"When I started getting my energy back," he said, "I saw a need to get the Oregon State Poetry Association back on its feet."
He volunteered to serve as president for a year and stayed for six. He stepped down as president last year, but he's still on the board.
Hedges hopes to continue inspiring new poets, but he doesn’t want to see students pressured into reading poetry.
"If you don't force kids to appreciate poetry," he said, "they will."
[Published in The Oregonian on November 13, 2003. Photo by Robert Bach, The Oregonian]
In the summer of 1949, as a city kid transplanted into what was then "the country" between Lake Grove and Tualatin, I found myself faced with a mystery more challenging than any my fertile imagination had yet conceived.
Why, I wondered, did so many ragged old men come calling, hat in hand, to inquire if there were any odd jobs to be performed for a hot meal?
For one thing, the mile between my house and the railroad tracks seemed a long distance to walk on a muggy afternoon if the prospects of a meal were no better than fifty-fifty. Even more puzzling was the fact that not once had I ever seen one of these strangers stop at any of the half dozen or so other houses in my neighborhood.
The riddle might have remained unsolved to this day had it not been for a series of events one particularly hot July afternoon, events that opened a fascinating new world and led to high adventure of a sort most 12-year-old boys find only in books and movies.
It all began when a silver-haired gentleman rapped on the back door and announced to my mother that he was without a doubt the champion kindling chopper west of the Rockies.
He could have said, "Your money or your life," with no guarantee that I'd have paid much attention. But the word champion! That did it. The man had unwittingly gained a second shadow.
He wore a pea jacket restitched at the seams with thread of various colors, and a small blue cap with flat brass buttons. He took off his heavy jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves.
Good thing. It was 90 degrees in the shade of our woodshed. I set out to pick his brain: “Do you chop kindling for a living?”
He puffed out his round, ruddy cheeks and let loose a laugh. “I’m a sailor, lad! The captain of a proud merchantman in my day.”
“But you told my mother—”
"That I was a fair hand with an ax? I’m that, all right, and many things besides.”
“That you were a champion.”
“And who’s to say I’m not?” He pried the ax from the chopping block. “Ah, but I may have stretched the truth a bit. Sailors have been known to do that.”
One of the benefits of being twelve, for me at least, was an ability to shrug off a minor disappointment, especially when I was handed something equally intriguing. I immediately wanted to know everything about his life as a sailor.
He talked as he worked, and I drank in his stories of sleek clipper ships and exotic ports, and waves as high as the fir trees in the woods behind our house, and storms around Cape Horn that tore out the rigging and snapped masts as if they were toothpicks, and beauty beyond description when white sails billowed beneath a cloudless sky.
"Sailor Jim," as he introduced himself, left my house that day with an exceptionally fine meal in his stomach and his newly acquired shadow trailing at a safe distance.
My own second shadow, a black and white mutt named Stubby, trailed me at an equally safe distance. Stubby was so loyal that it was literally impossible for me to go anywhere on foot without him. He had learned that "Go home, Stubby!" meant he'd better stay back a little farther than a stone's throw. But this time I didn't shout or throw stones, and soon Stubby was happily trotting at my heels, wagging his peculiar corkscrew tail.
He knew where we were headed, even if he didn't know the special nature of our mission. We had ranged far and wide together, west through woods and fields, south to the Tualatin River for fishing, east to Lake Grove Park for swimming. North meant only one place during the summer, the swamps beside the railroad tracks.
This was Stubby's favorite playground, and mine as well. I had spent an entire day just two weeks earlier capturing and recapturing waterdogs until, toward evening, I'd gathered together a grand total of one hundred and thirty-seven. But the waterdogs, tadpoles, frogs and snakes would have to wait. And somehow Stubby would have to be kept from his principal pastime, flushing pheasants.
Sailor Jim followed the curve of the Southern Pacific roadbed toward the spot where the crumbly cliff beyond the swamps graded down to a wooded slope. I'd never ventured very close to that place before, because of a warning I'd received shortly after moving from Portland to the old farmhouse on Pilkington Road.
I had gone up to the swamps and had discovered a thirsty steam engine stopped beneath the water tower. After inviting me aboard, the engineer had asked, "How'd you like to take the throttle down to Remsen's Crossing?" Without waiting for me to finish stammering my reply, he plopped his striped cap down over my ears, tied a red bandana around my neck and motioned me onto his perch.
The thrill of that moment, of the mile or so I gripped the long handle and actually made the train move, might have stood as the greatest experience of my early life had it not been for the engineer's stern advice: "See the smoke trailing out of those woods? That's a hobo jungle, boy. You'd better watch your step 'round here, 'cause one of them might jump out of that jungle and grab you, and that's goodbye."
I learned soon enough that the hobos didn't pose any threat, but the jungle was another matter. Still, if a man like Sailor Jim planned to stay there, Stubby and I could at least sneak up to the edge and peek in. That's what we intended to do, and that's probably all we would have done if Stubby's keen nose hadn't detected a pheasant less than ten yards from our destination.
Two hobos also had sighted the bird and were stalking it with slingshot and gunnysack. I wasn't sure just what they were doing until Stubby dashed between them, and the pheasant took off with a lot of loud squawking and furious flapping. The two hobos were just as loud and furious.
A rough hand grabbed me by the back of the neck, and I was obliged to stand up straight.
"Do you know," the man with the rough hand demanded, "what you and that dog of yours just did?"
I knew, but I couldn't find my voice.
"Hey, Boxcar," someone yelled, "that's a mighty funny bird you just caught!"
"Looks kinda scrawny from here," someone else yelled.
"Might get one good meal out of it!"
"But how you ever gonna squeeze it into the pot?"
By this time, the rough hand had relaxed its grip and the man was laughing along with the others. But I wasn't able to join in. I still entertained visions of being stuffed into a pot and cooked. Then I saw Sailor Jim approaching and knew I was safe.
"Well, lad, what brings you here?" he said, eyes twinkling. "Wait, don't tell me. You caught a whiff of Boxcar's world famous mulligan all the way from your place and decided to put in for a plateful."
"You're more than welcome," said Boxcar, patting me on the shoulder. "But if you'd only come five minutes later we'd all be eating pheasant stew. Oh, and I guess that crazy looking mutt is welcome, too."
Stubby had reappeared, panting hard, and had plopped down in the thick dust beside a cardboard shack. Similar shacks were strung up and down the slope at points where the zigzag trail turned. A few boasted soot blackened metal roofs and lath and tarpaper siding.
At each occupied shack or open campsite, Sailor Jim stopped and introduced me as "the lad who lives in the old house with the white board fence a mile down the road." Several men smiled and nodded with expressions that seemed to say, "Oh yes, that house."
The sun was low by the time Boxcar announced the first call for chow. I ate mulligan from a pie tin with a battered spoon bent like a ladle, while Stubby was served on a piece of cardboard turned up along the edges. I like to think I can still taste that thick, mysteriously seasoned stew if I put my memory to work.
After dinner, we sat around a campfire. I listened from a spot in Sailor Jim's shadow as one hobo after another described exploits and adventures which were totally beyond my ken. I know now, of course, that most of what I heard could be classed as embroidery. But they spoke so matter-of-factly, and in such soft, low tones, that I was convinced I'd fallen in with Paul Bunyan, John Henry and every other folk hero I'd ever heard or read about.
Suddenly realizing the sky was pitch black and my parents had no idea where I was, I sprang to my feet and told Sailor Jim I had to leave.
"I was beginning to wonder, lad. Thought maybe you'd decided to become a 'bo. Come and see me again."
My folks must have been puzzled by my reaction when I was told I'd have to go to bed without supper: I grinned.
The following morning, as Stubby and I skipped down the tracks toward the jungle, I realized I'd forgotten to ask the most important question of all. I promptly did.
"How do so many 'bos know to come to my house?"
"Well now," Sailor Jim replied, "if I told you that, it'd be like you showing someone your secret hiding place."
I persisted, promising on my honor that I wouldn't tell a soul. It was then that I was introduced to the private language of the vagabond, the mystic symbols which cover virtually every situation or condition a stranger might face.
There are signs to warn of dogs that bite, of people who shoot, of water that's unsafe to drink. On the other hand, there are signs telling of good things. Two such signs had been scratched on the fence in front of my house, along with a mild warning.
I'm sure I was the proudest 12 year old in the world when I walked up to my own fence, found the marks I'd somehow overlooked for months, and read: "Here, this is it, a good place for a handout," and "Good food is available here, but you will have to work for it."
I laughed when I read the third sign. It said, in effect, that Stubby's bark was worse than his bite.
For the next three weeks, I spent every minute of my free time with Sailor Jim, listening to his seemingly inexhaustible fund of stories while together we constructed a veritable palace among hobo shacks, away from the jungle, in a grove of trees beside a clear pond.
At a nearby landfill, we found discarded sheets of construction plywood and corrugated iron, lumber, concrete blocks, used bricks and even a half-full bag of cement. Sailor Jim pounded nails as fast as I could pull them from boards and straighten them.
We sawed plywood to fit the frame, tacked tar paper to the plywood, mixed mortar and laid bricks until we ran out. The landfill also provided a door in reasonably good repair, a window frame missing only one of its four panes of glass, a fifty-gallon oil drum easily converted into a combination stove and furnace, paneling for interior decor and strips of worn carpeting for the raised plywood floor.
This was to be Sailor Jim's "wintering-in" quarters. He planned to return in time to enjoy Christmas Eve before a crackling fire, and in the meantime, I was to guard the place. As my reward, he promised to spend the remainder of the winter crafting a scale model of a China clipper.
As he was preparing to leave, he told me he wanted me to see an object so precious he'd never so much as mentioned its existence to anyone before. Looking around to make sure no one was lurking nearby, he slowly drew a gold chain from his bindle.
Then it emerged, the most dazzlingly beautiful watch I ever hope to see. Solid gold, with a filigree of inlaid platinum outlining a clipper ship in full sail on frothy seas, framed by an intricate compass. The face was no less beautiful, with six small dials encircling the one that told the time.
Once again I found myself at a loss for words, but his expression told me he understood, that he knew the proper words hadn't been invented. I cried as I watched him trudge down the tracks and around the bend.
I never saw Sailor Jim again. The saddest part is, I'll never know if he simply kept on going or if he returned on Christmas Eve and, finding his shack destroyed, moved on.
Protecting the place was, I soon realized, an impossible task. Once school started in the fall, I found interests other than the swamps and the jungle. I went over every day for several weeks, then every other day, then only one day a week. It was on a Sunday afternoon in mid-December, 25 years ago now, that I found the shack in pieces, bricks scattered over a wide area, tarpaper torn to shreds, the stove bashed in with the concrete blocks we'd so carefully arranged as a level base for the big drum.
It wasn't too many years later that the hobo began to disappear from the American scene. Today, the true "knight of the open road" belongs on this country's list of endangered species.
It's a pity, too. He was a gentleman, he earned his own way, he practiced what many people merely preach about tolerance. His mind was open, his spirit free. He had neither wealth nor possessions, but was willing to share what little he had and always eager to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. These are the lessons I learned from Sailor Jim.
My oldest son, Michael, was 12 when I took him to the wooded slope beyond the swamps and pointed out, as best I could, the spot where Boxcar had cooked his world famous mulligan, and where I'd sat near the campfire in Sailor Jim's shadow, listening as the 'bos swapped tall tails. And, of course, where the world's most fantastic hobo shack had stood.
Mike's reaction was predictable: "Gee, Dad, you were really lucky."
I was. I am.
* * *
You may have seen them.
Chalked on curbs and sidewalks or scratched into roadside rocks and telephone poles, hobo signs once served as guides to those who knew the code, steering them away from discomfort and danger or pointing the way to good food and a feather bed.
Most of the private language of the hobo originated with European Gypsies. Because of their unique position as a formal nation of vagabonds, they were able to assign uniform meanings to the various symbols and to enforce those meanings long enough for them to solidify.
Drawn largely from the symbolism of medieval magic and the mystic alphabet of the cabala, these signs were in widespread use until the general affluence of the 1950s, coupled with harsher attitudes of government and railroad officials and the public signaled the virtual disappearance of the true hobo from the American scene.
There are thousands of hobo signs for thousands of situations. My own limited “vocabulary” of close to 300 signs served me well during numerous cross-country jaunts and three summers on the harvest circuit.
But times seems to have erased the centuries-old symbolic language of the wanderer. Even though I know where to look and what to look for, it’s been 10 years since I’ve come across any hobo signs.
You may have seen them.
Published in The Oregonian's Northwest Magazine, Sunday, January 19, 1975.
(Reprinted from the Friends of William Stafford Newsletter)
By Sulima Malzin
David Hedges is important to Oregon poetry. In fact, his involvement in Oregon’s literary arts community goes back 30 years, when he and Bill Stafford became acquainted as they found themselves at many of the same events. David went on to take some workshops with Bill, and a long and satisfying friendship with the Staffords began.
In 1977, David first joined the board of the Oregon State Poetry Association (OSPA). It was going strong then, and Penny Avila was chair of the Portland Chapter. Many of you will remember her as the poetry editor of The Oregonian’s Northwest Magazine.
What do I love about living in the rolling Rosemont hills? To do justice to the subject, I'd need to commandeer every column inch of editorial space in this magazine, cover to cover, and duke it out with the advertisers, not to mention the publisher, for what's left.