Welcome to the Canby Rodeo … Please Watch Out for Cars

Canby Then is brought to you by Retro Revival. They are not your average antique shop. Open daily. Find them on the corner of NW Third and Grant in downtown Canby.

After the opening of the stately new high school building in 1928, the home of a new unified district comprised of no less than 16 districts in the area, the city of Canby and its school facilities were in good position to handle the growth that was soon to come.

… Well, for a while, anyway.

You Can’t Get There From Here

One interesting little factoid that you may not know about the city of Canby: Did you ever notice that the streets that run north-south through town are in alphabetical order? Starting with Ash Street and heading east, you’ve got Birch, Cedar, Douglas, Elm, Fir, Grant, Holly, Ivy, Juniper, Knott, Locust and so on.

I’m not going to do the whole alphabet, and the pattern runs out of steam anyway around T (Teakwood). Some rogue letters have slipped in over the years as new subdivisions have gone in and required the construction (and naming) of new streets.

But the letters are still in the right places, even where there are more than one of them, like Ash and Aspen, Holly and Hawthorne, Pine and Ponderosa.

It’s a relic from before 1941, when the city’s streets were all laid out in a basic alphanumeric grid. The east-west streets were (and still are) numbered: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so forth. The north-south streets were simply lettered: A, B, C, and well, you know the drill.

Even the residents themselves didn’t like this “Battleship” approach (“E-4.” “Miss.” “A-10.” “Hit! Dang it, you sank my destroyer!”) and in 1941, the city decided to, well, be less boring in naming their streets. The City Council came up with the names (evidently, with one eye on A Field Guide to Trees of the Pacific Northwest), and the new signs were made by the science and industrial arts classes at the Canby Union High School.

Something’s Fishy About This

The kids probably could have used a little more hard labor, because they were soon up to their usual tricks. A man named Frank Zollner, who resided on 2nd and the Street Formerly Known as B, was the victim.

He reported the loss of “about twenty fine goldfish” from the pond outside his home, and he suspected some “school boys” were the culprits.

“Zollner took a great deal of pride in his fish and the loss is felt severely,” the Canby Herald reported. “He gave a couple of boys permission to catch four fish from the pond a few days previous, and this is probably what aroused interest in Young America to the end that he is the loser.”

Too bad we weren’t around to do Police Beat in the 1940s, because that would have been a good one.

Don’t Steer Me Wrong

As would a colorful episode that occurred on April 14, 1947, when five untamed steers broke loose from a corral near Canby Union High School and stampeded through the town for over an hour.

They were the property of a Springfield man who was just passing through, when he realized his truck — carrying a total of 14 “grain-fed” steers — was too heavily loaded. He led five into the corral at the Swift and Co. plant on Highway 99E, to be held there until he could come back for them later.

“But fences meant nothing to these untamed animals,” the Herald recorded, and “they jumped the fence in no time at all, going in every direction.”

Around 20 men, who happened to be close by and had seen what happened, attempted to round up the livestock, but, well, let’s just say the PRCA would not have been impressed with these would-be steer wranglers.

Finally, Rene DuPont, co-owner of Cutsforth’s Market, was called to bring his horse in an attempt to round them up. Man, wouldn’t you just love to get a call like that? As you can imagine, even with a horse and an experienced butcher on the case, rounding up the wild beasts was no easy task.

In fact, it was over an hour and a half before the last steer was finally cornered, near a pea viner plant on Molalla Avenue. The herd had trampled and destroyed all manner of fences, including some electric ones, in their rampage.

The toils also took their toll on the steer, as one reportedly died due to the heat and overexertion of the day. I hope Rene was able to take some nice steaks back to Cutsforth’s for his trouble.

What’s the Buzz?

That same year, another attack — albeit one of the mechanical and airborne variety — cost a young man from Eugene dearly. His name was Charles Joseph Marchiafava (“Genuflect! Show some respect, down on one knee!” …Sorry. I’ve watched too much Aladdin.)

He was a 24-year-old amateur pilot, and on Feb. 13, 1947, for unknown reasons, he spent 20 minutes “buzzing” dangerously low in the skies over Canby Grade School and city residences. If you think strafing the skies of a small American town in the years immediately following World War II was maybe not the best idea, you’re right.

Canby residents were terrified, with the mysterious plane causing citizens “much concern and alarm,” according to newspapers of the day. Several made frantic calls to police, and the matter was investigated by city patrolman Jim Hudson, with assistance from a state trooper, Henry Kaczenski.

Since several residents had managed to take down the tail number of the light aircraft, Hudson and Kaczenski soon had their man, and Marchiafava was arrested in Eugene about a month after his ill-fated joy ride.

Charlie Joe soon had his pilot’s license yanked, and was fined $200 by local authorities after he pleaded guilty to unlawful operation of an aircraft. Municipal Judge T.H. Arestad eventually agreed to commute the fine down to only $75.

We have many more colorful stories to tell you from the history of the Canby School District, but it will have to wait till next time, on Canby Then.

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