By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

Trails, sidetracks and looking up old address

The Storey Street section near the Linfield campus is home territory these days.

It’s a leafy, quiet part of town. As I’ve re-settled into McMinnville this spring, I’ve enjoyed making discoveries about the history behind the Storey name.

My first “neighborhood” in McMinnville was the Larsell Hall dormitory at Linfield. The neighbors were often noisy and argumentative, myself included.

As a Linfield senior in the 1979-80 school year, I lived off campus in the basement of Jim Durant’s home a few blocks south of downtown. It was a cool 10-minute walk to campus and three-minute walk to Nick’s Italian Café, where I worked that year.

(Editors and readers willing, my Nick’s memories will provide savory sauce for another edition.)

My first neighbors in that basement were a couple of other students, rowdy guys I met when I moved in. They were gone within a couple of months, and I had the basement to myself for the rest of the year.

Calm returned to the neighborhood.

One of my best friends, Sam Lowry, had, unbeknownst to me, lived across the street that year. While we were not to meet until about a year after I graduated, we put it together that we must have crossed paths a few times on opposite sides of the street, me on the way to work at Nick’s and Sam on his way home from work at the Yamhill County Planning Department.

It’s all part of the happy overlapping and intermingling array of paths taken to, in, from, and back to McMinnville.

Many friends I knew in Mac in 1977-80 have, like me, left and come back. And I can list at least five people I knew from other places, or people here who know people from those places.

One new friend, Jon, was close friends in Arizona with Larry, a guy I’ve known since age 6. “We gotta team up to get Larry here,” Jon told me.

Paths keep crossing.

That senior year pathway in 1980 was a fairly straight line linking the college, my basement and Nick’s, with Davis Street the regular route.

This year, back in McMinnville, I noticed the footpath on the north side of what is known as the Davis Street dip, near Wilson Street. It looks like a bridge, but is technically considered a fill, I’m told. A sign indicates it is off-limits to the public.

I have zero memory from my college days of ever diverging from Davis to take that path to the green space along Cozine Creek. I don’t know that I ever availed myself of the amenity where a No Trespassing sign now resides.

Other times, I would go to the northwest corner of campus and follow the path and footbridge across what we called Cozine Park, but is officially known as Storey Park. The park’s metal footbridge replaced the longer wooden one used by my father (Linfield ‘49).

I don’t remember how often I traversed the park that last year of college 41 years ago, though I did frequent the nearby St. Vincent de Paul, just across Baker where it intersects with Cowls.

And I’m doing so again. The thrift store remains a great place for housewares, furniture, clothes and postcards.

A 1961 plaque west of the park path commemorates Dr. Ralph Storey, a 1896 Linfield grad who went on to serve on the college faculty for decades. (See Vintage N-R, June 2, for related photo.)The park bearing his name has become overgrown, and remains layered with huge fallen oaks from the February ice storm.

Few of my Linfield cronies knew the creekside area as anything other than Cozine Park. But in addition to the park and a road, Dr. Storey is commemorated with another plaque, partially covered by expanded tree roots, just west of Campbell Hall.

Today, the path across Storey Park, the historic pedestrian way for students going to and from town from Newby Hall, is all but impassable. There are signs of revival, though.

In the last few years, native flora species have been planted, under the ongoing Cozine Creek Native Habitat Restoration Project, by students and faculty from Linfield’s Environmental Studies Department.

After June 1980, I never again set foot in Jim Durant’s place.

After he died, the house sat empty for many years. Over the years, I’d stop and look at the boarded-up place periodically, including a time in 2018 when a neighbor with justifiable suspicions asked why I was peering over the fence.

In March, after being hired by the News-Register, I drove by the Durant house. For the first time in years, I discovered activity around the place.

Workers were emptying the house of its last contents, dusty or mildewed or both, after decades of neglect. And I took the opportunity to talk to them when they stopped for a break.

The owner was there. He allowed me a peek inside, and explained that he had just sold the house to someone else. He didn’t feel at liberty to say much about its future, other than it was in for extensive remodeling.

I can never drive down Davis without cruising by for a look at that proud old place, which I believe has a very good future.

One part of the property that will probably need to come down is the detached garage, where Jim had kept his yacht-like Chrysler convertible. As I stood inside it, the memory flashed of 1987, when Jim surprised Lorre and me by pulling up in our Dallas driveway to take us for a countryside ride.

It was one of the few times the Chrysler hit the road, and it was a great moment. But it was also the next-to-last time I saw Jim.

After he retired from his job as a printer at Linfield, he kept to himself. But he remained the same sweet, kind man who charged me practically nothing for rent and often let me bend his ear with my 20-year-old’s troubles.

Jim and I used to sit on his porch and drink wine. Bittersweet is the memory of Jim’s favorite expression as we clinked aluminum mugs: “Here’s looking up your old address.”

Contact Kirby Neumann-Rea at


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable