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

Placing a few local calls from a virtual front porch

In case no one else noticed, here is a modest collection of springtime sights and sounds found about town. Call them virtual front-porch glimpses or local notes on matters small and large:

n A car featuring the ultimate personalized plate was parked the other day on Ford Street — a California BMW with a plate reading, “I1.”

Say it out loud. And for “1” day only, bring back the term “vanity plate.”

n If you visit the Land & Sea Gallery, upstairs in the Mercantile Building downtown on Third Street, everyone in the building will know you’re approaching. Who needs a bell on the door when you have the creaking crunch of the floor?

n Talk about a relic waiting for 1989 to return. The broken handset rests in the cradle, the metal cord tied in a knot and cinched with a padlock.

The dust-covered museum-piece pay phone at Third and Cowls, in front of Harvest Fresh, is a thing to behold. It’s intrigued me ever since I moved here a little over a year ago.

Store owner Kristen Schofield told me it continued working until about 10 years ago, when it either broke down or got decommissioned. The last of the revolving “telecommunications companies” responsible for it disconnected the line, but has never bothered to remove the appliance.

If there’s another “phone booth” in downtown McMinnville, I’m not aware of it. I say, put a plaque on it and place a collect call to history.

n Save the Date: June 11, “Writing the Next Chapter” fundraiser for Start Making A Reader Today, at Evergreen Space Museum. Food and drinks, cool raffle prizes, and the chance to support a terrific literacy program. Call 304-268-8482 for more information or visit to get tickets.

Full disclosure: I’ve been involved with SMART here and in Hood River for 20 years. It’s a worthy cause.

In case you missed it in the extraterrestrial shuffle on Third Street last week: “Alien Peace Sign,” oil painting in the window of McMinnville Antique Mall.

n Theater in McMinnville is alive and well, with added performances of “Heathers: The Musical” at Linfield University, and remaining performances of “The Sound of Music” at Gallery Theater — both big productions worth seeing.

n Seen and heard: 1) Two guys are comparing home improvement stories, when one says, “I just hope my new deck outlives me!” 2) On Highway 99W, a fellow was spotted holding up a “please help” sign with this explanation: “Two ex-wives. Nuff said.” 3) School superintendent Debbie Brockett set me straight at a recent Greeters gathering when I misheard an announcement for “McMinnville High School Drag Show.” She laughed; “That’s Grad Party.”

n Minor mystery: Has anyone wondered why there is a “Your Tax Dollars At Work” sign on Third Street adjacent to Golden Valley Brewery and Praise Church? There’s no road work going on right there, though Third and Johnson is a crash-zone-in-waiting.

Most folks have probably figured out that the sign is for the Three Mile Lane bridge replacement project, which will be continuing through 2024. But it’s located well up the road.

The mystery is why the sign has been placed so far away, well out of view of the work zone itself. Of course, there are plenty of signs at the bridge itself, so perhaps it’s just as well.

n Mural booster: Artist Will Schlough of Seattle has finished the mural on the west wall of the Village Quarter building. Sponsored by Visit McMinnville, “Heist” features an imaginative scene of butterflies holding a linen cloth by its four corners as they carry away grapes. We featured it on page A1 in the May 13 edition.

Meanwhile, plans are in the works for a new mural at the other end of downtown, a SMART mural by Elide Sanchez on the side of the  McMinnville Library, and Ashley Hope’s tribute to the late Rosemarie Caughran, to be installed between Third and Fourth on Cowls. 

This trifecta of murals will enrich an already-vibrant outdoor art “gallery” downtown. That calls for two things:

n First, a self-guided tour of local murals. How about it, friends at CRUSH and Visit McMinnville?

The tour should include Hope’s panoramic mural on the Adams Street side of Awaken Church on Fourth Street, the Geraldi’s “pizza wings” visible on Second, the comedy-drama masks on the back of Gallery Theater, the “Fantastical Forest” at Cowls and College on the Linfield campus, and more.

n Second, as Third Street redevelopment plans gear up, the question of turning bike racks and trash receptacles into locally made art pieces is intriguing. One thing I’d also like to see is a third “historic hero” bench, preferably from the same artist, Gary Price.

We have Abe Lincoln at the Community Center and Ben Franklin at Third and Davis, four blocks apart. Since we all know things come  best in sets of three, how about a female figure (Sacajawea or Harriet Tubman?) somewhere equidistant?

Contact Kirby Neumann-Rea at or 503-687-1291.


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