First Salem G.I. Joe’s at Lancaster Mall

Salem G.I. Joe’s on Lancaster Drive NE, built in 1976. It was the first store built outside the Portland Metro area.  This was the 7th store in the 5th location (because there were 3 stores in North Portland adjacent to each other).  My dad, Ed Orkney led the opening celebration for the last time for a new store, as he passed away later that year.

As Joe’s Sr. VP Ron Menconi said, “This was one of the biggest grand openings we ever had. Great store and outdoor-loving community!”  Brian Seiler commented, “Gary O and I opened that store…we set up for hire screening in a construction trailer…we had about 400 people in line to screen for interviews…it was a long day.”

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Buying Tickets for the Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton Concert in 1985

“CONCERT HOPEFULLS – After standing in the cold and wind for nearly two hours, these people are finally inside the Oak Grove G.I. Joe’s store with a good chance to buy tickets to the Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton concert Feb. 10 in Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.  Some 600 tickets sold fast.”

Photo and text from The Oregonian, January 8, 1985.

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Shoppers Jam G.I. Joe’s Toyland in 1958

G.I. Joe’s offered Christmas shoppers the largest toy selection in Portland in the late 1950s and 1960s.  Since this photo is marked 1958, the toy department must have been in the original store on Vancouver Avenue in North Portland.  In 1966, Dad opened Store 2 adjacent to the original store and moved Toyland there to coincide with that store opening.  When he opened Store 3 in 1968, he again moved the toys there.


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Hey, it’s June and Time to Head for the G.I. Joe’s Portland Grand Prix!

G.I. Joe’s started sponsoring G.I. Joe’s Portland Grand Prix in 1984 and the last lap was run for Joe’s in either 2006 or 2007.  I first got to watch the race cars fly around the P.I. R. track in a previous race G.I. Joe’s sponsored in 1978. I still remember that it was a hot day, the hot dogs tasted great, and excitement and gas fumes filled the air!

Thanks to Wil Askew for sharing the poster he designed.

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Elephants Parade in Front of G.I. Joe’s

Heading for Delta Park, elephants and their handlers trudge in front of the original expanded G.I. Joe’s store in 1956 or 1957.  They were part of a huge circus that put on shows for a few days.

I remember going to the circus site and watching the elephants help put up the tents!  It was almost a better show than seeing the actual performance in the three rings.  My brother Corky and I had mixed feelings about circuses anyway, because we had seen a few movies that I think had scary clown murderers in them.

I had thought that the circus was Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, but on the internet, I found a list of cities they toured in those years and it did not include Portland.  Time for more research!

Mom snapped this photo.



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Over 300 “Likes” on Facebook page

Thank you so much for liking “Growing Up With G.I. Joe’s” on Facebook!  At 10:30 this morning, there were 307 likes.  It feels good because the likes are basically a tribute to all the folks that built the company or enjoyed shopping there (or both).

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Grab Your Gear From G.I. Joe’s and Let’s Go Fishing!

What a great ad!  Wil Askew designed it for G.I. Joe’s back in the day and then shared it with me recently.  Can’t you just feel the rain and sleet and snow when you look at the ad?

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G.I. Joe’s not only Store with Fishing Bait Window!

Bob’s Sporting Goods in Longview, Washington, has one, too!  Or a least, in October 2013,  Bob’s had a directional sign pointing to the early morning bait window in their parking lot when I took this photo.

But too bad, I don’t think you could order an expresso grande dulce gusto at the same time!  Bob’s has or had a bait window, but no Java Joe’s like G.I. Joe’s Hayden Island store.

More complete photo of store in background which is the housewares, giftware and toys store, next to the main, 2-story sporting goods store.

Mural on a side exterior wall of Bob’s Sporting Goods main store.  It depicts Bob’s War Surplus store, open at the time that Dad was starting G.I. Joe’s in North Portland, and selling war surplus merchandise, too.

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“I’ll Take a Mocha Latte and a Bag of Worms!”

Where could you place that order today?  I don’t know!  But in the old days, maybe you could get that order filled at the walk-up Espresso window at the Hayden Meadows store in North Portland!

Hayden Meadows store featured a Java Joe’s coffee bar in the front of the store that also had an order window to the outside.  That was a great place to get a cup of joe but also to buy bait during various fishing seasons!

Thanks to the Facebook page, Joe’s Sports and Outdoor Alumni, for the photos and information.  If you thought to worry about a food inspector dealing with bait sales, I am told that it was either frozen or in jars and packs.  What a relief!  I really would not want a worm in my mocha latte!

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Portland’s Vanport Flood happened May 30th, Sixty-Nine Years Ago

The Vanport Flood of May 30, 1948, was the most grave natural disaster that Portland has ever faced.  The Columbia River broke through a railroad embankment and inundated Vanport, which was the second largest city in Oregon at the time.

The flood left approximately 18,000 people homeless.  The community was not rebuilt  Instead, the area became Delta Park where the Portland International Raceway (PIR) and a golf course were located.

The early G.I. Joe’s of which my dad was a part owner (before he bought the business in 1952), was situated on N. Vancouver Avenue in the flooded area, but on higher ground.  The store supplied sleeping bags and other useful merchandise to the Red Cross to aid the flood victims.

There is a chapter in Growing Up With G.I. Joe’s that focuses on the 1948 Flood with photos of Vanport apartment buildings floating in disarray.  It is with a sad heart that I think back on that day.

The photo above is of that first G.I. Joe’s in tents that opened in 1948.

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