Glenn and Isolda Steele

Isolda Steele (left) with Mrs. Norris (right) at the Garden Home School

Isolda Steele (left) with Mrs. Norris (right) at the Garden Home School

In 1937, Glenn and Isolda Steele relocated to Garden Home from Antelope, Oregon. Isolda worked at the Garden Home School preparing lunches for the children and staff.  In 1939 she reported in the PTA minutes that hot lunches would now be served.

This photo was taken for the Garden Home Album and submitted by Louise Cook Jones of the Garden Home History Project.

Glenn was a general handyman with many talents.  He built the house that he and his wife lived in along with a second house on the same property.  Glenn would pick up odd jobs painting and fixing various things.  He was a master at repurposing and utilizing available material on hand.  His passion was rocks; not just any rocks but semi-precious stones that he would load into his polishing machines.  The garage had water lines that had been specially set up for the rock polishing machines that sat against the southern wall.  Once they were tumbled and polished he would place them in various barrels on the property.  The most beautiful stones were placed in glass display cases inside their garage.  Grandchildren who came to visit could always take home a shiny prize.

Glenn and Isolda Steele donating a Brazilian amethyst to the Smithsonian

Glenn and Isolda Steele donating a Brazilian amethyst to the Smithsonian

One of the many grandchildren of Glenn and Isolda is Barry Steele who resides in Beaverton with his wife Jeanne.  Barry’s strongest memories of spending time with his grandfather surrounded rock collecting.  Barry would go on rock finding expeditions with his grandfather searching the ground for treasures.  Both Barry and his wife Jeanne remember uncovering metal garbage cans full of stones at Isolda and Glenn’s home.  Once, Jeanne found an amethyst laden toilet seat in the backyard; the purple stones were set into a plastic resin material.  The collection over the years that Glenn amassed was so impressive that a portion of it, specifically the Brazilian Amethyst, was given to the Smithsonian.

Don Olson of Bend, Oregon, a cousin of Barry Steele, put together an excellent cookbook featuring the recipes of Isolda Steele.  A copy of the recipe book was generously donated to the Garden Home History Project.  The book features detailed recipes alongside black and white photos chronicling Isolda’s lineage from Antelope, Oregon in the early 1900’s, Isolda as a child, as well as some early pictures of both her and Glenn.  The book transitions to some more recent color photos, the last picturing Isolda and Glenn in 1986, the year that Isolda passed.

Besides recipes for cakes, puddings and cookies there are also home remedies for anything from ants, to soap, to removing nails and screws that have rusted into wood.  One of the more interesting home remedies is how to fix a leaking stove.  Since Isolda cooked all the family meals on a wood burning stove in the kitchen, this recipe must have come in handy many times to prevent ash from spilling onto the kitchen floor.

Louise Cook Jones, a member of the Garden Home History Project who attended Garden Home School from 1954-1962, recalls Mrs. Steele as an important part of the school.  She would visit each lunch table, encouraging those who were slow to eat to finish their food so they could have some time at recess.   Louise fondly recalls Mrs. Steele’s cooking.  “Her yeast rolls were amazing – you could smell them cooking all over the school.  And she made wonderful homemade chocolate pudding, served in tall glass dishes.”

Louise Cook Jones’ sister Patti Cook Davies attended the school in 1946-1954; Patti always looked forward to Mrs. Steele’s snicker doodle cookies and macaroni and cheese.  Louise’s brother Warren Cook attended the school from 1952-1960.  He remembers Mrs. Steele always being so kind and anything that she made was good.

Isolda and Glenn’s Garden Home residence is located to the north of the Old Market Pub.  The Pub once was Whitney’s Cannery, owned by Mark and Leona Whitney.

Aerial photo by Otto Arndt shows Glenn and Isolda’s home and cannery where Barry worked. Circa mid 1950s.

Aerial photo by Otto Arndt shows Glenn and Isolda’s home and cannery where Barry worked. Circa mid 1950s.

Taken from the aerial photos given to the Garden Home History Project by Otto Arndt (negative 19 of the series) shows Glenn and Isolda’s home at the very left edge of the photo.  You can see the cannery where Barry worked roughly in the middle of the frame near the bend in Multnomah Boulevard on the left side of the road.

Barry Steele worked in the cannery for six months at the age of 17 in 1947.  There he canned fruits like peaches and pears from the local orchards.  Barry said he must have eaten his grandparents out of house and home as Glenn told his grandson Barry that he needed to pay $50 per month board and room.

Barry stayed in the upper part of the garage, the ladder that Barry would climb to get up to the loft of the garage, stamped with E E Steele (Barry’s Great Grandfather) is still there.

The most recent owner of Glenn and Isolda’s home is Gordon Rice who purchased the home from Barry’s Aunt Gwen in 1991.  The house had been vacant for approximately six years.  Gordon remodeled the house over several years to make the home more up to date with modern comforts.  The outhouse was removed and a bathroom was placed inside a small addition that includes an entry way.  The home’s porches were also added on and a sliding glass door leading out to the back porch was placed.  The house is cozy with a kitchen, main living area and two bedrooms.  In 1993, Gordon placed the house on a foundation for it to be able to stand the test of time.

Gordon very generously gave Barry and Jeannie Steele (pictured below) a lock he has had for the past 25 years with the welded initials of Glenn Steele.

By Christina Mauroni, April 2016

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6 Responses to Glenn and Isolda Steele

  1. Pingback: April 2016 News | Garden Home History Project

  2. Janice Senger says:

    Very nicely done, Ms Mauroni!

  3. Ward Nelson says:

    I delivered the morning Oregonian to the Steeles for over two years during my seventh and eighth grade year. We also got to work in the cafeteria on a one-week shift, and that was always fun. I also delivered the Oregonian to the Norrises who live up on 74th, or Jaeger as it was known at one time. (I think that’s spelled correctly!)

  4. GHHP says:

    COMMENT FROM MIKE NORRIS VIA EMAIL:
    No, Mrs. Norris was not a relative but I remember her as a cook. I enjoyed the hot lunches, except when sauerkraut was served, it was heated and the whole school smelled awful. (I love cold sauerkraut now). In the early 1950s, the kitchen acquired an army surplus potato peeling machine and the poor kids who peeled potatoes by hand lost their job that gave them free lunch, the best meal was hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes, spagetti also very good. Pizza was not “invented” until later. The first pizza in Portland, brought back from italy after WW2 was Caro Amicos on Barbur Blvd, about ?1948, still near original location.

    • Ward Nelson says:

      Mike Norris from the Hunt Club? I used to deliver your paper!! Yes, the hamburger gravy was the best. The worst was that awful canned spinach they always served when we had macaroni and cheese. I also loved the government surplus cheese. They would cut it up into cheese sticks. Sighhh . . . .

  5. Doug Burns says:

    I also remember that you could flip a fork into the cork-board(?) ceiling by hitting a soup spoon that had the fork correctly balanced on the handle of the spoon. Maybe one out of 40 tries. Mrs. Norris was not very fond of that trick–but it was, of course, always attempted by someone named “Not Me.” And I hated that spinach too.

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