DOUG BAKER – THE JOURNAL'S MULTI-TALENTED COLUMNIST

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  • #15646
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Today November 25, 1922 Douglas Wallace Blankenbaker, later known as “Doug Baker” was born at his grandmothers home in Aberdeen, South Dakota, to Lillian E. (Bleckert) Blankenbaker. Doug had a younger sister: Ferne Edith and two younger brothers: Edward & Orville. The family lived at: 206 South Thorpe.

    In November 1940 Douglas joined the National Guard. Later that month his unit was mobilized and sent to Fort Ord, Calif. During WWII, Doug was in counter-intelligence in the Pacific, working in Australia, New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. He became, he said, “the youngest Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army.” Douglas was approached after the war by a intermediary for the CIA, but nothing came of it. Also after the war he shortened his name to Doug Baker while working for newspapers in Australia.

    Douglas Wallace Blankenbaker married Marjorie “Estelle” Schroder, an Australian, working for the U.S. Army in Australia. In 1946 the Baker family traveled to the United States aboard a free “bride ship” transporting servicemen’s wives. The Baker’s later returned to Australia and Doug worked as a reporter, film critic and columnist for newspapers there. In 1951 Doug & Estelle welcomed their first son Douglas Wallace Blankenbaker, Junior was born in Australia. In 1954 Doug & Estelle welcomed their second son Sheldon Blankenbaker. Later columnist for this “This Week” newspaper.

    In June 1954 Doug Baker began work at the Portland Oregon Journal, as a reporter. In 1956 he broke into feature articles. Doug Baker wrote hundreds of columns under the title “Baker’s Dozen” in addition to news articles for “The Journal.” Baker delivered 5 million words, in rations of 800 per day during his active career. The cigarsmoking caricature that headed his column, was familiar across most of the Northwest. Baker had a remarkable ability to capture the flavor of Portland life. There is no question as a columnist Doug Baker was one of the most important stars the newspaper ever had.

    On May 17, 1956 Oregon Journal reporters Doug Baker & Brad Williams were part of a vice probe raid and seizing of 26 illegal slot machines that turned into a legal battle lasting into 1957. On January 24, 1960 Doug Baker joined KGW-TV as a reporter and assistant producer of the new KGW-TV program “News Profile” an indepth news program airing Sundays at 6:00pm. By March 1960 the Baker family was living in Vancouver, Wash. On April 1, 1961 it was rumored Doug Baker would soon leave KGW-TV.

    On February 5, 1962 Baker joined Middle of The Road formatted KWJJ with a 15 minute commentary at 8:30am and at 4:30pm weekdays. On March 24, 1962 the new KATU debuted “Baker’s Notebook” Saturday’s at 9:30pm. Ad: “Columnist Doug Baker Livens Your Evening with searching questions on narcotics traffic” in one program. On June 2, 1962 the last show aired. On December 4, 1962 it was “MEN’S NIGHT at Charles F. Berg, featuring famous DOUG BAKER who commentates a spicy fashion show at 7 p.m. Prizes entertainment for men only!”

    On June 18, 1963 “Doug Baker’s Private Line” premiered Tuesday’s at 9:00pm for 30 minutes on KATU. Guests answered questions by viewer calls during the live program. Doug’s TV show lasted until February 25, 1964. On March 1, 1965 Doug lost his job on KWJJ when the station switched format to Country & Western music but he always had his Journal column. He moved to KPAM/KPFM with his commentary at 7:00am and 4:50pm weekdays. In August 1965 the book release of Doug Baker’s “Guide To Portland.” Wonderful places to see and visit as well as a gourmet selection of fine restaurants.

    On January 5, 1966 Baker began a very successful talk radio career. Ad: “DOUG BAKER. Doug talks back every day from noon till 1 p.m. on KLIQ Radio. Call Doug at 228-2129. Tell him what’s on your mind. Hear the Doug Baker Telephone Show broadcast live from the Hoyt Hotel every day, noon to 1 p.m. KLIQ 1290 K.C.” On August 25, 1966 Oregon Governor, Mark Hatfield was a guest on the Doug Baker Show with listener calls on KLIQ Noon to 1:30pm. On December 6, 1967 the “Doug Baker Telephone Show” expanded to a simulcast on the new KLIQ-FM, 10:15am to Noon weekdays, where he really hit his stride on the Nations first 24 hour All Talk station. Baker continued his talk show until 1974.

    On February 21, 1969 “Baker’s Travels” debuted on KATU. Ad: “30,000 miles of personal experiences filmed and related by Portland columnist DOUG BAKER. 11:30am on mid-day news on K2.” On September 22, 1969 KATU premiered “Doug Baker Comments” on “Eyewitness News” at 6:00pm with Rick Meyers & Pat Wilkins. Ad: “Mr. Baker, who has been a part of the Northwest news scene for nearly 20 years, is the newest addition to Eyewitness News. His regular commentary on the news will go beyond the day’s headlines to look at bureaucratic peccadillos, political nuances and the jumbled jargon of officialdom. In other words, he’ll be telling it like it is!”

    In October 1970 the “Doug Baker Telephone Show” was heard weekday afternoons 4:00 to 6:00pm on KLIQ AM/FM. In November 1971 “Doug Baker’s Guide To Portland Restaurants” was released from Binford, books. In 1975 Doug & Estelle welcomed their daughter Lea A. Blankenbaker. In January 1980 “Timber Press” released the Doug Baker book “River Place.”

    On September 1, 1982 Doug Baker retired as an “Oregon Journal” columnist and moved to Oceanside, California. On December 18, 1983 Baker, 61 suffered a stroke at his Oceanside home and was still recuperating at a VA hospital in March 1984.

    On April 7, 1986 Douglas Wallace Baker passed away at age 63 in Oceanside, California. He had been in ill health since the stroke in 1983. Doug was talking to his wife, Estelle when he died quietly. On April 14, 1986 a memorial service was held at Skyline Funeral Home chapel at 2:00pm. Disposition was by cremation.

    On April 16, 1986 Oregonian columnist, Jonathan Nicholas wrote an article titled: “Rookie Salutes Vet” (edited). The service was just like one of his columns — brief, pungent, to the point. There was no fuss. When it was done, there was just the feeling of a task accomplished, that and a hint of the scent of cigar smoke drifting lonely as the moon across the sky. Doug Baker met his last deadline Monday afternoon. The old curmudgeon whose column in the Oregon Journal had through 26 years served as “the voice of the city” came home from retirement in Southern California, dead at 63.

    Baker knew his city the way newspaper people are supposed to know a city. From the inside out. The copshop. The vice dens. The pool halls. The cardrooms. He’d seen them all. And he had a newsman’s nose for the characters of a city — “the bag ladies, Gypsy Slims, street poets, sometime streakers, Dapper Dans, epicene entertainers, Broadway boulevardiers and oversexed innkeepers” as he called them.

    Though Baker would have been pleased to see all those who gathered to say farewell Monday, none would have pleased him more than Jungle Jamey, King of The Crashers, the Portlander who turned freeloading into an art form. His exploits were chronicled from coast to coast. Always he told reporters that he hailed from “Dougbaker, Oregon.” Always they recorded it as gospel. Jamey wasn’t dressed right for Monday’s funeral. And God knows, he wasn’t invited. He just popped up as he always does — right there in the front row. Baker would have been delighted.

    References: The Oregonian & The Oregon Journal.

    #16241
    Dan Packard
    Keymaster

    And in tribute, here’s Doug Baker’s column from exactly 48 years ago in Portland’s great afternoon newspaper then, The Oregon Journal, December 11, 1967.

    BAKeR’S DOZEN

    Lake Oswego Golf Acreage Portrayed As ‘Sweet Deal’

    By DOUG BAKER

    Thus far, Stan Terry’s suit in Clackamas County Circuit Court attacking the legality of Lake Oswego’s new municipal golf course hasn’t created much of a stir.

    Terry, a Portland property owner who resides in Lake Oswego, is often in the news with one little bombshell or another and a great many Lake Oswegans may think his contention that the purchase of the golf course property violates the city charter is little more than vexatious.

    However, Terry and his attorney, Phil Ringle Jr., have come up with some hitherto undisclosed facts that will most likely cause plenty of fuss around the shores of the exclusive lakeside community.

    Terry says the transaction in which Lake Oswego acquired the 33-acre side on Stafford Road has all the earmarks of a “sweet deal.”

    A search of property records shows that Spahr, Inc., a company owned by Robert E. Spahr, 1851 SW South Shore Blvd. in Lake Oswego and Bob Davis, 4094 SW South Shore Blvd., Lake Oswego. purchased the 33 acres of land in question on Oct. 28, 1966, for $26,000.

    Eleven months later, Lake Oswego bought two-thirds of this land for $78,500.

    City Manager Deane Seeger has stated that Lake Oswego will buy the remaining 10 acres for $37,481.

    In other words, Lake Oswego’s council will pay a total of $115,443 for acreage acquired last year for $26,000

    Says Terry. “A profit of $90,000 In less than two years is what I would call a “sweet deal”.

    Just what the reaction of Lake Oswego citizens will be to these disclosures remains to be seen.

    Is City’s ‘Upper Crust’ Stingy?

    “Big Time Sue” works at one of the city’s banks and feels that if her real name were disclosed she might lose her job.

    It’s her belief that Portland’s more prominent citizens are either “frugal” or “just plain cheap.” She submits these facts in support of her contention that Portland’s more affluent burghers are skinflints:
    1. “The average small retailer cannot make a decent living because 99 per cent of the upper middle class and the rich either buy for wholesale or just don’t buy.”
    2. “Most of Portland’s bankers — Including the banks’ junior executives — still have the first dimes they ever made.”
    3. “Watch the rush for the six-hour parking meters on the fringe of the downtown area as early as 7 a.m. The upper crust will get up early to avoid all-day parking charges at a lot and will walk a mile to save three cents on a pack of cigarets. They’re forgetting the cost of pressing their pants on a rainy day.”
    4. “Ask the nightclub operators. Were It not for the visiting firemen from California. no nightclub could operate. The upper class Portlander gets out about one night a year and then screams if he blows $10.”
    5. “How about tips? Ask the girls. The average big shot in this town never heard of anything above 5 to 8 per cent. The oldtime 10 percenter is regarded as a spendthrift.”
    6. “Portland’s upper middle class businessmen not only bring their own lunch to work but have nerve enough to take that same lunch to those restaurants where coffee is still 10 cents, with free refills. Ask the girls at Manning’s.”
    7. Any politician who wants to get a few bucks out of the Arlington Club for a political race must be a Houdini.”
    “What a town,” laments Big Time Sue. “I’m going back to Acapulco.”

    Post Mortem On Big Tournament

    Pocket billiards has only achieved respectability as a sport in recent years and the Clothes Horse Invitational Tournament which finished last Saturday was probably the most ambitious tournament of its kind ever attempted in Oregon.
    Even after the original 26 entries were cut to 23 (one suffered a neck fracture), it still took 5 games to decide the winner of the double-elimination event. It took a month to play all these contests.

    The dawn of Saturday saw three contestants — Jim Kelley of KGW, Wally Rossmann of KPAM-FM and Ron Schroder, a visiting Australian — undefeated. A fourth entrant, John Ferrell of Columbia Distributors, remained in the tournament as the only consolation bracket player who had suffered only one defeat. Ferrell’s accomplishment was little short of brilliant as he was beaten in his first tournament game and had to defeat Dick Huckfeldt of KGW-TV, ad man Tiger Branch, restaurateur Eddie Mays, KYXI sales manager Jay Vahi and advertising man Al Bauer just to reach the semifinals.

    Early Saturday, Ferrell squeaked out a 101-to-95 win over Schroder in one of the tournament’s most exciting play-offs. Meanwhile. Kelley easily beat out Rossmann, which put Kelley against the scrappy Ferrell while Schroder easily eliminated Rossmann. Ferrell eked out his seventh straight victory (50-47) over Kelley, lost a toss of the coin to Schroder and had to play Kelley again almost immediately. Ferrell’s brilliant string ran out at this point and he bowed out of the tournament to Kelley, 50-44. Kelley then shot an easy win over Schroder to emerge the tournament champion.

    In every tournament there is the break of the draw and the best player does not always emerge victorious. Kelley played brilliant amateur pocket billiards at times and certainly emerged as one of the best, if not the best, players in the invitational. But there was considerable sentiment among the other entrants that Ferrell, who posted an unequalled record of seven straight wins while under “death sentence” on the tournament ladder, deserved to win.
    It Is certain that if the tournament is held again next year, Ferrell, along with Kelley, will be the players to beat.

    From Pg. 3 of the Oregon Journal. And he wrote a fancy-schmancy column like this 5 days a week!

    #16245
    MarkAndrews
    Participant

    Wow, Dan…that’s longer than the column I’d usually read in the Journal…Well…maybe it’s because I’m long since out of practice! Thanks for sharing the memory…

    I remember Doug making reference to his wife in his column every now and again as “A Certain Party”… Features like “Baker’s Dozen” and “Mill Ends” by the Journal’s Dick Fagan are sorely missed…

    #16252
    Dxer1969
    Participant

    @ Mark. Did you work at KYXI in the spring of 1976? Middays?

    #16281
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Dan: Great Article to post, showing the way he would write and the reason readers couldn’t get enough of his columns.

    #16294
    Dxer1969
    Participant

    Yes! Doug was very informative! Learned about the biz from him in my early days.

    #16318
    MarkAndrews
    Participant

    @Dxer1969: Guilty as charged! That was a wonderful staff to be a part of…

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