Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

January 18, 2002

UNDER THE HEADING “Christmas Magic,” the Northwest Senior News told of the holiday lighting tradition of Portland’s Southeast Peacock Lane in a story and photos that featured Mrs. Dorothy Hawes and her late husband Edward, who’d been a union representative and an official at the Oregon Bureau of Labor.

The story on the front page of the monthly tabloid-sized paper’s December issue was authored by K. J. Fields who wrote:

“Just after Thanksgiving, one street in Portland transforms. Peacock Lane shifts from a quiet neighborhood street into an energetic salute to Christmas. Sparkling lights dance on the houses, forms of sleighs, snowmen and elves dot the yards and the public arrives in droves ... marveling at the spectacle.
“DOROTHY HAWES still looks forward to this ongoing event, even after 44 years. She and her late husband Edward bought their house on the lane in 1957, and by then Peacock Lane was well known for its decorations.

“According to Mrs. Hawes, Peacock Lane began putting on an organized show in 1927. When the Haweses first moved to the lane, there were still four original homeowners on the block. Many of the homes were built around 1920 and have historic architectural components such as gables. One of the original residents of the lane told Dorothy that one year someone put lights up on their gable. The neighbors thought it was so beautiful they formed a group and everyone lit only their homes’ gables. A tradition was born.

“For the Haweses, growing into full-blown participants was a step-by-step process. ‘The first year we had to go out and buy all the lights for the house,’ said Mrs. Hawes. ‘That was all we could do. Then, each year we added a little something more...’ ”

MRS. HAWES RECALLED how she bought a large Santa figure for their yard. It is still part of her outdoor decorations. She also told the NW Senior News that Ed Hawes dressed up like Santa Claus. “He was no longer Edward Hawes when he put that suit on,” she said. “He really became Santa Claus. He used to get so carried away with himself.”

“Edward Hawes played Santa Claus on the street for about 29 years,” the NW Senior News reported. “He would walk up and down the street handing out candy canes or climb on a ladder and pretend to fix a light bulb when the television cameras came around...

“Since Edward’s passing, Dorothy doesn’t do nearly as much in her lawn, although the lights stay up year-round and she puts displays in all her windows ... a neighbor helps her with her displays and she tries to buy something new every year just to keep things fresh.

“ ‘SOME PEOPLE ASK if I get tired of all the people constantly passing by, but all I hear are joyful children’ said Mrs. Hawes. ‘On nights I go out and make that turn onto the lane to come home, it’s like living in a fairy land.’”

Southeast Peacock Lane, visited every Christmas season by thousands of sightseeing Portlanders and out-of-towners, extends for several blocks between SE Stark Street and SE Belmont Street and not far from SE 39th Avenue.

Eddie Hawes, who died at age 91 on Sept. 30, 1997, was a grocery clerk at a Portland Safeway store when  Food and Drug Clerks Local 1092 was founded in the mid-1930s and he became a charter member. Safeway management penalized Hawes for his union activity by assigning him to cleaning the store’s lavatories, Mrs. Hawes told the Northwest Labor Press.

ED AND DOROTHY, both Portland-born, were married in 1939. She had graduated from Parkrose High School and he had attended Benson High School until the death of his father caused him to drop out to take a job to help support his mother and siblings still at home. He later obtained a certificate in lieu of a diploma. She told the Labor Press that Ed knew her father before meeting her at a dance. When Ed came to her home later to escort her on a date he walked in the front door, saw her father sitting in the living room and exclaimed, “I know that man.” Dorothy’s father was Robert Freeman, a delegate to the Portland Labor Council from Fire Fighters Local 43. He and Ed, a delegate from Clerks Local 1092, knew each other from labor council meetings.

Ed, in his mid-30s when the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, enlisted in the United States Army. He saw action in Europe with the 70th Infantry Division called the “Trail Blazers.”  He served four years in the Army and reached the rank of chief warrant officer.

After the war, Ed was elected president of Local 1092, later became a business agent and then was tapped as an international representative by the Retail Clerks International Association.

“THE LABOR MOVEMENT was his religion,” said Dorothy Hawes of her husband in an interview with the Labor Press. “He was a union member from day one.”

Hawes was hired in the early ’50s as a wage and hour inspector for the Oregon Bureau of Labor, then run by elected Labor Commissioner W.E. Kimsey, a member of Multnomah Typographical Union No. 58. When Norman O. Nilsen was elected in 1954 and took over the bureau in 1955 he appointed Hawes as director of the Wage and Hour Division. Nilsen was a member of Portland Plumbers Local 51. Hawes retired in 1971.

Mrs. Hawes said that her husband, in addition to playing Santa, dressed up like an Easter Bunny for 25 years of egg hunts for children and grandchildren of Peacock Lane residents. Ed and Dorothy had no children and delighted in entertaining youngsters. Mrs. Hawes also derived satisfaction from her work with Catholic Charities’ foster care program.

ED HAWES’ CIVIC endeavors included serving as chairman of the Portland Urban League Chapter in the late 1960s. He also was on the board of Catholic Charities.

Mrs. Hawes, now in her 80s, was pleased that the Peacock Lane story brought renewed attention to the career of her late husband.


THE LINKAGE between the Republican Bush II Administration and the financial debacle of the Houston-based Enron energy mega-corporation cries out for investigation.

Enron boss Kenneth Lay was the biggest contributor to George W. Bush’s campaign for the White House in 2000. Lay also helped Bush in other ways, such as making his corporate jet available to the then-Texas governor for ferrying him around the country in his presidential campaign. And it was an erstwhile Enron lawyer, James A. Baker III of Houston — a top official in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush I — who orchestrated the post-election flimflam that put Bush II in the White House. (This is the same Baker who was involved in an investment company in which Saudi relatives of terrorist Osama bin Laden had invested money.)

As letters to various editors have noted, if Democrat Bill Clinton were still president and if Enron was a Little Rock corporation, Republican attack dogs in Congress would be baying for Clinton’s impeachment.

FORTUNATELY, the Republicans no longer control the U.S. Senate, so the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will probe the ties between Bush II and the Enron Corporation, and explore the energy giant’s collapse. Questionable financial accounting practices of Lay’s Enron and employees’ stock losses of millions in personal savings accounts will be part of the investigation by the committee. Lay made millions by selling Enron stock before the firm’s well-hidden problems became public knowledge. Bush’s Justice Department belatedly announced an Enron probe, but don’t be surprised if it is a whitewash.


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