PRSN BLU

The Queen of the West docked in Umatilla, Oregon, and we hopped on Jodi’s bus for a full day of touring to Pendleton, Oregon-renown for the Pendleton Round-Up and woolens (clothing and blankets).  Jodi keeps up a continuous prattle of information and jokes for the hour-long ride. Our objectives for the day include the Pendleton Underground, Hamley Steakhouse and Saddle shop and the Pendleton Woolen Mill.

As we passed the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution outside of Pendleton she suggested that we buy a T-shirt produced by inmates. The facility was originally built in 1913 as the Eastern Oregon State Hospital, a hospital for long-term mental patients, but was converted into a prison in 1983. The facility offers education, vocational training and work opportunities within the prison. 

The garment was created to give idle inmates work experience. They earn $4.75 an hour plus an incentive for producing additional pieces of clothing.  Prison Bluesgarments were introduced in Oregon in 1990, have been stocked at Nordstrom, Meier and Frank and G.I. Joe’s department stores. Pendleton Grain Growers also stocks the clothing in Eastern Oregon. 

Their motto is: “Prison Blues: made on the inside to be worn on the outside.”

The Piece of Pendleton store didn’t have my size T-shirt but Cindy convinced the clerk to undress Karl (the manikin) for me.  Unfortunately, Karl looks better in the shirt than me.  

Undressing Karl
Karl is so young, gosh I just don’t….
Oh, those were the days.

Underground Pendleton was a retreat for Chinese laborers—they weren’t allowed on the streets after sundown so they created a “city” of their own connecting building cellars with long tunnels from street to street.  Above ground over 30 brothels prospered until closed down by the local reverend in 1953.

There were 31 Brothels in town

Hamley Steakhouse is a real western saloon and had photos of nudes in the restrooms (women in the men’s and men in the women’s) reminiscent of the cowboy days and the annual Pendleton Round-Up.  There is a sign at the restroom doors “Family Restrooms are Upstairs” to assure children are directed appropriately.

I considered replacing my 20-year-old Pendleton shirt while touring the mill but I didn’t like the colors or styles.  I prefer the traditional shirt. 

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