Jacksonville became a boomtown when placer gold deposits were discovered in southern Oregon in 1851. But boom led to bust thirty years later as the mines were played out and the Iron Horse bypassed this tiny Victorian town. In 1892, Vance De Bar “Pinto” Colvig was born on a Jacksonville farm, in a home that, according to local legend, his pioneer mother, Helen, still haunts today. Drawn by the smell of the greasepaint and roar of the crowd, Pinto left Jacksonville as a young man, destined to become a Disney Legend. A vaudevillian, circus performer, and newspaper cartoonist, this comic genius created one of the first silent animated films in color, Pinto’s Prizma Comedy Revue (1919). In 1930, he became a voiceover artist at Disney Studios, creating the voices for the cartoon characters Goofy, Pluto and both Sleepy and Grumpy in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In 1946 he originated the role of Bozo the Clown, on record and later as a TV personality. In the 1950’s, as Bozo the Clown became a franchise with bozos springing up on local television channels across America, Pinto retired and his son Vance, Jr. played the clown on the Los Angeles franchise. After Pinto’s death in 1967, Vance, Jr. donated his father’s lifetime collection of animation, cartoon and circus memorabilia to Southern Oregon Historical Society in Jacksonville.
Listen Up to the voice of Pinto Colvig as Goofy, when the dimwitted dog takes off on an ill-fated road trip in the 1952 short animated film Two Weeks Vacation. The narrator (and voice of the hitchhiker) is Alan Reed.
We’d been driving for too long. It was now pitch black and we just wanted to find the Magnolia Inn and call it a day. But our first sighting of Jacksonville Oregon on a dark December evening took us by surprise. White lights crisply edged the highs and lows of buildings on California Street and the sparkling outlines flattened the town into a Victorian fold-out silhouette. Our energy shifted and we were intrigued, excited, ready to explore. After checking into the bed and breakfast, we walked along the quiet, empty main street, past pretty little shops and wine tasting rooms closed for the night. Restaurant doors opened as bearded band members loaded in their gear for an evening’s musical interlude, while the sounds of voices chattering and cackling and dishes clacking rolled out onto the street on the warm scent of baked bread and tomato sauce. Which was the anachronism, the 19th century town or the 21st century people? There was a vague expectation that any moment a drunken dusty cowboy would be tossed out onto the street by a bartender with a handlebar moustache.
In 1966 Jacksonville Oregon became the first town to become a National Historic Landmark due to the more than 100 downtown buildings that have remained virtually unaltered since they were built in the middle of the 19th century. For a town that faded into obscurity more than 125 years ago, it is remarkable that so much of the town has remained intact with almost no 20th century filler: Googie architects and the rock-around-the-clock diner had no interest in setting up shop in Jacksonville. Yet J’ville did not become a crumbling ghost town. It simply waited patiently for the moment when its authenticity would capture the imagination of a new generation. The population of Jacksonville has increased by more than fifty per cent since the last census, yet still hovers below 3,000 people. But there will be many more to come. The Applegate Valley wine trail is expanding; Napa vintners are hedging their bets against drought and global warming and investing in southern Oregon; and, retirees and young entrepreneurs now have Jacksonville in their sights. Last year Smithsonian Magazine chose Jacksonville as one of the “Best 20 Small Towns to Visit in 2016.” It’s not too late to check it out this year, but don’t wait too long. Our guts tell us that this beautiful and unassuming little gateway town is about to open up the floodgates.
While in Jacksonville Oregon, we stayed at the Magnolia Inn, a wonderful, owner-operated 9-room bed and breakfast, located within walking distance to everything downtown. The owners moved to Jacksonville ten years ago to open the inn, a decision that they describe as the “best move in our life.” Locally made pastries are the highlight of the continental breakfast and fresh popcorn and Red Wines are available to snack on throughout the day.
California Street, Jacksonville’s main street, is lined with shops, galleries, bars and restaurants. If you love to cook, you’ll want to spend time choosing a few “must-haves” at the Pot Rack, a terrific and well-stocked kitchen-supply store with a friendly, knowledgeable staff. Stop for a drink in the Rogue Valley’s oldest bar, J’Ville Tavern, established in 1940, which also offers live music and pub food. Join the locals at Bella Union for pizza and other classic comfort food. Venture off California Street for organic, international cuisine in an elegant setting at Gogi’s Restaurant. If you are looking for the best baked goods in town, a full breakfast, or just a hot beverage, head to The Good Bean Coffee Company, where you can eat in their large industrial loft-like dining area or carry out.
There are more than 60 wineries in and around Jacksonville Oregon in addition to fishing, hiking, kayaking and other outdoor sports along the nearby Rogue River. A map of some of the wineries is available from the Southern Oregon Winery Association. From June through September each year, the Britt Music and Arts Festival is held in an outdoor amphitheater in Jacksonville on the grounds of the Peter Britt Estate (Britt was a 19th century photographer and the founder of Oregon’s first winery in the 1850’s). The Britt Fest 2017 season will be announced in April, but last year’s lineup ranged from the classical music performed by the Britt Orchestra to bluesy hip hop artist ZZ Ward, from the Hollywood Vampires (Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry) to comedians Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. Jacksonville is also only a half-hour drive to Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. OSF’s 2017 repertory season runs from February 17th through October 29th.
After closing Zipper 3 years ago, Elizabeth and I have enjoyed our time on the road traveling and recording our stories on Zippertravel.com. One of our new additions to the blog for 2017 is Dr. Style, based on a nickname I earned years ago as a fashion designer on 7th Avenue. Dr. Style will tell you what’s trending in fashion, what to pack for your next trip, and how to travel light. My tips will ensure that you have just the right clothes in your suitcase to be stylish, comfortable and ready for any occasion.
Packing is second nature to me and I always start with denim, one of the most adaptable fabrics for travel. Whether it is worn, deconstructed, painted or waxed, denim is an essential building block. So what’s new about that? The fresh mix of denim with velvet. The beauty of sexy, luxurious velvet is that it can casually hang out with denim all day long, transition into dinner, and take you out for a night on the town.
The velvet color stories I love to tell right now mix indigo with warm tones ranging from blush to earthy ginger to the depths of a nice cabernet. This combination of colors is getting equal time in both men’s and women’s collections. What better way to amp up denim than with rich colors and a fabric that everyone loves to touch?
For men velvet is more unexpected, but consider these combinations: layer a classic two-button blazer over a denim jacket; pair velvet jeans with a denim work shirt; wear a smooth velvet tank under a white long-sleeve shirt and a pair of denim jeans; slip into a pair of Air Jordans with a touch of velvet trim; or, top off any outfit with a velvet baseball cap.
For women, your possibilities are endless. You could simply thread a ribbon of velvet through the belt loops of your favorite jeans or tie a strand around your neck à la Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline. Make any one of these your velvet staple: a sexy camisole, opera-length gloves, kick-ass boots, jeans, or a simple dress…you get the point.
With the more supple synthetic velvets available on the market, packing velvet has become a lot easier. Just turn your velvet items inside out and roll them up. Be sure to pack them away from belt buckles or other hard objects that could leave marks.
Sartorially speaking, denim and velvet is like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone – classic and smooth. Take a tip from Dr. Style: now is the time to give velvet a try!
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