Silver Spray Dance Hall, Bandon, OR
I’ve only ever lived in one city here in the USA. Portland, Oregon. On a 3-day weekend, a road trip to the lovely seaside town of Bandon on the southern Oregon coast yielded some surprisingly interesting finds.

Silver Spray Dance Hall, Bandon, OR
Bandon, not Portland, had the largest dance hall in the State of Oregon. It would be interesting to get a better handle on the dimensions of this place, because downtown Portland at the time had a ballroom which consumed an entire city block. So either the claim made about the Silver Spray is bogus, or it was indeed a venue of impressive proportions.

Bum Garten Swing Band, Bandon, OR
You won’t find any mention of this band on Google – I already tried. The Bum Garten Swing Band! I also tried looking for Rex Topping.
Bum Garten Swing Band, Bandon, OR
Bum Garten Swing Band, Bandon, OR

On a completely separate weekend trip, further up the Oregon coast in the town of Seaside for the annual Jazz Festival, I did a little investigation into the last days of Jimmy Lunceford, who died here in 1947. Lunceford brought his Orchestra here a week after playing a show in Portland as part of a short northwest tour. After this, they were to go onto Los Angeles for the Californian leg. Play the video for more…

14 Downing, Seaside, OR
After much painstaking research, I finally staggered with my ever dwindling resources of energy ebbing away, to this building right in the centre of town. The address of the building is 14 Downing, and in 1947, was the restaurant at which Lunceford and his Orchestra tried to dine in peace and relative comfort. Only two members of the Orchestra did not eat (they were vegetarian). They were the only ones who did not feel the slightest illness on the bandstand as their leader was being whisked to hospital. This was the restaurant of the alleged tainted food. It is worth bearing in mind that food poisoning, even in the mid 1940s, had a far higher fatality rate than today. It is believed rather than being the sole cause, the food promoted a rapid deterioration of Lunceford’s health due to him already feeling below par on this trip.

Bungalow, Seaside, OR
This is the location of the dance hall where the Lunceford Orchestra took to the bandstand that infamous evening. The band in the picture is the Hobbs Orchestra.

Bungalow, Seaside, OR
Bungalow, Seaside, OR

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