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Essentially Ashland

Twin vision sets new standards

In the late summer of 1974, Lithia Grocery, located on the Plaza during the &

70s, was moving into fall with a constantly changing menu and staff. Cynthia Stadig and Beverly Shostrom were waiting tables, slinging organic smiles and natural cordial conversation, unintentionally breaking the hearts of scores of lonely tepee and yurt dwellers who dropped by for a hot meal, a kind word and an eyeful of a beautiful woman. Both ladies, to the dismay of many males of the counterculture, ended up with a Shostrom Brother, Dale and Dean respectively, twins from Laguna Beach by way of the University of Oregon.

In the early 1930s, the artists of Laguna Beach created two of its most popular and enduring annual events: the Festival of Arts and the Pageant of the Masters. Over the years, the city&

s reputation as a creative getaway had attracted such notables as Bette Davis, Timothy Leary, Victor Mature, Erle Stanley Gardner, John Steinbeck and Tennessee Williams. &

Living Pictures&

was conceived as a highlight of the Pageant in 1932 by vaudevillian Lolita Perine, who dressed up local townsfolk and had them stand within makeshift wooden frames. The result was magical, as the &

pictures&

appeared real until someone within the frame had to scratch an itch. Actually, all movement was scripted &

133; sure, we all believe that. To guarantee a flock of attendees, sculptures of famous nudes were recreated, using only paint to imitate stone and nude models. This was decades before Playboy Magazine and the reception was, well, breathtaking. Under the thin veneer of artistic appreciation lurked a measure lurid erotica &

133; or so I&

m told. Tickets sold faster than a doped horse at a race track, filling the wallets of all brows, high and low.

Dean met Beverly while visiting his family, which was stationed in Ethiopia. They soon dated and dined at a ball in Massawa presided over by Emperor Haile Selassie, who could have &

but did not &

cut in. Many Jamaican Rastafaris, descended from Ethiopia, believed that Haile Selassie was God incarnate, so Dean&

s mellow behavior at the ball was a smart move. Despite Haile Selassie&

s death in August 1975, rastas believe that he is still alive as he has always been.

Dale lived for volleyball, having played on the sand ball doubles at the beach since he was 10 years old. He played for the University of Oregon, then began coaching there. In the early &

70s many joined him in playing &

Jungle Ball&

at Bellview Elementary, with up to 15 players on each side. One evening Cynthia hit a set from Dale and the game was on.

— — —

Dean Shostrom, left, and brother Dale, right pose — with their young families in the mid-1970s in Ashland. Notice Dale&

s — bandaged fingers, described in the story.

Submitted photo

Dale Tom Shostrom and Dean Franz Shostrom are fraternal twins. Since their arrival in Ashland they have elevated the art of architecture and high-end residential home building to new heights in a town known for its wealth of craftsmen and artisans. As we shall see, though gifted in their own right, the Shostroms paid a certain price to live and work in this magical town.

After the U of O, Dean moved with his soon-to-be wife, Beverly, to Myrtle Point, where he ventured into carpentry. Though now working at the upper reaches of custom residential construction, Dean&

s first completed construction project then was Coquille&

s Dairy Queen, in which he artfully blended two-by-fours and plywood, then the two mainstays of all rural Oregon building materials, into a burger and shake shack. He soon got fried, finding himself in a pickle in the boondocks with opportunity scarce. Beverly was then in need of pre-natal care and Dr. Ralph Weiss of Medford was the naturopathic physician of choice, so they headed south for a doctor, not expecting to find Ashland so pregnant with possibilities.

Dale teamed up with him a few months later, this after studying the works of the eminent architect Christopher Alexander and his seminal book, &

A Pattern Language,&

in which Alexander had actually abstracted the process by which organic and inorganic forms evolve &

which is the same process that governs the growth of a city. These results lie at the basis of how matter organizes itself coherently, and are the opposite of the modern planning approach in which grids, zones, roads, and buildings, based on some preconceived design on paper, are imposed on human activity. Armed with this book, a client can evolve and express his or her own desires for a building. An architect is no longer the absolute and sole source of design ideas and solutions. On a larger scale, mistakes in urban design and planning can be detected and corrected. This remarkable shift in power, which enables ordinary people to understand their environment &

often better than the professionals &

has not been well-received by many in the profession, many of whom like it best when anointed &

professionals&

(read: outside experts) hold our hands while they refer to a fountain as an &

enabled water resource.&

Their first three projects in Ashland were all due to Pat Henry of Landmart Realty. They cut their teeth on a remodel, then descended upon the Linda Vista Care Facility&

s multi-purpose room in 1975. Their work widely drew praise and opened many doors. It was at the end of this endeavor that a few things cut loose. Firstly were Dale&

s fingertips, which mistakenly tried to argue with a circular saw blade, prompting an unscheduled trip to the emergency room across the street and into the capable hands of Dr. David Scott Jones. Dale and David still play tennis a couple of times each week, which has netted them a lifelong friendship.

Shortly after the stitches were sewn the building site went code red. Their &

portable&

table saw was being dismantled along the side of the building when a lurch here and a flying cotter pin there sent the 300-pound saw crashing through a window and into a patient&

s room. They sprinted inside and thankfully found no one injured in the midst of broken glass and furniture, having almost embarked on some freelance radial arm surgery. Yet through the completed project and attendant near-disaster they found a new road in their future: The realization that liability insurance needed to be part of the picture.

Their third project was the remodel of Pat Henry&

s home in Talent. The Shostroms bid the job, then began demolition, only to find that most of the house was beyond salvation.

It ended up as a labor of love, as the costs went through the roof, but not their bill. They ate the overages, which meant that they fasted for several months, as they made 50 cents and hour during the six month project.

With insurance on their minds they fell (well, almost) into a remodel for Tom Kennedy, who could write coverage faster than he could adjust the timing on a &

57 Chevy, which, given Tom&

s affinity for classic cars, was just a burp in the time/space continuum. The remodel included a gigantic Rumford-style fireplace, the inaugural firing of which was the centerpiece of an open-house celebration in honor of the completed renovation. Both Dale and Dean had been so consumed with meeting the deadline that no time had been set aside to test the draft of the chimney, crucial for that all-important crackle that would herald a smokeless evening of warmth and cheer. Don Sever helped with the rock work and Tim Bewley assisted with painting and trim, each proud of a fine accomplishment.

At the appointed hour a ribbon was cut and glasses raised on high as a match ignited the main event. Smoke slowly drifted up the flue, then in a chatter of panic and increasing desperation, backed down and blew out into the room and into the faces of the celebrants. Each brother attempted to assuage the now somber and sober crowd, which began to back away from the stone marvel. It was only after the party soured that Tom bellowed to the unindicted co-conspirator, John Archer, to remove the sheet of plywood on the top of the chimney that guaranteed the blockage and resultant fog of smoke.

The Shostroms, now inured to spoofs, ruses and piffle, took a collective deep breath and completed the following projects that attested to their foresight and mettle: The 50-room initial opening of the Mark Antony Hotel; Geppetto&

s; Chanticleer B B; Siskiyou Eye Center; The Morical House; Country Willows Inn; Hersey House &

133; and dozens of extensive remodels and new residences, each one unique and amazing. I read through the long list of projects and omit the reference to each undertaking only out of respect for the volume of labors as a whole, fearing to inadvertently overlook a gem in their treasure chest of achievements.

I went this morning to take a photo of Dale and Dean at their workshop behind the Community Food Store and across the street from the Oak Tank and Steel Building. Finding the workshop unlocked and the brothers missing for the moment, I walked in and had a look about. Originally built as a hay barn for the stables on the Plaza, the structure had also served as storage for the Ashland Fruit and Produce Association. It was later rented out by Bob O&

Harra to the festival for storage and a workshop before ultimately becoming the epicenter of Shostrom woodworking and dwelling dream-making.

I glanced at the coat of arms on a shield nailed on high and realized the walls of this shop were ripe with tales of grand undertakings and eventual setbacks, the weathering of which separate the players from the spectators in this experience we call life.

The Shostroms are still in the game and set the pace for many who aspire for excellence, detail and dedication. I then cast a gaze at the radial arm saw that nearly made a cross cut into history at the Linda Vista Care Center and smiled at all the lives these talented twins have touched as they tool up for their next adventure.

Future columns will focus on various businesses as well as key individuals and events that will lead the charge from times past to lend perspective to the revival of Ashland. Send your favorite remembrances to: lance@journalist.com.