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Welcome to Offbeat Oregon History, a public-history resource for the state we love. Here's what you'll find here:

  • A weekly newspaper column published in about a dozen Oregon community newspapers;
  • An archive of columns we've published since 2008, with pictures (arranged by date of first publication);
  • A daily podcast (7 to 12 minutes long) optimized for mobile-device listening via iTunes, Stitcher, or the podcatcher of your choice;
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Enjoy! And if you have any comments on stories, suggestions for column topics or other feedback — or if you're coming by the OSU campus and have time for a cup of coffee with a fellow history dork — drop me a note at fj-@-offbeatoregon-dot-com any time!

About Pulp-Lit Productions:

Offbeat Oregon is a division of Pulp-Lit Productions, a boutique publishing house that specializes in classics from the pulp-magazine era — roughly 1910 to 1941. For more information or to check out our catalog, please see pulp-lit.com.

 

Background photo of the beach at Whale Cove was made by Bryce Buchanan in 2004. (Via WikiMedia Commons, cc/by/SA)

 

 

BORING, CLACKAMAS COUNTY; 1905:

Citizens hired world champ to humiliate town bully

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By Finn J.D. John
May 1, 2021

All through the summer of 1973, there was one song on the radio everywhere that you just couldn’t get away from: Jim Croce’s smash hit, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.”

Come to think of it, it’s been very difficult to get away from that song ever since Croce wrote it. You probably are humming it to yourself right now: “Bad, bad Leroy Brown, baddest man in the whole damn town. Badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog.”

The little Cascade-foothills town of Boring once had its own Bad, Bad Leroy Brown — although when the song came out, very few people then alive were old enough to remember him. His name was Free Coldwell — or at least, that was what he called himself. Like Leroy Brown, he a proud, strutting tough guy who got a humiliating comeuppance. But his downfall didn’t come from making a pass at “the wife of a jealous man” in a Boring nightclub or bar. No; Free Coldwell was taken down by the citizens of Boring, who basically played an elaborate practical joke on him — with the help of a professional prizefighter.

This article is still under its initial two-month embargo, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it. Then, on June 11, 2021, the rest of this article will appear here!

In the meantime, you can probably find it published on the Website of one of our member newspapers or community radio stations. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

 

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Tommy Burns (Noah Brusso) spars with a friend, circa 1905. (Image: Library of Congress)

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