“Cameron’s Books and Magazines” was founded in 1938 by Robert Cameron in downtown Portland, Or. His first love was stamp collecting but realized there was more money in the printed word. During WW2 Bob also worked nights at the Kaiser Shipyards. Bob’s wife Grace and daughter Florence also helped out then and for many years after. After relocating several times the store settled in at 336 SW Third Ave. in about 1960 where it still is today.
In 1976 an outdoor writer and book scout named Fred Goetz was lamenting to Bob that a deal he had been making to buy a used bookstore on SE 39th Ave had fallen through. Bob promptly asked him if he wanted to buy Cameron’s. Fred accepted and took over the next year. He took flak from some of the long time customers for raising the prices on magazines and paperbacks– they had been priced 10 cents or 3 for a quarter! Fred’s daughter Gemay and grandson Jim also did short stints behind the till. He discovered a market for selling Life Magazine and other titles as birthday gifts.
In 1982 Fred hired an unshaven reprobate who claimed to have bookstore experience, even though this actually only amounted to filling in a couple of days at “The King of Rome Book Shop” in Sellwood. That guy was me and I worked for Fred for seven years. He taught me the business and sold it to me in 1989. No one could have asked for a better boss and mentor. Sadly he was killed in a car accident in Feb. 2005.
So since 1989 I have tried to follow the store tradition of selling good used books and magazines at fair prices. We also sell a different selection of titles through ABE and Biblio.
-Jeff Frase, owner