Frederic Littman



Rod Remick lived in a shithole trailer with his ladyfriend Kathy who had a gig at Harbor Security. She told him about a place, up in the hills on the other side of town where no one lived.

She had to go on “patrol” which meant to drive up there alone, go through the gates, walk the paths with a flashlight, report anything wrong like a broken window. The pay was crap and they made her pay for the uniform. And there were creepy sculptures out on the grounds, in the bushes.

“Anything I can steal?” asked Rod.

“Jesus Rodney you do try to fuck up everything I do, don’t you? No. The house is locked and alarmed. I don’t want to lose this job. The daughter is nice.”

“I’m not fucking anything up. I’m putting food on the table. Nobody’s up there, right?”

Fairly soon afterwards, Kathy drove to where they’d planned to meet. She used the magnetic card to open the gates and Rod drove through in his old pickup with the trailer banging behind. The gates closed behind them. It was cold and she was sweating.

Rod brought out the power tools he borrowed from the wrecking yard where he used to work. He kept dropping things which clanked. Kathy thought a neighbor would hear – but nothing.

“The lady who lived here died,” she said. “I know the daughter. She’s nice.”

“Good,” said Rod, a bit too quick. “Nobody will bother us.”

Kathy showed him the flying lady holding a baby, back in the bushes. At first Rod couldn’t see how the metal was bolted down, so Kathy held her flashlight on the spot. He wrapped a tow rope around the base and hooked it back on the bumper of his truck. It didn’t take much gas to drag the metal out of the soft earth. Sparks flew as he pulled it across the road.

The arm holding the baby broke off as the metal rolled.

“Yeehaw, that’s it!” roared Rod as he stepped out of cab, “We’re rich!”

EXTRA – Remembering Jean Vollum, the Oregonian
EXTRA – Frederic Littman – Mother and Child
EXTRA – Art theft at the Vollum property, the Oregonian
EXTRA – Guard for estate, boyfriend held in theft of two sculptures, the Oregonian
EXTRA – Experts: Not all art thefts can be linked to drugs, the Oregonian. Touche’!

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Sculptor Frederic Littman (1907-1979) was professor at Portland State University for 30 years, and made Mother and Child in 1956. Littman also made Farewell to Orpheus which sits in a small fountain outside of PSU’s Smith Center in the South Park Blocks of Eurydice swept away and back down to the Underworld, and Seat of Wisdom which is pinned to the facade of the University of Portland library.

Mother and Child came from a bequest in 1949 by Florence Laberee, widow of George Laberee, a Portland homebuilder.

Briefly married to sculptor Marianne Gold Littman (1907-1999) Littman taught thousands of students, including longtime PNCA teacher Manuel Izquierdo.

In 1990 the statue was stolen by vandals (drat!) who sawed Mother at the ankles then dragged the 270 pound bronze down the hill. Cops found it in a house in NE Portland after an anonymous tip a few days later.

From the Oregonian – On Saturday, a man and a woman walked slowly by the black marble base of the statue, looking puzzled about its disappearance.

“I wonder who would do such a thing?” the woman remarked. “It was so pretty how it used to stand there. It’s almost as if we’ve all been robbed.”

The man shook his head and sighed.

“It doesn’t surprise me, the way things like crime have been going on in Portland.”

Learn all about the Council Crest Trolley at PDXhistory.com!