Moses "Scotty" Cohen (1902-1982)

Moses (Scotty) Cohen was born on March 10, 1902 in Glasgow, Scotland. He immigrated to Portland in 1911 with his mother and siblings; his father came to Portland five years earlier. Scotty lived with his father, mother, five brothers and three sisters in a small apartment in South Portland. His family was very poor. Scotty’s father was a watchmaker. Some of his business came from downtown merchants, who paid cash, but most was from farmers, who paid with produce and livestock.

Scotty went to Failing School through sixth grade, then graduated from Shattuck School. He couldn’t afford to go to high school because his family was so poor. During the years he attended school, he sold newspapers, and continued to sell them for 25 years (1911-1936). He gave most of his earnings to his parents, and continued to do so until he married Helen Dobson at the age of 42. After her death in 1958, he married Pearl Bashin.

After four months in the army during World War II, he worked first at Commercial Iron Works and then Willamette Iron and Steel, while continuing to be a vendor at the Vaughn Street ballpark. He then worked for 12 years at ATR freight company until he was abruptly fired, which he attributed to the new owner’s antisemitism. However, he describes Portland as “a pretty good city for the Jews.” Scotty became a U.S. citizen in 1936, which, he says, was the happiest day of his life.

Scotty died on November 11, 1982 and is buried in the Ahavai Sholom cemetery.

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