Halloween Tales from the Barber Shop

In observation of Halloween, let us recount some of the more gruesome and ghastly stories of Multnomah’s past. I met with Ivan “the Hariable” Tadic in order to hear these tales for myself. We talked on a gray and foggy Thursday morning in late October. No customers were in Multnomah Barber Shop yet so it was just Ivan and I. The curtain to the street was closed, blocking the sights and sounds of outside passers-by. He slowly sipped on a cup of coffee as he told these stories.

The Meat Slicer

The first story Ivan told me was about an unfortunate incident with a meat slicer in Bill Ryan’s supermarket. Ivan was in the Navy, fighting in the Korean War, when this accident happened in the early 1950s. He warned me against scaring the new tenants of Bill’s groceries: Bishop Barbershop and the new restaurant Tastebuds with this story. But the tale was told regardless.

It was a Sunday afternoon and the meat slicer for the supermarket decided to go into work to get caught up for Monday. He ran the meat slicer for a while and was getting ready to go when he stepped away from the running machine to put on his leather jacket. When the man went back to the machine to turn it off, his jacket was caught and he was almost decapitated and died.

A little while later, after her husband did not return home, the meat slicer’s wife called Bill to see if he could check the store. Bill went down to the market and tried to open the front door, but it was locked from the inside. So Bill went across the street to the fire station, where the Neighborhood House now stands, to get the firemen’s assistance. With an axe, they broke into the building and heard that the slicer was on. There was blood from the floor to the ceiling and Bill and the fireman saw feet sticking out from the meat slicer.

Three weeks after this tragedy, the meat slicer still sat in the back of Bill’s supermarket. Bill’s reluctance to get rid of this deadly equipment almost cost him his business, but just almost. Once Bill disposed of the meat slicer, this troubled period came to a close.

Bill Ryan's Grocery, ca. 1955.

Bill Ryan’s Grocery, ca. 1955.


The Nu Cafe Massacre

This next Halloween haunt hit a little closer to home for Ivan, because his barbershop used to be right next to the scene of the crime. In 1973, Bob Symes worked for the water bureau, shoveling materials, and frequented he Fat City Café after work. He was a little stocky guy who wore big glasses and was dating Vivian Robinson, one of the waitresses at Fat City. Thirty-year-old Vivian would tease 58-year old Bob while she was separated though not legally divorced from her husband I.L. Robinson. After some time, Bob got frustrated with this situation and brought a gun to the restaurant. He chased Vivian around the restaurant with his gun and shot her fatally in the back when she was halfway down the stairs. He then went down to the bottom of the staircase where Vivian’s body was and, with one foot on her back, shot himself in the head in a horrific murder-suicide. Though Ivan’s barbershop has moved and no longer shares this staircase with Fat City, he remembers this story well.


Oregonian, Tuesday, May 15, 1973, p 4M.

Oregonian, Tuesday, May 15, 1973, p 4M.

With these gruesome tales in mind, I wish everyone a ghastly haunting season and a spooky Halloween.

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4 Responses

  1. Dick Brainard says:

    Ivan Tadic–you are incredible! Thanks so much for being the village barber all these years–you are a treasure. I do remember Bill Ryan & his Thriftway store–my then wife & I shopped there every week when we lived on Troy just past Multnomah Grade School. Now for a different kind of story. The lady who worked the bakery at 35th & Multnomah Blvd. used to tell me she was one of the original vonTrapp girls who was featured on the movie “Sound of Music.” I have never been able to verify this. I do know she moved to the Beaverton Bakery when the bakery at 35th & Multnomah closed. Did anyone else ever hear this story?

    • timlyman says:

      re: baker girl: Yes, I have heard this. I’m trying to jostle my memory, I think I heard it from a family member of the bakery owners. I will update if I can track down more info.

  2. Debra Anglemyer says:

    I am the daughter of Ingrid Vivian Robinson and my Mother was married to I. L. Robinson. We all lived out in Sherwood together. She and my stepdad (Skip Robinson) had been married for 3 years. This happened on Monday May 13th 1973, the day after Mother’s Day! Bobby Symes left the Ship Tavern and told everyone there he was going home to water his tomato plants. My Mom was alone in the Nu Cafe, he entered and locked the door behind him then he started shooting! To
    As far as My Mother’s marriage goes, Skip Robinson we’re very much in Love. Bobby Symes was a friend f the family. I DO NOT APPRECIATE rumor’s of affairs and My Mother being a tease. Whoever this Barbershop Owner is, unless you were there, keep your opinion to yourself.

  3. Debra Anglemyer says:

    Nu Cafe Massacre!
    My Mother, Vivian Ingrid Robinson was NOT dating Bobby Symes!
    He was a friend of the family!
    My Mother was happily married to Isiah Lewis Robinson, nicknamed Skip.
    We all lived out in Sherwood Oregon with Skips 3 children from a former marriage.
    My Mother was 29 and was murdered the Day after Mother’s Day in May of 1973.
    My name is Debra Anglemyer, My Mother’s only child.
    I remember Bobby Symes quite well. He was quite smitten with My Mother and would come over for weekend dinners with the whole family sometimes!
    I just want you people to get your facts straight.
    Why would you try to make my Mother’s murder out to be some kind of torrid love affair?
    My Mother did not tease him.
    Art Felt had a thing for my mother too and maybe even Ivan the Barber?
    This is very unsettling to read.
    Just don’t report something if your contacts aren’t reliable.

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